Archive for May, 2019

A Word to the Called (Jude 1)

May 31, 2019

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for[b] Jesus Christ, Jude 1:1b.

There are times when I open my mouth intending to share one thing and another comes out.  I know, you can identify.  Now, I know that some of you are thinking I am referring to those times when I get in the flesh, but actually I am writing about those times when the Holy Spirit brings out what is deep within my heart.

The Bible teaches us that out of the heart the mouth speaks.  This is exactly what happens when Jude begins to write.  He writes to the called.  The called are those blessed of the Father who are saved and kept in salvation by Jesus.

Jude’s intention is to write about the things the called have in common, but the Holy Spirit directs Jude to write about a serious topic in our world today.  The topic is False Teachers.   The very faith (truth) delivered to the church was and still is under serious attack.

Jude speaks from the heart.  He knows the difference between false teaching and true teaching.  Remember his half brother is Jesus the Christ.  As Jude seeks to equip the church, he must speak from his heart.  There are those trying to teach the church, not from the truth, but from their dreams and from the evil intentions of their hearts.

Certainly their judgment is coming from God, but before that day we read of the destruction of many who are called.  Jude describes them as “wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their shame.” 

Oh, from my heart I tell you how I ache on the inside as people sit in blindness in buildings where the false teachers spray false teaching upon their audience as a storm tossed sea erodes the sandy beaches with its fury.

You and I are being called to expose false teachers, stay away from false teachers, and to build ourselves up in knowing the Word of God.

On this Friday, I call the called to stand firm in the faith and to be courageous in rescuing the called from those stormy banks of places of false teachers and false teaching.

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Going the Extra Mile (Philemon)

May 30, 2019

18 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.  Philemon 1:18

Occasionally I meet someone who is exceptional in what they do.  For example, I recently meet someone who is exceptional at wood-working.  This person showed me a picture of a project they had just completed.  I was amazed at the precision by which this person had gone the extra mile, which by the way set their work apart from anyone else around them.

Going the extra mile is often the key to accomplishing what others can not.

In our Bible reading for the day, a believer by the name of Philemon was as slave owner (not acceptable to God or to me).  He owned a slave by the name of Onesimus, whose name means “useful.”  Before meeting Paul this man was living a useless life.  I don’t know the circumstances of his life, but I do know that he left Philemon and went to where Paul was in prison.  Notice how Paul went the second mile by leading him to Jesus.  Next he began to disciple him.  Finally, he sent him back to Philemon to make things right.

Now here is where the extra mile gets intense.  Paul vouches for Onesimus and even promises to pay any damages this brother has caused.

Question:  Would you and I go that far in trying to reach others who in the eyes of the world are useless?  Paul did and God set apart this story for us to see.

It really strikes me deeply today that maybe you and I are either overlooking the useless people in the world or maybe we have given up on those the world says are useless.  Paul writing to the Corinthian church said:

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,[c] not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being[d] might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him[e] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1:26-31

Onesimus could only boast in what the Lord had done, and by the way I can only boast in what the Lord has done.  Jesus went the second mile, II Corinthians 5:21, for me.  I believe the Lord is calling each of us to go the second mile in our world today. 

Who Can Get Their Attention? (Titus 3)

May 29, 2019

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, Titus 3:1.

Paul begins chapter three with a direct command to Titus.  Titus is commanded to “remind them.”  Two questions need to be answered before the command could be carried out:

  1. Who is the “them?”
  2. How do we get “them” to listen?

The “them” in the chapter are those who have received the grace of God and they are seeking to walk in godliness. Now, question number two seems much easier because we know Titus is to teach those who are Christians.

But wait, did those Christians living in Crete want to listen?

One thing is for sure, if they did listen the things that needed to be set in order in the churches would be so.  Imagine the type of churches they would have been if they heeded verse 2:

to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 

How could this happen with anyone?  This happens because of the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.  God has not reset us to our factory specifications.  God has made us new creations like Adam and Eve before the fall.

If this be true, then why do we still often live like the way we used to?  This is because the Old Nature still resides in us until we leave this world.  Our task in this world is to submit our lives to the New Nature.  How do we know when this is at work in us?

It is simple, when we are not speaking evil, when we are not quarreling, when we are gentle, and when we are courteous to all people, we know we are walking in the New Nature.

Titus assignment was clear, preach to those who have a new nature.  Brothers and sisters, each week you and I are to gather with the church and teach the Word of God so that the old nature would continue to have no influence in our lives.

So, if you are considering leaving church out of your summer schedule, be prepared for a back-bitting, quarreling, selfish, and frustrating summer.  You are about to have the summer of me.

Make sure the Word and Worship are first in your summer!!!

What are you waiting for (Titus 2)

May 28, 2019

13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,  Titus 2:13

The young boy stood there on the diving board for what seemed like an hour, but was only a few seconds.  This was to be his first every dive.  His dad had taught him to swim and he was very good at it.  He was not afraid of water, but this was a big moment.  His father was in the water below, waiting to help his son if needed.  As the boy was thinking through this moment, he heard his father ask, what are you waiting for?  This was what the son needed to hear.  Quickly he dove into the water with great success.

As we come to Titus 2, Paul is encouraging Titus in how to lead the churches in Crete. Paul reminds Titus of the glorious truth of the gospel.  Here is this truth: “The grace of God (Jesus Christ) has appeared (come to this earth) for all people.” 

Titus knew Jesus had come for him, but what about the evil people on the island of Crete?  Yes, Jesus came that even they might be saved. Brothers and sisters, do you believe this to be true about your neighbors?

Paul teaches us  this truth in two ways:

  1. Personally.  Jesus Christ came to redeem each person individually.  This must be personal.  Everyone must come to Jesus by their own submission and confession.  When this happens, redemption is applied.
  2. Collectively.  Jesus Christ came to make a pure people called the church.  This church is to be made up of people who focus on good works

Those good works are what leads us to be mentored by others and to engage in mentoring others, 2:1-13.

Question: Are you leading others to Christ and are you mentoring those who are coming to Christ?  If not, what are you waiting for?  Now I know that some of you are saying, I am not qualified.

Here is my response, has God personally saved you?  Has He brought you into His church?  If your answer is yes to both questions, you are fully capable of helping others.  All it takes is your willingness to work for Jesus while you wait.

Let’s get busy because our Lord could be coming any day now.  Who knows, you could meet someone this day in whom is simply waiting for your nudge to follow Jesus!!!

Ministering to Creatans (Titus 1)

May 27, 2019

12 One of the Cretans,[i] a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” Titus 1:12

Imagine if you had to work this week along-side of people who were always lying, doing vicious thing’s and had a terrible work ethic?  Well, this is exactly what the people on the island of Crete faced as they worked with each other.

What hope is there for such people?  Titus would respond, “In Christ there is great hope.”

Titus had the responsibility to minister to this people.  His assignment was clear:

  1. Establish Godly leadership in the church’s.
  2. Rebuke those who were teaching false doctrine.

How would these two tasks help the church’s to be able to minister to Creatans?  These tasks teach us of the importance of Godly leaders who are called to teach the Word of God.  Such leadership takes God’s Word as a sword (Hebrews 4:12) and they cut off the cancer of sin.  Then the leader replaces the cancer with the glorious healing of God’s Word.

Still today, all these years later, you and I have the assignment from God to do this same work.  So let’s get up, get going,  and get it done for the glory of the Lord.

 

Not What You Were Thinking (Esther 9-10)

May 23, 2019

 On the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them, Esther 9:1

I wonder how many people, in the world, lose sleep every night because of some type of fear of the unknown.  It was David Jeremiah who estimated that 95 % of the things we worry about usually never happen.  Someone responding to his estimation said, “Its the five percent that keeps me up at night.

The book of Esther has been a very refreshing book for us this week to read.  The book begins with what seems to be the silence of God toward His people.  But quickly we realize God is working behind the scenes as the Sovereign Lord of the universe.  Esther, an orphan in bondage becomes the queen.  God positions her to make a difference in her world.

Here in chapters 9 and 10 we see the exact reversal of what the enemy was trying to accomplish. Satan intended the end of God’s people, but it was Satan’s team that found their heads crushed in the end.

R.C. Sproul comments: “This pictures for us for all time the very demise of Satan at the hands of God.”

So, let me ask you, what are you staying up all night trying to figure out?  What are you trying to avoid by the lack of sleep?  What are you trying to change the outcome in?

Take Esther’s advice, give it all to God and stand still and see Him work.

The Words of Paul seem so powerful in this moment:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness[d]be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-6

He did it again (Esther 7-8)

May 23, 2019

16 The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor. Esther 8:16

As the saga of God’s people who were under the control of the Persian Empire continues to unfold, our confidence in God continues to grow because we see God working behind the scenes.  As Chapter 6 closes, Haman (the enemy of God’s people) has been told by his family and trusted council, this is not going to turn out well for you.

Chapter 7 unfolds so quickly that we almost are in shock as Haman is hung on the very gallows he intends for his enemies.  You and I need to always be aware that our enemy is always trying to destroy us (I Peter 5:8).  But we also need to always be reminded that our enemies are God’s enemies.  And if God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31).  Finally we need to be reminded that God will bring joy and direction to us even in the darkest of moments (Psalm 97:11).

God was in control of every step of Esther’s journey.  His assignment for her was clear.  She was called to serve the Lord in the very position He had placed her in.  God would be her light, her joy, her gladness, and her honor.

As I wrote the above sentence I could not help but think about each of you who read this blog.  Just like Esther you have been placed in unique positions that have  daily challenges and daily frustrations.  I also know there are days when you don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.

However, be reminded that Esther must have felt that way, but with God there is always hope beyond what we see. The same God who brought Esther into a position of favor will do the same with you.

Our task is simple:  Colossians 3:23-24

23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 

HE WILL COME THROUGH AGAIN AND AGAIN

Who can Stop the Lord Almighty ? (Esther 5-6)

May 22, 2019

13 And Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.” Esther 6:13

The Jewish people were in a difficult place.  The clock was ticking and the day of their demise was coming. I am sure these things were on the minds of all the Jewish people in the days of Esther.

As we pick up the text I ask you this question: What is on your mind and heart today?  Is there a great trial or is there a question you cannot get the answer for? Could it be that you are feeling under-appreciated today?  Does God seem to be silent?

Take the advice of Esther and Mordecai, God is always at work and no one can stand in his way or overcome His plan.  In these chapter we see the following:

  • God gives favor to Esther in the king favoring her unannounced entry before him.
  • God gives favor to Mordecai in the king remembering his good deed of the past.

Do you see God working behind the scenes directing everything, even having the enemy of God’s people directing the king in how to honor Mordecai.

Here are three things you and I need to remember as we walk the journey of life today facing opposition in the world:

  1. No one can keep you from being saved.  John 8:36 “He who the Son sets free is free indeed.”  John 10:27-30 “No one can pluck you out of His hand…”

2. No one can keep you from being successful in your Christian life.  Romans 8:31 “If God be for you, who can be against you.”

3. No one can keep you from interceding for their soul.  James 5:16 “The effective unceasing prayer of a righteous person avails much.”

Take the wisdom of Esther and Mordecai to heart: “No one can stop the Lord almighty!”

Why such hatred? (Esther 3-4)

May 21, 2019

 15 The couriers went out hurriedly by order of the king, and the decree was issued in Susa the citadel. And the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was thrown into confusion. Esther 3:15

Esther is being positioned by God in a place of great influence (look back to yesterdays blog for more details).  This Jewish orphan who has been adopted by her uncle is on an amazing journey of faith.
But now all of this is in danger of destruction because of the hatred of one man!  Esther has no dealings with this man.  But this man’s hatred drove him to attempt to destroy her entire race of people.
Who was this man?  His name was Haman.  He has just been appointed to great leadership in her husbands kingdom.  What was his problem?  Haman was  a relative of the King of the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-16) who were the arch-enemies of God’s people.  Haman hated God’s people.  His hatred drove him to convince the king that all the Jewish people were in rebellion against the kings laws.  Haman proposes to the king to destroy all of them.
The king did not realize it, but with the decree, even his wife the queen would be killed.  Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife.”
In our story line Esther is challenged by her uncle to do something about the decree.  Esther knows if the king does not accept her into the throne room, it could be her life she would have to pay.  But for the sake of her countrymen, she puts her life on the line.
Brothers and sisters what can we do about the hate in this world?   Here are three Biblical suggestions:
1. Make sure there is zero hatred in your heart. Colossians 3:8.
2. Live out the characteristics of a true Child of God. Colossians 3:12-16.
3. Share the love of God with all people.  John 3:16.
The truth of this text is deeper than we realize. If Esther does not deliver her people, our Messiah would have never come through the Jewish people.  The truth is, unless you and I stand up in the newness of Christ the world will never know the answer for their hate.

Esther’s Feast (Esther 1-2)

May 20, 2019

18 Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity. Esther 2:18

As the days of May come into full swing, high-school seniors come to the end of an 18 year journey.  For the first 18 years of their lives, much has been set in place for them.  Day after day the structure of life has been dictated to them.  But now, the choice of what is next is mostly in their court.

For some of those graduates there is a burning desire to make a difference in the world.  You and I may not see it or we may wrongly interpret their actions when in actuality they are trying to decide what they will do for the remainder of their lives.

For those who know Christ the desire to make a difference in the world has eternal implications.

This day we consider Esther 1 and 2.  It my seem as if nothing of great value is taking place. It looks like just the story of a king who got bent out of shape over the queens refusal to obey his perverted command.  But there is so much more happening.

We must understand God was working behind the scenes using the kings pagan anger to position His servant Esther in a place of influence that will make an eternal impact later in the book.  She will become the voice the people of Israel will count on to save their lives.

Esther may seem of little value in chapter 2, but by the end of the book we will say, “now I know why God brought Esther to the kingdom for such a time as this.”

Question:  Do you live each day with intentionality knowing God is working or do you live unintentionally forgetting God has an eternal plan for you?

Each day seek and trust His plan for your life.  Be assured Esther’s banquet was about more than just celebrating Esther.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.