And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ten Exercises to Build Self Control for the Christian

Self control is both a biblical mandate and a pathway to freedom.  Just look at the following verses.

Pro 25:28  A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

1Co 9:25  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

Gal 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

1Ti 2:9-10  likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness--with good works. 

2Ti 1:7  for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 

Thus we can see that self-control is often a hallmark of Christianity.  We no longer are to give in to the easy desires of the flesh, but now seek to have a heart walled in by values that look to the glory of Christ.

No one is born with self control, it has to be exercised and instilled by the Holy Spirit.  However, there are ten disciplines that come to mind, that when practiced, will have us either failing or abiding in Christ for the abilities to grow in self-control.

  1. Have a regular disciplined early morning Bible study that is completed before any other task.
  2. Limit your daily internet use.
  3. Eat smaller portions.
  4. Exercise regularly, aiming for consistency.
  5. Refrain from talking excessively or from dominating conversations; listen.
  6. Diligently work with excellence.
  7. Manage your time in such a way that you have time to give in the helping of others.
  8. Spend less than you earn.
  9. Refrain from critical speech or the use of harsh words.
  10. Memorize scripture.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Reflections: Nov 22 1963 and 2013

Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the murder of JFK.  I have walked Dealy plaza, visited Parkland Memorial Hospital, and have sat in the Texas theatre.  Each place has an air of haunting history within its existence.  Many wonder what would have been had Kennedy not been killed and America kept its innocence.

Also On that same day, one of my few heroes died.  His death did not make front page news, as is understandable given the circumstances.  But that same day, Clive Staples “Jack” Lewis entered the gates of heaven, and I am sure was surprised by joy beyond even his imagination.

Lewis, a former atheist turned Christian apologist had an air of thinking about him that is still revolutionary.  Like Jonathan Edwards, Martyn Luther, and Charles Spurgeon, Lewis had a way of seeing God that has led others to embrace the truth of God despite the venomous perversions of false representations.  Logic and wonder are often what sets Lewis apart from his peers.

It is well known that Lewis would not have come to Christ had it not been for the influence of J R R Tolkien.  Yet it is Lewis, who taking the lead after Tolkien had opened the wicket gate of Christianity, inspired further thinking that led to such tomes as the Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and thus a genre of stories bidding imagination.  None the least is the Narnia series.
What Lewis inspired in fantasy type novels had been stirred in his own mind by the writings of Rev. George MacDonald; especially his book Phantasies.  Lewis and Tolkien had a purpose in their writing, which is often lacking in today’s dollar driven market.  The purpose of a Lewis fantasy was teaching through shadows and kinds a greater truth.  Perhaps Lewis best book using metaphor would be The Screwtape Letters.

Let it suffice to say, Lewis has shaped our culture today.  It would do us good on this fiftieth anniversary of his home going to reflect on the message of Christ within his writings.  For his longing for joy previous to conversion found him running from God only to discover that joy can only be found at the pure undefiled source, God himself.

Lewis was about the things of God and how life as we know it is a mere shadow of what is to come.  That being said, I believe that reading Peter Kreeft’s book, Between Heaven and Hell is an excellent way to gain an introduction to the ramifications of November 22, 1963.  Not only did that day see the end of the earthly life of JFK, and C S Lewis, but also Aldous Huxley.   This book does a wonderful job of helping the reader see how Lewis’ understanding of God rivals the thinking of worldly philosophies.  The book is challenging of our complacencies and it too opens a wicket gate for belief.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Simply Put: 5 Books that are Tools for Being Godly Men

Simply Put: 5 Books that are Tools for Being Godly Men

·         The Exemplary Husband by Stuart Scott
·         Finally Free by Heath Lambert
·         Thoughts for Young Men by J C Ryle
·         Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper
·         Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul Tripp

           The Exemplary Husband by Stuart Scott
Being a husband is much more that providing a paycheck, sex, and fixing things around the house.  This book benefits the man as a chart for a man to fulfill his duty before God and spouse.
           Finally Free by Heath Lambert
When you are tempted you need to deal with the heart.  Here Lambert preforms surgery to expose your condition and to successfully correct the problem biblically.
           Thoughts for Young Men by J C Ryle
A must read for any man, at any age, to deal with self-control and peer pressure.
           Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper
A coach for life to the fullest, without pursuing that which will not satisfy.
           Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul Tripp
As Paul said, “without love I am nothing.” 
Learn what it is to be a success in the eyes of God and others.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ten Commands of our love Relationship with God

Below you will find the rough draft notes for the sermon on Sunday October 6th, 2013. It is always my hope that these notes will help you in you study throughout the week.

Ten Commands of our love Relationship with God

One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?" Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.' "The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
(Mar 12:28-31)

Then God spoke all these words, saying, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before Me. "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. "You shall not murder. "You shall not commit adultery. "You shall not steal. "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor." All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die." Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin."
(Exo 20:1-20)

The Ten Commandments are a form of protection for the people of God.  They are much like a fence, not to keep you out, but to keep you in.  Within the boundaries of the Ten Commandments you find protection and freedom. Outside, there is a stepping out of the bounds of Gods grace.  When Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they placed themselves within an experience that would forever affect everyone.

We began with the two greatest commands, of which the other ten all are understood. 
·         Love God
·         Love others
In these two are the whole law. 
God is directing us to emulate Him.
·         Christians/disciples/saints love God above all else, thus they value what He values and live from the heart for such truth.
·         Christians/disciples/saints also love others, even enemy sinners as God has also loved such people; and He loves them sacrificially.
These are matters of the heart, not simply behaviors.

The ten commandments teach us about God and our relationship to Him

1. No other God’s before Me  (God is God and nothing else can compare)
            God will not share His glory with another.  When He is #1 it protects us from being double minded.  Thus, justice, truth, and holiness, values of God, are imparted to us.

2. No carved images  (God is beyond our imagination)
            We need to subject ourselves to God and not to the exercise of false imaginations.  The use of images in such worship restricts a persons understanding, it limits who God is in theology.  We should never settle for our own understanding of God, but pursue an ongoing relationship with Him.
            It says God is jealous God, because He is ultimate, He wants the justice of His love to be poured out upon those who believe.

3.  Not take His name in Vain. (God is where our hope lies)
            This has more to do with understanding who He is rather than colorful language.  It is a love for His name, His reputation and the person of God.  God is not to be taken in a trite manner, or as a common buddy.  He is serious, and in Him there is no vain effort.

Notice the first three commands direct us to God.  Without these we flounder in our basis for understanding love, law, or life.

4.  Remember the Sabbath day. (God is to be worshipped, we express our love)
            Guard your mind, body, and spirit to focus on God.  Taking a day off from laboring and striving is a means of exercising faith in His sovereignty and provision.
            It is a day to spend time with God.  It is a giving thanks for all He has done.

5.  Honor your father and mother. (Families are for our good, even those that are not our own)
            Relationships matter.  The honoring of parents has a cultural effect on what a people believe about life.  It teaches that euthanizing people is wrong, that abortion is murder, and that in the winter years when a person is unable to care for themselves, it is a tribute to God in justice to love and care for those who have served us.  It says life is precious.
            Honoring parents is the basis for following leaders.  We read through scripture how we are to honor even those whom we do not agree with as leaders that God appoints.  It reveals that ultimately, our hope is in God and not our officials.

6. You shall not murder  (The work of redemption is at the heart of God, it has keep us from wrath)
            This is not talking about war or judicial prudence.  It is all about being a self-appointed authority and acting our a violent disregard for God and justice.
            Even anger against another in guilty enough for the fires of Hell.  God says to love our enemies, pray for them, and do goo to them.

7. You shall not commit adultery.  (God’s love is sacred)
            As murder is not love, neither is lust.  You cannot have adultery without lust.  Lust is the striving to be god over some person, thing, or situation wherein they serve you by worshipping you.  Adultery says” I want, I deserve, I know better than God.
            God says, one man with one woman, and cleave together through all pains to get a glimpse of hoe God has loved you.  Marriage is for one another to find a suitable earthly helper that opens their eyes to a need of a helper from Heaven.  It shows what the love of God is like.
            Sacredness is always an issue with God.

8.  You Shall Not Steal (God is our provider and we must learn to trust Him)
Adultery is stealing a person.  Stealing is perverting justice by appropriating stuff, which is playing god over situations.
It is cheating.
It is manipulations.
It is a lack of faith that God will provide.
It is the worship of an idol to serve the self.
Stealing says “God isn’t enough.”
It is the compromising of all that is good for a moment of self-indulgence.

9.  You shall not lie (God is truth and those that love God love truth)
            For all that stealing is, lying is theft by tongue. It is destroying or perverting truth.  Thus, it is swaying justice.
            Remember, Satan is the father of lies.

10.  You shall not covet (God is our all in all, we place our hope in Him)
            To covet is to be unthankful. 
It is to crave…
More stuff
More power
More convenience
Those who covet do so by imagination of the fantasy of self-empowerment that comes from life playing out their way.  It puts them in the role-play of being a god.
Even Christians who do this say by the action taken, Jesus and ________________ will make me happy.  For them, Jesus is not enough

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Why Join a Church

We live in a world where many will call Sunday the fun day, a day of doing what thou wilt. It is for relaxing, fishing, and sleeping in.  However, in many parts of the world, people will literally risk their lives to assemble with other believers to worship God.

Where the subject of church membership ought to be a series covering its history, polity, unity, and worship, today we look to overview and answer the basic question, “Why should I join a church?”

The book of Acts gives us the history of the church.  The letters and gospels were written for the church to make disciples.  Thus no one scripture holds the key for the church, for all of scripture is relevant.  One scripture however has much for us to grasp, Ephesians 5:22-32

Much of joining church has to do with covenant and commitment unto God. (Often it is harder to join a country club, and groups such a the rotary club have strict rules of participation that are not forsaken)

            I do say commitment. Often in our individualistic society, commitments are made as they relate to the self.  Many things a person chooses to do are noble, but outside of Christ, they ultimately show a commitment to self-interests, even family. Church membership is a commitment to Christ, and thus His work through the church.

Let me sidestep for a moment: to not be a member puts you into two categories that I find in the New Testament, either unregenerate, that is unsaved, or in the category of being a believer under church discipline.  Neither position is exhibiting the proper relationship with God that Christ died on the cross to provide.

Thus, to be a Christian, I believe, is a positive step in a devoted commitment to God and the work that He does through His church.  This person values the cross, and thus makes a commitment….

To the faith- (A mental commitment)
·         That you see a value in the scriptural references of the existent church that you not forsake the assembling of the believers; loving the body.
·         Being part of a church is a public demonstration of your priorities in a culture of many gods.  You choose to be separate from the world and to congregate amongst believers.  You publically demonstrate that there is a positive value to church membership, that has an overarching benefit over and above all other opportunities.
Here we have the acquiescence of faith, which you agree with the scriptures.

But there is more to it As a warning, remember, church membership is more than mental agreement, for even the demons believe and they shudder. (James 2:19)

To commitment, yes, commitment to commitment, you subject yourself to accountability and responsibility. (A commitment of action)

Mark Dever, in his book Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, writes,
“Church membership is our opportunity to grasp hold of each other in responsibility and love. By identifying ourselves with a particular church, we let the pastors and other members of that local church know that we intend to be committed in attendance, giving, prayer, and service. We allow fellow believers to have great expectations of us in these areas, and we make it known that we are the responsibility of this local church. We assure the church of our commitment to Christ in serving with them, and we call for their commitment to serve and encourage as well.”

There strength in unity and loyalty.  If you want to know the power of God, who works through His people, a commitment to the church is a positive step.  Such a step addresses…..

·         Moraly- that you do want a brother’s keeper and elders to help guard you from sin. You choose to live by certain God honoring standards.
·         Service- that the local church is a mission team cooperating together for the greater good.  You participate knowing that two are stronger than one.
·         Financially- that the tithe is part of your worship through carrying on the ministry of the church.  Locally, nationally, globally.  Widow’s mite is an example of commitment.

The commitment to commitment is that practical application take place through your life.  In these ways, the scriptures are more than a mental ascent; they are an action that follows belief.

But there is more to it As a warning, lest we stop her, Mt 7 tells us of those who served and yet in the last day heard “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”  You see, Christians have a love component to their commitment also.

Ultimately you join a church as a response to God, for what He has done in your life
To God- you obey by loving the brethren.  (Here is heart commitment)  You obey God by being a disciple that is studying to show thyself approved, and worshipping with others who greet in Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
Here is the motivation of the believer, we may believe, we may act, but true believers are those who are motivated by a love fore God, and for the brethren.  This love comes together in a demonstration of belief, through action, by a motivation of worship.

Those who have been forgiven much love much, (Luke 7)

Question:  Can you be a believer and not go to church? Yes but such a life will bear little fruit,  Fruit bearing believers strive for the sanctification process and love the unity of the saints.

Church membership is a commitment of responsibility that “draws a line of separation” from being just like the world as opposed to being a follower of Christ.

Two images of our commitment are Baptism and the Lord’s supper.  Both of these show a uniting with God and fellow believers.

For further reflection and thought:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How are We Christians to Get Along When We have So Many Differences?

Below are the notes from our current study on Sunday nights at Ekron Baptist Church. Being the new pastor, and unaware of any squabbling, it is a good time to openly look over the biblical teaching of how to work out issues that will arise between each other. Not only is this applicable in the church body, it is a tool for use in the home.  Within the Kingdom of God let us build bridges, not walls.

Disagreements are not uncommon in a church body, they regularly occur.  But they do not have to be divisive.  Division is the goal of Satan.  Gossip is his mother tongue.  Satan seeks to destroy churches.  Often the most destructive work is done within.  The heart attitude of believers, or sometimes wolves in sheep’s clothing within the church, has killed many a ministry and church.  Remember Satan seeks to steal, kill, and destroy.

A church is a group of God’s children who are still battling sin through the sanctification process for the goal of being worshippers in spirit and in truth.  Inevitably, our sinful natures will produce friction.  Friction produces heat.  Heat makes a fire, and fire consumes and destroys.

Paul addressed this very issue in a letter to the Colossians.
            Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:11-17)

As we get into this study, think of those things that often cause disagreeance.
·         Personal Preference
·         Miscommunication/misunderstandings
·         Anger
·         Brooding/dwelling on the problems
·         Being defensive or easily offended
·         Our own sinful flesh
·         Being a Pharisee. (Remember, they were blind of their hypocrisies and traditions)
·         Pride of the self-demanding
·         Many many more issues can come between two sinful people.

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Php 4:1-3)

Mar_9:50  Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."

1Th_5:13  and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.

And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are." Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. (Act 15:36-41)
Here Paul and Barnabus no longer worked together.
Sharp Disagreement
paroxusmós; gen. paroxusmoú, masc. noun from paroxúnō (G3947), to stir up, provoke. In a good sense, a sharpening; used figuratively meaning an encouragement to some action or feeling (Heb_10:24). In a bad sense, a paroxysm, the stirring up of anger, sharp contention, angry dispute (Act_15:39; Sept.: Deu_29:28; Jer_32:37). The Eng. "paroxysm" is derived from it.

Paul would never have broken unity and have been able to carry on the work of a missionary.  We can conclude that the separation was a decision based upon strong beliefs, but that no love was lost between them.  They would have mutually agreed that their mission was different.  (However, we never hear from Barnabus again)
We later learn that Paul agrees to work with Mark,  Whatever the separation, it was temporary and not without love.
Col_4:10  Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions--if he comes to you, welcome him),
2Ti_4:11  Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.

Forgiveness is- agreeing to no longer hold the offense against a person, to never bring it up again unless it is constructive in helping the offender in a redemptive nature, and to not dwell upon the problem within one’s own heart.

Matthew 5
Any anger is in danger of endangering your own soul.  A Christian loves his brother and does not hate him at all (1 John 1).
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. (Mat 5:20-26)
The righteousness of the Pharisees stopped at law and appearances, it never proceeded to apply grace.

If you ever utter, or even think, “you fool” or any other form of disrespect then you are in a situation much like Cain; (Gen 4:7)  If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it."   To be angry with a fellow Christian is to be in opposition to God.   Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1Jn 2:10-11)

You will never make everyone be at total peace with you. Rom_12:18  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. In this however, you should always always be ready to forgive and be loving toward one another.  Efforts should be made to reconcile differences.

Matthew 6
Blessed are the peace makers
Forgive, and do not hypocritically put on a face of kindness when bitterness is within your heart.
but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. "And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Mat 6:15-18)

We must be absolutely careful in judging situations.  Often our own sin blinds us from seeing clearly the situation at hand.  If we are to be in righteous anger, we will also have a right heart attitude.
"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. (Mat 7:1-5)
Psa_4:4  Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Eph_4:26  Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,

Overlook an offense
            Pro_19:11  Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
            Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. (Mat 18:21-22)
            Mar_11:25  And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses."
            Joh_20:23  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."

Do not make a big deal out of something, and yet fail to love. Do not neglect to show love over inconvenience. Loving a personal comfort over another person is a form of idolatry.
            Luk_11:42  "But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Heb_13:2  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Heb_13:16  Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

If it is sin, go to your brother.
            There is a biblical way to deal with sin in another person.  Mind you, this is dealing with sin and not personal preferences.  Too often personal preferences have led to sin and this has destroyed churches.
"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Mat 18:15-17)
Paul even had to give some folks over for church discipline.
            1Co_5:5  I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
1Ti_1:20  Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.

Remember, the objective of church discipline is ultimately restoration.
Gal_6:1  Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure--not to put it too severely--to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. (2Co 2:5-8)

As much as depends on us, let us never be the cause for someone else to stumble in the faith.
And he said to his disciples, "Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him." The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" (Luk 17:1-5)

Overall there are two simple laws to follow when it comes to encountering people with differences.
Luk_10:27  And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Genesis 1 God Created Therefore We Have a Purpose

Below are the rough draft sermon notes for Sunday August 18th.

Genesis 1 God Created

As we are Christians, we are also theologians.  Theology is the study of God.  Every person within creation has some philosophy of theology.  Some are better than others, some may not ever think of God.  But ask anyone how they live and you will ultimately gain an understanding of the theology they hold to.

In theology, the study of God, we find that God is considered, “The first cause.”  This means that He is the one who began all.
All man does is in a sequence of what God has begun.
The scientist, artist, musician, businessman, farmer, doctor, lawyer, parent, spouse, child, all live in their capacity in response to God; whether they acknowledge Him or not.
Kepler said, that science is “Thinking the thoughts of God after Him.”

Simply, God is our starting point, “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
God in this verse is plural.  He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We read that Jesus was there creating, we see that the Holy Spirit hovered over the waters.  When we think of God we can think of Him in unified pluralistic ways.  He is not a savage or pagan multi personality.  Rather, in His holiness, he can be three persons and so unified.  At some point, a sermon investigating this wonder will be necessary.  Let is suffice to say, the creation of the heavens and the earth are a Trinitarian experience.

My goal today is to place us upon a track of a God centered worldview in absolutely everything we do.
God is not distant that He begins the world, or a life, and then allows that life to proceed on its own.  The God that knit you in the womb is also the omniscient and omnipresent God that says. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up His cross, and follow me.”
Jesus also added, “If anyone abides in Me they will bear much fruit.” These are just two verses of a call to “Come and follow Him.”

As the scripture of Genesis 1:1 begins, so do we, God is the Alpha and Omega, or beginning and ending point, not only of life, but of all events, thoughts, experiences, and existence.

ByTheWay: we speak often of glory.  Glory is attributing the appropriate awe of worship to the rightful source.

The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to man.
Have you ever considered why God would create “the heavens and the earth?”
Man operates with purpose just as God does.
            God has a purpose and plan in creation.
I agree with Jonathan Edwards, that God created because it was the right thing to do.
            God’s holiness must be expressed.
Expression is often necessary-and in this case I say just.
Good news must be shared, and in the holiness of God worship is required.
·         “We know the Heavens declare your glory above the earth” Psalm 57:5 & 11
·         In all that you do, do unto the glory of God.
·         Sin is intrinsically giving glory to something or someone other than God.
To have good news that is beneficial and right and to not express it would be sin.
            A war over, a patient healed, a love birthed, to withhold good from being conveyed is wrong.
            Thus God created the Heavens and the earth.
            When God makes His glory known He is not prideful or sinful in its demonstration, rather He is benefitting man.  When we glorify God, that is acknowledging in a God centered worship, He is worshipped and we receive joy.  That joy comes from the embracement of love.

Does your worldview center upon God?
Again He is first cause.  That is He began by His own initiative the creation of everything and God never acts without purpose.

When we talk of a God centered worldview, we talk of the authority that God has in our lives.
If God is removed from the creative authority, then man ultimately loses his purpose and value.
            “Philosophers and scientists like to ask, “Where did we come from?”  Though there may be an interest in origins, the ultimate purpose in our origins answers questions of order, law, and morality. 
            When God created the heavens and earth it placed Him as the authority over all.  Without God as Father, man loses his value and purpose as morality and law is reduces to the opinion of the masses and the greater might.  Therefore, truth becomes subjective to the whims of opinion and fad.  It is this type of thinking that led to the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich.  It is the essence of communism and socialism.  These are the end result of man living by his own rules rather than God’s.

God therefore defines who man is.
            For a man to have a fulfilled worth and purpose, he needs God.

So why would God create?
            It is God’s glory to make Himself known.  It is our joy to fulfill that design and we call it worship. 
            You were created to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
·         God creates to reveal glory
·         Sin destroys twisting glory.
·         Redemption is the return to glory.
This begs a question, “Why would God then ever allow sin which rejects His glory?”
·         Difficult to answer.
·         What can be known is that against the backdrop of sin God is ever so gloriously displayed. Like a jewler’s diamond against black velvet and under bright lights.

In creation there was a plan with order, a purpose to express His glory, and the authority of doing what is just and right.
Creation is the expression of God’s glory.
Creation is the revelation of the heart of God.
            Romans 1 reveals further that man ought to seek the glory of God by being in awe of creation, knowing within that God must exist.

God created in Genesis 1:1 Ex Nihlo, that means “Out of Nothing.”
Therefore, He truly is God, the first cause and the authority over all.
·         Man’s gods are often flawed super-humans or super-heros. 
·         God however, is beyond man’s imagination.  We limit God in our efforts to be gods ourselves, But God is limitless.

Applying this to our lives and worldview
·         If God is God and we are not, then opposition to Him in His holiness makes uf offensive to all that is right.
·         If we limit God’s involvement in our lives we are hurting ourselves in the end.  For we are investing in that which cannot last for it is corrupted by sin and destined for destruction.
·         Surrender unto God through repentance and faith meets the conditions God has set forth for forgiveness and redemption.  Therefore, thought flawed, we can have hope based on the God of such promises. 
·         Stated otherwise, our works, without God, are futile efforts.
·         God can be trusted, for if He were to violate His own word He would cease to be God.
·         Thus our lives can have hope as He is truth, and truth does not change.  For truth to be truth it must not be subjective or moving in relation to the things around it, but rather truth is the cornerstone of all that follows.
·         Thus if we have truth in God, we can have hope, certainty, and love.

To think about God is to gain a truthful perspective on life.  We become…
·         Passionate in love for God
·         Redemptive in nature
·         Hopeful, as God is sovereign
·         Holy as He is holy
·         Orderly, wise, and driven with excellence.

God centered thinking, is a God centered worldview therefore by default removes worry, fear, and folly.  It leads us to a fulfillment of worshipping God and glorifying Him.  Therefore, joy, hope, and love permeate all that the Christian experiences.

Therefore, you can trust in God, for God is the only one who can make sense of a lost world, and His message of redemption, which we carry, is a just and right response to the cross and creation.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Genesis 3 and Sin

Below you will find the rough draft notes for the SUnday morning sermon of August 11, 2013.  I hope that these will help you to review the sermon in your study of God's word throughout the week.

Genesis 3 and Sin
We learn in James 1 that sin is not from God, but each one by their own sinful nature struggles and is tempted by their own desires.
We also learn in Job, 1 Peter, and 1 Thessalonians that Satan is a tempter.
Thus, we are tempted internally, “each one is tempted by their own desires” and externally, just as Satan enticed Eve we too are tempted. (Colossians)
And we praise God for 1 Corinthians 10:13 that tells us where to turn to overcome temptation.

In order to deal with sin, we turn today to Genesis 3 to study the fall of man.
Read Genesis 3:1-13

Romans 6:23 states the wages of sin is death.
            We read that Satan is crafty.
            He talks to Eve.
            Satan tempts us in two ways, (he is known as the tempter, the father of lies)
·         He tempts us to doubt God’s word
·         He tempts us to doubt God’s goodness/character.
Thus, an attack on our faith and our love for God.

God is concerned for His word, for it is the revelation of who He is.  This is why Jesus is called The Word.
God is concerned for His Name, for it too is the essence of who He is. Holiness, Love, Wrath, Judge, Giver of Mercy and Grace, just to name a few.

An attack on God’s Word.
            (1) “Did God actually say…not eat any tree?)
·         he calls into question whether or not this was clearly defined.  He tries to blur the lines and question intent.
·         He uses leading questions to confuse and arouse doubt.
Eve responds, but does not utilize God’s actual words.
In clearly defined commands it is obedience, not legalism to adhere to the directives of God.
      Ie you shall not commit adultery, you shall worship God only.
An example of a not clearly defined command would be the ownership of family photos and music, some offshoots of Christianity forbid music, photos, and such things from homes or churches.
            In the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, Matthew 4, we see the same techniques, doubt God’s word, doubt His goodness.
            Satan tempts Jesus with a question of God’s word and taking the easy way out.  Satan propositions interpretations of God’s design that offer shortcuts and “improvements” to the mission.
            A helpful question is not “What is wrong with it, but does it glorify God?”

So Satan begin his attack on the nature of God
(4) “you will not die” satan calls her to doubt the motives and thus character of God..
            Satan mixes truth with lies.
            Truth-your eyes will be opened. (Highlights the benefits)
            Lie- you shall not die. (Diminishes the consequences)

(6) Eve toys with the idea presented to her.
God gives us tools to overcome temptation
Scripture is given to us to help.
Prayer and our relationship guard us from questioning God’s word and intents.
Worship is to turn our hearts toward God.
Do not fault Eve, unless you have never sinned.  She walked closer to God than any of us have, and she sinned.  Take this as a warning as to how crafty satan is and how corrupt sin works its power.
Eve looks beyond the deception as she plays with temptation.
·         “Saw it was good for food.”  Yes, but there were God ordained alternatives.
·         “Delight to the eyes.”  Not all beauty is to be shared.
·         “Make one wise.” But at what cost would this knowledge come?  How would it forever corrupt her worldview?
Again, Eve began asking “What is wrong with it”, rather than “Does this glorify God?”

Eve took, ate, and gave to Adam.
She pondered, believed, and acted
She received, consumed, and responded
She embraced, used, and affected.
She touched, tasted, shared.
She thought, dabbled, accepted.
All these words could be used to describe how litely we take sin.  Yes, it was just an apple, rather a piece of fruit.  However, much more was at stake, it was her relationship to God.  The trust, faith, and love of God was challenged.

Mind you, Adam is there.  He does not love her by protecting her from spiritual falsehood.  They are not protecting one another.
We do not read of Adam’s temptation, he simply gave into what was going on. He followed the crowd.

Their eyes were opened- they knew nakedness (shame/humiliation)- they desired to cover up.  We sin and have guilt, guilt is the spiritual nervous system that something is wrong.  Most people choose to deal with it by hiding guilt (they self-medicate, shift blame, ignore, accept false theologies, and pursue interests that will keep them from having to deal with the reality of sin)
The intimacy with God was destroyed, both with each other and with God.

(9) and they heard the sound of God in the garden.
            So they hid
            There are many ways to hide
·         Self Medicate- alcohol, drugs, anger, depression, solitude,
·         Blame shift- anger, pride, accuse,
·         Ignore- Atheism, Entertainment, Live in a fantasy, harden their heart.
·         False doctrines-“I  am a good person”, “It isn’t that bad”, “Everyone does it”, atheism, penance, attempt to make deals with God.
·         Pursue mind occupying interests-Entertainment, movies, TV, Sports, Music, Vacations, Move from place to place,
            Adam and Eve physically hid with fig leaves and behind bushes.
But ultimately there is judgment.

God is a just God, and a graceful God.  He confronted Adam, Eve, and Satan.

(9) “Where are you?”
Adam responds, “I was naked.” (Aware of guilt) (Plays the victim)
“That woman You gave me.” (Blameshifting)
She did this, 1,2,&3. “I ate because of her.”
But Adam is guilty- We are not responsible for what happens to us, we are responsible for our response.

God’s holiness is offended.  This leads to judgment, which leads to the only right and just thing to do, bring forth wrath.  Yet it is the grace of God that is our only hope.  Because God does love, He shows His glory by forgiving those who would repent.  He does not act unjustly by ignoring the sin, but rather, He illustrates His holiness by wrathfully avenging His name against sin, by sending Christ to take the full penalty against sin upon the cross.  Anything less than this would make God unjust, and that is not in His word or character.  The cross is the great demonstration of revelation of who God really is.  Holy, just, loving, graceful, and a myriad of other attributes make Him the only one worthy of worship.

The rest of the chapter sets the stage for the rest of the Bible.  Satan is cursed for destruction, and Man is given an opportunity to be redeemed.

My question this morning is the same as God’s “Where are you?”  Where are you in relationship with God?  Are you guilty?  Have you some sin separating you from God, the one who allowed His Son to pay for your sins?  How are you dealing with sins past, present, and future?  According to the scriptures there is only one way to deal with our guilt, to come by faith to Jesus and accept Him as your Savior, Lord, and Love.
Savior- you need your sins dealt with and only He can do so. You must repent.
Lord- You need in repentance to follow Christ, deny self, take up your cross daily and follow Him.  It is not a “Try harder” religion, but a relationship of abiding in Hid Lordship.
Love- to be a Christian is to love God, it is a love that is not Jesus and the world, but a hatred of the world.  IT is worldliness that has corrupted your life, it is Christ who saves.  You cannot love God and the world.  You must choose to love God.