15May/14
Micah68

He Has Shown You

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”

Powerful words received by man through the prophet Micah.  I have heard, as I’m sure you have too, these words quoted in many lessons and discussions.  They are simple and powerful.  Justice, mercy and a humble walk with God.  But I want to focus your attention on the first part of this powerful text.

Consider what the prophet says, that God has in fact “shown you, o man what is good.”  This is an important statement for us to get a hold of.  It has never been up to man to decide how we approach God.  God shows us how to come before him.  He tells us what is good.  It is not up to man to decide, but rather it is for man to walk humbly with God.

The question for you and I, as we consider this truth, is do we live this way?  Do we live with God leading us, teaching us, showing us or do we usurp His place and decide what God should be pleased with and how we should approach Him?  God is calling us to something richer and something bigger, but it has to be His way. God has to be God in our life and over our life.

Do we deal justly with one another?  In the book of Acts in the later part of chapter four and carried into chapter five we read of members of the Lord’s body selling off possessions and giving the proceeds to be used for the care of the saints.  Barnabas sells a piece of land and gives the money to the leadership.  Such a tremendous example of good and in fact mercy to which we have been called to love.

After Barnabas we have another example this time of not dealing in just manner.  Ananias and Sapphira also sell some property.  They keep back some of the money but say they gave it all.  It was their’s to give or keep.  However, they did not do their brothers and sisters justice by lying.  In fact they violated justice, besmirched mercy and walked in arrogance before God.  God takes their lives.  Do we deal with one another with honesty and justice, with mercy and love or with contempt and lies?  God has shown you, o man, how to live before Him.

How do we deal with God?  Do we deal with God in a just way?  I love the story of Josiah, you can read about him in 2 Kings 22.  Josiah becomes king at the age of eight.  He follows Manasseh and Amon to the throne.  These men were vile and idolatrous.  Josiah seeks to live after the ways of David and brings reforms to the nation tearing down idols and their high places.  In the early part of his reign, they are doing renovations on the temple and they actually find a scroll, which happens to be the law of God.  It had been lost in the house of God, what sad commentary on the way we as men often live, usurping our authority over God’s so consistently that the word of God is literally lost in the temple.

Upon finding the word of God Josiah rips his clothes and weeps, mourns and repents over his sin, the nations sin and the sins of their fathers.  God will honor Josiah’s pleas, mourning and repentance.  Josiah will gather people together as they proclaim to God that they will keep all of His commands and statutes.  It is an amazing story that I hope you will go back and read in its entirety. I bring up this story to ask the question do we deal justly with God?  Do we worship according to what He shown us or according to our desires?  Do we usurp His will with our own?  Do we walk humbly with our God or in arrogance?

I leave you with the words and heart of David in this matter:

 Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart!
They also do no iniquity;
They walk in His ways.
You have commanded us
To keep Your precepts diligently.
Oh, that my ways were directed
To keep Your statutes!
Then I would not be ashamed,
When I look into all Your commandments.
I will praise You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.
I will keep Your statutes;
Oh, do not forsake me utterly! – Psalm 119:1-8

 

 

21Dec/13
Duck Dynasty Season 3

The Debate Over Phil Robertson

Well it seems everyone has weighed in over the Duck Dynasty controversy raging through our social discourse.  There are few things that I wanted to say that I felt needed saying.  I have waited a couple days just to make sure I had some prospective towards what was said and I was also curious how our culture would respond.   Here are some points for consideration from my small and feeble point of view:

  1. Lets start with the freedom of speech issue.  This issue is always at the forefront of provocative issues in our culture.  The right of freedom of speech we enjoy is one that has contributed to the greatness of this country and by very nature it is one that also contributes to division in this country.  Both Phil Robertson and A & E have a freedom to speech and association.  Arguing in a legal sense that either side has a greater freedom seems rather unfruitful.  However, the hypocrisy that is prevalent when it comes to Christian views is unavoidable.  Example: had this been a show about a family of Muslim faith (Who also believe homosexuality to be a sin, and carry severe punishment in certain places in the world for violators) and it’s patriarch spoke about homosexuality as a sin it would be consider a religious and cultural difference that must be tolerated.  As a matter of fact, I highly doubt there would have been anything said in the first place regarding the comments.   When was the last time you seen a news report against the awful  Muslims who stand against homosexuality?  It is always those homophobic bigoted Christians.
  2. For all of my Christian brothers and sisters I do get amazed at our shock.  We get shocked that the world despises and rejects us. John said, “Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13).  What do we expect?  Have we so quickly forgotten that the ways of the world are not the ways of God?  I know there is a difference between knowing something and seeing it played out but this story, and similar ones shouldn’t come to us as a shock.  We have been warned time and time again the world hated Jesus, what will it think of His followers?
  3. To the real matter at hand, sin.  Homosexuality is sin and I can’t change that.  It doesn’t matter how many people reject that the act of homosexuality is a sin, it doesn’t matter how many “people of faith” support homosexuality as a matter of equality.  If every person is this country believed there to be no sin involved in homosexuality, it would still be sin according to scripture.  Sorry God’s will is not up for a vote.
  4. That brings me to my next point.  If you reject scripture and God’s word then you have that right.  God is not going to force you to live by His word, you are free to chose to whom and by whom you believe and follow.  But just realize and I would beg you to do so, where God stands on this issue for we will all stand before Him in that great day and popular opinion, powerful lobbies, politicians and social leaders will not be able to defend the choices you have made.  They will stand (as all of us will) to give account for their own words and deeds.
  5. Please stop with terrible scriptural exegesis.  If you are not truly interested in what God has to say then why do you keep trying to invoke God for permission?  That God is love and that He commands us to love is not permission to do what we want.  Any serious student of the Bible should know this.  Though God is love, He is also judgment, God is a God of mercy but also a God of great demand.  God is a God of favor and also of rejection.  To take a quality of God to try to dismiss that which is given by the will of God is folly at is highest standard.  Paul says, “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God” (Roman 11:22).
  6. Judgment.  How many times do I see this thrown at Christians.  Christians are not to judge?  Are you sure?  I know that context is not of the up most importance when you are trying to make an argument.  That it must be posh and fashionable to quote the latest argument you heard someone else use, but the simple truth is it’s no longer God’s word if you remove it from it’s context.  It is now your word.  Jesus says in Matthew 7, ““Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”  (vs 1-5). Case closed Christians shouldn’t judge their brother, right?  Ok, but the same Jesus by which you claim Christians should not judge says this in the very same chapter, ““Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (vs. 15-20)  The truth is we are not judge another man but we are to judge their fruit their deeds.  I’m sorry homosexuality is not who you are it is what you do.  A Christian is not to judge by self-righteous judgement deeming oneself superior over another but is to judge actions.  If a Christian deems a person of less value before God because of sin in their life they are guilty of that which God forbids.  God saw value in the sinners where many religious leaders of Jesus day did not.  This a recurring theme in the gospels.  However, Jesus commands that you judge fruit which are deeds, actions activities.  Homosexuality is a sin.
  7. Oh one more that gets me.  I’m sorry this argument that since we eat shellfish and pork somehow that justifies homosexuality is beyond any stretch of rational argument that I can perceive.  If you are going to make arguments from scripture please at least spend sometime researching the argument.  What man was allowed and not allowed to eat changed under different covenants.  In the begin from the Garden to Noah man was a vegetarian.  On the other side of the flood God gave Noah (and mankind) to eat meat without exception (Genesis 9:3).  That means they could eat pork.  Then with the establishment of the law of Moses at Mt Sinai God gave laws governing what they could and could not eat.  That means they could not eat pork.  With the establishment of the New Covenant by the death of Jesus God removed the restrictions (Acts 10:9-16).  That means we can eat pork.  This has absolutely no baring on whether or not homosexuality is a sin.

Alright I have already said more than I intended to say but bottom line is, I fear God more than I fear man.  I will stand on what He says rather than what man declares.  Call me any name you wish but so long as Jesus calls me brother I will stand.  As to my Christian brethren, sin is no excuse for poor behavior.  We have a responsibility before God to speak and to live His ways.  We have a message of life and peace through Jesus Christ, we must stand firm and resolved whether we speak it in season or out of season.  But we must not fall prey to self-righteousness or real hate.

 

26Nov/13
GetInvolved

Want to Grow Your Faith? Get Involved!

I am a firm believer that you must be invested in your faith for your faith to grow.  The way to do this is to get involved, be involved and stay involved.   In this short article we will look at ways you can get personally involved in ministering to those around you.  You see Christianity is “other” person centered, “Love God” and “Love your neighbor.”  When we reach out to those around us we are more likely to experience the things we have learned through study.  This experience brings those concepts from the abstract to the substance of our life.  This in turn brings growth.

A quick survey of the interactions between Jesus and His disciples will show us that most of His teaching was hands on.  The disciples would grow not by just hearing but by doing the very things of which Jesus was talking about.  James says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  James 1:22 (NKJV).  So lets consider a few ways that we can increase our involvement with the lives of people around us.

Prayer:

Prayer is an essential part of our relationship with our God and Creator. It is also a very important part of both our congregational ministry and our personal ministry.  It is also a huge piece in the growth of our faith.  Prayer is one of the top replies when you ask Christians in what area of life they want to grow in.  There are many book on growing in your prayer life and many sermons have been preached.  To get real impact in our prayer life we have to get involved in our prayer life.  Constantly saying “I need to do” and “I should do” does not bring strength to any pursuit.  We have actually get involved.  We have to be doers.  Here are some ideas to give you a starting place.

  • Praying on a regular basis for those on your personal prayer list or maybe on your congregations prayer list
  • Praying for various programs (at your congregation) and their ability to encourage and reach hearts for our Lord
  • Praying for the leadership, even leaders need prayer
  • Praying for missionaries, remembering those in different circumstances can help us see out of our own
  • Praying for families here at home. Even families that don’t have a specific known need shouldn’t be forgotten in our prayers. Everyone deals with many problems, issues and stress points through their lives. Just because they seem to always wear a smile doesn’t mean they are not in need of your prayers.

Attendance:

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV).

Attendance is not something we might readily think of as a ministry, but in fact it very much is.   Attendance (in part) is a consideration of others.  It is serving others which is in fact ministry.  Your participation, your presence, and your smile can be the very thing that provides the encouragement someone else needs.  Attendance is also a place where we socialize and get to know our brothers and sisters.  The better we know them the more our hearts open in our prayer life.  We know their struggles their cares and so our words in prayer take on our desire for our brother or sister.  As we have said getting involved brings opportunity for growth.

Cards:

Some people like sending cards and it can become a terrific personal ministry. Receiving that card (especially in such a modern age) can be a major encouragement and strength builder.

  • Sending cards to those not well.
  • Just sending a random card and sentiment of appreciation
  • Sending a card to a visitor or someone who had been missing for a few services.
  • Remembering an anniversary or birthday or sending regularly to someone shut-in or away from the family

Meals:

Hospitality is a Christian trait but also a powerful ministry. From outreach inviting newcomers, visitors, new members over for a meal to using meals to invite friends and neighbors to services hospitality is a powerful people tool.  I should stop here and make a point that I don’t want you to overlook.  This is not about arranging  puzzle pieces into a picture or mixing ingredients to make a cake.  The suggestions or prayer, attendance, cards and hospitality are suggestions to get you involved with doing the acts of your faith.  Being those doers and not being hearers only.  It is not about if you do step 1 through step 4 you are guaranteed a certain outcome but it is about making investments in God and the people around.  In so doing you in fact make investments into your own faith.  So invite someone over for a meal to invite someone over for a meal.  Don’t simply do it to reap a personal faith benefit but to get to know that family or friend better.  That is where the personal benefit will truly come from, stronger relationship, more awareness, growing in compassion and empathy.

Mentor:

Take someone “under your wing.” You don’t have to say I want to mentor you, but look out for someone who needs a solid friend.   Take the extra effort to watch for people who don’t seem to have a lot of connections at church.  Encourage them, invite them to lunch, to take part in some activity with them.  Everyone needs someone to encourage and strengthen them.  When we put self away and reach out to serve someone else our heart and our faith will be the stronger for it.

You want to grow in your faith, keep studying, keep worshiping and get involved with the people around you.

 

30Sep/13
bible

A Life Unto Christ

bibleIs it possible that some of us, even if only occasionally, seek for minimal Christianity? By that I do not mean a simple Christianity devoid of human doctrines (that would be a good thing), but rather a Christianity that seeks to be with God by doing the absolute minimum that we think is required.  Giving only what we figure will keep us in good standing. Do we look at being a Christian in terms of, “well I don’t steal, I don’t cheat and I haven’t killed someone, I go to church a couple of times a month and drop a few bucks in the plate so I’m good!”?

See if this question of Peter’s relates to us in any way, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” – Mathew 18:21. Is this the view we take, how much should I give? How many times do I really have to attend services? Will doing good a few times a day be enough? Will forgiving seven times be enough?

I am afraid whether we admit to it or not we can been guilty of this mindset. For whatever reason we’ll seek to find what the minimum is and seek that and be done. Of course the reply to Peter from Jesus is a reply to us as well. Notice what he said, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” – Matthew 18:22. Now I don’t believe Jesus was setting the threshold of 490 to be a number to truly consider. The number is more hyperbole. The idea that someone would have the opportunity to offend, be forgiven, offend, be forgiven up to 490 times in a day sounds like more than a full-time job. Rather than being a number by which the 491st  time we are free not to forgive, Jesus is saying there is no number, there is no minimum. You forgive because you are to forgive. You forgive because you are forgiven.

We must learn to grow and mature past a minimum attitude. Rather than adding minimum requirements to our day for Godly behavior, God tells us we need to seek constantly things that are above. “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:1-3

Let us not seek to simply do deeds unto Christ but rather live our lives unto Christ for we have been raised to seek after Jesus.

27Aug/13
LTDOJclipart

Loving the Doctrine of Jesus

LTDOJclipartThe word doctrine is an interesting word.  It is a word describing the collective teachings or implied understanding of an individual or group.  It has been used for a long time in association with religious teachings, philosophy, political and social thought.  It is a word in our modern culture that is often deemed as being a negative, to rigid not accommodating.

Doctrine means there are items that bind and boundaries to observe. Doctrine means there is a singular way to see or to analyze actions or deeds.  This does not sit well in a culture of relativism and emotionalism.  Our culture does not like to be told about boundaries or absolutes or teachings the appear to give a right and wrong.  That is to narrow minded.

We need to make and understand these observations that we might truly see the anti-cultural and even radical reality of the gospel of Jesus. When we are confronted with the truth of Jesus we are challenged by God to accept that there is a right and wrong vantage point.  We are challenged to know that things are not just preferred or not-preferred but that there is righteousness and sin.   We have to fall in love with a concept that is foreign to the thinking of the world around us, is shunned by the world around us and is often attacked by the same world.  We have to fall in love with doctrine and most importantly the doctrine of Jesus the Christ.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not just the teaching to which our love must be focused but the whole and full reality of Jesus.  But without His doctrine, we can not see as He sees, nor walk as He walks.

“Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.” – 2 John 1:9