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Archive for August, 2008

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place…And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1 + 4

Separation

Today, I began a study in the book of Titus and I was reminded how Paul had left Titus in Crete in order to maintain the Christian church there. I got to thinking how this church was likely established and recalled the account of the Cretans who were saved at Pentecost.

Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Cretans and Arabs–we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” Acts 2:7, 8, + 11

It seems probable that these same Acts 2 Cretans returned to their native land and commenced doing church, which got me thinking about people groups and why we were all separated to begin with.

Babel

Ah yes, it is all coming back to me, the Tower of Babel; the story of what happens when mankind gets together and excludes God. As a result of that catastrophe, God scattered the masses, creating peculiar people groups and odd languages. Because God created these divisions, it is only reasonable to believe that He alone can impel restoration.

The Lesson of Pentecost

All one need do is look at the results of man’s attempts to restore whole-earth unity. From the most ancient of days to the modern era, all have failed. Pentecost confirms that there is but One way to restore order and that is through faith in Jesus Christ. Eventually, the Antichrist will come on the scene making yet another try. Initially he will find limited success, but we know by God’s word that in the end, he too will fail miserably.


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If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. 2 Timothy 2:12-13
 
What a Wonderful Promise

The verse reminds me of Old Faithful, the Wyoming geyser located in Yellowstone National Park. As most of us know, the conic fissure erupts faithfully about every ninety minutes, but did you know that if you turned your back on the geyser and walked away, it would still erupt?

That’s Right!

Imagine you have arrived at the site and just before it is about to blow, something catches your eye and you turn away. So intrigued by this ‘thing’ you pursue it off into the nearby woods, completely forgetting why you came to the park in the first place. In your absence, the geyser, like clockwork, continues to spout. As a result…

You Have Missed the Blessing

And so it is occasionally with those who have been saved by faith. This passage is not saying we (Christians) have somehow voided our contract with God if we have denied Him in some way. If it were, then Peter would have been in really big trouble. The verse is merely telling us that when we walk away from Jesus (even for short periods), we miss out on the blessings.

Getting Back to God’s Grace

The idea that the longer we have been away, the more stuff we have to do to get back into God’s grace, is a lie from the pit of hell. It’s what satan would have us believe. The truth is that the only thing we have to do get back to God is to go back to God. Regardless of how far we walk away from Jesus, when we turn around He is right there.

If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

It saddens me to know that (perhaps) a couple billion people in the world are not aware of this truth or of how loving our Jesus is. This should not be. If every person who calls himself or herself Christian endeavored to reach just one lost soul, suddenly two billion lost becomes one.

  1. What does the verse tell us about God?
  2. What does it tell us about ourselves?
  3. What should be our response?

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Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 1 Timothy 6:6-8
Caught Lying Again

A. Carnegie & Lord Weardale (LOC)

Ask me if I am content and I will likely tell you that I am. Now feel free to call me a liar. The truth is I want to be satisfied with the food in my cupboard and the clothes on my back, but my actions say otherwise. In fact I just paused [here] to salvage something from the cookie jar to ease my grumbling stomach; unable to complete a simple thought on contentment without snacking.

Pitiful.

Actually, I am getting better; I am not as bad as I used to be, but I unquestionably have a very long way to go. I have heard it said that a truly wealthy person is not the one who gets whatever he wants, but wants whatever he is given. I am not there yet, but I am gaining ground. Here is a helpful road sign I have encountered along the way:

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11

Jesus will not deny me any good thing providing I stay on the narrow path. If I should lament, “But I don’t have a 52 inch plasma TV, ” God would likely respond, “that’s not good for you Dave.”

I take much comfort in the fact that the Apostle Paul says [later on in 1 Timothy 6:14], “Keep this commandment without spot (and) blameless(ly).” Why would that bring me comfort you ask? Because my track record reveals that I am totally incapable of keeping any of the commandments; that is, without the help of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That brings me right back where I am supposed to be — entirely dependant upon Him.

Practicing the Faith

Bottom line…I’m rich. And you know what else, ‘so-are-you.’ Oh perhaps not by America’s standard, but by the world’s standard we are in the top 5 % of the wealthiest people on the face of the earth. With that in mind we are commanded to abandon our pride, rely on God (and not our wealth), do good, give, and share. Why? Because we cannot take it with us, but we can certainly pay it forward and thus lay hold of eternal life.

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The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe. Proverbs 29:25
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The Fear of Doing What is Right

The phrase, “But what will people think,”  has frozen more than a few saints on their pilgrim’s pathway. The truth be told, we cannot live our lives based on what others may or may not suppose. To do so is akin to living inside the brain of someone not yourself. Assuming we are operating in God’s will, we should regard what other people think or say as none of our business.

Timothy Was a Wino

There could not be anything further from the truth. However, Timothy mistakenly believed that when Paul told him (in 1 Timothy 5:23) to, ‘use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities,’  it might be seen as a violation of the church doctrine Paul previously established when he said (in 1 Timothy 3:3) that elders in the church, ‘must not be given to much wine.’

Paul in the following verses essentially tells his young protégé to not worry about his reputation or what others might say; God knows their hearts. He effectively reminds Timmy that these folks have their own agendas, which typically revolve around getting the spotlight off of their sin and onto other people. He would remind us that our attempts to maintain our reputations are in reality acts of pride and therefore sinful.

Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden. 1 Timothy 5:24-25

What’s a Saint to Do?

As Paul said to Timothy, “Take your medicine,” (paraphrase mine).

And in regard to our social status, we have Christ Jesus as our example, who…

“Being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:6-7

The wonderful irony is that Jesus, in making Himself of no reputation ends up with a reputation that is perfect and divinely faultless. By giving it all He has gained it all; and therein stands our model. The reality is that when we’re behaving ourselves (in the best spiritual sense), our reputations will take care of themselves.

A Starting Point

Tom Landry, the late coach of the Dallas Cowboys, was once quoted by Charles Swindoll in the ‘Insights for Living‘ newsletter. Coach Landry said:

My job is to get men to do what they don’t want to do in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to achieve.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m all about taking the easiest route possible (and that’s not something I say flippantly). It was Jesus who first said that His yoke was easy and His burden was light — I’m going to take Him at His word. It stands to reason that His commandments are simple to follow and the loads He asks us to bare are carryable. It’s here that many tend to say, “I don’t think it’s easy.”

I don’t think it’s easy

What I have discovered is that when I think like that, my struggle is not with what Jesus has instructed, but with how His instruction will change me. When I fear change I automatically perceive that not being an easy thing. Once you understand that, it gets easier. Here we’re instructed to not worry about what others think and abandon our pride.  It’s not as hard as you have been misled to believe.

Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud. Proverbs 16:18-19

  1. What do these verses say about God?
  2. What do they say about you?
  3. What’s your easiest recourse?

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To Timothy, a true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Timothy 1:2
What’s the Difference

Have you ever asked yourself what the difference is between grace and mercy? My pastor gave an illustration a few months ago that enlightened truly me.

“Imagine,” he began, “that you are pulled over for speeding. If the officer lets you off with a warning, that’s mercy. If he then gives you an envelope with ten thousand dollars and tells you to have a nice day, that’s grace.”

The difference between the two words is subtle and can be summarized by saying that mercy is not getting what you deserve and grace is receiving what you do not deserve.

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. Lamentations 3:22

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

I Want Justice!

I laugh when I hear someone scream that. I want to yell back, “No you don’t. What you want is mercy!” God demanded justice, but by His grace He positioned our guilt on His Son and He paid the penalty. In light of that truth, only a fool would demand to be held accountable, for if you demand it for others, you are demanding it for yourself.

A Most Precious Commodity

”Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Luke 7:47

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and Jesus said, Take Heed that No Man Deceive You, For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

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