Monday, February 28, 2011

Glorious Good-Bye To A Great Man

There are several examples in The Word where Paul talks about being an encouragement to others and others being an encouragement to him. It is crucial that we have fellowship with other believers and encourage each other. Without fellowship it is easy to merge back in to “the world”.

Paul wants to see how the brethren in Thessalonica are doing, but he is unable to go. He wants to know that they have not been shaken by the persecution, so he sends Timothy:

1Thessalonians 3:2-3 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, 3 that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.

Paul also makes the point that he did not sugar coat anything when he shared the Gospel with them. They knew full well that to follow Christ and surrender to Him as Lord brings persecution:

1Thessalonians 3:4 For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know.

Paul wanted to know if Satan had deceived them in some way. He wanted to know if all of his labor for them was useless; and he was overjoyed that in spite of the persecution, they were holding fast in The Lord:

1Thessalonians 3:5 For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain.

Paul's greatest comfort in this time of trial was knowing that that his labors did bear fruit for The Lord:

1Thessalonian 3:7-8 therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. 8 For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.

I would like to share a very personal story as an encouragement to you, and as a real life example of being prepared to tell the Truth no matter what:

As many of you know, my father-in-law (who was also one of my dearest friends) passed away on Saturday. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer just before Christmas. I was blessed with the opportunity to share the Gospel with him a few times. Once about 5 years ago in Palm Springs on a golf trip, once on New Years Eve in the emergency room this last year, and once in the form of a letter while he was still in the hospital.

Two weeks ago my wife called and said, “Daddy said he wants Jesus to visit him today.”
Later that day I was by his bedside, his wife was on the other side lying across his legs. It was just the three of us in the room. At this point his voice was getting very weak and I wasn't always able to hear him well.

I said, “Buckman, Wendy said that you want Jesus to come visit you.”
He slowly looked toward me and nodded up and down.

Then he said, “I hope I was good enough. I hope I was a good enough person to go to Heaven.”

Before I even had time to consider what to say, it came out of my mouth, “Let me save you the suspense, you weren't.”

I paused for just a second and said, “None of us are. Do you remember what we talked about last week; about the religious guy and the publican and how the publican said, 'Lord be merciful to me a sinner'? That is how we are saved, Buckman. The only way we can be redeemed is by calling out to Jesus, 'Lord, be merciful to me a sinner'.”

I barely got the words out of my mouth and he said, “Forgive me Jesus. Forgive me Jesus.”

He spoke clear as a bell. He called on The Lord!  My friend is in glory!  He's in the presence of Almighty God!

Paul didn't sugar coat the Gospel and we can't either. People aren't always blessed with a "theif on the cross experience" as Buck was. People need to hear the Truth. God doesn't need us, but that's how He chooses to do it. He has demonstrated over and over in His Word that He saves people when The Gospel is preached and we are to preach The Gospel always:

2Timothy 4:1-4 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Political Junkie?

 Paul faced brutality in Philippi for sharing the Gospel, yet it did not stop him from immediately preaching The Word in Thessalonica. Not only did he immediately go and share the Gospel boldly, his preaching immediately bore fruit:

1Thessalonians 2:1-2 For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.

I used to get caught up in the political madness, as many of you know, but I have come to realize that we don't need more slick talking politicians and pretty news anchors spewing the lies of a teleprompter. What this country needs is men to boldly speak The Truth and not care what people think. Men that will speak The Truth without concern for pleasing men, but only a desire to please God. This country needs God, and it needs men to preach The Truth about Him. We don't need men to preach about our “Best Life Now” and a “Purpose Driven Life”. We know our best life now; “all desiring to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”. We know the purpose for our life, “to glorify God”. What this country needs is more “Pauls”:

1Thessalonians 2:3-6a For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed--God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others,

We don't need flattering words from the pulpit, we need The Truth. We need to worry less about filling the seats of our mega churches, and more about filling the Kingdom of God. We need to worry less about how we can be more entertained, and more about how we can be more edifying to the Body of Christ. We need more “Pauls”!

1Thessalonians 2:13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

Preach the Truth and people get saved:

1Thessalonians 2:14-16 For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind 16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved--so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But God's wrath has come upon them at last!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Those That Don't, Won't

As we charge along through The Word it continues to be exciting to complete one letter and start another. It also continues to be encouraging that Paul makes the same basic points with each one of his letters. They say repetition is the mother of learning, and as we read Paul's letters we are being warned and encouraged with each one.

I "pre-read" 1 Thessalonians chapter one last night before bed and I was thinking that this is one of those chapters that would be fun to work backwards. The chapter is only 10 verses, but as usual, Paul makes his points quickly.

For example; Paul makes it clear that the Wrath of God is coming:

1Thessalonians 1:10b
the wrath to come.

He also makes it clear Who is able to deliver us from the wrath to come:

1Thessalonians 1:10b
Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

Paul also makes the extremely important point that Jesus was raised from the dead. Also notice that Paul says to the Thessalonians (and to us) that He is coming back and we are to wait for Him:
1Thessalonians 1:10
and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

Romans 10:9
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

John 14:1-6 "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going." 5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

This begs that crucial question. Who does the wrath of God abide upon? And, who is Jesus going to bring in to His Kingdom and give eternal life? Answer: Those that trust in Jesus alone for salvation and repent will have eternal life; those that don't, won't:
1Thessalonians 1:9
For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,

This is the very definition of repentance. Turning from anything that is sinful and/or anything that you put ahead of God. Whether it be in the form of sinful nature and lust of the flesh, or religion, and everything in between; we need to repent of it and turn to God.
John 6:29
Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."

Verse 6 of 1 Thessalonians seems to be a strange contradiction and is, no doubt, confusing to those that are not born-again. Paul speaks of the Thessalonians receiving the Word with joy, yet with affliction. Followers of Christ were under intense persecution (which still goes on today in many nations), and as we know, Paul was one of those that used to brutalize followers of Christ. Yet, this persecution did not deter people from giving their life to Jesus, in fact, they embraced Him with joy and became examples for others, just as Paul did:
Thessalonians 1:6-7
And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.

2Timothy 3:12-13
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

A logical question would be, how is this possible. There is no other time or "movement" in history where brutal acts on a group of people actually had the adverse affect of what you would think. Instead of fizzling out and coming to nothing, people were giving their lives to, and for, Jesus Christ! How is this possible? It is possible because it is entirely a work of God, not of man:
1Thessalonians
because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.

Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

This message of repentance is not unique to Paul, it has been preached throughout the ages:
Matthew 3:21
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." 

Matthew 4:17
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Acts 3:19
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,

Acts 11:18
When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, "Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life

Acts 8:22
Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.

Acts 17:30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

Jesus said:John 14:15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

John 3:36 (Jesus Words)
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Common Theme

As we wrap up another of Paul's letters we have seen again the common theme; Paul continues to warn of the lust of the flesh and false religion. The battle front is the same 2000 years later, "lust of the flesh and false religion". Both are rampant and those that practice either are equally condemned. Paul warns those that are practicing sin that they must repent and walk in the Spirit. Paul warns those that have fallen prey to false religion and false teaching that we are to make no provision for the flesh or religious ritual, but fix our minds on the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. The bottom line is always, repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. That's what John The Baptist preached, that is the message Jesus preached, that is the message of the disciples and it is the message Paul preached. Without repentance there is no belief. Without repentance there is no salvation.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

When we are convicted and converted by the Holy Spirit, prayer and thanksgiving is as common place as inhaling and exhaling:

Colossians 4:2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;

When we are born-again we have marching orders. In addition to the ministry we are called to, we are to act a certain way that our King will be glorified in all we say, think and do:

Colossians 4:5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

Ecclesiastes 10:12 The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious, But the lips of a fool shall swallow him up;   Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Above all else....

Colossians 3 is so amazing; so to the point, simple and clear.  Paul tells us clearly what to "take off" (what to repent of) and what to "put on" (what to fix our mind on and do).  He also tells us how and why to do it:

Colossians 3:17
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:23
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
Remember in Ephesians when we looked at the whole armor of God?  Paul said, "above all else" take up the shield of faith.  Paul uses that same term ("above all else") as he gives his list of things to "put on".  What do you think was that one thing he said "above all else" to put on?

Colossians 3:12-14 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 3 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

There are two things that Paul commands us to let rule in us, and dwell in us. If it happened automatically, why would Paul use the word "let". You can only conclude that you have a job to do, to "let" this happen, and part of that job is to fix your mind on the things above:

Colossians 3:15-16 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

If you fix your minds on the things above, and you let the peace of God rule in your heart, and you let the Word of Christ dwell in you; you will, through the power of the Holy Spirit, be able to easily put away the things God calls us to put away. You will be able to take off the things God commands you to take off:

Colossians 3:5-10 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. 8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,

Then Paul wraps up by giving us the template for the perfect family and working dynamic. Before we look at that, I think it is worth making the point that we are not at liberty to pick and choose what we "like" and will "accept" from the Word of God. If the Word says, wives submit to your husbands, then do it. That being said, this is not a superiority thing. The man and woman are equal partners in a marriage, however, the hierarchy of authority goes to the husband. On the other hand, husbands are to love their wives. If a husband is loving his wife as he should, would he give his wife a dreadful life by taking advantage of her submissive position as his wife? Of course not, that is not loving, that is domineering.

Colossians 3:18 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. 20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
 
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WOW! WOW! WOW!

WOW!  WOW!  WOW!

That's the word that came to me as I read Colossians 3 tonight. I've read this chapter many times before and I remember how powerful it is, but for some reason, tonight it really floored me.  Paul gets so much information covered in so few words it is amazing!  Twenty-Five verses and he covers what everyone needs to know.

Last year a friend of mine and I challenged each other to memorize a verse a day until we could recite Romans 8.  If anyone asked me, "if you had to choose a chapter to study and memorize, what would it be?"  I would say Romans 8; however, Colossians 3 would be a very close second.

This chapter starts out with that word again.....IF.  If what?  Before we answer that let's consider this. When you are born-again you have been raised from spiritual death, to spiritual life. When you are born-again you are no longer hell bound, but instead are glory bound. Life only happens through Jesus Christ. Paul's big "IF" here is a trail maker to "test yourself in the faith"; fruit that is evidence of our true spiritual condition.

Colossians 3:1-2 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

Paul will compare and contrast what life looks like being spiritually minded versus earthly minded. There is a silly saying that fake Christians like to use that says, "he's so heavenly minded, he's no earthly good".  Do you think that sounds Biblical?  We are to set our minds on the things above, we are to set our minds on Christ; do you think it is possible to be "too" heavenly minded?  Wouldn't the better saying be; "he's so earthly minded, he's no heavenly good"?

Would you prefer to fix your thoughts on things above, or would you prefer to fix them on the lusts of this world? The mind is the devils playground if we open the gate, the problem is, many times, people want to open the gate. If a certain website gets your mind wondering, don't look at it.  Certain magazines do the same thing? Don't look at them, throw them away. Do you have movies that are ungodly, throw them out. It all comes down to how serious you really are about fixing your mind on Jesus.

I heard a saying from, I think, Leaonard Ravenhill; "People have as much of God as they want." Isn't that the truth? If people want God to have just a piece of their week, they might go with Sunday morning; they may even go so far as to give him a Wednesday night Bible study. Does that sound Biblical? NO! If you are alive in Christ, the old man is dead, and the new man wants to fix his heart and mind on Jesus 24/7.  Not You? Sorry to be blunt, but then maybe you're not His?

You may read that and not agree and that's fine, but I am just telling you what the Word says. The Word doesn't say "live a double life of wretchedness and righteousness". The Word says to put to death the deeds of the body and fix your mind on Jesus!

Colossians 3:3-7 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

Do you still walk in disobedience, or can you say you "once walked"? It's one or the other.

Let's continue this chapter tomorrow...Love You All!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Jump and let the net appear!

We talked yesterday about how Paul preached boldly, warning people of their separation from God, the dividing wall of hostility. Paul went on to make the CRUCIAL point that he, Paul (as should we), labors for Christ. He labors in preaching the Gospel. Paul did his part to “win” people to Christ; yet he also understood (as should we) that it is His work in us that mighty work is done:

Colossians 2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Colossians 2:6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

Colossians 2:11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,

Galatians 5:24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Colossians 2:13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,

2Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.


Colossians 2:20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—

Colossians 2:23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
Just as we are to put away the lusts of the flesh, we are also to put away the ritual and religion of men. Many rituals and religion seem like a good idea and have an appearance of wisdom; however, at there root they are evil. It is only a futile attempt by man to earn the righteous requirement of God:
Paul illustrates in verse 13 that we either "were", or "are", dead in trespasses, yet made alive in Christ, thus born-again. A new creature, a new heart, with new desires:
Paul makes the point in verse 11 that true circumcision is done without hands, it is not the outward physical procedure of circumcision that matters. What matters is the putting off of sin. Here Paul uses another way to say the same thing that has been said in every book and letter we've read so far...REPENTANCE is evidence of being born-again. And no one goes to Heaven without being born-again!
Paul goes on to warn us not to be deceived. There is powerful deception in the world through philosophy and religious tradition; however, true Wisdom is found in The Word of God:
Colossians 1:28-29 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.
This is the co-working the Word talks about, being a co-worker with God. We commit ourselves to labor for God, and He will do mighty work in us. But we need to start. We need to put aside our fear. Many times the most amazing things happen when we jump and let the “net” appear. Too many times we are waiting for this or that, or for things to be “just right”, or we are waiting for the “perfect” thing to say....many times we need to just open our mouth and see what comes out. Be BOLD for your King!

Do you want to have wisdom and knowledge that will surpasses most people's understanding? Seek God, that is where true wisdom and knowledge is found. True wisdom is not found in the philosophy of man, it is found in Almighty God:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

How fast would the "mega" churches empty of they preached The Truth?

Before we wrap up Colossians 1 today, I wanted to take a look at a few definitions: reconcile, warning and if:

RECONCI'LE, Gr. The literal sense is to call back into union.]
To conciliate anew; to call back into union and friendship the affections which have been alienated; to restore to friendship or favor after estrangement; as, to reconcile men or parties that have been at variance.


WARNING, ppr. Cautioning against danger; admonishing; giving notice to; summoning to meet or appear.
Caution against danger, or against faults or evil practices which incur danger.

IF, v.t. It is used as the sign of a condition, or it introduces a conditional sentence.
Colossians 1:28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

There is a refrain in a song by Robin Mark that says, “the ears of all men need to hear of the Lamb who was crucified”. To hear of the Lamb of God (Jesus Christ) is Good News, to say the least. However, as Paul indicates here, this Good News will seem very strange and foolish if not coupled with warning. What is Paul eager to warn about in his preaching? Before we answer that, when was the last time you heard a preacher warning you of anything. Warning people of danger is not often heard in today's pulpits. Instead, we hear light and fluffy, feel good messages. Why is that? Because people want to gather around themselves teachers that tell them what they want to hear:

2Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

What is this warning Paul is speaking of that today's preachers are so scared to mention? The warning is that we are separated from God, alienated from God, enemies of God; as such, we need to be reconciled. Can you imagine how fast the “mega” churches would empty if the preacher told the Truth. Imagine a preacher in a “mega” church telling is “attendees” that if they deliberately continue in sin and think they are saved, they are only fooling themselves. Yet, that is exactly what John said:

1John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

For those that heed the warning, feel the wait of conviction from the Holy Spirit, repent and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior; He breaks down that wall of separation, making peace and eliminating the hostility; making His enemies His children.

Ephesians 2:14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,

This all happens through His Blood:

Colossians 1:20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

2Corinthians 5:18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

We have clearly seen two of our “definition” words, reconcile and warning. But, did you catch our third word? It was in verse 23. We need to be presented blameless before God on the Day of Judgment, and that only happens through the Blood of Jesus Christ and faith in Him alone for salvation. If you have put your faith in Him you will be presented blameless....PRAISE GOD! But this is not a “my hands been stamped” now I will follow the lusts of the flesh kind of thing. Verse 23 makes it clear as a bell, you will be presented blameless....IF.....if what? If you continue in the faith and are not moved away from the hope of the Gospel:
Colossians 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and ste
adfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Only those that love Jesus go to Heaven

 Those that love Jesus have an inheritance waiting for them in Heaven:
1Peter 1:4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
Just as Peter made this clear above, Paul also makes it clear in Colossians 1:
Colossians 1:5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,
Paul is moved to pray for those that love Jesus constantly. There is a special bond (to say the least) between those that truly love Jesus. It is difficult to explain, and is impossible for those that are not saved to understand. Those walking in the Spirit have a love and compassion for other born-again Christians that is difficult for even themselves to understand.

But Paul doesn't just pray a simple prayer for the brethren; he brings out the big guns and prays for the things that matter most; he prays that the brethren:

-be filled with the knowledge of the will of God
-be filled with Godly wisdom
-be filled with spiritual understanding
-walk worthy of The Lord
-be fully pleasing to The Lord
-be strengthened with all the might of God
-be patient and longsuffering
-be thankful to the Father, by Whom this inheritance comes

Colossians 1:9-12 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.
Can you imagine if you had several brothers and sisters in Christ praying that all of this would be completely manifest in your life? How awesome would that be!!!?!!

What continued to jump out at me tonight as I read and re-read these verse is from verse 10; “increasing in the knowledge of Him”. We don't have full knowledge of all God's ways, and all of God's Word the minute we get saved. Neither did Paul. We must strive to increase our Godly Wisdom. We must be prepared to answer any questions regarding the hope that lies within us:

1Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
The first half of verse 13 excludes NO ONE who has been saved. NONE of us started out in the light, but instead we were all by nature children of wrath, saved out of darkness:
Colossians 1:13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,
All of us, either are, or were in darkness as children of wrath. As such, we must be redeemed from our sin. Our sin debt MUST be paid and there is only “One Currency” that will be accepted as payment....that “Currency” is the Blood of the Son of God....The Blood of Jesus Christ is the ONLY way you can be redeemed!
Colossians 1:14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
Stop and consider that for a minute. The One whom all things were created through and for, humbled Himself as a baby in a manger, let wicked men spit on Him, beat Him, scourge Him, mock Him and nail Him to a Cross and there are still people that think they can get in to His Kingdom by any other way!!!???!!!!
Galatians 2:21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."

Colossians 1:16-17 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

John 1:3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Who's will?

It seems as the momentum continues to build as you go through The New Testament.  Each chapter is more powerful than the one before. When I read Colossians 1 this morning, I couldn't help but think how quickly Paul establishes The Truth again.

Then as I was re-reading it tonight, I couldn't get past the first verse. The Lord laid this on my heart tonight (I will go in to the rest of chapter 1 tomorrow):
Colossians 1:1a Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ
Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ. Why?
Colossians 1:1a Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,
Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.

If Paul's will (not God's will) was being done for the rest of his life, he would have been persecuting and killing Christians, he would have been applauded by the religious leaders of the day, and he would have been heralded by most of the people....right up to the point of his death....where he would have spent eternity in hell.

Paul had a zeal for God, but it was misdirection and confusion. You could safely say that Satan deceived him, and veiled him from the Truth.
2Corinthians 4:3-4 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
After Paul's “experience” on the road to Damascus, could he have said, “thanks but no thanks” to God. I would think that (just like us) Paul would have had the free will to except or reject The Truth after he had been exposed to it; after all, it is God's desire that all be saved, yet most aren't.
2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Matthew 7:13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
A friend of mine recently made the comment, “we are not saved by our theology”. In other words, we are not saved by our Biblical knowledge. Paul is a great example of that fact. There was none more zealous for God than Paul, but he was deceived, and well on his way down the broad road.....until....

Until Jesus entered his life. Paul could have still rejected Jesus, but instead, he was surrendered to Him and obedient to Him. It was no longer “Paul's will” for Paul's life; it was “God's will” for Paul's life.

Colossians 1:1a Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,

It is God's desire that none should perish, but all have eternal life. The question is; who's will is guiding your life? Is it your will OR God's will?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Want wealth? Here it is...

Paul has already, in Philippians, emphasized that we are to be joyous in the Lord. In verse 4 of chapter 4 he emphasizes it a couple more times:
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
When a person is of this world, and is not a citizen of Heaven, it is easy to get wrapped up in the cares of this world. When your focus is on the cares of this world, and when the things in this world don't go like you hope or plan; you lose your joy. Contrast that with a born-again believer that has their eyes fixed on the things above, anticipating their inheritance in Christ Jesus, where the cares of this world don't have the same effect.

The one fixed on Heaven will look at all situations through the lens of, “how can I most glorify God in this situation?”

One answer is, “I can be gentle at all cost.”

Philippians 4:5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
Another answer is, “I can leave worry behind and call on the Lord.”
Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
When we really own this simple Truth; granted, it is hard to walk out, and it is impossible to walk out without Christ; but if we own this, we will have a peace that will not only be confusing to those around us, but it will even be confusing to us:
Philippians 4:7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Did you catch that? Peace that surpasses understanding! Did you also notice the progression? When we are anxious for nothing, but instead pray about everything with a heart of thanksgiving, we will have the peace of God.....but there is more....the peace we have will guard our hearts and minds. When the cares of this world roll off our back and we we are fixed on Jesus we give no foothold to the devil. We are protected! Our minds and hearts are walled in and guarded perfectly by the peace of God!!!

Does God lie?

No!!

Then with all gentleness, be anxious for nothing, and instead lay your cares in the lap of the King.

How do I fix my eyes on Jesus?

Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
I thought I was going to get through this chapter without having to make a false teacher comment....then came verse 13. The favorite “verse tattoo” of athletes. The favorite verse quoted by the “prosperity pimps”. They don't read verse 12, they just make verse 13 fit what they want. If you read the context, clearly Paul is saying, “whether I am in lack or plenty is of no consequence, because I can do all thing through Christ who strengthens me.” Verse 13 is NOT a name it and claim it verse.
Philippians 4:12-13 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

This reminds me of something I heard a dear brother in Christ say one time, “wealth is not how much you have, it is how little you need.”

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Are you willing to pray this prayer?

 Paul shared some powerful Truth and some Godly instruction in the previous chapters. In addition to living a righteous life of obedience to God and service to others, Paul also warns us to expect suffering. Now in chapter 3, Paul gives us the primary thing to do in all situations; good times, bad times, lack and plenty...we are to rejoice. But we are NOT to be joyous in some type of Utopian, pretend to be happy” kind of way. We are to rejoice in The Lord!
Philippians 3:1a Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.

Paul must have figured that the Philippian church would have felt like it was problem-some for Paul to instruct them again with what he has already taught them, so he makes a point to tell them that he does not mind teaching them again. In fact, Paul says it is really for your own protection and safety:
Philippians 3:1b For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.

What was Paul so concerned about? Up to this point in the letter he seemed pretty confident that the Philippians were not only talking the talk, but they were walking the walk; so what's the concern? Paul is warning about the false teachers! Jews that were teaching works salvation, and were preaching the requirement to be saved one must be circumcised:
Philippians 3:2-3 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,

All works salvation doctrine is a work of the flesh. Paul is saying, “PUT NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH...YOU CAN DO NOTING TO EARN SALVATION, OR DESERVE SALVATION!”

Then Paul decides to put the “ultra religious” types in their place by saying, OK, you want to boast in your religion (which used to be Paul's religion), how do you stack up with these credentials?:

Philippians 3:4-6 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Then after Paul gives his laundry list, of which, no other Jew could even hold a candle to; he says; “IT IS ALL WORHTLESS!”
Philippians 3:7-9 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith--

Before we look at this next couple verses, ask yourself: Would you be willing to pray that God would save you by ANY MEANS necessary? Think about it for a second. If you have been potentially deceived in to thinking you are saved; would you be willing to call out to God with this prayer, “Lord, I think I am yours, but if not, please save me by any means necessary!”

That's the kind of zeal Paul had to know he would attain the resurrection of eternal life in Christ Jesus:

Philippians 3:10-11 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Paul wants more of Jesus. Up to this point he has preached the Gospel everywhere he was sent, he endured all the sufferings that The Lord brought him to, he's rebuked some of the most powerful religious men of the day, and he walks by the Spirit and continues in prayer, just as he commands us to do....yet, he wants more of Jesus:
Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul gives another directive:
Philippians 3:17-19 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
 
I heard a preacher say once; “if you went on vacation and didn't like the carpet in your hotel room, would you get out the yellow pages and find a carpet installer to come and change the carpet? Of course not, because you are not going to be there long, you are only staying temporarily, that is not your home.”
In the same way we need to put aside the cares of this world, this is not our home, we are only here temporarily:
Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How would you handle this SAW situation?

In chapter 1 of Philippians, Paul gives us instruction and expectation. In summary, the instruction was to conduct ourselves worthy of the Gospel of Christ, and the expectation was that we are granted (on behalf of Christ) suffering for His sake. That didn't hit me yesterday like it did today (that's is one of those amazing things about God's Word). Today it hit me that those that love Jesus are “granted” suffering for Him. It doesn't say, “poor little Christian, you gotta suffer”....NO! It says we are GRANTED! Can you think of any time when the word “granted” is not used in a positive light? It is our PRIVLEDGE to suffer for Christ. Did you know that The Word says, we are blessed when we suffer for Him?

Jesus said:

Matthew 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Moving on to chapter 2, Paul gives us more instruction; and in 2 verses he imparts on us more wisdom than all the “self-help” books in the world combined:
Philippians 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

This next set of verses is often taken in an incorrect meaning by false religions. False religions that love to say that Jesus isn't God will point to verse 6 as their evidence. However, our English doesn't give us the proper meaning if you read it as it is, without looking at the original language. Here's the summary of the meaning:

Jesus was fully God, and always had the characteristics of God that we read about in Scripture; but He gave them up for a season. Can you imagine that!? That means that when He was suffering, He could have put an end to it at any time...and He didn't. He could have curbed the pain of His torture....and He didn't. Although He was, is, and always will be God; he set it all aside....WHY?....Love for The Father and love for us.

Philippians 2:5-7 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
I don't watch those SAW movies, but the ads run on the UFC Fights all the time. Apparently people are put in to these horrific positions and are forced to make decisions between horrific and more horrific. I don't know if they are all like that, but in the trailer I seen, people were on a merry go-round type thing with a big saw inching closer and closer. Then a person is given the choice between watching them get mangled by the saw, or reaching in to press an off button to stop the saw, but in so doing they would lose their arm. At least that is how I think the story line went? My question is, if you were on that merry go-round and somebody lost their limb to save your life, how would that affect your relationship with them? Would you be thankful? Would thankful be an understatement? Would the thankfulness eventually wear off to the point where you would ignore their phone calls and emails; or would you be forever thankful?
Philippians 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Everyone will knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Are you going to face Him as Lord or Judge?
Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:12b-16 work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. 14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

Monday, February 14, 2011

How do the pulpit pimps stack up against The Truth?

Philippians 1:1a Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus

I was curious about the word bondservant because neither the ESV, nor King James had the word bondservant like the New King James does; so I looked up the Greek definition for the word that was used in the King James:
doulos (doo'-los)
a slave (literally or figuratively, involuntarily or voluntarily; frequently therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviency): - bond (-man), servant.
As you can see from the definition slave or bondservant is probably the best choice; however, as we can see, the context would be of a “volunteer, willing” slave. Paul and Timothy were, as we should also be, slaves by choice and by the will of God. We have the free will to live for this world and the lusts of the flesh; which actually makes us slaves to sin; or we can be slaves to Christ. Either way we are slaves. One leaves us in bondage and eternal condemnation, the other leads us to freedom and eternal life.

Paul is addressing this letter to the saints. Yes, it is to the saints in Philippi, but, just like the rest of Paul's letters, it is for our encouragement, instruction, reproof and rebuke as well. It is always important to know who the writer is addressing, lest we get confused and fall prey to universalism. It is very easy for people to be led astray by pulling verses out of context. For example, many times at funerals we hear John 14 quoted. There is only one way to say this; John 14 is NOT for everyone! Jesus is not preparing a place for everyone! He is preparing a place for His followers.
John 14:2-3 In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

Paul is in prison and the Philippian church sent him a gift. Paul is writing this letter because he is thankful and over joyed by the fellowship he has with them:
Philippians 1:5-6 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
Isn't that awesome! The Philippians remained in fellowship with Paul and the other believers from day one. I wish I could say that. Unfortunately I had a season of disobedience after I learned The Gospel. I praise God for His patience and goodness!

Romans 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

You want to know what a great prayer is for your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? This is about as good as it gets:

Philippians 1:9-11 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Then Paul gives us the ultimate paradigm shift. Keeping in mind, Paul is in prison, bound by chains to prison guards and having faced all kinds of brutality up to this point...and what does he say about that. “Woes me! Help me! Get me out of this place!” ? No, this is what he says:

Philippians 1:12-14 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

WOW! .....WHAT ? ! ........ Paul is in brutal conditions and what does it do to the brethren? They are more bold! Preaching The Word more! Sharing The Gospel without fear! You atheists out there, do you want more evidence of The Truth? Name any other religion, movement, or group that has ever faced complete brutality and death and it has only emboldened the others.

Philippians 1:20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.

Does Paul want to die? He's torn. But, he's not torn like most people would be. Paul is torn because he wants to die, but it is better for others that he remain alive:

Philippians 1:21-24 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.

Then Paul gives them some instruction and expectations. Was the expectation what we hear from the pulpit pimps that say, “Sow a seed in to our ministry and have enough faith and you will be rich, life will be great and trouble free.” Not quite:

Philippians 1:27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. 29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Do you really think the devil is real?

When I got up this morning I started thinking about today's reading; the second half of Ephesians 6. As I thought about it, I started thinking about the movie Gladiator. If you have never seen the movie, it depicts a former military leader being enslaved by a jealous son of the king, whom the son killed. The military leader was thrown in to the coliseum (with others) to battle against bigger, faster, better equipped opponents. As the men walked out on the battle field they grabbed their weaponry. They were ill equipped and most had the look of defeat before the “games” began.

If you were trying to survive something like that, what piece of equipment would you want.

Before we answer this hypothetical question; let's first consider our very real opponent. Our very real and evil, beyond words, adversary. Some of you know who this adversary is, and some of you don't believe he exists. In either case, we all underestimate him. It is interesting how surveys come back the same year after year: a large percent of people believe God exists, yet only a small percentage of people believe the devil is real. Many people say silly things like, “the devil is just symbolic of our sinful nature.” No right thinking, born-again believer can read their Bible and walk away without concluding that Satan is real, he roars around like a lion seeking whom to devour and he is more cunning than all the beasts of the field.

Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Genesis 3:1a Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.

1Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

If you don't believe there is a real threat out there, how will you prepare? If you don't believe the threat is real, why would you prepare?

Ephesians 6 makes it clear, not only is there a threat, but this threat is not against flesh and blood. Flesh and blood would be easier wouldn't it? We can at least get our mind around a flesh and blood battle, right? But this battle is not of flesh and blood:

Ephesians 6:11-12 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Wiles of the devil? What's that?

The Greek word for wiles is “schemes, craftiness, deceitfulness."


John MacArthur puts it this way: Satan's schemes are propagated through the evil world system over which he rules, and are carried out by his demon hosts. “Wiles” is all inclusive, encompassing every sin, immoral practice, false theology, false religion, and worldly enticement.

Ephesians 2:2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,

Take a good look at this country. False religions are rampant, false teaching is on the lips of professing Christians, Hollywood is polluting the minds of our youth and we let them drink it up like water, “fun” events that don't involve booze are almost unheard of, and pre-martial sex is the excepted and expected norm.

Hmmmm.....do you still think this battle is pretend?

Why would the devil mount his attacks on these fronts?

Revelation 21:6-8 And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

Do you have faith in God's promise to save those that love Jesus? Do you have faith that Jesus was telling the Truth when He said you can not get to Heaven except through Him? (John 14:6) Do you have the kind of faith in Jesus that surrenders everything you have to Him, without a care of what the world will say or do to you?

FAITH! Above all faith!

Ephesians 6:16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

That being said, we don't want to be without any piece of the whole armor of God. We are to be fully equipped daily with the armor. We are not suppose to take it off on Friday and Saturday night and take it up again Sunday morning. Would you step in to the coliseum WITHOUT taking everything they offered you on to the battle field?
Ephesians 6:11-18 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I can't teach my kids "Guitar Hero"

As I read Ephesians 6 this morning I noticed that the chapter is basically divided in two. The first part speaks to us about living every day life, in our everyday affairs; the second part speaks to us about how to live our spiritual lives. In both cases we are to walk in the Spirit, and not in the flesh, with our objective to honor Jesus Christ in all we say, think and do. Today I am going to go in to the first part and tomorrow I will go in to the second part.

The first directive Paul gives is actually tough for some people. God, through Paul, commands us to honor our parents. Many people reading this verse will immediately respond with, “no way, my parents are not worthy of honor.”

Ephesians 6:2a "Honor your father and mother"...

Whatever your situation is, whatever your past is, we need to understand that we are to honor our parents because God said so, it is that simple. The interesting thing about this command is that God also attaches a promise to it. For those that will honor their parents in, and as a service to, The Lord; He promises that “it will be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
Ephesians 6:2-3 "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise),
3 "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land."

That being said, parents are not without a directive:
Ephesians 6:4a Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,...

Paul directs this to fathers because in their culture fathers “ruled” over there wives and children with an “iron fist” so to speak. In our culture, typically, there is an equal balance of authority between moms and dads. So logic would dictate that this directive would go for both parents.

Parents: DO NOT PROVOKE YOUR KIDS TO ANGER. As a coach I see this with my players. At some point people have got so wrapped up in the athletic ability of their kids, that many parents have completely lost site of the fact that kids sports are suppose to be fun. Instead, what I see is many parents towering over their kids after a game, giving them all these instructions and criticism. You can just see the smile on the kids face disappear and their body language shouts, “oh, I disappointed you again.”

Of course there are many other ways we can provoke our children to anger, and in many cases we may not be aware of it. In some cases we may think we are being a good parent. But isn't the wisdom of God amazing, family harmony hinges on these two simple instructions.  Imagine a family dynamic where kids honor their parents, and parents don't provoke their kids to anger.

But that is not the only directive to parents. The last half of verse 4 is the glue that holds it all together:

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Discipline and instruction of the Lord! Yes, the Lord disciplines and chastens those He loves and we are to do the same:
Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.

Jesus rebukes, chastens and expects repentance.

In addition to discipline, we are also to instruct them. Instruction of The Lord. I have to be honest here; you can not impart on your kids something you do not have. In a silly analogy; I don't know how to play “Guitar Hero”, as such, I can not instruct my kids how to play it. I can hook the game up to the TV and put in the disc, but my help stops there. This is the equivalent of dropping kids off at their Wednesday night “religion” class, but never opening The Word with them, praying with them and teaching them about Jesus.

The last thing I want to cover today is our working relationships. Paul is talking about slaves and masters in Ephesians 6; however, we should know that this was part of the economy of the day. People would give themselves in to bond service to pay a debt. I think the parallels of Paul's instruction to them is equally relevant to us in our jobs today.

As we read the Scripture I don't think we would be irreverent towards God's Word if we would think in the context of bond-servants (slaves) being employees, and masters being the boss. I am not saying employees are slaves and bosses are masters; I am only saying, we need to put it in to context. I don't think it would be wise for us to breeze past this part of The Word of God as if it doesn't apply to us because we don't like the terminology.

That being said, whether we are employee or bosses, slave or master; we are to conduct ourselves as those serving The Lord, not man.

Ephesians 6:7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men,

Imagine if everyone treated their employees, customers, supervisors and vendors with the same level of gentleness and respect that we would if Jesus was literally standing right next to us watching us work. If we belong to Him, that is exactly what He wants and expects. He wants us to serve others in a way that brings Him honor and glory. Not with false humility and deceit, but with sincere hearts:
Ephesians 6:5-9 Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. 9 And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

Colossians 4:1 Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

1Timothy 6:1 Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed.
 
As I was proof reading this, the thought came to me: Notice how we need leaders and followers.  Paul did not say, "tear down the authority structure".  He basically says, "whatever your role is, do it well in service to The Lord."  How amazing would it be if all companies operated under this concept?  Wherever you are on the "ladder", treat those above and below you with honor and respect.  I have to be honest, my tongue and attitude toward employees and customers is not always honoring The Lord.....let's all may a covenant with God that we will commit to this command.  Not only is it right, it comes with a promise.  Did you notice the promise in verse 8; “whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord".  We need to commit to this, not because we want to manipulate God (because we can't); we need to commit to this out of a sincere desire to please and serve Our King.
Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Do you want Truth, or "fluffy" half truth?

I remember when I was about 11 years old I went to visit my sister in St. Cloud while she was going to school there. Her boyfriend was a small aircraft pilot and he was going to take me flying. I had never been in an airplane and he buckled me in, he adjusted whatever else needed adjusting and looked over at me and said with a grin, “are you ready?”

That was a pretty good question for an 11 year old who had never flown....”Are you ready?”

Heading in to Ephesians chapter 5, I need to ask first that you buckle up and get ready because Paul is going to take us in a warp speed of 21 verses (the 1st half of the chapter) through the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth.

First, ask yourself and be honest....do you want the whole Truth or do you want “fluffy, feel good” half truth?

If you want the whole Truth, continue:

As we talked about a few days ago, I love seeing the phrase “I urge you” in Scripture. The word “deceive” has that same affect. In a silly analogy, it is kind of like going to the dentist and hearing him say, “this might hurt a little bit.” Well, if you are only pretending to be a Christian, Ephesians chapter 5 is one of those chapters that's going to “hurt a little bit”.

Paul says, “Let no one deceive you with empty words,...” There are some that are going to be deceived in many ways, and in many things.  Paul is continually warning us.
Ephesians 5:5 For this you know, that no ( ….) , has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Ephesians 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words....

What is the vessel of the deceit Paul is talking about?.....WORDS! Some will preach false doctrine and deceive people. Actually many will preach false doctrine and deceive many.

Let's first look at the consequences of falling prey to this deceit; the person that falls pray to this deceit will NOT go to Heaven:

Instead of going to Heaven, what is going to happen to those that fall prey to the deception?

Ephesians 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes...

What does that mean, the wrath of God comes? Upon this world, this country, this city....WHAT?

The wrath of God comes upon....here comes that word we don't hear much in todays pulpits....do you know what it is?:

Ephesians 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

OUCH! “Can you define disobedient please?” As luck would have it, we don't have to struggle with determining the definition of disobedience, because God has already done that in His Word.
Ephesians 5:3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Many reading this would rightly conclude, “isn't that ALL of us?” YES!  Yes, that is all of us! The question isn't; up to this point were you perfect?  The question is, are you now willing to confess and forsake your sin and surrender your life to Jesus. The question should not be, “Aren't we all sinners?”...Because we are.  The question is, “Are you willing to turn away and turn in the lusts of this world for the King of kings and seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness?”

If you are willing to follow Jesus, He gives some clear directives:

Ephesians 5:8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Ephesians 5:18-21 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Is the old man dead?

A couple years ago when I was coming home from work, I was about a half a block away from the house when a kid zoomed down the neighbor's driveway and in to the street without looking; if I was about 30 feet further I would have hit him. I thought, "you idiot kid, didn't your parents teach you better than that?"....then I realized, that idiot kid was my son. I threw my truck in park, screamed at him to get in the truck, threw his bike and skateboard in the back of my truck (where I kept them for 5 days). After I got done losing my mind and he had been in his room for about an hour, I went up to "gently" explain to him why he shouldn't do that again. I am kidding, I didn't "gently" explain anything. I pleaded with him, I urged him not to do that again. Then I explained to him the potential consequences of his actions. There is no way I could communicate urgently enough.

Why was I so urgent? Obviously, because I love my son very much. If it was one of the neighbor kids, would I have been so urgent? Sadly, no. But that's just the truth. I don't want any kid to get hit by a car, but there is a different level of urgency for those you love.

This level of urgency is the love Paul has for the brethren in verse 1:
Ephesians 4:1a I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you....

What is Paul urging the reader about in verse 1? Before we look at that, ask yourself, will you heed the warning, or will you continue to “zoom in the street”?
Ephesians 4:1 ... to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,

What does this manner look like? How does Paul instruct us to walk?
Ephesians 4:2-3 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Not very many people will argue with the first 4 items on this list. Even secular “self help” gurus would have a hard time arguing that life wouldn't be better if we were more humble, gentle, patient and loving. I know my life would have been a whole lot better if I understood this; but instead I was the exact opposite of these things most of my life.

There is no doubt we are to be humble, gentle, patient and loving, all for, and to, the Glory of God.  Not for our own selfish gain, but genuine in these characteristics in all of our conduct. There is a such thing as false humility, and we need to steer clear of this deception.

When I started my business I sponged up everything I could get my hands that might help me succeed. I would make self proclamations (as instructed by Zig Ziglar). I did my best to act like I should act: however, it was entirely a striving in the flesh. If I was acting more humble, gentle, patient and loving it was (sadly) only a means to an end. There was no Holy Spirit transformation; there couldn't have been, because I wasn't saved. The last piece of the puzzle Paul mentions here is unity of the Spirit. This is what separates the “self-improvement, highly motivated” person who does not have a relationship with God, from the Christian. Not that Christians can't be highly motivated, it is just that the affections of the heart of a Christian are different. Paul makes it clear that one of the “manners” by which we should be walking is in “the unity of the Spirit”. Paul further explains that there is One Spirit, and One Body. When we are born-again, we are the Body of Christ with The Holy Spirit living in us. Therefore, the members of the body will walk in unity and be bonded together in peace with the brethren, that bond is love.
 
In addition, Paul warns us not to grieve the Holy Spirit:
Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

We grieve the Holy Spirit by continuing to walk as we did before we learned of Christ:
Ephesians 4:17-19 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

Is this how you learned Christ? Or have your learned of a different christ? Because the Christ of the Bible is Jesus Christ, who commands all men, everywhere, to repent, to put to death the old man:
Ephesians 4:20-24 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Paul goes on to point out a few things we should know about the character of this “new man”...he should:

-Put away lying and speak the truth
-Do not sin when you get angry; instead be self-controlled
-If you have harbored any bitterness in a day, do what is needed to set it aside by the end of the day as to not let it grow and become a bigger problem, giving the devil an opportunity to corrupt your witness and/or fellowship
-Do not steal
-Work hard
-Be generous
-Do not use foul language or lewd humor
-Speak only that which will encourage, instruct or uplift others
-Do not gossip or slander
-Be kind
-Be forgiving, do not harbor bitterness