Monday, May 13, 2019

Building Your Personal Life on a Proper Foundation

House = building.  Home takes people.

Matt. 7:24-27
TEXT= Building your Personal life on Proper foundation  (ie:  the words of Christ and the Person of Christ)

Today: we use it to illustrate building your Family on a proper foundation.
(that is not the text, BUT the principles parallel and = excellent illustration)

The 4 Primary points for today:

#1.  You build your house (home)
on one hand, it is not all your doing, all in your control.  However, you are a builder!!

#2.  Storms will come because that's the world we live in -- fallen world

#3.  Your house will shake - regardless of how well you build!!

Therefore:
#4.  the foundation is critical because without a solid foundation NO building will stand!!!

I.)  IF the house = a home .. THEN You build your house.
  as a youngster.... you inherit a home - can be good, bad, in between
  as an adult --- you must build it!!!!   (can buy a house, must build a home slowly)

Recognizing
(1) nothing of consequence is build without the Lord's assistance --- Psm. 127:1, But we must do our part.
and,
(2)  we don't all have access to the same building material ... (parents, background & raising, education, opportunities, talents, skills & ability, IQ, etc.)

Nevertheless, we are called to:
(1) WORK with what we have
and
(2)  cooperate with God's grace - 1 Cor. 15:10, Col. 1:28-29, Phil. 2:12-13
POINT:
God is at work.  We are called to work WITH Him!!  Is no room for passivity, indifference, laziness, etc.

II.)  Storms will come  (regardless of your faith)
      (A)  Natural Storms (sickness, disease, accident, etc) - we live in a fallen world, Christians are not exempt.
     (B)  Man Made Storms  (created by ... spouse, kids, parents, in-laws, etc.)  - We're fallen people
     (C)  Self-made Storms - OFTEN = own worst enemy!!
     (D)  Super natural storms - Eph. 6:12, 1 Pet. 5:8 - Satanic, demonic.  They have a vendetta against Christ and God's kingdom, not you.    95% of the reality of the universe is invisible to us.

III.)  Your house will shake - AND experience damage!!  No matter how well build!!  - 1 Cor. 10:13,
1 Pet. 4:12 - because this is the world we live in.

Therefore:
IV.)  The Foundation is Critical  
The foundation = (A) the teachings of Christ - Matt. 7:24 - it is not something your build, but something your choose 
                      = (B)  The Practice of those teachings - Matt. 7:24, 26, John 13:17 - Church going just gives the knowledge.
                     = (C)  The Person of Christ - Matt. 7:21-23 - Can practice His teachings, but not have Christ.  If you don't have Christ, have missed the essential element.

Summary/Observation 
(1)  You BUILD your house ... with the Lord's assistance
But,
(2) You choose the foundation - you Decide .. (initially and continually)
(3)  Your choice determines your status!!
WISE man???  or FOOLISH man??   Prov. 14:1 - both are builders
Every individual must choose - no guarantee everyone will follow.

Closing Text:  Matt. 7:28-29
"NOT because He was loud, brash, dogmatic, but because He left the impression that He knew what He was talking about!
BECAUSE HE DID!!!!


Sunday, May 5, 2019

The "40 Days" continued

Last week = "the 40 days" - Acts 1:3 - for 40 days between the Resurrection and Pentecost, Christ appeared to various people at various times.
Disciples were to be (1) faithful followers
                                (2)  bold witnesses (in Greek = martyr)
The 40 days helped equip them for that!!!

These appearances:
I)  Increased Confidence in the resurrection.
What if... there had ONLY been the Easter morning appearances?
Important because the Resurrection = the Proof!!  Rom. 1:4  that Jesus is who He said He was.

II.)  Additional Information about the Christian Faith
What questions were asked during this time?  What teachings during the 40 days?
Questions of history and doctrine and practice.
So --- Eph. 4:1

Jesus took this time to prepare these men to change the world.  The doctrine of the New Testament was built on the history of the Old Testament with new teachings and the result was practice (lifestyle)

Continuation from last week:
III.  Insights into our future state
Question?  After death - what??  (question is ancient and universal - everyone inherently knows there is life after death)
Problem:  Reliable witnesses?  (information)  - have those who supposedly died and came back - but
returnees = rare, questionable, fallible!

Contrast Jesus:  He Returned ... (1) As He Predicted
                                                 (2)  In a glorified state - totally different state but still the same
                                                 (3)  having overcome death (contrast Lazarus - released, escaped)

Example:  Luke 24:36-43  - (post-resurrection appearances:)

  • appeared, suddenly..... in closed, locked room
  • also, disappear!  vanish!  (example:  Emmaus Road disciples)
  • Sometimes recognized immediately!!  Other times NOT recognized  (at least not immediately)
  • Cooked breakfast & served it!  & ate with them!! - Acts 1:4 - "on 1 occasion while eating with His disciples"
  • All with (1) real, physical body
  •             (2) His own body
  •             (3) yet a glorified body!! - Luke 24:36-43  more than restored.  = Renewed!!  improved, better!  The same yet very different!!!
1 John 3:2 - We will be like Him in His resurrected state.

IF His Resurrection is true,
IF John is correct,
Then it necessitates a GENERAL RESURRECTION!! - Not just historical, but coming event.

1 Cor. 15:20-23
Rom. 8:18-23
1 Thess. 4:13-18
These mean:  (1)  a physical body
                     (2)  your body  (identity!)
                     (3)  absolute (complete) redemption

How???  1 Cor. 15:35-38, 42-44, 51-52
Impossible!!! Try creation!! - verbal/ ex nihilo!!  (out of nothing!!)

Which leads to:
IV.  Confidence in the Face of Death
ie:  He defeated death --- for us!
on one hand, we will still die.  however, death does not have the last word, final state - is a defeated foe
1 Cor. 15:24-26, Rev. 20:14, Rev. 1:18

Must distinguish between  (1) process of dying and (2) the state of death - example:  martyrs can have FEAR and still have courage!!
Note:  your greatest battle, struggle, issue with DEATH may Not be your own!!!
So " the Christian Hope" based on "THE Resurrection" - ! Cor. 15:19-20

Like the disciples, we are called to be:
(1) faithful in our walk (lifestyle)
(2) bold in our witness
in spite of ... (1)  the delay of 2000+ years
                    (2) world's view  (skepticism, mockery, hostility)
                    (3)  life's difficulty

Christ gave the "40 days" to help equip us for this!!!!

Closing Scripture:  Rom. 8:31-32, 38-39



Monday, April 29, 2019

Benefits of the 40 days

Cross --> Resurrection (happened on First Fruits) --> 40 days -->10 days --> Pentecost (beginning of the harvest)

Today = The 40 Days

Last week = 1) women at the tomb
                    2) disciples on road to Emmaus
                    3)  Disciples in Jerusalem - Sunday evening locked in a room (w/o Thomas) - Jesus appeared suddenly
                    4)  Disciples in Jerusalem 7 days later with Thomas - Jesus appeared again

Additional appearances - on shore of Galilee - John 21:1-14
                                    - James!! & others  1 Cor. 15:3-8
                                    - before Ascension - Matt. 28:16-20 - (Great Commission)
                                    - for 40 days - Acts. 1:1-3

Jesus appeared to different people, groups, size groups, different times, locations, settings - don't know how many times He appeared during this 40 days

Then - The Ascent - Acts 1:4-11

The Significance of the 40 days??
Especially - benefits FOR us today??
How to Apply what we learn there?

So..... Benefits of the 40 Days
Disciples received (1)  additional confidence in the Resurrection ( by many infallible proofs)
                            (2)  additional information concerning the Christian faith
                            (3)  insights into their future state
                            (4)  confidence (boldness) in the face of death

As for them,  so for us!!!

Christ's appearance for 40 days should (can!) result in.....

#1.  Confidence in the Resurrection - apostles needed that.  all will die a martyr's death with exception of John.
Note:  the importance of the Resurrection - 1 Cor. 15:17-19 = historical, actual, real event
and so the confirmation of the Resurrection - Acts 1:3  This is ESSENTIAL.  Without the resurrection, we have nothing!!!

For them, for us, should result in:
          (1)  a steadfast walk - (in times of trial/confusion
          (2) a bold witness (testimony) - going to need this even more today when not just skepticism about Christ but hostility.

SO ... 1 John 1:1-3 - not just theory    2 Pet. 1:16-18   this is fact

#2.  Additional information about our Faith - to help us walk the walk
Example:  Luke 24:25-27

during the 40 days ... what questions posed?  teachings received?
This information = IMPORTANT!!!  Because Christianity is not a belief system, religious practice.  It is (intended to be ...) a LIFESTYLE  (based on truth!!)

Contrast:  Pagan gods --- not concerned with daily life of followers!  don't care about moral life.
Compare common "religious" views today!!!

2 valid questions:  (1)  do you believe?  accept the Faith?
                           (2)  do you practice the Faith?  if you don't practice the faith, you don't believe.

Colossians - "as received... so walk!!!
James - "show me your faith without works!!
Jesus - "by their fruits you'll know them"
Jesus - (John 13)   "now know ... blessed if DO!!

To be continued next week ...........
                     

Monday, April 22, 2019

Trusting the Risen Christ

The disciples believed until the cross -- led to grief, doubt, great fear.  All they had believed was shattered.- John 20:19

Then the Resurrection ... (+ 40 days with the risen Christ and Pentecost) -- Acts. 2:36
Transformed the disciples completely.

POINT = Their Belief became TRUST!!
Example:  Demons believe but don't rely on, put their fate in His hands

Clarify:  After the Resurrection - disciples still confused!!
BUT now TRUST Him - in spite of situations, circumstances
                                    - in spite of confusion
                                    - in spite of His physical absence.

NOW = "I still don't understand!! BUT ... I'll trust you ... with my life, my fate, my future ... come what may!! 

To this ALL disciples are called (US)
But how to get there?? Develop that trust??

So... Look at some of the realizations that helped the disciples come to that degree of trust.

After the Resurrection, + 40 days + Pentecost, the disciples came to fully recognize:

I.  His Authority - essential, primary thing   
Definition:  The power or right to give orders and enforce obedience

On one hand, they'd seen that (examples:  miracles, demons, death - Lazarus)
However, death had triumphed over Him!!
UNTIL the Resurrection!!! --- Matt. 28:18

Therefore:
II.  His Ability displayed .. All Authority and All Power - Omnipotence
Problem:  IF able to produce good, prevent evil, correct wrongs, THEN why doesn't He??

On one hand the disciples didn't necessarily have answer to that ...
However, they had also learned to trust in.....

III>  His Goodness - examples:  John 3:16, Rom. 5:8, 1 John 4:10
Still faced grief, suffering, evil, opposition, death!!!
But now convinced ... He's deal with it ... in His way!!   in His time!!!

Also convinced by:
IV.  His Concern - not just for "sheep" plural  (John 3:16), also for "sheep" SINGULAR!! - Matt. 10:29-31 - every single sheep

Examples:  lost sheep?  (go find it)  lost coin?  (search for it)
And so..... 1 Pet. 5:7

V.  His Presence - Matt. 28:19-20 = last words!!
Example:  Job - never got answers, but Presence was enough!!

Also:
VI.  His Involvement
more than a present observer ... = active companion!!
So Paul ----  Rom. 8:28, Phil. 1:6

And (of course)
VII.  His Return 
when He'll dispel all darkness, correct all wrongs

Objection!!  if I had their experience(s)
Partial Answer ... John 11:38-40
  We say  "show me your glory and I'll believe"
  He says - "believer and I'll show you my glory"

Doesn't mean IF you believer, you'll get the sign, miracle you desire - no guarantee will get
Does mean believe and you'll see, perceive, experience glimpse .. all you need to TRUST!!

Pre-Christian - Salvation simple as ABC - Rom. 10:9-11
    Admit - you = sinner in need of Savior
    Believe - He died for sin, rose to life
    Confess - Him ... AS LORD, as your LORD!!

Christian :  Col. 2:6  - "as received, so walk"

Closing Scripture:  Eph. 3:14-21



Thursday, April 18, 2019

Lord's Supper Preparation

John 19:28-30 - What is finished?
Answer:  the WORK necessary for our salvation.

Question:  Before the cross, how could man approach an unapproachable God?

Answer:  Old Testament Pictures  (picture prophecies)

I.  Mediator and Substitute Sacrifice.  Sacrifice brought to the altar, priest offered it to God on person's behalf.  Made him 'right' with God.
Christ was the PERFECT mediator.

II.  Temple Barriers -

When Christ died,
#1.  barriers were removed  - Matt. 27:50-51, Heb. 10:19-20

#2.  Sacrifices were fulfilled - Heb. 7:27, 9:11-12, 9:25-26 - "once for all"

#3.  The bridge was built - 2 Cor. 5:18-19

Note:  the work was extensive.  It required MANY pictures to describe it/illustrate it.

Another picture:

III.  Layer Cake - the cake = salvation (in broadest sense)
                        - the layers - individual aspects of salvation or of His work)
Examples:
(Words used by Christian Apostles, Theologians to describe toe work of Christ/Cross)

Ransom = purchase freedom  example:  kidnapped
Mark 10:45

Redemption = buy back  example:  Pawn shop  But!! Sold 'Self!! 1 Pet. 1:18-19

Substitution - in place of /stead of.  3 Cor. 5:21

Remission, Forgiveness, Cleansing - a debt resolved, pardoned, excused, satisfied
1 John 1:9

Propitiation = to appease (satisfy) wrath, anger.
1 John 1:2  (atoning sacrifice)

Expiation = more than forgiven = Removed!!  Example:  Scapegoat

Justification - act by which declared NO longer guilty.  Therefore, in right standing - Rom. 4:25

Sanctification - separated, set apart ... from and to

Reconciliation = relationship restored!!

Glorification - the eventual and final state of the believer

All adds up to:  SALVATION  (layer cake)

Add  (1)  Efficacious - having the power to produce the desired effects - Heb. 7:25 - Able to save completely, to the uttermost, totally!!!
The Resurrection was the proof that He was who He said He was and did what He said He did

 and   (2)  Voluntary - Christ didn't have to do this.

The "Layers" should lead us to:
(1)  a Recognition  ... of the extent of His work(s)
(2)  an Appreciation ... for what He's done for us.

Therefore:
(3)  an approach .. come the 1st time.   Then, come often times.

One more picture:  ie:  Example:  On the TABLE!   The bread, the juice, the crown of thorns.  Matt. 26:26-28
This we commemorate, celebrate tonight.  1 Cor. 11:27-28

(1)  how we do it.
(2)  who should do it - Christians
(3)  note of "worthiness" - 1 Cor. 11:27-28  None are worthy.  Speaking of "unworthy" manner!!

Closing Scripture:  Heb. 4:14-16

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Christian Wealth Ethic

Spent 2 weeks on WORK ETHIC  (moral views of work)

This week = WEALTH ETHIC  (moral view of wealth, money, possessions

Are many scriptures that address this:
The Bible devotes approximately 500 verses to prayer, BUT over 2,000 verses to money & possessions

One of every 10 verses in the Gospels deals with money (in some form) and over half the parables have money as their theme.

The recorded sayings of Jesus deal with money more than any other subject except the Kingdom of God.
Question:  Is money that important to God??  Answer:  No.  BUT, (a) it's important to us (materialism)
                                                                                           and     (b)  WE are important to God!!


  • The Bible deals with the proper attitude toward money and the proper acquisition OF money.
  • It instructs us concerning borrowing, lending, signing for other people's debts, charging interest and paying taxes
  • It talks about financial planning; saving, investing and sharing our money.
  • It addresses earning an honest wage and paying and honest wage.
  • It instructs us to honor our personal debts, to give assistance to the poor and pay a tithe to God in support of His work.
  • It applauds the wise use of money and condemns the foolish use of money.
  • Scripture contains financial advice for the rich, the poor, the middle class.
  • It talks of wealth being both a blessing and a curse.  (depending on how you handle it...)
  • And says the way we use our money can lead to eternal rewards ... or eternal losses.
That = reason enough to give the subject consideration!!

Old Testament View = mostly positive  examples:  Job, Abraham, King Solomon  Prov. 10:22

New Testament View = never condemns but .. are many warnings!!!
Examples:  Rich Fool, Rich Young Ruler - Matt. 19:22-23, Luke 16:13  -  Doesn't mean can't have money

So.... views vary!!
#1.  "Wealth is bad" - it seduces  1 Tim. 6:9-10 - "love of" not $$ itself.
hence, Vow of poverty/ monasticism

#2.  "Wealth is good" = example:  health and wealth message - Matt. 7:7-11
This rose at a time when we are most blessed, wealthiest, mainly in US

#3.  Wealth is neutral - amoral - neither good or bad - it's a tool.
Can be a blessing, can be a curse 
Reformers - "a wonderful servant, a terrible master"

So... how should we approach wealth??
Answer:  there is a Biblical Principle to cover all views... ie:  Stewardship 
Definition = manager - comes from two Greek words meaning house law, house rule, govern household
English equivalent = "economy"  New Testament Greek = Stewardship!

Concept is ancient - introduced in Garden of Eden  Gen. 2:15, 1:28

Implies:  (1)  WORK  (labor, effort, diligence)
              (2)  RULE  (have dominion, take charge, manage - take care of, not abuse)
Therefore:
              (3)  RESPONSIBILITY - (comes with privilege) but when they violated trust - removed
and
              (4)  PRIVILEGE - the manager benefits from the estate
and:
              (5)  PRODUCTION - fruitfulness.  Example:  parable of talents

Application!!
            #1.  You have been given a garden - an estate - a house to rule (govern) a stewardship position
God has granted you great blessings.

           #2.  It is sizable  Example:  household income stats:
Your household (annual) income ______
compared to:  Russia   $11,700
                    Mexico   $11,700
                    Brazil      $ 7,500
                    China      $ 6,100
                    Egypt      $ 3,100
                  Philippines $ 2,400
                  Kenya        $ 1,900
                  Rwanda    $ 1,100
                  Liberia        $   781
                  Burundi       $  673
Poverty level - USA - 2018 = family of 4 - $25,100
Worldwide median household income = approximately $10,000

          #3.  it consists of more than money
talents, abilities, opportunities, children

          #4.  You are to MANAGE it - 
                A.  according to His directives
                B.  whether large or small -
Example:  contrast lottery winners, etc.
Oddly, the more you win (lottery), the more likely to end up bankrupt
Study from 3 Universities (Vanderbilt, U. of Kentucky, U. of Pittsburgh)

If won less than $10,000, no issue
if won $50K to 150K, bankrupt within 5 years!

Compare National Endowment of Financial Education estimates:
70% of people who come into large sums of money unexpectedly = broke within 7 years
70% of NFL players broke within 5 years
60% of NBA players broke within 5 years
Bigger the pot?  More likely to bankrupt!!

Stewards are expected to be:
(1)  hard working
(2)  trust worthy  - 1 Cor. 4:1-2
(3)  productive  (parable of talents)
(4)  SAVVY  ( parable of 'unjust steward')  commended for his SAVVY, practical knowledge, ability to handle situation - Luke 16:8

Christian Stewardship requires you:
I.  Know the Master - His directives work for all, however, Matt. 7:21

II.  Know the Master's Will - ie:  manage according to His Word(s) - not world's!!

III.  Respond as He directs
(example:  Tithing.   Make good economic sense???  We don't work on immediate economy or immediate return

IV.  Don't forget who owns the estate  (parables of the 'absent master')

On one hand, He'll not ask you to serve beyond your ability, means
However, Luke 12:48

Summary Application:  (1)  Accept the Savior - you can't work, buy, manage your way into heaven.

                                  (2)  Surrender to the Master
                                   
                                 (3)  Manage HIS estate (as a steward)

                                 (4)  (Periodically( revisit, re-access  this issue

                                 (5)  Remember - earthly wealth is temporal,
                                                         heavenly wealth is eternal!!


Closing Scripture:  Matt. 6:31-33

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Christian Work Ethic - Pt. 2

Last week = 2 Thess. + the Christian Work Ethic
Def. - Work Ethic = a moral view of work (right/wrong)
Adjectives = strong, positive, solid, poor, faulty, insufficient

For Christians should be - "Biblical (Scriptural, Christian) Work Ethic".
We will spend roughly 1/3 of our life on work.
ie:  God sets the standard for us.
     God reveals the standard to us!! - Heb. 1:1-2

BUT the Biblical Work Ethic is more than "work hard"
It includes:  honesty, integrity, quality, productivity
Also addresses frugality, management, stewardship, which is the absolute center of the work concept.- because is related to money!  Could be borrowing, lending, saving, investing, etc.

QUESTION:  Why adopt a Biblical Work Ethic?  (over other Work Ethics?)
Examples = work to get by, because have to, to get stuff, to get rich.  OR don't work if don't have to..

ANSWER:  .IF this = God's standard (will)
                    THEN this = (1) morally right - work is not an amoral condition
                                        (2)  practically best
ie:  most likely to produce what God desires FOR you and,
most likely to result in what God expects FROM you.

IF the Christian Work Ethic = morally right and practically best, let's look for some specifics!
Why embrace this Work Ethic?  What is it designed to do?
Should be able to see a moral reason why to embrace Christian Work Ethic in following verses.

#1.  To Provide for Family - 1 Tim. 5:8 - talking about people who are capable
Obviously about $$, material things..... but is MORE than money!!!
example:  term "home MAKER" = (1) WORK  (2) with a Product
Prov. 31:10-31 = stay at home mom with a Biblical Work Ethic!!

#2. to Provide beyond the family  Acts 20:33-35 -   Eph. 4:28
Examples:  Old Testament - "poor tithe" - additional 10% given every 3rd. and 6th. year to provide for the poor.
                field gleaning - only go over field once when harvesting.  anything left behind was for the poor to gather.  Someone worked hard to make that crop, but leavings for the poor.

Therefore:
#3.  to benefit society - especially own community.  Prov. 19:17

#4.  for personal satisfaction/ fulfillment
Work is NOT the curse!!!  Gen. 2:15, 3:17-19 - curse affected our work

Christian Work Ethic does not remove the toil from work.  BUT can certainly add a level of satisfaction!!
Eccles. 2:24, 3:12-13

#5.  to honor God by obedience, by job well done.  Matt. 25:21, John 17:4, Col. 3:23-24
"God called/gifted/enabled me.... therefore I honor Him with this..."

#6.  to expand His Kingdom - (here/now "on earth")
Example:  1 Thess. 4:11-12
ie:  earn respect --> gain favor --> gain a hearing! --> win a soul  (or at least "make Him known")

#7.  to lay up treasure! - Matt. 6:19-21

We (Christians) are called to:
(1) adopt a Biblical Work Ethic  (embrace, pursue)
(2)  develop that Work Ethic - which requires knowledge of God's Word.
(3)  Practice a Biblical Work Ethic - ie:  act on it/ live it out
(4)  model a Christian Work Ethic - 2 Thess. 3:7-9
(5)  teach a Biblical Work Ethic  (a) especially to young ones (children and grandchildren)                                    in more than Sunday School lesson

IF you have a degree of success, should talk to your kids about HOW it's done!!

NOTE:  Success doesn't necessarily mean rich!!
             May be survival!!

AGAIN:  Work (alone) does not commend you to God, does not give you salvation!!

Closing Scripture:  1 Cor. 15:56-58

Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Christian Work Ethic

2 Thess. 3:1-5 - Paul  1) requests their prayers
                                  2)  expresses confidence in their walk

THEN - abruptly changes tone!!  2 Thess. 3:6-15
(talking about people who are capable and competent to hold down a job)

This = briefly addressed in the 1st. letter - 1 Thess. 4:11-12

Question:  Is this an ongoing problem in the Thessalonian church?  Is it related to Christ's return?  (they expected Christ would return immediately, so why work?)

Answer:  don't know.  But, DO know ...
(1)  Paul is intense in addressing this  (forceful language)
and
(2)  Paul addresses this as a significant MORAL issue!!

NOTE:
(1)  The language of 2 Thess. 3:6 and 2 Thess. 3:12 - "in the name of ..... command"
(2)  the charge to the church - 2 Thess. 3:13 - "you do what's right"  (by contrast)
(3)  the reference to church discipline - 2 Thess. 3:14

All adds up to this being a Serious issue!!!

This passage = a small part of Scripture used to define and describe - the Christian Work Ethic or the Biblical Work Ethic.
Which is largely ignored or misunderstood today, AND which needs to be taught and promoted!!

The phrase is self-defining:
WORK ETHIC = a moral view of work!  (the rights/wrongs)  Very seldom referred to as a Biblical Work Ethic.  No reference to Scripture.

The English phrase 1st. used in 1945, however the concept is as old as Adam.

Hebrew understanding = spend 1/3_ of life @ work (in many cases more than that)
So.... how to do it Right?

Their answer:  (1)  God sets the standard for us
                      (2)  God reveals the standard to us

Brief look at the Hebrew view in Proverbs:
          Prov. 10:4-5 -  disgraceful
          Prov. 10:26 -  irritating
          Prov. 12:11 - 'get rich quick' schemes
          Prov. 18:9 -  example from 'The Message' - "slack habits and sloppy work are as bad as vandalism"
          Prov. 20:4 - sluggard - lazy
          Prov. 22:29 - quality work = recognized and rewarded
Summary:  Prov. 24:30-34 -

This Old Testament view carried over into New Testament Christians, New Testament Church
With Additional word(s) from Christ & Apostles
1 Example:  Matt. 25:26 - "wicked, lazy servant" - harsh words

This comes to us in 21st. Century America by way of:
#1.  The Protestant Work Ethic  (Reformation, Luther, Calvin)
Example 'The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism' - Max Weber - 1905
Led to:
#2. The Puritan Work Ethic  (focus = godliness.  outcome = success!!) - part of the reformed movement
Led to:
#3.  The American Work Ethic - came directly out of the Puritan W.E. which came directly out of the Protestant W.E. which came directly out of the Scripture
ie:  became part of our social and cultural identity   Example:  "The American Dream"

Problem today = (1)  Biblical roots are unknown, forgotten, misunderstood
So...
(2)  "work ethic" appears on the wane (declining)
IF roots = forgotten/denied...
Attitude = THEN  why embrace a former generation's "Work Ethic"???

BUT - for Christians!!! this should be no dilemma!  Should be Biblical/Scriptural Work Ethic.  Honor God by work habits.  Are obligated to God's revelation, God's plan.

2 Notes:  #1.  Biblical Work Ethic addresses far more than work hard!!
              #2.  Labor (alone) does not commend you to God!!

Distinguish:  (1)  How you come to God - Eph. 2:8-9
           with  (2)  How you live after coming to Christ - Eph. 2:10

Biblical Work Ethic addresses more than "work hard".
Related issues:
honesty, integrity, dependability
giving your employer an honest day's work
giving your employees a fair day's wage
quality workmanship, productivity
self-discipline, personal responsibility
community obligations - building wealth, sharing wealth, handling wealth  (stewardship)

Personal satisfaction with work
Rest from work!!
laying up wealth (treasures) in Heaven
Building up the Kingdom on earth!

And:  Work Ethic goes beyond vocation, paying job.  Includes how you work at marriage, childraising, in home - Prob. 31   "wife of noble character" - model Work Ethic!!

Conclusion:
Your work/labor (in Christ) is very important, BUT your coming to God THROUGH Christ is essential!!

Closing Scripture:
Col. 3:23-24




Monday, February 25, 2019

2nd. Thessalonians - Chap. 2

2 Thess. 2:1-12 - last days!  end times!  return of Christ!  anti-Christ!
These people had issues (questions) about all of the above.
Was SO debated.  So many views - because:
        (1)  was the future
        (2)  mysterious future!
Contrast - predicting summer's weather.  predictions can be based on many previous summers.
They had never experienced the coming of the Lord .

So:  2 Thess. 2:2 - THE DAY = come and gone?  or now fully begun?  Had they missed it, or were they in the midst of it.  (the day of the Lord) ie:  a period of time

2 Thess. 2:3 - The Rebellion - THE Apostasy - THE Falling Away.
This is more than falling away from the faith.  This = turning away!! - deliberate decision to walk away and against the things of God.

The Man Revealed  (Antichrist)
     Man of "perdition" - domed to hell, destruction - compare Judas - John 17:12
     Man of "lawlessness"  - (one who rejects God's laws) - because against God's Law(s)

Therefore will  (1)  Oppose God  (Godliness)
                       (2)  Exalt 'Self - over everything that is called God or God-related
                       (3)  Set 'Self up in the Temple  (this = AD 51)
                       (4)  Will Proclaim 'Self to be God!!
Other people at other times will claim this as well.
Examples:  Nero, Titus, Mohammad, many popes, Adolf Hitler, etc.

2 Thess. 2:6 - The Restrainer - (Holy Spirit? - compare Job)

2 Thess. 2:7 - this power is already at work - spirit of lawlessness is already here.
1 John 2:18, 4:1-3 - applicable to us now.

2 Thess. 2:8 overthrown by Christ's breath!  - Rev. 19
Can breathe creation, destruction

2 Thess. 2:9 - His coming
Accompanied by and in accordance with Satan's power!
So ...... signs, wonders, miracles!!!

Question:  "counterfeit"?  = not real in MESSAGE!! - doesn't mean are not real, but directing away from God.  Signs, wonders, miracles can point TO God or AWAY from God!

2 Thess. 2:10 - evil that Deceives!! - ie:  Seductive!!  (sweet, nice, good)

Question:  Who are the "perishing"?  (present tense!) - John 3:16-19 - "stand perishing"

Why are they perishing? - 2 Thess. 2:10 - they refused to love the truth, not because they didn't know the truth.
So... God grants their desire!! - 2 Thess. 2:11-12
Paraphase:  "I offered light - you rejected it - so I took it away!" ==> darkness!

By Contrast:  - 2 Thess. 2:13-14
You were called, you responded - ie:  crossed the bridge!!

Application for them?  US!! - 2 Thess. 2:15 - Stand firm and hold to our teachings

In light of the fact that the power of Lawlessness is Already at work....
#1.  Stand firm in the faith - 1 Pet. 5:8-9, 10

#2.  hold to the teachings, instructions, 'traditions' - truth doesn't change!!
Eph. 4:14, 2 Tim. 4:3-5

and  #3.  don't be alarmed - 2 Thess. 2:2  (unsettled, worked up)
       should (1) Read, study, etc. - Rev. 1:3
                  (2)  be prepared - be awake, be alert
But,            (3) Not alarmed!!

Paul closes with prayer for God's assistance, (encouragement, strength) - 2 Thess. 2:16-17   
(which comes with obedience, faithfulness)

Seems we always return to "Press On" - which = primary factor in success!! - many things are helpful, but perseverance and endurance are NECESSARY!!

Closing Scripture:  2 Pet. 3:10, 13-14



Sunday, February 10, 2019

2 Thessalonians - cont.

2 Thess. 1:3-12 - Main Message = Vs. 6 & 7
2nd. letter, written some time after the first with more commendation.

Vs. 6 - God Is Just
Vs. 6 - He WILL Repay - and give relief to you who are troubled
Vs. 7 - But not now (yet) - when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven

Example:  Paul - "you are suffering for doing what's RIGHT!"
                Us - "that's NOT FAIR!!"  - (not Right!)

The ancient dilemma - "why do good men often suffer while evil men prosper?"

OR -
"IF God is all good AND all powerful... THEN ... why is there (so much) evil and suffering

The attempt to answer that = THEODICY
But Paul does no address the "Why" here... (and neither shall we ... today)

Paul simply states:
   God Is Just
   He Will Repay
   But Not Now  (yet)

I)  God is just - stated emphatically and repeatedly throughout the Scripture

(compare to Immanuel Kant's argument for justice)
Kant was a German philosopher (1724-1804)  Was not a Christian - probably more an agnostic

He concluded that IF Justice were to exist (ever) in would require the following:

(1)  Afterlife/ another life - because obviously perfect justice isn't going to happen in this one!

(2)  A perfect judge - who is:
      (a) all knowing  (so can judge properly
      (b) incorruptible - morally perfect and cannot be bribed, swayed, etc.

(3)  An all powerful judge - so He can execute or exact judgment.
ie:  He can pass judgment and enforce it.
     He can make things right!!

(4)  A judgment - (A) a hearing, assessment, evaluation of every individual, and
                            (B) a proper (corresponding) reward!!

NOTE:  how all this (deduced by reasoning) lines up perfectly with the Biblical Portrait of our God. - all the way from Genesis to Revelation.

NOTE:  God IS just - which is more than God Will Be just!!
That must include "just" in allowing present suffering!!

How can that be???  (2 answers)
1st:  God is fair;  Life is not!! - we live in a fallen world

2nd.  II_  He will Repay  (compensate, pay back, reward)
ie:  the righteous will be repaid with the Kingdom - Vs. 5
     the unrighteous with separation from God - vs. 9

On one hand, this = simplified summary of a lengthy doctrine.
However, it = a Summary - Gal. 6:7-9 - 'at the proper time'
                                        - 2 Cor. 4:17

Meanwhile -- we struggle  (a)  with life, trials, suffering  and (b)  (sometimes often) with this concept!!

Examples:  Job
                 Asaph - Psm. 73:1-17, 21-24
                 David - Psm. 37:1-9

So:  I)  God is Just
       II) He will repay
       III)  But not now  (yet)!!

III)  But not now (yet)
So --- when???  Vs. 6-7
Again ... this is stated emphatically & repeatedly throughout scripture!!
(appropriately depicted at the end of Scripture!!
Rev. 20:11-15 - judgment on the unrighteous
Rev. 21:1-5 - total compensation for the righteous

We believe this Because:
(1)  we believer God to BE who, what He has revealed Himself to be throughout Scripture - Self Revelation

(2)  We believe Christ!!!  His words, works

(3)  We believer His spokesmen - Prophets, Apostles and though is no comprehensive Theodicy in Scripture, (example = Job) there are numerous reasons given.  Example:  Rom. 8:28

(4)  we believer because the cry for justice is embedded indelibly in our hearts .. Rev. 6:9-11

2 Thess. 1:11-12  - "we pray.....
(1)  your good intentions will ==> Godly actions
(2)  your Godly actions will find completion, fruition.

Note:  this is NOT salvation by works, but = reward for works.  Salvation is ALWAYS by grace.

Closing Scripture:  2 Tim. 4:1-8
     

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Introduction to 2 Thessalonians

Written shortly after 1st. letter.

Purpose:  (1)  Commendation and Encouragement 
Praise for their growth, development, perseverance, witness and testimony IN SPITE OF trials and persecution which has continued and increased.

(2)  Correction and Teaching - a rumor that Christ has already returned?  2 Thess. 2:1-3 - "Don't let anyone deceive you".  They had NO New Testament and had no Jewish background.  

(3)  Instruction concerning how the church should act toward those who wouldn't work.  2 Thess. 3:6  - we command you.  Much more than just a casual suggestion.

Today:  2 Thess. 1:1-12 - focus on 2 Thess. 1:3-5

2 Thess. 1:3 - we ought to give thanks for you.  Paul sees it as a MORAL OBLIGATION!!  - ought to!  "rightly so"
The things they are commended for apply to us as well.

Because  (1)  your faith is growing
               (2)  your love for one another is increasing - this means:  Biblical definition of love, not personal or society's definition

Application:  #1.  when someone is doing right/good ... we should...
                       A.  Notice
                       B.  Encourage 
This is a moral obligation!!
Example:  1 Thess. 4:18 - point = more than just a nice thing to do!!

And, though it's clear we ought to encourage the discouraged,  also true that 
#2.  We ought to Encourage before discouragement takes hold.
Not just LIFT up, but also BUILD up!!

2 Thess. 1:4 - We, therefore, boast about you (to the other churches)

Note:  Thessalonian Christians are more than holding up.
           They are GROWING up!  Developing, maturing
 (A)  in the midst of trials (persecutions)
 (B)  partly because of the trials!  (and persecutions)

Though not developed here, this = typical Pauline ..
Examples:  Rom. 5:1-4,  2 Cor. 4:16-18, James 1:2-4 - trials not only TEST our faith...  They (CAN) develop our faith!!  Rom. 8:28 - "in all things..."

NOW something clearly implied and partly stated:   2 Thess. 1:5 - "all this is evidence'  OR "your faith is evident"
On one hand, faith is not visible - can't see faith.
However, there should be visible evidence 
James. 2:14-19

Faith that doesn't produce visible evidence is at best questionable!!

2 Thess. 1:11 - Paul's prayer

Paraphrase:  "we pray God will assist you in your life, on your life, through your life, so that ...
(1)  your good intentions become Godly actions, AND 
(2)  those actions will find completion."

How often we see Sincere decisions ... that fall away???

Summary/Conclusion:

(1)  We should offer encouragement.

(2)  We should accept encouragement.   Sometimes harder to accept than to give.

(3)  We should press on  (persevere - in the face of, in spite of trials).
Knowing God can, will use those trials for good!  (our good, other's good)

(4)   We should seek God's assistance.  (prayer) for ourselves, for others

Closing Scripture:  Psm. 20:1-7





Monday, January 28, 2019

Closing Remarks

1 Thess -- ' final instructions' -- Closing Remarks 
ie:  subjects Paul alludes to but doesn't develop 

Examples:  Peace
                 Sanctification
                 Prayer
                 Greeting
                  Scripture Reading
All in 1 Thess. 5:23-28

I.  The God of Peace - in light of .... Joshua, Conquest - Matt. 10:34-36,  Rev. 19:11 - judges & makes war

Seems like not the God of peace at all.

Answer:  John 14:27 - "my peace" -
which = (1)  Peace with God  - reconciliation/ Bridge
Note:  this = state of Being, not of feeling  - Matt. 7:21-23

            (2)  Peace of God - Phil. 4:7 - this is not passive indifference, fatalism.
                 = acceptance of situation in light of God's:  sovereignty, love, will, presence, plan, involvement, etc.
So, Phil. 4:12-13
Example:  Hymn #410 - "it is well with my soul" - Peace of God transcends understanding

            (3)  The Peace God will establish  Rev. 21:4

II.  Total Sanctification - 1 Thess. 5:23-24 - sanctification = be set apart unto God
3 areas/levels ... (1)   Positional  Sanctification
                         (2)  Perfect Sanctification - will happen eventually, will be done by God
                         (3)  Practical Sanctification - process of becoming - one of the biggest complaints by non-believers against church people
On one hand, God does it for us - Phil. 1:6
However, it doesn't happen without our cooperation!
            Phil. 2:12-13 - effort, work, discipline
            2 Pet. 1:5 - make every effort
            Heb. 3:12 - see to it  (your job, your effort)

III.  Prayer - 1 Thess. 5:25 - seasoned Apostle requesting prayer????
Because, (1)  believes in Power of prayer - individual, and corporate
               (2) recognizes his need for prayer - Rom. 15:30, Phil. 1:19, Eph. 6:19-20

IV.  Greeting - 1 Thess. 5:26  example:  greeting time - this means more than a pleasant break.
Can = time of ministry, encouragement, bonding

V.  Scripture Reading - 1 Thess. 5:27  (1 letter, many Christians, churches) This was important stuff  -- they didn't have a New Testament.
These words = Accurate, Authoritative  Instructive 
1 Cor. 14:37   1 Tim. 4:13   2 Tim.  3:16-17

Close:  1 Thess. 5:28 -    paraphrase =  "may you continue to experience God's unmerited favor"

Closing Scripture:  Heb. 13:20-21

Monday, January 21, 2019

Final Instructions

Paul = finishing his letter to the Thessalonians.

Brief/simple - 16 in all.

1st. 8 = neighbor related:
Respect your leaders
Warn the idle
Help the weak
Don't retaliate
Live in peace
Encourage the timid
Be patient with everyone
Be kind

The next 8 = God related.
We did 2 last week - 1 Thess. 5:16-18

Today: = the last 5 - also God related.
1 Thess. 5:19-22

List:
(1)  Don't quench the Spirit
(2)  Don't treat prophecies with contempt
(3)  Test everything
(4)  Hold to the good
(5)  Avoid the evil 

#1,  Don't quench the (Holy) Spirit  
Don't put out His fire (working in you), hinder His work (in you), Resist/refuse His request when He wants to work in you..
Example:  Rom. 1:18 - "suppress" - have to exert some pressure to keep it from happening
Contrast with  2 Tim. 1:6 - "fan into flame" - (do your part)

Twofold Application:  (1)  within you (individual)
                                  (2)  within you all (corporate, context - in the Greek is plural)
Example:  Praise song:  "Holy Spirit thou art welcome in this place"

Question:  (obviously) He is welcome to comfort, heal, encourage, strengthen, etc.  BUT, is He welcome to convict?  confront?  correct?  Chastise?

Question:  How to know it = Holy Spirit? - tears, raising hands, vocalizing, etc. not always a correct indication
Answer  we'll come to that.

#2.  Don't treat prophecies with contempt  
Prophecy = (A)  foretelling = proclaiming a new word (new message)
                  (B)  forthtelling = expounding on an already known word.  ie:  preaching, teaching
Context suggests New Testament office and gift  (foretelling/new word(s)

Are 2 schools of thought on this:  one = this ceased with the Apostles,  other end = should be as common today as it was back then.
Middle ground = On one hand, obviously it is not as it was then, However, should be open to God's wisdom.  He can use this if He chooses.  Compare New Testament healings.

How to apply to us:  We will probably never talk to God face to face, eyeball to eyeball.  God most likely will speak to us through a Medium, whatever that may be:  prophet?  Apostle?  Holy Spirit?  Scripture?
Don't treat God's Word(s)/ Message(s) with contempt!!  ie:  when God speaks ....(whatever the medium) don't disregard, discredit, dismiss, treat lightly!!

Question:  How do I know it's from God?? 

#3.  Test Everything  (context = Spiritual claims, movements, etc.)
ie:  don't be naive, gullible, childish, foolish, non-discerning

New Testament is Clear!!  There will be...
          (1)  False ... doctrines, claims, teachers, prophets, *Spirits*
And,  (2)  Counterfeit - which = dangerous look alikes!!!
   2 Cor. 11:13-15,  1 John 4:1, 5

So:  #3.  Test 
       #4.  Hold  to what's good
       #5.  Avoid that which is evil

BUT still leaves question:  How do I know it's Holy Spirit?  true Prophecy?
Answer is not easy - can't measure in a lab, on a calculator 

#1.  Measure suggested truths by established truths. 
Example:  "this board = 72" long"  - how to test that??
      "       = Eve - opportunity to test serpent's claim?
      "       = Bereans - Act. 17:10-11 - on one hand, "received eagerly" however, "examined the Scriptures!"  They were eager to received from God, but didn't accept the message blindly.

Doing this should develop:
(1)  Maturity - Eph. 4:11-15
(2)  Discernment - Heb. 5:11-14 - by constant use have trained themselves
(3)  Wisdom - Matt. 10:16
Additional tests of orthodoxy, tradition, wise individuals, corporate wisdom

Lump these 5 together + paraphrase 

(1)  Don't hinder God's work, word, message - within you, among you (all)

(2)  Don't be naive   (gullible, childish, foolish)

(3)  Test all spiritual claims

(4)  Hold to the good

(5)  Avoid all the evil

So.......... Paul closes this section with   1 Thess. 5:23-24



Sunday, January 13, 2019

Final Instructions

1 Thess. 5:12-22 = last instructions to the Thessalonians.  Brief, simple, short, without much commentary.

16 different ones (by our count)  - last week did 8.

1)  Respect your leaders
2)  Live in Peace
3)  Warn the Idle
4)  Encourage the Timid
5)  Help the Weak - (morally, ethically weak)
6)  Be patient with everyone
7)  Don't Retaliate
8)  Be Kind

Simple stuff to understand, but may be difficult to enact.
When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus' answer was:  "love the Lord, your God with all your heart...., and love your neighbor as yourself.....  On these two hang all the law and the prophets."
All the above listed are "neighbor" related.  Are Basic to Christian behavior.  (identity, witness)  - the way we are called to treat people.
All are in your power to perform.

Now the other 8............

1)  Rejoice Always
2)  Pray Continually
3)  Give Thanks in Everything
4)  Don't Quench the Spirit
5)  Don't Despise God's Word(s)
6)  Test Spiritual Claims
7)  Hold tot eh Good
8)  Avoid all the Evil

- These - still easy to understand, But might require some definition.
- These are more "God-Related" (see quote from Jesus above)
- Still expected Christian behavior
- Still within your power/ability to perform...

Today = 3 of the 8
Begin with #3 because = (1) familiar  (2)  sets pattern

#1.  In everything Give Thanks  
       (A)  Contrast = "in all" with "for all" - Rom. 8:28 - God works in all things,  not necessarily the way we want Him to.
       (B)  Contrast the Act (give thanks) and the Attitude (be thankful) - 50:1
      (C)  note:  This = a spiritual discipline  (may take effort)
therefore
      (D)  may be a Christian sacrifice (costly)

#2.  Rejoice Always   joy = gladness (delight0
                         to Rejoice = to express gladness   Luke 10:20   Rev. 19:7
Like thanksgiving,  (A)  contrast the Act and Attitude
  ("be joyful" = 2 times in New Testament.  Rejoice = many times!_
Therefore,             (B)  a Christian discipline - not always easy to do.
                             (C)  a Christian Sacrifice - Heb. 13:15

This does NOT mean "be happy" all the time.  It Does = express your joy amidst your sorrow.
Matt. 5:11-12   2 Cor. 6:3-10 - when doing good, serving Christ, living for Christ

Question:  If can't conjure up gladness??
Answer:  Do what you know is right! = discipline!
                                                        = sacrifice!

#3.  Pray without Ceasing   (continually)
Obviously doesn't mean never off knees, doesn't mean do nothing else.
On one hand = state of presence, communication - (example:  group in a car - don't have to talk constantly to see that the way to communication is there and open)
On the other hand, this is more than an Attitude of Prayer!  It = the ACT of prayer (communication)

Prayer = (1)  making request(s)
also =     (2)  Praise  (To Him)
and =     (3)  Expressing thoughts/feelings (plus and minus) offered as
              (4)  an Option to Worry - Phil. 4:6-7

Prayer = 2 way communication
Question:  what if don't sense .. His Presence, His Response?
Answer:  Pray anyway!!! - Col. 4:2,  Eph. 6:18

Note:  words of our model/teacher - John 11:41-42
Note:  words of great pray-er:  James 5:16

This = God's Desire ... for your good, for your witness, therefore, for His promotion.

These =  (1)  easy to understand
              (2)  difficult to do
 BUT     (3)  within your power!!!

Closing Scripture:  2 Pet. 1:10-12

Saturday, January 12, 2019

1st, Thessalonians (continued)

Review:  Paul's 2nd. missionary journey - led to Thessalonian successful church start  (in only three weeks?)

BUT - opposition led to a riot to Paul being sent away.
Timothy was sent back and stayed - to ground new Christians and establish the church - probably there a year and a half..

Eventually Timothy goes to Paul (at Corinth) with a good report!!  So.... Paul writes 1st. letter to church at Thessalonia.
to:  (1)  Commend them  (doing a great job!)
      (2)  Encourage them (because opposition will continue and likely will increase)
      (3)  Correct them and (4) instruct them because a) they're New Christians - have never heard the message before  b)  they were raised in a pagan culture   c)  there was no New Testament

SO (example:)  1 Thess. 4:1-2

Note:  some instructions merit long passages  ie:   (sexual purity/ brotherly love/ Lord's return - they were confused about that)

Others = Simple/ easy to grasp; common knowledge - therefore, brief in presentation:

1 Thess. 5:12-22 - my count = 16 separate instructions in 11 verses!
Will look at a few -- briefly --

#1.  Respect your leaders  (elders, teachers, etc.)
       description - 1 Thess. 5:12 - reason - 1 Thess. 5:13  - not because of the title or position, but because of the Work!  (Due!!)

#2.  Live in Peace
Question:  this is the guy who incited riots?? example:  Phillip --> Thessalonia -->  Berea!!

Qualify - Rom. 12:18  (as far as depends on you)
Add Jesus - Matt. 5:9 = (peace MAKERS!)
Note:  Eph. 4:3 - (every EFFORT!!  because it's not easy!!)
Willing to do what's necessary to try and make peace.

#3.  Warn the Idle - already dealt with it - 1 Thess. 4:11-12
                               will see it again - 2 Thess. 3

Paul address (un-necessary_ idleness as:  (not those that can't work, but those that won't) 
  (1)  a MORAL issue
  (2)  not befitting of Christians/ unwarranted behavior

#4.  Encourage the timid - (fainthearted, easily discouraged)
Example:  Words = power to put courage IN, take courage OUT 
             Prov. 18:2 - power of life and death in the tongue
             Psm. 141:3
             Eph. 4:29
             Matt. 12:35-37 - words have the power of life and death

#5.  Help the weak
Obviously - physically weak.  Here probably = Morally weak!!
Rom. 15:1   Gal. 6:1 (help the weak)
Is a fine line between can't and won't.  Some people are just weak, can't seem to make right moral
decisions.
Which leads to.........

#6.  Be patient  (with everybody!!!)
      often = "long suffering" which = suffer long before you snap!!!
                 "even tempered" - don't get bent out of shape
if can't  be patient within ... do so without!!

#7.  Don't Retaliate - (don't return wrong for wrong!)  
Model = Jesus who said - "turn other cheek", go extra mile"
                        who did - "Father forgive them..."
Note:  1 Pet. 3:9 - "called"

#8.  Be Kind - warmhearted, affectionate, considerate, caring, thoughtful, sympathetic...
in a word? - "gracious" - granting grace, undeserved favor!
Eph. 4:32
Gal. 6:10
Matt. 25:31-40



Friday, January 4, 2019

The Man Behind Santa

Are between Christmas and New Years.  So - another Christmas message.

THE MAN BEHIND SANTA
St. Nicholas - born approximately 270 AD at Patara - port on the Mediterranean Sea in present day Turkey.

Parents died while he was a boy so was raised by his Uncle Nicholas - founder and chief bishop at New Zion Monastery.  Led to Nicholas' desire to become a monk.

While still young, he decided to give away his inheritance AND to do so quietly.(anonymously)

Was sent as a teen to study at Alexandria, Egypt at the Christian School of Alexandria founded by John Mark.  = 1st. Christian Seminary.

Next he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land  to round out education.
Hoped for conformation of his desire to be a monk.
However, Received a call in a vision/dream.   "This is not the vineyard where you shall bear fruit for me.  Return to the world and glorify my name there."   which lead to NOT a life of seclusion but a life of Public Ministry.

On way home, stops at port of Myra - enters church early one morning to pray and give thanks.  Unbeknown to Nicholas, the chief bishop of the area had died.  Other bishops had gathered to choose successor.  Legend = oldest, wisest bishop had a dream that God said .."1st. person named Nicholas to enter the church is to be chief bishop."

So.......  Bishop of Myra  (served there unitl death in 343.)

Nicholas was imprisoned for approximately 7 years during the Great Persecution by Diocletian, Roman Emperor at that time.

Then came Edict of Toleration in 311 - stating that Christianity was to be tolerated!
Next in 313 - Edict of Milan - by Constantine - Christianity Approved!

Nicolas = released, returned to Myra, resumed office of Bishop.  Was instrumental in the Council of Nicea.

Continued as Bishop of Myra until his death, and eventually was sainted.  Was patron saint of many groups/peoples, especially (1)  sailors  and (2)  children

Then St. Nicholas led to Father Christmas, Sinter Klauss, Santa Claus.  Various depictions by Thomas Nast in 1881, and Norman Rockwell in 1939.


Scripture says "imitate great men, women of faith" - Paul - 1 Cor. 4:16, Heb. 6:12, 13:7

But.... how to imitate a Nicholas??

On one hand, you can't - was his call, his gift package, work of the Holy Spirit, the times, opportunities, etc. - all unique and according to God's specific plan, call for him.

However, all great saints are characterized by common Christian traits --
                 which we can duplicate and which we are called to imitate.

So... Ordinary Traits of an Extra Ordinary Christian  
Nicholas was....
#1.  A Seeker - of God, God's truth, God's will.   Deut. 4:29
     A.)  requires effort
     B.)  is a Life long pursuit  - example:  Paul - Phil. 3:10-15

Jesus stressed "be content with things you have, BUT never content with your Spiritual attainments!!
"blessed are poor in spirit, mourn, hunger & thirst.."

Which leads to:  therefore,
#2.  A Student - can't do God's will if you don't know God's will!
                          can't teach His ways if don't know His ways
                          can't portray His character if don't know His character.

Example:  parents dedicate child to God's will but never truly seek to learn God's will
New Testament word "disciple" - which = a learner/student

Seeker/student naturally leads to....
#3.  A Responder - Luke 6:46
Nicholas - wanted to be a monk, live life of seclusion.  Was called to be Bishop, public service.
Could have refused the call.

POINT:  submit whatever the call.
The One who said "go into all the world..."  also said "wash one another's feet..."
So, that leads to:

#4.  A Servant - "Great leaders in God's Kingdom are Always Servants.  Matt. 23:11-12

So, if not gifted, called, enabled to do great things, nevertheless, ARE gifted, called, enabled to Serve!!
Example:  Peter and the post-resurrection Instructions he received:  feed my sheep, nurture my lambs, shepherd my flock.
which leads to:  just a servant of the people, but MORE than just a servant of the people:

also, #5 - An Advocate for the people.  ie: a helper, defender, protector.  Also a promoter, enable,r developer to pick up, lift up, build up.

Point:  making use of YOUR position, influence, clout.  Example:  Peter called to nurture, now calls others to Nurture - 1 Pet. 5:1-2

Naturally, if responder/servant.. then also:

#6.  A Steward - a manager of the Master's wealth, one who handles what's been entrusted 
(money, time, talents, opportunities, etc.)  1 Cor. 4:1-2

Could list other traits.
POINT = all great saints, miracle workers, world changers are:
         (1)  characterized by common Christian traits
         (2)  traits that you and I can imitate
         (3)  traits that we are CALLED to duplicate!

"MAKE JESUS YOUR LORD"
Which = accept, receive
              seek/serve
              promote, make known

Closing Scripture:  Heb. 6:9-12