Why To Read the Old Testament

In our latest study on John 12:1-19, we spent a good portion of our time in Daniel 9 looking at the fascinating prophecy detailing the exact day Jesus would openly declare Himself the Messiah and why, had His disciples not sung in praise “Hosanna”, that even the rocks would cry out as the specific day was the day the Lord had made (Psalm 118:24 – which is what that Psalm is really about).  If you did not hear it, I would encourage you to listen here.

With that said, it is important we know about the Old Testament as well as the New.  In fact, the best commentary on the New Testament is the Old Testament and vice versa.  You miss many of the meanings behind Scripture and many of the prophecies foretold if you aren’t spending time in the Old Testament.

“Yeah but the Old Testament is hard to understand with all the various prophecies and what not!”, you may say.

Well if you are reading this, then you have internet, and if you have internet, then you have the ability to do some simply Bible studying and research on those difficult passages.  You’ve got time to check out IMDB to figure out who that actor was in that one movie, you’ve got time to check out someone’s life on Facebook, so you’ve got time to access a Bible site to get some help with a difficult passage.  My recommendation: www.blueletterbible.com – a great site with all the tools you need and some commentaries from well respected pastors/commentators to help understand passages you may be stuck on.

“Well the Old Testament is boring.” – not if you understand it is God’s Word (meaning there is purpose for it and it still speaks) and go into it asking Jesus to reveal Himself through His Word to you.

I often find that, aside from the well known passages in the Old Testament, there is a general lack of knowledge of what is written in the Old Testament.  Don’t let that be you.  Spend time digging in (not just Psalms and Proverbs, but Genesis, Isaiah, Habakkuk, even Leviticus).  Find a Bible or Bible tool which has cross references (verses associated with whatever passage you are reading) and as you read the New Testament, visit the Old Testament cross references.

Why should you read the Old Testament?  Because it is the Word of God (just as important as the New Testament), it will help you understand the New Testament better, and it will impact your life as you see the lives of the Old Testament heroes and their examples for us, as you read prophecies that have been fulfilled EXACTLY as prophesied and see what awaits, and as you know the origins of where everything came from and why those origins are important for us.

This blog post comes from further thoughts of the sermon on John 12:1-19 titled “Jesus: Exactly on Time” which can be found by clicking here or simply visiting http://www.refugesanger.com/teachings

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Odds Are You Won’t Be Remembered

If you made it past the title and are actually reading this, congratulations you weren’t too offended to stop reading past the title.  However, truth be known, the title is true – 100 years from now you probably won’t be known.

Without looking it up, do you know who won the 100m gold in swimming in the 1992 Olympics?  Probably not and yet this athlete trained many hours, many days to win the coveted gold medal that most of us don’t remember.  Does the name Otto Graham ring a bell?  If you are an NFL historian or know your history, then probably.  But still how much do you know about him?  How much do you know about your great-great grandfather?  Name or even birthdate?

The point isn’t to depress you but remind you that though we can strive so hard to leave a legacy by doing things for this earthly kingdom, they probably won’t be remembered in 100 years.  Michael Jordan’s name won’t be highly remembered in 100 years should the Lord tarry.  The only things that truly last are those things which are invested in the Kingdom of Heaven – those things that we shall be rewarded for.  In fact we all will have to stand before the Lord and give account for how we lived for Him [not sin judgement, but account for the works or lack thereof and how we used His gifts] (see 2 Corinthians 5:8-10, 1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

So if we won’t be remembered by the this earth and since all these things pass away, why do we spend so much time on the earthly things?  Instead we should invest in the Kingdom of God, the only “investment” we truly take with us.  When we share the Gospel, when we give to the church of our finances and our time, when we join in cooperate prayer, when we help the hurting in the name of Jesus – all these things are investments that we shall be rewarded for.

Challenge yourself – if you were to die today would you be remembered for high video game scores, long hours at the office, never missing a sporting event?  Or would it be service to the Lord, that though the world forgets in 30 or so years, the Lord doesn’t?

Live for His Kingdom not your own…not this one!

This blog post comes from further thoughts of the sermon on John 11:1-57 titled “Don’t Fear the Reaper” which can be found by clicking here or simply visiting http://www.refugesanger.com/teachings

Questions that Should Be Asked – But We Already Know the Answers So We Don’t

In this week’s teaching, “Wanting the Truth You Can’t Handle” from John 10:22-42, we looked at the Jews who asked Jesus to tell them whether He was the Messiah but they weren’t interested in the truth – just a fight.  Plus Jesus said they did not believe because they weren’t His sheep.

I posed that we too ask questions we really don’t want the answers for or maybe we don’t ask questions because we already know the answers:

  • Do I really need to forgive that person?
  • Do I really need to be one devoted to Scripture reading?
  • It’s okay if I fudge a little on my taxes right?
  • I know I should be devoted more to my walk with Jesus, but it isn’t a matter of Heaven or Hell so why bother?

The problem with these, and other like questions, is we already know the answers but we just aren’t interested in obeying so we don’t honestly ask.  It is like in school – if we don’t ask the professor for further clarification, then we won’t have to do all the work that would be required if he did answer.  In other words, ignorance is bliss.

Where we fail is when we think that the here and now is the most important thing at stake – that our own comfort, wants and desires are the most important things.

  • “Sure I could for go my time to go to a Sunday night prayer meeting, but it’s not a matter of salvation so I’m sure my time is better used being happy in my own home.”
  • “Sure I could spend more time with the Lord, but it’s football/baseball/hockey/basketball/name-your-sport season and He isn’t all that concerned.”
  • “Who is that guy to challenge me – that’s just legalism or being a Pharisee”

Listen, it isn’t necessarily the church, the Lord or the pastor who misses out the most when you pay more heed to the temporary things rather than the eternal ones – it is you!  There is blessing both here in seeking more of the Lord as well as in the eternal when we get to partake of those heavenly things we invested our time or money into.  Not one of us will get to Heaven and wish we had spent a little more time in front of the TV or whatever it is.  That’s not to say we can’t have free time or anything like that, but I think too often we justify our free time and liberty as a means of not partaking in the eternal opportunities God has set in front of us.  I think we’ve let “comfortable” become the biggest idol we idolize in our modern society.

Perhaps the biggest question that should be asked – but one we are afraid to fully examine – is just that: have I made comfort and fun the idol I worship more than anything else?

This blog post comes from further thoughts of the sermon on John 10:22-42 titled “Wanting the Truth You Can’t Handle” which can be found by clicking here or simply visiting http://www.refugesanger.com/teachings

How Much Will You Press This Year?

It is once again a new year and upon every New Year many Americans are known to make New Year’s Resolutions.  However, very few ever see their resolution completed.  Now resolutions aren’t a bad thing to make, but if you are going to make them, make sure they are attainable and that you find ways to keep going at them (write them down, create a habit, etc.).  Also make sure they are beneficial to you and those around you.

We looked at Philippians 3:12-16 this past Sunday (you can listen here) with the message title being “How Much Will You Press This Year?”  Paul spoke of how he pressed on to lay hold of that which Christ Jesus laid hold of him and how he pressed toward the goal for prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  That word press means “to run swiftly in order to catch a person or a thing.”  In other words, Paul’s Christian walk was not a casual one which many American Christians seem to have where just “being saved” is good enough for them and no further effort is put forward in their walks with the Lord.  I spoke on how we need to press (not in our own power but through the power the Spirit gives us) in our walks understanding how much Jesus has done for us (meaning we don’t do it to earn salvation or love from the Lord, but in order to see growth in our lives because of all He has done for us).

I gave the following challenge to those at Calvary Chapel Sanger and also give them to you the reader:

  1. Devote yourselves to making Sunday morning attendance a priority: only 58% of evangelicals attend any sort of service weekly.  We are the body and we need each other.  It isn’t about having numbers but seeing growth.  Others need you as much as you need others.  He has given us all talents and gifts to be used to edify the body.  If we aren’t involved with the body, we aren’t benefiting those around us.
  2. Devote yourselves to daily Scripture reading: only 48% of Protestants say they read their Bible at least once a week.  It is no wonder we don’t know the Scriptures!  My challenge is to make a habit where daily Bible reading is part of your life.  If you have time for TV, time for relaxation, time for other temporary things you certainly have time to read (or even listen on the car ride to work) the Bible.  Our website has reading plans for you to develop that habit (or simply download the YouVersion Bible app on your smartphone).  This is for your benefit – God won’t love you even more for this (or less for not doing it), but you’ll know Him better and see growth in your own life.
  3. Devote yourselves to getting involved in one of our Growth Group Home Fellowships: these will start in February and will be an excellent opportunity to make deeper connections with one another, chew on what was taught on Sunday morning, and have the type of fellowship that just isn’t available on Sunday mornings.  If your church has small groups or home fellowships, get involved.  They will be a blessing to you and to those around you (since again we need each other).
  4. Devote yourselves to attending at least 2 of the Abide prayer services in January: it is important that corporate prayer is a part of the church’s life.  We meet on Sunday nights from 7-8pm and pray for the needs of the body, for one another, for missions, and other things as the Lord leads.  We don’t pray down a list but seek the Spirit’s moving and directing in how He wants us to pray.  It means there is life in our prayer times and a chance to partner with God in doing His work (prayer is His idea).  Hopefully your church has a time for this and if so, get involved.

I would challenge you to write down your goals and hang them up somewhere you can see.  You are ten times more likely to fulfill your goals if you write them down and have them somewhere you see all the time.  These aren’t to make us legalistic or be used to judge how well we are doing compared to someone else, but to see growth in our lives, the lives of the body, and be able to see that abundant life that Jesus promised that comes only through Him.  Take the challenge!  How much will you press this year?  You can let us know if you use Twitter, Instagram or Facebook with #challenge2015

This blog post comes from the thoughts of the sermon on Philippians 3:12-16 titled “How Much Will You Press This Year” which can be found by clicking here or simply visiting http://www.refugesanger.com/teachings