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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Video Vision

For those who think truth is relative, and that method is more important than message, and that postmodern is "cool", well, here is a needed adjustment to your glasses...

Thanks to our friends the Pyromaniacs



“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Saturday Sermon: Staying or Straying

1 Timothy 1:3-7

In looking at the “Pastoral Epistles” we are getting an insider look, as a fly on the wall, as we saw with Titus 2. Also we see this in Matthew 28:18-20 – if these are the things they were supposed to teach, then these are the things we are supposed to be doing. Here Paul is teaching Timothy diligence and discernment, and everyone can learn from this.

Vs.3As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine,

Stay in Ephesus and stay with the scriptures. The importance of doctrine cannot be overestimated. Paul had already talked to Timothy personally about it, now he puts it in writing. Just because it seems that false doctrine is pervasive and truth is scarce and no one is listening or learning doesn’t mean it is time to leave. Certain persons were overthrowing the faith of many, and it is important that true shepherds and true believers contend for the faith, fight the wolves, correct, rebuke, admonish and exhort believers, rooting out those little pet doctrines that have ingrained themselves into individual lives and spread out unawares to others in the congregation.

What would be the “different doctrine” Paul was warning about? It would be anything not echoed by the New Testament writers, or logically derived from New Testament concepts, something that wasn’t related to the Gospel. Trying to reinvigorate OT types and shadows as offering some sort of new blessing is speculation at best.

2 Corinthians 11:4,12-15 / Galatians 1:6-9 – Continue in the doctrine as Paul had taught, something new wasn’t something true. Timothy was to charge people that they teach only apostolic doctrine. Of course even old doctrines can be new to our ears. We do need to teach the old doctrines in ways that engage our lives today, but they aren’t new truths. Paul is saying that there is absolute, unchangeable, spiritual truth, and that the Apostles were preaching it, and that they had a corner on it!

Paul’s concern was not primarily that Timothy himself would begin to teach wrong doctrine. His concern was that Timothy would allow others to spread these other doctrines. Timothy had to stand firm against difficult people. No wonder he felt like leaving Ephesus. He wasn’t to present the option of correct doctrine, he was to charge, to command it like a military officer.

Vs.4nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.

Promoting speculation or stewardship? What you are devoted to is what you will promote. Some promote myth / magic / superstition / speculation instead of God’s redemptive plan, and how it works out through all of life. Silly distractions may be popular and fascinating in the short term, but in the long run they don’t build up the body of Christ in faith. Doctrine is important, but it is Gospel doctrine, and is simple and yet profound, not some esoteric mysticism as purveyed by the gnostics or reinvented or reinvigorated law keeping as taught by the Judaizers.

Vs.5The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Right teaching MUST be under-girded by right goals. We aren’t all the way there yet, but this is where we are to be going toward, and those other things lead us the wrong way, bad doctrine makes for bad practice. It is not that being good in practice means we necessarily have good doctrine (it can be a shadow for a while) but that right doctrine will lead to right practice.

The foundation is faith and the end result is love. Correct stewardship of the faith, correct doctrine, will lead to correct and true love. Those qualities are the wellspring of love, and they issue from a correct understanding and faith in true doctrine. And what Paul had taught Timothy was correct doctrine, which is what we need, and we don’t need new things Paul didn’t teach.

The charge is good doctrine, that is the first thing, not that if we find our way to these qualities, or that if we come to these ends, that our doctrine is okay, but that we need our doctrine to line up rightly and these qualities will be okay. Paul tells Timothy why he needs to be concerned with correct doctrine, so that these other qualities will be right. True doctrine will result in a pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith that will make for true love. If someone or something looks like true love, but it doesn’t come from true doctrine, if they don’t have true doctrine they don’t have true love, no matter how it looks or works.

The aim of the charge is love, but not any old type of love, but love that issues from these qualities and that love is made by doctrine. If someone seemingly has these qualities but not true doctrine it isn’t true love that issues forth. The charge is about right doctrine, and the aim of having right doctrine is having the right love, which issues from these qualities, which have been formed by the stewardship of faith, correct doctrine.

Again lets get the order right, so that we can have discernment, and so we don’t fall for a counterfeit. Good doctrine, the doctrine of the Apostles, the doctrines Paul taught in his epistles, it leads to a truthful state, one that has a pure heart, etc. and from this comes true love. Paul makes the connection between doctrine and God’s love clear in this passage. We can see people do all sorts of good things, and they are good as far as helping humanity, but if these people organizations, religions etc do not have the right doctrine then that love is only born out of common grace, not out of agape love, and not out of the stewardship of true, saving faith. A Muslim or a Mormon can have a pure heart toward their god a good conscience and be sincere and love out of those things but it still wouldn’t be a true, godly agape love because it isn’t done from true doctrine.

They say “doctrine divides”, well I like to say it better, doctrine discerns…The word of God discerns (Hebrews 4:12), its teachings discern, not our feelings as foremost or other qualities, but the Bible and its teachings, and we line up and mature and grow in our discernment as we grow in God’s Word, and then we can discern more accurately (Philippians 1:9-11).

That is why we have some people, who know the Word of God in truth, these people can instantly know if some things are wrong, because they see something that doesn’t line up with biblical teaching. It is not those who get a spooky feeling about it, but those who have renewed their mind and been trained over time to discern. It isn’t their discern-o-meter, or some overtly mystical thing, but that their biblically informed conscience is working well. Yes, it can start out like a “check this out further”, or “check” in our spirit, but our goal should be to go from the “check” or “something doesn’t seem right” experience to the “I know this isn’t right because” experience, and this can happen as we get to know true doctrine more clearly over time.

It is okay, and actually it is very good if we sense something isn’t quite right, and we can’t quite put a finger on it, and so we go and check it according to the Bible (Acts 17:11). It is a right thing to do to test things (1 Thessalonians 5:21), but we want to grow up in God’s Word so much that we know it so well that we can test things quicker and more accurately and we can put a finger on it immediately. So the test isn’t if something seems pure, good, or sincere, but if it matches correct doctrine. A love for the truth, that is what Paul was teaching Timothy, and that was what the false teachers were and always are straying from.

Not that these things are the measure of good doctrine, but that Paul was wanting Timothy to teach good doctrine, and so the love, etc. would be in accordance with godliness. Purity, conscience, and sincerity are not the arbiters of truth. True doctrine will lead to a love that is truthfully pure hearted, has a truthfully good conscience, and a truthfully sincere faith, a true faith grounded in truth. One can be loving, pure in devotion, have a seemingly clean conscience, and be sincere, but still be wrong. Paul isn’t saying that these qualities are what make up good and true doctrine. Paul is saying to stick to true doctrine, as he has taught, and then you will be loving out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. (Agape, the God kind of love).

Not good doctrine issues from these qualities but good doctrine will issue out these, true love issuing from truth. Ask yourself; do a truly pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith come from us or from God, from being grounded in His truth or from our own efforts? Yes, we want sincere faith, a good conscience, and a pure heart, which will result in true agape love, and these are acquired through God Himself, and He relays these through the renewing of our minds by the truths of the Gospel, by true and right doctrines.

Let’s apply this right now. Speaking of truth before feelings, notice he doesn’t tell Timothy (or Titus) to make sure they have a great praise band! The Pastoral Epistles seem to be silent on the style and content of music. Or are they? Indeed they are not, for if Paul continues on and on about doctrine, then the means of which it is delivered must also adhere to his strictures. By his silence Paul isn’t saying anything goes, especially if it is loving, has a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. No he is saying that good doctrine will lead to those qualities in truth, which would lead to good music choices. He isn’t saying anything goes he is saying anything that goes must go according to his doctrine. When he says doctrine he means Gospel.

He isn’t implying that music isn’t important but he is obviously intending to say that music is secondary, it is an instrument for doctrine, doctrine first, and music as a means of delivery of doctrine. By concentrating on doctrine Paul doesn’t say don’t do music he is saying that all our music should be doctrinal leading to devotional. Right devotion is informed by right doctrine.

Music teaches us something, not just by what it says but also by what it doesn’t. If it is only fluff with no meat it is teaching us that doctrine doesn’t matter. It obviously does to Paul and to God since the NT focuses on teaching, and so obviously the content of our songs of worship must be doctrinally rich if they are to be biblically sound. Paul doesn’t downplay worship; he exalts it by exalting the Bible! First things first: in keeping his students focused on doctrine, he is keeping them focused on the content of their worship. It isn’t that “worship” is unimportant, but that it is, so much so that it needs to be seen in the right order. Focusing on the Bible will help us to focus correctly in worship.

Vs.6Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion,

They stray from teaching these qualities that issue from good doctrine, they go from a pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith into vain discussions, silly distractions, and such. They are straying from a love for the truth, and led by their desire to be teaching so-called deep truths. Paul is telling Timothy that he is down in the depths and that he has given Timothy the deep truths, and that if others are trying to go “deeper’ they are leading people astray.

Looking at verses 4,6, and 7 we see that the evil that the enemy sought to introduce, with regard to doctrine, had a twofold character; fables of human imagination, and the introduction of the law into Christianity. The first he dismisses as human folly, but the second he explains in verses 8-13, because the law does have its proper use. The law is to bring us to Christ.

In 2 Timothy 2:25-26, Paul appears to speak of believers who have been led astray through false teaching. Satan thus strives to hold people captive to do his will by deceiving them to believe what is false and misleading. If nothing else, this text emphasizes how crucial sound doctrine is. Elders must rebuke but eventually may need to remove those who lead others astray.

True love is never served by compromising the truth. There is no greater expression of love for another than the willingness to make painful and unpopular decisions for the sake of bringing an errant brother into the light. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends (John 15:13 – ESV). Lay down his life for his friend, willing to be wounded because of the backlash, waiting for God to vindicate the position and the truth of the friendship. Long term compassion for them rather than short term comfort for you. Timothy, you may die in the short term, but they live in the long term.

Vs.7desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

Right teaching MUST be under-girded by right goals. What is your desire, to teach the law or to teach love? Is your goal born from a love for being a teacher or from a love for the teachings themselves? Look at the words Paul uses in this passage, right doctrine is more important than personal devotion and desire. Of course there are those who have right doctrine but only in their heads, but right doctrine held rightly leads to right personal devotion and desire.

In their desire to teach the word they were not really good students of the word and so not good stewards of the word. They strayed from the focus because they didn’t stay with the focus as a guide to their study and so they wandered off.

They try and teach strange things they swerve from the main aim and they had impure motives. What they wanted to do was be respected as a teacher and they go off into areas they know nothing of and they handle the word wrongly and deceitfully. They are and they become even more overconfident and unteachable (1 Timothy 6:3-5). These people did not even understand the implications of their own teaching. They didn’t have the law right either and they were missing love. Their knowledge was superficial when they thought it super spiritual. Many think they are going deep but what they’re really doing is just splashing around a lot and making a lot of waves at the shallow end, or worse yet, diving into poison waters.

If you can’t explain the core don’t try and explain more. “I know the core, Jesus died for your sins”, well then is that just the jump off point into more stuff or is it the very life? Can you explain how the Gospel applies to every part of your life? Are you devoted to and desiring to learn that as a disciple? No, well then that is why it isn’t enough for you. The message of the cross isn’t the doorway to more stuff it is the stuff itself. It is the way to love as Jesus loved, and when we do that we fulfill the law from the heart (Romans 13:8-10 / Galatians 5:14).

A healthy church is about a people who love in the right way, they relate to God rightly and therefore to each other rightly. They will be increasing in the knowledge of God’s Word and in the grace of Jesus Christ and so therefore increasing in love and grace toward one another.

Our job as disciples is not just to find out the difficult things but concentrate on what we do know already. Are we even doing that? Then why think the new stuff is the key to doing the old stuff. The problem then and now is with people who seem to be or want to be advanced beyond applying the gospel to their own lives.

Faithful exposition of the Word leads to biblical, true, agape love because it concerns itself and teaches and creates pure hearts, good consciences and sincere faith. Paul told Timothy and God tells us to continue in the Word, and be set free from the folly of fascination with fads (1 Timothy 4:15-16). He says instead that those who stray from the teachings are making a shipwreck of their faith. That is the definition of pastoral concern: keeping people off the rocks, which will leave them shipwrecked. Let's be thankful for all those who are gifted by God to think of the church in this way.

What’s supposed to happen, we are supposed to be being discipled. What is that, it is learning to apply the Gospel to our whole lives. That is our first thing and really the only thing, and if we stray from that, leaving the Gospel behind, we are straying from Christ, as this text teaches.

Timothy was to keep proclaiming and promoting the Gospel, so as to keep people from trying to save themselves by straying from the Gospel. He and we are to be warning and guarding and teaching against those who promote the false ways, straying from the Gospel. Oh they don’t start out like that, it starts out as something not so sinister, like trying to find some deeper meaning from the OT law that would give us more power today or please God better than we do now, or something like that. But Paul is telling Timothy, telling us, and I am telling you that it is indeed straying, leading us away from the real security of clinging to Christ and into the false security of clinging to ourselves.

Straying just a little off the path leads to another path altogether. We must stay on the path of the Gospel, where Christ is our righteousness, and we find in Christ our significance, sufficiency, and security, and we must be aware of the danger of straying onto the path of self righteousness, and self sufficiency which leads to self doubt, self condemnation, and ultimately damnation.

The Gospel is what it is all about, and let’s stay with it, let’s teach and learn and find ways to apply to it to every facet of our lives, instead of straying off the path by trying to find some hidden new secret, key, formula, or method of salvation, sanctification, or life enhancement that Paul never instructed Timothy about, and God doesn’t want us making vain discussion about. The Bible declares for the Christian that Jesus Christ has become for us our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:30-31 – ESV). Come to Him today, He is what you need, and all you need. Amen.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Apostle Approval

Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.
(Colossians 4:7, 9 – ESV)

Paul is not wasting words here. In Ephesians 6:21 he uses the words beloved brother and faithful minister to describe Tychicus, Colossians also has fellow servant. Paul had used some of the same words to describe Epaphras (Colossians 1:7), and was encouraging the Colossians, as to who Tychicus was, and his character and recommendation.

Beloved brother, faithful minister, fellow servant in the Lord. In other words, Paul is saying that Tychicus does right by me, he does right by others, and he does right by the Lord. They needed to know about him in some detail because Tychicus was the one who was bringing the letter to them, and what if he changed it, what if he wasn’t in agreement with Paul over some things in the letter, etc.?

They knew Onesimus, and he would be with Tychicus, and so this would relieve them of concerns. Onesimus would corroborate what Tychicus would be saying; they would be in agreement. It seems like Paul was promoting Tychicus and his ministry here, perhaps because he would plant him in Colossae. It may be that Epaphras was not coming back to Colossae, but was heading on to other things Paul had for him. Onesimus bore the letter to Philemon (Philemon 1:10-12), who apparently lived in Colossae, and had a church in his house attended by Archippus (Colossians 4:17 / Philemon 1:2).

Looking at the endorsements of Paul we see a pattern for us to practice; we must be looking carefully at all three areas, not just biblical acumen, but personal relationships and the right attitude and action toward others in the larger context of things. Is he nice to you but mean to others in the church? What about to those outside the church walls, what is he like there? What is his doctrine, what is his devotional life like, and how is that demonstrated? How do the people the man has come from view him? The greater the level of responsibility the fuller the recommendation must be.

Now Paul had enemies, so it isn’t whether or not the person gets along with everybody, or it isn’t if he gets along with everybody within the same sphere, but does the person walk in wisdom toward those that are within and without? Is he faithful to God, faithful to friends and faithful to be faithful to those who oppose him or who don’t know him or who have nothing to give him? Does he meet the standard of approval?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Where Are The Potatoes?

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
(Colossians 4:2 – ESV)

The man walks down the street and he sees another man, one apparently in need. The other man says he hasn’t eaten in days. The first man decides he will help him, and feels led to give the man more than enough. He wants to lavish a little love on the poor man, and instead of just handing him a few dollars or buying him a sandwich, he goes and brings back a steak for the man to eat. The man, looking with disdain at the one who brought the steak to him, says, “Hey, man, where are the potatoes?”

Well now, how often do we see this today? Not just from our young ones, etc., but how often in ourselves, even as we supposedly mature? Too often we refuse to even try and work with what we’ve been given. If we have made an honest assessment of things and something more is needed, then we should ask for more, sure, but we must be thankful for what we have before we ask for what we need. And were we all to be truthful, we would all have to make confession to the fact that many times what we think we need is really only what we want, and not truly a need. And sometimes the thing we most need is the thing we are reluctant to receive, namely His abundant and abounding grace.

When you are hungry, thirsty, in trouble or in any kind of need, which is always, indeed, make sure you are working with what you already have. Don’t bring home a failing grade on your report card, all the while complaining about the teacher, when you won’t even bring home your homework! Don’t go crying out for lack of potatoes when a steak is right there waiting for you to eat. Yes, we all need grace and more grace, but as Christians, it is abounding toward us with all love. Look for it, and live in it, not for what you don’t see yet. It will come when it is truly needed.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Reasoning and Seasoning

Conduct yourselves wisely… Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt…
(Colossians 4:5-6 – ESV)

In verse 4 of Colossians 4, Paul asks for prayer that he might speak as clearly as he ought. Paul speaks of prayer and witnessing, and we are to follow his lead. How he ought to speak is also how we ought to speak, into the acknowledging of everything with Christ as preeminent. We are all to pray for open doors and have open hearts.

We need to be speaking to others about Christ, and to be doing it in a wise and winsome way. Many sacrifice the wise for the winsome, preaching to felt needs instead of to the real need, and others sacrifice the winsome for the wise, and come off as “holier than thou”. That is not how it ought to be. Truth without love is too hard; love without truth is too soft. We need both; we need reasoning and seasoning.

The pull of the tide toward human-centered religion is powerful and it is not uncommon to see otherwise discerning people swept out to sea. Everything but the true religion is pulling them toward the false religions. Making the best use of our time does not mean total separation, as in isolation, but in wise use of our worship, quiet time, and fellowship with believers. We are not to be isolated but insulated, in the world but not of it. In engaging people you know over time, the so called friendship evangelism method, remember, this: if you are becoming more like them then they are you, then it is time to pull back. Be with them but don’t become like them.

Wisdom within, wisdom without – If we let the Word dwell with wisdom among us who are within (Colossians 3:16), then we will walk in wisdom to them that are without. It is about reasoning and seasoning. It stars from within, and it travels to places without.

The opposite of wisdom is foolishness. Foolishness is not ignorance but refusal to learn, and we must learn in community as well as individually. Wisdom doesn’t know all the answers but it recognizes them when they appear. In the midst of community the answers will become clear. Not that we will receive some message while we are in church, but that while we are plugged into the local body of believers, God will providentially bring the events to pass that will make the paths straight. God orchestrates reasoning and seasoning within His church, as the believers pray for one another and for missionaries and all the other things they all come together and we grow, individually, and as a unit. This will equip us all to be better ambassadors in our world.

Paul takes for granted that believers will be in local churches. Today, however, we have the strange situation where there are those who are outside the local church setting yet are actually within the Body of Christ, or at least they claim to be so. So we need to walk in wisdom to those as well, we must show them that they cannot consider themselves within if they remain without. In these cases we also need reasoning and seasoning.

Looking at the whole book of Colossians and drawing to this point, we may put it all together this way: Keep your hope, keep Christ first and foremost, keep being knit together, keep away from things that would distract you from Christ as all in all, keep putting off the old and putting on the new within the context of community, keep yourself with a strong Christian witness no matter what your social situation is, keep praying and being thankful, and then you will be able to keep responding in a Christlike way to those who are without and those God is drawing to Himself. Learn of Christ, and live of Christ. Reasoning and seasoning.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Next Book You Should Buy


THE CASE FOR THE DEITY OF CHRIST

by Robert Bowman and J. Ed Komoszewski has arrived!

I have a copy right here in front of me. Believe me, this work will get a lot of traction, and it will become the definitive work on the subject in time. As a Christian, you simply MUST have this book. It will be a rich resource for you to become even more convinced, coach others as to these most important truths, and contend for the faith. Take a look at the following two short (5 Minute) videos to get a feel for the material. Don’t waste any time, you really should view these, and get the book, it will make a difference, and perhaps God in His providence will allow you to share some of these truths in the near future, to His glory…

This clip

and this clip

are great tools in themselves…

For more visit http://www.deityofchrist.com/

I am not kidding, you need this book. Period.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Monday, September 24, 2007

At Any Given Moment

… he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan:
(Matthew 16:23)

This again shows us that Peter, one of the most important of the Apostles (as recorded in the scriptures), was susceptible at any moment to the presumption of faith. Perhaps only moments earlier, in verses 15-19, Jesus had blessed Peter for acknowledging Him as the Son of God. Jesus was revealed as Christ, not by flesh and blood, but by the Father, he was told. Peter was in communion with God as Jesus’ true nature was made manifest. He was called the rock by our Lord, and given the responsibility of founding the early church, which he and the Apostles, with the descent of the Holy Spirit, inaugurated at Pentecost. Still, Peter falls back “into the flesh” and Jesus has to rebuke him sharply.

How careful, then, must we be today, given this example? Peter, the rock, used by the Father only a short time earlier, now was in the grip of Satan. Can we expect to fare any better? How easily we let the circumstances of this world enter into our thoughts of doing God’s work. These examples we have given of Peter and our previous posts should spell the message out clearly. We must be ever mindful of what God’s plan and purpose is, and not let our own desire to do “right” interfere with our judgment. We must not presume upon the fact that we love the Lord, even when we are in the very presence of God.

Too often we presume that because it is our trusted pastor, or well known, well-respected preacher who is speaking, that we can relax our discernment. There is a difference between being overly critical and being a Berean. The people of Berea knew who Paul was, his reputation had surely preceded him, and yet they searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul said lined up according to what the Word of God said (Acts 17:11). Don’t accept novel ideas and innovations as gospel just because I said so, or just because the conference you are at is God centered, or because that radio ministry hasn’t steered you wrong before. Ministries can start out good but end up bad. Think about Saul and Solomon.

Haven’t you ever been part of a conversation that started out fine, but then it turned? Don’t you realize that the 11 other disciples were fooled into thinking Judas was genuine? Don’t you understand that when the Bible speaks of wolves in sheep’s clothing, that the wolves don’t come right out and say so? Haven’t there been times in your life when you started out for the right reasons but ended up doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons? Why then would you think that you might never say or do the wrong thing in spiritual matters?

Don’t let down your guard, at any given moment the Enemy is looking for an opportunity.

Think about it…


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Method or Madness?

…Jesus I know, and Paul I know: but who are ye?
(Acts 19:15)

This passage is very clear. These exorcists had seen the casting out of demonic spirits by Paul, and how it was done. They presumed upon the method, using the name of Jesus, having faith in the power of His name, but not in Him. Does this sound familiar? It parallels what is being done today with regards to prayer formulas, over emphasis upon seed-faith, and a host of other method driven types of “faith”, all of which can easily lead to a presumptuous belief about God.

Perhaps this is why we see Jesus using all sorts of different “methods”, like spittle, when He healed, and why we see the shadow of Peter or the cloths of Paul used in miracles. The point that the Spirit is trying to make is that it isn’t the cloth or someone with “faith” whose shadow heals; it is God. So-called “points of contact” can be helpful, perhaps, but often this is abused in almost comical ways. The problem of taking the biblical text out of context, or in an overly literal way, or conversely by over spiritualizing it is a matter that can have disastrous consequences.

People think just because God says so that they can just say so, and the devil has to run, but that isn’t the case, as this passage teaches. It wasn’t just that they got the formula wrong by saying, “whom Paul preaches”; it wasn’t the formula that was wrong it was their faith that was wrong. Indeed, this points out a very serious danger with regards to spiritual warfare. The full armor of God mentioned by Paul in Ephesians 6 talks of the wiles of the devil, the war against our spirit, the attack on the mind. It is not addressing the possible physical attack from a demoniac.

You have to learn how to use the shield of faith. It isn’t some mantra you repeat in the morning or before you enter a tough situation and then expect that you are “covered” somehow just because you repeated a few positive affirmations. Just because you repeat some formula about wearing the full armor of God doesn’t make it so. The power of God is not a play toy, and isn’t a magic incantation that we can use regardless of our personal state.

In wanting to develop their spiritual life, people sometimes look for a special knowledge or formula. What they are attempting, whether they realize it or not, is to circumvent the will of the Lord, trying to progress in the things of God without having a real fellowship with God on the terms He wants. It is a compartmentalized faith; we go through the motions with no real heart emotions. We can perform the duty but not have our heart in it, or we can have out heart in it to the extent that we think we need to in order to get the job done, and then forget about it later. We want the power without the sacrifice; we want the benefit without the commitment.

While it is true that we have a certain authority in Jesus, recall the casting out events of Scripture; Jesus, Paul, the disciples, etc., encountered those who were possessed they didn’t go looking for every one of them. Certainly the Apostles didn’t try and break the demonic stronghold over cities. Likewise, Paul was bitten by a poisonous snake, proving Mark 16:18, but he did not go about handling them all the time as a sign.

Unfortunately we have seen some churches teach this bizarre ritual, a sure sign of the presumption of faith if there has ever been one. Just because something has been done doesn’t mean we are to go and do it, presuming that our “faith” makes it God’s will. Just because we have seen it in the Bible does not mean that it is a mandate for us. Biblical persons are not biblical precedent, and biblical narrative is not biblical normative, necessarily.

Another example of this presumption can be seen with how people turn Matthew 10:8 into a personal or corporate manifesto for a church or denomination. Taking this verse out of its context, teachers tell their followers that they are called to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out devils”. To those that do believe in the present day ministry of the Holy Spirit through miraculous signs and wonders, this seems like a ready prescription to base their own ministry upon. They are just following what Jesus told them to do, they might say.

Yes, this was indeed what Jesus empowered His disciples to do, and we are His disciples as well. The problem is that this verse does not stand by itself. Jesus also told them not to go to anywhere but to the Jews (vs.5-6). If we were to be faithful to the text that would mean that we could only heal Jews, or that we would never have been saved ourselves if we are Gentiles! No, Matthew 10 is about Jesus enabling the disciples for their mission of that time, not about a mandate for all times. We simply cannot use “verses in a vacuum” to support our own pet doctrines. We must use more than one verse or passage to form our doctrine upon.

Fortunately we do have a mandate to minister (Matthew 28:19-20), and we have promises to depend on (2 Peter 1:4). However, the promises are more about perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1) than they are about “naming it and claiming it”. Jesus may allow us to raise someone from the dead, but we must not presume that it is always God’s will to do so.

We cannot use the Bible like a magic book.


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

God Alone

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
(Exodus 20:3)

What God was saying then and is still saying now is that we should not have any gods before Him, but that doesn’t mean He wants first place it means He wants the entire place. No other gods beside, behind or in front of Him at all. The word in this passage for before in Hebrew is paniym (paw-neem), which means in front of, in the presence of, in the face of.

No other gods before Him needs to be realized for what it means, because so many today think that it has no context, no relevance for today, being that no one is making idols out of wood, etc., at least in the West. However, an idol is anything that takes precedence over God, and most often it is self, and the self-ish, self-indulgent, fleshly desire of our nature to want to be able to hang on to our old life while claiming to be regenerated to new life.

Idolatry takes so many forms and is as prevalent today as it was back then. Remember the Israelites in the wilderness – they weren’t calling the golden calves Baal. Our flesh is the image-maker, and the world and the devil provide plenty of carnal clay with which to make our idols. We must be allowing the Spirit of God to be the spiritual iconoclast, the image breaker in our life. We are either knocking them down or building them up.

God is omnipresent, and so everything is in His presence, or before Him, and so we may have no other gods, period. It is not that God is to be placed first, He is to be the ONLY God we serve, and that includes self. If you don’t want to end up alone with your self, and alone without God forever, you had better get alone with God now, and make sure your serving serve God alone.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Repentance?

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
(2 Corinthians 7:10 - ESV)

The first of Martin Luther’s 95 theses stated that, “the whole life of believers should be repentance”. We are not God, and so we are not perfect. Noted theologian R.C. Sproul has said something like, “The two commandments of Jesus are first that thou shalt love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and secondarily, your neighbor as yourself. Do you realize how many times in the last hour I have broken both of these commandments?”

As we become more like Christ, we will indeed realize how much further we actually have to go; in other words, the more light that you have shining on you, the more dust that you see on yourself, which is why repentance is ongoing. In order to see what constitutes “true” repentance, let’s take a look at some ways of “false” or “incomplete” repentance. In doing so, we will also see the facets of true repentance, which are italicized.

1. Confessing or repenting emotionally, but no change in action. You are only sorry. Your lips have no legs. You want out of trouble, but don’t want to have to go through trouble.

2. Changing of actions, but no change of heart. You clean the outside of the cup only. Behavior modification can be beneficial but sometimes it only covers up the greater sins. The sin you left behind was only a symptom, and it will pop up again in some other form unless true repentance is made.

3. Repenting of the fact, not repenting of the habit. This is related to #1.

4. Repenting without removal, not repenting by taking away the source of temptation. Related to #2 and #3. (Romans 13:14 / Ephesians 4:27). That is testing God not trusting God.

5. Repenting for fellowship with others, and not repenting for the love of God. If you turn from sin, but not to God, your sin will show up in another form, as we said earlier in #2.

6. Repenting for fear of consequences, not repenting for hatred of sin. You fear getting caught, not God. This is motivating, but it won’t be enough.

7. Repenting for gain alone, and not repenting for God’s glory. Related to #6.You only change for the benefit it gives to you. It is a motivation, but it won’t last if that is all there is. That is why some won’t repent, because they feel like they will lose more than they gain. They don’t want the trouble (see #1). To suffer loss by repenting and to still do it is true repentance.

8. Repenting generally, or of only the smaller sins, avoiding repenting of the greater sins. You are just going through the motions. Partial obedience is disobedience. It is not submission. You bring something to God and He says “what’s that behind your back?”

People today are mistaking apology and / or remorse for true repentance; we need to repent of repenting falsely! True repentance is given by God (Acts 11:18 / 2 Timothy 2:25), and this points out the status of a truly regenerate (saved) person, because the “believer” who professes but is not truly changed by God will not seek to mortify the deeds of the flesh, and is not convicted by the light of the Word, loving the darkness (John 3:19-21).


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Follow the Leader

And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him…
(1 Chronicles 13:10)

This passage in 1 Chronicles 13 is paralleled in 2 Samuel 6. The presumption here isn’t immediately clear, but after carefully searching the Word the teaching is: If an idea or action is against the clear direction of God’s Word then even if it is done with good intentions, reverence, sincerity, and joy to the Lord it will not please Him. We cannot skip over what seem to be minor details to us. This passage is testament to that fact.

David had consulted with the leaders of the people to see if they thought the idea of bringing up the Ark of the Covenant would be of God (vs.1-2). They unanimously agreed that it was (vs.4), and they performed the deed with great joy (vs.8). These men held the Lord in high esteem (2 Samuel 6:2). So we have great men of God doing with all their might and sincerity something that they wished only to do for the glory of God. But God was not pleased. Why, and why such a seemingly harsh punishment?

We can find that God had given specific instructions regarding the Ark and the priestly things. Appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof: they shall bear (carry) the tabernacle (Numbers 1:50). Uzza was a Levite, and so we see no error here.

However, later we see that the priests were given carts to carry things on, but we also see that the sons of Kohath were not: they were to carry the Ark upon their shoulders (Numbers 7:9). And yet David had the Ark placed on a cart (vs.7). This was in direct violation of God’s holy order.

Because David was king, he was responsible for his people, much like teachers and pastors will be held accountable for teaching error. We cannot do holy things in unholy ways. But why did Uzza have to suffer the consequences of David’s poor decision? Wasn’t God punishing the wrong guy? Indeed, David was offended at God for His judgment (vs.11).

No, God wasn’t wrong. God had given warning concerning the vessel-bearers touching the Ark of the Covenant (Numbers 4:15 / 18:3). His commandment was clear. Perhaps God orchestrated the tipping vessel because of the disobedience of the people in putting the Ark on a cart. In the “real world” of everyday life, we can forget to apply God’s commandments, thinking that there are exceptions to the rule. We may feel that we are only doing what is right, but who are we to judge, especially in light of God’s decree.

Obviously this chiefly applies to concrete statements, the “thou shalt not” type. Uzza was probably convinced, at the moment of his action, that he was doing what God would have wanted. He had reverence for the Ark, and it was about to spill open upon hitting the ground. But here is the critical lesson: If God has given us a command, or instruction, and He is the Sovereign Lord of the universe, He knows what He is doing. We dare not presume that He had not thought of a particular situation that we have encountered.

Do not use your duty, responsibility, or a desire to “help” as justification for going outside the expressed will of God. Perhaps God would have miraculously “floated” the Ark back into place, showing the Holy nature of His covenant, and that no earthly trouble could interfere with it.

Of course, that is pure speculation, but the lesson applies: Do not presume that you know the right thing to do when God has instructed otherwise, regardless of the circumstance. We cannot presume that a good intention will justify a bad action. David realized this in 1 Chronicles 15:13, when he stated that he knew that the punishment was because they sought God in the wrong way. We must learn as David did.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Saturday Sermon: Just Add Water

Matthew 28:18-20

What is baptism? It is a visible sign of something. We use signs to indicate important truths. A kiss shows love, a handshake shows friendship, a salute or hand gesture, look, etc. shows loyalty, all sorts of marks and ceremonies show belonging to a community of some kind, and at a wedding we give and receive a ring, which is a sign of marriage.

Of course, pictures are only a representation of truth, and they often don’t tell the whole story. Pictures are true only as far as they reflect truth. Pictures can lie. Consider that Judas kissed Jesus, that people often shake hands and then come out fighting, that we can salute those we are cursing, and that it would seem these days the wedding ring is just another piece of clothing we take on or off at our own discretion like a shirt.

The symbol is not the substance, and it is hollow if the reality of the thing it signifies is not true. And so it is not our baptism that saves us but our personal relationship with Jesus that saves us, and it is pictured in baptism. Nothing but the blood can wash away sin but 1 Peter 3:21 tells us our conscience needs to be cleansed, and baptism helps us to do that, and so much more.

Baptism shows that we belong to Christ and to the church. Through baptism we are brought into the family, not only of the Church worldwide, but also of the local church. Baptism is a sign answering the question, “What must I do to be saved?” It is a reminder that no matter what may happen to us in the course of life, we belong to God. And nothing can take that away from us. Martin Luther counseled those in despair, “Remember your baptism.” And so would I. But our baptism is not only a sign of God’s care for us, “in life and in death,” but it is also a call to a way of life that thoughtfully embraces our identity in the Body of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul saw baptism as like being buried with Jesus in His death, and coming alive with Him in His resurrection. Some people see in Paul’s words a virtual drama of redemption: immersion under water is like being put into the tomb; coming up from the water is like being raised from the tomb. We bury our old life and are raised to new life; that is the picture. What picture is your life painting? Getting baptized doesn’t mean you will live a perfect life, it means you accept His perfect life. We are all born into the kingdom of men but we must be born again into the kingdom of God. Baptism is not for those who are new born but those who are newly born again. Let’s look at our text now and see the wonderful things it tells us about baptism.

And Jesus came and said to them – this was the resurrected Christ about to give a command

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me – the right and power to proclaim

Go therefore – because of this authority we now have the authority to go everywhere and anywhere and do what Jesus now commands. Our commission is based on His position.

and make disciples – our initial job is proclamation, God doesn’t call us into the world to make sheep but to find them by calling them out, we find them and then we feed them. You evangelize by speaking of the Great Shepherd of the sheep, the Evangel, the Master, Jesus Christ, and those who are His will hear His voice and respond. You don’t produce converts, you proclaim Christ; you don’t make people believe, you make disciples of those who do.

of all nations – these sheep will be everywhere, as we saw last week in Titus 2. All ethnos, all ethnicities, all people groups, all social strata, tribes, nations, and tongues (Revelation 7:9): all are to be baptized, all are to be discipled, salvation in Jesus Christ has appeared to all people.

baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit – Now Jesus explains how we make disciples, the first thing is by baptism, and THEN comes the rest of the teaching. If we are not baptizing, and baptizing first thing, then we are not properly making disciples. Again, you don’t produce converts, you make disciples, and that starts with baptism. Baptism is the first step in the discipleship process, if you are a Christian but haven’t been baptized, get in order and get baptized today!

Baptism is normative – it is a regular part of becoming and being a Christian – the established pattern of discipleship, established by Christ Himself (His own baptism and His command), expanded by the disciples (they were baptized and baptized others), and extended to all believers (Acts 2, etc.). Jesus made baptism a normative part of becoming a Christian in Matthew 28:19, and the apostles carried this out, and we are instructed to keep on baptizing, to keep on discipling, to keep on following the established command of Jesus. This is why the church has always made baptism a requirement for church membership, not that baptism is what saved you, but baptism is the start of the discipleship process. Baptism is a requirement for those who are being discipled; it is the first step of discipline. If you have been a Christian for some time but haven’t been baptized, you are missing a key link in your discipleship process. If you won’t submit to baptism you don’t submit to Christ.

We are supposed to be taught to do whatsoever (KJV), and baptism is the first thing Jesus lists, and then He says whatsoever, but if you can’t do the first whatsoever then how can you expect to do anything whatsoever?

We speak of baptism as being important but we all seem to want to think of it as a salvation issue, whether or not it saves us or not, and if we believe it isn’t necessary for salvation we somehow believe it isn’t necessary at all. This is bad teaching. Baptism is a vital part of your sanctification, an indispensable part of the discipleship process, as our text here proclaims in no uncertain terms. It is not so much a salvation issue as it is a sanctification issue, it is setting yourself apart, publicly, declaring that Jesus is the Lord of your life, and that you intend on following Him the rest of your life, empowered by His life. We get so hung up on what baptism isn’t that we forget what it is, a command by our Lord Jesus Christ. How can you say you are being sanctified when you haven’t set yourself apart to be sanctified? Discipleship without baptism is like a lollipop without the stick. It just isn’t right.

To begin the process of discipleship, just add water. People that have been Christians for awhile feel like they have got to meet a certain level of obedience before they can be baptized, but they need to be baptized THAT IS the level of obedience they need to meet. It is not your righteousness that merits your baptism your baptism is saying you are leaving your righteousness down at the feet of Jesus and taking up His worth, not your own. Perhaps that is why you have a hard time obeying His commands you missed the first one! If this is you, get baptized today! Stop looking at yourself and look to Him, and follow Him into His own righteousness.

teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you – Teaching basically comes down to Luke 14:27, "Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple." Not simply hardship but dying to the old attitudes, the old, destructive ways, and living for Jesus, turning to follow Him in newness of life. John 8:31-32 – This includes evangelism, stewardship, fellowship, worship, discipleship of others, etc. It also includes communion.

Just as baptism symbolizes our entry into the family of God and into the discipleship process, Communion symbolizes the teaching process, the ongoing discipleship process, and the all that I have commanded you. This is one reason church membership is like baptism, not that it saves or that you aren’t saved if you don’t do it, but that it is a sanctification issue, a growing in grace, and that is done in community. Yes it is an individual thing, but it is done within the context of a covenant community. You are baptized in public and you take communion and attend church which is obviously in public. Jesus said we are not to hide the light we have underneath a bushel. We are to be baptized for others to see and to know and we are to take Communion together, not as a private thing but as a public demonstration that we are following Christ, we are united together, we are being discipled within a community, and we are looking forward to His return.

Baptism into God’s church, the church universal and its local expression as we have here at Riverside, baptism into the community of faith comes before communion with the community. Oh you can still have fellowship with those in community but you don’t truly share in the intimacy of what that community stands for unless you have been baptized. That is why churches down through history have insisted that someone should be baptized before they ever partake of communion, which is the right order. If you have been taking communion at this church or any church and you haven’t been baptized, then get in order, and get baptized today, perhaps this is the thing that will get you going on with God. You are missing something if you haven’t been baptized, the Bible says that plainly. Why worry about what exactly that is and how exactly to define it, obey the example and command of Jesus and the testimony of the apostles and saints all down throughout the Christian era, and be baptized because of the remission of your sins, set yourself apart today and set yourself up to be used of God today and tomorrow.

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age – Follow the pattern and receive the promise of His presence. Behold – you will behold it if you do it. Go and Lo (KJV) – if you go and do what He says then lo and behold you will have what He says, if you go you will see. You may not be the one to do the baptizing but you are a part of the discipling process, we all help disciple one another as we saw last week in Titus 2 and throughout the New Testament.

The reason that promise is packed with power is that the one who made it has all authority in heaven and on earth. He is not powerful but far away, and he is not present but weak. He is with us, and He is all-powerful, forever. The Great Commission is surrounded by powerful grace, and so are we. It is not the Great Omission, it is a command with the authority and power to proclaim it and see it through. Our duty then is to baptize and make disciples, we have our marching orders and we have our spiritual ordinance, let’s make sure we don’t make the Great Commission the Great Omission.

My prayer is that the baptismal candidates themselves and everyone who witnesses their baptism will experience a rekindling of love to God for all He has done for us in making us part of the new covenant people through repentance and faith. You must add water to your discipleship diet; it is a necessity to have water if you want to grow.

Related scriptures: Matthew 3:13-17, 10:32 / John 14:15 / Acts 2:38, 8:12,36, 10:24-48 / Romans 6:3-4 / Galatians 3:26-27 / Colossians 2:12 / James 1:22‑25, 4:17 / 1 Peter 3:21

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Friday, September 14, 2007

And Others

And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised,
(Hebrews 11:39 – ESV)

We love the stories of great deliverance like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, or Daniel in the Lions den, but in Hebrews 11:36 and following we see “and others” who didn’t get it all good, yet they were praised. They too are in the faith hall of fame. We don’t see their names listed because they are too many to number. This passage in Hebrews is telling us that more often than not this is the case.

In our Christian walk, we will have stories of great deliverance, but other times we must suffer through. Some will escape but some must endure; both are of faith and we don’t decide which we get. Get it straight and decide ahead of time; if your theology and your devotion are based upon your circumstances you will come to the conclusion that God doesn’t love people.

When we look at Paul and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego we see what it can look like, but what I want you to do is see the big picture, to get a hold of it. The situations of life either harm you or they hone you, they either make you dull or sharpen you to the things of God. They either hinder or help; it is all about what you do with distractions. Remember, when I say distractions I’m not talking about things that take away your devotional time or things that keep you from church, I’m talking about tough situations that would cause you to focus on them more than you focus on God in the overall sense.

Planting thankfulness and allegiance despite outcomes when everything is good is saying you will serve God even if everything is bad. It produces humility, and so the good won’t spoil you when its all good and it bears fruit if and when it turns bad because you have been giving thanks the whole time and renewing your mind. The secret to contentment in Christ is endurance (Philippians 4:11-13). God gives the increase all we do is till the soil, plant the seeds, water the ground and pull out the weeds. His light, His fire, His power; our part is to halt the hindrances. Stay away from the deceptions, stay focused during the distractions, and stay consistent in your devotions. Remember the doctrine of perseverance when your faith seems to fail, God started it and He will finish it. Keep looking to Christ. Be filled with all the fullness of God.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Underline or Undermine

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:17 – ESV)

When we want to emphasize something that we have written down, often we will underline it. If someone saw what we had emphasized, and were to disagree with what we have written, they might write and say things to bring the idea down, to undermine its effectiveness upon other readers. We underline what we really want; we undermine what we really don’t.

Spiritually speaking, our lives are underscoring what we think is important; we live what we believe. Everybody does. Whatever you do does indeed either give glory to God and His kingdom or it speaks of you as a rebel and a traitor to His cause.

To give God glory is a theme that runs throughout the Bible, in both the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 10:31 – So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God, and the Old Testament, Isaiah 43:7 – everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. Our lives are either a display of His grace or a disgrace. Many speak of God, but why make your boast in God when you don’t want Him (Luke 6:46)?

Does what you do and how you live give credibility to the gospel or does it cause doubt in those who see you, those who know you, and what about yourself?

Are you underlining or undermining the gospel? Of course, if and when you have fallen into something and you ask God for help, and trust in Christ, then even when you have seemingly undermined God, you have underlined the gospel. Think about it.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Poverty in Prayer

If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.
(Proverbs 28:9 – ESV)

Did you ever have a problem, a serious problem, and no matter how hard you prayed, God seemed to be turning a deaf ear to you? Perhaps it is because your prayers are not seasoned with soul food; you haven’t been in your Bible lately. However, if you have been in His Word, and your prayers aren’t getting answered with a “yes”, then there is some other thing, and this might not apply to you today. Be on guard about it, though, and be brutally honest with yourself about it. For the seasoned Christian, we most often sin in ways we don’t even realize (Psalm 19:12-14).

If you have been out of His Word, then you cannot hear His voice because your heart is so hard He could be shouting the answer, and you still wouldn’t hear. It isn’t that God is deaf it is that you are. You aren’t answering His call. It is like you have a phone call in to Him, but He was already on the other line trying to call you first. You can’t seem to get through to each other because you are on different lines. He called you first, click over to that line. He is always calling you to read His Word, to study it, to learn it, to do it. He cannot answer your prayer until you answer that call. We must continually be in His Word for that Word to be continually keeping our hearts soft, our eyes open, and our ears ready and able to hear.

If you stay out of His Word, you can’t pray out of your world. You dug yourself into that worldly pit without His Word, and now you must dig yourself out with His Word. Why should God deliver you right now when you failed to plant the seeds of deliverance back then? No, you must plant those seeds for there to be a harvest. How can His Word save you when it isn’t sown in your heart? If you had sown it long ago, but haven’t sown it recently, are your meager tears enough to water the seed and make it active again? Is that what you mean to do, to trust in your own sincerity when the chips are down? The less worth God’s Word has to you the less worth your prayers will have to God.

Friend, you need to work your soil and keep planting the seeds of God’s kingdom in your heart. You cannot do this on your own any old time you feel like it; you must remain diligent. Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty (Proverbs 28:19 – ESV). The reason you are in such spiritual poverty is that you have strayed from the house of God, from the Word of God, from the people of God.

Now true, godly spiritual poverty is where you remain broken and usable before God, where you may be bold because of finding your worth in Christ (Hebrews 4:16), at the same time understanding your utter poverty without Him. This is evidenced by reliance; continued reliance on Him. And this happens by staying in His Word, not straying from His Word (John 8:31-32). You see there is the spiritual poverty where someone has tended another garden, outside the will of God, outside the Word of God, outside the walls of God’s design, and the fruit is ripe to cause destruction in your life (Galatians 6:7-8).

It isn’t about mustering up a mustard seed when you pray. It isn’t about how much faith you have during the prayer; it is about how much faithfulness you have had before it. Not how obedient you have been to earn a prayer reward, no, we aren’t talking about a performance based prayer theology. But have you been spending time with Him in His Word at all, do you know His voice, today? Remember, He values your words as you value His.


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Son-Day Son-Rise

And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
(1 John 3:3 – ESV)

I find my worth in You
Not in the works I do
From works I’ve been set free
I live in liberty

Now I am free to give
My life for Him to live
Because of what He’s done
Because I am God’s Son

I do what He has taught
Because my life He’s bought
It means I’m free from sin
It means I live for Him


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Disciples Pledge

To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.
(Isaiah 45:23 – ESV)

I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE
TO THE CROSS
OF MY LORD AND SAVIOR
JESUS CHRIST
AND TO THE KINGDOM
FOR WHICH IT STANDS
ONE HOLY NATION
UNDER GOD
INDIVISIBLE
WITH LOVE AND MERCY
GRACE AND PEACE
FOR ALL
AMEN

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Saturday Sermon: God Is Love

Romans 3:25-26 / 1 John 4:7-11

People say all sorts of things about love today, and there are all sorts of notions about what love really is. But how does God define it? What does God say it is, and where does it come from, how can we see and know it, in truth? People quote this verse, 1 John 4:8, and then try and make it say whatever they want it to, and use it as an excuse to do or believe just about anything, but that isn’t what the Bible is teaching here. Only what God means is what counts. So what does the Bible teach? God is love, yes, but God further defines that in the following verses, as we see propitiation declared here once again (1 John 4:10). We have gone into detail about that already.

You cannot change it around here; John does not say that love is God, but that God is love. In the Greek, the two terms are not interchangeable. This same book declares God is light (1 John 1:5), and John writes in his gospel that Jesus said God is Spirit (John 4:24). Yes we want to declare His love, but it is even better understood in its proper perspective, it is an unfailing love because it is grounded in His unfailing character, not in everyone else’s ideas.

Now we can see that God defines His love here through Christ on the cross, and we can relate that back to many passages, including our main text, Romans 3:25-26. God’s righteousness flows from His holiness, His love flows from His holiness; it isn’t that God’s holiness is greater than His love, His mercy and His justice, but that holiness is the character that encompasses all the other attributes of God. His love is defined by His holiness. His justice, His mercy, His grace, they are all defined by His holiness. Perhaps we can make it clearer by saying that holiness is godliness, or God-likeness.

His justice is equal to His love and so He had to do it this way to satisfy both. God’s mercy did not nullify His justice; He had to be propitiated as our text plainly declares. If you redefine the atonement to remove the idea that Christ suffered the judgment for sin in our place, you destroy the heart of the gospel (1 John 4:10 / Romans 1:17 / 1 John 1:9). If that payment had not been made, there would never have been any forgiveness whatsoever (Hebrews 9:22).

One of the truths of the gospel is that God saved us in a way that upheld His justice. Justice was neither compromised nor set aside; it was completely satisfied. One of the great mysteries not revealed in the Old Testament but fully revealed in the gospel is how forgiveness is possible without compromising the justice of God. The bloody mercy seat showed the truth that sins must be paid for because of the holiness of God. His love requires justice to be done, but animal blood cannot pay for human sin, and human blood alone cannot pay for offense against God. Only Jesus was worthy enough to pay. Christ offered a full atonement that included payment in full for all the sins of every sinner who would ever believe (2 Corinthians 5:21 / Romans 3:25 / 1 John 2:2). Our salvation is therefore grounded in the justice of God as well as His mercy, which is in perfect proportion because of His holiness. In other words, the gospel is not only a message about the love of God. It is that; but it is more. The true gospel magnifies His justice as much as it magnifies His love, because in doing that it magnifies His holiness.

Why do we need to understand this, why do we need to discover and develop our thinking this way? In order to become better grounded in Christ (Colossians 2:7 / Ephesians 3:16-19); this is greater than simple understanding but not simply a feeling. Rooted and grounded in love, which we see more clearly as we have been discovering in 1 John 4:7-10 and Romans 3:25-26, etc. The breadth and length and height and depth, in other words, the encompassing nature of His love, which is most clearly understood through His holiness.

You want a faith that is getting richer, deeper, and stronger, and we find this in the Bible, it is not merely an intellectual pursuit, as this passage says, it is a knowledge but it goes beyond knowledge, it is sight beyond sight (Ephesians 1:16-20). We cannot naturally envision holiness, but when we endeavor to rightly understand God, He grants us the power to do just that. This is why you can receive a word, and want it for your life and love it, but if you don’t dig deep enough, there is no root and it will wither away. The seed gets planted but you must be working on your soil. What I am trying to do is to get you to understand the love of Christ more fully.

Convince yourself and deepen your faith, Coach others and develop their faith, Contend for and defend the faith. 2 Peter 12:1-2, 3:18 – This is what knowing and understanding Jesus is, becoming more and more familiar with just how righteous He is and beautiful and holy and that is worship and looking at Him and that is how we are changed (2 Corinthians 3:18).

When it says God is love that includes all aspects of His love including justice. Love without justice isn’t love it is favoritism. Simple pardon is simply preference. God’s love is much deeper than that, His love satisfies justice and upholds His character. His own holy being demands that payment be made, or justice would not be served, and He would not be a holy God. He is a holy God, and He Himself makes the payment to satisfy justice. He doesn’t just find a way to get you out of it; He makes a way that can never be taken back (Romans 8:33).

The power of God is to be able to take something broken and make it better than before, a new thing, a redeemed thing, bought with a price, infused with the Spirit of God, made lovely, given grace, given value, given God. Made holy. From the holiness of God springs our justification, but it also leads us to a moral change from darkness to light. "To sinners God says, "Ye must be born again," to the saved, "Be ye holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16).

We think love is His most beautiful thing, but it is holiness; the Bible says we are to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness (1 Chronicles 16:29 / Psalm 29:2, 96:9), to praise the beauty of holiness (2 Chronicles 20:21), we are to give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness (Psalm 30:4), walk on the highway of holiness (Isaiah 35:8), and be working to bring our holiness to a more complete place (2 Corinthians 7:1). God’s all-encompassing attribute, the one from which all others flow, and flow perfectly, is His holiness (Isaiah 6 / Revelation 4:8). It is what makes everything else in perfect proportion. That is why we can trust His justice, His goodness, His mercy, His love, and so on, because He is holy.

The New Testament is centered on Christ, and its exhortations on the holiness of believers. This is not a simple call to obedience, but to holiness. Holiness is not righteousness, righteousness flows from holiness. Holiness isn’t simply obedience; it is being set apart for God and depending on God by drawing your boundaries as God would have them. Obedience flows from holiness, and holiness is cultivated by a right understanding of God and what He has done for us in Christ. To understand Christ more fully is to be made more holy in practice. That is why we are studying this as intensely as we are. This is the highest privilege that we can experience this side of heaven, and it should be the center of our preaching and goal of living. If you understand what we have been teaching for several weeks now about God, His own righteousness, the gospel, and justification by faith, then you will come to understand this. We are already made holy (Hebrews 10:10), we do not work for it; we work from it.

This is the difference between being God entranced and self-entranced. The self-entranced person says I want God to help me, so I will be more obedient. He tries to make it happen. He tries to be righteous. The God entranced person says I want to be more like Christ, and therefore he is more obedient. God makes it happen. Don’t put God on your agenda, get on God’s agenda and you will see the results He wants for you. Listen, He paid the ultimate price for you to be redeemed, to place value in you, the value of Himself. No, you weren’t worth it, He was, but He incorporates us into Him. Now don’t you think He wants great things for you (Romans 8:32)? Romans 8:29 – all things are from Him, and you can trust Him, because He is holy.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Love and Holiness

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
(1 John 4:9 – ESV)

The power of God is to be able to take something broken and make it better than before, a new thing, a redeemed thing, bought with a price, infused with the Spirit of God, made lovely, given grace, given value, given God. Made holy. From the holiness of God springs our justification, but it also leads us to a moral change from darkness to light. To sinners God says, "Ye must be born again," to the saved, "Be ye holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16).

We think love is His most beautiful thing, but it is holiness; the Bible says we are to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness (1 Chronicles 16:29 / Psalm 29:2, 96:9), to praise the beauty of holiness (2 Chronicles 20:21), we are to give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness (Psalm 30:4), walk on the highway of holiness (Isaiah 35:8), and be working to bring our holiness to a more complete place (2 Corinthians 7:1). God’s all-encompassing attribute, the one from which all the others flow, and flow perfectly, is His holiness (Isaiah 6 / Revelation 4:8). It is what makes everything else in perfect proportion. That is why we can trust His justice, His goodness, His mercy, His love, and so on, because He is holy.

The New Testament is centered on Christ, and its exhortations on the holiness of believers. This is not a simple call to obedience, but to holiness. Holiness is not righteousness, righteousness flows from holiness. Holiness isn’t simply obedience; it is being set apart for God and depending on God by drawing your boundaries, as God would have them. Obedience flows from holiness, and holiness is cultivated by a right understanding of God and what He has done for us in Christ. To understand Christ more fully is to be made more holy in practice. That is why we are studying this as intensely as we are. This is the highest privilege that we can experience this side of heaven, to know Christ, and it should be the center of our preaching and goal of living. If you understand what we have been teaching now about God, His own righteousness, the gospel, and justification by faith, then you will come to understand this. We are already made holy (Hebrews 10:10), we do not work for it; we work from it.

This is the difference between being God entranced and self-entranced. The self-entranced person says I want God to help me, so I will be more obedient. He tries to make it happen. He tries to be righteous. The God entranced person says I want to be more like Christ, and therefore he is more obedient. God makes it happen. Don’t put God on your agenda, get on God’s agenda and you will see the results He wants for you. Listen, He paid the ultimate price for you to be redeemed, to place value in you, the value of Himself. No, you weren’t worth it, He was, but He incorporates us into Him. Now don’t you think He wants great things for you (Romans 8:28-29)? Romans 8:32 – all things are from Him, and you can trust Him, because He is holy.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Love Understood

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
(1 John 4:14 – ESV)

One of the truths of the gospel is that God saved us in a way that upheld His justice. Justice was neither compromised nor set aside; it was completely satisfied. One of the great mysteries not revealed in the Old Testament but fully revealed in the gospel is how forgiveness is possible without compromising the justice of God. The bloody mercy seat showed the truth that sins must be paid for because of the holiness of God. His love requires justice to be done, but animal blood cannot pay for human sin, and human blood alone cannot pay for offense against God.

Only Jesus was worthy enough to pay. Christ offered a full atonement that included payment in full for all the sins of every sinner who would ever believe (2 Corinthians 5:21 / Romans 3:25 / 1 John 2:2). Our salvation is therefore grounded in the justice of God as well as His mercy, which is in perfect proportion because of His holiness. In other words, the gospel is not only a message about the love of God. It is that; but it is more. The true gospel magnifies His justice as much as it magnifies His love, because in doing that it magnifies His holiness.

Why do we need to understand this, why do we need to discover and develop our thinking this way? In order to become better grounded in Christ (Colossians 2:7 / Ephesians 3:16-19); this is greater than simple understanding but not simply a feeling. Rooted and grounded in love, which we see more clearly as we have been discovering in 1 John 4:7-10 and Romans 3:25-26, etc. The breadth and length and height and depth, in other words, the encompassing nature of His love, which is most clearly understood through His holiness.

You want a faith that is getting richer, deeper, and stronger, and we find this in the Bible, it is not merely an intellectual pursuit, as this passage says, it is a knowledge but it goes beyond knowledge, it is sight beyond sight (Ephesians 1:16-20). We cannot naturally envision holiness, but when we endeavor to rightly understand God, He grants us the power to do just that. This is why you can receive a word, and want it for your life and love it, but if you don’t dig deep enough, there is no root and it will wither away. The seed gets planted but you must be working on your soil. What I am trying to do is to get you to understand the love of Christ more fully.

Convince yourself and deepen your faith, Coach others and develop their faith, Contend for and defend the faith. 2 Peter 12:1-2, 3:18 – This is what knowing and understanding Jesus is, becoming more and more familiar with just how righteous He is and beautiful and holy and that is worship and looking at Him and that is how we are changed (2 Corinthians 3:18).

When it says God is love that includes all aspects of His love including justice. Love without justice isn’t love it is favoritism. Simple pardon is simply preference. God’s love is much deeper than that, His love satisfies justice and upholds His character. His own holy being demands that payment be made, or justice would not be served, and He would not be a holy God. He is a holy God, and He Himself makes the payment to satisfy justice. He doesn’t just find a way to get you out of it; He makes a way that can never be taken back (Romans 8:33).

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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