God’s Specific Will for You

November 11, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Posted in Where There's a Way There's a Will | 1 Comment
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If you are a Christian, here is the specific will of God for you:

1. Respond to suffering.

For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

I Peter 3:17

God may allow you to suffer for sin or mistakes, or He may allow You to suffer despite your obedience. Our job as Christians is to accept suffering as coming from God – either in allowing or causing it – and to seek to do what is right.

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

I Peter 5:10

For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

II Corinthians 12:6-10

2. Give thanks.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I Thessalonians 5:18

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Ephesians 5:20

3. Obey the earthly God-ordained authorities when doing so would not violate God’s commandments.

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

I Peter 2:13-15

4. Be holy.

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

I Thessalonians 4:3-7

5. Use your time wisely.

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5:15-17

What will help me accomplish God’s will in my life?

1. His Spirit

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

I Corinthians 2:9-10

The Holy Spirit teaches us through the Bible and gives us wisdom through prayer.

2. His Word

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

II Timothy 3:16-17

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

3. His Body

Specifically, it is God’s will that we be involved in the local church.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Ephesians 4:11-12

Catechism Question 17

February 9, 2015 at 4:28 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism | 4 Comments
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Question 17: How did Jesus die?
Answer: He was crucified.
Prove it.

Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.

John 19:18

Despite the horror, humiliation, and hurtfulness of death on a cross, there can be no denying that it was precisely the type of death ordained by God the Father to be experienced by God the Son. Why did He choose this type of death?

I do not know if we can answer that question with 100% certainty. Traditionally, I have heard it explained that this was the cruelest, most painful death possible, and that the physical suffering of Christ had to be immense beyond measure in order to pay the outrageous sin debt that was owed by His people. I do not want to minimize or denigrate the physical suffering of Christ on the Cross. There can be no doubt it was horrific. However, I have read of the deaths of many of the martyrs, and – physically speaking – there may be more torturous, drawn-out, and even intensely painful ways to die.

I think, first of all, as we explain the suffering of Christ to our children, we would do better to explain it in terms of the transaction of bearing the weight of sin and its guilt by the perfect sinless Savior, and experiencing the indescribable wrath of God poured out against sin. There is a sense in which this transaction took place in the eternal realm between God the Father and Christ the Son, and was a unique type of painfully propitiatory sacrifice which our finite brains can not come close to fathoming.

Second, I also think we need to teach our kids the significance of death by hanging on a tree-like Cross as a picture of the curse of sin being dealt with, and as a fulfillment of prophecy by which God made known the commingling of His forgiveness and His justice. The Cross of Christ had been illustrated in the Old Testament, and was now being orchestrated to prove God’s love and truth.

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

I Peter 2:24

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

John 3:14

Four-Dimensional Love (Part 2)

July 3, 2013 at 9:40 am | Posted in Biblical friendship, Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (emphasis added)

In Part One I mentioned the height, the breadth, and the length of Christ’s love, but now I want you to see the depth – the “roots.”

Rooted love is not complacent about its depth. “And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge…” (Ephesians 3:19) In the love of Christ we have the potential to know the unknowable! To know what can only be known in Christ – and can never be known apart from Christ. How deep is the love of Christ? It is eternally deep – we will never get to the bottom of it. My relationship with other human beings who I love – even my relationship with my wife – when it comes to its depths, its richness – is dependent on my knowledge of God.

They say that loving human relationships (especially marriage) are hard work, but the real “work” of love should not be “toil.” It is joyous and exciting work. It is going down deep, but it is like digging for buried treasure, not digging a grave. If you have only a superficial experience of the love of God in Christ, let me plead with you to spend time alone – late at night if you have to – early in the morning if you have to – missing a meal or a nap if you have to – deep in the Bible – in Bible study and in prayer – getting to know God, and bringing up the treasures you find in His depths. Roots press down hard and deep, but they bring up sweet water and nutrients from the earth – up the trunk and down the branches – to strengthen the tree and make the fruit bountiful.

Most good Bible lessons contain warnings and comforts. The comforting part of this one is supposed to be that you now realize that the love of Christ is four-dimensional and that you can be rooted and grounded in it and it’s wonderful. But here is the warning part: Do not make the mistake of thinking that the reason to love your spouse or your friends is so that they will love you in return. The love of Christ is shed abroad in our hearts, but it is not given to us to be used as a manipulation technique. Its purpose is not to teach you to give so you can get. That’s probably the major error in many otherwise good books on marriage, love, and relationships. The theory is that your “love tank” is empty. You feel empty because the special someone in your life doesn’t speak your love language or you haven’t learned to speak his or hers. You are from Mars, and your spouse is from Venus, so you need to learn to be a good alien, so your spouse will treat you right in return. Therefore, you can transform your spouse by serving him or her.

No! Jesus talked about this all the time and it always made people mad. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts…” “Even the sinners and the publicans and the unbelievers can do this…” These teachings of Jesus, which argue from the lesser to the greater, and contrast true love with superficial manipulation, have been adopted as principles for running businesses and winning friends and influencing people. “Be nice to others so they will be nice to you.” “Serve them and they’ll let you lead them.” When Jesus says that even the wicked understand the principle of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” He’s making a comparison, not setting the standard. You and I will get into big trouble if we take something good – service, self-sacrifice, selfless giving – and we use it as a means to get our needs met. News flash: You do have needs – but your spouse – or the person you care about – is not there to be manipulated into meeting those needs. Even if you are using very soft hands and very kind words in your manipulation, it is still selfish manipulation.

Your spouse or your loved one – by the grace of God – will one day make a very good spouse or best friend – and maybe they already do – but they are going to make a terrible Jesus. Your idols (the things or people you expect to meet your needs apart from God) will always let you down – and what you have idolized, you will eventually demonize.

As Christians, all our needs are met where?

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

Jesus showed the height of love on the Cross: He was “lifted up” so that He might draw all men to Himself. He showed the breadth: His arms were stretched out wide – open, inviting, welcoming. He spoke forth, showing the length of love: “Father, forgive them;” “Son, behold thy mother;” “It is finished.” He was nailed to a “tree” which was rooted to the Earth. He was both human and divine, and He wasn’t there suffering in order to evoke sympathy so they would come and take Him down. He was there to sacrifice, to love unconditionally, to love those of us who were not just undeserving but ill-deserving of God’s love.

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

I Peter 2:24

Two Sides to Every Blessing

January 30, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Posted in Selected Psalms | 3 Comments
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In a previous lesson we learned two fundamental principles from Psalm 116:

1. God answers the prayers of His children.
2. God’s attributes tend toward rescue.

Here is another:

3. God’s affections are set on His children.

What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.

Psalm 116:12-13

“What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?” This question can be taken two ways. It can be seen as rhetorical. Obviously we can never pay the Lord back for all the benefits He has granted us. It can also be seen as practical. Although we can never pay the Lord back for what He has done for us, we certainly ought to be encouraged to serve Him out of gratitude.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Psalm 116:15

Again, this verse has a double application. First, God rewards those who die in the faith, and second, God is not indifferent when His saints are threatened with death.

To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,

I Peter 2:4-7

God loves His Son, yet He gave His Son to die for us. Therefore, it stands to reason that He loves us deeply. He will not let us die until the appointed time.

4. God approves His own Covenant.

O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.

Psalm 116:16

A “servant” is a “son of the Covenant.” God is faithful to keep His promises.

After God has rescued you, be sure to express gratitude. We cannot “buy” God’s blessings, but when we call for help in an emergency, it is only right that we thank Him, and keep whatever promises we made in the time of trouble.

What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.

Psalm 116:12-14

God knows our hearts, and He may overlook rash words and promises, but here is a good recipe for post-rescue gratitude:

1. Give a thank offering.
2. Pour out some highly-valued part of your life like wine on the altar. People are often afraid to pour out the sin and vanity in their lives because they are afraid it will leave them empty, but it won’t! The Lord will fill you with something better.
3. Set aside part of your offering for sharing with others, and publicly thank the Lord in front of them.
4. Keep the promises you made.

Give Good Advice: Delay Taking Rash Action

May 21, 2012 at 9:04 am | Posted in Biblical Advice, Selected Psalms | 10 Comments
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Have you ever been confounded? Being confounded is like being confused, frustrated, and ashamed all at the same time. The condition of being confounded occurs when you are confronted with a problem that does not seem like it should be as tough to overcome as it is. A person who is confounded has not found within himself the answer to his problem, and he may seek advice from someone he trusts. As we look at some Biblical guidelines for giving advice, we will see that one of the biggest dangers in being confounded is the temptation to act rashly.

Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.

Psalm 4:4-5 (emphasis added)

The purpose for the advice to delay rash action is multifaceted. First, it gives us an opportunity to remember that the Lord is in control of our lives, and to exercise our faith in Him.

Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

I Peter 2:6

Second, it reminds us that we are not to bring shame to the Name of Lord by flying into a blind panic when problems seem insurmountable.

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.

Isaiah 28:16

Third, by delaying we will overcome the most common temptations to rash action: having a short temper (Proverbs 14:17; 19:19); panic (Psalm 27:14); boredom (Psalm 130:5); greed (Proverbs 28:20).

Rash action is a symptom of not believing that God has a right path for us to take in everything, even if it means waiting for Him to show us that path. Take this advice from the Lord, and give it to others:

A.void sin
D.elay taking rash action
V.
I.
C.
E.

(I wanted to take a moment to mention Bro. Ron Faciane, one of the best youth group Sunday School teachers around today. His site, rymmr.com , is a terrific resource for youth ministry.)

It’s Time to Grow Up

April 16, 2012 at 10:55 am | Posted in Bible Studies, I Corinthians | 10 Comments
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During the months leading up to the birth of our first daughter, my wife and I had many long discussions about all the plans and goals we had for her life. We talked about education, development, character, spirituality, even sports. I wanted to be the best dad in the world. However, that first night home from the hospital was an eye-opener. All the visitors and well-wishers had left, we were exhausted (and when I say “we” I really mean my wife was exhausted), and we were ready for our first peaceful night as parents. Our daughter had different plans though. She didn’t want to nurse, she didn’t want to take a bottle, and she didn’t want a pacifier. Most of all she did not want to sleep. What she wanted to do apparently was cry all night (and when I say “cry” I mean scream at the top of her brand new lungs). To say that my wife and I were freaked out is putting it mildly. I tried to remain calm for her sake, but the truth is I spent most of the night pacing, praying, holding the baby, trying to sing soothing lullabies through gritted teeth, and (even though I’m embarrassed to admit it) even crying a little myself. I also drastically altered my main goal as a parent that night. My main goal no longer had to do with making sure I had a daughter who would graduate from college or excel at sports or have tons of friends. My new main goal changed to just making sure she stayed alive.

About 7 1/2 months later I considered myself successful. She was still alive – and it was easy to prove because she still cried almost all night every night – and throughout most of the day unless she was being intensely entertained and stimulated. Then she started walking, and I changed my main goal as a parent again. This time my new main goal was to keep her from busting her head open. That goal lasted until she was 18 months old, at which point she took a head first dive from her stroller onto a concrete sidewalk and busted her head open. Thankfully, God protected her and she survived with a few stitches and a very small scar. My friend, Pastor John Wilkerson, once told me that it’s far easier to have a baby than to raise a child. He was talking about the challenge of evangelizing the lost and then discipling new believers, but the thought really resonated with me.

Eventually most parents realize that one of their main goals is to help their children become “mature.” When the Lord used the Apostle Paul to found the church at Corinth, the new Christians there were like spiritual babies. They had been “born again” by trusting Christ, but they were not yet mature. They were what are sometimes called “carnal Christians.”

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

I Corinthians 3:1

Physical size is often an indicator of maturity in the natural sense. We can tell a baby from a grown-up partly because of how big he is. But that doesn’t work in the spiritual sense. A person can become a Christian as a young child or as a full-grown adult. However, there are other ways of distinguishing children from adults that do apply to Christian maturity.

DIET

New-born babies have a very limited diet: milk or baby formula – that’s about it. Grown-ups can eat “meatier” food. The spiritual version of food is the Word of God – the Holy Scriptures. Several kinds of food are used to illustrate the Word of God.

Honey:

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Psalm 119:103

Bread:

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Matthew 4:4

Meat:

For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Hebrews 5:13-14

Milk:

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

I Peter 2:2

The Word of God nourishes Christians, and helps us grow, and we should be getting more mature in our understanding of the Word. We should not only be reading the Word, but heeding the Word.

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

I Corinthians 3:2

INTERACTION WITH OTHERS

For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

I Corinthians 3:3

These kinds of statements are to be somewhat expected from immature children:
-“Would you stop touching me!”
-“She stuck her tongue out at me!”

But these kinds of statements are pathetic and unacceptable coming from grown-up Christian believers:
-“Somebody sat in my pew!”
-“The preacher had better not be too busy to call me back or I’ll find another church!”

Immature children frequently fuss and fight (what I Corinthians 3:3 calls “strife”).

This is what you expect to hear from little kids:
-“I had it first!”
-“Sally got a cookie and I didn’t – that’s not fair!”

This is what we should not expect to hear from mature Christians:
-“I would tithe, too, if I had a good job like him!”
-“It’s easy for her to have faith – she’s never been through what I’m going through!”

Children tend to think they should have whatever the other children have (what I Corinthians 3:3 calls “envying”).

We might think it’s somewhat cute to hear little kids saying:
-“I’m not going to be your best friend any more, I’m going to be Suzy’s best friend!”
-“Don’t let Jimmy join our club!”

But it’s not so cute to hear grown-ups saying:
-“We can’t invite Billy Bob to the retreat – he’s difficult to deal with.”
-“Oh sure, if I had a fancy car like so-and-so, maybe the preacher would like me, too.”

Children like to exclude some and include others as a way of being mean (what I Corinthians 3:3 calls “divisions”). Two signs of maturity are what we eat, and how we act. Another sign of maturity is who we follow. Children tend to have “heroes.”

For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

I Corinthians 3:4

The baby Christians in Corinth were identifying themselves with Paul or Apollos or Peter or other church leaders, and they were making a sinful issue out of it.

Little boys brag: “My dad can beat up your dad.” But Christian men should not be dividing over which famous evangelist or TV preacher they follow. Mature believers look to Christ as our role model.

I Corinthians was written to church members who weren’t getting along. They were acting like little babies when, time-wise, they should have been growing up. These were people involved in ministry. They had talents and spiritual gifts, but they were ignoring the reason for these gifts. God gives us spiritual gifts to bring lost folks into the Kingdom, to do the work of bringing people to Jesus, to make disciples, to help others grow up, to build up the saints. Many times, though, like little bratty children, we’re misusing the gifts and talents which our loving God gave us. We’re playing with them. Or we’re fighting with them or over them. Or we’re bragging about them, and trying to show off, as if we earned them, or did anything to get them for ourselves.

For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

I Corinthians 3:9

The spiritual gifts and talents given to us by God are not weapons to fight with. They are not toys to play with. They are not trophies to brag about. They are tools, and we ought to be using them, as humble workers, to build with.

https://i1.wp.com/cache2.artprintimages.com/p/LRG/26/2679/7MZUD00Z/art-print/little-kids-sword-fighting-at-sunset.jpg

Home Is Where Your Lord Is

March 14, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Hebrews | 7 Comments
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Abraham “kept the faith” by tent-and-altar living – staying on the move and following God – not sitting still and summoning God to come to him.

Abraham also kept the faith by remembering what kind of traveler he was.

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Hebrews 11:8-10

Lot was happy with the city which had foundations built by men, but Abraham believed for something better – a different kind of city. In the meantime, he was content to live in tabernacles (tents) and be a sojourner. “Sojourn” means to reside temporarily. Most of the people who check into hotels do not intend to “live” there – at least not permanently. They intend to “sojourn” there for a little while. The idea of “sojourning” also has a connotation of having needs provided on a day by day basis. Each day the sojourner receives just enough to get by on (a “per diem“). True Christian sojourners have to stay focused on the Provider. The incident with Elijah and the lady at Zarephath is a good illustration of this principle.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Hebrews 11:13-16

Abraham was a sojourner, a stranger, and a pilgrim. He was not a vagabond. A sojourner is one who has a temporary home. A stranger is one who is away from home. A vagabond is one who does not have a home. But a pilgrim is one who is on his way home.

Abraham kept the faith by remembering what kind of traveler he was, and Abraham kept the faith by remembering where his home was.

Of whom the world was not worthy: they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

Hebrews 11:38-40 (emphasis added)

As New Covenant Christians, what “better thing” has God provided for us? The privilege of living on this side of the Cross. Old Testament saints looked forward by faith to the coming of the promised Messiah and Redeemer, but we have the proof of the fulfillment!

I don’t consider “my” house to really be mine. It is actually the Lord’s house (and arguably the mortgage company’s too!) that He’s allowing me live in. And I do like living in a house. But it’s not my permanent home. My permanent home is with the Lord Jesus in Heaven. One day I’ll go there and be with Him for ever and ever. Christians ought to always be a little uncomfortable in our daily lives – like people who are ready to go home. That’s one of the reasons we should so look forward to going to church each week. We have a biological family, but we find special comfort with our “true” family – our spiritual family in the Lord. We don’t “live” at church, but, each time, before we go back out, we need to remember that we are tent-dwellers who are at the beck and call of our Lord. One day my earthly home will be tried by fire. That’s why my sojourning here ought to be in fear – not fear of the world, but fear of God.

And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

I Peter 1:17

If you are an observer of our political system, our court system, or our “pop” culture, you may wonder why the world acts so foolishly. I believe that it is partly due to a lack of fear of the Lord.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

Proverbs 9:10

The primary responsibility of Christians is not political activism. Politicians respond out of fear of man.

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

I Peter 2:11

When Christians stop acting like strangers in this world, and start acting like citizens of this world, we begin to pick up the customs of this world. When we forget to be pilgrims, and make ourselves at home, our flesh goes to war against the Holy Spirit.

When comedians impersonate the famous actor, John Wayne, they almost always drawl the word “pilgrim” as part of their routine. It’s my understanding that he actually only used the term in a couple of his many films, but he had a way of speaking to people as though he was superior to them. In the few western films of his I’ve seen, the characters he played were portrayed as superior – but he also seemed envious in a way of the people he was speaking down to. The one I remember best was called “The Searchers,” and in that movie all the characters either had a home or were headed home – except for Wayne’s character. He is portrayed at the beginning of the film as looking into the doorway of the home of a family he intends to help, and at the end, he looks through the doorway again, turns, and walks away into the distance.

http://theseventhart.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/the-searchers.jpg

It’s like the other characters were all going to a home he could never go to. I doubt the filmmakers were intending to convey anything spiritual, but it is a reminder to me that it is foolish to invest too much into a home in this world – where it won’t last. I’m looking for a city in Heaven, and a home where the foundation can’t be cracked, the walls can’t be shaken down, and the roof can’t be burned up. It’s easy for us to fall into the trap of placing way too much emphasis on our material comfort. We pray for material or financial blessings, and God is saying, “No way, that’ll just make you comfortable, make you lazy.” When we feel like strangers and pilgrims, we don’t get too attached to this world, and we can devote ourselves totally to going where the Lord wants us to go, and to doing what the Lord wants us to do.

If Abraham had been given some type of institutional form to fill out with a section that said “Residency:,” I don’t think he would have checked the box that said “Ur of the Chaldees.” I think he would have written in: “My home is with the Lord.”

Abraham kept the faith by:
1. Staying on the move, following God
2. Remembering what kind of a traveler he was
3. Remembering where his home was

The Thousand Year Reign of King Jesus

February 24, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Ezekiel | 5 Comments
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If Ezekiel was describing the Millenial Temple in Chapters 40-48 – and I believe that he was – then it is somewhat surprising to see that this temple will have altars for sacrifices.

And from the bottom upon the ground even to the lower settle shall be two cubits, and the breadth one cubit; and from the lesser settle even to the greater settle shall be four cubits, and the breadth one cubit. So the altar shall be four cubits; and from the altar and upward shall be four horns.

Ezekiel 43:14-15

And one lamb out of the flock, out of two hundred, out of the fat pastures of Israel; for a meat offering, and for a burnt offering, and for peace offerings, to make reconciliation for them, saith the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 45:15

Why sacrifice? Didn’t Jesus die for the sins of the whole world once and for all? You better believe He did! But in Ezekiel we have descriptions of burnt offerings, trespass offering, sin offering, peace offering, meal offering, drink offering… What gives?

It is helpful to remember that Old Testament believers weren’t forgiven because of the actual shedding of the blood of animals.

For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

Hebrews 10:4

For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Psalm 51:16-17

Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2:4

The Old Testament believers were not saved by the sacrifices of animals, but, as we see in Hebrews 11, they were saved because of the sacrifice of the then-future Messiah, through faith.

For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:

I Thessalonians 2:9-10

These Verses are addressed specifically to believers.

As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

I Thessalonians 2:9-11

Note the honesty and authenticity in the “exhorting, comforting, and charging.” Note that the Apostle and the other leaders did not subtly insert themselves into the lives of the new Christians. This was more deliberate and intentional discipleship than backyard barbeques and once-weekly meetings at Starbucks. The purpose of discipleship is not to make new believers feel comfy and cozy.

That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

I Thessalonians 2:12-13 (emphasis added)

These new believers received the Word of God more than the excitement of experiences, more than the external appearance of exuberant praise and worship, more than fun, food, and fellowship. Many folks will agree that the Word of God must be trusted at salvation, but then they abandon it, or don’t place the same importance on it. The Word of God is still of paramount importance after we are saved. It works “effectually” in those that believe.

For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

I Thessalonians 2:14-16 (emphasis added)

In the Millenial Temple Jewish people and gentiles will study the Word of God and worship together.

But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.

I Thessalonians 2:17

Circumstances caused the Apostle and the other leaders to be physically separated from these new believers, but they longed to see them face to face. As Christians today, we need to physically attend church whenever possible so that we can see our brothers and sisters face to face.

In the Millenial Temple there will be no “separating wall.” In the Book of Acts we saw that the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Paul because they thought he had brought Gentiles into the Temple.

If you are reading this, and you are a gentile Christian like me, I am not sure what we will be doing during the Millenial Reign. Perhaps we will have authority over certain regions (under King Jesus, of course). Perhaps we will have specific ministry- or worship-related tasks. It appears that we will not be “priests,” although that is what we are, in a sense, today.

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;

I Peter 2:9

There will be singers in the Millennial Temple.

And without the inner gate were the chambers of the singers in the inner court, which was at the side of the north gate; and their prospect was toward the south: one at the side of the east gate having the prospect toward the north.

Ezekiel 40:44

Perhaps some people in the Millenium – Old Testament saints, New Testament believers, Tribulation martyrs – will have glorified bodies. Perhaps there will be some Tribulation survivors with mortal bodies who will be subject to death. I suppose that babies born in the Millennium will be sinners who need to be saved. Apparently, Satan will be able to raise an army to oppose the Lord. The descendants of Zadok will be the ones who will serve as priests.

And the chamber whose prospect is toward the north is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the altar: these are the sons of Zadok among the sons of Levi, which come near to the LORD to minister unto him.

Ezekiel 40:46

“Zadok” means “righteous.” They will not shave their heads, nor allow their hair to grow too long.

Neither shall they shave their heads, nor suffer their locks to grow long; they shall only poll their heads.

Ezekiel 44:20

Ezekiel Chpaters 45-48 describe the geography of the Kingdom, not just the Temple.

There will be a “prince” under the Messiah.

And the residue shall be for the prince, on the one side and on the other of the holy oblation, and of the possession of the city, over against the five and twenty thousand of the oblation toward the east border, and westward over against the five and twenty thousand toward the west border, over against the portions for the prince: and it shall be the holy oblation; and the sanctuary of the house shall be in the midst thereof. Moreover from the possession of the Levites, and from the possession of the city, being in the midst of that which is the prince’s, between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin, shall be for the prince.

Ezekiel 48:21-22.

There will be 20 separate “Years of Jubilee” – one every 50 years for 1000 years.

There will be a river of life, which Ezekiel was shown in a vision. He was taken out of the north gate of the Temple because the east gate has been closed. His vision was highlighted by things like fertility in the desert, bountiful fruit, and leaves for medicine.

Discipleship Lesson 8: The World

April 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 36 Comments
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I. Why does the world oppose Christians?

A. The world opposes Christians because the world opposed Christ.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

John 15:18-19

B. The world opposes Christians because Christians are supposed to live for Christ.

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

II Timothy 3:12

C. The world opposes Christians because there are two spiritual families that are at war with each other.

But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

Galatians 4:29

D. The world opposes Christians because the world’s system is opposed to Christ.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

James 4:4

II. How does the world oppose Christians?

A. By using those closest to Christians.

For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

Matthew 10:35-36

B. By cooperating with Satan in using unredeemed sinners against Christians.

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Ephesians 2:2

III. How can a Christian get the victory over the world?

A. By showing love, kindness, meekness, and gentleness to others.

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Romans 12:18

B. By pleasing the Lord.

When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Proverbs 16:7

C. By faith in God.

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

I John 5:4-5

D. By returning good for evil.

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:21

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Matthew 5:44

E. By choosing our friends wisely.

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Proverbs 13:20

F. By renewing our minds every day in the Word of God.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:1-2

IV. How should the world view Christians?

A. As sincere, by our actions even more than our words.

But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

I Corinthians 8:3

B. As set apart and different.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

II Corinthians 6:14-18

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

I Peter 2:9

B. As open and honest.

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

Romans 12:17

Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

II Corinthians 8:21

C. As people who love unbelievers, but know what we ourselves believe.

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Colossians 4:6

Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

I Timothy 3:7

V. How should Christians view the world?

A. The way a pilgrim views a strange land.

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

I Peter 2:11

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Hebrews 11:13

B. From the viewpoint of a citizen of Heaven.

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

Philippians 3:20

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

Ephesians 2:6

C. As a mission field.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

VI. Questions

A. What three institutions has God ordained for man in this world?

The family, the government, the church.

B. Where is a Christian’s home?

In Heaven.

C. What is the principle of “separation” for a Christian?

To be in the world, but not of the world. Not to touch the unclean thing.

VII. Memory Verses

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

II Timothy 3:12

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

I John 2:15-16

But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

I Corinthians 8:3

Discipleship Lesson 4: The Bible

December 20, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 90 Comments
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We have the revealed WORD OF GOD. Therefore, as Christians, we must let its principles guide our lives.

I. What does the Bible do for a lost person?

It is active in his salvation.

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

I Peter 1:23

The Word of God is active in bringing about the new birth.

For by grace are ye saved through faith…

Ephesians 2:8

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10:17

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

James 1:21

There is an emphasis on the Word of God in the Gospel:

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

I Corinthians 15:1-4, emphasis added

Believing what the Bible says about the Gospel is necessary for salvation.

II. What does the Bible do for a saved person?

A. It is the Owner’s manual. If we don’t follow the Owner’s and the Manufacturer’s plans, we won’t “work” – we won’t be successful Christians.

NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

B. It equips us for service.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

II Timothy 3:16-17

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Ephesians 6:17

C. It sustains us.

Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

Job 23:12

Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

Jeremiah 15:16

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

I Peter 2:2

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Psalm 119:103

Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

Proverbs 16:24

Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.

Proverbs 7:2

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.

Proverbs 25:11

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Luke 4:4

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Hebrews 5:12-14

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

I Corinthians 3:2

D. It cleans us.

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

Ephesians 5:26

BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:9-11

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

John 15:3

E. It makes us pleasing to God.

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

Psalm 119:165

III. Is the Bible ever wrong?

No, it is a “more sure word,” even than the audible voice of God.

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

II Peter 1:16-21

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Hebrews 11:3

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

Psalm 138:2

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

Psalm 12:6-7

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

Psalm 33:6

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Genesis 1:3

IV. What is the best way to study the Bible?

Compare Scripture with Scripture – not our own intellect or experiences.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 14:26

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.

John 16:13-15

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

I Corinthians 2:9-16

V. Questions

A. Was the Bible created by men or by God?

It was created by God. It contains 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament, and 27 in the New Testament. God used over 40 human instruments in writing it, but it fits together perfectly because the Holy Spirit is the real Author. It was written over a time span of 2000 years. It is totally accurate in history, prophecy, and life application. It contains no contradictions.

B. Is the Bible too hard for a Christian to understand?

No, it is not. However, there are difficult passages, and one of the key things for a Christian to remember is to live what you do understand, and God will reveal to you in His time what you do not yet understand.

C. Is there any value in memorizing Scriptures?

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

VI. Memory Verses

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

II Peter 1:21

BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

Psalm 119:9

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

II Timothy 3:16

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