Monday, November 22, 2010
How do you wrestle with this verse? Go and read 1 Corinthians 8 and 10, maybe also Romans 14.
I don't want you to sermonize me. I want you to give me your honest struggles, i.e.:
Is it okay to watch R rated movies?
When and where is it safe to have an alcoholic drink?
Are these the type of questions you are asking? What kind of questions do you ask?
I would love to hear back from you on this!
Monday, November 1, 2010
So, I am not one to throw out Halloween completely. If I had my druthers, I would celebrate All Saints Day instead, knowing the hearts of great men of God from our past are much more to be celebrated than death and fear. But, because I live just a few feet from the gates of Hell, I and my church brothers and sisters must sound an alarm that will be heard.
Over this Halloween weekend our church hosted two events. Both were out in the public where lost people are and both were done with grace and love.
The first was a "Trunk R Treat" at an apartment complex. Seven cars of church members decorated their trunks in fun and creative ways. Those who lived in the apartments were notified the Thursday before that we would be out. We had a lot of people come. Alot of kids were all dressed up and got some extra candy and we got to tell these folks about our church and that we just wanted to bless them and open a door of ministry to them. We weren't trying to hide anything. This event came on the heels of a block party we had done at the same apratments during the summer. So, many of those folks knew us. The Church has got to go to the highways and biways and compel them to come in and sometimes continuously. Doing that will mean we must meet these people where they are. Were there ghosts and goblins dressed up as kids, and vice versa? Yes. But, that is where the church is to do its best ministry.
The second event took place at one of our members homes. We basically did a block party. This church member loves Halloween and has gotten a reputation for doing up a pretty cool lawn for scaring kids. Yes, he actually loves scaring them! I know he's a sinner saved by grace, get over it! So while, he was scaring kids and their parents (by the way our society loves to be scared, so we used that to our advantage), we set up a bounce house, snow cone machine, and coolers of FREE drinks for people to take in the neighbors yard (another soul we are trying to reach of a member). There were so many people out and about we went through all our ice, drinks, candy, and church invitations. People were shocked to learn it was all for FREE. We recieved many thanks and "this is cool" and we got to invite a ton of people to our worship service.
I know we can argue whether we were associating with evil. We could have holed up in our church building and hoped that the world would come to our harvest event, but we chose to join the sinners and publicans and eat with them just like Jesus would have done.
Ministry can be messy. But "their" souls are worth it, because His blood was worth it!
Friday, October 22, 2010
We find the term Man of God written several times through-out the Old Testament and by Paul in the New, specifically in 1 Timothy 6:11. Here Paul gives Timothy four key commands that distinguish Timothy as a Man of God. Those four key commands are discovered by four words:
FLEE! In verse eleven Paul tells Timothy to flee from "these things?" These are lined out in the first ten verses. First, Timothy is told to instruct slaves to respect their masters, and if their master is a Christian, they are to respect them even more so. So, a Man of God flees from disrespect. Second, Paul warns Timothy about unsound teachings. Teachings not based on Jesus and the apostles, but teachings contrived by arrogant men who lust for power and control. The Man of God must flee from unsound, unorthodox, and false teaching. Third, Paul speaks of being content. The Tenth Commandment tells us not to covet, which speaks to the heart of a man who is not content, always wanting what everyone else has. So, flee from coveteousness. Fourth and most applicable the man of God must flee from the love of money. Oh, how this love (lust) conquers many a man and actually causes them to lose what is most valuable - the love of a wife, children, home, respect from colleagues. Money, like any thing this world offers, will never satisfy a man.
Pursue. While a man of God flees those things he must be vigilantly moving forward after good things. Paul lists six virtues.
- Righteousness, this is an external display of your actions and words. Would you say you do and say things that are righteous, worthy of acknowledgement?
- Godliness, this is the internal joy of the heart. Do you pursue being more like Jesus? He is our Master and Commander for all of life's battles and operations.
- Faith is an unwavering trust in God as your sole desire.
- Love is self-sacrificing, others first (including enemies), seeking anothers best interests above your own, kind of action. This is a choice you make everyday. No one falls in love and no one especially falls in love with an enemy. Love is a choice you must choose to put into effect.
- Perseverance is finishing the marathon. Life, and the Christian life inparticular, is not a sprint, but a long, long marathon. Some of us will endure more than others, but we must all endure to recieve the crown of life. This is one of the surest tests of our own salvation - do we endure to the end for Christ no matter what circumstances we find ourselves under? No man should assume he is spiritually safe when hard times hit and he runs from God and only returns to Him when things become pleasant again.
- The last of the virtues is gentleness, this is humility, mercy, kindness in action. A man's first instinct is to lash out at enemies, but not so with Christ. He always shows mercy. So must we. God is the final arbitor and judge of each man's life.
Fight! A Man of God contends for the Christian faith. The world hates Christ, your own flesh hates obedience to Christ, and Satan despises his Maker. All three create an incredible axis of evil that a Man of God must fight against. This will take many forms in life, but the harshest fight, the Normandy invasion for every man will be his own heart. What a man chooses to fight for in his heart regarding the faith God grants will display what he truly fights for in life. Many a church has fallen prey to these enemies because some kind-hearted man didn't want to squelch another's spirit. Our fear of man has become collosal compared to our fear of God. Don't we truly fear God who takes the body and soul? Why do we dance around sin as if it is a "life choice." A Man of God will rise up and call another to account. It is better we call account of one another now and win or lose then wait until that sure day when we will all give account before the Great Judge of the universe. Better to contend with one another now while there is still time to repent than on that day when our fate will be sealed. Where are the Men of God who will call sin sin and not allow its dirty face in our marriages, families, churches, and communities?
KEEP! We must keep these commandments. In the context of First Timothy this would be guarding the Gospel message. Within the context of the NEw Testament, this would be the Gospel. The Gospel message - Christ's atonement on the cross as the elect's substitute, His death, His resurrection - these must be kept. This understanding of the Christian faith is absolutely essential for all other teachings.
Oh, that there would be more Men of God. FLEEING from earthly distractions, PURSUING those virtuous characteristics of Jesus, FIGHTING for the distinctiveness of our faith, and KEEPING the Gospel central in all we do.
Friday, April 30, 2010
What in the sam-hill does that text mean?
Remember, we are looking at a passage that advises us to return evil not with evil, but with good. You must take this into consideration when reading this verse because this verse teaches that same principle.
What does your enemy expect you to do? Get even, get revenge. But, this isn't the mindset of a child of God. When someone hurts you you do what they would not expect--you treat them with goodness and love, doing respectable things to them that makes them go, "huh?"
Then when you have done good to their evil, they will feel bad about what they have done to you. Now, this may not happen always. You may never see their shame or hear their heartfelt apology. But, you can be sure that by turning on the love, as opposed to their hate, they will see you for a "good, honest, and sane" person.
Do not let your motivation though, be one of I'll get even with them, I'll do good to them and then I know they will feel shame. No. You do the right thing, which can be the hardest thing. Your Father, who sees in secret, will repay you. Your satisfaction should never come from another person's pain. Remember the context, Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
So get out there beloved and act like Christ to a lost and hostile world. To use an old cliche, "You may be the only Jesus someone ever sees."
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The Bible is so clear here. How do we so often miss it? Someone snaps at us, we snap back. He cuts you off in traffic, you flash your lights at him, swerve up and around him. As if we could really get back at him for doing such a thing to us.
Our nature will always want to stick it to the other guy. This is clearly not the way of Christ, nor His brothers and sisters. The Father will not allow His children to be mean or nasty with another.
The meaning of "respect" is a meaty word. It means that we are to make plans at doing what is right. There is an intentional flavor to this verse. Not only are we NOT to payback evil, but we are to payforward good to those who hurt us.
We are to do to our enemy what no one would imagine. We are to do something for them, to them, before them that is respectable to any one watching. "All men" here includes believers and unbelievers alike. When the opportunity arises to do some mean and nasty thing, which is what the watching world expects, it is then we are to plan to do something that will blow their minds!
You respond in such a way that everyone around becomes amazed. The crowds around Jesus were amazed by His teaching. They had never heard someone like Him teach. In the same way our treatment of our enemies should literally amaze those standing by.
This must be a planned approach though. None of us are ever ready to say the perfect thing at the moment we need it. Usually, five hours later we think to ourselves, "oh, I should have said this." We know those individuals who say things that hurt or sting. It may be your spouse, or kids, or best friend at church. Anticiapte the things they say regularly that kind of smart and have a response that will bless them and not curse them.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God. - Jesus
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
The first of the five is sola fide, or "through faith alone." These five points of doctrine all came from the Reformation period of our early church history. This first sola comes from the corrupt teaching of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) that there were several graces you must accomplish to acquire saving faith. Some of the more notable RCC graces are infant baptism, confirmation, marriage, mass, and last rights. These and a few more had to be done to fully satisfy God's favor and the bestowing of His grace. Martin Luther came along and said, "No!" His study revealed what had always been in the Scriptures, but had been buried by the obscure and false teaching of the RCC. Scripture teachs that believers are justified by faith. The Epistle to the Romans speak of Abraham believing God for the promise and then God crediting His righteousness to Abraham. God required nothing of Abraham except simple faith in His divine promises. There is no man-made work or ritual that can appease God for His grace.
This takes us to the second, sola gratia, or "by grace alone." This teaches us that our salvation is non-meritorious. There is no merit that man can achieve that will appease God. Grace alone is what God displays in His mercy. Unregenerate man has no standing before God except wrath. All we like sheep have gone astray, there is none righteous, no one seeks after God is what the Word describes. As objects of holy God's wrath we can receive only one thing from God and that is His damnation. We do not deserve His grace, but wrath, we are sinful beings who have disobeyed His laws. But, thanks be to Christ Jesus, we are offered His mercy. His mercy places our sinfulness on Christ and Christ's righteousness on us. This is GRACE! Not that we could love Him, but that He loved us first!
The third sola, solus christus, "in Christ alone," teaches us that there is no other name under heaven by which man might be saved. Our salvation is a narrow minded one. Only those who enter through the narrow gate and follow the narrow way will enter heaven. There is no grace for those of the Muslim faith, Hindu faith, or any other faith. Any faith, even supposed Christian faiths, that water down Christ and His death on the cross are not faiths at all. Beloved, this is why it is imperative that you scrutinize over the Words of Scripture and over those who teach you. Are they teaching Christ alone, or do they mix him with any sort of man-made ritual or any other requirement that ultimately takes away from Christ's atoning death on the cross? There are many churches out there that teach Christ, but do they teach Christ from the Bible.
This leads us to our fourth sola, sola Scriptura, "according to Scripture alone." This sola teaches that all that is needed to know about our salvation comes from the Word of God. There are no new revelations from God, no new thoughts about our salvation, no new revelations from angels. We have a closed canon (Bible)! This means that preachers should be preaching God's Word, not the latest poll survey from Barna or whatever drivel comes out of the evangelical fads of today. The biggest church and most popular preacher does not guarantee solid biblical teaching. I encouage you to read my posts entitled, "True Preaching," where I delve into these issues more. There is alot of truth out there, but not all of it is biblical truth. Not all of it goes to the heart of the matter--our position with or without Christ. Millions of self-help books line our shelves, but none of them have the authority of God in them. Only the inspired, God-breathed pages of holy writ are authoritative. Go to them and them alone. Read the Proverbs, there is more self-help in those 31 chapter than all the books of the world!
The last sola, soli deo gloria, "to the glory of God alone," speaks to the core of what it is all about. Life, family, church, jobs, the world, all of it is for His glory. Go into the Psalms and see how often God's fame and glory is desired by the Psalmist. The first name we get from God is Jealous. He is a jealous God who is jealous of His own glory. This is why the New Testament speaks to our humility. We are nothing without Him and thus all glory goes to Him. When the church gathers it isn't for the sake of the unbeliever, despite what many pastors and churches try to sell, it is for His glory. The saints, or called out one's, come together to magnify His name by preaching, reading, singing, praying, and meditating upon His Word. Whether you eat or drink, in whatever you do, do it all for His glory.
I hope this gives you a little understanding of these foundational truths that have helped align the modern church with God. There is a resurgence of these teachings out there. You don't have to look to hard to see new books and new authors exposing these great truths. A few good books to get you on your way:
"What Makes a Church Evangelical?" James Montgomery Boice
"By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me" Sinclair Ferguson
"Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace?" James Montgomery Boice
A good article to read is this:
God bless you in your journey,
Friday, April 9, 2010
These words have been thrown out there a million times. But do you have a church or a group of folks in your church that these words are completely true? Satan is at war with God and he will do whatever he can to run Christ's name through the mud. Satan knows that he has limited time and ability, but he will do all that he can to destroy our Savior's image if we let him.
One way for us to combat his hatred is for your church and my church to come together and really be ONE.
When we weep do we really weep? If someone goes into the hospital are we doing all we can to help them keep the home fires burning? If you are the one weeping are you allowing your church family to weep with you? We all say that we don't want to be a burden to someone, but this is what being a Christian means. We can burden one another and we should be willing to go out of our way to help one another, and we should be willing to allow other believers to come into our lives and help us.
Do we really rejoice with one another? If someone got a better job or a new car, do we sincerely rejoice with them or do we fake it? Do we fake it because of jealousy or envy? If a brother or sister receives something that will help them make a greater impact for the Kingdom of God then we should rejoice. We need to stick it to Satan and realize we are on the same side and by truly loving each other deeply!
Evil will be more easily overcome if we know we have a whole army of fellow believers standing right behind us. I think of those Verizon commercials where the guy has a whole army of Verizon employees standing behind him (helicopters flying over, people taking notes, people doing all sorts of work). THAT SHOULD BE US! Do you have every fellow believers back in your church? Go down the list of people at church? Will you weep with them and rejoice with them.
God help us for not being more authentic!!!
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Romans 12:14 says we are to bless and not curse. When you are reprimanded, whether righteously or unrighteously, how do you respond? When you "talk"with your spouse, do your words reveal a heart that seeks to bless or curse?
Jesus, our Savior and model for life, said not a word of revilement when He was being beaten and hung on the cross.
You object, "I am not Jesus Christ!" No kidding! But, you are His child, I hope, and if so then His Spirit within you is transforming you. Earlier in Romans 12 Paul tells us to transform our minds by renewing ourselves in Christ. The Lord Jesus will enable you to do as He pleases. His commands should always give us hope, for that which He commands He empowers in us to do. Paul tells the Ephesians that Jesus' power has been granted to us (Ephesians 1:19).
To curse is to speak down, against, and in disbelief. To bless is to encourage, hope, and believe. Beloved, your blessing should be done in the heat of the moment, when you are most apt to lash out, that is the appropriate time to speak words that give life and not damnations! Begin now to think about your words. Meditate upon those passages that bring grace to our words: James 3:1-12; Ephesians 4:29.
We are to overcome evil with good according to verse 21. This verse is the summary statement of the preceding verses beginning in verse 14. God's prescription for us, His children, is never to seek revenge, but to turn and do the best thing for those involved.
Our attitude should be that of our Lord Jesus. He did the greatest thing by dying on the cross which was not a passive thing. Scripture says He laid His life down of His own choosing. He could have stopped the onslaught at any time, yet He knew in the long run His death was the necessary answer to God's wrath over sinful man. So, you too, need to take the harder road and seek to do good to those whose harm you. Yes, turning the other cheek is actually the right thing to do. You and I are to NEVER do harm to another person. First Corinthians even condemns believers for going to secular courts to resolve their disputes.
You are not a door mat, but you actively seek some way to do good when harm has been done to you. A door mat sits back and takes whatever is dished out to it. Christians, are not to just sit back and take it and then do nothing else. Believers are to get up and work harder to resolve the situation and/or do what is necessary for the honor of God.
Why should we work harder? Because we are brothers and sisters to one another. First Corninthians 6, a chapter dealing with lawsuits, chastises believers for going to the secular court to resolve their issues. WE ARE FAMILY. We have a father in heaven Who loves us and has given us the tools necessary to resolve conflict. Careful study's of Matthew 5 and 18 will help us to see these tools. But, what is important is that you are related to one another as long as you acknowledge God as Your Father. Much of New Testament language is wrapped in these words of family where God is our Father and we are brothers and sisters to one another.
Have you been causing dishonor by your retaliatory motivations? How have you been retaliating? Do you need to evaluate your actions towards those who have harmed you in any way? Continue to read Romans 12:14-21. Let the Word teach, correct, and train.
Monday, April 5, 2010
These words are familiar to us, yet do they guide us? How do you handle conflict? Do you seek revenge or retaliation? Do the means justify the end? Do you advise your kids, "You better not start the fight, but you darn near better be the one to finish it?"
Did you know that God has an order for how we are to overcome evil done to us? Did you know that His plan is perfect? Do you know what His plan is?
At the heart of most of our struggles in life is conflict. Conflict with loved ones, bosses, children, even brothers and sisters in the Lord. God's Word gives us guidelines on how we are to respond to evil done to us. My next couple of blogs I hope to discuss this important issue.
For now, I want you to go and read Romans 12:14-21. This is the divine prescription for overcoming conflicts.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Jim Shaddix exploded my preconceived idea in his book "The Passion Driven Sermon" which is what I have been reviewing for you, my reader. His clarification of anointed preaching has given me hope and has also taken away the mystical hocus-pocus I thought I had somehow magically received. It has given me hope because anointed preaching isn't entirely wrapped up in the preacher/evangelist. It is a combination of things: the preacher, the Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit.
The Pastor should never speak for himself, but only for God.
Pastor's are to speak the Words of God as given in the Bible. I was listening to a horrible sermon lately that showed how many preachers are putting their own subjective feelings and thoughts on the same par as the Word of God. This preacher was saying things like, "God revealed to me..." and then he finished that thought with silly things that in no way were attributal to God. Silly things, such as, when one is in prayer one should take deep breaths, this helps the mind to think more sharply and relax more. I am sure these things are true, but that is in no way on the same level of divine revelation as the Scriptures. Pastor's are to speak with only the authority of the Word, their authority is derived from the Word. The Bible warns not to add or delete from the Word.
The Scriptures themselves are most powerful. All that a preacher needs is found in the Word of God. in Second Timothy Paul tells his protege that all scripture is profitable for teaching, for correction, for reproving, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete and thoroughly equipped. Then in Ephesians Paul writes that Pastors are to equip the saints. The only way this is to be done is through the use of explaining the Scriptures. The Bible contains everything people need for walking in greater holiness. This is what God requires most.
A third part that makes up anointing is the Spirit of God Himself. The Word tells us that we are under going metamorphis, a transforming of our minds. The old has gone and the new is coming. We are now on this earth justified and being sanctified, yet one day we will stand before Jesus and be glorified. The Spirit is the One Who comes alongside us and enables us to live this crucified life. He enabled the apostles to remember all that our Lord had spoken so they could write His words down. Jesus promised that the Spirit would help them when they were on trial to speak up for the cause of Jesus Christ. So too, the Spirit will bring Scripture to our remembrance when we need it and He will empower us to speak on Jesus' behalf when we testify for Him before men.
If the scriptures where inspired by God then don't you think that our preaching will be anointed if we speak clearly the truths of the scriptures? The Pastor must preach so that his audience comes to understand the meaning of the text as it was meant for the original audience. Then the Pastor can relate those same principles into our day.
I love to hear preachers who are fired up in the pulpit. Old preachers and saints call this "unction." When a Pastor gets in that pulpit their should be a little unction in that sermon. I know for myself it has come when I am prayed up, know my material, and I understand that I am speaking on behalf of God to His people. God wants to move in them and He uses the man of God in the pulpit expounding the Scriptures.
Go and preach my fellow Pastors!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Pastors are to maximize the actual truths of the Bible. The author gives an illustration out of Nehemiah. If you have heard any sermon or read a book about Nehemiah it probably had to do with leadership. Yes, Nehemiah deals with leadership, but this is secondary to the actual story. The story is about God being faithful to His covenant people. The Bible is all about God, always! Bad preaching takes these secondary issues and heightens them to paramount levels.
This is why it is so necessary for a Pastor to be locked away in his study to first discover - what is God saying. To often Pastors start at the end of the sermon-process asking, "What is this text saying to me?" This can be dangerous because we put our subjective spin on the Bible. The first step in all good Bible study is to determine what God is simply saying. What is He saying to the original audience? What were the implications for them? Why did God say this particular thing to them? Only after this preliminary hard work is done can a Pastor ask, "Now, how does this original message effect me today?"
Another bad habit we Pastors have is to isolate a verse for our own use and limit God's message. We love to do this with Micah about robbing from God. Yes, that passage does speak about robbing from God through our tithes and offerings, but the complete picture of that prophetic book is so staggering, it should cause the Spirit of God to break out into a revival! Pastor, be careful about how you use God's Word. Do you not realize this is God's Word? Not just a book!
As the Pastor seeks to magnify God's voice through his sermon, the congregation should magnify the message through their listening.
The author gives three important principles from Scripture for how a congregation should respond to expository preaching. First, going back to Nehemiah it says the people called for Ezra to bring the Book, the law of Moses, that it might be read to them. So Ezra and the Levite priests read it and explained it to the people from early morning until midday. The people responded with raised hands, "Amens," and bowing prostrate in worship before the Lord. They revered the written word of God. Second, in Acts the new disciples committed themselves to the apostles teaching. In fact it says the lost watched from the peripheral being in amazement at all that was happening in this band of beleivers. Can you imagine the respect and awe of the lost who saw Ananias and Sapphira drop dead at the entrance to their meeting place? There was a holy reverance for the things of these Jesus followers. Third, listening must be combined with conviction. If we beleivers demand the Word to be brought to us and expect God to speak then conviction will follow. Paul told the Corinthians that an unbeliever coming in and hearing a prophet speak would come under conviction as opposed to hearing unintelligable tongues being spoken. The power of God is displayed in biblical expository sermons. It is conviction that we need most, not warm fuzzies.
Pastor, magnify the voice the God through His Word in your sermon. People are hungry for a word from God. You have the privilege and responsibility to bring Him to them. Don't waste their time with dog and pony shows. Leave the entertainment to the entertainers! Preach the Word!
Christian, listen to the preached word as if your life depends upon it. Expect your Pastor to bring you a Thanksgiving meal in his sermon. If you don't see the Lord lifted up from his sermon, pray for him, and you might even need to let him know, "I can watch Youtube videos at home, bring me the Book on Sunday!"
Monday, March 15, 2010
By the way, GET THIS BOOK FOR YOUR PASTOR!
The first thing I want to delve into is the responsibility preachers have. They are to be men who illuminate the Scriptures. There is NO new revelations being given by the Spirit of God. Ephesians 4:11 tells us that God gave prophets and apostles and evangelists, and pastor / teachers for the equipping of the saints. There has been a progression of bibilical revelation. That progress began with prophets - Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, and even John the Bapitst. These were men who recieved direct communitcation from the Spirit of God to them. We know that Moses was a man who spent time with the Lord face to face. There were prophets in the early days of the church, we read of them in Acts.
Then came apostles, the twelve who spent three years living with Jesus. Listening, watching, and ingesting all that our Lord did. These men, along with the prophets, ushered in the church-age. Paul, Peter, John, and James began writing as the Spirit prompted them, letters to believers. The prophets began to slide out. By the time the apostles were all dead the church still had many copies of these letters and thus began the creation of the churches holy sciptures.
Now, today, men of God, take that written, God-inspired word and illuminate it. This is the chief operation of any preacher, pastor, evangelist, and teacher, to rightly divide the Word of God. Preachers must take a text and dive deep into its meaning. We have 2000 - 4000 years of history to fill in. This is an ancient book, and Pastors are to be the resident experts of its content. The preacher is to take this book and make it understandable to modern worhippers. A Pastor is a good reporter, he understands his topic and brings it to the attention of the people.
DANGER! False preaching adds extra-biblical information as authoritative and then we have reduced God's word. Any therapist can evaluate marriages and then come up with principles to show how to have a good marriage. This is truth that God ordained, but it is not essential truth for the church. The Word of God reveals to us God's standard. It gives us enough information that sets the bar for us. The problem with modern day preaching is that preachers think all people want is "how-to" sermons. Preachers don't believe that preaching on the glory of God in marriage is enough. They presumptiously beleive, "Believers, already know that. They want to know how good marriages work." A faithful expository Pastor will mine the depths of God's word and reveal to hungry believers the needed nuggets to strengthen marriages. Yes, other books are helpful, but God's word gets to the core of the issue, ALWAYS. The root of knowledge is what believers need. The Bible provides it, and the faithful Pastor will reveal it.
"How-to" sermons are nothing more than candy bars. But, expository sermons are a Thanksgiving dinner. If your Pastor is using all kinds of stories, and videos, and dramas then he might be attempting to water down the truth. He wrongly thinks that people don't want deep doctrine, they just want the "rubber meets the road" stuff. If your Pastor uses his pulpit to talk about anything other than the Word of God, like politics and entertainment, then he is prostituting the preaching of God's Word and feeding you candy bars. The Man of God is to take the Bible, lay it open on that pulpit and begin to illuminate what is inside. Believers think they know all there is to know. Sorry, but that is wrong. You and I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of all the gold and jewels that await us in the Bible.
I pray you will come back for more.
Monday, March 1, 2010
In Ephesians 3 Paul writes saying he was commissioned to preach the unfathomable riches of Christ to the Gentiles (nations) about the mystery of Christ. This mystery had been hidden throughout the centuries of the Old Testament, but now it was all coming to light in Jesus. Ephesians three goes onto say that God's multi-facted wisdom would now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. These are the demonic horde who run rampant over the earth. The church exists to show demons the gracious love of God.
You see, the demons in Genesis six tried to spoil the "Seed of the woman." This would taint God's promise that a seed of the woman would stomp on the serpents head. The seed would give Satan the death blow. So, Satan and his horde invaded the earth and somehow manifested themselves and impregenated woman (hard to believe? Yes. Jude says they left their proper abode.) Their sin was so perverse that God chained them up in the abyss. It is here that Jesus went sometime between His death and resurrection and basically put it to them. Showing them Himself, that their evil plan did not work and that He, the "Seed," had proven fatal to them and that they would receive their death blow.
Revelations says that Satan will be bound here during the Millenium. Towards the end of the Millenium some of these demons and Satan will be released to try one last time to overtake God. They don't and are finally sentenced to the lake of fire, Matthew tells us this is why God created the lake, for the rebellious angels.
You would think Satan would get it, but he never does. He will probably be in Hell for all eternity continually plotting to "rule the world." Pride consumed him, he thinks he is all that.
Christian, you are well-loved if you confess Jesus. Thank Him today for saving you and using you and your church to continually stick it to Satan and his horde. God is a loving and forgiving Savior, we are the proof!
Friday, February 26, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
What is that all about?
The Bible tells us that when Satan rebelled and God cast him out of heaven, God cast him to earth. At that time earth was uninhabitual for humans, but for demons, it was a perfect island prison in the cosmos. Satan, was granted some sort of ruling position over the earth, for we know that when he tempted Jesus, he told Jesus he would give him the kingdoms of the world and all their glory if Jesus would just bow down to him. Of course Jesus does not bow down to him.
Also, did you ever notice that in the gospels we see an awful lot of demon possession? Angels only show up occasionally at God's bidding, but Jesus is running into demons everywhere. And He always tells them to be quiet, when they say things like, "What do we have to do with You, Son the Most High?" The legion who got cast into the pigs said this,"Have you come here to torment us before the time?" Luke adds that they begged Him not to send them to the abyss. Where's that? What are they talking about?
I want you to go get your Bible and read these passages: 1 Peter 3:18-22; 2 Peter 2:4-5; and Jude 6.
All of this will come together.
The text comes after verse 8, "Therefore it says, 'When He ascended on high, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.'" Paul is speaking of the gifting Jesus gives to His people whom He has led out of the slave market of sin and into His glorious Kingdom. Verses 9-10 are Paul's own commentary on the first part of verse 8, the "ascended" part.
For us to fully appreciate what Paul is talking about we have to understand that Jesus stomped the head of that serpent Satan. Remember God's prophetic proclamation to Satan in Genesis that the seed of the woman would smash the head of the serpent? Satan did not fully know WHO that "seed" would be, but he knew it would be someone special. We now know, as does Satan, that the seed would be Emmanuel, "God With Us."
Jesus has triumped over Satan and his demonic legions and He has empowered the church with His own Spirit to do great and mighty acts. Acts of seeing a group of sinful people come together and love one another, thus proving that we are His disciples. We are able to do this because you and I are gifted.
Our gifting falls into one of two categories: speaking and/or serving. We either speak the words of God as given to us in the Bible or we are serve one another at each other's deepest need.
Are you using your gift?
Monday, February 8, 2010
Ephesians 4:1-3 says we are to walk with these five characteristics: humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance for one another in love, and unity through peace.
Humility - no you first, no I insist, you first!
Gentleness - I have carried your burden for a mile, may I take one more?
Patience - though the Lord sends storms and tries me, yet will I praise Him!
Love - No greater love is shown than to lay down your life for one another.
Unity - I have been saved according to the Bible, through grace, by my faith, in Jesus death and resurrection, for God's glory! You too? Let's do lunch.These are expected characteristics for the children of God. Do you see them in your life? Do you see them in other believers you associate with?
God desires a pure bride for His Son. The church of Jesus Christ will be made up of believers who diligently work to display these characteristics into their lives.
The growing of the church is up to God. Our duty is to simply be obedient!
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
First, is Francis Chan's "Crazy Love." I am reading it a second time after watching the transformation God has done in Rob Daniels life from reading it. When I read it the first time Tricia and I were blown away and really began to look at God in a more amazed way. Then, watching Rob read it and he and I would have conversations, I began to remember how awesome this little book was. So now, reading it a second time and a lot slower has been real nourishment to my soul. Pastor Chan has a wonderful writing skill of taking scripture and making it alive. In chapter two when he talks about the gentleman who died after delivering the eulogy of a friend is a really moving portrait.
The second book is "The Darkness and The Glory" by Greg Harris. It is much less known and I would never have found it had it not been given to me. I am only three chapters in and I am already awed at the cross of my Lord once more. When you think no one can write another book on the cross, God illuminates another faithful servant to write another fabulous book. This is it! Like a hard working expository Pastor he digs in to the text and blows you away at how the whole of Scripture is so unified in portraying our saving God. In the first two chapters he reveals why the cross was so bloody. It wasn't just because the Romans were really mean guys. They were really mean guys because the murderer from the beginning was behind it all, you know Satan. There is no heresy here, just TRUTH, clear and profound.
If you are looking for two good books to add to your shelf, these are worthy!
Monday, January 25, 2010
The chapters that resonated with me discussed the issue of mediocrity, you know, doing enough to get by. It stuck with me probably because I feel this is one of my weaknesses. I have a tendency to be lazy and only do enough to get by. God has been showing me this by putting me in situations where I can see the difference between what hard work gets you and what complacency gets you.
Not trying to put anyone under condemnation, but don't you feel better about yourself when you know you did a task with all your wits and muscles? Don't you think God is honored when his kids do a job that just pops!
When my kids do a task, they do just enough to get by. On rare occasion, they have surpassed my expectations, and I am really proud, and I tell them! Don't you think that same feeling resides in our Father's heart when we try to surpass His expectations?
"Let your light shine in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." - Jesus (Matt. 5:16)
Don't just get by.