Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Prayers of Paul

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

This is what I pray for your new year:

Ephesians 1:16-19
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might

Ephesians 3:14-19
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Philippians 1:9-11
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Colossians 1:9-12
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Family Tree

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree…
(1 Peter 2:24 – ESV)

People are often very concerned about knowing or having you know about their “pedigree” or “heritage”. Many want to identify with their own “people”. They proudly wear their family crest, or the uniform or letters of their team, school, state, national or ethnic colors, or whatever else signifies something of significance to them. People spend lots of money trying to trace their family line, or map out a historical snapshot of their ancestry in a family tree. Some people actually believe that certain bloodlines and certain families are special or royal or destined for greatness compared to others. We all want to think and believe we are a part of something extraordinary, special, and we look for links that might relate us to someone of notoriety in the past, or some might even believe they were someone great in the past.

Well, whether or not you had some great great great forefather who was great isn’t the point as far as spirituality and destiny and the eternal goes. The truth is that there is a very special bloodline. It is the blood of Christ that makes Christians brothers and sisters. Our forefathers, no matter how noble they were, only gave us spiritual futility, as far as their bloodline is concerned. However, all Christians are blood relatives, a part of the family of God, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19).

So stop worrying about trying to be someone great based on someone else’s past greatness, and stop worrying that you aren’t so great compared to someone else. Your natural, human heritage, no matter how privileged, means nothing in the grand scheme of sin and redemption. We all need Jesus. No family line will save you from sin, and no heritage, family, cultural or otherwise, will relieve you from the need for redemption or place you at the front of some line. Instead of trying to be great we should just be grateful. Your brothers and sisters in Christ are far more important than some desire to be from good stock. All Christians are from God stock.

Look at the Cross of Christ, and there you will see the one family tree that truly matters.

Monday, December 29, 2008

60 Seconds (27)


Several years ago a popular and beautiful young Hollywood star, with apparently everything a young woman would want, ended her life. She left a brief note explaining why. She stated that she was unbearably lonely.

Webster dictionary defines “alone” as, “apart from anything or anyone else; without any other person,” and “lonely” as “solitary or isolated.” Philip Zimbardo, writing in Psychology Today, said, “There is no more destructive influence on physical and mental health than the isolation of you from me and of us from them.” He then pointed to studies that show loneliness as one of the leading causes of depression, paranoia, schizophrenia, rape, suicide, mass murder, shorter life spans, and a wide variety of diseases.

There are several causes for loneliness. Here are a few:

· DEATH. After the death of her husband, Queen Victoria of England said, “There is no one left to call me Victoria.” Even though she was a queen, she knew what it was to be lonely.

· DIVORCE. As a pastor, I have had those who have experienced divorce express that they felt like “a leper,” or “fifth wheel.”

· FAMILY PROBLEMS. King David wrote Psalm 31 during the time of his struggles and heartbreak over his son Absalom. In verse 12, he lamented, “I am forgotten by them as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery” (NIV).

· INSENSITIVITY. We have become too busy to listen to, and sense the hurts and loneliness of others. Ninety-two percent of the Christians attending a Bible conference admitted in a survey that feelings of loneliness are a major problem in their lives.

Psychologist Eric Fromm once wrote, “The deep need of man is the need to overcome separateness, to leave the prison of his loneliness.” Here are some suggestions for a cure for loneliness:

· FELLOWSHIP. 1 John 1:7 tells us we are to have “fellowship with one another.” The word “fellowship” used here means, “having something in common with another, entering into another’s life, and, if needed, assisting the person.”

· CARING. 1 Corinthians 12:25 admonishes us to “care for one another.” A phone call, email, invitation, or a gentle word are all acts of caring.

· COMFORT. In Colossians 4:11, Paul, during a lonely and struggling time in his life, spoke of those who “have been a comfort to me.” This word “comfort” is where we get our word “paregoric,” a remedy that stops pain.

Philip Yancey tells a story about Beethoven: “Because of his deafness, he found conversation difficult and humiliating. When he heard of the death of a friend’s son, Beethoven hurried to the house, overcome with grief. He had no words of comfort to offer. But he saw a piano in the room. For the next half hour he played the piano, pouring out his emotions in the most eloquent way he could. When he finished playing, he left. The friend later remarked that no one else’s visit had meant so much.”

“You may forget with whom you laughed,
But you will never forget with whom you wept.”

Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Man of the Message

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,
(John 5:39 – ESV)

To study the Bible and not have a living relationship with Christ will ultimately do you no good. You are either changing, which means movement, or you are just reading about Him like you would any other ancient person. You can read about a famous or noble person and be inspired and go do those things you want to do, but Christ leads you to do what He wants you to do. His is not primarily the power of inspiration but of transformation. If you are truly learning from Him you will become more like Him. You will not only be moved, you will move.

Yes, we should come to know the things of God revealed in the Bible, we should study it, intensely and continuously. However, some are so fixed on looking at the trees they miss the fact that they are in the forest. The Jews of the day were so fixed on letters and words they missed the bigger picture of Divine intent and meaning (John 5:39-40). In all our studies in the Word of God we must remember that the God of the Word is whom we seek.

Of course, to the current reader, the application of the message may be in a slightly different direction that that of the original hearers. We may not be facing the same situations, but we can apply the message to our current dilemma by using the same principles and instruction. For example, we will probably not be facing a giant such as David did, but we do face giant problems that faith can help overcome. A good sermon will apply the fact that Christ has overcome the giants of sin, hell, and death, and point us to Him. Jesus is the whole summation of the Bible, and all our needs ultimately point to Him as our fulfillment and reason to worship.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Devil’s Food

Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
(1 Peter 5:8 – ESV)

It can be easy to over indulge ourselves during the holidays. Our eyes are filled with many delights as everyone we know is tempting us with tasty treats and mouthwatering morsels of fabulous food. It would seem as if we somehow develop an extra space in our stomach during certain times of the year.

Well Satan is on hells’ holiday until Judgment Day, and he has the most insatiable appetite, and an unquenchable thirst for destruction. The devil is wandering around, looking for fresh flesh to sink his teeth into.

However, we often don’t realize when our spiritual lives are being eaten alive. Believe me, you may think you aren’t being consumed by the enemy, but if your desires and deeds are not godly you are already in the enemy’s camp! You cannot stay in the cage with a hungry animal and not expect to have to defend yourself at some point.

Yes I know for sure that Christians can be oppressed by the devil, and obsessed with the world and their own sinful flesh. I want to encourage you that God can deliver you, and I exhort you to understand that you will never overcome the devil doing it your way. I know you’re battered, I know you’re weary, but that is because you are too often fighting in your own strength and with your own wisdom. I know that not doing what you want to feels like a fire burning you up. It is. You have got to commit yourself to God’s way, and allow the fire to purify you.

With sin, you will either be committed to kill it,
or you will be committed to do it.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lying Down?

Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
(2 Thessalonians 3:15 – ESV)

I have heard it said many times that this or that person isn’t able to go to church because the service is too long, they cannot sit that long, or stand that long, or something like that. Well, that might seem at first to be a valid excuse, but I want you to think about it a little more carefully now. Wherever you are, at church or not, in your home, in town somewhere, wherever it may be, unless you are lying down, you are standing or sitting also, and so the excuse of “I can’t sit that long” is no excuse at all. The truth is you just don’t want to be there at church that long, but you sit for 2 hours or more for a ballgame, movie, concert, etc., so stop trying to excuse it. I won’t take that lie lying down.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Friday, December 19, 2008

Living the Beautiful Life

that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
(Philippians 2:15 – ESV)

Living the beautiful life, from a Biblical, Christian perspective, means living as a light of Christ (Matthew 5:16 / Galatians 2:20). Living the beauty of Christ means that no matter what this world can do to me I can still live for the glory of God, I can still live the beautiful life; I can still represent Christ to the world.

Paul is in jail when he writes this yet he can say these things. It was not that he didn’t want out but his first priority was not himself but God, and he was able to do the full ministry even from a jail cell. If you are full of the Spirit you are fulfilling your ministry wherever you go and wherever God leads you in His providence, even a jail cell. The Word is your life in any and every situation you find yourself in; He is there with you (Psalm 23). Paul tells us that even if he is going to die in that jail he will rejoice and so should they because he lived the beautiful life (Philippians 1:20-21).

Most people aren’t doing that, living to show others how beautiful Christ is, they are just satisfied with being saved or they have the material, social, and emotional things they want and think that this is the beautiful life, and they give God praise for that and think that they are living God’s best. They have seen passages such as Romans 3:25-26 with them as the starting point, but when we have our order right, when we see it really is about demonstrating God’s righteousness we will want to live for Him. In light of what we have seen about the value of God, how now shall we live? Real living in supernatural life through natural lives; people need to see Christ demonstrated in all sorts of situations. That is one reason why we are left in those sometimes desperate situations, so people can see Christ's light shining in a dark place.

We work out our salvation with fear and trembling because bad things will happen all around you all the time and you must carry on in the character of Christ. God is placing you in situations, and where He places you He graces you. Even if it is your fault that you are in the mess you are in God wants you to live His life on the way out of that place. God uses us even in our mess to bless others and to learn lessons and to live the beautiful life.

It is okay to want good things, but don’t be like the rest of the world and show doubt for God when things go bad. Then you will be a light in a dark place and your life will proclaim the power of God’s grace. Christianity is not the way to the beautiful life it is the beautiful life wherever it is found in truth. Jesus is beautiful so we can live the beautiful life in any circumstance.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I’m Better So Don’t Bother

If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:
(Philippians 3:4 – ESV)

Paul was giving them and is giving us a reason not to trust in the flesh, that is, no matter how good you think you are, he was better than you, and since he doesn’t trust in his flesh you shouldn’t trust in yours. He says, “I have it but I don’t use it”, in a sense, “don’t be thinking you do, I’ve done more and got more than you yet I don’t use it and neither should you”.

If anyone could lay claim to pleasing God by law keeping and the works of the flesh, it was Paul. The process of joy means not having pride in your pedigree or your previous practice. No matter how good you think you are, you were born into the kingdom of men, and you must be born again into the kingdom of God (Galatians 3:26).

Why did God choose Paul? Galatians 1:13-16 / 1 Timothy 1:13 – perhaps because he did have such an outstanding resume, but God was not using this as a reward but a reminder that no matter how good it isn’t good enough. We see justification by faith here again. Paul was doing what he knew to do and doing it right, but sincerity is no substitute for truth. Paul had to repeat this idea of “works don’t work, because I did more than you anyway” theme over and over again (1 Corinthians 15:10 / 2 Corinthians 11:17-12:12) when defending his faith and apostleship. He now boasts of Christ (Romans 15:15-19 / Galatians 6:12-17 – he bears the true marks, the true circumcision). It isn’t that these things were all bad in themselves, but that these things only hinder us if we place our trust in them instead of Christ (Matthew 16:26).

Reckon that what you gain is greater than what you leave behind. You empty yourself of yourself; your heritage, your past, your social standing, your position, your passion, your performance, everything. Value the relationship with God above all else. Paul was speaking of leaving behind his Jewish heritage to gain something greater, which was Christ. You may think you're great, but Paul was better, so don't bother trying to tell God how good you are.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

60 Seconds (26)


A little boy was asked by his geography teacher about the shape of the world. He responded, “My daddy says it is in awful shape.” In 2 Timothy 3:1, Paul stated, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.” “Perilous” means “difficult, painful, hard times, times of stress.”

The Bible gives us guidelines in times like these. Here are a few:

REMEMBER THAT GOD IS WITH US. God has declared in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you.” A television announcer was interviewing a six-year-old girl and queried, “Do you know where God is?” The youngster’s omniscient answer was prompt: “Do you know where He isn’t?” Psalm 94:14, “The Lord will not abandon His people.”

MAKE PRAYER AND GOD’S WORD A REGULAR ACTIVITY. In Luke 18:1, we learn that if we do not pray, we will “lose heart.” Hebrews 4:12 says the Word of God is “powerful.” “Powerful” means “energizing.” D. L. Moody testified, “I know the Bible is inspired because it inspires me.”

VALUE FRIENDS. At least 26 times in the New Testament, we find the expression “one another.” A London newspaper offered a substantial cash prize to the one who gave the best answer to the question, “Which is the shortest way to London?” The answer that won the prize was, “The shortest way to London is ‘good company’.”

DECIDE TO MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE. Studies suggest that only about 25 percent of the tendency toward optimism is carried in the genes, the rest is developed by the individual. Paul exhorted, “Whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of a good report…meditate on these things,” Philippians 4:8.

LIVE ONE DAY AT A TIME. Three times in Matthew 6:24 – 34, Christ, when addressing our material needs, stated, “Therefore, do not worry.” Then, He promised that if we will seek first His kingdom, “all these things will be added to you,” so, “do not worry about tomorrow.”

HAVE FAITH IN GOD. The Jews used the phrase “I AM,” “Yahweh,” as their way of identifying God throughout the Scriptures. “Yahweh” appears more than six thousand times in the Old Testament. It is the expression of the One who lives eternally, from everlasting to everlasting, without beginning or end. The One alone who does not change. Remember, “We may face situations beyond our reserves, but never beyond God’s resources!”

Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Disconnect

I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
(Romans 10:2 – ESV)

In my mind and experience, it seems that light and fluffy music often precedes light and fluffy messages. This causes me to wonder: How discordant would it be for a service to have a happy clappy sing-a-long, move to the groove “praise and worship” time followed with a serious sermon on sin, scripture, soteriology, or sanctification? Wouldn’t the disco diminish the effect of the sermon, in a sense? Is happy the way to holy? Is an upbeat all it takes to make the downcast pursue the upward call?

It is all part of the pull, say the purveyors of the seeker sensitive model. Just get them in. Give them some rousing music, and then you can give them the gospel. Well, what kind of gospel is that? It's called "bait and switch" in the real world. They get you in the store with one thing, and then they tell you the truth about the actual price of the item.

In churches like that, the ones with the “kickin’ praise band”, I really don’t think they actually ever make the switch at all. There is no price to pay for the Jesus Jam crowd. The music stirs your soul, and the message warms your heart. You know, it may even change your life, but it won’t be the gospel. You can sing Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, all day long and it can still be all about you, you, you, and your Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, all about the projection of your best feelings into your imaginary rockin’ religion. They are trying to connect with people in a powerful way, disconnected from the real power.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, December 15, 2008

I’m not but I am

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
(Ephesians 5:15-16 – ESV)

I am not saying you have to live in the church but I am saying you have to live like the church

I am not saying you should always be on your knees but I am saying pray without ceasing

I am not saying you should always have your nose in the Bible but I am saying let the Word of God dwell in you richly

I am not saying that everything you do has to be spiritual but I am saying that your spirituality should inform and guide everything you do

I am not saying to neglect your family for your spirituality but I am saying you do neglect your family if you don’t involve them with your spirituality

I am not saying you should witness to everyone you see but I am saying your life should be a witness to everyone who sees you

I am not saying you have to give up everything fun for Jesus but I am saying that if Jesus were with you in person would what you are doing still be fun?

    “Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

    Thursday, December 11, 2008

    Can You See What I Am Saying?

    Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind."
    (John 9:39 – ESV)

    So we are “seeing” all the time these conferences, events, revival meetings, etc., where they claim signs and wonders are happening. You’ll see the ads on TV, the Internet, or in print, or hear them on the radio. They will say that there are blind eyes being opened, deaf ears being unstopped, the lame are made to walk, and things like that.

    Well, my wonder is that I wonder if, in light of the biblical record, you have ever noticed something about all those blind eyes being opened. It would seem that many have turned a blind eye to the truth.

    When we read Luke 4:18-19 we hear Jesus in essence quoting Isaiah 61:1-2. He mentions that He was sent to give sight to the blind, and we know this means both physical and especially spiritually. In the physical sense, giving sight to the blind was something that Jesus did that had not been done before (John 9:32). Our Lord chose a man who was blind from birth, just as man is spiritually blind from birth, and He healed him.

    However, when we see Christ commissioning the disciples to go preach the gospel, of all the power He gave unto them, to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons, we do not see Him mention giving sight to the blind (Matthew 10:5-8). In fact, in all the narratives of the apostles doing their miracles not once is the giving of sight mentioned, only that Paul recovered his sight after having been visited by Jesus (Acts 9). The giving of sight to the blind was uniquely a ministry of Jesus Christ. It was so even with the apostles, who unlike the charlatans of today had real miracle working power, yet even they never gave sight to the blind.

    The false healers may try to hide behind their wickedness by saying that they aren’t the healer, Jesus is, and it is true, Jesus is the one who works miracles through believers. Yet even with the apostles, Christ never worked the giving of sight to the blind. So their facade is no protection for their shame. The words of Jesus still speak today when confronting the false healers.

    This is important because it shows that these false healers have no actual biblical basis for their “sight gags”, and it is symbolic in that it relates to us the truth that only Christ can open the eyes of the blind, whether spiritual or physical.

    “Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    Bound To Be Free

    For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ.
    (1 Corinthians 7:22 – ESV)

    In Paul’s day, and even up till today, we see the cruel context of slavery in some societies. Paul and the New Testament do not condone slavery; they were simply using it to teach that even under the worst of conditions, a child of God could radiate the light of Christ. They were free men indeed if they could feel their freedom in Christ while bound by the earths chains.

    Even though most of the world doesn’t have institutionalized slavery anymore, this principle applies to employer / employee relationships and the like (Colossians 3:22-24). Looking at the context of Titus chapter 2, we see Paul stressing that Christlike behavior is a witness to show that all people may come to Christ regardless of social status, gender, race, etc. Whether younger or older, richer or poorer, slave or free, man or woman, or whatever the case may be, the salvation that is in Christ is to be modeled for all to see that Christians can come from anywhere, and that God will save anyone anywhere who will come to Him.

    Just because a slave can and should please God doesn’t mean that Paul is teaching that God doesn’t want men to be free. Indeed Paul says that if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity (1 Corinthians 7:21). He meant legally and not by escaping of course. Just because you can glorify God in that dark place doesn’t necessarily mean God wants to leave you there, but your attitude must be that if He does leave you there you will serve Him by serving in that situation anyway. If you can be free, if you can be loosed, if you can be made whole, healed, helped or whatever then you should praise the Lord. If not, well, then praise the Lord too. In everything give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:18). No matter what earthly situation you find yourself in keep yourself in the love of God (Jude 1:21), and don’t entangle yourself in spiritual slavery again.

    Being an ambassador for Jesus in a context as cruel as slavery is earning great reward in heaven by honoring our Lord, who experienced a more dramatic drop-off in dignity than any of us on earth could possible face or even imagine. To be a shining light in a dark situation is to do the Lord’s work the Lord’s way. A slave whom God allows to continue in that is bound to be free. Bound in order to be free, bound in order to set others free, bound to be free at last. He, or we, may be bound because being free would lead him, or us, away from Christ. He may be bound but eventually he will be set free because death will bring him to heaven. He may be bound but no one is quite so free as the one who feels his freedom in Christ while shackled with the world’s chains. In other words, his chains are for the glory of the Lord. Others whom God is calling will see Christ.

    The Apostle Paul found himself locked up in a Roman jail but God has used the letters he wrote while there to set people free for nearly two thousand years. The Apostle John was chained to a rock on the island of Patmos but he saw a Revelation of The Rock greater than any man in history. The mature Christian may be bound by some situation, but they know that they are bound to win, even in death. They are bound yet free, and we need to show the world the Truth, as living pictures of the Gospel, that Christ was bound up on that cross, setting men free from sin and death for eternity. We are dead to sin and self, and alive to God, and no earthly chains can bind our spirits while we trust in our Deliverer.

    See 1 Corinthians 7:22 in light of the context of the New Testament, and God’s redemptive plan. Whatever situation we find ourselves in, the key is to be filled with the Spirit in that situation. The greatest witnessing a Christian can do is by doing what a mature Christian would do in that dark situation. We need ambassadors on all fronts, portraits of grace pictured within every scenario, especially bad ones, so that those without hope can see that there is hope for final redemption, that God has not forgotten them in their chains, and that they can be delivered for all eternity. No earthly chain can strangle the Spirit of God, where the Sprit of the Lord is there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17). We need to be filled with the Spirit and feel our freedom.

    Sometimes, and perhaps as we grow in grace most often, the power of God is not to deliver you from a situation but through and in that situation itself, so others, whom are not Christians or who are weak in the faith, they can see what a mature believer would do in the same situation. Sometimes God has us bound in order to show others what God’s true freedom is. When everyone is in the same dark place, who do they look for? It is the one with the light, like the one who is bound to be free by being a slave to Christ.

    “Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

    Tuesday, December 09, 2008

    60 Seconds (25)


    Adolf Hitler’s chief propagandist, Joseph Goebbles, was unfortunately correct when he said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

    In 2 Thessalonians 2:11, Paul, speaking of those who reject God’s truth, states, “For this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie.” According to the Pulpit Commentary, “For this reason” means “on account of their being destitute of a love of the truth,” “strong delusion” means “a working of error,” and “the lie” is defined as “falsehood and delusion of all manner.”

    The Dutchmen have a proverb: “When God intends to destroy a man, He first puts out his eyes.” Dr. William Hendriksen, who served for ten years at Calvin Seminary as Professor of New Testament Literature, wrote concerning 2 Thessalonians 2:11, “ The men of the end-time, who harden themselves against the love for the truth, will suffer the penalty of being hardened. God will send a deluding energy into the hearts of those who stubbornly refused to accept His redemptive truth.”

    Demosthenes stated, “The easiest thing of all is to deceive one’s self; for what a man wishes, he generally believes to be true.” The Scriptural definition of “deception” is “to wander from the way.” To be deceived is to wander from the way of the truth of God. For anyone living in the Middle East, to wander from the path was lethal. If a person wandered from the well-trodden path, he went of into a trackless desert where there was no water, no path, and no landmarks. Usually, wandering meant perishing. Arthur W. Pink admonished, “Scripture speaks of ‘the spirit of error’ (1 John 4:6). There is a lying spirit who controls the blind, that leads the blind, and, in consequence, they ‘both fall into the ditch’.”

    Travelers say that in South America there is a leaf of which starving men will chew, because it gives them a sensation of having been fed. It causes all desire for food to depart, and hunger pains are relieved. However, death is not defeated. The leaf contains a drug, but no nourishment. It satisfies a man’s craving, but it does not satisfy his need. He is deceived, thinking that he has nourishment, but is actually dying for lack of it. As expressed in 2 Timothy 3:7, “Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

    Poet Edwin Arlington Robinson said, “The world is a kind of spiritual kindergarten where millions of bewildered infants are trying to spell God with the wrong blocks.” Remember, “If 50 million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing!”

    Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida

    “Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

    Monday, December 08, 2008

    Potion of Emotion

    For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.
    (2 Peter 2:19 – ESV)

    Our text is speaking primarily of individuals who dupe others, but we want to look at the idea that our feelings and emotions can do the same thing. They promise liberty, but they bring bondage, because if we let them lead, if we do not put them in their proper place, then we become enslaved to them (Romans 6:16). If we try and fly by our emotions, we are flying backward, by the seat of our pants. Have you ever made “an emotional decision” and how many times have you been “overcome with emotion”?

    We are not denying your emotions. You have them, they are real, and everyone has them. We cannot give a prescription as simple as “keep a stiff upper lip”, or “just suck it up”, because emotions are not all bad. They are a powerful motivator and they explain a lot of things, but we often fail to process our emotions in a rational way, and we can get caught up in a whirlwind of emotional activity and make decisions we might not otherwise make if we were in a more controlled environment. Emotions are there to inform us, not to lead us. They inform us of how we feel about a situation, not about how we should deal with a situation.

    Many times, however, we can be under the spell of an emotional potion and it poisons our thoughts to everything that would lead us in a right direction, and lead us to make good choices. Instead we are led to destructive behavior, and away from Christ. We must learn to rule over our emotions. Feelings can be good, they can help us in many ways, but feelings can be faithless, or misdirected. We can easily become spellbound by our own emotions if we do not learn to process them and put them in their place, using them instead of them using us.

    A careless cocktail of fleeting feelings can become flaming feelings, and our addiction of choice if we continue to give in to them. Many times to entertain these thoughts is to yield to death (James 1:14-15 / Galatians 6:8). In Philippians 4:8, Paul tells us to direct our thoughts to right things. Romans 12:2 says that we are to turn ourselves over to God in order to renew our ways of thinking about things. Ephesians 4:22-24 confirms this and says we can put on a new way, a new man, one who is not like the old man, who was ruled by his emotions. Christ rules the new man. The new man is the new man of maturity.

    Maturity is mastering your emotions. Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane showed Himself to be the master of maturity. He had emotions, for sure, but He said not my will but thine be done. How about you? You may have everything against you, but do you give up, or go on, are you ruled by your emotions or do you rule over them? Are you going to let some fleeting feeling gain ground and score a terrible touchdown on your home turf, or are you going to defend your mind and spit out the potion of emotion? Are you your own worst enemy? In your old man, yes you are, but are you going to put on the new man, or not? What clothes are you wearing? What scent are you giving off, the fragrant aroma of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:16) that Christians are supposed to or the pungent potion of emotion, like the rest of the world?

    “Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

    Friday, December 05, 2008

    60 Seconds (24)


    A short time before he died, Adolphe Monod, the French evangelical minister stated, “I have strength for nothing more than to think about the love of God. He has loved us – that is the whole of dogmatics; let us love Him – that is the sum-total of the ethics of the Gospel.”

    In Psalm 91:14 – 16, God speaks of seven things He will do for those who love Him. He states, “Because he has set his love upon Me.” This speaks of unbroken, continuing action, a state of the heart that continues unchanged. The Hebrew expresses the strongest attachment. Because of this, God says, “Therefore,” and gives seven things. They are:

    1. DELIVERANCE. “I will deliver you,” verse 14, and again in verse 15, “I will deliver you.” In Psalm 44, we read of the joy of the present and the hope of the future, because of the facts of the past. He, who delivered in the past, can and will deliver in the future. Vance Havner assured,“When you get to a place where you don’t know what to do, give God the benefit of the doubt. He will clear the track.”

    2. SET YOU ON HIGH. “I will set him on high,” meaning, “I will acknowledge you as my own and treat you accordingly.” Psalm 27:10, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.”

    3. ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS. “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him.” An English proverb declares, “Prayers should be the key of the day and the lock of the night.”

    4. BE WITH YOU IN TROUBLE. “I will be with him in trouble.” Psalm 46:1, “God is...a very present help in trouble.” Chuck Swindoll wrote, “The word ‘trouble’ in the Hebrew means, ‘to be restricted, to be tied up in a narrow, cramped place’.” Notice that the promise is to be “WITH US in trouble.” An old infidel had a motto in his room that read, “GOD IS NOWHERE.” His little granddaughter came to see him, read the motto, and said, “Look, granddaddy, it says, “GOD IS NOW HERE!”

    5. REWARD YOU. “And will honor him.” In 1 Corinthians 3:14, Paul, speaking of the faithful believer, says, “He shall receive a reward.” The word translated “reward” is an old Greek word that denotes “pay, salary,” or “reward.” In other words, Christ will make sure you are “well compensated,” and “rewarded,” for all your faithfulness.

    6. SATISFY WITH A LONG LIFE. “With long life will I satisfy him.” Zechariah 8:4 reveals that long life is a sign of God’s favor and blessing.

    7. ETERNAL LIFE. “And will show him my salvation.” 1 Peter 1:4 promises that we “have an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven.” As a dear old saint lay dying, he said to his friends as they stood weeping around his bed, “Weep not for me; I go to change my place, but not my company. I have walked with God on earth, and He is calling me to walk with Him in heaven.

    “How Thou canst think so well of me,

    And be the God Thou art,

    Is darkness to my intellect,

    But sunshine to my heart.”

    Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida

    “Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

    Thursday, December 04, 2008

    60 Seconds (23)


    Matthew Henry wrote, “We may depend upon God’s promises, for He will be as good as His Word. He is so kind that He cannot deceive us, so true that He cannot break His promise.”

    In Isaiah 41:10, God has given us five encouraging promises. They are:

    FEAR NOT, FOR I AM WITH YOU. The late Adrian Rogers said, “If you are obsessed by fear and overcome by it, you have forgotten who God is and what He has done for you.” In Psalm 27:1, David declared, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” A Christian Scotsman said to a friend, “I got a wonderful scripture in my devotions today.” “Really,” said his friend, “let me hear it.” Enthusiastically he exclaimed, “The text is Psalm 56:3, ‘Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You’.” “Very good,” agreed his friend, “but I got a better text in my reading, for in Isaiah 12:2, I read, ‘Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid’.”

    BE NOT DISMAYED, FOR I AM YOUR GOD. “Dismayed” speaks of being “bewildered and confused.” A few years ago a tourist visited Hampton Court, and went into the famous maze. It was rather easy to reach the center, but he became confused when he tried to get out. Round and round, this way and that, he went, but to not avail. Becoming very dismayed, he heard a voice saying, “This way,” and looking up, he saw the keeper high up a stepladder pointing the way out. Remember, “When you get to your wit’s end, you’ll find God lives there.”

    I WILL STRENGTHEN YOU. “Strengthen” means to “fortify” or “make strong.” In Psalm 29:11, we read, “The Lord will give strength to His people.” The Hebrew root for “strength” has several meanings, one of which is “activity in deep water.” God’s strength is available anytime we need it, especially in the “deep water” of our lives. Andrew Murray reminded, “The whole of Christianity is a work of God’s omnipotence.”

    I WILL HELP YOU. “Help” means to “surround, protect, and aid.” C. H. Spurgeon said, “I have a promise that hangs up before my eyes whenever I wake every morning, and it has continued in its place for years. It is a stay to my soul. It is this: ‘I will not fail thee nor forsake thee’. Difficulties arise, funds run short, sickness comes; but, somehow or other, my text always seems to flow like a fountain – ‘I will not fail thee nor forsake thee’.”

    I WILL UPHOLD YOU WITH MY RIGHTEOUS RIGHT HAND. “Uphold” means “to sustain, maintain, and stay up.” Psalm 94:14, “The Lord will not cast off (abandon) His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance.” A. Philip Parham declared, “God believes in me; therefore my situation is never hopeless. God walks with me; therefore I am never alone. God is on my side; therefore I can never lose.”

    Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida

    “Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

    Wednesday, December 03, 2008

    Fervent Fellowship

    … see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently…
    (1 Peter 1:22)

    Notice how Paul and Peter say virtually the same things at times. Compare Peter’s exhortation to us with 2 Corinthians 6:6, where Paul expresses the fact that he indeed was behaving as Peter says we ought. The Bible is remarkably consistent, and the Apostles knew what the Spirit’s power could do in the life of a believer, and in uniting a fellowship around Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the bond between believers (Ephesians 4:3-4), and He provides the power that we need to stay in fellowship together. It is not simply tolerance, but togetherness, growing in grace and trust of God and each other. We are to be fervent for the spiritual growth of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ; after all, we are of the same body.

    Fervently, think about that. When you love someone with a pure heart, and you love them fervently, you will stop at nothing to do what it takes to please them, to help them, to love them, no matter what. You are passionate about whatever it is you love fervently. You sacrifice for what you love fervently. You look to what you love fervently before your own needs. If what you love fervently has a problem you try and fix it.

    This is just one more reason that believers must go to church; how can you love one another fervently if there are no “others”? Fervently doesn’t stay at home, fervently finds a way to fellowship. Fervently looks for the betterment of the whole fellowship. Fervently knows that everyone on the team is important. Fervently forges relationships that will stand the test of time. Fervently realizes that an on fire church starts with them. Is the whole of your fellowship fervent, and what are you doing to develop a fervent fellowship? If your church isn’t on fire, start a blaze by beginning to love others with a pure heart, fervently.

    “Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

    Tuesday, December 02, 2008

    Stone Cold yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house…
    (1 Peter 2:5 – ESV)

    Many would fight against God’s institution and claim they don’t have to go to church by appealing to the “priesthood of all believers.” Yes, it is true we are all able to come to God through Jesus; we are all a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5-9 / Revelation 1:6), and no one else is a mediator between God and man but Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). So, you are a priest, but did you consider the fact that the priests served in the temple!

    Another objector (read: REBEL) may use what we just said and then say, “okay, but I am the temple – take a look at 1 Corinthians 6:19, pal!” Of course, this is easily refuted by pointing out that the church is also the temple, 1 Corinthians 3:16 – so there!

    And furthermore, looking back at the 1 Peter 2:5-9 passage, it says that we are lively stones. Now consider the fact that God, in 1 Corinthians 3:17, says, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (the church). If we are lively stones, yet we are absent from the church, the temple of God, then are we helping build the church, or are we hindering the building of it? Well, we certainly aren’t helping matters by not being there!

    We may not feel like we are tearing it down, but our lively stone is supposed to be a part of the building. You might say, well, it can be built without me. Okay, then God will indeed build it without you, but then just remember you won’t be a part of it. If God has to build the building without you in it, then you are not a part of it, e.g., you are not a part of the temple, you are outside, and it was your choice! See?

    You will either leave the church or believe in the church. As the days of Noah were, so will the coming of the Son of Man be (Matthew 24:37). Noah pleaded for people to come on board, and he didn’t promise good times, great music, hot babes, or any other thing in the world except a bunch of dirty, stinking animals! Are you going to get in the Ark or not?

    If you are out of the church you are out of God’s will. Part of finding a good one is you staying and growing and helping it to be a good one. There is no way you can be an on fire Christian and at the same time be withholding your lively stone from the local church. Instead, you are nothing but stone cold.

    “Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

    Monday, December 01, 2008

    God’s Greenhouse

    For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building.
    (1 Corinthians 3:9 – ESV)

    Many talk of the struggle between our old man and our new man, which is on a more or less individual level. Now we want to focus on another facet of what Paul calls the new man, the corporate nature of the new man, the Body of Christ. This universal, invisible body is manifested visibly as the local church body. It is in this new man that we are to experience the growth we need to fight our old man and live from our individual new man. Christians are all a part of the body, the seed of Christ being planted in all Christians, but that seed grows best within God’s greenhouse the local church. God had not only ordained a body but a community for that body to grow in, all of us growing as individuals, and as a unit.

    People want God to change their situation, and a major, unavoidable, inescapable, irreplaceable part of that is becoming a part of and becoming a vital participant in a local church setting. This is God’s vehicle for growth. Yes bible reading and prayer and such are your vehicles for growth, but this is not to be done on an individual basis alone, but also within the context of a covenant community. Communion is for and with the saints in Christ. This is the God ordained way. Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life, and He is the head of His body the Church, which He died for. That universal body of all believers is manifested in local assemblies throughout the world.

    Just as there are no perfect believers out there, there are no perfect churches out there, and just as we are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ as individuals, we are predestined to grow up into the full measure as the bride of Christ, as a universal church with local expressions of like precious faith. The church is the way; it is the pillar and ground of the truth and the life of Christ, the new man in manifestation, which is revealed within that context. It is one Jesus but many faces, one Jesus many places.

    None of these commands to love and serve one another have any meaning apart from the primacy of a local body. You cannot exhort one another if there is no other. Of course it is also about others we meet who are believers from other places, and people outside who aren’t Christians. But the word must dwell in us, as a unit towards one another, before it may dwell in us outside that structure, at least as far as growth is concerned.

    We grow best within the context of community, we grow as a group of individuals and we grow together as a unit, each individual is growing deeper and higher and together we also grow deeper and higher. The well ordered church, one that truly has a right view of God, as all in all, this is the place of blessing. The Vinedresser is tending His fruit and pruning His crop in His greenhouse, and if you are not there, you are not planted in the right soil.

    “Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

    Friday, November 28, 2008

    Changed Means Changes

    For not even his brothers believed in him.
    (John 7:5 – ESV)

    One of the toughest problems I have experienced in my Christian life and witnessed in the lives of others is the tension between the old life and the new. I mean to say specifically those times when you have to learn to leave other things behind, and, when necessary, things we have grown attached to. Sometimes it means we have to leave behind our friends.

    Now, you don’t leave them totally, at least not all of them right away, but you cannot do the things you did, you cannot go to the places you used to go, and so forth. You have a new Master to obey. This can be hard. You know you have changed, but what some don’t realize is that they are still changing. Believers who say things like “The Lord delivered me from so and so and I never wanted to go back again” only confuse the issue. God doesn’t always take away our desires, or the desire for our friends.

    Jesus’ siblings had seen Him all their lives before He went out into public ministry. Suddenly it would seem that He was doing miracles, and gathering disciples, and considering human nature and family nurture, no wonder His immediate relatives were skeptical. When people grow up with you, even if you were a decent kid, and then you identify with Christ, it will be as it was with Christ. They won’t believe you are who you say you are, a Christian. They will think you are out of your mind for “trying” to change, and your old friends will think you are weird for not running with the pack (1 Peter 4:4). They will test you, and the trouble for some is they see this testing in the wrong way. They think it means they aren’t saved, but what it really means is that they are, they are also just on the way, in the process.

    Just because you haven’t changed all the way doesn’t mean that you aren’t changed and that doesn’t mean you aren’t changing. You may still feel the pull of the peer pressure but all this should do is prove to you that you do need to renew your mind (Romans 12:2). You do need to cast down contrary thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5), and think on good things (Philippians 4:8). You do need to realize that bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33). You must water that seed, till that soil, and grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

    You must learn to be a twig before you become a tree. A twig can snap easily that is why it needs nurture, which is all the things we mentioned before, including bible study, prayer, fellowship, and the like. Twigs grow into trees in the terrain of the church. Outside is bad ground. You may think you are a tree, but if you aren’t in church, you are still a twig, because all of God’s trees are in God’s greenhouse, the church. Plant yourself in that pew, till that soil, water that seed, and watch yourself grow.

    Things are different now, but it is not the decision to start but the determination to stay that counts. Thank God that what He starts He finishes (Philippians 1:6). But let me also give you a word of encouragement friend. God is the author and finisher of our faith, but He is also the performer of it. He ordains not only the end result but also the means to that end. That is why we can act with confidence and with a full assurance of faith (Philippians 2:12-13 / 1 Thessalonians 5:24 / Hebrews 10:22). When you are changed, expect changes. It is your destiny.

    “Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

    Thursday, November 27, 2008

    Harden Not Your Heart

    But exhort one another every day… that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
    (Hebrews 3:13 – ESV)

    Some people have become so hardened against going to church that they don’t realize any of the benefits of being there. That is to say, they will not receive some of those benefits at all, because they cannot be had elsewhere, certainly not in isolation from the local church. Lets take a look at these verses from the third chapter of Hebrews and apply them to this situation.

    Hebrews 3:12-13 – the deceitfulness of sin is what hardens you into unbelief, and you depart from the living God. He tells us how to avoid being hardened to unbelief, and how to help avoid the deceitfulness of sin, by exhorting one another daily, this means we need to be in church, and to fellowship with other saints! Of course if you aren’t plugged in to a local church, you aren’t plugged in to a fellowship whereby you can exhort your friends in Christ, and you in turn are not exhorted. You don’t make calls to them, you don’t visit them, and you don’t meet with them weekly in worship.

    Hebrews 3:14 – If we have really become partakers of Christ, if we have really heard His voice, we will hold the beginning of our confidence (assurance) steadfast to the end. But it isn't enough to leave the matter at "if you are really saved, you will endure"; realize that God uses these warnings and appeals to our will as His appointed means to get us to endure; we work in accordance with His decrees (Philippians 2:12-13 / Colossians 1:29). How is it that church attendance, a thing you once considered important, is no longer a priority?

    Hebrews 3:16-19 – it is not enough to make a good beginning (Mark 4:16-17). The difference between holding fast and departing from the living God is an evil heart of unbelief, which happens when the heart is hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, which we combat by exhorting one another daily, by prayer, and by being bold and boasting only in Christ (Galatians 6:14). Friends, this CANNOT happen if we aren’t in a local fellowship with like-minded believers. We won’t “enter in” because we won’t yield to God and what He is trying to do for us and through us and to us through the local church.

    My exhortation to you: receive it; don’t harden your heart.

    “Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    Saved to Serve

    …there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ.
    (Philippians 3:18 – NLT)

    Paul had earlier spoken of the legalists (3:2-3), now he speaks about the libertines. You are to forget the legalist path, the “make your own way” types of the past, but you are not to swing the pendulum too far. Your obedience is not the root of your justification, as the legalists would say, but it is the fruit of your justification, as the libertines wouldn’t say. Good works does not save you, but you are saved unto good works. Grace is a teacher – Titus 1:15-16, 2:11-14. Some are not walking the walk (Galatians 5:25), and they talk a different talk. It is all about what they are allowed to do, they use liberty as license, and they are deceived.

    Be aware of this fact: it is not those who don’t even claim the name of Christ that Paul is talking about in this passage, it is those who remain self-indulgent, who don’t press on to maturity, but who keep feeding their old man, and then try and justify it by saying that they are allowed, or even that it is somehow right. They are ripe for deception, and are already deceived. It is not those who are trapped in sin, even, that Paul is discussing and warning about, it is those who defiantly state that they are of Christ but who won’t take their self-indulgent old man to the Cross. This is why Paul says to be following him and those who walk right because there are many who don’t, and they are dangerous.

    When you are saved, you are saved to serve, and that means others, not serving yourself, like the people Paul warns about here. When you won’t go to church, what are you doing? Think about it. In order to get your food, you must always do what? Serve yourself, and you never serve others, do you? And you prevent others from serving you.

    Paul says beware because these types tend to try and gain converts to appease their conscience. Other biblical writers warn us also. Jude 1:3-5 – obedience is believing, acting in accordance with what you believe (that sin is bad and that Christ has delivered us from its bondage). Look at 2 Peter 2:2, 10, 14, 18-20. 2 (sensual), 10 (despise authority, i.e. they won’t learn in community they won’t follow patterns they must make their own), 14 (they try and recruit others who don’t know better), 18 (they appeal to the flesh of those who are still struggling with it), 19 (they talk of freedom but they are slaves to sin and self), 20 (they are unfruitful in their knowledge – Hosea 4:6-10 / 2 Peter 1:8).

    Their end is destruction, whose god is their belly, or their own appetites; they live for the pleasures of the body, mind, and soul. Romans 16:18 – and they try and win others to this view, which is why they are doubly dangerous, it spreads because it is an easy way. Their feelings, emotions, and passions rule them, meaning they do what they want to do; their god is their own self-ish desires, with its self-indulgent agenda. They are proud of their liberty, thinking they are more enlightened than those whom they see as more narrow-minded, and they are constantly trying to defend their “right” to import this or that practice from the world. They are worldly, they thought they could be whatever they wanted to be, worship however they wanted to, and approach a holy God anyway they saw fit, and still keep Jesus too.

    They wouldn’t let anyone correct them, they wouldn’t accept rebuke or be admonished, and they thought that they knew better. They are not broken by their sin and instead of falling on Christ, He will fall on them to their peril (Matthew 21:44). They wouldn’t suffer the death of the flesh; they are enemies of the Cross of Christ.

    In this way are they enemies of the Cross: they may have thought they believed in it for Jesus, and indeed that is all it takes to be saved, believing Jesus died on the Cross for your sins is a saving knowledge of Christ. However, the bible clearly teaches that this knowledge if held in truth will cause a believer to also follow Jesus to the Cross. Godliness teaches us to become more and more repentant, our lives will progressively become more and more unlike the world, not like the world.

    The degree of effectiveness in an individuals life is not the question, the resolve to do it at all or to deny the need to is the matter at hand (1 Corinthians 5), the desire to become sanctified in practice, rather than defiantly avoiding the possibility of going to the Cross for the gradual death of the self life, that is the question. In essence, they deny this saving knowledge in practice, if not in doctrine, by not believing in and following Jesus to the Cross in their own life. They became progressively more and more deceived, their faith was proven not to be real, and they are damned.

    Those that won’t go to church wind up serving themselves and that isn’t why we are saved.

    “Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

    Tuesday, November 25, 2008

    Need to Lead

    Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.
    (Hebrews 13:7 – ESV)

    In the Body of Christ, you are either a leader or you need to be led. Now everyone needs to be led by Christ through the power of the Word and the Holy Spirit, but there are also leaders in the Body, and those leaders are present in the local church body. You cannot be without a leader unless you are a leader, and truthfully, even leaders need to be led.

    You may say that you have no leader but Christ. However, if you have no other leader then you must be a leader. If you are supposedly good enough to go it alone, which is not true, but hypothetically, if you were, then you would be needed to lead others. You would be called by Christ to lead in His church. By not leading you are disobeying a lot about what God says about the church and everyone having a role in it. The truth is, you are either not strong enough, which would be my belief about you, or you are strong enough and yet you won’t lead others. Either way you are wrong and out of the will of God. You either need to lead or need to be led and Christ leads those who know this; if you don’t you aren’t being led by anything other than yourself. Well, and the Enemy of your soul, the devil.

    You need to be discipled and you need to disciple others. Catch that: even if you have been discipled and are ready to storm the gates of hell all by yourself you have the responsibility to disciple others. If you are such an ace why would you not want to serve your supposed Master by helping others earn their wings? Go ahead and fly your own solo missions and see if you don’t get shot down time and again.

    Look at Hebrews 13:17 (ESV) – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls… This verse assumes that there are leaders in the church. It is easy to see that there are those being led, of course. What this text doesn’t say, and what no New Testament text says or implies, is that there is a situation where there is no earthly leader. There are always teachers and those taught. You are one or the other or both. The truth is that we are all both. Well, except those that are neither. They won’t submit to teaching, and they teach no one. They might as well rip this verse right out of their bibles!

    Consider 1 Peter 5:1 (ESV) – So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder… Are there elders among you? Not if you are by yourself! In life you are always learning from someone else, why would that change now? Christianity isn’t a graduation into an individualistic thing it is exactly the opposite; it is learning to depend on God by depending on others and them depending on you. If you are strong enough to be an elder, leader, or Sunday School teacher, then do that, don’t sit at home disobeying God’s call on your life.

    Finally Titus 1:3 – But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching… I hope my preaching has manifested the truth to you. Listen, we are all are following something and someone. If you aren’t being led to being in the church you aren’t following Jesus.

    “Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

    Monday, November 24, 2008

    One Man Army

    The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you,"…
    (1 Corinthians 12:21 – ESV)

    One of the most absolutely ridiculous ideas out there is the one that says we don’t need to go to church. The New Testament doesn’t even dream of such a thing, the letters and authors all take for granted that people will be meeting together. Saying you don’t need church is saying you don’t need the rest of the Body, but that is patently false. We are in a spiritual war; how can you expect to win battles for the Lord when you are running away from the rest of the troops?

    How do all the body parts function together when they aren’t all together? Are you the whole Body? We know that cannot be true: "The body is not one member, but many" (1 Corinthians 12:14). Okay, so if you aren’t all of it, how can you function without the other parts, and how can you disrespect the other members of the Body? How can you go against the clear teachings of scripture such as “there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care, one for another” (1 Corinthians 12:25)? You cannot care if you aren’t there.

    Listen to Charles Haddon Spurgeon – “We ought to regard the Christian Church, not as a luxurious hostelry where Christian gentlemen may each dwell at his ease in his own inn but as a barracks in which soldiers are gathered together to be drilled and trained for war. We should regard the Christian Church, not as an association of or for mutual admiration and comfort, but as an army with banners, marching to the fray to achieve victories for Christ, to storm the strongholds of the foe, and to add province after province to the Redeemer’s Kingdom.”

    You aren’t some religious Rambo you need support troops, and they aren’t those programs on TV, the radio, or the Internet. I am all for electronic media and for using it to glorify God and to help myself and others grow, and I know it does. That being said it is no substitute for being there in that pew, listening to that pulpit, with those people face to face and in weekly fellowship with them as fellow soldiers.

    The only one-man army that will ever have victory is Jesus Christ. Are you behind Him in the barracks with the rest of us, or are you out cavorting with the Enemy? It is one or the other.

    “Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©