Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Real or Fake?...Actions speak louder than words

The first half of Titus chapter 1 Paul makes it clear what the characteristics of church leaders should be. They are definitely worth reading so you know what to expect from the men that are being placed in positions of leadership in your church. If these characteristics are not present in your leadership staff, I don't think there is any doubt we should be asking questions.

My focus tonight is not what these characteristics are; but why they are important and what the church leadership should be doing....and if they are not.....why not?

After Paul gives is prerequisites for leadership candidates, he follows up with why:

Titus 1:9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Paul sure seems to use that term quite a bit...SOUND DOCTRINE! That's not the only term he uses more than a few times....another one is REBUKE! Paul commands the leadership of the church to REBUKE those who contradict SOUND DOCTRINE!
WOW! That doesn't sound like the “touchy feely” “everybody is on their own path to God” kind of doctrine we hear being peddled today. Somebody you like, or maybe even love, in your church may be preaching a weak doctrine, and they may even be convinced and sincere in their belief. But let me ask you this question....”have you ever heard of somebody being sincerely wrong?” If I pointed a loaded gun at you, but I sincerely thought the gun was empty, would that change the outcome if I pulled the trigger?” Sincerity has NOTHING to do with it!

Of course we have those that are not sincere, they only desire to fill their bank account:

Titus 1:10-11 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.

Did you catch what Paul said? He said, “their mouths MUST be stopped”. He didn't say, have a teleconference with them and find common ground! What fellowship can light have with darkness? NONE! My comment earlier about somebody having a “weak doctrine” was not accurate....”weak doctrine” is a worldly statement....the truth is, if it is any other doctrine except that of the sound doctrine of Jesus Christ, it is a doctrine of demons, and anyone that preaches it shall be accursed:

Galatians 1:6-9 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

Why did Paul say that those preaching false doctrine should not only be rebuked, but rebuked SHARPLY?.....that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to fables, myths and the instruction of men:

Titus 1:13-14 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.

Jesus said, “you know a man by his fruit”. That is how you distinguish between the real and the fake Christians. Somebody doesn't have to deny God in word when they are already denying Him with their actions. They deny Him with what they do with their time, their money, things they read, shows they watch, what makes them laugh, what gets them excited....we've all heard the saying “actions speak louder than words”.....apparently they got it from Titus 1, because that is basically what verse 16 says:

Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Jesus is God

Titus is one of my favorite letters. True to Paul's style, he packs so much in to such few words. Although this letter is broken up in to only 3 chapters, I am going to spend about 6 days on it.

One of the reasons I love this letter so much is because it makes it clear and concise what we should expect from our church leaders, and it defines what a follower of Christ should look like.

One of the other reasons I love this letter so much is found within the first 4 verses; it clearly illustrates the Deity of Jesus Christ. To be able to quickly demonstrate the Deity of Jesus is very helpful when talking with Muslims, Jehovah's Witness and Mormons. These are just 3, of several religions that deny that Jesus is God.

It is interesting how uncomfortable people get when you say Jesus is God. I was preaching at a basketball tournament this week-end and was talking about false religions and false teaching. There was no noticeable resistance in talking about Jesus, obedience and holiness....but as soon as I said Jesus is God, there was a couple people that stiffened up a little...they didn't like hearing that.

When you are faced with a situation where someone says, The Bible doesn't say Jesus is God, just remember Titus 1. Of course John 1 and other sections make His Deity clear, but here in Titus 1, within a couple verses, it is crystal clear. Notice how in verse 3 Paul says, “God our Savior” and then in the very next verse he says, “the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior”:

Titus 1:1-4 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, 3 but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior; 4 To Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.

I also love the way Paul makes the point that God cannot lie. He doesn't say, "He doesn't lie", he doesn't say "He won't lie"....he says he CANNOT lie.

Have you ever talked to somebody and said, “just give it to me straight”; and then after they tell you whatever it is, you still doubt whether they are being completely truthful? You don't have to worry about that with God, He cannot lie....so whether you want to hear it or not, He is going to say it straight, and He commands us to do the same:

James 5:12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your "Yes" be "Yes," and your "No," "No," lest you fall into judgment.

Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, putting away lying, "LET EACH ONE OF YOU SPEAK TRUTH WITH HIS NEIGHBOR," for we are members of one another.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sound doctrine...do you believe it?

In 2 Timothy Chapter 3 Paul gave us a very detailed description of the characteristics we will see in people in the last days. I think, based on Paul's other letters, we can look at that list and create a pretty clear comparison between those that are led by the Spirit and those led by the flesh. Below is a graphic of the list. An easy argument could be made that there are people that have some of the characteristics of the Spirit led list but are not born-again; however, there are 2 “biggies” on the list they lack. On the other hand, there are those that are born-again that are still baby Christians and do not have all of the characteristics of the Spirit led list, but they have the 2 “biggies”.

On to chapter 4....

I am only going to cover 4 verses in this chapter, and I don't have much to say other than; “LOOK AT WHAT IT SAYS!”

1st: Jesus Christ will Judge the living and the dead....JESUS!....Nobody else:

2Timothy 4:1 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:

2nd: Share the Gospel!

2Timothy 4:2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

3rd: Seek the Truth before it is too late. The time is coming when men will not want to hear The Truth, they will turn away from sound doctrine. Let's take a look at sound doctrine and you decide if you have turned away from it:

We are all sinners deserving of eternal separation from God in a brutally, horrifying beyond words, place called hell. But, God (who Created all things and everyone) loves us so much that He provided a Way for us to be reconciled to Him; and that Way is Jesus Christ and His death and finished work on the Cross, along with His Resurrection from the dead defeating sin and death. If you believe this and put your faith in Him alone for salvation you will be saved. If you don't, you will die condemned and face Him as Judge. If you have put your trust in Jesus, He will give you a new heart with new desires. Your life will be changed radically and the evidence will be clear in your desire to please Him, it will be evident in your desire to leave your life of sin and instead you will desire to live a life of holiness, righteousness, and obedience to your King, King Jesus. In short, you will be born-again; and as Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

That's the Gospel....That's sound doctrine....do you believe it?

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.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Do you think....?

Do you think that each generation gets more and more disobedient to their parents?
Do you think that each generation gets more and more unthankful for their blessings?

Would our culture indicate a worsening of crime with people becoming more and more brutal?

As a society, our we lacking self-control more and more, with the focus on pleasure rather than righteousness?

Do people seemed to have an outward appearance of goodness, yet their actions often contradict?

Has the virtue of humility been completely overcome by the “new virtue” of pride and arrogance?

In your opinion, Is all of this getting progressively worse from year to year?
Paul makes the point in 2Timothy chapter 3 that this is exactly what will happen in the last days, much like the escalation and frequency of birth pangs.

2Timothy 3:1-5 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

Over and over again in the Word we are commanded to flee from all forms of evil and evil people; but we need to be careful to use The Lords definition for evil, not our own:

1Corinthians 6:18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body
1Corinthians 10:13-14 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

1Timothy 6:9-11 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.

The list given above is not the only thing that will continue to grow worse and worse:

2Timothy 3:13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.

Isn't that an interesting statement? Evil men will deceive and “be deceived”. This is the only way I can figure this; some, many or maybe most false teachers deceive people from The Truth without knowing it. I think many of them are really sincere in their belief. Of course you have those that are knowingly deceiving people for selfish gain, but it seems to me that many are teaching a false doctrine out of sincerity....how else is somebody both deceiving and being deceived? If Satan can put it in the heart of Judas to betray Jesus, do you think it is any harder for him to put it in the heart of other men to unknowingly (or knowingly) deceive people with false religions and false teaching?

How do we guard against these wolves in sheep's clothing? After all, if you have been deceived from The Truth deliberately or from a sincere false teacher, you are equally condemned if you die in your sin, so how do we protect ourselves from either one of them? One piece of the puzzle is having a desire to study and meditate on God's Word:

2Timothy 3:14-17 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Are you running out with toilet paper?

If your house was on fire and you could grab only a few things on the way out, I think most of us would agree that toilet paper would not be one of the items we would have in our arms. Toilet paper has its use in our life; however, it does not hold a position of treasure in our heart. Family albums, kid's drawings, safe boxes, etc.....those are the things we'd be scrambling to grab. Some things are for honorable use and some are not so honorable.
Paul makes the point in 2Timothy chapter 2 that some people are vessels of honor to and for God, and some are vessels of dishonor:

2Timothy 2:20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor.

For someone to cling to the lusts of this world is as silly as passing up the silver and gold and grabbing the toilet paper in a fire. If we desire to be vessels for honor, we must leave the garbage behind:

2Timothy 2:21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.

Do you know how The Lord knows for absolute certain that you desire to be a vessel of honor, useful to Him? You will repent of your sin and turn and serve Him. Some of you might be thinking, “here he goes with the repent thing again.” Take a look at verse 19 and tell me if there is any other way to confirm that the Lord knows you are His:

2Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity."

2Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

We need to pay very close attention to the last few verses of this chapter. Notice that it does not say to ignore false teachers in the name of going along to get along. You can not take a piece of Scripture and make it work for your agenda! If Paul spends a big chunk of all his letters rebuking and warning of false teachers and false religions; rebuking and warning of false teachers and false religions DOES NOT fall under the heading of “foolish and ignorant disputes”. That being said, there is plenty of “foolish and ignorant disputes” going on with the brethren where there shouldn't be. For example, there is no need to argue with someone about whether the Word of God says we need to leave our life of sin; that fact is so crystal clear in Scripture that for anyone to argue the point is just a smoke screen of a man that wants to keep sinning; don't waste your time with that foolish and ignorant dispute. On the other side of the coin, Godly men will argue over pre-trib and post-trib rapture. We have a field that is ripe for the harvest, we have a lost and dying world going to hell, don't waste your time with that, go share The Gospel!

In addition to telling us what not to do, Paul tells us what we need to do. We need to be gentle with those that disagree; we need to be patient and humble. Being patient, gentle and humble are great attributes in a person....I need, and pray for, more of all three; but take a look at what the biggest reason is for you to be this way: that those who oppose you might come to repentance so they come to the knowledge of The Truth and escape the snare of the devil. WOW! The price of poker just went up, huh fellas! It is no longer to make you a likable guy, it is to bring Glory to Your King and save souls:

2Timothy 2:23-26 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

They tried to ban it, burn it, and outlaw it...yet it remains

 In the first half of 2 Timothy chapter 2 Paul gives several directives:
1. Be strong in the Grace of The Lord
2.Teach others The Gospel
3.Endure hardship as a good soldier for Chirst
4.Do not get entangled with this world
5.Seek to please The Lord
6.Be obedient to the commands of Christ

After Paul gives his analogies of these things, he follows up with this statement:

2Timothy 2:7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

When we are born-again, The Lord gives us understanding in all things. Sometimes we are not ready to receive a “piece of the puzzle”, but as long as you diligently seek Him from a pure heart you will grow in Godly Wisdom.

Godly Wisdom eclipses any earthly wisdom you could gain. The wisdom of the flesh is confused about why a person would suffer “unnecessary” hardship. From the world's perspective, a man preaching absolute Truth is a “criminal”:

2Timothy 2:8-10 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Throughout history, all the way back to the 1st Century, the world as tried to ban, burn and outlaw the Word of God. Yet It continues to be our only source of absolute Truth. Just as Paul states in verse 9, you can chain the messengers, but you will never chain The Word of God. You can kill the prophets, apostles and evangelists; but you will never kill The Word of God.

When you are convicted and convinced that The Word of God is absolute Truth you will endure anything for the sake of Christ. You will run the race set before you, just as Paul's race was to be “poured out as drink offering” for the sake of the elect, as stated in verse 10. But, did you catch the rest of that verse?

2Timothy 2:10a that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Paul had already obtained salvation by the Grace of God and his faith in Jesus Christ; yet he was committed to run the race of suffering that some might be saved. Paul reasoned in the synagogues, he preached in the street, he preached in prison, he wrote letters, and who knows what else. There is no doubt that Paul probably won debates, but he didn't always win hearts. Some people are too prideful, stubborn and hard-hearted to receive The Gospel and be saved. Unfortunately, there is no way to read the Word and accurately conclude that everyone will be saved, or will have a second chance when they die. It's hard to get our mind around, it's troubling to consider, and it's sad to conclude; but people we love will wind up in hell.....but it wasn't from lack of effort from our Creator, Our Savior...could it be from our lack of effort in enduring all things to bring them the Truth?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Which Crown(s) Would You Like?

I continue to be amazed by the Word of God. 2 Timothy chapter 2 is on of those chapters you need to read, re-read, re-read, re-read....you get the idea. It reminds me of John 3, Romans 1 & 8, Colossians 3, Ephesians 4, etc. There are those chapters that leave you blown away and 2 Timothy chapter 2 is one them; as such, I am going to spend a couple days on it.
Paul instructs Timothy to teach faithful men everything that he has preached. Paul also makes it clear that the instruction he gave to Timothy is the same message he preached to “many witnesses”. If there was any chance of the clear concise Gospel message would have been corrupted in any way, there would be plenty of people around to rebuke the false gospel. There are men out there trying to twist the Gospel for selfish gain, which is why faithful men need to press on with the Truth. Faithful men are not only to press on with the Truth, they are also to rebuke false teaching. This is not coming from a screen printer in Minnesota....this is from our big brother Paul over and over again in The Word!

2Timothy 2:2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Not only did Paul command Timothy to encourage others to teach and preach the Gospel, he also commanded him something else:

2Timothy 2:3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

Next time you hear a “health-wealth and prosperity pimp” suggest to you how you can “have your best life now”; ask him how that fits in to 2 Timothy 2:3.

Do you think it is only Timothy, Paul, John, Peter, James, Stephen, Thomas, etc. that are to suffer for Christ Jesus? If that is the case lets tell all our brothers and sisters suffering for Christ across the globe to deny Jesus, after all, the preachers here in America don't think you should suffer. Obviously I am being sarcastic. These directives to suffer for Christ are just as relevant today as they were in the first century.

Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

1Peter 5:10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

1Peter 4:16-19 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now "IF THE RIGHTEOUS ONE IS SCARCELY SAVED, WHERE WILL THE UNGODLY AND THE SINNER APPEAR?" 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

In every military around the world soldiers are committed to their oath of service. Very view times will you find a soldier rise through the ranks that is not willing to follow orders and get the job done at all cost. There is no doubt that some orders that come down from the “brass” are wrong, and in some cases flat out evil; however, as a “good soldier” they are committed to their oath. That is the exact picture Paul is giving those of us that are soldiers for Christ, only all our directives from Him are perfect, righteous and holy. Just like a Marine isn't going to take a directive from the “average Joe” on the street, neither are we to get entangled by the affairs of this world. We are not to be swayed by the lusts of this world, and we are not to be deterred by the discouragement and abuse of this world; instead, we are to set our sites on Jesus and glorifying Our King:

2Timlothy 2:4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

Paul keeps rolling with this same point, but swings in to another area many of us can relate to; sports. Our prize is eternal life and any crowns The Lord decides we might “earn”; but this prize only comes through His rules: love, faith, trust, repentance, surrender and obedience to Him:

2Timothy 2:5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

2Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

1Peter 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Revelation 2:9-10 "I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

If you seek to please your King, if you press on for the prize as that of a disciplined athlete, if you suffer as a good soldier, if you keep the faith, you will be able to make a statement similar to that of Paul:

2Timothy 4:6-7 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

And Jesus will say:

Matthew 25:21b 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'

Sunday, March 20, 2011

IS there a cost for being ashamed of Jesus?

After Paul's first letter to Timothy, he writes him another letter from prison. In his first letter Paul encouraged Timothy to be bold in the face of false teaching. He also assured Timothy that he should not let anyone convince him that he is not capable of the responsibilities set before him because of his age. Although Timothy was very young, he was predestined by God to this leadership role.
As with Timothy, when we are born-again, God's Spirit dwells within us, we are given the very Spirit of God to teach us all things:

John 14:23-26 Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me. 25 "These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

Romans 8:8-9 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

Timothy has the Spirit dwelling in him, as such, Paul reminds Timothy (and us) that if the Holy Spirit be in you, you need not fear. For us today this may not seem like such a big deal (yet); but Timothy and the rest of the brethren were facing extreme persecution. Paul at the time of this writing was facing his own persecution, so he definitely was NOT on the outside looking in with a “you can do it” kind of cheer-leading. Paul was facing brutality and he affirms, “do not fear; fear is not of Christ, but it is of the enemy.”

2Timothy 1:7a For God has not given us a spirit of fear,

If God did not give us a Spirit of fear, what are the characteristics we should be experiencing when we are given the Holy Spirit?:

2Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

With power, love and sound mind we need not be timid in sharing The Gospel. We dare not be ashamed of sharing The Gospel. When we belong to Him it is nothing we did to earn or deserve it, but instead it is by His Grace we have been saved, as such, we have a purpose, a purpose He had planned for us before the foundation of the world. That purpose is to glorify Him:

2Timothy 1:8-10 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

Mark 8:38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."

Do you lack to strength to turn away from the lusts of this world? Do you lack the boldness to speak the name of Jesus in certain company. Do you like the courage to share the Gospel?

I would contend that you may be trying to do it on your own strength. You need to understand that you are no match for Satan and the demons. They want you timid, sinful and ashamed. That is not what God wants for you. He wants you fearless for Him, He wants you hungering and thirsting for righteousness, He wants you to turn away for the lusts of this world. But all this can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, and you need to ask for Him:

Luke 11:13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
Mat 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

2Timothy 1:13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Jesus wants me to be rich? Great, I want me to be rich!

There probably isn't too many of us who haven't heard the term, “money is the root of all evil”. We may even have been told that this phrase is Biblical. Those that have said that, and convinced us that it is true, have missed a crucial word from this verse:
1Timothy 6:10a For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,

Before Jesus saved me I was pursuing financial success like it was the most important thing in the world. I remember a motivational speaker I used to listen to said, “money isn't everything, but it is reasonably close to oxygen.” The sad thing about this statement is that this man claimed to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and at the time I didn't even know what that meant. Based on listening to this man, I put two and two together and concluded, “Jesus wants me to be rich?! Great, I want me to be rich! I think Jesus and I will get along just fine!”

Although the televangelist and motivational speakers with the “Jesus angle” will tell you otherwise, you will never find anything in The Word of God that says anything remotely close to the statement, “Jesus wants you to be rich”.

You will see over and over again that we are called to be content:

1Timothy 6:6-8 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

As we have discussed before, Philippians 4:13 is often used as a “success verse”; an “I can do it” verse. Let's take a look at the context in which Paul wrote this verse:

Philippians 4:9-14 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. 10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.

Clearly Paul is talking about being content. Whether Paul is of lack or plenty, he is content and can do all things....how?.....Through Christ Who strengthens him.

When we are consumed by money our vision and decision making gets out of whack. We say and do things that are ungodly. When we love money, above all else, it becomes our idol and nothing else matters. When we love money God takes a back seat. When we love money the kids ball games and other events become less important to get to. 

1Timothy 6:9-10 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

What should we be doing instead of pursuing wealth, and what should those who are rich in this world be focussed on?:

1Timothy 6:11-19 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time--he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. 17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

Matthew 6:19-21 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Is the Resurrection that big of a deal?

How do you think the world sees the average church? What do you think the world thinks of the average professing Christian?

Before you continue, really stop to consider this.  If you did one of those “man on the street” interviews with people walking by, what would the general consensus be?

Would the word hypocrites come up once or twice?

Would some people think of various rules and ritual, such as, not eating certain things or doing certain things?

Would some people have images of priests come in their mind or the catholic churches view on marriage?

Would the thought of televangelist come to mind and the never ending request for more and more money?

Would some think of the faith as something they were forced to participate in when they were younger, but now that they are older and smarter they don't buy it?

What images did the question put in your mind?

Here's what God said, through Paul, would happen in the last days...see if it sounds familiar:

Timothy 4:1-3 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

I was having a conversation this week with a good friend of mine who said that his brother-in-law no longer considers himself born-again. Aside from the fact that nobody is ever UN-born-again (either you are reborn or not); his brother-in-law is now believing in very strange philosophies and concepts of alien life. With further discussion, it came out that he doesn't believe Jesus rose from the dead, he now believes the story of the Resurrection was fabricated. All of this falls right in lock step with the deception of Satan and his crafty scheme of fine sounding arguments and his attacks on the deity of Jesus Christ:

1Timothy 4:7-8 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

2Timothy 4:3 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.

Mark 16:5-16 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you." 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. 9 [[Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. 12 After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. 14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
1Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

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.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What God wants you to know in 2 verses, interested?

It is sometimes easy to get irritated with people, especially politicians that continue to lie and deceive, the inconsiderate driver on the road, the co-worker that is a problem in the office, or whatever your “favorite pet peeve” may be, we sometimes (or many times) get irritated. But the Scripture commands us to pray for everyone; not just people you love or like, everyone. If you are born-again you have been given direct access to the Throne of God and your prayers are not just idle meditations or proclamations, they are requests for the King to consider. As such, we need to take that responsibility very seriously:
1Timothy 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,

1Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

James 5:15-16 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Colossians 4:2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

Philippians 4:6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Ephesians 2:18-22 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

It is through Jesus that our prayers are heard. I don't know any other way to say this, but to say it straight; if you don't have a relationship with Jesus you don't have access to The Throne. But that is not God's desire! God's desire is that everyone might be saved. Notice that Paul wraps up this emphasis in 1 Timothy to pray for everyone with the number one reason to pray for everyone:
1Timothy 2:3-4 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

What is that Truth He desires all people to have knowledge of?
1Timothy 2:5-6 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

What should the prayer of the righteous look like?
1Timothy 2:8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;

James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

I am going to wrap up with a verse that we don't hear preached on much, if at all. It is definitely a verse that most young girls and many women would rather ignore, and in looking at todays fashion, it is ignored. We do not have to authority to take out or ignore Scripture, so with that said:
1Timothy 2:9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,

We don't see many women “adorned in braided hair” in our culture; but we also do not see much modesty in apparel either; yet that is how women are called to dress. Obviously you do not need to be a rocket scientist to piece together why God would make this command; the question is, are you willing to put your pride aside and listen?

Monday, March 14, 2011

At war with God?....are you sure?

Paul commands us to call out false teaching and goes on to give us the specific purpose for the command. The purpose of this command is love from a pure heart. Isn't that amazing; and completely contradictory of the world view? The world will tell us that it isn't loving to call someone to the carpet for something, let alone someone that is seemingly trying to do good. Question: What is loving about leading people astray whether it is intentional or not? If I unknowingly give someone wrong directions that leads them to an extremely dangerous part of the city on a Saturday night are they in any less danger because I didn't mean to do it? Maybe I sincerely thought I was giving them the right directions; or maybe I intentionally wanted to mislead them. In the broad scheme of things; does it matter how they got there? Are they in any less danger one way or the other? Of course not. When we look at it from a vantage point like that, it is a little easier to get our mind around the fact that we warn and rebuke false teaching out of love. LOVE WARNS!

1Timothy 1:5-7 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, 6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.

Verse 7 reminds me of an exchange I had with someone a while back. They were of the mind that we need to call Jesus by His Aramaic Name or we are not really saved. This person insisted on using Hebrew words and following Jewish tradition. This person was clearly deceived from the fact that Jesus freed all those that trust in Him from the Law. The Word couldn't be any more clear that there is no longer Jew or Greek, but we are all one in Christ Jesus. This person was very sincere in their belief, but they were sincerely wrong. They were just as verse 7 says, “desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.”

Galatians 3:26-28 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Paul also makes it clear what the Law is for. Have you ever wondered what the Law is for? A logical question is, “if we are no longer under the Law and we can't come close to following the Law any way, what is the point of the Law?

First, the Law is not made for the righteous person....so if you are perfect, the Law is NOT for you. If you aren't perfect the Law is for you; unless you have been made righteous through Faith in Jesus Christ; in which case, if you have been born-again, you will no longer be able to practice from the list Paul gives here:

1Timothy 1:8-9a But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for...

Here is the list that the Law is for:

-the lawless
-the insubordinate (which means not submitting to authority)
-the ungodly
-the unholy
-the profane
-sodomites (men who practice homosexuality)

Two quick thoughts on the list Paul just gave us.

One-our society loves to put focus on homosexuality and what the Bible says about it has kept people from being saved (whether they are homosexuals or not). It is important to note the entire list. Practicing homosexuality is no greater or less sin than heterosexual fornication; but it is sin. This list includes all of us! There is none of us who is any less guilty than the next. If we die in our sin we are all equally condemned.

Two-just in case you do not consider yourself in the same boat as the rest of us; Paul wraps up this list with this:

1Timothy 1:10b-11 , and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.

If you have not surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, you will still be named among those listed above. Does that mean those that do belong to Jesus Christ have never committed fornication, homosexuality, lies, murders, etc.....OF COURSE NOT! The question isn't are you sinful? The question is, is practicing sin part of your past or present? When you are born-again you will not deliberately continue in sin. You will instead be able to make a statement like Paul did here:

1Timothy 1:12-15 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

Isn't that glorious! Paul concludes this statement by making the point that he was shown mercy so the rest of mankind would know the patience of Our Creator. That we would see in Paul a man that was more evil than most people could ever be, yet God saved him any way.

1Timothy 1:16-17 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

If you are reading this and you are thinking, “yea, but you don't know the things I've done. God could never save me.”

I would leave you with this:

God has never and never will lie. He has promised forgiveness, redemption and eternal life for ALL that will trust in Him and repent of there sin. To repent means to turn away from your sin and turn to Jesus Christ with a broken heart, broken over your sin, crying out, “Lord, me merciful to me a sinner.”

The Law is the School Master leading you to the Cross. The Law exposes your sin leaving you helpless and looking for The Savior.

Galatians 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

If you are too prideful to surrender to Christ, then there is nothing for you except the Law by which you will be Judged; however, if you are humbled by this Truth, there is Good News for you. You are not beyond hope, you can place your hope, faith and trust in the King of kings...Jesus Christ.

James 4:4-10 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, "He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us"? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"White Pages?"

Somewhere along the line our culture has been completely deceived that “as long as someone says their a Christian you can't criticize them”. The term Christian has even lost its effect to a certain extent because even those that are not born-again will call themselves Christians. Even those pushing and peddling another doctrine will use the title of Christian. This shouldn't surprise us, Satan is “more cunning than any beast of the field”; it takes very little effort on his part to infiltrate and deceive those that prefer to have their ears tickled with a doctrine that doesn't speak of surrender, obedience and repentance. As Christians, we know this is true; however, what we have lost site of is the fact that we are commanded to call out false teaching where it is found.

In 1 Timothy chapter 1 Paul wastes no time in getting to the point:

1Timothy 1:3-4 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.

Clearly these issues have infiltrated the church:
-Another doctrine is being taught
-Fables are being pushed
-Ancestry is given merit in regard to salvation

All of this goes on today! Churches are teaching another gospel; terms are being used that leave Spirit led people people wondering what chapter and verse the preacher derived that conclusion; and we have people believing that they are going to Heaven because they were “born in to” a certain religion.

Paul has commanded Timothy to “charge some”. This doesn't sound to me like Paul wants Timothy to “go along, to get along; after all, they call themselves Christian.” NO! We are to call out false teaching lest the unsaved or new believers be deceived. I can't figure out how anyone could stay in a denomination that puts forth false teaching when over and over again in the Word we are warned of it. Further more, if your pastor is teaching another gospel we need to address it with them. There are non-eternal things that we can disagree on; but the essentials must be sound and not compromised. Which brings us to the big question....do you know your Bible well enough to recognize teaching that isn't sound, or at least leave you scratching your head wondering if that is right?

John MacArthur is one of my favorite Bible teachers, but he believes in a pre-tribulation rapture; which means that the Christians will be taken out of here before the great tribulation starts. When I listened to a cd he made on Revelation I heard him say, “people ask me, 'where's the rapture', well, it's between the white pages of chapter 5 and 6.”

I didn't think much of it at the time, my thought was, “OK, MacArthur knows”

Since then I have talk to other theologians that say that the pre-tribulation rapture is not right. They say there is no evidence that the Christians will not be here for at least the first half of the tribulation.

I don't know which doctrine is right. This is one of those “non eternal” disagreements. But my point is, I should not have quickly accepted a statement like, “it's between the white pages of chapter 5 and 6”. If someone is going to make a statement as Truth it needs to be backed up with The Word of God. Thankfully, the Bible repeats sound doctrine over and over again so the main stuff is clearly the plain stuff. But if you don't know what The Word says, you will fall prey to the doctrines of men which will lead you to hell. If you read my posts I am encouraged; however, do not take my word for anything, find out for yourself.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Grace, Mercy, Peace....why that order?

I'm not sure how many days it will take to get through 1 Timothy chapter 1, there is so much here. As I started reading it opened up to me how crucial the order of Paul statement in verse 2 is:
1Timothy 1:2 To Timothy, a true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
Grace has to come before mercy, and mercy before peace.

God's Grace is patient with sinners (which is all of us). He doesn't give us what we deserve when we deserve it; instead He extends us Grace, not wanting any to perish. Once we are convicted of this Truth, we will put our trust in Him and repent. When that happens, He pours out His Mercy on us. Until He pours out His Mercy in us, His Wrath abides upon us. His Mercy removes the Wrath because of our faith, surrender and obedience to Him. He then gives us a new heart with new desires, along with that, He gives us the peace of God which surpasses all understanding.
Psalm 94:1-3 O LORD, God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, shine forth! 2 Rise up, O judge of the earth; repay to the proud what they deserve! 3 O LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult?

2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

John 16:7-8 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:16-17 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Matthew 9:13 Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

Ephesians 2:1-5 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved--

Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Colossians 1:20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.