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Behavior to model-Part 2

follow-meLast Sunday, the sermon presented continued in the book of Philippians chapter 2 with the example of two individuals who are worthy for us to follow in their footsteps: Timothy and Epaphroditus.You can listen to the sermon here.

In Timothy’s case, his is a behavior of service. Imagine being spoken of the way Paul spoke about Timothy.

Php 2:19-21 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. (20) For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. (21) For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

What an endorsement!  I don’t know about you but when I read that, I want to stand up and shout: “I want to be like Timothy!”

Where do your affections lie? Are they divided between Christ and the world?

In the case of Epaphroditus, here was a Christian who had come from Philippi to bring support to Paul and who stayed to help Paul with what was still lacking! Even to the point that he nearly died.

Php 2:25-30 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, (26) for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. (27) Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. (28) I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. (29) So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, (30) for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.

Here was a man who would be willing to be spent in service to God. Sometimes we will put aside our health for an important thing but Epaphroditus chose to risk his life for the most worthy thing possible: the preaching of the Gospel.

What other things would consider important enough to risk your life for?

 

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What is God’s purpose for my life?

This is a question that we ask ourselves from time to time. Especially when we are young(er) in life, say 16-24, and at a point where we are going to choose a career and make many choices (marriage, kids, education, where to live, etc) that will affect our lives for the next many decades, if God gives us that much time.

With the many verses that we could use, I would like to answer that question in broad terms with two verses.

For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, (Act 13:36)

and

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Heb 11:6)

David did something so simple: He served the purpose of God in his own generation.

We don’t have to do something big and grandiose in order to win God’s favor. We don’t even have to affect the whole world or leave a legacy that lasts throughout time. Simply serving God where and when you are is a good thing and one could argue that in so doing you will have a bigger impact than if you “tried” to serve God in some grand way. David made mistakes, but he was a man after God’s heart and so his repentance was never far away…neither was God’s word!

Psalm 119, written by David,  stands out as a testament to the power of God’s word, its value, and its necessity in the life of the person who would follow God.

The other verse cited above, Hebrews 11:6, says basically that we need faith to please God. But what is “Faith”? While the word is used in a few different ways, this time it is used in regards to the “trusting obedience” that one who pleases God has. There are two components to faith then: Trust and Obey (Do you remember that song?).

Faith, of course, is not something that we just dream up. We don’t wish for something and then live our lives as if what we wished for, or what we want, will come to pass. Faith is dependent on a something solid (substance) and which we trust (are convicted about) to be true. (see Heb 11:1 KJV). I believe that one such item, and the one we have readily available to us today is God’s word, the Bible!

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom 10:17)

If you hear it in the word of God, you can trust it to be so and, as it pertains to the commands, obey them and so show that you are living by faith. This is what living by faith means….living by what you read in God’s word.

Having faith in God that your sports team will win the next big game is NOT living by faith because God never said you would win. Having faith that you will get a raise at your next evaluation is not living by faith because God never said you would get a raise. Having faith that your new business will succeed is not living by faith because God never said you would.

If you doubt these statements just go talk to any Christian sports player, any Christian employee, or any Christian business owner and ask them what happened when they lost that game, didn’t get the raise, or lost their business. Did God fail them? Is faith not enough? When it is defined in such a way as to reward you or make your life easier, and yet not found in the Scriptures, then not only is faith not enough, it is not really faith.

So what does God want from me? The answer is simple: Live by faith.

The sports player follows the rules, treats his opponents with love (even as he competes against them), and knows that whatever skills he has, God gave him that ability. The employee works as unto the Lord not just when the boss is looking, doesn’t steal time or company property (e.g. pens, paper clips, tools) and the business owner is fair to his customers, produces a quality product, and shows integrity.

Why would those be examples of living by faith? Because the Bible references each of them. The Bible may not tell you how to drive a car (i.e. the skill) but it does tell you HOW to drive when on the road (i.e. obey the laws, be courteous, be wise and not foolish).

So when it comes to our life; do what ever you want that is “by faith”. Don’t choose a path that is unjust, don’t fail to show mercy, don’t fail to walk with God.  (Micah 6:8)

The above should lead you to one inescapable conclusion: “I have to know what God’s word says to know what God wants of my life.”

I am not suggesting that you need to know it all by memory in order to answer the question. You can ask yourself right now, is there something in my life that God does not approve of? If you stop doing it, you are living by faith. Is there something that God would have me to do (honor parents, visit sick, etc.)? If you start doing it,  you are living by faith.

Living by faith is what God wants of you. Now go live the life God wants for you!

If you would like to listen to a sermon on the idea of “living by faith”, click here.

 

 

Ask for the Ancient paths

The plea to “speak where the Bible speaks” or to appeal to “Book, Chapter, Verse” is one that much older than you might think.

This morning’s sermon was entitled “Ask for the Ancient Paths” and you can hear it here.

What are some ways in which you think we should be asking for the ancient pathways, or do you think we need new ones?

Hold the pattern of sound words… 2 tim 1:13

Paul tells Timothy to Hold the pattern of sound words…

When you follow a pattern you do something that 1st graders, seamstresses, and architects have been doing for years, you make something that looks like the designer designed it to look like.

Moses built that tabernacle according to the pattern and Paul preached the Gospel he had received which was “according to Scripture”

Here Paul urges Timothy to make something that is built on a design of sound words. Whether that something is the preaching of the Gospel, the life style of an individual Christian, or the organization of the local congregation, God’s pattern of sound words, when followed will result in the same thing that 1st century Christians made.

Would you follow the pattern of sound words? Step one is to get to know them, so read….

Where are your roots located?

In the Parable of the Sower, (Mt 13) the point is made about the person represented as the rocky soil that he “has not root in himself”. Because of this, he only endures for a little while. It is important for plants to set roots deep into the ground so that they will not be easily moved. For Christians, it is equally imperative that roots are sunk deep into the heart of the person who believes, so that they can endure any trials or persecutions that come their way.

I can’t help but think about those who hear the Gospel and receive it with great joy but do so not because it has particularly impressed them but because it is what their parents, friends, or perhaps dating partner wants of them. In this case, the roots will never be in themselves but in someone else. What happens if that person disappoints, dies, or breaks up with them? Will they survive as a Christian? I have seen both survivors and those who fall away.

Truly, the person’s decision to become a Christian has to be made from their own heart and not from the desire of someone else. Only in that way will the roots in the believer’s heart be able to find root in Jesus and be secure.

To help prevent the backsliding that comes from persecutions and trials, know that Jesus Himself, both suffered persecutions and told His followers that they would too. Also know that many of the faithful throughout history have suffered to serve God (Hebrews 11). But REMEMBER, that the trials and tribulations of this life are not able to be compared to the joys of Heaven…in other words, it is worth it! (Romans 8:18)

Compromise and the Christian

Compromise is a necessity in many aspects of our life. Spouses, business men, boyfriend/girlfriend, salesmen, bosses, employees, neighbors, politicians all find themselves in situations where compromise is necessary.

Compromise is, in essence, a negotiation. The negotiation entails each party giving up something that they want (or strategically speaking “want less”) in order to get a deal that they view to be more valuable than the item given up.  In a finance negotiation where two parties are $10,000 apart, the negotiation may see one party give up $2500 and the other $7500 or they may just split the difference down the middle. It is the compromise that says “you give up this, I will give up that”. If the two parties agree, the compromise is agreed to and the deal is struck.

When it comes to the Christian life however, compromise becomes a source of danger and needs to be guarded against. I am not, of course, talking about issues which do not matter to the heart of the Christianity. If some members of the congregation want to have 3 songs before the sermon and others want 5, perhaps 4 might be a good compromise. Peace can be maintained in areas where doctrine, Biblical teaching, is not contradicted.

Satan, of course, is a devious foe and I am convinced that compromise is one of his most effective tools. The biblical account of Moses and Pharaoh, highlight 4 compromises that the world offers to Christians. I would like to take a look at them in four separate posts.

 

Compromise #1 ” Sacrifice to God in the Land” Exodus 8:25

Pharaoh offered (and I use ‘offered’ in a loose sense) to Moses to let the Israelites perform their sacrifices to God in the land where they lived. This is similar to Satan telling us that we can worship God and stay in the world; that no movement on our part is necessary.

Many times people say, “I don’t need to go to church services.” Others say, “I don’t need to give up the activities of the world.” Some even say, “We will make this change so that we are less inconvenienced.”  Jeroboam led the northern tribes into this compromise:

Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold; and he said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Beth-el, and the other put he in Dan. (1Ki 12:28-29)

Why should worshiping God be a hard thing for you? You can have your cake and eat it too. Some congregations are known for changing their worship times on Super Bowl Sunday so that their members can enjoy the game. Some cancel services altogether!

There are many passages which show we are to be different. Staying in the land and partaking of the things in the land does not tell the world we value Christ, it says we have compromised.

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a lamp, and put it under the bushel, but on the stand; and it shineth unto all that are in the house. Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Mat 5:13-16)

We are to be salt to the world, a light to the lost and this we cannot be if we are friends with the world. James 4:4 says:

Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God. (Jas 4:4)

We must separate our lifestyle from that of the world.

Wherefore Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, And touch no unclean thing; And I will receive you, (2Co 6:17)

When God told Pharaoh through Moses “Let my people go”, it was not in His plan for the people to say to Pharaoh, “Oh, OK, we will stay and sacrifice in the land”  When God through Jesus says to Satan “let my people go”, He does not expect them to tell Satan “Hey, it’s nice here, we think we will stay.”

 

Psst! Don’t tell anyone…

gossipWhen we talk about the use of the tongue, it makes sense to talk about gossip. We all have a vague idea that gossip involves telling others about things that we ought not to share.  We understand gossip to involve things like whispering, rumors, slander, but sometimes we are a little unsure about when we cross the line into Gossip.

Is it not Gossip simply because the information is true? Is it not gossip if you share information so that your audience know how to pray better?

Many passages talk about gossip and its “sister”, slander which give us some good clues. If the passage does not say “gossip”, it will use the word “slander”.  Read the following passages:

They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, (Rom 1:29-30)
For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish–that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.  2Co 12:20)
Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.  (1Ti 3:11)
Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. (1Ti 5:13)
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, (2Ti 3:2-3)

We can learn about Gossip from the company it keeps. These passages show that gossip associates with those who refuse to have God in their knowledge, it is accompanied by slander, malice, idleness, and inappropriate conversation. Who wants to associate with that? Birds of a feather, flock together and we should avoid this particular group of birds.

Of course, not every negative communication is gossip and that leads to some of the confusion. In the following passage, you clearly see negative information was communicated to someone else (Paul) when others were not present:

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. (1Co 1:10-11)

In the following posts, I will offer definitions of gossip, explain why the above passage is not an example of gossip, and mention some “not so hypothetical” situations of gossip. However, if you would like to hear a sermon about gossip, here is a link to one which you can listen to.

Question: What normal conversations have you heard that were actually gossip?

 

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.

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!

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