Monthly Archives: August 2013

What is Gossip?

gossipWhile many questions are hard to answer, this one I think is particularly hard. Because no one LIKES Gossip and no one wants to be guilty of it either.

This post is not to try and tell you what gossip is, the purpose is to ASK what gossip is. I want your definition. When you read this, please take a moment and jot down a comment, even if it is half a thought.   I am going to be preaching a sermon (or two) on gossip and want to see what others think about it.

Let me start with this: In First Corinthians, Paul starts off telling the Corinthians that he has heard bad things about them and he names Chloe’s house as the source of that information. Question: Why was that not gossip?

No, I am not accusing Paul of gossip. I am convinced that it was not and have my thoughts on why but would like yours.

Lord willing, in a few weeks, I will have a lesson together and yes, I will share! 🙂

Thanks in advance for any comments left here or on Facebook.

 

 

Three reasons to do good works

good worksIn wanting to develop a closer walk with God, it stands to reason that we would walk in the same ways that He does and do the same things.  As Amos asked “Can two walk together except they be agreed?

Of course, we understand that God’s ways are the only true and correct ways so if we want a closer relationship with Him, we will begin to act more and more like Him and become partakers of the Divine Nature.

Here is a list of three reasons why we should do good works. By doing good works  we will find ourselves more like God and more like Jesus who went about doing good (Acts 10:38)

Reason #1: God receives the Glory by our good works.

We are not here to bring honor and praise to ourselves. It isn’t that God will not honor us but our lives should be ones that bring Glory to Him. By our good works, men will give glory to God.  (Matt 5:16) We show the type of people God wants us to be and who can be opposed to Godly love? We are to be proclaimers of His excellencies and as Christians, gratitude alone should be a motivator.

Reason #2: Unbelievers can become more receptive to the Gospel by our good works.

Peter tells wives who are married to unbelieving husbands to be respectful to these men and supposes that by their actions, not by their words, that these men may won to the Faith.  (I Peter 3:1-2)  The love of a Christian spouse can be a powerful force but it doesn’t have to be only spouses. As we move among the world, we can turn people away from God if we live like the world but we can also draw them to Him by our good works as we become a type of  salt to the world.

Reason #3: The type of Faith we have is demonstrated by our good works. (James 2:14-17)

If you want to know what your faith is made of, consider how you deal with adversities, trials, and persecutions. Do you get angry over small things? Do you lose your temper if someone cuts you off on the road? Do you show by your good works that you trust God to provide for you? If our faith can stand up under the bumps and bruises that life brings our ways, it is a lasting faith indeed.

What are some other reasons why you think we should do good works? Leave your comments below!

Additionally, here is a link to a sermon that speaks to these topic.

Lessons from Geese

geeseThe Bible often uses different creatures to teach us lessons. Sometimes we can lessons in nature, all by ourselves, by watch God’s creatures.  Here is a sermon in which you can learn five things from Geese that will help us have a more cohesive group.

Lessons from Geese

Why study the Bible?

readThere are many reasons to read and study the Bible but one of those reasons is so that you can live your life the way God wants you to, not just the way you think you should.

Good ideas are a dime a dozen but God’s word often directs us in ways that we, ourselves, would not think of.  Even more important, some of those things that we think of as good ideas are not just bad ideas, they are offensive to God and His holiness.  They are also ultimately harmful to us: There is a way that seems right to a man but the end is way to death. (prov 14:12) The Bible is filled with passages that show us the problems of doing what we think is a good idea.

Abraham and Sarah thought it was a good idea to bring about God’s promised son through Hagar.

Saul thought that holding onto some of the Amalekite animals for sacrifice to God was a good idea.

David thought it was a good idea to take a census of the people.

People during Jeremiah’s day thought it was a good idea to go to Egypt.

The leaders of Israel thought it was a good idea to crucify Jesus.

Ananias and Sapphira thought it was a good idea to lie to God.

The list can go on and on but each of these people could have avoided the problems, curses,  and consequences if they had simply combined a desire to serve God with a knowledge of His will.  Paul wrote of his people:  For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. (Rom 10:2)

God warned through Hosea that His people were destroy by a lack of knowledge; they did not know His word. He warned Timothy to study to show himself approved.

Often the zeal to do so is not the problem but the knowledge is. Of course, you could also argue that if one knew what God wanted of them, the zeal might diminish.  In other words, we believe we are serving God when all we are doing is serving God according to our desires, not according to His. We don’t know His will and so we are unable to do so and yet, if we did know, would we be willing to serve?

I think a desire to serve God that is based on the recognition of our having sinned against Him and His Grace by sending His son to save us is a good foundation to build on. One may never know everything, nor is knowledge itself the goal, but it is part of our growth. We learn about Jesus by the preached Gospel, we are baptized in His name, and then we are taught the things he wants us to do (Matt 28:19-20) That last part is important too.

Paul wrote to Timothy so that “one may know how to behave himself in the household of God which is the church of God” (I tim 3:15)

Do you know how to behave in the household of God? If you do not read your Bible quite often, you may be as surprised as Josiah (2 Kings 22:1-13) to find out that you don’t!

Great news in Bastrop

new birthI think it is worth shouting to the world about this piece of great news!

Last night at one of our local prisons, six inmates were baptized into Jesus for the remission of sins. Most of us know from Scripture that being baptized into His death is what puts us into Christ (Romans 6) and we understand the blessings that come from now being called a child of God. (Gal 3)

These inmates were taught by one or two of the other inmates. Those inmates brought them to the knowledge that they needed Jesus. My only role in this was to actually perform the baptisms, not that it takes  a “preacher” but because they don’t allow inmates to baptize other inmates. (I suppose they don’t allow inmates to baptize the guards either!)

It was a sudden and unexpected letter I received from the prison chaplain asking if I could come and meet with these men and help them with being baptized. It appears that it will also lead to an opportunity to meet with these men on a regular basis (after we work out details of schedule and such) and that is also truly good news.  Prayers that an effective door of teaching will be open here would be appreciated, not just for me but for those who are also already doing the teaching from the inside.

Sins of the tongue

What would the sins of the tongue be? Do you think of lying, slander, gossip, or abusive language? Yes, most of us would think about these things, but what about silence? I think most of us would consider misuse of the tongue to be a sin of speech, but sometimes it is a sin of silence.  You can listen to a sermon on this topic by clicking here. Yet, if you don’t have time to do that, you may read some highlights below.

sin of silenceWe should not be silent when…

1. We can help others by saying something.

The lepers in 2 Kings 7 found that the army afflicting the city had left suddenly without taking anything. They ate, they drank and then went and hid clothing, gold and silver. However, they soon came to their senses and realized that what they were doing in remaining silent was not a good thing, so they went and told the king.

Esther was warned that if she kept silent at the time her people needed her that God would deliver the Jews anyway but her house would not escape.

Sometimes fear causes us to not speak up.  We fear people won’t understand, we fear they will not listen, sometimes (such as in the case of correcting sin in their life) we fear rebuke from them even as we try to help. Still, we need to help.

2. Our actions were not good ones.

When Adam sinned in the garden and afterward heard the Lord walking in the Garden, he did not speak, he hid. Only when God called out searching for him, did Adam speak. When the disciples were arguing on the journey about which of them was the greatest in the Kingdom of God (Mark 9), Jesus asked them what they were discussing, but they remained silent.

When our actions are not right, silence is the last thing we should keep.  Adam should have ran to God for help. The disciples should have owned their petty conversation. We should confess those wrongs and look for forgiveness, whether from God or from a brother whom we have offended not remain silent as if it makes the wrong go away.

3. When your brother offends you.

One clear principle in Scripture deals with the times in which we are offended. Some have no problem letting a brother know that they have crossed a line (sometimes it is done too harshly) but most of us, seeking to avoid conflict fail to let a brother know when he has done so.

Silence in these cases can lead to grudges, strained relationships, and according to Leviticus 19:16-17 slander and gossip are not so far behind.

4. When God needs to be praised.

I would suggest that all of our words should praise God. Of all of God’s creations, mankind is the only one that does not praise its Creator all the time and in all ways.  Jesus said that if his disciples did not speak out, the stones would have cried out praising Him as He entered Jerusalem. It is right and normal and natural for us to praise God.

We need to praise God and not be silent when people put down spiritual things; ridicule Christians, Jesus, or God; or try to intimidate us into silence by threats or fear. We should be as the Apostles were: Speaking out and praising God that they were counted worthy to suffer for His name. (Acts 5)

Ecclesiastes 3:7 says there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent. May God grant you courage and wisdom to know when you should do each.

Question: What other times do we fail to speak up when we should?

What are the benefits to listening to five sermons a week?

Five sermonsWhile reading John Maxwell’s book  The15 invaluable laws of Growth, I was intrigued by his statement that while he was young preacher for his denomination, he would listen to five sermons a week.  Five sermons a week? FIVE?!?  It seemed like an incredible amount. I suppose it might have been Seven a week if you include the two that he presented on Sunday. (At least I hope all preachers listen to their own sermon too!)

Thing is, that was like 30 years ago and for those of you who are not yet 30, there was no iPod to listen to. He would have had to listen on cassette tape! That is a lot of tapes and bulky too. Today, of course, we have access to hundreds and even thousands of downloadable  audio files.

There are many reasons why a person might add sermons  to their phones and mp3 devices, but if you haven’t been doing it, it may simply be because no one ever suggested it.  So let me suggest that you do.  Here are some of the benefits of downloading and listening to 5 sermons a week.

1. You get to hear different perspectives. We all know our own preacher’s style and we can sometimes even come to know his illustrations, questions, and jokes so well, we expect them.  This isn’t to say that the preacher is stale or boring but when you listen to another expound on God’s word, even the same passage, it can be like listening to it for the first time!

2.  It is a good resource for stirring up your own thoughts. As you listen to a sermon, if you are truly trying to gain wisdom and insight into God’s will,  you will find yourself thinking “That’s a good point” or “That is something that can help me in this area of life” or “i never knew that, WOW! That makes this parable more meaningful”. And when those thoughts stick with you or help you improve your life in some way, the benefit is very long lasting.

3. For preacher’s it can be an invaluable tool of learning from others. No preacher would ever think he knows it all, but how many think they have to DO it ALL on their own? That is a fallacy. Listening to fellow Christians teach is a way for teachers to sharpen their skills and increase their knowledge. They may even pick up a style, delivery technique, or a new illustration (see point 1).

4. It helps keep the world out of your head. That is always a good thing.  Let’s face it, if you don’t spend 30 to 40 minutes listening to a sermon as you drive along, exercise, or relax, what will you listen too? Something from the world? Will you watch a TV show that is mindless and has no value (at best) or one that is full of worldly morals and standards (at worst)?  Reading God’s word, listening to God’s word preached, hearing the reading of the Scriptures as you go through your day will help keep you more focused on what is important, truly important.

When Paul said in Phil 4 to think on the things that are true, honorable, just, pure, of good report, etc, I think that God’s word would be one of those things. David said that he hid God’s word in his heart so that he would not sin against God. Jesus said “Pay attention to what you hear” and one way to do that is to pay attention to what you allow yourself to listen to.

5. You can grow in an area that you have a need to grow in.  All the podcasts I know of use titles, so search for a topic or passage you want to or need to know about.  So look for lessons in areas that you already know you need to learn about. Do you want to learn more about Sin and how to Overcome it? Maybe my lesson here will help.  Do you want to develop more humility?  Click here to listen to Jason, as he fills in for the regular preacher of a local congregation, share his study with you. Want to develop a more evangelistic mindset? I challenge you to not be challenged by this lesson.

Now you can find these anywhere, many congregations will publish them, the only thing you need to do is go look for them and subscribe to the podcast.  It is more convenient than ever to find God’s word published in print, audio, or even audio/visual.

One word of caution, however, NEVER take a sermon preached by a man and elevate it to the level of God’s word. Men are fallible, God is not. Take note of Acts 17:11 where the Bereans (see verse 10), listened to what Paul said and yet they still searched the Scriptures to verify his claims and HE was an apostle of God. Preachers today are not so it is more imperative to search the scriptures for yourself.  Listen but verify and you will find yourself growing in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord.

Question: What are other benefits you might receive from listening to more sermons?

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