Saturday, October 28, 2006

Continue in God’s Sacred, Equipping Word!

Believers are to learn & live God’s word, allowing it to instruct, rebuke, correct & train us in righteousness so we may serve God.

This is Reformation Sunday. On Oct. 31, 1517, Dr. Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses (ideas, propositions) on the door of the church in Wittenberg. This German Monk turned Professor, wanted to debate and discuss abuses he saw in the church – in its practices and teachings. He wanted to bring some reforms, not start a new church. Instead, he and his “protestations” were rejected, thus we are not Roman Catholic. Three main key truths of the Reformation were: Sola Fida (salvation by grace, thru faith alone), Sola Scriptura (scripture alone is God’s word) & the Priesthood of all believers.

Paul, in mentoring Pastor Timothy, wrote letters to encourage, challenge, and instruct him. Timothy was urged to stay true to God’s Word. The last days would be tough, evil men would seek to mislead people. He needed to abide in God’s sure word, of which he had been convinced and committed. God’s sacred, Spirit-given truth would thoroughly prepare him to do the ministry he was called to fulfill. Let’s study 1 Timothy 3.

Serious Warnings: 1 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud… 8… so also these men oppose the truth— men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.” (NIV)

Stark Contrasts: 10 “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose… 11 persecutions, sufferings… 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (NIV)

The Command & Commendations: “You, however, continue
in the things you have learned and become convinced of,
knowing from whom you have learned them,
15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings
which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation
through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable
for teaching,
for reproof,
for correction,
for training in righteousness;

17 so that the man of God may be adequate,
equipped for every good work.” NASV

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Walk this Way!

Living God’s Will
Kerry S. Doyal - Grace Ev. Free Ch -

Take a deep breath and say it with me: “Apostle Paul picked some pertinent participles. Some prime participles, Apostle Paul picked. If Providence provided us with such powerful products, let’s prudently pick apart these particular participles, please.”

Nicely done. Allow me to explain.

If God described a life that pleased Him, one worthy of Him, would He have your attention? If you knew which way to go in life, His will for you, would it capture your heart? Take note: When God shows us His will, He desires and designs that we live it.

In a letter to the baby Colossian believers, a group craving special spiritual insights, the Apostle Paul prays they would be filled with a knowledge of God’s will so they will live in a way that is worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in all respects. Great prayer!

With four potent participles (remember those mysterious “verbal adjectives”?), Paul proceeds to point out the particulars of a life that pleases God. Now this kind of “secret knowledge” is worth pursuing! Let us parse out these pertinent participles for a path that pleases God. First, pause and read the prayer a few times.

He prays they would “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (Colossians 1:9-12 - NASB).

Did you see them? “Bearing fruit in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all power, joyously giving thanks to the Father.” Let us consider each briefly.

Doing God’s will includes fruitful, productive, Christ-like lives. Not just busy for God, nor just doing well, but being about matters that matter for the Master. This is fruit of both the internal (Galatians 5:19-22; John 15:1-7) and external variety (Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 2 & 3).

The sheep and goats of Matthew 25 are different not because of their wool, but their works. As Henry Van Dyke wisely relayed: "Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except the best." Sing, man, sing! (Read Matthew 7:21ff.)

Do you still have a childhood-level, Vacation Bible School-based knowledge of God: all stories, little substance? Have you confused simple faith with being simplistic, petty divisive doctrines (preferences) with foundational deep truths? Are you any further in your grasp of God’s character than you were last month, year, decade?

A worthy life is one that increases in the knowledge of God. Ignorance of God, His will, His word and ways ain’t bliss (see Hebrews 5:11-14). Are you striving to know Him more deeply (Philippians 3:8-12)?

Edward Bedore rightly wrote: “The knowledge of Christ's love for us should cause us to love Him in such a way that it is demonstrated in our attitude, conduct, and commitment to serve God. Spiritual maturity is marked by spiritual knowledge being put into action.”

Our third participle is passive: “strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience.” God wants to empower us to have endurance and forbearance. This speaks of an unlimited power: it is according to “His glorious might” (Colossians 1:27, 28; Philippians 4:13-19). Yo! “Tool-Time” Tim Taylor, talk about more power!

It also tells us of a purposeful power: to attain steadfastness and patience, endurance. By God’s grace, we can avoid Samson-it is: raw, untamed power. Instead, we can attain forbearance and patience (1 Corin. 13:4; 1 Thess 5:14; 2 Pet. 3:9).

God wants to enable you to handle tough places in life (steadfastness) and tough people (patience). When tempted to walk away from hard heads or hard knocks, God says “Hang tough, I’ll empower you for the long haul.”

Last of all, we are to be “joyously giving thanks to the Father.” Thanksgiving certainly pleases Him: a proper, humble, joyous recognition of all He is and has done for us. When we remember that He has “qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light,” we ought to give thanks (from which we get the word Eucharist).

How did God qualify us to have a part in such an inheritance? Read on, or listen further to Paul’s prayer: “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” God ran a rescue mission for you to adopt, redeem and forgive you – give thanks with joy, daily, hourly.

“Bearing fruit in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of God,S trengthened with all power, joyously giving thanks to the Father.” Such a life shows one knows and follows the will of God. This life pleases Him in every dimension. It is a life-long pursuit– press on (Philippians 3:8-12)!

Use these four participles as a test and guide as you seek to lead to a worthy walk (Ephesians 4:1-6; 5:1, 2, 8). Make them a matter of prayer and focused spiritual discipline. I commend to you two great reads by Jerry Bridges: The Pursuit of Holiness & The Practice of Godliness (both Nav. Press).

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Living, Dying & Praying Like Stephen

"Lord Jesus, receive my spirit"
"Lord, do not charge them with this sin." ~ Acts 7:59, 60

Stephen was a good man, with a great reputation, a Spirit-filled Deacon who took care of the widows (Acts 6 & 7). When pushed in a corner, He stood up for and spoke out for Jesus, boldly challenging powerful Jewish leaders to repent. It cost him his life. He died with two exemplary prayers on his lips: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" & "Lord, do not charge them with this sin" (Acts 7:59, 60). When rocked by life, persecuted for your beliefs & forced to choose safety or the Savior, put yourself in God’s hands & forgive your enemies.

Jesus’ Return Means:

* Deliverance for His own (1 Thess. 4-5; Matt. 25)
* Damnation for those who are not (Ps. 1:6; Matt. 25; 2 Ths. 2, 3)

"Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." (vs. 59)

Entrust yourself to him, put your life in His sovereign hands (Phil 1:20 ff).

We will die as we have lived. To die well, we must live well.

"As being stoned." Crises reveals character. Echoes Jesus on cross.

* Commitment / Reliance
* Contrition: all aid bare before eyes of the Lord – Heb. 4:13
* Submission: "Lord Jesus"

"Lord, do not charge them with this sin." (vs. 60)

Don’t hold against them, keep to their account. "Father, forgive…"

Fulfills the Lord’s prayer: "forgive us… as we…"

When we commit selves to Lord, we must do as He says: i.e. forgive

Forgiveness – no small topic / problem / need / request (Eph. 4:29 – 5:2)

Whom do you need to forgive?

Who do you require God to show justice to, as you cling to His mercy?

Notice Stephen’s Lofty View of Jesus:

* Saw Him in heaven at God’s right hand – the Son of Man (Dan. 7)
* He calls Him Lord – either worship or idolatry
* He asked Jesus to forgive – only God can do such

Final Thots from Stephen’s Final Words:

* How is your reputation? Are you filled with God’s Spirit (Eph. 5:18)?
* Who, at the end of it all, are you trusting, looking to for salvation?
* What will be on your lips, in your heart, on your mind at the end?
* Who is God telling you to release from your debt (forgive)?
* Will your death bring glory to God and spread the gospel (Acts 8:1-8)?