Archive for August, 2013

Full Disclosure (I Corinthians 4)

August 30, 2013

“Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness ad will disclose the purposes of the heart.  Then each one will receive his commendation from God.”   I Cor. 4: 5

“TMI” is a common phrase used by most Americans to describe a person’s comments when they have shared Too Much Information.  The TMI could be about a personal problem, or a situation that really they did not want to know anything about.

In I Corinthians 4 we get the feeling that Paul is not giving us the full disclosure of what the problem is with the church at Corinth.

We must keep in the mind the following:  Paul is defending his apostleship.  In doing this Paul both speaks of his calling (Vs: 1-2) and the challenges of that call (Vs: 8-13).  Paul reminds the church of his unique relationship with the church (Vs: 14-15).  In conclusion Paul speaks of the conflict that is coming when he arrives at the church (Vs: 16-20).

In the midst of this find a reference to the judgment of God (Vs: 3-5).  We discover that God will judge the world at a particular time.  He will give an accurate judgment.  This judgment will reveal the true purposes of the heart.

Right now it might be TMI in regard to what is going on in our lives today.  But on that day there will be full disclosure.

Think it through:

1.  Are we ready for that day?

2.  Are their heart issues we need to focus on before that day?

3.  Who around us has never heard of the judgment day?

 

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Too Much Flesh (I Samuel 21; I Corinthians 3)

August 29, 2013

For you are still of the flesh.  For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way.”  I Cor. 3:4

I could not help but laugh out loud this morning when I read the words, “You are still in the flesh.”  My reason for laughing, my grandmother used to be a self-appointed fruit inspector.  There were times when ladies would visit her country store wearing short pants.  She would say, “too much flesh showing there.”

This morning we can clearly see that Paul’s line of thinking was in the same vein as he spoke about the problems in the church at Corinth.  Follow his teaching:

1.  Here is what is apparent, Vs: 1-4

They were clearly in the flesh.  What was the apparent cause?  They were still babes in Christ because they had not developed a hunger for the truth of God’s Word.  Be assured, to overcome the flesh we must be in God’s Word.

2.  Here is what is not apparent, Vs: 5-9

The church did not realize they were elevating their leaders over the Lord Himself.  They had forgotten that they were all servants of the Lord.

3.  Here is what must become apparent, Vs: 10-23

The foundation of every believers life is Jesus.  The focus of every believers life must be Jesus.  The only future believers have will be in Jesus.

Unless believers become focused on their growth in Christ, the flesh will continue to rule and ruin their lives.

Think it through:

Have you and I given ourselves totally to daily growth in God’s Word?

Are their evidences of too much flesh in our lives?

Have we considered what will be the result of too much flesh in our lives?

Make your choice:

Crucify the flesh and walk in the newness of life!!!

The Importance of the right Spirit (I Samuel 20; I Corinthians 2)

August 28, 2013

“The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever…” I Samuel 20:42

“The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.”  I Corinthians 2:15

Brothers and sisters, I cannot emphasis strongly enough the importance of the right spirit in every circumstance of life.  For example, “When trials come to friendships, it will be the right spirit that will keep the friendship together when the trial comes.”  We see this in the life of two best friends in I Samuel 20.

David and Jonathan were destined by the world standards to be bitter enemies because Jonathan’s father was King Saul who knew that David was to be the next king of Israel.  He hated David and wanted to kill him.  However, the right spirit was in both Jonathan’s and David’s hearts.  They were the best of friends.

Question, “Are you struggling with having the right spirit in a particular circumstance of life?”  If so, allow me to share with you something amazing:  “As a child of God, you have another Spirit (The Holy Spirit) residing in your life.

I want to challenge you to allow Him to be the president of your life.  In I Corinthians 2 Paul relates to the Corinthian church how he was successful in their midst.  He did not rely on his wisdom or his wits.  He relied on the Spirit of God (II Cor. 2:1-5).

The Holy Spirit is the right spirit to have in every circumstance of life.  Here is what Paul teaches us about the Holy Spirit in the last part of chapter 2:

1.  The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see and understand God, Vs: 6-9.

2.  The Holy Spirit is God, Vs: 10-11.  This is how we can come to know God.

3.  The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see the need to be guided by God so that we can evidence the Christ life before the world, Vs: 12-16.

Brothers and sisters, never underestimate the power of God’s Spirit in your life.  be assured you will always have the right spirit in every circumstance as you walk not in the flesh but in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16).

Think it through:

1.  What type of spirit are you evidencing in your particular circumstance of life?

2.  Is this spirit reflective of God or is it reflective of your old nature?

3.  Are you willing to submit to the Holy Spirit’s guidance?

Trying it on for size:

Submit your attitudes to the Holy Spirit and discover how it all works out.  Check out I Corinthians 2:8-9 for the possibilities.  

Gaining the proper perspective (I Samuel 19; I Cor. 1)

August 27, 2013

“Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you.”  I Samuel 19:4

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  I Corinthians 1:30

Over the past few weeks the situation in the nation of Egypt has raised the eyebrows of the world.  It seems that this nation is swirling out of control.  But a deeper investigation could reveal something else.  I believe the right perspective is simply this, ‘The forces of hell are fighting the forces of heaven.”

Reports from Coptic Christians are clear, “The gospel is under attack.”  The forces of hell had to rejoice last week when a 10-year-old girl was shot and killed on her way home from a Bible study.  However, the right perspective is this, “This young girl is now with the Lord.  Satan did not win nor will he win.  The gospel will go forth.”

Brothers and sisters we must always keep the proper perspective of what is happening in every battle we face.  Consider the battle in I Corinthians.  Paul is writing to a church that has great division in its ranks ( i. e. 1:10-17). The enemy had to be rejoicing over this division.  But it would be short-lived.  Notice Paul’s perspective:

1.  Pay attention to your distinction’s, Vs: 1-9

The church at Corinth needed to be reminded of how they came to be in the faith.  They had experienced and would experience the following:  “They had been selected by God, they would be sanctified by God, they would be gifted by the Spirit of God, and they would be secure all the way to the end.”  These are the distinctions they needed to focus on.

2.  Pay attention to your deliverer, Vs: 18-31

The fact is, they were in God’s family not because of their wisdom, their wits, or their wealth.  They were in God’s family because of Christ.  They should cease boasting in themselves.  They should now boast in the Lord.

These two perspectives would bring certain peace to the division in the church.

Think it through:

1.  What are the things that you need to think through this day?

2.  Where can you gain proper perspective?

3.  Are their people, lines of thought, and books that you need to cease following?

Bottom line: “God’s Word will always give us the proper perspective, because it is God’s Word.”  Start gaining perspective today!

 

When Friends Become Enemies (I Samuel 18; Romans 16)

August 26, 2013

So Saul was even more afraid of David.  So Saul was David’s enemy continually.” I Samuel 18:29

Greet one another with a holy kiss.  All the churches of Christ greet you,” Romans 16:16

“It could not be.  I will not believe it to be true.”  These were the frantic statements of a person who could not believe that a friend has become a foe.

The issue before us this morning is one that is all too familiar to many of us who read this blog today.  I am confident that your reading of the title of this blog has already stirred up old feelings concerning friendships lost.

Consider I Samuel 18 and the problem before David.  He had been called to the home of King Saul.  Saul seemed to love David.  Their friendship was secure, but then something happened to change everything.  Saul attempts to kill David twice in a matter of four verses.  Question, “What happened between these two men?”  The answer: “The same thing that happens between any two friends who end up heading in opposite directions.”

Consider the following:

1.  The division of pride, Vs: 1-9

Saul could not handle the God-given success of David.  His pride destroyed his friendship with David.

2.  The division of presence, Vs: 10-16

We see the presence of God in David’s life.  We see the presence of the enemy in Saul’s life.  This reminds me of God’s Word, “What fellowship does light have with darkness?”

3.  The division of purpose, Vs: 17-30

Saul’s total purpose was in propping up his own kingdom.  David’s total purpose was in lifting up God’s kingdom.

Is it of any wonder that these friends became foes?

Think it through:

Are their divisions between you and those you call friends?

Should there be a set of standards for your friendships?

Make sure those you call friends are seeking the same purpose, “The glory of God.”

Check out Romans 16 for a listing of true friendships!!!

A Completely different way of looking at life (I Samuel 15; Romans 13)

August 23, 2013

“Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams,”  I Samuel 15:22

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from your sleep.  For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed,” Romans 13:11

It was really hard for my new friend.  It seemed as if everything he needed to do was in completely the opposite direction of the way he used to live his life.  What was the problem?  He was now a genuine follower of Christ.  He was 44 years old and barely a follower of Christ for two weeks.

Here was his problem:  “The more he read his Bible, the more things he needed to change.”  Here was his praise:  “The more I change the more joy I have in my life.”

In Romans 13 we read of Paul’s instruction to those who have come to Jesus.  Notice the life of devotion they are now to live:

1.  They are to be motived to honor the government, Vs: 1-7

2.  They are to be devoted in the community of believers, Vs: 8-11

3.  They are to be completely devoted to God, Vs: 12-14

Question:  “What are the changes God is placing before you today?”  

Think it through:

1.  Lord, show me the areas in my life that need to be changed.

2. Lord, show me the joys that will come as I make these changes.

3. Lord, show others through my life the beauty of the new life.

Refusing Slavery (I Samuel 14; Romans 12)

August 22, 2013

“The Jonathan said, ‘My Father has troubled the land. See how my eyes have become bright because I tasted a little of the honey,”  I Samuel 14:29

I appeal to you brethren, therefore, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice , holy and acceptable, which is your spiritual worship.”  Romans 12:1

This mornings blog title would have been a much more debated topic in the 1950’s and 1960’s in America.  The novel, “The Help,” speaks volumes to the depths of this debate in our nation.  Today, it seems to be a small issue.  However, it is not when it comes to the reality that men and women all over the world are still in slavery.

Certainly this is the case with such things as the sex-traffic industry and the enslavement of people groups around the world.  These are certainly terrible and repulsive acts of slavery that need immediate eradication.

But there is still a worse slavery that is seldom mentioned or is it fought against. The slavery I am speaking about is the slavery to sin.  Jesus speaks clearly about this in John 8:31-36.

This morning I see this sin in the life of King Saul.  But by the grace of God, I do not see this slavery in the life of his son.  Again by the grace of God, Jonathan refuses the slavery of his father.  He would not follow in his sinful footsteps.  Notice Jonathan’s footsteps:

1.  He trusted in the Lord, Vs: 6

2.  He tested the Lord, Vs: 8-13

3.  He triumphed in the Lord, Vs: 14-15

For me, Jonathan’s life represents anyone’s life that has been redeemed by Jesus (I Samuel 13:45).  Saul acts independently of God’s will. But Jonathan acts in obedience to God’s will.

Brothers and sisters, with great joy I am able to proclaim, “Thanks be unto God who causes us to be able to refuse to follow the sinful enslaved footsteps of other people.”

Think it through:

1.  Do you see signs of enslavement in your life?

2.  Do you need to seek God’s pardon and release from personal enslavement?

3.  Are there people who need to recognize their enslavement?

4.  Could you be the one to lead them to freedom by sharing God’s Word (John 8:31-38)?

When Good Intentions Are Not Enough (I Samuel 13; Romans 11)

August 21, 2013

“Samuel said, ‘What have you done?’ And Saul said…”  I Samuel 13:11

There are many times when people’s good intentions turn out to be bad decisions.  For example, “the guy who bought his wife a new washing machine for a Christmas present.”  In his mind, he was being practical in helping his wife.  In her mind, he only cared about getting his clothes cleaned.

So here is the point, “We should think through the implications of our decisions.”  Good intentions alone will not guarantee success in our actions.  Consider the scene in I Samuel 13.

Saul is clearly established on the throne of Israel.  His success has been promised by God with one condition, “If he and the people were faithful, God would always walk in their midst.”  Before Saul is the army of the Philistines.  They are a formidable opponent, but they are not greater than our God!!!

Saul’s army begins to scatter and Saul takes matters into his own hands.  He fails to wait for Samuel to come and bless him.  He does it on his own.  In his mind, good intentions, but the outcome was dishonor of God.

Here was Saul’s though process:

1.  I panicked (The people were scattering)

2. I perceived (You did not come and I thought this was the best way to go)

3.  I proceeded (I forced myself)

Brothers and sisters, whenever we follow this path, it will always end in disaster.  For Saul it was the final straw with God.  His kingdom was removed from him.

God is not looking for servants who have good intentions.  He is looking for servants who have God’s instructions firmly before them.  They are wholly seeking to follow the Lord.

This is exactly the life Jesus modeled as he walked among men.  May you and I do the same.  “The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart.”

Think it through:

Is God’s glory the governing factor in all my decisions?

Is God’s glory the goal of all the actions I have each day?

Standing Against Popular Opinion (I Samuel 12; Romans 10)

August 20, 2013

“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and right way,”  I Samuel 12:24

You are the only one left who is against the motion.  You truly believe this would be wrong. But the group votes for it anyway.  Now what?  This scene has been played out many times in homes, churches, and friendships.

But never any clearer than in the life of the priest and prophet Samuel.  Samuel was truly a man of God according to the people’s own admission in I Samuel 12:1-4.  But still yet they rejected his leadership and even worse they rejected the leadership of Samuel’s God.  Samuel was simply a prophet of God who spoke to the people the word’s of the Lord and he was a priest who spoke to God for the people.

But now these people wanted a king and now they had a king.  Question, “What is our response to be to those who we stand in opposition to?”  Notice what Samuel did:

1.  Samuel offers instruction, Vs: 13-22

Samuel proclaims a message of obedience to the people.  If the king and his subjects would obey the Lord.  They would each be blessed.  However, if they choose not to obey the Lord, they would face the judgment of God.

2.  Samuel offers intercession, Vs: 23-25

Samuel teaches us a strong love for God and for one’s neighbor in spite of their stand against God.

These two things are crucial to our view toward ministering in the world.  This is very timely for my life.  I find myself getting upset with all of the liberal decisions that are being made in our country.  It seems that daily we are getting farther and farther away from Jesus being our Lord.

But instead of getting mad.  We must become a people who are giving Biblical instruction and offerings humble prayer before our God.  These very things Jesus did while He walked among me. He was both priest and prophet.  But soon and very soon he is coming back as not only priest and prophet, but as King!!!

Understanding the ways of God ( I Samuel 11; Romans 9)

August 19, 2013

“And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when He heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled.” I Samuel 11:6

For He said to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”  Romans 9:15

This morning I do not pretend to understand all the ways of God (no one on this side of heaven does).  But there is one thing I clearly understand, “The mercy of God.”

We see the mercy of God clearly in both our Old Testament and our New Testament readings.  In I Samuel 11 we see a great victory in the life of Saul.  Here we actually see him at his highest point in life.  Consider the following:

1.  God in His mercy chooses Saul to be a leader for a people who should have wanted God to be their leader.

2.  God in His mercy empowers Saul to gain a great victory over the enemy.

3.  God in His mercy gives Saul favor in the eyes of Israel when Israel should have given allegiance to God alone

Question, “Do we understand God?”  At this juncture in our reading, it would seem unclear as to what God was doing in all of this.  But if we will read the New Testament, clarity comes.  It comes in the form of Romans 9 where see the mercy of God coming out clearly.

Here is what God does:

God uses vessels of dishonor for furthering His purposes.

God uses vessels of honor to further His purposes.

The question that now comes, “will you and I be a vessel of honor or dishonor before God?” Here is what Paul wrote,”So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”