Monthly Archives: March 2014

‘God is Love’ is the Heart of the Bible, But Living it is Hard — A Quote by Bono in “Breaking Through by Grace: The Bono Story” by Kim Washburn

“’My understanding of the Scriptures,’ said Bono, ‘has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love… Love [is] a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don’t let my religious world get too complicated. I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is. God is love, and… I respond in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love. That’s my religion. Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now that’s not so easy.’”

— Quote from Bono in “Breaking Through by Grace: The Bono Story” by Kim Washburn, Kindle location 329

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Once You EXPERIENCE Christ’s Love, You Will Overflow with God — My Verse for Sun, Mar 30 (Eph 3:19)

May you “[really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!” Ephesians 3:19 (AMPL)

What Happens if You Choose Not to Live Righteously?

“Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.” Ephesians 5:3-7 (NIV1984)

costume-15839_640_crop_devilThe Apostle Paul seems to be saying in theses verses that faith is not enough to be saved — that we also have to turn from sin and live righteously. Many of us have had it drilled into us that we are saved (from future punishment and condemnation by God) if we believe in Jesus and love Him. Even Paul wrote three chapters earlier that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV1984). So how do we resolve the tension in these two ideas?

I think the answer lies in what we mean by the word “faith” (or a closely related word, “believe”). James wrote on this extensively. In James 2:14, he writes, “What good is it… if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” (NIV). Then he points out in verse 19 that even demons believe in God.

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Intimacy is the Foundation for Miracles — A Quote by Bill Johnson in “Face to Face with God”

“The Father, by the Holy Spirit, directed all that Jesus said and did. It was the intimacy that Jesus had with His heavenly Father that became the foundation for all the signs, wonders, and miracles performed in His three and a half years of earthly ministry.”

— Bill Johnson, “Face to Face with God”, Kindle location 1609

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Only One Way to Bear Good Spiritual Fruit: Abide in Jesus — My Verse for Sat, Mar 29 (Jn 15:4-5)

“‘Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.'” John 15:4-5 (ESV)

Jesus Claims to be the Messiah (John 4:25-26)

The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” — John 4:25-26 (ESV)

well_at_cathedral-164322_640As Jesus and a Samaritan woman that he met at the town well discuss things about God, she speaks of her belief that one day the Messiah will come into the world. This is interesting of itself, because it is clear in other passages that the Jewish people were waiting for the Messiah, but here we see that at least one Samaritan (a mixed race people that had Jewish influence from centuries before) also believed that the Messiah would come.

There were multiple expectations for the Messiah at the time, but they included that he would be a king, would save people from their oppression, would be holy, and would be sent from God. In the words of the Samaritan woman, her expectation of the Messiah included him being a great prophet. She mentioned that aspect of the Messiah, probably not because the idea had entered her mind that Jesus was the Messiah, but as a conversation extender, since Jesus was clearly a prophet, having just revealed to her that she had already had five husbands, and was living with another guy — and that it was interesting to note that he shared a gift that the Messiah would have.

Now what is really startling here is that Jesus comes right out and tells her that he is the Messiah that she (and presumably the other Samaritan’s) had been waiting for. Around Jewish people, Jesus was a lot more careful what he would say about himself. But not here: he just comes right out and says it.

A lot of people today think that it is accurate to consider Jesus to be a great teacher or perhaps a great prophet. But in this particular passage, we see that it would be wrong to think of Jesus only in that way. Jesus himself claimed to be more than that — he claimed to be the Messiah, someone sent from God to be a king, to set people free.

Given that he was crucified without becoming a king on this earth and without setting people free, except for the ones that were healed by his prayer, he was clearly wrong… Unless the claims of his followers about him are correct: that he rose from the dead; that he remained in bodily form on the earth for several weeks; that he ascended to heaven; and that he rules and reigns from there.

Because if the claim that Jesus made about himself being the Messiah is not true, then we must think of Jesus — as C.S. Lewis has eloquently written — as a deluded person, or a liar, but in any case not as a great prophet or teacher or holy man. It is left, then, is for each person to decide. Which is he to you?

Verses on Walking with the Spirit and Not under the Law Freeing Us from Sin

I wanted to put all of these verses in one place for those who want to study this, and also those who already have the position that we are to walk with the Spirit and not by the Law, that they might have a handy source for Scriptures.

Under the New Covenant, Live by the Spirit, Not by the Law

dove“If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Galatians 5:18 (NIV)

“The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:6 (ESV)

“The law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives… You… died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another… in order that we might bear fruit for God.” Romans 7:1,4 (NIV)

“When we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” Romans 7:5-6 (NIV)

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Two Thousand Bible Verses on Poverty Can’t Be Wrong about God’s Heart — A Quote from Bono in “Breaking Through by Grace: The Bono Story” by Kim Washburn

“When Bono read the Bible, he found over two thousand verses about poverty. Jesus cared about the poor, and he reached out to the ‘untouchables’ of his age. ‘It couldn’t be more [obvious],’ Bono said, ‘that this is on God’s mind, that this is Jesus’ point of view.’”

— Quote from Bono in “Breaking Through by Grace: The Bono Story” by Kim Washburn, Kindle location 65

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How Will You Discover What Pleases God?

“Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.” Ephesians 5:8b-10 (NIV1984)

candleEven if this were not in the Bible, it still sounds like a really good idea for someone who claims to love God to “find out what pleases the Lord”. If you agree with me (and the Apostle Paul, who originally suggested it) that this is a good idea, let me ask you, “What is your strategy for finding out what pleases the Lord?”

This short passage suggests that if we find out what pleases the Lord, we will be enabled to “live as children of the light”. That is, we will be able to grow to be like God in holiness and righteousness. That would also require us to put into practice what we discover about pleasing God. But we cannot put into practice something unless we first figure out what it is we should be doing.

I can only think of four ways to find out what pleases the Lord.

1) Learn from the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right” (NLT). It sounds to me like reading and learning from the Bible would be a good component of any successful strategy.

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