Sapphire Sky

September 8, 2014

Who is Jesus?

Filed under: praise, theology, Uncategorized — Steve Knaus @ 2:06 am

Who is Jesus?

There may be no one in history with more written about than this man.  Authors have been busy for almost 2,000 years writing pages and volumes that reflect their thoughts of Jesus Christ.

Like the people who lived 2000 years ago, everybody today seems to have an opinion.   He is often called a great teacher, a miracle worker, a martyr. Some say that he was God.

The more I hear from people, the more I see that most people are trying to reinterpret the life of Jesus Christ into a person that they would like to see based on their own wants and needs. Lonely people want a friend. Hurting people want a miracle worker. Liberals like the one who opposed the religious and political establishment. Conservatives like the one who promised to uphold the law. Everybody likes the message of love, although few agree on what it means. The list goes on.

But we have missed the point.  We are looking at Jesus as if he was a cosmic force that exists for our own personal needs. He was a real man. He lived. He died. He came to life again.

Even in Jesus’ own day, people were filled with expectations of who he should be and what he should do for them. One thing is for certain: people who came to Jesus with preconceived notions all went away greatly disappointed.

So who is this man?  The first four books of the New Testament, known as The Gospels, tell us about the life of Christ Jesus and provide excerpts of his work.  The Fourth Gospel, written by John, provides some of the most personal glimpses of Jesus’ life on earth.

John was one of Jesus’ disciples and one of his closest friends. He does not attempt a biography but writes with the point:

 John 20:30-31

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John’s point is twofold: (a) believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and (b) have life when you believe.

I have been challenged to write down what I encounter as I study through John’s book over the next several weeks.  I will try to use this blog as a means to share the most significant discoveries.

 

July 15, 2013

Escaping to Fly High Over Mont Blanc

Filed under: praise, sports, Uncategorized, World etc. — Anthony Biller @ 3:22 pm

This is much more satisfying and inspirational than reading about the Zimmerman-Martin case or the most recent Roberts Court jurisprudential disaster:

June 8, 2013

Learning at the Feet of Moses and Jesus

Filed under: praise, theology, video — Tags: — Anthony Biller @ 9:09 pm

I recently heard Rosario Butterfield refer to her Bible study time as sitting and learning at the feet of Jesus, and Moses, and Paul, and Isaiah and the other prophets and apostles. What an elegant but impacting way to think of it. To what lengths would I go to listen to Jesus or Moses in person? Shouldn’t I simply walk across the room then and pick up my Bible hear what God had them write to me?

Here, a number of Chinese believers receive their first Bibles:

April 21, 2013

Equipping God’s People

Filed under: marriage and family, Ministry, praise — Anthony Biller @ 10:00 pm

Psalm 19:7-9

The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.

We restarted a family integrated Bible study at our church recently, which is fancy speak for a Bible study where everyone is invited – newborns to grandparents.

Andy Wilson teaches Luke about Hebrews 4:12

Andy Wilson teaches Luke about Hebrews 4:12

The class is committed to equipping and encouraging our families to study the Bible together.  We use the Answers Bible Curriculum (“ABC” for short) published by Answers in Genesis.  ABC is a comprehensive curriculum designed to cover the entire Bible.  AiG explains:

Synchronized Sunday school for all ages!

Answers Bible Curriculum is a full-featured, chronological, 3-year Sunday school program. Its 156 lessons are synchronized across 7 age groups from preschool to adults. Each group covers Genesis through Revelation and learns the same material—but at different levels of depth—empowering exciting and easy discussion for the entire family.

The curriculum teaches both what the Bible says and also why we can believe it’s true and how to read it.  In the first few lessons, the family is taught the meaning of inductive Bible studies, the foundational nature of scripture, how to distinguish between exegesis and eisegesis, and fundamental apologetics regarding the truth of scripture.  Great content and all scripture based.

The curriculum is designed for churches, ie student guides, teaching materials and devotionals are organized by age.  AiG is working on but has not yet released a family integrated curriculum; they have, however, released a family weekly devotional that tracks the lessons.  For our class sessions, our leader Andy Wilson reviews the various age group lessons and merges them into a single class designed for all ages.

Perhaps most importantly, it has helped us improve our biblical discipleship within our family.  We engage the same issues together as a family and have detailed study guides to reference and guide us in the Word.  It has already become much easier for my wife and I to disciple our children on important issues of our Christian faith. Praise God!

April 14, 2013

What did Christ finish?

Filed under: encouragement, praise, theology — Anthony Biller @ 9:09 pm

Easter 2013 Message

by Pastor Stephen Daveystaff_davey_smile

John 19:30

There is nothing quite so profound as a person’s final words; especially when that person is aware that they are about to die.

Lady Astor was the first female member of the British House of Commons who used to tangle often with Winston Churchill. She was the woman in that famous conversation where she upbraided Churchill saying that if she were his wife, she’d poison his drink. To which Churchill famously responded, “And if I were your husband, I would drink it.” As she lay on her deathbed at the age of 85, she awakened to find her bed surrounded by her entire family. She grinned and said, “Either I am dying, or this is my birthday.”i

Frank Sinatra’s last words were spoken to his fourth wife – he simply looked up at her and said, “I’m losing” – and then died.ii

Queen Elizabeth I brought England to its greatest world power; literature, education, fashion and glamour flourished under her 40 year reign which ended in the 17th century. As she lay dying, she gasped her final words, “All my possessions for a moment of time.”iii

John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, was finally chased down and trapped in a barn. As soldiers set fire to the barn, Booth was spotted and fatally wounded. After they pulled him out of the barn and away from the fire, Booth lay there with moments to live – he held up his hands and said, “Useless . . . useless.”iv

O. Henry, the famous short story writer and outspoken unbeliever said just before he died, “Turn up the lights – I don’t want to go . . . in the dark.”v

Contrast that to the last words of Charles Spurgeon, the London pastor from the 1800’s who died with these words on his lips – Jesus died for me.

And in His dying breath, Jesus Christ will say just a few words – so profound that believers have read them and studied them and have been nourished by them and strengthened and ready to face life and death because of them.

Why? Because they were words that played out the glory of the gospel in living color – first, with words of agony and separation and suffering, but finally – as he spoke for the last time – words of victory and satisfaction.

We have time for one of Christ’s seven final words or statements – let me invite you to the Gospel of John and chapter 19. Verse 28. After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” 29. A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. 30. Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

If you compare the Gospel accounts, you discover seven things Jesus said during his crucifixion.Rembrandt TheThreeCrosses 1653

We’ll take time for this statement here in verse 30.

The ancient Greeks were proud of the fact that their universal language was able to communicate so much with so few words.

“To be able to give,” as one wrote “an ocean of matter in one drop of language.”vi

It is finished is only one word in the Greek language – tetelestai – one evangelical author wrote that this is the greatest single word ever uttered.vii

In this one word is wrapped up the Gospel of God.

If you’ve ever wanted to know how to be right with God – how to know you’re sins are forgiven – how to know that you can have heaven, guaranteed – it’s bound up in this one word.

It is finished.

And by the way, would you notice that Jesus did not say, “I am finished”, even though in less than 60 seconds he would.

He didn’t say, “I am finished,” but, “It is finished.”

Which is remarkable on a number of fronts, isn’t it?

How often can any of us say, “We finished something?”

I don’t know about you, but my “to-do” list isn’t getting any shorter – it’s getting longer.

I’ll never outrun it.

Think of how many times you’ve said, “I’ve started something” . . . but haven’t been able to say, “I finished it.”

I can remember as a college student, setting out in my spare time to be a salesman selling Amway products? How many others in here have a similar story of success? (more…)

March 30, 2013

HE is risen!

Filed under: encouragement, praise, video — Anthony Biller @ 11:04 pm

A short film about life, death, love and the savior of mankind. Happy Easter!

February 11, 2013

Let The Nations Be Glad

Filed under: Ministry, politics, economy, etc., praise — Anthony Biller @ 10:15 pm

Another Great Awakening is taking place in our world today. More people are becoming Christians than at any other time in history. God’s Spirit is sweeping across the nations of China, South Korea, Australia, Central and South America, Cuba, and parts of Africa drawing more than 82,000 people every day according to recent surveys. However, only 3 to 4% of these daily conversions are occuring in North America

How can our nation become part of this Great Awakening and experience God’s blessings? Let’s look at Psalm 67 for some answers from God’s Word. Although we don’t know who wrote this psalm, we do know that he wanted God to bless his nation and he wanted to be a blessing to others.

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah 2 that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.

Notice that the first thing the psalmist does is go to the Lord in prayer. He begins with a cry for God’s forgiving grace. This is the first step in receiving His blessing. God forgives, then God gives. Then the psalmist asks for God to bless them and give them a realization of His favor and approval. Finally, he asks that God’s ways may be known and His saving power experienced by all the other nations of the world. That’s a great prayer for us to ask of God.

The Lord has blessed us so that we will be a blessing to others. He answers our prayers so that we might become the answer to someone else’s prayer. If we are not sharing the “Good News” of God’s saving power with others, our spiritual life may end up resembling the Dead Sea, a holding pond with no new life or blessing. This certainly is not God’s plan for His people! He wants us to be a channel of His blessings and share them with others.

The psalmist has a passion to know Him and make Him known. God’s will must be known on earth if it is to be done on earth. If people do not know the Lord’s will, how will they ever follow it? In His Word, God revealed His will by extending His grace to unbelievers. He also demonstrated His method through the life of His Son. The way He communicates His will, in addition to studying His Word, is through His people as they share His way with the nations (Matthew 28:19-20; John 14:6).

God chose and blessed Abraham so that he might be a blessing in reaching a lost world with the saving message of His Name (Genesis 12:1-3). Later, He took on flesh and blood and became a man in the person of Jesus Christ, who humbled Himself to the point of death (Philippians 2:8) in order that the “Good News” of salvation might go out to all the nations.

First, God’s grace draws us to Himself; then we gain knowledge of Him as we spend time in His Word; then He gives us the desire to see others experience His saving power; and the result of this process is praise. We cannot see God without His grace and we cannot praise God without knowing Him.

3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! 4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah 5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!

When believers share God’s love and the way of salvation with others, praise results. However, nations will never be glad and sing for joy until they come into a personal relationship with the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ (John 10:11; 1 Peter 2:25; Rev 7:17). Then and only then will they be glad and sing songs of praise and joy.

6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us. 7 God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!

The prayer of the first verse is the song of the last verse. He blesses and blesses and blesses! As we humble ourselves and pray, trust Him and obey Him by sharing His saving power with others, He will meet our needs and cause a Great Awakening to sweep across our nation (John 4:34-35).

One day all the nations of the world will fall down and worship the King of Kings (Isaiah 45: 20-24; Philippians 2:9-11). However, the worldwide worship of God will not become a reality until the “Good News” of Jesus Christ is shared both here in the United States and in the nations of the world.

Ask God how he might want to use you to bless others and see our nation be blessed by Him (Psalm 33:12).

Dave Dagwell
Assistant to the President
Capitol Commission

February 9, 2013

His Image

Filed under: Poem, praise, video — Anthony Biller @ 6:09 pm

January 19, 2013

Have No Fear

Filed under: Poem, praise, video — Anthony Biller @ 7:53 pm

Amena Brown

December 24, 2012

Filed under: praise, theology, Uncategorized — Anthony Biller @ 8:34 am

The greatest miracle … Merry Christmas!

Sapphire Sky

He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.  John 1:10

The infinite and awesome creator of the cosmos took the form of his own creation and subjected himself to the laws of time and death, to save those who rebelled against him.  God’s voluntary subjection to the rebellious brutality of His creation demonstrates the degree to which God hates original sin – pride and conceit.  He did not take the form of an invincible champion to subdue this treacherous and wicked world.  He did not condescend in regal majesty to awe mankind.  Although a tiny nation of chosen people anticipated his arrival, he did not arrive as a heralded conqueror.

Jesus came in the middle of the night as a helpless child.  To the world, God was born a poor child, not in a palace, but in a…

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December 20, 2012

Something More

Filed under: praise, video — Anthony Biller @ 9:26 pm

October 10, 2012

Agape Love

Filed under: Poem, praise — Anthony Biller @ 7:23 am

Soft hands and kind eyes my faithful mate
mothering our children and making our home
the sun quietly rising to kiss her peaceful face

A gift of mountains and oceans so deep
betraying the majestic power and beauty of creation
a sun rising to warm and cheer our fallen race

Our perfect Creator from beyond time
driving out darkness and dying for His lost sheep
the Son rising and saving in an act of amazing grace.

August 3, 2012

The Gospel

Filed under: encouragement, praise, theology, video — Steve Knaus @ 1:42 pm

May 28, 2012

“Beyond Human Comprehension …”

Filed under: encouragement, Life!, praise — Anthony Biller @ 7:05 pm

We remember those that served and gave their lives for our country, or served with the promise to do so if called.  We remember because we know the utter miracle and incredible value of each life.  Each life, each one of us, is a remarkable temple — a miracle — testifying to the power and beauty of the living God.  There is no greater sacrifice for one to give to another or to a country.

In this video courtesy of TED.com, artist-mathematician-computer scientists Alexander Tsiaras provides a brief but visually stunning review of our origins:

April 22, 2012

Lord I Lift Your Name On High!

Filed under: praise, video — Anthony Biller @ 3:32 pm

Petra — the original Christian rocksters …

April 1, 2012

He Reigns!

Filed under: encouragement, praise, video — Anthony Biller @ 2:18 pm

February 27, 2012

Cannons

Filed under: praise, video — Steve Knaus @ 10:39 am

You are holy
Great and Mighty
The moon and the stars
Declare who you are

I’m so unworthy
but still you love me
Forever my heart
Will sing of how great you are

 

Thanks to Phil Wickham for penning these words and putting it to music.

Thanks to God for giving us the universe to show how great he is!

 

February 21, 2012

The Power of the Cross – One of the Best Songs of the Past Ten Years

Filed under: entertainment, music, praise, video — Anthony Biller @ 9:36 pm

The Getty’s are simply divine songwriters and performers.  I could listen to them all day …

November 23, 2011

Proclamation of Thanksgiving

Filed under: culture, praise — Anthony Biller @ 6:07 pm

Proclamation of Thanksgiving
By the President of theUnited States of America.

 The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

 I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of theUnited States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

 In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of theUnited Statesto be affixed.

 Done at the City ofWashington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of theIndependenceof the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

 By the President: Abraham Lincoln

See also, Refuting the Seven Myths of the Radical Left About Thanksgiving By Douglas W. Phillips and Elijah Brown, November 23, 2011

 

November 12, 2011

Our Best Days Are Ahead

Filed under: culture, politics, economy, etc., praise — Anthony Biller @ 5:00 pm

As an undergraduate at Purdue in 1987, one of my Professors, Harry Targ, lectured on the Cold War.  He had just published his book Strategy of an Empire in Decline, in which he explained his belief in the moral, economic and political superiority of communism viz capitalism.  In his mind, the USA Would not long withstand the inexorable and inevitable expansion of the Soviet Union.  He was right regarding the collapse of an empire but wrong about everything else.

While Professor Targ is a run of the mill exemplar of the Marxist-Socialist bias in secondary education, he illuminates a larger point.  He was a full-time academic on the Soviet Union.  In 1986, there wasn’t serious discussion or analysis regarding the forthcoming USSR implosion.  Notwithstanding his expertise on the Soviet Union, Professor Targ didn’t see the collapse coming in a relatively few years.  None of us did.

Life works like that.  Major historical events rarely appear obvious or inevitable as they happen. They are only clear in retrospect, if ever.

In contrast to the failure to foresee the swift and surprising nature of the USSR’s collapse, there are serious red flags that Western liberal democracies in general and the USA in particular have become financially, politically, and morally unhinged.  Spending well beyond the available means is the norm not the exception for governments and families throughout the West. No leading political figure in any way advocates significant spending cutbacks.

We’re politically dysfunctional as the federal government divides fairly equally between those wedded to socialist statism and those that prefer corporate and military statism (while occasionally mouthing traditional conservatism).

Post-modernism has supplants Judeo-Christian beliefs as our moral foundation.  Regarding sex, sexuality and marriage, what had been regarded as immoral, perverse and often illegal in the 1950s, is now acceptable and often routine and laudatory.  When the highly accomplished Coach Paterno was fired for harboring a child molester on his coaching staff, thousands of students at one of our most esteemed Universities protested … not over the sexual improprieties that had occurred between Paterno’s subordinate and boys, but over the fact Paterno was fired over it.  These outraged students are some of our most gifted minds and the future of this country.

There are clouds on our national horizon.

We should however fear and fret not.  One kingdom will last forever, and it’s not our beloved USA.  The everlasting kingdom will provide perfect justice and governance.  As much as I love the USA and what we stand for, that future perfect government has not yet been established on Earth.

The future King of nations will not be delivered via an election.  He will arrive with the sound of trumpets.  Instead of water, he will baptise with fire, providing terribly perfect justice and loving grace.  Under his perfect reign, the curse will be lifted and a new world reborn.  Death will no longer sting and eternity will be a reality.  That day should be our hope for the future.  In Christ and not the works of mankind should we place our faith. Jesus Christ return and his perfect reign will endure forever.  Pray soon.  Amen.

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