Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pride and Weak Character

Pride is nothing more than the manifestation of a
weakness in our character.  It shows that we are
so insecure in ourselves that we must seek out
opportunities to boast, or look for reasons to
be arrogant.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Greatest Injustice

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin
on our behalf, so that we might become
the righteousness of God in Him.
II Corinthians 5:21

The greatest injustice ever wrought would be Christ   
being punished for the sins of all those who would 
never come to Him.  Indeed, this would be the 
 most cruel and unusual punishment imaginable; 
 as it would be punishment in vain.  

Monday, May 27, 2013

Our Great Salvation

The author of Hebrews calls our salvation
a great salvation; and it is great, indeed, because
of the greatness of our sins.  For all of our sins 
past, present, and future, yes, the totality of
our sins was laid upon Christ; and He paid
the penalty due for each and every one.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Freedom of God

Only God is completely free.  He is the only one 
who can be completely free, as He is the only
one who is completely holy.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Prayer for Spiritual Growth

Father, make us sensitive to the sins in our life.
Do not let us gloss over them, ignore them,
or put them out of sight or mind.  Do not let 
the habit patterns of our daily life keep us blind 
and insensitive to the sin that is entrenched in us.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Our Standing with God

Based on our own merits we have no standing with God.
Therefore, we must always base our standing with God
on what He has done for us in Christ.  Indeed,
what God has accomplished in Christ, on our
behalf, is the foundation of our relationship with Him.
Therefore, our relationship with Him is always secure, 
not because of us, but because of Him.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Word of God can Heal the Soul

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.
Psalm 19:7a

The Word of God is able to do soul surgery
(Hebrews 4:12), and like surgery performed
correctly, its wound brings healing.  There is 
nothing else that can both touch the soul
and heal its deepest and most profound wound.
See also Jeremiah 17:14.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Word of God is Sure

The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
Psalm 19:7b

The Word of God is faithful and trustworthy, and knowing
it gives even the simplest person the knowledge of  God's will.
Knowing the will of God enables even the simplest person 
to become skilled in the art of godly living.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Word of God is Right

The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.
Psalm 19:8

The Word of God is right, therefore it gives us
the right knowledge of God, which enables us
to make right choices about right things at the 
right time.  When we know the Word of God,
it gives us discernment as to what is right, and
obeying it keeps us right with God.  It is being
right with God that causes the heart to rejoice.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Weekend Word of Encouragement to Pastors

Here is a link to a post over at the The Gospel Coalition website:

Here is the comment I posted in response.

This kind of faithfulness leaves a legacy in the lives that it touched and influenced…even to the third and fourth generation. In our roles as pastors/spiritual leaders we should seek to be faithful, not famous.

 After giving my response some additional thought, I would rewrite the last sentence as such...In our roles as pastors/spiritual leaders we should strive to be faithful, not seek to be famous.  There is a striving, a working, even an agonizing that is required in the pursuit of faithfulness.  Striving is required if we are to remain faithful to the call of God upon our life.  Striving is required because there will be obstacles to overcome in order for us to remain faithful.  Striving is required in order for our faithfulness to be tested and measured.  Striving is required in order for our faithfulness to be considered just that...faithfulness.  Striving is required for us to be truly God glorifying.

On that day the Lord will say, "Well done my good and faithful servant." not "Well done my good and famous servant." as we enter into His joy.

Fellow pastors, let us strive together to be faithful, and may His joy be full in us.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Relating to God

For by grace you have been saved
through faith; and that not of yourselves,
it is the gift of God; not as a result
 of works, that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 

I have been crucified with Christ; 
and it is no longer I who live, 
but Christ lives in me; and the 
live which I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself 
up for me.
Galatians 2:20

We relate to God on the basis of faith, not on the basis of works--
not only in our salvation, but also in our sanctification.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Mystery of God's Sovereignty and Our Vision

...It is not so much that we as ministers need to understand and accomplish God's purpose, will, or vision for the church; what we need to understand is that God will accomplish his purpose for the church and in the mysteries of his grace he may use us in the process.

It may be valuable at time to determine the direction of the church, but the danger of "vision casting" is that we as church leaders can become anthropocentric in our approaches, focusing on what we do rather than on what God is doing.  Our participation is not necessary for God to accomplish his plan any more than our resistance can thwart his purposes (Job 42:2, Isa. 46:11, Acts 17:25).  thus, the most important requirement for participating in God's purpose for the church is not a clear vision, but a submissive will.  When we become willing vessels for God to use in whatever capacity he chooses, when we obey his Word and submit to him, God accomplishes his work through us whether we understand or comprehend his purpose or not.  Likewise, Christ is not a cosmic cheerleader, rooting us on and hoping we will  "win" in building the church.  No, he is sovereignly active, taking personal responsibility for the health of the church.  In the  process, he may use us, remove us, or work around us, but he will build his church (Matt. 16:18, Eph 5:11-16).

We give ourselves far too much credit for the success and growth of the church.  The church is ultimately the work of God's sovereignty, not our best efforts and strategies.  Sometimes, God accomplishes his purposes by revealing his will in very dramatic and comprehensible ways.  At other times. he accomplishes his purpose when we are confused and unclear about what he is doing...

...For all the research, studies, and statistics, the bottom line is no one knows why some churches grow and some do not.  We cannot even adequately define success in ministry.  This is the mystery of God.  In our ministries, we forget that God cannot be reduced to programs, strategies, and methodologies.  He often uses them, but he is not controlled by them.  As pastors of small churches, we often get discouraged because our visions do not materialize and our people do not embrace them.  We become discouraged when one outreach program after another fails to attract new people.  We forget the mystery of God.  Perhaps God's purpose is not found in the fulfillment or our visions but in the failure of them.  Perhaps God's purposes are accomplished when we think we have been the least successful (Isa. 6:9-13, Ezek. 2:5-8).  Perhaps God's purposes are not being accomplished through us but in us.  This is the mystery of God that we often forget.  God is good, but he is not to be trifled with or manipulated.  He is not a God of our creation; nor is he a God that we can manage.  As Creator of all things and sovereign God of the universe, he doesn't have to conform to our expectations of what he should or should not do.

Glenn Daman
Leading the Small Church
Pages 44-46

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Mark of Christian Maturity

One of the marks of maturity as a Christian
is when you start praying to be a 
blessing to others.

Monday, May 06, 2013

O Church, Beware of Satan and His Schemes

As Christians we are called to live up to the gospel by living out the gospel (Philippians 1:27, Ephesians 4:1). However, this does not happen in a vacuum, or in a laboratory, or in some other sterile environment; but it happens in real time in real life, in the midst of this fallen and broken world.  We the church, the body of Jesus Christ, the spiritual kingdom of God here on earth have an enemy, an adversary who is Satan, the devil.

* Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  I Peter 5:8
* So that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes (trickery, cunning, deceitful craft). II Corinthians 2:11
* Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of he devil.  Ephesians 6:11
* But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.  II Corinthians 11:3
* In Matthew 4:3 and I Thessalonians 3:5 he is called the tempter.
* In John 8:44 we see he is a murderer, a liar, and lying is his very nature as there is no truth in him.
* Genesis 3:1 shows us he is crafty (subtly cunning in an evil way).
* Revelation 12:9 tells us that he is a deceiver.

Quite the resume, isn't it?

Satan's goal is to weaken, subvert, and destroy the work of God; and as you read and study the Scriptures you will see six main schemes, six main tactics, six main battle plans that he follows in his attack on the kingdom of God, and those who belong to God, the citizens of His kingdom. His six main schemes are as follows:

1. He attacks the word of God, its authority, its veracity, and its sufficiency.

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made, and he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?'"
II Peter 2:1 But false prophets arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying (contradicting, disavowing) the Master who bought them.
In Ephesians 4:4 we are told not to be carried about by every wind of doctrine (false/pseudo doctrine or fads based on partial/incomplete doctrine) Examples would be The Prayer of Jabez, The Purpose Driven Life, Wild at Heart, Crazy Love.
In II Corinthians 4:2 we are told there are those who adulterate (mixing in impurities so as to defile) the word of God.
II Timothy 3:8 speaks about those who oppose the truth.

2. He attacks by planting false teachers in our midst.

II Peter 2:1 (see above)
In Matthew 24:11 Christ tells us the many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.
Acts 20:29-30 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
II Corinthians 11:13-15 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.  No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  There it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
I John 2:26 These things I have written you concerning those who are trying to deceive you.
I John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (Elsewhere in this epistle, John call these people antichrists)
II Timothy 3:5 describes these people as those who hold to a form of godliness, but deny its power.
Galatians 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?
To be fair here, let's also give women their due.  We have:
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, which is neither Christian nor science.
Aimee Semple McPherson, an early faith healer/radio personality, who founded the Foursquare Church.
Today we have Joyce Meyer, Paula White, Gloria Copeland, and a host of lesser lights.

3. He attacks by getting us to exchange the sacred for the secular.

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according the elementary principles of the world rather than according to Christ.
Read the entirety of Exodus 32, and what you will see is Israel worshiping the Lord who delivered them in the same manner that they had seen the pagan Egyptians worship their gods; and you will see God's response to being worshiped in that manner.
In modern terms this is called syncretism (the fusion of two or more beliefs or ways of worship).  In its rush to be relevant and to be contextual, the modern church has fallen prey to this scheme.  The lines of distinction between the sacred and the secular, the profane and the holy, have been blurred. The relevant/contextual philosophy and its accompanying methodology have been the Trojan Horse that has brought the leaven of the world into the camp of the kingdom.  Remember, a little leaven leavens the whole lump, and this adulterating of its worship will lead to the church tolerating sin in its midst. (See Leviticus 10:1-7, I Corinthians 5 and 11:1, 23-34, II Corinthians 6:17)  In I Corinthians 11:23-34, the Corinthians, most likely, were practicing the Lord's Supper the same way they practiced pagan feasts, with drunkenness and gluttony.

4. He attacks by using the believers' sin against one another.

Galatians 5:15-16, 19-21a But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.  But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh...Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are:  immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these...
Hebrews 12:15  See to it that on one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.
Ephesians 4:29-31 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you , along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other,just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
I Peter 2:1-2 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babes long for the pure milk of the word, so by it you may grow in respect to salvation.
James 1:1, 8-9 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism...If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well.  But if you show partiality, you are committing sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

5. He attacks by internal dissension.

Romans 16:17-18 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.  For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Jesus Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
I Corinthians 1:10-13 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.  For I have been informed by Chole's people (the I of Chloe faction) that there are quarrels among you.  Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ."  Has Christ been divided?
Titus 3:10-11 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and sinning, being self-condemned.
Philippians 2:2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

6. He attacks by external opposition.

Matthew 13:21 speaks about the persecution and affliction that arises because of the word.
Romans 8:35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ?  Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Acts 14:21-22 After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."
Luke 2:31 Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat.
See I Peter 5:8 above (obviously Peter knew of what he was speaking).
II Timothy 2:3 Suffer hardship with me as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
I Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
Philippians 1:28-29 in no way alarmed by your opponents--which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.

Satan uses all of these tactics to attack the faith of the gospel, for which we should be striving (Philippians 1:27).  He attacks its doctrine, the salvation which it brings, and the lifestyle it produces...all in order to impede and destroy the work of God.

In spite of his tactics, we are to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.  We are to live up to the gospel by living out the gospel, and we most effectively do this when we are cognizant of the schemes he will use against us so that we will not fall prey to them.