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February 26, 2014, 9:33 AM

Forsaking the Facade for Reality



I am blessed by the word of God. Look at Luke 12. It begins with a warning against hypocrisy. It is clear that hypocrites have hidden agendas. Truth is concealed. However, Christ warns that whatever is hidden will be made manifest. Hypocrites will be unveiled.

Here is my perspective before I move to the rest of the chapter. The Pharisees whom Jesus called hypocrites were enemies to God and His people, Israelite though they may be. Their selfish desire corrupted their loyalty to God. Consequently, they missed the glory of their Savior and made Him their enemy. They would threaten the very lives of the disciples of Christ. Their philosophy would also be a temptation to those who would forsake all to follow Christ. Those who would trust in Christ would face physical danger, humiliation, loss of livelihood, and even the temptation to become complacent.

First our Savior tackled the issue of loss of life. He taught them that life is more than the time we spend on earth. Enemies of the cross have the power to end our life here on earth. However, their power ends there. God alone has jurisdiction in every realm of eternity. It is only rational to fear Him. Jesus further encourages those who trust Him by pointing out what to them was unimportant, a sparrow and single hair on their heads. However unimportant a sparrow may be, God does not allow a single one to fall apart from His sovereign will. Even the hairs on our head are numbered. Sparrows, a single strand of hair; most of us give very little thought to either. Yet God is intimate with these details.

I am sure many applications could be drawn from this portion of Luke 12. I will share what stands out to me. One, it is senseless to fear man for any reason. Man is a creation of God. He is absolutely limited in His power and reach. Man works in the temporary realm and God in the eternal. It is clear from these passages that God intimately cares for the smallest detail of our life. Each detail is important, even the details we routinely miss. Two, If God is able to have such a complete picture He must be adequate enough to direct my steps. Three, If I am important to God then he will make sure I receive what is best for me at the time (Romans 8:28-30, Hebrews 12:7-12). Four, we are in good hands. We must put our trust completely in God our Savior. We must take the stands that He calls for us to take. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

 




February 13, 2014, 10:50 AM

Spiritual Excercise



 

A former pastor blessed me with this encouragement yesterday. Enjoy.

Nestled right in the midst of those incredible 326 English words, translated from the 225 Greek words, into the 16 verses of this chapter: we have the demonstration of genuine spiritual life-coaching, poured out from the heart of Timothy's father-in-the-faith, Paul.

 

Look at the basic divisions of this chapter:

  1. Timothy: Expose Evil Doctrines & Teachers (4:1-6a)
  2. Timothy: Nourish your own Soul spiritually (4:6b)
  3. Timothy: Reject all forms of profane & empty living (4:7a)
  4. Timothy: Pursue personal Godliness (4:7b-10)
  5. Timothy: Command and Teach others to Exercise themselves in Godliness (4:11)
  6. Timothy: Live an Exemplary Life (4:12)
  7. Timothy: Attend to Your personal Mastery of God's Word (4:13)
  8. Timothy: Use the Giftedness God Gave to You (4:14)
  9. Timothy: Devote Yourself to Christ (4:15)
  10. Timothy: Never Stop Regularly Examining Your own Lifestyle (4:16)

But each of these lessons Paul taught to Timothy surround a sense that they were ongoing, not just single use. In fact, as we look more closely, the Spirit of God inspired Paul to use a word from the arena of sports as very graphic illustration.

 

Paul packages these spiritual truths in the form of athletic "exercises", or "disciplines", or "training sessions": as the various translations of the Bible render the Greek work in v. 7. Look again with me at 1 Timothy 4:7b in your Bible. Each of you should have one of these before you:

 

"and exercise yourself toward godliness." (NKJV)

"Rather train yourself for godliness;" (ESV)

"On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness[1];" (NASB)

"rather, train yourself to be godly." (NIV)

 

What is so important to note here is that "train yourself to be godly" in its context primarily refers to training ourselves in and by the Scriptures for the purpose of godliness. Our diet is to be the Scriptures, and we are to exercise ourselves in them. We will become godly only through the most godly Book ever written-God's own Word. [2] 

 

Today's eNews message is an excerpt from one of my recent messages. To read the complete message online, click here.




January 13, 2014, 4:21 PM

Salvation has come to this house



From the time that Adam and Eve disobeyed God and became sinners God has been seeking to save the lost. Adam and Eve sinned and immediately they lost the true perspective. They were ashamed and afraid, emotions they had never felt before. All they could do was seek a solution on their own. For their shame they sought the covering of fig leaves. For their fear they ran from the presence of God. This was a dreadful predicament. All of their solutions would ultimately lead to death, banishment from their Creator, the only source of hope and life. But God, who is rich in mercy, according to His great love with which He loves us, came and sought after Adam and Eve, sinners. He made them look again at their sin. He forced them to understand that sin has far reaching consequences. He made them understand that only He can provide an effective solution. There in the garden He established both a temporary solution and a permanent solution. The temporary solution would point to the permanent. Adam was warned that the wages of sin is certain death. From this point on a substitute would be chosen from the flock. The chosen lamb would be killed on behalf of the sinner. The lifeblood of the lamb would be spilled out. This would be a foreshadowing of the true Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who would come at the right time to offer His own blood as a sacrifice for sinners.               

I was once in the place of Adam and Eve. I too sought my own solutions to sin and fled from the presence of God. I was reminded of the love of God this morning as I read in Luke 19. Jesus came looking for Zacchaeus. He was a wee little man in stature and according to the Jews, a chief of sinners. Yet Jesus calls him down from the tree and initiates a relationship. Zacchaeus received Him and his life was forever changed. Here is what Jesus said in his regard. “Today salvation has come to this house.”

Has salvation come to your house? Can you say with Zacchaeus and me “I once was lost, but, now I am found.” Today is the day to reject your own solutions and the solutions of the world and come to Jesus at the calling of God. 




January 7, 2014, 10:50 AM

10 Proven Tips for Discipleship


Ten Proven Tips for Discipling Others

Bill Elliff

Thu, Jan 2, 2014

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The most important thing we can do in this life is to make disciples, as Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:19-20. But often we are not aware of how to accomplish this task. How do we invest in and develop others?

Our best help comes from looking at disciple-makers and following them!

Next to Jesus, Paul seems to be the best at this task. We find ten proven tips in discipling from simply observing his care for his disciples at Philippi (Philippians 1, NASB).

1. REMEMBER them.

“In all my remembrance of you” (v. 3).

“I have you in my heart (v. 7).

We should care so deeply for our disciples that they often come to our minds. If they don’t, it probably indicates that our minds are consumed with ourselves.

2. THANK GOD for them.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you (v. 3).

Discipleship can be messy, not to mention disappointing at times. But spend conscious time giving thanks for your disciples, and let them know that you’re grateful for them and for the work of God in their lives.

3. BE JOYFUL for them.

“Always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all (v. 4).

Let them know they bring you joy!

4. BE CONFIDENT in God’s work in their lives, and express this to them.

“I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (v. 6).

Paul’s faith was not in them, but in the work of their faithful God on their behalf. And he reminded them that God was bigger than their weaknesses and would continue His work in them until it was complete.

5. PARTNER with them.

“Both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me (v. 7).

He let them know of his work, and they participated in this work. Therefore, they became “partakers of grace with him.

6. LOVE them with the affection of Christ Jesus.

“I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus (v. 8).

Paul didn’t love his disciples with merely human affection. Real, sacrificial, discipling love is a fruit of the Spirit. It is the love of Christ flowing through us because we have given our bodies to be used for His purposes.

7. PRAY SPECIFICALLY for them, and tell them what you’re praying for them.

This is the greatest tool in our arsenal, because prayer can do whatever God can do and go wherever God can go. Notice the four specific prayers:

“And this I pray, that your

  • Love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may
  • Approve the things that are excellent, in order to be
  • Sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been
  • Filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God (vv. 9-11).

8. MODEL SACRIFICIAL, MISSIONAL LIVING before them.

“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel (v. 12).

Paul lived what he preached. They watched him be imprisoned for the gospel. But then they heard of his joy in prison because it turned out for the greater progress of the gospel. He was joyful and courageous, even in the toughest circumstances. What a lesson this must have been to his disciples!

9. SUFFER for them.

“I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith (vv. 23-25).

10. COMMUNICATE with them.

Paul was always teaching. This whole letter is Paul’s best means of maintaining communication with his disciples so that he could encourage, instruct, and continually disciple them. When he could not be with them, he sent others (as he tells us later in Philippians 2). And he used every means at his disposal to keep communication and discipling active—all the way to the end of his life.




January 2, 2014, 3:12 PM

Staggering


Take a look at Psalm 95. It is quite amazing. God created the highest high and the lowest low. He created the sea and dry land. There is no other god besides Him and there is no greater power. His mighty works are vast beyond measure. Just the fact that He is demands our worship, our thanksgiving, and our trust. He is our God, our Maker. Yet look at what He says about the generation of Israel who were delivered from the bondage of Egypt. “For forty years I loathed that generation,     And said they are a people who err in their heart,     And they do not know My ways.” He “loathed” them. Why? Because they saw His mighty acts, His power, His authority. Yet they feared, worried, complained, and refused to trust Him. Therefore, they were forbidden from God’s rest. The gist: God shows up. He shows off. This deserves unwavering trust, worship, and obedience. What did He get from the people? “EHhhh, not impressed. We still don’t trust ya.” WOW…. It is not hard for me to believe that He would loath them.  

What is my response to God? Read Psalm 95 again with me. Let’s pay close attention to what our response to Him should be. And then we must do likewise.


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