Archive for February, 2015

Where can one find true wisdom? (Job 28; I Corinthians 14; Luke 13)

February 27, 2015

“And he said to man, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.”  Job 28:28

Question, “Where can on find true wisdom?”  The answers to this question vary based upon one’s position in life.  If one is a follower of Islam, he or she will look to the Koran.  If one is a follower of sports, he or she will look to ESPN.  Where do you look for wisdom?

Think it through:

Job is asking the same question in Job 28.  Let’s follow his path to the answer:

  • Job begins, Vs: 1-5, with illustrations of where one can find natural resources such as gold and iron.
  • Job next, Vs: 6-8, reminds us of how the beasts of the earth know nothing about such resources.
  • Job continues, Vs: 9-12, by showing us how humanity alone can discover such resources.

In this moment Job turns our attention to something far more valuable than nature resources, Vs: 13-19

  • Humanity cannot find this resource in the ground.
  • Humanity cannot purchase this resource on the earth.
  • Humanity cannot place a value on this resource.

Job concludes with this finding:  “The fear of the Lord is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.”

Brothers and sisters, this is amazing.  To fear God is to be in awe of who He is.  To turn away from evil means to repent of our rebellion against this amazing God.  Jesus says:  “I warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” Luke 12:5.  Jesus also says, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish,” Luke 13:3.

When one finds true wisdom his or her life will be characterized by a moment of radical change in which Jesus becomes the boss of ones life.  When one finds true wisdom his or her life with be characterized by a radical change from evil living to holy living.  This is how we know we have found true wisdom.

Our response:

  • We must confess that all true wisdom comes from God.
  • We must repent of false wisdom and come to true wisdom.
  • We must center our lives on this wisdom each day.

Where is it? (Luke 12; Job 27; I Corinthians 13)

February 26, 2015

“For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.”  Luke 12:34

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love,” I Corinthians 13:13

This morning Sherry had an early doctors appointment.  The weather was cold so I (after having read I Corinthians 13) went out and warmed up the car for her.  I kissed her and John goodbye and sat down to write this blog.  A few moments later John came back in.  I asked, “What are you doing, you are on a time schedule.”  John’s response, “Mom cannot find her phone.”  I thought, “I hope she makes the appointment.”

Question:  “Does God have an appointment for you to keep today?”  If your answer is yes, you must consider living in a way that keeps you on task.

Consider Luke 12:12-34

  • Jesus encounters a nameless person who is seeking help in acquiring his fortune, Vs: 13-15
  • Jesus shares the story of a rich man who is seeking to spend his fortune, Vs: 16-20

Quickly we discover these men are not focused on God’s agenda. They are focusing on their agenda.  What is revealed?  The condition of the heart.

  • Jesus speaks into the hearts of the disciples, Vs: 22-34
    • They are anxious about their future.

The verses that follow remind us of how important it is to have a heart that is focused on kingdom business.

Here are the imperatives in the passage:

1.  Place everything in God’s hands trusting that he will provide every need.

2.  Live under his rule knowing that his agenda for your life will merit eternal value.

Our response:

The key to our response is in the condition of our heart. Question, “Where is our heart?”  Are we focused on earthly kingdom business or eternal kingdom business?

If we are Christ followers we should be focused on eternal kingdom business.  Bottom line, “there is a day when Jesus will return.”  “You must also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

I am still waiting to hear if Sherry made it on time.  I am still waiting to see if I will make it on time in accomplish God’s business.  As I wait, I am pressing full steam ahead seeking His kingdom and loving others ( I Corinthians 13) as I walk this journey.

Unopened doors (Luke 11; I Corinthians 12; Job 25-26)

February 25, 2015

“And I tell you, ask and it will be given unto you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you,” Luke 11:9

It seems there are many unopened doors in our path these days.  The church, in America, seems to be standing at the doors of society without finding a way to open the door.  Here are two examples:

1. We are losing the fight for the unborn.  Recently David Platt released a book entitled, “Counter Culture.”  I believe it is his best work yet.  In the book he wrote, “God will judge the church for her silence on the most deadly enemy of children the world has ever known.”  Question, “Why is the door of help unopened?”

2.  We are losing the fight for the family.  All almost every state in the Union has ratified same-sexual marriage.  Question, “Why has the door of God’s view of marriage closed?”

Think it through:

Could it possible be that the church has ceased to pray about their work in the world?

I truly believe effective prayer lead’s to open doors.

Consider Luke 11:1-13

The Disciples are watching Jesus pray.  Their watching turning into a desire, “They want to know how to pray.”  Jesus offers them a model for their prayer life.  In the moment the question arises, “Will they pray?”

Follow the path:

  • The world understand persistence.
  • The world understands the privileges associated with being a child of the Father.

However it seems that the church fails to understand how much greater is our connection to our heavenly Father.

  • God wants His church to be persistent in prayer.
  • God will provide the best answers to the prayers we pray.

Did the Disciples pray?  Our answer comes as we read the book of Acts.  As they were praying in the Upper Room (Acts 2) the Holy Spirit came and empowered them for the work God had called them to do.  The doors for the Gospel began to open (Ephesians 6:18-20).

Our response:

Let us become persistent in our prayer life.

Let us pray in the Spirit knowing that God will open doors for the gospel.

When will it stop? (Job 24; I Corinthians 11; Luke 10)

February 24, 2015

“Why are not times of judgment kept by the almighty, and why do those who know him never see his days? Job 24:1

Last week the news once again was filled with stories of the evil murders of Christians, this time Egyptian Christians, by ISIS.  It would seem to some that evil is on the rise and the eternal God is asleep at the wheel.

In moments when evil is taking place we find ourselves facing moments of great stress!!!  In our focal text Job is responding to his friends who are maintaining one point, “Job, you are in sin.  God only judges people who are in sin.”  We know for our studies that this view is not correct.  But in context, Job 24, we see the stress in Job’s life as he tries to understand the seemingly silence of God as wickedness goes unpunished.

Think it through:

  • Job describes the wickedness in his day:
    • The poor face daily injustice, Vs: 2-12
    • The wicked sin against God, Vs: 13-17
  • Job describes the seemingly delay of God’s judgment, Vs; 18-24
  • Job declares, “God will judge in his own time, Vs: 23-24

Bottom line, “There will be a day for every evil person to give account for the deeds they have done.”  Here is how the writer of Hebrews describes this, “It is once appointed unto man to die and after death will come the judgment,” Hebrews 9:27

Our response:

You and I must understand, God’s delayed judgment is another testimony of his desire to extend mercy to those who would repent of their sin.  I am so thankful God did not judge me while I was living in darkness.  I am so thankful that God’s judgment of my sin was carried out in Jesus.

Today I want to extend the mercy of God.  When people repent and when people receive the mercy of God, evil stops in its tracks.  Oh that we would see evil stopping in our homes, cities, and world.

Learning from the past (I Corinthians 10; Job 23; Luke 9)

February 23, 2015

“Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.”  I Corinthians 10:6

Could it be possible that God causes us to fail so that we could be an example to others?  Answer, “Absolutely not!”  God never causes anyone to fail, James 1:12-14.  The fact is men are led away by their own lust or craving for evil.

Here is I Corinthians 10 Paul warns us about the cravings of the old nature.  These cravings are not just something that lost people face.  These are temptations that are common to all men (10:13).

The question is:  “How do we overcome temptation?”  Answer, “Learn from the past.”

Think it through:

I.  In the past, there were those who were overcome with temptation, Vs: 1-10

Paul gives us three examples from the Old Testament:  Numbers 11:4,32-33; Numbers 25:1-9; Ex. 17:2,7

Here is what we discover about these people:  “Their craving for sin was greater than their craving for God.”

II.  In the past, there were those who overcame temptation, Vs: 11-13

These people considered the examples behind them and before them with an eye to be instructed.  They were able to learn from a people who thought their connection to God was all they needed to overcome.  Theirs was a faith in name only.  But it did not have to be this way.  God had made a way of escape. Here is that way:

  • The Word of God showed them both the traps and the better way.
  • The Spirit of God gave them power to overcome the enemies attacks.
  • The Promise of God gave them the faith to walk through times of great trial.

Our response:

Question, “Are we learning from the past?”  Each day we must read God’s Word.  Each day we must reflect on God’s Word.  Each day we must resolve to obey God’s Word.

Be assured, when we do these things, “We have learned from our past!”

Lord, this is not easy (Luke 6; Job 20; I Corinthians 7)

February 20, 2015

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man.” Luke 6:22

This morning I found myself still wrestling with the words of Jesus.  Yes, it is true, pastors struggle with the Word of God.

Here is the deal:  “Jesus has called those he wanted to be Apostles (Luke 6:12-16).  It is the beginning days of their training.  Jesus takes them aside from the overflowing crowds who are with him, (Luke 6:17-19) and he begins to teach them.

The message is one that is well-known (the Sermon on the Mount).  We see the complete sermon outline in Matthew 5-7.

Here is what I struggled with:  “How can we possible live without wanting revenge concerning the wrongs done to us?”

Think it through:

Jesus knew his followers would be mistreated, Luke 6:22.

Jesus also knew his followers would (in the old nature) seek to get even, Luke 6:27-36.

However, for the sake of the gospel, a new way would be forged.  It is the way of mercy!  Here is what Jesus said: “Be merciful, even as your father is merciful.”

In this moment I find myself understanding why I struggle with issues if revenge:

  • The Old Nature can only think in terms of judging others as they have judged us.
  • The Old Nature lies to us in prompting us to think that making others suffer will make us feel better.”

And old Chinese proverb says this:  “When you are seeking revenge, you need to dig two graves, one for you and one for the other person, because this is where you both will end up.”

Our response:

This day, I understand the following:

  • if taking a stand for Jesus causes me to face suffering, then I am in good company, Luke 6:23
  • If taking a stand for Jesus causes others to see Jesus, then it is more than worth being mistreated, Luke 6:36

Please take the high road of forgiveness, it pays in the end.  Check out Luke 6:46-49!

Issues of the body (I Corinthians 6; Job 19)

February 19, 2015

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body.” I Corinthians 7:19-20

As one begins to age, his or her body begins to show signs that there could be issues of the body.  Such things as being sore in the morning or aching muscles come to be the norm as aging takes place.  But for some who read this, this is thankfully still a long way off.

Consider the issues of the body in the church at Corinth.

  • Issues with the physical body
  • Issues with the spiritual body

Think it through:

The spiritual body Paul is referring to would be the “Church at Corinth.”  The issues in this body is simply what does one do when they have a grievance against another person?

  1. What did the person do?  Check out 7b-8
  2. What should the person do?  They should bring the offender before the church, 6:4.  Jesus taught this in Matthew 18:15-20
  3. What happened in the end?  They took the person to secular court.

Brothers and sisters we will always have moments when we will fail others and others will fail us.  In these moments we should come before the leaders of the church if we cannot reconcile between ourselves.  The church will focus on the core issues which are, “are both parties saved, 6:9-11,” and what will God say in the end!

The physical body refers to the issue of sexual immorality among the members of the church. Paul reminds us that such people are sinning against their own body.  This body was given to Jesus so that we would become slaves of righteousness.  Our goal is to glorify God in our bodies.  Paul made it even clearer in Philippians 1:20 “my aim is that Christ will always be glorified in my body.”

Our response:

As we live this new life with the old life still inside of us, we must be careful to both spiritually and physically exercise the righteousness of God in our lives.

Question:  “Are you having issues of the body?”

If so, take it before the Lord and then entrust it to brothers or sisters in the church to help you win the victory in the body!!!

What is the condition of your church? (I Corinthians 5; Job 18)

February 18, 2015

“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated among pagans, for a man has his fathers wife.” I Corinthians 5:1

How would you respond if someone asked you, “What is the condition of your church?”

Your response would be based upon your understanding of the question.  Frankly there are probably only two responses:

  • The first response would center on the physical condition of the church.
  • The second response would center on the spiritual condition of the church.

In many churches, in America, there is an increase in the failing of the physical condition of the church.  A recent survey conducted revealed that an alarming number of churches are in financial trouble while leads to the church letting go of the upkeep of their churches.

But the greater alarming statistic is the increased number of churches, in America, that are spiritually in trouble.  This was the case of the church at Corinth.

Think it through:

Here was a church that clearly knew it had spiritual problems, 5:1-2, but it chose to ignore the problems and to falsely boast of its spiritual health.  Paul writes of the arrogance of such living.  His rebuke is clear and his path to repentance is clear.

“You are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”

What is going on here?

  1. God wants his church to be pure (sin pollutes the fellowship).
  2. God wants his church to be a picture of his love for humanity.
  3. God wants his church to be progressing toward the moment of his return.

These cannot happen unless the church is strong in spiritual accountability.

Certainly there are those who would say, “If this is true, I cannot even be around lost people.”  Paul’s response is clear.  Accountability is for the church so that we can be better prepared to be a witness to the world.

Our response:

I want to challenge you to pray for a pure church.  I want to challenge you to be a pure church.  When this happens the light of the gospel will reach outside the walls of your church.  People will know of the true condition of your church.

Where is our hope? (Job 16-17; I Corinthians 4)

February 17, 2015

“Even now, behold my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies of me, is on high,” Job 16:17

“Wait just one moment, do not open the dam even for a moment.”  These words were on the mind of a counselor as he shared truth with a person who was fighting discouragement.  Question, “are you fighting discouragement?”  If your answer is, “Yes,” then I point you to today’s Scripture reading.”

In Job 16-17 we see Job at what might seem to be his lowest moment.  The dam of discouragement is about to break.  Consider all he is thinking:

  • My friends are practicing spiritual malpractice, 16:2.
  • God has worn me out, 16:7-8.
  • Man’s accusations have left me all alone, 16:20.
  • No one on earth can help me, 17:11.
  • All my dreams are shattered, 17:21

Brothers and sisters, the dam is open and the waters of discouragement have flooded out the joy in Job’s life.

Think it through:

These things also come to our lives.  The Apostle Paul wrote about the flood of discouragement in I Corinthians 4: “To this present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless.” 4:11

Job’s circumstances seemed to be as one who was being judged by God.  Paul’s circumstance seems to be as one who was being judged by the world.

“Where is our hope?”

Job’s hope was found in the one who was for him.  He had one in heaven who was a witness.  This is pointing us to Jesus who is our witness before God, Romans 1:9.  He is the one who came down to this earth to purchase the pardon for our sin debt, I John 1:7; 2:1-2.  He is the one who is now in heaven making intercession for us, Hebrews 7:25.

If you are a Christ follower, you hope is secure no matter what may come your way.

Paul’s hope was clearly founded in that he knew God would judge the intent of his heart, I Corinthians 4:5.   Paul did not fear his earthly circumstances because he knew that all he faced was God’s way of making him a spectacle (life witness) before the world.

This was his hope:  “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power,” I Corinthians 4:20

Our response:

1.  Today, you must choose to either open the dam of discouragement or to allow God to remove the dam.

2.  Today, you must decide to either be sovereign or to admit God is sovereign

If God is sovereign you realize he has a great purpose for your life.  If you are sovereign, then the dam is about to break because the enemy has taken your focus away from who is the lifter of your soul.

Check out Proverbs 3:5-6 and then decide!!!

A Piece of Gold in the midst of rocks (Job 15; I Corinthians 3)

February 16, 2015

“What is man. that he can be pure?  Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous?”  Job 15:14

One of the joys of living in America is the freedom of speech.  Admittedly there are certainly many abuses of this freedom, but still yet we celebrate the right to speak.  During political campaigns people often speak out against their political opponents.  This is sometimes referred to as, “throwing rocks.”  Often these rocks are misinformed statements that are sought to turn people away from a particular candidate.

In some sense Job’s friend Eliphaz is doing this to Job.  Eliphaz is sharply rebuking Job for maintaining his innocence before God.  Here are the rocks he is throwing:

  • Job speaks as one who does not fear God, Vs; 4.
  • Job speaks as one who thinks he has all wisdom, Vs; 7-8.
  • Job speaks as one who thinks he knows more than the elders, Vs: 9-10.

By this time, I think, those who were standing by were getting tired of the rock throwing.  But suddenly there is a piece of Gold that comes from the lips of Job’s friend:

“What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous?”

Think it through:

  1. It is true:  “All men are born as sinners in rebellion against God.”
  2. It is true:  “No man can make himself right with God.”

In this moment, the gold is beaming.”  But the question comes, “What hope does man have?”  In his present condition there is only one option for his eternity.  Yes, eternity apart from God in hell, Revelation 20:11-14.

In this moment we discover Eliphaz is only able to point to man’s ailment!!!  He knows not God’s antidote.

But praise be to God, there is an antidote:

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we wall in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from all unrighteousness.”  I John 1:6-7

The antidote is Jesus!!!  This is how a man is made right before God.

Our response:

If you have not received Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  Take the antidote today!

If you are like Eliphaz?  Do more than point out the ailment, tell people of the antidote.

Praise to our God for giving us the antidote for our sin!!!