Archive for March, 2015

If You Continue (Colossians 1; John 21; Proverbs 18)

March 31, 2015

“If indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.” Colossians 1:23

It is so easy to get distracted from what you know to be true!!!  For example, two weeks ago Sherry and I were faced with the choice of deciding which phone service carrier to use because our contract was up.  We knew of our trusted carrier for the last 18 years, but we decided to check out other carriers.  Even though we had been convinced for years that we were with the best carrier, we looked.

Question, “Are there times when you and I look to other God’s?”

Think it through:

Paul’s letter to the Colossian church comes in response to the strange teaching that was coming into the church.  This teaching was taking the church away from the truth, “Christ alone is our hope.”  In chapter one we discover the richness of Christ’ s sufficiency for all things.

Notice two points concerning this letter:

1.  Paul’s letter is clear, Vs: 14-21

  • Christ alone purchased our redemption, Vs: 14
  • Christ alone is preeminent, Vs: 15-20
  • Christ alone perfects the redeemed, Vs: 21

2.  Paul’s letter is compelling, Vs: 1-13, 22-29

  • Paul intercedes for the church:
    • Paul’s desire is for the church to live out God’s design for their lives.
    • Paul’s is committed to enduring suffering for the sake of the church.
  • Paul invests in the church;
    • He suffers, sows the gospel, and endures all things so that they might continue in the faith.

At the end of chapter one we must conclude, “Christ alone is needed for spiritual success in life.”  The church’s commitment must be to continue in what they know to be true.

Our response:

After Sherry and I investigated the other carriers we were once again convinced, where we were was the best!! Brothers and sisters, after the church investigated Christ, they too concluded, “We must continue in Christ!”

Each day, let us continue in faith knowing that Christ must be formed in us!  Let us also labor that Christ would be formed in others as well, Galatians 4:19.

Advertisements

What everyone should know about you (Philippians 4; John 20; Proverbs 17)

March 30, 2015

“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand.”  Philippians 4:5

Someone once said, “It really doesn’t matter what others think about me, it only matters what God says about me.”  In truth, God is the only judge.  In truth it is to God that we will someday give an account.

But it is also truth, “God wants us to live lives before others so that they can see His light on display.”

Think it through:

Here in Philippians 4 Paul gives us amazing instruction.  The chapter begins with Paul’s exhortation to unity, Vs:2-3.  The chapter continues with encouragement concerning what everyone should know, Vs: 4-9.  The chapter lifts our sights to Christ in Vs: 10-13, and the chapter concludes with a reminder of the amazing provision of God.

Let’s think through Vs: 4-9 as we consider what everyone should know about us:

  • We should be known as people who rejoice in the Lord, Vs: 4
  • We should be known as people who have a reasonableness in the Lord, Vs: 5
  • We should be known as a people who are relying on the Lord, Vs: 6-7
  • We should be known as a people who are rightly thinking in the Lord, Vs: 8-9a

Look closely at Vs: 5.  Paul uses a Greek word that needs a closer look, “reasonableness.”  This word speaks about someone who is more than fair with others.  This person overlooks the wrongs of others and places others needs before their own.  Paul wrote about this in Philippians 2:1-4, check it out.

As a Christ followers you and I are living before the world whether we want to admit it or not.  It is not a correct view to only think in terms of what God sees.  It is here that you begin but you continue in living correctly before the world.

Question:  “Does the world see you as a reasonable person?”

Only the rich love of Christ at work within us causes us to live this way.

Our response:

How can we know if we are living correctly?  Paul gives us the answer in Vs: 9, “The God of peace will be with you.”  It is not that we are perfect, but we are at peace.  It is not that we are the smartest but we are dialed into Jesus who guides us through both good times and bad.  This is why Paul writes, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Allow me to challenge you to focus on loving Christ so much that the list above would characterize your life!!!

The Fellowship of Grace (Philippians 1; John 17; Proverbs 14)

March 27, 2015

“It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you all are partakers with me of grace (or you all have fellowship with me in grace), both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.” Philippians 1:7

This morning I arose a few minutes late!!!  I slowly made my way into the kitchen where Sherry was already studying. She turned to me and said, “Pray for ________________, they are in great need!!!”

A few minutes later I turned to our reading for today, John 17 and Philippians 1, where both Jesus and Paul were engaging in prayer.

Consider this fact, “God has called every believer into the fellowship of grace that leads us to pray for one another.”

Think it through:

In Philippians 1 Paul introduces us to this amazing people in whom he was probably closer than any other people. He speaks of their fellowship in grace.  I want to identify three facts about this grace:

1.  Grace knows no limits, Vs: 1-10

The church at Philippi came to Christ as a direct result of Paul’s preaching and life witness in their city.  Keep this in mind, they beat him and placed he and Silas in prison.  I love Paul’s words to Timothy in II Timothy 2:10 “The gospel cannot be chained.”

The church is strong because of grace.  In these verses we see the church standing with Paul in the defense of the gospel.  Paul was in prison and they battled for him on their knees!!!

2.  Grace cannot be limited, Vs: 11-19

What was happening was serving to advance the gospel.  The entire palace guard heard the gospel and the church was encouraged to endure suffering knowing that the gospel was going forward.

3.  Grace causes liberation, Vs: 20-29

Paul came to the place where he truly wanted to depart from the world which would be gain for his own life.  But he was willing to stay for the gain of the gospel.

In this moment Paul turns his attention to our lives, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the gospel.”

Our response:

The fellowship of grace causes each of us to live a life that knows no limit’s and will not be limited by selfish pursuits.  We become a people who will pray for all who are in trouble and we will enter into their troubles because the fellowship of grace compels us to help!!!

“Father, show us how we can live in a manner that brings honor to you!”

In a Little While (John 16; Ephesians 6; Proverbs 13)

March 26, 2015

“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again in a little while, and you will see me,” John 16:16

What’s the deal with Jesus?  Is he going to the store or is he taking a cruise?

The above questions might have caught you off guard, but greater still does it sometimes seem that Jesus is out to lunch when you are pleading for answers?

In the scene before us, John 16, Jesus is pouring truth into weary and distracted disciples.  They know there is something about to go down.  According to Ephesians 6:10-13 there is always a war going on. The war here is the cross and the victor will be Jesus.

The disciples are blessed to hear three promises from Jesus:

  1. The promise of the Holy Spirit, Vs: 1-15
  2. The promise of the resurrection/Second-coming, Vs: 16-24
  3. The promise of peace, Vs: 25-33

All of these promises are tied to the “little while.”

Think it through:

If these promises will become a reality Jesus would have to endure the cross, die, rise again, and ascend to the Father.  Brothers and sisters, “He did all of these things.”

All of the promises above are here except one. “The Second-coming.”

So we wait for the Lord!!!  But our waiting is not with our hands idle!!!  We wait while we work.

  • The Holy Spirit empowers us to do the work of the Kingdom:
    • As we share with others, conviction comes.
    • As we study, understanding comes.
  • The resurrection empowers us to live in confidence that we can overcome sin and we will not be hurt by death.
  • The peace of God guards our hearts as we live in this evil age!!!
    • We willingly take up the armor of God, Ephesians 6:13-18, knowing we will have victory in the end.
    • We know our God is always with us!!!

Our responses:

In these moments we have a choice, either we claim the truth in the storm or we cave into the tribulation that comes.

Be assured Jesus is never out to lunch or on a vacation when you are in a tough moment.  He has given you all you need for victory!!!  I encourage you to hear his voice, “in a little while.”

Useless our useful living, it’s up to you! (Ephesians 5; John 15; Proverbs 12)

March 25, 2015

“I am the vine you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing,” John 15:5

“Making the best use of time because the days are evil,” Ephesians 5:15

Question:  “Do you ever come to the end of the day and feel as if you wasted your day?”  Each who read this blog can honestly say, “Life is busy.”  The key to effectiveness is in our thought process in how we manage each day!!!

Think it through:

In Ephesians 5 Paul reminds the church of how they had been touched by the grace of God.  Paul describes this touch as follows, “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.”  Before grace the people lived in spiritual darkness, but now because of grace they are living in spiritual light.

In the first 21 verses Paul gives them instruction concerning being useful. He does this through a contrast.  The contrast is between wise and unwise living.  Notice the contrast:

I.  The wise walk:

Those who walk wisely are walking in love, 5:1

Those who walk wisely are walking in the light, 8b-21

If you are walking in the light your life will be known for the following:  Children of God, discerner of the will of God, casting a light in dark places, productive in your walk, filled with the Spirit, worshipper of God, and putting others before yourself.

These very things help one to live a useful life!!!

II.  The unwise walk:

If you are not walking in the light the following characterize your life: Living a sinful life, listening to sinful leaders, and longing for sinful pleasures.

Our response:

It would be easy to simply pray, “Lord help me to be useful in your kingdom.”  And we should pray this, but without a plan to accomplish this, it is another useless prayer.

The way we accomplish a useful life is to abide in Christ!!!

Here is what this means:

  • Willingly submit to the purging of the unwise things from your life, John 15:2
  • Willingly submit to the pruning of the wise things in your life, John 15:3
  • Willingly live out his plan for the remainder of your life, John 15:5-12

As we walk in the light we will be productive in our walk, in our prayers, and in our success in Kingdom Work.  Check out John 15:12-17!!!

Responding to the promise (John 14; Ephesians 4; Proverbs 11)

March 24, 2015

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son,” John 14:13

Before us are some of the most powerful promises in all the Bible.  In these verses alone we discover:

  • The promise of a place in heaven
  • The promise of the way to heaven
  • The promise of answered prayer
  • The promise of the Holy Spirit
  • The promise of peace.

Question:  “What should our responses be to the promises of God?”

  1. .  We should believe God, Vs: 1-11

Jesus encourages us to believe in order that we would have peace in the midst of turbulent times.  Consider the following:  Jesus is the way (He is preparing a place for us and he will come to take us to the place).  Jesus is the truth (God accepted Jesus sacrifice for our sins).  Jesus is the life (In him alone we have life).

2.  We should call out to God, Vs: 12-14

Dear Lord increase our borders.  Lord show me your will and empower me to do your will.

3.  We should obey God, Vs: 15-24

As we obey his commandments we are empowered to accomplish his will.

This very day we have the joy of responding to the promises!!!

Will you?

When you read this (Ephesians 3; John 13; Proverbs 10)

March 23, 2015

“When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ.”  Ephesians 3:4

Today, ours is a world dominated by communication through technology.  We communicate through face-book, email, twitter, and blog’s.  This very morning I spent ten minutes reading through Hope For the Future’s Web page to simply keep up with our Malawi missionary.

In Paul’s day communication was much different.  It would be through the means of verbal communication and by letters that people heard from each other.  We know there were those who would falsify letters attempting to say they were someone in whom they were not.  But when it came to the Bible, we know there is one author, God Himself, II Peter 1:15-21.

Here in Ephesians 3 Paul communicates two things by letter:

  • The gospel message
  • The gospel ministry

Think it through:

  1. The Gospel message

Before this time (first century) the Gentile world did not understand the gospel.  According to chapter two they were, “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world,” Ephesians 2:12.

But now the gospel was open to all people through Jesus Christ.  This is an amazing moment!!!

2.  The gospel ministry

The Apostle Paul was given the task of sharing the unsearchable riches of Christ with the Gentiles.  We discover this was “God’s eternal purpose.”  

Paul understood the following, “Through the means of this letter the gospel would come to more and more people.”

In this moment I take to heart Paul’s words, “In whom (Jesus) we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.”  This good news is that we can be right with God!!!

Our response:

Question:  ‘Have we been given the same gospel ministry as Paul had been given?”  The answer is yes!  Paul prays for the Ephesians church to understand this truth. He prays for the church to comprehend the richness of the love of Christ, 3:15-19.

Certainly the means of communication has changed, but the message has not changed.

I challenge you to use all the means available to you to communicate the gospel to world!!!

Here are some practical ways to accomplish this:

1.  Dedicate your Facebook page to sharing the gospel.

2.  Develop your own blog site to communicate the gospel.

3.  Partner with trusted Gospel communicators in supporting their communication of the gospel.

4.  Help your church to be able to use the tools available to them in communicating the gospel.

Why did this happen? (John 9; Proverbs 6; Galatians 5)

March 19, 2015

“And his disciples asked him, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 9:2

A few weeks ago a member of our church requested prayer for a family from her previous church in another state.  The prayer was for the family that had lost a loved one to a vicious murder.  The man who was murdered was a servant of God who happened upon a robbery in progress and his death was attributed to being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Question, “Do you every question the why of some things?”

Answer, “We all do.”

In John 9 Jesus disciples see a man outside the temple who was born blind.  Their question, “Why did this happen?”  Before Jesus responds they offer their own answer.  How often do we have our own views of the whys of life?  Our’s is a desperate need to hear from God.  This is our privilege in John 9.

Think it through:

Jesus makes it very clear, “This man’s blindness was not because of his failure or his parents failure.”  Two facts stand out:

  1. We live in a broken world:
    1. This brokenness is where we are called to give witness to the amazing grace of God.
    2. Jesus entered the brokenness of this man and extended great grace in opening his eyes.
  2. We live in a confused world:
    1. The confusion became the opportunity to give witness to who Jesus is.

This formerly blind man gave witness to a progression of faith.  When questioned he said the following about Jesus, “he is a man, he is  prophet, he is a man who is holy and in whom God hears, and he is the Son of Man.”

This formerly blind man gave witness to a possession of faith.  He worshipped the Lord.

Bottom line:  This broken world is not the fault of God.  The brokenness leads to all kinds of daily acts of evil in our world.  Spiritually blind people look for answers to the confusion.  They are left with one answer, “it is God’s fault.”  It is only when you and I follow the example of Jesus can this change.

Our response:

We must, as Christ followers, give witness to the miracle-working of Christ in coming to this broken world and redeeming that which is broken.

I challenge you to both profess and progress in your walk with Christ.  Miracles will happen as we respond to the brokenness with the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the light in the darkness, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  

Who do you make yourself out to be? (John 8; Galatians 4; Proverbs 5)

March 18, 2015

“Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died?  And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” John 8:53

“So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman,” Galatians 4:31

Question, “Is everyone who they seem to be?”  Answer, “Certainly not.”  Recently I read a survey about social media.  Studies show that at least half of the people on social media are portraying themselves as someone other than whom they really are.  I wonder, is it any different in the Word of God?

Think it through:

John chapter 8 begins with a scene that social media would blow up on its Facebook and twitter pages.  Keep in mind, John’s goal in writing the gospel of John is that mankind would believe, 20:30-31, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.  And that in believing we would have life in his name.

At the close of the scene in Vs: 11 we see Jesus and this woman standing alone in the temple.  One verse later the crowd is again with Jesus.  At this point Jesus makes a declaration:  “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  

In this moment we are reminded of who Jesus makes himself out to be!!!

The verses that follow chronicle the following path:

  • Debate in Vs: 13-29
  • Declaration in Vs: 24, “Unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.”
  • Debate, Vs: 30-38
  • Declaration in Vs: 36, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
  • Debate, Vs: 37-59
  • Declaration in Vs: 55, “I know him, If I said I did not know Him, I would be a liar.”

In this debate Jesus consistently declares who He is.

The question that looms for us is this, “Who are we?”  Answer, “We are slaves to sin in need of a Savior.”  Jesus came as the light of the world and according to Paul, “Christ came to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4-5

Wow!!!

Our response:

Praise be unto our God.  We can say, “Father, I praise you for adopting me into the family of God.  I praise Jesus for paying the price for my adoption.”  I am an adopted son of Jesus!!!  I have all the rights of a son.  Daily I cry out to my poppa (Abba! Father!).

This is who we are in Christ.  We are not making ourselves out to be who we are not!!!  We are the Kings kids!!!

Have you heard Him? (John 7; Proverbs 4; Galatians 3)

March 17, 2015

“Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing, and learning what he does?”  John 7:51

How often do people claim to know the entire story of someone’s life, when in reality they have only heard sound bites from their lives?  For example, “a famous person is raked over the coals by the media with the hopes of making a big splash without even considering the entire story.”

I believe it really is this way with Jesus.  Most never take the time to hear him.

Certainly some would respond, “How can I hear Him?  Jesus lived 2000 years ago?”  Yes, you are correct, but He is still alive residing at the right hand of God the Father in heaven, Hebrews 1:1-3.  God’s Word is the way in which we can hear Him.

Think it through:

John chapter 7 reveals to us the depths of the division between the people of Jesus days on earth.  The people were deeply divided over who He was.  Consider the division between those who heard him:

  • His brothers did not believe, Vs: 1-8
  • The Jewish laity were divided, Vs: 9-15
  • Some people believed, Vs: 25-29
  • Many others did not believe, Vs: 32-36

However those who truly heard him would have said, “Never did we hear a man speak this way before.

Question, “Have you heard Him?”

If your answer is, “Yes,” then you know that Jesus is who He is says He is.

Paul describes the amazing sacrifice of Jesus in Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.”

Our response:

1.  We should be praising our Lord for giving us the glorious ability to hear Him. II Corinthians 4:4-6

2.  We should be taking full advantage of our ability to hear Him.  Each day we should open His Word and read with a thankful heart.

3.  We should be proclaiming His Word to those who have never heard.

“Father use us to proclaim what we have heard to the nations of the world.”