If you want to learn about God and His ways, then learn to study this wonderful book God has given to us, the Bible. It is the user’s manual to life. It tells us what is right and wrong and what is good and evil. It tells us how to live, how to do business, how to have a successful marriage, and much, much more.
But most importantly, the Bible tells us how to know and walk with God. In fact, everything you need to know about God is found in the pages of the Bible. That is why Abraham Lincoln said of the Bible, “All of the good from the Savior is communicated through this Book. All things that are desirable to man are contained in it.”
Crack the book.
Sadly, many people today own Bibles but seldom read them. As many as 93 percent of Americans own at least one Bible, but little more than half read it, and only 25 percent read it every day.
Yet success or failure in the Christian life is determined by how much the Bible you get into your heart and mind every day, and then by how completely you obey its instructions.
More Important Than Food
Think about that for a moment.
If you want to grow spiritually, then regular Bible reading must become a part of your life. It is essential. It is not something you will outgrow, any more than you will outgrow eating or breathing. When you begin to grasp the central place Scripture must command in your life, then you will start to appreciate Job’s words about it: “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12).
Today is Memorial day.
For many, this is a day off to spend with family and friends. For others, it’s the official start of the summer holidays.
But for some today, it’s a time for deep sadness. For they remember the ultimate sacrifice their loved one made defending our freedoms.
These courageous soldiers gave their lives for what I believe is the greatest country on the face of the earth:
The United States of America!
Stars and Stripes
I think it’s sad that many Americans are not flying the stars and stripes today. On my block, my next-door neighbor and I are the only ones. It’s the least we can do to honor the fallen.
So, happy Memorial Day everyone!
Enjoy your BBQ’s and time with family and friends. And remember those that died to help make that possible.
Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay his life down for His friends.”
P.S. – Put out an American flag as well!
Excuses, Excuses. . .
We have all heard them and we have at one time or another offered one up.
Simply put, an excuse is what we use when we don’t want to do something. It is completely different than a reason.
Fact is, an excuse is nothing more then a lie that’s dressed up a bit.
We offer excuses as to why we can’t read our Bibles, go to church, and of course why we won’t come to Christ.
In Matthew 22, Jesus talked about this very topic.
I will be speaking on this at Harvest this Sunday in my message from the Follow Me! series in the Gospel of Matthew.
My message title is “What’s Your Excuse?”
I almost gave my message the title “Cat Did It.” You will have to listen to understand that reference.
Our service times at Harvest Riverside are 7:30/9:30/11:30 AM and 5:00 PM.
Harvest Orange County service times are 9:30 and 11:30 AM.
For more info, or to watch the live webcast, go to www.harvest.org
We tend to put on pedestals the first-century believers and, in particular, the apostles.
We imagine them speaking in King James English, perfectly living out God’s commandments and boasting stained glass lives.
Yet the biblical accounts of their lives give us no such illusions. If we had lived back then and met these men and women, the last thing we would have thought was, I think these people will change their world. They were common, salt-of-the-earth-type individuals.
They had calloused hands and few social graces. We would have considered them uneducated, with a limited knowledge of the world.
They had no money and undefined leadership structures. I doubt we would have bet too much on their future.
But something happens to a person when he witnesses the glory of Jesus.
The sight has a way of changing one’s perspective. It certainly had a dramatic impact on these men and women.
One of the things I love about the Bible is that it’s a thoroughly honest book. When it describes those whom God used, it presents them with shortcomings and all. That is one of the reasons I so appreciate the Bible. It gives hope to people like me, who so often fall short. We think, If God can use someone like that, then maybe there is hope for me. And that is precisely the point. God recorded even the embarrassing and unsavory aspects of His dealings with His people, so we can understand that He wants to work through us despite our weakness.
I will have the privilege of interviewing him.
The service starts at 7:00 pm, PST. It will be webcast live at www.harvest.org
Here is the rest of his amazing story that I wrote about in my last post:
Altogether, Louis spent 47 days in the South Pacific before he was found and sent to a POW camp. There he experienced torture that is unthinkable, and one guard, who was nicknamed “The Bird” was especially cruel to Louis. He knew Zamperini was an Olympic runner, so he was especially harsh—beating him daily and leaving him unconscious.
The war finally ended and Louis was a man risen from the dead. He married, but then his life began to unravel. Tormented by flashbacks of his torture from The Bird, he descended into a spiral of alcoholism. He dedicated his life to returning to Japan in order to find and kill The Bird.
Every night he dreamed of this cruel guard attacking him and would wake up in a cold sweat. One night Louis had a dream of choking The Bird to death and awoke to find his hands around the neck of his horrified and choking wife. It got so bad, his wife decided to divorce him.
But someone invited her to go to a tent that had been set up for a visiting evangelist. It was 1949, and that evangelist’s name was Billy Graham. Louis’s wife accepted Christ that night and decided to not divorce Louis and pressed him to come hear Billy Graham speak.
Louis resisted but finally went. He bolted out when Billy gave the invitation, but returned another night, after more pressure, and wanted to leave when Billy again gave the invitation. Then Louis Zamperini came under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and remembered something he had said to God. When he was on the life raft, in the middle of the Pacific, he said, “God, spare my life through the war, and I’ll seek You and serve You.”
Louis kept thinking, “I came back from the war alive, and I never even thought about those prayers. I never tried to keep one prayer.”
Louis went forward at Billy’s invitation and gave his life to Jesus Christ. In an interview, he said, “I got off my knees and somehow I knew I was through getting drunk. I knew it. I also knew that I forgave all my guards including The Bird. I think proof of that is I had nightmares every night about The Bird since the war. I haven’t had a nightmare since the night I made my decision for Christ—1949 till now!”
That is some kind of a miracle. The young boy, who grew up always wanting to get even, came full circle. He forgave all of his guards, including The Bird. He traveled to Japan, visiting many of those guards in prison, shared his testimony, and led a number of them to Christ.
He has spent the rest of his life telling others to forgive. Louis is now 94 and living in Los Angeles and they are making a movie about his life.
We talk about heroes today as people who can play chords on a guitar or put a ball in a basket. Though those things may be impressive they are not heroic.
If you want to meet a genuine American hero, come to Harvest Riverside tomorrow night or Harvest Orange County on Thursday night. There you will meet Louis Zamperini.
His story is told in the New York Times bestseller, Unbroken.
The son of Italian immigrants, Louis was born in 1917. Soon after his family moved from NYC to the city of Torrance, California, he started getting into trouble. He spoke no English and he was picked on, so he learned to defend himself.
He said in an interview, “I was beating the tar out of every one of them…But I was so good at it that I started relishing the idea of getting even. I was sort of addicted to it.” He was smoking by age five, beating kids up, and stealing beer from bootleggers.
His older brother was his polar opposite. He was polite, got good grades, and received a scholarship to run track at USC. He saw this same potential in Louis and urged him to run.
At first Louis resisted, but he discovered he had a real knack for running, which ultimately resulted in him getting a scholarship at USC and running in the Olympics in Germany. They called him “The Torrance Tornado.”
In the 5000-meter Olympic final, Louis finished eighth, but ran the last quarter mile in just 56 seconds. He was so fast, that Adolf Hitler himself insisted on meeting him. Louis said, “So I went over to see him. He reached down, shook my hand kind of flimsy-like and said, ‘Ah, the boy with the fast finish.’ ”
The Nazis were coming into power and soon World War 2 broke out. Louis joined the Air Force and became a B-24 Bombardier and cheated death many times, earning the nickname “Lucky Louis.”
But one day, he wasn’t so lucky…
The Green Hornet
Louis’s plane, “the Green Hornet,” was shot down over the Pacific and it crashed into the ocean, 800 miles south of Hawaii. Out of 11 men, only three survived.
They were now floating in the middle of 65 million square miles of water. They were soon surrounded by sharks, which bumped against their partially deflated life raft. They survived by killing albatross that landed on their raft, using them for bait.
One night, a 20-foot great white shark cruised by and they prayed for protection. Louis was not a Christian, but said prayers he had seen in movies.
Louis Zamperini was officially declared dead by the U.S. government. After 27 days at sea, they were spotted by an aircraft. They fired their flare gun in hopes of rescue, only to realize it was a Japanese aircraft, which then strafed them with bullets. The others huddled while Louis dove in the water, fighting off the sharks with his bare hands.
Despite all of this, things were still to get worse for Louis…
When I travel, I take my laptop computer with me, because I try to work on my messages. But often I must work off the battery, so whenever I get the opportunity, I plug in to the nearest electrical outlet. Why? Because my battery is running down, and I need to recharge.
I think a lot of us function that way as believers. We come to church and get plugged in spiritually, and then we try to run off that energy all week long. We don’t realize that the power is wherever we go. We need to get plugged in all the time.
But we have to make time for it. We must grab it where we can get it. Read some Scripture verses when you get up in the morning. Listen to some worship music or a Bible study on your way to work or school. Take the moments where you can find them to plug in constantly and stay tapped into all that God has for you.
The Bible is our portable battery. We can take it with us everywhere, and it will always provide us with the energy and inspiration we need to keep moving forward. So when you are feeling distressed, or you are not sure you have the energy to keep spreading the message, make sure to spend time in the Word. Plug yourself into the outlet of God’s truth that always keeps you charged.
Is there a right and wrong way to pray?
Find out answers TODAY at Harvest Riverside and Orange County.
Special music by Francesca Battistelli.
7:30/9:30/11:30 am and 5:00 pm.
Find out more or watch the webcast at http://www.harvest.org/
By now you have heard of the ‘predictions’ of a man named Harold Camping.
He has gotten quite a bit of press over his prediction that the world will come to an end on May 21, 2011. I’m not going to even go into how he says he arrived at that conclusion, but instead I will just cut to the chase.
He is wrong.
By the way, this is not the first time he has made this prediction. The last time was on September 6, 1994. Needless to say, that did not pan out.
You might say, “But how do you know that he is wrong?” That is a valid question. My answer is because the next event on the prophetic calendar is the rapture of the church, not “the end of the world.”
The Rapture is that event when all true believers are called to meet the Lord in the air (see 1 Thessalonians 4:17). Then the tribulation period, which will last for seven years, will begin and at the end of that will come God’s judgment with the second coming of Jesus.
No one knows the day or hour.
As to when Jesus will come for His church in the Rapture, we cannot know that date. In Acts 1:7, Jesus said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” In Matthew 24:36, Christ taught similarly: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”
So, because of the misguided notions of Mr. Camping, there are going to be some disillusioned people on May 22, 2011. But none of them will be people who have carefully studied the Scripture, only those who have effectively ignored it.
Jesus is coming!
In response to Camping’s misguided predictions, atheists in the United States are planning “Rapture after parties” as a way of making light of Camping’s predictions and really the very idea that Jesus is returning. That is a foolish thing to do, because there will come a day when Jesus will return.
Scripture warns about this:
“First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation'” (2 Peter 3:3 NIV).
God then reminds us that He keeps His promises, and He has promised to come again.
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8).
The end of your world may come even sooner.
While I do not believe the end of the world is coming on May 21, let me add the ‘end of your world’ (or mine) could come on any day. By that I mean the day when you and I die.
That is why we need to all make sure our lives are right with God and we are walking closely with him.
The Bible says we need to “prepare to meet our God” (Amos 4:12). Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people.
Are you ready to meet the Lord face to face? Only those who have put their complete trust and faith in Jesus Christ are.
We are reminded of how we are to be living as believers as we await Christ’s return, in 2 Peter 3:14, “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him.”
Everyone loves to hear secrets, don’t they?
I have some great secrets to share with you tonight at Harvest Orange County.
We continue in our new series based on the Book of Acts, Upside-Down Living. Our topic tonight is “Secrets of the Early Church.”
How is it that this handful of believers from the 1st century effectively turned their world upside down? Or should I say right side up?
Scripture says, ” ‘Paul and Silas have turned the rest of the world upside down, and now they are here disturbing our city,’ they shouted” (Acts 17:6)
Peter did not tweet.
Within 30 years, the original 120 and their converts changed their world. Yet they did not have great buildings or modern technology at their disposal.
The Apostle John did not have a TV show and the Apostle Paul was not on radio. Thomas did not have a Facebook page and Peter did not Tweet.
Yet, somehow, without all of this, they changed the world. . .for the better!
Let’s find out how, tonight at Harvest Orange County.
For more info, go to http://www.harvest.org/church/campuses/orange-county.html