Thursday, December 22, 2016

Savior Messiah

(Old Testament) MESSIAH:  The Anointed One who will come to deliver God's people

(New Testament) Greek = Christ - prophesied, expected, anticipated  - same exact meaning

Prophecies suggest a multi-faceted Messiah - Warrior, Prophet who spoke to God, Priest who intercedes for people, Sage imparts wisdom, King - the Ruler, Shepherd cares for the people,
But ALL Prophecies portray a DELIVERER. - All rabbis agree on this.

All these are appropriate, accurate, scriptural - easy to see Jesus in all of these.

Synonym for Deliverer? -- Savior - one who delivers from the Greek verb meaning to save.

So:  Luke 2:11 - to the shepherds - the Messiah, the Christ
       John 4:42 - Samaritans
       Acts 13:23 - Paul to synagogue

Hence the title - Titus 1:4 - Christ Jesus, our Savior.  2 Pet. 1:11

Jesus - the Savior Messiah

IF Jesus = Savior, has saved and does save, Then Christians (then and now) need to answer some very valid questions.

#1.What did (does) Jesus save us from?
short answers:
    A)  our sin(s) - Matt. 1:21 - angel to Joseph
    B) separation - bridge illustration - 2 Cor. 5:18-19
    C) death - (skeptic may ask ''really?")  John 11:25-26 - "I am the resurrection and life", 1 Cor. 15:25-26 - fulfilled in Rev. 20
He didn't come to deliver us from biological death.

#2.  How did He (does He) accomplish this?
Short answer = Sacrifice - Old Testament pictures and prophecies

    A)  Substitutionary,  B) sinless w/free will,  C) self - Rom. 3:23-25, 2 Cor. 5:21
which answers the long-standing question regarding the Suffering Servant - ex.  Isa. 53:4-6, 11-12
For Christians, Suffering Servant leads to Suffering Messiah

#3.  Why would He do this?
Short answer: - you are loved, valued - John 3:16

#4.  Why isn't this salvation more evident?  
One short answer = It's not yet completed!  Heb. 9:28 - "He's still working on me"

#5.  Do we really need a Savior?
short answer - YES!!  From a Christmas card - 'Greatest need was forgiveness so God sent a Savior'

#6.  Is there another way?
Jesus' answer = NO!!  John 14:6, John 8:24

So the Disciples - Acts 4:12

King Messiah

Isa. 9:6-7

Old Testament Jews were looking for Messiah.
Definition:  THE ANOINTED ONE - chosen, gifted, sent ... to deliver God's people, to restore the Kingdom

Scripture suggests different kinds of Messiah - (Warrior, Prophet, Priest, Sage)
So on one hand, even tho were differing ideas of Messiah, all agreed that Messiah = deliverer/restorer

Another kind of Messiah more than all these.  Because, there is one who is Combo of all these:  ie.  King Messiah.  Isa. 9:6-7 (again)

Ruler, protector, governor - on David's throne - Jer. 23:5-6 - righteous Branch, King  (note setting and time)

Characterized by wisdom/justice/righteousness - Isa. 11:1-5

A Shepherd - One who cares for His people - Ezek. 37:22-24 - one King over all of them

AND a ruler with God's Backing!!  Dan. 7:13-14

So..... Warrior - who'll fight for and protect His people
           Prophet - who'll bring the people word(s) from God
           Priest - who'll intercede on their behalf (to God)
           Sage - who'll possess and impart Wisdom
           Shepherd - who cares for His people
A just and righteous man who has the Ability to 'get 'er done'

#1.  Would you  - vote for such a man??   #2.  Would you Serve such a man??

Scripture points to Jesus as that "King Messiah".
Luke 1:30-33 - Angel to Mary - lineage of David, will be King
Matt. 2:1-2 - Magi
Matt. 2:3-6 - Scribes and Old Testament prophecy

this = the hope of the disciples - John 1:49 - Nathanial - King
this = the understanding of the people - John 12:12-13

This was used by Jesus' persecutors - Luke 23:1-3
And noted as the reason He was crucified - John 19:19-22
and the reason He was mocked - Mark 15:29-32 - even His persecutors came to recognize He was King Messiah - "King of the Jews"

In Jesus' life we see - prophet, sage, shepherd
BUT - warrior?  ruler?  deliverer?  KING??

Some rabbis therefore concluded there must be "2 messiahs" - maybe more
Post-resurrection Christians concluded there was 1 Messiah and 2 comings (appearances)
AND He'll Satisfy the unfulfilled prophecies - at His RETURN!!  Rev. 11:15,  Rev. 19:15-16 - King of kings, and Lord of lords.

NOTE:  this does not mean He'll be made King t His return, but = HE IS KING NOW
THAT WILL BE MANIFEST at His return!!   

UNTIL then you've the option of choice!!

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Hope of (a) Messiah

Isa. 9:6-7   ( Isa. 11:1-9 )

Messiah = root:  to anoint  (rub on, pour on oil - holy oil set apart for that particular purpose), therefore symbolizing
1) being set apart (holy) (by God to God's work)
2)  being given authority to act on God's behalf (by God to do God's work)

Anointing used of Old Testament priests - Ex. 30:0 - exclusively for Aaron & his sons
Also, of prophets and Kings - 1 Kings 19:15-16 - God to Elijah - Vs. 15 - pagan king over a pagan nation
So, Psm. 105;15 - they are mine - the Lord stands behind them

So, on one hand there were many 'anointed ones',
However, in the highest sense this applied to:

THE promised Deliverer of God's people who would come TO:
(1) deliver His people (from bondage, oppression)
and (2) restore the Kingdom to it's rightful and proper place)

How was Messiah to accomplish this?   Various views=
1).  Warrior Messiah - Psm. 2:1-9 - example:  David.  This was the view of the Zealots (Simon - one of the 12) - must overthrow Rome by military means

2) Prophet Messiah - through preaching and teaching of the Word, the Law would lead to moral, ethical and religious revival which would lead to blessings and restoration.  Example:  Moses - Deut. 18:15

3) The High Priest Messiah - the spokesman for God - stood between God and the people - go between
Combination of priest, prophet, politician (administrator) (and, sometimes warrior)

Through proper ritual and ceremony (temple) plus proper leadership (administrative oversight) would come God's blessings which would bring restoration. 
Psm. 110:1-4 - MacAbees, Hasmoneans, Sadducees - this was their view

4).  The Sage Messiah - deliverance and restoration through wisdom, compassion, good works.
Example:  Solomon, Ghandi, characterized by meekness, gentleness, goodness ... example:  Jesus' words - Luke 7:20-23

PROBLEM!!  The prophecies suggest all of these!  So, warrior or peacemaker?  administrative leader or humble servant?  arrive riding on clouds?  or a donkey?

The Agreement nevertheless was:
#1.  Messiah is God's Anointed One
#2.  He will come as promised
#3.  He'll deliver God's people from oppression to glory

In Jesus' Day - expectation was extremely high.
Messiah was:
1) - expected, anticipated
2) to deliver from Roman oppression
3)  to restore the Kingdom to glory days of David and Solomon)

Note:  the word Messiah" carried over into the Greek language Cristos and into English - CHRIST.

So........ a natural question of John the Baptist - John 1:19-20

The Disciples believed Jesus to be that ONE
words of John the Baptist - John 1:35-36, 41, 45
Jesus 'self reference - Luke 4:16-21
Jesus disclosure to Samaritan woman - John 4:25-26
Recognition by Martha - John 11:27 (which He accepted)
(He didn't openly declare His Messiahship)

Peter (& disciples) confession - Matt. 16:13-17 - saw through divine intervention
Death & the cross - shattered that hope.
Resurrection renewed that hope.
A combination of post-resurrection teaching and coming of the Holy Spirit elevated that hope to a whole new height!!
 Acts 2:36 - "both Lord  Christ"!!  which = Messiah Lord or THE ENTHRONED MESSIAH.  Hence, "THE LORD JESUS CHRIST" - not just an individual that God used in a mighty way.

This then, we see ---- Jesus Messiah --
1) came as promised  (prophesied)
2 to deliver His people
3) from their oppression (oppressors)
4) to a (former) state of glory - going to restore us to what should be - what was.

This Jesus is both Lord and Christ.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Christian Reward(s)

Definition:  Reward = something given in return for service, work, faithfulness, or good deeds.  Not to confuse rewards with all the grace that comes from God.

On one hand, in the Greek, the word for reward was used primarily of wage, payment, compensation for work done.
However, in the New Testament, carries the idea that the service was NOT mandated, but 1) voluntarily performed and 2 voluntarily rewarded (beyond wages)

Heb. 6:10   Eph. 6:8   Matt. 16:27

Remember - rewards not to be confused with gifts of salvation (forgiveness, cleansing, reconciliation, adoption, eternal life, heavenly home)

His rewards appear somewhere between wage and gift  - (extra, additional compensation ... for a job "well done".)

I.  The Promise of Reward(s) - throughout the scriptures
Appears from Gen. 15:1 - Amplified - "I am your abundant compensation and your reward shall be exceedingly great"

to..... Rev. 22:12

II.  What are we rewarded for?

III.  What are we rewarded with?
Rewards are available to anyone who wants to serve Him, work for Him.

Rewarded for?  - Matt. 6:1 - umbrella = "acts of righteousness"
Examples = 1) generosity - Matt. 6:2-4
                   2)  prayer - Matt. 6:5-6
                   3)  fasting - Matt. 6:16-18

New Testament = rewards for faithfulness, obedience, service, righteous living, faithful witness, hospitality!!!  Matt. 10:40-42. (The bulk of scripture refer to rewards that come after death.)

Rewarded with?   language is often symbolic (therefore, illusive)
Example = the 7 churches in Revelation.
"to him who overcomes I will give.......
Rev. 2:7 - the right to eat of the tree of life
Rev. 2:11 - that he not be hurt by the second death
Rev. 2:17  - some of the hidden manna
Rev. 2:26 - authority over the nations
Rev. 3:12 - make him a pillar in the temple of God
Rev. 3:21 - the right to sit with Christ on His throne

Question:  Are these literal?  symbolic?  Clearly they are precious rewards given for faithfulness!!!

CROWNS" - James - "crown of life"
                      Paul - "crown of righteousness"
                      Peter - "crown of glory"
                      Paul - a victor's crown "that will last forever"
Note:  Rev. 4:9-11 led to idea to "Casting Crowns" - Christian group

Whatever else may be - Rewards clearly include:
1)  Recognition of our Service (to Christ) - He won't forget
2) the Praise of Christ (for that service) - is an awesome thing that the Creator would praise us!
Illustration:  Matt. 25:19-21 - Talents - KJV - "enter thou into the joy of thy Lord"

With the promises ALSO come warnings - 2 John 1:8, Heb. 10:35-36, Rev. 3:11
Vividly described by Paul --- 1 Cor. 3:10-15, 2 Cor. 5:10

Question:  Is the desire, anticipation of reward(s) acceptable motivation?? (to serve, work, etc.)
MRP answer = probably!!  Because 1)  Jesus is the One who "dangles the carrot" (of rewards) - His teaching, His promises
and, 2) we are human (are we capable of pure, unselfish motives?)

Nonetheless, seems clear what should be our motivation: 
ie:  LOVE - for Christ (reverence, gratitude, appreciation)
 -  for our fellow man ie:  (good Samaritan)
 - for the Kingdom - here and now, as well as there and then
Col. 3:23-24

Question:  can a person serve Christ before accepting, recognizing Him?!
MRP experience/testimony = I did (OR at least attempted to!!)

Point = some here who believe ...
                             who want to honor Christ
                             who attempt to serve Him .....
BUT - hesitate to take the final step!!

Challenge - IF you know .... IF you are sure ... WHY WAIT?
Why not .... Make it final ... make it Public?

For all of us --- 1 Cor. 15:58

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thankful for Grace

Today = rubber band day - reminder to be "thankful for grace" - to stop and give thanks

Grace = unmerited favor, unearned blessing, undeserved kindness.

But, today we are talking about the grace of God:

General grace - to all people.  examples:  beauty of fall, cool temperatures, color, etc.

Personal grace = specific from God to an individual
1)  By grace you exist (have life by the grace of God - not because we deserved it)  - Psm. 139:13-14
and you exits with purpose!!! - Jer. 1:4-5 - not just apostles and prophets that God has a purpose for.
Paul - "in Him we live and move and have our being"

2)  By grace you live in 21st. Century America
Why not --- 1300's - Europe/Black Plague - 50% of the continent's population died;  80% of local populations died
             ---- 1980's -- Ethiopia - famine, upheaval = 1 million people died
or         ---- 2016 - Mozambique - life expectancy = 39 years (1/2 of yours)

By Grace ---- were born into a nation with 25% of the world's wealth, with extensive resources, beauty, with freedom of religion, speech, opportunity - example:  elections
We have an incredibly blessed time to live in and be in.

These blessings alone = enough ti have us standing in AWE of His graciousness.

At this time of the year, many acknowledge that:
92% of Americans plan "a special family gathering for a meal"
83% offer "a special grace of thanksgiving at that meal"
It is inherent to recognize the blessings of God.

BUT, are many additional reasons to be "thankful for grace".

Personal blessings with spiritual connotation that come when we are a child of Christ (Christian)

3)  By grace you are called, ie:  chosen, selected, summoned - 1 Thess. 2:11-12 - extends the invitation
And, that by grace!!! - Gal. 1:6, 15 - called because He's good!

4)  By grace you are saved - Eph. 2:8-9 - by grace you received all that comes with salvation - forgiveness, cleansing, reconciliation, adoption - AND inheritance!!!  Rom. 8:15-17

By Grace you are saved OR can BE!! - Gospel message

5)  By grace you are kept - Jude 25, Jude 24   John 10:27-29

6)  By grace you are gifted ----
     A.)  with special abilities, talents - have a certain makeup that allows you to manifest Christ to others -
1 Cor. 12:7 - the evidence of God's Presence in your life
And B)  with opportunities to use those talents to manifest Christ, to touch lives, to Make an Eternal Difference for other people

7)  IN GRACE YOU STAND - Rom. 5:1-2 - happens not just once in a while, but are in grace all the time!

Response to Grace??  (general and personal)

#1.  Acknowledge Grace (both the gift and the giver) - contrast Rom.1:21-22 - would not acknowledge God's grace.

#2.  Give thanks - which is more than be thankful!!  (in Scripture, for every one reference to attitude of thanksgiving, we find nearly 50 references to the ACT of thanksgiving.
Attitude is commendable but the action is what is needed.

which leads to -----
#3 - Worship - through words, songs, life style, hand raising, etc.

#4 -  Serve - because we declare His worth" with actions, lifestyle, service - when we serve others.

#5.  Share BOTH - material blessings, and knowledge of Christ -
example:  Jesus to the 12 - Mat. 10:7-8

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Every Christian's Ally

Series = Christian Journey - from born again to death.
Goals of the journey?  
1)  a worthy walk - live a worthy life, respond and act like a Christian   Eph. 4:1
2)  personal development leading you to become Christlike (molding character, heart, hands)
3)   Kingdom promotion - Matt. 28:19-20, 6:10
The goal is NOT heaven, but your walk in this life.

As you journey  and if you attempt these goals:
I.  Expect opposition, active resistance, personal attacks - not just talking about obstacles here.  The degree to which you attempt to attain these goals for your Christian life can have a large effect on the degree of opposition you will face.
In the form of:  A)  Satan  Rev. 12:17 & his minions
                       B)  Self - Rom. 7;21
                       C) Society (the world, current philosophy, way of thinking) - John 15:18-19
Jesus made it clear that we will run into opposition as He did, but also made it clear that:
II.  Expect Divine Assistance  ie:  The Holy Spirit - Prior to Jesus betrayal and death - John 14:15-18, 25-26, 16:5-7, 12-13 (unto all truth...)

The word ParaKlete comes from the Greek para - (alongside), plus Kaleo (to call) - meaning one called alongside to help
The use of this word = very significant.
Examples of para - para....medic,,  para....ministry

Compare 1 John 2:1 (same word) - in the Amplified Version = "One who will intercede for us with the Father"  - One = paraklete  Also, see "fruit of the spirit"
Other titles (& synonyms):
The Comforter
The Counselor
The Helper - to assist in time of need

The Interceder
The Advocate
The Standby
(terms used of a family attorney)

The One who Encourages
The One who Consoles - in times of deep sorrow and pain
The One who Strengthens

Many synonyms:  to aid, assist, support, HELP!! 
to console, comfort, ease grief and pain
to strengthen, enable, encourage
to guide, direct, illuminate
to remind, teach, convince
Note:  Rom. 8:26

The list goes on and on!!  A catch all verse?  a practical synonym?  Luke 24:48-49 - "Power"
(the necessary strength, the necessary ability) to do what He calls you to do - Phil. 4:13
Power often thought of as might, here means strength and ability.

Something we as Christians have that the old Testament saints did not have:
Not only promised to be with us, also promised to be IN us - John 14:17, 1 Cor. 3:16
(which = ever present, ever available to help!)

This is:  1) the Spirit of God - 3rd. person of the Trinity
            2) the Spiritual Presence of Christ (in His physical absence) - literally, really

Our (human) problems with this =
#1.  The Holy Spirit is not Physical (hence - not always evident... in Presence, in Activity) - we're accustomed to what we can see, feel, touch with our five senses because we ARE human.

#2.  He acts according to His wisdom (not yours or mine) (hence He doesn't always do what I think He should do)

#3.  this whole idea is incomprehensible - Col.1:27
(Omnipotent Creator God within me????)
IF I accept the words of Christ, I MUST accept this "mystery", ie: Holy Spirit working ..... IN me, ON me, THRU me!!
Very easy to comprehend, very difficult to execute but the difficulty does not make it untrue!

So, How to take full advantage of His Presence?  Appropriate?  maximize? 
#1.  Surrender - it's not getting more of the Spirit, but Him getting more of you!! - don't get more of the Spirit, either have Him or not!

#2.  Obey (what your know) "quench not, grieve not"
We don't need more of the Spirit's movement when we already have the Word

#3.  Be Available 

#4.  Work - 1 Pet. 4:10 - regardless whether we experience or sense the workings
#5.  TRUST HIM WITH THE OUTCOME - we don't turn the spigot, we don't control what's dispensed, we don't determine how it's received, and the outcome.  2 Cor. 6:1

Receiving the Spirit - not based on our merits or goodness, if are born again, we have the Holy Spirit.

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Need for Balance

Tuesday = elections!!
Many bemoan:
1)  the state of, direction of, leadership of our nation.

Christians also bemoan:

2) the loss of Christian influence (ideals, morals)
3)  loss of religious freedoms 

Therefore:  there is a need to balance 
On one hand -  legitimate concerns, anxiety fear of what's ahead, with
on the other hand - Christian hope, confidence, expectation

So:  Some history:  Jer. 26:1-11 roughly 606 BC
People's answer to Jeremiah - "Jerusalem CANNOT fall because = God's nation (people)
                                                                                                       God's city
                                                                                                       God's temple."

"the fall of Jerusalem would = the end of our faith and of God's (earthly) Kingdom!!!"

JUMP AHEAD 20 years!!!   Jer. 52:12-14, 24-27

Note:  Jeremiah was a prophet but also a patriot!!   He loved Jerusalem, Israel, the people, the temple.
Hence, his next writing = Lam. 1:1, 5

BUT -- the (great) loss of all that did not mean the loss of hope for Jeremiah.
Lam. 3:19-24 - his hope was not in the nation or the temple.  It was in GOD!!!

JUMP AHEAD - 70 years!!  New empire, new King!!  Ezra 1:1-4 - A pagan King!!  told them to "return, rebuild, restore"

POINT:  God's Kingdom is not dependent on any place, people group, city, nation to accomplish His work.

JUMP AHEAD 500 (more or less) years - Jesus' day
Jerusalem = great city, great temple, center of the Jewish faith.  Pride and joy of all Israel  (at home and dispersed)

Matt. 24:1-3 - Disciples' reaction:!!!   - "fall of the temple = end of life as we know it!!"

No Biblical account of this, but much historically recorded (Josephus - lived through this).  Same message and same response as was that of Jeremiah.
AD 70 - Titus came in - total destruction of the city, temple, nation!!!

Transition here - ie:  from Judaism to Christianity.
However - the FAITH MOVED FORWARD!!!!  
Because - God's Kingdom is NOT dependent on any place, people, city, nation!!!

JUMP AHEAD 200 years! - in spite of state sanctioned persecution of Christians, Christianity expanded, grew, spread, multiplied!!  Until it touched Constantine - who converted in 312 AD.   Edict of Milan in 313 AD = Christian religion no longer to be persecuted.

Christianity now = 1) legal  2)  preferred!!   Over next 100 years -
A) grew from 5% to 50% of the Empire!
B) found its' SEAT in the city of Rome!!  (former place of persecution!)

Aug. 24, 410AD
- world's largest city  (800,000)
- center of the Christian church
- not conquered in more than 800 years - known as the Eternal City.
FELL IN 1 DAY!!  to the Germanic (VIS) Goths

Many Christians throughout the world = stunned!  sorrowful!  afraid!!
Because (their view) "As Goes ROME, so Goes the FAITH!!"

In response, Augustine of Hippo wrote "The City of God" - (22 books in 1 volume)
"though earthly empires fail, .... the city of God will triumph"

POINT = strive for balance!
On one hand, #1.   We have good reason to be concerned. 
These things are important.  They shape man's history (child's future)!!
Should be brokenhearted over these - as was Jeremiah, as was Jesus -  Matt. 23:37-38

However, #2.  We also have good reason for hope!!
Because, while it may shape man's history, - does NOT CONTROL God's eternity!!
Dan. 2:31-45   Matt. 16:13-18

Should have great hope (expectation),  BUT
#3.  Hope should not translate into passivity - Matt. 5:13-16  (is never a time for Christians to stop trying to Make A Difference!!  M.A.D.)  Yes, God can get it down without us, but He wants to work through us!

#4.  should also recognize that Our failing does not limit God's ability  Rom. 8:28  "God works...."

So --- look for scriptural) balance between - concern (for what we see might be) and confidence in what will be)

#5.  Christian hope is not generic - ie: some vague notion of confidence in a benevolent Being.  Our hope is in Jesus Christ!  John 14:1 - not enough to have faith in a benevolent God - John 14:6 - Jesus said,  "I am the way....."

Monday, October 31, 2016

Restoring the Joy

From the Spiritual Profile - "In my Christian walk I wish I felt more ___J O Y________.

Neh. 8:1-3, 5-12 - Israel exiles back in homeland for around 100 years at this time.  Temple partially rebuilt, walls started.- been working long and hard, were exhausted, needed time off.   ie:  Sacred celebration- if you lose your joy, can lose your strength.

Psm.  51:1-3,7-12 - (followup of David's story, and his state of mind.)

"JOY" - definition, description.
Webster:  Joy - the emotion excited by the acquisition of, or expectation of good!  A feeling we get when we've experienced something good or anticipate good.

Synonyms:  delight, pleasure, happiness, gladness.  Maybe excitement, thrill.  Maybe gaiety, gladness, cheer/cheerfulness.  Maybe peace/peacefulness, tranquility, quiet contentment

1)  Mountain top joy - exhilaration, jubilation, ecstasy

2) Valley joy - ie:  joy experienced in the midst of trouble, sorrow.  Peace, serenity, quietness of the soul.  A sense of well being in spite of circumstances.

3)  Everyday joy - the pleasant sensation you get from a cool fall morning, good cup of coffee, child's smile, a friendly greeting, etc.

ADD to that with "The Joy of the Lord" - the sense of well-being that comes from:
     A)  knowledge of Him
     B)  Faith, confidence in Him
     C)  an experience or encounter with Him

Joy of the Lord supersedes ordinary joy.  Has elements of the unchanging, the absolute, the eternal, therefore is more substantial, stable, has more depth, more influence, impact.
Examples:  David fleeing Saul - wrote many of the praise songs found in Psalms   Paul in Roman prison. wrote letters to Ephesians, and other churches.  John Bunyan in Bedford jail   wrote Pilgrim's Progress.  Corrie ten-Boom - in Nazi prison camp.

So, when deprived of things generally associated with joy, comfort, satisfaction, they were OK, because they couldn't be deprived of:
    1)  their knowledge of God
    2)  their faith and confidence in God  (His Word, His promises) or
    3)  occasional experiences, encounters with Him.

Quote: - Joy of the Lord = "An inexplicable bouyancy of the heart and soul"

Use of joy in Scripture = extensive!!!
joy/ful/rejoice/enjoy/ (glad/ness) - over 600 times
Add celebrate, delight, etc. - have another 400+ times.

Psalm 100:1-5, 98:4-6   1 Thess. 5:16   Phil. 4:4

Clearly God wants His people to be joyous people!!!  We should have that hope & confidence that comes from Him.  Rom. 12:12

This "Joy of the Lord" is:
   1)  close kin to hope - in the Greek, "hope" is joyous expectation!!
   2)  one of the fruits of the Spirit - Gal. 5:22
   3)  Should have depth or transcendence    James 1:2-4   Rom. 5:3
Song - "It Is Well With My Soul" - written by Horatio Spafford - who lost all 4 daughters in a ship accident in 1873.
Song - "Now Thank We All Our God" - written by Martin Rinkart - pastor in Germany in 1600 hundreds.  In the midst of the 30 year war the plague hit - all other pastors died or fled - he was the only one left.  In 1637 presided over 4500 burials!  - wrote this hymn to teach people to praise!  This is more than superficial joy!!!  This has depth, strength, power

How did they find such joy"?
Focus on Eternal God - not temporal goods.  This is more than the joy of life = the Joy of the Lord.


#1.  the Joy of the Lord is a sense of well-being as a result of your Christian faith.
"sense" is better than "feeling" because we can feel grief, sorrow, loss, pain and still sense God's presence, comfort, promises.
There's joy often amidst mixed emotions!

#2.  The Joy of the Lord is available to all believers.  (= fruit of the Spirit, akin to hope, clearly Gods will for us!!)

I suspect we experience it more than we realize DUE to our definition of Joy!!!  WE often mean "happy" which may be God's will but it is not His priority!  Example:  your kids - is it your first priority to give them anything and everything they want so they will be happy, or is it your first priority to raise them properly, discipline when necessary, and help them grow into healthy mature people.

#3. Scripture (mostly) says "Rejoice".  (not "have joy")
Compare:  "be thankful"  vs.  "give thanks"
Note:  giving thanks often leads to thankfulness!!  So  "Rejoice" - often leads to joy
The real issue is not if we feel joyful, feel thankful, but if we give joy (rejoice), give thanks.

Nehemiah - people's loss of joy due to stress, fatigue.
                  Remedy = SACRED CELEBRATION!!!

David - loss of joy due to sin (gross sin)
            Remedy = Repent, Return

Others - loss due to busyness, lagging, drifting
            Remedy??   Psalm 37:4

Joy of marriage not found in marriage but in MATE!!
Joy of parenting (grandparenting) not found in the institution but in the CHILD!
Joy of the Lord is not found in JOY but in the Lord!!  Deut. 4:29 - seeking Him, not joy

Sometimes we are so focused on the feeling, we miss being focused on Him!!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Guilt and Unworthiness

From the spiritual profile - "In my Christian walk I'm haunted (plagued by, continually revisited with) by feelings of guilt and unworthiness
Guilt because of repeated failures in trying to live up to His perfect example.
Unworthiness for the same reason.

Note:  Sometimes we feel guilty because we are guilty.
          Sometimes we feel unworthy (come short) because we acted in an unworthy manner.

This = right, reasonable, proper = HEALTHY GUILT

However, some people are plagued by a persistent CLOUD of guilt feelings which are NOT reasonable, proper, healthy, necessary.

I.  The State of Guilt = the fact of having done wrong.  Example:  finding out driver's license been expired for a year.  Were in fact guilty of not obeying the law for that year.

II.  The Sense of Guilt - the feeling that comes with a conscious awareness of having done wrong.  These feelings = reasonable, proper, HEALTHY, and Necessary!!   They act as warnings of things that need to be fixed.   Example:  gauges on car dash - let you know what's happening with the engine before it blows up! 

Contrast:  Quote from "Erroneous Zone" with the Biblical view:
E.Z. advocates Self on the throne and ego as guide, personal happiness as the goal of life.

Biblical View advocates Christ on the throne and the Word as a guide, the Holy Spirit as companion, and holiness as the goal of life.
Everyone gets to make these choices.

Note:  to invite Christ into your heart = to invite guilt feelings!!!  - through the Word, through the Holy Spirit.

III.  The Cloud of Guilt
1)  constant, persistent but also,
2) vague, indefinite - can't put finger on why have these guilt feelings
3) without resolution - (can't be satisfied because don't know what it is, can't name it)
4) hypersensitive - (feel guilty over minor offenses, imaginary offenses)
5)  domineering - this cloud of guilt shouts down reason and Scripture.
6)  detrimental, to the point of destructive

Detrimental because:  
deprives one of a healthy self-image
contributes to feelings of inferiority self-loathing - example:  self-cutters, self-beaters
(typically) drives person from God not to God - even Christians tend to tune away from God because of shame.
Rev. 12:10 - possible demonic influences

Need to distinguish between Position in Christ (saved by grace, kept by grace) and Performance before Christ

Your Position = chosen, called, accepted as you were then, received, cleansed, forgiven - past and future, adopted, restored, sealed, secure, valued, valuable - John 3:16

Your Performance:
On one hand, we still sin therefore still need feelings of healthy guilt
However, the design and purpose = to Benefit you!!!
2 Cor. 7:8-11  Isa. 57:15   Heb. 9:14

BUT, the Cloud has NO place in either Position OR Performance!!!
It is NOT God's will, design, work
(Origin of the cloud?  temperament?  environment?  => Rev. 12:10

So.... what to do?? 
A)  test the spirits - Holy Spirit convicts specifically   1 John 4:1
B)  hold to the good  1 Thess. 5:21-22
C)  approach the throne  - Heb. 4:14-16 - come in humility with confidence in the adoption and acceptance

Will the Cloud go away???   Don't know!!!!
THIS I do know - Gen. 4:7
1) you must 'mater it' - it shall not rule over you.  you decide who is on the throne.
2)  with God's help, you can. 
If can't master it, will not lose the love and favor and salvation of Christ.  However, to be an effective child, need to master this feeling.  It is God's will for you.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Concerning Capability and Confidence

In recent spiritual profile taken, one statement was "In my Christian walk I wish I felt more ________" with the majority of the responses listing 'confident'/'capable'.  Not primarily confidence in God or in salvation, but in how "doing" the Christian walk.

These feelings = 1.  common (37 of 91 responses listed these)
              can be  2.  persistent
and can become  3.  disabling.
They can lead to an inferiority complex - many walk away from the faith because of these feelings.  (I can never get it right)

So, How to deal with these feelings?   Should we ignore, deny, stifle, suppress, confront, throw off? 

Pastor's answer:  MASTER - Gen. 4:7    Rom. 6:12, 14 --- "...your master."

Whether your Emotions are on the throne of your heart ruling your decisions or Christ is on the throne is YOUR decision!!!!   Who are you going to obey - perhaps can help the feelings, but you can help the response TO those feelings!

Concerning capability and confidence - we look at a Spiritual Giant:  MOSES.
His call - Ex. 3:10-11, 13, 4:1, 4:10, 4:13
These all in spite of visual (burning bush), audible (voice), miracles!!  WHY???  He didn't FEEL adequate or capable.

Compare:  Jer. 1:4-6 - (he never got over his insecurity)   1 Cor. 2:3 - Apostle Paul

I.  These are all spiritual giants and they didn't feel capable!!!
They displayed confidence, but A) this = confidence in God, not in 'self!!!
and B) that leaves the appearance of 'self confidence, because can't see inside. 

II.  They didn't feel capable because they knew they were NOT capable!  They were not capable of doing God's work.
Was Moses a competent messenger?  (in Pharaoh's court?) - BUT, he couldn't change Pharaoh's heart, make the people follow him in the exodus. 
Was Paul a competent speaker?  a good traveler?  BUT, could he change hearts?  could he build the kingdom? 

We (mostly) feel incapable of impacting things beyond our control!   DUH!!!!  Remember -- it is BEYOND your control!

Illustration: "I feel inadequate as a parent." - can feed, clothe, love, nurture, discipline, instruct, direct.... BUT I can't MOLD them, MAKE them be/become what they should!!
 Therefore, I feel inadequate because I can't do what's beyond my control!!!

Point:  Feeding the 5,000 - Mark 6:35-42
the disciples CAN'T feed them.
the disciples CAN count loaves, seat people, carry bread, AND let God do the miracle stuff!!
They did what they could do and let Jesus do what He could do!

God doesn't ask you to perform beyond your capabilities.  He asks you to:  1)  perform within your capabilities and 2 allow Him to perform through those capabilities.  (hence:  Moses, Jeremiah, Paul, Disciples)

So:  #1.  Assess yourself (honestly) - Rom. 12:3
#2.  Admit your capabilities, your limits
#3.  Follow the Revelation you've received (examples:  Moses, Jeremiah, Paul)
          Do what you know to do.
          Do it to the best of your ability (that's your Christian duty, responsibility)
#4.  Allow God to use your response as He sees fit.

This is not saying the the feelings will go away.    Am saying, do not let those feelings rule (instruct, direct, control)

Scripture plus self confidence is mostly negative.  Prov. 3:5-6, 28:26
Scripture plus God confidence is nearly endless!!! - Psalms 71:5, Phil. 4:13

What's on the throne - emotions and Christ at the foot, or Christ on the throne and emotions at the foot?  If you haven't asked Jesus into your heart, you have neither of these things.  Must invite Him in and let Him take control

Monday, October 10, 2016

Faith and Feelings

Series - Profile - Questions

"In my Christian walk I wish I felt more ________________."    One from the profile questionnaire filled out two weeks ago.
Answers:  (from most to least)
righteous - not so much being, but doing
Presence (His)

30-40% listed the top two answers.

So, this week, Faith & Feelings - a view from Scripture

#1.  We are created emotional beings in the image of God.  However, we must be careful about conveying human feelings and emotions to God. He is NOT a human being.  He is a BEING but not a human being.

But in scripture we find various examples of emotions:
God - Isa. 1:14, 42:1 - love, hate, anger, grief, joy, jealousy
Jesus - @ Lazarus' tomb, over Jerusalem - Matt. 26:37-38 - in Gethsemane

Holy Spirit - "do not grieve"  "envies intensely", Rom. 8:26

Not to experience intense feelings makes a person something less than human, healthy

#2.  Man's emotional make-up suffered in the Fall.  It is NOW seriously flawed!!!

This does Not mean all emotions are bad!  Sin tainted everything but they are not all bad.
2 Tim. 1:4, Rom. 12:15, Gal. 5:22-23 - fruit of the Spirit
Example:  Puritans referred to "holy emotions" - those that line up with God's Word.

It does mean your emotions are unreliable, untrustworthy!
Examples:  Can you be loved and not feel loved?  Secure, smart, beautiful, thin, capable, accepted, wealthy, wrong?
Can you be moved by a fictional  novel?  An animated movie?

Because our emotions are unreliable (easily manipulated...)
#3.  Emotions should be measured by something that is reliable (trustworthy) - God's Word!!!

#4.  If the emotions is legitimate, it should be accepted, cultivated, and enjoyed.
Example:  Song of Solomon 1:1-4

But ----
#5.  If the emotion is illegitimate  (wrong, ungodly, unholy), it should be mastered!  Compare:  Gen. 4:7
Emotions on throne of heart OR God on throne of heart.

NOTE:  You man not be able to control the emotion, BUT you can control the response to the emotion.
Example:  response to wrong attraction, or when have been insulted

Back to the list at the beginning:
1.  Is there anything wrong with desiring these feelings?  emotions???
2.  Anything wrong with allowing that Unfulfilled desire to detract you from doing right? (living the Christian life?)  Derail your faith walk?

#6.  Sometimes the negative feelings are legitimate, necessary, helpful - in a sense a blessing.
Example:  David after Bathsheba - Psalm 51 - He felt guilty, dirty, unworthy, failed God, Israel, Uriah, Bathsheba!
A. Why?  Because he was all these feelings but they led him to repent and get his relationship right with God.
B.  Was that a bad thing??

Negative feelings can serve a good purpose!!  (can awaken, correct, instruct, develop, motivate us!)
Matt. 5:3, 4, 5 - poor in spirit, mourn, hunger and thirst for righteousness

SUMMARY & CONCLUSION to Faith and Feeling

God gifted us with feelings
They were perfect - in Eden
They are now flawed - seriously flawed
They will be fixed - part of redemption process

Meanwhile -
Identify, subdue, master the "unholy emotions" - take charge of the response

Identify, cultivate, enjoy the "holy emotions" - they are a gift from God

Allow both (holy and unholy) to be useful instruments in God's hands for developing your Christian character.

After all that, Trust God   AND   Walk on!!! - in the direction He's called you and saved you!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Spiritual Profile

After taking a spiritual profile last week, found that it is almost the same as pas profiles, and national surveys (Barna, others)
on one hand everybody's profile is unique.  However, all are similar!! - Is a profile of Christian people in general.


 #1.  we are imperfect people in an imperfect world.  (fallen world with fallen people)
AND, we walk with an imperfect faith.  (Question:  Are we capable of perfect faith?)

#2.  Our model = Jesus and our standard = Truth, His Word.  These = perfection.  So, attempts to live up to our model and our standard are going to result in:
        A.  Failure and, therefore,
        B.  Frustration.
Compare attempting to imitate an NBA athlete or Olympic medalist

#3.  The longer you walk (ie: attempt to follow, serve, represent)  the more failures you will experience.
 you live longer, try longer = more failures

#4.  Given the situation (ie: a fallen person in a fallen world striving to imitate a perfect model and live up to a perfect standard...) THAT'S how it will be!  - there are going to be times of failure and feelings of failure.
And, (MAYBE how it must be?)   (MAYBE how it should be!?)

Will Divide into 2 areas:
1.  Being - I want to be a better person (Christian)
2.  Doing - I want to do a better job (servant)

#1.  BEING - I want to be a better person Christian)
On one hand, we're to REST in Christ, to trust Him and His faithfulness, His complete work on the Cross, His love, concern, care, His Presence, his Indwelling - 1 Pet. 5:7

On the other hand, we're to recognize our imperfections (sins, shortcomings, failures, etc.) and STRIVE to correct them.  Phil. 3:10 - (work out)  1 Cor. 9:25-27

Yes, we have confidence in His love and care, but still we are to strive.

#2.  DOING - I want to do a better job (as servant, ambassador, representative)

So, on one hand we're to trust Him to do His work!!!
On the other hand, we're to strive in labor as His CO-WORKERS!!
Col. 1:28-29  Phil. 2:12-13
Example:  Paul's words to Timothy - strive, struggle, etc.

Does my sanctification (development, maturity) depend on Christ?  or on me?
Answer = BOTH    2 Pet. 1:5-7 - work at it.
We can never attain without Christ, but He expects us to be involved in it.

Does my success (as servant, representative, ambassador depend on Christ?  or on me?  Again, answer = BOTH - 1 Cor. 15:9-10
Clearly, we can't do God's work, but God wants to work through us!  (in conjunction with)

Summary We are to do
                 We are to trust
Somewhere in all that = Balance
Our example = Jesus - always busy, never anxious

1.  Some frustration is natural (it's either that or indifference)  -People who are serious about Christ and the Christian walk are NOT indifferent)

2.  Some frustration may even be reasonable - (acceptable, within God's will, plan - considering the situation)
3.  Many of us carry it too far - (we go out of the area of trust)

4.  You are not alone.  1 Cor. 10:13 a ...."common to man."

5.  You are not on your own - Phil. 1:6 - Christ is with you.


#1.  TRUST HIM - just trust Him

#2WALK ON - don't quit, don't drop out

#3.  TRUST HIM - He'll never leave you, is never unconcerned.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Christian Journey - The Opposition

Series:  The Christian Journey - from spiritual birth to death.
Have already discussed The Call - The Walk - The Responsibility

As you travel the Journey, you'll encounter obstacles - could be financial, relational, etc.  (compare to any journey!)  BUT you'll also encounter - OPPOSITION.

Difference?  Opposition = planning, alive, active, personal, intentional
                   Obstacles don't plan, devise, conjure ways to hinder, oppose impede, defeat

3 (primary) forms of OPPOSITION:  - opposing forces
Satan               Self             Society

#1.  Satan - powerful, evil being who opposes God, etc.  from Gen. 3:1 --> Rev. 12:17 (+ his minions)
Now have living opposition to the journey.  As we make this journey - can expect opposition.

#2.  Self - (or sin/or sin nature) - Gen. 4:6-7   PROBLEM!!  This is MORE than external.  Rom. 7:15, 7:17-21.  This is in the heart!

#3.  Society - Biblical word = "world" - 1 John 2:15-17.
Not talking about creation - are obstacles here but not opposing
This is the current world view - the spirit of the time, current philosophy, the social climate, dominant ideals, beliefs - that stand opposite to AND in opposition to God (His Word, will, design, intent)
The people are not the enemies.  The viewpoint is.

In light of OPPOSITION, how do we stand?  how do we Progress?

#1.  Be Aware (informed) - you won't stand against what you don't believe s there!

#2.  Be Alert - on guard - 1 Pet. 5:8   compare Jesus' words - "watch out, be on guard, take heed, be careful"

#3.  Take Charge (of your life) - 1 Pet. 5:8 - "self-controlled" vs. controlled by Satan, Self, Society
Can compare to being controlled by alcohol, drugs, tobacco, food, pornography -When you find out you can't quit easily, your are not really in control.

Compare following verses:  Rom. 6:11 - "control self" - KJV = reckon
                                          Rom. 6:12 - "do not let (allow)...."
                                          Rom. 6:13 - "do not offer ..."
Summary point = Rom. 6:14 - you choose
These concepts are easy to comprehend!  Very difficult to execute!! -  Nevertheless = Biblical Remedy!
There is NO other way!

#4.  Renew Your Mind - Rom. 12:2
ie:  form/ re-form, trans-form your opinions, values, philosophy - re-do, re-new your mind, thinking process

HOW??  (partly) by exposure to and adherence to God's Word!!

#5.  Stand Firm - 1 Pet. 5:8-9 - "in the faith"!!  Makes a difference WHERE you stand firm!!
Compare:  1 Cor. 15:58 - stand firm, let nothing move you.

#6.  REPEAT - many times.  Considering Gen. 3:1 through Revelation, why are we surprised when we have opposition.

Col. 2:6-7 - in KJV - "as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord so walk ye in Him"

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Christian Journey - the Responsibility

Series = The Christian Journey.
Part 1 - The Call - (Divine summons)  may be more than one call throughout walk
Part 2 = The Walk - according to the faith

A Major New Testament theme - "you are called, privileged, blessed ... and with the privilege comes GREAT RESPONSIBILITY! 

Eph. 2:8-10 - "created... to do good works" - God has prepared for us to do.
1 Pet. 1:1-2 - "chosen FOR Obedience" - we are called to obey
1 Pet. 2:9 - "chosen TO declare" - you are to share with others
John 15:16 - "...fruit that will last."  - had the privilege of being chosen

Also - Luke 12:48 - "...from everyone who has been given..."
paraphrase - "much given, much required".  "With great power comes great responsibility" - quote by Spider Man

Eph. 4:1 (hinge verse) - (chapters 4-6)
"therefore, this is how you are to: conduct yourself, treat others, relate and respond to others
OR... more specifically  Chapters 5 & 6)
This is your responsibility to:  your spouse
                                            your children
                                            your parents
                                            your master  (employer)
                                           your slave (employee)

Because:  with Great Privilege Comes Great Responsibility

The Word "Responsibility" - has broad connotations.  (there is much implied, suggested)

Responsibility means:
#1.  Duty - (obligation/a charge)  = more than expectation, less than demand - Example:  giving someone the responsibility to close up the church.

#2.  Oughtness (rightness/what is proper/appropriate/ethically correct.
Example:  "Responsibility to pay your debts"

#3.  Burden - (weight/pressure/load) - Not necessarily great weight, nevertheless, additional weight.
Contrast:  "request to pick up the litter" - ie. trash from meal, outside doings, etc.  with
               "request to pick up the litter" - that consists of $100 bills scattered all over the yard.  That's something you would be ecstatic to do - that's NOT a burden
#4.  Ability - example:  Response-ability - (have the means, the wherewithal).    When we give someone the responsibility, we assume they have the ability.  God gives us what we are able to do.

#5.  A trust  (custody/guardianship/oversight)
#6.  Accountability ( an accounting, answering, judgment) ie:  how did you handle your Responsibility?

No wonder I don't like Responsibility!!!

BUT... the moral life/ the moral Law calls, urges, insists that I accept Responsibility!!!
Everyone feels some sense of this, but
the Christian life even more so!!!  Because "to whom much is given, much is required"

Now... we go back and add Biblical View to these implications.

All people feel a sense of responsibility - with few exceptions.

#1.  Duty - (obligation/charge) - "feed my sheep - Peter could have refused, but would not have become the Peter we know as "The Rock"
Compare:  Rom. 1:14-15 - Greek word for "duty/debt" = same word
Point:  this Responsibility = a) accepted obligation
                                         b) self-imposed obligation 

#2.  Oughtness (rightness) - "am I my brother's keeper?" - Answer = ought to be!!
Christian life should be a life of rightness/oughtness!! - ethically correct & proper, you know what's right!!!   

#3.  Burden (weight/load) - Gal. 6:2

#4.  Ability - Response-Ability - God will never call us to a responsibility that He does not give the ability to do.
Example:  Paul's thorn in the flesh - "my grace is sufficient for you"

#5.  A trust - Matt. 25:14 - He entrusts and trusts us to do and take care of.
        Christian Responsibility is defined by TWO Biblical concepts:
                 A)  LORDship (of Christ)
                 B)  Stewardship (of possessions)
(in His absence; determine by His Word - His last instruction).  Responsibility is to Jesus - Stewardship - doesn't matter if we hear from Him or not.  

#6.  Accountability - Matt. 25:19 - what have you done and not done
Note:  the accounting doesn't have to be all negative - "judgment"
          Positive side = REWARD!! - Col. 3:23-24 - as working for the Lord

Does Christian Responsibility seem overwhelming?  - Matt. 11:28-30

So:  1 Cor. 15:58 - your labor is not in vain

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Christian Journey - The Walk

This Series = "The Christian Journey" - focus = from spiritual birth to physical death.

Last week = the Call - (the Divine summons)
Today = The Christian Walk

 "Walk" used figuratively of actions, lifestyle, behavior

Eph. 4:1 - in various versions.  Amplified Bible = "I therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to and beg you to walk (lead a life) worthy of the divine calling to which you have been called - with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God's service."
This is a hinge verse in the book of Ephesians.  Hinges the theological with the practical.
Note:  He calls us by name!  This is AWESOME!!

Gen. 17:1 (to Abraham) - "before" = in my Presence, in my View  - I'm watching.

Deut. 5:32-33 - "walk" and "way" = companion words.  way - this path.

1 Kings 9:4 (to Solomon) - walk = much more than actions; includes heart, attitude.  God is concerned about the inside as well as the outside.

Jer. 6:16 - "consider, decide, act"

Hosea 14:9  (closing words) - righteous find good solid pavement.  The fool stumbles on the same pavement.

The usage was so common and lead to the early church being called "THE WAY".  Acts 9:1-2
This is the path, this is how we walk, the way we walk.

Col. 3:7-8 = new, different, definitive, visible (observable) - supposed to change paths and the change should be visible.

1 John 2:6 - " as Jesus walked" - whoever claims this must walk as Jesus walked.

Obviously too much material for 1 sermon, so


#1.  Your Walk is incredibly important.  The bulk of scripture = A) exhorting us to walk well, and B) instructing 'how to walk'
Example:  "HOW TO WALK" LIST - not at all a complete list of some Biblical descriptions
a) faithfully
b) honestly
c) uprightly
d) steadfastly
e) in obedience
f) circumspectly
g) in the Name of the Lord
h) in the fear of the Lord
i) according to His Word (s)

#2.  Your profession bears little weight without a corresponding walk.  James 2:14-18
What we believe should have an effect on our life.  Not believable without deeds, actions, obedience.

#3.  The Christian Walk is practical, practice-able.
Example:  John the Baptist - Luke 3:12-14 - should be something we can do.

#4.  (obviously All Christians will have a similar walk  - but - Specific Walks  will Vary.
Examples:  "Lord, how am I to walk as a teacher? logger? chicken farmer? executive? plumber?, etc.'
Psalm 25:12

#5.  Your WALK (Journey) consists of daily walks!  on one hand, keep the whole journey in view, however, focus on today's walk!!  - day to day journey.

#6.  Companions matter!!  (M.A.D. - make a difference) - this walk is no lone thing.  friends? spouse? teachers? children? - Prov. 27:17, 13:20 - this doesn't mean can't work with or associate with unsaved people on occasion, but be careful of daily, long term associations.

And, while on the one hand "companions matter", on the other hand,

#7.  The Christian walk is designed to be self-correcting.  - example:  a self-guided missile.  may get off course many times as it heads to the target, but when locked in, it will correct course repeatedly until the target is engaged.
You will deviate, you will wander, but you have the Word to correct yourself.

We close where we started:  Eph. 4:1 - It is every Christian's decision to repeatedly correct and get back in the path.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Christian Journey - The Calling

Christian Journey definition:  starting point = spiritual birth - journey continues until physical death.
The Christian journey  = a) journey continues after death, ie:  Christian hope  b)  (in a sense) precedes spiritual birth.

The Christian Journey begins with a Calling
Word 'calling' comes from Greek word - verb kaléō = to call, invite, summon.  Very common word, very common usage - Matt. 20:8, 25:14

but in the New Testament it's often used of A DIVINE SUMMONS   Eph. 1:18, 1 Cor. 1:9, 1 Thess. 2:11-12

noun form = A CALLING - Heb. 3:1, 2 Thess. 1:11

adjective form = A CALLED PERSON, A CALLED GROUP (people) - Jude 1, Rom. 8:28, Rev. 17:14 - His called,  His chosen

Therefore, ekklēsía (from ek, "out from and to" and kaléō, "to call")  ekklésia - the called out ones - "the church".

Can see why such a common word became an integral part of the Christian life.

I.  WHO CALLS?  God - Acts 2:39 - (Father?  Son?  Holy Spirit?  the drawing is attributed to all 3)

Generally through a combination of:  1)  external, Word - verbal or printed form
                                                        2)  internal, Holy Spirit - speaking to heart, mind, conscience
Therefore:  often/commonly through PREACHING - Example:  the sermon @ Pentecost - preaching + Word + Holy Spirit - Rom. 10:13-14
Your calling will be:  1)  DIVINE - when God truly speaks to your heart
                               2)  Personal
          (somewhat)   3) Unique - not necessarily different from anybody else's call but uniquely personal for a particular person.

Repent?  Salvation?  reconciliation?  discipleship?  service?  task?  office?

Yes ... BUT  #1.  to Himself - most important one
                    #2.  to His Son - Rom. 1:6 - this is a Christian call
                    #3 - to a Christian lifestyle - Rom. 1:7, 1 Cor. 1:2, 2 Tim. 1:9 - called to a holy life
Calling = out of worldly lifestyle that is opposed to Scripture, into one that is according to Scripture.
(These three = UMBRELLA under which all callings fit.)

1)  He loves us, He values us - John 3:16 - we are precious to God
And because 2) redemption, reconciliation are found only in Him - no other way.
3)  through us He glorifies Himself and draws other men to Him.  Eph. 3:10 - shows His character, attributes through us.
Your calling is not just about you!!!  He calls for the sake of others.

V.  WHO DOES HE CALL?  (all?  the elect? - the debate can distract from the point - ie:  Your Call!!)

a)  a few may not have yet received the call (little ones)
b)  a few may be denying, ignoring the call
c)  most know you've been called
d) some of your know you are being called

 #1.  the Calling of God is:  more than a request, but less than a demand
it = an urgent request, a passionate appeal - but He will not force you.
It = an incredible privilege - Heb. 9:15

#2. the call does not cease at Salvation (continues throughout life) - will be multiple calls

#3.  the call needn't always be felt - with maturity comes knowledge
I (now) know to what I'm called, I don't need His Voice!!  Already know what to do, give up, etc.

Invitation = Respond to Him & His call to you.... to come.  Rev. 22:17

Monday, August 15, 2016

Judging Others - A View From Scripture - Part 5

John 7:24 - on one hand "do", on the other hand, "don't"


What to do, how to respond when others judge you!!  (one thing when they judge your actions, but go further and judge your motive (heart)

All scriptures in Proverbs - because condensed, practical, and simple.

#1.  Get used to it - you are going to be judged in this world - we live with 7 billion fellow residents!
each with - personal opinions and preferences
each with - an inherent sense that their view = correct!

#2.  Listen - Prov. 12:15, 13:1 - a fool has no room for other people's opinions, ideas, etc.

#3.  Bite your tongue - Prov. 10:19, 18:13

#4.  Control your temper - Prov. 14:29, 29:11 - shows, manifests
James 1:19-20 - speak or respond - typically the angry response is not the righteous response.  Once words are said, can't be taken back, and can do great damage.

#5.  Consider the Criticism
On one hand, don't let man decide your course, however, recognize God often speaks through his people - could even speak through non-believers.
Example:  Paul - 1 Cor. 4:3-4   Col. 2:16 contrast Gal. 2:2 - all need correction from time to time.

Paraphrase:  "I should consider man's opinion because it could e that God would speak to me through them."

This does not mean give equal consideration of all criticism.  It means reasonable consideration of reasonable criticism.
So, consider  (a) in light of God's Word  (b) in a spirit of humility and prayer  (c) with the counsel of wise Christian friends.  Prov. 26:12


#1.  Give a controlled response - Prov. 15:1, 21:23 - with spirit of humility and prayer

#2.  Let it go - Prov. 12:16, 19:11 - stewing inwardly is better than outwardly, but stewing silently IS NOT letting go!

#3.  Continue to be open - don't become calloused, unreceptive.  Remember - you could still be wrong!!

IF THE JUDGMENT IS VALID or partly valid -

#1.  Admit it.  - Greek:  "homologeo" - to speak the same thing.  Point is NOT agree with your critic, but agree with God.  Prov. 17:10

#2.  Make appropriate response, change, amends.  - Prov. 14:9

#3.  Learn from your mistakes - Prov. 26:11

#4.  Grow - Prov. 15:31-32

Man man judge with mixed motives, BUT God's judgments are never designed to hurt you, but to correct, instruct, grow, mature you.  Therefore: Prov. 12:1

If God has laid this before you, it's your choice to receive it or ignore it.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Judging Others - A View from Scripture - Part 4

On one hand we have scriptural admonition - "don't judge',
however, also have scriptural admonition - "do judge"!

 The answer found in John 7:24 = summary sentence

Last week = when it is right to judge another (others?)
Examples:  choosing church leadership, national leadership, matters of money and giving of that money, when faced with blatant sin.

TODAY = when is it wrong to judge another?  when is it sinful?
START with a classic passage:  Matt. 7:1-5


#1.  WHEN EXERCISING A FAULT-FINDING SPIRIT   ie:  hypercritical - "speck"

a couple non-scriptural quotes:  "any fool can criticize and condemn and most fools do";  "some Christians are born again.  Others seem born against."

This = faultfinding TO NO POSITIVE END/PURPOSE - no correction, no instruction or restoration, no real purpose.   (except personal satisfaction!! - I enjoy criticizing and condemning!!!

Contrast:  Slander = false charge, misrepresentation - Ex. 20:16 - making statements that NOT true
               Gossip may be true!! - BUT sharing it is neither necessary or beneficial!!!
Serves NO purpose, not helpful in any way.

Is gossip a big deal?   Rom. 1:28-31, 1 Tim. 5:13 (gossips & busybodies), Matt. 12:34-37
On one hand, this = Jesus speaking to the detractors, opposition.  However, it illustrates the weight of the WORDS we speak!!!!

How to determine?  Are we sharing valuable information?  or gossip?

Ask yourself - is sharing this necessary?  Is sharing this beneficial?  - Eph. 4:29

A prayer - Psm. 141:3-4 - gossip = evil, sinful
advice - Prov. 20:19 - (apply to Facebook?) 

So, it is wrong to judge another 1) when exercising a faultfinding spirit.
                                              2)  when the judgment is gossip

Matt. 7:3, 4 - not paying attention, owning own problem
Example:  Jesus' 7 woes to the Pharisees - Matt. 23:25-28 - look beyond the exterior
               Gal. 6:1, 1 Cor. 11:31

Things not a part of fundamental orthodox Christianity - not critical issues
Problem = ongoing debate of "what's clear" vs. what's questionable"
Nevertheless, this Rule merits serious consideration, examination

Example:  Church splits - are rarely, if ever, the result of clear doctrine.
                                    most often come because of personal preferences, questionable issues!!!

1)  a judgmental attitude goes beyond verbal.  (can "look down" on people in silence, disdain within - God knows our heart.
2)  most (all?) of us have this tendency, problem
3)  First need = "judging self"!!!

Then - 4) (when necessary) con judge others - "PROPERLY"  balancing the A) words of Christ and B) the Spirit of Christ. 

Bottom line = is Jesus my Lord If He says you have a problem in this area, are you willing to fix it???

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Judging Others - A View from Scripture - Part 3

The series = "Judging Others"

Problem = scripture says, on one hand "don't judge", but in numerous places  "do judge".  These places far outweigh the number saying "don't judge".

The Answer = "John 7:24 - don't judge superficially, but with a RIGHT judgment.

So, WHEN is it appropriate to judge another?  There is no comprehensive list or single chapter in the Bible with all the rules, however, we have many examples, instructions, illustrations.

For example, it is deemed proper and even mandated to judge another:
1)  when choosing leadership - Titus 1:5-8
Example:  in presidential elections:  must judge actions, claims, character of individual or individuals

2)  in matters of stewardship - 2 Thess. 3:6, 10-13
Stewards are to be (A) faithful - truthful, honest with God's stuff
                      and (B)  competent
                     and (C)  productive - are to make a kingdom difference if possible

3)  when confronted with blatant sin.  (this is more than just obvious. = shameless, flaunting, arrogant - in your face)
1 Cor. 5:1-5, 12-13  with the proper motive - potentially dangerous in the sense that can do enormous damage or enormous good.

PURPOSE????  #1.  Correction/instruction - example:  Nathan and Daniel
                        #2.  Protection - 1 Cor. 5:6 - example:  yeast, gangrene
                        #3.  Restoration - 2 Cor. 2;6-8, 2 Thess. 3:14-15

Purpose is NOT to condemn, which is God's prerogative.  (Not our place, but God's alone), BUT this is NOT God's desire.  2 Pet. 3:9    

Some things to remember:  

1)  Mostly behavior - (not heart)

2)  According to God's Word - not according to personal opinion and personal preference

3)  with a healthy dose of mercy - "healthy" = a judgment of charity, with benefit of the doubt
BUT, NOT a "judgment of naivete" - not called to be stupid, undiscerning

4)  having examined our self    Matt.  7:3-5, Gal. 6:1

Monday, July 25, 2016

Judging Others - A View from Scripture - part 2

A Problem:  on one hand, scripture says "judge not" - Matt. 7:1-2 - most well known scripture in America.
On the other hand, many scriptures say "do judge" - are many examples --- 1 Cor. 6:1-3

Short Answer - On one hand, reject a hyper-critical faultfinding spirit (judgmentalism)
However, practice thinking, examining, weighing facts, form an opinion (concerning right and wrong)

Touchstone verse = John 7:24 - 'stop judging superficially, but make a right judgment'

Last sermon, asked the question, "what's the chief virtue of society today?"

TOLERANCE:  def. = sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practises differing from one's own.  (allowing)

However, today there is another term which is HUGE in our social construction.

RELATIVISM:  def. = the belief that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society or historical context and are not absolute.  (ie:  morals are constructed, changing and should not be held on to, and not be judged as absolute.)
This is the world view of our nation today!  That truth is fluid, moving, changing, and not static!

This has become accepted recently in history.  In 1900 the word relativism and its concept - mostly unknown!!

Further definitions:
Tolerance:  all views are equally tolerated
Relativism:  all views are equally valid (true)

Our concern in this series = Moral Relativism.

Question:  How does the Christian View differ? 

The Christian View says "Right and Wrong" (morals)...

#1.  EXIST - in eternity, is universal, not a fabrication or concept.  Morals exist apart from our assessment, opinion, fabrication.

#2.  UNCHANGING - they are eternal and universal - It IS!!
(our understanding of moral laws may change, but NOT the laws!)

#3.  ESTABLISHED BY GOD - not the Supreme Court, voting block, public opinion, etc..   Right and wrong are NOT arbitrary but align with reality.  Truth just exists!

#4.  REVEALED TO US - generally in nature, reason
                                      specifically through the Old Testament prophets, New Testament Apostles, the Son => God's WORD.  Blackstone:  'Laws exist.  It's up to us to discover them.'

#5.  REVEALED FOR US - Right = good which leads to better, blessings.
                                       Wrong = bad which leads to detriment, damage, destruction

#6.  TO PRACTICE - not merely argument, debate

IF this = your view..., then you are at odds with most Americans, most Christians
IF this = your view .., then your stance on judging others will differ dramatically from society.

The Christian view = I'm bound by the revealed will of God.  You can anticipate being mocked, ridiculed, persecuted for this view.

However, FIRST - 1 Cor. 11:31 - self-judgment according to God's Word.

From a Biblical perspective, Preparation for judging others?  (a Biblical, but dangerous realm)
A.  Accept Christ - as Savior and LORD
B.  Accept His Word - revealed will - there is NO criteria to judge without this.
C.  Examine yourself.

THEN, begin to pursue a "proper judgment" - John 7:24

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Judging Others - A View from Scripture

Question:  What is considered the chief virtue of our society today?
Answer:  Like candidate = "tolerance"
Definition:  "sympathy and indulgence for beliefs or practises differing from or conflicting with one's own".   (the act of allowing something)

The irony = "tolerance is a virtue and we'll not tolerate those who disagree".    Example:  college campuses, Hollywood entertainment, Presidential Campaigns!

Journey of the past 50 years (over-simplified) -
Pre-modern - "these are the rules.  By these rules we judge" - right/wrong, acceptable/unacceptable)

Modern - "are these the rules?  can we judge?" - (beyond question and examination --> RAW SKEPTICISM)

Post-Modern - "there are no rules.  We cannot judge!"  (which collapses under its own weight, self-defeating statement.  Therefore, tolerance is the virtue, and we won't tolerate you having no tolerance)

So, question = 1) is there right & wrong?  (moral concerns, human behavior)
                       2)  how do we determine right or wrong?  (how to know, measure)
                       3)  are we allowed to say so?? - Am I allowed to make a judgment call concerning human behavior?

JUDGING OTHERS - A View From Scripture.

Scripture says:  on one hand, "don't judge" - Matt. 7:1-2, Rom. 14:4 - Rom. 14:13
                        On the other hand, "do judge" - Matt. 7:6
                                                                        Matt. 7:15
                                                                        Titus 3:10
                                                                        1 Cor. 5:12-13

So, On one hand - James 4:12, however, on the other hand, Lev. 19:15

Question:  Is Scripture contradicting itself?  or, do we need a clearer understanding?

#1.  The Greek work for 1 'to judge' has broad application.
       In addition to translated to judge,
also translated - to think, to examine, to investigate, to weigh, to form an opinion, to discern between, to decide, to determine, to try, to conclude, to pronounce judgment, to pass sentence, to vindicate, to condemn

Point being:  can't come to a reasonable stance based on 1 verse (like Matt. 7:1)

#2.  What's being addressed in Matt. 7:1 is:
       A)  A hyper-critical spirit which sees minute faults in others while ignoring (major) faults of own.
and  B)  is assessing not just actions (hands) but motive. (heart)

#3.  Making judgments of other people is essential to responsible living.
Examples:  A)  parental decisions (regarding who teenage daughter dates)
                 B)  everyday life choices   Prov. 4:14, 9:8, 14:7
                C)  within Christian faith, the church - Rev. 2:14-16, 20 (you're tolerant)

#4.  (Mostly) we're called to judge actions, not people.
can't always know the heart, motive, intent, but can judge actions, behavior, lifestyle.

(PROBLEM!!  Not easy to separate action and actor/behavior and behavee)

#5.  Jesus calls us to make good judgments.  John 7:24 - Amplified version:  "be honest in your judgment and do not decide at a glance --- superficially and by appearances; but judge fairly and righteously"

2 things necessary to getting it right:

#1.  Proper Scale/Measure - ie:  the Word of God/ the Revelation of God's will/desire/intent - 2 Tim. 3:16-17
God revealed Himself to us through nature, prophets, Jesus, Apostles, the Word.

#2.  Proper Balance.  Model = Jesus who 1) addressed sin and embraced the sinner
                                                            2) exercised truth w/o compromise while showing grace and mercy (ex.  woman at the well)

Summary verse:  Micah 6:8
act justly
love mercy
walk humbly
        with your God.  He's God, we're not!!!

Always remember, but for the grace of God, there go I.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Concerning the Future of the USA

World Magazine - informal readers' survey from 2010 - concerning this:

1)  Optimistic - 25%
2)  Pessimistic - 35%
3)  doomsday cataclysmist - 40%

A more recent secular pole = "80% of adult citizens polled say our nation is on the wrong track concerning our future".
(However, must acknowledge that there is VASTLY DIFFERING views of what track we should be on!  What correction should be made!

So, in doing research, compiling notes, etc, on the question 'are your optimistic or pessimistic about the USA?

Pessimist says "we'll crash if we don't change course.
They cite:  failed education system, aging populace, way the government is not working, growing racism, changing views of morality, what was a melting pot is now becoming a patchwork quilt, family life is deteriorating, 40 of babies born to unwed mothers, out of control spending by government, entitlement mentality, personal rights outweighing the greater good, lack of moral leadership, and list goes on and on.

Optimist says "yes, but knowing that, we will change our course." citing recovery from Civil War, Great Depression, two world wars, cold war, etc.

Yogi Berra says "it's tough to make predictions .... especially about the future".

It's helpful to read knowledgeable and thoughtful optimists, but for the Christian, our hope is not in the nation, government, people, etc.  Our hope is in the LORD!!

He's promised... 1)  He'll be with us (either way)
                          2)  in the end, He'll make it right!!
There will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever to a perfect government until Jesus comes and sets His up!!

#1.  God is in Control - need to keep that in mind all the time!!  God is greater than _______.  (fill in the blank)
#2.  His Promises still stand - Matt. 16:18 - gates of hell will not overcome it - EVER!

#3.  His Purpose is unchanged - 1 Tim. 2:3-4 - praying for people in authority - He wants all people to come and be saved.

#4.  He does not (quickly) abandon His people.....  He doesn't abandon His people AT ALL.
Example:  Israel - pre-exile, in exile, post exile.

Question:  Are we His people?    Some church attendance stats:
Regarding rates of religious adherence - 1776 - 2000 (taken from "The Churching of America" - Roger Finke/Rodney Stark)  copyright 2005

% of "churched" American Adults  (definition = (A) make a denominational claim
                                                                        (B) attend services at least occasionally
1776 - 17%
1860 - 37%
1906 - 51%
1952 - 59%
1980 - 62%
2000 - 62%
(figure 1.2/pg. 23)

#5.  We still have opportunity to turn - Jer. 18:7-10 - a great deal of this is determined by us.

#6.  Even after all seems lost, God is able to revive and restore.  No nation is beyond.   Hope is in Him.
Ezek. 37:1-14 - dry bones prophecy


#1.  We're to seek the good of our nation. Jer. 29:1,4-7 (letter to exiles) - our nation is not our enemy - God places us here.

#2.  We're to obey all we can.  Rom. 13;1-7  (1 Pet. 2:13-17)   Civil obedience precedes civil disobedience - if the government tries to implement things against God.

#3.  We're t be salt and light in this nation - Matt. 5:13-16 - here in this nation, where God placed us.
(ie:  ministry, teaching, preaching, politics, etc.)

#4.  We must accept that this nation may choose to reject Him.   On one hand, USA has Christian roots.  However, it's written in that it's the people's right to reject those roots!!  We can't force people to follow God's rule!

#5.  Consider that difficult times may be God's hand of discipline. 
Examples:  Assyria, Babylon, exile - not to destroy but to turn.

#6.  Remember that Christians have often lived and ministered in a hostile nation.  Example:  Rome.  And in 300 years, they turned it around!

We do have an obligation to the nation  (where He placed us), but our FIRST commitment is to Jesus Christ.

1 Cor. 15:58 - Therefore,, STAND FIRM!!