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Resurrection, Judgment, Destiny

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For the majority of Christians, eschatology looks something like this: one day the world is going to get so bad that Jesus comes back. When he does, all of his followers are going to be transported to heaven to be with him forever. Shortly after this, the world will get even worse, until the earth is finally destroyed by God. Then, everyone will be judged, and God's people will live with him forever while everyone else suffers for eternity away from God. The view of what happens when we die is similar among many Christians: when we die, we will go to heaven or hell, and that is where we will stay for all of eternity. However, it may surprise some to realize that this is not the portrait that the Bible paints. Rather, there is quite a bit more going on than just God providing a means of escape from a bad world. For this, we need to dive into another lesson on eschatology. The final Article of Faith of the Church of the Nazarene states that: "We believe in the resurrectio

Ten Facts About John Wesley

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 If you are part of my tradition, you have John Wesley as one of your spiritual grandfathers. While John Wesley is known for quite a few things, there are some facts about John Wesley that you may not be entirely aware of. In this post, I would like to review some of those things that John Wesley is known for, as well as some of the things that he is not known for. Hopefully, this exercise will help you come to know the father of the Methodist movement a little bit better. 1. John Wesley was the 15th of 19 children . You read that right. John Wesley's parents, Samuel and Susanna Wesley, had 19 children, including John Wesley and his brother Charles. If this seems insane to you, then you should also consider that Susanna Wesley came from a family of 25 children. I suppose that they just wanted a large family. Either way, they got it. John Wesley was born on June 17, 1703. 2. John Wesley wrote a best-selling medical textbook. We don't typically think of church leaders and theolog

How To Fast

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  Photo by  jamie he  from  Pexels Scripture : Matthew 6:16-18 Most people reading this post, at least in the United States, will never have fasted in the biblical sense. This is despite the fact that fasting has such a strong presence in the Bible. In fact, according to Donald Whitney of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, fasting is mentioned some 77 times in the Bible, while baptism is mentioned approximately 75 times. This does not mean that fasting is more important than baptism, but it does make us stop and think about the amount of emphasis we place on fasting over against the emphasis placed on fasting in Scripture. Fasting also has a strong presence in the history of the Church, and it appears to be only more recently (in the big picture) that fasting has gone out of style among Christians. This raises the question of why we do not fast. Let me share some of my thoughts on this. It seems to me that many Christians do not fast because they do not value it. That is, it i

The Lord's Prayer

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  Scripture : Matthew 6:9-15 Many of us memorized much of the passage in front of us today as we grew up in Sunday School. We memorized this, along with Psalm 23 and a few other passages of Scripture, because they are so dear to understanding who God is. The passage in front of us is important because of what it reveals about God and what it tells us about our own prayer lives. It is important to note that the words that Jesus used in this prayer were not that much different from what would have been expected by any other rabbi in his day. This passage continues the previous one, in which Jesus condemns hypocritical prayer that is self-focused. In this passage, Jesus is commanding his disciples to ensure that their prayer is God-focused. In this way, this passage serves as an extension to Matthew 6:5-8. Whereas the previous passage dealt primarily with how not to pray, this passage is instruction on what prayer is supposed to look like. Jesus was not  trying to give a prayer that is to

How To Study Scripture

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Scripture study is a vital spiritual discipline. Yet according to various studies, few people have even read the Bible the entire way through. I quote from another article that I wrote some time back: " According to  Lifeway Research , only about 20% of Americans have read the Bible at least once. Approximately 53% of those polled have read less than half of the Bible. and another 15% has read at least half of it, but not enough to claim that they have read "almost all of it." In short, we have a bunch of people who have access to the Bible, but do not read it." If these statistics don't make the picture clear, I don't know what will. While Scripture study is as necessary to our spiritual growth as eating is to our survival, there are quite a few people who simply do not make Scripture study the priority that it needs to be. Kenneth Berding, a professor at Biola University makes a significant point. After noting that biblical illiteracy often causes indi

Hypocrisy In Prayer

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  Scripture : Matthew 6:5-8 Prayer is fundamental to the Christian life. At its core, it is a means of communication with God and a means of developing our relationship with Christ and the Holy Spirit. If you are a Christian, you should be praying. However, did you know that it is possible for us to pray in the wrong way? Jesus addressed this issue in the passage that is in front of us today. Proper prayer is part of orthopraxy (right living), and as Christians, we cannot afford to get prayer wrong. Let's take a look at what Jesus had to say about how we should pray. Jesus begins this passage by reminding the disciples that they are to be people of prayer. Notice that Jesus did not say "If you pray........pray like this." Rather, Jesus said " When  you pray, you must not be like......." For the Christian, a healthy prayer life is not optional. Jesus commanded his disciples to be people of prayer, and he appears to assume that they would be so. Indeed, we see pra

How To Be Charitable

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  Scripture: Matthew 6:1-4 Let's be honest: We have all run across people who were charitable for the wrong reasons. We have all seen videos of people who recorded their acts of charity for the purpose of showing it off on social media later. These people are seeking personal fame for themselves. That is what they want from the charity work that they do. For many, it isn't really about other people. Rather, it is about them. We all know someone like this, and it gets on our nerves. We know that it is not right for someone to take a charitable deed and use it for their own glory. Perhaps the reason we get so frustrated at seeing this is because this is not the way that things are supposed to be. At least, this is the point that Jesus is making in the passage in front of us today. Instead of using charity as a means of bringing personal glory, Jesus reveals the real heart of charity. Jesus begins in this passage by commanding his disciples to be careful that they do not practice

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