Archive for March, 2014

Being Strong In The Lord (Proverbs 13, Ephesians 6)

March 26, 2014

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”  Ephesians 6:10

As Paul comes to the conclusion of his letter, he speaks words of wisdom to both children and parents; bond servants and masters.  Having now completed his practical teaching, Paul returns in conclusion to a very deep theological discussion: “Our strength is in the Lord.”

Question, “Why should saved people need to be taught about being strong in the Lord?”  Paul gives us two reasons:

1.  We are living in an evil day, Vs: 13

2.  We are facing an evil one, Vs: 16

Think it through:

How should we respond to this teaching?

A.  Put on the armor of God, Vs: 14-17

Take time and study each part of God’s armor.  Write down how this armor will help you to be strong in the Lord.

B.  Put on the attitude of the godly, Vs: 18-20

Because we are being strengthened by the Lord we can possess the following attitude:

1.  Lord, we need you every hour (Pray without ceasing)

2.  Lord, I am watching the enemy (I am spiritually alert)

3.  Lord, I will proclaim the gospel (Boldly to proclaim)

Our response:

Lord, I will be strong in you so that the mystery of the gospel would be proclaimed to the world.

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Why is there evil in the world? Ephesians 5; Proverbs 12

March 25, 2014

“Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil,” Ephesians 5:16

Almost daily people someone in our society ask the following question, “Why is their evil in the world?”  A closely related question is, “Why does God allow evil in the world?”

In Ephesians 5:1-18, I believe we find our answer to these questions:

1.  We see the existence of evil, Vs: 16 “The days are evil.”

As I thought through the existence of evil from a Biblical worldview, I came away understanding the following:

A.  Adam introduced sin into the world, Rom. 5:12

B.  His offspring inherits sin in their very nature, Rom. 3:23

C.  We indulge in sin every day, Romans 6:23

2.  The escape from evil, Vs: 2-10

Jesus Christ gave himself up for us so that we might be forgiven of our sin and so that we might have victory over sin (Rom. 4:25, Lk. 6:36).

For those who reject the gospel wrath awaits (The wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience).  As a follower of Christ I realize there was a day when I too was walking as a son of disobedience.  But Christ brought light to my darkness, I Peter 2:9, Ps. 36:9, Is. 42:16).  The path I am now walking is a path of light and liberty in Christ.

3.  The exposure of evil, Vs: 11-16

The light of Christ exposes the evil in the world and the evil in men’s hearts (John 3:15-20).  Men have no excuse for living in the darkness.  The exposure teaches us that men are in conscience rebellion against God.

4.  The execution (judgment) of evil, Vs: 16-17

Our God did not cause sin.  Some day He will judge sin, Acts 17:19.  But until then God allows men the freedom to live as he pleases.  Yes, God does break into man’s sinfulness and yes He does turn the evil into good for His glory (Rom. 8:28).  Be assured there will be a day when He judges all men correctly (Rev. 22:12-14).

Our take away:

We realize evil is in the world because of man’s rebellion.  We realize the remedy for evil is Jesus Christ.  We realize the results of evil will be the eternal wrath of God.  Praise God for His grace!!!

Going It alone (Proverbs 11; Ephesians 4)

March 24, 2014

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

“I know what I am doing!”  Question, “Have you ever found yourself saying these words to others or maybe to yourself?”

In such moments, I want to urge caution in your life!!!

The scriptures speak clearly to the trap of going it alone in life.  The fact is Solomon gives us graphic results of going it alone:

1.  Prov. 11:22, “You are headed for sure failure.”

2. Prov. 15:22, “All your plans will fail.”

3.  Prov. 20:18, “Without guidance, you are wandering in the dark.”

4.  Prov. 24:6, “Every battle will end with your defeat.”

Think it through:

Going it alone in life is no life at all!!!  But there is a better way.  Paul writes in the book of Ephesians, “Speak the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,: 4:15

As followers of Christ we do not have to go it alone in life.  We are in God’s family.  As a member of God’s family you are blessed with help that will assure victory in your life.

1.  Prov. 11:14, “In an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

2.  Prov. 15:22 “With many advisors they succeed.”

3.  Prov. 20:18, “By wise counsel wage war.”

4.  Prov. 24:6, “In an abundance of counselors there is victory.”

Our take away:

Decide to no longer go it alone in life.  Follow these five easy steps:

1.  Enlist wise counselors in your life.

2.  Listen to wise counselors.

3.  Plan with wise counselors.

4.  Wage war with wise counselors.

5.  Celebrate with wise counselors.

Weary Of The Work (Proverbs 7, Galatians 6)

March 20, 2014

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up,” Galatians 6:9

It seemed like he was getting nowhere. Every day, as he witnessed to his classmates, it seemed to be falling on deaf ears.  Day after day he was made fun of and ostracised.  One evening he cried out to God, “I am weary of this work.”

It was at this moment when the Lord reminded this teenager of the truth before us in Galatians 6.  Brothers and sisters, there are many times when it seems as if our labor in the gospel is getting us no-where.  Consider the work Paul was calling the church to be engaged in:

1.  The work of Spiritual restoration, Vs: 1-5

In the church we find people who get caught in a trespass.  These are people who find themselves either in a one time sin or in a pattern of sin.  We who are spiritual (walking in the Spirit) must reach out in order to be God’s ambassador for their restoration of fellowship with God. This can be messy work.

2.  The work of sowing righteousness, Vs: 6-8

As followers of Christ we are to consider our own lives.  We are to never sow to the flesh, lest we reap the fruit of corruption.  We are to sow in the Spirit of God so that a life of righteous would come forth.

3.  The work of serving the redeemed, Vs: 9-10

We are called to do good to all people, but especially to those who are in the family of God.

Think it through:

The work can sometimes become wearisome.  In these moments we are prone to focus on the sacrifice verses the present return.  This is a trap.  Paul teaches us to stick with the process because there will someday be a season when we will harvest.

This young man found great encouragement to continue in his gospel work.  Eventually there came the day when the first young man came and said, “I am going through a hard time.  Would you give me some advice?”  In just a few minutes that young man came to Christ and in a few weeks, all those guys who used to make fun of this young man were now in the family of God.

Our take away:

Never become wear of the work.  Always see the end intended by the Lord.

Practical Advice (Proverbs 6; Galatians 5)

March 19, 2014

“For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,”  Proverbs 6:23

His practical advice seemed exactly what I needed to hear.  I immediately wanted to carry out the plans he had set before me.  I made the proper preparations to execute his plan, but then something happened.

The something was, “I read the Bible.”  In this moment I realized the advice given was totally in opposition to what God said.  So, now I was in a dilemma, I did not want to hurt the person’s feelings, because I had sought his advice.  But at the same time, I did not want to disobey God.

My decision, “I decided to follow Jesus.”  This decision caused me to be at odds with my friend’s advice.  Oh, by the way, the friend was my old nature.  Paul writing to the church at Galatia helps us to see this battle in all of our lives, “For the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do,” Gal. 5:17.

Think it through:

Because of Christ, Galatians 5:1, you and I are set free from the bondage of the Old Nature.  We can listen and obey the New Nature (II Cor. 5:17).  We can now live our lives with a Biblical worldview!!!

Consider the Biblical worldview issues in Proverbs 6:

1.  Always seek to be free from obligating yourself for others debts, Vs: 1-6

2.  Follow the path of diligence in a proper work-ethic, Vs: 7-111

3.  Steer clear from the things God hates, Vs: 12-19

4.  Keep the Word in front of your mind at all times, Vs: 20-23

5.  Never walk in the path of a prostitute, Vs: 24-35

Our response:

Every moment of every day should we governed by the roadmap of God’s Word!!!  Anything less would be like taking the practical advice of a friend who is in opposition to God.

A Warning For Every Marriage (Proverbs 5; Galatians 4)

March 18, 2014

“Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well.”  Proverbs 5:16

The day of the wedding was awesome.  Both husband and wife stood before the minister with intoxicating love for each other. The couple exchanged vows and rings.  The coming together of two lives into one life was clear for all to see.  Everyone thought, “This couple will be the model couple for the world to see.”  But a few years later this same couple stood before a judge in divorce court.  The wife stood there with tears in her eyes and her husband stood there with a blank stare.

Question:  “What happened to this couple?” Answer, “They failed to heed the warning given by Solomon.”

Proverbs chapter five continues to drip with the foundational truth of God’s Word, “Seek wisdom and understanding from God.”

Solomon gives us in chapter 5 wisdom concerning one particular attack against the family.  This attack is known as adultery.  Solomon gives a strong command in this chapter:  “Stay away from adultery.”

In Verses 3-11 we see a description of how the process of not staying away unfolds.  Some believe this downfall begins with the act, but Solomon teaches us that it begins with the attraction.  When a person ceases to be attracted to God’s wisdom, his or her heart begins to wander from what is right.  “I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors.”

Warning:  “There are those who read this blog without even the slightest thought that they are in danger of this very sin.”

Solomon wrote of such a person:  “I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation.”

Heed Solomon’s warning, “pay attention to God’s Word.”

When you and I pay attention to God’s Word we discover the following:

1.  Love the wife of your youth, Vs: 15-18

Solomon is speaking about loving the one you started with.  Never take your eyes and heart off the one whom you held by the hand at the start.

Certainly there are those who read this in whom have gone through brokenness and have now been given a second-chance.  This applies to the one you have been given a second-chance with. Love your spouse with a sincere love.

2.  Daily invest in the wife of your youth, Vs: 19

Every day investigate and invest in the one you love.  I can honestly say that after almost 22 years I am more in love with Sherry than I was the day we were married.  The reasons why span the story of 22 years of growing in love and growing in awe of who she is in Christ.

I leave you with Solomon’s challenge, “Be intoxicated always in her love.”

If You would Just Listen (Proverbs 1, II Corinthians 13)

March 14, 2014

“If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.”  Proverbs 1:23

This spring I have once again been given the outreach opportunity of coaching my youngest son’s basketball team.  Each week I get to interact with 11 and 12-year-old boys. One of the nice things about this year is that our Children’s Pastor is leading the group and I am just the assistant.  I actually get to watch as he consistently tells our boys the same things and I also get to watch as they consistently ignore the same things.

Each week our coach points out the failure of listening and each week they do it again.  Question, “How often do we do this same thing with God?”

This morning’s More For Christ readings begins a new book of the Bible, the book of Proverbs.  The Gospel Transformation Bible gives us a great introductory truth, “The way to read the book of Proverbs is to slow down and prayerfully think it through, one proverb at a time.”   This is great wisdom for us.

However, there is something that has to happen first.  Here is the first thing that must happen: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Think it through:

1.  The beginning point of knowledge is in knowing Jesus.

Unless you know Jesus you will not be able to understand His proverbs.  You will also never have a desire to know and obey His proverbs.

2.  The building point of knowledge is in growing in knowing Jesus.

Daily we must listen as God speaks to us in and through His Word.  As we do this, knowledge increase as God has promised to pour out His wisdom through the Spirit’s enlightening of God’s Word.

Our response:

1.  Are we listening?  Have you and I responded to God’s call to salvation?

2.  Are we growing?  Have you and I set aside time every day when we will spend time listening to God speak through His Word?

If our response is yes, we are growing!!!  If our response is no, we are dying!!!

 

A Strange Gift (II Corinthians 12, Job 42)

March 13, 2014

“… A thorn was given me in the flesh…” II Cor. 12:7

One thing was clear, “The Apostle Paul needed help in directing the church at Corinth.”  Here is his direct address to the church, “I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish.  That perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.”

Question, “What kind of help did Paul need to be able to help the church to get back on track?”  Question, “What kind of help do you and I need to help others to get back on track?”

Maybe we think we need the power of persuasion , the power of great wisdom, or the insight to see things correctly.  All of these things are important to our helping of others to be on track and they are important for being on track in our personal lives.

But they are not what Paul was given in chapter 12.  The Bible says, “Paul was given a thorn in the flesh.”  Certainly we do not know the exactness of this torn, but we do know it’s value.

Think it through:

1.  The possibility of trouble, Vs: 1-7a

Paul begins chapter 12 with a discussion in the third-person.  Paul is speaking about a period of time when God gave him insight that was superior to those around him.  Paul clearly understands that conceit could come into his life unless he had received this gift (thorn) from God.  Paul did not want to become a person who lived as one who said, “look not at who I know but look at what I know.”

2.  The purpose of the thorn, Vs: 7b-9a

This thorn was given to Paul to keep him on the right track.  This thorn left him totally depending on God.  Because of this thorn Paul was able to understand the following, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

3.  The praise for the God who allowed the thorn, Vs: 9b-10

Paul experiences the great power of God because the thorn taught him that true success only comes as we rely on God.  Paul rejoices in all that he faces because God’s name is made famous.  In this Paul writes, “I am content.”

Our take away:

Make sure that you do not become bitter over the thorns in your life.  Learn to rely on God and learn to rejoice because God is using these thorns to keep you from trouble and to keep you on track!!!

Check out Job 42:5-6

And He continued… (Job 42, II Cor. 11)

March 12, 2014

“And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do.”  II Cor. 11:12

“Praise God for those people who keep on keeping on in doing what is right.”  This morning I found myself engaged with a ministers personal challenges of ministry. As he shared his story of opposition from false leaders and persecution from the cities he ministered in, I could not help but wonder, “Why did he continue to do what he did?

The answer came so clear from this man, “I boast in my weaknesses that the power of Christ may be seen in my life.”  

Question:  “When life is tough, do you and I want to quit?”  I must confess, there are moments when I want to quit.  But there is a world of difference between wanting to quit and actually quitting!!!

Think it through:

The man I am speaking about is Paul.  His ministry was one of both engagement and endurance.  Here in chapter 11 he is engaging those who would lead the saints astray, Vs: 1-15 and he is enduring the persecution that comes with sharing the gospel.

Paul loved Christ and Paul loved the church.  This love led him to engage the world with the gospel and to endure all that he needed to endure in order to get the gospel to the world.

In this moment I find myself crying out to God, “Help me to both engage and endure for the glory of your name in the Church.”

I want to challenge you to continue in whatever God has led you to be engaged with.  I want to challenge you to continue in whatever God had led you to endure.   Here are the sweet words of the Psalmist:  “My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  

 

If You want to (II Corinthians 9)

March 10, 2014

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all-sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” II Cor. 9:8

From my earliest days of remembrance, I was told by my mother, “There is nothing you cannot do if you set your mind to it.”  Often, I have found out, as I have lived life, that this is not a true statement.  There have been many things I have set my mind too that I did not accomplish, “Such as making the first million before the age of 30.”

Here before us in II Corinthians 9 is a passage that I have studied and memorized much of.  It is a passage that is always used in sermon series on the subject of stewardship.  I have personally been challenged so many times by the content in this chapter which is linked with the preceding chapter in subject matter.

The subject matter is a one time grace gift that is being collected by the churches to be taken to the suffering church in Jerusalem.  II Corinthians 8 focuses on the superior gift of Jesus “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor, that you by his poverty might become rich.”  

As we come to chapter 9 it is clear that the church at Corinth had received the blessings of Jesus.  The church had committed to giving to this offering, but now they had delayed in the giving.  Paul writes with this simple point, “They could become cheerful givers if they wanted to!!!

Think it through:

1.  This happens as believers chose to understand the sufficiency of God, Vs: 6-8

In God’s grace he provides sufficiently so that you and I can have all we need to live and give cheerfully.  If we do not chose to be cheerful, there could be some problem?

Maybe the problem is that we are mismanaging our abundance?

Maybe the problem is that we are skimming off the abundance?

I was greatly convicted that my sometimes lack of cheerfulness is because I am not being prudent in what I have been given in abundance.

2.  This happens as believers chose to understand the splendor of God, Vs: 9-15

Our God has distributed freely to us, Vs: 9.  This is a quote from Psalm 112 which is tied to Psalm 111.  In Psalm 112 the blessed person is the one who is awe of God.  They are in awe of God because they have spent time in discovering who God is.  These same people are aligned with God because they want to serve him.

It is of no wonder that Paul breaks out in praise in II Corinthians 9 with these words. “thanks be unto God for His inexpressible gift.”  

Allow me to challenge you to consider both Psalm 111 and Psalm 112.  After you have spent time in these chapters, ask yourself this question, “Is it possible for both you and I to become cheerful givers?”  The answer, “If we want too!”