Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving - the most widely celebrated holiday in America.
92% of people polled - planning special family gathering.

Why? Giving thanks is natural, inherent to all peoples, cultures, religions. It seems right and proper. Even non-believers recognize the need to give thanks.

So..... should we just follow our feelings, instinct, intuition (on thanks)?
Answer: As Christians we have more specific guidelines. (Scripture) Shouldn't leave it simply to our feelings, instincts, intuition.

We find in the Old Testament:
1. Giving thanks was part of the Old Testament Sacrificial System. (as prescribed by God).
Lev. 7:11-12 (a). God wrote it into formal worship. "Thank offering" - formally brought to the temple and presented to the Lord.

2. The offering was voluntary but also was expected! Because you would be grateful in heart to God for His blessings.

3. It was always appropriate but especially when God had done something extraordinarily special. (protection, deliverance, Christian blessing) - Ps. 107:19-22

4. The offering recognized God as the source of the blessing. Ps. 50:23 (a) - "honors Me"

5. Thanksgiving became a central part of Old Testament worship.
Ps. 100 (sub-title) Ps. 105:1, 106:1, 107:1-2 (a)

6. Thanksgiving because a central part of the public worship.
As an individual in public worship. Ps. 35:18
Also, as a group (nation) in public worship.
Example: feasts - gathered as a group
ie: individually thanking Him As part of an intentionally gathered group!!

#1. We ought to give thanks. This is more than "be thankful" - only mentioned 4 times in the New Testament. Give thanks is in there many times.

#2. We ought to give thanks to God. (recognizing Him)

#3. We ought to give thanks in a way that honors Him.
Lev. 22:29 Note: not every offering honors God.

There is a time for.........
A. private thanksgiving - between you and God
B. Informal thanksgiving - "beautiful morning. Thank you, Jesus"
C. Public thanksgiving - ie: in the midst of others
D. Corporate thanksgiving - offered as a church/as a community!!
E. Formal thanksgiving. Model: Thank offering. private thanks...... publicly presented..... formally offered........ when especially blessed......

John 1:16

Monday, November 14, 2011

Judging Others - Part 2

America's favorite scripture??? - Matt. 7:1
The problem: Matt. 7:6 (a)
So, scriptural contradiction, or a need for more understanding??

Last week - learned that the Greek word translated "to judge" has broad applications.
Therefore, we must examine context and intent.....

When is it appropriate to judge others??

#1. When behavior is clearly wrong - 1 Cor. 5:1-5
Examples: homosexual lifestyle, adultery, idolatry, thievery, etc.

A. judge using scripture as the measure - it's not about us, it's about scripture - what God says.
statement "who are you to judge?" is a valid question!!!
B. judging the action not the actor (motive?, intent?, eternal state?)
C. judging with a healthy dose of mercy and grace - toward the individual, not toward the behavior!

#2. When behavior threatens others - to lead God's people astray.
Rev. 2:14-16, 20
compare - Titus 3:10-11
The point being protection.

A. This verifies common sense principle of protection.
B. the "protector" is OBLIGATED to judge - Acts 20:28-31

#3. When choosing leadership - judgment call on abilities, character, etc. - Titus 1:5-8
A. requirements to get in, stay in
Important because
B. They lead (toward what???) and they represent (the church, the faith, Christ)

#4. In matters of stewardship
Acts 6:1-4 - choosing of the 1st. deacons who can make judgement calls regarding the complaints.
2 Thess. 3:6, 10-15
NOTE: the point here is not to punish, but to restore!!

#5. When a brother or sister strays - Gal. 6:1
Note: this is more than sin. It refers to "overtaken, caught up, trapped??" in a sinful lifestyle.

Some additional scriptures:
Prov. 26:4
Prov. 13:20
Phil. 3:2
2 John 10
1 John 4:1
These are just a few of the many examples of when it's appropriate to judge.


1. It's not always appropriate to judge. (deal with next week)
2. There are times when it is appropriate to judge!! Times when it's necessary! expected! commanded!
3. We shouldn't let (non-Christian) world make the rules for us. (concerning if/when/how... Who is your Lord???)
4. You shouldn't make your own rules! (God makes the rules, reveals the rules. We discover and apply those rules)
5. Christians should be wise concerning judging others. Matt. 10:16
6. We should strive to 'get it right'. John 7:24

Another time it is appropriate to judge??? (and necessary and mandatory) -
When you are judging YOURSELF!!
1 Cor. 11:31
2 Cor. 13:5 (a) - "test yourselves"
"in the faith" - A. are you a Christian? Are you born again?
B. Are you walking, acting, living in the faith???

Monday, November 7, 2011

Judging Others (A Biblical View)

A couple of weeks ago, stated "even those who are transformed are not fully transformed... (sin tendency).... so don't be surprised at ungodly/unChristian behavior"

Which leads to: Are we to overlook ungodly behavior? Ignore it?, or make a judgment call concerning this behavior????

Which leads to: Judging others (A Biblical View)
(previously addressed in '99, '04, and '08)

So.... to judge or not to judge?? On one hand, scripture says "don't judge". Matt. 7:1, Rom. 14:4 (a), Rom. 14:13 (a)

On the other hand, scripture says "do judge" - Matt. 7:6 (a), Matt. 7:15, Titus 3:10, 1 Cor. 5:12-13

Or compare: James 4:12 to Lev. 19:15

So, does the Bible contradict itself????
OR, do we need a better understanding of the subject???
We believe there is no contradiction in the Bible, we have a faulty understanding of what it says.

So.......... how to properly judge others???

Some helpful observations:

#1. The Greek word has broad application. It is translated "to judge", but ALSO translated.... to think, to examine, to investigate, to weigh, to form an opinion, to discern between, to decide, to determine, to try, to conclude.
ALSO: to pronounce judgment, to pass sentence, to vindicate or to condemn.

Point being:
A. we must examine the word in context
Example: "don't condemn/pass sentence" doesn't mean "don't think, investigate, form an opinion"
B. We must not determine by one scripture alone, but by scripture as a whole.
Example: Matt. 7:1 (America's favorite scripture). We cannot build a Biblical view of judging on this scripture verse alone.

#2. The Bible (mostly) calls us to judge actions, not people. We can judge action, behavior, lifestyle.
We cannot know the heart, motive, reason, intent

The problem is that it's not always easy to distinguish between behavior and the behaver. (between the action and the actor)
Example: church leaders: 1 Tim. 3:1-12 - conduct or character? BOTH!!
or, candidates for public office: judge behavior, plus beliefs plus character!!

#3. We must all make judgment calls from time to time. (sometimes on the action/ sometimes on the actor

#4. Christians are called to do it right!! John 7:24 Amplified Version: "be honest in your judgment and do not decide at a glance - superficially and by appearances; but judge fairly and righteously"

So...... HOW to judge properly? HOW to get it right??

3 Key ingredients/basic steps to judging others properly:

#1. Weigh (examine) the facts. On one hand, we can't get all the facts. BUT, we can get some of them. So... ask, listen, go slow, be open because the judgment you are called to make may be contrary to how you feel, or what you want to say.

#2. Weigh the facts in a proper scale.
A. God's Word - which puts you at odds with many, or with most others.
The pre-modern age said: "this is truth" - (God's Revelation)
The modern age said: "is that the truth?"" (reason)
The post-modern age says: "there is no truth" - (rejection). This is where the world view is today.
pre-modern - "these are the rules. By this we judge"
modern - "are those the rules? How can we judge?"
post-modern - "there are no rules. We cannot judge"

B. God's Word properly interpreted. - don't assume because you scripture you have the answer." Example: the Pharisees. They knew the letter of the law, but had it all wrong as Jesus repeatedly told them.

C. .... with a healthy dose of mercy.
An objection: don't need mercy/grace to do math. (determine right from wrong)
Answer: true, but we're not doing math (we're doing people/lives/souls)
Judging others requires:
1. determining right/wrong
2. loving people in spite of right/wrong
3. without justifying/ignoring wrong
Example: Jesus - Matt. 9:10-13

#3. Weigh them with a humble heart (considering self)
Objection (again)! don't need humility to do math (determine right/wrong)
Answer (again):
we're not doing math!!! We're doing ministry.
B. You're no calculator!! Our calculations are skewed by our heart! Matt. 7:3-5

So...... Micah 6:8
A. "act justly"
B. "love mercy"
C. "walk humbly"
Three ingredients???? Really there are 4 and, most importantly, your relationship with God!! - "walk with your God"
Won't get judgment calls right if not walking humbly with our God, because the point is: not your opinion, your decision, your judgment...... it's GOD'S!!!