Sunday, December 31, 2017


Definition:  so then, consequently, for this reason, so it naturally follows, etc.

The word 'therefore' is used often in scripture!!! 
(1)  446 times in the NIV
(2)  plus places it's clearly implied - Deut. 6:4
(3)  plus places otherwise translated - Eph. 4:1
Usage of the word has dropped over 50% in modern times.

Scripture uses this word/concept A LOT!!  - explicit & implied

Compare to faith - 270 times,  Salvation - 122 times, eternal & everlasting - 152 times, heaven - 422 times.
These are foundational words, yet 'therefore' used more than each of these.

???So???  when something is THAT repeated in Scripture:
#1.  it's important - (there is a reason for repetition!
#2.  We ought to take note!!!  lest we forget.

The use of "therefore" typically follows this pattern:

#1.  A statement of fact

#2.  followed by a 2nd statement of:  instruction, promise, warning, explanation, exhortation, declaration

#3.  joined by the word - "therefore"  (or a synonym)

THIS           therefore            THIS  
(is true)                                  (is also true)
(you know)                            (be sure of this)
(has taken place)                    (this is what follows)

Old Testament examples:
Psm. 46:1-2
Prov. 4:7
or, on the other hand, 2 Chron. 28:1-5, Jer. 2:7-9
(note:  extensive use in Isa., Jer., Ezek. - example:  the exile)

New Testament examples:
Matt. 10:16
Mark 13:32, 35
Matt. 28:18-19
Rev. 1:18-19
Classic example = Eph. 4:1 - 3 previous chapters - this is what we know about Christ
                                      last 3 chapters - this is how we should live.  Connected by "therefore"

So??  Relevance?  Application to us?  Lessons here?

#1.  Our actions are consequential   (causal world)      
What we do MAD (makes a difference)
What we don't do MAD 
BOTH MAED - make an eternal difference

This  therefore  this = causes, results in, brings about , naturally follows!  - not only in physical world but in spiritual world as well.

Note the use in: Isa., Jer., Ezek. - are more 'therefores' than in any of the other books.  "Therefore, this is what the LORD says"

On one hand, not everything we experience = result of own doing.
However,  much is!  (problem is more than think, admit, own up to)

#2.  Our actions are consequential BOTH WAYS!!    Can result in good things as well.
(summary verse) - Gal. 6:7-10 
This = true of individual, true of group  (therefore it matters who you hang with)
True in physical world, true in spiritual world.

#3.  We tend to downplay this  
Do we forget?  ignore?  overlook?  deny? 

#4.  God does NOT downplay this  

Closing scripture, thoughts:  1 Cor. 10:11-12, Heb. 2:1,  2 Pet. 1:19 = Remember, pay attention, take note, take heed!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Praying in the Spirit of Advent

Advent - a coming/ an arrival ---- (of significance)

Traditionally = 4 Sundays before Christmas ...
            1)  celebrate His 1st. coming - John 1:1, 14 - Christmas, incarnation, manger, shepherds, etc.
            2)  anticipate His 2nd. coming - Matt. 25:31
AND   3) call upon Him to come NOW - (visitation)
Point is more than his Presence, but = Active Presence - Judges 6:12-13 - as He came 2000 years ago, and as He will come back.

Advent Prayer = As You came in the past, and as You'll come again, so Lord, visit us now - make Yourself known, do a mighty work.

Example:  Psm. 5:1-5, 11-12 - Psalms = song prayers.  Not formal prayers but praying in the spirit of Advent.
Advent prayer typically expresses:

(1)  Recognition of who God is - personal, caring, All mighty
(2)  confusion (perplexity, bewilderment) as to why Hi doesn't act (intervene)
(3)  confidence that He will come (and act) in the "fullness of time" - just the right time

This is the heart of Advent Prayer - whether for yourself, another individual, people group
Psm. 7:1-2, 6-9, 10:1-3, 10-12 -- Advent-type prayers

Some Themes of Advent Prayer:

LORD, come Now and......
(1)  Deliver  your child, your people .... from oppression, evil, injustice, persecution, fear, jealousy, depression,  Examples:  drugs, alcohol, Satan's influence, etc.

(2)  Establish Justice - which = "set things right"

(3)   Bring healing - physical, emotional, relational, social, racial, political - Matt. 11:2-6 - "this is what I came for!"

In lieu of deliverance, justice, healing....
(4) grant strength, grant comfort, grant assurance - Acts 4:29-31

(5)  Shed light (advent vs. darkness) - Isa 9:2, 2 Cor. 4:4

(6)  Grant Salvation - so many need to be saved

(7)  Effect transformation - in my life, church family

(8)  Expand Your Kingdom - Example:  Lord's prayer:  "thy Kingdom come, thy will ....."

(9)  Execute judgment - on sin, evil, wickedness

(10)  MAKE YOURSELF KNOWN - as in Advent 1 & 2


(1)  Recognition of need - ie:  (a) things are not OK.  (b)  we need God's intervention.  If everything is fine, no need to prayer - Advent praying recognizes need is bigger than us.

(2)  Confidence in God - (a)  His personal concern   (b)  His Sovereign Ability

(3)  Crying out - Ex. 3:7-8, Judges 3: 7, 9 - Compare 2 Chron. 7:14 - crying out

(4)  Self-preparation - because when He comes , what shape are you in??  Example:  Isa. 6:5 - hence - the message of John the Baptist.  He may choose to use you!!

(5)  An attitude of submission - to His will, wisdom, plan ... Hab.  1:2-6, 12, 3:16 - not my will but Yours

(6)  A spirit of cooperation - ie:  if He intervenes, are you willing to work with Him to accomplish this?  Examples: Moses & the Exodus,  Apostles and the Great Commission

(7)  Recognition of Christ - because this is more than a generic call to a generic god.
This IS a cry for God to Act ... through His Son, Jesus Christ - specifically

Know this;  when He doesn't act, He is still with us.  He will never leave us or forsake us!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Understanding Advent

ADVENT - (literally) = a coming, an arrival, a visitation - usually notable/significant  (Latin word - Adventus)
Someone or something of consequence.

Within Christianity - 1)  the coming of Christ
                               2) to Save (deliver from oppression) - something we desperately need

(formal Advent  = weeks leading to Christmas  (lead up to a big event)

Old Testament Jewish notion -- looked for..
  (1)  an Anointed One (a man/ from  God)
  (2)  to deliver from earthly oppression  (oppressors)
(so ... Luke 2:10-11 - "a Savior who is Christ", ie:  Messiah - one like Moses - come to save)

This = long awaited, highly anticipated - Deut. 18:15 - prophet like me.  (This because of many prophecies.  Have found 127 specific Messianic prophecies in over 3,000 scriptures)

BUT - God's plan = Different!!! - Matt. 1:21 - "save from their sins" - Thus, most of the Jews missed it. 
Our #1 problem is sin!!  He came to save us from it!!

So ..... when He came it was:
1)  An incarnation - Matt. 1:23  John 1:1, 14 - descriptive name - Immanuel, ie:  God with us

2)  A Descent  (contrast Religion generally = reach up to God)
Jesus = Bridge Builder - God came down and built the bridge.  Jesus came down to mankind - Kenosis - Phil. 2:6-8

3)  An eternal deliverance - (soul) - not just physical deliverance
(does not exclude worldly deliverance!!) - He delivers from these things as He chooses!

So .... ADVENT =
1)  Celebration of His Coming - example:  Christmas

2)  Anticipation of His Return - (2nd. coming) - as He came the 1st. time, will come again only in all His glory.  Matt. 24:30-31, 25:31 - will come in His resurrected body, Titus 2:13

Add  2 other comings  - to be noted, celebrated, anticipated...

3)  His Coming into your heart (being born again, saved, etc)  - contrast: "glad you're around" vs "welcome in"

Rev. 3:20 - you know who I am, you know why I'm here.  You must make a decision.
John 3:1-7, 16-19

4)  His (occasional) Visitations
 When He comes to deliver you - from oppression, oppressor - examples:  physical? mental/emotional? spiritual?
unto freedom FROM that oppression/oppressor - examples:  relief, satisfaction, comfort, joy, confidence, etc.    He is the deliverer!!

NOTE:  the gap - from the promises to the Coming - (1500 years +)
Compare:  the gap - from the promises to the 2nd. coming!!   2 Pet. 3:3-4, 8-1

So, you're response to 1) 1st. coming? 2), 2nd. coming?
3) His invitation to come to you!!  Personally?
4)  His willingness to visitation?  - Don't wait

Monday, December 4, 2017

Team Leadership

Series = Re-Thinking Leadership (a Biblical View)

Covered 4 styles of Leadership - Upfront - most recognized
                                                - Stealth - most overlooked
                                                - Servant - most applauded in New Testament - promoted by Jesus
                                                - Shepherd - nurturing, caring, compassion - most needed???

TEAM LEADERSHIP  - the most effective style!!!

Examples here at OBC - (1)  4th of July jobs list - requires leaders for each crew/task
                                    - (2)  Wednesday night AWANA/Youth - need a leader for each team

Often used illustration:  (3)  geese - fly in V formation - can fly 70% further that way than a goose on its own.
Each goose adds to the lift of the air.

Most common illustration - (4)  Marriage - most effective couples don't struggle with "who's the head?  in charge?"  They share the lead!

2 Notes from New Testament -

On one hand, (1)Jesus chose 12 - designated as Apostles whom He clearly was grooming as leaders 
However, He never designated 1 AS the leader!!!

(2)  Paul's analogy of the church as a body!  1 Cor. 12:12-17
Octavia Baptist Church is composed of __________ individuals.
                                       comprising 1 working unit!!

Purpose of OBC - CP2G - Connecting People to God - programs should be weighed in light of this purpose.
in that effort, WBT - ("we're better together")

On one hand, can't be all leaders without workers!
However, can "share the lead" - example:  the geese
AND we'll be more effective when we "TEAM LEAD" 

Another example - VFD at bad wreck - need:  medical, extraction, traffic, landing zone - each crew needs a leader.  All crews need to work together 

Question:  wreck example - who should be in charge of extraction?  medical?  landing zone? 
Answer = most qualified!!!

Hence  1 Cor. 12-14 is about Spiritual Gifts !!
Addresses ..... where are you best suited to SERVE?  and, where are you best suited to LEAD?

Series Wrap-up:

I.  Effective leadership (whatever form) requires (both)
    A.  Character
    B.  Competence
May begin to follow because of charisma, personality, enthusiasm, etc.   But, will continue to follow only if are showing competence.

II.  So:  The Christian Leadership Challenge:
      1.  step up - to the need, position
      2.   develop your Christian Character     
      3.  develop your Leadership Competence
      4)  Recognize your Divine Calling - He has called you to Make A Difference, to Connect People 2 God
Eph. 2:8-10, 4:11-16 - "we"

Back to beginning - Matt. 5:13-16

We are here to Connect People 2 God, therefore called to Make An Eternal Difference, and (clearly)
WBT - we're better together.

IF you are called to serve with in OBC,
1) this church needs you (or else you wouldn't be called!)
2)  You need this church!!  (body)

Closing Scripture:  Eph. 3:20-21

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Stealth Leadership

Series = Re-Thinking Leadership (a Biblical View)

Have looked at:  1)  Upfront - the most recognized style
                          2)  Servant - most promoted in Scripture - Jesus emphasized as most important  (the foundation on which all the other styles are built)
                          3)  Shepherd - easiest to understand and (perhaps most needed today!!

Today:  STEALTH Leadership  ( pastor's term) - most overlooked and least understood.
Definition:  leading inconspicuously, low profile, low key, 1/2 visible, influencing quietly - examples:  ship's rudder vs. ship's wheel      
Often called - leading from the rear 

Biblical example:  1)  Deborah - Judges 4 & 5  - Barak was the general, but Deborah the advisor
The husband may be the head but the wife is the neck!
                            2)  Jethro - Moses' father in law - Ex. 18
                            3)  Barnabas - Acts 4:36-37 - nickname = son of encouragement!! = descriptive!!
                                                - Acts 9:26-28 - Paul and disciple at Jerusalem
                                               - Acts. 11:19-24 - Gentiles @ Antioch
                                               - Acts 11:25-26 - Paul to Antioch
Barnabas - content to stand back and let Paul be the Apostle.
                            4)  Robert Sheffey - became circuit-riding exhorter (encourager, pray-er).  Never preached, never pastored, never ordained, never paid, never held and upfront position, but at his funeral, was attended by enormous crowd from all over the territory.  His influence was legendary.
                           5)  Ultimate stealth leader = Holy Spirit - John 16:13-14, 2 Pet. 1:20-21 - works to glorify the Father and Jesus Christ. 
Isa. 30:20-21 - (men?  or Holy Spirit? = "from behind you")


1)  Stealth Leadership is intentional leadership - not incidental, accidental influence.

On one hand, don't always get what we intend strive for, however, more apt to get it IF intentional!!!
Comparison:  apply to your kids, AWANA, Sunday School, public school, etc!!!

2)  Stealth Leadership is pointing and directing and then stepping back.
= A) helping others find (right) direction
   B) helping others become leaders!!

3)  You must acquire influence before you can exert influence.   Therefore, need for Servant!!  Shepherd!! Upfront leadership!!  whereby you gain influence, clout, a voice, a hearing!!

4)  If you would direct others in the WAY you must (first) know the WAY!!!  How will you direct in God's will if you don't Know God's will?
How can you counsel from God's Word if you don't know God's Word?
 Example:  John Maxwell's "Law of the Lid" - can only influence someone to your level.

Christian Application: = 1)  If you're not a Christian, how can you hope to develop Christians?
2)  If not a disciple, how can you hope to develop disciples?
3)  If you are not a mature believer, How can you hope to develop mature believers??


Monday, November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving Basics

We should be thankful (grateful, appreciative) - not 'be thankful' for all things, but in the midst of all things.

Because - A)  we are blessed, and
                B) we know it!!  (inherently! - without being told, without scripture)
Stats:  Thanksgiving = America's most celebrated holiday.
92% have a special family gathering and meal
83% offer special grace (thanksgiving prayer) at that meal
               C)  We know these blessings come from beyond us.  (not that we haven't worked hard to achieve, acquire, BUT our blessings are much greater than our efforts!!  our abilities!!!

Blessings List - how are you doing?
1) material - stuff and things?  house size? storage space?
2) financial - the poverty level in the USA (established by the Federal government for 2017) - household income, family of four = $24,600.00
On a worldwide scale:       
$24,600 - puts you in top 11% of world's wealthiest people
$25,000 -   "     "     "  "    10%
$30,000 -   "   "      "   "     7%
$35,000 -   "   "      "   "     5%
$40,000 -   "   "     "   "      3%

Question:  what does it take to be one the the elite?  one of the top 1% earners in the world today? -- $47,500
WHAT????  How many millions of people make more than $47,500 per year?
BUT - 3 billion live on less than $2 per day (in US dollars)

Well, if I'm so wealthy, why can't I pay my bills???   Answer:  says something about our lifestyle!!!! 

Blessing list continued:
3)  creation (our part of the country) - fall leaves, mountain views, autumn air.  Why is cabin rental industry exploding here? 
4)  health - availability of health, medical assistance?  Example:  life expectancy :  Mozambique - 39, Somalia - 48, Djbouti - 55, US - 78 1/2 (from insurance survey)
5)  relational - (people) spouse, kids, family, friends
6)  community - example:  our community fund raising events?
national - being a US citizen, prosperity, resources, freedoms, stability, security  (this = part of BIRTH blessings!!!
8)  opportunity - for career, education, wealth, business, family, location
9)  ability - Deut. 8:17-18 - God gives the ability.  However, affluence often breeds arrogance.
10)  spiritual - Salvation, beyond salvation - encouragement, comfort, guidance, direction, strength, HOPE!  Eph. 1:3
11)  former - blessings of the past
12)  future - blessings to come

So, how ya' doing?  Better than you deserve?  John 1:16 - and it's not over.

Therefore, again,  1) We should be thankful - attitude
          AND        2)  We should give thanks - action

Difference - action vs attitude
"be thankful" - listed 3 times in the Bible (NIV)
but in Action form - Give thanks, gave thanks, thank (v), thanksgiving (n) - more than 140 times.

Point:  for every 1 reference to attitude of thanks, you find nearly 50 references to the ACT of thanks!!!

AND, the most often used word in connection to "thanks" - GIVE"  (offer) - Give THANKS to God!!!  Thank You God!!  This is not for God's benefit, but for ours!! 

Our Model = Jesus - gave thanks to God before feeding the 5000, at Lazarus' tomb, at the Last Supper

Biblical illustration - 10 lepers - Luke 17:11-19.  How many were grateful???  probably ALL of them.
How many paused, returned to GIVE thanks??
(Note:  this = offering thanks to Him!, which is more than acknowledging it to one another!!)

2 words to the 2nd. Generation - Deut. 4:9
 1)  Remember - tendency is to forget
 2)  Teach

2 Words to us:
Col. 2:6-7 - continue,  
1 Thess. 5:18 - give thanks in all circumstances

Monday, November 13, 2017

Shepherd Leadership

Series = Re-Thinking Leadership (Biblical perspective)

Styles:  upfront - the most recognized
            stealth - most overlooked
            servant - most promoted (in Scripture)
            Shepherd - easiest understood

"Sheep" - used 400 times in scripture.  (most often mentioned animal)
"Shepherd" - used 100 times in scripture - watches over/cares for sheep

BUT - how many times used figuratively?  non-literal usage??

In Old Testament - God = Shepherd  - Psalm 23:1, 95:6-7, 100:3 - written by David who WAS a shepherd, who TOOK CARE of sheep.
                            = we = sheep (in need of direction, care, oversight, etc.)

New Testament introduces Jesus as the Good Shepherd - John 10:11, 14, 27-28   1 Pet. 2:25

So - Disciples, Apostles, church leaders, Christ followers (adopted the notion of) and  became UNDER-SHEPHERDS.  Under God, under Christ.   Acts 20:28 - Paul to the church @ Ephesus
1 Pet. 5:2-4 - God's flock under your care.

What does Shepherd Leadership look like?  Similar to Servant leader. 
Shepherd leader 1) cares for the sheep, BUT 2) WORKS for God!!!
(they = HIS Sheep!!)  John 21:15-17 - Jesus to Peter - "feed my sheep"

How is that different from Servant leader?  Answer:  Shepherd does more than serve - he cares for the sheep, ie:  "nurture"  Psm. 23:1-3   Isa. 40:11

I.  The Ministry  
THE MINISTRY OF UNDER-SHEPHERD or PASTORAL MINISTRY.  Same word for shepherd and pastor in the Greek.
1 Pet. 5:2-3  "under your care",  "entrusted to you"

II.  The Need - Mark 6:34 - "....sheep w/o a shepherd ... so...?
needs = 1) physical
             2) Spiritual (Godly counsel, direction, life and Kingdom skills)
             3)  emotional = need to be loved, valued, significant - making them know they really matter.

III.  The goal = more than the sheep's comfort
= Nurture for Edification - Mat. 4:19 - ie:  development, growth so they are transformed)

IV.  The impact - examples:  video of pastor getting run over, not followed, by sheep
                                             Mother Teresa - huge impact from her ministry to the poorest of the poor

V.   The reward - Matt. 25:31-40

We are to Make A Difference.  For the Christian, should Make An Eternal Difference.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Servant Leadership

Series = Re-Thinking Leadership

Matt.  5:13-16 - called to be salt and light.  Salt is only good for saltiness.  Otherwise has no use.

As Christians - are called to Make An Eternal Difference.

5 Styles of Leadership (common to Scripture)

1)  Upfront
2)  Stealth (pastor's word)
3)  Servant
4)  Shepherd
5)  Team

"Upfront" = most commonly recognized leadership style.

SERVANT LEADERSHIP = the most commonly promoted style in Scripture.
(Influencing people and making a difference through acts of service)

Matt. 20:20-21, 24-28
Matt. 23:1-12

What does "servant leadership" look like?

"Servant Leader" - Serves the people, BUT  works for God.  Not at people's beck and call.

So - "My Servant" - Moses, Abraham, Job, David, Prophets, Apostles, etc.

Perfect example:  Jesus!!!  John 2:23-25 - served according to directions from God.
Example:  feeding the 5000.   one day & denying their request next day!

"Servant Leader" = one willing to assume Both.. the duties of a servant, AND the responsibilities of a leader.

"Servant Leader" = one with enough confidence (in self and position)
to ... step up (to responsibility of leadership)
or ... step down (to the duties of servant) ie:  foot washing

Perfect example:  Jesus - John 13:1-5, 12-16
So, after the resurrection --> Phil. 2:5-8 - He knew who He was and what His Father wanted Him to do.  Therefore, had not trouble taking a position of servant.

Question:  Why should I assume the role/position of "Servant Leadership"?
Answer:  for the same reason(s) that Jesus did!

#1.  To meet human needs ... of man, created in God's image!! - God died for mankind.  Humans are valuable!!

#2.  To model Biblical truths (example:  foot washing)  Because some lessons are too important to be conveyed with mere words!!!  They need to be lived, acted out, shown.

#3.  To elevate young believers - Rom. 15:1-2  Why pour yourself into disciples for 3 years??
Answer = Matt. 4:19

#4.  To Glorify God - Matt. 5:16  (to portray, reveal)  (to make Him known!!

"Servant leadership" = both a calling and a choice.
Obviously, we're called to serve.
However, we must choose to accept the role.

So - Phil. 2:5

Closing:  John 13:17

Monday, October 23, 2017

Up Front Leadership

Series = Rethinking Leadership
Focus = Spiritual (Biblical/Christian) Leadership
Touchstone verse = Matt. 5:13-16
We are called to be salt and light, to make an Eternal difference
We are called to lead people to Christ and the Kingdom

5 Styles of Leadership
1)  Upfront  (common definition, and most recognized)
2)  Stealth  (inconspicuous, not apparent, leading from behind)
3)  Servant  (influence through service)
4)  Shepherd (influence through nurture)
5)  Team ( "better together")

(1)  You will have a primary leadership style (preference), BUT
(2)  You'll lead with a combination of styles - example:  family.  Sometimes style is determined by the situation.
And, IF you are serious about M.A.D, (making a difference), then
(3) you'll employ all 5 styles (models)

The Perfect measure of Leadership = Jesus - So, we'll examine His leadership.
But will look at other Biblical and extra-Biblical characters as well.

 I.    Upfront Leadership - upfront, visible, calls the shots, leads people

1) is a spiritual gift - Rom. 12:8
2) able to rally followers:  gather, inspire, motivate
Biblical examples:  Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, Peter, Paul

 Divide this Leadership style into 2 groups - The Haves and the Have nots

I.  Haves = people with this gift/ability...  Ought to

1) Recognize and Admit the gift.  (is a valuable GIFT with great Potential.  Example:  John the Baptist
2)  Step up and employ the gift - 1 Cor. 12:7  BUT!!! according to scriptural methods (not world's view)
3)   Develop the gift.  How to know if you have it?  Trial/error/look behind!  If no one is following, probably don't have it!

II.  Have Nots ... (without the gift)  ought to:

1)  Recognize and Admit that it's not a natural gift.   (not easy for some ppl!)  Following Christ means being brutally honest with yourself sometimes.
2)  Step up and practice upfront leadership when necessary!   ie:  perhaps during a wreck, parenting, vocation, position (teacher/Sunday School teacher), & God's calling - example:  Gideon - Judges 6:14-16
3)  Step back, step down when it's not necessary
BUT, because sometimes it is necessary,
4) develop your ability - example:  Queen Esther - Esther 4:14

Notes & Observations:

A.)  A Biblical leader must also be an able follower.  If not a follower of Christ, then have no business as a leader for Christ!

B)  Biblical leadership must be greatly tempered with humility.  Example:  John the Baptist - "who are you?"  Knew exactly who he was and who he was not.
If not willing to serve, then not fit to lead in God's Kingdom!

C)  Biblical leadership is not about me as a leader ... but about Christ and the Kingdom.  John The Baptist -John 1:35-37, John 3: 25-26, 30
If cannot graciously step down, then have no business stepping up!!!

Want to M.A.D. - make a difference?  for Christ? 

Are U willing to Step up? 
                       Step down?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Qualifications for Deacon

Question:  here at OBC, what is the difference in deacon and trustee?
Answer:  1)  in function/ practice - not much
              2)  in recognition - A LOT!!

Deacon = 1) a Biblical office
therefore  2) found in Christian churches throughout history, the globe

Deacon is 3) recognized as a Representative of  (a) the local church and b the Christian faith - 1. Tim. 3:7

Since we're in a series on leadership, we'll look at the Biblical references and qualifications for deacon - Acts 6 and 1 Tim. 3

Acts 6:1-7 - deacon = servant
1 Tim. 3:8-12 - Deacon became an office in the church.  
About a 30-year span between these two.

Note:  1)  the Greek word for deacon - servant
          2)  the transition - to an office  
                                      to a position in the church
          3)  the office/position/job = Servant Leader
or a servant (of the church) who leads

Question:  regarding these passages:  Is this a 1) check list?  or 2) a general description?

IF is a check list - then it would disqualify Elijah, Samuel, David, Hosea, Daniel, Paul, Christ

IF is a general description (of character), then = "this = the type of person ... for this office"

So ... we're going to make a list from these passages.
But, as we do, NOTE THIS

Christians differ in gifts, calling, service, ministry, BUT the Moral Standard / general character is the SAME for all God's Children!!!

God doesn't have a different moral standard for recognized leaders as for everyone else.

Point:  as we review the list, should be asking 2 questions:
  #1.  How does the deacon candidate measure up?
  #2.  How do I measure up?

Acts 1:6-7 - choose 7 men:
a)  from among you - because you know these people
b)  Known to be - reputation)
c)  full of the (Holy) Spirit
d)  full of wisdom - and acts accordingly

The process:  selected by the people, approved by the Apostles

The job = to Serve as Overseers - 1 Pet. 5:2   (servant leaders)

1 Tim. 3:8-12 - (note:  vs. 8 - "likewise") men.....
a) worthy of respect
b) sincere
c)  not indulging in much wine (controlled by, influenced by) - Eph. 5:18
d) not pursuing dishonest gain
e) doctrinally solid
f) tested
Married??? if so, with wives who are ...
a) worthy of respect
b)  not gossips
c)  temperate
d)  trustworthy
e)  husband of 1 wife
f) managing his household well

2 Closing Questions:   

#1.  How does the deacon candidate measure up?

#2.  How doe You measure up?  - this isn't just for leadership positions

NOT as a deacon - NOT as a recognized and appointed officer of the church.  You may never be put in that position..

BUT as
   (1)  a servant --- of god and the Church
   (2)  a servant - who attempts to influence others (toward Christ, godliness)

You might say, "influence others???  I can't even get my own act together!!!"

Answer = That's part of the development process

So, where are you in your Spiritual pilgrimage?   Your influencing ministry?  Your leadership development?

Sunday, October 8, 2017

5 Styles of Biblical Leadership

Matt. 5:13-16 - believers = salt of the earth

Christians called to M.A.D (make a difference)/M.A.E.D (make an Eternal Difference)
Therefore:  Leadership  is important (should be considered, explored, examined)

BUT - As Christians, we're called to a Biblical style of leadership - (which often differs from the world's view/definition)

Examples:  1)  the Christian's goal concerning leadership should not be a recognized position.  Matt. 20 - James and John were seeking a visible position.  
Jesus' answer - Matt. 20:25-28 - servants 

In Biblical leadership:  
2)  The Christian's goal should be changed lives and an eternal difference.
Matt. 4:19 - process/ goal/ sequence
        a)  win souls
        b)  build disciples
        c)  develop leaders ... WHO WILL ... win souls, build disciples, develop leaders, etc., etc.
Quote from John Maxwell - Leadership Bible Intro: - "A legacy that does not include people has no eternal value"

3)  The measure of great leadership is not the number of followers but the impact on lives.

World says:  "great leader?"  many followers!"
Bible view - "great leader?  BIG DIFFERENCE!!
Illustration:  Facebook, Twitter ..... "how many friends?  followers?  vs. How much DIFFERENCE?

Not only will goals differ,  styles often differ also.

So.... 5 Styles of Biblical Leadership 

#1.  Upfront Leadership  (most familiar/most recognized)
Example:  Moses - upfront, visible ... authoritative, calls the shots, leads people
On one hand this = legitimate and powerful Leadership Style
On the other hand, this is NOT most people!!!  most are not called to OR gifted for this style.

 #2.  Stealth Leadership - leading from behind.  Being a major influence without an obvious position.
Example:  Abigail (1 Sam. 25) 
steered David, became wife, influenced kingdom 

#3.  Servant Leadership - M.A.D. through Service (meeting needs)
Example:  Joseph - Potiphar --> Prison --> Pharoah?  MAD for Israel?
Note:  Jesus' teaching - Matt. 23:11-12
          Jesus' example (footwashing) - John 13:14-15, Phil. 2:5-7 

#4.  Pastoral Leadership - influence though nurture and caring
How often "sheep/shepherd" refer to people/leader in Scripture
Jer. 3:14-15   Matt. 2:6   1 Pet. 5:1-4
Example:  Mother Teresa at the Prayer Breakfast - overshadowing the President!!!

#5.  Team Leadership 
 Example:  Jesus - chose 12 disciples, but never designated 1 to take over leadership when He left them and went to heaven.  Why?  They were a leader team.  "we're better together"
"Body of Christ" - 1 Cor. 12:12, 27 - everyone is part of the body of Christ if are a Christian.

Called to - serve together, pastor together, influence together , lead together, M.A.D. together.

Example:  if you are called to OBC, we need you! and you need us!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Re-thinking Leadership

Matt. 5:13-16 - Biblical, Christian leadership. 
Principles will bleed over into secular, but that's not always the reverse.   These apply not only in church setting, but throughout the week in any setting.

Question:  Wanna be a leader?
Answer:  (of many) - NO .... but do want to M.A.D.  (make a difference)
If you are a Christian, answer should be - wanna M.A.E.D.  (make an eternal difference)

Response to that:  IF you want to make an eternal difference, THEN you must influence PEOPLE!  - people are the only thing that are eternal.
This = guide, direct, point the way, lead the way....    which = leadership.

When we say "leader", often think - out front, visible, vocal, bold, take charge, call the shots.
However, that is NOT the only style of leadership.

Look at leadership by:

#1.  Numbers -  example:  small child lost in forest.  You find.  = small group, but BIG Difference.  Life changing.  Leadership not determined by the numbers led but by the impact

#2.  Profile - (visibility, recognition)
There is:  (a) up front leadership
also        (b) leading from behind - "stealth" - example:  on large ship - steering wheel or rudder

#3.  Ability
On one hand, is a "gift" - Rom. 12:8 - which = few!!!
However, Potential = unrealized, undeveloped, unrecognized ABILITY!!  - can be much greater than the gift.
It is not necessary to have the ability, IF have the potential.  As a Christian, have the Holy Spirit to enable and use that potential!

#4.  Opportunity - in... church?  home?  job?  community?  .....
(for the Christian) with opportunity comes responsibility - which makes leadership a stewardship issue!!!

The Primary element in Christian leadership (if you could choose only 1 component, ingredient, feature...)
That 1 would be .......... Service or SERVANTHOOD - sets us apart from secular leadership
Matt. 20:20-28 - upside down kingdom.  Can't be a leader in the Kingdom of God without being a servant.

Later - an additional look at that ... John 21:15-17 - feed my sheep

Who do we Serve? - and/or why do we lead?  (many good answers.  Here are a few:_
1)  love for Christ - take a leadership roll
2)  Obedience to the call
3)  response to the need

How do we Serve? and/or How do we lead?   (many good answers.  Here = As a shepherd .  Example:  Jesus "sheep without a shepherd"
1 Pet. 5:1-4 - the most fundamental aspect of leadership = servanthood 

This is called Leadership:  from a Biblical View

IF you've accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, THEN you have the:
 a) Potential for leadership
b) Opportunity for leadership
c) Responsibility for leadership

Leadership is a stewardship issue - we will answer for what we do or don't do with what we have been given!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Acknowledge God's Presence and WORK Accordingly

2 weeks ago = Experiencing God's Presence (or NOT!)
Last week = An Ever-present Help (Holy Spirit) - He is always with you.

Summary points:  1)  He is with you whether you sense it or not.
Therefore, 2) acknowledge His Presence mentally. verbally, and walk accordingly.

Expand that to:  1) He is with you whether you sense it or not.
Therefore, 2) acknowledge His Presence and WORK accordingly.

We find this principle for certain in Scripture:
#1.  We are called to serve (we become His servant)
#2.  God has chosen to partner with us in Kingdom work.   Don't know why.  God doesn't need our help.
#3.  You can expect His Presence and His assistance (as you minister,serve).  He is with us to help.

Scripture Examples:  watch for the common promise.
Moses - Ex. 3:10-12 - "....I will be with you."
Joshua - Josh. 1:9 - you go and then I will go with you to assist you.  He's not asking you to do it on your own.
Gideon - Judges 6:14-16 - "....I will be with you."
Jeremiah - Jer. 1:4-8 - "... I am with you."
Disciples - Matt. 28:18-20 - Great Commission

All were common men (before the call)
All were called to serve  (various ways)
All were inadequate tot he task  (therefore, reluctant!)

BUT, all had the same promise - "go...... and I'll go with you."  The same thing stands for us - this didn't end with the apostles.  So, ... in all instances ... (1) God was with them, and, (2) His purpose was served.

Note the outcome.....
Success was not always immediate - ie:  Jeremiah
results were no always lasting 0 ie:  Moses, Joshua, Gideon
BUT, they always served God's Purpose(s)
Remember, we don't always see the results.

#1.  You are called to serve (a) with the gifts you have - 1 Pet. 4:10 - And let God work through your ministry
(b)  faithfully - 1 Cor. 4:2

#2.  You are inadequate to the task
#3.  He promises to be present and assist.

#4.  The final outcome is in His hands.   His purpose may not be the same as ours.
Compare:  Isa. 55:10-11 - when doing God's work, we can't always measure whether it accomplishes His purpose.

So, whether you sense His assistance or not....
#5.  Serve - Phil. 2:12-13 - this can be very wearing, frustrating, tiring

Closing Scripture:  Psm. 27:7-8, 13-14

Sunday, September 17, 2017

An Ever Present Help

Last week = Experiencing God's Presence ( or NOT!)
point:   He is ALWAYS present with you - omnipresent God, loving Father - Scripture is very clear about this.
However, you may not sense it 0 feel, experience) - it is beyond physical realm, beyond our understanding and ability

IF He is Present - In what form?  fashion?  way?
Answer = (primarily as) the Holy Spirit!!  (ParaKlete - another like me) - John 14:16-18 - means more than physical coming, but coming forever.

Is ever present!  plus within!  This presents two mysteries:
1) the Trinity - 3 persons, 1 being
2) the Indwelling - 1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19 - temple of Holy Spirit in you 

His working within the believer;  
He is present to:  (Some of the things)
1)  teach and remind you - John 14:25-26
2)  guide & direct you - John 16:12-15
3)  counsel and comfort you - John 14:16-18
4)  enlighten & illuminate - close to teach but implies INSIGHT - 1 Cor. 2:9-12
5)  offer assurance - Rom. 8:16   1 John 3:24, 4:13
6)  convict (convince, persuade)  - John 16:8

On one hand He is your personal helper, personal assistant
On the other hand, He is Sovereign God! 
Point being:  you have Almighty God as your (personal) helper

3 thoughts here:  1) Psm. 139:17-18 - "thoughts of, concerning
                          2)  1 John 4:4 - "greater is He...."
                          3)  hence, truth of John 16:5-7  "better if I go"

So.......... we have scriptural description of what He does, but..........
how does He do it?  look like?  feel like?  how to identify His working/activity within me??

Scripture is NOT so clear, explicit on that!!!
Therefore, approach this with caution!
But. some suggestions:

#1.  Sometimes you just know.  On the one hand, certainty doesn't make it so.  However, lack of objective measure doesn't make it NOT So!!!
Therefore:    a)  be cautious
                    b) test the Spirits - 1 John 4:1
                    c) test them with scripture

#2.  More often you suspect (think, believe, intuition)
Chuck Swindoll referred to these as "Unidentified Inner Promptings"
Does God direct thoughts?  us conscience?
Yes!   but so does Satan!!!

Again, so........ be cautious - test with scripture, and remember this:  in scripture where "led by the Spirit" is referenced, it is always in conjunction with holy living, holy lifestyle.  "leads in paths of righteousness".

This does not mean that God is unconcerned with everyday (secular) affairs, BUT the Holy Spirit's working(s) is primarily to make you Christlike!! - (behavior)

#3.  Mostly you will not know (from experiencing).  ie:  you will not feel, sense, experience His workings)
BUT, you can be sure!!   You can know mentally!! - Rom. 8:14 - (are led), Phil. 1:6 (will continue)

On one hand, and awareness of His working(s) = marvelous thing!!
However, it's not necessary to growth!!!    (in Retrospect, have you seen His workings??

#4.  You can be sure/satisfied that God is at work in your life -- without your having any sense of that!!
There is a level of faith, confidence, certainty, trust that does not require the "sensation"! - Job. 13:15 - "thought He slay me, yet will I trust in Him"

Now ... concerning the Holy Spirit working within you:
a) seek
b) study
c) be still
d) be satisfied - it's His doing, not ours if we feel His presence
e) respond .... PRESS ON
These are fundamental basics for the Christian Life.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Experiencing God's Presence (or NOT!)

Psm. 139:7-10, 16:11 - praising the presence of God
Contrast:  Psm. 13:1-4, 88:13-18 - lamenting lack of God's presence

Example:  Pastor Ed's test = called, drawn, convinced by the sense of His Presence, which, however,
waned through the years!
(this is not everyone's experience.  However = very common testimony among Christians!  Certainly every believer would like to experience His Presence.

Why?  Why do we not experience Him more?
On one hand, could be sin.  Isa. 59:1-2   But, that's not always the case.
However for example:  Job - was a testing, no sin in his life involved

There are many promises of His Presence:
  'lo, I am with you always'
  'I will never leave nor forsake you.'
  'I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.'
  'Go, and I'll go with you.'
Could do dozens more of these - personal presence and continual presence

However, the experiences of David, Job, Jeremiah, Christ on the cross, martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, Mother Teresa, St John of the Cross (1542-91) who wrote a poem about this lack of presence.  Called it "the Dark Night of the Soul".

So, what's a believer to do when he/she doesn't FEEL or SENSE the Presence of God?  The Presence of Christ?

#1.  Seek  HIM.  (whether you sense His Presence or not.)
Example:  Deut. 4:29 - doesn't matter if you find Him.  Told to seek Him!
There's a subtle distinction between seek Him.... not the experience!

#2.  Be Aware of His Presence (whether you sense it or not.)
ie:  mental certainty based on...
     A)  His Omnipresence - you have His Presence all the time wherever you are.
     B)  His many promises
Example: Psm. 23:4 - "fear no evil" - this because I feel your Presence?  or because I know You are with me?

Question:  Is He less present when He's less perceived?  Whether we feel His Presence is irrelevant.
Example:  the sun on a cloudy day, or at night.

#3.  Acknowledge His Presence (whether you sense it or not.)
Example:  worship - "Ill sing about You but not to You until I sense Your Presence.  Same compared to prayer, confidence, seeking counsel, comfort, assistance
Psm. 13:1-6 - Are no promises that we will fell His presence.

#4.  Be Satisfied with His Presence (whether you sense it or not.)
I offer this with reservation, BUT,
1)  darkness could be His Will - example:  Job     Comparison:  Paul's thorn...if He can use the ailment, affliction....??
and, 2)  He is in charge of the experiences, we are not.  Example:  Moses

#5.  Respond to His Known Will (whether you sense His presence or not)  Isa. 50:10  2 Cor. 5:7 - "we walk by faith, not by sight" - Keep on and do what supposed to do.

#6. Press On - 2 Cor. 4:6-9 - My Presence will always be with You.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Christian Work Ethic

Labor Day = estab. federal holiday - 1894 to pay tribute to the American worker/laborer after much abuse.  Led to labor unions, labor recognition such as Labor Day - the "working man's holiday".

On one hand, this is not a religious holiday, however it is easy to find Biblical themes here!!

Therefore:  The Christian Work Ethic
     Definition:  A.  a moral view of work - rights and wrongs
                      B.  Based on Scripture - Biblical view
                      C.  Applicable to the Christian life (walk)

Some Basics:  Scripture teaches:
          1)  God is a Working God - Gen. 2:2-3 - giving human attributes to a Holy God, Psm. 19:1 - when Jesus sent to be incarnate, was sent to working class people.
He's still at work!!! - John 5:16-17, Col. 1:16-17

         2)  He created us in His (working) image  to be working beings
   Before the fall:  Gen. 2:15 - Adam and Eve to work in the garden.  After the fall - Gen. 3:17-19
WORK was NOT the curse.  The curse put toil into WORK!!!
Example:  compare "created to walk" and now after fall - walk is uphill!!!

         3)  These teachings are clearly portrayed in the Old Testament.  Ex. 20:9, Prov. 12:11, 14:23, 18:9
hard work, quality work were expected and applauded - The work ethic of the Jewish people was in total contrast to the people groups around them.  Contrast Prov. 10:5

        4)  These teachings were embraced by the New Testament Christians. - example:  2 Thess. 3:6-15    If able to work, and work is available, then need to work.   It is a moral issue.

Why should Christians work hard?  work well?  work properly directed?  productive?  purpose driven?

Some  reasons to Work well ...

#1.  to provide for family (your responsibility - 1 Tim. 5:8 - hands as well as heart and head

#2.  to provide beyond the family  Acts 20:33-35  Eph. 4:28

#3.  For personal satisfaction and fulfillment.  Eccles. 2:10, 2:24, 3:13 - "a gift from God"

#4.  Work well to honor God (through obedience!!)  The Puritans viewed "work" as a form of worship.
John 17:4, Col. 3:23-24

#5.  To expand His Kingdom  
        A.  by supporting Kingdom Work - tithes and offerings
        B.  by earning respect and C. by setting an example - 1 Thess. 4:11-12, Acts 20:35 - win respect to win souls.


#1.  a Biblical View will not remove the toil from your work!!  We live in a fallen world.  (but will make it easier to maintain the effort)

#2.  Labor alone does not commend you to God. 
Work IS NOT the Bridge.  Eph. 2:8-9
On one hand, your work/efforts matter!!!
However, they are ultimately meaningless without Christ!!!

BUT, also know, #3.  labor done in Christ makes a difference.

Closing Scripture:  1 Cor. 15:56-58

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Well Rounded Christian

Wisdom:  knowledge, insight, discernment, judgment (good sense)

Eastern Tradition = all of the above plus application of these thing - action/lifestyle

Biblical tradition (wisdom) - according to God's Word, will, design

Therefore;  conclusion = Wisdom should lead to a well rounded believer
Definition - 1)  Prov. 28:25
                  2)  balanced (function in all areas)

Christian Faith involves HEAD  HEART  HANDS
Balanced = functioning in all three areas

HEAD = knowledge, understanding, intellect.
to be a good Christian you must know some things.

HEART = Affections (feelings).  Do you care for, are you fond of, inclined toward, devoted to, desire (have passion)?
To be a good Christian you mus feel, have a heart for some things.

HANDS = Actions, deeds, lifestyle.  To be a good Christian, you mus do (and NOT do) some things.

Christian Faith = not just one of these but = a combo of these - well-rounded

Health is determined, measured by these 3.

I.  HEAD:  Faith requires knowledge - Rom. 10:14  From just scriptures in Romans:
Rom. 2:2, 3:19, 5:2-3, 6:5-6, 8-10, Rom. 7:14, Rom. 8:22, 28, Rom. 6:3, 16, Rom. 11:2  - "we know", or "you know" or don't you know".
These phrases used 140 times in the New Testament - this is knowledge
Heb. 6:1 - ...on to maturity"

What's the Remedy?  2 Tim. 3:16-17, 2:15
Note:  Bible is not the only source of knowledge.  BUT, it is the primary source and final authority "for faith and practice" - ie.  what we do.

II.  HEART:  affections, fondness, devotion.  First and Greatest Commandment?  LOVE the Lord your God with all your heart.......
Contrast:  James 2:15 - is more than just head knowledge.
Love for God includes a love for the things of God - His Word, His people, His church, His mission.

Remedy?  compare to a Blended Family - 1) choose to love  2) act according to that choice, 3) spend time with, 4) verbally affirm
We can learn to love!!!

III.  HANDS = 1) doing, acting, responding, serving
           AND     2) avoiding, denying, tuning away from
James 2:14, 26   ( James 3:13)

REMEDY?  Do what you KNOW to do!!!

1)  You are more likely to tend toward one of these (natural, temperament, giftedness)

2)  Recognize that your way is not the right way, the only way, the Best way.  It is ONE way.  (example:  Spiritual Pathways)

3)  Examine yourself!

4)  Develop what's lacking - "well-rounded")

ADDITIONAL NOTE!!   Example =  the 4-H Pledge

The difference = your health is measured by your head, heart, hands

The parallel =   Example:  "FOR my club, community country (world)."

The "for":  should develop spiritual heath for own good, benefit, however, we ultimately are to do so for others!!  Can't do what are called to do without developing self.

The two greatest commandments = Love the Lord, thy God,.....  and Love your neighbor as yourself!  Where is LOVE YOURSELF???

We are to do it #1 for Christ
                      #2 For His Kingdom (church)
                      #3  for His sheep!  His people!  ie:  others

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Wisdom of God

Paul makes a distinction between Man's wisdom and God's wisdom.

Man's Wisdom = knowledge, insight, discernment, and understanding that is achievable by man's efforts!! (attainable, accessible through natural means)

God's Wisdom = knowledge, insights, etc. which cannot be attained or achieved by man's efforts - nature, intellect, etc.  But, which are only attained, acquired through REVELATION from God to man.

The focus of God's wisdom is primarily directed toward life's most important and most difficult questions/ issues:  origin of life, destiny, purpose, our current standing (state) with God, our future ( and * final) state  (after life), *particularly "our salvation".
These cannot be found out by natural wisdom of man, but must be revealed by God.

Note:  Paul is not knocking wisdom (generally).  Paul is not knocking Man's wisdom - examples:  business, economics, science, medicine, astronomy, anatomy, etc.
Paul is knocking the Notion that man's wisdom is sufficient (in and of itself) to answer life's most important questions. (and greatest mysteries)  There is a limit to our wisdom unless we receive revelation from God.
Example:  Jesus - Matt. 16:26

1 Cor. 1:18-31, 2:1-16, 3:18-20

#1.  There is a distinction between man's wisdom and God's wisdom.  Not that there is anything wrong with man's reasoning, wisdom, but that you think have figured out God and how to get to him on your own.

#2.  God's wisdom focuses primarily on life's biggest (most important) issues.  Especially SALVATION!  ie:  right standing with God.

#3,  Man's wisdom is insufficient to answer these questions:  
The wisdom to address these issues comes through REVELATION!!  in the form of:
     A.  the written Word - which = former revelations accumulated, acquired, written down  (external, objective) as revealed to men and women by God.  2 Tim. 3:14-15   Includes Revelations by Jesus  - John 1:18
     B.  The Holy Spirit - 1 Cor. 2:9-10, 12
Compare:  Matt. 16:17    (Note:  Deut. 29:29 )

#4.  This is foolishness to many - will be called a hater.  But to us?  1 Cor. 1:22-24  - compare to:  Rom. 1:16

#5.  If a man wishes to be truly wise, he must accept this "foolishness" - 1 Cor. 3:18

#6.  We are to accept/embrace this foolishness.  We are also to share this foolishness.  1 Cor. 1:21  (Rom. 10:13-14)

Point = God works through the foolish gospel message.

Monday, August 14, 2017

"The Portrait of a Fool"

Continuing study of Wisdom.
1)  Common definition = knowledge, insight, discernment, good sense, good judgment.
2)  Eastern tradition (from which Scripture comes) adds one who applies these things to practical (everyday) living.  Right thinking AND right acting!! - "skilled at life"
3)  Biblical View = adds to Eastern tradition - one who does this according to God's word, will, revelation.
head => heart => hands according to God's will

IF all Wisdom finds it's source in God, THEN the wise man seeks, follows obeys HIM.

Question:  What's the opposite of "wise man"?  Answer = Fool - Proverbs = Wisdom literature.  Only find two kinds of people - wise and fool.   No middle of the road.

Biblical definition:  A fool is not stupid, ignorant, unlearned.
                             A fool = one who had disdain of God's laws (and disdain for the morals and ethics set forth in God's laws) ie:  the way we are to live and not live.

A fool is not one who doesn't know right and wrong (should and shouldn't do)
A fool is one who knows but chooses to ignore, deny what he knows.

A fool is not one who is intellectually deficient
A fool is one who is morally deficient

Because in Biblical understanding, what's right is also good - beneficial, helpful, conducive to proper living and well being.  The wise man chooses that.
Thus, what's wrong is detrimental to life and well being, and only a fool would choose that.  Is a practical outcome issue.

Have looked at "The Portrait of a Fool" (from Proverbs) in the past.  Today ... a shortened version.

1st. note the difference in being a fool and acting like a fool - example - Solomon in his latter years.  Chose to ignore the wisdom he had been given.
The point of Proverbs is not to show you to be a fool, but to help you SEE and SHUN foolish behavior!

I.  The fool ignores truth, despises correction and hates rebuke.
Prov. 12:1 = without moral character & uninterested in being taught.
the fool is NOT unlearned but = unconcerned!!  Therefore, he despises correction!  Prov. 1:7, 15:5
Contrast the wise man - Prov. 12:15, 13:10, 15:31-32  listens to, considers what others think.

II.  The fool is self-confident, proud and wise in his own eyes  - Prov. 3:7
On one hand, there is a place for pride, self confidence.  However, this is beyond healthy!!!  Rom. 12:3

EXAMPLE:  Study Sheet:

Almost all drivers consider themselves better than the average driver.

70% of High School students described themselves as above average leaders.

(1977)  94% of college professors believe their teaching skills are above average.

Called illusory superiority, or pseudo-exceptionalism - most prevalent in North America (US & Canada)

Studies shown the most incompetent are the most likely to overestimate their skills!!!

Compare:  Ace performers are the most apt to under-rate themselves.  (exception = people depressed, anxiety)
North Americans = Kings and queens of overestimation!!

Why:  (examples:)  got Bachelor's Degree - thought I knew everything
                            got Master's Degree - thought I knew nothing
                            got PHD - not only did I know nothing, realized nobody knew anything!!

 Quote:  "I wish I could buy him for what he's worth and sell him for what he thinks he's worth!!"
Prov. 28:26, Prov. 26:12 - why no hope?  Because, cannot be corrected.
Therefore, cannot be improved.  Therefore, continues in his error.  Prov. 26:11

Above = 2 primary traits of the fool.  Now, consider one more.

III.  The Fool (practically, everyday living sense) denies God
Psm. 14:1 - not a verbal denial, but a practical denial.

Not that "no God exists", but = "no God involved!!  concerned!!
Therefore, are no boundaries, no judgments, NO WORRIES!!! - Prov. 14:16

IF it is wise to consider man's counsel, how much wiser is it to consider God's counsel???

We have 1) the external, objective counsel - HIS WORD
AND 2) the internal, subjective counsel - HOLY SPIRIT
The wise person pays attention to both.

Closing:  Prov. 4:5-9
We as Americans should give serious, serious consideration to these words.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Some Lessons and Insights from the Life of Solomon

Prov. 1:1-7
Wisdom has a very prominent place in Scripture!  Is highly extolled.   Could reasonably say "if any one thing we should seek/pursue in life ... that one thing would be wisdom!!"

Questions:  What about God?  Salvation?  Holiness?  etc.
Answer:   true wisdom will take you there!  to all of these!!

Last time, looked at three definitions of Wisdom:

#1.  Common definition - knowledge, insight, discernment, good sense, good judgment

#2.  Eastern Tradition (where the Bible was written) - ADDS - one who applies these things to practical affairs, everyday living.
Wisdom is more than head knowledge = right thinking AND right Actions  (acting)
So ---- one who is skilled at gleaning the most and best from life has this kind of wisdom.

#3.  Biblical view - goes 1 step further.  Includes knowledge of God, Fear of God, Trust in God, and, therefore, living according to God's will, design, intent.
Because:  Wisdom originates with God - Who is the beginning of everything.
                Wisdom emanates from God.

Therefore:  we won't have true wisdom (full wisdom) apart from
   A.  the Recognition of Him
   B.  a Relationship with Him

Hence:  Prov. 9:10 - reverential fear of the Lord

Having said that, we find ourselves in a quandary concerning King Solomon!!
1 Kings 3:4-15 - followed by stories of his wisdom --> wealth --> fame

BUT  1 Kings 10:23-24, 1 Kings 11:1-11 - end of his reign

Question:  How Could he?  Why would he?

So - today - Some Lessons and Insights from the Life of Solomon

#1.  God is pleased with a heart that seeks wisdom. - example:  Solomon in many scriptures,  but many scriptures use "heart of wisdom"
Psm. 37:30-31, 51:6, 90:12
Point = it's more than seeking.  It = attitude, motivation behind seeking!!  Must check out the motive for seeking wisdom.

#2.  God grants wisdom to the true seeker (personally) - James 1:5.  This may not be equal wisdom, but will be sufficient wisdom, ie.  sufficient to the task, calling, day - 2 Cor. 12:9

#3.  Wisdom must also be chosen (selected, accepted, received, embraced)
Illustration:  ask God for Wisdom in a matter, He answers, grants insight,  BUT = opposite of what you wanted to hear, do!!!
Solomon had free will just like we do.
Options:  1)  act according to the wisdom received
               2)  refuse to see it, accept it, admit it - Rom. 1:21-22
               3)  see, admit, and still not respond to it.  example:  Solomon.  Solomon was NOT a fool, but he
acted foolishly.  Are not necessarily a fool because act foolishly.  We all have these options before us.


Wisdom is not always the easiest road (or the preferred road, the most comfortable road, most convenient road.  May be a difficult road.

Wisdom is not always the most immediately satisfying road.  Where does it say if we follow God's wisdom, will be happy, satisfied, content immediately.

BUT, Wisdom is always the best road, the most beneficial road. 

Having said that, note:
The practice of Biblical wisdom necessitates FAITH!!  Heb. 11:1  believing what we can't see and don't feel!!

For the Christian, wisdom includes  1)  Faith in God  AND   2)  Faith in Christ  - 1 Cor. 1:30  The ladder, staircase to God = Christ.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Introduction to Wisdom

Prov. 1:1-7 - wisdom of God handed down to Solomon
Prov. 2:1-6, 9-11 - use diligence in looking for wisdom
Prov. 3:13-18, 4:5-9 - A small sample of what scripture says concerning wisdom!

Is reasonable to say "if any one thing you should seek, pursue in this life.... it's WISDOM! - according to Scripture.

Question:  What about salvation?  holiness?  knowledge?  God?
Answer:  in discovering Wisdom, you discover all of these!!


I.  Common Definition - (ex = Webster)
   1)  knowledge
   2)  ability to discern, have insight
   3)  good sense, good judgment - or any combination of these

II.  Eastern Tradition ADDS a person of knowledge, insight, and judgment - WHO APPLIED these things to practical affairs, everyday living.
Wisdom is more than head knowledge.  It = Right Thinking AND Right Actions

ie:  a person who utilizes knowledge, experience, insight, understanding
WISE MAN = a man skilled at life.
In Eastern Tradition, could glean the most good from life with the least hassle
Could make life work FOR him, not against him.

Example, Illustration:  on one hand, paddling with the current, not against it, yet not going with the current, but using the current to take him where he wanted to go!!!!

III.  Biblical Understanding  (adds a bit more)
Includes:  A) Knowledge of God and God's Will
               B)  fear, reverential awe of God - Prov. 1:7
               C)  A personal trust in God  - FAITH
               D)  the belief that all wisdom originates with God and comes from God.

To be wise in the Biblical sense = to be skilled at living in light of God's revelation and will.  ie:  to Master the Art of Living AS God intends.  Example:  a black belt in life - James 3:13

Note:  the Practical Value of Wisdom (as listed in Scripture)

In Wisdom you'll find:  knowledge, understanding, direction, purpose, insight, goodness, justice, moral rightness, social rightness, personal development, growth, maturity, confidence, inner peace, satisfaction, contentment, wholeness - prosperity of the soul.

A good name (reputation), favor with man, and favor with God

Also, in Wisdom, find GOD - so find eternal life eternal purpose, eternal rewards, eternal relationships.  Prov. 8:32-25, 8:19

Sounds good!! How to Acquire this wisdom???

Acquiring that Wisdom (list only 5 today).
#1.  Recognize Wisdom's Practical Value
Point is not become a SAGE with witty, impressive words!  It = maximize life!
2 ways to do this:  a)  Enjoyment of life (self)
                             b)  Impact  (others) - Make an Eternal difference

#2.  Seek Wisdom.  which is  more than receiving it as it come along.  "SEEK" implies A) intentionality.  Intentionality means B)  effort and C)  continuity - lifelong seeking.
Question:  how much serious seeking do you do???

#3.  Choose Wisdom - because you can find wisdom and still choose not to accept (use) it.  Example:  Solomon's latter years.
Problem of feelings!  "Know what should do, but don't want to!!!!"  Deut. 30:19 - not a one-time decision.  Must choose over and over again.

#4.  Seek God  Job. 28:20-28 - all wisdom comes ultimately from God.

#5.  Embrace Christ - because in Him we find:
                A)  God Incarnate - John 1:14
therefore:  B)  God Manifest - John 1:18 - God revealed, God made clear
In summary:  John 10:10

How it works ... (1) a circle - seek wisdom, leads to God, leads to Christ, leads to wisdom

                          (2)  more than a circle ... a spiral - (spiral up!)   wisdom leads to God, leads to Christ, leads to more wisdom, leads to more knowledge of God, leads to more knowledge of Christ, etc.

There is NO reason for God's people who have served Him for years to not have acquired a great deal of wisdom!!!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

What Should I Do If My Neighbor is a Jerk?

2 weeks ago = "The Christian obligation to your neighbor"
Scripture list = long and clear!!!  - do not defraud neighbor, judge your neighbor's family, do not hate your neighbor in your heart.
So..... Wisdom literature - Prob. 14:21 - not just in your proximity but anyone God brings in to your path.
           Jesus - Matt. 22:37-40 - Good Samaritan
           Apostles - Rom. 15:2

Sermon followed by "Yeah...But!!!:  and "What if..???"   OR
"what if my neighbor is a jerk?!" - and this means not just the person next door or in own community

Answer  1)  these words/rules/laws are numerous & primary.  (therefore, should not be easily dismissed, over-ruled) - Must start here - with the foundation - must love neighbor as self.

BUT  2)  they are not the only rules governing your relationship with your neighbor!!!

Matt. 5:40, 42  (give) yet ..... 5,000 - John 6:26 no refills - not feeding today.
Matt. 5:41  (extra mile, bear with)  yet - Matt. 10:14 - dust (divisive man, pearls before swine) - Jesus never let people walk on Him.  He was in control ALWAYS!!
Matt. 5:39  (turn other cheek) - yet  Rev. 19:11 - Jesus was not a pacifist

Contradictions???  or differing situations???

So.......... What should I do if my neighbor is a Jerk?

#1.  Understand Agape (love) = God's love - almost exclusively used in the New Testament
This does not mean a warm fuzzy feeling, but = to value and to Act accordingly.  Ex. 23:4-5
Not about emotions and feelings.  Example: Good Samaritan.  Neighbor is made in God's image, Christ died for him.   As per John 3:16
THEN - stick with the simple, clear, basics!!

#2.  Strive for peace. (which is more than prefer, desire, hope for) - As long as neighbor is willing to leave in peace, leave it alone!!!   Heb. 12:14,  -  Rom. 12:18 = You are Christian.  Act like it!!
Add:  A)  Avoid trouble when possible and B)  Control YOUR tongue!!!
James 1:19-20 - Most times when we're angry, doesn't bring about righteous behavior.
Matt. 5:9 - Peacemaker 

#3.  Practice humility - Humility says A)  You are NOT the most important
                                                        B)  You are NOT always right.  ie:  in conclusion and in action!  Sometimes You're the Jerk!!!!
Phil. 2: 3-4

#4. Pray for your neighbor  (can't get around this one!!) - Matt. 5:43-48 - Could change the situation, Neighbor, YOU!!!

#5.  Do Not retaliate - Rom. 12:17-21, 1 Pet. 3:9 - answering insult with insult - no room for this in Christian life.

Then what??  If none of this fixes?  solves?  satisfies?

Turn to...........
1)  Sanctified Common Sense
Which = A.  Use your head (not your heart!!) - When are mad, not thinking, but feeling.
              B.  In light of Scripture!!! - Matt. 10:16 - be shrewd but innocent

2)  Broader Scriptural Principles
Example:  sanctity of human life  vs. neighbor with wild gun or sex offender.  Look at greater principles that are scriptural.

3)  Civil Authorities - example:  Paul - appeal to his Roman citizenship - Acts 22 and Acts 25
He called out his civil rights.

4)  The LORD Jesus 
? is He on the Throne?
 If you look in the Scripture, but don't like the answer, then -- Are you willing to do as He directs?
THIS is the bottom line!!
There is no where else to go!!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Christian Obligation to the State

Touchstone verse:  Luke 12:48 (much given = much required)
Past weeks = "Christian obligation" to spouse, family, neighbor

Today:  The Christian Obligation to the State
Rom. 13:1-7     1 Pet. 2:13-17 - the writers of these epistles were not naive as to what was coming in the way of regulations, persecutions, oppression, etc.  They lived in hard times.
We have been blessed here in the USA - BIG time - freedoms, monetary blessings, etc.

In that Scriptural view - the Christian obligation that comes with the blessings  (to the state) includes:

I.  Submit - yourselves to authorities.
Augustine (4th century) - "government is a necessary evil";  "government is necessary because of evil"

ie:  Government is necessary to 1) combat evil, and,  2)  to enforce good.
Therefore government was instituted by God FOR good!  Rom. 13:2  He knows man's need.

On one hand, the state is NOT Lord, therefore there IS a point of necessary Civil Disobedience.  (is a point where might have to say, will disobey the state in order to obey the Lord)
However, the weight of scripture stresses CIVIL OBEDIENCE!!  There are always, "yeah buts.." but most will not bear up under scripture.

Why??  1) fear of punishment - Rom. 13:4
             2)  for conscience' sake - Rom. 13:5 - IF Jesus is LORD, AND He says "obey", then we should OBEY!!  Com. Eph. 5:21  (out of "reverence") (because I've asked you to)

             3)  for the sake of Christian witness - 1 Pet. 2:13, 15
God's will = A) we be model citizens
                   B) that we advertise His grace by our behavior, our response to the state.
                  C)  for the sake of the Kingdom!!!

Therefore I - "Submit"

II.  Do What is Right.  Rom. 13:3  1 Pet. 2:14
*for the Christian, this is more than what's legal  (prescribed by law).  As Christians, we are to go beyond obedience.
Example:  Matt. 17:24-27 with Matt. 5:41 - so not to offend

For the Christian = 1)obey   2) go beyond obey  3) disobey only when absolutely necessary!!! 
State:  "do not injure your neighbor"
Christ:  "love your neighbor"           Matt. 5:43-48

III.  Pay your dues - Rom. 13:6-7
Compare  Matt. 22:17, 19-21 with Rom. 13:8 - go beyond the basic requirements

IV.  Pray for those in authority over you.  - whether they are in your political camp or not.
1 Tim. 2:1-3, 4
(question:  what if Christians prayed as much as complained???)

V.  Seek the good of the nation - compare Jer. 28:1, 4-7
Example:  Daniel served in a pagan land as an exile for 50+ years.

USA = democracy - therefore we have the privilege of "standing against".  Let's give equal time to "standing for" something as well.

Phil. 3:17-21 - focus = vs. 20 - our citizenship is in heaven!!  The increases our obligation to the state!!

We must decide if we will obey self or obey Scripture.
Now, vs. 20 with Phil. 4:1