Monday, December 30, 2013

The Call to Perseverance

Heb. 12:1-3

As we enter 2014 - Christian's greatest need(s)?????  One = Perseverance - 'cause slipping away happens.
Note:  the fastest growing religious segment in recent polls = unaffiliated - falling away, turning away, slipping away.

Definition:  to Persevere (v) = to persist/continue ... in a state or undertaking IN SPITE OF  opposition, discouragement, etc.  Means to stick with a commitment - w/bulldog tenacity.

Synonym:  to keep on, at, after, to endure, stand firm, stand fast, to be solid, firm, stalwart, determined, constant

Bible words/phrases include:  "continue" in prayer, Word, teaching, faith
"hold to" truth
"stay upon/wait upon" the Lord
"be patient" in suffering, in affliction
"bear with, bear under"
"patient endurance" - Rev. 13:10

Jesus to disciples:  Matt. 10:22 stand firm - Matt. 24:9-13 -  John 8:31-32
Paul to Timothy - 2 Tim. 2:3, 4:1-5
Book of Hebrews - Heb. 3:12-14, 10:36, 12:1 - encourage others
Peter - 2 Pet. 1:5-8
Commendations of Revelation:  Rev. 2:2, 3, 19  and the promise:  Rev. 2:24-26 - hold on to what you have
Summary:  John 5:10-11 - those who persevere are blessed

Additional note:  Perseverance doesn't mean will never fall/fail - we're humans and we fail/come short - never stop, look back, slide back.
Perseverance means always get up, come back, repent, return
Examples:  Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Job, David, Solomon, Elijah, Jeremiah, Peter

It becomes evident that as Christians, we are Called to Persevere:

#1.  In the faith 
in life??  But, life plus "in the faith" - 1 Tim. 4:15-16 - doctrine and practice.  This is the call that Paul, Peter, Jesus, etc. makes.

#2.  At all times (in all circumstances, situations)
        A)  in face of adversity/difficulty, persecution, etc.
        B)  in face of blessings/prosperity!! - Examples:  Solomon, us
It may be that more people fall away from the faith because so blessed
The biggest danger is not turning away.  The biggest danger is drifting away.  Heb. 2:1
Quote by Samuel Wilkes, 18th. Century Christian:  "A Christian never falls asleep in the fire, or in the water, but grows drowsy in the sunshine"

#3.  By choice  (We must decide/choose to persevere)
On one hand, perseverance is a gift - 1 Cor. 1:8  2 Cor. 1:21 - cannot persevere without God's grace
However, perseverance is a gift that must be chosen!!  (accepted)
Perseverance is to be 1) chosen  2) practiced  3) developed

How???  Here's a list from Book of Hebrews 
Heb. 2:1 - pay (more careful) attention
Heb. 3:1 - fix your thoughts on Jesus
Heb. 3:7-8 - do not harden your heart
Heb. 3:12 - see to it, encourage one another
Heb. 4:1 - be careful
Heb. 4:14 - hold firmly (to the faith you profess)
Heb. 4:16 - approach the throne (of grace with confidence)
Heb. 6:1 - leave elementary things .... go on to maturity .. (grow up)
Heb. 6:11 - show diligence to the end , don't become lazy, imitate the true saints before you
Heb. 10:19-22 - draw near (to God), consider how (to spur one another onward), do not give up meeting together!!  Encourage one another
Heb. 12:1 - throw off every weight ... and sin which entangles, run .. with perseverance "the race set before you", fix your eyes on Jesus... and consider Him
Heb. 12:7 - endure hardship as discipline
Heb. 12:12 - strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees "man up" or "Christian up"
Heb. 12:14 - make every effort
Heb. 12:15 - see to it!!!
Heb. 13.9 - don't be carried away
Heb. 13:15 - constantly offer sacrifice of praise
Heb. 13:16 - do good ... and share
Heb. 13:22 - "bear with my word of exhortation"

#4.  in light of Eternity 
Perseverance is not just about today and tomorrow, but forever!!!! - we are called to make a difference for Eternity.
1 Tim. 4:15-16

Heb. 10:35-39

Thursday, December 26, 2013

God's Humiliation

The Christmas Story (most know) includes THE INCARNATION - Matt. 1:22-23  - Emmanuel - God with us
On one hand = great mystery - 1 Tim. 3:16 - beyond our comprehension
However, also = basic orthodoxy

Of necessity .. with the Incarnation (God in flesh comes God's Humiliation - He lowered Himself to become human.
This = difficult to define because synonyms for humble are mostly negative!! 
Examples:  on one hand humble can be:  modest, unpretentious, unpresuming, without arrogance, meek, mild, serviant
However, mostly used as:  plain, common, inferior - low birth, rank, apologetic, regretful, trivial, ignoble

Verb form "humiliate" = mortify, bring down, demean, belittle, deflate, degrade
Noun form "humiliation" = abasement, depreciation
Noun form "humility" = lowliness, timidity, passiveness

But in the New Testament - God's humiliation manifests His greatness and glory!! - Phil. 2:5-11
He "emptied" Himself of status, privilege, benefits, AND ..
1) became Man
2) became Servant
3)  became Sacrifice  
from pinnacle to pit

NOTE:  1)  this = 'Self humiliation - nobody ever could or would be able to humble God.  The cross did not humble Christ.  He chose to do it Himself.
             2)  Resulting in Divine Exaltation


Paul writes this for 2 reasons: 
#1.  To give Christ recognition and praise due Him for this.
*#2.  to admonish, challenge us to do likewise
Phil. 2:5  Phil. 2:3-5 - our attitude should be the same as Christ - self-humbling to help others

Look at:  1)  Jesus' teachings - Matt. 20:24-28
               2)  Jesus' example - John 13:1-5, 12-16
               3)  Jesus' promise - John 13:17 - not bless if you know them, but if you do them.

*this = a hard thing!!!  Easy enough short term, individual acts.  However, extremely  difficult long term, continual basis, Lifestyle.

BUT, it = 1)  distinctly Christian - John 13:34-35 - "love" expressed how??  Answer:  in actions!  Example:  Good Samaritan - Christ willing to serve even to point of sacrifice.
It is to be a clear distinction of Christian life.

               2)  Socially beneficial - might questions Jesus' sanity in doing this... But, nobody questioned His IMPACT!!
              3)  Externally effective - Make an Eternal Difference when we serve in the name of Christ and power of Christ. -  1 Pet. 4:10

Re-emphasize - this = self humility and DIVINE exaltation. 
James 4:10 - are called to this, but, to humble self not others.

So... question?  does Jesus call His disciples to this?
        answer:  Yes, But, st He calls them to be disciples!!
Example:  "feed my sheep" is preceded by "do you love Me?"

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Our Enemy: the World

"every Christian's battle" -- Satan (personal being influencing toward evil)/the flesh/the world

Greek word " Cosmos = 1) creation (mountains, trees, birds, etc.) - Acts 17:24
                                   = 2)  population on this world - John 3:16

used in combination --- John 1:10, 9:5 -  2 different uses

                                 = 3)  that viewpoint, perspective, mindset which is contrary to God's will
                                         that philosophy, outlook, worldview, life view which is in opposition to God's
Our enemy is not necessarily people but mindset

John 15:18-19, 17:13-20 - (evil one behind world perspective)

Illustration:  Zeitgeist (time and spirit) -- "the Spirit of the Age"
in other words:  the popular, accepted, current worldview. 

2 questions:  1)  what is the spirit of our age?  (difficult to determine)
                    2)  what are the views of our age?  (easier to determine)

Current 'views' of the age:
1.  Atheism - "there is no God" - only 2 - 5% of the population BUT very influential!

2.  Agnosticism - " we cannot know".  Therefore, do what seems best to you.

3.  Relativism - "truth varies and changes" - may be true for you but not for me.

4.  Humanism - "man is the measure" (not God, Scripture, Jesus Christ) - right/wrong determined by "is it good for us... NOW??

5.  Pragmatism - "does it work?" - ie:  achieve, accomplish -- Now!!  If it works, must be true.   We
re to think eternity - what we do now affects forever.

6.  Hedonism - "pleasure is the measure" - of good in life

7.  Existentialism - "there is no measure" - we're the result of natural process, life has no meaning
Therefore, we must create our own measure(s)

Therefore, difficult to nail down THE Current View!!  But, it's easy to see the many current views!

Example:  combination of above:  contemporary view(s) of... sex?  marriage?  abortion?  man's origin?  destiny?  duty?  sin?  redemption?  holiness??

Warning:  Eph. 2:1-2 (demonic inspired philosophy)
                 Col. 2:6-8 - be careful.  Christians very susceptible to this.
                 1 John 2:15 - not referring to things or world or people 
                 1 John 2:16,17 - lust, cravings, etc.

The World (as defined here) is our enemy ..... (these views work against us..)

1)  They are contrary to God's View  (Revelation)
2)  They deceive
3)  They seduce - ie:  lead us astray and AWAY!!  away from God/Godliness (toward?? destruction)
4) They are promoted by Satan - John 17:15  Eph. 2:2, 6:12 - Example:  Kings of Babylon, Tyre (scripture seems to be looking at the power behind the throne)
5)  Christians are not immune to these influences
6)  Christians needn't succumb to these influences - Rom. 12:2

A)  examine the claims (of the Bible, Christianity)
B)  Accept, receive Christ
C)  Continue in the faith - grow in knowledge, grow in practice

1 John 5:3-5

Monday, November 25, 2013

Giving Thanks

 Categories of blessing:  (how are you doing - blessing-wise?)
 1.  material blessings
 2.  financial blessings
 3.  cration blessings
 4.  health blessings
 5.  relational blessings
 6.  community blessings
 7.  national blessings
 8.  opportunity blessings
 9.  ability blessings - Deut. 8:17-18
10.  spiritual blesslings
11.  former blessings
12.  future blessings
Heb. 13:15

Col. 3:15/4:2  Heb. 12:28  We should be thankful!!!!   Have an attitude of thankfulness.
Question:  how many times is this stated?  answer in the NIV = these 3!!

On the other hand, I Thess. 5:18 "give thanks" - Attitude vs. Action.  Attitude should result in visible manifestation.
Question:  how often is "give thanks" stated in scripture?  Answer:  at least 20 times.

Plus  there are many references to....
         "gave thanks" - (offered thanks - past action)
         " to give thanks" - example:  "appointed singers to give thanks"
        or "thank" as verb - I will thank God every day
        or "thank" as adjective - "thank offering" - 25 times - offering of thanksgiving
        or "thanksgiving" - as a noun  -  prayer of thanksgiving

Add up all these action references = more than 140 times mentioned

Point:  for ever 1 reference to the attitude of thanksgiving, we find nearly 50 references to the Act of thanksgiving (giving thanks)

Obviously, we ought to be mindful of blessings/grateful/appreciative
BUT also ought to acknowledge the blessings/express appreciation/give thanks.

Should go beyond just thinking about how you are grateful.

This appropriate for all people.  All are blessed abundantly.
Especially for Christians .... John 1:16

So......... GIVE Thanks!!!!

How?  verbally -saying "thank you"
           specifically - naming specific blessings
        Both.... privately And publicly.  Example:  thank offering in Old Testament - private offering  but publicly  offered.  Compare to grace at meal - private but offered in public place
       Both.... individually and corporately - example:  dedication of the temple

How often?  Heb. 13:15  "continually" - a lifestyle/habit...

in what circumstances?  1 Thess. 5:18  in midst of everything...... will of God for you.

Why? -  1)  we owe it - because He has blessed us soooo much.
             2)  He deserves it - but doesn't need it.  Doesn't change God either way.
             3)  We're TOLD to which means it's beneficial - to us.
Beneficial foryou  and your family
                      your community and your nation
"thanksgiving" is a witness (testimony to your belief in God's goodness.  Psalm 105:1   Again, example: public grace.  Others "see" that you believe in a all-loving gracious God and are thankful for His blessings toward you.

2 notes:  Deut. 4:9
       1)  "Remember" because we forget and take for granted
affluence breeds arrogance!!!!  Deut. 8:17  Be careful that your blessings don't bring out the worst in you!!!  Blessings have a tendency to bring out the evil inside.
       2)  "teach your children"  Deut. 6:4-7
           by  a)  instruction and by b) example.   If want your children to acquire attitude of thanksgiving, show them by your lifestyle.

TO WHOM??  (should we give thanks) - THE BLESSOR - this is NOT generic!!!!
Psalm 118:28 - grateful to "who???"  Should be God of the Scripture.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Your Adversary --- the Devil

1 Pet. 5:8-9 - common among all Christians.
Eph. 6:11-12 - evil and suffering go hand in hand even if not an immediate result.

Question?  Is there a supernatural being who influences for good?? - 90% of people in this country polled said "yes".
Question?  Is there a supernatural being who influences for evil???  - far fewer people believe this.  However, in the last 20 years, the numbers believing in a personal devil has increased.

The Biblical View:
#1.  His Identity - Heb./Greek = Satan - long "a"s. = adversary/enemy
without the definite article = an enemy.  With the article = The Enemy - so transliterated "Satan" with capital S.
New Testament always speaking of the person.  Old testament speaks of both an enemy and THE enemy.

#2.  His Character - seen in his names/titles:  these are descriptive of his character
           our  Adversary
           our  Enemy
           the Destroyer
           the Lawless One
          Father of Lies
          Accuser of the Brethren
         Beelzebub (prince of demons)
         the Evil Spirit
         the Evil One
        Unclean Spirit
        the Lying Spirit
        the Wicked One

    the Ruler of the darkness of this world
    the Prince of the Power of the Air
   the Spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience

#3.  His beginning
was created --- holy/lead/arch? angel - Ezek. 28:11-17 - power behind the King
  - not omni . anything.  Has no eternal past - not co-equal with God (dualism)

#4.  His fall (Ezek. 28) --> Luke 10:17-18 - when his heart became proud

#5.  His purpose/intent
establish a kingdom/dethrone God/enthrone himself - Isa. 14:12-15 - power behind the king
(more than his purpose.  = his (perverted) passion!! - Luke 4:5-7)  - He has tremendous authority and power.

#6.  His destiny/fate - Matt. 25:41, Rev. 20:10 - will NOT rule in hell - will be tormented there, too.

#7.  His current state - is on leash, but very long leash.  God is still in control.
      A)  great power and authority! - as God determines to give him.  John 12:31,  2 Cor. 4:4
      B)  many minions - Rev. 12:7
      C)  great rage - Rev. 12:7-10, 12 - Rage directed at people in general and Christians in particular - Rev. 12:17.
 When we serve Christ we are in Satan's way of getting what he wants.

#8.  His methods  (wiles/strategies/devices/means)
      On one hand, these are easily discovered - wealth of material in the Bible
      However, these are easily overlooked (forgotten)
     A)  Deception  (example:  magician) - 2 Thess. 2:9-10
     B)  Seduction (looks good)  (example:  mousetrap) - 1 Tim. 4:1
    C)  Accusation ....... of God, of one another - context of 2 Cor. 2:10-11.  Satan is exceptionally good at telling brothers and sisters in Christ how bad the other is.

Must understand what we are dealing with here!!
Satan was the power behind the early Christian persecution, anti-Christ, Kings of Babylon and Tyre.influence behind powerful and evil movements/governments/institutions/leaders, etc.
Also, the power and influence behind common man/little Christians (me and you)
Example:  Jesus to Peter - "Simon, Satan has desired you"

Your defense??  Simple to understand - not to employ.  Our defeated foe is still very dangerous.  Don't give too much attention, but don't give too little attention, either.
#1.  Be Aware
#2.  Be Alert - watch
#3.  Resist - the call, the suggestion
#4.  Stand Firm - don't move
#5.  in the Faith - Rev. 12:11 - they stood firm - bodily destroyed but Satan couldn't touch their eternal state.

Your Reward - Rev. 19:11-14

1 John 5:18-21


Monday, November 11, 2013

Every Christian's Ally

Last week - Every Christian's Battle.  (Satan, world, flesh)

This week - our Ally - Holy Spirit - for everyone serious about following Christ

John 14 - 17 = Jesus' last words to His disciples before His arrest/death
So:  1)  instruction    2)  prayer - for them, for us   3)   Promise of a Helper - (when making a serious attempt to live the Christian life)

John 14:15-16 - Counselor (NIV)  Comforter (KJV)  Helper (NAS)

Word = PARACLETE  - from ... Para = beside/alongside  (Para-llel/medic/legal)
                                          and...Kaleo = to call

Translates:  One called alongside to help  (or assist)
(common use = family attorney)

BUT help/assistance has many forms*, so PARACLETE has many translations.

*Forms list:  The Comforter
                    The Counselor
                    The Helper - general assistance
                    The Interceder
                    The Advocate
                    The standby
                    The One who Encourages
                    The One who Consoles - example:  Simeon - "the consolation of Israel"
So.... who/waht is this Paraclete?  - John 14:25-26 = the Holy Spirit

Point:  Jesus promise to His disciples = As I helped you when I was present with you, so now the Holy Spirit will help you IN MY ABSENCE!!  - John 14:16 - another like Himself.  Another counselor - 1st. one was Himself.

Question??  Did the disciples face opposition???   ---- martyrs - all disciples except John died terrible martyrs' deaths
                 Were they assisted by Paraclete?  - Acts 4:29-31 - absolutely
                 What was the result?  = growth of Christianity.  The greatest empire on face of the earth tried to squelch growth, and instead, Christianity grew and grew, and the empire eventually crumbled.

#1.  This promise carries beyond the disciples .... to us!!  Acts 2:38-39 - God chooses when and where to work.  It is His decision.

#2.  So, as you walk/follow/minister/serve..... the Paraclete will be with you to assist you!!
Note again:  assistance has many forms - See Forms List again.
Example:  Christian business world has grasped this concept!!!  Note following:
       If you Google "Paraclete" you will find:
      Paraclete Press - (publish Christian books/music/DVDS)
      Paraclete Mission Group - ("we come alongside churches and mission organizations to assist your work")
      Paraclete Charter Service - (ferry service/1 vessel = "Koinonia")
      Servants of the Paraclete - (men's group/ministers to priests)
      Paraclete Eldercare - (geriatric services)
      Paraclete Tutors - (tutoring program)
      Paraclete Counseling - (Christian/Biblical Counseling)
      Paraclete Computer Services
      Paraclete Tactical Body Armor - (

And, #3.  When you encounter opposition (not just difficulties) (Satan, world, self) - the Holy Spirit will be there to help you!   The One who Strengthens!

Objection!!!  I don't sense His presence/see or feel Him working in/through me!!

ANSWER:  1)  Your perception is not necessarily reality of the situation - whether I perceive it has nothing to do with the situation.
                   2)  meeting your needs is not necessarily meeting your desires and expectations!!
Example:  Paul's thorn in the flesh - !! Cor. 12:8-9 - what you're receiving from God, regardless of what you think, will be the best for you.

2 Issues/considerations:
#1.  Acquisition - (how to 'acquire' the Holy Spirit? - Paraclete)
On one hand, His is already with you (God is omnipresent, therefore Holy Spirit always there regardless)
However, as Paraclete, He comes with salvation - when make Christ Lord, and strive to live according to His leadership and principles

#2.  Submission.
He is helper/assistant/'servant'
However, He is NOT sub-servient - does not answer to you!  He = God the Holy Spirit ... who came to you.  Who chose to come and die for His creation!!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Every Christian's Battle

Eph. 4:1 - walk according to calling have received

Example:  family's biking excursion to top of mountain = effort, discipline, know-how, training
BECAUSE:  will encounter OBSTACLES (gravity, wind, fatigue)
AND..... might encounter OPPOSITION!!!  (someone not really happy to see such dedication, so do things to impede progress)

If you intend to walk/live the Christian life, there will be obstacles AND opposition!!

You should expect BOTH - obstacles and opposition!

Difference????  Obstacles impede BUT it's not personal, intentional, hostile.
Opposition implies personality, intentionality - opponent, adversary, antagonist, enemy!!

So ... today we look at "Every Christian's Battle" = a Look at the Opposition!!

#1.  Satan
#2.  The World
#3.  The Flesh

I.  Satan - 1 Pet. 5:8 - Lucifer/Devil/Evil One/chief of fallen angels/real and personal
(YOUR adversary)

Jesus - encountered, addressed, taught, warned about - Luke 22:31-32 - (you = you all)

his intent??  purpose?   to be exalted (as God)  (anti-Christ = 1) against Christ, 2) in place of Christ!!
So..... his methods =  display his power and God's impotence, AND you are Pawn in this game - Rev. 12:17
You are going to be opposed by hostile opposition!!

Your defense????  1 Pet. 5:8-9 "in the faith"
     1)  be aware  (expect this, be informed, be forewarned)
     2)  stand firm
     3) IN THE FAITH!! - the protection and strength comes from being in faith in Jesus Christ

II.  The WORLD = 1) earth  2) mankind (population)  3) the current worldview of fallen man (worldly view) which = contrary to God's Word and therefore in opposition to God's Will.  John 17:12-18 (note three different uses of world)  - not of that philosophy, viewpoint

Question?  What's the world's current view on:  ethics?  politics?  sex?  marriage?  origin?  destiny?  environment?  authority?  eternity?  - Are any of these views today against God's Word????

How to combat??  Rom. 12:2 - "your mind"
refuse conformity (to what = contrary)
allow transformity
(Don't let your thinking, your habits, etc. be formed by the world view)

III.  the Flesh = term can mean body substance, body whole, whole person
Also, can mean the sin nature, the sin-stained element of the human nature, the seat of sing within us.

It's easier described that defined --> Rom. 7:15-25
Note:  A)  This is more than an obstacle  = an opponent!! (one that tries to keep me from moving forward to becoming what God wants me to be)

POINT:  doesn't mean reject legitimate physical, bodily pleasures (Gen. 1:31)
              but, does mean reject inclination, desire to act contrary to God's Will.

How to combat??  Rom. 6:11-14 - "count, consider, reckon"
Objection:  that's not enough
Answer:  "my grace is sufficient" - 2 Pet. 1:3  ie:  we're given the means to live according to the call, but... it will be a Battle!!! (to the end)  There will be intentional, hostile opposition to it!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Building the Kingdom

Luke 11:1-2  Matt. 6:10
Having a 'builders heart' = can look back, see it done, see it still stands!!
This refers to more than buildings:  can be a movement, task, project, accomplishment, pursuit, etc.

Question?  If you were invited to be part of the greatest building project of all time??  Would you want to be??
NOTE:  You ARE invited!!!    

Definition:  Kingdom of God = sphere of His rule, reign, authority......

Which, on one hand = ALL (everything)  Psm. 95:3-7, 103:19
On the other hand = limited!!! --- by God's will.     
            #1.  The present Kingdom => that which voluntarily submits ... 
            #2.  The future Kingdom => when ALL will clearly, visibly submit .... 1 Cor. 15:24-26 - (Kingdom comes into being in the fullest sense.   Not voluntary anymore.

Kingdom of God is a major/primary theme of the Gospels
intro to John the Baptist - Matt. 3:1-2
Words of Christ - Mark 1:14-15
Charge to the 12 - Luke 9:1-2
Parables - "Kingdom is like......."
Summary:  Matt. 6:22 - see first the Kingdom of God

Again, you are invited to participate/assist/partner....
on one hand, God needs no partner!!
However, He offers us the opportunity/privilege.  So,  Col. 4:11 - workers for the Kingdom, not just in the Kingdom.

How to Participate?  (generally?)
If haven't already accepted, and if we choose ----

#1.  Listen - because it's by invitation only!!!
So, examine, consider, inspect ... AND LISTEN for the call

#2.  Decide - to be worker in the Kingdom.  Have to decide.

#3.  Submit - you enter the Kingdom by receiving the King (recognizing that Christ is truly King/Messiah) - John 1:11-13
This = A.  Recognition (of His Kingship)
          B.  Submission (to His authority) - "bow the knee" in heart and say, "You are Lord".
         C.  Allegiance (to Him)

#4.  Learn (discipleship)
        A.  Rules of the Kingdom (gracious, good laws established by God)
        B.  Methods of Service (because of differences!!  Matt. 20:24-28  Building according to His service rules.

#5.  Live Accordingly = Kingdom Ethics!  (contrary to the ethics of the world.)

Often = day by day - in the mundane - without miracles!!   Many times that's what we're called to - nothing glamorous!

#6.  Build Accordingly = Kingdom Methods - Mostly, that's the way you build the Kingdom.
usually = day by day .... brick by brick mundane stuff.

#7.  Promote the King and His Kingdom
"Ye shall be witnesses unto me"

And in the End???  (part of what awaits us)  - Matt. 25:31-34
It's your choice.  Your decision.  Your Re-decision.  It's easy to get caught up in building own kingdom instead of Christ's Kingdom.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Your Christian Story

Last week - "The Christian Message" - ie:  the gospel/good news that we've received and are to pass on.

Also noted our reluctance to Proclaim one on one - (because is offensive, confrontational, invasive)

So, today:  an effective tool to help in sharing.  IE:  your Personal Testimony - Your Christian Story

According to the Bridge Illustration in last week's sermon, Christ did it all.  Man did nothing.  And, not reconciled to God until cross the bridge.
BUT, when you do cross,  #1.  it becomes your story and #2. is a powerful witness to THE story.

Example:  Legion - Mark 5:18-20 - go share your story = powerful Personal Testimony!
Contrast:  Mark 5:14-17 - point being:  the miracle didn't open the hearts of the people, a transformed life and personal testimony did!!

Common objection:  My personal testimony is not so amazing!   
However, it is your story of your encounter, experience, walk with God.  IF it rings true, it can open the hearts of many people!!!

Illustration:  The simplicity of your Personal Testimony with a "timeline" - (3 events/4 chapters)
born                  born again                                           today
         #1                 #2                              #3                                  #4

Chapter 1 = the Process (of coming to Christ)
Chapter 2 - the Event (of receiving Christ)
Chapter 3 - your journey (since receiving Christ)
Chapter 4 = Your Expectations, after today, after death, at time of death (Christian hope)  (because you received Christ)

This is your story - no rehearsal necessary!!   It can be questioned/challenged/disputed, but it cannot be disproved!!!!!
Illustration:  healing of the blind man  John 9:1-38

2 Aspects of Personal Testimony:
#1.  This is what I know.
#2.  This is what I believe (think about what I know.

Note:  Blind man illustration:  1)  knew he was healed  2)  believed God  3)  healed through Jesus.
BUT, he couldn't point to Jesus as Messiah until was told that Jesus was Messiah!!!

Point/Distinction:  Your Personal Testimony prepares the ground for the gospel, but it IS NOT the gospel!!
Is a way of opening the door for the gospel to be presented.
So, Rom. 10:13-14  Illustration/Comparison:  lame man healed  Acts 3 & 4.  Personal Testimony doesn't replace the gospel, but compliments it.  The gospel is essential along with Personal Testimony.

Some Considerations:
1)  Your Personal Testimony is simply your story (no rehearsal necessary) - it's uniquely yours.
2)  It needn't be dramatic to be effective  Example:  "I was saved out of bad stuff" = good story
                                                                              "I was saved from bad stuff" = better story. 
Let the Holy Spirit use your story.
3)  Personal Testimony is not the gospel!  It is an excellent tool to prepare for gospel message, but the gospel MUST BE INCLUDED!!

Some IF's:
1)  IF you don't have a Personal Testimony, you need to ask "why?"

2)  IF your Personal Testimony doesn't match your current lifestyle, you need to ask "why?"

3)  IF your Personal Testimony doesn't match (is contrary to) Scripture , you need to ask "why?"

4)  IF your Personal Testimony has to omit "today", you need to ask "why?" - Today is Chapter 5 in the Timeline.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Christian Message

Next in Interrupted Series - Christian Hope, Christian Calling, Christian Response, Christian Reward.

Definition:  the message we (Christians) have Received
                 the message we are to Pass On

One one hand, message covers a lot of ground!  Examples:  the Bible, Revelation:  We believe God has revealed Himself to us.
On the other hand, "Christian Message" often (traditionally) refers to the core parts/the primary essentials of the message.  IE:  THE GOSPEL

Bridge Illustration:    
                            (Animation from

Illustration leads to the "Gospel" - which is the core.  Comes from (old English) god spel (good tale, story --> news)

We know the gospel has 2 sides:
     Bad news - sinners/separated/without remedy (hope)
     Good news - IN Christ, can find Redemption/Reconciliation/Restoration

This is the message we have Received.
This is the message we are to Pass On.

This is not a message we have contrived, made up, or has evolved over the years.

I.  The Message We've Received (handed to us)
Received From God -->Apostles-->Us - Eph. 2:19-20

Not like the telephone game, where passed from one to another to another to another and finally to you - see how message differs from what originally said.
But, because of a plethora of texts - we have thousands of manuscripts going right back to the apostles -
the message is passed from the Apostles directly to you (through translator)

II.  The Message we are to Pass On.
Examples:  1 Cor. 15:1-4  1 John 1:1, 5 - directly from Christ Himself

So, why so hesitant to proclaim? pass it on??
Because the message is:
1)  Offensive includes alienation/exclusivity/judgment, etc.
2)  Invasive:  intrudes into private life (heart/soul)
3)  Confrontational:  = a challenge with expectation of resistance!!
4)  Ancient - often considered primitive/old fashioned/out-dated

The Gospel IS offensive (not that you should be)
The Holy Spirit IS invasive and confrontational - so be careful
The Message IS ancient --- BUT, it is NOT out-dated.  As relevant today as it was 2000 years ago.  Nothing meets the needs of man like the Gospel Message.  Rom. 1:16

There IS no other way for man to be saved except through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

this = the message we have received and are to pass on!

III  The Message Entrusted to us.
2 Tim. 2:2 - committed to our care/keeping

As Stewards .... we've no right to:
1)  Alter the message, whether we think offensive or not.
2) Withhold the message - have an obligation to share.
3)  Reduce the message - water it down to make more appealing
Example:  Love of God is essential to the Gospel BUT = 1/2 the Gospel)
Doesn't mean we mush share the whole gospel every time we share the Love of Christ, But to be complete/effective, we must share the whole story.  Rom. 1:16 (again)

How, when, opportunity to share left to the individual - all have different gifts and different ways.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Living in the Kingdom: (Patrick Brown, Youth Pastor)

Last week:  4 areas of expertise or areas should be highly trained or in training in:
           1.  God and His Kingdom
           2.  Entering the Kingdom (sharing the Gospel)
           3.  Living in the Kingdom
           4.  Understanding and defeating things that are against the Kingdom

Question:  Are you getting these done? - If not, lack of effort/action??  Lack of opportunity???  Lack of knowledge??

Today:  Living in the Kingdom -
             1.  w/focus on Love (Agape/Godly) and Knowledge and how it shapes the way we live.   Will look at:  what Godly love is, and how knowledge is a necessary component of true love.
             2.  You can have knowledge and NOT love, but true (Godly) love requires knowledge.
             3.  Agape requires knowledge and action - action may include:  time, money, prayer, etc.

LOVE:  "What's love got to do with it?"
           A.  Some general info about love:
                  1.  Can be hard to define, same word means different things to different people and therefore is easily abused.
                        a.  "I love pizza", "I love my wife", "I love my dog"
                        b.  Must get our meaning from the context
                 2.  Definition of love from dictionary - strong feelings of affection for something or someone
                 3.  Different types of love:
                        a.  Philadelphos:  brotherly love
                        b.  Philoteknos:  love one's children
                        c.  Eros:  sexual desire
                       d.  Agape:  ' not selfish'
                             i.  Sometimes referred to as Godly love
                            ii.  Affection, good will, love, benevolence (be kind, give gifts), brotherly love
                           iii.  Wanting whats best for someone
                           iv.  Hoping/desiring what's best for someone
                           v.  Agape must be the ultimate motivation for all Kingdom work.  If work not done out of love, as far as God is concerned, it is pointless.
                          vi.  1 Cor. 13 - The Love Chapter
                4.  Two different reasons for love:
                     a.  Love as a desire to satisfy natural or selfish urges:  not commendable (fallen love)
                          i.  to eat
                         ii.  To be happy
                         iii.  To be loved
                         iv.  Sexual appetites
                         v.  To be popular
                        vi.  Gain entry into heaven
            Things we do out of selfish motivation are not the "keys to the Kingdom"
                 b.  Love for God and for others due to the realization:  God is ultimate good, people are made in God's image and therefore good (even if rotten in their actions), that love is good.  This is commendable
                      i.  Is mental or thinking love and requires knowledge
                     ii.  Love is key to all things.
Matt:  5:21-22 - Opposite attitude of Agape love.
           5.  Love requires knowledge - how can I love God if I don't know him?  How can I be benevolent to someone if I don't know what is right or good for them?
          6.  What love does not require:
               a.  being best buddies:  love your enemy
               b.  liking someone
               c.  wanting to spend every moment of every day with the person
              d.  Always wanting to do the action necessary for loving
         7.  Entailment of  Agape love
              a.  Effort and action - often sacrifice
              b.  Knowledge
              c.  Opportunity

    B.  Don't have to build a case for love being important, but will look at some scriptures.
            1.  Mark 12:30-31 - Greatest of Jesus' commandments - knowledge of God required and definitely takes effort to love neighbor.
            2.  John 13:31-35 - sign that others can see
            3.  John 14:15 - must have knowledge to keep commands
            4.  If you hate your brother, are not in the Kingdom:  1 John 4:7, 12, 16, 20-21

       A.  Rom. 10:1-4 - necessary for salvation/entrance into Kingdom
       B.  John 17:3 - eternal life is knowing God and Jesus as the Christ

      A.  What does "knowledge puffs up, but love builds up" mean? - often quoted to stress love over knowledge.  This taking words out of context and assuming that love and knowledge are mutually exclusive:  THEY ARE NOT!!
     B.  Read passage and see what it mean
     C.  Love requires knowledge

CLOSING:  Think about what Agape Love is - and how important it is in living in the Kingdom.
Where is your love lacking?
       1.  Effort or action?
       2.  Opportunity?
       3.  Knowledge?
       4.  Expertise?


Monday, September 23, 2013

Four Areas of Christian Expertise (Patrick Brown, Youth Pastor)

Four areas in which Christians should be experts or at least in training to BE experts.
#1.  God and His Kingdom
#2.  How to enter the Kingdom
#3.  How to Live in the Kingdom
#4.  Things that set themselves up against the knowledge of God (things that keep people out or cause them to leave)

A.  Problems with Christianity in general:
     #1.  True Christianity may not be growing
     #2.  The nation we claim is Christian doesn't seem so Christian.
     #3.  Many people are choosing other religions or no religion at all.
     #4.  The people professing Christianity often can only be identified by the words "I'm a Christian" -
not by their understanding of REAL TRUTH, or TRUE TRUTH, or due to their intentional efforts to advance the KINGDOM of GOD.
Therefore, many who profess to be Christian probably are NOT in the Kingdom at all.

B.  Christians in general lack training.
     #1.  Christians should be highly trained, but we probably are not. 
            Examples:  a.)  Nurses' training - 1 hour of lecture requires 6 hours of study. 
                  b)  Jesus was highly trained - waited until 30ish to start His ministry
                  c)  the disciples were highly trained - Jesus taught them for 3 years

C.  Hopefully all will agree with the 4 LISTED things, although certainly could be more, you could add others, the ones listed are fairly general. 
Some require much study, training and practice.
ALL require discipline and hard work.
3 of the 4 are derived almost exclusively from Scripture (the last requires expertise on the Bible AND information found outside the Bible)
Therefore, must be experts concerning the Scriptures and other things.

Assess yourself:  Are you an expert in these areas?  Are you training to be an expert in the areas you are lacking?

A Brief Look at each of the four:

II.  The Four areas of expertise (they are all interconnected)  
       A.  God and His Kingdom:  what it is and why it's important
             1.  Primary message of Scripture - Gen. 1:1 and it was message of Jesus:
                  a.  Mark 1:14-14 - proclaims Kingdom is near
                  b.  Matt. 4:23 - proclaims the good news of the Kingdom (and heals the sick)
                  c.  Luke 4:42-43 - this is why I came
            2.  There is a God
            3.  What He is like and what He expects of His creation
            4.  He is the Creator and rightful ruler of His creation
            5.  He does have a Kingdom and wants all humanity in that Kingdom - (that the Kingdom has come IS the Gospel)

      B.  How to Enter the Kingdom
            1.  Communicating the Gospel of Christ, ie.  the truth that Jesus IS the Christ - the KING of
                 GOD'S  KINGDOM
                a.  Only one way to ENTER into the Kingdom
                b.  It is a kingdom:  there is a King and 'dom' or domain
                c.  You enter by recognizing the King as King and doing what is required by the King to be                         a member of  His domain or dominion
          2.  Knowledge is key: 
               a.  Knowledge = justified, true, belief
               b.  to be justified in knowing something, certain criteria must be met.
         3.  Communicating that Jesus is the Christ in an objective SENSE vs. a SUBJECTIVE sense: 
Two types of truth claims:
              a.  Subjective truth:  I think Chocolate almond is the best ice cream
                   i.  what is this claim about?  ME, the subject
                   ii.  This truth finds its justification in "me" or in a person
                   iii.  This type of truth is not dependent on evidence out there in the external world.
                  iv.  "Matter of Taste"
             b.  Objective truth:  "Insulin can lower blood sugar", "Jesus is the true King of the world"
                  i.  True, irregardless of how we feel about it
                  ii.  This truth claim finds its justification in the external
                 iii.  This type of truth depends on the FACTS of the real world
                 iv.  This is a "Matter of Truth" , not taste
            c.  How Jesus and the disciples communicated the Gospel:
                 i.  Luke 7:22 - Jesus points to His miracles
                 ii.  Acts 2:2-24 - Peter
                iii.  1 Cor. 15:3-6 - Paul
                iv.  Acts 17 and 18 - Paul and Apollos
           d.  This = major area of concern for Christianity today:  have reduced the Gospel to a subjective truth claim - or at best an objective claim with only subjective proof!
 This primarily subjective gospel may be a false gospel??????
           e.  How to fix this?
                - provide objective proof for an objective claim - just like apostles did!

  C.  How to live in the Kingdom
      1.  Jesus had specific teachings and He taught the people who wrote the New Testament
      2.  We should live a life based upon the teachings of The Christ and His apostles
      3.  Being disciples and ambassadors -
                 Knowing Christ's teachings and communicating those teachings to the world
      4.  Major focus of the New Testament Epistles is how to live in the Kingdom
      5.  Need to be expert int eh Bible - ie:  we need to have a good understanding of the Bible, which requires a proper interpretation - to do and teach this.

D.  Things that set themselves against the knowledge of God:  ie.  things that are against the building of the Kingdom, Philosophies, ideas and that cause people to not enter the Kingdom or that cause someone to leave the Kingdom.  This should also include misconceptions Christians have concerning the faith.
       1.  2 Cor. 10:3-5
       2.  Spiritual warfare
       3.  False gospels/religions
       4.  Religious pluralism
       5.  Moral relativism

III.  Closing
      A.  are you intentional about being excellent at your faith?
      B.  Are you already an expert?
     C.  Are you training to be an expert?
     D.  It takes much effort to learn to do something well - Jesus said "count the cost"
     E.  The world desperately needs people who are trained and ready to communicate the Truth of Christ



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Christian Reward(s)

Definition:  Reward - something given in return for good deeds/service/work (compensation/ positive retribution!)

On one hand - very close to the idea of payment/wages
BUT --- carries with it the idea that:
        A)  the deed was not mandated or absolutely required!
        B)  the payment was not mandated or absolutely required!

In the Biblical concept - Rewardhalfway between - gift and payment.

ie:  God does not Absolutely demand these services/lifestyle/works
However, He grants substantial blessings on His people when they serve well and live well.

We will look at:  Rewarded FOR what?
                         Rewarded WITH what?
                         Rewarded WHEN?

Rewards FOR what? 
 For:  "acts of righteousness" - Matt. 6:1
          Examples:  generosity - Matt. 6:2-4
                           prayer -       Matt. 6:5-6
                           fasting -       Matt. 6:16-18

For:  faithfulness, hard work, obedience, righteous living
Examples:  hospitality - Matt. 10:40-42
                 faithful witness - Matt. 5:11-12
                 steadfastness - Heb. 10:35 - Christian life is not always roses and fun
                 service (to Christ/to others) - Matt. 25:31-40

The concept of rewards is throughout Scripture.  Gen. 15:1    Rev. 22:12 - Christian rewards *not to be confused with salvation)

Rewarded WITH what?  * hard to say specifically!!!
Crown of life - (James)   Righteousness (Paul)  Glory (Peter)
Revelation:  (7 Chapters)
       a)  the right to eat of the Tree of Life
       b)  some of the hidden manna
       c)  authority over the nations
       d)  the right to sit with Me on my throne

So, on one hand, it's hard to say, however, clearly includes His PRAISE and possibly included PROMOTION. - Matt. 25:19-21

Rewarded WHEN?  
Mostly then and there.  - rewards in heaven - justice (everything will be made right)
BUT, sometimes here and now - 2 Cor. 9:10-11.   (no promise that if "give $10.00 will get $100.00 back)

NOTE:  This is NOT to be confused with Gifts of Grace!!!! (salvation, justice, forgiveness, cleansing, redemption, reconciliation, eternal life...) - all these are GIFTS from God.  Rom. 4:1-5

Two classic passages about Christian rewards:
#1.  2 Cor. 5:10 - Bema (of Christ) - ALL will appear to receive what is due for things done in the body whether good or bad - Rom. 14:10, 12  (Bema of God)

#2.  1 Cor. 3:12-15 - (cross ref.  2 John 8) - will show works for the type they are

Still - we are "obligated by Grace"
Should be - motivated by Love - for Him, His people, one another
BUT - the doctrine (and system) of Rewards = God's design/doing
Therefore:  no shame to be spurned on or strengthened by the Hope of Reward(s)

Should be spurned on when sacrificing for righteousness, because He says will be compensated, will not lose reward!
Col. 3:23-24 - It is the Lord God we serve.

All these are promises to Christians!!  They are not to those people who do good works, live good life, etc., but have never accepted the free gift of salvation.

You cannot do the rewards without accepting the free gifts!!

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Christian Responsibility

We've looked at Christian Hope, Christian, Calling, and Christian Experience.
As well as the blessings, privileges, favors that come with them. - Example:  Eph. 1:7-8 - 'lavished'

BUT NOTE:  with great privilege comes great Responsibility!! 
1 Pet. 1:1-2, 2:9, 10-12, Eph. 2:8-10, John 15:16
Privilege is a gift of God.  We're created to do good works.  Chosen, called, graced for obedience.

Point:  if you're a Christian, God has chosen you, called you, granted you special blessings, privileges.  BUT, with special privilege comes special responsibility!

Privileged with stuff?  (material, monetary) - then responsible to share.  1 John 3:17
Privileged with the Gospel?  - then responsible to share - Matt. 28:19-20 - Great Commission
Privileged with giftedness?  then responsible to share - 1 Cor. 12:7

Words of Jesus:  Matt. 10:7-8,  Luke 12:48 - from everyone who has much, much will be required

REPEAT!!!  with the great privilege of being called, chosen, blessed, graced, comes great responsibility!! 

Because we are called, we are obligated to:
1)  live a godly life (previous texts)
2)  forgive others - Col. 3:12-13
3)  care for our family - 1 Tim. 5:8
4)  pull our weight - 2 Thess. 3:10
5)  be a good steward - Matt. 25 - parable of the talents
Many more examples could be named

Your Christian Obligation must be:
#1.  Self-imposed - God defines it, doesn't demand it.  - still have own choice
We are called, invited, expected to be responsible, BUT it is not required, decreed 
We are "Obligated by grace". - 1 Cor. 15:9-10 - to all people, Rom. 1:14 - because of grace given

#2.  (occasionally) Re-imposed.
It's easy to drop, drift, ignore, deny - especially when worn out. 

#3.  Carefully selected
On one hand, not responsible for all things, all people
However, are responsible for some things, some people

#4.  Properly directed - by Christ, not people
ie:  your obligation first and foremost is NOT to people but to Christ!!!
John 21 - "love me??  feed mine"

This responsibility, obligation to Jesus as Lord...... can be shirked, BUT it cannot be denied.

So......... John 21:20-22 - to respond to Him as Lord.  This is our Christian Responsibility - "Obligation by Grace"

Monday, September 2, 2013

Christianity - the Big Picture

The Whole Story - compare to a jigsaw puzzle - puzzle pieces vs the box cover which shows the big picture.

 Begin with:
The beginning WE know (God has ALWAYS been) - Gen. 1:1, 1:31 - creation is "very good"
End with:  Rev. 21:1, 4-5 - re-creation necessary????

Question:  Why?  What happened?  What need is there of a New heaven and earth?
Answer:  THE FALL (Gen. 3)

1)  Separation from God - communion was shattered
2)  tension with one another - hiding, guilt
3)  conflict within themselves - ashamed, etc.
4)  disruption of nature - Gen. 3:17-19

We inherited this!!

Between the fall and the new heaven and earth:
                      the history of fallen man in a fallen world              
creation                                                                                         re-creation
    the story (the Bible Story) of God dealing with fallen man in a fallen world

Today we look at a few significant events in that story - a few Key elements - some of the puzzle pieces that stand out!!

After the fall and before the new heaven and earth.

#1.  The Choosing of a people - Deut. 7:6-8
through whom He would:
A)  Reveal Himself - His nature, character, will through miracles, events, law, prophets, etc.
B.  Send a Savior - to fix what's broken
hence.... the Old Testament focus on the Jewish people!!

(sprinkled throughout the Old Testament =
#2.  The Promise of this Savior
Redeemer, deliverer, a leader, champion ...
Anointed by God for the task => "Messiah, Christ"
Gen. 3:15  Deut. 18:15  Isa. 9:6-7 - one of many prophecies concerning the coming Savior

#3.  The Sending (arrival) of the Savior
New Testament -- Christmas Story -- life and ministry of Christ

#4.  The Work of the Savior
A)  the 2nd. Adam - Paul calls Him this
B)  the Redeemer - paid the price/purchased back ..... fixed with His death
C)  the Restorer - of ALL that was lost!!!

On one hand, the work of Christ was NOT the immediate correction of all that's wrong,
But .. does => the beginning of the correction, the necessary payment for correction, the Assurance of correction.  (ie:  the Christian 'hope') - Rom. 8:19-21

#5.  The choosing of a new people - the church
Matt. 16:18 - called out group
Eph. 3:10  - to reveal God - to proclaim Christ - as the ambassadors, proclaimers, etc.

#6.  The church age
On one hand, we WAIT for the fulfillment, conclusion
On the other hand, we don't wait IDLE - Matt. 28:19-20 = the Great Commission

#7.  The Return of the Savior - end of the church age --
to establish His Lordship, leadership, Kingdom - Rev. 19:11-16

So....... Now new heaven and earth??  Not quite.... 1 more event/puzzle piece
#8.  Judgment - the road forks before the new heaven and earth.

One fork leads to the new heaven and new earth - the Presence of God
The other fork leads to Hell/Gehenna/Lake of Fire - the Absence of God - "2nd death"


-- you have a place in this timeline - piece of the puzzle

-- on one hand - you are heir of the past (no choice)
However, you choose your present and future - which story?  which road?

-- you're not choosing a destination.  BUT, choosing a Person - accept, receive, follow, serve OR
reject, ignore, deny

-- This is NOT the End of the Story - it equals the end of the 1st. Book in the Story/Series.....
Rev. 22:5 - 'unto the ages of the ages .....for eons and eons.....

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Christian Experience

We've looked at:  Christian hope, Christian calling, and today - Experience
In other words, what can I expect to experience (in this life) IF I choose to follow Christ??? 
(ie:  REALLY follow Him - not just nominal Christian behavior)

IF you choose to follow Christ - you can expect to experience:

#1.  Life - everyday, ordinary life situations, experiences, tasks, routines,.
A.  following Christ does not exclude us from 'life'.  Example:  saved on Sunday, still have to get up and go to work Monday morning! 
B.)  This therefore becomes part of your "Christian" life.

But, can also expect to experience:
#2.  Life enhanced by the presence of God.  - on one hand God is omnipresent so with all people all the time in a general sense.  But there is a special way that God is with His children. - with you and for you.
This includes the knowledge of His presence. - Matt. 28:20   Heb. 13:5
and the sense of His presence - (feeling, experience - sometimes have this as well)

The Knowledge you can always have with you (God's Word)
The Sense you cannot always have (unless especially graced with or fabricated)
BUT without the immediate Sense of His presence, can still experience the Knowledge of His presence.

Can also expect to experience
#3.  Life enhanced by the Promises of God.
Examples:  Rom. 8:28  1 Thess. 413 - difference in feeling by believers/non-believers?  John 10:10 (b)
We can experience peace and joy not available to the non-believer.

Also, expect to experience:
#4.  Conflict. - (ranging from tension to battle)
with:  a)  Satan - 1 Pet. 5:8-9  Eph. 6:12
        b)  Sin - James 1:13-14
        c)  Self - Rom. 7:21-24 - when try to follow God, have great struggle with self
        d)  The "world" - ie:  the mindset, activity, government of man apart from God
        e)  fellow Christians - because we're seriously flawed and incredibly selfish.   You will never, ever, ever find a fellowship that will not have conflict.

Also, expect to experience
#5.  Conviction - John 16:8 - expect the Holy Spirit to work in your life and convict you
#6.  Comfort - 2 Cor. 1:3-4
#7. Encouragement - whether from God/Holy Spirit/Word/people - 1 Thess. 4:18

#8.  Doubt - ' because we are human and walk by faith!!  Doesn't mean we have to be overcome by it.
So..... examples:  Moses, David, Jeremiah, John the Baptist - Matt. 11:2-3

#9.  An increasing faith - ie:  confidence, assurance, certainty, trust, etc. - grows when you follow Him

#10.  An awareness of blessing(s) - which leads to thankfulness - non-believer never fully recognizes

John 10:10 - this life experience = part of that!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Christian Calling

Eph. 1:15-18
Last week - "the Christian hope"
This week - same text - "Christian calling"

The word in Greek (verb) - means to call, invite, summon - (broad, common usage ..... as today)

In the New Testament often used Divine Summons - God calling out to us.  Eph. 1:18  1 Cor. 1;9  1 Thess. 2:11-12   If you have a part in that, it's because God has called you to it.

The Greek word as a noun - a calling - Heb. 3:1   2 Thess. 1:11

Adjective form --> a called person/people/group  - Jude 1,  Rev. 17:14  --> hence "the elect" and the church (ecclasia)
When He speaks to you that way, you are one of the called ones.

I.  Who calls?  Answer = a divine call .... ie:  God calls.  "The call" is attributed to God(Father)  Christ (Son)  Holy Spirit  (all the same).  If you are a believer, you are one because God called you.

Note:  may receive the call through another - example Pentecost sermon:  call from Peter?  or from God?
         clearly = God calling.
Not one would have thought the calling was from Peter.

II.  How does He call?
A)  divinely - as only God can - world of difference between the Holy Spirit working in a heart, vs. response to a moving sermon, song, emotions, etc.
B)  uniquely - ie:  as He chooses .. to work with you!!
C)  personally - ie:  w/you as an individual!!  He knows you individually.  Don't measure your call by someone else's call.

Note:  the calling is usually a combination of:  external (the revealed Word) - Rom. 10:13-14, 17
                                                             and  internal (Holy Spirit) - can't prove the call 100% - we walk by faith, not by sight.
About the call:  #1)  this I know   and #2)  this I believe about what I know.

III.  To what does He call us?
repent?  salvation?  reconciliation?  discipleship?  service?  office?  task?

Generic and most important (fundamental)
#1.  to Himself - Acts 2:39
#2.  to His Son - Rom. 1:6 - called to belong to Jesus Christ
#3.  to Sainthood/holy living - Rom. 1:7,   1 Cor. 1:2,   2 Tim. 1:9

Holy living includes:  a call TO and a call FROM - 180degrees/repent - so, --> Eph. 4:1 - live a life worthy of the calling He has given

IV.  Why does He call us?
1)  He loves/values/desires us - John 3:16
2)  redemption/reconciliation is found only in Him - John 17:3

V.  Who does He call?  (all?  the elect?)
Here's what's clear....
A.)  most of you know you've been called
B)  some of you know you're being called
C)  a few are denying, avoiding, ignoring the call
D)  some have not yet received the call? 

Note:  the calling is more than a request and less than a summons (demand) - somewhere between the two.
= 1)  urgent invitation &  passionate appeal and
   2)  an incredible privilege - Heb. 9:15 (a)

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Christian Hope

Rev. 21:1-5

"Christian" hope = our hope of salvation, eternal life, heaven, Lord's return, etc.

Question:  How does this differ from other people's hope?
Answer:  Christian hope is:
#1.  expectation - in the Greek, the word hope was expectation, not wishful thinking like it has become in English.  Hope was neutral - could be good or evil.  Could be used as  "I hope a tornado comes" meaning, I EXPECT a tornado to come, as easily as "I hope my husband comes home from work" meaning, I EXPECT my husband to come home from work.

#2.  joyous anticipation - in New Testament - hope always used as joyous anticipation.

#3.  Based on God's Word - Especially on the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and finally on the revelation of the Resurrection.  We believe that God chose to reveal Himself to our world, our society.

Contrast the Basis of non- Christian's hope ---- NOTHING.
Example:  When a non-Christian's loved one dies - figure that this loved one is OK.  Based on what????
Based on NOTHING but just own expectation.

So compare:  Job 8:13-15, 11:20, 27:8  Prov. 11:7 - false hope comes to nothing.

In Dante's Inferno - sign over the gate of hell:  "Abandon all hope ye who enter here".  Whatever you hoped in is GONE!!!!

Christian hope is not just another wish as others have.

NOTE:  technically, our Hope is in God, not in the things He has promised us!!   We don't trust the things we receive, Psalms 25:5, 39:7, 71:5
AND in His Son --- 1 Tim. 1:1, 1 Tim. 4:9-10,
Summary:  1 Pet. 1:20-21

So, what does this hope include?
                      2)  heaven/eternal glory - Jesus said this is part of your inheritance
                      3)  the Lord's return - - establishment of His rule/Kingdom (so.... righteousness, justice, etc.)
                      4)  the Resurrection of the Body}        1 Thess. 4:13-18
                      5)  the Reunion of the Saints      }
                      6)  The Redemption of Creation - Rom. 8:18-23

All this = the Christian Hope = great expectation beyond the grave.

So..... on one hand, we have hope beyond the grave!
          on the other hand, in Christ, we have hope this side of the grave as well!!!
Rom. 8:28 - all things God works.....   Rom. 8:31-32
Point = trust Him with today, tomorrow, next week, etc. - faith & confidence is in a Person - not in our plans.

So Above = what does this 'hope' include?

Now...... what does this 'hope' accomplish?

1)  confidence
2) courage - example:  martyrs
3)  strength - Isa. 40:30-31
4)  endurance - 1 Thess.1:3   Heb. 6:19
5)  joy .... in face of adversity - examples:  martyrs/their families
6)  renewal - Psalm 42:5, 62:5
7)  boldness - 2 Cor. 3:12
8)  SALVATION - Rom. 8:24 (a)

What it does accomplish = largely up to you!!
(Hope = offered and partly instilled, BUT you must choose to embrace it!! and employ it!!)


1)  Know the hope that is offered - Eph. 1:18
2)  Receive the hope that is offered - Col. 1:23
3)  Hold to the hope you've received - Heb. 10:23
4)  Share the hope you've been given - 1 Pet. 3:15

Everyone has hope, BUT what is it based on???  People are dying without hope or with false hope!!

Monday, July 29, 2013


Homosexuality - sexual attraction to, or sexual activity with someone of the same sex.

I.  Scriptural Argument - Lev. 18:22, 20:13
Rom. 1:24-27   1 Cor. 6:9-10 ---> such WERE!!!
1 Tim. 1:9-10   ( Gen. 18 & 19 - Sodom & Gomorrah)
Gal. 5:19-21, 6:7-9  Eph. 5:4   1 Thess. 4:28
Homosexual behavior is outside of God's Will.

II.  Argument from Nature
design - male and female fit well and couple well
function - procreation
norm - though not unobserved in the animal kingdom, doesn't mean it's the norm.  seldom seen) - and always considered a deviation from the norm.

III.  Argument from tradition.
On one hand, have been times and cultures where homo was accepted.  However, most societies throughout history considered it a deviation.

Quote from G. K. Chesterton - "Traditions means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors.  It is the democracy of the dead.  Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy (government by the few) of those who happen to be walking about."

It is the height of arrogance to look back on thousands of years of tradition, and determine that it is wrong!

Answering some of the challenges:

#1.  "born this way" - there is no proof of a "gay gene", but there us evidence of homosexual inclination or tendency - Rom.3:23 - we all have issues!!!!!

#2.  "this is my natural inclination" - BUT that does not make it right or acceptable.  Tendency/inclination does not justify action.

#3.  "I didn't choose this"
This is not justification to embrace/pursue/practice
But, it is reason for our empathy/compassion (imagine the struggle)

#4.  "many homosexuals are good, loving, nice people..."
This is NOT this issue/question.  The question = is it right/wrong!!  Goes back to has God said this?

#5.  "some are truly in love" - This is NOT the issue/question. 
Note:  modern tendency to make "love" the final authority!!!

#6.  "But some are loving & faithful to one another!"  - Granted....... but that doesn't address the question of right/wrong.  Even if committed & celibate?  Then = friendship not marriage

Religious Arguments (from pro-gay churches, etc.)
1.  "scripture = mis-translated" - Answer:  texts are simple/clear 

2.  "scripture = misinterpreted" - traditionally accepted
C.S. Lewis quote:  "The old Christian rule is, 'either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.'  Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong.  One or the other."

3.  "scripture = outdated"- the moral code remains unchanged
If so, A)  must start with the issue of Scripture not with homosexuality.
         B)  other Biblical values, beliefs must also be questioned.

4.  "Jesus said nothing about homosexuality"
      A)  Gospels not comprehensive on issues  (incest, bestiality, etc.)
                                                 on quotes - John 21:25
      B)  Gospels not considered more authoritative  (what did Moses say?  Paul say?
     C)  Jesus does address proper  sexuality - Mark 10:6-9  (from Genesis)
     D)  Homosexuality was a non-issue in Jesus' day/culture - (assumed to be wrong by all)

5.  "I'm gay and I'm born again"
Example:  Mel White (pastor of America's largest gay congregation) - "I am gay.  I am proud.  And God loves me without reservation".
Question?  if loved of God, does that = therefore what I do = right??
Answer:  A)  Salvation does not exclude sin!!
               B)  Salvation does not legitimize sin!!! - Gal. 2:17, 5:13
Not to use freedom as excuse to sin any way want to.

Christian response to homosexuality - WWJD!!!
A.  Stand on truth - in a loving manner without compromising the truth.
B.  Distinguish between the Issue (truth) and the Individual (grace).  This is a person for whom Christ died.
C.  Be compassionate "but for the grace of God there go I" - Rom. 3:23 - we are all sinners.
We're all guilty of sexual sins (sometimes)
D.  Recognize homosexuality is not unpardonable, and not incurable?   Compare to an alcoholic.
E.  Reject homophobia
F.  expect sharp criticism from both camps -
         Christians because not tough enough
         Others because intolerant!!

Where Christians Should Stand on Same Sex Marriage Issue

Reference - recent decision of the US Supreme Court concerning same sex marriage.
Struck down Sec.3 of the DOMA - which limited the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.

NOW, any same sex couple legally married in one of the 12 states that permit same sex marriage can claim spousal benefits from the Federal Government.  In essence, have the federal government's stamp of approval on same sex marriage.

SO, Question #1:   how long before the other 38 states follow suit?? (willingly or by judicial decree)

And, Question #2:  Where should Christians stand concerning this issue of same sex marriage?

Last sermon - series of questions offered to help you answer that question - Biblically.  (as well as many other ethical questions that confront)

Today - review and address the issue directly --- along with the companion issue of homosexual behavior (lifestyle)

First,  Same Sex Marriage - what does the Bible say about it?

Answer - Nothing!!!!
Why??  1)  same sex marriage wasn't an issue in the time when the Bible was taking form.
             2)  the Scripture clearly defines marriage without addressing same sex issues.
             3)  the issue of homosexual behavior is dealt with - thereby excluding possibility of same sex marriage.

#1.  Same Sex Marriage wasn't an issue in Biblical times.
Not saying it was never found but was very rare and not truly recognized as marriage.
Example:  Emperor Nero (reigned about the time Paul was writing the New Testament) - reported to have married 2 men - one of his freedmen - as the bride, and later a young boy/slave - as the groom.
On one hand, no one challenges Nero!  However, even then it lacked legal status and social recognition/acceptance.
The Latin word - "matrimonium" from which we get our word matrimony - required "mater"/mother=children.  Holy matrimony = man taking woman to have children

Today 13 countries recognize same sex marriage (Great Britain - in 2014) and several others are on deck.  BUT, the first nation in history to recog. ssm was the Netherlands in 2001 (12 years)
ie:  Same sex marriage is a brand new social experiment!!

#2.  Marriage is clearly defined in Scripture as between male and female (one each)
Gen. 1:27, 2:18, 22, 24 - through out Scripture! 
Objection!!  Also recognizes Polygamy!   Answer:  Never commended/recommended/prescribed/approved of polygamy - just reporting that it was there.

#3.  Homosexual behavior clearly prohibited in Scripture.
Example:  Sodom and Gomorrah.  Lev. 18:22  Rom. 1:26-27
So..... where does that place same sex marriage from Biblical perspective?

Back to the questions of 2 weeks ago (modified)

#1.  Does God exist?  (Supreme Being/1st. Cause, Creator, Omni_____
If "no" then ssm is not wrong.  (If no God, then no Lawgiver)
If "no" then is no right or wrong - except as man/society dictates.

#2.  Is He Personal?  (is He interested?  involved?  caring?)
If "no" then ........."whatever" - concerning ssm.
If "yes" then .... what is His will? plan?  design?

#3.  Has He revealed Himself?  (His will?  His design?)  Has He made Himself known?
Heb. 1:1-2  John 1:18 - yes, specifically through His Son Jesus Christ
Quote by Wm. Blackstone - Law is to be discovered vs designed.  Eternal laws already exist.  Our job to discover them - not invent new ones.

#4.  Does the Bible contain (record) His Self Revelations?
If "Yes" then.... we have "His Word" on the subject/issues.

#5.  Are His laws .... universal?  (for all people/all time?)
                                 practical?  designed for practice or theory?  - 2 Tim. 3:16-17
                               consequential?  Gal. 6:7 (for individual/society)  His Word will stand.  Cannot embrace same sex marriage and not encounter problems and consequences.

NOTE:  Some Christians will answer "yes" to above questions .... and still conclude same sex marriage = acceptable/good!! 

How do they conclude this??  Short answer = "It's all about LOVE".  = God is loving/ God loves love/ we should be loving/ "all you need is Love"

ANSWER: = on one hand that is true.  On the other hand, love not always tolerant, permissive, nice
Love does not permit/promote what is wrong/harmful

If Bible is God's revelation, love is not always sweet and nice.

Issue of same sex marriage does NOT stand alone.  Is surrounded by/determined by greater issues - for example.

The issue of....
1)  Morality - is Right/Wrong?

2)  Authority - who decides right/wrong?
If answer = God ... then the issue of ...

3)  Discovery - how do we discover what He's established?

4)  Personal Practice - how do I apply these rules/laws to my life...

5)  Relational Practice - how do I relate to others - especially those who disagree with me on these issues?

6)  Obedience/Submission  to a civil government in contradiction to God's law? - how will we respond and act to this.

1.  Only thing new here = issue of same sex marriage and its legality, etc.
ALL REST (big issues) = old as Abraham!!!!

2.  God is NOT surprised/shocked/taken aback/over-ruled --
IF He ever WAS God .. He Still is!!!

3.  The law of the land has changed - our calling has NOT = same as yesterday/last month/ etc. 

So, on one hand, the same sex marriage issue stands before you...
On the other hand, the greater issue = WILL you ... Seek/submit to/serve God
If so... you;ll get past SSM issue - just fine!!!