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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.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Lone Ranger in Danger (Radio / Podcast)

…that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith…
(Romans 1:12 – ESV)

In the verses surrounding our text here, Paul defines a main purpose of his prayers for the Christians at Rome, that he might see them personally. Face to face time is most always better than letters or anything else: communication is good, but companionship is better. Discipleship happens best person to person, not person to program. Paul wanted to see them and live as a light before them (Philippians 2:15). Is it better to learn from the manual or learn from the man? The Bible is more than the Owner’s manual; it is how we meet with God himself (John 5:39). It is about more than principles; it is about a Person.

Paul is determined to see them that he might be able to help strengthen their faith, but it is not only that Paul will give, but also receive from them.

Our faith is strengthened within the company of other saints. You may live as a virtual outsider from God’s people and wonder why you keep falling down, or wonder why the Bible seems so dry, or wonder why your faith just doesn’t seem as real anymore, or wonder why all you see is hypocrisy; you need fellowship to see that the plank in your eye makes you see everything as having a plank in it. We see our problems in the context of our community; then we can change.

(2 Corinthians 1:4) You need the comfort of others and you need to give comfort to others. The lone ranger’s are wrong; you do need church, but even if you didn’t, the church needs you.

Take the time to invest in someone others miss (James 2:8-9). Ephesians 5:21 – you should be able to learn from every Christian (1 Corinthians 6:17).

The poorest of the poor in God’s kingdom have something of value for you to receive; it is our pride that hinders us – when Paul says “for you all” he means even sandpaper people have value.

Paul is praying that God will allow him to see the Roman Christians in person so that he could give and receive from their mutual faith (2 Peter 1:1). He was passionate to be with others who have a growing and showing faith. Are you? God wants to guide, guard, and gift you, but you have to be in the lunch line to get fed. Do you want to be escorted, established, and encouraged?

Are we as Paul praying for God to guide us into fellowship with others so that we may be strengthened and comforted by our mutual faith? Do you pray that you will find one reason (person) to go to church, not one reason to stay home? Do you pray for those who don’t make it to church? Do you pray for others to come so that they may be blessed? What is your faith known for?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sandpaper People (Radio / Podcast)

…and the rough places shall become level ways
(Luke 3:5 – ESV)

Sandpaper people. You know, those folks that seem to always rub you the wrong way. We may not understand, but they are there for a reason. And guess what; you are a sandpaper person for someone else. We are all sandpaper people. We are all rough around the edges. So why do we need or have so much scraping going on? Lets try and shed some light on this subject.

Consider first how an oyster makes a pearl. The formation of a pearl begins when a foreign substance slips into the oyster between the mantle and the shell, which irritates the mantle. It's kind of like the oyster getting a splinter. Something gets under its skin, as it were. The mantle covers the irritant with layers of the same nacre substance that is used to create its own shell. This eventually forms a pearl. So a pearl is a foreign substance covered with layers of nacre.

Spiritually speaking, we can relate the nacre to our love for one another. When someone is an irritation, when someone gets under your skin, cover them with the mantle of love. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8 – ESV).

Some people may seem like nothing but a thorn in your side. Remember what Paul said about his thorn, For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10 – ESV). Sandpaper people help you develop the pearl of patience.

Now think about diamonds. The transformation of a lump of coal into a diamond also involves a mantle. Diamonds are formed deep in the Earth, most likely in the upper mantle, and far below the level at which coal is found. Coal is never turned directly into diamonds. Diamonds are found only when brought up through volcanic action.

You see it takes some fiery trials to turn your lumps of coal into multifaceted, sparkling diamonds. We may believe that some people have nothing to offer us but heartache, headache, and bellyache. However, the poorest of the poor (even in attitude) have something of value for you to receive; it is our pride that hinders us. In his epistles, when Paul says he is praying “for you all” he means even sandpaper people have value.

Spiritually speaking, the mantle that fires those lumps of coal, the mantle that covers those irritants, and turns them into diamonds and pearls is the mantle of God’s love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Galatians 5:14).

The environment of believers will always be imperfect, but their rough edges will help to smooth out your wrinkles. As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend (Proverbs 27:17). People are like “mirrors” in which we can see ourselves as we really are. Through others we can see attitudes and characteristics of our own immaturity – weaknesses in us that need to be perfected. If there is bitterness or a lack of love, it will become exposed. This is why some people run from church to church – because it exposes their bad side. But when you hide from church, you are exposed.

Sandpaper people are there to help us shine up, and for us to see our own rough spots. If a person remains an “island” to themselves they will never have to face up to the spiritual immaturity within them. But exposing themselves to the sandpaper people will cause them to face conflicts that must be overcome in order to grow up. A sign of a spiritually mature person is that they can be loving and patient with anyone (1 John 2:10 / Galatians 5:22-23). Sandpaper people may not even realize it, but God has them doing you a favor.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Yes You Have To (Radio / Podcast)

...not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near
(Hebrews 10:25 – ESV)

Do you have to go to church to be a Christian? The answer to this is simple, but the reality of what this question is trying to point out isn’t as simple as it may seem, because many are not focusing on what is really meant by this question. To simply answer the question, then, do you have to go to church to be a Christian? The answer is no.

However, lets now propose a different, more pointed question that actually gets to the heart of the matter. Do you have to go to church when you are a Christian? The answer is yes. Lets state them together, so that you may think about this, and begin to realize where we are going next. Do you have to go to church to BE a Christian? No. Do you have to go to church WHEN you’re a Christian? Yes.

Now people can get all up in arms about this statement, but what they are doing is focusing on the legal aspect of it, not the spiritual aspect of it, and they fail to recognize that their spiritual lives will indeed suffer if they are not in church. Period. God knows it, everyone else knows it, and you know it.

What many people fail to realize is the benefit of just being there. It is very much like when I counsel couples; I always get them to commit to praying together at night before they go to bed. I am sure many of them wonder why this is so important. They probably feel like this exercise, as they might call it, has little chance of actually helping them.

However, what they are doing in their fleshly minds is trying to reason out why this is valuable inherently, and come to believe that the prayers won’t solve anything. They are looking at the prayers as some sort of vehicle that will magically deliver a message or some innate power that will get them to the next level. The answer isn’t always in the prayer by itself, it is that we honor God by doing it, and then He begins to line up the events and situations that will help us overcome the obstacles.

People are looking at the prayer itself, and wondering, what can that possibly do, I need money right now, or I need this or that to stop happening, or I need a job. It isn’t that He will give you a message right then and there, that this and this is what you should do, though He may, it is that this and this will start happening, all in response to your obedience to worship God and honor Him with prayer. You are leaving it on Him, in a way. You are coming in to His presence, as a couple, and the mere fact that you do this, becoming more intimately involved with God together, is why God becomes more intimately involved in your situation.

Church is the same way. The message may not have all that jazz for you in your mind, and the music may not move you as much as what is in your CD player right now, but that is only part of the plan God has for church. If you will just submit to God and commit, really now, to the local church, God will commit to your local lives. When you miss church you are not simply missing the message, you are missing the method.

The leading God gives is not only through the probing eye of the pastor, and not only through the community of believers assembled there, it is also just by attending yourself, in that God will then attend to your wants as you have attended to what He wants. Participating in church precipitates the providence and provision of God. When you open the doors of your will, then God will open the doors of your opportunity.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Common Clothing (Radio / Podcast)

in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
(Ephesians 2:21 – ESV)

We have previously discussed the fact that God helps those who know they are weak. While we are all indeed weak, it does not mean that we don’t act. While we must be giving thanks to God for all things, and we must cling to the promises of God, we must also realize our part in the promises. As we have seen in our discussions about the compatibility between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man, we have seen the need to act in accordance with God’s decrees, in salvation and in sanctification. Now we turn to a matter and manner of giving thanks to God though Jesus Christ in our solidarity.

Solidarity is defined as common interest and active loyalty within a group. They go together: not just doing activity, and not just being within. Not on the outside and not stationary, inside and involved. Not simply showing up once in a while and perhaps participating when we want to, but staying within the group and in an active way. To both be present and to participate regularly. You can’t do that on TV, folks. Tuned in to TV doesn’t mean turned on to God.

The promises of God are yea and amen, and God wants us to possess them all in abundance. Now, while some promises are things God will bring to pass no matter what, others are like a garment waiting to be worn; they are for those who meet the conditions of them. When we meet those conditions, and we continue to pray, to give thanks, and believe in God the possibilities turn into probabilities as we put on the promises of God like a prophecy.

Of course, some only want to pick and choose what “outfits” they will wear. They excuse themselves from going to church by “doing church” on television or the Internet. Those media can be a great resource, but they are only the jewelry, the gloves, the socks, or such things, if you will. But lone rangers want to see these things as their daily garment, instead of their accessories. What they end up doing is dressing for summer all the time and suffering the bitterness of winter all by themselves. Or they dress for winter and burn up in the summer heat.

There are promises of God that have been given to the Church, but many in these last days have come to believe that these promises are simply for individuals in the Church, which to them means simply saved individuals. This is not so, however; these promises are for the universal Church, yes, but they are appropriated by the individuals who are resident and active within the universal, invisible Church’s visible expression, which is the local church. If you are missing from the local church, you will be missing some of the blessings.

Saying that you can be a believer without going to church is like saying you can be a tennis player without stepping on the court, or that you are a pro, but you don’t own a racket. People say that they have a problem, that is why they couldn’t make it to church, but in truth they wouldn’t make it church, and that is why they have a problem. God knows your heart, and God knows if you are looking for an excuse. If that problem weren’t there, would you have gone then? Then why didn’t you come that one particular week you didn’t have to work, or when you didn’t have that problem? You had better go when you can or God will make sure you can’t.

Instead of looking for one reason not to go to church we should be looking for one reason to go to church. If you are watching church programs on television or the Internet, that’s great, but it isn’t commitment. Realize that this does not resolve you of the responsibility to be in a local church, with real, live, flesh and blood, flawed but blood bought believers. Start wearing the clothes of commitment; they are common to true Christians.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Indecent Exposure (Radio / Podcast)

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
(Hebrews 4:13 – ESV)

What are you exposing yourself to? What are you allowing into your eyes, your ears, your mind, and your heart? I am not talking about unavoidable things. We all get exposed to images and ideas and iniquity that we would rather never encounter, but it is going to happen at times. I am also not talking about isolating yourself from all of culture in order to avoid these unpleasant events. No, what I am talking about are those things you allow as a regular course.

Do you spend a lot of time wondering if we are allowed to do this or that certain thing? Conversely, do you care at all? I think the answer to many of these type of questions could be solved by first asking ourselves some other important questions. What do you allow to fill your time? What is the background music in the soundtrack of your life? How much time are you allowing the things of God to be impressed upon you? The Word of God is powerful, but if your frequency is overrun with other, worldly things, then all you will hear is a clouded mix.

Many people talk of wanting to change but they say it is too hard to do. They look for some magic formula, or expect God to just bail them out of working at it. They also overlook this whole idea of slowly changing, and slowly sliding back. So some think it is too hard to change. If this is you, I want to tell you the truth. The reason it seems so hard is because your heart is so hard. Your heart has become so hardened because of what you have let in.

Ever have someone say to you that they don’t have time for this or that? Well we all know what this means. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with having no time but it is actually about not wanting to use our time in that way. What they mean, and if you want to be direct what you would say is that you won’t make time for this or that. What are you “making time” for?

The things you expose yourself to do indeed have an effect on you. Now this is true for many areas, but lets take images, for one example. If you say that they don’t have an effect on you, well, then why do you expose yourself to them? As you can see, it is not about the fact that they have an effect, that cannot be denied, it is whether or not they have a lasting effect, that is the real question, isn’t it?

Well, not completely. It is also about cumulative effect, and setting patterns of behavior for yourself as well. Since we know for sure that doing something over time is creating habits, it IS a habit, and multiplied images bring multiple chances for long term retention, then the only excuse you might have is to say that you will not be affected long term, that you can withdraw yourself from this behavior if it gets too much. But saying that in light of the other, undeniable evidence is playing games with your mind, your heart, and with God.

Even if we were to hypothetically admit that exposure creates no long-term effect, however preposterous that may be, we still have a major problem because it would still be, as long as you keep doing it, an ongoing effect. One exposure, one image may not stay with you, but it leads to a chain of events, multiple exposures, and this leads to an ongoing problem. How can you say exposure has no long-term effect when you keep exposing yourself to it?

A.W. Tozer said, “Every one of us is the sum of what we secretly admire, what we think about and what we would like to do most if we become free to do what we wanted to do.” Think about that. If money, jail time, conscience, family, friends, and God were not constraints, would you spend your time following Christ, learning of Him? Be honest, because the way you truthfully answer this question will reveal to you a lot about where you are in your walk with God. What do you want to be exposed to when you have the opportunity? What is lighting your fire, and where is the light going out?

Many want to be allowed to expose themselves to all sorts of things, anything except the Word of God, and they harden their hearts so as to not feel the sting of the Sword of the Spirit. Their consciences are seared and their minds are cleared from the transforming power of the Word and they are instead filled with all sorts of distraction, deception, and destruction. Nevertheless, they are exposed, we all are exposed before the Mighty, Living Word of God, Jesus Christ Himself, and His Word is His Sword in His hand. Christ will either be our physician or our executioner. If His Word is not the instrument of our life, it will be the instrument of our death, if not the instrument of our justification, then the instrument of our judgment.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Trouble with Togetherness (Radio / Podcast)

…and they shall become one flesh
(Genesis 2:24 – ESV)

Have you ever wondered why men and women who work together in a movie fall in love so often? Or why people who work together at the job fall for each other so often? Or why when you start helping a friend out, working together to solve a problem, and you do it together and it works out good, then you want to fall for them? Well think about it. What is the same in all these scenarios? The people work together toward a common solution, and doing this has bonded them together for a common cause. Both are in unison and harmony about it. They both have different talents but they combine them, they work together to achieve something.

Think hard now about the words “work together” and their meaning. Work together, work together, working or coming together. See? Not just working side by side but working into togetherness, into a unit. You share a significant event in your life together. You overcome something by being together, and that is what good marriages are made of and good relationships are made of. It is no wonder if people aren’t processing things well, or they aren’t in a relationship, or the current one is not going well, for them to want to come together with that person they have already bonded with successfully. What do you expect?

People should be able to work together without working themselves together. We must mature to the point that the trouble with togetherness doesn’t enter into our lives, else we cannot partner and accomplish things we might be able to do otherwise. We must remain closely knit to our spouses as one flesh so that people can work with us together, but no one else can work their way together with us. If your relationship has depth you won’t drown in these shallow waters.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Elderly Care (Radio / Podcast)

Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him
(James 5:14 – ESV)

It should be the ordinary way of things that members come to the elders for special prayer in special situations (James 5:13-20). Many times we go looking for answers elsewhere first, when we should be availing ourselves of the means of grace first, including our elders (1 Peter 5:1-11). The truth is that the love of the elders for the flock is a covering for you (James 5:20 / 1 Peter 4:8). Of course if you run out from under the umbrella and into the rain, you will get wet. They cannot stop that, but they can call you back to shelter. They cannot pay for your sins but they can pray for your sins, and God has put them in place to help you back into the fold.

It is the role and responsibility of the elders to shepherd the flock of God humbly and ably. It is the role and responsibility of the congregant to call on, submit to, pray for, and abide by the elders and their care. Are we examples of humility to one another, knowing our roles and exercising them rightly, not using them for show or for selfish ends, and not to force people but that they are willingly submitting to each other? Are we humbling ourselves under the hand of God, which is demonstrated by a godly submission to each other in our roles and in our responsibilities to God and to one another? Are the elders eager to help (do they answer the call), and are the congregants willing to be helped (do they call at all)?

Don't assume that God will aid you in a way that avoids or evades the ordinary way. The elders are there for a reason. Their admonition and nurture is important. They don't dole out grace with a ladle, but God has appointed them to serve your spiritual needs. Do you recognize and submit to the authority God has placed them in due to their role? If you need special prayer because of trouble brought about by your sin, do you admit that you are to blame, not others, not the devil, and not some so-called generational curse, but you who are to blame? The world and the devil only enflame what is already there, and where there is no fuel the fire dies out. Will you confess your faults, all of them that pertain to the issue, the ones that have led to being prayed for, so that you may be healed?

We must realize that prayer is only part of the process, and that persistence (Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9), and perspective (1 Peter 5:9 / James 5:17-18), are what lead to progress (James 5:15 / 1 Peter 5:10). You must then stay on the road, if you go back it is harder to get back, and the going will be worse than before (John 5:14 / Luke 11:24-26). Stay in the elderly care center.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Secret to Spiritual Life (Radio / Podcast)

…and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.
(Judges 13:5)

Samson began to deliver Israel but he didn’t finish the job. Although he finished in faith, he never fully committed so he never fully entered into what God had given him the power to achieve. David finished off the Philistines nearly 100 years later. You see, they were going to be delivered, God’s purposes cannot be thwarted, but Samson did not see it in his lifetime because he did not enter into all the fullness of what God had given him the power to do.

You are delivered from the power of sin but you may not see it in your lifetime because you will not fully give your life to God as He shows you areas to give to Him. Like Samson, you don’t really want it because you don’t think it’s worth it. If that is the case, you may see deliverance, but you will never walk in the fullness of the great deliverance on this side of heaven as much as God would allow you to. Most believers are just like Samson in this, the question is why?

I want to reveal something as to why we don’t walk in God’s fullness and why we don’t want to. We never seem to get our want to in gear, and it is because we don’t understand something. Almost no one has considered this, and that is why almost no one today walks in God’s fullness.

Think about how Samson’s exploits became more and more pronounced, his deliverance was greater and greater, yet his sin actually was worse and worse. The lion (14:5-6) and the linen (the thirty) (14:19), then the foxes and the fire (15:4-8), then Judah and the jawbone (15:11-16), then the fortress (the escape from being surrounded) (16:2-3), and the festival (16:23-30). First he wanted someone outside (liken this to an unbeliever), then he wanted a harlot, then he actually wanted the sworn enemy. His deliverance was increasing, but his discernment was decreasing. How could Samson be seemingly growing in the power of God and yet still turn back to his sins, and why would he want to? He was growing in the power of God, but not the person of God.

Through Jesus Christ, God has given all believers the Holy Spirit, God has given you the power to enter into His fullness, but we look aside to lesser things! We don’t value God high enough, we don’t really want it because we don’t think it’s worth it, or when we have a measure of it, we think we can’t lose it! Learn from Samson.

Samson was using more and more power, God’s deliverance was greater and greater, but he got worse and worse in sin because he never did fully sell out to God, and eventually that power becomes the very thing that destroys you. It keeps you, not from walking in the fullness at all, but from living in it, because you never fully surrender you life and so you stop short of all that God has for you. You thought it was all about power to perform, but it is more about power to deliver you and then to deliver others from sin and oppression. That is what walking in God’s fullness is, because in heaven, amongst God’s fullness there will be no sickness or sorrow. Why, not because He will use power to take it away but because it won’t be there in the first place because sin is what causes these things!

Now here is the answer as short as I can give it. We only taste of the fullness and think that this is all there is, and so we are still tempted by the other things, we thought we have arrived when we see and feel and know the power of God, but we haven’t done all the itinerary yet, there is more. We taste of the fullness, but we are only at the table, there is much more there. The secret to the spiritual life: stay hungry. You won’t live in it until you taste and see, and then instead of saying it is not enough and going back, you say it is not enough and you go forward. Stay hungry for God, not for self, and you will not only know the fullness you will walk in it. And you may even be one of the few who live in it.

Samson got to a place where he had a choice, and he chose his fleshly wants time after time, compulsively. When you get to that place that you have a choice, you won’t feel God’s power to deliver right then, that is what people expect and when they don’t feel it that is why they fail. Don’t expect to feel the power, what you will feel is the pain, the hurt of not doing what you wanted to do, and then later you will feel God’s power. It doesn’t seem worth it now, in fact it seems worse, it seems negative, but later you will not regret it when you know God’s fullness in a greater measure. Remember that feeling, and think about that, renew your mind to that when the temptation comes. It will hurt, perhaps worse and worse for a while, maybe a long while, depending on how much flesh has to die, but when you come through it will be more than worth it. When walking in the fullness you never fully taste all there is at the table, and so you stay hungry. The others achieve a measure and think they are full and so other delights look appealing, and familiar food (sins) seems to satisfy. Deny yourself, learn what it is like to continue in God’s fullness, and to stay hungry for Him.

Many have indeed tasted and seen that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8 / 1 Peter 2:3), but some take no more in and starve (Hebrews 6:5). Jesus says we must eat of His flesh and drink of His blood, not to simply try it on our lips and tongue, but to swallow it all. Not just taste and see, but swallow and be. Some do go further and eat, some make it a meal, and some, precious few, but some make it their regular diet, and feed on nothing else.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Pain to Power (Radio / Podcast)

as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
(1 Peter 4:1)

Now we need to look at this verse carefully, because many think it is talking mostly about Christ, and has little to do with us. That is not the truth. The truth is that the last part of the verse isn’t speaking of Christ but us. Want proof? Well look at it, did Christ ever sin? No, well then, it is speaking about us ceasing from sin by suffering in the flesh.

This is what Peter is telling us to arm our minds with, this very fact. Christ suffered in the flesh for our sins, most recognize that easily. But now, if we will suffer in the flesh then we will realize this power and cease from sin. Not all sin right away or ever, actually, but instead, in a very real way making very real progress in the process of sanctification. You suffer in the flesh over certain sins, and you cease from them, and move on to the next thing you have to suffer. We live the cross life, and live in resurrection power.

This is the truth. You walk through the pain to get to the power. Most think they walk into power so they can walk through the pain, but Jesus, when He healed people, they were already in pain, and then they got the power. Jesus died on the cross before He rose again in resurrection power. His power is already there; you must go through the pain to realize it. You scream God help me, well, as a Christian He already has, will you walk into it, do you believe it? Renew your mind to this truth, as this verse declares it. The power you pray for is already there; go to it.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Keep Learning (Radio / Podcast)

Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.
(Proverbs 19:27 – ESV)

If we’re not in the Word of God, then we’re not in the will of God, so we won’t have the wisdom of God, therefore we will be taken captive by the wooing of the world, the wants of the flesh, and the wiles of the devil.

We are all in a spiritual battle. There is no reason for you to believe that you will be successful in Spiritual warfare without having your sword sharpened and your armor on (Ephesians 6:10-18). If we are in an intimate, present reality, dynamic relationship with Christ, we will be invincible, in a sense. But when we look away from Jesus we, like Peter, begin to see the storms of life, and sink under our own weight of unbelief.

God wants communion with us; if we become lax in our prayer life, Bible study, and our corporate worship, fellowship, and stewardship, we will suffer. No matter how long we have been a Christian or how many verses we have memorized, our flow will be hampered. It is our constant communion with God that gives the Word its power in our personal lives. It is the Spirit that gives life. To stop the flow of communication means that using the Bible can become an exercise in our own strength, a one-way street where you just go to the Word when you feel like you need it. You can’t bottle the blessings of God (Exodus 16:15-21); that is why we are to pray for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11).

The wisdom from God is predicated upon a present tense relationship with Him. No amount of “build up” or maturity can take this fact away. Want proof? How about Solomon: Once he strayed from God, he sank into apostasy. If it can happen to the wisest man who ever lived, then surely it can happen to us. Consider also Samson and Saul; if your character doesn’t grow in proportion to your anointing, it will crush you.

Modern day examples abound. Consider the great preachers who had anointing by the barrelful yet fell all the way down the mountain because they trusted in the past without tending to the present, treating God as a means to an end, rather than their relationship with Him being the purpose itself. He is not a cosmic concierge, waiting at our beck and call.

Looking to our own lives, and the corporate life of the local churches, we cannot simply rest on our laurels. Leaders are to set the example, to live by a higher standard so that those who follow have something to look forward to. When called to lead we must do exactly that: lead, not lounge. We must move forward, not sit idle. We must continue to learn if we are to continue to lead, else we will learn, the hard way.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Recognize and Realize (Radio / Podcast)

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
(Romans 6:11 – ESV)

There is a difference, perhaps subtle, but a difference nonetheless, between recognition and realization. Most would see these terms as synonyms for the same thing, namely that they both mean to come to an awareness of something. However, for the purposes of our discussion, and for clarity in our understanding of how sanctification works, we point out the process of progress using these two words. This distinction will help us tremendously as we move along the process in our progress toward sanctification. Conversely, the lack of a distinction in these terms can cause a hindrance in our growth. We misunderstand what recognition means, and therefore we fail to achieve realization in our lives.

As we come to know something, in that we become aware of its reality, its presence, and its importance, we can be said to recognize it. Now when we go from a mere awareness to a more full understanding, or apprehension, what we are doing is realizing something. To recognize something is to spot it, to realize something is to capture it.

See the difference? Now lets make it real, shall we?

Again, there is a difference between the two and it can be stated thus. Recognizing something is about seeing it. Identifying, acknowledging something. Realizing is about being it. We internalize it, we make it real to our situation, and we cash in on the idea.

For example, we go from recognizing there is sin in the world and that you have sinned into realizing that you are a sinner when you find yourself doing it in practice. We go from recognizing that Jesus paid for your sins to realizing it in the practice of sanctification in your life. You see a verse many times, read it and even meditate on it, but then one day the Holy Spirit applies that verse because it jumps out at you and you see it for your life, it becomes real.

In some ways, the difference between recognition and realization is the difference between the indicative and imperative. You know what the Word says about you, and then you become what it means for you. If you can recognize the fact, then you can realize the future.

Let's go from seeing it to being it.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Want To (Radio / Podcast)

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
(Philippians 2:13)

Most believers, and especially those that have been a Christian for more than a couple of years, will certainly identify with the ongoing struggle for sanctification. It just doesn’t happen overnight, and all the secrets, keys, steps, and principles, all the seminars, conferences, churches, books, and preaching we have heard never seems to quite get us over the hump. Or perhaps it seems to for a while, but then we fall back down, get frustrated, and we wonder what to do next until the new thing comes along, and we go right back on the boom and bust bicycle.

We can articulate it like this. We start out with what we might call “riotism”, where the operative phrase describing our pursuit of sanctification would be “don't go, forget God”. However, when we find that our distaste for life and our desire for God increases, we want our “want to” to increase more. Not knowing what to do next, we start by trying harder. We then move on to pietism, where we strive to serve King Jesus with all the discipline we can muster, with the operative phrase being “go and get God”. Eventually, all our meager efforts at self-sanctification are just that, meager, and we meet someone who introduces us to the concept of “absolute surrender”, or a promise of a deeper life, or some sort of thing. This is when we have entered the realm of quietism, its operative phrase being “let go and let God”.

Finally, hopefully, we mature to the truth about sanctification, with its operative phrase being “don't let go of God”. We see Him as more beautiful than anything else, and we foster and feed this into our minds, and it sinks down into our hearts, it comes out of our mouths, and it is what we increasingly want to be all about. It is less and less a fight to get there, and only a fight to keep other things at bay, until we see them as less also, and when they arrive on the scene they are more easily dismissed. We progress and develop into maturity, using flawed means until we get the picture and enter in to the resting of the Gospel.

We start out, when we are serious, with a patterned discipline and measured devotion, which most often leads to a boom and bust spirituality, we try next to "absolutely surrender", which seems closer, but is still not there yet. When we get the real picture of our sorry state, and have glimpses of what TRUE fellowship is like (not Schleirmacher's "feeling of absolute dependence" but a cleansing of our will in conformity to God's), then we "want it".

When we finally realize that fellowship with God is incomparable with anything else, it has a pronounced effect. Not so much that people don't see us sin, we probably already had that licked, the outside that is, but that now, to our own hearts, we know that we just don't "want" that stuff anymore, at all, its rubbish. Our “want to” has changed.

Its like, for a crude example, having a toy that is deteriorating, a car, lets say, and then getting a car that is new, and runs on batteries, and makes noises, etc. We have no DESIRE to have the old car anymore. Of course that is a weak example, in that Christ is not just a "better car", He is in a totally different category than anything else, as we said, incomparable. Oh, that we might find this in our daily walk, EVERY DAY! To God be the glory, as we become light bearers, and more than just a dimmer switch.

If you act in accordance with God’s “want to”, and you “don’t let go of God” (cf. Philippians 2:12), then you will find that He will increase your “want to” because as our text above says, not only does God cause us to do His good pleasure, He gives us the will to do it. Do you want to?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stress-Free Sinning? (Radio / Podcast)


But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity."
(2 Timothy 2:19 – ESV)

Not every true Christian will experience the same degree of personal, practical sanctification. The thief on the cross was saved but since he died that same day he didn’t have the time that the Apostle Paul had to show forth the fruits of righteousness. We instinctively and interpretively understand that some believers will progress further into the sanctification process, they will press on to the mark in a more pronounced fashion than some others. On the other end of the spectrum, some might seem to be acting like unbelievers, while they may truly be born again.

This brings an interesting question. Why are there so many genuine Christians who persist in the same patterns of sin, apparently without pangs of conscience, and without repentance, apparently hard-hearted against the communion of Christ, the conviction of the Spirit and the commands of the Word? Why do they sin without stress, without struggle, and seemingly without significance?

Well, first off, the inward sins of the heart that perhaps do not manifest as overt, “big time” sins that everyone condemns are sins nonetheless. We all have sin; it is just that Christians are supposed to be striving toward holiness, wanting to be blameless while realizing they will never be completely sinless in this lifetime. Still, what about those who don’t even try? How do you tell the Christians from the non-believers, in that some professing believers live “worse” moral lives than some non-believers? Why would God even allow this?

We know this for sure; it is all a part of God’s plan. Jesus said it would be so, and that we won’t know until the end who the real believers were, and also that many think they are true believers but they aren’t. The answer is in our personal valuing of practical sanctification, both temporal and eternal. God is giving us opportunity.

Peter says to make your calling and election sure by growing in fruitfulness (2 Peter 1:5-10). Now when he says this he is not saying that you are making your calling and election sure to God, but to yourself, because the Lord knows those who are His, and because the second inscription on the sure foundation of God says that those who are His, those who claim the name of Christ are to depart from iniquity (2 Timothy 2:19). We also make our calling and election sure to others we know (1 Thessalonians 1:2-4), others we meet (1 Thessalonians 1:6-9), and perhaps even to Satan and the demonic realm (2 Timothy 2:26).

Those that are doing this are being made useful and ready for every good work by cleansing themselves from sin (2 Timothy 2:20-25). Here in 2 Timothy Paul speaks about a cleansing that isn’t just something God does for us as we sit passively. This is a self-cleansing for service that goes beyond a general cleansing for sin. 1 John 1:9 would be speaking of the general cleansing from the guilt and penalty of sin, but Paul and the Bible talks of another type of cleansing. We sanctify, or set apart ourselves because He has sanctified us (Leviticus 20:7-8 / 1 Corinthians 1:30).

It is not a salvation issue but an assurance of salvation issue. It is not a “make it to heaven” issue, but a “rewards in heaven” issue. It is about fruitfulness and usefulness in this life. It is about working out from our cleansing from sin, and cleansing ourselves in God’s power so that we are separated for service. It is about being prepared for production. It is about our cooperation with God’s Spirit so that we are set apart and made useful and closer to God.

However, what many do not realize is that this voluntary, temporal cleansing has eternal consequence as well as temporal aspects. They don’t go for it because they don’t see the worth; they haven’t realized it, made it real, cashed in on this truth. There are temporal aspects, such as an assurance of salvation and communion with Christ by the Holy Spirit, and eternal aspects, as with rewards in heaven. We have not stressed the practical presence of God and rewards in heaven enough.

In sanctification, God allows us to store up treasures in heaven, and allows us to win crowns that we may cast at the Master’s feet. To some, that may not seem to be all that big a deal, as long as they make it, but believe me, and believe the Bible, it will be a great big deal on that day, and you, me, and all of us will want to have more to give than we will then. We need to see this as it really is, and stress to believers the importance of the eternal state, not just as the resting place from wrath, but the place where we make an eternal statement about how we honored the glory of the Lord with our lives. For some this isn’t enough motivation, but we must endeavor to renew our minds to this truth.

To be a servant of the Lord, a vessel of honor for Him, we must be empty, clean, and available. If we refuse to empty ourselves, clean ourselves, and make ourselves available to the Lord, we will find ourselves captive to the devil in one sense or another. When you commit a sin, you let the devil win. If someone does not have the desire or the actions to depart from iniquity at all, it is fair to ask if they really belong to Jesus or if they have just deceived themselves. The sanctified, feeling God’s love, imitate it, and the more they imitate it, the more they feel it. It is worth striving for. At best, stress-free sinning is success-free sinning.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Monday, December 14, 2009

The Majesty of the Master (Radio / Podcast)

Enter into the rock and hide in the dust from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendor of his majesty.
(Isaiah 2:10 – ESV)

As human beings we stink, and in saying that it is not self loathing but realizing that the higher we get up into God the further we have to go. We don’t preach and teach the depravity of man so as to keep men down, but so as to show them the only way up. That way is Christ, but even when we have been redeemed, in our flesh we are still low down dirty rotten scoundrels compared to God. It is only that now He has condescended to us in the person of Jesus, and having come down to save us and to bring us to God we are positioned with Him in the heavenlies. In His grace we are already arrived at our destination, we simply await glorification.

Now then, in this life we can because of His grace become more and more sanctified, we can scale the heights of God holiness. On this side of eternity we can get a small glimpse of the reality of God, because we now climb up to God on the back of our beloved Savior. And this we do by God’s grace. We are still imperfect, and as Paul said we haven’t arrived in fullness, but we can press on toward the upward call, we don’t have to stay in our sin.

So realize that when we say we stink, we stink less than we did before, but the more we see of God the more we realize our stink. No I am not worse than I was before, by the grace of God I am more holy than I have ever been, and by the grace of God I am becoming more holy every second of every day, all praise to His name. But the more light that we have the more dust that we see. We do go up into the heights, but then we see just how much higher the Lord is than we had thought.

The more holy I become, the more holy I realize He is, and how much further from Him I am than I ever could have imagined had He not graciously allowed me to ascend to the heights I now scale. The higher I get the more beautiful He appears, even as the more awful my sin appears. I am sick of the false humility that says we cannot dare ascend higher up in the mountain of God’s majesty. Having said that, I want to go higher up into God, not so as to glory in my climb, or in its own heights, or to look down on others, but so as to revel in the majesty of my Master. Oh, just how lofty are you, my Lord? Only heaven will begin to reveal it, and even then, it will take forever to explore it.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Wake Up! (Radio / Podcast)

…the hour has come for you to wake from sleep…
(Romans 13:11 – ESV)

Martin Luther, in the first of the 95 theses, said, "The whole life of a believer is repentance". That makes us consider this question: what role does repentance have, if any, in the life of a believer, one who has already repented of their sins and been saved by Jesus Christ? If we have already been forgiven, then how or why would repentance be an ongoing thing? Does the Bible teach a repentant lifestyle?

The Apostle Paul, in a sense, said that repentance and faith are the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:20-27). In the verses following our text in Romans 13, Paul says to the believers that they need to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light (vs.12), to walk properly as in the daytime (vs.13) and to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh (vs.14). Friends these things are what a repentant lifestyle is all about.

Colossians 2:6 tells us that “as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him”. You received Him in repentance and faith, so you are to walk in that daily. Daily repentance is about fellowship with God, and this requires a humble admission of our dependence on God. When you woke up this morning, were you God? No? Then repent! Of what, you ask? Think of it this way, repentance is looking away from ourselves and toward God. We must do that every day.

The Apostle John tells us “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). This is about more than the initial salvation experience, it is about fellowship with God. When we sin, we are forgiven, that has already been accomplished. Our sin cannot negate the relationship. We may never speak to our earthly father, but we are still his offspring. However, if we aren’t talking to him, we may have a relationship, but it is soured, in that we have no fellowship.

In the same way we, as believers, can grieve the Holy Spirit with our disobedience (Ephesians 4:30), and in a sense, fall out of fellowship with the Father. Oh, He still loves us, and we will still make it to heaven. But we lack the assurance of a daily walk, that is, until we repent and receive the blessings of being able to look at our Father without having to hang or head, or turning away completely from Him. We draw near to Him, and we know He draws near to us (James 4:8). That is how we draw near, in repentance. Again, repentance is turning back to see God. David said it like this: “restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (Psalm 51:12).

In Romans 12:2 Paul instructs us to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” If part of repentance (metanoia) is changing our mindset, then to change our mind is to renew our mind, and so therefore, to be transformed is by repentance. As we are transformed, as we grow in grace, we learn this repentance more perfectly.

Luther was right...

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Here Comes the Judge (Radio / Podcast)

…you have no excuse… For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself…
(Romans 2:1 – ESV)

Paul is not telling people that they are not supposed to judge actions and behavior. He is not saying that we should all just “go with the flow” and let everything and anything go. He is talking about hypocrisy. He is saying that one cannot escape judgment by judging others, by appealing to how much worse their behavior is to your own. Such judgment leads one away from the necessary self-examination and repentance for one’s own sin, and leads to your own inevitable judgment (Hebrews 9:27). He is not condemning judging others, or using discernment, but judging others without first judging yourself.

The most quoted verse or passages from the Bible today do not come from Psalm 23 or even John 3:16, but Matthew 7:1 (NIV), “Do not judge, or you too will be judged”. This is why context is so important because you could just take this part of our verse from Romans 2, “anyone who judges”, marry it with Matthew 7:1, “judge not”, and come out with some liberal doctrine just like we see today. The cry of the unrepentant is “who are you to say”, but this is what the authority of the Word of God answers when we use it properly (Titus 1:9-11).

Paul speaks of discerning, or judging those who are following Christ in truth and says to follow them (Philippians 3:17). He speaks of putting away some and staying away from others (Romans 16:17-19 / 1 Timothy 6:5 / 2 Timothy 3:5 / Titus 3:8-11). We are supposed to judge (1 Corinthians 11:31 / 1 Peter 4:17 / John 7:24 / Matthew 16,18), we are supposed to discern (Philippians 1:9), but we are supposed to look at ourselves first (1 Corinthians 11:31), looking at discipline as a means of restoration not condemnation (Galatians 6:1).

We are to judge, and we are to realize that we have given ourselves to the Savior instead of giving ourselves over to sin: the good works that follow do not save us but they are a sign that we are saved; they are not the root but the fruit of our relationship with God (1 Corinthians 6:8-11). We may still commit acts of unrighteousness, but our lives are not characterized by an unbroken pattern of unrighteousness. Believers get convicted and then they commit themselves to change. We know we are bad to the bone, and that we need a Savior, it is those who think they are righteous and do not need a Savior and those who judge based on their own worth rather than Christ’s worth who will be in trouble. Jesus takes you as you are, but He doesn’t leave you there.

Think of the situation regarding the Corinthian church, which had a man that had slept with his father’s wife. He had continued in this sin defiantly, and the church thought it no big deal, but Paul instructed them to put him out of the fellowship (1 Corinthians 5:9-13).

Church discipline is a forgotten practice today. However, we must not be ignorant of Satan’s schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11). In our desire to do things rightly, we must be careful not to let the pendulum swing too far, from overly casual to overly critical. Paul had put the Corinthian church to the test, and they applied the punishment. Now, apparently the man repented, and Paul told them to comfort him in reconciliation and restoration (2 Corinthians 2:5-10).

It boils down to whether someone has a repentant attitude or not. We cannot judge a person’s soul, but we can keep them from peddling rotten fruit in our assemblies (Matthew 7:15-20).

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Man on a Mission (Radio / Podcast)

…that the works of God should be made manifest in him
(John 9:3)

Thinking of this particular passage in the book of John, let's imagine for a moment. What if God were to ask this man to go back after being in heaven, if He gave him a mission to glorify God so that people could see a person who exalted God in spite of seemingly bad circumstances?

Of course this man would agree fervently to go; he would be delighted to go on such a mission. He would know what is going on and why he was sent, and know that this temporal situation was giving glory to the One he knew so well, and loved so much. We have examples: remember Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration, or what about the two witnesses sent back from heaven in the book of Revelation?

Well now, imagine this: What if, after you died and went to heaven, God sent you back to be a witness and He sent you back blind, wanting you to rejoice to His glory despite your circumstance? You would gladly do it, knowing where you came from, why you were sent, the eternal reward, and where you were going to return!

Friends, in a very real way, God has done that. We are on a mission. You see we are already in the heavenlies positionally (Ephesians 2:6) and we have been sent to testify to the glory of God (Ephesians 1:11-14). In John 9:5 Christ said that while He was in the world He was its light. He still is in this world, manifesting God’s glory, through Christ in you the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). Jesus was and is the light and now we are to manifest that light, we are to be lights in this world (Matthew 5:16 / Philippians 2:15). Christ says that we are already salt and light we do not become them. The mission is to let your light shine.

Do you want to let the glory of Christ shine through you? Well look at what 1 Peter 4:12-16 says. Paul said he glories in infirmities (2 Corinthians 12:9). He says that although our outward man is dying our inward man is flourishing (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). We cannot “see” the power but others can experience it; it is the eternal power being made manifest in His saints. We don’t exert power against things that come against us we withstand (Matthew 7:24-25). This is what it is to know him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings (Philippians 3:10); it is life from death. We can say with Paul that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). It’s to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16). It’s rejoicing in knowing that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). You can let the glory shine now by understanding that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

We are on a mission, and we will not, indeed we cannot fail. Look with me at 2 Corinthians 2:14 – He causes us always to triumph! Jesus said that He had overcome the world (John 16:33), and that He is in us (John 14:21), and that greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). Well, is it showing, do you complain as much as the other guy when things are looking bad? Or do you show forth the fact that you are God’s child, and that though he slay me yet will I trust in him (Job 13:15)? You have got to know it and believe it; this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith (1 John 5:4). We are on a mission of faith just like Abraham, the father of faith (Romans 4:11-16).

The Bible is full of men sent on a mission, men who weren’t ready to do what it took, or so they thought. Think about Noah, Abraham, Moses, Gideon, and Paul. God has a mission for you and He will see you through. Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Faithful is he who calls, who will also do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

You may say that for me it is mission: impossible, but my bible says, For with God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37) and all things are possible to him that believeth (Mark 9:33). You might think that you haven’t got what it takes, but it isn’t you that is responsible for the results! Let’s say it like this; if you get placed you’ll get graced, God doesn’t call the gifted He gifts the called. He will say to you mission: accomplished! Mission impossible for the unsaved but mission unstoppable for the child of God!

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Averse to Avowed (Radio / Podcast)

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions.
(Romans 1:26 – ESV)

The point of our text today is that God has given, is giving, and will give mankind over to unnatural desires. Paul mentions homosexuality as an example, but this is just the obvious manifestation of it. All sin is on the same road. God gives men over to rule themselves, and men do more than sexual perversion, they give themselves to all sorts of unnatural things.

When we don’t find our passion in the glory of God, we will be consumed with our own natural passions, and then, being jaded, we will turn ourselves over to unnatural passions. We become so bored with ourselves that we have to invent new forms of evil (1:30). A man cannot be delivered up to a greater slavery than to be given up to his own lusts.

Young man, young woman, all men, all women, make no mistake, there is a diminishing return on the evil you do and the evil you look at. Even the secular world knows of this, it is called the law of diminishing returns. This law says that we grow less sensitive to the same level of stimuli over time, and thus require ever-increasing stimuli to elicit the same response. An alcoholic may require twelve beers to match the effects that one beer has on someone who does not drink regularly. Just as we can build up a tolerance to alcohol with regular use over time, we can build up numbness to any sin with regular use over time. For that reason, when we continually give in to sin we will require more over time to arrive at the same level of satisfaction and fantasy.

You will become a slave to that thing you don’t want anyone else in authority to know about, you will become bored with it, and will need an ever increasing stimulus to feed your appetite. To everyone I say; if you are not getting better and better you are getting worse and worse. To those of you young ones, and everyone who is ensnared in their own self: You are not wiser than those before you, your friends aren’t going to be wise enough to help you, you will not be able to turn off the switch when you want to, you will not be able to stop yourself, you will go from one bad thing to another, or you will trade one bad thing for another, and think you have escaped yourself and your sin, but you will not escape the coming judgment, you are not escaping it now, you won’t be able to turn back then, you must turn back NOW!

Verse 27 in the KJV says they burned in their passions. You can think you’re smarter than me, that I am just a fool, that this is all a show. You can think in your heart that this isn’t you because you aren’t turning into a homosexual. Well let me tell you, Paul was telling them, and he is telling you, that you may not become a homosexual, but that isn’t the bigger point, the point is that you are going to get worse and worse, fall further and further away from God, if you do not give up the idolatry of yourself. You may not burn for another man, but you burn for your own plan. Now is the time to be saved, turn or burn!

This world shows you how it is, and where it is headed. Homosexuality, just like all sin eventually, has gone from being averse to being allowed, and now it is going from allowed to avowed. Isn’t this what we see in television and movies, they are becoming more promiscuous and more perverse every year. What has changed, are these things less evil, or are we more evil? What do we think this is, liberation? No, it is slavery. We are so bound we think we’re becoming free. Indeed we are, free to be ourselves, the morally depraved, sexually confused, socially chaotic children of disobedience that we are at heart, unless God gives us a new heart.

Think about it; is this you? Things you once said you would never do, now you do, you look for ways to do them, and you burn with passion for them. We think we can sin, and still be in our right minds, but we don’t see sin as sinful as it is. Every sin you commit affects your mindset towards sin itself; every little bit ruins a little bit of your mind. Look again at verses 21-22, when we sin willingly, we go against the knowledge of God, we don’t glorify Him, we are not thankful, we become a little more hard hearted, and we start down the road to being or remaining a fool. That’s why Paul says that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), because sin is exceedingly sinful. On your own you won’t win against sin.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Judgment Day Delay? (Radio / Podcast)

God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie
(Romans 1:24-25 – ESV)

Often we hear that if people are not repentant then God is going to visit America with judgment, or the church with judgment, or many other variations on this theme. The truth is, judgment is already here, and that is why we see what we do.

In this text those who dishonored God were given up to dishonor themselves. The impurity Paul is speaking of in this text is mainly sexual, sensual disorder. This type of disorder is a prime example of spiritual disorder. In many lives this is the starting place for the downward slide. However, all the disorder we see in the world, in the social chaos, sexual confusion, and sinful carrying on are a judgment of God because we exchanged the value of God for other things; we turned our knowledge of God into images.

Now let’s get the order of this disorder right in our minds. People believe that we do these vile things we see, and so God is displeased, and He is, but the process is vice versa. God is displeased and we do these vile things as a result.

When God speaks of judgment, often it is not that God will lay His hand on us, but take it off us. He will leave us to our own depraved devices. The restraining power of God's grace is being lifted and man is being left to himself (a temporal and an ongoing fulfillment, a parallel of what we see in Romans 1:18-32). Judgment is here, the wrath of God is being incrementally revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold down, or suppress, the truth with their unrighteousness. It is not that these vile things bring God's wrath, but that these vile things are signs of God's wrath. The Hand is coming off but some will be saved out of the midst of this corruption even as the whole is being damned.

When Paul wrote this it had happened before, but he says it was happening then, and it is happening now, the question is, is it happening to you? We make an image of God even as Christians and we serve and worship it instead of God as He has revealed Himself in the Bible, and we only see the Bible as we want to.

Get it right – It is idolatry first, immorality second. Everything sinful hinges upon this exchange in all its forms. We don’t like God as He chooses to reveal Himself, and/or we don’t like the restrictions God places upon us, and we create a god of our own image. Apply this to order your sanctification. Stop the idolatry first, and you’ll stop the sin. We want to stop the habitual sin first, so that we can please God, but we need to please God, and He will stop the habitual sin. Get the order right and you will be in order. We have habitual sin because of how we habitually see God. With God’s guidance you can judge yourself rightly, so don’t delay.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Friday, December 04, 2009

Make or Break (Radio / Podcast)

Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images
(Romans 1:22-23 – ESV)

Paul gives us a historical sketch of religion. He maintains that when man turned from God’s view of Himself in creation, he twisted and perverted pure religion into various forms of error and confusion. He is giving us the description, in just a few concise and convicting words, of the whole beginnings and beliefs of pagan mythology. They did not glorify God as God, and were not thankful to Him for what they did have, and so they lost discernment, and became darkened in their hearts and minds, and started to do all sorts of vain and vile things.

The world thinks that our religion is on the rise, but God tells us and history shows us that our religion is on the fall, not on the incline but on the decline. Religion will not ascend above that which it worships and man will never evolve beyond his sinful nature. Instead of man made in God’s image we have traded it for God made in man’s image. The religions of the world exchange God’s glory for less and they become less. You become like what you worship, and we as humans become more and more flawed, we are not God and God allows us to see what we are capable of. How vain in our imaginings and dark in our hearts we are.

This is what happened then, but it is also what happens now. This is what they did, and this is what we do. We think that we don’t do this today, exchange the glory of God for images, but yes we do, today it is simply more devious, more insidious, and more perverse. Young adults are taught this and adults model this behavior all the time. Commercials sell images, we say image is everything, we have self-help books and magazines, we all learn to project a certain image, and on and on and on it goes. We are more concerned about our image to others instead of God’s image for His glory. If you are more concerned about your image than you are about God’s glory then you are “making an image”, you are self-absorbed.

You are not God; you are called to glorify Him with what you do. It is not, “look what I did” or “look what I can do for God”, and not simply “look what God can do through me”, but it is “look at God through me” (Matthew 5:16).

We must become consumed with the glory of God or we will become consumed with self and vain in our imaginations. As Christians, we can either die to self or we will die from self (Galatians 6:7-8). Which way are you headed? Everything we say or do can be put in "check" by asking the question of... “By thinking this thought, by giving in to this feeling, by doing this action, who am I glorifying, who am I pleasing?”

Give it up for God – what do you have that He isn’t worth, and what can you gain that He isn’t greater than? People think that they can hold on to themselves and have Jesus too, but they are only worshipping a Christ of their own imagination, they have an image of Him that isn’t true. Mark 8:34-37 – Instead of trading God for images, trade everything for God. Are you an image maker or an image breaker?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Umbrella Policy (Radio / Podcast)

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
(Romans 1:18 – ESV)

Do you ever wonder why someone gets back out into the world and then it goes worse for them than ever (2 Peter 2:20-22)? Doesn’t it always seem to be the case when someone was a professing Christian as a young person, but then they go off and live any old way, that they always seem to have car trouble, job trouble, money trouble, and every other kind of trouble? Wonder why? The truth will only set you free if you continue in it (John 8:31-32 / Mark 4:26-28), if you suppress it this will cause you to be in even worse bondage than before.

Of course, you can’t just see someone in trouble and conclude that they are out of God’s will, that would be being like Job’s so called friends, but we must be mature enough to know the difference, and its easy to tell sometimes. When someone won’t read the bible, won’t go to church, won’t commit to prayer, and wants to justify their lifestyle, its easy to see why they are in so much trouble. We need to tell them its going to stay that way if they are called by God to be a Christian, because once they get out of God’s system and back into the world’s system, then Satan can and does have a field day with them (Ephesians 4:27), and we need to tell them to wake up (Ephesians 5:14). What Satan wants to do to you as a Christian, as a called out person, is to destroy your joy, ruin your witness, and cast doubts on your assurance of salvation.

God is not mad at you. If you are a Christian, He is not against you for your sin; He is for you against your sin. He isn’t charging the sin to your account any more. So then why do bad things happen when you sin? Because sin has its own penalty here on this earth, it has consequences, the death that naturally occurs (Galatians 6:8 / Romans 8:13). He reminds you of what others are going to get. If you are indeed His, God will get your attention one way or another.

Going back into worldly habits is like stepping out from under the umbrella in the rain – sin has its own consequences. When you are called of God but then go back into the world, no wonder you get beat up worse than before. The whole world is indeed against you, you must realize that you are in a war and that is what work out your salvation with fear and trembling means. Don’t you realize nor wonder why new believers who go back get the tar beat out of them worse than ever, also why people that have been further into God have farther to fall when they stray? If they are out from under the umbrella they fall further; no wonder Paul says to work it out with fear and trembling. The farther you are up into God, the further you fall when you let go. Now God won’t let go, but He will let you drop. He will let you get spanked.

Why does He let you get spanked but others who don’t know God or who do but don’t want to follow God seem to have it oh so well? Those others don’t have it so well, anyway; they are without God, without hope, without heaven. They can gain the world but lose their soul. How many gain the world and are still miserable anyway? They can never be satisfied (Ecclesiastes 3:11), they just move from one thing to another. More, more, more, but its never enough; only God can truly satisfy your hungry soul. If He loves you He spanks you, if He doesn’t spank you He doesn’t love you (Hebrews 12:8,11). Some people just don’t learn, even when spanked, so God has to continue to use more drastic measures, by allowing sin to run its course, and the world and the devil to beat you up and/or keep you down. Some of these people will indeed make it to heaven, but they will never lead anyone else there.

If a child of God won't repent of some sin in their life that God has brought to their attention, then He will deal with them in their sin. When we say He spanks you, it isn’t that He puts His hand on you, it’s that He takes it off. First He speaks (through His Word, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, through preaching, and through the witness of others and through circumstances), then He spanks (this would be light chastisement, such as a temporary sickness or trial to get their attention), then He scourges (this would be heavy chastising that is often permanent and scarring, such as losing a loved one, losing a limb, a heavy financial or material loss, etc.), and lastly if all this chastisement is not heeded, the Lord takes His final step, He separates (by death, this is referred to in 1 John as the sin unto death, and seen in Acts 5 and 1 Corinthians 11). The wrath of God is revealed when you step back into the world system; you are operating according to a different principle now. You have to live by it, and you can only live by it, and you will die by anything else. When we backslide we need to get back to the gospel.

It isn’t that God won’t let you suffer if you are a Christian (Philippians 1:29), but we should suffer for doing well not for doing wrong (1 Peter 2:19-20, 3:17). We are supposed to grow in the faith, and grow in grace. If not we backslide, and God lets us taste it. Is your life revealing the righteousness and glory of God, or the wrath of God?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Gospel of Affliction (Radio / Podcast)

…but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God
(2 Timothy 1:8)

The bottom line about Spiritual power is the faith to endure. Not only the persecutions that come about because of being a witness for Christ by sharing the Good News vocally, but also by just being a member of the household of faith. We will suffer not only persecution, but also afflictions.

Paul suffers because of the grace of God, the affliction of the Gospel! He is not ashamed. Many preachers are only telling fleshly people what they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3), presenting a victorious life by applying so-called Christian principles rather than presenting Jesus Christ, life through death, and the way of repentance and faith, which Paul calls the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:20,27). Preachers who preach nothing but “all things are always going to be well”, saying peace, peace, where there is no peace, are giving false hopes to lost people, and leading saved people in the wrong direction. Yes, God desires to prosper us, to have us well and whole, but part of the process will involve pain, so that we may be conformed, before we are comforted, and so we may be able to comfort others who are also being conformed (2 Corinthians 1:3-9).

Notice that our text says afflictions, plural, not just persecution for witnessing, but also having to go through physical difficulty, mental anguish, crucifying the flesh, and other crises (Romans 8:14-18 / Philippians 1:29 / Colossians 1:24 / Galatians 5:24 / 1 Peter 4:1 / Acts 14:22 / 1 Thessalonians 3:3). Suffering aligns us with Christ, and keeps us humble (James 4:9-10). Partaking of suffering helps us learn God’s Word, Will, and Way; Martin Luther said that afflictions are the touchstone of biblical interpretation (Psalm 119:71).

We need to stir up the gift of God, and the gift is the Spirit of power, love and a sound mind. Because of the gift (the Holy Ghost) we can partake of the afflictions, by the power of God to us (Ephesians 1:19 / Zechariah 4:6), not an earthly power. The testimony of the Lord is tribulation (Revelation 6:9), the willingness to suffer as Paul had, and he was not ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16). Remember Paul desired to know the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10).

He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our big goings on, like mountain moving, but His own purpose. His purpose is to make us like Jesus (Romans 8:28-29), not just to fulfill the Great Commission. The great grace of God may seem more manifest when a mountain is moved by faith, but truly, it is the mundane, the everyday, the dear old saint who faithfully comes to church, and who prays for lost ones everyday without fail, and who suffers through ill health, yet still keeps a loving heart toward people, and an unyielding devotion to Christ that showcases the power of God most clearly for His glory. The calling is not just to “do stuff” it is to suffer, to take up our cross and follow Him. We are to do this, not with a stoic “grit your teeth and bear it” mentality, but with joy that we are partaking in the fellowship of Christ (James 1:2, 5:10-11). We are to show our world the power, the grace that brings steadfast faith, the power to endure no matter what life throws at us, to defeat the works of the Devil, this is the victory, even our (immovable) faith (1 John 5:4)!

We can only keep this steadfastness, this boldness, and this witness by the power of the Holy Ghost within us (Romans 8:9 / Colossians 1:27 / Galatians 2:20). Think about the book of Acts, whenever we see them receive power it is immediately met and tested with persecution; we must have faith no matter what (Job 13:15). The victory we have in Christ is not being able to avoid all affliction, it is having the power to persevere, the peace to be able to endure, to truly be Christlike (John 16:33). Yes, the Lord does bring us out of things, praise God (2 Timothy 3:11 / 4:17), but we must realize that to lose faith because of our afflictions is to deny God.

Just remember, when you see the whip in His hand, it was on His back first. This is the gospel of affliction, that He who allows us to feel the stripes of sanctification bore them all for our salvation.


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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