Archive for October, 2013

From Bad To Worse (II Kings 13; II Timothy 3)

October 31, 2013

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived,”  II Timothy 3:12-13

October 31 has always been a dreaded day in my yearly calendar.  In America our nation celebrates this day as “Halloween.”  Many people enjoy this day as the highlight of their year.  Still many more people enjoy the fun of dress-up and scaring others.

However, for me this day is a reminder of what Paul wrote in II Timothy 3:13, “Things will go from bad to worse.”

Think it through:

1.  Each year we see the continual moral decline of our nation and our world.  II Timothy 3:1-5

2.  Each year we see the continual increase of persecution of those who are genuine believers. II Timothy 3:10-13

What should our response be?

1.  Paul directs us to avoid those who are in decline.  This translates for me into avoiding such days as Halloween.  My family has chosen to make this evening a time of fellowship away from this celebration.  We always go out together for the evening.  We have a nice meal and we spend time talking about how we can make a difference in the world.

2.  Paul directs us to follow the path laid out in the Word of God.  This translates for me into a lifestyle that is focused on knowing and obeying the Word of God.  On this day our family will focus on God’s Word for our response to the evil in the world.  We know, only the gospel will bring light to a dark world.

Yes we know that things are going from bad to worse.  However, the gospel is preparing is for another world were righteousness and truth rule the day.

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Repairing God’s House (II Kings 12; II Timothy 2)

October 30, 2013

“Jehoash said to the priests, ‘All the money of the holy things that is brought into the house of the Lord, the money for which each man is assessed-the money from the assessment of persons-and the money that a man’s heart prompts him to bring into the house of the Lord,'” II Kings 12:4

Repair work can be messy, time-consuming, and costly.  But the end result is almost always worth the effort.  Through the years I have always been amazed at how this process works.

The process usually begins with someone who abuses what they have or they neglect what they have.  For example, the owner of a home may lose interest in the upkeep of the home.  After a period of time they decide to sell the home (As is).  People, like me, look at the home and cannot visualize the possibilities of repair (restoration).  But others can.  They see what can happen and what it will take to make it happen.  To them the end is worth the means!

This was the case of the King of Israel as he looked at the Temple.  The temple was in desperate need of repair.  The King set forth in motion the solution for the need.  The people responded by supplying the resources for the need.  Bottom line: “God’s house was repaired.”

Think it through:

1.  You and I are called, in the New Testament (The dwelling place of God).  We are God’s spiritual building (Eph. 4:13-16).

2.  We were in disrepair when God sought us (Eph. 2:1-3).

3.  God did not repair us.  God made us new (II Cor. 5:17).

Our response:

As the people in Israel gave from the heart so to must we give ourselves to the work of building and caring for the house given to us by God.  This is why the scripture teaches us, “Glorify God in your body!!!”

A Spiritual Campfire (II Kings 10-11; II Timothy 1)

October 29, 2013

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”  II Timothy 1:6

A few weeks ago, I wanted to have about an hour of just quiet reflection.  I went outside after a home-Bible Study.  We have in our backyard a fire-pit for simply building small campfires.  It was already dark.  I cut the wood and built the fire.  The temperature was getting colder.  But the fire felt warm and calming to my spirit.

In this moment I looked out the corner of my eye to see John coming and Sherry considering coming.  Together we had about an hour of joyous quietness around the fire.

As Paul wrote to Timothy, there were many spiritual campfires in their past ministry together.  As Paul writes he hones in on a problem in Timothy’s spiritual life.  The flame of his spiritual fire was smoldering.  (There were any number of reasons why this was happening).  These reasons had left Timothy in a state of fear.

This fear was acting as a spiritual flame quencher.  Paul’s response is amazing.

Think it through:

1.  We must always keep the gospel in the fore-front of our thinking, Vs: 8-11

As we think correctly we are encouraged by the love of God and the power of God.

2.  We must always guard the gospel-from attacks from without, Vs: 12-18

Timothy needed to stay alert to those things and to those people who would put out the spiritual flame of the gospel.

As I sat before the fire, there were moments when I had to place more wood on the fire (This is keeping the gospel in the fore-front of your thinking).  Then there were moments when I had to stir up the fire because it needed to have fresh wind for the fire (This is the labor of guarding the gospel).

Question:

“Are you feeling spiritual fatigued?”

Solution:

Be reminded of all you have been given in the Gospel.  Spend time focusing on what your response should be to all you have been given.

Judgment for Rebels (II Kings 9; I Timothy 6)”

October 28, 2013

“Joram said, “Make ready.”  And they made ready his chariot.  Then Joram king of Israel and Ahazaih king of Judah set out, each in his chariot, and went to meet Jehu, and met him at the property of Naboth the Jezreelite.” II Kings 9:21

It is true, there are some circumstances that are hard to judge.  For example, “When your children are arguing over a particular issue.  You, as a parent, are called into the circumstance and are expected (Based upon your position as a parent) to judge who is right and who is wrong.”

Sometimes it is clear before you who is right and who is wrong.  But at other times, both parties give convincing arguments why they are right and why their sibling is wrong.  In these moments you face a cross-road because you could possible wrongly judge one or both parties.

In such moments I have found myself declaring, “I am not God.”

In this moment I want to turn your attention to God.  In II Kings 9 we see God’s judgment in clear focus.  The Bible tells us the story of our God raising up a king who executes Judgment on rebels.

This king carries out God’s decreed judgment against the family of Ahab.  I remind you of this fact.  There is no doubt that these people are rebels who deserve the judgment of God.

But as we consider their rebellion we must also consider this fact, “We too are also rebels, Romans 3:10-19.”  So it stands to reason that God is going to execute judgment on each of us as well.

Think it through:

“God has raised up another King who had taken our judgment.”  

Jesus has come as God’s anointed King to take the judgment we deserve, I Peter 3:18.  Jesus has become our propitiation (I John 2:1-2).  Just like the rebels in II Kings 9 we deserve judgment.  But unlike the rebels in II Kings 9, we received mercy because of the coming of King Jesus.

Working it out:

Now that we have received mercy, we must share the message of our Kings mercy with the world,

Spend some time this day praising the King of the ages. Check out I Timothy 6:17-18 for a greater understanding of our King.

The Man Who Almost Missed It (II Kings 5; I Timothy 2)

October 24, 2013

“But his servants came near and said to him, “My Father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, “Wash and be clean?””  II Kings 5:13

Before us this morning is the story of a man who almost missed the very thing he desired most in life.  The man’s name is Naaman.  He was the commander of the army of the king of Syria.  He was loved by his people and even by his servants.  He was a great man except for one thing, “He was a leper.”  

This great man hears good news, “There is one who can cure his leprosy!!!”  Quickly he makes arrangements to meet the one who can cure him.  But as soon as he meets the man, he finds himself in a place where he almost missed the healing he needed.  If not for the wisdom of his servants, he would have missed his healing altogether.  I encourage you to pause in reading this blog, open your bible to II Kings 5 and read the chapter.  Then come back to the blog.

Think it through:

1.  This man had a disease (leprosy).  This is a picture of man’s predicament.  Every man is born as a sinner.

2.  This man was distracted (Pride).  This is a picture of man’s perversion.  He wanted to be honored, not humbled,

3.  This man was disturbed (Went away mad).  This is a picture of a man possessed.  He was possessed by his anger.  He wanted to do something instead of submitting to something.

4.  This man was delivered (Dipped 7 times in the Jordan River).  This is a picture of God payment for man’s sin)

Jesus Christ came down (Pictured by Naaman going into the muddy Jordan River).  Jesus went to the cross (Pictured by Naaman dipping under the water).  Jesus came back from the grave (Pictured by Naaman coming up out of the water whole).

Each day men and women live with spiritual leprosy.  God offers them a cure.  All they have to do is humble themselves before God and receive His payment for their sin.

However there are two obstacles:  1. Their blindness  2.  Their ignorance.

Our response:

1.  We can only pray about their blindness (Only God can open their eyes).

2.  We can proclaim the gospel to those who have never heard (Today, someone is about to miss the healing they could have if you and I took the time to present the Gospel).  Think it through!!!

The Best Kind of Mentor (II Kings 4; I Timothy 1)

October 23, 2013

“To Timothy, my true child in the faith…” I Timothy 1:2

Every person has someone to whom they attribute mentoring them in life.  I think of presidents, great statesman, athletes, and writers.  But I also think of people like you and me who are common people.  Each of us have those people who have impacted our lives.

Personally I could fill this blog site with name after name of people who have affected my life as a follower of Christ.  This, by the grace of God is still taking place today.

Before us this morning is a letter written by a mentor to one in whom he is mentoring.  The mentor is the Apostle Paul and the one he is mentoring is Timothy.  This letter reveals to us Paul’s influence in this young pastor’s life.  Throughout the letter Paul teaches Timothy how to lead through both good and difficult times in the church.

I thought it might be helpful for us to look at the two things Paul does as a mentor in chapter one.  These two things are great examples for anyone who wants to be a mentor anyone who is looking to be mentored:

1.  Paul gives instruction to Timothy in Vs: 3-11

In this context, Timothy needs to correct the error in the church.  In this context, Timothy needs to teach correct doctrine.

2.  Paul gives his life as an illustration before Timothy, Vs: 12-20

Timothy could see first hand the impact of the gospel in Paul’s life.  Timothy could use this illustration as a measuring stick for all who were to come to Jesus.

If Timothy were to fight a good fight, these two examples needed to be before him and in him.

Think it through:

1.  If you are going to mentor others, “Make sure your life is being daily impacted by the gospel.”  “Make sure you are instructing from the wealth of the Word and not your own wisdom.”

2.  If you are looking for a mentor.  Look for those who are being impacted by the gospel and those who show forth a daily study of the Word of God.

A Model To Follow (II Kings 3; II Thessalonians 3)

October 22, 2013

“For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you,”  II Thessalonians 3:7

As a parent I am always cautious about the people my children hang out with.  Certainly I have heard the old saying, “The preachers kids are the worst in town.”  Have you heard the addition to the old saying?  Here it is, “They are this way because they hang out with the deacons kids.”  Now we laugh at this fun, but there is truth here.  “We are who we hang out with.”

I am certainly blessed with great kids and with great friends who hang out with my kids.  But I must confess this did not or does it continue to be the cause without hard work.

The Apostle Paul begins II Thessalonians 3 with a request for prayer (3:1-5) and he ends II Thessalonians with a blessing (3:16-18).  Sandwiched in between these verses we find amazing insight to the subject of disciplined living.

Apparently there were people in the church who spent their days meddling in the affairs of other people.  Paul gives us a strong command, “Keep away from every brother who is idle,” Vs: 6.  

Paul reminds the church that he had modeled the right way of living.  Each person is to be committed to doing God’s will for their lives.  This is a the right kind of model to follow.

Question:  “Are you committed to doing God’s will in your life?”  If so, you are a model to follow!  If not, you need to work at doing God’s will.

Think it through:

1.  Some people need to become disciplined in doing their own work (Settle down).

2.  Some people need to be encouraged to not get discouraged in their work (Never grow weary of doing what is right).

3.  Some people need to be disciplined by others (Do not associate with them until they become disciplined).

Question:  “Where do you and I need to do some work?”  I truly want to become a model for others to follow.  To accomplish this, I must mind my own business of doing the work God has called me to do.

For further study:

Consider Jesus instruction to Peter in John 21:19-24

Is This The End? (II Kings 2; II Thessalonians 2)

October 21, 2013

“So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter,”  II Thessalonians 2:15

Last week I received an email from Dr. David Jeremiah concerning the subject of our blog, “Is this the end.”  Now, do not be impressed by my receiving this email, so did about a million other people.  The email was a link to a message preached by a Messianic Jew on the subject of the demise of Damascus. The message is about 53 minutes long.  It was well worth my time.

In essence the message spoke of two things:  1.  God’s return 2.  Man’s demise.  As I listened to that message, my heart began to race as I thought, “Is this the end?”

Many thoughts were racing through my mind as I considered the end of this world.  Probably the same thoughts were running through the minds of the people Paul was addressing in II Thessalonians 2.  These believers had been told, “The end has already come.”

Here in chapter two we find Paul answer to their fright.  Two things stand out:

1.  There is a clear Word:

The end had not come!  Paul gives three reasons why he knows the end has not come:  1.  The Lawless one has not come (The Antichrist).  2.  The Holy Spirit has not been taken away (Still restraining evil).  3.  People are still being saved.

2.  There is a clear warning:

The end is coming!  As we draw near to the end, Satan’s power will be increased (His deception will be amazing).  But at the same time, Satan’s destiny is assured (Christ will destroy him with the word of His mouth).

As I read this chapter, I came away with both peace and passion!!

Think it through:

1.  You and I can have peace because we know that our Lord is sovereignly in control of the events of this life.

2.  You and I should live with a passion to get the gospel to all the world before the end comes.  The Holy Spirit is at work in the lives of people who are sharing the gospel.

What will we do?

This day, I will share my faith with the assurance that God is for me.  This day, I will trust in my Lord’s ability to open the eyes of the blind to see their need of the gospel.  This day, I will trust in the results that God gives!!!

Grace For A Evil Man (I Kings 21; I Thessalonians 4)

October 18, 2013

“Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me?  Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his sons days I will bring the disaster upon his house,” I Kings 21:29

Is it really realistic to ask God to forgive an evil man?  I possessed a similar question to my family during devotions last week.  Here was the question, “What would you do to a person who would do you the way Ahab did the people of God?”  There were a variety of responses, however the best was a response of a question, “Are you asking how I would respond or how God would have me respond?”

This morning we find ourselves engaged an account of wicked people.  Their sins are clearly outlined by God.  They were an evil dynamic duo.  Here were the roles these two people played:

Jezebel (wife) was the instigator of most of their evil deeds

Ahab (Husband) was the implementor of these evil deeds

Together they incited more evil than any other leaders in the history of the world.  But when Ahab humbled himself before God.  God gave this evil man grace!!!

Think it through:

1.  Is it humanly possible to give grace to evil people?

2.  What has to happen before grace is possible?

The answers we need:

The only way we can give grace is if we are possessors of God’s grace in our lives (Eph. 2:3-4).

Jesus had to go to the cross so that grace could be possible (I Peter 3:18).

Taking it out for a spin:

Who in your life and in my life needs grace?  Have we taken the place of God in offering grace to some and not offering grace to others?  My challenge for you is to grasp a deeper understanding of grace and then give grace as you have been given grace.  Even evil Ahab came to understand a measure of grace!!!

What Do You Want For Those You love? (I Kings 20: I Thessalonians 3)

October 17, 2013

“Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind in Athens alone,” I Thessalonians 3:1

Question, “Is there anything you would not do to help the people you love?”  There are times in life when this question comes before me.  For example, “As we were watching a movie about the concentration camps in WWII.”  I found myself asking, “Would I steal from others to keep food for my family?”  Other questions come to mind as you hear of people who have had to kill someone in defense of their family.

This morning I was reminded of two things:

1.  The great love God has for my life:

My God will supply everything my family needs for life.  In I Kings 20 our sovereign Lord provided victory for Israel even when she was unfaithful to God.  This day I do not have to take matters into my own hand.  God’s hand will guide and God’s hand will provide.

2.  The wisdom God has for my life:

In I Thessalonians 3 Paul offers a clear description of what he desires for the people he loved in this city:

Paul first desired that he could come to the people and both encourage and equip them in the Lord.

Paul secondly desired for the church’s love to increase and to spread to all the people in the city.

Paul thirdly desired for the church to be strengthened in holiness before the Lord.

Think it through:

These are the very things that make for a successful life as a follower of Christ.  Personally I was convicted to grow in my desires for others.  I need to repent of always thinking about my well-being above others.  I need to refocus on my love for Christ.  Then I can love others because it is the love of Christ that will lead me to love others.  Finally, I need to seek to have a pure heart before God, because there is coming a day when I will stand before this great and glorious God.

Take it out for a spin:

1.  Write down the names of the people you want to influence.

2.  Write down your desires for their lives.

3.  Write down God’s desires for their lives.

4.  Honestly adapt your list to conform to God’s list and get to work in accomplishing what the list says.