Tuesday, December 26, 2006
I found a Church history site that I'd never seen before! (That's exciting for a nerd like me.)
Am I saying that I agree with or have read everything that is there? No. I just enjoy learning and thought some of you might enjoy the site too.
Here's the link: http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/hallmap.htm
Monday, December 25, 2006
We do not have a happy report to give. We’ve not been able to find a suitable candidate for this church, though we have one promising prospect still. We do appreciate all the suggestions from the church members, and we’ve followed up each one with interviews or calling at least three references. The following is our confidential report on the present candidates.
Adam: Good man but problems with his wife. Also one reference told of how his wife and he enjoy walking nude in the woods.
Noah: Former pastorate of 120 years with no converts. Prone to unrealistic building projects.
Abraham: Though the references reported wife-swapping, the facts seem to show he never slept with another man’s wife, but did offer to share his own wife with another man.
Joseph: A big thinker, but a braggart, believes in dream-interpreting, and has a prison record.
Moses: A modest and meek man, but poor communicator, even stuttering at times. Sometimes blows his stack and acts rashly. Some say he left an earlier church over a murder charge.
David: The most promising leader of all until we discovered the affair he had with his neighbor’s wife.
Solomon: Great preacher but our parsonage would never hold all those wives.
Elijah: Prone to depression-collapses under pressure.
Elisha: Reported to have lived with a single widow while at his former church.
Hosea: A tender and loving pastor but our people could never handle his wife’s occupation.
Jeremiah: Emotionally unstable, alarmist, negative, always lamenting things, and reported to have taken a long trip to bury his underwear on the bank of foreign river.
Isaiah: On the fringe? Claims to have seen angels in church. Has trouble with his language.
Jonah: Refused God’s call into ministry until he was forced to obey by getting swallowed up by a great fish. He told us the fish later spit him out on the shore near here. We hung up.
Amos: Too backward and unpolished. With some seminary training he might have promise, but has a hang-up against wealthy people. Might fit in better in a poor congregation.
John: Says he is a Baptist, but definitely doesn’t dress like one. Has slept in the outdoors for months on end, has a weird diet, and provokes denominational leaders.
Peter: Too blue collar. Has a bad temper—even has been known to curse. Had a big run-in with Paul in Antioch. Aggressive, but a loose cannon.
Paul: Powerful CEO type leader and fascinating preacher. However, short on tact, unforgiving with younger ministers, harsh and has been known to preach all night.
Timothy: Too young.
Jesus: Has had popular times, but once when his church grew to 5000 he managed to offend them all and this church dwindled down to twelve people. Seldom stays in one place very long. And, of course, he’s single.
Judas: His references are solid. A steady plodder. Conservative. Good connections. Knows how to handle money. We’re inviting him to preach this Sunday. Possibilities here.
This list was found at: http://www.bible.org/bits/bits-57.htm
I can tell you this much, if Jesus wanted to pastor the average church in America He would be turned down flat!
The TV is my shepherd,
My spiritual growth shall want;
It makes me to sit down and do nothing for His Name’s sake.
It requires all my spare time;
It keeps me from doing my Christian duty.
It produces so many good shows that I must see;
It restores my knowledge of the world.
It keeps me from the study of God’s Word.
It leads me in the path of failing to attend worshipand doing nothing for the kingdom of God.
Yea, though I live to be a hundred years old
I shall view my TV as long as it works.
It seems to be my closest companion;
Its sounds and pictures they comfort me.
It provides entertainment for me and keeps me fromdoing important things with my family.
It fills my head with ideas which differ from God’s will.
Surely, because of all the wasted hours there will be a lack of rewards at the Bema;
Yet, because of His goodness and mercy,
I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Side by Side
They lie on the table side by side
The Holy Bible and the T.V. Guide.
One is well worn and cherished with pride.
Not the Bible, but the T.V. Guide.
One is used daily to help folks decide.
No, not the Bible, but the T.V. Guide.
As the pages are turned, what shall they see.
Oh, what does it matter, turn on the T.V.
So they open the book in which they confide.
No, not the Bible, but the T.V. Guide.
The Word of God is seldom read.
Maybe a verse before they fall into bed.
Exhausted and sleepy and tired as can be.
Not from reading the Bible, from watching T.V.
So then back to the table side by side,
Lie the Holy Bible and the T.V. Guide.
No time for prayer, no time for the Word,
The plan of Salvation is seldom heard.
But forgiveness of sin, so full and free,
Is found in the Bible, not on T.V.
This parable is told of a farmer who owned an old mule.
The mule fell into the farmer’s well. After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving. Instead, he called his neighbors together and told them what had happened...and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.
Initially, the old mule was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back, a thought struck him. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back...HE SHOULD SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP! This he did, blow after blow. “Shake it off and step up...shake it off and step up...shake it off and step up!” He repeated to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows, or how distressing the situation seemed the old mule fought “panic” and just kept right on SHAKING IT OFF AND STEPPING UP! It wasn’t long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, STEPPED TRIUMPHANTLY OVER THE WALL OF THAT WELL!
What seemed like it would bury him, actually helped him...all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity. THAT’S LIFE! If we face our problems and respond to them positively, and refuse to give in to panic, bitterness, or self-pity...THE ADVERSITIES THAT COME ALONG TO BURY US USUALLY HAVE WITHIN THEM THE VERY REAL POTENTIAL TO BENEFIT US!
Mary knows that it’s just a matter of days until our family is together for Christmas. It’s almost like a fuse has been lit, or a countdown got started, and here we are, days away from trips to Denver International Airport to welcome, and just hours away from a 1999 gray Saturn showing up in our driveway when we celebrate… homecoming, Christmas style.
In fact, the dining room table already has places set. We’re ready. Yet this picture of preparation reminds me that for many of our friends, there will be fewer places to set this year. Joy is muted. Pain is an ingredient in the blended reunions of these folks. Someone is gone… and maybe even more than one.
Some lives were snuffed, others we simply ushered on, but there is a heaviness, an ache that has entered the festivity. In some cases, it has come in overwhelming proportion. In fact, at times, eternity feels like no match for the loneliness. And a baby, born into obscurity over two thousand years ago, seems almost irrelevant. So here, tears greet Christmas. They are spontaneous and powerful.
An empty chair, a silent voice, empty arms…
Life… and death are a part of this story. But hope, real hope has not disappeared. God is not wringing His celestial hands wondering what to do next. You see, His seat, the presence of the living God, is never empty. Just ask Jesus:
I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. ~ John 16:32-33 (ESV)
Merry Christmas. Especially to those of you who are experiencing pain. It is precisely the coming of the Messiah that reveals the embracing heart of the Father. Through the tears, in the tears, with the tears… you will know “God with us,” the “overcomer,” as never before.
Even in the pain… especially in the pain… Jesus.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29 – KJV).
Forty thousand fans were on hand in the Oakland stadium when Rickey Henderson tied Lou Brock’s career stolen base record. According to USA Today Lou, who had left baseball in 1979, had followed Henderson’s career and was excited about his success. Realizing that Rickey would set a new record, Brock said, “I’ll be there. Do you think I’m going to miss it now? Rickey did in 12 years what took me 19. He’s amazing.”
Paul continues to call the Ephesians to unity, and he continues to address the subject of speech. What if we in the church had the speech habits of Lou Brock? Here was a man who’d built a career on stealing bases and hustling on the ball field. You’d think he would want to hold on to that record. Instead Mr. Brock was rooting for Mr. Henderson to break the record. What if our speech showed the same thing in our work for the Lord? We should root for one another to succeed, even when it means that someone is doing something better than we could do.
Let’s break the verse above into three parts to see how it may help us to root for one another.
(1) “Let no corrupt communication come out of your mouth…” Another way to say that would be to say “If you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t say anything!” There are all kinds of corrupt communication. There are comments of jealousy, anger, pride, contempt…the list could go on all day. The big things are easy to control…I’d be willing to say no one reading this devotion is likely to haul off and cuss someone out, but I’d be as likely to say that we all struggle with being a “smarty pants” to someone in our congregation, at our work or in our homes. Just stop it.
(2) “…but that which is good to the use of edifying…” To edify means to instruct or improve spiritually. That’s it! This qualification needs to be the basis of our conversation. The next time you have a conversation with someone that you usually find it difficult to talk with, think on this portion. Concentrate on improving them spiritually. It will surely govern what we say. After all, if we are sincerely trying to speak things that will improve someone spiritually it will also improve us and certainly our minds will not be on tearing them down verbally.
(3) “…that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Don’t let Godly conversation be limited to those who DESERVE it. “Minister grace” by saying edifying things to those that DO NOT deserve it. Then, we will be ministering grace to whoever we are speaking to.
Let’s be like Lou Brock…let’s be cheerleaders. It can be difficult, but it is worthwhile and will build unity. Have you got your verbal pom-poms ready?
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I have not stopped writing devotions. I have, however, stop sending them via email. I THOUGHT I had sent a notice like this one out, but apparently it was one of my dreams. I THOUGHT I had sent a notice saying that you can read devotions on my blog site (linked below my signature line). I already knew I was crazy, but now I guess my memory is fading. To confirm this I looked through all of my "sent" emails, and, yes, I have not sent out a prior notice.
NOTICE: I have begun posting devotions on my blog site (again, link below my signature line). The best way to preserve this is to add it to your "favorites" list. You can do that by "clicking" on "Favorites", which is located toward the top right of your screen, and then clicking "add" and the link will be preserved there. You can then hit that every day and check out the devotions. Beware! There may be all kinds of crazy thoughts posted there. I am a certified lover of Jesus and I may write about any thing!
I am sorry that I did not communicate any of this earlier; I really should have not lost my mind and forgotten. To catch up on devotions, check out the blog. I hope you will ALL hang in there with me.
The decision to change my method of distribution was predicated on the unreliable nature of email communication. I have had many tell me they were not receiving devotions. It is my prayer that this will become THE most effective means to share the word with you all. You can still reply to the devotions, either by sending me an email or posting on the blog site where is says "comment".
By the way...Merry Christmas!!!
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17 - New American Standard Bible - emphasis mine).
When I was in the army we were trained again and again and again in proper use of our equipment, fighting techniques, and the general duties of "soldiering". It never hit me as to how important all of that was until our nation went to war against Iraq in 1991. I knew there was a distinct possibility that I may be called into the fray. I remember thinking, This is it. Can I hold my own? I began to think about and review all that I had learned. Knowing I could be in serious danger in a matter of days I regretted having taken some of my training in a less than serious manner.
What about our spiritual training? If your spiritual life depended on you knowing the book of Deuteronomy, could you survive? Jesus did. When He was tempted in the wilderness He defeated Satan by properly trusting and applying Scripture...every verse He used was from Deuteronomy. Honestly, I don't think I would have been able to make it.
The apostle Paul tells Timothy that "All Scripture is...profitable". The word "all" has rich meaning; it indicates every part and the whole. I believe that! I believe EVERY word of the Bible. I even believe in the punctuation and the spaces between the words! That brings this question to mind though; What is it profitable for?
Paul lists four things, the first of which is that Scripture is profitable for "teaching" (doctrine). That means that Scripture is profitable in the structure of how you think. This is important! If we are not thinking correctly, we won't live correctly. What we believe and think determines how we behave and function. To know the word, and know it properly, is crucial to having effective, God-honoring lives.
The second thing that Paul says Scripture is profitable for is "reproof" (rebuke). This means that Scripture will tell us when we are off target, or, another way of saying this, when we are out of bounds. One writer said the word is like an umpire that yell "Out!" or "Safe!" or "Foul!". The Scripture identifies what is sin; what God wants for our lives; gives us standards for living.
The third word of profit Paul uses is "correction". Not only does God's word tell us what is out of bounds, it also tells us how to get back in. The word finds the junk that we've hidden in our mental and emotional closet and demands that we clean it up! Not only that, Scripture tells us exactly what it will take to get our mess straight.
The fourth is actually a phrase Paul uses; "training in righteousness". Not only does Scripture tell us what is wrong and how to fix it, it also tells us the right way to live. Scripture gets our heads straightened out, points out our sins, corrects our problems, and, having done all of that, gives us positive guidelines for life.
What's the goal? Good question...
The Holy Spirit, through Paul, gives us that answer; He says the goal is to make us "adequate, equipped for every good work". Scripture makes us like soldiers armed and ready for the battle of life and the rest of eternity.
Here is the committment God has led me to make...I WILL WORK TO BE READY! Unlike my military adventures I do NOT want to look back one day and KNOW that I am NOT prepared for imminent danger.
What can you do? TRAIN! Take Scripture seriously; realize its importance and recognize that we CANNOT be effective for ourselves or for the Lord while we are living life out of bounds. One last thing...instead of getting shipped off to Iraq I was shipped to South Korea where I served in relative peace. In life there is no reprise; our adversary, the devil, is liking a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). That means no let up...get armed, be ready, live effective.
It was one of the typically wild Saturday nights at The Warehouse; the type we experience often. There were about 110 students there at the time. A local preacher, Joel Bradsher, was spending a few hours volunteering. It was his first night and it’s safe to say he was surprised at the many students that were there. Having worked with youth for several years, he was not surprised by their exuberance and energy.
Joel was asked to share from God’s word with the students and he jumped at the opportunity. He read one verse; Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Joel began to explain what that verse means. The students were being themselves, restless. Then, in an act only the Spirit could lead someone to do, Joel climbed on top of one of the tables. THAT got the students’ attention! They were listening; really listening.
Joel was talking about the “power of God unto salvation” when he asked, “If I was the most powerful person in the whole universe, what would you do?” One student said, “I’d be your friend!” and another quickly added, “I’d be your BEST friend!” “That’s right!” Joel excitedly said. “You wouldn’t be ashamed to be my friend either,” he added.
“You know, young people,” Joel continued, “God is the most powerful being in the entire universe and He does want you to be His friend. It’s Christmas time and we need to think about why Jesus was born in the first place. He came for my sins and for your sins. He lived perfect and died sacrificially and rose from the dead in victory. Do you believe He is God’s answer and power for salvation?” Many students responded with a resounding “YES!”
The next part was truly a blessing. Joel shared with the students that they could receive Christ today. He said, “You can pray something like this…” He was exemplifying prayer, but to all of our surprise, in a very unscripted fashion dozens of students began to pray WITH him! Hallelujah!
The word is going forth faithfully. God is causes students to hear AND to respond. To HIM be the glory!
The end of any year is a good time to take inventory of how God has blessed us. Some may find themselves having been given less than they thought they would have when the year started. I have a friend that lost his job this year and went through many changes. On the other hand, I have a friend who saw God anoint his business in 2006 and bring much fruit from his laborers. To those whom God has blessed with abundance I ask you to prayerfully consider making a tax-deductible year end donation to Youth For Christ Roxboro.
We have dreamed big and pray to accomplish much in the labor of God. We want to go farther and deeper. We can never thank you enough for your faithfulness. At the same time, we beg you to press on! We are continually thankful for God’s blessing our ministry, but we will not be satisfied until all have heard. — Tim
There are approximately 36,000 people in Person County. If $1.00 were given per person per month to support reaching students in our area our budget COULD be $432,000 a year. That sounds simple! Our budget is currently about 1/4 of that amount. God is allowing us to do a lot with that! Could we do more with more? YES!
Volunteer Meeting Planned
Mark Your Calendars! January 2 @ 7:00 PM at The Warehouse
It’s that time again...we need another meeting for The Warehouse volunteers. We will discuss volunteer scheduling and recruitment. Also, we will handout the long awaited “Volunteer Handbooks”. It’s key that we do this.
If you know of a potential volunteer this will be a great meeting to bring them to. Also, because we have so much material to cover, we will limit the actual meeting time to discussing the handbook and the few other topics of absolute necessity. However, we will have paper and pens handy to write down suggestions or complaints. Plus, YFC staff will remain past the meeting time to answer questions or address concerns.
Refreshments will be served and fellowship is welcome after the meeting time. The meeting will last for one hour. PLEASE do your best to attend this important meeting!
Merry Christmas -- From US to YOU!
Our Staff and the Board of Directors pray the blessings of God through the riches of Christ Jesus for you all during this holy season. The Babe in the manger represents God stepping down into our world. HE walked among us! The most amazing thing is not that God COULD walk among us; rather it is that He WOULD walk among us. As Hebrews 1:1-3a says, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature” (ESV; emphasis mine). Yes, He came as a Babe, but He spoke the very words of God and showed us the very nature of God. From the heights of glory to the depths of Earth; from the womb to the tomb; from His rising to His ascension GOD HAS VISITED MANKIND! It is an amazing story that God would visit us as a Babe. It is most amazing that He would visit us at all. So, with you, we celebrate our Immanuel. Through the love of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light...MERRY CHRISTMAS! — YFC Staff and Board
Jam Packed January @ The Warehouse
January is going to be an exciting month at The Warehouse!
Every day that we are open there will be special events. We will have weight lifting competitions, Chinese ping pong tournaments, basketball tournaments for girls and boys, a skate competition, and much, much more! There is a huge calendar in The Warehouse with events posted for every day. Sign up is required for most events. Prizes will be offered. That’s Summ Price and The Movie Gallery have agreed to sponsor events, but we could use more sponsors. If you would like to sponsor an event please contact Tim Bowes for more information. One of the events we are most excited about is “Food Drive Friday”. We’ve turned it into a competition by offering a reward for the student that brings the most (by weight) food in on Friday, January 19; that student will be taken to the restaurant of their choice by the infamous Bowes family. All non-perishable food items will be donated to the Christian Help Center. Only students can win the prize, but any person can donate food.
In addition to the exciting, competitive events of January we will also begin having special Bible studies every evening. A calendar listing particular Bible studies offered is posted in The Warehouse. So far we have found three pastors, in addition to Brett, Sylvester and Tim, to serve as volunteer teachers, but we need more who are willing to teach. Could you be one? Contact Tim for more info.
Gifts Given to Honor:
- Jim & Sarah Fulp by William and Tamara Sanford
- Tim Bowes by Billy & Patricia Brown
- Stephanie Brown by Billy & Patricia Brown
- Tim & Care Bowes, Brett Carver, and Sandra Whitt by Lynn Brown
PLEASE JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR OUR SUPPORTERS
Phil & Barbara Barnes
Ernie & Ginger Moore
Allan & Melissa Newton
Greg & Meredith White
Oak Grove United Methodist Church
From the Director's Chair
Have you ever had a hearing problem? I have. It almost kept me out of the armed services. When I was about 13 I was harvesting tobacco with a neighborhood farmer when his son inadvertently threw a firecracker INTO my ear. My head started ringing. My ear started gushing blood. My first thought was I’m not going to be able to hear music! Within minutes I regained my hearing in the uninjured ear, but it took several days for my hearing to return to the injured ear. To this day, nearly 25 years later, I cannot hear high pitches and my ear drum rattles most any time I hear semi-loud noises.
What is hearing worth? Digital hearing devices average over $1700.00 each. Sure, there are cheaper models out there, but when it comes to quality hearing devices, that the average.
I can’t imagine not being able to hear “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” or my daughters’ laughter. I can’t imagine not hearing the twang of a banjo or the sounds of nature. I don’t know about you, but I would pay dearly for something that would cause me to hear. I would work, beg, or borrow until I had enough money to purchase a hearing device.
What about the THOUSANDS in Person County alone who cannot hear? “What?” you might say, “Do we have a large deaf community?” No. We do have some hearing impaired citizens who should have the best hearing devices money can buy. Worse than that are the thousands whose spiritual hearing is totally impaired.
Jesus often said, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith…” (Revelation 2–3). There are THOUSANDS in our area that do not have a spiritual ear and cannot hear what the Spirit of God is saying. Jesus also said, “For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them” (Matthew 13:15; ESV). PRAY that the “ears” of people’s hearts would open and hear from the Lord.
What else can we do? We can PREACH. The Apostle Paul asked some probing questions in Romans 10: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (vss. 13-14). I can preach [proclaim]. You can too!
What else can we do? We can GIVE (or keep on giving). Paul goes on to ask, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” (vs 15a). As our supporters, you’ve sent us. We thank you for sending us to the hearing impaired. We thank you for partnering with us in Kingdom labor. What better gift could we give at Christmas than to offer the Gospel?
I have had physical and spiritual hearing problems in my life and am glad to say I can hear in my ear and I can now hear in my soul. Needless to say, I am most thankful for the latter.
Will you PLEASE continue to help us help the students of Person County truly hear?
Grace and peace to you from God the Father and Jesus the Son,
Monday, December 18, 2006
"For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:29 - New American Standard Bible - emphasis mine).
Another army story...I can't help it; I see too many examples!
I grew up like any flat-land-hillbilly-type of kid; I liked to hunt and fish. As a little country boy it must be some kind of prerequisite to like to shoot things. I filled the bill! I went from a sling-shot to a BB gun to a bow and arrow to a shotgun to a rifle (it was hard to get artillery in the country...that's why I didn't advance further). By the time I was fourteen I could shoot anything at most any reasonable distance. In the army training with several weapons is necessary; the M16 rifle, in particular, was the weapon that every soldier was required to become proficient in using. We learned quickly that firing an M16 was different than firing most other kinds of rifles. The guys who had never shot a rifle seemed to gain the skill the fastest. The soldiers that had learned to shoot before joining the army learned a bit slower. Those that refused to change their technique learned the slowest; some of these men had been great "shooters" back home, but many were closed off to change.
The verse above applies to a believer's future glory in Christ, but there is something there that is very helpful concerning Bible study. We see from this verse that God desires to conform us into the image of His Son. The word "conformed" means to be fashioned into the likeness of. Simply put, our Father wants us to be like His Son! I think that is good!
To be conformed means that we must change. That's the helpful part of this verse. God wants to change us. As we come to His word we must not only KNOW that His goal is to change us, BUT we must be open to that as well. Are you open to change? If you are the Bible will never intimidate you! If you are not every time you read it you will be upset. Many who are not open to change try to change what the Bible means and says to fit what they already believe, do, or how they want to live.
As a very young Christian I approached the Bible the same way I approached learning to throw a curve ball. I had a baseball coach that did not believe that young men should learn to throw "breaking pitches" until they had mastered the "fastball", could exercise control, and had grown a very strong arm. I wanted to learn to throw that curve ball with every thing in me. I had asked an older friend of my father's several times to teach me, because, even at his very advanced age, that man could throw a great curve. He finally relented. I was so excited that I nearly burst as we walked into our yard for my first lesson. I went into that lesson knowing four things: (1) I couldn't throw a curve; (2) he could; (3) I wanted to know; (4) he was willing to teach. I hung on that man's every word. In less than fifteen minutes I was throwing a mean curve!
What's that got to do with Bible study? Let me put it like this; I approached the Bible knowing four things: (1) I was not living to God's fullest intention for my life; (2) He knows how to fix that and can empower it; (3) I wanted to know what He had to say about the subject; (4) He was willing to teach me. Learning a curve and learning how to live in a way to please God required that I was open to learn and willing to change.
In the first illustration I wanted us to see the difficulty that comes when we are not open to change. Many times we think we've got things figured out. The Bible continually challenges me to see that I am not a finished product; that I don't have every thing figured out. The second illustration was meant to picture the proper attitude to learning and changing. The first illustration says, "I've got to learn something different!" The second illustration says, "This is how I'll approach it."
God wants me to be like His Son...and that's a good thing. Scripture tells me what that change looks like and how to get there. When I study the Bible I want to be open to change. I know I need it and I know it will be good for me. I know God's plan for me and I am ready for it. How about you?
Sunday, December 17, 2006
“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:1-4 - New American Standard Bible - emphasis mine).
I have had a bunch of knee surgeries. Frankly, I am sick of them! I always like reading the doctor's report concerning the surgery details. I know what he has told me. I know what I feel. I want the facts! It would probably seem dry to most people if they read exactly what happened when my knee was "cut on", AND exactly how it was done. I don't find it dry or uninteresting because it's happened to ME.
When I read the Bible I think like that too. I know about what others have told me. I know what I feel. I want the facts!
These first four verses of Dr. Luke’s Gospel account are simply his greeting and purpose of writing this work. Luke writes to his noble friend Theophilus. Luke writes of things that his head knows and his heart is sure of, saying that these are things “most surely believed” among himself and his cohorts. He wants Theophilus to know the “certainty of those things” that concern the faith. Obviously Theophilus knows something of the faith, but Luke wants Theo to be sure of the solid foundation in which he stands.
There are some things that stand out here. Number one, Luke is so convinced, so moved, and so transformed by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ that he can find no way to hold it in. I am sure that Luke had seen his fair share of Judaic and pagan religions that left people unfilled, unchanged, and unhealed. He knew of the power of Christ’s blood and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He wanted others to know too! Do you?
Number two, Luke was so convinced that he was willing to make a “declaration” of these things. He was willing to make a statement; to stake something of himself upon who Christ is. He was willing to put his reputation on the line, to claim Christ publicly, to take the time to help others understand and hear. Are you?
Number three, Luke was convinced that faith in Christ was THE WAY. It was not open for discussion. His friends had told Luke, but the Holy Spirit had assured him. It was not a mere movement of knowledge, but a transformation of a life. It had moved past religion and become breath! To Luke it was more than something to do; it was who he had become. Luke faith was not one of words but it was living. Is yours?
Number four, Luke’s faith was worth working for. NO, NO, NO…he was not trying to earn it! Luke simply lived a life in response to God. He did not witness about God because it was his duty, but because he could not keep it to himself. His faith might have been personal, but it was surely NOT private. He told others. He took to the streets (read Acts). He picked his pen up and wrote. Whatever the means, Luke shared! Do you?
Surely Luke had head knowledge but, more importantly, he had heart belief. He just had to tell about Jesus! It was not a knowledge movement to him but a life mission. It was not a mission trip but an eternal message. His favorite song, were Luke alive today, might sound like a collection of old hymns: “What a wonderful change has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart, so I surrender all because He is worthy of worship. Where He leads I will follow and tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.” Do you just gotta tell that old, old story? Has it meant anything to you? Does it still?
Do you know what has happened in you? Bible study is an awesome way to unfold all that God has done, to know what it means to you and for you, and to sharpen your ability to tell others.
Radical pastors turn everything over to God
By Bob Burchette
Special to the Recorder
GREENSBORO - The panel members at a Baptist State Convention (BSC) breakout session didn't seem like radical pastors. None had swallowed gold fish, wrestled a bear or landed on their church grounds in a hot air balloon.
No gimmicks to increase church attendance for these four men.
Craig Willingham of Berry's Grove Baptist Church near Timberlake, Charles Royal of First Baptist in Morehead City, Bill Grisham of First Baptist in Rocky Mount and lay leader Connell Purvis of First Baptist in Washington agreed that moving closer to God and helping their congregations become more spiritual has meant turning everything over to God.
Hardly seems like a radical idea.
But the discussion at the Nov. 14 breakout session at the convention left a consensus that these leaders are a different breed than the typical "programmed" Baptist leaders who simply know how to "do church."
"Prayer" and "change" are key words in their churches.
The catchy "Being a Radical Pastor in Today's Church Culture" session was the brainchild of Neal Eller Jr., the leader for state Baptists' Vital Leadership Community. Eller said the panel was composed of men who exemplify leadership.
Eller said there is more to leading a church than managing ministries. Many congregations are "still on milk,'' he said, meaning they are infants in their relationship to God. "We have too many swimming around in shallow water," Eller said.
Pastors need to invoke change to help "baby" Christians - even entire congregations - develop a closer relationship with God, Purvis said. He has seen it work in a big way in his coastal congregation since his church began its journey, which is part of the BSC's "Pursuing Vital Leadership" effort.
Don't dare call this a "program."
The ministry, headed by Eller as a representative of the BSC, encourages churches to change the traditional way they have being worshipping and "doing church."
The change begins with a pastor understanding that the congregation must be prepared to go on a journey that begins with a look at what God has in store for it, Eller said. "Those kinds of pastors have an understanding of casting a vision."
To change methodology or philosophy of how a church worships is radical in Baptist circles. The panel agreed that traditional leadership is programmed to conduct the business and the worship of the church in the same way that it has been done for many years.
Pastors who dare suggest changes in the way the church conducts ministry may be considered radical.
"I never knew I was a radical pastor until I agreed to be on this panel," said Grisham, a veteran pastor who said it is important to "be God centered - not people centered" in ministry. Normally, church leaders are driven by people in how they minister, he said.
Others on the panel chuckled at the idea that they are "radicals,'' but the more they talked, it was obvious they are not typical leaders simply "doing church."
During the panel discussion and in later interviews, panel members said their churches have become more spiritual as the way they conduct worship services has focused on prayer rather than traditional worship services.
Grisham's mid-week service has increased dramatically in attendance since it became a real time for prayer rather than just a preaching service, Eller said.
"We have discovered pastors who have clear vision, strong leadership competencies and spiritual vitality can turn congregations around,'' Eller said.
Those were the type of men he selected for the panel discussion. "We are trying to help churches have a kingdom vision," Eller said.
Grisham said that how the church ministers must change. This doesn't mean that the people are to be ignored but God must be the focus of the church. Prayer is the key to a church's spiritual development, he said.
The Pursuing Vital Leadership emphasis is centered on prayer groups, and helping people identify their gifts - what they do best, Purvis said.
Royal, who is pastor of a 133-year-old church, said, "I listen (to God); I need to know who I am. I want my people to listen to God and the Holy Spirit."
He added, "Often, as pastors we get impatient with our church members. We need to wait on God."
Eller invoked two major questions for the three pastors, and also had a question for the only layman on the panel:
How do you love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength?
What did you have to do in your own life to become a radical pastor?
"The panel was unanimous in answering the first question: nobody arrives at a full understanding of that question. Being a Christian is a journey and the further we go down the road the bigger God gets," Purvis said. "The further we go down the road on our journey, we see that He is an awesome God!"
Willingham added, "The idea is that we are on a journey and we don't necessarily know where this journey is going to take us. We're depending on God to take us where we're going - the journey never ends until Christ's return.
"I have to determine what my part of the journey is and see what we can accomplish together as a church. You can't just 'do' church; that's not going to accomplish God's great plan of redemption."
Willingham said he doesn't consider this approach to ministry "radical at all."
But resisting the temptation "to go along with the status quo" can make a pastor unpopular, he said. "I've realized that being popular is not my goal. Everybody likes to be liked but I need to be led by Christ, and everybody may not like that."
It's a challenge to change the mindset of a 118-year-old rural church when "outsiders" start moving into the community, Willingham said. At age 35, he's been pastor of the church for seven years, and said that many new people moving into his rural area "presents lots of opportunities and a lot of challenges. We must change or cease to exist."
Willingham likes Pursuing Vital Leadership, which has "helped us to review the life cycle of the church and have a better understanding of where you've been and where you are going."
Eller's asked Purvis: "As a lay person, when your pastor (Jimmy Moore) became radical, how did that influence you? What did it do in your life?"
Purvis said it not only rejuvenated him spiritually, but got him excited about his journey with Christ, and excited about the spiritual relationships that developed in his church.
The church also has changed dramatically, he said. Purvis has seen his church make great spiritual strides during the three years since Pursuing Vital Leadership was implemented. "We as Baptists are programmed for programs and that is one of the difficulties. There has to be an educational process that Pursuing Vital Leadership is not just another program. It's not a program. That is one of the hurdles to get over.
"It has changed the life of our church. The staff deprogrammed the programs. Now you get on your knees and ask 'what would the Lord have us to do?' The key is prayer: how can you know God's direction unless the entire congregation is seeking that through their relationship to God?"
The church even laid aside its denominational Sunday school literature for eight weeks and did a spiritual gifts study - "Making My Ministry Vital" - that was designed specifically for the Washington church.
"People who had casual relationships for 30 or 40 years now have meaningful relationships with people they've been in church with all of their lives. The trust level has gone up. We have found something in common; we all deal with the same problems - the big C, cancer; some without jobs or whatever."
He added, "There is a freedom from the church staff on down, and an encouragement to pursue the passions of your own heart. That freedom has allowed us to move away from religion and have a closer fellowship with Christ. It has strengthened our fellowship."
Pursuing Vital Leadership, which suggests commitment by at least 18 church members who divide into groups of three to pray for at least 100 minutes for 10 weeks, has "generated so much excitement at the Washington church," Purvis said.
"The culture has changed and as a church we have lost our focus - the focus must be on Jesus. We've got to be retrained to deal with the culture," Purvis said.
And that's a radical idea after all for a "programmed" church.
(EDITOR'S NOTE - Bob Burchette is a retired editor/writer from the News & Record in Greensboro.)
Saturday, December 16, 2006
"Concerning Him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oraclesof God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil" (Hebrews 5:11-14 - New American Standard Bible - emphasis mine).
I was with this certain kid in Army basic training who was a goof-up and a goof-off. He just didn't seem like he wanted to advance. I was ordered to "buddy up" with him and help him along. This young man had spent several weeks in a weight loss unit before he was allowed to come into our unit. I don't know what they did there, but it must have been easier than what we went through! It seemed to me that this young man wanted to stay in basic training forever, because he didn't put forth much effort. That was until something happened. About half-way into our training a young man joined our unit that had been "recycled". This meant that he had flunked out of another basic training unit. As a matter of fact, we were his third group. He'd been in basic training for four months. In case you don't know...that's not good! When the young fellow that I'd been assigned to help realized that one could be "recycled" he tightened up! He didn't want to stay in boot camp forever!
I find four kinds of people who stay in the same place in their spiritual maturity. The first kind is the person who plays church. You've seen the type. They don't know the Lord and don't want to; they just go to church because it's the thing to do. The second type is the one who "THINKS" they are saved because they grew up in church, walked an aisle and were baptized. They've never really committed themselves to full trust in Christ nor repented of their sins. The third type is that one who is too lazy to grow or too occupied with things of this world...or whatever...to grow. The fourth kind is the one who wants to grow and just needs someone to help them along. I KNOW God can give grace to all of these situations and this devotion is perfect for the fourth variety.
The above Scripture says there is "much to say" but people are "dull of hearing." Put in lay terms, that means many people are slow to learn. Call me an optimist, but I think there are a LOT of believers out there that want to learn; they just need a little help getting started. This verse does that! It shows some keys that will help one on the road to spiritual maturity! (Call me a pessimist, but I think some Christians have adopted the slogan of "Ignorance is Bliss" and simply avoid Bible study.) If you want to open the lock of Bible understanding pay special attention to the next few thoughts.
Before we move on, let me say that the writer of Hebrews was directing these thoughts to people who had been believers for quite some "time". They should have been in college level Bible study and were still in preschool. The writer gives some very simple helps that, if heeded, will fast forward them into the University of Bible.
There are three key words to understand in this passage that will really get a person moving; they are "practice", "trained", and "discern".
The first word has as its root word the Greek word meaning "habit". The key to growing in spiritual maturity is making a habit out of looking into God's word. Like any thing you want to become proficient in doing, practice makes perfect! I believe there are many who want to understand and simply become frustrated. Here's a challenge; set aside fifteen minutes a day and simply read a short passage several times. I suggest something like John 1:1-14. PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!
The second word, "trained", comes from a Greek word meaning to "practice naked". Now, wait a second, don't strip off your clothes to read the Bible! That's just silly! It's a picturesque word that described how Greek athletes trained for the games. (They didn't have a bit of shame!) They had no hindrances to their exercises. To become "trained" in the word we must strip ourselves of things that hinder us as we approach the word. No TV. No radio. No whatever. We must exercise without anything that would prevent us from getting into shape. Think about it like this; a person would be foolish to jog with a piano on their back. Find a quiet place and exercise your mind in the word! That may mean that you need to set aside those fifteen minutes (fifteen minutes is the starter kit for spiritual health) FIRST THING IN THE MORNING. I have one friend who began their discipline by studying in the bathroom. They said, "It was the only quiet place where people would leave me alone!"
What will we benefit from this "practice" and "training"? We will gain the ability to "discern". This means we will be able to use "judicial estimation" in telling what is right and wrong (good and evil). THAT is the key! When we train in the word we will find the heart and will of God; as we DO what we learn we will easily be able to tell what is good and what is not.
The mark of spiritual maturity is not how much you understand, but how much you use. Dr. Howard Hendricks said, "In the spiritual realm, the opposite of ignorance is not knowledge but obedience." It's not how many verses we can recite but how much we can employ; put into action.
None of us wants to remain in Bible preschool. None of us wants to stay in spiritual boot camp our whole lives. We've GOT to become a little disciplined. We've GOT to practice, train, and USE what God has given us. That does not require us to be geniuses; it requires us to be serious and faithful.
In the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy, the star of the show, makes a comment to her loyal pet that goes something like this: “Toto, we’re not in Kansas any more.” While the facts of the statement were indisputably true, there was an implied meaning to the statement that more often corresponds with the way that the statement is used.
Perhaps the most appropriate parallel connects to a traffic sign that I drive by every day on my way home from work. The diamond shaped sign reads: “End Safety Zone.” Yes, I think this is the implied meaning that Dorothy poured into the words of her famous script.
Whether the change is initiated or accidental, when we “leave Kansas” we acknowledge a significant, and at times risky, portion of our journey.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. ~ Phil. 2:5-8
Jesus, the spotless son of the eternal God. Jesus, the creator of the universe. Jesus, an equal part of the transcendent Trinity. Jesus, “God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God” (Nicene Creed). This same Jesus left Kansas for something far more treacherous than a “Yellow Brick Road.”
Jesus departure from the safety zone changed everything. Not just his own existence, but for ours as well. He became both a rescuer and an escort. He saves us, but he also propels us… into hostile places, but never alone.
The scandal of Christmas is that Jesus, as part of a perfect redemptive plan, left.
The scandal of the Christian life is that Jesus now lives in us, and because of this, we’ll never be in Kansas again.
No more safety zone. No more Kansas. Jesus.
Friday, December 15, 2006
"Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation" (1 Peter 2:2 - New American Standard Bible).
I know I've said it before, but it is so applicable here; Johnny Smith enlightened me about babies when my wife and I were expecting our first. He said, "When babies are first born all they know how to do is suck and cry; you have to teach them every thing else." Boy howdy was Johnny right! Katie would wake up crying like a mad child; Care would get her bottle warmed and the very moment the nipple was put into her mouth she was happy, soothed, and satisfied. She was getting what she needed and what she craved. As a new parent, often I would walk her, try to play with her by cooing or making funny faces, or change her diaper...nothing doing...she was hungry! She was empty and her only way to let us know was to scream.
I think this, and stilled quietness, is one of the key elements the average Christian is missing in life. Our lives are screaming! No amount walking the floors (read: activity), cooing (read: entertainment), or diaper changes (read: unloading problems) will help when what we need is to be fed.
I can honestly say that those quiet moments of feeding my infant child were the times our intimate connection was built upon. Likewise, it is my personal opinion that the times we are being fed by God are the times we build that intimacy with Him; it is from that intimacy that a prayer life naturally flows. It is from that prayer life that understanding His heart occurs. It is from understanding His heart that I am driven to serve Him. I could go on and on, but I hope you get the picture.
Let's unfold this verse...
The first thing to notice is ATTITUDE. A newborn baby will literally grab a bottle of milk and suck the bottom out of it! Dr. Hendricks says, "The baby has to have milk to sustain its life physically; you have to have the Scriptures to sustain your life spiritually." Like a baby is soothed by a nourishing bottle, the believer is soothed by the filling of God's word and His Spirit. Peter must have seen a baby feed; he grabbed a perfect expression in to describe the right attitude toward the word. Our attitude toward to the word should be to grab it and suck it down!
The second thing to notice is APPETITE for the word. We should "long" for it. We should crave it! Some people feel like the word is crushed spinach...just plain nasty! Others think it's like plain oatmeal...nourishing, but not that interesting to eat. I want to love to feed on the word like it's honey...like Winnie the Pooh breaking a fast! (Reference: Psalm 19:10) Our appetite for the word should be insatiable!
The third thing to notice is the AIM of the Bible. What is it? According to 1 Peter 2:2 it is "that by it you may grow". It's not for us to only know stuff. We cannot grow without knowing, but we CAN know without growing. The Bible was not given to us to so that we could use it like an encyclopedia; it was given to us to help us conform to Christ's image.
We need a good attitude toward the Bible. We need a healthy appetite for it. With those two things we WILL grow by it!What can you do? You can begin by increasing your Bible study time by five minutes a day and work from there. Purchase a good teaching method book (such as Living by the Book) so that you can start to study in the right way. Slow down, stop the rushed, screaming life, and get fed! Stop doing all the things that don't satisfy the basic need and get to the main thing...eat at the buffet of God's word. Begin a better diet today! Add a few minutes to your plan and chart your growth!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Youth for Christ Roxboro
Dec 13, 2006
I will be careful to live a blameless life; when will you come to help me? I will lead a life of integrity. Psalm 101:2; NLT
Praises: For the graduate student choosing the Warehouse’s security/teen check-in system for his dissertation project; now we'll have a tailor-made solution for keeping track of everyone! For the multiple opportunities provided by teachers, juvenile justice, community service, etc. to impact the lives of Person County teens. For one of our regulars bringing a young man whose father had tried to commit suicide to Tim for counseling. For the young girl who gave her heart to Jesus last week during the prayer time after the talk. For the different attitude in the young man who came up to shake the hand of the volunteer who had a month earlier suspended him for fighting. Lord, for the way You continually, faithfully, humbly work in hard hearts to make them soft so that we choose life instead of death. Thank you for Your love.
Pleas: Lord, just like Ps 101:2 shows, we can’t lead blameless lives without Your help. We can't be Your ambassadors with hearts of integrity unless You put pureness in us. Neither can these teens follow You unless You put such a craving in their hearts for You and Your Word that they desire You more than sugar. Please, Father, pursue them in their homes, their school days, their free time. Make all things evil, lazy and selfish repellent to them. Give them a curiosity about who You are and why You put the world together the way You did; make them want to learn. For the glory of Your name, produce Kingdom teens that reflect Jesus in their schoolwork, their character, their language. Only You can do that, Lord. Please allow us to be part of Your plan. DW; people to pray with; 15 board members in 2007.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
|This message was given by Pastor Adrian Rogers who was one of the greatest Pastors of this century. It is entitled "Three Things That You Cannot Learn in School", it is an excellent message. Please visit his website at www.lwf.org.|
Thank God for Pastor Rogers. He died last year (2005), but God used Dr. Rogers to have a profound effect upon my life. I hope you "enjoy" this sermon.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Saturday, December 09, 2006
If you were to look back over your life today--as one taking inventory--would you have more regrets or more victories?
Friday, December 08, 2006
"And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from Him for a season" (Luke 4:13 – King James Version).
I love studying history; the War of Northern Aggression and World War II are my favorite subjects. Historian Shelby Foote tells of a soldier who was wounded at the battle of Shiloh during the American Civil War and was ordered to go to the rear. The fighting was fierce and within minutes he returned to his commanding officer. "Captain, give me a gun!" he shouted. "This fight ain’t got any rear!"
Once Satan finally realized that he had no ground to stand on in trying to tempt Christ he left Jesus alone. It is key to note that it was only for a season. That is to say that Satan stopped trying to tempt Jesus for the time being.
We are in a fight that does not have a rear! There may be moments of relief, but there is no permanent let up. The apostle Paul commented on the forces arrayed against Christians in this manner: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12 – KJV). As our battle is against supernatural forces I imagine that quite often their schemes run short, but I do not think their energies wane.
Today’s word is plain and short: be watchful and be ready. We already know Satan will come against us with deception and will try to appeal to every one of our facilities. What we need to realize is that he is pretty much relentless too. He picks his moments too. Like a lion, Satan watches for the prey to become weak (1 Peter 5:8). He will come against us when we are most near to God, but his predatory nature means he tries to catch us when we are under strain or distracted more than any other time.
Again, today’s word is simple, straight and to the point. Don’t get cocky if you have victory over some temptation, because the battle may be over but the war wages on. That Civil War soldier summed up the way we should view battling temptation: "Captain, give me a gun! This fight ain’t got any rear!" Our prayer may echo that: "Lord, arm me with the sword of the Spirit; the war is never ending!"
"And he brought Him to Jerusalem, and set Him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto Him, ‘If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over Thee, to keep Thee: And in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.’ And Jesus answering said unto him, ‘It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God’" (Luke 4:9-12 – King James Version).
When my wife an I were baby Christians we were having a conversation on how much we were to put into serving God. Somewhere along my wife’s childhood someone taught her about serving and giving in a goofed up way. Some preacher or teacher told her that giving to God meant giving a tenth of all she had; a tenth of her talents, a tenth of her material resources and a tenth of her time. PHOOEY! She said that they even used Scripture to support that whacked out thinking. The only Scripture I could find that would lead someone to think that would be Genesis 28:22 which states, "And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee" (KJV). Now be sure of this my friends, that verse was not talking about a tenth of each part of our lives, but was talking about a tenth of Jacob’s material resources. To think we could only give God a tenth of our time would be crazy! For the record, my wife got straightened out on that whole mess.
Friend, let me tell you something, and hear me clearly, we cannot afford to twist Scripture. The temptation is to look at God’s Word and make it say what we already believe or what we want to hear. When we approach Scripture we cannot change it, we must let it show us how we are to change. In doing that we will encounter Scripture that we don’t like; it will fly in the face of things we enjoy doing or in attitudes or character traits that we have had for years.
Even Satan used Scripture in trying to tempt Jesus. In the above passage Satan MISQUOTES Psalm 91:11-12 in this way: "He shall give his angels charge over Thee, to keep Thee: And in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone." It’s original, and right, rendering reads thusly: "For He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone" (KJV). The difference is that Satan left off "to keep thee in all thy ways". That’s the difference in words, but the big difference is in intent. The original is an assurance of God’s protection for those who trust. Satan uses the Scripture to tempt Jesus to dare God, which is the opposite of trusting.
That’s the same kind of mess that Satan did in the garden when he tempted Adam and Eve. It’s deceptive and tricky and just the kind of thing that Satan does to throw God’s people off of track. Of course, Jesus did not fall for it; He knew Scripture and how to apply it properly.
The only way we will be able to mimic Christ on this account is if we know Scripture too. We must be in the Word constantly; searching it out and finding what it really means. I always read and study the Scripture my pastor preaches on each Sunday. Sure, I trust my pastor and I trust what he says, but I want to check it out for myself. I would imagine that rather than being agitated that I check behind him, my pastor would commend me.
We cannot afford to be fooled when it comes to God’s word, nor can we afford to fool ourselves. We cannot twist God’s word to suit what we want or how we already feel. We must have our minds renewed and be transformed daily by being challenged by truths from God’s word. Satan wants us to get off track and one of his most subtle tools is deception through the Word of God. Be careful, be watchful and be studious.
December 8, 2006
It was a great Christmas party. Our national staff and several local staff members who were in Denver for training and vision casting joined together for a time of celebration. After everyone had left, Mary and I were cleaning up a few final dishes in the kitchen and I offered to clean the two coffee pots that I had been responsible to fill a few hours before.
When I pulled the first pot to the sink I was surprised by the weight of the urn. It felt amazingly heavy. When I removed the cover of the 60-cup percolator I answered the question that the unexpected weight had created. Everything, the ground coffee, the clean clear water in the bottom, were exactly as they had been when I completed filling it. Nothing, absolutely nothing, had changed in the condition of the ingredients. I had placed the urn at the end of a table in the reception hall and determined that part way through dinner I would plug it in to make an appropriately fresh pot for consumption with dessert. But the cord never got connected, and consequently, all of the perfectly placed, accurately measured, and correctly assembled pieces meant nothing.
“…faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” ~ James 2:17 (ESV)
Throughout the preparation for “the party,” we assemble experiences, knowledge, resources, relationships and dreams. We can even have them in the proper place at the perfect time… but that’s not enough. I know. It takes the connection to the power source, to the transforming agent.
For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, ~ Colossians 2:9,10 (NLT)
In relationship with Christ, we, you and I, become complete. We become a perfectly brewed cup of coffee, for distribution, enjoyment, celebration and warmth. Christ makes every ingredient in our lives come together in unity and significance.
We become what we were intended to become… complete, in and through Him, for the good purposes He planned for us before the foundations of the earth.
“Exactly as we had been… or transformed?”
"And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.’ And He closed the book, and He gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him. And He began to say unto them, ‘This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears’" (Luke 4:17-21 – King James Version).
I was sitting on an airplane, headed home from a mission trip. The man beside me asked, "What's that you are reading?" "The Bible," was my simple reply as I began to pray that God would open this man's heart that I may witness to him. "Yeah...I know that, but what book are you reading?" "Oh," I said realizing that the fellow was not completely oblivious to the fact that I was reading the Holy Bible; "I'm reading The Gospel According to Luke." "So, you're a Christian?" was his next question. "Yes, sir," I said, "And you?" "No," the man said bluntly, "by no means. I am Jewish." We began to talk and he asked me a lot of questions, mostly about why I believed that Jesus was the Messiah. Finally he said, "You do know that the whole New Testament is a lie, don't you?" A little taken aback by that statement, I said, "No, I believe it to be just as true as the Old Testament. I believe that the Old Testament spoke of the coming Messiah and the New Testament affirms that it happened." The conversation ended there for a little while. Later in the flight I asked, "Can I read you something?" "Sure," he said, "go ahead." I read Isaiah 52:13-53 without telling him where I was reading from. I asked, "What do you think that was about?" He said, "It was your Easter story...or at least part of it." I said, "No sir, that was from the prophet Isaiah." Incredulously surprised, the man said, "May I see that?" After a frantic conversation the man prayed to receive Christ.
The Bible that Jesus read from and taught from was what we now call the Old Testament. The day that He stood in the synagogue in His hometown, that was the book He read from; specifically Isaiah. It was also the Bible that the apostles preached from; the Scripture they used to point toward the resurrected Lord.
How much attention do you give to the Old Testament? I know this much; a good understanding of Old Testament Scriptures helps understanding the New Testament a lot easier. Our Lord Jesus certainly thought attending to the Old Testament was important. He said, "Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them. I assure you, until the heaven and earth disappear, even the smallest detail of God's law will remain until its purpose is achieved. So if you break the smallest commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God's laws and teaches them will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 5:17-19 – NLT).
Today's devotion is a simple reminder not ignore the teachings of the Old Testament. Do you want to understand the purposes, character, and plans of God in a clearer light? Even as you read the New Testament I recommend using a good study Bible or a Bible with cross references in it; take time to go back and read the passages that reference Old Testament Scripture. Each day spend time in both the Old and New Testaments. It will improve your walk and witness. It will help you understand the New Testament better and will further show you how God has dealt with mankind. Give it a whirl!
P.S. -- Thank you Lord for leading some wise saints to order the Scripture by chapter and verse. I know the Bible Jesus read (and memorized) did not have that advantage.
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