Sunday, June 29, 2008

Increasing Your Faith

Opening Scripture: Heb. 11:1

Observations: A. Faith is confidence

B. Biblical faith is confidence in God – as He is as revealed in Scripture and in Jesus Christ

C. This faith is more than theoretical and intellectual. It is active.

The bulk of Hebrews 11 is: “by faith ____name___ ____active verb_____”

D. Though it looks like self confidence, it is GOD CONFIDENCE.

Examples: David & Goliath, Paul – “I can do all things….”

SO…. How to develop this “God Confidence” ?


#1. Pray for faith. James – “ you have not because you ask not….”

But, remember …. Faith often is born in trials and fires!!

#2. Study the Word. Rom 10:17 – “So then, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” There are two simple concepts:

A. the more you know of Him, the easier it is to trust Him.

B. the best place to learn of Him is in His Word.

#3. Apply the Word. Application plus obedience leads to experience which leads to confidence.

Example: Mal. 3:10 – “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, …., and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of Hosts, ……..”

#4. Recall the past. (times when He’s been faithful)

A. Your own experiences I Sam. 17:37

B. Other’s experiences. Psm. 44:1-4 “We have hear with our ears, O God, Our fathers have told us, the deeds You did in their days,……”

#5. Associate with faith people. Attitudes, belief systems are infectious and contagious

Prov. 13:20 – “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.”

Note: this doesn’t mean exclude non-believers from your circle, but it does mean control your peer group. I Cor. 5:9-11

#6. Share your faith. – “the more you take away the bigger it gets?” - a hole. This compares to faith. The more you share it, the bigger it grows.

The principle/broad concept is shown in: Luke 6:38 – “Give and it will be given to you,…… for with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Luke 16:10 & 11, Philemon 6

This includes: A. Share the gospel - (bridge illustration)

B. Tell your story – (personal testimony)

C. Teach the Word (AWANA)

D. Minister for Him (service)

#7. Experience His presence. – faith often begins with or is solidified in an experience.

We cannot conjur up or control His presence!

But, we can put ourself in a position most likely to experience His presence. Ie: worship, Bible Study, Christian gatherings, etc.

#8. Be constant (consistent) in your Christian walk.

Phil. 4:11-13 “learned” You learn through time, application, consistent perseverance.

SUMMARY: Confidence in God comes from knowing God, and knowing God comes from things like: prayer, study, application, experience, recalling, hanging out, sharing, and keep walking.

Result: 2 Tim. 1:12 “…..for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”

Monday, June 23, 2008

Faith Tests

Heb. 11:1 & 6 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen….” “But without faith it is impossible to please Him…..”

We are talking about Christian/Biblical faith.

Christian faith is when I trust Him even when it’s not according to my interpretations or appearances or circumstances. It’s believing even when circumstances are complex and confusing.

All Christians go through testing of their faith.

Some truths about Faith Tests.

#1. The tests don’t necessarily come JUST as tests. Rather, they serve as tests, whatever the reason for happening.

#2. Tests don‘t have to make sense to us to make sense. Isa. 55:8 & 9 – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD…….”

Deut. 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, …….”

#3. Your test is not unique or unusual.

I Cor. 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is comman to man,….”

Nor is it too much!! “but God is faithful, who will no allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able,…..”

Temptation = test It is the same word in the Greek.

#4. Tests typically involve more than the head and heart, they involve the hands.

Takes response, doing something. Ie: act like it.

Rom. 1:5 Heb. 11:7f – “by faith _name___ __verb____.” Ie: Abraham did something, Isaac did something, etc.

James 2:26 “……so faith without works is dead also.” (2:14-26)

#5. Faith tests can and should result in greater faith.

I Pet. 1:6 & 7 James 1:2 – 4

#6. The testing is not for you alone. God works on others through your tests.

Rom. 1: 11 & 12 “……that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” For example: how many people have been encouraged by Job’s test.

#7. You never know in advance how you’ll do when tested.

Example: Peter being sifted by Satan. He thought he could stand through anything, but failed miserably.

Gideon being called to a leadership roll. He thought he'd fail, but came through a leader.

I Cor. 10:12 “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”


#8. Your failing the test will not affect God’s faithfulness.

Rom. 3:3 & 4 “……..Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar……..”

2 Tim. 2:13 “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”


#9. If you fail, it does not end your relationship with Christ.

Heb. 13:5 “……………….For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’……”

#10. The tests apparently never end. (in this life)

Gen. 22:1 - Abraham was tested at approximately 114 years of age.

This is because His love and His purpose never end. Phil. 1:6 –“being confident of this very thing; that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Monday, June 16, 2008

Teaching the Children

Deut. 6:4-9 “Hear O Israel, The LORD our God, the LORD is one! ……. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children,…..” ie: We want you to get this and we want your kids to get it.

Eph. 6:4 - “and you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”

Prov. 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Parents' responsibility is more than a child’s physical well-being, education, and vocational training.

The responsibility ALSO includes character development, emotional, and spiritual development.

This means: teach, train, develop, nurture, instruct, impress upon.

SO, what should you teach them?



#1. Scripture2 Tim. 3:14-16 “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

Scripture is more than good teaching and wisdom….. it also is

A. truth (established truth which needs to be discovered, not fabricated)

B. living truth -…. It is a living sword –Heb. 4:12

It is a talking mirror – James 1:23

#2. About Scripture – we live in the 21st. century and there are skeptics, questions, challenges – some of which are valid.

Children need to be taught the source, transmission, reliability, practicality, proper interpretation, proper application, etc.

QUESTION: Why should I accept and apply scripture to my life unless I’m convinced of its source, reliability, truths, benefits???

#3. About God.

QUESTION: Shouldn’t that be 1st??? On one hand, the truths about God are the primary importance, BUT where do we obtain these truths??? The revelation of God and God’s character is received THROUGH Scripture.

There are other sources of revelation – science, nature, etc., BUT scripture is the Primary and most Trustworthy source.

The only way to explain God to someone is if He has chosen to reveal Himself to the world. AND, He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures.

#4. About their sin nature.

In the Wordless Book – the BLACK page is central to the gospel story.

To OMIT the black (and the red) pages would result in an INCOMPLETE story without answers to our primary questions and needs.

Rom. 3;23 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Sin is: 1. our actions

2. our inheritance

3. our tendency (Rom. 7;21 – “I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.”

#5. About the remedy for the sin nature.

This is not good works and more effort!!

Rom. 3:20-22, Rom 4: 7 & 8, Rom. 5: 1 & 2

John 14:6 – “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” “ This is illustrated by the Bridge illustration, the Wordless Book, etc.

BUT – though we’re delivered from the penalty of sin, we are not delivered from the presence, power, persistence of it. Rom. 7:21

Therefore, teach:

#6. Self-discipline. I Tim. 4:7 – “….exercise yourself toward godliness.”

Timothy, train yourself because I can’t, parents can’t, even God can’t train you! Vs. 8

#7. Respect for others – because it’s not all about me and I am NOT the center of the universe.

Phil. 2:3 – “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”

The point is not to believe that everyone is better than you, but that you treat them as if they are.

An excellent illustration is: Vs. 5 – “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,”

Vs. 4 – “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

We are not more valuable than Christ, but He treats us like we are.

#8. About God’s plan and purpose for their life.

Jer. 29:11 – “For I know the thoughts that I have toward you, says the Lord,…..”

A summary of God’s plan is:

A. He wants to GET IN their life

B. He wants to GET ON the throne of that life

C. He wants to GET OUT in the world and work through their life.


#1. Whether my children grow up to accept Christ and follow God is NOT my responsibility. It is THEIR responsibility.

BUT, the teaching, training, nurturing, instructing – those ARE my responsibility.

#2. The process does NOT begin with you being a teacher of these things. It begins with you being a student – a believer, a disciple…..

So…. What’s your decision? What’s your response??

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Divorce: A Biblical View

Matt. 19:3-9 Jesus said, “What God has joined together, let man not separate.”

Facts: The divorce rate in the US has doubled since the 1960’s. It has declined a bit since the ‘80s but this is mainly because many couples are living together without getting married.

50% of all marriages end in divorce. There are NO families in the United States who are not touched by divorce. Everyone is touched by it!

GOD’S PLAN (Ideal, Intent) was 1 man + 1 woman for life….Gen. ! & 2 The plan was for a man to LEAVE his parents, CLEAVE to his wife, BECOME one flesh, and REMAIN for life.

This was God’s intent for marriage. The point is that the VIEW of divorce should be compatible with the VIEW of marriage!

In other words: Marriage is based on God’s Word and God’s design and with God’s blessing. Divorce is based on our word, civil codes, etc.

Church weddings are OK. We want God's blessings, but church divorce????

The Pharisee’s question in Vs. 7 of text refers to Deut. 24:1-4 where Moses gives instruction about divorce.

The command was NOT to divorce, but to grant a certificate of divorce and not to remarry her.

The concession: Matt. 19:8 – “…Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning……”

Jesus’ grounds for divorce – Matt. 19:9 – “……marital unfaithfulness…..”

Matt. 5:31 & 32 “….anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress,….”

Paul’s inclusions: I Cor. 7:15 – “But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances……”

Our questions: What about in cases of abuse of spouse or children? The answers are not easy but they must be given in light of the whole scripture and the teachings of Christ regarding sanctity of human life,

Jesus is Lord, not the husband or wife, etc.

A 15 year study showed that less than 1/3 of divorces in the United States are because of high conflict, violence, abusive situations.

Most divorces are in low conflict but unhappy marriages!!! There is nothing in scripture about UNHAPPINESS! God’s preference is to work it out and get happy in the marriage.


#1. God Hates Divorce. Mal. 2:13 – 16. Why??? Because He fully understands…A. what He’s trying to accomplish through the marriage, what plans are going to aborted, how people are going to be hurt and how much they are going to hurt.

Question: Shouldn’t we think about the same things that God is concerned about when a divorce happens??

BUT, #2. God doesn’t hate divorcees. We ALL sin and come short of the glory of God. There is nothing said about 1st. class sin and 2nd.class sin, etc.

#3. Divorce is not always wrong (morally forbidden)

Matt. 1:18 & 19 – when Joseph found that Mary was expecting a child, he was going to divorce her quietly, and was considered a righteous man

Jer. 3: 6 – 8 God issued a certificate of divorce to faithless Israel when she was unfaithful with heathen gods.

Question: How do we reconcile # 1 & #3? It may be unavoidable, necessary, justifiable, and right, BUT it is NEVER desirable or good!

Compare divorce to the cross: God hated the cross but it was the cure for the condition of mankind. God hates divorce but sometimes it has to be.

#4. Divorce is not always avoidable. Sometimes a person can be a VICTIM of divorce. Perhaps didn’t want the divorce, but had no choice in the matter.

#5. Even when the divorce was avoidable and wrong, it is not unpardonable.

Divorce is NOT the unpardonable sin. Matt. 12:31 – “And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”

Divorce is NOT found in lists of “worst” sins. I Cor. 6:9 & 10, I Cor. 6:11, I John 1:9


#1. We should base our decisions on divorce in light of the Biblical view of marriage.

#2. Let’s not minimize the sin, the effects, the consequences

#3. But, let’s not make it a unique, unpardonable sin

#4. Let’s seek a Biblical, scriptural balance in every situation

#5. Let’s not let divorce issues separate us from A. God’s love

B. One another.