What’s Love Got to Do with It?

What’s Love Got to Do with It?
By: Amanda Kramer

In the New International Version of the Bible the word love is mentioned 319 times in the Old
Testament and 232 times in the New Testament. Since it was mentioned so many times there must be
something to it right? Some of the common verses we know about love are:

We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19

Do everything in love.
1 Corinthians 16:14

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.
Luke 6:32

This is my command: Love each other.
John 15:17

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Romans 12:9

Let Israel say: “His love endues forever.”
Psalm 118:2

I find Luke 6:32 interesting. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” I find this interesting because it is the truth; sinners are loving to those who love them. We as Christians are called to do more though; We are called to love our neighbors.

Our neighbors are not just those who live in the houses next door to us. Neighbors are everyone we come into contact with. No matter if they have money or no money, whether they have had a bath or not, whether they live in a house or on the street. Anyone and everyone is our neighbor and deserves to be loved (even if they don’t deserve it we should still love them, besides how many of us really deserved the love that God showed us when he sent his only son to die for us). When Jesus was doing his ministry He was talked about for eating with the sinners, but as He pointed out He was here to heal the sick, not the healthy. In other words, He was here for those who needed Him, not those who already knew Him.

So the question is: are you being loving to your neighbors? I want to take it a step further and ask: are you being loving to only those who love you or are you loving even those who don’t love you in return? Many Christians get it wrong because they find it easier to love those who hate them than other Christians. They are willing to go to a soup kitchen and feed complete strangers and they are willing to buy a hungry man off the street a meal. How many of those same people are willing to go up to someone in church and say hello, shake a hand, or even invite a family from church out to a meal. How many people do we pass each Sunday sitting in our own pews that we are not showing love and they feel desperately all alone? How many people are we turning away just because we are failing to show the love that God commanded us to show to everyone?

How about you today? Are you being loving? Or is this something you need to change in your life today? The choice is yours.

The Search for Significance

I was studying this today myself and came across this devotional. I thought it was good, and so I am sharing. – Rev. Joe Kramer

Original article: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/homeword-september-19-2012.html

The Search for Significance

This devotional was written by Doug Fields

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rules of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” — Matthew 20:20-28 

I once attended a high school basketball game where, during the pregame ceremony, the seniors on the team were introduced. The announcer highlighted some of the players’ accomplishments and read what each guy had written about his future goals. They all sounded similar:

• “Jason is going to college and hopes to be rich in the future.”

• “Chris will attend university in the fall and plans on being wealthy.”

• “Michael dreams of a future with lots of money and a Ferrari.”

• “Gabe will go to college and then get rich or die trying.”

To them, significance and success was synonymous with wealth. In reality, it’s not. Trust me, I looked it up in the dictionary.

Everyone chases after something. For these young men, wealth was the focus of their chase. Personally, chasing wealth is not my story, but I am chasing something, because I don’t want to waste my life. You are chasing something too. If you are like me, you don’t want to waste your life either. There’s a little voice in the back of your head saying, “There could be more!” And, you are right. There could be. According to the Bible, there IS more. It’s called significance.

The bottom line is that whatever we are chasing in life, we hope it will lead us to significance. We want our lives to matter. We want our lives to have meaning. But for many people, the chase leads down a dead end street.

Jesus did not teach that significance was tied to wealth. Rather, he said if we want significance we can achieve it, but it comes in a radical package, and with a price many are not willing to pay. He said that the route to significance is paved with service. He said that the one who is greatest is the one who serves.

When your life is over, do you want to know that you achieved significance? Do you want to know that your life mattered? Then, you must serve. Serving is the primary method God uses to form the character of Jesus in us. When you serve, you become more like Him. You are never more like Jesus than when you serve. As we read in today’s Scripture passage, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Today, chase significance by serving others. See a need and meet it. In doing so, you’ll become wealthy – likely not in the earthly sense – but you’ll be storing up treasures of significance that will last forever.

GOING DEEPER:

1. Reflect on your life. What does your life show that you are chasing after in order to find significance?

2. How does Jesus’ example inspire or challenge you to become more of a servant to others?

FURTHER READING:

John 13:3-17; Matthew 6:19-20; Luke 10:27-37

Christians Must Remember Trust

Christians Must Remember Trust
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.

14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.
-Matthew 19:13-15 (NIV)

Today’s message is not long. Today’s message, however, one that the church needs to hear. We have heard this message before, but until we practice it we need to keep it in the forefront of our minds.

Matthew chapter 19 we come to a point Jesus is speaking and little children were trying to get to him and some people there did not like this so Jesus decided to rebuke them. The disciples didn’t understand The disciples didn’t understand Jesus was trying to teach them.what Jesus was trying to teach them. They didn’t see the importance of children. However, Jesus taught them something they would never forget.

You see, Jesus was trying to teach them that a child understands what he’s told and simply believes. Jesus blessed the children and continued from there. A child tends to display a sense of just believing. Jesus said that the Kingdom belongs to those who are like little children who just believe what he said practices it. We aren’t talking to the unbeliever here, but to the believer who doesn’t practice God’s Word. Who doesn’t trust God. Who could care less about what God has to say.

This is a simple message, but one we tend to forget. We are finite beings. God is an infinite being. We don’t understand it all, but we must simply trust. Do you have trouble trusting today? If so, why don’t you just stop and pray to God to help your faith. This is a hard message for a lot of people who do not trust in God. But, for the Christian this is a fundamental belief. What will you do today? Will you choose to trust God? Or will you continue to live life like everyone who doesn’t know God. The choice is yours.

Pride Hurts the Church and God Supplies the Needs of the Humble

Pride Hurts the Church and God Supplies the Needs of the Humble
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

 

24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”

25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.

When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak.“What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”

26 “From others,” Peter answered.

“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

-Matthew 17:24-27 (NIV)


Just some devotional thoughts today. What I find interesting here (from a devotional standpoint) is a few different things.

 

  • There is a tax
    • Someone once said the only things that are certain in this life are death and taxes. We will always have to pay a taxes to someone.

 

  • Family is exempt
    • Family is exempt from this tax. Jesus uses this opportunity to share with the disciples a spiritual truth. We are more than just slave or servants of God we are called heirs, meaning we are a part of God’s family. He has ingrafted us in and because of this we can go to God and fling ourselves at His feet and poor out our hearts before Him and find mercy and grace before a supreme God.

 

  • God Supplies all our Needs
    • Though they weren’t required to pay the tax, because of their position in Christ, they didn’t Lord this over them. So that the Good news could go forward, Christ had the tax paid, but He supplied the money. God supplies all of our needs not all of our wants. If we keep this in mind we will save ourselves a lot of heartache and a lot of worry time. The Lord knows what we need before we do and He will make a way for us to survive.


These were just some thoughts on this passage. I hope you find it helpful today as you start/continue your day in The Lord.

May God Bless you today! Amen!

Thoughts on Chaos and the Beginning of Everything

Thoughts on Chaos and the Beginning of Everything
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

What lies below is some thoughts on the creation event I have been thinking about. I would love some feedback (via e-mail or comment). It is not meant to be an all-inclusive treatise on the subject but some simple questions with some thoughts that go with it.

I believe that it takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to be a Christian. Let us start at the beginning. There are some things that naturalists believe that I just can’t grasp by faith.

If all the universe was made by a big bang, where did the bang come from? Some people will say that the big bang came from some kind of protoplasm, or some kind of formulas that existed. But where did that come from? They can’t answer that. Because nothing means nothing. If the big bang happened out of nothing, then protoplasm and other things that are brought to explain it, is not nothing.

Christianity believes that God created everything from nothing (ex-nihilo). How? Because God lives in infinity. He is outside time and space. Therefore there is no infinite regression of causes, it starts and ends with Him. This affirms our belief that He is the alpha and Omega. Now this is a hard concept for us as humans to understand. Why? Because we are finite. We live in time and history with a past, present and future. To understand this concept fully, is beyond us; however, we can understand some of it. To me this is the best understanding.

Another thing, I don’t see with my logical mind how out of chaos comes order. No, throughout history we see it the opposite. Throughout order, chaos ensues. We see mutations in humans that are not helpful, but cause harm. We also see creatures that are irreducibly complex (do a search for a flagellum). It is constructed like an outboard motor. If any one part breaks down, they all break down. So how does little changed over time account for this? It doesn’t, it can’t.

But if God created everything so perfect, what happened?How did creation get so messed up? Well from a Christian perspective, sin entered into the world and because of sin the whole of creation marred. This is an easy answer, but people want to make it complex. No, this is the answer.

This not all inclusive, just some thoughts I would like people to ponder and send me some feedback about.

____
In Christ,
Rev. Joe Kramer

Today’s Positive Thought

I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
-Rev. 3:8 (NIV)

God places opportunities in front of us. The question is not, “will God give us an opportunity?”; but when He does will you thank Him for it and make sure that you do well with the opportunity.

Now before moving forward always make sure that God opened the door, and not you, before walking through it. So pray every time a door opens that it is truly Him that opened it for you.
-Rev. Joe Kramer

What is The Purpose of Preaching?

What is The Purpose of Preaching?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

This is the question that we will be exploring today. I wrote this article in APA format because it was published that way when I wrote it during one of my Master’s classes. This, however, is adapted for our purposes here today.

“A man who first tried to guess ‘what the public wants,’ and then preached that as Christianity because the public wants it, would be a pretty mixture of fool and knave”(Lewis, n.d., ¶ 5).  A lot of people believe preaching to be something easy and just getting up and talking about the Bible or current events. More goes into preaching than just giving your thoughts on a passage of scripture ore preaching current events. In this essay we will begin to explore the subject of preaching. The first thing we must know is why we preach. There are two responses to this, an objective response and a subject one. Then briefly explore the goal of preaching.

Let us begin by exploring the reason for preaching. There are two responses to this question. One is the object response and the other is the subjective response. This is not a new question throughout history preachers have struggled with the effectiveness of their preaching, even in the nineteenth century, the so-called golden age of preaching. The twentieth century has brought new challenges that other centuries did not have to contend. Such as the rise technological resources, i.e. Television, internet, Digital Video Discs and the list could continue. (Hamilton, 1992). But preaching still remains the same with only minor changes.

 

The Objective Response

We know that God has chosen to reveal himself in nonverbal ways (i.e. general revelation) but God has chosen to reveal himself in verbal communication as well (assuming one believes in the divine origin of the Bible). The question is raised then, is preaching different from public speaking? Yes. First Corinthians chapter two verses four and five tell us (NKJV) “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” So then preaching is empowered by God not just by man’s word and thoughts. Preaching is the very act of God using a person who has been called by God to deliver and apply God’s message to individual lives (see Ephesians 4:11)  through the act of standing in front of people and speaking what God has given them (Hamilton, 1992). So, is there some kind of a unique authority of the Word of God? Yes. Both Matthew chapter twenty-eight verses eighteen through twenty and second Timothy chapter three verse sixteen points to a special and unique authority about God and His Word. As a matter of fact Hebrews chapter four verse twelve reports that God’s Word is active and alive (Hamilton). We do not often think of Words having any kind of life but the Bible says that His Word is alive and mixed with our faith can become a powerful motivator and life changing substance. Because of all of this we know from several scriptures that the Word of God is attended by the working of the Holy Spirit. Acts chapter one verse eight shows that the Holy Spirit descended upon the people and they began to proclaim God’s Word abroad through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. In First Corinthians chapter two verse four Paul reminds the people at Corinth that his preaching was shown to be true not merely by words, but words coupled with the demonstration of power by the Holy Spirit (Hamilton).

All of this indicates that God intends for preaching to be continued throughout this dispensation (or time) of grace. “The theological realities which saw the first-century church stress the preaching/teaching of the Word have not changed. God still reveals Himself and His will for people through verbal propositions” (Hamilton, 1992, p. 16).

 

The Subjective Response

The response here is for those that do the preaching. The question here is why should a particular person preach / teach God’s Word? As with all other things our response must be rooted in God’s Word. Throughout the Scriptures we find all the preachers were called by God. Some were dramatic (i.e. Isaiah and Paul) other were not so dramatic, but a simple call (i.e. Amos and John). The intricacies of the call or not important, the assurance that one has been called by God to preach / teach is important (Hamilton, 1992). In the New Testament, which is our guide, the call is both an internal call from God to the individual and an external recognition of that call by the church. There are some truths that must be present in an individual’s life, these are “. . . the truth and power of the gospel, the authority of Scripture, the giving of spiritual gifts, and the Lord’s sovereign right to call whomever He chooses. If these are missing, the felt call may be shallow and the product of one’s own thinking” (Hamilton, p. 17).  That is the part where the church’s recognition is important. Too many people believe that being in ministry is easy, or that it will bring them prestige and this is why they chose to try to go into ministry. In actuality ministry is very difficult financially, spiritually and emotionally and should never be entered into with an actual call to the ministry. Jeremiah understood this, which is why he wrote the following words in Jeremiah twenty verses eight through ten (NKJV).

   8      For when I spoke, I cried out;

         I shouted, “Violence and plunder!”

         Because the word of the LORD was made to me

         A reproach and a derision daily.

   9      Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him,

         Nor speak anymore in His name.”

         But His word was in my heart like a burning fire

         Shut up in my bones;

         I was weary of holding it back,

         And I could not.

   10      For I heard many mocking:

         “Fear on every side!”

         “Report,” they say, “and we will report it!”

         All my acquaintances watched for my stumbling, saying,

         “Perhaps he can be induced;

         Then we will prevail against him,

         And we will take our revenge on him.”

 

The Goal

The goal of giving a speech is understanding. That, however, is not the goal of preaching. Yes the previous sentence is correct, the goal of preaching is not understanding. So what is it? It is quite simply, faith. The goal of preaching is to produce faith in the hearer. It makes no sense to man, but only to God. “The content of the proclamation is intolerable to men of all races, since it treats of the Crucified. This satisfies neither the Greek urge for knowledge nor the Jewish demand for religious certainty. . .only the believer. . .accepts it” (Kittel, Bromiley, & Feidrich, 1964-, p. 712). Faith can only come through hearing God’s Word and faith is always content with the simple content of God’s Word spoken by a preacher. This means that the audience must participate in the discovery process through the sermon that has been prepared for them by the preacher and the Holy Spirit working together. “The faith which the Word demands of man is also a gift of the Word, R. 10:8. Since faith comes by preaching, faith and proclamation have the same content, 1 C. 15:14” (Kittel et al., p. 712).

Each of these can be explored more thoroughly, but what is presented in this essay is a good overview of the reason for preaching in general, that God has called specific people to accomplish this task and the goal of the task. Preaching should never be taken lightly but should be entered into soberly and reverently, likewise the congregation should also participate in the act by receiving the Word as God’s Word, applying to their lives and mixing their faith with the Word that is being presented to them. In this way preaching is a participatory exercise instead of a one sided event.


References

Hamilton, D. L. (1992). Homiletical handbook. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

Kittel, G., Bromiley, G. W., & Feidrich, G. (Eds.). (1964-). Theological dictionary of the New Testament (Vol.Vol. 3). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Lewis, C. S. (n.d.). Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer. Retrieved December 13, 2011, from http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/preaching