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!!