Tested

February 28, 2018

WORD STUDIES, PROBABLY MY FAVORITE KIND OF BIBLE STUDY.

TODAY PHILIPPIANS 1:10

            so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;

“Approve” (dokimazōg, Gk.) is a word used for testing metal in order to find it genuine. The day of Christ will be a time of judgment; but as the recipients of the epistle have a personal relationship with the Judge Himself, they need not fear eternal separation from God (damnation; hell). Their works, however, will be judged (see 1 Cor. 3:10–15; 2 Cor. 5:9–11); so Paul urges that they approve and practice those things which would show them to be sincere and without offense in that day. Verse 11 delineates how they should want to appear before the One who judges each believer according to his or her works: “filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (v. 11). Although salvation is by grace through faith alone (Eph. 2:8, 9), judgment will still be by works, precluding, of course, the loss of salvation (2 Cor. 5:9–11; James 2:14–26). Paul does not want them to lose their rewards (1 Cor. 3:15

SINCERE; ONE OF MY FAVORITE BIBLE STUDY WORDS

BACK IN THE TIMES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, IF YOU WERE GOING TO BUY A STATUE, YOU ALWAYS WENT TO THE SCULPTORS AT NOON. THIS WAY YOU WOULD PICK THE STATUE AND HAVE THEM MOVE IT OUT INTO THE COURTYARD IN THE BRIGHT SUNSHINE; AND THEN WHILE YOU HAGGLED ABOUT THE PRICE AFTER ABOUT 20 MINUTES YOU WOULD BEGIN AT THE HEAD OF THE STATUE AND BEGIN PRESSING AND FEELING FOR SOFT SPOTS, THESE WERE PLACES WHERE EITHER THE MARBLE HAD A DEFECT OR THE SCULPTOR MADE A MISTAKE.

HE WOULD THEN TAKE CHIPS OF MARBLE AND MARBLE DUST AND MIX IT WITH WAX AND FILL THE DEFECTS. YOU HAGGLED OVER THE PRICE BASED ON HOW MANY SOFT SPOTS OR DEFECTS YOU FOUND.

THE WORD SINCERE LITERALLY MEANS “TESTED BY THE SUN” OR IN OUR CASE WE ARE BROUGHT UNDER THE SCRUTINY OF THE LIGHT OF GOD AND ARE “SON” TESTED.

THIS IS WHY PAUL TALKS ABOUT US BEING ‘APPROVED’ AND THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST (ANOTHER GREAT WORD STUDY WE WILL DO LATER) WE WILL BE JUDGED AS BELIEVERS, NOT ABOUT OUR SALVATION BUT ABOUT OUR MOTIVES. IT IS HERE THAT THE ‘WOOD, HAY AND STUBBLE’ OF OUR LIVES WILL BE BURNED AWAY AND ONLY THE SINCERE THINGS THAT WE HAVE DONE WILL STAND THE TEST OF BEING ‘SON’ APPROVED.

THE SCUM OF OUR LIVES WILL BE TOSSED ASIDE AND THE CHRISTIAN SADLY CAN EXPERIENCE LOSS. SOMETHING NOT OFTEN PREACHED ABOUT FROM OUR PULPITS.

SO OUR PRAYER TODAY SHOULD GO ALONG OF THE LINES OF THIS; “FATHER LET YOUR SON TEST ME AND SHOW ME THOSE PLACES THAT APPEAR NOBLE AND GREAT AND IT EVEN LOOKS LIKE I’M BUILDING FOR THE KINGDOM, BUT YOU SEE THE MOTIVES OF MY HEART AND WHY I’M REALLY DOING IT. EXAMINE ME AND LET ME DO YOUR WORK FROM A SINCERE HEART.”

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

THE ROMAN ROAD

February 27, 2018

The Roman Road

  “If God be for us, who can be against us”? (Rom. 8:31)

  Faith in the facts alone gives the rest of reliance.

Is there an accuser, a judge, or an executioner, still after us? The accuser may go away rebuked by this, that God has justified us; the judge may go away rebuked by this, that the Lord Jesus has died—has already suffered the judgment, and His work has been accepted to the full in heaven itself; the executioner may go away rebuked by this, that all the malice of earth and hell together shall never drag us away from the firm embrace of our God. And if there be now neither accuser to charge, nor judge to condemn, nor executioner to slay, the court is cleared!

It is a blessing to be shown our enemies and told with Gideon, that Jehovah has delivered them into our hands (Josh. 8:7). Our old man has been crucified (Rom. 6:6), the world ‘overcome,’ and its prince ‘judged’ (John 16:33, 11). If we are walking by faith, as risen with the Lord Jesus Christ, Satan, the world, and the flesh are under our feet.

  “Not a hair of the child of God can fall without God’s permission. Satan is but the unintentional instrument to accomplish God’s will; he can do no more than he is allowed to do. If trials come as a host against us, we know that the Almighty is between us and them. They will but work out for us His own purpose of love.”

  “What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Rom. 8:35, 37).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Paid in Full

February 26, 2018

My three favorite books of the Bible, Genesis, Isaiah, and Romans. If I could have only one Book it would be Romans. I’ve done more sermons in the Book of Romans and more in chapter 7 and 8; so here is one of my favorite passages.

Romans 8:1-13

In Romans 7, Paul showed us that Christians still wrestle with remaining, indwelling sin are defined in the Glossary.. He says: “But what I hate I do” (7:15). But, at the same time, Christians have experienced a revolution in consciousness—a real disgust over sin and (now) an inability to find any lasting pleasure in it: “But what I hate I do.” These two facts keep us from either the legalism that says: Real Christians don’t struggle with sin anymore, or the permissiveness that says: Real Christians are human; they sin just like anyone else. The Spirit of God has come in and transformed our “inner being” and self (7:22) so we want God and holiness, but our “flesh” or “sinful nature” is still powerful enough to keep us from doing what our new desires want.

But Romans 7 does not say everything about the Christian life. Our new condition—a “double nature”—can actually lead to more distress unless we “live … according to the Spirit” (8:4*.). Paul gives us directions on how to live in the Spirit. Unless we do, we will find ourselves continually doing what we hate.

No Condemnation

Before showing us how to live according to God’s Spirit, though, Paul wants to show us how God’s Son has given us life. Verse 1 begins “therefore”—he could be reaching right back to sections such as 3:21-27 (as John Stott suggests) or to the previous two chapters (Douglas Moo’s position), where Paul has characterized the Christian as one in whom sin is still powerful, but whose inner “true” self is “a slave to God’s law” (7:25), and who can look forward to being rescued “from this body of death … through Jesus Christ our Lord”.

However far back in his letter Paul is looking, the great truth of 8:1 is captured in two words: “no condemnation *.” These two words tell us of our position as Christians. To be “not condemned” is, of course, a legal term; it means to be free from any debt or penalty. No one has any charges against you. A person who is in Christ Jesus is not under any condemnation from God. Paul already said this in Romans 5:16 and 18.

This is tremendous! It means God has nothing against us! He finds no fault in us. He finds nothing to punish us for.

However, the phrase Paul uses is not simply that Christians are “not condemned.” This is a much stronger phrase than that. He says that for Christians there is no condemnation at all. It doesn’t exist for us. It’s not that we have moved out from under it for a while, but that it could return. No; there is no condemnation for us at all—it doesn’t exist anymore.

The reason it is important to mention this is that many think that a Christian is only temporarily out from under condemnation. Many want to limit the meaning of this phrase to our past, or to our past and present. But Paul is saying categorically that condemnation no longer exists at all for a believer. It is not waiting in the wings to come back and cloud our future!

Many believe that Christians who confess sin and then live a good life are forgiven and are, at that moment, not condemned. But they believe that, should they sin, they are back under condemnation until they confess and repent again. In other words, if a Christian man were to sin, he would again come under condemnation and could be lost if he died in that state. If this were true, then Christians would be people who are always moving back and forth, in and out of condemnation.

But this view doesn’t square at all with the comprehensiveness and intensity of Paul’s statement. Paul says quite literally that condemnation itself no longer exists for us—“There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (8:1). Thus, the moment we come into Christ Jesus, condemnation is gone forever. There is no more condemnation left for us—it is gone. There can never be condemnation for us. There is nothing but acceptance and welcome for us!

The Problem of Forgetfulness

The great twentieth-century Welsh preacher D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said that: “Most of our troubles are due to our failure to realize the truth of this verse.” What happens if we forget that there is “now no condemnation”?

On the one hand, we feel far more guilt, unworthiness and pain than we should. From this may come drivenness from a need to “prove ourselves”; great sensitivity to criticism, defensiveness; a lack of confidence in relationships; a lack of confidence and joy in prayer and worship; and even addictive behavior, which can be a reaction to a deep sense of guilt and unworthiness.

On the other hand, we will have far less motivation to live a holy life. We have fewer resources for self-control. Christians who don’t understand “no condemnation” only obey out of fear and duty. That is not nearly as powerful a motivation as love and gratitude. If we don’t grasp the full wonder of “now no condemnation,” we will understand each word of the rest of 8:1-13, but completely miss the sense of it! Lloyd-Jones summed this up with a useful illustration:

“The difference between an unbeliever sinning and a Christian sinning is the difference between a man transgressing the laws of … [the] State, and … a husband [who] has done something he should not do in his relationship with his wife. He is not breaking the law, he is wounding the heart of his wife. That is the difference. It is no longer a legal matter, it is a matter of personal relationship and … love. The man does not cease to be the husband [legally, in that instance]. Law does not come into the matter at all … In a sense it is now something much worse than a legal condemnation. I would rather offend against a law of the land objectively outside me, than hurt someone whom I love … [In that case] You have sinned, of course, but you have sinned against love … [so] You may and you should feel ashamed, but you should not feel condemnation, because to do so is to put yourself back ‘under the law.’”

(Romans Chapters 7:1 – 8:4, pages 271-272)

No Slavery

Verse 1, then, reminds us of the central argument of Romans 1 – 7: there is no condemnation for sin for believers. Verse 2 explains a second aspect to God’s victory, on our behalf, over sin—there is now no bondage to sin, either. “Through Christ Jesus” (v 2)—through faith in him—”the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” As we saw in Romans 7 (see Romans 1 – 7 For You, page 168), Paul uses the word “law” to mean:

God’s law or standards.

A general principle.

A force or power.

So in 8:2, “the law” seems fairly clearly to carry the third meaning. The Holy Spirit comes to free us from bondage to the sin within our hearts. So verse 1 tells us we are delivered from the legal condemnation of sin; verse 2 that we are being delivered from the actual power of sin. Put another way, salvation deals with our legal guilt (v 1) and our internal corruption (v 2).

Some people wonder about the relationship of verse 1 to verse 2. Paul basically says: There is no condemnation for Christians because the Holy Spirit frees us from sin. This could be read to mean that our sanctification by the Holy Spirit is the cause or the ground of our justification —that it is as we fight sin and obey God that we are made right with God.

But all of Romans up to this point denies that. Instead, Paul is likely saying: We know we are out of condemnation because God has sent the Holy Spirit into our life to free us from sin.

How God Did It

In verses 3-4, Paul shows us how God has achieved the two aspects of salvation (no guilt, no bondage). First, God sent his Son to become human (“in the likeness of sinful man,” v 3) and become a sin offering. In other words, the death of Christ defeats sin legally, by paying the debt. Second, God did this not simply to defeat sin legally, but to wipe it out actually in our lives: “in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who … [live] according to the Spirit.” The work of the Holy Spirit within us empowers us to obey the law (albeit never perfectly, and thus never in a way that contributes to, nor undermines, our salvation). The great British pastor John Stott explained it this way:

“We are set free from the law as a way of acceptance, but obliged to keep it as a way of holiness. It is as a ground of justification that the law no longer binds us … But as a standard of conduct the law is still binding, and we seek to fulfill it as we walk according to the Spirit.” (Men Made New, pages 82-83)

But why did God send his Son to bear our condemnation, and send his Spirit to break our bondage? Verse 4 tells us that everything Christ did for us—his incarnation (“sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man,” v 3), his death and his resurrection—was all in order (for the purpose) that we might live a holy life. This is an amazing point. The thing Jesus lives for, the purpose of his entire life, is to make us holy, fulfilling “the righteous requirements of the law.” This is the greatest possible motive for living a holy life. Whenever we sin, we endeavor to frustrate the aim and purpose of the entire life, death and ministry of Jesus Christ! If this doesn’t work as an incentive for living a holy life, nothing will.

Mind Matters

In the rest of this section (indeed, in the rest of the chapter), Paul is going to focus on the second great benefit of being “in Christ”—overcoming sin in our lives. After all, as he has shown in heartfelt detail in chapter 7, not only is there no hope in ourselves for our salvation, but there is also no hope in ourselves for our obedience. For any real change, we cannot rely on our own efforts, but only, as Paul now explains, on the work of the Spirit.

How do we overcome sin with the Spirit? Or, to put it another way, how do we “live in accordance with the Spirit” (8:5), in the way that our inner self truly desires (7:22)? The people who do this are those who “have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (8:5). Paul says that the connection between living and thinking is a tight and close one. Literally he says: “For those being according to the flesh mind the things of the flesh, but those being according to the Spirit mind the things of the Spirit.” In other words, whatever you have set your mind on shapes your lifestyle and character. What does it mean to “mind” something or “set the mind”? Even in English, when the word “mind” is used as a verb, it has a stronger meaning than simply “to think about.” It means to focus intently on something, to be preoccupied with something, to have the attention and the imagination totally captured by something.

The twentieth-century Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple once said: “Your religion is what you do with your solitude.” In other words, wherever your mind goes most naturally and freely when there is nothing else to distract it—that is what you really live for. That is your religion. Your life is shaped by whatever preoccupies your mind. The overcoming of sin in our lives begins in our minds; and victory over sin is only ever the result of having minds set on the Spirit.

Questions for Reflection

Do you ever feel under condemnation? What causes you to feel this way; and how will you make sure you remember “there is now no condemnation” next time?

In what way(s) will knowing that Jesus’ ministry was in order to make you holy motivate you to live differently today?

What do you do with your solitude? How will you fix your thoughts on the gospel today?

Part Two

The Things of the Spirit

So a successful fight against sin begins by “mind[ing] … the things of the Spirit” (8:5, AV translation). This is not the same thing as simply thinking about religion all the time, or theology in general. The “things” of the Spirit would be those things to which the Spirit draws attention; to “mind” the Spirit would be to be preoccupied by the things that preoccupy the Spirit.

What are those things? In the rest of chapter 8, we will see that the Spirit comes to show us that we are sons and daughters of the Lord. We will explore this more in the next chapter, but it is worth seeing here what the “things” or truths the Spirit wants us to “mind” are:

Verse 14 will tell us that: “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

Verses 15-16 will tell us that the Spirit removes a fear of rejection and assures us that we are God’s beloved children.

Verses 26-27 will tell us that the Spirit gives us confidence to approach God in prayer.

In other words, the rest of Romans 8 tells us what the Spirit is preoccupied with: how in Christ we are adopted, loved and welcomed.

A parallel passage is Colossians 3:1-4: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated … your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Here, Paul tells us to be preoccupied with “things above”: We are to remember that we have been raised with Christ and are accepted in him before the Father. The Holy Spirit is not mentioned here, but the principle is the same. We are to be preoccupied with our standing in Christ. We are to drill into our minds and hearts his love and adoption of us. To “mind … the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5) means never to forget our privileged standing or the fact that we are loved, and to let this dominate our thinking, our perspectives, and therefore our words and actions.

Everybody Minds Something

Ultimately, Paul says, everyone will “mind” something—we will either be preoccupied by the things of the Spirit, or “the sinful nature” (v 5). “Sinful nature” is how the NIV1984 translates the Greek word sarx—ESV and NIV2011 render it “flesh.” It is the desires and would-be-dictates of our senses, a worldview that is worldly rather than godly and self-centered rather than Christ-focused.

Whatever preoccupies the mind controls the life—and one preoccupation results in death, the other in life and peace (v 6). Clearly, someone who does not possess the Spirit of God, and is therefore not a Christian (v 9b), is facing the eternal death of just condemnation from God. But it is not simply, or even primarily, future life and death that Paul has in view here. Rather, he is referring to the brokenness and sense of dislocation that are experienced in this life by those who “have their minds set on what [the sinful] nature desires” (v 5). God created mankind to flourish in relationship with him, enjoying knowing him as we live in his world. So being controlled by our own desires rather than his can only lead to a life that is far less than life should be. It must lead to conflict (internally and with others) instead of peace, to slavery instead of freedom (see Romans 6), and to death rather than life.

We can take any negative emotion and see how this works out. Let’s say I am becoming extremely worried about something. Concern is unavoidable unless you are a totally uncaring and indifferent person. If you care about causes or people or goals, you will worry or have concerns. But if the worry becomes debilitating , it is because I am forgetting that I am a child of God, and that my heavenly Father would only exercise his control over the universe in a way that would be loving to his own. Over-worry is forgetting the “things of the Spirit.”

Another example is when guilt and a sense of unworthiness drive us. A sign of this is when we take on too many things, when we assume a crushing number of responsibilities, because we are trying to “work off” or “make up for” our sin. In this case, we are also forgetting the “things of the Spirit.” 1 John 3:20 says: “Whenever our hearts condemn us … God is greater than our hearts.” If we remember we are adopted children, we “go over the head” of our hearts when we feel unworthy.

Hostile to God

Romans 8:7 is simple and stark: “The sinful mind is hostile to God.” The mind is not neutral ground, and cannot love one preoccupation without rejecting the other. A mind “that is set on the flesh” (ESV translation) must also be treating God and the desires of his Spirit as an enemy. This is why our minds are, naturally, unable to deal with sin. We may realize that a particular impulse is unhelpful, or that a certain course of action is destructive. We may even decide to cut it out, and may do so successfully. But the root of sin is still implanted in the mind—hostility to God. So sin will still grow unchecked in our lives.

And that hostility makes us incapable of pleasing God. Verse 8 is an equally striking statement: “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” Left to ourselves, we are totally unable to live in a way that causes our Creator to approve of us. Why? Because the mind that drives the actions is acting out of hostility to him. The person controlled by their own flesh is able to have a thought that is good, or perform an action that is right. But it cannot please God, since it is thought or done in enmity toward him.

Here is a helpful illustration: a man in a rebel army may look after his comrades, may keep his uniform smart, and so on. Those are “good”—but they are done in hostility to the rightful ruler. You would never expect that ruler to hear of this rebel’s conscientiousness or generosity and be pleased by his conduct in rebellion!

But none of this needs to be, or ought to be, the way “you”—Christians—live (v 9). Every Christian is “controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit,” since the Spirit lives in anyone who belongs to Christ. When we received Christ and became righteous in God’s sight, the Holy Spirit came in and made us spiritually alive. The Christian has a body that is decaying (v 10), yet also enjoys a spirit, a mind, that is alive.

And, Paul says, not only must our spirits/minds not follow our flesh now, but one day our flesh will follow our spirit. In Greek thought, the physical was bad, to be rejected and hopefully one day to be left behind; the spiritual was good, to be embraced. Verse 11 overturns all this: ”He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” Someday, even our bodies will be totally renewed and made eternally alive by the Spirit. There is no dualism (body bad, spirit good) here—one day, both will be perfected.

For now, though, there is still within us the remaining sinful nature, which is hostile and inimical to our growing spiritual life. And even as we look forward to our bodies being given life (v 11), we must “put to death the misdeeds of the body” (v 13—the end of this verse is best seen as the end of a sentence, unlike in the NIV). As John Stott argues, Paul is still likely referring to an experience of life, and death, now—not in the future. Paul says here: If you let the remaining sinful nature alone—if you allow it to prosper and grow—there will be terrible trouble. Instead, you must by the Spirit attack and put it to death. The more you put to death the sinful nature, the more you will enjoy the spiritual life that the Holy Spirit gives—life and peace (v 6).

Mortification

This process of “putting to death” is what earlier theologians used to call “mortification.” They got it from the old King James Version translation of the verse: “If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (v 13).

So what do verses 12-13 tell us about what mortification is, and how we do it? First, it means a ruthless, full-hearted resistance to sinful practice. The very word translated as “put to death” (Greek word thanatoute) is violent and total. It means to reject totally everything we know to be wrong; to declare war on attitudes and behaviors that are wrong—give them no quarter, take no prisoners, pull out all the stops.

This means a Christian doesn’t play games with sin. You don’t aim to wean yourself off it, or say: I can keep it under control. You get as far away from it as possible. You don’t just avoid things you know are sin; you avoid the things that lead to it, and even things that are doubtful. This is war!

Second, it means changing one’s motivation to sin by remembering to apply the gospel . This process of “mortification” goes deeper than merely resisting sinful behavior. It looks at the motives of the heart. Verse 12 says: “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature.” This is a critical statement. “Therefore” refers to the statement before, in which Paul tells us we have been redeemed by Christ’s righteousness and will someday be totally delivered from all evil and pain in the bodily resurrection. Then Paul turns and says: “Therefore … we have an obligation…” Some translations express it differently: “We are debtors, not to the flesh” (NRSV). Paul means that if we remember what Christ has done and will do for us, we will feel the obligations of love and gratitude to serve and know him.

Paul is saying that sin can only be cut off at the root if we expose ourselves constantly to the unimaginable love of Christ for us. That exposure stimulates a wave of gratitude and a feeling of indebtedness. Sin can only grow in the soil of self-pity and a feeling of “owed-ness.” I’m not getting a fair shake! I’m not getting my needs met! I’ve had a hard life! God owes me; people owe me; I owe me! That’s the heart attitude of “owed-ness” or entitlement. But, Paul says, you must remind yourself that you are a debtor. If you bathe yourself in the remembrance of the grace of God, that will loosen, weaken and kill sin at the motivational level.

Therefore, “put to death” (v 13) is just a sub-set under “mind the things of the Spirit” (v 5). Mortification withers sin’s power over you by focusing on Christ’s redemption in a way that softens your heart with gratitude and love; which brings you to hate the sin for itself, so it loses its power of attraction over you.

In summary, then, we kill sin in the Spirit when we turn from sinful practices ruthlessly and turn our heart from sinful motivations with a sense of our debt to love and grace, by minding the things of the Spirit.

Preaching Grace to Our Minds

This means that, if we are serious about mortifying the misdeeds of the body (and verses 6 and 13 should offer sufficient motivation to take this seriously!), we need to preach grace-centered mini-sermons to ourselves throughout our day, and especially when tempted.

Remember, your life is an expression of your mind (v 5). And many Christians try to control themselves with law-centered mini-sermons. We say to ourselves things like: If I do that, God will get me or: It’s against my Christian principles or: It will hurt people around me or: I will be embarrassed or: It will hurt my self-esteem or: I’ll hate myself in the morning. Some or all of these may be true—but Paul tells us they are inadequate! They don’t kill sin. That is taking your temptation to the law and using fear to deter yourself.

But we are to use the logic of the gospel on ourselves. Look what God’s done for me! Is this how I respond to him? We’re to take our temptations to the gospel, and find God’s love for us, in sending his Son to the cross and his Spirit into our hearts, showing us the vileness of that sin, motivating us to love our Savior, and removing our desire to live according to the flesh.

Here is how one Puritan pastor, John Owen, preached to his heart with the gospel:

“What have I done? What love, mercy, what blood, what grace have I despised and trampled on? Is this the return I make to the Father for his love, to the Son for his blood, to the Holy Spirit for his grace? Do I thus requite the Lord? Have I defiled the heart that Christ died to wash? … What can I say to the dear Lord Jesus? … Do I account communion with him of so little value? … Shall I endeavor to disappoint the [very purpose] of the death of Christ?” (John Owen, On the Mortification of Sin in Believers)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Matthew, he’s been really ill and in the last week has been rushed to the emergency room twice, they still don’t know what’s happening.

Pray for Rosie, cancer in her ear, removed a tumor the size of a grape. Long process ahead for her, she’s 36. Pray for healing and calmness.

Christian?

February 25, 2018

Two men were fishing in a stream when they noticed that a nearby bridge was falling apart. Every time a vehicle would drive across it, another piece would fall and the entire bridge would shake dangerously. Finally, after a large truck passed over, the bridge completely fell apart in the middle. The two fishermen knew that if a car came around the bend, the driver would never know that the middle of the bridge was gone; the whole thing could come crashing down, damaging the vehicle and injuring the driver.

One of the men looked at his friend and said, “We’ve got to do something. What would be the ‘Christian’ thing to do?”

His friend thought for a moment and replied, “Build a hospital?”

What is it about Christians that they won’t’ intervene, interfere, or interrupt someone bent on screwing up anything. Or in evangelism. It seems that the world has successfully convinced us to keep our faith a secret. It’s like don’t ask, don’t tell. Only the gays have come out of the closet and we’ve taken their place.

On a side note, today my wife and I voted, the longest list of congressional candidates ever in the state of Texas, 17 candidates for one postion. 3 of them professed to be evangelical and said they were men of conviction. Only one was at the voting polls. He happened to be the one we were voting for. After we voted, my wife and I walked up to him and I told him that he had our vote and if he broke any of his promises I would kick his ass. Imagine my surprise when he pulled out a piece of paper and wrote his home address and personal cell phone number and then said; Mr. W, “if I ever break a promise or pledge you get the first swing.” I shook his hand and laughed and told him if he really knew me he would not have said that. He then asked if we would keep him in prayer. Well I said, “how about right now?”

So my wife and I formed a circle and began to pray. People started to come over and join us. So maybe there are still some decent people left in the world after all, at least to this major cynic and skeptic. So who knows, you may be able to say Congressman and Christian in the same sentence.

Let’s stop being the silent Christian and campaign for Jesus. When’s the last time you’ve prayed in the work cafeteria, read your bible in a restaurant, worn a cross or openly acknowledged you are a Christian? If the answer wasn’t today, then it’s been to long.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

THE ACT

February 24, 2018

As God made plans to appear before the people in the form of a cloud, he said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people” (Ex 19:10–11).

 Consecration means making holy, making acceptable to be close to God. The consecration demanded of the Israelites for this encounter involved becoming spiritually ready to get close to God (thus the two days of preparation indicated in the words “be ready by the third day”).

 Like the Israelites, we, too, must consecrate ourselves when we gather to worship the Lord. Here are four ways you can prepare your heart for worship:

  1. Prepare before you go—On Sunday mornings, many of us find ourselves rushing to get dressed and out the door so we can get to church on time. The result is that we enter the worship service without having adequately prepared for an encounter with a holy God.

  1. Prepare to listen—During the worship service we hear God’s Word read, his message proclaimed and ymns sung to his glory. Prepare your mind by ensuring you are focused, mentally alert and ready to engage in active listening.

  1. Prepare to respond—In worship we enter into real and direct encounter with God. Prepare yourself to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit by expecting that the presence of God will move you in some way.

  1. Prepare to edify others—We join together in worship in part to bless others.

  take two minutes to pray for a friend, or greet a new person, or encourage a child. You have a part to play. This Sunday, prepare for gathering with your church family by asking God how he might use you to edify his church.

And the best way to be ready for church is by your worshipping and praising God during the week.

Originally I thought this idea was a little flaky, but it has produced some interesting results; any time something good happened in the presence of others I have said out loud, “well thank you Jesus.” What happens next is a real eye opener. The self-professed false believer shuts up, the true believer says ‘amen’ and the unconfessed either get verbal or walk away disclaiming my sanity or my Lord. Think about it.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

THE MAN

February 23, 2018

THE MAN

I had a business meeting downtown today and after it was over I saw a bookstore; it’s one of the oldest in town. It’s famous for being feminist, liberal, (redundant right?) New Age and never has carried a bible in the store.

But there in the most prominent spot, the Man, Billy Graham’s first book, originally published in 1953, and then again in 1984, “Peace with God.”

I was very surprised, I picked up the book and went to the counter and said, “how many Evangelicals come into your bookstore?” her answer; “only those from out of town, but he’s the Man.”

I was surprised at first but then thought she’s right, he is the Man. From dirt poor to one of the most recognized Christians in America and respected probably by all.

It has been a long time since I have read any of his books. What took me by surprise was the passion. Right from the very first sentence. His deep conviction that America has gone off the rails and is skidding into the abyss.

I waver sometimes about how bad it really is versus maybe it’s not so bad.

Truth is it’s probably worse than any other generation. Simply because we suffer from electronic brain rot. With most people, especially kids, spending a minimum of 8 hours a day on an electronic device.

But that’s not what this devotion is about. It’s about what is the legacy you have as a Christian. In your home, on your block and in your world. Where is your heart, and money and time being spent? How much money do you have saved and how much do you contribute, not just to church, but to other good works.

How about swearing? Fidelity or chastity?

Like the old Christian rock tune says, “how much evidence is there if they had to convict you of being a Christian?”

Just food for thought.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Preston Ryan, 11 years old and has brain cancer.

For Billy J, 13 years old and shot his neighbor 9 years old….on purpose.

Pray for his family, his dad is a police officer.

For Randall H, his brother 77, had a stroke today.

And so you don’t get bummed out. Jessica, a young drug user and prostitute gave her heart to the Lord today and has been taken into a Christian Home for Girls. When I laid my hand on her shoulder to pray for her she flinched, big tears welled up in her eyes and she just sobbed that someone would touch her and it would be innocent.

GAZING

February 22, 2018

  “Who (Jesus), being the brightness of His (God’s) glory, and the express image of His person” (Heb. 1:3).

  Basically, the Bible is the Biography of the Beloved. Its primary object is to provide the Object for our contemplation and conformity.

  “Many a Christian has not got beyond this: Christ is a shelter for me, and takes care of me. Souls look for their barrel of meal not to waste, and their cruse of oil not to fail. But is that all? Is it only that Christ comes and dwells with me and cares for me?

  “I must make a strong arguement to say it is not. Is it shelter only? No! You are mutilating Christianity if you confine it to that. God says: I have saved you by My own Son, and now another factor must come in; you are to live by the One who has saved you; My purpose is that you are to be conformed to His blessed image.”

  “There comes a moment when the soul knows union with Christ. Has your soul ever got a glimpse, by the Spirit, of Christ risen? Of ‘the mark’ of which Paul speaks? It is Christ in heaven; He is my Object, my possessor!

  “Practically is what souls have lost sight of. They do not look for acquaintance with Christ Risen. The first thing is the education of the Word; the second, Christ Himself must be seen (2 Cor. 3:18). The Word delights the heart, but till the eye of your spirit has rested on the Person of Christ, you have not the model for the Word to take; there is no formation.”

  “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2).

1 Corinthians 2:9 New King James Version (NKJV)

9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Crystal S, stage 4 cancer, 35 years old, 3 kids. Keep her prayer.

just as I am

February 21, 2018

  “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts” (1 Pet. 3:15).

  Many sincere believers are apt to put up an insincere front in order to “protect the Gospel,” so as not to “let the Lord down.” But He will increase, if we but decrease. There is nothing like being nothing!

  “It is true that there is the hunger to be devoted, and to be like the Lord Jesus, long before one’s acts and manner corroborate the hunger, and make it a fact; but the more the hungers which grace has generated in your heart are given a place, the sooner will they become experiential facts; and the more the Lord Jesus has His throne within you, the more you will ‘rejoice in Him, and have no confidence in the flesh’” (Phil. 3:3).

 I know so little of the Lord Jesus, one may say, and this may be true; but every grace that is in Him is in every saint, though not developed. If I am a babe in Christ, where there is true lowliness of heart, I display God, as a babe manifesting Him; but if, as a babe, I am attempting to manifest Him as a man, there will be frustration and failure.

My wisdom will be, not to set myself up above that which I really am. If walking in true lowliness and manifesting that measure of the Lord Jesus in which we have grown, there will be certain progress.

  “Perhaps there is nothing so hard as not to appear anything but what you are. If you do so to your advantage, you will be some day found out, but if to your disadvantage, there is no doubt that He who searcheth the heart and trieth the reins will one day vindicate you.”

  “But now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me” (2 Cor. 12:6).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

think it, do it

February 20, 2018

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT FOR YOU

1 TIM 1:5, A PURE HEART, A GOOD CONSCIOUS, A SINCERE FAITH ( THE GOLDEN RULE FOR CHRISTIANS)

TITUS 2:12

SELF CONTROL

RIGHT CONDUCT

DEVOTION TO GOD

THIS IS CYCLICAL, IF I PRACTICE TITUS AS A DISCIPLINE, THEN 1 TIM WILL DEVELOP AND IF 1 TIM HAPPENS THEN TITUS BECOMES HABITUAL.

BREAK THE CYCLE TOP OR BOTTOM OUT AND OUR LIFE FALLS APART

SO 1 TIM IS OUR INTERNAL REGULATOR AND TITUS IS OUR OUTWARD MANIFESTATION

SO I PRAY FOR A PURE HEART, A GOOD CONSCIOUS, AND A SINCERE FAITH

BUT I WORK ON AND BELIEVE FOR IN FAITH PRACTICING SELF CONTROL, RIGHT CONDUCT, AND A VISIBLE OUTWARD DEVOTION TO GOD.

I’VE NEVER SAID THE VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIFE WAS EASY.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Charles S, him and the wife are going through empty nest syndrome.

pray for Harold P, his wife just passed away, 51 years of marriage, the are Rv’er’s and she passed in her sleep in their favorite state park.

Pray for Jennifer, her dad passed away, they had a rocky relationship.

We are not the world

February 19, 2018

It’s always good to know who your enemies are. And, may I tell you, beyond the shadow of any doubt or peradventure, that you that you have three enemies at least, and they are three big ones: the world, the flesh, and the devil. And, no Christian can afford to be ignorant of these enemies, for, to be ignorant is to be unprepared, and to be unprepared is to fall and to go down in shame and disgrace and ignominious defeat.

Now, of these three enemies, I want to just take one, and talk to you about that one enemy—and, that one enemy is the world. And, I’ve entitled this message “Your Friendly Enemy,” because the world seems so friendly, so charming, so innocuous, sometimes beautiful, sometimes helpful, sometimes harmless. But, I want to warn you that what the Bible calls the world is an enemy and a deadly enemy.

Now, what do we mean when we say the world? We have to be very careful because we’re certainly not talking about the earth—Planet Earth. Sometimes the word cosmos, that’s translated “world,” speaks of Planet Earth. For example, it does, in Acts 17, where the Bible says the Lord made the world and everything that is in it (Acts 17:24). There’s nothing evil about the rocks and the trees, the birds, the ocean, the fields, the mountains. Thank God for these things. Jesus said, “Consider the lilies how they grow” (Luke 12:27).

There’s nothing wrong with the material physical universe, and never think that there is. And, when the Bible warns about the world, it’s not warning about Planet Earth. Do you have that?

When the Bible warns about the world, it’s not warning about the people of the world. The Bible says, in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). There, he’s talking about the people of the world. Now, if God loves those people, we ought to love them. “Red and yellow, black, and white, they are precious in His sight.” He’s not talking, therefore, about the physical universe or the physical earth, he’s not talking about the people, some 5 billion of them now that live on Planet Earth.

When the Bible uses the word world, what does the Bible mean? When the Bible says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world”—1 John 2:15? Well, it’s the word cosmos. And, what does that mean? It means a system, an order.

there is a system that the Bible calls the world, which is the world of wickedness—and we’re told, not to love it. 1 John 2:15: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love [this system], the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).

What we are talking about—this ungodly system—first of all, it has a prince. The prince of the world is the devil. Now, the Bible makes that plain. For example, in John 12:31, Jesus called the devil “the prince of this world” (John 12:31). What Jesus meant by that, is that Satan rules this ungodly system. He is the prince of this world. In John 14:30, again, he says, “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me” (John 14:30). That is, Jesus had no itch the devil could scratch. But, there again, Jesus called the devil “the prince of this world.” And, in John 16:11, He spoke, “of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged” (John 16:11).

This world has a prince, and the prince of this world is Satan himself. That’s the reason the Apostle John said, in 1 John 5:19, “And we know that… the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). The whole world, the whole system, lies in wickedness. And, the word wickedness there may be personified. It literally means the whole world lies in “the wicked one.” And, the word lieth there actually means, “to sleep in the bosom, or the lap, of one.” That is, Satan’s got this whole world in his hand.

We sing “God’s got the whole world in His hands,” but, actually, the Bible says that Satan has this world in his hands. This whole world lieth, sleepeth, in the bosom, in the lap, of the wicked one. So the world—put it down, number one—has a prince.

There is an enticing network of ideas and values that the devil has skillfully woven together in order to attract you as a child of God. For example, 1 Corinthians 2:12, speaks of the spirit of this world (1 Corinthians 2:12). 1 Corinthians 3:19, speaks of the wisdom of this world (1 Corinthians 3:19). 1 Corinthians 7:31, speaks of the passion of this world (1 Corinthians 7:31). And, so it doesn’t matter whether it’s from the schoolhouse to the courthouse, from Madison Avenue to Wall Street, whether it’s Hollywood or your neighborhood—it makes no difference. There is a philosophy that is permeating all that we see out there, and, my dear friend, it is your enemy.

The world wears a cloak or disguise, whenever a freedom is taken away from you that means the world is winning. Think of every dictator, every socialist, that is the world, trying to control all you do. Who rules the world, the devil, who controls the tv you watch, the media you listen to and read, the devil. If you haven’t put on the filter of God’s word and spirit you are being brainwashed into believing one thing. That you need the world, the system, government to take care of you. No self-reliance, no individuality, no ability to protect yourself.

Here sign up for free food, free housing, free education, free health care, surely you’ve heard the saying “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” there is no such thing as free, all this free stuff is borne on the back of the taxpayer, the distribution of wealth, socialism.

So any political figure in any country that promises to take care of you by robbing you of God given rights and freedoms is of the world and therefore of the devil. So how comfortable do you want to be? That’s what it really comes down to.

Now there is a difference between being provided for by God and a handout.

That moron standing on the street corner with the cardboard sign reading “God bless you.” is part the world, he’s depending on your guilt that your comfortable. He’s telling you he deserves to be taken care of, by you!

Ok, my blood pressure is shooting up, stay tuned.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com