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Staying on the course (I Thessalonians 3)

February 20, 2019

for this reason, brothers,[b] in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. I Thessalonians 3:7

Never let it be said that I know very much about golfing.  The truth is, the few times I did play, I spent more time off the course than on the course.

Question:  How much time do you spend off the course of your faith?

As Paul wrote to this wonderful church, his heart was gripped with concern for the suffering the church was going through.  He was so concerned that he sent Timothy to make sure they were staying the course.

When Timothy returned, he reported the good news of this church having stayed the course.  How were they able to do this?

  1. The church’s faith was growing.
  2. The church’s love was growing.

These two things led to this church being known as a church which was standing firm in the Lord.

Brothers and sisters, do you want to stand firm in your faith? Are you tired of repenting of those moments of getting off course?  If so, learn from this church.

  • God calls us to lean into our faith.

13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love. I Corinthians 16:13-14

  • God calls us to love the Lord with all of our being.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40

  • God calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

You and I are not alone on this course called Christianity.  Let me challenge you to love others well by going after them when they get off course (Galatians 6:1-2).

I have truly discovered I do not walk this journey alone.  Even Paul called for others in his hour of greatest trial, II Timothy 4:21.

Brothers and sisters, let us stay on course together for the glory of the Lord!!!


How much do we care? (I Thessalonians 2)

February 19, 2019

 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. I Thessalonians 2:8

As Paul writes this letter, it is obvious that he cares deeply about this church.  Each chapter seems to intensify in his love for the church.  Keep in mind, Paul was only able to be with the people for a few weeks and maybe a little over a month at most.

Paul was not just a leader who preached and stayed at hands length from the people.  He came into the city with his spiritual sleeves rolled up, ready to give his life among them.

How is it possible to love people you have never met or you are just meeting?  Let’s research in Scripture:

  • Paul knew this people were loved by God (1:4).  As God’s ambassador, Paul loved people (II Corinthians 5:20).
  • Paul knew Jesus gave His life for these people (1:9).  Paul was willing to give his life (II Corinthians 12:15)

15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 

  • Paul knew how much Jesus sacrificed for all men (2:9).  He knew he also would have to work hard among them if he wanted to reach them.

These reasons plus many more led to Paul’s success not only in this city, but in every city he entered.  Could it be, you and I need to roll up our spiritual sleeves in our areas of ministry?

Dad, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and lead at home and on the job site.  Mom, it’s time you do the same in your role as a mother, wife, and on the job sight.  Single person, its time you roll up your spiritual sleeves as one who is to give themselves fully to the Lord.  He has much for you, it is time you get to work for the lover of your life.  Finally, student and young adult, it’s time you take off the cape of self and put on the robes of a servant.  The world needs people who will love them the way Jesus did!

Where have you been hiding? (I Thessalonians 1)

February 18, 2019

 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. I Thessalonians 1:8

It had been a few weeks since I had seen this couple. I immediately wanted to talk with them. I quickly asked, “where have you been?”  The husband spoke first, “Pastor, we have been on a two-week cruise.” The wife then spoke, “It was a great time of rest.”  In that moment my heart rejoiced because they needed rest.

I wonder how it must have been in the city of Thessalonica during the days when the church there was established? I see two friends meeting on the street.  One asks, “Where have you been hiding?  I have not seen you in three-weeks?”  The friend responds, “Three weeks ago I was invited to hear a guy by the name of Paul speak about different religions.  I went to the meeting.  Did you know there is only one true God?  I had never heard that God came to live on the earth.  His name is Jesus!  Did you know He came to be our Messiah?  I had not heard that He died on a cross for my sins.  You know we are sinners dude.  It gets even better, He rose from the dead on the third day.  Yes, it’s true.  Many people saw Jesus!  Did you know He went back to heaven after giving 12 men the mission of establishing and building His church by going into all the world and preaching His gospel?”

The friend responds, “No, I did not know all of this.”  The friend continues, “But that does not explain where you have been the last three weeks.  You have not gone to temple worship with me even once.”  The other friend responds, “I will never be going back there.  I gave my life to Jesus.  He is my Lord and Savior.  He has made me new. I don’t want to go to the pagan temples anymore.  I serve the true and living God.”

As the friend stood there in shock, his friend asked him the following question: “Why don’t you come with me to services tonight?”

Now, I don’t know if this is exactly how it happened.  But I do know the scene is to be how it is to happen in our lives as Christ-followers.  The city of Thessalonica was turned upside down (Acts 17:5-10) because of the testimony of those who came to know Jesus.

Today I want to challenge you with two things:

  1. If you have not turned to Jesus as your Lord and Savior, do it now.
  2. If you have turned its time to get about the business of telling others.

This is the only way our cities will ever be turned upside down for God!!!

Fellow workers in the truth (III John)

February 15, 2019

Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth. III John 8

Yesterday I asked the question: “who is in your house?”  This morning I received an email from a close brother who used to be in our house for C-group.  His words were far kinder than I deserved.  His words were a great reminder of how impactful the gospel is when we do it together.

May I  never get over the joy of working in the truth of the gospel with others.  Even thought I rejoice in this, at the same time I can tell you that my heart is extremely sad.  This sadness comes from two realities of our day:

  1. There are many false teachers in the world.

We know clearly of those who preach a different gospel.  We know of those who pervert the gospel of God.  We also know of those who oppose the gospel by their selfish attitude.   i.e. “Diotrephes.”

2. There is extreme spiritual warfare against Gospel-preachers today.

In this year alone already some of the most significant gospel preachers have lost their ministries.  I am not writing to judge right or wrong of their actions. I am thinking of how the enemy wants to destroy those who preach the gospel.  I know personally, I am only pastoring because of the great grace of God.

As John writes to the church, he writes on behalf of those who were evangelists.  The churches were to help these fellow workers in the truth.  As I read John’s words, I felt the urgency to pray and to write on behalf of my fellow workers in the truth.

I want to challenge you to do the following:

Pray for your pastors and for other pastors.  Pray for their protection, humility, purity, holiness, love, forgiveness, accountability, and power to push back the darkness.

It is amazing that those who either pervert the gospel or preach a false gospel never get held accountable.  Here is why: the Devil never goes after those on his team.

Stand up for those who lead and help them be protected, even from themselves.  Be assured no pastor is perfect.  This is why every pastor must pursue a holy God every day!!! This is why we must seek to restore God’s men and to not be quick to judge when the fiery darks come.

Who’s In Your House? (II John)

February 14, 2019

10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. II John 10-11

It happens all-most every week in our home.  It takes place on Tuesday nights.  You ask, what happens?  Each week Sherry and I host a community group in our home.  It is aways an honor to host people.  We spend the first hour in eating and fellowship.  We spend the second hour in God’s Word.

This week I was late getting to the group.  As I pulled into our driveway I thought, I wonder what my neighbors think about such gatherings?  For me, it is awesome to know that I am gathering with people who share the same love for Christ and for each other.

In II John we read John’s kind words to the “elect lady,” which most believe to be a local church John had been a part of.  His writing commends them for walking in the truth. This means they are practicing the truth of God’s Word.

Notice how John transitions to a warning in verses seven through eleven.  Apparently there were false teachers in the area where the church was located.  John is very strong in saying, “do no open your doors to them and do not even give them a greeting.”

Does this not seem harsh?  Should we not be kind to those who are in opposition?  How can we reach such people if we do not open our homes to them?

Dear friend, you think through this in the wrong way.  Consider the following:

  1. To open your home meant you were allowing the person to teach their false doctrine to your family.
  2. To open your home meant you were telling others its ok to listen to false teachers.
  3. To open your home meant you were giving false teachers a window to your heart.

Does the above reasons change your views concerning what John is writing?  Every thing we do has implications in our lives and in the lives of those we influence.

Heed the Word of God.  Beware of who comes into your home.  Each day through TV, WiFi, Text, and every other type of social media, the world and false teaching are invited in.  Let me challenge you to screen who and what comes into your home.

There is too much on the line to simply say, “okay” to everything that wants to come in.

Just another day (II Peter 3)

February 13, 2019

14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.  II Peter 3:14

It happens with almost everyone.  You know what I am talking about.  It’s the moment when you have to get out of bed.  I sure you have your routine.  I remember when our kids were little.  Each of them had their own routine in getting up.  Not one of them wanted anyone to bother them as they were waking up.

Question:  “How long does it take you to think about God in the morning?”

Here in II Peter 3 we find a reason to consider God as the first thought of the morning.  Here Peter reminds us of the sudden coming of the Lord.  Peter calls this “The Day of the Lord.”

Apparently there were those who were living each day as if it were just another day.  Peter challenges such people to remember the teachings of the prophets.  When I read those words I thought about Daniel’s prophecies, 7:24-27; 9:24-27; 12:1-12; and I thought about Isaiah and Ezekiel.  I thought about Jesus teaching, Matthew 24-25; and Paul’s teaching, I Thessalonians 4-5.

Question: Why do we live each day as if it’s just another day?

Peter gives us four possible reasons:

  1. Some people believe Jesus is not returning, (Scoffers, Vs: 3).
  2. Some people are so locked into the world system, with no thought of the Day of the Lord, Vs: 4.
  3. Some people don’t want to think about it.  They are enjoying each moment.
  4. Some people are confused and distracted in their belief system, Vs: 5-7.

This morning’s Scripture reminds me to always get out of the bed with two things on my mind:

  1. I need to be alert, this could be the very day the Lord returns, Vs: 11-12.
  2. I need to be active in kingdom life because the Lord could return today, Vs: 13-14.

Brothers and sisters, live out every day as if it were your last.  This is why we as a church Gather (looking for the day) Grow (living lives of holiness) and we Go (wanting to reach every person because, like our Lord, we do not want anyone to perish).

It happens every day (II Peter 2)

February 12, 2019

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. II Peter 2:1

Early this past Sunday morning a person approached me with a very sincere question.  They asked, Pastor, why are there so many different churches?  The question was a great question considering there are over sixty churches in our county alone.  I believe there are two reasons why there are so many different churches:

  1. God ordains churches to reach different parts of the world and different people groups.
  2. Men ordain their own churches because men want to teach and lead in the way they want to teach and lead.

Now, I am not condemning nor am I judging this morning.  I believe this is exactly what Scripture teaches.  In second Peter two we find both Peter’s warning concerning false teachers and his wisdom in exposing false teachers tactics in leading people to their own ordained churches:

  • People follow such teachers because it soothes their flesh, Vs: 2, 18.
  • People follow such teachers and they become trapped in their web of deceit, 2:4.
  • People follow such teachers who are babes in Christ, 2:14, 18 (such people do not know any better).

This happens every day in America.  To such leaders, Peter issues a strong warning of judgment.  To those who follow such leaders, there is the same strong warning.

Question:  How do you and I know if we are in the correct church?  Here are a few questions to ask:

  1. Does the church preach faithfully the entire Word of God?
  2. Does the church call for repentance and submission to God?
  3. Does the church practice what they preach?
  4. Does the church deal with the sins of our day?
  5. Does the church engage its community with the gospel?

If you answer yes to all the above, you are in a God-ordained church.  Pray for God-ordained churches and pray for men ordained churches to cease to be.

Why the Bible? (II Peter 1)

February 11, 2019

19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, II Peter 1:19

I was a young man, who had finally surrendered fully to obey my Lord.  I can still remember the multitude of questions that began to fill my mind.  One of those questions was this, “why do we believe the Bible?”

I can still remember approaching my pastor with fear.  Was I blaspheming by even having such questions?  I can still remember the kindness by which my pastor took me aside and shared with me the glorious truth of why we believe the Bible.

In II Peter 1, the Apostle Peter does the same for us.

Keep in mind, Peter is writing to people who are fellow believers (1:1) who are hearing false teachers (2:1-25).  Peter knows the Word of God is the antidote to false teaching.

  • Peter writes of the blessings God gives His people in order for them to grow in faith, Vs: 3-8.

God’s power is in the Holy Spirit and His promises come from His Word.  He gives His people different desires that led to a disciplined life of growing in Christ.

  • Peter writes out of his burden to get God’s Word before the church, Vs: 9-15.

Peter knows he is about to die and he wants to make sure the church in the ages to come would have God’s Word before them.  He wanted the church to be established in truth.

I believe Peter anticipates the question that was coming.  Here is the question: “Why do we believe the Bible?” Peter’s answer is the answer we need:

  1. This book is not man’s way of producing a following after men.
  2. This book comes directly from God.  Peter writes of a day when he saw God, when he heard God speak and teach.  He is writing as one who is simply taking down the words God is speaking.
  3. This book reminds us of the moment when the Morning Star (Jesus) will return.

To all who read this I say, you can trust the Word of God!

Trust leads to traction in our lives which results in action in our lives

We trust:  This is God’s Word.

We have traction: I want to know God.

We have action: I am growing in the Lord.

When this happens, Peter assures us, we will never fail!

What are we becoming (I Corinthians 13-16)

February 8, 2019

13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. I Cor. 13:1

He seemed to be gaining more and more of a following.  Each night as he taught the Bible the crowds kept getting larger and larger.  Before long he was now on TV.  The money began to pour in.  Within two years, a world-wide TV audience was established.  But a few years later James Baker fell in one of the largest scandals of our day.  One board member commented, “it seemed as if the lights and applause of others changed our leader.”

As Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, it seems that they were a church that had changed over the years.  When Paul established the church, God blessed the church to have every spiritual gift, 1:7.  But the church was no longer profiting from the gifts.  They were jealous of others who had different gifts, they were abusing the gifts, and they were missing the blessing of how God intended for them to serve.

Is it possible for Christians to get off course as they grow in knowledge and in giftedness?  I Corinthians 13 answers the question with “yes.”  This chapter also directs us how to stay on course.  Here is how to stay on course to become one who profits for God’s glory:

  • Gifts are only effective in the life of the one who loves the Lord.

If this is you, you are exercising your gifts for God’s glory, 10:31.  You are equipping the church for God’s glory, 14:11. and you are reaching a lost and dying world by using your gift as a tool for the gospel, 14:24-25.

  • Gifts are only effective in the life of the one who loves others.

If you and I are loving others we teach with a patient heart.  We encourage others as they use their gifts for God’s glory.  We minister out of a love that wants others to grow to maturity in Christ.

I wonder, what are you and I becoming?  I believe God has called us to become people of faith, hope, and love!!!  If love is first the others will come.

This is serious ( I Corinthians 10-12)

February 7, 2019

We must not put Christ[c] to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. I Corinthians 10:9-10

As a young man I used to love a good prank.  I especially loved pulling pranks on people I labeled as those who, in my opinion, took life too seriously.  But now that I have gotten older, I seem to prank less and contemplate more.

As one reads the book of I Corinthians it is clear that Paul is serious about life.  At the end of chapter 9, Paul writes about the seriousness of serving the Lord in a dedicated fashion. Paul warns us of being disqualified from service if we are not disciplined in our faith.

In chapter 10 Paul draws from the example of his heritage to illustrate this truth.  The people of Israel centuries earlier were disqualified from serving the Lord because of their open rebellion against God.  God’s people in covenant with Him desired evil.  They were idolaters; immoral, and complainers against God.

Israel wanted God’s blessing and they wanted the evil world system at the same time!

This is why so many of them died in the wilderness. This was not God’s unjust judgment.  This was God’s just judgment.  Over and over God had warned them of the judgment to come.  But they would not turn and follow Him.

The Corinthian church, now generations later, are doing the same things.

 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? 10:21-22

God intends for their failure to be our example of how not to live.  Paul leads us to see a better way (a serious way) to live for God:

  1.  The Lord has liberated us.  We are to enjoy life for His glory, 10:26.
  2. The Lord is to be our Lord.  We are called to engage life for His purposes, 10:31.

Footnote: God was being merciful in not destroying the sinful members of the church at Corinth.  In chapter 11 we discover how many of the members have become sick and some have died because of the same attitude toward the world and God as had Israel centuries ago.

Our goal must be to discipline ourselves for Godliness, 11:31.  Brothers and sisters, let us take our faith seriously!!!