Friday, January 30, 2015

One Of The Greatest Bible Super Bowls

There are many incredible battles recorded in the Bible that are of Super Bowl proportions. And just like there are Super Bowls in football, year after year, there are dozens of Super Bowl type battles in the Bible as well. The one I'm describing below may not be the Super Bowl of Super Bowls, that's described in the book of Revelation. But this one is certainly one of my favorite face offs of all time. 

The Super Bowl battle I'm talking about is a challenge between the home town favorites and the underdog. The good guys, or should I say, the 'good guy', verses the bad guys. It's a head to head contest - a showdown - a culmination of 2 powerful adversaries. It actually happened - a true story, although it was a long time ago - about 850BC.

Here's a little background on the 'bad guys'. They are led by King Ahab, king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and his wife, Jezebel. Ahab and Jezebel were evil in the sight of God. As far as King Ahab, he was more evil than any of the kings before him. And as far as Jezebel, she once tried to kill all the prophets of God.

Ahab and Jezebel rejected the God of Israel, and worshiped Baal. They led all the people to do the same. Ahab and Jezebel wanted to eradicate all the Jewish traditions and teachings. 

Now, here's a little background on the 'good guy'. He is the Elijah the prophet, one of the most famous and most powerful of all the prophets. Elijah was absolutely faithful to God. His miracles are some of the most amazing ones that were ever recorded.

At the height of King Ahab and Jezebel's successful reign, Elijah announced that there would be a 3 year drought. It came true. This made the king even more determined to search for Elijah and kill him. 

Eventually, they confronted each other, and Elijah challenged the king to a contest of great proportions. And as with any football pre-game hype, there was pre-battle hype between these two opponents. 

When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, “So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?” “I have made no trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped the images of Baal instead. (1 Kings 18:17-18)

Elijah told Ahab to meet him on Mount Carmel with all the people of Israel along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who are supported by Jezebel. For Elijah, the real purpose behind the challenge was not to see who was the greater power, but to persuade the people to follow the only one true God.

Elijah then said, "Now bring two bulls. The prophets of Baal may choose whichever one they wish and cut it into pieces and lay it on the wood of their altar, but without setting fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood on the altar, but not set fire to it. Then call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by setting fire to the wood is the true God!” And all the people agreed. (1 Kings 18:23-24)

Then came sort of the coin toss - who was to go first. The prophets of Baal received the kick off. They were first to choose the bull to sacrifice, to build the altar, to place the sacrifice on top of the wood, and to call on their God to light the fire. They called on the name of Baal from morning till noon, but there was no response.

Of course, in football games, there is always jeering and taunting from the sidelines. It was no different with Elijah. "At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” (1 Kings 18:26-27)

The prophets of Baal shouted even louder to their god, slashed themselves with swords and spears as was their custom, and continued frantically until evening, but with no success, no response. The fire still was not lit by their god. It was finally 4th down for them. They punted the ball to Elijah. Now it was his turn to try and score. 

1st down play:   Elijah built an altar, cut up the bull, and placed the sacrifice on top of the wood. Then he had them build a trench around the altar. "Then he said to them, 'Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.'” (1 Kings 18:33b)

2nd down play: “'Do it again,' he said, and they did it again." (1 Kings 18:34a)

3rd down play: “Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. (1 Kings 18:34b-35)

4th and goal: "Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench." (1 Kings 18:38).   WINNING TOUCHDOWN!!!   

As with all touchdowns, especially the winning touchdown, the crowd goes wild. "When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, 'The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!'” (1 Kings 18:39)

Final Score:  Elijah 7,  Prophets of Baal 0. 

Elijah won the battle and accomplished his goal - to show the people who was the real God. And to prove that Baal was a false god, a false idol. 

Thank you Elijah for standing up to the truth and for showing others who the one true God is. 

"And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life." (1 John 5:20)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

10 People Who God Calls Fools

There are those who are wise and there are those who are foolish. God distinguishes between the two. There are tons of examples in the Bible defining who is a fool in God's eyes. Here are just ten:

A FOOL IN GOD'S EYES:

1. One who claims there is no God.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. (Psalm 14:1)

2. One who disregards the message of the cross

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18)

3. One who despises wisdom and instruction

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Proverbs 1:7)

4. One who is prideful

"A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them." (Proverbs 14:3)

5. One who wants to get rich.

"Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction." (1 Timothy 6:9)

6. One who is quick to quarrel.

"It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel." (Proverbs 20:3)

7. One who lives just for today.

"The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down."(Proverbs 21:20)

8. One who does not practice what Jesus taught.

"But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand." (Matthew 7:26)

9. One who turns from God.

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools." (Romans 1:21-22)
 
10. One who is selfish and not rich toward God.

"And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’  “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’  “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’  “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21)


These are ten types of people that God considers to be a fool. Don't be one yourself!

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Renewal Of Your Mind

There's one important thing you should be doing with your mind - you should be renewing it. What!? Sounds very intriguing, doesn't it? How is this to be done? Using hypnotism, brainwashing, or drugs? No, it's none of those things. 

The renewal of the mind that I'm talking about is a process that combines two powerful forces - your own mind and a supernatural spiritual force. This type of mind renewal is something we purposely and consciously engage in, yet it is empowered by more than mere human fortitude. It is continual, and not just a one time event. The renewal of your mind results in something powerful - a transformation. 


"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:2a)

This passage was written to those who were already Christians, those who have already gone through a spiritual rebirth - the point when the process of mind renewal begins. But if this is written to Christians, it means that if needs to an ongoing process - a steady, consistent, life-long process. And you can be sure of one thing - the renewal of your mind will surely result in one being transformed.

Transformation by definition implies a change of form, appearance, or character. In this case, it's the continual development of a new, changed person, in the way one both thinks and acts. The major difference between someone solely using their mind to change their life as opposed to someone whose life is changed by faith in Jesus Christ, is the influence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God's presence in us, which empowers us to change and transform, and to sustain that transformation.

So, the mind of a Christian should be set on what the Spirit desires - what God desires. A worldly focused mind is destructive, while a mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. As far as choosing which road to take, seems like a no-brainer doesn't it? 

"Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace." (Romans 8:5-6)

The renewal of the mind gives one a new perspective. We begin to live not according to the pattern of this world, but the pattern of God. What is the pattern of this world? I would say it's marked by greed, selfishness, and all of the sinful ways and desires. Fortunately, as Christians, we are rescued, ransomed, and redeemed from that dominion.

"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:13-14)

The Holy Spirit is the supernatural, spiritual force that is in direct opposition to the ways of this world. When we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and transform us, our perspective of life, of other people, and of God change. Not only does our mind change on these things, but our words and actions change. And not only does this transformation affect our mind, it affects our hearts, and even more significant, it affects our spirit. We become new.

"You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him." (Colossians 3:7-10)

We, as Christians, need to look at things differently. How we look at ourselves, how we look at others, and how we look at God are three areas that constantly need to be in check. Our perspectives need to be different than the worldly perspectives. And our attitude needs to be made new. 

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24)

This whole mind renewal thing is our responsibility. It takes action on our part. It takes commitment. It takes faith. It takes Bible reading. And it takes prayer. And most of all, it takes the Holy Spirit in our lives. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to continually guide us in how we think and act. 

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:2a)