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