Archive for June, 2012

“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank” (Daniel 1:8a)
College Daze

Yes, I admit it, I am a college dropout. The worldly freedom that the college experience allowed did me in. Don’t let me mislead you, the decisions that led to this downward spiral were of my own doing.  The carnal indulgences of this  particular institute of higher learning were merely an hors d’oeuvre offering on satan’s plate that I willingly consumed. What I didn’t see then was how woefully ill-equipped I was to handle faithless autonomy.

Freedom in Slavery

In my walk with Jesus I have come to esteem Daniel. Daniel was one of many Jewish kids (perhaps 16 years of age or so), who were enslaved after King Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem. King Nebbie’s plan was to take the best and the brightest of these slaves, provide them the finest wine and delicacies, and prepare them for service in his court. The only problem was that Daniel wasn’t biting and (in time) he would end up being tossed to the lions because he always sided with God.

But God miraculously saved him.

My wonder and admiration for Daniel is rooted in his God-given ability to resist temptation as a slave. I cannot help but imagine how miserably I would have failed this test. In my freedom I gobbled up sin. Imprisoned I suspect I would have leapt greedily at any opportunity afforded me. What I’ve come to understand by faith is that Daniel’s reverent choices, powered through obedience and submission to God, gave him a kind of freedom I never knew existed. This is true freedom.

And in case you missed it, it is God who makes the way of escape:

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Is This You?

In your world-wise independence, do you think you have it all, when in truth you have very little? Do you feel entitled to seize as much as you can get and keep all you have acquired? Does the process (and results) leave you unsatisfied and wanting more? Despite believing you are climbing upwards from a pit, does the evidence demonstrate you are actually being driven downward into it? Has your faithless freedom left you feeling confined, bound, and addicted? Do you get the sense that all or part of what you are doing is sinful?

The ask yourself…

Are You  Really Free?

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. John 8:34-36

Daniel was only able to do what he did because he loved the Lord. Daniel further understood that achievement and glory belonged solely to God and he obtained his true freedom by means of subjection. In relinquishing his life, he obtained life eternal. As a result he was used mightily by God.

We have access, through Christ Jesus, to this same freedom and it begins by acknowledging that we are all sinners and that sin separates us from God. Read these passages. If they don’t make sense initially, read them again and ask the Lord to speak His truth to your heart.

  • “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
  • For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
  • But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
  •  Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
  • For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

Those are five powerful Bible verses that will change a sinner’s life and set him or her free. If you are sick and tired of experiencing a false freedom that produces only temporary and addictive results, then consider a new life in Christ.

If you give Jesus your all, He will give you His all.

  1. What do these Bible passages say about God?
  2. What do they say about you?
  3. What decisions should you seriously consider right now?

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And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. Luke 2:1
What Would You Do

What is your response to the decrees put forth by today’s rulers?

  • Do you pray or do you protest?
  • Do you obey or boycott?
  • Do you comply or complain?

We should consider the example of the Joseph and Mary. Comphy and cozy in Nazareth, waiting for the birth of the Christ Child, along comes Caesar Augustus and his ridiculous decree. How did they respond; did they protest, grumble, or disobey? My suspicion (based on their eventual reaction) is that their response was more in line with Paul’s exhortation found in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, despite having never read it.

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

That’s Faith

Joseph and Mary knew that God was in control. They also understood that God is not capable of lying; if He said something was going to occur, it surely would. And perhaps most importantly they recognized that God occasionally will allow seemingly bad things to happen in order that His will be done. They had to perceive this, otherwise they certainly would not have ventured out of their home to have a baby. It took faith in God and obedience to an unreasonable decree, in order that prophesy would be fulfilled.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.” Micah 5:2

I am not saying that we need to, ‘Shut-up and pay our taxes,’  but rather that we remember our Lord is in control. He alone has allowed those in authority to be in power and good or bad, republican or democrat, they are nothing more than marionettes in His hand. God has the power to turn ugly into beauty; failure into fulfillment. Our primary recourse is to pray, vote wisely, and exercise the activities our laws allow.

Having said that…

Is there ever a time to disobey the government? Absolutely! If the powers-that-be ask us to break one of God’s laws, then by all means we should disobey, even if it means we will likely suffer greatly — even unto death. But with rebellion comes a warning: if you choose to disobey, you better be able to quote chapter and verse to support the position your taking, otherwise our only godly recourse is to pray, give thanks, and live a quiet and peaceful life trusting in Christ Jesus.

 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. Romans 13:1-2

  1. What do these verses say about God
  2. What do they say about us?
  3. What kind of changes do we need to consider? 

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These things command and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:11-12
Be an Example

Despite that fact that Philippians 2:14 tells me to, Do all things without complaining,’ I still occasionally find myself silently grumbling in church. Each Sunday it seems, I am able to find something not quite right with the music, the sermon, the fellowship, or some other aspect of the worship. I’m sad to say that there have even been times that the thought of pasturing my own church (to do church properly of course) has crossed my fleshly mind.

But what if others within the church I attend emulated my ‘not-always-so-great‘ example? Are the words of my mouth, my behavior, my love, my spirit, faith, and purity, consistent models worthy of imitation? Thankfully I keep most of my negative thoughts to myself (and confess them to the Lord), but what if I regularly voiced them? What would the church look like?

We all know the answer, which is why Paul admonishes Timothy to not go that direction. Paul is implying that grumbling is a part of our sinful nature and it is something that we, through Christ Jesus, have the power to overcome, and therefore counsels Timothy (and the church) how to proceed.

Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress (thy profiting, KJV) may be evident to all. 1 Timothy 4:13-15


The Apostle Paul instructs us that there is a methodology towards the pure conduct he previously addressed in verse 12. Simply put, it begins with our need to be in the Word of God. This is the primary way that the Father has chosen to speak to us. If we’re not partaking of His instruction every single day, there exists the likelihood we will react amiss when things do not go as smoothly as we desire (and thus be a bad example).

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. Psalm 119:105


According to Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary, exhortation is the act of ‘inciting (people) to laudable (praiseworthy) deeds.’ In contrast, if the incitement causes folks to do what is not good or commendable, it is not exhortation. Exhortation (in the Christian sense) is an encouraging, compelling, and inspired work of God.

“Exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13


It’s critical for Christians to stick to the contextual teachings of the Bible. It’s far to easy a thing to take a verse or two out of context and errantly use them to build a case for or against a particular issue. The wisest course of action is to receive the full council God provides, remembering that He does not change or contradict Himself.

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:8


God has given each believer gifts, so it stands to reason we are to properly utilize them. Gifts are in a sense the tools that the Father Himself has put in our hands to do the work He has predestined us to do. If we are neglecting to use the things that He has provided, it typically means (that in our flesh) we’ve picked up something ungodly. Not only is that an act of futility, it’s a sinful act of disrespect to God.

If you’re uncertain as to what your gifting is, then draw upon the grace, the faith, and the Holy Spirit you’ve been given trusting that soon these other things will be revealed.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”  Matthew 7:7-11


As it pertains to reading the Word of God, exhorting other believers, adhering to proper doctrine, and utilizing the gifts God has provided, Paul wants us to think deeply and soberly, attending carefully to them all. The word meditate here also means to put into practice. The idea (according to 1 Timothy 4:15) is that others will take notice of our profiting and progression in God’s will and endeavor to emulate the behavior, not for their glory, but for His.

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified. 2 Corinthians 13:5

  1. What do these verses tell us about God?
  2. Are you a good example?
  3. Do you consistently practice Paul’s methodology?

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And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. 

A Parable

Do you recall this compelling story that Jesus told His disciples?

Jesus said,

 “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’ Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’ So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.” Luke 16:1-8

A first glance the story might be confusing because it appears Jesus is condoning the shrewd behavior of the unjust steward. Jesus goes on to say that not only is this steward’s conduct clever, but that he is wiser than the children of light (aka: Christians). To the believer this seems illogical, at least initially.

Is Jesus actually saying that these tactics are superior to ours?

Yes and No

Let’s be clear, Jesus is not winking at this man’s sin. What He is doing is taking the opportunity to point out the steward’s tenacity. Jesus alerts us to the fact that this unscrupulous man is doing whatever it takes to prepare for his inevitable retirement. Our Savior then turns the story on its side and asks us if we are making the wisest decisions possible in preparation for our eternal retirement.  Reading the account we’re forced to examine if we’re as tenacious towards our future as the ungodly are towards theirs?  Essentially Jesus is warning us, that in most cases, we are not.

However, all is not lost and we’re provided a recourse. In the verses that follow the parable (in Luke 16:9-13), Jesus lays out for us what Christian wisdom should look like in this regard.

And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

Step 1: Make Friends with Mammon

When Jesus tells us to make friends by means of filthy money (unrighteous mammon), He is in reality telling us that there is a way to utilize our resources that will tame the money and protect us. This is accomplished by sending them ahead of us; i.e., spending it unselfishly on things that have eternal weight.

Money, Jesus is saying, cannot control a person if it is used for His glory.

Jesus refers to money as that which is least and goes on to say if we’re faithful in using it according to His will, we will be trusted with things of greater value. God doesn’t tell us what those things are necessarily, but we can take Him at His word that they are of much worth. In a sense, Jesus is going to determine what our futures hold by how well we manage our filthy lucre. Quite honestly, this is precisely where the [false] prosperity gospel disintegrates.

Consider Malachi 3:8-12:

“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” Says the Lord of hosts; “And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land,” Says the Lord of hosts. 

The Tithe

If we don’t tithe, we might say that we don’t give in that way, but that’s not what God says. He declares that we’re stealing from Him. How can God say such a thing? Because [the Bible teaches] everything belongs to Him. If we deny Him that minimum thing He asks back from us, then we are stealing. Look at it as if God were your next door neighbor who loans you a bunch of his tools and then asks for one of them back before you’re finished with your project. If you deny the him his request, plainly stated, you are a thief. You might have an excuse, but nevertheless, you’re a thief.

God Doesn’t Need His Stuff Back

That’s not really the point. Frankly, we don’t know the entire rationale behind the tithe, but we do know a few very important reasons why God wants us to do it. Aside from the windows of heaven pouring out blessings no room can contain (which should be sufficient), we’re taught that to not tithe is to bring a curse upon ourselves. The curse is not a judgement of the Father, but an affliction of our own doing. It’s kind of like not getting a flu shot – we can’t complain if we get the flu [since] we brought the ailment upon ourselves when we rejected the protection it offered.

Look what God says:

“And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” Says the Lord of hosts (Malachi 3:11)

When we’re faithful with that which is least (money), God rebukes satan for our sakes. In other words, we are protected. In contrast, when we steal from God, we are vulnerable to satan’s evil [because] he has not been hedged in.

Finally, Jesus declares that we cannot serve God and mammon. He is factually saying if we’re spending our money on that which is good in our tithes and our offerings, there will not be enough to spend it on that which is evil. Mammon was never meant to be the thing we idolize, but rather a tool by which we can bring honor and glory and praise to the Father.The good news is that as we submit to God; change our minds on this issue (and others), God will be faithful to change our hearts.

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.   2 Corinthians 9:7

  1. What do these verses say about God?
  2. What do they say about Christians?
  3. What is our recourse?

“What is the meaning of the Parable of the Unjust Steward / Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1-13)?” (brakeman1.com)

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Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

The concept behind rightly dividing the Word of God is not solely for the purpose of storing up knowledge or that we may become smarter sinners (heaven forbid), but that sinners might know and accept the truth that is found in Christ Jesus and be saved. The fact of the matter is that God employs this type of division to multiply the church.

How It’s Done

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

The Greek word for divide (orthotomeo) means to ‘cut a straight line through.’ The occasion of the verse is to point out the importance of separating the subjective thought of the soul from the reality that is God’s truth. While the mind (soul) is needed, it’s our tendency to be ensnared by its emotional biases. In that condition we run the risk of becoming ‘hearers only’ and not ‘doers of’ God’s word. James 1:22 reminds us that the result of that state is self-deception. The rightly divided word serves to cut to the heart, thus convicting the soul, and stimulating righteous activity within the willing saint.

Getting it Right

How do we know if we are rightly dividing the word or if the word has been rightly divided for us? The passage from Revelation (below) gives us one clue, while also expressing the difference between soul perception and spirit reaction.

So I went to the angel and said to him, “Give me the little book.” And he said to me, “Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.” Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. Revelation 10:9-10

It should look similar to this: you partake of the Word and it tastes good. The doctrines, the truths, the mandates, and the Solution — it all makes wonderful sense and it is sweetness in your mouth. However digestion is a different story. You’ve taken it all in, but it’s not sitting to well. Suddenly you’re feeling a little queasy. The bitterness referred to in the verse is not so much disillusionment or cynicism, but the recognition of being spiritually grieved to the point of having to react or respond. It’s that overwhelming sense of, “Now that I know, what will I do.”

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted (2 Corinthians 7:10)

At this point we’re given a choice. To do the right thing is to submit to God’s will. To do the wrong thing is to get an ulcer, for if you ignore Holy Spirit conviction it will turn into cancerous guilt. At any rate, to be here is to know that the word was rightly divided. In order for change to take place, this is the path the sinner must adhere to. The Holy Spirit will work in the believer to translate the Bible according to His purpose and perfect timing, but we must be submitted to the process.

A Taste Test

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35

  1. How do those verses taste in your mouth?
  2. How do they feel in your stomach?
  3. How will you respond?

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These articles may or may not relate to this post (I have not read them all):

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