Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jesus Is the Light

Isa. 9:1-2, 6-7
One of the primary themes of Christmas is the entry of light! (when Christ came)

Shepherds - "glory of the Lord shone" - Magi - the star (unusual light) Simeon - Luke 2:30-32

Therefore, John 1:1, 4-9, 8:12, 12:46

"Light" (in scripture) represents all that is good, pure, right. ie: sight, understanding, truth, wisdom, prosperity, joy, health, moral uprightness, openness, holiness, etc.
The Person, Power, Presence of God is represented by light.

"Darkness" (in scripture) always has negative connotations!!
ie: ignorance, falsehood, folly, blindness, stumbling, groping, hiding, concealing, sneaking around, rejecting truth. Synonymous with evil, wickedness, sin, corruption, Satan, evil powers.
It's tied to judgment, banishment, death, separation, etc.
the 9th. plague - Ex. 10:21-23
5th. bowl - Rev. 16:10-11
3 hours on cross - Matt. 27:45
parables of Christ - Matt. 8:11-12, 22:13, 25:30
Fate of godless - Jude 6, 13

Light is the 1st. thing created - Gen. 1:1-3
then separated from darkness - Gen. 1:4 And at odds ever since!!
BUT, darkness will be banished from the Presence of God and God's people - Rev. 21:23-25, 22:5

MEANWHILE (between times....)

I. Christ offers us light. (broad application)
But includes the knowledge of right and wrong - to help us see and know things

II. Christ offers to deliver us from darkness.
Col. 1:12-13 (also has a broad application)

Suggests our problem is more than a need for knowledge
The Gospel message says that it means release from bondage (compare to Israel in Egypt - the information Moses gave regarding the Promised Land wasn't going to change their situation)

Our Part???? (also, your part - individually)
#1. Exposure to the light - seeking, pursuing. Mostly, God does not invade or force Himself on us. Example: the Magi
A. through His Word - Psalm 19:8, 119:105, 119:130
B. with His Presence (person) - Job 29:1-5 (a) - "with me" John 16:13 (a) - "all truth"
You cannot conjure up the Presence of God, but must seek it.

#2. Receiving light given. Rom. 1:21 - Light received increases light. Light rejected increases darkness.

#3. Accepting the Source of Light - (ie: Christ)
Therefore, it's more than propositional. It is personal. John 1:11-12 - received Him. Calling Him Savior and Lord.

#4, Living according to the light received. Eph. 5:8-15
Goes beyond accepting Him as Savior and Lord.

#5. Modeling the light - (closely related to #4)
Matt. 5:14-16 Phil. 2:14-15 - lifestyle should be such that we stand out as examples of a "light follower".

#6. Spreading light. Compare Acts 26:17-18

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The 2nd. Advent

Christmas Prophecies fulfilled in Christ.
examples: Matt. 1:22-23, 2:14-15, 2:17-18, 2:23

Others deal with: birth, parentage, name, character, residence, ministry, miracles, rejection, suffering, betrayal, death, crucifixion, burial, resurrection, ascension.

BUT, not all have been fulfilled!! Isa. 9:6-7 Isa. 11:1-9
Answer? Solution? - these combine the 1st. and 2nd. coming in one prophecy!!

Jews expected Messiah to come once and fulfill all.
Therefore many rejected Jesus as the Messiah because He didn't fulfill them all.

Christians slowly realized that there would be two advents of one Messiah.
Luke 24:13-32
Acts 1:3-11 - same Jesus, He will come back!

Combining the teachings of Christ (pre- and post- resurrection) - Holy Spirit, Scripture, combined wisdom, unfolding events, etc... - Heb. 9:28

Back to Isa. 9:6-7 - Why in one passage??

So... the 2nd. Coming of Christ - are many ideas/theories/explanations.

What's Clear from Scripture?? What we can know!

#1. Christ will return - bodily, visibly, in power and glory - everyone will know
Matt. 24:26-27

#2. Nobody knows exactly when or how - Mark 13:32
But different from the 1st. time - Rev. 19:11-16

#3. He'll gather His people - Mark 13:26-27
Some come with Him, some meet Him

#4. There will be a Resurrection - reuniting of soul and body -- 1 Thess. 4:14-17

#5. He'll usher in eternity - a new age, new era, new life .... Rev. 21:4

#6. He'll establish His Rule over all things - 1 Cor. 15:24 He will establish Himself as LORD. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess Jesus is Lord.

#7. There will be a final judgment. Rev. 20:11-15

Do's and Don'ts for us concerning the 2nd coming.

#1. Don't be deceived/misled - Nobody knows exactly when/how

#2. Don't be discouraged - all will be put right at the right time/in the right way

#3. Do be aware/informed - concerning His coming

#4. Do be confident - (a) "soon" - relative term meaning in His time.
- (b) He keeps His word

#5. DO BE READY!! You will meet Him/soon

#6. DO BE FAITHFUL - the parables mean - doing your job?? Faithfully living day by day. We'll answer for that!
Rev. 22:20

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lessons from the Incarnation

Last week - His Advent (coming)
Today - His Incarnation - ie: God in the flesh, took on human nature
Matt. 1:18-23

Exactly how??? We're not told. But, we are told..... A. it's so, and, B. by the Holy Spirit --- Matt. 1:18/20
Luke 1:34-35 - foundational truth of Christianity

Compare: Isa. 9:6-7 John 1:1/14 - God Incarnate Col. 1:15/19, 2:9 image of the invisible God

Summary verse: 1 Tim. 3:16

Many truths/lessons .... so, here are a few....

The Incarnation helps me see...... (perceive, understand, glimpse)

#1. God's Character. Phil. 2:5-8
THE Almighty God, creator of all, omniscient, needs nothing, all powerful, absolute, complete, etc. ,
but He gave all that up to became a man.

#2. Our Model - John 13:12-16 - this is more than foot washing. Speaks of what we should be - Christlike - not me, me, me, even people who hate us and did us wrong.

#3. My Failure. (to live up to the model)
Measure self by Christ - Rom. 3:23 - we are short of what we should be.

#4. The Remedy (solution/redemption) Rom. 3:23-25 (a)

#5. The Reconciliation - Col. 1:19-22 - God wants a relationship

#6. My Helper (advocate/mediator/console-er/counselor/comforter/encourager, etc.
Heb. 2:17-18 Heb. 4:15-16 - He knows exactly what we go through.

#7. My Ministry - John 14:12 - what are you going to do with your life? We're talking about being used of God - scope of ministry.

#8. My Hope - 1 Thess. 5:9-10 Rev. 1:17-18
Christian hope is joyous expectation of what's to come!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Praying in the Spirit of Advent

Advent (Latin Adventus) means a coming/an arrival - celebrated the 4 Sundays before Christmas

Three aspects/applications:
1. we celebrate His coming
2. we anticipate His return
3. we call upon Him to come NOW - as You have come and will come again.

The point is not presence but it means activity (active presence) Judges 6:12-13
Acts 4:29-30

Advent prayer is "as you came and will come.. So come, now, and... make yourself known and do might works among us."

This is a common theme: Exodus, Judges, Exile, Macabees, Persecuted Christians
Therefore: Psalm 5:1-5, 7:1-2, 5-9, 10:1-3,10-12

So..... what should we pray and who to pray for???

I. WHAT??? "Lord, come now and ....

1. deliver your people - from oppression, evil, injustice, persecution
2. establish justice - make things right
3. bring healing - physical, emotional, spiritual, relational, social, political, racial, etc.
4. comfort - because healing is not always available!!!
5. Shed light - knowledge, wisdom, discernment, understanding; Contrast: darkness
6. grant salvation - save souls, reconcile, grant eternal life....
7. effect transformation of individual/ of society - change things
8. expand your Kingdom - "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done .... on earth.."
9. execute judgment (now) on sin, evil, wickedness
10. make yourself known - as in Advent 1 & 2

II. Who to pray this for??
1. yourself
2. other individuals
Lord, come and deliver (sin/drugs/emotion/ heal - cancer? comfort - save

3. a group - family, church, community, nation
"Lord, bring light, effect transformation, make Yourself known."

III. How should we pray? (an advent prayer?)
On one hand, God can't be manipulated or coerced.
But, He answers prayer so......

Components of an Advent Prayer
A Recognition of need.... of His presence, power, intervention
Point being, there's no need to call if: A. all's well and B. we can handle it. Which is why these kinds of prayers are not common in the U.S. We've got it so good!!!
Our nation is not going to turn around without a mighty moving of God!!

#2. A desire of the heart. (not ritualistically) You can't fake this. Isa. 1:10-15 - all external.

#3. Serious invitation "Cry out" Ex. 3:7-10 Judges 3:7-9

#4. personal preparation. example: John the Baptist - Mark 1:2-5,7-8
Why?? Amos 5:18-20 - When He comes, you want to be ready for His arrival.
Always before the Lord came, He looked for His people to prepare for His coming.

#5. A spirit of cooperation. ie: Are you willing to work with Him to accomplish what you pray for??? Examples: Exodus, Judges, Exile, Macabees

#6. Submission to His decision(s) (timing, methods, etc.)
Example: Hab. 1:2-6,12 (b) Example: deliver from Rome took 300 years of spreading the Gospel. God didn't do it the way they wanted it done, so they rejected their Messiah.

#7. the inclusion of Christ. This is more than a call for God to act. It is a call for Him to act through His Son, the person of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Utilizing Your Blessings

Our Thanksgiving Blessings series stated:
#1. We're Blessed
Therefore, we ought to
#2. Recognize the blessings
#3. Recognize the Source - God is the Source of ALL blessing. (Even if we worked for them.)
#4. we should give thanks - verbal expression
#5. Enjoy the blessing (because it was given as a blessing!!)

Question: Enough said?? End of the matter??
Answer: depends largely on World view. (view of life, view of God)
Contrast: typical world view: blessings are given to me to possess and enjoy (as I see fit)
with: Biblical world view: blessings entrusted to me to use (as He directs)

So............ Utilizing Your Blessings (stewardship of those blessings)

#1. The Bible stresses the concept of stewardship. (we are the managers)
example: Matt. 25:14
This does not ignore aspects of ownership. Ex. 20:15 - "Thou shalt not steal."
Stewardship merely recognizes true ownership. "No one takes them with them!"
Ultimately, God is the owner. We leave with nothing.

#2. Stewardship goes beyond money and material possessions.
1 Pet. 4:10 - gifts, abilities, time, relationships, opportunities, knowledge
The point is NOT that we must employ every minute of blessing.
The point is you're blessed for a reason and purpose.

#3. The goal of stewardship is the expansion of God's kingdom. In the parable of the talents, the talents were to be used to expand the holdings of the master.
NOTE: this does not benefit God!!!! It benefits people!! God is already absolute and complete.

#4. The focus of the matter is people.
ie: Utilizing your blessings is a way that benefits people.

#5. The specific applications ultimately are between you and your Master. John 21:18-22
outlined in His Word. Specifics you must work out with Him.

#6. Stewardship is not designed to restrict your life but to enhance it. John 10:10
Point is: add an eternal dimension - that eternity will be changed by what you do.
MAD (make a difference) MAED (make an eternal difference)
Luke 12:15, 21

#7. Stewardship does not deny your needs and pleasures.

The word for stewardship in the Greek is household manager who benefits from the house!!
1 Tim. 5:18

#8. Biblical stewardship is a win/win situation.
Nearly every command to give, share, be generous includes a promise of blessing upon the giver.
OT - Deut. 14:28-29 Prov. 11:25, 22:9, 28:27, 17:19
NT - Luke 6:38 2 Cor. 9:6, 10-11 Phil. 4:19

#9. Stewardship is (nearly) synonymous with Lordship.
Luke 12:48 (b) The concept of accountability!

#10. (as always) Stewardship is a matter of personal choice. (decision)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Maximizing Your Blessings

BLESSING: A gift from God and/or the sense of well-being generated by the gift(s).

Question: got any? like 'em? want more? is that WRONG? Answer: Not if they are from GOD!!

So then..... how to maximize (get the most) blessings (from God)
General answer (umbrella answer) is: get IN HIS WILL if you want the maximum blessings.
(God is benevolent, interactive - cares for us personally, but also authoritative - there are boundaries.)
On one hand there are many blessings outside His will - example: common blessings
BUT maximum blessings are found IN His will.

So...... more specifically.... How to Maximize Your Blessings.

#1. Get in Christ. Eph. 1:3 - can't be in God's will if not in Christ. If you miss this one, you are missing the ultimate blessings, here and in eternity.

#2. Walk in Christ. ie: Conduct/lifestyle according to God's Word and will.
Deut. 7:12-14 (a) - people Deut. 11:26-28 (a) - God Deut. 30:19

Conduct (when living as supposed to) blessings can be:
A. Simple consequence
B. Divine intervention
C. Eventual reward
Gal. 6:7-9
Matt. 25:34-36

#3. Ask. 1 Chron. 4:10 ( James 4:2 ) Matt. 7:7-11

#4. Receive what's freely offered. Example: salvation/forgiveness/acceptance (already have God's acceptance)/significance/security - He freely offers eternal security - /etc.
Many people walk around with guilt over past sins and failures and therefore are unable to minister and be an ambassador for Him.

#5. Enjoy what you've received. ie: the joy of being blessed often is found in taking time to enjoy the blessings. Example: spouse, kids, grandkids, etc., intimacy with God, a good meal, a fall day, warm fire.

#6. Share your blessings. Deut. 15:10, 24:19 Ezek. 44:30 Acts 20:35 - more blessed to give than to receive.

#7. Accept correction. Job 5:17 leads to Heb. 12:5-7 (a) (sons)
Correction is designed to bring you into His will and therefore increase blessings!!

#8. Associate with blessed people.
Last week we discussed "proximity blessings" - examples: Jacob and Laban, Joseph and Potiphar
Prov. 11:11 and Psalm 33:12 - contrast with Psalm 1:1-2

#9. Bless others. 1 Pet. 3:9

#10 Surrender your non-blessings to Christ. A lot of things in life are not a blessing.
However, Rom. 8:28 - He can draw a blessing out of a curse. Example: the cross.

Summary verse: John 13:17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Recognizing Your Blessings

As we approach Thanksgiving, it is appropriate that we examine "blessings".
Definition of blessing: 1. A gift from God
and/ or 2. a sense of well being generated by the gift(s)

Last week we discussed Giving Thanks for your Blessings.

Today: Recognizing your blessings.
Question: What have you got to be thankful for?????
(the list is too long so we'll look at categories and types of blessings.


#1. ...... Material Possessions. (money, job, home, cars, clothes, etc.)
We know: A. we're blessed. (according to statistics - we are in the top 10% of the wealthiest people in the world.)
and, B. that's OK. Gen. 24:35 Job 42:12 There is nothing WRONG with wealth.

Remember, on one hand, you may have worked, planned, saved, etc. to acquire your wealth.
However, those blessings would NOT be possible without God's grace.
Deut. 8:17-18 (a)
Job 1:9-10 - "blessed the WORK of his hands" - common phrase

#2. .... Material non-possessions. ie: yours to enjoy but not to own!!
examples: sunset, fall day, ocean surf, smell of honeysuckle, great view, warm sunshine, soft rain, full moon, whippoorwill's call, etc.

#3....Spiritual blessings. Eph. 1:3 - He has already blessed us with.
text means election, redemption, forgiveness, adoption in the family. But could also add: regeneration (chosen), reconciliation (brought back to the Father), sanctification (set apart), security!!
Note: Eph. 1:6-8 The generosity and Eph. 1:3 - the source - "in Christ".
Therefore, get in and give thanks.

#4...... Relational blessings. ie: people - special people. spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, extended family, friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters, etc.
Next to spiritual blessings, these are the most valuable and can be eternal, because people are eternal.
Demonstrated by: 1. the cross - for people
2. the greatest commandment - "love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself"
3. landscape of heaven - only thing going there from here is people

#5..... former blessings. Blessings of past that still bless today!! ie: lost spouse? distant childhood? former health? former youth?
Former blessings have the ability to generate new blessings everyday!! When we're in the pit of despair, there is much to be gained from looking back at former blessings.

#6..... future blessings.
A. future temporal - another fall, Christmas, vacation, etc.
B. future eternal - example: Rev. 21:4
For the Christian, what He's done is good! What He's gonna do is BETTER!!!

#7.... opportunity blessings
#8.... Ability blessings
ie: blessed with the opportunity and ability to achieve, acquire, enjoy, share....
I Chron. 29:14,16

#9.... Inherited blessings. blessings others worked for and you received. Example: your freedoms!! Few of us sacrificed, paid for these.
You've inherited political freedoms, sound economy, high standard of living, prosperous nation, extensive borders, constitutional rights, etc.

#10.... Proximity blessings. ie: blessings you receive simply because you are in the presence of blessed people!!
Gen. 30:27 Gen. 39:5
The text refers to material, monetary. The application is much broader!!
We should thank God for blessings received because we're IN a Christian marriage, home, family, good church, good community!!!
example: our Community Thanksgiving service last year had 400 - 450 people present. That's roughly 1/3 of the entire population of this area.
If you had a similar event in OK. City and drew that percentage of the population, you'd have over 300,000 in attendance. We are extremely blessed to be living in this area.

In the list above, we haven't even mentioned...

#11. Common blessings - breath, heartbeat, eyesight, taste buds, 2 arms, 2 legs, 10 fingers/toes, hair on your head, rain on crops, sun in the sky, mind that thinks, body that heals, love, laughter, good night's sleep... If you can appreciate these when they're gone, shouldn't we be thankful while they are still here???

#12...... Life blessings. - ie: the blessing of life!!
Why? were you even born? Why? here? Why? have life? why do you have choice? opportunity? individuality? eternity????

Answer: because God has chosen you, selected you, graced you, blessed you!!!
And you ought, therefore, to give Him thanks!!

Summary verse: John 1:16

One note: The lengthy list of blessings does not ignore, deny, eliminate the problems, pain, struggles in your life.
Blessings alone do not remove/negate... loneliness, grief, pain, suffering, confusion.
so, know this: the same God we go to with thanksgiving, is the One you go to with complaints, problems, heartaches, tears)

And, that's OK, too. He is your Father! You can thank Him for loving you even when you have doubts and complaints, etc.

An appropriate response to your many blessings???
1. Be grateful
2. Give thanks
3. Give SELF!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Giving Thanks

As I study grace, giving, blessing, thanksgiving - I'm drawn back to:
#1. We're blessed - more than physical or monetary. Eph. 1:3

#2. We're blessed beyond what we deserve

#3. These blessings come from God. He is the source. This doesn't mean that you haven't worked, planned, done your part. But, it does mean that God has given the opportunities, resources, abilities. Deut. 8:17-18 (a)

#4. We should give Him thanks. Psalms 118:28

So......... HOW TO GIVE THANKS? (in an appropriate manner) NOTE: Lev. 22:29 - giving thanks is for us & those around us. God doesn't need our thanks.

#1. by literally giving thanks. This is MORE than "be thankful" - attitude which is mentioned only 7 times in scripture. It means "give thanks" - action - mentioned 143 times in scripture.
Typical psalm: Ps. 69:30-31 Ps. 95:1-2 Ps. 100:4

#2. by giving thanks publicly. Ps. 35:18 Ps. 105:1
note: ministry of Legion Luke 8:38-39 (as opportunity affords)

#3. By giving thanks always. 1 Thess. 5:18
Example: Dan. 6:6-10 (the situation changed, God hasn't)
Give thanks in all situations and circumstances

#4. by giving back (to Him). 1 Chron. 29:13-14
Deut. 6:10 - freewill offering in proportion to blessings. Leads to: Mal. 3:10 - God will give blessing upon blessing. Not necessarily monetary, or material.

#5. by giving away where blessings are needed.
Prov. 19:17
Deut. 15:7-8, 10 - more blessed to give than to receive.
Matt. 25:40
Heb. 13:16
Acts 20:35

#6. by giving yourself. Example - David Psalm 51 subtitle vs. 16 & 17
initially - salvation occasionally (as needed)

#7. by giving your all. This is a Lordship issue.

Deut. 16:16-17 - most blessed should give the most praise!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Spiritual Disciplines

2 Pet. 1:3-4, 5-7 - "make every effort"
1 Tim. 4:7-10 - (Vs.7 - work at, develop)

The last weeks we've talked about "Christian transformation". - (growth, becoming)
We noted that on one hand, transformation is the work of God.
However, it doesn't happen without our cooperation and effort.

So, today: "Spiritual Discipline".
Definition: personal and corporate disciplines that promote spiritual growth/habits of devotion that aid us in our Christian life and advance Christian maturity...

The lists of spiritual discipline vary, but here are some things that are included:
Bible reading/study
Silence & Solitude
Sleep deprivation

1. Spiritual disciplines are time honored, universal, practical, proven
They've been practiced by Christians of all times, cultures, denominations, etc.

2. They are also WORK!!! - which is why they are called disciplines! The are difficult.

3. Spiritual disciplines are not to be confused with legalism!
They are not to obtain salvation, keep salvation, gain 'acceptance' with God, etc.
They are designed to put you in the path (presence of) God - that you may encounter Him and "absorb His grace".

4. Godly people are disciplined people. - Make your own list - check it out!!
Question?? Disciplined because they are spiritual giants?? OR they are spiritual giants because they are disciplined??

5. Godly people are self disciplined people!!
Spiritual growth and transformation requires:
A. Choice and
B. Self-denial
Matt. 16:24
Mark 8:34
Luke 9:23

Today we will focus on a few of most widely recognized Spiritual disciplines.

#1. Bible Study and Meditation
ie. exposure to and thinking on God's Word.
1 Tim. 4:13
2 Tim. 2:15
2 Tim. 3:16
This results in.......
A. a knowledge of His Will
B. an encounter with God Heb. 4:12
C. A change of mind/heart/hands 1 Pet. 2:2-3

#2. Prayer (most recognized and accepted spiritual discipline ..... BUT practiced?????
This is effective because...
A. brings you into His Presence (sensed or not) which
B. changes the pray-er.
(#1 and #2 are the basis for most quiet time)

#3. (least mentioned) church (yet most practiced!!)
was predicted and assumed yet NOT commanded!!
Why???? Because it's natural

3 disciplines within the church.....

A. Worship (coming to declare His worth) - like prayer which brings you into His Presence
un-like prayer it means giving back (not asking)

B. Fellowship - sharing (what we have) in common!! (in worship/greeting/aisles/hallway/foyer/porch/at meals
It equals discipline because
#1. don't always wanna do it!!
#2. (properly done) it requires you give as well as receive

Seldom mentioned:
C. Preaching (not do it, but endure it)
It was established by the prophets, practiced by Christ and the Apostles, and continued today.
More people experience life changing encounters with Christ under preaching than any other medium. 1 Cor. 1:21

#4. Ministry - ie: service/serving/good works/good deeds
Though not means of salvation, they are essential to Christian faith.
Acts 10:38
Heb. 13:16
Matt. 20:25-28

John Wesley's Rule for Christian Living
"Do all the good you can,
by all the means you can,
in all the ways you can,
in all the places you can,
at all the times you can,
to all the people you can,
as long as ever------ you can!"

#5. Stewardship - the discipline of handling and managing your possessions according to God's Word and the dictates of the Holy Spirit.
A. Includes your money and your giving
B. is a practical, visible expression of your submission to His Lordship
Note: Matt. 25:23 - not only commended but promoted!!
(He has grown, matured, developed, become...!!!)

1. Spiritual discipline is time honored, universal, practiced, and proven. (they work!)

2. are also WORK!! (that's why they are called disciplines!)

3. not to be confused with legalism. Point being: put in the path and promote growth.

4. Godly people are disciplined people.

5. Godly people are self disciplined people!!
Your choice, you decide, you apply...

1 Tim. 4:7 (b) & 1 Tim 4:8

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Transforming Power of Christ - continued

John 9:1, 6-11,13-15,18-21,24-25

Point of these: "Jesus changed my life!" Millions of Christians throughout time will testify to this fact. The change is NOT always instantaneous, but progressive.

Last week we discussed Christian transformation is: change, for the better, beyond the surface (not only external), attributed to Christ, and according to Scripture

We noted that transformation is a process, synonymous with growth, and is never completed (in this life).

This Week:
I. What's He changing us into?
Answer: "His likeness" - 2 Cor. 3:18 Rom. 8:29 (a) - talking about character
Point being: change into what we should be, called to be, created to be.

On one hand, Christian transformation is not primarily about what you do but who you are.
Because, when you change who you are (inside), it'll change what you do (outside).

On the other hand, this doesn't mean wait until transformed inside. DO what's right (outside) regardless of feelings (inside). This is responsible Christian human behavior.
II. What's the process look like? Always upwards with many ups and downs.
A. progress
B. of a sinner
C. toward perfection

2 Pet. 1:3-4 - He's already given us all we need
2 Cor. 4:7 (a) - contained in a sinful, tainted body

III. Key Ingredients of Christian Transformation
(necessary if going to change for the better!)

#1. God's grace.
which is readily available to you! God is gracious!
Your part - recognize the grace, accept the grace and forgiveness, employ the wisdom, extend this grace to others.

#2. A new birth. It begins here. John 3:1-7 John 1:11-13 The surrender to Christ is vital.

#3. The knowledge of his will. You can't do your part until you know what your part is!!
Rom. 12:2 - your part is exposure and study of His revelation of His will. ie: the Bible

#4. Submission to that will. It makes no difference if you know His will if you don't submit to it.
On one hand, there is a great need for more knowledge.
On the other hand, what could be done IF ACTED ON WHAT ALREADY know???

#5. Surrender to the Holy Spirit. This is similar to #4, but Scripture attributes these traits to the Holy Spirit: conviction, persuasion, guidance, direction, remembrance, discernment, enlightenment, understanding, wisdom, comfort, strength, power, etc. Gal. 5:22-23 (a)
Your Part equals surrender........, invitation and welcome.....

#6. A concentrated effort. 2 Pet. 1:3-8 Verses 5 - 7 - make every effort.

#7. A continual effort. This doesn't mean you never have a break. It does mean you never give up!!!
Faithlessness is staying down and giving up.
Faithfulness is getting back up and continuing on.

Phil. 1:6 - God will not give up on you!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Transforming Power of Christ

Rom. 7:15, 18-19, 21-24

Last week - the Christian struggle, how to reconcile the high calling with, many times, low conduct? My position and my practice??

BUT..... we stopped 1 verse short - Rom. 7:25 (a)
The point is: in, through, by Christ there is hope of personal transformation - in this life and the next.

It is a fundamental belief that Jesus Christ can and does transform lives.

On one hand, not all who encounter Christ claim Christianity or are transformed. But, many are!!

So...... The transforming power of Christ. (for you, for individuals)

A definition or description is difficult because there are so many applications or scenarios.
BUT, generally speaking, Christian transformation includes:

#1. Change - no change, no transformation

#2. Change for the better (which we know when we see)

#3. Change beyond the surface. It's more than moral conduct. It equals character! - Head, heart, hands.

#4. Change that affects others. We're to be salt and light to: spouse, family, neighbors, community, culture

#5. Change attributed to Christ. Christian transformation.

More specifically, transformation toward:
1. what I ought to be.
2. what I was created to be.
3. as modeled by Christ, and,
4. as defined in Scripture

#1. Transformation is part of God's will for us. Rom. 12:2

#2. Transformation (in Scripture) is a process, not an event. 2 Cor. 3:18 - the new birth equals a new beginning, NOT a new product.

#3. Transformation (in Scripture) is synonymous with growth. 1 Pet. 2:2 - if you want to change - GROW!!! If you change with out growing, will go right back.

#4. Transformation is never complete in this life. Example: Phil. 3:12 - question is not have you arrived? But, have you grown???

Key Ingredients in transformation - to be addressed next week.

Some transformation is available apart from Christ, but true transformation is a result of:
A. Christ within your heart, and
B. Christ upon the throne of your heart.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Making a Silk Purse from a Sow's Ear

Eph. 4:1 The general Christian calling is a call to the Christian lifestyle.
1. what I'm to DO
2. what I'm to BE
The problem being - we fall short - Rom. 7:15-24

So, how to reconcile my high calling with my low lifestyle?
how to reconcile my saintly position with my sinful practice?
how to reconcile my apparent ability with my poor performance?
How to live the Christian life amidst constant sin and moral failure?
How to "make a silk purse out of a sow's ear?"

I. Recognize (realize, know, understand...)
II. DO (response, action based on that knowledge)

I. Recognize:
1. You are a sinner - Rom. 3:23 1 John 1:8, 10

2. that doesn't end at salvation in the practical sense (difference between position and practice)

3. all of God's people experience this tension (even the best) - examples: Abraham, Moses, Elijah, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Paul, etc.

4. God doesn't lower His standard to match our performance
Perfection is not required, but it is requested

5. Christ's forgiveness covers all your sins.
1 John 1:9 Luke 5:30-32 Luke 19:10 John 3:17

6. You are not condemned or disowned due to poor performance Jude 1, 24
But, certainly our poor performance disappoints the Father and affects our relationship with Him.

7. God's not finished with you yet. Phil. 1:6

So, based on these truths, what to do?


1. Admit your sin - general sinfulness, AND on occasion, specific sins

2. admit your need - ie. for help, assistance. You can't fix yourself.

3. Ask forgiveness - initially for salvation, repeatedly - as a Christian

4. Accept forgiveness - 1 John 1:9 This is the right, proper, responsible thing to do!! It has nothing to do with feelings or if deserve it.

5. Get up and go on. Being faithful doesn't mean you never fall - it means you never stop!!!
(sin will lead you astray repeatedly)
Rom. 6:12-14 (a) - who (what) is Lord???? Endurance is not base on the number of falls, but on the number of times you get up and keep going.

6. Don't lower the bar. It is set by God, not us.
"a rose by any other name is still a rose". we have a tendency to say, "I don't thing that's really wrong." Thus, lowering God's standards to suit self.

7. Therefore, don't be surprised when you can't get over it. (more implicitly, don't get devastated, or defeated) He will continue to love you and receive you.

You can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear. BUT, A. you can make a very good purse! (practical, useful, etc.)
The point being: God's got a purpose and place for you until perfection comes.

You can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear....
BUT, God can (and will) Rom. 8:28-31

Monday, October 4, 2010

Examining the Christian Call

1 Cor. 1:1-3

I. Definition and scripture - An invitation/a summons

It's an invitation because it is an appeal - a pull, tug, drawing, wooing! by God which means it's an offer that appeals to the heart as well as the mind.

However, it is also a summons because it is a call with authority behind it. There is no threat, penalty,retaliation if ignored.
BUT, there are consequences if you don't respond. (God will not violate your free will, but there will be consequences of ignoring the appeal.)

Therefore, it's an offer or request with authority, but without coercion.

Some scripture definitions:
Rom. 8:28
Eph. 1:18
Eph. 4:4
1 Thess. 5:24
1 Tim. 6:12
Heb. 9:15 (a)
2 Pet. 1:3
Jude 1

II. The nature of the call (what does it look like, sound like, feel like?

A. The internal (subjective) call - measured internally
It is perceived by the individual without the 5 senses and is unobservable.
Acts 16:9-10 Primary means is by the Holy Spirit
Acts 13:2 - it's not known how many or who heard this call

Problem with this type of call:
1. hard to measure
2. easy to misinterpret
3. easy to fake
4. easy to abuse

B. The external (objective) call.
perceived by the 5 senses, observable (perceptible to all)
examples: calling the disciples, appointing the apostles
Primary means is by the Holy Scripture

Internal calls should be measured by external measure. 1 John 4:1 (a)
For example: what if a person thinks they are called to.... drug dealer/hit man/prostitute/called to edit Scripture, abandon Scripture, avoid Christians.
Test the spirits - not all are from God.

III. Types of calling(s)

A. The call to salvation (initial call)
This is a personal summons... from God for you to come....
Acts 2:37-39
2 Thess. 2:13-14
On one hand, you needn't wait for a subjective call, BUT, can anyone come without it?? John 6:44 and John 6:65

B. The Call to Christian Life (style) Eph. 4:1
Called to_______?? Luke 5:32 1 Cor. 1:9
Col. 3:15 1 Thess. 4:7 1 Pet. 3:9 1 Pet. 2:20-21 etc, etc.
There is no need ofr subjective call here. It is adequately outlined int he New Testament.
It doesn't matter what you feel you are obviously called to do these things.

C. The Vocational call - to a task, job, duty, ministry, office, position, pursuit, profession....
CAN be a call to vocational (full-time or otherwise) ministry.
BUT, can also be a call to use your gifts, abilities, talents, resources, etc. to further the gospel, serve Christ, minister to people, etc.

The elements of a vocational call? Ability - Desire - Opportunity

D. The Miscellaneous call - a summons to a particular (specific) response, behavior, activity, etc.
Examples: repent of _____ / confess ____/ forgive ______ / share _____ / bear with _____/ befriend ______

REPEAT: The internal call is legitimate, impelling, powerful, moving (passion)
BUT: 1. it's not always necessary
2. must be measured...

He has called you - to repentance, discipleship, etc.

He is calling you - no over yet.

He will continue to call you.

But the call(ing) is of no advantage unless or until you respond to it..

Whatever else, He is calling you to: come, accept, follow, promote. Rom. 1:6 (called to belong)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Called To Go

Matt. 28:16-20 - The Great Commission - traditionally applied to all Christians. All are to be about "going and making disciples".

Definition of "go make disciples":
A. leave home, travel forth - examples: the apostles, missionaries, etc.
B. stay home and make disciples as you go about your life and business
Mark 5:18-20
Rom. 16:3-16

"Make disciples" means an attempt to win (convert), develop, and send forth others. 2 Tim. 2:1-2
This is not simply evangelism.

Why go?? Why "make disciples"?
(obviously) because it's commanded by Christ.

BUT, the purpose is more that to promote our brand of religion, more than to promote a brand of religion or the best brand.

Point is... go and make disciples to:
1. Spread truth - because truth matters and truth has immediate and long term consequences.
2. Save souls - John 14:6 - if this is true, it is very important to spread
3. Affect eternity
4. transform lives - through knowing and accepting truth
which leads to:
5. transform society(s), culture(s) - this is best done through the transformation of lives.
6. form future generations
7. build the Kingdom - on earth as it is in heaven. Matt. 6:9-10

On one hand, we can't do it apart from God, but He has chosen to accomplish this through us!!

Additional scripture:
Matt. 5:13-16
Matt. 9:35-38
John 4:35-38
Acts 1:8
2 Cor. 5:17-20
1 Pet. 2:9

#1. this is part of God's will for you if you are saved, born again, etc.
You are:
A. saved to go - Eph. 2:10
B. summoned to go (doesn't require personal call. Scriptural call is sufficient)
C. equipped to go (gifted to fulfill your purpose)

#2. if God's people go.... it'll make a difference in the world

There are no guarantees of success as we measure it.
But, we have this assurance - Isa. 55:10-11

#3. If you go, it will make a difference in you! Whether or not you feel it, sense it, see it. God will:
A. work through you (to make a difference in others)
B. work in you (to transform your heart and mind)

So.... are we obligated to go?? Answer: yes and no

No, we're not obligated because you received salvation by grace (alone)
But, yes... you are obligated ... because you received your salvation by grace (alone)!
Rom. 1:14-15 "debt" owed to Christ; payable to mankind.

Close: Rom. 1:16

1. Come to Christ
2. Go and make disciples for Christ.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Opening Scripture: Heb. 12:1

Perseverance - (one of the great needs of the day)

Definition: Persevere (verb) means to persist, continue in a state or undertaking IN SPITE OF counter influences, opposition, discouragement.

Synonym: to continue, keep on, keep at, keep after, to endure, be steadfast, stand firm, stand fast, to be persistent, resolute, constant, tenacious, to be firm, stalwart, determined, etc., etc.

Other Bible phrases include: Continue in prayer, the Word, teaching, the faith
hold to truth.... stay upon, wait upon the Lord
to be patient (as in) - "patient in suffering". It's close kin to long suffering (to bear with, put up with, etc.)

Perseverance is a definite necessary component of Faithfulness!!

Jesus commended: Rev. 2:2, 3, 19 Rev. 1:9 - note also the author - the only one left living of the original apostles.

Paul to Timothy: 2 Tim. 2:3, 4:2-5, 3:2-14 (a)

Words of Christ .... concerning discipleship: John 8:31-32, 15:4
" " " persecution: Matt. 10:22
" " " end times: Matt. 24:9-13

A Promise: Rev. 2:24-26 - hold on
A Summary: James 5:11 (a)

Persevere doesn't mean never fall down, sit down, look back, slide back, drift away
Persevere does mean always get up, come back, repent, return.......
Examples of those who slipped, yet came back, etc: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Job, David, Solomon, Elijah, Jeremiah, Peter, etc.

Sometimes we deliberately and intentionally fall away, slide back, etc., and sometimes we just slip, but perseverance sees the error and returns.


I. Necessary for salvation??? Answer is Yes and No.
There are 2 views of this: 1. if you persevere then you will become a saint (saved). (works oriented)
2. if you are a saint (saved) you will persevere.
On one hand, these are vastly different views, However, both recognize if there is NO perseverance, probably is NO salvation.
Heb. 3:14 2 John 1:9 1 John 2:19

So, I recommend.... 2 Cor. 13:5 (a) - examine self

II. Other benefits?
Perseverance affects....
#1. growth - James 1:2-4 - cannot binge feed on spiritual truths and then nothing, and expect to grow and mature
#2. life consequences - Gal. 6:7-9
#3. Future rewards - (BEMA - judgment seat of Christ) Heb. 10:36 James 1:12
#4. Personal Testimony - consistency is so important in order for personal testimony to bear any weight.
#5. Your portrayal of Christ (Christianity) - we are Ambassadors, Representatives - the church is represented by us - good or bad.

III. How to acquire or develop perseverance?

#1. It's partly a gift from God. 1 Cor. 1:8 2 Cor. 1:21 "grace sufficient for the situation"
#2. It's partly a result of determination, self-discipline and self-effort - 2 Pet. 1:5-8 1 Cor.15:58
#3. It's partly a result of time, experience, and Christian growth. Rom. 5:3-4 (good judgment comes from experience, experience comes from poor judgment)
In time we should learn that sometimes life hurts - deal with it!
#4. Combination of all three!!
1 Pet. 5:8-10 - you do your part.... He'll do His!!!

Perseverance means to persist in the hard times.
BUT, often... the best of times are the hardest time!! 3 John 4 -- Persevere for all times!

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Christian Work Ethic

Labor Day was established in 1894 by Grover Cleveland,
therefore, look at scripture and 'work'.

The title "Christian Work Ethic" is, by definition, more than a belief or philosophy of work.
It is: #1. a moral view of work
#2. based on Scripture
#3. applicable to Christian life. - lived out, practical. Christians should have a moral view of work.

Scripture reveals to us:
#1. God is a working God.
Gen. 2:2-3 Ps. 19:1 "work" is woven into the fabric of the universe. Col. 1:16-17
It was necessary for creation and is necessary to maintain.

#2. Man is created in His (working) image.
Before the fall - Gen. 2:15
After the fall - Gen. 3:17-19 (a)
NOTE: work is not and never was a curse. Gen. 5:28-29

#3. These truths are reflected in Hebrew theology.
The Law: Ex. 20:9-10 (a) - (focus vs. 9) - "how" in many specific laws
Wisdom Literature: Prov. 12:11, 14 Prov. 14:23 Prov. 18:9 Prov. 21:25 Prov. 31:13, 17
The Talmud: "he who does not teach his son a craft is, as it were, bringing him up to robbery"
Eccles. 2:10, 2:24, 5:19

#4. God revealed Himself through a working Son.
Pre-ministry: Mark 6:3 (a) - "isn't this the carpenter?"
Ministry: John 5:17 John 5:36 John 17:4 John 19:30

So naturally,
#5. These truths were embraced by the New Testament and Christian Community.
Acts 20:34-35 Eph. 4:28 1 Thess. 4:1-12 2 Thess. 3:6-12

So... upon these (and other) texts, truths, we build a "Christian Work Ethic."

Additional observations and applications.

#1. Work is more than manual labor. (teaching, computers, etc.)

#2. Work is more than a paid job (career)
Christian vocation: Work is whatever tasks, duties, obligations, responsibilities are rightfully yours. Christian Calling:
So, if married, parent, neighbor, student? Your work is whatever tasks, duties, obligations, responsibilities are rightfully yours in that particular area.

#3. Work doesn't end with retirement.

$4. You are not asked to excel at your calling ... you are asked to work at your calling.
When you work at your calling, God works in/on/through you!!! Col. 1:29

Therefore, you can say:
#5. Your efforts will be (blessed and) beneficial.
Qualifying statements: A. Not all hard work will be blessed, or beneficial. Example: the porn business.
B. No guarantee you will see the benefits and results - in this life.

However, can also say:
#6. The knowledge of and practice of these truths will not remove the labor from your work.
This is a fallen world!! Work will continue to be.... difficult, frustrating, wearing, etc.
BUT: it's easier if you know A. What's right
B. it will Make a Difference

Diligent effort (work) is our calling and is God's will.
Therefore it is pleasing to Him.
#7. You are not commended to God by your hard work.
Rom. 3:23-24 Eph. 2:8-9

Remember: 1 Cor. 15:58 Col. 3:23-24

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Running the Race (Staying the Course)

Heb. 12:1-12 The imagery is a "distance race" - your faith is like that.
The point being: RUN - get in, get serious, run, keep running, finish well.
Compare with 2 Tim. 4:6-7 and then 2 Tim. 4:5

So...... RUN .... How????
#1. Stripped down. (the Romans actually competed naked)
The point is: "throw off':
A. Everything that hinders - extra weight, legal weight - things that are not necessarily bad but are just a hindrance.
B. sin that entangles.
This means a deliberate, intentional discard. Col.3:8 James 1:21 1 Pet. 2:1
You must do it. You have to decide to do it.

#2. With perseverance. "patience" - resolve, determination, decisiveness with stubbornness, tenacity...
Heb. 3:6 Heb. 3:14
This is a huge issue in Christian life - Rev. 13:5-10 - this is speaking of end times but the battle is perpetual.
It has nothing to do with never stumbling or stopping, etc. But, pick back up and keep going.

#3. The race marked out - it doesn't mean run any race where ever you want.
It means:
THE Christian race (generally) as determined by God and spelled out in Scripture
B. Your particular Christian race. - God has a purpose for you!
Illustration: John 21:18-22 - on one hand, it's the same race for Peter and John, but... they were decidedly different from one another.

#4. With your eyes on Jesus - it's easier to run the race if you are looking in the right place.
A. our earthly example (and inspiration) - Heb. 12:3
B. our heavenly source - of strength, encouragement, direction, correction...
Isa. 26:3

#5. A realistic view of the course.
On one hand, the Christian life is difficult. However, Heb. 12:4 - your course, for the most part, is not that difficult. Especially when compared to the Christian life fellow believers in persecuted countries face.

#6. Remembering God's Word and God's purpose. Heb. 12:5-6
Discipline can be: A. punishment
B. correction
C. training (Heb. 12:10-11)
2 Cor. 4:16-18 Gen. 50:20

#7. Enduring hardship Heb. 12:7 (a)
Jer. 12:5 - expect it, endure it, grow from it....

#8. Run with good form Heb. 12:12
The point being: perking up! lift up your head, pick up your feet!
We're not talking about: fake fresh - but, show dignity, nobility, respectability...
The main point is: we're running for Christ, wearing His shirt, sponsorship as ambassadors

#9. Run with confidence - called faith.
It is not explicit in the text. However, it is the text - all over the text.
Because we believe Jesus is the Son of God and what He said is properly recorded.
Isa. 40:27-31

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Staying on Course

Heb. 2:1
Concepts of staying on course are simple! Doing it and acting on it can be more difficult!

Last week: Pay attention, hold on (sometimes life is out of control), move on (to maturity), spur on, gather together, draw near.


#1. See to it. Heb. 3:12 Heb. 12:15 Heb. 12:25 (a)
In other translations: take heed, care; look diligently; exercise foresight and be on watch
The phrase IMPLIES: A. ability - you are able to do this
B. responsibility - it is your responsibility to do this. It is NOT the church's, parents', spouse's responsibility to keep you on course!

#2. Remember (recall) - Heb. 10:32-34 - how used to stand when persecuted
Remember..... former decisions, commitment, experiences, His faithfulness, your victories
ALSO failures! Heb. 3:16-4:2 1 Cor. 10:11-13

#3. Be thankful Heb. 12:28-29 - focus brought back to giving thanks.
thankful leads to give thanks leads to "worship - acceptable with reverence and awe!"
Review: 1 Chron. 17:16-17
Add: Heb. 13:15-16 - why worship is so important

#4. Hold to truth. Heb. 13:9 (a) - (give heed, go on to maturity, stand firm) with Eph. 4:14-15
Contrast today's philosophy - "follow your heart"
On one hand, it is not always wrong to follow your heart..... However, Jer. 17:9 - heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.
The answer is to judge the heart with the Word..... then if it's acceptable, follow it!!

#5. Imitate the faithful. Heb. 6:11-12 and Heb. 13:7
Many books have been written "Habits Of A Successful _____" Why???? Imitate someone who is successful to BE successful!!!
This is true of business, sports, health, diet, etc. But of the faith???? Christianity??? Why wouldn't it be true of the faith, of Christianity as well?

#6. Make every effort. Heb. 6:11-12 Heb. 4:11 (a) Heb. 12:14 (a) It is work, takes effort to get it done.
It requires hard work, self discipline, perseverance!!
It's easy to take the right step but how about the right journey??? It takes diligence and perseverance to continue. The Christian life is NOT easy!! 2 Pet. 1:3-7

#7. Bear with these words. Heb. 13:22
They are words of Paul to Hebrew Christians. They are pastoral: based on truth from the heart and for your good!!!
John 8:31-32

Monday, August 16, 2010

How To Prevent Drift?

Series: The Danger of Drifting - Heb. 2:1
Two main dangers: distraction and comfort. These are very common to mankind. That's why they are so dangerous.

So...... how to prevent drift???? Offset the tendency??? Correct the act???

#1. Pay attention. Heb. 2:1
NOTE: knowledge is essential BUT of little value if not heeded!!!

Illustration: in the Book of Deuteronomy, repeated over and over: be careful, pay attention, take heed, watch yourselves, remember, don't forget.

#2. Hold on - this is simple, basic, yet fundamental! Heb. 4:14 Heb. 10:23
Used in scripture as: hold on, hold to, hold fast, hold firmly, lay hold, take hold, keep hold

Compare: The Apostle Peter: 1 Pet. 5:8-9

With a verse on the flyer of a local saint's funeral service:

If the way is kinda gloomy, and the chances kinda slim,
And the situation puzzlin; and the prospects awful grim.
If perplexes keep on risin' 'til all hope is nearly gone.
Just bristle up and grit your teeth and keep on keepin' on!

Remember, you will be more tempted in the good times and in the little nitpicky things that happen.

#3. Move on. On one hand, "hold to what you know". However, you can't stay there!!! Heb. 6:1-3 A 40-year old should not STILL act like a 5 year old.

Illustration: With an alternate view to what this passage is saying, God is slipping away, moving on - while you are standing firmly (and perhaps stubbornly) right where you've ALWAYS been. God's work is a progressive kingdom, and a progressive work.

#4. Spur on. Heb. 10:24
It is an obvious benefit to others, but also an overlooked benefit to SELF!!
ie: when you are more involved in Ministry you are less apt to slip!!
Heb. 3:12-13 - Corporate interaction and responsibility leads to corporate benefits!!!!
NOTE: one early sign of slipping is SELF centered!!

#5. Come together. Heb. 10:25
for: fellowship, encouragement, worship, prayer, AND.... Challenge of the Word and Holy Spirit!!

Question 1: How much of this do you get at the Casino?
Question 2: How often do you seen a Christian slip from church and NOT slip from the truth? (not talking a church. We're talking about the church)
(another early sign of slipping is a withdrawal from fellowship)

#6. Draw near. Heb. 10:19-22 (a) Heb. 4:14-16
If you stay near, you won't drift far!!
If you drift far, you can still draw near!!
Rev. 2:1-5 (a)

These concepts are simple, yet hard to practice, but.......

A Christian never falls asleep in the fire, or in the water, but grows drowsy in the sunshine." Samuel Wilkes, 18th. century Christian.

You don't fall asleep in the fire, you don't fall asleep when the water is coming up over your head, but it is real easy to fall asleep in the sunshine.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Staying the Course

Last sermon - "The Danger of Drifting" - Heb. 2:1
This is the whole message of the book of Hebrews.

So, today - Staying the course. - prevent, correct drifting.

The definition of drifting (slipping): the process of quiet, gradual separating from truth.
The does NOT mean separation from GOD in the strictest sense - Heb. 13:5
Therefore: it is more than intelligent, philosophical, religious, etc. It is a lifestyle drift.
Example: a married couple - together but perhaps distant.

Descriptive observations: (of drifting, slipping)

1. Drifting is a process. It is NOT an event - it is a series of little events

2. It's a slow, subtle, quite, gradual process.

3. It's usually unintentional. (may be unaware until....?) Not done on purpose

4. It's a great danger (to Christians and the Christian walk) - perhaps the most serious danger facing us as Christians. Example: termites and tornadoes. If a tornado wipes out 15 or 20 homes in an area, it's all over the news and widely publicized. BUT, many more homes are lost each year to termites than tornadoes but you will never read about or hear that on the news.

5. It's never neutral. To drift from something means to drift toward something else.
A. you are drawn away (wooed, influenced)
B. fromChrist toward ___________? (ungodly)
You cannot drift neutrally. The something you are drawn to may not be wrong in and of itself, but if it's pulling you away from Christ, something anti-Christ is behind the drawing. Not the Holy Spirit.

6. It's usually reversible. 1 John 1:9

BUT..... DANGER....
7. Drifting away is the start of turning away. Heb. 3:12 - "turns away"
Compare: Rom. 1:21 - they knew the truth Rom.1:25 - they exchanged the truth for a lie, Rom. 1:28 - turning away always follows drifting away. Initially all have a "natural" belief in God. Rom. 1:32 - applaud that which is sin.

8. Drifting is more likely to occur in good times.
Heb. 10:32-26
Great persecution and hardship brings Christians closer to God.
2 Tim. 4:6-7

Think on these things!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hebrews - Book of Warning(s)

Our focus today is Heb. 2:1 - the warning BEGINS here. The warning is SUMMARIZED here.

Point being: "slipping away, drifting" is a great danger!!!! It is the subject of the whole book of Hebrews.
A. it is a serious danger - note the various warning phrases:
make every effort
let us hold firmly
let us hold unswervingly
do not give up
do not throw away
run with perseverance
endure hardship
do not forget
keep on
see to it
don't be carried away
B. it is a common danger - ALL are subject to this.
C. it is a practical danger (not just a Sunday thing) - it has life consequences! When we step out of truth, we step into falsehood.

So....... let's look at the text.

I. The Lead-up (to the text) - Heb. 1:1-4 , 2:1
The point is: Jesus is Lord, He is Truth, He is Superior... therefore: must pay more careful attention

II. The Word (drifting, slipping) - this Hebrew word is used only here in the New Testament
There are two views:
A. We slip from truth
B. truth slips from us

EITHER WAY, it leads to: 1. separation from truth and 2. beginning of a process (inattention leads to apathy leads to disobedience leads to hardened heart leads to turning away....)
God's truth doesn't stop even if you do.

NOTE: drift is NOT irreversible. But, it is progressive (if not addressed)

III. Implications of the Word. (the Word implies, suggests...)

A. A subtle movement - ie: example - gentle stream, snow falling off shoulder, etc.
B. An unintentional movement - doesn't mean pull away, deny, discard. Similar to a vehicle driver's drift across the line or off to the side.
C. A preventable movement - (example: kayak pulled up on the riverbank but not far enough and not tied. Drifted away during the night. Could have been prevented.) Prov. 3:21

IV. The Cause of the Drifting
Inattention, shifted focus, misplaced priorities

Compare: Matt. 13:3-9 Matt. 13:18-23
All are exposed to the truth
None consciously or intentionally rejects the truth.
Rather they drift from truth OR truth slips from them.

V. Prevention from drifting Heb. 2:1 "Pay Attention"
1. "PAY ATTENTION" - give heed, focus
2. "TO WHAT WE'VE (ALREADY) HEARD" ie: gospel truths, apostles doctrine, teachings of Christ, etc.

VI. Observations
1. "drifting, slipping" may be the greatest spiritual danger you face (as a Christian)

2. if it's a spiritual danger, it's also a practical danger. - has life consequences - Gal. 6:7
We can't separate spiritual life from practical life.

3. it doesn't take great sin(s) to disrupt your walk or destroy your soul (example: tornado vs. termites)

4. truth does not benefit you until it's heeded

5. truth is not heeded until it is acted upon....

2 Cor. 6:1-2

Monday, July 12, 2010

Developing Christian Optimism

Last week we looked at Post Millennial optimism which was the norm among Christians up to 60 to 70 years ago. People like Matthew Henry, Johnathon Edwards, John Wesley, etc. were all staunch post millennialists. Therefore, they had a mindset of post-millennial optimism.

Hymns such as Onward Christian Soldiers and Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus were written in this optimistic frame.
Contrast the majority of early Christians were POST millennial and therefore optimistic as to the direction the church and country was going to take
With the majority of contemporary American Christians who hold a PRE-millennial viewpoint and therefore are pessimistic as to the direction the church and the country are going to take.

Post Millennial viewpoint is that things are going to get better and better and THEN Christ will return.
On the other hand, the Pre-Millennial viewpoint is that things are going to get worse and worse before Christ returns.

NOTE: Which end times scenario is true remains to be seen!!
We do have good reason(s) for concern (pessimism)
However, there are many reasons to be optimistic as well!!

The sermon last week gave Reasons for Optimism (concerning the nation)

This week: we're looking at Developing Christian Optimism.
The focus is not national but personal.
The focus is not the end, but is in the meantime!!

So: 1. should we be more optimistic?
if so, 2. how can we develop and optimistic spirit??

#1. Recognize the reasons for optimism
(this is last week's message. The number one reason for optimism is that
God is greater than ___________.
(anything you put in the blank.)

#2. Recognize reasons for concern.
Because, Christian optimism equals realism!! Isaiah 6:8-12
BUT, realism is not alarmism!

#3. Factor in God. He is all powerful, knowing, loving at work, And personally interested in you!! Psalm 139:1-10, 13-18 (a)
However, there is no Biblical optimism in the end for people who have rejected Christ. They have plenty of reason to be pessimistic.

#4. Review His Promises (read the history, review the promises given)
Question: if you spent equal time in God's Word as with the media, would your outlook change?

#5. Look back. (at what He's done. for you!!! What He's carried you through, and carried you to!!) Deut. 8:2-5 - "remember" - used 16 times in Deuteronomy, 166 times in scripture.

#6. Reaffirm your confidence. (in Him, His promises, etc) - rededicate, recommit.
On one hand, there's time to lament, but on then the lament should end with confidence in Him.
Psalm 13:1-6
Psalm 42:1-6 a
Psalm 42:9-11
Hab. 3:17-18

#7. Seek His will (direction, plan, guidance, etc.
"in His general will is not necessarily a safe, comfortable place. Example: the cross. Christ was definitely not in a safe, comfortable place, but He was right in the center of God's will for Him.
Thus, it will turn out all right!
Example: Dan. 3:15-18 This was NOT foolish, empty optimism, but confidence in God and His will.

#8. Act Accordingly. Find God's word, find God's will, then: react with obedience, response, human effort. Often that is a catalyst for miracles! Example: feeding the 5000.
Point: if you do right, you are more apt to get right which leads to feel right.
Example: Moses - was he optimistic about the Exodus?
Gideon - was he optimistic about deliverance?
BUT - they received orders, promises, obeyed, saw the outcome, changed their attitude.
Ex. 3:10-12 (a) Judges 6:14-16 (a)

#9. Reject (refuse) a pessimistic spirit.
2 Tim. 1:7
For Christians, feelings are NOT Lord!!!

#10. Give Thanks.
Compare and contrast:
Psalm 37:1, 7, 8 - "do not fret"
with Phil. 4:6-8