Archive for March, 2009

Why Did Judas Betray Christ?

March 29, 2009

Title: Why Did Judas Betray Christ?

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Text: Matthew 20:17-19

Date: March 29th, 2009

There are now are now three Sundays until Easter, including today, and so we continue in our list of four questions concerning Christ’s final days. The first question — why did the Jews want to kill Christ – I asked and tried to answer last week. It wasn’t just the Jews, but also the Gentiles who killed Jesus, and not only the people of the first century, but also all people of all times all had a part to play in the death of Christ, including all of us. Why? Because we are all sinners in need of a Savior, necessitating the need for Jesus to die for our sins as an atoning sacrifice. Today, I’d like to ask and answer the second question – Why did Judas betray Christ? Whenever I ask this question, or whenever it comes up in conversation, there always seems to be someone who answers in a good Calvinist Presbyterian Reformed kind of way, “Judas betrayed Christ because it was ultimately in the Providence of God his part to play in God’s will.” Ok, fair enough. God is sovereign, he is ultimately in control of people, places and things, so in that sense, Judas betrayed Jesus because he was meant to do it. But let’s go further than that today. Let’s try to understand what his motives might have been. Initially, it’s pretty hard to imagine one of Jesus’ disciples doing the thing that Judas did in betraying Christ. That is, it’s hard to imagine Judas or any other one of the twelve disciples of betraying Jesus. By betraying, I mean handing or arranging for Jesus’ capture by the Jewish religious authorities who wanted to arrest and execute him for what they considered blasphemy and false teachings. It’s hard to imagine one of the twelve disciples wanting to hand Jesus – their Master and Teacher – over to the authorities who hated him. After all, Jesus had hand picked these twelve men; he trusted these twelve men; and he loved them and apparently they loved him also. We don’t read about any real big split or division or conflict between Jesus and his disciples, at least anything major. Sure, there were minor offenses, for example, the time Jesus told the apostle Peter, “Get thee behind me Satan.” Or there might have been some hurt feelings at times when Jesus rebuked his disciples for exhibiting a lack of faith or trust in him. There were times when some disciples got jealous or resentful of other disciples, as in the time when two requested special positions in the final Kingdom of God; when the others heard about that they resented the other two for making such a request of Jesus. And probably there were other divisions and differences that weren’t recorded for public record but nothing that rose to the level of a crisis. So it’s very curious as to why someone like Judas would betray Jesus at all. But we know that there had to be reasons. We may not know until we die and are ushered into eternity. It’s the same, I guess, with the question of why Lucifer, the good angel who turned bad, rebelled against God. We may not know until eternity why such a thing could happen. But we can speculate, based on the biblical record, why Judas betrayed Christ. That’s what I’d like to do today. Why do so? What help is it for us today? Because we just might learn something about following Christ and some temptations and pitfalls to avoid as disciples. Judas was a disciple of Jesus but he fell away. Let’s not make the same mistakes in our walk with the Lord. Maybe we can learn to avoid them by reviewing his motives. Matthew 20:17-19, “Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day his will be raised to life.’” Let me mention three possible motives for Judas betraying Christ. (more…)

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Why Did They Kill Jesus Christ?

March 22, 2009

Title: Why Did They Kill Jesus Christ?

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Date: March 22nd, 2009

There are four Sundays, including this one, until Easter, so we are going to take a break from talking about the economic recession and our response to it as Christians. Today, I’m starting a four part series on Easter, and I’ll be examining four basic questions over the next few weeks: One, why did they kill Jesus Christ? Two, why did Judas betray Jesus Christ? Three, why did Jesus need to die? Four, why did Jesus need to rise from the dead? Matthew 20:17-19 touches on all four of these themes: “Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life.’” So we see the four topics described in this one simple verse. The four gospels explain the last few days of Jesus’ life more than any other part of his life because in the wider scope of things, the death and resurrection of Christ means the most to us in our eternal salvation. I wouldn’t go so far as to say there are parts of the life of Christ that could be omitted, but I will say that you can’t eliminate the last few days of Jesus’ life and still have the gospel or salvation. In fact, if Jesus had lived his life exactly as described in the four Gospels all except the last few days, we wouldn’t be here today talking about Christianity because there probably wouldn’t have been any Christian faith, and there certainly wouldn’t be the gospel of salvation. So the last few days of Christ’s life are most important. That’s why we have to understand these last few days of Jesus’ life if we are to understand the whole point and purpose of Christianity. Today, we live in a fully modern world, where there is a rising standard of living, where inventions and technological breakthroughs give us newer and better products for living, but even in the midst of these exciting things we are losing the point and purpose of life. I think the old phrase, “All dressed up and no place to go” perfectly describes our day and age. We’ve got newer and nicer things, but we don’t seem to remember why we are getting all dressed up fancy to begin with. It reminds me of another story I heard about passengers on an airplane that encountered severe weather turbulence while in flight. One worried passenger knocked on the cabin door and asked the pilate if he had any idea where they were; he was concerned that they might become lost in the storm. To which the pilate responded, “No, I have no idea where we are, but we are making good time.” That’s just like our secular day and age we live in. It’s making great time, but it hasn’t got a clue where it’s going or why it’s here in the first place. Easter, the account of the death and resurrection of Jesus, supplies our lives once again with meaning and purpose, because it helps us understand the whole point of living – why we are here in the first place and where we are going, and why these things matter. So without any further delay, let me begin with our first question – why did they kill Jesus Christ? (more…)

Turning to Prayer During Financially Tough Times

March 9, 2009

Title: Turning to Prayer During Financially Tough Times

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Text: Philippians 4:6-7, Matthew 6:5-13, 7:7-11

Date: March 8th, 2009

If you watch the television news or listen to the radio or read the newspapers the thing you’ll hear over and over again is how bad the economy is and how more and more people are losing their jobs or losing their homes. If you listen you hear how companies are losing money or going out of business. You’ll hear about governments trying to stimulate the economies of their nations by borrowing and then putting that money into the economy in an effort to get things working properly. Closer to home, we hear about local businesses closing or laying off workers. We see and hear people going on unemployment and looking for work. We learn of cuts in local budgets for school, police, fire services, etc. and we wonder how far all of this will go. For most people, they’ve never experienced anything like this during their lifetime. Very few people alive today have experienced the Great Depression, so this is new to almost everyone. But the economic situation keeps getting worse and worse – by modern American standards. We must not forget that for most of the world, our recession would actually be a positive economic situation, since most of the world lives at or around poverty level. Think of nations such as India and most of the countries of Africa. But for us Americans, these are difficult times simply because we’ve known only prosperity and being forced to live with a troubled economy is something we aren’t used to doing. But the question is how should a Christian respond to economically troubled times? Last week I talked about the importance of standing on the promises of God during financially troubling times. This week I’d like to talk about depending on prayer during bad economic times. Most of the time when there is nothing wrong with the economy and things are going well most people neglect prayer. It’s only normal and natural for people to put off prayer when times are good. In the Old Testament we see this pattern of neglect regularly in the history of the Jews. When things were difficult and times were hard the Jews turned to God in faith and prayer, but just as soon as God delivered them from trouble they forget about God and neglected prayer. They got over-confident in themselves and turned away from God and pursued their own will and way in life. That happens to Christians today also. For many years now things have been going relatively well for Americans; prayer was seen as optional, something that could be done or should be done, but not a necessity for survival in life. But now things are changing. People are experiencing worry and stress and struggle on a scale they haven’t seen in a long time if ever. How will they respond? With faith or fear? Will we turn to God in prayer or will we turn to ourselves with our own plans of self-help? For the true Christian, prayer is the answer to economic troubles. So today, let me examine a few biblical passages that explain the importance of prayer so that we can apply them to our economic difficulties today. (more…)

Don’t Forget God During the Good Times

March 9, 2009

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God’s Promises to Stand on During Financially Tough Times

March 1, 2009

Title: God’s Promises to Stand on During Financially Tough Times

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Text: Matthew 6:33-34, Philippians 4:19, 4:6-7

Date: February 22nd, 2009

Every day on the news we hear about how bad the economy is, especially the housing market and the banks. We hear how hard it is to get credit in order to buy homes or cars and what economists call “big ticket” items like washers, dryers, refrigerators, etc. To make matters worse, many companies are laying off workers and scaling down because people simply aren’t buying as many products as before. People are instinctively cutting back on expenses and that causes companies to cut their costs, and it’s a downward spiral. With more people out of work and more people losing their homes to foreclosure and more people trying to cut back – there is no question that we are in challenging financial times. But how shall a believer respond to such a challenge? How should a follower of Jesus react to all the financial pressures closing in? Well it’s pretty clear that there should be a clear distinction between the way a faithful follower of Christ reacts to financial pressures and the way a non-believer might react. After all, it’s during the tough times that our faith is tested. During difficult times our faith is put to the test and reveals whether or not we really, truly believe in God and God’s promises. Will we respond with fear as the world does or will we respond with greater faith and trust in God? Well, it’s obvious that the believer should respond with faith, but faith in what? Certainly not faith in ourselves or our own cleverness. Clearly not faith in our government or even the “spirit of the American people,” as some politicians likes to flatter their constituents. Our faith should respond to financial crises, or any crisis, with greater trust in God and in God’s Word. Practically speaking, that means we should respond in prayer and in standing on the Promises of God. We find our comfort, hope and peace in God and God’s Word, not in the things of the world. But in order to put our faith in God and God’s Word we have to know how to do it. Today, I’d like to talk about standing on the Promises of God during financially tough times. Then, next week I’ll talk about how to trust in God through practical prayer during a financial crisis. It’s not enough to believe in prayer and God’s Word, but when the times of testing come we must actually turn to God and God’s Word in practice. How is that done? That’s what I’d like to talk about today this morning. Do you know how to find God’s promises for finances? And then, once you find a promise from God concerning money, do you know how to stand on that promise? I’ll try to explain how that is done as well? I don’t claim to be an expert in finances, nor do I claim to be an expert on the Bible, but what I do know is that God’s Word gives us promises to trust and I’d like to explain how to do that today. I’ve had to stand on these promises time and time again, and God has never let me down. I might not always get what I want financially, but I always get what I need from God. Let’s look at three of God’s promises concerning finances. (more…)