Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Break Time!


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

NTDS (43): Be Careful!

1 Cor 10:12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! NIV

One of the biggest problems in the church at Corinth was the lack of understanding how to properly apply God’s grace. All throughout the book of First Corinthians, Paul had to correct them for abusing their freedom in Christ. When they tried to convince him that they had “knowledge,” about spiritual matters, he replied, “We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.” (1 Cor 8:1-2)

What he meant by that is that knowledge, if not tempered by love, can lead to improper application of scripture. In turn, that can harm people rather than help. Paul will give many examples of this in this letter, including the above warning.

Just before this warning, he explains that during the exodus, even though all the Hebrews had access to God’s supernatural provision and all could see His miraculous powers employed on their behalf, their disobedience had brought judgment upon them. Paul informs the Corinthians that they should be paying attention to that example. 1 Cor 10:6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.

What he is conveying to them, is that the children of Abraham had taken God’s grace for granted and that they, the believers in Corinth, were doing the same thing. It seems that the Corinthians felt that they could continue in certain sins and that God would not hold them accountable. Furthermore, they often did not consider others in their “liberty” in Christ,” and caused others to stumble. There was a prideful attitude present.

So Paul warns them to not make the same mistakes that the Hebrew children did. Instead of taking advantage of God’s grace, they should be looking for ways to stay out of sin. He states t that it is possible to avoid sinning because God provides a way of escape from temptation! (v.13)

The application for us today is pretty obvious. We can often think that we are standing firm in our relationship to the Lord because God’s grace covers all our sin. That is true, but if we are willing to take that grace lightly and sin with impunity, it calls into question whether we truly have committed our life to Him or not. When we have surrendered our heart to Jesus, our desire is to do what is pleasing to Him.

When we are tempted to sin, we should be looking for and then using that way of escape, rather than thinking we can participate in it and then rely on God’s forgiveness. We should not think our standing is Christ is so firm, that we cannot ever fall. All of us will continue to face the opportunity to sin and thus an opening to give in to its lure. It is a daily choice we must make.

I pray that each day we live, we would choose to put on the full armor of God (Eph 6), so that we may stand against the enemy and our own flesh. I pray that we would choose obedience to God and His word by the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5). I pray that we would always remember Paul’s exhortation to be careful about sin and not arrogant. And when we are victorious over temptation, lets be careful to give glory to whom it belongs, Jesus Christ, our faithful Lord and Savior!

God bless you


Monday, December 22, 2014

NTDS (42): Washed

1 Cor 6:11…But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. NIV

Have you ever had a time in your life when you were completely covered in dirt? You know, when it is so stuck on you that you think it will never come off. Maybe you have been camping for days, with no shower. Maybe, like me, you played tug of war or king of the hill in the mud and it was eighty degrees outside so the mud would just “cake” on your body. How about after a long day of digging and planting in the garden? You know that feeling, right?
If you have, then you know the wonderful feeling of freshness and cleanliness that comes over you when you eventually take a shower and all that dirt begins to fall off your body. It is a great sensation, is it not? You feel like a new person when you finally drag yourself out of that delightful shower.

But what if, no matter how hard you tried, you could not get the dirt off? What if, even if you stayed in the shower for 24 hours, you still were filthy? What if, no matter which type of soap you used, you could not get the dirt and sweat off? How would that make you feel? Would you feel desperate, helpless?

Then you realize something. You do not have the right cleaning agent. You realize that the only cleaning solution that can get you clean has to be provided by someone else. Would you do almost anything to get a hold of that cleaner?

In this verse, Paul is reminding a group of believers in Corinth, that this is exactly what happened to them when they came to faith in Jesus Christ. In verses 9-10, he reminds them of those who would not inherit the Kingdom of God. He lists a group of lifestyle sins (certainly not all inclusive) that are evidence of people who are in rebellion to the Lord. Then he reminds them about their own sinful lifestyles. “And that is what some of you were,” he says. They were covered with dirt. They were in desperate need of being cleansed, but they could not clean themselves. Instead, as the verse says, they “were washed”. God himself cleansed them, in the name of Jesus Christ and by the Spirit.

It is no different for us. You see, when we were lost in sin, covered by its’ filth, Jesus came to wash us and make us clean. We had no ability to wash ourselves from the stain of our sin. We need to be reminded, just like the Corinthians, that we have been cleansed by the only agent that could do the job, His blood. Heb 9:22, In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Not only have we been cleansed (justified), the verse tells us that we continue to be cleansed (sanctified) (1 Jn 1:9). The blood of Christ is sufficient for washing us for the rest of our lives. Eph 2:13 says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”

Paul was reminding the church at Corinth of this truth because of their shameless behavior. The church was going through a myriad of problems, such as allowing sexual sin, suing each other in public courts
and exalting themselves with their spiritual gifts instead of using them properly to build up the body of Christ. Why was that happening? It was because they had forgotten their previous condition. They needed to be reminded that they were only “saints,” as he addressed them in his introduction, because of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and by his shed blood! So he tells them, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.”
(1 Cor 6:19-20)

This is a reminder that we all need from time to time. We can easily get caught up in our own self-pride, thinking of how “spiritual” we are and how much we “have done for God.” Instead, we need to remember what we were before we came to Christ. We were enemies of God, yet he shed His blood to wash us (Ro 5:10, Col 1:21).

So let’s keep that perspective, that we might truly be one body, loving and serving each other! Let’s clothe ourselves in humility, knowing that there was nothing we could do to earn our cleansing, but that it was a free gift we received by faith. Let’s walk day by day, in the grace that was given to us by Almighty God!

God bless you


Friday, December 19, 2014

NTDS (41): How to Truly Know God

1 Cor 2:4-5 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. NIV

In the second chapter of Corinthians, Paul is going to make a stark contrast. He will show the difference between those who have the mind of the world (v5) and those who have the mind of Christ (v16).

For believers in Christ, if I were to ask which category do you want to be in, I am sure you would answer, “the second one, of course!” Now, if I asked you which category do you think you are in, what would be your answer? I bring this up because so many Christians I speak to (or should I say, listen to), do not speak or act as though the have the “mind of Christ.” I do not mean this in a judgmental way, but as a matter of fact.

It is difficult in our society not to be influenced by the world’s way of thinking. There are many trained speakers who “tickle our itching ears” and even seem to be speaking for God, but they are false teachers. And yet, many believers follow their teaching. Paul lived in that kind of world. Philosophers, who were trained in debate, could sound very wise and convincing when espousing their beliefs.

In this chapter, Paul makes it clear that you cannot mix the wisdom of the world with God’s wisdom. If you do, it always becomes convoluted. “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor 2:14 NIV)
This means that a person, who has not accepted Christ, cannot understand the wisdom of God because such wisdom is only revealed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit only comes into one’s life when a person accepts Christ.

Wait a minute, what if a person knows the Bible inside and out? Can’t they teach God’s wisdom? The answer is no! That is exactly what Paul is teaching here. You see the bible gives us God’s truth. That truth is critical to knowing God. In fact, you can’t really know God without it. But knowing God intellectually does not mean you truly know Him.

To truly know God, we must have the word of God taught and applied in our life by the power of the Holy Spirit. 1 John 2:27, As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit — just as it has taught you, remain in him.

So we need both the Word and the Spirit. It is kind of like the old song says, “you can’t have one without the other.” You may have noticed that we just linked together, Jesus (the word-John 1) and the Holy Spirit in order to have a true relationship with the God the Father. Knowing God means that you experience all three persons of the triune God.

For those of you that truly want to know God, there are some very practical guidelines that you must follow.

One: you must accept Jesus Christ as the one and only way to the Father. (Jn 14:6)

Two: study the word of God diligently. (2 Ti 2:15)

Three: ask the Holy Spirit to be your teacher as you read the word and listen to Bible teachers. (1 Cor 2:12)

Four: do not rely on one human being to be your spiritual guide and blindly follow their teaching. Paul commended the Bereans for examining the scriptures themselves to see if what he said was true. (Acts 17:11)

Five: allow God, by the power of His Spirit, to apply what you are learning through the study of His word.

Remember our key verse, and don’t allow your faith to rest on men’s’ wisdom, but on God’s power!

God bless you

Thursday, December 18, 2014

NTDS (40): In His Keeping

1 Cor 1:8 He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. NIV

Meditate on this verse. Read it out loud. Look at each word carefully. Grasp the depth of what Paul is saying to the church at 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:” (1 Cor 1:2) That means he is speaking to you and me as well as to those in the early church.

There are many believers in Christ who struggle with doubt about their salvation. It seems that when they fall into sin or go through a season where they might not feel close to God, it causes them to question whether or not they are truly saved. Would you describe yourself that way?

It’s not necessarily a bad thing to check your heart once in a while. We can all get complacent in our walk with the Lord and that is not a good thing. The problem comes when we place too much emphasis on our performance, how much we do for God or how well we do it. It is also not good to think that just because we don’t feel close to the Lord, that He has gone anywhere. You may stray, but he is always there. (Dt 31:6, Mt 28:20))

So look again at the verse. Note that it is He who will keep you strong, not you. We are responsible to spend time with Jesus and walk in the power of His Spirit (Gal 5). He then is the one who supplies that power. If we just surrender our will to Him, He will do it!

How long will He do that? Verse 8 says “to the end.” That means until He comes again or you leave this earth for eternity. You need not worry about whether you will “make it” to the end. Jesus guarantees that you will. Phil 1:6
says, …”being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
You don’t have to be good enough or feel close enough for God to complete the plans He has for you. Just keep trusting in Him, asking Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit each day and then let Him take care of the rest.

Notice the result that is accomplished by His keeping you strong. It is so that you will be blameless when meet the Lord face to face. That was accomplished the moment you trusted Christ for your salvation, because of His death on the cross. You became blameless for your own sin because He took your blame. The word blameless in the original language means, “free from accusation.” That is how God sees you.

If that is how God sees us, then we need to see ourselves the same way. Not justified or blameless because of anything we did, but because of His wonderful grace. The bible says that Satan accuses the brethren day and night to God (Rev 12:10). You don’t need to help him out by accusing yourself. Instead, when you know you are wrong, confess immediately to the Lord, thank Him for His forgiveness and great grace toward you and live joyously, know that you are and always will be blameless in His eyes. That is the promise of this wonderful verse.

So, when you are tempted to dwell on your shortcomings, read this verse. You are called to be holy. He will accomplish that in you. When you “feel” distant form the Lord, read this verse and be reminded that it is He that keeps you strong “until the end.” When you begin to compare yourself with others and feel like you just don’t measure up, read this verse and know that you are blameless in His sight.

God never breaks his promises, so you can know that when He says something, it is true and it will come to pass. He says here that you are in His keeping now and forevermore! Believe it, rest in it and share it with others that they might come into this same relationship!

God bless you


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

NTDS (39): Three Really, Really Good Rules

Rom 14:13-14 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. NIV

Rom 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. NIV

Rom 14:22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. NIV

In Romans 14, Paul addresses a couple of issues, which had been causing some division in the local church. One issue concerned the keeping of Jewish holy days and festivals. With the church being made up of both Jewish and Gentile believers, there was debate about whether or not they needed to be celebrated. The other issue was whether or not to abstain from eating meat.

The context of this passage concerns being one as a body of Christ, so Paul has to exhort these people to not let non-essential issues divide them. These two issues, as well as many others that come up in the early church, are man made issues. There is no mandate from the Lord for Gentiles to observe the Jewish feasts, nor is their any instruction about abstaining from meat. Therefore Paul gives this instruction, “
Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” Rom 14:5-6

What he means by that is that each person should obey his or her conscience in matters of this type and not be influenced by others to do something they do not want to do or, not do something they are not convicted about. Remember though, that this concerns matters that are not directly or by principle, sinning against the Lord. Paul then encourages people to do everything as unto the Lord.

Let’s look at a modern day example of the type of issue that can divide the body. Then I want us to look at the three rules and see why they are so important. The issue? Drinking! Uh oh, somebody reading this is already getting upset:)

There is much debate and division about this issue in the church. Is it ok for Christians to drink alcohol or not? The instruction from Paul, by inspiration of the Spirit, is do not get drunk. (Eph 5:18)  If you do, you are in sin, period! But we do not have specific instructions to not drink. We know that even Jesus drank wine. (Please, let’s not get into the silly debate about whether or not it was fermented) Even when there is not a specific instruction on something, we must still look at biblical principles on such matters. What are they in this case?

 1 Cor 10:23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. (NASU)
This is a simple principle that you should be using when you make a decision about drinking as well as other issues in life. It is lawful, but is it profitable? Is it edifying? You must be convinced in your own mind, like Paul said, but you need to think through and pray about it, since there is obviously some risk involved in using alcohol. (You don’t really want to argue that point, do you?) Whatever decision you make, you must consider the three rules listed at the top, so that you will not contribute to dividing the body of Christ.

One: don’t pass judgment on another person who chooses to drink without getting drunk. Don’t belittle a person who chooses not to drink. Make sure you do not stumble a brother or sister by your decision.

Two: Make sure that you are trying to edify other believers and not use your liberty in Christ as an instrument of division. Instead, be an instrument for peace.

Three: This is how you can accomplish one and two. Do not advertise your choice in the matter to the world. I cannot emphasize this enough. In today’s world of Facebook and Twitter, it is easy to stumble other people with your display of the choices you make! Please brothers and sisters, I and exhort you by the mercies of Christ, to follow Paul’s command here in Ro 14:22, Keep your beliefs on this type of matter between you and God! That way you can be sure not to stumble other believers.

Paul said it, not me. If you do not like that, take it up with God because He inspired Paul to write it! I believe that if you follow these principles and instructions, you will find that it will help bring unity to the body and glory to our Lord which should always be the desire of every believer’s heart!

God bless you