Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What is Doing Good for the Sake of the Gospel?

Titus 2: 1-15
Doing good for the sake of the gospel...

Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.  Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  

Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

Teach slaves to be subject to their masters (bosses) in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

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

Titus 3:1-11
Saved in Order to Do Good

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. 

He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Blessed be the name of God!

"Blessed be the name of God forever and ever," cried Daniel the prophet, "for wisdom and might are his"... ~ Daniel 2:20. God is infinitely wise and this is the root of all truth. It is a datum of belief necessary to the soundness of all other beliefs about God. Being what He is and what we are... His creations, we cannot ever be wise in our own eyes ~ A.W. Tozer. 

We cannot try to 'set the record straight' by being 'wise' or 'nice' and preaching that we together can build a 'nice/nicer' world here is this fallen world. You see...God is unaffected by our opinions of Him but our moral sanity requires that we attribute to the maker and sustainer of the universe a wisdom entirely perfect. To refuse to do this is to betray the very thing in us that distinguishes us from the beasts... A.W. Tozer ~ The Knowledge of the Holy.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The False Gospel of 'Nice' ` How Man's 'nice' Limits the Coming of God's Kingdom

The Instruction of the Lord is to pray that His will be done! So that His Kingdom come!

A Warning to a Rebellious People - those who want for and pray for 'nice' things to happen in this fallen world are mistaken; they do not know the true gospel and do not fully grasp the cost paid by the Son of God and the promise of His Kingdom come. And, yet, I am not saying to not want for peace, or not pray for peace, i.e. And, certainly we recognize the Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness and faithfulness ~ Gal 5:22. This is what the Holy Spirit in us reveals outwardly to others. Understand, it is not because of our being nice. For we can do nothing.

This is a fallen world; that is why God sent His Son.  He is our blessed hope...waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ ~ Titus 2:13. Which means that we greatly forward to His Kingdom come. Did you know that there are those who have already died in Christ waiting for His Kingdom? What does the Lord tell them?

We know what He tells them. He tells them that they have to wait for all those who have not yet died in Christ to be persecuted as they were.  "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" ~ 2 Timothy 3:12. That does not sound too nice.

"When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been" ~ Rev 6:9-11.

"For this is a rebellious people, false sons, Sons who refuse to listen To the instruction of the LORD;  Who say to the seers, "You must not see visions"; And to the prophets, "You must not prophesy to us what is right, speak to us pleasant words, tell us what is nice, prophesy illusions. "Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, Let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel"…Isaiah 30: 9-11.

"I say this so that no one will mislead you with nice-sounding rhetoric" ~ Col 2:4.

"How terrible it will be for you when everyone says nice things about you", ... Luke 6:26.

Many misunderstand the true gospel ~ the Good News. Which is that this world is passing away 1 John 2:17, that there is a greater Kingdom. Jesus our Lord and Savior, the Creator of heaven and earth was more than the nice we can imagine. Was Jesus a 'nice' man? By man's standards He was for some but not for many as we know and that is still a problem today for those who want only a 'nice' Jesus.

No one should attempt to answer that question. Why? Because, as mere humans in a fallen world, we are sinners, filthy rags without Christ, and though we can be born again, we should not assume to know the kind of nice that the true God was/is and will be. Though, one day we will when we rule with Him. But, here and now, our hope is in Him, in relationship with the Word Jesus Christ, and in that, we come to know what He expects from us.

Jesus came to divide people ~ Luke 12:51. His ministry though about love, joy, peace, kindness, and long suffering 'patience' did bring division among people. We can read about that in all the gospels and especially in the gospel of John.  Jesus did not always say 'nice' things in order to be liked by people. He said things that by our standards were not nice. "You unbelieving generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with 'tolerate' you? ~ Mark 9:19.

The problem with being 'nice' is that we falsely portray ourselves (we put on the fig leaf to hide our sin) in order to be liked, or being nice so that others will want to be like you and not say bad things about you... always compliment you; and being nice to gain favor, being nice so there is no disagreement or tension in the room brings a false calm and has no use in the true gospel. Why? Because, this is a fallen world and our trying to be nice by God's standards is impossible for us and thus likely our being nice is essentially a lie to ourselves and to others. 

The Parable of the Two Sons

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

“ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went."

“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

How is this parable an example of our expectations of being nice and how it is false in context of the Kingdom of God? Because, then and now we don't think of those kinds of people as 'nice'. But, even more so today, we apply the 'not nice' to many people. She or he does this and that's just not nice!

We like people who agree with us and tell us nice things; yet, they may never really do anything that is nice by God's standards. They look nice, they say nice things to us and always seem to be in a nice mood and in agreement with us. However, as 'nice' as they seem to be, they don't do anything.

The reason is they know they would no longer be perceived as 'nice' if they disagreed with us or told us what they really think and do.  They won't tell us what we don't want to hear. And, because of that, even when they don't show up, we make excuses for them just because they are 'nice' though they never really do anything.

We don't like people who tell us 'no' or those who disagree with us or those who keep us from feeling nice about ourselves and our nice life style. Yet, those people who may not be nice in our eyes are likely the very ones who come through, those who don't seem nice to us are exactly those that Jesus knows can be counted on.

The first son was not nice but he came through.  He did what was expected! And, he showed compassion for his father by doing what was expected. This is key to the Kingdom, compassion for each other because man is not 'nice' and nor can he be 'nice' for man even one born again in the spirit will in the flesh struggle with sin and the wages of sin is death ~ Romans 7:21.

Again, the greater problem of the 'nice' gospel is that it is really man being wise in his own eyes and that limits the coming of His Kingdom!

"Why do you call me good?" Jesus asked him. "Only God is truly good." ~ Luke 18:19.

Are You Wondering Why Your Family is Divided?

Jesus said, "Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law "~ Luke 12:51-53; Matthew 10:34.

How could it be that Christ came to bring division? Firstly, the practice of being a Christian is about being pure, peaceable and loving which is contrary to man's pride and lusts.

~ A Matthew Henry Commentary
All are to take to themselves what Christ says in His word, and to inquire concerning it. No one is left so ignorant as not to know many things to be wrong which he does, and many things to be right which he neglects; therefore all are without excuse in their sin.

The bringing of the gospel into the family as dispensation could bring the occasion for desolations. Not that this would be the tendency of Christ's religion, which is pure, peaceable, and loving; but the effect of its being contrary to men's pride and lusts. 

No, bringing the gospel into the family is a zealous act for making known the truth; for though divisions will be stirred up, and a man's own household may become his foes, sinners will be converted, and God will be glorified.

That is why, a man must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive~ 1 Timothy 3:4.

Remember that division comes when we live according to the flesh and we let our children do the same. "Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit" ~ Romans 8:5 .

Our best example is to live by the Word of God and if division comes because of that then it comes not because God wants it to, it comes because sin has replaced the love of God in our life.  Be an example to your family and live by the Spirit. Which does not live in envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. Be warned, those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. For... the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control ~ Galatians 5:21-23.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

As Godly Women ~ Disciples of Christ!

The Cost of Discipleship

Large crowds were now traveling with Jesus, and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple.… Luke 14:25-27.

The word 'hate' is pretty strong isn't it.  And, we know that this word in today's politically correct world is seen quite negatively. As you check and you should check, in every translation whether NIV, NAS, NLT or KJB, hate is the word we can find.

Many who read Luke like to interpret the word hate to mean abandon. Essentially, though not a synonym, it can be used to better understand the kind of commitment we must make to be a disciple. We can also use the definition found in Webster's as an intense dislike or detest. If we accept that all are sinners before God and all who are not born again are children of Satan, then yes we should dislike and detest those who are not born again in Jesus Christ even if they are family members.

There is another use of the word hate which we can often find used when we want to express a kind of great regret. For example, when we cannot help someone out when they need us. I hate to tell you but I am stuck in the office that day. Or, I hate to say it but that is a difficult situation he/she is in. I hate to be the one to tell you, I hate to have to do this but in the end you will thank me.

And, here perhaps in the last version of 'hate' used as a phrasal verb or even idiomatically, we may find the best answer.  We hate to have to take a stand when we know that it means standing alone. It is when we get to a point of 'tough' love that we find true love. That is the cost of discipleship... getting to the point of truly being in love with God, Jesus Christ!

It does not require us to purge people from our lives, or to abandon them or to hate them but to show them who we love the most; first and foremost! Show your family, neighbors and children the true source of your identity - a child of God.  Show them who your go to is, the sovereign truth and the light of the world Jesus Christ.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" ~ Mark 12:30.

"... If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me first. If you were of the world, it would love you as its own. Instead, the world hates you, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world" ~ John 15:17-19.

Have a Blessed Easter!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Where is Your Mission Field?

So many think that to be a 'missionary' you have to drop your life in the place you are and fly off to a developing country. Not true! Your mission field is wherever you are and your audience your target individual/group is anyone who is in need of and open to the gospel.  It can be your own family, your neighbor/neighborhood, community/town, county/country and abroad if you feel called to go abroad.

What kind of ministry should you have? The same as Christ had. Bring the Gospel to the poor as in needy (those in need of it and seek it but don't know where to look), to release the captives (sinners), give sight to the blind (those that want to see a way out of sin but cannot) and free the oppressed/ imprisoned (those held captive by sin i.e debt, those imprisoned by their sin).

Jesus's public ministry began with teaching in the synagogues of Galilee and was praised by all. And, He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood reading from the book of Isaiah. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord." Luke 4:14-19.

All the above, brings peace, joy and love to the receiver.  In this way, we are free indeed in Jesus Christ ~ John 8:36. Does this mean that you must wander about looking for the one in need, visiting the captive, giving sight to the blind and forgiving those in debt. Yes and know that they are not nor ever are they far from you, they could be in your family, your community, and your own household.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” ~ NIV