THE BIG READ

August 19, 2017

the bible

People use the Bible in all sorts of weird ways. You’ve probably heard the story of the guy who felt he needed some guidance from the Bible, so he opened it at random, closed his eyes and put his finger on a verse: “Judas went out and hanged himself.” He thought, “That can’t be God’s will for me,” so he tried again: “Go thou and do likewise.” He knew there must be some mistake, so he tried once more: “What thou doest, do quickly!” It can be dangerous to use the Bible in the wrong way!

While we chuckle, it’s no laughing matter when people really use the Bible improperly. In 2 Timothy 2:14, Paul tells Timothy to solemnly charge those under his pastoral ministry “in the presence of God” that if they misuse the Bible, it will lead to ruin. We get our word “catastrophe” from the Greek word for “ruin.” Paul means, ultimate spiritual ruin! He names Hymenaeus and Philetus, who had gone astray from the truth, upsetting the faith of some with their misuse of the Bible! Paul is saying that…

I’ve lost count of the bible hucksters that misuse the word of God, and it’s not a new phenomenon as is indicated by our text.

I was visiting a church while I was traveling and as my custom I always take my bible to church. I was actually stopped at the door by two deacons. They wanted to know what I had under my arm. Now I admit my bible is pretty worn out, it’s gray leather and it’s a perfect match for the multiple strips of gray duct tape that hold it together. And it looks pregnant, as I have all sort of notes, illustrations, letters from old parishioners that have passed on and their family wrote me a particularly nice word about how they’ve appreciated my pastorate. There is the one and only letter I have ever received from my dad in it and some obit notices. But still what else would I be carrying into church that looks like a bible.

 I took it out from under my arm and said; “it’s my bible” and their response is memorable; “why would you bring a bible to church, do you think our pastor is going to say something wrong?” Well, DUH.

When I was in Seminary, if you went to church near the college and didn’t have your Greek New Testament with you, you often would be asked why on Monday.

I know that I have written several devotions about versions of the bible and I still stick to the idea that you read the KJV if you are studying Theology, the NASB if you’re studying languages, and for reading for devotional, well just about anything goes. (except the Message,, which is not a bible and not a version)

Or so I thought until today. I got a catalog in the mail today advertising ‘bible reading light’, that’s not an error. They know people are (these are their actual words) lazy, inept, undisciplined, untrained, to busy, to careless, to intimidated and not motivated.

So they have two versions where they (again their words) have cut out all the boring bits, traditionalism and historical flotsam.

To say I almost had a stroke would be putting it mildly. You know the old saying; “those that don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it?”

Obviously, they have forgotten the great Reader’s Digest version of the bible. The worst selling bible to ever come out. Or how about the outrage when the RSV came out for the first time, ‘one word’ capsized that version, In the book of Isaiah they said ‘he’d be born of a maiden’ not virgin. I still have articles from all sorts of publications saying this might be the work of the anti-Christ and it’s the devil’s bible, all that over just one word.

So know there’s an entire curriculum where the idea is that we are not reading the bible as God’s word, but it’s now to be treated (in their own words) as a book club. All the hard bits left out, all the begats and therefores, no chapter headings, no verses, no read letters, no references, just what they consider the bible lite version, oh and guess what it’s not called the bible just “the big read”.

Slap my mother and bite my a$$. You can’t make this stuff up. I guess all the verses in the bible saying it’s inspired, worthy, a blessing to read and hear aloud, not one jot or tittle will pass away, heaven and earth may pass away but not the word. I guess all that doesn’t matter.

You know how I’m always making lists, well now I have another bible version, whoops excuse me ‘the big read’ to add to my list of bibles I won’t read.

But when you see the authors in this catalog it really comes as no surprise. So the BIG READ,  brought to you by all the so called pastors that have brought all our modern heresies and only warm fuzzies, puppies and unicorns and faith in yourself matter. Ok I’ve got to quit or have another stroke.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Dear Prayer Partners, thank you for praying for Richard, he passed today. This guy literally spent his whole life on a boat, and when he retired guess what he did, yep  sea cruises, but not like you and me, he took 60 day cruises and 90 day cruises with only 2 weeks in between. The hospice called me today and asked if I could talk to him and help him let go and pass on. So I told him, “Richard this is it, the final cruise, the best cruise you’ve ever been on, it’s time to let go and get on board. And he did.

 

the woof and the warp

August 15, 2017

There’s an old phrase, if you are under 60 or not a fan of Shakespeare, you may not recognize it; or you don’t read the King James Version of the Bible, Leviticus 13:48,49 “the warp and the woof”. In weaving, the weft (sometimes woof) is the thread or yarn which is drawn through, inserted over-and-under, the lengthwise warp yarns that are held in tension on a frame or loom to create cloth. Warp is the lengthwise or longitudinal thread in a roll, while weft is the transverse thread.

It is a phrase that is used to mean ‘inseparable’.

The Cross and The Holy Spirit are the warp and the woof of our salvation, you must have both.

  “But God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14).

  The Lord Jesus carried out the work of the Cross as to our eternal position. The Holy Spirit carries out the work of the Cross as to our present condition. “He will take the things that are Mine and will transmit them to you” (John 16:15, Amp.).

  “We cannot separate the Cross from the Holy Spirit. We can have no Easter and no Pentecost until we have first had a Good Friday. Through the Cross alone we are prepared for life in the fullness of God; only he who is crucified with Christ can be a vessel unto honor. Our ‘old man’ must be crucified with Christ, and in His

resurrection

we find the roots of our new life. Whosoever loses his life, shall find it. We must learn the lesson of the Cross, as condemned and rejected ones, who have been crucified with Christ.

Then the door will be open for a life of power and blessing. All that belongs to death must be turned over to the death of the Cross, even as the body is laid away in the

earth,

because it belongs to the earth. The Holy Spirit, the Eternal Spirit, is unchangeable. He brought Christ our Head to the Cross, and us His children with Him. For this work in us is twofold. On the one hand, it leads us to death; and on the other hand, to that life which God has placed within us and which leads from glory to glory.

  “And all of us, with faces uncovered, because we continue to reflect like mirrors the splendor of the Lord, are being transformed into likeness to Him, from one degree of splendor to another, since it comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).

Pray for a dear friend of mine that has maybe a day left to live, he may even pass this night. As I made arrangements for his funeral it was hard to imagine him gone, he was a funny little guy. The sad part is that when we talked about Jesus he always said not to worry about that it was taken care of. He was always visibly moved when we talked about it, but would never talk about ‘his salvation’. And now we are at the place where it may be

to

late.

My point is evangelism must be the woof and warp of our lives.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

KNOW TO GROW

August 13, 2017

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KNOW TO GROW

  “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

  The heartbreaking knowledge of self-brings a life-giving compensation, which is knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. The needs generated by the realization of the sin of self-produce the necessary motivation and hunger which cause us to focus upon the Lord Jesus and become conformed to His image. “And we all, while with face unveiled we behold in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are ourselves transformed continually into the same likeness” (2 Cor. 3:18).

 Many a new believer has obtained relief in his conscience from his sins, because of faith in the Blood of Jesus Christ; that is, he does not see further than Romans 3. He has faith in the work of Christ, but has not yet come in faith to Christ. He is like the woman who touched the hem of His garment, assured of His work but not yet acquainted with Himself.

 It is one thing to believe on the Lord Jesus, to be born again, to be saved. That is a wondrous thing as a beginning or start, but it alone will not take you right through all you must meet, to grow into him; and if you are really in the Lord’s hands He will see to it that by virtue of need you are drawn into knowing more and more of His Son. It is the normal course of a true, Holy Spirit-governed Christian life that, in order to get through, an increase of Christ, a growing discovery of Christ, is necessary.

  “That I may know Him” (Phil. 3:10).

After your salvation, God has but one plan for your life, become like His Son, to grow into the image of Christ. Good news, it will happen, the other news, (not bad) it’s going to hurt. No one seems to preach much on the growing pains of being a Christian. The idea of us becoming more Christ like is the same idea of a hammer striking a die and the image being cut into the metal of the coin itself.

God is the hammer, Christ is the die, you got it, you’re the thing being struck.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

you believe in what?

August 8, 2017

A Peanuts cartoon depicted a conversation between Linus and Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown was confused and disillusioned by his failing beliefs when Linus comforted him with these timely words: “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.” I also recently heard a religious leader on television state that if the bones of Christ were to be discovered in Palestine today, this would not alter his Christian faith; his faith was not bound by objective truths.

Surveys are becoming emphatically more clear that the majority of our culture believes that truth is relative. It has been clear for some time now that our world is going through a major cultural shift. The illustrations stated above are all too common in today’s postmodern society. We have moved from a world of absolutes, objectivity, and dogmatism to one of relativism, subjectivism, and tolerance. The greatest commandment in this postmodern society is this, thou shalt tolerate one another. Springing forth from this relativistic epistemology, tolerance has become preeminent. As one writer has put it, “Tolerance has become so important that no exception is tolerated.” A person may have his or her religion, and may believe it, but he or she has no right to try to persuade another of his or her belief. Why? Because what you are saying is that your belief is superior to their belief. This is the supreme act of intolerance, the primary postmodern taboo.

 

 

Typical postmodernist mean when they cry for “tolerance.” They are not asking people to simply tolerate and get along with the opposing belief. The fact is that they are asking people to compromise their beliefs. They are asking me to concede that my neighbor’s beliefs are just as true as mine, to forfeit my notion of objectivity, and to surrender my view of exclusivism. The result would accomplish nothing less than to render a death blow to my belief in the Scriptures. What they are implying when they push their definition of “tolerance” is that people should never stand up for their beliefs, if standing up for them means stating that their beliefs are the only true beliefs—that they are exclusive. They are not asking people to tolerate the homosexual, but to change their belief that homosexuality is wrong for everyone. But, again, this is not asking someone to be tolerant; it is asking someone to compromise his or her beliefs and convert to the postmodern faith. This is something that the Christian cannot do.

 

 

By tolerance, the postmodern means that we compromise the objectivity of God’s Word. By tolerance, the postmodern cries for us to stop reaching out to others with the Gospel. By tolerance, the postmodern demands that we approve of their lifestyles. By tolerance, the postmodern is essentially asking us to give up our faith. This we cannot do.

The first step in understanding and reaching out to the postmodern non-Christian is for us all to be able to understand and compellingly argue that it is not tolerance that they want, but compromise.

In chapter four of his epistle to the Ephesians, Paul begins to tell his readers how they are to live the Christian life. Speaking on the importance of unity, Paul states, “Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3, emphasis added). Here Paul tells us that one of the primary ways the Church preserves unity is by showing tolerance.

 

The King James often translates it, “to suffer with.” This word is used by Christ when He cries over Israel, “how long shall I put up with you” (Matt 17:17, emphasis added). It almost always carries a negative connotation. In 2 Maccabees 9:12, it is used

of an unbearable stench; the smell was said to be intolerable. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul is telling the Church that it will sometimes be necessary to tolerate the “stench” of one another. This presupposes something negative about the ones we are to tolerate. Someone may have a repulsive personality—Paul tells us to endure them! Another has a bad temper—bear with them! Someone differs with you in some non-essential doctrine—tolerate them! Let’s face it, when we all get to heaven we will all find out that we were wrong about a few things. Some more than others, but we will all have some surprises.

 

 

We’ve mentioned this before, “the short list” and the “long list” there are the basics we cannot compromise on, that the scripture is inerrant, inspired and infallible, salvation only as a propitiatory act (divine substitute) that all of mankind is fallen and sinful, that God is full of grace and mercy, yet, will punish sin. Christ is eternal, yet born of a virgin, fully God, yet

fully man, crucified, died, buried, resurrected, ascended into heaven. Salvation only through him.

 

After that list we begin the longer list, we may or may not agree but as brothers and sisters in Christ we will respect our folks in the body of Christ (the church).

As Christians we emphatically affirm the existence of objective truths. It is one of the bedrocks of Christianity. It is because of the objective truth of the atonement that you and I can have access to God. It is because of the objective truth that God created us that we exist. There is no room for relativity in these matters. It is our job to defend many of these objective truths at all costs.

 

 

  “But to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean” (Romans 14:14b). Therefore, if someone thought that it was a sin to eat ham, but did it anyway, this was a sin to him. Not because God would be angry that the person ate what was unclean, but because he consciously believed it was wrong and therefore rebelled against his conscience and God. Not only this, but Paul goes on to state that whatever is done without full conviction that it is right is sin (v. 23).

So we have to have respect

among the church, (the long list) I can work on.

Love the Brethren, be humble, kind to one another, if we put this into practice maybe more people would like to visit our church and stay.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

never forgetting

July 23, 2017

45 years ago Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon, what most people don’t know is that Buzz Aldrin partook of communion on the moon, he partook of real bread and real wine and read a card that had printed on it Christ’s statement; “do this in remembrance me”.

The reason we never heard about it was NASA was being sued the atheist Madeline  Murray O’Hair for Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis as they circled the moon.

 

 

Speaking of forgetting here’s a quote from Puritan Preacher Richard Baxter.

 

It is a most lamentable thing to see how most people spend their time and their energy for trifles, while God is cast aside. He who is all seems to them as nothing, and that which is nothing seems to them as good as all. It is lamentable indeed, knowing that God has set mankind in such a race where heaven or hell is their certain end, that they should sit down and loiter, or run after the childish toys of the world, forgetting the prize they should run for. Were it but possible for one of us to see this business as the all-seeing God does, and see what most men and women in the world are interested in and what they are doing every day, it would be the saddest sight imaginable. Oh, how we should marvel at their madness and lament their self-delusion! If God had never told them what they were sent into the world to do, or what was before them in another world, then there would have been some excuse. But it is His sealed word, and they profess to believe it.

Richard Baxter (It’s impossible to measure the influence of this English Puritan over four centuries. His works remain in print and are widely read, which shouldn’t surprise us. J. I. Packer considers him “the most outstanding pastor, evangelist, and writer on practical and devotional themes that Puritanism produced,” listing Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor (1656) as one of the top five books that have influenced him most.)

 

 

So let us not forget the bravery of Apollo 11 on this anniversary of that historic moment and let’s never forget our purpose here on this planet Earth to worship and bring glory to our Creator.

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

weed whacker

July 20, 2017

A Christian has an instinctive push toward righteousness because of his new nature. Just as his old nature drives him to temptation and wrong, so his new nature moves him toward goodness. I think evangelical Christians tend to give the old nature too much attention and room; they seem to expect to sin and fall, and keep on doing so. But we should also expect to succeed and be victorious over sin because that is the bent of the new man.

God’s seed is in us (1John 3:9). Seed means growth and expression and God’s expression is always holy. I am sure many believers stumble and fall, and yet  “ Better things” that “ accompany salvation” (Hebrews 6:9) are expected of us. The beautiful and yearned-for “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22) is set in exact contrast to the “fruit of the
flesh”; yet, both are instinctive and, if given a chance, will abound in us. Which fruit will it be? Paul says that God “ began a good work” in us and He will keep bringing it to maturity in us until the day of Christ (Philippians 1:6).

There is a determinism in the new man that is difficult to deny!

As any gardener knows, fresh seeds dropped into the ground must be given a chance. Weeds must be removed, the ground must be prepared, and sufficient moisture and sun must be applied. Do that for the new man, the Bible cries out, and see what will happen!

The fruits of the new nature, says Peter, are many and attractive (2 Peter 1:1-9). But we have to make them “abound,” that is, allow them to multiply in us (v. 8, KJV). If we let them shrivel or “ lack” (v. 9) we are blind and forgetful.

In short, I have all the equipment I need for a triumphant, godly, fruitful life. That is God’s part. My part is to make room for it, clear the rubbish away, and let spiritual instinct take over from there.

“ For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you  neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8)

 

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

INSIDE OUT

July 15, 2017

A BIG BITE

Ok, I’m going to assume, that if you have been following this devotional sight for any amount of time you are interested in your own spiritual growth. So, with that in mind I want to challenge you to put today’s devotion to practical use; i.e. “do it.” I mean really make an effort, print this out, make several copies and keep one with you everywhere you go and pray it into your life.

Our culture teaches us that people are basically good and that their internal problems are the result of external circumstances. But Jesus taught that no outside-in program will rectify the human condition, since our fundamental problems stem from within (Mark 7:20-23). Holiness is never achieved by acting ourselves into a new way of being. Instead, it is a gift that God graciously implants within the core of those who have trusted in Christ. All holiness is the holiness of God within us—the indwelling life of Christ. Thus, the process of sanctification is the gradual diffusion of this life from the inside (being) to the outside (doing), so that we become in action what we already are in essence. Our efforts faithfully reveal what is within us, so that when we are dominated by the flesh we will do the deeds of the flesh, and when we walk by the Spirit we will bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26).

A Process from the Inside to the Outside

Holiness is a new quality of life that progressively flows from the inside to the outside. As J. I. Packer (one of my top ten favorite authors) outlines it in Keep in Step with the Spirit, the nature of holiness is transformation through consecration; the context of holiness is justification through Jesus Christ; the root of holiness is co-crucifixion and co-resurrection with Jesus Christ; the agent of holiness is the Holy Spirit; the experience of holiness is one of conflict; the rule of holiness is God’s revealed law; and the heart of holiness is the spirit of love. When we come to know Jesus we are destined for heaven because He has already implanted His heavenly life within us. The inside-out process of the spiritual life is the gradual outworking of this kingdom righteousness. This involves a divine-human synergism of dependence and discipline so that the power of the Spirit is manifested through the formation of holy habits. As Augustine put it, “Without God we cannot; without us, He will not.” Disciplined grace and graceful discipline go together in such a way that God-given holiness is expressed through the actions of obedience. Spiritual formation is not a matter of total passivity or of unaided moral endeavor, but of increasing responsiveness to God’s gracious initiatives. The holy habits of immersion in Scripture, acknowledging God in all things, and learned obedience make us more receptive to the influx of grace and purify our aspirations and actions.

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God” (1 John 3:21). It is wise to form the habit of inviting God to search your heart and reveal “any hurtful way” (Psalm 139:23) within you. Sustained attention to the heart, the wellspring of action, is essential to the formative process. By inviting Jesus to examine our intentions and priorities, we open ourselves to His good but often painful work of exposing our manipulative and self-seeking strategies, our hardness of heart (often concealed in religious activities), our competitively-driven resentments, and our pride. “A humble understanding of yourself is a surer way to God than a profound searching after knowledge” (Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, my second favorite book). Self-examining prayer or journaling in the presence of God will enable us to descend below the surface of our emotions and actions and to discern sinful patterns that require repentance and renewal. Since spiritual formation is a process, it is a good practice to compare yourself now with where you have been. Are you progressing in Christlike qualities like love, patience, kindness, forgiveness, compassion, understanding, servanthood, and hope? To assist you, here is a prayer sequence for examination and encouragement that incorporates the ten commandments, the Lord’s prayer, the beatitudes, the seven deadly sins, the four cardinal and three theological virtues, and the fruit of the Spirit. This can serve as a kind of spiritual diagnostic tool:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

And see if there be any hurtful way in me,

And lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Watch over your heart with all diligence,

For from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

You shall have no other gods before Me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Honor your father and your mother.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet.

THE LORD’S PRAYER

Our Father who is in heaven,

Hallowed be Your name.

Your kingdom come,

Your will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And do not lead us into temptation,

But deliver us from evil.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

THE BEATITUDES

Poverty of spirit (nothing apart from God’s grace)

Mourning (contrition)

Gentleness (meekness, humility)

Hunger and thirst for righteousness

Merciful to others

Purity of heart (desiring Christ above all else)

Peacemaking

Bearing persecution for the sake of righteousness

THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS

Pride

Avarice

Envy

Wrath

Sloth

Lust

Gluttony

THE FOUR CARDINAL AND THREE THEOLOGICAL VIRTUES

Prudence (wisdom, discernment, clear thinking, common sense)

Temperance (moderation, self-control)

Justice (fairness, honesty, truthfulness, integrity)

Fortitude (courage, conviction)

Faith (belief and trust in God’s character and work)

Hope (anticipating God’s promises)

Love (willing the highest good for others, compassion)

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

Love

Joy

Peace

Patience

Kindness

Goodness

Faithfulness

Gentleness

Self-control

Some of these items are in the “put off” category and some are in the “put on” category. So get the inside out.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember Dan and Lee, as they move into their new home today with their two little girls and go from city dweller to country folk.

hard times

July 13, 2017

Kind of really going through a rough period here at the ranch, tough times, I’d like to report that I’m a shining example, a paragon of virtue, steadfastness and a sterling example of Christian maturity, but that would be a lie. I’ve had my good moments, but this week I would have to say the dark side seems to be shining a little more brightly than I’d like. So keep me in prayer that things turn around and hopefully soon.

“He comforts us in our every affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction by means of the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Cor. 1:4, Weymouth Translation.).

 

  It is a great comfort to know that everything our Father takes us through—much of which may be hard and heartbreaking—has a dual purpose. That which He utilizes to cause us to grow spiritually is at the same time designed to prepare us for His service. He does nothing in vain; He wastes nothing.

 

In the very service itself God makes the servant fit to carry it out. A person is first disciplined for service, and then in the service he is made fit by it for the character of it. God has not servants ready made. He makes them fit for His own service in connection with the race they have to run. The word ‘chasten’ is the same as that used in Ephesians with respect to bringing up the children: it is nurture. We attach too much the idea of severity, or retribution, to it.

 

  “Why does God take some through such deep and trying experiences? Why is it that He does not allow some of His children to have an easy way and to be satisfied and gratified with elementary things? The needs of others—that is why.

 

  “We know quite well if any have been able really to help others, it is because they have gone through deep experience, they have pioneered this way, they have paid a great price for this freedom. It has been costly, but worthwhile if others can be really helped.” GW.

 

  “But to God be the thanks who in Christ ever heads our triumphal procession, and by our hands waves in every place that sweet incense, the knowledge of Him” (2 Cor. 2:14, Weymouth Translation.).

 

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Sorry I haven’t been keeping up on the emails and responses, we are in crisis mode and trying to not drop all the spinning plates. Which some folks may not be old enough to know what that means. Oh well, good thoughts y’all.

 

Among God’s characteristics, as he has revealed himself, none is more significant than his holiness (see Lev 11:44–45; 19:2; 20:7). The words holy and holiness occur more than 900 times in Scripture, and both the Old and New Testaments speak more about God’s holiness than any other attribute. Because of this characteristic God is not able to tolerate our sin. As Habakkuk 1:13 says: “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.”

 Christ does not just save us from our sin, though; he saves us so we can become holy (see Eph 1:3–4). And as Peter says, “Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ ” (1Pe 1:15–16).

The Bible could not be any clearer, The reason for your entire salvation, the design behind your deliverance, the purpose for which God chose you in the first place is holiness.

 Holiness is associated with separation from the ordinary or the profane on the one hand and connection with God or the divine on the other. Holiness is not only being separated from sin and worldliness but being set apart for God’s purposes. Sanctification is the process by which we become holy.

  ➤ Make it your purpose—Of all the goals we might have for our lives, the most important is to pursue holiness, for it is God’s goal for us. As Oswald Chambers said,

  God has only one intended destiny for mankind—holiness. His only goal is to produce saints. God is not some eternal blessing-machine for people to use . . . He came to save us because He created us to be holy.

  If we love God, then we will commit to making holiness the primary purpose of our life.

 ➤ Don’t resist the Holy Spirit—Sanctification is by the Holy Spirit and is part of our conversion (see 1Pe 1:2). In this form, known as definitive sanctification, the Spirit sets us apart in Christ so we can be saved. The Spirit also works in us so we can be obedient to Christ, a process referred to as progressive sanctification because we are progressing toward holiness.

 In this latter sanctifying role, the Spirit (1) exposes our sin so we can recognize and turn away from it, (2) illuminates Scripture so we can understand its meaning and (3) helps us to see the glory of Christ. The Spirit is always willing to do this for us, which is why we must not “resist” (Ac 7:51) or “quench” (1Th 5:19) the Spirit.

 ➤ Commit to obedience—There is no holiness without obedience. As Peter hints at in verse 2, the Spirit’s sanctifying work is done so we can be obedient to Christ. As Jerry Bridges notes, “Obedience is the pathway to holiness.”

 ➤ Pursue Jesus, not moralism—As we become holy we will naturally become more moral. But that is not the goal of growing in godliness. Our pursuit is of Jesus, not moralism. “Holiness is not ultimately about living up to a moral standard,” says Kevin DeYoung. “It’s about living in Christ and living out of our real, vital union with him.”

 ➤ Expect improvement, not perfection—Too often Christians don’t strive to be holy because they consider it an impossible standard. But God is not leading us to an unattainable level of perfection, for someday when Christ appears we will be like Jesus (see 1Jn 3:2). Our lack of perfection in the meantime should remind us of our dependence on God and motivate us to continually strive to improve. John Calvin writes,

  As even the most perfect are always very far from coming up to the mark, we ought daily to strive more and more. And we ought to remember that we are not only told what our duty is, but that God also adds, “I am he who sanctifies you.” (Lev 20:8 ESV)

 

Remember Donovan P in your prayers, surgery on Friday

 

Keep Paul K, in prayer his up coming cancer surgery

 

Susie R, grieving widow, it’s been her first week after the death of her spouse of 55 years

 

Susan R, having ear surgery on her cochlear transplant

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

miles from home

June 27, 2017

The apostle Paul said that the entire Christian faith rests on this single foundation, the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Cor. 15:13-19). If that fact of history is true, then our faith has a solid footing in spite of difficult matters that we may never understand fully in this life. But, if Jesus Christ is not risen from the dead, then the strongest faith in the world is useless, because it rests on a faulty foundation. In Paul’s words (1 Cor. 15:17), “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”

If you want to examine a subject, it’s best to go to an expert. The most famous expert on doubt is the man whose name is always linked with it, Doubting Thomas. Perhaps it’s unfair that he has to wear that label, since all the apostles doubted the resurrection of Jesus at first (Mark 16:11; Luke 24:10-11). But, Thomas was the last holdout, so he gets the title. His story shows us that…

To overcome our doubts, we must rest upon the reality of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

Thomas was what I would call a sincere doubter. Not all doubters are sincere. Some use their doubts as a smoke screen to hide behind their sin, which is the real issue. If one area of doubt is cleared up, they will quickly duck behind another, because they don’t want to submit to the Lord. These people do not need more evidence to believe. They need to turn from their sin.

But some doubters are sincere. They truly believe in Christ, but they are plagued by honest questions. They are submissive to God and want to do His will, but they can’t just close their eyes and take a leap of faith. They need evidence to clear up the doubts. Thomas was that kind of sincere doubter. His story reveals that…

  1. Sincere doubt can arise from multiple causes.

There are many causes of doubt. I am going to limit myself to exploring some of the causes of Thomas’ doubts. Perhaps you can relate to these sources of doubt as well.

Some Reasons For Thomas’ Doubts:

  1. PERSONAL FAILURE COUPLED WITH OUR PERSONALITY MAY LEAD TO DOUBT.

All of the disciples had failed Jesus on the night of His arrest and trial. Most notorious was Peter, who denied the Lord three times. All of the eleven had promised Jesus their loyalty, but they all deserted Him when He was arrested.

Thomas, along with Peter, had been outspoken in his loyalty to Jesus before the crucifixion. In John 11:16, when Jesus wanted to go to Bethany, near Jerusalem, to raise Lazarus from the dead, the disciples objected that it was too dangerous. But Thomas said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” He was a pessimist, but at least he was loyal to the point of challenging the others to be committed to the point of death. But then he had joined the others in running away when Jesus was arrested. That failure led Thomas into depression and doubt.

It wasn’t just Thomas’ failure, but failure coupled with his personality, that led him into deep doubts. Peter had failed in a big way, too. But Peter was a buoyant, optimistic sort who felt badly about his mistakes, but who could bounce back more quickly. But Thomas was a conscientious, loyal, but gloomy type who did not commit himself to something lightly. To commit himself to Jesus and then go back on his word affected Thomas deeply.

We’re all wired differently and so it’s important to know yourself so that you can be on guard against your areas of weakness. Usually, by the way, our areas of greatest strength are also our areas of greatest weakness. A man such as Thomas, who is loyal and conscientious, who takes commitments seriously, is also more prone to depression and doubt when he fails.

  1. DISAPPOINTED EXPECTATIONS MAY LEAD TO DOUBT.

A second factor that caused Thomas such deep doubts was the disappointment and shock he felt as he watched Jesus die. Even though Jesus repeatedly told the disciples in advance that He would be crucified, it didn’t sink in. When Thomas saw the badly mangled body of Jesus on the cross, it sent him into shock. His emphasis on the wounds of Jesus (John 20:25) shows how deeply it affected him. The bloody holes in Jesus’ hands and feet, the gory spear wound in His side, and Jesus’ disfigurement from the scourg­ing and the crown of thorns, haunted Thomas in the week after the crucifixion and fed his doubts.

In the same way, whenever we face deep disappointment and shock because of some tragedy or unanswered prayer or something that doesn’t go as we had expected, we’re vulnerable to doubts. You begin to think, “If God is a God of love, then why did this happen? Why didn’t He answer my prayers?” Before long, you’ve joined Thomas in doubting the Lord.

  1. WHEN GOD WORKS IN WAYS THAT WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND, IT CAN LEAD TO DOUBT.

Thomas lacked understanding with regard to the Lord’s departure (see John 14:5). On the night before the crucifixion, Jesus told the disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them and that He would come again to take them to be with Him. He told them that they knew the way where He was going. But Thomas wasn’t the type to keep quiet if he didn’t understand. So he blurted out, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”

I’m glad he asked because Jesus’ reply was, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (14:6). But if you put yourself back into that situation, with all of the confused emotions of that night, and with the disciples’ still limited insight into Jesus’ death and resurrection, you can see how Thomas would still be confused about what Jesus had meant. He lacked understanding, which led to doubt.

John 20:9 states, “For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” In fact, none of them understood why Jesus had to die, let alone rise from the dead. Jesus rebuked the men on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24:25-27), “And He said to them, ‘O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”

Many of our doubts stem from the same cause: we do not understand the Scriptures. Frankly, there are many hard teachings in the Bible, some of which we won’t resolve until we are with the Lord. We have to trust God, even when we don’t understand. In John 6:60, many of those who had followed Jesus turned away when He taught some hard things. Jesus even asked the twelve if they would go away also. Peter gave the great answer (John 6:68-69), “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” I have come back to that answer many times when I have struggled with doubt due to a lack of understanding. If Jesus is who He claimed to be, where else can I go?

  1. SEPARATING OURSELVES FROM FELLOW BELIEVERS, ESPECIALLY WHEN WE ARE DEPRESSED, CAN DEEPEN OUR DOUBTS.

Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus first appeared to them. We don’t know for certain why he was gone, but a likely reason was his depression. The last thing he wanted at a time like that was to be around other people. So he wandered off by himself to brood over the horrible events of the previous few days.

Then to add to his misery, when he finally did see the others, they told him that they had seen the risen Lord! How would you feel if you missed church because you were depressed and doubting and we all told you, “Hey, you really missed a blessing! It was the greatest church service in the history of FCF!” Great! That really encourages you, doesn’t it! But even though other believers may irritate us, the fact is, we need them. Whenever we separate ourselves from the fellowship, we make ourselves vulnerable to doubt.

I’ve not covered all the causes that cause us to doubt. But whatever the source of your doubts, the solution is the same: to come back to the basic fact of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. If that is true, then even though you may not understand everything, with Thomas you still must bow and acknowledge Jesus to be your Lord and God.

God bless you in your trials, your battles, in your darkest hours, hold up your bible in front of your eyes (literally) and tell yourself you really believe.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com