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November 8, 2013, 1:10 PM

Seven Keys to a Realistic Faith



I received this encouragement by email and I would like to share it with visitors and members of  the ABC website. 

Enjoy......

 

Bill Elliff

Tue, Nov 5, 2013

PastorConnect

Remember the story of the twin boys with opposite personalities? One was a miserable pessimist, the other an incurable optimist. The parents, seeking to balance the two, gave the pessimist a new bike for Christmas and the optimist a bag of horse manure.

Christmas morning came. The parents asked the pessimist, “Do you like your new bike?” He replied, “It’s okay, but it will probably rust and I’ll have a wreck and cut myself and probably have to have a tetanus shot or maybe even kill myself ...”

Realizing their experiment had failed, they asked, “Where’s your brother?” To which he replied, “Oh, he got all excited and went outside saying something about trying to find his new horse!”

Everyone looks at life from the up or down side. Part of this is personality, but part is FAITH (one of the reasons we need the balance of each other.)

Paul was a man of incredible faith. As he describes his ministry in 2 Corinthians 4:8-18, we could look at just one side of the equation, which is what some people do to their great detriment.

I am...

1. Afflicted
2. Perplexed
3. Persecuted
4. Struck down
5. Always dying
6. Death is working in me
7. My outer man is decaying

If this is your only witness to a watching world, it is a poor representation of the power of Christ. Unbelievers would rightly say, “Why would I want to be a follower of Christ and add extra weight to my backpack? I’ve got enough problems already!”

Others view their lives and ministries from an eternal, heavenly perspective and say this about their situation.

I am...

1. Not crushed!
2. Not despairing!
3. Not forsaken!
4. Not destroyed!
5. Life is manifested in my body!
6. Life is coming to others!
7. My inner man is being renewed day by day!

But, if this is the only testimony you give, some may think you are in denial about life’s realities or that you have never encountered the difficulties they are facing.

 

Striking the Balance

 

The best possible way to view life as a child of God is to join the two, just as Paul did. This admits the reality of my current condition, but confesses the equal reality of God’s abundant grace to overwhelmingly conquer through Jesus Christ our Lord!

I am...

1. Afflicted, but not crushed!
2. Perplexed, but not despairing!
3. Persecuted, but not forsaken!
4. Struck down, but not destroyed!
5. Always carrying in my body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in my body!
6. So death works in us, but life in you!
7. Though my outer man is decaying, my inner man is being renewed day by day!

 

LOOK UP!

 

So how do you get there? How do you maintain a witness of great victory in the midst of the pain of this world and the press of ministry? The key, as always, is to LOOK UP!

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NASB).

If your vision is not aerated by heaven’s reality, you will be overwhelmed and discouraged. The authentic man of faith is a realist in both directions. He recognizes life’s problems, but also the solutions ... the pain, but also the power ... the overwhelming odds, but also the overarching grace.

The world needs to see a robust faith, a faith that is overcoming in the midst of difficulty. This gives authenticity and hope to everyone who observes us, no matter their current situation, and points them to our sufficient God.




October 23, 2013, 11:32 AM

Resting in Jesus Our Sabbath



Various Scriptures

One of the areas in which I have been forced to study is the doctrine of the Sabbath in scripture. Growing up I have always been taught that Sunday is a sacred day of worship for God’s people. Early in my life one could scarcely find a place of business open on Sunday, especially in a smaller town. In my mind it was the seventh day. I am almost embarrassed to say that even early in my pastorate my views had not changed. I just did not give it much thought or study. I saw my week as seven days with Sunday as the seventh.

All of this philosophy was challenged when a good friend and church member began to dabble with the Seventh Day Adventist Church. He was a health nut of sorts and enjoyed a particular health food store near our town run by members of a local SDA church. Needless to say we began to have conversations on the matter. The gist of which included a long held understanding by the SDA church that the Roman Catholic Church had changed the “biblical” seventh day Sabbath to Sunday, the first day of the week. The accusation seems to be that churches who practice a Sunday Sabbath are “Romanized”.

I must admit, my life philosophy and guiding doctrine was based on tradition not scripture. Without realizing it, I viewed Sunday as a Sabbath day. Unfortunately, many in the church still ascribe to this view. In this treatise I hope to present a clear biblical discussion on the Sabbath and how we should view it in the New Covenant. I would like to present the understanding that from the beginning the seventh day Sabbath was meant to be a shadow of the Fulfillment, Jesus the Christ. In Him we have ultimate eternal rest. Even though I believe I can reveal through scripture that we are not held to an Old Covenant practice of the seventh day Sabbath, there still exists a principle of physical rest and intentional corporate worship.

 

  1. Look at the word of God from the right perspective.
    1. Our redemption was planned when? ________________________
      1. Ephesians 1:4-5 
    2. Who did the Old Testament scriptures point to? _________
      1. John 5:39
    3. Creation and salvation are a celebration of the work of God.
      1. Romans 8:29-30 – Is salvation the work of God? Genesis 2:1-3 – Is creation a work of God?
        1. Specifically we see that God finished His creative work in six days while proclaiming another day, the seventh, in which He rested. This day was a special day, a blessed day, as Moses writes. When we look through the lens of the finished work of Christ on behalf of all who believe we see these verses more clearly. We see that God was giving His people Israel, through the hand of Moses, a glimpse into His will. Rest is an eternal plan of God at the completion of His work.
      2. Hebrews 4:4-10
        1. By faith we enter into whose work?
  2. The promise of a redeemer
    1. The ordained destruction of our archenemy
      1. Genesis 3:15
        1. Is a bruising on the heal fatal?
        2. How about a bruising on the head?
    2. The mode of our redemption
      1. Genesis 3:21
      2. Hebrews 9:22
    3. The bird’s eye view
      1. By allowing the New Covenant revelation to color our interpretation of the Old Covenant(s), we get a broader perspective. We are able to see that God had a plan far greater than the Old covenant would reveal. When one reads the pages of Genesis he sees the history of the heavens and earth, the creation of man, the fall of man, the foretold redemption of fallen man, the salvation of Noah from the wrath of God (which is highlighted as a foreshadowing of Christ in the New Testament), and the beginning of the nation (starting with Abraham) through which God would bring the blessed Rest.
    4. Moses gave the law to drive men to Christ.
      1. Galatians 3:19-22
    5. The Old Covenant is a shadow.
      1. Hebrews 10:1, 5-10
        1. Though it is certain that in context these verses specifically focus on the sacrificial system, they still establish the fact that the Old Covenant with the nation of Israel was a temporary arrangement leading to Christ. The writer refers to the Law in its entirety then specifies the sacrifices as an example. The letter to the Hebrews was a warning to believing Jews as well as non-believing Jews that they must embrace the doctrine of Christ. A Jew was sorely tempted to reject Christ in favor of their way of life. Jews loved their heritage, sometimes to a fault.
  3. The New Covenant in Christ
    1. Gentiles are not required to live like Jews.
      1. Galatians 2:14
  4. The festival, new moons, and Sabbaths were a shadow. Christ is the substance.
    1. Galatians 4:9-10
    2. Colossians 2:16-17
  5. We have freedom in Christ.
    1. Romans 14:5
      1. The point of the matter is that we are to live by faith. When we make a decision to eat or not to eat, to observe or not to observe, we must be certain. However, we are not to judge those who may be different than ourselves in unessential matters regarding food or the observance of days.
  6. The law of love
    1. Matthew 22:37-40
      1. Loving the Lord your God means to trust completely in Jesus Christ our Sabbath rest.
    2. Loving people means to live in such a way as to build up and not tear down.
  7. A case for corporate worship and even rest
    1. Acts 2:43-47
      1. New believers had a change of heart, a shift in priorities that caused them to accentuate love for God and love for His people. They were unified, generous with each other, devoted to God in worship, and devoted to one another.
      2. This is quite the opposite of our current culture (even among Christians) that accentuates perhaps the motto, “Get all you can. Can all you get. Then sit on the can.”
    2. Acts 4:32-35   
      1. Again, unity, love for God, brotherly love, and generosity is expressed.
    3. Hebrews 10:19-25
      1. There is a dire need to keep our new life in Christ in perspective and at the forefront of all we do and think. Regularly, consistently, we need to meet together with the purpose of encouragement, prayer, and stimulation.
    4. There are ultimately two forms of rest.
      1. One, we rest in the work of salvation accomplished by Jesus, our Sabbath Rest.
      2. Two, we rest from our labor of sustenance in order to share in generous encouraging fellowship with our brother. 



September 25, 2013, 11:20 AM

Getting to Know God



God intensely desires an intimate relationship with His children. This intimacy resembles the relationship between a very young child who has learned to trust “daddy” and who sees “daddy” as the hero who has it all taken care of. It is from this intimacy that God will begin to do great “works” through the lives of His little ones. However, many of His little ones do not trust Him in this way. They remain aloof for many different reasons. If we as His people want to make an impact on this world we must seek this intimacy. Read the words of Kent & Davidene Humphreys.

The scripture says, “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9); and King David wrote, “God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God” (Psalm 53:2). God promises that “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). This call to and promise of relationship was repeated by Jesus Christ. “I am the good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:14) In Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby explained the process this way, “Don’t just do something, stand there.”

“Stand there,” Blackaby wrote. “Be still, and know that I am God,” the scripture says. It is this quiet getting to know God, by prayer and His word that develops our relationship with Him, our trust of Him, and our usefulness for Him. Even God’s Son, Jesus, knew that He needed such time – time alone with the Father, to know and love God. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

It has been said that God will not use you in public until He has tutored you in private.  

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September 23, 2013, 12:11 PM

Enduring the Struggle



  1. John 6:1-7 – Jesus will lead us into situations in which He can reveal His unlimited power and resources.
  2. John 6:8-9 – It is not wrong to realize your limited resources in presenting your need before the Lord
  3. John 6:10-14 – Jesus reveals that He alone is sufficient for every need.

 

These three points are from a recent sermon. They are good points that are easy to understand. They are biblical points. But what about the “living it out” part? Not as easy. I have come to realize that sometimes this scenario is not played out quickly. In the narrative provided by John the scene plays out within an hour or two. In our life this scene may take days to work out. We must recognize Jesus leading us through the situation first, which sometimes takes a while. Then we must take stock of our resources. Many times we assume He will provide the resources beforehand only to find out He wants us to take a step of faith first. Frustrating. Then somewhere along the journey we get to the point where Jesus unveils His plan and provision. I don’t like this to be honest. It is sometimes a gut wrenching struggle. However, I also realize it is necessary. I understand that I have the Spirit of Christ in me causing me to long for the eternal life (eternal quality). But I also dwell in the flesh, which wants the easy life of entitlement. Between the flesh and the spirit there is a daily struggle. The scripture tells me this in Galatians 5:16-17. So by faith I accept the struggle. It means that I am a true believer with a bright future in eternity. It means that Christ is working in me to take me to the higher life that sin wants to steal from me. It means that if I keep my eyes on Jesus He will eventually reveal His unlimited resources. So hold on. Sit at Jesus feet as often as you must. Lay your limited self at His feet. And confess that He will lead you through the struggle.




September 18, 2013, 11:46 AM

Restoring the "Image of God"


It is good to remember that the "image of God" has been marred in us due to the destructiveness of sin. We cannot rebuild “God’s image” by doing or saying “Christian” things or by thinking “Christian” thoughts.  It is also important to remember that it is God alone who can rebuild that "image" within us. His method? It is by the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. He lived righteously as to become an acceptable sacrifice. He died to pay the penalty for sin in our behalf. He rose from the dead to conquer death from sin. He ascended to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in all who believe in Him. As we receive this precious gift by faith He begins the work of restoring "His image" in us. We often call this process sanctification. Check out some scripture.  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 
30and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified (Romans 8:29-30). The word “conformed” is like the word “assimilate”. Do you remember the “Borg” from Star Trek? If you got caught by them they would try to make you one of them by force. “You must be assimilated.” :-/  No one wanted to be assimilated. However, the greatest gift for a human being created by God is to be freed from the trap of sin. In fact, because if sin we were held captive by death. God’s plan, by the power of faith and the presence of the Holy Spirit in your heart, is to create the character (image) of Christ in you. The “image” is being restored by His power and influence. It is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” This process is truly supernatural. If you have spent a lot of time working hard at this task and find yourself disillusioned it is time to heed the voice of Jesus. ““Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.   29“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.   30“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”” Ahhhhh… Those words are comforting aren’t they? The secret to a bountifully blessed life are in these words. Come to Jesus and enjoy His “grace and truth.” As your love for Him increases, so will your obedience. You will do anything to get a glimpse of “His image” in yourself and others. Read II Peter 1:2-4


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