The Privilege of Participation

January 27, 2017 at 3:46 pm | Posted in The Family of Faith | 3 Comments
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Previously, we saw that, in the family of faith, we have the privilege of patriotism. Now we will see that we also have the privilege of participation.

Just as citizens of an earthly nation ought to have the privilege of voting, so the citizens of God’s nation and family get to have a say-so (subject to the sovereign commands of Scripture, of course) in the direction and the condition of God’s family.

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Matthew 18:18

Just as citizens of an earthly nation get the opportunity to serve in government, so the citizens of God’s nation and family get to seek positions of servant leadership.

This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

I Timothy 3:1

For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

I Timothy 3:13

Just as the citizens of an earthly nation are registered with the government in some type of official record-keeping, so the citizens of God’s nation and family get to keep track of what’s going on in each other’s lives.

And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

I Thessalonians 5:12

Next time: the privilege of protection.

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Honesty in Church

June 17, 2013 at 10:35 am | Posted in C.H.U.R.C.H. | 5 Comments
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C.hrist
H.oliness
U.nction
R.esponsibility
C.ommunion
H.

The second “H” in C.H.U.R.C.H. is for “Honesty.”

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

I Timothy 3:15 (emphasis added)

Church should be the one place where we can be honest about who we are and what we’ve done. Everyone there should be a forgiven sinner.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

James 5:16 (emphasis added)

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

I Corinthians 1:26

One of the prerequisites for being a Christian is being a sinner. Our sins are forgiven in Jesus and He is our One Mediator, but we still need to bear one another’s burdens.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

Galatians 6:1-3 (emphasis added)

We need to bear one another’s burdens honestly – not thinking that we’re better than the person who is struggling. We all struggle, and Christ has given us each other – and “church” itself – to help us.

Responsibility in Church

May 13, 2013 at 10:44 am | Posted in C.H.U.R.C.H. | 6 Comments
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C.hrist
H.oliness
U.nction
R.esponsibility
C.
H.

The “R” in C.H.U.R.C.H. is for “Responsibilty.” There are great privileges that come with being part of a church. But there are also great responsibilities.

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

I Timothy 3:15 (emphasis added)

Christians should not be hypocrites. A hypocrite is someone who acts completely different in church from the way he acts outside of church. However, we do need to watch how we behave in church. Church is not a place where “anything goes.”

Let all things be done decently and in order.

I Corinthians 14:4

What are some things you would do outside of church that are not sinful, but that you should not do in church? When I go to the park to have a good time, I am free to run, yell, throw things, make a mess, speak loudly and freely. I might even dress in a way that allows me to sweat and have some freedom of movement. But church is a place where these things are rightly restricted. And it is a place where you do need to take special care about what you wear. Modesty and appropriateness in dress is important everywhere, but it is especially important in church.

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

I Timothy 4:12

If you are a young person, don’t give people at church a reason to excuse your bad behavior by saying, “He’s just a kid, what do you expect?” Don’t give anyone a reason to dislike you for being young. You need to watch older men and older ladies in church, depending on your own gender. Mark how they behave and follow their examples.

Graded by God: Turning Your “F”s into “A”s (Part Two)

June 18, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Posted in Bible Studies | 6 Comments
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We noted King David’s many blessings in Part One. The Bible is not a book of fairy tales, myths, or legends. Its Author, the Holy Spirit, does not hide the sins, shortcomings, and ugly truths about its heroes. When David sinned with Bathsheba, there seems little doubt that his pride over his might, favor, and accomplishments played a part in his fall. However, when we go back and look carefully, we can see that this was perhaps not the chief cause of his downfall. David was actually being a good steward of these blessings God had given him.

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

Luke 16:10

When David was blessed in fighting, he gave God the glory (as recorded in many of the Psalms), and was obedient to fight God’s enemies. When David was blessed in his family he didn’t just indulge his sons; he gave them responsibilities. When David was blessed with fame, God knew he could trust David to give God the glory. When David was blessed with faithful friends, he listened to them, and obeyed God’s Word. When David was blessed with feasting he didn’t become greedy or gluttonous; he became generous and giving.

So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame on both his feet.

II Samuel 9:13

When David was blessed with fear he didn’t lord it over people; he sought ways to show kindness.

And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?

II Samuel 9:1

So, what else could have played a part in David’s lusting for Bathsheba and subsequent entrapment in sin? If you are a Christian, when you were saved, a great victory was achieved over Satan. Your salvation was a tough loss for Satan, and you may have been given a brief period of reprieve after that, but it didn’t take long for the Devil to get back up and come after you again. It might have been the next week, the next day, at school or at work. It might have been the next Sunday at church, or it might have been when you told your spouse or family or friends. It might even have been in the car on the way home from church! Pharaoh was forced to let God’s people out of Egypt, but he changed his mind and came after them before they even reached the Red Sea (Exodus 14). Jesus said, “Get thee behind Me, Satan” (Luke 4:8), but many of us are too nervous to have him back there where we can’t keep an eye on him. Thankfully, we don’t have to trust Satan. We have to trust the Lord Jesus.

David looked like he had on all his spiritual armor.

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Ephesians 6:11

But there was a chink in David’s armor. The Devil is wily. He’s watching us closely. He’s looking for weakness. “Wiles” are tricky schemes, traps, snares, treachery by guile. That’s one reason why we must be very careful about placing a novice Christian in a position of leadership.

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

We must also try to be kind and meek and mild, and not contentious.

And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

II Timothy 2:26

Satan does not stop attacking Christians, even when they are not serving the Lord. He does not make deals with believers. He does not really expect to get true Christians to bow down and worship him. We’re already saved. He can’t take us to hell. He wants us to think about ourselves. One of his main temptations is to tell you to do what feels good. Do what’s easy. Look out for number one. No rules, he says. Just “rights.” Then, once you’re worshiping yourself instead of worshiping God, he has a very limited agenda. He wants to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).

David had a weakness – a chink in his armor – and that’s all it takes: one “occasion” (Galatians 5:13; I Timothy 5:14). An “occasion” is a foothold. It is what happens when you allow the enemy to build a little encampment inside your walls of protection. Next time, we will try to identify the “occasion” that Satan used to trap David.

Discipleship Lesson 8: The World

April 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 39 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

The Husband of One Wife – Part 2

October 11, 2010 at 10:45 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Biblical Marriage | 8 Comments
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We have seen:
I. What God Authorized
Now we are looking at
II. What God Allows

The practice of multiplying wives grew in the Old Testament, and considering the number of wives he had as king, it seemed to reach its zenith during the reign of Solomon. King David’s most well-known sin was his affair with Bathsheba and its murderous consequences, but what is often overlooked is that after David was given Saul’s daughter, Michal, as his prize-bride, he had an additional six or seven wives besides Bathsheba.

The following colloquy between David and his son, Solomon, takes place when Solomon is a boy, around the time when he first begins to take a serious interest in girls. It is purely imagined. There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that such a conversation actually took place. However, it is certainly not out of the realm of possibility that Solomon “learned” from the example of his earthly father. I am using it strictly for illustration purposes.

Solomon: Dad, how did you meet Mom?

David: Well, the kings were going out to battle one time, and I didn’t go, and I happened to see her.

Solomon: Where?

David: Well… she was up on a roof, and I was on my roof – a little higher up – and I saw her over there.

Solomon: What was she doing – hanging her laundry out there? Come on, Dad – I really want to know.

David: … She was taking a bath.

Solomon: Okay – did you run downstairs, and then wait until she was decent, and then go over there to meet her?

David: No, I kept looking…

Solomon: Okay, well, I’m sure she covered herself up when she saw you, but you remembered her and ran into her later?

David: No, actually, I had her brought to me.

Solomon: Well, you were the king – and she was a single lady –

David: No – no… she wasn’t single.

Solomon: I never realized Mom had been married before – I guess her first husband must have died?

David: No, I had her husband killed.

Solomon: Wow! He must have been evil and abusive!

David: Actually, no, what happened is – he was away at battle – and I brought him back home… to try to cover up the fact that I had got his wife pregnant with your older brother.

Solomon: I have a brother?

David: Well, actually, no, he died under the judgment of God. But when I brought this man home, he was so honorable that he wouldn’t go inside his home because he was an honorable man, and loyal to his fellow soldiers… So, I had… well… I had him killed.

Now, when we read in the Bible that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, does it surprise you that the richest, wisest man in all the world found life to be vain and empty?

And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.

Ecclesiastes 7:26

And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father.

I Kings 11:3-6

At the end of the Old Testament, God makes it very clear how He feels about more than one wife:

For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away…

Malachi 2:16

So then, you see by the time of Christ that the practice of polygamy is only common among Gentiles and pagans.

III. What God Accepts

This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

I Timothy 3:1-2

These verses are not saying that a bishop must be a “super-Christian” – really exceptional and special. They are not saying that only church officers should be all these things. They are saying that a church officer must be a blameless Christian – just as all Christians should be striving to be blameless. The phrase, “husband of one wife” can be debated as to whether it means “never having been divorced,” but any serious Bible student, teacher, commentator, or scholar will have to admit that, whatever else it means, it definitely excludes polygamy. Monogamous marriage is the only acceptable type of marriage to God.

Perceived

May 4, 2010 at 11:30 am | Posted in The Leadership P.A.T.C.H. | 6 Comments
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And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.

II Kings 4:8-9, emphasis added

A patch is something that repairs a breach, or stops up a gap. Patches are used for protection and for restoration. In the Bible this is referred to as “making up the hedge” or “standing in the gap.” A Christian leader should be someone who is willing to stand in the gap and be a “patch.” He should be willing to stand in a place of protection and service.

Elisha was the protégé of Elijah the prophet. When Elijah was taken up to Heaven in a chariot, in a whirlwind of fire, Elisha received his greatest wish: a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. This was a great gift – and a great opportunity to serve – and a great responsibility.

The P. in P.A.T.C.H. is perceived: “I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.”

If you aspire to the responsibility of Christian leadership, you will be watched. You will be observed. Your job, as a servant leader, will be to watch for the needs of others, and, while you are not to be overly self-conscious, you must be aware that God’s people will be watching you. Many will be looking for encouragement as they watch, and, sadly, a few will be watching for faults. There is a requirement that you be found “blameless” – without fault. This is primarily between you and God, but, because people whom you serve will form a “perception” of you, you must, according to I Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

You have freedom in Christ Jesus, but it would be better to forgo the exercise of your freedom if it will cause another person to stumble.

Next time: The “A” in P.A.T.C.H.


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