The Needs of the Knows

December 29, 2017 at 5:48 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 2 Comments
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I. The Knows need accountability.

The Christians in Jerusalem were in poverty. Paul had instructed the churches in Galatia (primarily made up of Gentiles) to take special offerings that could be sent.

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.

I Corinthians 16:1

As Christians we are accountable to our brothers and sisters in Christ who have financial needs.

Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

I Corinthians 16:2

As Christians we are also accountable to God.

And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.

I Corinthians 16:3-4

The Knows need the incentive of knowing that they are accountable concerning dealing with money honestly and responsibly.

II. The Knows need activity.

Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia.

I Corinthians 16:5

The Apostle Paul was always on the move – spreading the Good News, building up the family of God, and trying to meet needs wherever God called or allowed him to go.

And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go.

I Corinthians 16:6

Paul used the fellowship of his brothers and sisters in Christ as fuel to keep him going.

For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

I Corinthians 16:7-9

He was not naïve. Wherever the Lord opened a door, he knew Satan would try to slam it in his face. He battled the Jewish authorities, criminals who preyed on travelers, sometimes the local government authorities, and false teachers. We need to stay active in our service for the Lord.

III. The Knows need advocacy.

Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.

I Corinthians 16:10-11

Paul wanted the Corinthian Christians to receive Timothy the way they would Paul himself, despite Timothy’s relatively young age.

As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.

I Corinthians 16:12

Remember, some were contentiously claiming to be followers of Apollos, but Paul did not hold this against him.

Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity.

I Corinthians 16:13-14

Strong, irresistible faith, and Christian love were the linchpins that would resolve most of the problems they were having in Corinth. Paul wanted them to stand fast, be strong, and do everything in the spirit of love, not only because it was best for them, but because their “missionaries” and ministers depended upon it. This may not be the “best” reason for us to behave maturely in church ministry, but it is certainly a good reason: to help our church leaders. No pastor wants to take a time-out from trying to advance the Kingdom so he can settle a childish squabble between church members, or so he can tell somebody who has been saved too-long-to-still-be-this-sensitive to “man up.”

The Knows need accountability, activity, advocacy, and, as shown in Paul’s commendation of Stephanas, they also need addiction.

The Purpose of Jesus’s Birth

December 27, 2017 at 11:18 am | Posted in Incarnation | 1 Comment
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In this short series I have mentioned some concepts that parents could easily discuss with their children during the holiday season:

1. Incarnation
2. Advent
3. The Condescension
4. The Virgin Birth
5. The Humanity of Jesus
And, finally:
6. The Purpose of Jesus’s Birth

The cuteness of the Nativity scene can be attractive to children, there is no doubt about it. Parents need to remind kids, though, that the birth of Christ was only the beginning of His lifelong mission to:

a. Seek and save sinners (Luke 19:10; I Timothy 1:15)
b. Fulfill the Law of God (Matthew 5:17-18)
c. Minister to others and give His life for a ransom (Mark 10:45)
d. Divide the true from the false (Luke 12:51-53; John 18:37)
e. Call sinners to repentance (Mark 2:17)
f. Die for the sins of the world by satisfying the wrath of God (John 12:27; I John 4:10)

The Humanity of Jesus

December 21, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Posted in Incarnation, Luke | 2 Comments
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At the most festive time of the year, make sure that you intentionally discuss with your children some of the most wonderful Biblical truths about Jesus’s birth, such as:

1. Incarnation
2. Advent
3. The Condescension
4. The Virgin Birth
and
5. The Humanity of Jesus

“…[L]ittle Lord Jesus, no crying He makes…” go the words to a popular Christmas carol. But is this an accurate representation of the infant Christ? Christmas is a great time to explain to kids that Jesus, in His earthly incarnation, was indeed FULLY human. He experienced human emotions. He felt hunger, fatigue, joy, sadness, and the full range of feelings, although never sinfully.

Popular Christian art has tended to picture baby Jesus as serene, often times surrounded by a halo or corona of light, but the image of a child who stares blissfully and knowingly at all the adults around Him, never crying or giggling, seems more creepy than holy. Your kids might be fascinated to think of baby Jesus learning to walk, needing to wear a bib, and even needing a diaper change from time to time. The idea that the God of the universe would subject Himself to the limits, awkwardness, and temptations of humanity, further demonstrates His great love for us.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:7

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52

Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

John 4:6

Jesus wept.

John 11:35

After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.

John 19:28

Next time we will consider the purpose of Jesus’s birth.

To My Wife: Thank You

December 20, 2017 at 5:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As we celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary, I am so thankful for a wife that has been faithful to pray for me over the years. I am convinced that her prayers have been one of the chief means through which God has seen fit to deliver me from many sins, to grant me great blessings, and to protect me from much danger and evil.

I also want her to know how grateful I am for her influence on our daughters. With each passing year I recognize how much they become more and more like her – which is a very good thing! By God’s grace, I desperately want the children that He has entrusted into my care to be faithful, kind, compassionate, joyful, teachable, and to have a desire to know Christ in deeper and more mature ways. God has certainly used my wife to accomplish this in their lives.

My wife and I serve in a local assembly of believers (a “church”). We believe that this is God’s plan and will for nearly every believer. My wife has a strong commitment and love for our church family. There is no doubt that my own ministry there would be much weaker and less effective without her help and partnership.

After 26 years of marriage, my wife and I have certainly had our share of arguments. As someone who grew up playing competitive sports, and who now “argues” for a living, I have a real aversion to losing an argument. I am thankful that when I lose an argument with my wife (which is often, simply because she is usually objectively right while I am objectively wrong), she doesn’t think of it as “winning.” She thinks of it as graciously dealing with a problem, “working things out,” or having a disagreement. I love her for this.

When my wife and I said our wedding vows we promised to love each other for better and for worse. The vast majority of these last 26 years have been “for better” moments (at least for me!), but we have had some “for worse” moments, too. We’ve come through these “for worse” moments by the grace of God, but His grace at these times has shown brightly in and through the faithfulness, strength, wisdom, humility, and perseverance of my beautiful and brilliant wife. I love her very much and thank the Lord for her – and for the gift of 26 years of marriage.

The Virgin Birth

December 19, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Posted in Incarnation, Luke | 6 Comments
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In the ongoing series of theological concepts to discuss with our kids during the holidays, we have mentioned:

1. Incarnation
2. Advent
3. The Condescension
Now we come to:
4. The Virgin Birth

This can be a tricky one with kids, and – especially when it comes to really young kids – you may want to leave the subject of virginity alone, or at least use a tremendous amount of tact and delicacy. Use your own judgment. You will know what your own kids can and can’t handle and understand. However, the miracle of Mary’s pregnancy, despite having no husband and having never “known” a man (Luke 1:34), is a crucial doctrine of the Christian faith.

First, it shows the miraculous power of God, because babies just aren’t conceived this way apart from His supernatural action. Second, Jesus Christ, although conceived in the womb of a sinner, was not “conceived in sin” the way every other human being (sons and daughters of Adam) has been. Jesus was not only holy, sinless, and righteous in all His earthly deeds, thoughts, intentions, and words, but was sinless in His essence and “person.”

Perhaps you could explain to your children that the appearance of a newborn baby requires a mommy and daddy, except for this one time – which we celebrate at Christmas – when a baby was born whose Father was God.

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Luke 1:26-37

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

We will continue the series by looking at the humanity of Jesus next time.

The Condescension

December 18, 2017 at 5:41 pm | Posted in Incarnation | 4 Comments
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Previously, I recommended that Christian parents use the holiday season to discuss some relevant theological ideas with our children, such as:

1. Incarnation
2. Advent

Now, add the Condescension to the list. This is a good concept to explain to children when they see droplets of water forming on a frosty beverage glass. Just kidding, that’s “condensation.”

The Condescension of Christ refers to the way in which the Son of God left His throne of glory in Heaven and came to live in our world as a man. He “stooped down” or “condescended” to our level in order to identify with us in our sufferings, needs, and dependence upon God, even beginning His earthly life as a newborn baby. This is one of the tremendous blessings and features of the Gospel message, for it helps to show how much Jesus loves us and how far He went to redeem us. As you explain it to your kids, it would be good for you to get down on their level, kneeling, sitting on the floor, or bending down to demonstrate.

For those who do the Christmas tree thing, helping them hang ornaments on the lowest branches of your Christmas tree, or peering underneath at some of the waiting-to-be-opened presents, would be an ideal time for this.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Philippians 2:5-8

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

II Corinthians 8:9

Next time we will discuss the Virgin Birth.

Advent

December 15, 2017 at 9:01 am | Posted in Incarnation, Luke | 6 Comments
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December is a great time for Christian parents to talk with our children about some of the great theological concepts associated with Christ’s:
1. Incarnation
2. Advent

As we get older, it seems like December 25 comes faster and faster each year. The agony and expectancy of having to wait for the opening of presents and the sharing of goodies makes the period between Thanksgiving and “the big day” seem like an eternity to little kids. For us adults, who have full schedules and obligations, it seems like Christmas comes the day after Labor Day!

“Advent” means the arrival of something important, and it has taken on the connotation of waiting for something with the sort of longing that makes it seem like a long time in coming. In Christian theology, though, it has a specific reference to the appearance of Jesus Christ at his birth in Bethlehem (His first Advent) and His imminent return, for which we are still waiting (His second Advent). Christmas is a good time to explain to kids that faithful Old Testament believers knew what it feels like to wait with great anticipation for Christmas morning. The prophecies that a Messiah would come to save them from the punishment for their sins and to set them free to enjoy the favor and goodness of God began way back in Genesis 3:15 and continued for centuries and centuries. Kids who are antsy about the arrival of Christmas are the perfect candidates to hear about the stories of Simeon and Anna.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Luke 2:25-38.

See also:

And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:13-14

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Micah 5:2

Next time we will take a look at the Condescension.

Incarnation

December 13, 2017 at 3:52 pm | Posted in Incarnation, John | 5 Comments
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December is a great time for Christian parents to talk with our children about some of the great theological concepts associated with Christ’s incarnation.

Jesus’s conception in Mary’s womb was the first and only time that God has taken on human flesh and entered our world as a man. He never stopped being God, nor did He even temporarily set aside His Deity, but He did veil His glory in becoming fully human while remaining fully God. He did this for many reasons, chiefly so that He could accomplish our redemption through His sinless life and sacrificial death, but also in order to identify with all our human frailties as our Great High Priest. Obviously, you will want to use simpler terminology, but even very small children can understand the basic concept of God becoming a man.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

I John 4:2

And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

Luke 1:35

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Matthew 1:22-23

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

Galatians 4:4

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

Romans 8:3

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:14-15

Next time I will discuss Christ’s Advent.

When We Can’t Wait to Celebrate

December 6, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Posted in Luke | Leave a comment
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When the prodigal son returned to his father, there is no doubt that he was exceedingly sorrowful over not just the deplorable, debauched, and destitute condition into which he had fallen during his season of sin, but he was even more sorrowful over the fact that he HAD sinned against both his father and his God.

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

Luke 15:21

Just as the son is beginning to address his own unworthiness, though, we get the impression that he is cut off, midthought, by his father, whose joy over the repentance and return of his son demands a joyful celebration, not a recounting of past wrongs.

But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Luke 15:22-24

New clothes, feasting, and merriment are what he wants, not a trial period of wait-and-see probation to determine whether the wayward boy is truly sorry, or whether he is just hungry and manipulative.

If we take the father’s exuberance as our cue, how much more should we be ready and anxious to celebrate when someone we know returns from wandering in the fields of sin and despair, and comes back home to Christ? Let joy and praise be our default mode, rather than skepticism and wariness, if we wish to imitate our Heavenly Father Who delights in repentance!

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Luke 15:32

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Luke 15:10

Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

Micah 7:18


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