Archive for the ‘The Word of God’ Category

Firmness of Faith (Colossians 2, Proverbs 19)

April 1, 2014

“For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.”  Col. 1:5

Last week I received a great shock as I was scanning the headlines in “The gospel coalition website.”  Here were the shocking headlines, “World Vision changes it’s policy in hiring same-sex couples to work in its company.”

Honestly I could not believe what I was reading!  My family has been greatly impacted by the work of World Vision.  Presently our family is reading through the devotional, “He walks among us.”

Question, “What has happened to this great ministry?”  This ministry has chosen to soften their hold on the firmness of faith.  Brothers and sisters, “God’s Word is clear concerning marriage, Gen. 2:18-25.”

Before us in Colossians 2 is Paul’s passionate appeal to the church to stay connected to a firm faith in Jesus Christ.  Paul warned the church, “Do not be taken captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to empty tradition and the elemental spirits of this world.”

Two things stand out in Paul’s teaching:

1.  We have our life in Christ, Vs: 9-16

This is where we have our beginning, “rooted.”  John 15:1

This is where we build our faith, “build up.”

This is where we stand, “established.”  We hang out the street sign that says, “We belong to Christ.”

This is where we bless our Lord for all He has done, “Thanksgiving.”

2.  We have our liberty in Christ, Vs: 17-23

Paul warned the church to not allow tradition or false views to entrap them.  Paul warned the church to not allow worldly view points to trap them.

Think it through:

What has happened to World Vision?  They have fallen into the trap of a worldly view that is pushing its way into their lives.  Without a doubt World Vision wants to feed and care for as many children as possible.  But at what cost are they now paying?

Our take away:

At the cross you and I were freed from bondage.  In the course of our lives we must daily chose to walk in the path the cross sets for us.  We are to never compromise God’s Word.  The clear teaching of the cross is that Jesus died so that we might die to the sinful lifestyle of this world.

Let us pray for World Visions and let us pray for our churches and for our own lives, so that we may always remain firm in the faith!!!

Getting Consumed (Psalm 119:1-24)

January 9, 2013

“My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.”  Psalm 119:20

Question, “Have you ever been consumed by anything or anyone in your life?”  I can remember the first time it happened to me.  I was 7 years old.  The year was 1974 and I fell in love with the NFL football team, “The Dallas Cowboys.”  I can still remember the names of the players and the games they won and the eventual loss in the Superbowl to Pittsburg.  If you visited our home you would have seen Dallas Cowboy stuff in my room, everything from banners to a lamp that had a star on it.  Even my bed sported the team.  It was easy to see what was consuming my life.

Certainly many years have passed and now I am 45 years old.  Question, “What can you see in my life that is the tell of my passion?”  Oh, by the way, why you are looking at my life, take time to investigate yours.  What is the tell of your passion?  What is it that is consuming your life?

The Psalmist was consumed with the Law of God.  Here in Psalm 119 we find the longest chapter in the Bible.  This chapter teaches us much about how to properly relate to God’s Word.  Notice three things in the first 24 verses:

1.  The great desire to live in obedience to God’s Word, Vs: 2-8

The Psalmist is seeking this with his whole heart.  He gives his prayers to this goal.  His praise is focused on this consuming desire.

2.  The great desire to learn obedience to God’s Word, Vs: 9-16

In obedience one becomes pure in their walk with Christ.  In obedience one is storing up wisdom to deal with life’s issues and life’s traps.  Daily the Psalmist is consumed with this process of storing up God’s Word as would one in preparation for the wintertime.

3.  The great desire to love God’s Word, Vs: 17-24

Here we discover the end result of getting consumed, “Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors,” 119:24.  Oh how I pray this is true of your life and my life.

Brothers and sisters, there can be no greater thing to be consumed with than with God’s Word.  I promise you, “Your life will pay great dividends as you are consumed with His Word!!!”

For further study, “read the rest of Psalm 119.”

They Would Not Stop

February 20, 2012

“And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.”  Acts 5:42

This mornings More For Christ reading, “Acts 5:41-6:15,”  continues Luke’s narrative of the church in Jerusalem.  As one reads these verses it is so refreshing to see a church that stays focused on the gospel.  Certainly as you read this text, you are reminded that their work was not without trouble.

Here was a church that was now facing opposition from without (Religious leaders wanted them to stop proclaiming the gospel).  But they would not stop.  The church also faced opposition from within (Some in the church felt neglected).

In both instances the church followed God’s leadership in addressing the problems.  In the first instance they just said, “Praise the Lord,” and they continued preaching.  In the second, they recognized that there was a problem and they trusted in God’s solution which lead to their continuing preaching the gospel.

How refreshing to see a church handle its issues in life with such commitment and wisdom. Question, “What troubles are you facing in your life?”  Maybe the better question would be, “How are you handling the troubles in your life?”

Consider the early church.  Here was a group of people who only had the Holy Spirit and portions of the Word Of God.  However, their commitment was amazing because they discovered this was all they needed.

Someone once asked D. L. Moody, “How he gained so much wisdom?”  Here was his response, “I used to pray and ask God to give me wisdom.”  God’s response came back, “I have already given you wisdom.  What you need is the commitment to read what I have already said.”

As you follow the New Testament church, this very truth is seen over and over again.  This day allow me to challenge you to spend more time reading from God’s word.  As you do, wisdom will come as you start to hear and heed God’s word.

Daily I seek to apply this as I read one chapter in the book of Proverbs along with all my other readings.  This very day the wisdom you need to keep on keeping on is found in God’s precious word.


“Hear These Words”

February 15, 2012

“Men of Israel, hear these words…” Acts 2:22

Today, people do not begin conversations with, “hear these words.”  Nor do those who proclaim God’s word begin with, “Hear these words.”  There are many reasons for this, but one thing is for certain.  In Peter’s day, Acts 2:22-47, this was the correct way to get someone’s attention.  Oh how things have changed.

Today, pastors are looking for catchy stories or some prop to get people’s attention.  I wonder what would happen if all pastors began their message, this week with, “Hear these words.”  Before we drill any deeper let’s back out a little and ask ourselves a very important question, “What words are we about to hear?”

When Peter spoke, the words he shared were the facts about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Peter was an eyewitness to these events.  Peter also chose to quote from David in Psalm 16. Here David speaks of the coming of the Messiah.

Today, we have no one alive who was an eye-witness to these events.  However, we do have the trustworthy written word (II Peter 1:20-21) that guides us in all truth.  So if pastors, teachers, moms, dads, singles, and teenagers want to make an eternal difference they must know what these words are.

Consider how Peter was faithful to God’s word.  When the people heard God’s word, “They were cut to the heart and asked, ‘What should we do?”  Oh dear brother and sister, if you are looking for the right words to say to someone you care about?  Share with them the Word Of God.  I encourage you to memorize it, meditate upon it, and share it with those around you.

This day I challenge those who do not believe this is the best way to share Christ. Consider what happened in Acts 2.  3,000 people responded to the Word Of God.  This same Word has the same amount of power this very day!!!

For those who have not tried this, consider all the words you have used to try to help those around you.  I have found that only the word of God can soften and reshape a heart of stone.  Take in His word and Take His word to others.

For further study, consider Romans 10:1-17; II Timothy 4:1-5, Hebrews 10:25


What Do You Think?

January 26, 2012

“And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, ‘Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” Matthew 19:3.

Each morning for the past 14 years I have had the privilege of talking to the same guy (my best friend) at 7 am.  Over these years we have been through many things together. Our range of topics have been more than this blog could hold.  However one question often dominates our conversation.  Here is the question, “What do you think?”

This morning I was reminded of this very question in our bible reading, Matthew 19:1-22.  In this section of Matthew Jesus is faced with no less than 4 questions.  These question deal with 4 subjects: “Marriage, Single living, Childlikeness, and Works salvation.”  In each of these questions, man is always trying to insert his opinion.

For our time, I want to examine the first question.  Jesus is questioned concerning the subject of marriage and divorce.  The passage begins with man’s interpretation of scripture , Vs: 3.  Here we discover man’s desire to make the scripture say what he wants it to say.  Check out Deuteronomy 24:1-3 for more information.  The passage turns the other way as our Savior gives God’s interpretation, Vs: 4-6.  God’s plan for marriage never included divorce, Matthew 5:31-32, Gen. 2:18,21-24.

This passage becomes intense as man challenges the scripture, Vs: 7.  Man is always looking for errors so that he can justify his error.  Next we notice that our Savior identifies our sin, Vs: 8-9.  Suddenly it becomes clear that divorce happens as a result of man’s sinful disobedience to God’s plan.

This passage teaches us God’s view of marriage.  Marriage is to be the coming together of two lives.  These lives become one united under the leadership of Christ.  These lives leave their former life and they labor for life to be what Christ called them to be.  Each couple will have to work through many things in their lives together.  Sadly even martial failure will come to some couples.  When this happens God’s plan is for forgiveness (Matthew 18:23-25) and restoration.

However none of these things can be accomplished if we live by our own opinions.  This very day I encourage you to resist the temptation to interpret scripture in your wisdom.  Many people look at a verse and think, “What does this mean to me.”

Brothers and sisters we must look at scripture and allow scripture to interpret scripture.  God’s word has one meaning.  This meaning is his meaning and not ours.  The meaning of scripture is not up to our debate or our choice.  We must discover God’s meaning and we must dedicate ourselves to living out that meaning.

If we do not live this way, we will find ourselves as did the people in Matthew 19.  We will make decisions based upon the hardness of our hearts.  Our lives will be a wasteland of misinterpretation of God’s word.

Follow God’s path in obedience to His word.  You will be able to say, “This is God’s view.”  Then and only then will you find success in life!

For further study consider reading II Timothy 2:15, II Peter 1:15-21.  Also for further study concerning what God says about marriage, read Paul Tripp’s book, “When Sinners Say I do.”  

Tired of, “And They Could Not”

January 24, 2012

“And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” Matthew 17:16

Do you every grow weary of not being able to do things?  I can still remember in my childhood getting upset with my parents because it seemed that we could never take a trip together as a family.  There were always reasons why we could not go.  I can still remember making a commitment to myself, “When I have a family I will seek to always try to do the could not’s.”

Now as an adult I realize that there were many reasons why we could not do certain things when I was a child.  Some of those same reasons keep me from doing things today.  But that story is for another day.

This morning we focus our attention on the could not from our bible reading, Matthew 17:9-18:7.  Here Jesus encounters (17:14-21) a father who has a son who is demon-possessed.  This father has brought his son to Jesus disciples for healing and they could not.  Now Jesus comes and the could not is replaced with the power of God.

As we follow the story line Jesus makes a very revealing statement about the could not, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.”

Think about the implications of what Jesus said: How often do we struggle in our own attempts to do something about the could not’s. We struggle and we struggle in our own strength (How twisted we are in thinking that dead people can bring life to other death people).  How often are we short-sighted in our attempt to do something about the could not’s?  Here Jesus is right before them and they try in their own strength.  People who believe in Jesus must walk in faith totally walking in his power and not their own.

This morning I was greatly encouraged by Christ’s words, “Truly, I say to you, ‘if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

As we believe in Christ we begin to evidence faith in Christ’s power and teaching. At first we take baby steps but then we get on our feet and we walk in his word.  We now walk in humility and we now encourage those who come behind us to walk in this same faith.

Over the years I have discovered that the only could not’s that need to be overcome are those could not’s that come when we look at God’s word and we say, “I can’t do it.”  Brothers and sisters, “Yes you can.”  If you don’t believe me, “Look at the father’s son who is now in his right mind because of Jesus.”

For Further reading, “Mark  9:14-28, I John 4.”  Also Adrian Rogers book, ‘The Power Of Kingdom Authority.”  

Testing The Soil

January 18, 2012

As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and  in another thirty.”  Matthew 13:23

For those of you who are following our reading plan for 2012 (You can access a free downloadable copy from our website, you already know that todays bible reading, Matthew 13:18-43, focuses on three parables given by Jesus.  Each of these parables teach us much about God’s kingdom and how believers are successful in His kingdom.

The first parable speaks about humanities receptivity to God’s word.  Quickly we discover that the majority of humanity does not understand God’s word.  For the majority of people, they see not value in God’s kingdom.  Still others like the word but do not stick with the word when the word begins to make demands.  We see this often with people who turn away from God’s kingdom.  Still others want the word but they cannot give up the world so they are rendered ineffective and never embrace true kingdom life.    Finally we see those who are blessed by God to not only see the word but they are able to understand the word.

In the book of Colossians we find the following truth, “The word is bearing fruit in every place,”1:6.  This very fact was presented by Jesus in the third parable, “The mustard seed, Vs: 31-32.”  At first the value of the word seems little (Mustard seed) but then it begins to grow and becomes larger than anyone could imagine.  Question, “What impact is the word having in your life?”

Certainly some will respond, “The word is not having much impact in my life.” If this is your response or if it is the response that others give you, consider what Jesus said in the first parable.  The problem with the word was not in itself but in the soil that the word was sown into.  Of the four soils we discover that three were reflective of those who rejected the word and only one was reflective of those who received the word.

You must test your soil, the soil of your heart.  Are you receptive to the word and are those around you receptive to the word? Jesus said, it was clear to see who was receptive.  Such people are bearing fruit in the world.

Such people are growing in their faith and such people are going into the world sowing seed. This past week 15 members of our church spend 8 days in Honduras sharing the gospel.  Each day I would weep as I read their blogs from that nation.  It was clear to see that the gospel was in good soil.  But the real test will be now that they are back home. I believe we will continue to see the fruit of the word.

Today, I challenge you to test the soil of your heart.  I also challenge you to commit to striving to bear more and more fruit in your life.  Our world needs the gospel.  We must be willing to bear fruit.  Jesus reminds us in the parable of the wheat and tares that the souls of men hang in the balance.

For further study read James 1:19-27; also David Platts book, “Radical Together.”

A Radical Shift

January 5, 2012

You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltines be restored?… You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:13,14

This morning we continue to read the words of Jesus given in a sermon entitled by many, “The Sermon On The Mount,” Matthew 5:13-37.  

As I read through this text, I came away shaken in spirit.  I was reminded of how radical Christianity really is!  Christianity has such a radical effect on a person that the scripture characterizes a person as being, “Salt and Light in the world.”  Question, “Does this describe You and I as followers of Christ?”

In answering this question we need to dig a little deeper.  When Jesus used the metaphor of salt he was speaking of something that preserved and something that brought flavor.  The person who has been redeemed now lives a life that is different.  He or she is living a Holy life when they used to live a life filled with hell.  In this way we are preserving the world from more ungodliness.  In the same way we are showing the world a different way (We are a light to this world).

Brothers and sisters, such a life demands a radical shift.  Our lives must come under the daily scrutiny of the Word Of God.  When we do, there will be a radical shift.

For example, Lets look at Matthew 5:21-26, where Jesus deals with anger in a believer’s life.  First Jesus shares about how we are to Treat others.  We are not be angry with, insult, or call our brothers a fool.  We are to treat others as we have been treated by God.  Second Jesus share about how we are to be a Testimony before others.  As we worship together God’s conviction comes through his word.  We are convicted that we are out of fellowship with someone (We have no treated others correctly).  The radical shift comes as we seek that person out with the desire for reconciliation.

These verses alone will shake a person.  But couple them with the rest of the text and you will be shaped into a person who is salt and light.

I want to challenge you to make a radical shift.  Become a student of the word and salt and light before the world.  You will be radical and those around you will, “Glorify God in you!”

For further study read Ephesians 5:1-21.  Also read, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life,” by Don Whitney.  By the way, this book is being taught in our spring Life University Classes.  

Remember the Requirements

December 26, 2011

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?”  Deuteronomy 10:12-13

Recently my daughter was sharing with Sherry and I about a particular scholarship offered at her college.  She said there were 15 requirements that must be met for the scholarship.  After listing some of the requirements, I thought, “Beth does not meet these requirements.  Especially the one that stated, the applicant must be from Alaska.”  Suddenly Beth broke out in laughter and said, “I applied anyway.”

Without a doubt she will not get the scholarship.  Now in a much more serious manner, God laid out for Israel, in Deuteronomy 10:12-13, His requirements for a successful life in the Promised Land.

As one reads this text, he or she must read what comes before and what comes after to clearly understand the implications of God’s requirements.  These verses actually come in the midst of Moses exhortation (9:1-11:32) to the nation concerning her future.  Very quickly Moses reminds Israel that God is giving them the Promised Land, not because they were righteous, but because He loved them.  The fact is, they were unrighteous all along the way.  Moses comments about their unrighteousness, “You have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you,” 9:24.  

The fact is, God challenge to Israel was to change her way of living.  Unless she began to meet God’s requirements, the blessings of the Promised Land would be forfeited.

These chapters remind us of God’s grace in His love to unloveable people.  God’s amazing love came to us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).  These chapters also remind us of man’s inability to carry out the requirements of God without His empowerment.  Israel’s heart was not different.  Yes she experienced victory for a period of time, but her heart remained unchanged.

Question, “has your heart been changed?”  Your answer will only be yes if your heart has been circumcised.  How does a person know it there heart has been circumcised?  Just as circumcision is an outward sign.  So to will there be outward sins of an inward change.  Consider Deuteronomy 10:12-13, 1) A person’s life will be lived with the desire to honor God (Fear).  2) A person’s life will be characterized by obeying God (Walk).  3)  A person’s life will be marked with the love of God (Love).  4)  Finally, a person’s life will be identified by their life of service to God (All your heart).  

This day, I pray you will look at the requirements and you will remember that it is by God’s grace and by God’s power that you are able to both understand and carry out God’s requirements.

Hope Is A Wonderful Word

November 30, 2011

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,” Hebrews 6:19.

This morning, I found myself engaged in a subject matter that often is a source of confusion for many people.  The subject is “Hope.”  The word hope is defined as, “A confident expectation of the future.”  This confidence comes as a result of someone or something we place great trust in.

For example, “Many people place the hope of their retirement benefits in the hands of the government.”  But for those of us who are 40 and younger, there is little hope that this Social Security System will still be in place when we reach retirement.  So our hope must be placed somewhere else.

Still others place their hope in the stock market.  But as the stock market is certainly suspect today, many find themselves stressed about losing hope.

The list could go on and on.  Our’s is a world filled with people and ideals that boast of hope.  However, little hope can be found in things that will not last.

However there is a place where true hope resides.  This hope is found in Jesus Christ.  The writer of Hebrews illustrates this hope as being “A steadfast anchor.”  In the storms of life, it is Christ that anchors us to safety as well as calmness.

R.C. Sproul writes, “Though the Christian life is marked more by suffering than by triumph (Acts 14:22) our hope is sure and our mood should be free from despair (I John 4:18).  

This very day, I have a blessed hope that causes me to have perfect peace in all I face.  This blessed hope gives me perfect perspective in all I face.  This blessed hope gives me perfected praise of my Lord in the midst of a world that has no hope.

This very day, I realize when I find myself with anxiety that I have moved away from my blessed hope. In these moments I have chosen to allow my mind to be pulled away from the truth and now I believe a lie that says, “You do not have an anchor.”

So during this Christmas season, celebrate the hope that has come.  Proclaim His message with all you meet.  Throw the anchor out and see what the Lord will do.  Finally confess your failure to trust in His hope and today perfect your mind in believing in hope (I John 4:18).