Tuesday, February 27, 2007

1 Corinthians 4:11-17 -- Are you prepared to imitate Paul?

Scripture:
11To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

16Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

Insight:
Paul is actually telling the Corinthian church to imitate him because he is their father in Christ and has endured so much hardship, scorn and persecution for the gospel. This is a bold statement. He is also saying that Timothy is faithful and able to remind them of his way of life. Paul and Timothy stay true to Christ even when they are reviled and treated as scum. They do not lash back and they do not curse. Rather, they endure as Christ endured. This doesn’t seem like the same man, Paul, who said he couldn’t do what he knew he should do (Romans 7). I find this to be another example that Paul was not talking about himself in Romans 7 in the present tense. Rather, he was talking about himself before he was regenerated and living in Christ. Anyway, we too must truly be willing and able, in Christ, to endure this kind of treatment. To be despised and rejected by the world. To live for God and not the world. We are to be “fools” for Christ and serve God and not the favor and comforts of this world. In Christ and by his grace we can “do all things” and endure all things for the glory of God.

Prayer:
Lord, grant me the grace to endure when troubles and persecution come my way. Thank you that because I am in Christ and because he endured, I too can endure for the glory of God. Show me how to live a life that pleases you. Prepare me for the tough times. May I find my peace and joy in you God so that I may press on toward the prize. You are enough for me. I desire to be a fool for Christ. Help me not seek the approval of man.

Monday, February 26, 2007

1 Corinthians 3:6-9

Scripture:
6I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.

Insight:
God is the one who can change hearts. He is the one who can transform. Even Paul humbly acknowledges that he is nothing and is only a tool in the hands of God who does the real work. Our role as saints, who are doing the purposes of the kingdom, as Paul demonstrates, is to be faithful to our calling and do our work diligently and with humility. But, we do not transform lives. It is only God who changes the hearts of man and makes them grow.

Prayer:
Lord, may I always be humble and know that it is you that changes lives. I thank you that it is not up to me to talk someone into growing in Christ and maturing. Rather, it is my job to be faithful to your calling. Lord, help me persevere and tirelessly serve you and perform my job as a saint and servant of Christ. May the Spirit’s power be demonstrated through the ministry of your servant for your glory.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

1 Corinthians 1:17

Scripture:
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Insight:
This passage really stuck in my mind this morning. In 1 Corinthians, Paul very clearly lays out the case that it is not his smooth talking and eloquent preaching that changes lives or even our minds. Rather, he is clearly and humbly pointing to gospel of Jesus Christ and its transforming power - alone. Many churches today are trying so hard to make their messages relevant and meaningful. However, in their good intentions they sometimes miss the ultimate reality that only the clear and unadulterated message of the gospel of Jesus Christ will change lives. When this message of the gospel is tweaked and the focus is turned to the method, style and/or charisma of the delivery, the power is lost. It essentially becomes good intentioned entertainment and humanistic self-help. Good entertainment can keep people's attention for a period of time and even keep them coming back for more, but it won’t change lives – the cross has been emptied of its power. It is not up to us to “sell” the world on Christ. In fact, the world thinks it is foolishness. It is our job to be faithful and present the pure gospel and allow God to draw people to him and change lives. I pray that we all would take Paul’s lead and “preach the gospel – not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power”.

Prayer:
Lord, may I not rely on my own gifts and my own persuasiveness. It is not about me or up to me. I do not need to manipulate or add anything to your gospel. Continue to fill me with the knowledge of your Word so that I may be able to clearly and properly present your truth. Give me the opportunity to share your gospel with others. May all I say be for your glory; may I stay out of the way; may I decrease and may you increase as I teach and share your Word. All of this for your glory.

Friday, February 23, 2007

We Were Made for So Much More

Thoughts I compiled after listening to John Piper’s teaching about joy.

Christ will give you himself so you don’t need health, wealth and prosperity to be happy. You will have Christ and therefore you can give it all up if Christ so calls.

Christ is much bigger than the American Dream. His joy (delight) is not icing on the cake of your decision for Christ. In fact, if all you have is a decision and no delight (in him), then you don’t have Christ. You are not saved by a decision, you are saved by Christ in you and therefore you are transformed. It creates a new you that falls out of love with the world as you fall into love with God. Every day is a decision to love God and not the world. Live each day for God.

Happiness is not to be put above God’s glory. Your happiness should be in God’s glory. “God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him.”

True joy isn’t about you feeling good about yourself (“low-level, powerless American Gospel message”). It is about you forgetting about yourself and living for God and others.

Why does God do everything he does; to make you happy, because he loves you so much, or maybe to display his glory for the full and lasting enjoyment of those who find, in Christ, their highest treasure? You were made for God’s glory!

Why are you forgiven, why do you exist?
· I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Is. 43:25
· If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Ptr 4:11 He supplies strength to serve his glory.

God does everything for his glory and this is why we are created - for his glory.

Here’s an interesting question. Did Jesus die for us or for God? YES. Incredible!

Ask yourself this question every day. “Is my life glorifying God?”

Thursday, February 22, 2007

1 Corinthians 1:2 -- Called to be Holy

Scripture:
To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:

Insight:
I find it interesting how Paul opens this letter to the Corinthian church. He uses the term sanctified to describe his audience and continues with “and called to be holy”. Members of the “true” Christian church are devoted to Christ and are expected to be experiencing the sanctifying grace of God which is producing a life of obedience and holiness. This salutation is addressed to those who acknowledge and obey Christ as their Lord, and as Lord of all; it includes no other persons.

Prayer:
Lord, may you continue to purify and sanctify me. I ask for you to not be finished with me. Do your work in my life. Keep cleansing me from my pride and selfishness and make me more useful to you. I am no longer in love with myself. I am in love with you. I desire to be a telescope that displays your uncontainable majesty and glory.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

1 Timothy 6:17-19 -- Where do you put your hope?

Scripture:
17Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Insight:
Let me start out by saying that this scripture is for you. More than likely, especially if you live in America, you are one of the wealthy Christian's Paul is talking about.
Verse 17: These are the two big issues for the wealthy: arrogance and putting hope in wealth.
Arrogance, or pride, is the deadly sin of all people but seems to be the special curse of the rich. Paul clearly states that hope in stuff is worthless in eternity. Rather hope in God has everlasting value. For it is God who provides us with everything for our enjoyment. And enjoyment does not mean self-indulgence. Paul does not say that having wealth is wrong, but he is saying that if it is too important to you there are big consequences.

Verse 18: The wealthy are to use their wealth for the benefit of others. True riches is found in giving, not in the having.

Verse 19: This is not telling the wealthy that they can buy treasures in heaven by “giving” here on earth. Rather, it is underscoring the importance of a giving heart. It is in giving, not in arrogance and self-indulgence, that they will find “true” life – eternal life.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

1 Timothy 6:6-10 - Stay out of the trap.

Scripture:
6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Insight:
Verse 6:
Here Paul uses the word contentment (one who is satisfied) to mean the empowering Christ gives to live above both want and plenty (Phil 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ…). Paul’s point of this passage is to combat the greed of false teachers or anyone else who might lean this direction.

Verses 7-8:
Contentment accompanies godliness and is the “great profit”.
(1) Materialism and greed is irrelevant and irrational because we take nothing with us when we die. (Job 1:21 “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return.)
(2) All we need are the basic essentials of food and clothing – this excludes greed.
So, godliness is not something by which to gain material gain. Rather, it is itself the greatest gain!

Verses 9-10:
Paul returns to the false teachers and expands to all who want to get rich. The results of greed are a downward spiral.
(1) Fall into temptation (enticement)
(2) Caught in a trap (many foolish and harmful desires). The trap is set by Satan for your spiritual ruin.
(3) Plunge into ruin and destruction (all kinds of sin)

“The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” is often misinterpreted or misquoted to mean that money is at the root of all evil. Rather this statement is intended to support his previous statement that greed is a trap full of many hurtful desires that lead to all kinds of sin.

Finally, Paul states the harsh and tragic reality that many men, who used to be good men, allowed themselves to be snared by Satan in the trap of greed and therefore went astray and pierced themselves through, as with a sword, with many griefs.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

1 Timothy 6:3-5

Scripture:
3If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4he is conceited and understands nothing (pompous ignoramus). He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

Insight:
Verse 3: We have heard the issue with some teaching false doctrines. Now Paul outlines what they should be teaching: the gospel of Jesus Christ who is the ultimate origin of faith (“godliness”). Their abandonment of Christ (the Gospel) is their grave error. NOTE: we must watch our doctrine closely. Preach the Word of Truth and not man-made ideas or theories that sound “godly” or even originated in truth but are now empty and at odds with the Gospel.

Verses 4 – 5: First Paul describes the false teachers as conceited and understanding nothing. They are what we would call “know-it-alls” and thus think too highly of themselves when they actually understand nothing. Second he says they have an unhealthy “morbid craving” for controversy and quarrels about words (logoi = “words” and mache = “fight”: “word battles”).

So, when these teachers abandoned the Gospel and instead argued and quarreled they bread envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicion and constant friction between the people. They also became men of corrupt minds – robbed of the truth. This lack of truth is then evidenced in their thinking that godliness is a means to financial gain (or profit). Note: Be careful and analyze those you listen to including, but not limited to, some (not all) messages and preachers that are on “Christian” TV and radio today.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

1 Timothy 5:4-7

Scripture:
4But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 5The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. 6But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame.

Insight:
I was asked to teach 1 Timothy 5 & 6 next week. I will be filling in for Dr. Andrew Jackson who is teaching a 10-week in-depth study on the pastoral epistles (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus) for Grace Bible School. I have been preparing my notes for chapter 5 which is heavily focused on how the church and families should handle widows. It is easy to gloss over these passages because “how do they apply to my life”? Well, I am discovering that they apply more than one would initially think. I have parents and grandparents. If my parents can no longer take care of themselves, then I need to step up and help. I need to take care of them and thereby “Put my religion into practice”. This sounds familiar to the commandment to “Honor your father and Mother…”. Paul is serious about this instruction and considers one who ignores this responsibility as worse than an unbeliever and one who denies the faith (God). This is something we all need to remember when we are faced with decision about how to take care of our parents and grandparents as they age.

Verses 5 and 6 also have some universal and relevant truth. The admonition to put your hope in God and to remain in an attitude of prayer (day & night) rather than living for pleasure (v5-6) is a universal truth that we can all take to heart and apply to our lives (v7). The result of ignoring this admonition is rather severe – spiritual death. We are called to live for God and not for ourselves.

There’s a lot of other good stuff in chapter 5 and a large handful of nuggets in chapter 6. I will share some of these things in future posts.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Titus 3:3-8 -- Have you been washed?

Scripture:
3At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Insight:
If we are characterized by disobedience, foolishness, lust, or seeking pleasure; if we have ongoing problems with anger and envy; then we need to question if we truly have surrendered our lives to God and received the merciful salvation of Christ. Paul talks about these ugly characteristics in the past tense for one who has experienced the renewal and rebirth found only in Christ Jesus. A life still inundated with, or characterized by, these sinful acts just doesn’t line up with one who has been justified and washed in the blood of Christ. For when we truly accept Christ and live for him we will experience a pouring out of the Holy Spirit and a renewal that will have us devoting ourselves to doing what is good. Here’s the deal – we are not saved by our good works, but when we are saved, we will devote ourselves to “doing what is good”. Our outward actions and activities will turn from sin to righteousness just as our inward selves have been made new in Christ. The grace of Jesus is the agent that creates this transformation and initiates the process of sanctification. Praise God!

This makes me think of how we interpret Romans 7:14-25. Why do many think Paul, who was near the end of his ministry, is still a slave to sin and unable to do what he knows is right? It doesn’t work. Let’s go back to the passages in Titus where Paul is very definitely talking about himself in the past tense “at one time… we lived…”. Paul doesn’t indicate that he is still enslaved by these sinful desires or engaged in them in any way. In fact, he argues very emphatically to the contrary. This passage in Titus is yet another example that in Romans 7 Paul was in fact painting a picture of what he looked like before being re-generated.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Titus 2:11-14 -- Grace, the rest of the story.

Scripture:
11For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Insight:
This is one of my favorite passages as it has been instrumental in my understanding of the power of grace in Christ. Mainstream Christianity has done a great job at highlighting the justification half of grace whereby Christ atones for our sins. However, the other half of grace that empowers us to be sanctified and live a life in victory over sin receives very little attention. Why? Why does the church restrain itself and in some cases even refrain completely from the message of Titus 2:11-14? This message, that in Christ we have a grace that helps us fight sin and live for God, is so critical, awesome, freeing, and essential to our lives and our salvation. For me personally it has been a significant component of some personal breakthroughs and huge victories over my flesh. Jesus didn’t just shed his blood so we could just have victory when we die, but he laid it down for us so we could have victory today. The same grace that brings salvation also teaches us to say no to sin! If we do not take hold of this grace and live it out, we are taking for granted the blood of Christ. We are discounting so much of what he paid for so dearly. God desires a people that are “eager to do what is good”. This isn’t about doing works, it is about receiving and obediently using a gift that Christ died to give us.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Transformed Daily Map of Visitors

Transformed Daily is being read worldwide. Here is a picture of the map that tracks the activity. Thank you for visiting.

Titus 1:15-16

Scripture:
15To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

Insight:
Paul left Titus in Crete to finish properly setting up the church and correcting erroneous and heretical teaching. After outlining the requirements of a Christian leader, much like he did with Timothy in Ephesus, he sharply rebukes some of the church leaders for their false teaching and wrong living. What does he mean when he says “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure”? It appears that Paul is talking about heretics who taught that it is all about self discipline, absent the power of Christ, and all about a non-biblical definition of holiness and what is right: a holiness that can be obtained outwardly instead of originating from an inward transformation through Christ. Their minds and consciences are corrupted because they falsely proclaim a Christ-less truth. They also appear to fall short in many of the categories that Paul mentions in verses 6 – 14. Probably because they are not truly transformed by Christ from the inside. He continues to rebuke them because their actions do not match what they teach and they are not living a life that glorifies God - they are unfit for doing anything good.

We must be careful today to ensure that our teaching is not void of the power of God; that we uphold purity, holiness, and righteousness; and that we always humbly proclaim the truth that it is only in Christ that we are transformed and by his grace that our actions can truly display this reality. It is out of this grounding in Christ that we can then put on the armor of God and do some serious battle against our sin and ultimately bring glory to God.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Overcoming Sin & Temptation" by John Owen

Sin is a battle that we must take seriously. It is also a battle that has victory - in Christ. Sin is a serious thing and must be dealt with seriosuly. Are you aggresively engaged in an all-out assault against sin? If not - why? If you are in Christ you are no longer a slave to sin, but rather a slave to righteousness. FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT for the FREEDOM that is yours because of CHRIST! Take hold of who you are in Christ and live the life that he died for you to have.

Crossway books appears to be offering this online version of John Owen's book "Overcoming Sin & Temptation". Check it out. You will be blessed even if you just read the forward by John Piper (but I say go for it and read the whole thing).

Enjoy: http://www.johnowen.org/media/OvercomingSinAndTemptation.pdf

2 Timothy 4:1-5 -- Itching Ears

Scripture:
1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

Insight:
Paul is warning Timothy that there is coming a time when people are going to distort the truth in a way to make it fit into their personal wishes. In fact, this was already beginning to happen in Ephesus where church leaders were twisting the truth for their own selfish desires and even financial gain. As it relates to Christianity today, two things really come to mind: (1) the rampant tendency to grab little bits of scripture out of context to prove a predetermined point (this drives me crazy) and (2) the popular prosperity message that pedals the man-focused message that God just wants us all to be rich and happy. I am sure there are other ways in which teachers are twisting the truth in order to give the people what they want and thereby increase the number of their followers. What are we to do about this? Paul instructs Timothy to “keep his head”, endure the hardship (which is this frustration of lies), proclaim the gospel of truth, and press on doing his job. How do we do this? Verse 2 lays it out; preach the Word, always be prepared (study it and know it), speak out - correct and rebuke the lies, and encourage truth with “great patience and careful instruction”. We are called to know God’s Word and counter the lies with the careful presentation of the truth. This is an important calling. It should drive us to be in the Word. Why is this so important? Look at verse 1 again: “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing kingdom.” This is not just about opinions; rather it has eternal kingdom ramifications.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Scripture:
16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Insight:
These passages are rich as they proclaim the authority of scripture and the fact that it is actually the equivalent of the spoken words of God in written form. It is truth for it is the word of God. And how can we use God’s Word? We find it useful in “teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness”. That’s right, it is a tool for knowing God’s will, identifying when we are out of his will, showing us how to get back into his will, and exercising us so that we will then remain in his will. What is the focus of this training? Righteousness. God’s word is a schoolmaster that is used to bring us into right-standing with the Almighty God so that we may be useful to him. It is the person who daily uses (applies) God’s word of truth and submits to its authority who will then be equipped for kingdom purposes and every good work. Do you want to be used by God? Do you want to be useful to the kingdom? Do you want to fulfill the purpose that God has for you? Then get in his word and welcome the rebuking and the correcting. Respond to the teaching and training for it is this process that refines us, purifies us and readies us to do the will of our Almighty Heavenly Father.

Monday, February 05, 2007

2 Timothy 3:1-5 -- Ornamental Oranges

Scripture:
1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

Insight:
As I meditated on this passage this morning I first thought of how this is a picture of the world today (it is) and then how it is also a picture of the church (and it is). But then God brought it close to home and showed me how I have had different flavors of these issues in my life even as I was a church-going “Christian”. These attributes can surface when ones life is not God-focused. Think about it, if you are focused on living for God and pleasing him, how can you be boastful, ungrateful, unholy, and a lover of pleasure. If we truly surrender our day to God, how can we be a lover of ourselves, be abusive, disobedient, and conceited. It is when we keep our focus vertical on God and not horizontal toward ourselves and the world that we live a life free from these ugly attributes. Stay God-focused! Verse 5, unfortunately, defines so many church-goers and churches today: “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” I call this an Ornamental Orange Christian. In Arizona we have orange trees that produce beautiful oranges. They are gorgeous, but they are designed to just look good, because when you peel them back to the “fruit” and take a bite you will discover they are sour and not juicy. They are just for looks. It is sad to see so many Ornamental Orange Christians these days. They look good on the outside, but are filled with sour and dry fruit. Their lives are defined by many of the attributes in these passages and they have a form of godliness, but deny its power. God is in the business of transformation. He can transform an Ornamental Christian into the real deal. Let’s get, and stay, God-focused!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

2 Timothy 2:23-26

Scripture:
23Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Insight:
What wonderful counsel from Paul. It is so easy to think that we need to get in everyone’s face with the truth and thump our Bibles at them until they accept the truth and act upon it. These passages instruct Timothy to do just the opposite. And we should take heed of these instructions. Does this mean that we are to be passive? By no means. Don’t forget Paul’s admonition to fight the good fight – after all we are in a battle. However, the truth that Paul is presenting illumines the fact that it is only God who can grant people repentance. It is God who changes hearts. Our role as saints is to, in a kind and gentle manner, instruct on the things of the Lord and his truth. We present the truth, the Holy Spirit prepares and opens their minds, and the truth transforms. You see, the goal is not to win the argument; it is that they will escape from the trap of the enemy. May we refrain from arguing and instead present the word of God boldly in kindness and gentleness for his glory.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Sources to Help You Speak Against Abortion

I appreciated the information and resources John Piper posted about the issue of abortion and the need for the churh to have a loud voice against it. Check it out here.

He states, "May the Lord give you courage to address the carnage. I find it appalling that there are pastors and churches that never address this issue." John continues with, "God is calling passive, inactive Christians today to engage our minds and hearts and hands in exposing the barren works of darkness. To be the conscience of our culture. To be the light of the world. To live in the great reality of being loved by God and adopted by God and forgiven by Christ (yes--for all the abortions that dozens of you have had), and to made children of the light. I call you this morning to walk as children of light."

2 Timothy 2:19-22

Scripture:
19Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness."20In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. 22Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Insight:
Here’s the deal, Paul is very clearly stating the importance of sanctification; the need for “those who are his” to “turn away from wickedness”, pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace. We must get rid of the “ignoble” junk. It is non-negotiable if we are to be useful to God. We must cleanse ourselves, flee evil desires, and pursue righteousness. This takes effort. It takes a deep desire to live for God and not ourselves. Without Christ we couldn’t do these things. However, if we are in Christ we are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness. We have his grace that teaches us to say no to the ignoble. We have real victory, today, in Christ. I know I am his and I want to (must) be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work – for his glory. Therefore, out of love and obedience, in Christ and only by his grace, I will continue to battle my flesh and turn away from wickedness.

Friday, February 02, 2007

2 Timothy 2:15

Scripture:
15Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.


Insight:
This passage is yet another call to action. We must do our best for God. But, the thing that really resonated with me is the admonition to correctly handle the Bible: the word of truth. My friend, ministry partner, and mentor, Dr. Andrew Jackson, made a memorable statement on Wednesday about truth. He called truth the primary battlefield of spiritual warfare. If the enemy distorts the truth, he wins. If we lose the battle for truth, we could lose the war. It is so important how we interpret, teach and “handle” the word of truth. The Bible has been incorrectly used throughout history from the time of Paul writing this letter to Timothy right up to the present day. I submit that the primary twist of truth comes in the form of interpreting the Bible to fit our ideas and desires. How many times have you heard someone pull verses out of context to prove their personal argument? It sounds right and may even be 98% correct, but the 2% distortion is lethal. That 2% is just enough to completely change everything and change the Bible from truth to “godless myths and old wives tales”. We must approach the Bible with reverence and humbly seek its true meaning, even when it doesn’t fit with our presuppositions and our lifestyles.