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Our DAILY GOSPEL DEVOTIONAL is the story of Jesus from Incarnation to Ascension. This is a chronology and harmony of the gospel accounts in which the ongoing narrative and doctrinal context are carefully considered. In one year we reflect on every passage of every gospel.
May God bless you as we follow the disciples on the journey through the earthly life of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Still the Small Voice?








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…the LORD was not in the wind… the LORD was not in the earthquake…the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
(1 Kings 19:11-13 – ESV)

How many times have you been told that in order to “hear God” you need to listen for that “still small voice”? Yet when we see Elijah actually hearing words, it wasn’t necessarily in that still small voice, or the gentle whisper, as your Bible version may say. No, the gentle whisper, or still small voice, was the end the demonstration, the earth, wind, and fire preceding it.

Now notice, after Elijah heard the whisper, he then went back to the front of the cave, and THEN he heard a voice speaking to him. It was the same question as before, and Elijah answered the same as before. The text seems to indicate that it wasn’t the still small voice that spoke the question again, but that the whisper led Elijah out, and then he heard as he had before.

Even if the voice that came to Elijah was in that same whisper, there is only one time in the whole Bible when God possibly spoke in a still small voice, and yet for some reason we have people trying and people teaching others to try and hear the still small voice.

Yet, the still small voice wasn’t inside of Elijah, it was outside the cave.

In the Bible we don’t read of anyone who clears their mind to seek the voice of God and actually hearing from God. We see people going about their routine when God suddenly speaks to them.

If God wants to get your attention he doesn’t have to wait until you are still or get quiet. As a matter of fact, as we have said before, when Psalm 46:10 says “be still, and know I am God”, it isn’t God telling us to be still and then we will hear Him, it is God telling His enemies and His people that He is God and so we should shut up!

So it would seem as if this is certainly not the way to hear from God.

Oh, and by the way, when God spoke, whether it was in that still small voice or not, it was to tell Elijah that He accepted his resignation (vs. 15-18). Yes Elijah would still serve for a time after that, but really, now, are you resigned to taking one scenario in the scriptures and making that your final position on the voice of God, when He says elsewhere, “The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty” (Psalm 29:4)?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!!!

You can now listen to as well as read the daily posts... this is a new feature that will be included each day, M-F...

We have linked up voiceofvision.org, the radio program, and the blog...In other words, the post you see daily on the blog is the message on our radio broadcast for that day, which you will also find on the voiceofvision.org homepage, and if you miss any messages, you can look through the radio archives page from that site, as well as here at the blog...

You will notice that while each post differs in length, the radio program is 15 minutes including intro and exit, and so some of the audio messages will include extra material not written in the post, but still on the same topic...

We hope you like this new feature, we are excited about it for sure...



“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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The Avenue of Oaks








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Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.
(Jeremiah 17:7-8 – ESV)

We hear it said time and again, as if it were some new revelation, either saying that the children are our future, or that the children are our right now. I want to dispel those notions right here and now. Children are not our future and they are not our right now. The old folks are the right now, and they will be the right now in the future as well.

How and why, you say? Think about it. By the time children become our future they will be older. When will we wise up and discover that the future of the church is in its old people not its young people? Young people will be growing older just like the rest of us, and hopefully the emphasis is on the growing not the older but the wiser. Yes we need the young people for many things, but what we need is for them to start young and grow old with God. So yes lets get them in while they are young, but lets grow them up so they can be old and mature as well.

The way to get them young is to show them hope for when they are old. I want a church full of old saints, a community of spiritual sages, wise old oaks who burn on a low simmer but whose kindling embers are real fuel for the younger set giving them something to look forward to.

We think young people are more important because they have more life to live but actually they need old people, old people are more important because they have more life to give. They have a lifetime of living with Jesus and all those young folks are coming that way too, we all grow older, even if we die young, the day we die we will be a day older than the day before etc., and we had better be longing for continued growth. Spiritual life is not meant to be an early peak and then slow fade out; that is a flawed concept. It is not our physical or mental strength that gives the gospel its power but God and the relationship with Him is the demonstration of that power. Why would it ebb backward unless we are backsliding, and do you mean to tell me that all older people are on a downward slide spiritually just because they are physically? Think about what you’re thinking with that type of nonsense.

In a sense the old oaks matter more, at least as much as we all do but they matter more than they did, not less, because they have grown more with God over time. They may be able to do physically less, but their relationship ideally had ought to be more. Spiritually they can do more in prayer, etc. mentoring or just being a witness by being alive. The old oaks can take the heat, and they can bear a dry season, and they bear fruit when others don’t. If you grow old with God you can count on abundant fruit even as the seasons change.

When you don’t respect the hope of the elders you don’t respect the hope for yourself, because that is they way you and I and all of us are headed. Even if we die young, we will die older than we were before we did. It is no wonder so many want to delay the onset of aging they don’t have anything to look forward to. People see it all as if youth and vigor is all that matters, and as if only youthful vigor means useful vitality. Instead the truth is that spiritual vigor comes through maturity, and that should be increasing as we age.

We need to model the spiritual fact that we can be looking forward to growing old as opposed to merely getting old. Young person you need to find an oak. Adults get growing and become an oak. Old folks make sure you stay old oaks by keeping others lit. We are like trees that are planted by the water (Psalm 1:3 / Isaiah 61:3) and we need more oaks. We need to keep showing all our people the right path, that of growing older in God. In our church communities, let’s surround our young ones with hope. Let’s become an avenue of oaks.


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

I Tell You With Tears

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
(Philippians 3:17-19 – ESV)

Vs.17 – People who are pressing on follow and fellowship with likeminded, maturing saints. Whose examples are you following; you are following after something, someone, pressing on to be like them, sometimes if we can’t change our friends we need to change friends. Make God the goal of your life, fellowship with other people who are doing it right, and walk in the light you already have, and you will be given more light to walk by, this is what pressing on is about. Otherwise you will be like the many that fall back and fall away. Again, Paul is not saying you have to be perfect he is saying that maturing believers strive toward it, and those that do not are not who they think they are. Too many talk a good game but God is not mocked; if they actually trusted Christ they would treasure Him, but their lives prove that their treasure lies elsewhere.

Vs.18-19 – He has warned them many times, and with a broken heart, that there are many that are not really Christ’s. Those that are not pressing on are falling away to their own desires for earthly things, they have the wrong mindset. Many who profess Christ do not actually possess Christ. He has warned them many times. He tells them with tears that many walk as enemies, not in doctrine, but in practice. What is your mindset, what is your mind set on (Colossians 3:1-2)? If they are not pressing on they are not actually Christians, they may be in name but not for real. This passage is clear that this is the normal Christian life; the high call must be answered. It is not that your work saves you but that if you are saved God will give you the desire to answer the call. “Their god is their belly” means their appetites, what they set their minds on, what has them fascinated, what they live and strive for, what is most important to them, it says “who set their minds on earthly things”. They don’t treasure Jesus; they are not broken over their sin and their heart grows harder and their sight becomes dimmer and their mind becomes more clouded every day. They are pressing on, yes, but they are pressing on to perdition. No one stands still to the things of God, you will either be pressing on towards the upward call, or you will be pressing on down the path of destruction.

We could still have a revival but we must answer the call and press on, souls are at stake including yours. We will either press on or fall away. In doing that we must remember it isn’t your decision to start but your determination to stay that counts, and he that endures to the end shall be saved, and we can endure all things through Christ who strengthens us. Let’s press in that we may press on.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Maturing Minds

Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
(Philippians 3:15-16 – ESV)

Mature people press on, they keep maturing, and God gives them more light. We must walk in the light we have in order to receive more. The expectation of a new revelation is not to make you less careful in walking according to whatever degree of spiritual maturity you have already attained. God makes further revelations to those who are obedient to the light they already have (Hosea 6:3). There is little point in pursuing God's will if we are not willing to comply, especially with obedience in the things He has already made known to us. How can we expect to receive more light if we have not responded to the light we have been given? God's guidance subsides when it is unaccompanied by our acceptance. We should examine our lives to see if we are disobeying in areas He has already made clear. Walk in the light as you have it, or else it will become darkness to you, and you will grow cold to the things of God.

Maturing people, people who are pressing on walk consistent with the light they already have. Many are deceived into thinking they are in the kingdom of God but all they do is walk outside the will of God. They are falling back into the flesh, instead of pressing on in the Spirit of Christ. Instead of advancing they are retreating, instead of pressing on, they are falling back, and they are falling away. Falling away from the faith, falling away from Christ, falling away from church, falling away from the Bible, falling away from prayer, falling away from the old paths, falling away from Jesus being the only way, falling away from sound doctrine, falling away from all that is holy, falling away and falling prey for all the fads and frauds that come down the pike. People are falling away and falling down and falling back and falling into a trap, falling for anything that makes them feel good but is not of God. Falling away and falling to stay, falling to pieces but still not broken over their sin.

Yes I believe that when we are saved we remain saved forever, but I also know that the scriptures declare that many will think they are saved when they are not, and that many will be caught up and carried away with the cares of this world (Mark 4:18-19), and that is what Paul says in this chapter. Examine yourself in the light of God’s Word. Are you pressing on or are you falling back? Is your life becoming increasingly conformed to the image of Christ, is it even a real concern for you, are you consumed with Christ or with being a worldly consumer? Are people better off spiritually having been around you? Is your light shining, or is it becoming dimmer, soon to be snuffed out? If you fall behind, eventually you will be left behind.


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Going Towards the Goal

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:14 – ESV)

Here again is our basic outline of the text from Philippians 3:12-19.

12. Paul is not there yet, he presses on to know Jesus more
13. He isn’t complacent, he leaves the old life behind and strives toward his destiny
14. He moves toward his goal, the upward call
15. Mature people think this way, they keep maturing, and God gives them more light
16. Maturing people, people who are pressing on walk consistent with the light they already have
17. People who are pressing on follow and fellowship with likeminded, maturing saints
18. He has warned them many times, and with a broken heart, that many are not really Christ’s
19. Those that are not pressing on are falling away to their own desires for earthly things, they have the wrong mindset

Vs.14 – He moves toward his goal, the upward call. What is the goal of your life, what are you chasing after, are you using God as a means to an end, or is Jesus Christ the goal Himself? Is your goal to glorify God, to chase after Him, really now, can you say that with a clear conscience? Godliness doesn’t seem to be the goal in many people’s lives. Most certainly God is patient with us, but which way are you headed? Which goal are you running towards? If you aren’t running towards God, then you are carrying the ball for the other team, and there are only two sides to this contest.

Complacency is the cancer that has eaten up the Body of Christ in these days. This is why God must send affliction our way because the poison must be rooted out. The Bible says that in the very last of the last days, there will be a great falling away from the faith (2 Thessalonians 2). I know that we are in those days because I can see the falling away everywhere I look.

How do I know that this is the falling away? It is because everywhere I look people are falling behind. Falling away starts by falling behind. Today they are falling behind; tomorrow they will be falling away. We will press on or we will fall back. Press on to perfection, to maturity, mature people will continue maturing. The word for "press on" means to follow after like a servant. Too often we are looking to be served.

There is a higher call, and God invites you to higher ground, but it takes diligence (2 Peter 1:10). It is all about Christ and knowing Him. Do you dare to go there; will you press on?


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Press On

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
(Philippians 3:12-13 – ESV)

We’ll start our next series of posts with a basic outline of the text from Philippians 3:12-19.

12. Paul is not there yet, he presses on to know Jesus more
13. He isn’t complacent, he leaves the old life behind and strives toward his destiny
14. He moves toward his goal, the upward call
15. Mature people think this way, they keep maturing, and God gives them more light
16. Maturing people, people who are pressing on walk consistent with the light they already have
17. People who are pressing on follow and fellowship with likeminded, maturing saints
18. He has warned them many times, and with a broken heart, that many are not really Christ’s
19. Those that are not pressing on are falling away to their own desires for earthly things, they have the wrong mindset

Vs.12 – He is not there yet, he presses on to know Jesus more. Conversion is only the beginning, not the end of the chase. Paul knows that he will not be fully perfected and completely matured until he is in the glorified state of heaven, but since it is his destiny, he strives toward it, as all true maturing Christians do, because God gives them a hunger for it, and then they know Christ more fully as they progress, as they mature in this life, they begin to understand Jesus more intimately, whether it be by dying to self interest, or having to suffer persecution and affliction. They press on toward the prize, the upward call, not upward mobility, but spiritual mobility, that they may be as Christ would be in any and every situation. Paul wasn’t all the way there yet, but he was on the right road, the road of faith, the road of submission, the road of repentance, the road of revelation, the road to his Lord. Paul presses on to make the prize of fully knowing Jesus his own, because Jesus has made Paul his own. 1 Corinthians 13:12 / 1 John 3:2, we will finally and fully know God as He knows us, but if we truly have God given faith then we will pursue God, to know Him as fully as we can right now.

Vs.13 – Paul isn’t complacent, he leaves the old life behind and strives toward his destiny. Those that aren’t hungry for God and are only hungry for the same old things are only fooling themselves. Is your faith the faith of fools, or has God truly put His stamp on you? If He has put His stamp on you, then you will be headed in His direction, your life will be run along the right route, which way are you headed? Christians are forgetting their old life and reaching out to their destiny; “what lies ahead” for you? You know the truth! Paul may have been wearied but he wasn’t wandering, he may have been pressed down but he pressed on. This needs to be the pattern of our lives as well. He is not saying you have to be perfect he is saying that maturing believers strive toward it, and those that do not are not who they think they are. If Paul knew he needed to press on, how much more we?


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

All Things Are New?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
(2 Corinthians 5:17 – ESV)

The KJV renders the end of this verse as, “all things are become new.” However, this “all things” means specific things, and this doesn’t mean all things are now perfected. We need to distinguish between justification and sanctification, between the judicial and the incremental, between the positional and the practical. George Muller said, “Just as a little child is a perfect human being, but still is far from perfect in all his development as man, so the true child of God is also perfect in all parts, although not yet perfect in all the stages of his development in faith.” You have no biblical warrant to just take this verse and make it say whatever you want about something being new. You still have to try; it isn’t like turning on some switch, it is a new way, a road to be travelled, with process and progress, not a place we climb up on or fall down from.

A better way of understanding it is to say that old things have passed away and new things have come, specifically, our way of looking at ourselves and relating to Jesus Christ, our old ways of thinking have been introduced to a new and living way. These new things are things from God (vs.18). We are a part of a new body, with new “clothes” to put on (Colossians 3:1-14). The new man in Christ is new because in Christ he has been declared righteous, and he has been given a new nature, but this new man must still put off the ideas and ideals of the old man (Romans 12:1-2 / Galatians 5:16ff / Ephesians 4:22-24 / Colossians 3:5).

“All things are new” doesn’t mean we have all in its fullness (Romans 8:23 / Ephesians 1:13-14). Upon being born again we are given a new disposition, but we still must struggle with the old proclivities still ingrained in our minds, which are against the new way (Galatians 5:17 / Romans 7:15-20). This is why the believer has to fight against the desires of the flesh, the old way, which wars against the soul (1 Peter 2:11). Whereas the unbeliever has only one direction, and one disposition, toward sin and away from God, the believer has been given a change in direction, toward God and holiness. Behold, all things are new, in the sense that we are now on a new road with a new outlook. Look around you; which way are you headed?


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Before the Last Exit

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
(1 Corinthians 10:13 – ESV)

In 1 Corinthians 10:1-10 Paul uses the children of Israel in the wilderness as an object lesson about presuming upon the grace of God. Although they had escaped the bondage of Egypt, and had known of God’s grace and had experienced it (vs.1-4), nevertheless, many were still in bondage to sin, and they were judged (vs.5).

Indeed, from that first generation only Joshua and Caleb made it to the Promised Land (Numbers 14:30-32). Paul describes the nature of their offense as the desire for evil things (vs.6 / cf. Psalm 106:14), and then he gives us some specific instances which are representative of how they were confirmed in their sin.

· Idolatry (vs.7) (cf. Exodus 32:1-6)
· Immorality (vs.8) (cf. Numbers 25:1-9)
· Incitement (vs.9) (cf. Numbers 21:5-6)
· Indictment (vs.10) (cf. Numbers 16:41-49)

Paul then tells us that these things are a warning to us (vs.11). God dispensed judgment upon them in the physical realm and this is to be our warning about spiritual judgment, which might also have temporal, physical manifestations. He warns us to always be careful, because the minute that we think we have a particular sin mastered we are in danger of that very sin actually becoming our master (vs.12).

Now in context, verse 13, therefore, is telling us that we need to take the turn offs when they appear and stop traveling down the rotten road before those ways of escape disappear. The children of Israel presumed upon God’s grace and proved their lack of true faith. You have to continue down the grace road; if you do not, you are manifesting the lack of faith.

You can’t continue down the dark path and think that there will be an escape pod just waiting whenever you feel like turning back to God. People think they can coast, and then they wonder why this verse doesn’t seem to “work” for them. The examples Paul gives are a warning against precisely that. Repentance means we are turning back onto the Holy Highway. It is time to turn off of Temptation Street; believe me, you can’t afford the toll.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Supernatural Lies

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
(Galatians 1:8 – ESV)

People think they are special to God because they avoided danger in some fantastic way, or they think that they are on the right path, that everything is going to work out fine, and that they are “going to heaven” or something like that because some supposed supernatural occurrence happened to them, but they take that as above and beyond the bible in authority. They may even say they believe in Jesus or perhaps speak of some vague notion of God, but when discussing their faith what they talk about is in contradiction to the scriptures. They are placing their faith in that experience and not in God’s Word. Paul tells us plainly that no matter what supernatural things have been revealed to you, no matter how fantastic an experience you have had, if it is not in accordance with the gospel and biblical truth, they are not of God, not to be trusted and can be damning if your faith is in them not the true Jesus Christ.


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

On to the Apostles

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth,
(John 16:12-13 – ESV)

We hear much talk of “red letters” as if only the words of Jesus in the gospels are needed and the words of the Apostles are not necessary, as if the words of Jesus are somehow against the words given by the Holy Spirit to the other biblical writers. Some act as if the words of Jesus alone represent the whole counsel of God.

Jesus himself dismisses with this idea, Christ said that the Spirit would not only bring all the teachings of Jesus to their remembrance, but that He would also bring new truth and revelation to the Apostles upon His death. The epistles of Paul, for example, do not confuse the teachings of Christ, they magnify them. Paul declared that “we have the mind of Christ” in accordance with Jesus’ own words (1 Corinthians 2:16).

When people try and convince you that they are taking the high road in saying “back to Christ” they are actually going against Christ’s own teaching, as He said, in essence, “On to the Apostles, through them will my teaching increase”. If we want to truly be “red letter Christians” then we ought to pay attention to what those red letters of Jesus have to say about the authority of the apostolic writings.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Jesus Submitted

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
(Philippians 2:5 – ESV)

Man’s nature is not submission but rebellion. Even in the Garden of Eden there really was only one thing to submit to and they wouldn’t do it.

Think about Jesus and His relationship with the Father, and you will realize how core the concept of submission is to the Christian message and faith. Jesus was perfectly submissive (Romans 5:19). How miserable would Jesus have been if He had argued with the Father all the time instead of submitting to His will?

In Philippians 2:6-8, we see Jesus showing us three levels of submission, and in vs.9-11, we see the results. Based on that, Paul exhorts us to action in vs.12-13.

Vs.6 – Submitted Himself to God as a Son
God’s plan – Jesus 1st act of redemption was submission without it there is no salvation
John 5:17-19, 8:28, 14:10, 10:33, 19:7 – He was still God but He did the Father’s will
Wilderness temptation – Satan presented “alternatives”, but Jesus stayed in submission

Vs.7 – Submitted Himself to Men as a Servant
He had to be born as a baby, cleaned and fed, with all the mundane aspects of being human. He grew in stature, but still had to endure the waiting period before His ministry.
What kept Him going? The high call (I must be about my Father’s business)
Hebrews 5:8 / Matthew 20:25-28 – He was still a leader but He was a servant also service by leading as example and teacher

Vs.8 – Submitted Himself to Death as a Sacrifice
(Matthew 26:39 / Hebrews 2:10-15 / Matthew 10:28 / Job 13:15 / John 12:24-26) He was still going to be resurrected (Acts 2:23-33) but He submitted to the wrath of God (Isaiah 53).

THEREFORE

Vs.9 – The Father Has Exalted Him
He was already the creator and sustainer (John 1:3 / Colossians 1:15-18 / Hebrews 1:2-3)
As great and powerful as He already was, now His name is magnified

Vs.10 – The Universe is Submitted to Him
Ephesians 1:21-23 / 1 Peter 3:22

Vs.11 – The Father is Glorified in Him
1 Corinthians 15:24-28
Jesus sought God the Father’s glory just as the Holy Spirit seeks to glorify Christ

Most people don’t want to do something “beneath their dignity”, yet when we look at Christ we see that no one has ever had a greater drop off in “dignity”. Jesus proves that to submit to Deity is true dignity, no matter what the world says. Therefore…(Philippians 2:12-13)…

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Monday, March 16, 2009

The Theology of Suffering



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Saturday, March 14, 2009

French Fries and the Gospel



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Friday, March 13, 2009

Eternity with Jesus

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
(Matthew 25:46 – ESV)

Everyone who has ever lived will spend eternity with Jesus. It is true.

Some, however, will spend eternity with Jesus in His love in Heaven, and others will spend eternity with Jesus in His wrath in Hell.

You are going to spend eternity with Jesus, the question is, where?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tithing, Giving, Stewardship

Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.
(Luke 3:11 – ESV)

The Bible has much to say about matters concerning money, possessions, contentment, etc. When talking about tithing (giving a tenth of our income to the local church or for ministry purposes), giving, and stewardship, there is much controversy, but the truth is that we are to be mindful of God more than our things and desires (Matthew 6:19-34).

Often you hear euphemisms, aphorisms, and the like, exhorting us that our possessions not possess us, that we ought to love God more than goods. You have probably heard it said, and I have said it and believed it also, that you should own your stuff, and not let it own you.

However, my understanding of this has grown and I do not end it there anymore. Now I know that I cannot simply say “own stuff, don’t let it own you”, because we do not own stuff, God owns it and He owns us, and He loans it to you. In the light of this truth, the question is not how much do I have to give, but how much am I allowed to keep?

Looking at the New Testament one realizes that giving ten percent is certainly not the standard, nor is it some lofty ideal, it is not, and it would be far below it. Instead of asking how much do I have to give in order to please God, I should be asking how much comfort do I have to surround myself with before I can be content that God loves me?

You don’t own stuff; it is on loan to you. You have control, but what is controlling you?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Addressing the Ultimate Issue

He will render to each one according to his works… There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil…but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good…
(Romans 2:6,9,10 – ESV)

We all must address the ultimate issue. Paul has just told us that all the Gentiles are under the wrath of God and has indicted the Jews and the moralists as well, saying that none of us are righteous and that all of us are without excuse. But now he tells us that we need to pursue goodness and the path of righteousness in order to inherit eternal life, and that if we do not, we will have eternal wrath. Is Paul saying that we are all going to hell? Yes, unless there is a remedy, and that remedy is the gospel, the righteousness we need to inherit eternal life. We need to face the ultimate issue, and we can do so without fear if we have Jesus.

The Jews and the Gentiles are in the same boat. The judgment of God will be applied in the same way using the same standard. God will be just. It doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or if you are a Gentile, all persons are going to be judged according to the same standard. That standard is perfection (Acts 17:31 / Romans 2:16). No amount of goodness by any individual in history is enough to justify them. No one has been or will be holy enough to merit eternal life; only Christ was and is perfect. Man left to himself can never climb his way out of his own heart. He will sink into the depths of his own depravity, unless God in His common grace restrains him, and until God in His saving grace rescues him.

Paul is showing us once again the need for the gospel; “each” means all individuals regardless of class, race, gender, location, nationality, or the like. The eternal life of everyone depends on the kindness of God, not our goodness. But it is not something we can presume upon. He gives it to those whom seek it with repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).

This text is saying the only path to eternal life is the path of righteousness. But what Paul has said before this and in the New Testament and our lives and the world all reveal to us that none have or ever will walk it except Jesus. But we can follow Him on that road by faith. We will not walk it perfectly, but His walk not our walk is what saves us. That is the gospel and out of gratitude for it and love for Him we attempt to walk that same path, knowing that our walk will be imperfect and that we will stumble and fall, but that God will pick us up and if we will get up and want to walk again He will empower us to do so. Like a child learns to walk so too we learn to walk and we grow stronger as we walk, but we must be careful to keep our eyes on the One who walks before us and that is what under girds us and keeps us from stumbling. Humbly look at the goodness of God, and repent of straying from or staying off of the path. Follow Jesus.

Someone who is saved does not presume upon the goodness of God, they act in accordance with it. The Jews whom Paul was chastising here were God’s called out people, they knew about God; they weren’t like those people in Romans 1. They knew they were called out ones, and yet they presumed this meant that they could just coast along, and they are wrong, dead wrong. God is calling you out; you must answer the call with humility and repentance and not with hypocrisy. Just because you know the truth doesn’t mean you are trusting in it. Those that do not walk the path at all are saying that they have no faith. Wrath or mercy, which do you want? Follow Jesus, and you will have mercy, follow your heart and you will have wrath.

THAT is the ultimate issue.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Avoiding the Ultimate Issue

…God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance…
…But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself…
(Romans 2:4-5 – ESV)

God’s goodness is meant to lead us to address the ultimate issue. Paul says that the goodness of God has kept the wrath of God from them (and from you) for now, not forever. People presume on God’s goodness and think they can just play the game of their lives any old way they want to. Paul is telling us all no way. Jesus tells us to store up treasure in heaven but some are storing up wrath in hell.

So many want to just play around and pretend that if we ignore this issue, THE issue, that it will somehow go away. Paul was saying that we had better make sure of what we are doing, because the Jews thought they were fine because they weren’t as morally corrupt as others, but Paul says they were heaping up wrath to be revealed. The wrath of God is thereby separated into two different categories: (a) that wrath which is presently being revealed against sinners as we see in the first chapter of Romans, and (b) that coming wrath of God, which is yet to be revealed against sinners.

Presuming on God’s goodness is more than deadly. All through life and even at death’s door people want to ignore the issue and distract themselves and medicate themselves with their chosen poison. Adults grow up and want to blame someone else for their problems, and we hire people to lead us back into the past to heal our wounded heart. Christians ought to know better than this. They should know that sin is the problem, and that sorrow is a part of Christian life. It reminds us this world isn’t all there is and that we are to remain repentant.

Some people may see their sin but they don’t see the solution, and that is why they medicate, ignore, distract, avoid, deny, and do anything they can to escape the coming wrath, and the wrath against their conscience. They do this so long and so strong that their consciences are finally what the apostle Paul calls seared as with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:2). Paul describes it as being past feeling (Ephesians 4:19). They will look to anything and everything but Him. They will even try “being good”. They are hard and cold and dead to God.

The truth is that this hardening has been going on since we were children. We think we can let our children “off the hook” of making them go to church, read the bible, and such, but we are only setting them up for ultimate failure. We think they will grow out of it but they won’t because we won’t. It is ironic that we know we are supposed to mature out of wanting nothing but fun; we teach children this when they are young, but wonder why they don’t follow it when they are old. It is because while we teach this we don’t live this, we continue to foster the idea of fun as the ultimate pursuit. We either train them in the Lord or they are trained by the world.

How many people have you known who are old in years but are still as self indulgent as a teenager? It is no wonder our children grow up the way they do. We have such a confused conception of joy, we think to have joy means the same thing as to have fun, and we have lost the value of doing things meaningful, significant, and truly fulfilling. We presume on God’s goodness, thinking we’re okay, and we teach our children, our spouses, each other, and ourselves this deception. We are learning to avoid the ultimate issue.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Friday, March 06, 2009

God Knows Your Heart

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
(Psalm 139:23-24 – ESV)

How many times have you thought, said, or heard, “well, God knows my heart”? This happens often with people who want to justify themselves from the fact that they are blatantly ignoring the teachings of the Bible. We must be careful, for our motivations are not always as pure as we think them to be, and even if we are sincere, this doesn’t mean we are right. In fact, some might think that they want to do what is right but what they actually want is to get out of having to do what is biblically right. They say, well God knows my heart, and I say yes, He absolutely does, they are right about that (1 Samuel 16:7 / 1 Kings 8:39 / 1 Chronicles 28:9 / Proverbs 15:11 / Jeremiah 17:10 / Acts 1:24, 15:8 / Revelation 2:23).

Read through those scriptures and realize something important here. The problem is that while God knows your heart, YOU don’t know your heart, and let me further prove it to you.

Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

You say God knows your heart, and God says the Bible is how you know what He is thinking about your heart. God knows your heart and He shows you what He wants you to know about it in His Word. In His Word your heart is revealed. His Word reveals the condition of your heart, and so no matter what you think your heart looks like, God says that if you are directly disobeying some explicit command of His, then you are not as pure an innocent as you assume your sincerity makes you. Sincerity is no substitute for truth. The truth is that just because no one else is fulfilling their obligations, this doesn’t excuse you from fulfilling yours. Their disobedience doesn’t justify yours.

Yes God knows your heart, and He uses His Word to reveal to you the condition of it.

Proverbs 28:26 (KJV) – He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Proverbs 21:2 – Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.

Perhaps it is time to pray in accordance with Psalm 19:12-14 / Psalm 139:23-24, and ask God to show you from His Word about that “heart surgery” you need.


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Abundant Life

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
(John 10:10 – ESV)

The Gospel is not about a better life, it is about eternal life.

Because

Jesus does not offer you a better life, He offers you eternal life.

Therefore

Witnessing shouldn’t be about a better life, it should be about eternal life.

And remember

The abundant life Jesus is speaking of in John 10:10 is not about a life of material abundance, it is about spiritual abundance (John 7:37-39) and a life eternal (John 10:28).


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

60 Seconds (34)

“REVENGE”

In the early days of TV, there was a popular comedy show called “Amos and Andy,” known for its far-fetched gags. One of which, there was a big man who would always slap Andy in the chest, which he detested. Finally, Andy got enough of it and said to Amos, “I am ready for him. I put a stick of dynamite in my vest pocket and the next time he slaps me, he is going to get his hand blown off!” To cherish vengeful feelings is like having a stick of dynamite hidden in our pocket. Such a volatile attitude may trigger explosions that not only do irreparable harm to other people, but to us as well.

The spirit of revenge crept into the lives of the disciples. When Christ was rejected by a village of Samaritans, James and John wanted fire to come down from heaven to destroy the people. Jesus rebuked them by saying, “You do not know what spirit you are of” (Luke 9:51 – 56). Marilyn vos Savant correctly observed, “An act of justice closes the book on a misdeed; an act of vengeance writes one of its own.”

Instead of taking revenge, we are told, “Do not say, ‘I will repay evil’: wait on the Lord, and He will save you” (Proverbs 20:22). Fenelon, a 17th –century theologian, explained it this way, “Don’t be so upset when evil men and women defraud you. Let them do as they please; just seek to do the will of God…silent peace and sweet fellowship with God will repay you for every evil thing done against you. Fix your eyes on God.”

In Romans 12:19, Paul admonished, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (NIV). A little boy, being asked what forgiveness is, gave this answer, “It is the odor that flowers breathe when they are trampled on.” When Philip the Good was advised to punish someone who had badly betrayed him, declined, saying, “It is a fine thing to have revenge in one’s power; but it is a finer thing not to use it.”

Someone stated, “You will never get ahead trying to get even.” During one of the persecutions of the Armenians by the Turks, an Armenian girl and her brother were trapped by a bloodthirsty Turkish soldier. He killed the brother before the terrified eyes of the girl. She managed to escape by clambering over a wall and fleeing the country. Later, she became a nurse, and one day a wounded soldier was brought into the hospital where she worked. She recognized him at once as the man who had killed her brother. His condition was such that the least neglect or carelessness on the part of the nurse would have cost him his life. However, she gave him the most painstaking and constant care. One day when he was on the road to recovery, he recognized her and asked, “Why have you done this for me who killed your brother?” “Because I am a Christian,” the nurse replied. “I am following One who has taught me to forgive those who wrong me.”

Leviticus 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”

Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida www.davidarnoldonline.org

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Bible Warnings against the Occult

(Astrology, Spiritism, Secret Knowledge, Magic, etc.)

When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a wizard or a necromancer, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. And because of these abominations the LORD your God is driving them out before you.
(Deuteronomy 18:9-12 – ESV)

· Leviticus 19:26, 31
· Leviticus 20:6, 27
· Deuteronomy 13:1-4
· Deuteronomy 17:2-3
· 1 Samuel 28:3, 7-9 / 1 Chronicles 10:13
· 2 Kings 17:16-17
· 2 Kings 21:6
· 2 Chronicles 33:6
· Isaiah 2:6
· Isaiah 8:19
· Isaiah 19:3
· Isaiah 44:24-26
· Isaiah 47:12-13
· Daniel 2:27
· Acts 7:43
· Acts 8:9-11
· Acts 13:8-11
· Acts 16:16-18
. Acts 19:19
· Galatians 5:20
· Revelation 21:8

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Change You Can Believe In

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
(2 Peter 3:18 – ESV)

I want us to consider the prayers that Paul prayed for other believers. Of course, the specific content of the prayers themselves is vitally important, and each passage could make up many messages. However, what we want to focus on is the fact that these prayers represent our need for change. In doing this we will see some very important truths that God wants us to realize about change in our lives. We not only want to pray these prayers, we want to live them out, and by thinking about these prayers as a unit we can know God’s will.

The NT teaches that we are supposed to be changing, and Paul wouldn’t pray for change if it wasn’t possible. Prayer is the pipeline for God’s power, and Paul prayed not as much for their situations to change as for them to change. We need to believe that God answers these prayers. You must learn to be a twig before you become a tree. God isn’t a quick fix, change is more process oriented than crisis oriented, not a moment but a momentum. God’s power for change is something you can believe in.

Ephesians 1:16-19
Ephesians 3:14-19
Philippians 1:9-11
Colossians 1:9-12
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Change is Possible
* No matter how good your situation is
* No matter how bad your situation is

Change is Providential
* Through God’s power
* In God’s will

Change is Prayerful
* We should pray for it
* We should be mindful of it

Change is Predestined
* A process
* A guarantee

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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