Monday, May 31, 2010

The Devotions of a Pastor (Radio / Podcast)

John 21:15-19

How can we know if a ministry is lead by a real man of God? What makes for a good biblical pastor? What should we look for in calling a man to be a pastor of our church?

Devotion to Jesus – John 21:15-17 – Do you love me?

Love of Christ is first and foremost. If the man loves Jesus he will lead, protect, and teach His Church, His bride. If he is faithful to Christ he will be faithful to His people.

How do we test that? 2 Corinthians 4:5 – What is in a man’s heart will come out when he is given a chance to speak. Over a cross section and several topics of sermons, does he preach Christ? Is Christ or the man on display? What is his primary focus? Are his messages mostly about social issues, felt needs, politics, and earthly priorities? Do they put themselves at the center of their preaching? Is it hard to find Christ in his sermons?

Devotion to the Bible – John 21:15-17 – Feed my sheep.

The Bible must be his textbook – 2 Timothy 3:16-4:5 – His central responsibility is to feed people the Word of God because it is what builds them up (cf. 2 Timothy 2:15).

How do we discern that? Questions to ask…

Does he teach that the Bible is the rule for faith and practice?
Does he teach about the holiness of God, His wrath, eternal judgment, and hell?
Does he teach about sin and repentance?
Does he teach about justification by faith alone?
Does he teach about the full deity, substitutionary atonement, and physical resurrection of Jesus?
Does he teach about and call you to your responsibility to follow Christ, holy living, righteousness, growing in grace, sanctification, etc?

Devotion to the Church – John 21:15-17 – My lambs.

His priority is to tend and feed the church, not the world. Ephesians 4:11-12ff – His focus is to build up the body of Christ, to build up the flock in sanctification, and promote their growth in holiness (cf. Acts 20:28 / 1 Peter 5:1-3).

His priority isn’t redeeming the culture or attracting seekers who don’t believe in Christ. It isn’t that he doesn’t interact with the community at all but that he primarily involves himself with the community of Christ. Personal evangelism is important for him, but discipling is a must.

Devotion to Holiness – John 21:18-19 – Follow me.

Titus 1:5-9 / 1 Timothy 3:1-7 – character qualifications
Galatians 5:22-23 – fruit of the Spirit
1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1 – leads a godly life, worthy to be emulated (cf. Philippians 3:17 / 1 Thessalonians 1:6 / 2 Thessalonians 3:9 / Hebrews 13:7)
Hebrews 6:12 – diligent in devotion

This isn’t about perfection; it is that a man should have all four of these criteria as the dominant direction in his life. These are some of the same things we should be concerned with for our own lives. One of the most important ways to be discerning as far as evaluating a pastor is concerned is by being diligent to pursue godliness ourselves (2 Peter 3:17-18).

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Electronic 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)

One reason we have to go to church is that we cannot do self-evaluation properly. When you pray like David in Psalm 19:12-14 or Psalm 139:23-24 for the Lord to reveal sins to you, God often answers you through other people. For David it was the prophets like Gad or Nathan. For us it will be through the loving, caring, covenant community of the local church.

We can complain all we want about that certain local church not being a “loving, caring community”, but consider this. In Matthew 7:3-5, Jesus talks about having a beam in our eye. Now consider how having a beam makes us see everything as having a beam in it. Sometimes we don’t notice a certain type of car all over the road until you own one yourself. You see a problem because you ARE a problem, we all are, but God uses the means of each other to help us all out. If you think that you don’t need church you are wrong, but even if you didn’t, even if you did have it all together well then you should come help the rest of us.

If you think you’re spiritual, just get close to your brethren, and you’ll find out what’s really inside you. It doesn’t matter how agitating, rude or unspiritual your brethren might be. This does not justify your intolerance or impatience with them. These attitudes are characteristics of your own immaturity – a weakness in YOU that needs to be perfected. This is why some people run from church to church – because it exposes their bad side. They see their own sins and blemishes revealed in their relationship with the brethren, or they become outraged when their self-willed desires or sins are challenged through convicting preaching or correction.

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 environment of the church 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), and they can humbly submit themselves to truth and the correction of authority (Hebrews 13:17).

Hiding away in an electronic church world, where the entire ministry you receive is by radio, television, and the Internet will simply not do. You need more, you need the local body, and without that, those other things can be a curse instead of a blessing. These things can become a form of rejection, not release. Apart from a local assembly, there is no scriptural justification for them. I'm not saying these very things are damning you to hell, but I am saying for those that will not attend a local church, they are manifesting a rejection of discipleship, of personal responsibility before the Lord, of an internal witness on the soul and of scriptural warning.

Television may bring you under conviction but the congregation will help with correction and will bring out your sin in bold relief. You can hide and watch TV but you can’t hide from God. Even if you think you are with God you must expose yourself to the others whom God would choose to mold you. If there’s bitterness or a lack of love, it will become exposed. When you hide from church, you are exposed.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sanctification Station (Radio / Podcast)

In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
(Ephesians 2:22 – ESV)

Church is about fellowship, yes, and it is also about worship, yes, and worship in the context of fellowship is good and right. However, church is also about discipleship, and this takes leadership. All of this is necessary for the proper stewardship of a church through its members. There is no Internet site for all of this. There is no radio program that can get all that done. There is only one place that this all happens, the local church. The TV may have different channels on a religious dial, but for live action, it has no sanctification station.

Let’s look at some negative and positive reasons for attending a local church. To those who say they don't need to or have to go to church, or ask the question, "Why do I have to go to church?"

Going to church honors God, does your absence?

Preaching helps build the building (edifice - edification - preaching) and it is essential for the exhortation and comfort of believers, in addition to their regular feeding on the Word. Also, most that I have observed who give the excuse that they don't need to go to church to be fed and led aren't actually feeding on Christ at all, or very little at best.

When you avoid church, you are avoiding the community of believers that need your gifting, 1 Corinthians (12-14) speaks plainly to this. Romans 15:14 / Colossians 3:16 – you cannot admonish and edify others without fellowship! In other words, you are being selfish, and you are ripping me off personally! He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit; that is, one with Christ, AND ALSO, one with each other. Are you really part of the Body of Christ?

It is the fellowship of the church where we find Jesus Christ. Jesus is active in His Church. Yes, He is active in individual lives, but those lives find more power in the context of the local church.

It is the fellowship of the church where we find protection from the demonic forces of evil and sin in this world. We call it a sanctuary for a reason, folks.

It is the fellowship of the church where we find encouragement in life. We can't keep on the path with Christ without the help and support of other Christians.

It is the fellowship of the church where we become Jesus Christ to the world.

The church is where we can find the best vehicle for our growth. We hear the Word preached and taught, and it stimulates us in our own private devotional and study times.

That, in the “spiritual bodybuilding” aspect, is like “taking your vitamins” The second part of “getting big” is to engage in resistance training. In accordance with this idea, the environment of the church provides two important features of growth producing conflict:

Authority who will challenge you with truth and correct you when you are wrong.

The environment of believers who are imperfect and whose rough edges will serve as sandpaper to smooth out your wrinkles. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17). Hurt feelings are probably the greatest reason why people leave churches, but deepening your roots in Christ and His Word can immunize you against such tenderness. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165).

If you think that all your need for ministry is being met by the television, you are wrong. The TV can never allow you to tune in to the sanctification station.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

They Ought to Know (Radio / Podcast)

…pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom…
(Acts 6:3 – ESV)

This verse gives us the criterion that the Apostles had for the first deacons of the early church. The fact that they were to pick out men that were full of the Spirit meant by implication that some obviously were not filled. Although doctrine is obviously important, they didn’t ask them about doctrine, they saw devotion and demonstration. Those men that were filled were obvious. People who are full of the Spirit aren’t full of themselves; they are ready to serve. They are not full of cares they are full of Christ. They are not full of worry they are full of wisdom. It will show, and God’s people will know. You shouldn’t have to try and get the leadership of a church to notice you they ought to know if God is calling you to serve. If you are full of the Spirit, believe me, somebody will notice.

Of course, this means that you have to be plugged in to a local body of believers somewhere. People full of the Spirit and wisdom aren’t those who stay home from church. No one is going to “pick you out” if no one knows where you are. God isn’t in the habit of having people full of the Spirit and wisdom who are lone ranger Christians, and believe me, you aren’t the exception. Considering the fact that God fills people up so that they can flow out, how wise do you think it is to stay home from church and tell people you are doing God’s will?

When they went out looking for men full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, men of an honest and good report, do you think they had a list, a survey, or did they have to see something? Did they have to know something? They had an honest report, their lives were telling the truth. They were the same around everybody. When someone is like that, what you see is what you get. They had to know these men had a reputation not only for honesty but also for Spiritual things. Their honest report meant that they weren’t just religious showboats, they weren’t full of wisdom one minute and full of the world the next minute when no one else was looking. Believe me friend someone else is ALWAYS looking. When people see you do they know you like this? Jesus said by their fruits ye shall know them: tell me, what fruit is it that people see when they see you? What fruit is it that people who know you know that you have?

People ought to know you are a Christian, not because of the sticker on your car, not because of the slogan on your shirt, not because of the saying on your hat, but because of what comes out of your mouth, what happens with your hands, what things you do with those legs, what kind of look you have on your face, what kind of things you do with your time, and what kind of things are on your mind. Fellow believers ought to know you are full of the Spirit and of wisdom. We should be seeking God for these things to be flowing in our lives, so that we may serve the Lord and serve others. They ought to know and it ought to show and when you grow it ought to flow.

God is still looking for people full of the Spirit and wisdom to serve. You are full of something, the question is what? They ought to know.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Communing with Death (Radio / Podcast)

… anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.
(1 Corinthians 11:29 – ESV)

As Christians we are to be sharing in the fellowship of the Spirit (Philippians 2:1). We are to be communing with Christ, but also with one another. A major facet and the visible expression of this communion is manifest by taking the Lord’s Supper. Consider the fact that the Bible never mentions having the Lord’s Supper outside the context of the local church community. Communion is with Christ, the Head, but He is the Head of His Body, the Church.

Think about it. What are you going to do, take Communion by yourself? There are many who do and are taught just that. Unfortunately it is not just those who don’t attend a local church, but also those who think daily Communion outside of church is a good thing. It isn’t it is selfish. If that is what you think, that you can have communion with God and can take the Lord’s Supper without ever having to partake with other people, then listen up.

In 1 Corinthians 11:29 Paul tells us that those who take Communion unworthily are drinking damnation to themselves. Paul describes what unworthiness is. He says it is failing to discern the body of the Lord. Does this mean failing to recognize the elements as His Body? Reading the context of the passage, we can unequivocally state ABSOLUTELY NOT! Paul is saying that failing to discern the Body is failing to consider the members of that Body, all the members.

We cannot take Communion with all the believers across the world at the same time. But the local church is the expression of such a communion by which we respect the other members. To fail to discern this, to think we can have communion without fellowshipping with other local believers is to disrespect people that Christ died for. To take Communion outside the local assemble in that fashion is to drink unworthily. When we are taking Communion unworthily, it is because we are failing to discern His Body, and His Body is the Church! Again, think about the context here in this passage, it is about respect for the fellow members of the Body.

Verse 30 says that is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. We can take this and apply it to today by saying that because you have not discerned the Lord’s Body, that is why you are so spiritually weak, or worse, dead. Of course many who are habitually missing church or those who just simply won’t go at all are probably not thinking about taking Communion anyway. However, they certainly would be mistaken to take it by themselves all the time.

He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17), but how can you share in the communion of the Holy Ghost (2 Corinthians 13:14) sitting there at home? Now if you cannot go out, if you are a shut in because of age and/or health, then obviously this isn’t you. However, you could ask the local church to come to you, and any good church, any true church will. You may be at death’s door, but you can still be communing with the Life of the local church in that way.

Christian living is like spectator sports – it is better to be a player than just a fan. Doing electronic church without the real thing is like playing a video sport game. You could be the best player in the history of the world at that game, but you might not even be able to play the real thing. In that case, if you got in the real game, you would “get killed”. You have no game; your fantasyland won’t play in the real world. Your skills would be as good as dead on the real field of play. So it is with your notion of no church. You think you have Life, but you are communing with death.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sermon Skirmish (Radio / Podcast)

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God…
(2 Corinthians 10:5 – ESV)

The church house is a war zone. It is a spiritual battleground. Now, when people talk of spiritual warfare, it conjures up all sorts of images, depending on what you have been taught about it or how you are used to practicing it. However, many have not considered the truth that preaching and listening to the preached word of God is not only one of God’s primary vehicles for growing us up, but that it is spiritual warfare. Preaching is spiritual warfare of the first order.

The sermon is a skirmish in the heavenly realm, which will play itself out in the physical world. The most intense place of spiritual warfare is in proclaiming God's Word. We as people in the pews are also involved in this warfare. When we are at church, listening prayerfully to the Word of God being expounded upon, we are in a battle the likes of which many never realize.

They ought to. The preacher is battling long held notions and wrong-headed thoughts. He is trying to exalt God and His Word and Christ and His authority in the lives of believers. He is trying to foster correct doctrine and put down incorrect doctrine and it is a battle for the listener as well. Alan Redpath said that every time the preacher gets up in the pulpit he is making an attack on hell. We are combating things, “for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 – ESV).

Oh, how we need to pray that we may have ears that were as Jesus said, “he who has ears to hear, let him hear.” We need to pray that we won’t be distracted, that we won’t be apathetic, and that we won’t be thinking about what we are doing afterward. We pray that we might put into practice tomorrow some of the pursuits the preacher will be discussing today.

Even when we are listening, and we want to apply what we have heard, we have this “get it all done right now” attitude. The Enemy convinces us that all we have to do is make a decision, but it isn’t just your decision to start it is your determination to stay that counts. The warfare has just begun when we leave the church. It is as Jesus told us in Mark 4:15, the Enemy immediately tries to take away the Word that was sown. If you do not attach concrete action to your decision, and a decision is needed, but if you do not act in accordance with that decision it will only lead you into a boom and bust cycle of frustration. Again, in Mark 4:16-17, Jesus tells us of those who receive the Word with joy, but they have no root, so they fall away.

As well, get on your knees and pray for your pastor since he engages in spiritual warfare against the invisible forces of evil every time he steps into the pulpit and dares to faithfully wield the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18-20). Pray that his preparation is such that he does not set sail into the soil of his own imagination but he stays in touch with the text.

The church is ground zero in the war zone. Of course, those that don’t go to church are like troops that have gone AWOL. They aren’t helping anyone else in the war, and they certainly aren’t receiving any help either. Guns all around and no ammunition is a sad state of affairs for a soldier to be in. Won’t you take up arms and join in the sermon skirmish?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cross Stitching (Radio / Podcast)

that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ,
(Colossians 2:2 – ESV)

Their hearts may be encouraged, reaching all the riches, full assurance, etc. This isn’t talking about material prosperity but spiritual prosperity. Spiritual well being, not physical well being. The more intimate our communion with other believers, the more spiritually rich we will be.

Look at the previous verse in Colossians 1:28 – warning everyone, teaching everyone, maturity for everyone. Now then you can clearly see the context here, warning and teaching for maturity in every person, struggling so that they all might be on the same page, strengthened (encouraged, confirmed) by being instructed in love (a good rendering of “knit together”), and coming to a more full understanding of just how marvelous Christ is.

Now being instructed in love doesn’t just mean instructed as to how to love, but also instructed as to what to love, or actually who to love. Of course this means Christ. Now they already had a love for Christ and for one another, but Paul knew that this must continue to be solidified, not just for individuals, but for the group as well. We need each other, and if one is struggling with their faith and doctrine, it serves to bring us down. Paul had been praying and persevering for their pressing on to maturity in the mystery of Christ. Everybody needs to grow up, and we need to help each other grow up, and we need to grow up together as a unit. In the battle against heresy, we need all the soldiers following the same battle plan.

You see, Paul is not speaking primarily of unity for the sake of peace but unity for the sake of the gospel, unity so as to ward off deception, knit together and encouraged as to the truth about Jesus. Building one another up in the truth. Division in doctrine causes division in the body. He is speaking, as he usually does, about being of one mind and in one accord. This is accomplished as to primary doctrine first, which would lead to correct practice and eventual understanding in secondary doctrines, a full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery. To have right practice without right doctrine is to love leaven, to court corruption, to suffer with sin, and this is what Paul was warning against. The Colossians had a right practice (1:4) and a right passion (1:8), and he wanted to make sure they had a right perspective on Christ. His strong desire is that they would have strong doctrine (1:9). As we have said before, what we need is unity with verity, togetherness with truth, and fellowship in the truth, and around the truth, not just fellowship for friendship’s sake.

The result of this being knit together is to be able to reach a full, or wealthy assurance. Again, this is not a worldly wealth, but a spiritual wealth, something far more to be desired by those who know. However, to reach these riches, to reach a full assurance you must be knit together, can’t you see that? As an individual, you can have an assurance of your salvation, of course, but it reaches its fullness in the context of community. Even John the Baptist lost his assurance of who Jesus was when he was isolated (Matthew 11 / Luke 7).

Some lack an assurance of God and His character. Is He really good and loving? The answer is in knowing God as He is revealed in His Word. Some lack an assurance of their salvation. Is my Christian life for real? The answer is in knowing that the bottom line is that our salvation rests in God, not in us. Being around the Body ought to give us an assurance of God’s character and of our salvation, and frankly, this is an assurance we simply cannot give to those who would stay away from church. How can we give it to those who won’t hear it? They aren’t here at church to hear it from us!

The church that is growing in Christ, and that is the key of course, a church like that provides a measure of protection against heresy. Now you might say that you cannot find a church like that and use that as an excuse to not go to church. Well, no church is perfect, and heresy is always at the door waiting to be let in; however, consider this fact. The fact that you are ignoring parts of the Bible that are so clear proves that you have already drifted into heresy. If you really know the riches of Christ in full assurance, in understanding and knowledge, you will want to share it with others; you will want to be knit together.

It cannot be otherwise. Believe me, and more importantly, believe the Bible, to think you can avoid being knit together and still be made whole is heresy. You’re coming apart at the seams.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Fire of Obedience (Radio / Podcast)

… we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
(Daniel 3:18)

This passage gives us perhaps the starkest contrast between the presumption and the obedience of faith. It also provides us with clear insight as to how we can identify each, and is relevant for today in that it deals with situational pressure not uncommon in today’s world. Of course, we are not as yet subject to being thrown into a fiery furnace, but the emotions and the temptation to compromise are the same in a sense.

Having seen so many different instances of what the presumption of faith looks like, and now having seen the antithesis, the obedience of faith, you hopefully are convinced of the need to discern between each. The question is: HOW? Pay close attention, please, you won’t regret it.

The young men had been obedient in some smaller details earlier in Babylon. Recall how they were not eating the polluted meat, but trusted God by eating only vegetables. Lesson: the obedience of faith is about being obedient in the small things first. Obedience in “little” areas opens up true faith to be used in “big” areas, not God doing something “big”, and then you obey in the small things. Question: are you waiting for God to do something big before you let go and completely obey? How many times do you compromise on the little things?

These young men knew that God was able to deliver them, but they did not presume that He would. These men knew that they were innocent in God’s eyes, but that they were indeed guilty of disobeying the unjust law. They were ready to suffer the flames of the fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar rather than suffer the fiery furnace of Hell. They were obedient to God’s will, believing as Job did – Though he slay me, yet will I trust him (Job 13:15). They did not whine about injustice, and did not use excuses to compromise. They could have reasoned, “why not just give in this once, for ten minutes?” Or, “we will be able to help our brethren more by staying alive”. But they did not compromise God’s glory for the sake of their own skin.

Lesson: The obedience of faith is concerned with matters of eternal importance, more than matters of earthly importance. Even in death we have victory, because we are not to fear them that can destroy the body but cannot destroy the soul (Matthew 10:28). Question: Do you complain out loud or to God about having to do more than others? Do you complain about injustice and/or persecution? Do you try to help God out by bending the rules?

These young men knew that they were doing what was right. They knew that their God was God. But they didn’t try and vindicate themselves by shouting down the King with taunts such as, “Our God will save us, you loser!” They didn’t presume upon God by acting holier than thou about their faith. They had confidence in God; but in His overall love and purpose for them, not in a belief that they would be shown as righteous before men.

Lesson: The obedience of faith is living out your faith before God and man, not giving lip service to God and provoking man. These men did not put their faith in a vacuum, everyone knew of them. But they did not live their faith with a microphone, either. Question: Do you think that if you are “doing what is right” that no harm can come to you? Do you chide others about their sin? Do sinners see God’s grace when they encounter you, or do you trumpet your personal faith?

How tragic it is to see supposed Christians today ignoring the lessons observed here. Some are waiting for God to move, while He is waiting for them to move. Some separate themselves from the culture so much that they never encounter the lost outside of church functions. Others browbeat people with the fact that they are “saved”.

There are many who believe that they are sanctified, when they are only sanctimonious. This behavior elicits two responses: “hypocrite”, or “holier than thou”, and neither works to bring the lost to repentance. Still others believe in their personal vindication, thinking that if they are following God that they can revile men. To these latter two groups I would advise a careful reading of the second chapter of Romans.

In this life we will all have to go through some fiery trials. Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you (1 Peter 4:12 – ESV). Everyone will have to go through a fiery furnace. There is the one the world puts you in for not doing it their way, but that one God uses to burn off the dross, He uses it as a refiners fire. The other type is the one that awaits those that bow down to the idols of this world. The question is, which one do you want?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Eternal Economy (Radio / Podcast)

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.
(1 Peter 1:2)

This particular verse speaks of God and His eternal plan and workings to obtain salvation for His chosen ones. However, this passage also echoes what Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, that the Spirit is indeed moving us on to sanctification, and that progress will be made as we grow in grace. Notice that election here describes foreknowledge not simply as a decree of God to heaven, but also that it deals with life on earth as well, who are kept by the power of God through faith (vs.5). Upon our justification, we also received definitive sanctification; we WERE set apart for God’s purpose in a real way, sanctified perfectly, right then. We still go through the process of progressive sanctification, however, and sanctification and obedience are hallmarks of election (2 Peter 1:1-11). A continued life of obedience and a transforming character are marks of the Spirit’s work.

We know that Jesus has become our sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30), and so we are already holy as God sees us positional in the Son, but we can and should become more Christ-like here on earth as well. This verse and others state that the condition of a person’s life will come more and more in line with their position in Christ. The question is are you becoming a more obedient Christian? If not, perhaps you need to examine yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5 / 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8). Of course we will not be perfected in this life, so Peter mentions that the blood of Jesus which cleanses us from all sin (cf.1 John 1:7-10).

The way Peter describes the work of the Father, Son, and Spirit here shows us the Trinity in salvation, or the economic aspect of the Trinity (what God does), as opposed to the ontological aspect of the Trinity (what God is). The covenant of grace was planned by the Father (Ephesians 1:4-5 / Romans 8:28-29,33 / 2 Timothy 1:9), executed by the Son (Ephesians 1:7 / Romans 8:3-4,34 / John 6:37), and applied by the Spirit (Ephesians 1:13 / Romans 8:2,9,15). Galatians 4:4-6 also gives us a look into the economic Trinity in concise terms.

Although the Trinity as a doctrine is not discussed as explicitly as we might like within the New Testament it is certainly woven into the fabric throughout. Take for example this sampling of 20 texts: Isaiah 48:16 / Isaiah 61:1 / Isaiah 63:9-10 / Zechariah 2:1-10 / Matthew 28:19 / Mark 1:10-11 / John 14:16-26 / John 15:26 / John 16:7-15 / Romans 8:1-11 / 1 Corinthians 12:3-6 / 2 Corinthians 13:14 / Galatians 4:4-6 / Ephesians 1:3-14 / Ephesians 2:18 / Ephesians 4:4-6 / 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 / Titus 3:4-6 / 1 Peter 1:2 / Jude 20-21.

However, the truth about the Trinity is that we are not restricted to “all in one verse” texts; other texts show evidence of the Trinity by showing the deity of Jesus and/or the distinct personhood of the Holy Spirit. There is massive evidence including verses where Jesus is called God (Theos), such as John 20:28 / Acts 20:28 / Romans 9:5 / Titus 2:13 / Hebrews 1:8 / 2 Peter 2:1 / 1 John 5:20.

The Trinity is the truth, and the truth is that the Triune God has a perfect plan for your life. The question is how well are you following God’s economic forecast?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

In the Game (Radio / Podcast)

...I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you…
(Romans 1:8 – ESV)

I have a word for men in the ministry right now. You know we should be grateful that people volunteer to do anything at our churches at all. The Bible talks about fruit bearing in terms of 30, 60, and 100 fold. Not everyone is going to be as fruitful as everyone or anyone else, and not all harvests happen at the same time. The biggest trees often take the longest time to grow. Be glad they are doing anything at all, at least they are in the game, not that it is recreational, but that they are on the right playing field, on the right team, on the winning side. They may not be the star player, but they are cheering and playing for the right ones.

Be glad, preacher, for every opportunity that you get. We should be abundantly grateful that as ministers we get to be paid to study the Bible, we are allowed to spend the extra time others don’t have in order to mine the depths of God’s Word. Yes every believer needs to read the Word, pray, etc., but not everybody is going to be moving forward as fast as you, they don’t have the time to put in the time, and you are supposed to be moving ahead. That is what leadership is all about. You give them motivation to keep on using their time as wisely as they can, not try and get them to work 80 hours a week. How about you taking up a shovel for 40 hours and then studying for 40 more?

We are not called to wear them out but to lift them up, and for some people all the commitment they can afford right now is just to make it to church. Yes they should want to do more, but being a good steward is about doing the most with your time, not sacrificing sleep and your marriage and your relationship with your kids so that you can be there at every event and so forth. Just be sure that you give them what they need from you, help them learn about what is and what isn’t a good use of their time, show them the beauty of Christ, and show them what serving God is like. Then they will figure out for themselves how they can make opportunities to serve without having to use more time.

When you are living it, even if they aren’t seeing it, they will learn what it means to treasure Christ above all else, and then they will become as fruitful as God intends them to be. It is up to you, preacher man, to equip them and cover them in the spiritual war, and to steer them onto the right playing field. It is your job to go full tilt, full time. They may not play all four quarters at full tilt intensity, but at least they are in the game.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, May 10, 2010

Transfer to Transform (Radio / Podcast)

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
(Colossians 1:13 – ESV)

In looking at this verse and the verses surrounding it, Paul is saying how God has qualified us for the inheritance of the saints in light (Ephesians 1:18) and is laying out reasons to be thankful to the Father (vs.12). If you are strengthened with all might (vs.11), then you will give thanks (vs.12), and you will give thanks by acting in accordance with what God has done with endurance, patience, and joy (vs.11).

Giving thanks to God through Jesus Christ is more than putting “in Jesus name” on the end of our prayers. It is both word and deed (Hebrews 13:15-16 / Colossians 3:17, 23-24 / 1 John 3:18). Imagine you gave two children each a bicycle. Which child would truly be giving thanks for that item you gave to them: the one who did it with just words, and never rode or took care of the bike, or the one who put it to use? It is the same with that wisdom you imparted to them, or the wisdom God imparts to you. Because of Christ, you are a member of the kingdom of God. In heaven, where God’s kingdom is made most manifest, there is no sin, no rebellion, and no darkness (1 John 1:5). To give thanks is to reflect the light that you have been given.

Think about it like this. In the world, if you have been transferred to a different job or different department, you begin to work for a new boss, under the rules of the new department, and according to the particular company standards. You have to learn the new system, and you have to grow in your knowledge of the job in order to be effective. What Paul is saying is that if you have been strengthened with might, you will have endurance, patience and joy, and by doing this you will be giving thanks, proving that you have been qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints and proving that you have been delivered from darkness and transferred into the kingdom of the beloved.

He has delivered us as to eternal status, but also as to temporal character, from the dark power having its claim on us, and also from the darkness having power over us now (Romans 6:14-23 / Ephesians 2:1-6, 10, 6:12). Being delivered from sin’s penalty also carries with it being delivered from its power (1 John 1:6). We are transferred but we must act in accordance with that truth to realize we are transformed (Romans 12:1-2 / Ephesians 4:22-24 / Colossians 3). You focus on the indicative of who you are in Christ, and the imperative of acting like it follows.

There is no middle ground; there are only two kingdoms (if you think you can ride the fence realize the devil owns that). You cannot be delivered from one without being transferred to the other, when you are rescued from something you are rescued to something. You cannot be transferred without being transformed. We are not talking about a degree we are talking about whose domain are we in and whose dominion are we under. Who is your king; if it is still yourself, you are still in the kingdom of darkness (Philippians 3:18-21).

To act in accordance with this doesn’t mean that we are sinless, but it means we sin-less. We are striving towards the light, and not retreating again into the darkness, we realize (we make real) the fact that we are free. This means we act like it, we act like we are free from our sins. When we let a little darkness get in, or however it gets in, we see it for what it is, and we rush to get back to God. If your destination is heaven your destiny is holiness.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Friday, May 07, 2010

They Mean Something (Radio / Podcast)

…And Arphaxad begot Shelah, and Shelah begot Eber…
(1 Chronicles 1:18)

When we are committed to reading our Bibles through, all the way through, not skipping a word, we are tempted to wonder why God saw fit to include some things. Like the genealogies, and the details of travels, why are these in the Bible at all?

Well, you can be sure they are there for a reason, and perhaps we won’t know all of the richness of why in this life, but let me give you some things to think about. When we study we find out certain things have their rightful place in being included. For instance, notice that the two different genealogies in Matthew and Luke point to the two different lines of Jesus through Mary and Joseph, but both have roots in David. So these seem a necessity, in a sense.

What about those seemingly endless genealogies in the OT books, what are they there for? Well, when we see those endless names, think about the fact that God cared enough to put them there. Then think about this. When you are nothing but a name to everyone else, you are still important to God, important enough to be included even if no one else thinks you are worth the time. When you see where the Bible talks about the travels of the old timers and said they pitched a tent here or there, and then here or there again, and so on, think about the fact that when no one else cares where you are God knows exactly where you are, and He does care, every step of the way. God is interested in individuals.

When we see the personal greetings of Paul to certain individuals, think about the fact that although we don’t have much more information than their name, they were important to Paul, and they got their names in the Bible; don’t you wish that were you! Beside the Book of Life, that Bible is the one book I would want to get a recommendation in, it is better and more prestigious than any who’s who list you will ever get on this earth!

When someone takes an interest in you and your details, whether they know it or not, they are acting like Jesus. He has your hairs numbered, and even if you're bald, He counted each one as it fell off your head. Use your head, and realize that those words in the Bible, they mean something. You may not care but God does. I may not ever know what all those names mean, but I know this, God wanted them included, and He wants you included, so be glad that God wants your name included when no one else thinks you're worth the time. That means something to me.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, May 06, 2010

For His Name (Radio / Podcast)

…to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name…
(Romans 1:5 – ESV)

It is all about Jesus – anything that has as its focus something other than the person of Jesus Christ, His atoning work, and our becoming like Him is not from God. No matter how right it may seem, and how much it sounds like the real thing or how much it talks of Jesus, if the primary focus is something else, it is a distraction, which leads to diversion, and ultimately to deception. No work you do for God that comes from your own power will survive the judgment seat of Christ and anything good but not for Him is of no eternal worth either.

This includes partnering with non-Christians of other faiths for “the common good”. The common purpose may seem right, however, it is not done for the name of Christ but for the good of men. It is certainly right and good to help hurting people, of course, but there are limits. The church is not to be a “partner” with government and business to help eradicate society’s ills; that is the old social gospel of the early twentieth century. When an effort places the gospel as being secondary in importance to other needs, even if they are real and epidemic it is wrong. The most important thing is a person’s soul, and to set the gospel aside in order to work with non-believers is to deny Christ. A watered down gospel is no gospel at all. We may work with them for noble purposes, yes, but if it means that we have to silence our voice about the gospel then no, no matter how pressing the need.

The true gospel offends people. It reminds us that we are fallen creatures in bondage to sin and on our way to hell apart from God and His offer of salvation in Christ. It reminds us not to expect popularity in the world when we are true to His Word. Instead we are called to follow His narrow, difficult road, no matter what the cost.

Look at what Jesus said in John 15:18-21 – If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.

In contrast to this, deeds done in the name of humanity will win the world's approval. So will a gospel cleansed of offensive truth, and focused on man's worth rather than God's righteousness.

The gospel cannot be partnered with the world – 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 (NKJV) – For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. You are an offensive smell to either God or the world; you cannot be a pleasing aroma to both. For His name, choose the sweet odor of death to self and life to God.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Wilted Witness (Radio / Podcast)

…to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
(James 1:27 – NKJV)

Just doing good things isn’t enough; we can’t do the first part of verse 27, visit orphans and widows in their trouble, at the expense of the second. Unspotted means that we don’t partner up with the world, even when it means we have to leave off at doing some “good” things for others. We must be careful not to let the good become the enemy of the best.

However, so many of today’s so-called Christian leaders just don’t get it. They think that we need government and business help to spread the supposed Gospel they are carrying. Think for a moment about Lot, he was the mayor of his town but that influence didn’t stop it from suffering the judgment of God in flaming fire and brimstone! How dare we think that if we could just get our legislators and judges to be Christians that then everything would be hunky dory? We could have every governor, every senator, every politician in America, and the world for that matter, as professing, born again Christians and it wouldn’t make a lick of difference! Don’t you know that God already has the king’s heart in His hand and He turns it any way He wants (Proverbs 21:1)? Yes we can vote, but this world is passing away and we are just passing through; our citizenship is in Heaven (Philippians 3:20).

Holiness means not to yoke ourselves with the world in order to further a common cause if it means that we must compromise the Gospel, and being a saint means not to act and think as the world in all of its wicked ways. Not compromising the Gospel isn’t just about being able to declare the truths of Christ, it also means not believing that we can look like the world, like we can be separate in heart but we can still adhere to the latest and greatest trends in society, being worldly, fleshly, centered on self, and what the Old Man Adam wants rather than centered on heavenly things (Colossians 3:1-3). No person can live a life separated unto the Gospel in their heart and still be living and looking like they used to in the world. We must be progressively becoming more detached from the world. There are things that I did last year that I by the grace of God will never do again, even if they aren’t sin per se they are at best dead works, and at worst they are the makings of an idolatry of self. It might not be all bad, but it is absolutely no good. I’m tired of being cool, now I want to be clean. Being reverent is relevant.

It isn’t about what you are allowed to do; it is what will leave you in a static state rather than having a living, growing, dynamic relationship with Christ. Don’t think for one minute that you can go on doing like you do and still get moving on with God. Yes, it may not keep you from Heaven, but that thing you won’t let go of, that thing that you defend as your right, that thing that you know isn’t right but you tell everyone else that it is none of their business, that thing that you keep as your little secret, that thing that you have to do in certain company but refrain from amongst others, that thing will keep you from God’s greater glory, it doesn’t glorify God, and it ruins, yes I said it RUINS your witness!

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Miracles & Means (Radio / Podcast)

Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat.
(Luke 8:55 – NIV)

Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead. The body without the spirit is dead (James 2:26), but Jesus is the giver of life. He spoke to her as if she was alive because God “quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were” (Romans 4:17).

Notice that she was given meat to eat; you see, although Jesus performed in the supernatural realm that did not mean that natural means were not used as well. She was brought back to life, but her life was not now supernaturally different, it would have to be lived as it was before she died. She had not eaten for a long time and she needed food. Likewise Elijah was given super speed by the hand of the Lord (1 Kings 18:46), but he probably needed a drink of water afterwards!

Applying this to our lives is important. For example, after we have received a healing or deliverance, say from cancer caused by smoking, we cannot just go back to our habit and expect to still remain unhurt. A supernatural intervention does not negate all the laws of physics from that point on, because a “miracle”, or God moving in an overtly providential way (healing, deliverance, etc.) is for a specific thing and a specific time. You get a second chance, another choice, but not a permanent vacation from responsibility.

Consider that the Israelites still had to walk across the Red Sea, and later they still had to look up at the brazen serpent, otherwise they would have died. It is not hard to imagine that some saw this provision as foolishness, and died as a result of not obeying God. Similarly we must cooperate with God and not fall back to our old ways and make the grace of God of none effect.

Whom the Son sets free is free indeed, let us not run back to the jail cell, or be so hasty to place the shackles back on our feet. When we are set free from bondage, we are only setting ourselves up for more problems if we do not turn to something else. How terribly often have we heard of or known someone (or been someone!) that has overcome an addiction, only to pick it back up again worse than before. This is why we should listen to Peter (2 Peter 2:20-22) talk about the passage in Proverbs 26:11 that says the dog returns to his vomit again.

We need new food. We must feed on Christ, and not just be free from Satan. We need to be released from the enemy’s power, for sure, but we must not become a “dry place” that is, we must stay “wet” with the overflow of the Spirit in our lives (John 7:37-39). This is why we must trade our old habits for newer, godly ones, we must spend our time not idle, but engaging in spiritual disciplines such as bible study and prayer, and have an accountability factor in our lives to assure us that we don’t slide back into sin. This is a powerful reason to understand why we need to be plugged in to a local body of believers. God often shows His providential provision thorough conventional channels, His supernatural power through natural means.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, May 03, 2010

Venerating Vanity (Radio / Podcast)

…they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
(Philippians 3:19 – ESV)

You need to find joy in the right things. When we mind earthly things, our greatest intensity is toward earthly not spiritual things. Compare this with Philippians 3:16, instead of minding the same things as Paul, and those maturing in Christ, we have our own agenda, the same as the world’s, the same as we were before we supposedly forsook all for Christ.

Where do your passions lie? God will reveal if you are passionate about the wrong things, and He will do so in community. In the context of this passage, Paul is saying let’s all be passionate about the same things, growing in the knowledge of Christ, and if anyone isn’t God will reveal this, and He does it in the context of community, so follow those who are pressing on and make sure you follow what you already know to do. We also need to watch out, there are some who are passionate about earthly things first and foremost.

We’ll use an obvious example here. Considering how important and necessary money is, it can easily be perverted and become our passion more so than God, and we won’t give up our habits. Think about passages such as James 4:13-16 / Matthew 6:19-21 / Luke 12:16-21; wealth is not wrong but is it controlling you? Are all decisions based upon its production and protection, the “get it or keep it” idea being the most important thing to you (Colossians 3:1-3)?

The opposite of joy in a sense is lust. If I have joy in God I can wait on His plan and timing, even considering my sanctification. Joy is patient, and impatience is pride. Pride leads to lust, which says I deserve it now, or why do I have to wait, or why do I have to deal with this situation, or why am I here? Lust is “I want it my way and in my time, and that time is now”. It wants to go outside God's guidelines to find satisfaction.

Paul says these persons who are like this are enemies and their desire is to find joy in whatever way they deem necessary. They will not mature and they will do it the way they want to. They will not follow others as a pattern, and they think they know better, but they are wrong. They think they have found easy street, a better way, a Christian life and afterlife without a true Christian testimony. They might think they are covered by Christ’s blood, but they are only filling their veins with the virus of vanity.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©