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Five Characteristics of a Leader


John W. Gardner, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, who also directed a leadership study project in Washington, D.C., has pinpointed five characteristics that set “leader” managers apart from run-of-the-mill managers:

1. They are long-term thinkers who see beyond the day’s crisis and the quarterly report.

2. Their interest in the company does not stop with the unit they are heading. They want to know how all of the company’s departments affect one another, and they are constantly reaching beyond their specific area of influence.

3. They put heavy emphasis on vision, values, and motivation.

4. They have strong people skills.

5. They don’t accept the status quo.

Lead Others

Actually, a manager needs the ability not only to make good decisions himself, but also to lead others to make good decisions. Charles Moore, after four years of research at the United Parcel Service reached the following conclusions:

1. Good decisions take a lot of time.

2. Good decisions combine the efforts of a number of people.

3. Good decisions give individuals the freedom to dissent.

4. Good decisions are reached without any pressure from the top to reach an artificial consensus.

5. Good decisions are based on the participation of those responsible for implementing them.*

One Man

Wherever anything is to be done, either in the Church or in the world, you may depend upon it, it is done by one man. The whole history of the Church, from the earliest ages, teaches the same lesson. A Moses, a Gideon, an Isaiah, and a Paul are from time to time raised up to do an appointed work; and when they pass away, their work appears to cease. Nor is it given to everyone, as it was to Moses, to see the Joshua who is destined to carry on his work to completion.

God can raise up a successor to each man, but the man himself is not to worry about that matter, or he may do harm. One great object of every religious teacher should be to prevent the creation of external appliances to make his teaching appear to live when it is dead.

Charles Spurgeon, in Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, W. Wiersbe, p. 223

Position of Leadership

Don’t take a position of leadership in church unless you are prepared to be honest, pure, and loving in your lifestyle. Leadership is a privilege, and with privilege comes responsibility. God holds teachers of His truth doubly responsible because we who lead are in a position where we can either draw people toward Christ or drive them away from Him.

This is illustrated in the life of the famous author Mark Twain. Church leaders were largely to blame for his becoming hostile to the Bible and the Christian faith. As he grew up, he knew elders and deacons who owned slaves and abused them. He heard men using foul language and saw them practice dishonesty during the week after speaking piously in church on Sunday. He listened to ministers use the Bible to justify slavery. Although he saw genuine love for the Lord Jesus in some people, including his mother and his wife, he was so disturbed by the bad teaching and poor example of church leaders that he became bitter toward the things of God.

Indeed, it is a privilege to be an elder, a deacon, a Sunday school teacher, or a Bible club leader. But it is also an awesome responsibility. Let’s make sure we attract people to the Savior rather than turn them away.

Quotes

  • Dwight Eisenhower described leadership as “The act of getting somebody else to do what you want done because he wants to      do it.”
  • Give your decision, never your reasons; your decisions may be right, your reasons are sure to be wrong. – Lord Mansfield
  • When it is not necessary to make a decision, it is necessary not to make a decision. – Lucius, Second Lord Falkland
  • Leadership is the ability to hide your panic from others. – Quoted in MSC Newsletter
  • Look over your shoulder now and then to be sure someone’s following you. – Henry Gilmer
  • Effective leadership is the willingness to sacrifice for the sake of predetermined objectives. – Ted Engstrom
  • When a general gets too far ahead of his troops, he’s often mistaken for the enemy. – Anon
  • Leadership is the discipline of deliberately exerting special influence within a group to move it towards goals of beneficial permanence that fulfills the group’s real needs. – Dr. John      Haggai, Lead On!
  • Experts know what should be done; leaders know what should be done and how to get people to do it. – Quoted in C. Barber,      Nehemiah and the Dynamics of Leadership, p. 72.
  • You can judge leaders by the size of the problems they tackle—people nearly always pick a problem their own size, and ignore      or leave to others the bigger or smaller ones. – Anthony Jay, in Bits and Pieces, Sept., 1989
  • Effective leadership is the willingness to sacrifice for the sake of predetermined objectives. – Ted Engstrom, in Erwin Lutzer, Pastor to Pastor, p. 117.
  • A leader who keeps his ear to the ground allows his rear end to become a target. – Angie Papadakis
  • You cannot paint the “Mona Lisa” by assigning one dab each to a thousand painters. – William F. Buckley, Jr.
  • Do not follow where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. – Anon
  • A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. – John Maxwell
  • A leader is a person with a magnet in his heart and a compass in his head. – Vance Havner
  • Leadership in the local church should be determined by spirituality, not notoriety. – Tony Evans
  • The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn. – David Russell
  • It is small wonder where the shepherds hesitate and stumble, that the sheep draw back affrighted. – Scott Nearing.
  • The captain of a floundering ship does little good by criticizing the crew to the passengers.
  • In order to give the illusion of authority, one must make immediate changes. – loose paraphrase of Douglas McArthur
  • The trouble with being a leader today is that you can’t be sure whether people are following you or chasing you.
  • One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.
 
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Posted by on September 6, 2018 in Sermon

 

Habits and Attitudes of Highly Effective Churches: Devoted To Scripture


Does anyone here remember a phrase used in our fellowship in years past: “chapter and verse?” It carried the idea that we knew our Bible and used it regularly. It’s a phrase I hope is remembered in this assembly and I hope it will always be set before us as the beginning standard of who we are and why we do what we do!

We ought to require it of anyone who seeks to press their agenda upon us…or creates tensions which need to be clearly identified as “matters of opinion.”

We began a series of lessons entitled Habits and Attitudes of Effective Churches….and made the case that any successful congregation must first be Centered on Christ.

Second only to an affirmation of faith in an allegiance to Jesus Christ, a faithful and fruitful church declares its confidence in the Bible as the authoritative Word of God.

It may even be a mistake, in fact, to list these two affirmations as if they were somehow capable of being separated.  All we would dare affirm about Jesus is what we can ground in Holy Scripture.  It is our definitive source of information about him and the normative guide for understanding his function as head of the church.

The Christian faith rests upon the data found in the Bible, for “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).

The world around us is looking neither for someone to toss away the Bible nor for a group that will turn its authority into a heavy yoke no one can bear:
· It is waiting for churches to so embrace, affirm, and live Scripture that they cannot but see Jesus in them.
· They want churches both to teach and to model the life of Christ.
· Those churches will draw men to God.
· They will lead men and women to salvation in Christ.

1. THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD HAS BEEN PROCLAIMED
Paul spoke these words to the elders at Ephesus: Acts 20:20-21: “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. {21} I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”

Acts 20:24: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”

Acts 20:27: “For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.”

2. WE HAVE ALL THINGS PERTAINING TO LIFE AND GODLINESS
2 Peter 1:3: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

3. THE FAITH HAS BEEN REVEALED ONCE FOR ALL
Jude 1:3: “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”

In the Greek, “once for all” is “one time for all time.” I.e., the faith (that body of knowledge we are to believe) was delivered one time for all time:
· The faith wasn’t partly revealed, with more to come through later revelations years later!
· The faith wasn’t revealed just for that generation, with a different faith to be revealed for a generation yet future!
· Therefore the task we have is “to contend earnestly for the faith”, not be looking for a new faith to fit our desires or expectations!

4. THE SCRIPTURES CAN MAKE US COMPLETE, EQUIPPED FOR  EVERY GOOD WORK
2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, {17} so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NIV)
1  In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:
2  Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.

We are faithful to this “word of God” only when we are willing to accept its rebuke and correction as quickly as we accept its teaching and training and encouragement!

When I turn to the Scriptures, I find that I have all I need to…
a. Believe in Jesus – John 20:30-31

b. Have life in His name – John 20:30-31
c. Have fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the apostles 1 John 1:3
d. Have joy that is full – 1 John 1:4
e. Have help when I sin – 1 John 2:1
f. Know that I have eternal life – 1 John 5:13
g. Understand the revelation of the mystery of God – Rom 16:25-26; Ep 3:3-4
h. Be fruitful in the knowledge of Jesus Christ and have an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom – 2 Peter 1:8-11

There will always be a distinction related to “the all-sufficiency of the Scriptures.” The distinction becomes apparent as one considers the doctrines and practices of any religious group…
a. Those who accept it are more apt to be like the church you read about in the Bible
b. Those who deny it will quickly evolve into something much different

Introduction to 2 Kings 7 events:
In the period of Israel’s history known as “The Divided Kingdom”
a. The nation was divided into two parts
1) The kingdom of Israel in the north with Samaria as its capitol
2) The kingdom of Judah in the south with Jerusalem for its capitol

The weakened condition of both kingdoms left it open to attacks by other countries

We read of one siege of Samaria in 2 Kings 6, which brought a terrible famine upon the city of Samaria. Among those suffering in the famine were four lepers: 2 Kings 7:3-8 (NIV)
3 Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die?
4 If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’–the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”
5  At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, not a man was there,
6  for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!”
7  So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.
8  The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp and entered one of the tents. They ate and drank, and carried away silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also.

They discussed their plight
· In desperation they decided to surrender to the Syrians
· To their surprise, they found the Syrian camp abandoned
· At first, they splurged in their newfound riches

But upon reflection, they knew they needed to tell others what they found, and did so: 2 Kings 7:9-11 (NIV)
9 Then they said to each other, “We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.”
10  So they went and called out to the city gatekeepers and told them, “We went into the Aramean camp and not a man was there–not a sound of anyone–only tethered horses and donkeys, and the tents left just as they were.”
11  The gatekeepers shouted the news, and it was reported within the palace.

The lepers knew what was right, and did it
a. They knew they would be wrong by keeping silent
b. They knew punishment would befall them if they kept the good news to themselves — So they went back to the city and told the good news!

Many Christians are not like these lepers…
a. Despite it being “a day of good news”, they remain silent!
b. While many die of spiritual starvation, they feast on the gospel!

Matthew 28:18-20: “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. {19} Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of
the Son and of the Holy Spirit, {20} and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””

1 Peter 2:9-10: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. {10} Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

Today, the church is God’s “watchman” to the world! We are to take the gospel to every person! Those who have not heard will die in their own sin, but we will be held accountable if we gave them no warning!

We are not obligated to teach the non-Christian beyond the “first principles” Only if they accept the “first principles” will they ready to receive the “second principles”

If we are silent with regards to the “good news” (the gospel), then the words of the four lepers is true of us:
“We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait until morning light, some punishment will come upon us. Now therefore, come, let us go and tell…”- 2 Kings 7:9

A highly effective church is so focused on Jesus that its own experience of the Word of God reveals him to everyone who sees it. If we cherish, teach, and offer the Word of God to others merely as a library of statutes and case studies, we reveal our own impoverished understanding of the Bible.

The Bible is God’s revelation of himself in the person and work of Christ. And we are reading and interpreting it correctly only when we see beyond the words and cry, “I see Jesus! I see Jesus!” And we teach it effectively only when we model it so faithfully through the life of our churches that unchurched people around us cry, “I see Jesus! I see Jesus!”

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2018 in Sermon

 

Faithful Feelings: Doing Emotions God’s Way – Sins of the Tongue


9780825425424For too long the myth has been circulated that old speech habits can’t be broken:
· I can’t help it…I’ve always been a sarcastic person
· …always told little white lies
· …always used profanity
· …always been a gossip
· …always said nasty things when I get mad

IF we have a problem of speaking ‘what we think,’ we need to be careful about what we think!

In the beginning, God created man and woman to communicate powerfully, lovingly, and constructively.

In Christ he gives the recreated man and woman assurance of the same magnificent possibility.

 Sins of the Tongue
Proverbs 10:21: “The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment.”

Proverbs 12:18: “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Proverbs 15:1: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Proverbs 15:4: “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”

Proverbs 16:24: “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Do my words bring healing or harm? God expects us to know the answer to that question and to make the necessary changes if needed!

When we might suggest that our words are not that powerful, we would do well to remember the verbal integrity of many early Christians. They were commanded to speak these words: “Caesar is Lord” as they were ordered to “make your incense offering to the genius of Rome.” If they would not say such words, they were definitely put in prison and, on many occasions, they were even put to death!

Sins of the tongue
The New Testament has much to say about the ways we can abuse the gift of speech:

1. Angry talk. Words uttered in a fit of temper; a sudden outburst of wrathful speech (2 Cor. 12:20; Col. 3:8).
2. Boasting, arrogant talk. Bragging; conceited, self-centered, self-glorifying speech (2 Tim. 3:2; James 4:16).
3. Blasphemy. Speaking contemptuously of God or of Jesus Christ. (1 Tim. 1:20; 6:1).
4. Coarse joking. Vulgar humor; particularly the mocking of human sexuality (Eph. 5:4).
5. Deception, distortion. Mingling the truth with false ideas or unworthy motivations. Paul spoke of some who “peddled” God’s Word, corrupting the gospel for personal gain or advantage (2 Cor. 2:17, 4:2).
6. Flattery. Excessive or untrue praise; insincere complimenting of another to gain some personal advantage (1 Thess. 2:5; Jude 16).
7. Godless chatter. Profane or empty babbling; conversation which is irreligious, misleading, or worthless (1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 2:16).
8. Gossip. Spreading idle talk, rumor or even truthful/factual personal information about others; betraying a confidence (2 Cor. 12:20; 1 Tim. 5:13).
9. Lying. Making false statements with intent to deceive or mislead (Acts 5:4; Col. 3:9).
10. Obscenity. Using profane or vulgar language; unwholesome conversation (Eph. 5:4; Col. 3:8).
11. Quarreling. Heated verbal strife; unkind argumentation or debate (1 Cor. 3:3; 2 Tim. 2:23-24).
12. Slander. Damaging someone’s reputation by speaking malicious or untrue things about them (Eph. 4:31; James 4:11).

2 Corinthians 4:2: “Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”

2 Corinthians 12:20: “For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.”

Ephesians 5:4: “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.”

Colossians 3:8: “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”

James 4:11: “Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.”

The common effect of all the sins of the tongue is destruction. Speech infected by sin destroys truth, destroys trust, destroys reputation, destroys love, and destroys love for God and man.

Yet the abuses of language mentioned above are commonplace in our offices, around our neighborhoods, on our campuses, and even within our churches.  We need someone to redeem our speech, to tame our tongues.
“The rabbis used to say that the tongue is more dangerous than the hand because the hand kills only at close range while the tongue can kill at great distance.”

Man can tame the great creatures but not his own tongue.

Lehman Strauss says: “While no man can tame the tongue, there is One who can. The Lord is no less able to control a lying, blaspheming, slanderous, gossiping tongue than He is to deliver the drunkard from alcohol, the gambler from the game table, the narcotics addict from drugs, or the lustful person from adultery” (James Your Brother. Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1956, p.134).

Matthew Henry says: “‘No man can tame the tongue without supernatural grace and assistance.’ The apostle does not intend to represent it as a thing impossible, but as a thing extremely difficult, which therefore will require great watchfulness, and pains, and prayer” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Vol. 6, p.985).

I grew up in a faithful, church-going family. I think I learned early in life what a Christian is to sound like….pious words on Sunday don’t offset the gossip of Monday, the profanity of Tuesday, or the harsh words on Wednesday.

Do we realize the power we possess to strengthen another person with simple words: “good job” “I’m sorry” “Forgive me” “I love you” “I’m praying for you”

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2018 in Sermon

 

Positive Commands: The Means—A Focus on Attitudes


The positive One Another passages in Scripture express the means and the methods for living as members of the body of Christ and as brethren together in the family of God. These passages also focus on two things: attitudes and actions. Since attitudes form the soil and the root out of which actions grow, we will look at those One Another injunctions that focus on attitudes, particularly those that enable us to obey the One Another commands.

Attitudes can be like cobwebs which clutter up the mind and cause us to fail in the purposes of God. Or they can be like an interstate highway to an automobile, smoothing the way to our destination. Chuck Swindoll writes:

This may shock you, but I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failures, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances, or my position. Attitude is that ‘single string’ that keeps me going or cripples my progress. It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope. When my attitudes are right, there’s no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me.[1]

Because attitudes are so important, Scripture has a great deal to say about our thinking processes which produce our attitudes and which in turn produce our actions. Proverbs 23:6-7 shows that a man who is thinking selfishly will invariably act in hypocrisy.

Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, Or desire his delicacies; For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you.

Matthew 12:33-37 shows what we say is but the product of how and what we think and believe. Scripture teaches that wicked behavior is the product of a wicked and deceitful heart (Jer. 17:5; Matt. 23:26). “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” The problem is “stinking thinking,” thinking that is lacking divine viewpoint and faith in the power and purposes of God.

To grasp this concept, it is helpful to divide sin into two categories:

(1) Visible acts of transgression against the commands and principles of Scripture, and

(2) Inward acts of transgression, sins of the mind and attitude which would include subtle violations of our Lord’s command to love.

We tend to deal only with the first category or if we deal with the second, it is superficial. Larry Crabb in his book, Inside Out, gives us a good illustration:

“Are you willing to follow Christ?” The hundreds of teenagers shift uncomfortably in their seats as they hear the speaker boom out the challenge at the morning meeting.

“He invites you to come to Him, to really come, to come in total surrender. If you’re sick and tired of playing at Christianity, then take His invitation seriously and come. Get your drugs, your porno magazines, your rock tapes—get everything that defiles you—and bring it all tonight to the rally. We’ll have a great burning of all these tools of the Devil to symbolize your decision to follow Christ.”

That night, dozens of kids, with eyes moist and jaws firmly set, dump their marijuana, Penthouses and Bon Jovi tapes in a pile outside the meeting room. As the fire roars, they all join hands and sing, “I have decided to follow Jesus.”

As a teen, I took part in similar happenings, making strong commitments as I stared into the dying campfire to never miss devotions and to witness every day. But although good spiritual directions were sometimes set in these moments, the promises I made on the mountaintop often dissolved into complacency when I returned to the valley of everyday life. Something inside me that needed to be dealt with was never touched.[2]

The focus is too often all wrong: I have no argument with exhorting people to abandon clearly sinful practices and to develop good habits … But a sharp focus on visible conformity to specific standards of right and wrong can easily lead to a disastrous neglect of subtle sins against relationship.[3]

Verses that Focus on Attitudes

Command 1: Have the Same Mind With One Another

The believer is commanded in Scripture to have a different mind, to develop a biblical viewpoint, and possess a Christlike attitude in all things.

Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.

Romans 15:5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus;

William Law wrote nearly two centuries ago, “Man needs to be saved from his own wisdom as much as from his own righteousness, for they produce one and the same corruption.”[4]

(1) Having the same mind means knowing and understanding Scripture.

From the Word of God we need the infusion of God’s thoughts which are infinitely higher than ours (Isa. 55:8-11). Then, in faith we need to apply His truth as we depend on the indwelling Spirit. The need is to think with the same kind of viewpoint, to possess the same kind of attitudes toward life and one another. We need to have the mind of Christ, to think with His values, to possess His vision, and to allow that to change our attitudes which in turn will change our actions and pursuits.

1 Peter 3:8 To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;

The term “harmonious” is literally, “of one mind, likeminded,” (homophron, oJmovfrwn). The actions of being brotherly, kindhearted, and humble all stem from having one mind, thinking with the mind of Christ.

Acts 1:14 These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

Acts 2:46 And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,

Acts 4:24 And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is Thou who didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them, …”

Acts 5:12 And at the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico.

In each of the above verses “with one mind” or “one accord” is homothumadon (oJmoqumadovn), from homos, “one” and thumos, “passion.”

Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.

Romans 15:5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus;

In these two passages in Romans, the verb is phroneo (fronevw), which means first, “to have understanding” and then “to think, be minded in a certain way.”

In all of the above verses we see that the positive actions of the body of Christ are tied into possessing the same mind (or mental attitude) which formed the dynamic for its ministry in the world. For your own study compare also: Philippians 1:27; 2:3-5; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 2:16; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5; 13:11; Romans 12:2; 1 Peter 1:13; 4:1.

(2) Having the same mind means thinking with the Word.

To have the mind of Christ means to think with the Word of God, to live, not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (the Scripture), so that we bring our thoughts and actions into harmony with God’s viewpoint by applying God’s thoughts to everything we do and to everything that happens to us.

To experience God and the joys of His plan and purposes for man, man must know His Word.

Isaiah 55:8-11 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth, And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11 So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

The Devil sought to get the Lord to live independently of His Father at the beginning of His ministry. Jesus not only countered each time with Scripture, but He quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 to show how vital God’s whole council is to our ability to handle temptation and sin.

Matthew 4:3-4 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”

(3) Having the same mind means regular renewal in the Word

It requires biblical truth for its development and maintenance, daily renewing of the mind.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Ephesians 4:23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,

It requires conquering thought patterns by focusing on principles and promises of the Word.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

 1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

(4) Having the same mind means possessing an attitude of joy

We develop an attitude of joy through biblical vision for and submission to the calling and purposes of God (Prov. 29:18; John 13:3-4; Heb. 12:1-4; Phil. 4:4-8). In Philippians 4:8 we see again an emphasis on our mind and our attitudes. They can be kept free from bitterness, blame, self-pity, and hopeless pessimism if we cast our cares on the Lord and trust in His sovereignty. By getting rid of the stuff that chokes out God’s viewpoint, we create space for hope and joy to take its place.

(5) Having the same mind means an attitude of humility

An attitude of humility expresses itself in servant living. Humility prepares the way for sacrificial love which puts the needs of others above self (Mark 10:45; John 13:4; Phil. 2:3f; 1 Pet. 5:5; Rom. 12:10, 16b; Gal. 5:13). Humility is never self-depreciating. Rather it is the recognition of who we are by God’s grace and leads to the use of our abilities in loving service for others. Humility allows us to take the position of John 13.

Religion and religious striving are far too often egocentric and, though this can be purified and brought into the service of God and others through the Word, too often true religion is corrupted and nullified by cravings and striving for power and security—the opposite of submission, humility, and trust.

In Crabb’s book, Inside Out, he talks about the problems of self-protection and our motives: “The sin of self-protection to which I refer occurs when our legitimate thirst for receiving love creates a demand to not be hurt that overrides a commitment to lovingly involve ourself with others.”[5]

(6) Having the same mind means an attitude of loving family affection

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;

Christ became one with us that he might feel for us in our humanity. Likewise, as brethren in Christ, God wants us to become more and more devoted to one another so that we place the needs of others above ourselves. Romans 12:10 means we are to love one another with a family affection as brothers in Christ (cf. Heb. 2:11-18 with Rom. 12:10).

Conclusion

We cannot impart to others what we do not ourselves possess! Our relationship with one another always manifests the reality of our life with the Lord and the condition of our thinking and attitudes!

Often, the prayer that’s most in accord with God’s Word is not, Lord change my wife, or children, or church leadership,” but “Lord, change me!

The big question is not simply, is Christianity true? There is plenty of historical evidence that it is. The basic question is, what difference is it making in my life and the way I think and believe? This is what the world looks for in our lives as the evidence of reality, and that’s what the church needs in its relationships with one another.

The all important ingredient is our focus and an attitude of trust in the Lord. One of the best illustrations I know of the importance of keeping a focused and right attitude is found in the book by Chuck Swindoll, Strengthening Your Grip:

“The colorful, nineteenth-century showman and gifted violinist Nicolo Paganini was standing before a packed house, playing through a difficult piece of music. A full orchestra surrounded him with magnificent support. Suddenly one string on his violin snapped and hung gloriously down from his instrument. Beads of perspiration popped out on his forehead. He frowned but continued to play, improvising beautifully.

“To the conductor’s surprise, a second string broke. And shortly thereafter, a third. Now there were three limp strings dangling from Paganini’s violin as the master performer completed the difficult composition on the one remaining string. The audience jumped to its feet and in good Italian fashion, filled the hall with shouts and screams, “Bravo! Bravo!” As the applause died down, the violinist asked the people to sit back down. Even though they knew there was no way they could expect an encore, they quietly sank back into their seats.

“He held the violin high for everyone to see. He nodded at the conductor to begin the encore and then he turned back to the crowd, and with a twinkle in his eye, he smiled and shouted, ‘Paganini … and one string!’ After that he placed the single-stringed Stradivarius beneath his chin and played the final piece on one string as the audience (and the conductor) shook their heads in silent amazement. ‘Paganini … and one string!’[6] (And, I might add, an attitude of fortitude.)

Swindoll goes on to say:

“This may shock you, but I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-do-day basis is my choice of attitude. … Attitude is that ‘single string’ that keeps me going or cripples my progress. … When my attitudes are right, there’s no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me.

“Yet, we must admit that we spend more of our time concentrating and fretting over the strings that snap, dangle, and pop—the things that can’t be changed—than we do giving attention to the one that remains, our choice of attitude.” [7] 

For the Christian, however, we are not talking about just a positive attitude. We are talking about an attitude that comes from a heart focused on God and that trusts in Him.

——————

[1] Charles R. Swindoll, Strengthening Your Grip, Word Books, Waco, TX, 1982, p. 207.

[2] Larry Crabb, Inside Out, NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO, 1988, p. 113.

[3] Crabb, p. 115.

[4] Martin and Deidre Bobgan, Psycho Heresy, EastGate Publishers, Santa Barbara, CA, 1987, p. 7.

[5] Ibid., p. 117.

[6] Swindoll, Strengthening Your Grip, Word Books, Waco, TX, 1982, pp. 205-206.

[7] Ibid., p. 207.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2018 in Sermon

 

Church leaders are called to behave better


Avoiding behaviors that diminish the influence of church leaders

Sometimes ministers go through difficult seasons.  Sometimes elders go through difficult seasons.  At times it seems that entire congregations go through difficult seasons.

Sometimes a difficult season occurs because of someone’s irresponsibility, incompetence, meanness, manipulation, or thoughtlessness.  Some ministers and some elders have been guilty of all five.

Ministers and elders will make mistakes.  Human beings make mistakes regardless of what role they might find themselves in.

Does a minister or an elder really have to be irresponsible?  When church leaders are irresponsible in what they say or in how they act, they are basically wasting the influence and the energy of the church.

Does a minister or an elder really have to be incompetent?  Church leaders do not have identical gifts or identical strengths.  Yet, if we pretend that we always know what to do, after awhile our incompetencies will become obvious to others.  When we are not learning, growing, or developing, we will never move beyond where we are right now.

Does a minister or an elder really have to be mean?  Of course not.  Yet, so often these people are not held accountable for their meanness.  For example, if an elder says something to a minister in an elder’s meeting that is rude and unkind, what do the other elders do?  In far too many churches, they simply remain silent.   (Yes, an elder close to that minister may call him later and grouse about what his fellow elder said.  However, that elder may never be confronted regarding his behavior.)

Does a minister or an elder really have to be manipulative?  No. Of course, a minister may have several friends who are also in the elder group.  However, this minister has crossed a line when he manipulates several elders behind the scenes to basically do his bidding for him in elders’ meetings.  Ministers who refuse to manipulate know how to relate and love without resorting to self-serving manipulation.

Finally, does a minister or an elder really have to be thoughtless?  No.  However, one will have to yield to the Spirit, submitting not to the flesh but to the Spirit’s desire for our lives, our relationships, and our leadership groups.  Otherwise, we will yield to the flesh, saying what is thoughtless and hurtful, and looking for a cheap laugh at someone else’s expense instead of building one another up. (Borrowed)

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2018 in Sermon

 

Chronological tables of the events of Jesus


CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF  THE PARABLES OF CHRIST.

PARABLES. WHERE SPOKEN. WHERE RECORDED.
The two debtors [Capernaum] Lu 7:40-43.
The strong man armed Galilee Mt 12:29; Mr 3:27; Lu 11:21, 22.
The unclean spirit Galilee Mt 12:43-45; Lu 11:24-26.
The sower Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:3-9, 18-23; Mr 4:3-9, 14-20; Lu 8:5-8, 11-15.
The tares and wheat Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:24-30, 36-43.
The mustard seed Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:31, 32; Mr 4:30-32; Lu 13:18, 19.
The seed growing secretly Seashore of Galilee Mr 4:26-29.
The leaven Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:33; Lu 13:20, 21.
The hid treasure Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:44.
The pearl of great price Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:45, 46.
The draw net Seashore of Galilee Mt 13:47-50.
The unmerciful servant Capernaum Mt 18:21-35.
The good Samaritan Near Jerusalem Lu 10:29-37.
The friend at midnight Near Jerusalem Lu 11:5-8.
The rich fool Galilee Lu 12:16-21.
The barren fig tree Galilee Lu 13:6-9.
The great supper Perea Lu 14:15-24.
The lost sheep Perea Mt 18:12-14; Lu 15:3-7.
The lost piece of money Perea Lu 15:8-10.
The prodigal son Perea Lu 15:11-32.
The good shepherd Jerusalem Joh 10:1-18.
The unjust steward Perea Lu 16:1-8.
The rich man and Lazarus Perea Lu 16:19-31.
The profitable servants Perea Lu 17:7-10.
The importunate widow Perea Lu 18:1-8.
The Pharisees and publicans Perea Lu 18:9-14.
The laborers in the vineyard Perea Mt 20:1-16.
The pounds Jericho Lu 19:11-27.
The two sons Jerusalem Mt 21:28-32.
The wicked husbandmen Jerusalem Mt 21:33-44; Mr 12:1-12; Lu 20:9-18.
The marriage of the king’s son Jerusalem Mt 22:1-14.
The ten virgins Mount of Olives Mt 25:1-13.
The talents Mount of Olives Mt 25:14-30.

 

CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF  THE MIRACLES OF CHRIST.
On the order of some of our Lord’s Miracles and Parables,
the data being scanty, considerable difference obtains.

MIRACLES. WHERE WROUGHT. WHERE RECORDED.
Water made wine Cana Joh 2:1-11.
Traders cast out of the temple Jerusalem Joh 2:13-17.
Nobleman’s son healed Cana Joh 4:46-54.
First miraculous draught of fishes Sea of Galilee Lu 5:1-11.
Leper healed Capernaum Mt 8:2-4; Mark 1:40-45; Lu 5:12-15.
Centurion’s servant healed Capernaum Mt 8:5-13; Lu 7:1-10.
Widow’s son raised to life Nain Lu 7:11-17.
Demoniac healed Capernaum Mr 1:21-28; Lu 4:31-37.
Peter’s mother-in-law healed Capernaum Mt 8:14, 15; Mr 1:29-31; Lu 4:38, 39.
Paralytic healed Capernaum Mt 9:2-8; Mr 2:1-12; Lu 5:17-26.
Impotent man healed Jerusalem Joh 5:1-16.
Man with withered hand healed Galilee Mt 12:10-14; Mr 3:1-6; Lu 6:6-11.
Blind and dumb demoniac healed Galilee Mt 12:22-24; Lu 11:14.
Tempest stilled Sea of Galilee Mt 8:23-27; Mr 4:35-41; Lu 8:22-25.
Demoniacs dispossessed Gadara Mt 8:28-34; Mr 5:1-20.
Jairus’ daughter raised to life Capernaum Mt 9:18-26; Mr 5:22-24; Lu 8:41-56.
Issue of blood healed Near Capernaum Mt 9:18-26; Mr 5:22-24; Lu 8:41-56.
Two blind men restored to sight Capernaum Mt 9:27-31.
Dumb demoniac healed Capernaum Mt 9:32-34.
Five thousand miraculously fed Decapolis Mt 14:13-21; Mr 6:31-44; Lu 9:10-17; Joh 6:5-14.
Jesus walks on the sea Sea of Galilee Mt 14:22-33; Mr 6:45-52; Joh 6:15-21.
Syrophœnician’s daughter healed Coasts of Tyre and Sidon Mt 15:21-28; Mr 7:24-30.
Deaf and dumb man healed Decapolis Mr 7:31-37.
Four thousand fed Decapolis Mt 15:32-39; Mr 8:1-9.
Blind man restored to sight Bethsaida Mr 8:22-26.
Demoniac and lunatic boy healed Near Cæsarea Philippi Mt 17:14-21; Mr 9:14-29; Lu 9:37-43.
Miraculous provision of tribute Capernaum Mt 17:24-27.
The eyes of one born blind opened Jerusalem Joh 9:1-41.
Woman, of eighteen years’ infirmity, cured [Perea.] Lu 13:10-17.
Dropsical man healed [Perea.] Lu 14:1-6.
Ten lepers cleansed Borders of Samaria Lu 17:11-19.
Lazarus raised to life Bethany Joh 11:1-46.
Two blind beggars restored to sight Jericho Mt 20:29-34; Mr 10:46-52; Lu 18:35-43.
Barren fig tree blighted Bethany Mt 21:12, 13, 18, 19; Mr 11:12-24.
Buyers and sellers again cast out Jerusalem Lu 19:45, 46.
Malchus’ ear healed Gethsemane Mt 26:51-54; Mr 14:47-49; Lu 22:50, 51; Joh 18:10,11.
Second draught of fishes Sea of Galilee Joh 21:1-14.

 

CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF THE PRINCIPAL EVENTS CONNECTED WITH THE LIFE OF THE APOSTLE PAUL.

      Certainty in these dates is not to be had, the notes of time in the Acts being few and vague. It is only by connecting those events of secular history which it records, and the dates of which are otherwise tolerably known to us–such as the famine under Claudius Cæsar (Ac 11:28), the expulsion of the Jews from Rome by the same emperor (Ac 18:2), and the entrance of Porcius Festus upon his procuratorship (Ac 24:27), with the intervals specified between some occurrences in the apostle’s life and others (such as Ac 20:31; 24:27; 28:30; and Ga 1:1-2:21) –that we can thread our way through the difficulties that surround the chronology of the apostle’s life, and approximate to certainty.

Immense research has been brought to bear upon the subject, but, as might be expected, the learned are greatly divided. Every year has been fixed upon as the probable date of the apostle’s conversion from A.D. 31 [BENGEL] to A.D. 42 [EUSEBIUS]. But the weight of authority is in favor of dates ranging between 35 and 40, a difference of not more than five years; and the largest number of authorities is in favor of the year 37 or 38. Taking the former of these, to which opinion largely inclines, the following Table will be useful to the student of apostolic history:

A.D. 37 PAUL’S CONVERSION Ac 9:1.
A.D. 40 First Visit to Jerusalem Ac 9:26; Ga 1:18.
A.D. 42-44 First Residence at Antioch Ac 11:25-30.
A.D. 44 Second Visit to Jerusalem Ac 11:30; 12:25.
A.D. 45-47 FIRST MISSIONARY JOURNEY Ac 13:2; 14:26.
A.D. 47-51 Second Residence at Antioch Ac 14:28.
  Third Visit to Jerusalem Ac 15:2-30; Ga 2:1-10.
(on which see Notes)
A.D. 51,53, or 54 SECOND MISSIONARY JOURNEY Ac 15:36, 40; 18:22.
A.D. 53 or 54 Fourth Visit to Jerusalem Ac 18:21, 22.
  Third Residence at Antioch Ac 18:22, 23.
A.D. 54-58 THIRD MISSIONARY JOURNEY Ac 18:23; 21:15.
A.D. 58 Fifth Visit to Jerusalem
Arrest and Imprisonment at Cæsarea
Ac 21:15; 23:35.
A.D. 60 (Autumn)–
A.D. 61 (Spring)
Voyage to and Arrival in Rome Ac 27:1; 28:16.
A.D. 63 Release from Imprisonment
At Crete, Colosse, Macedonia, Corinth, Nicopolis, Dalmatia, Troas
Ac 28:30.
1 & 2 Tim. and Tit.
A.D. 63-65, or 66, or possibly as late as A.D. 66-68 Martyrdom at Rome  
 
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Posted by on January 8, 2018 in Evidence, Sermon

 

Satan’s use of ‘perfectionism, guilt and shame’


Guilt-vs.-Shame1 Revelation 12:10 (NIV)
10  Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.

2 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV)
10  Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

Suppose that the believer does not take advantage of his victorious position in Christ. Suppose he refuses to use the spiritual defenses provided. Suppose the believer sins. What then?

You would think that Satan, having led the person into sin, would then leave him to suffer the consequences; but this is not what happens. Satan has one more strategy that can make the disobedient Christian doubly defeated.

When you and I have disobeyed God, Satan moves in for that finishing stroke. He attacks us in our heart and conscience. “So you are a Christian! You go to church, you read your Bible, you even seek to serve the Lord. And look what you have done! If your friends at church knew what kind of a person you really were, they would throw you out!”

See how subtle and merciless Satan really is. Before we sin—while he is tempting us—he whispers, “You can get away with this!” Then after we sin, he shouts at us, “You will never get away with this!”

Have you ever heard his hateful voice in your heart and conscience? It is enough to make a Christian give up in despair!

 It is important that we learn to distinguish between Satan’s accusations and the Spirit’s conviction. A feeling of guilt and shame is a good thing if it comes from the Spirit of God. If we listen to the devil, it will only lead to regret and remorse and defeat.

When the Spirit of God convicts you, he uses the Word of God in love and seeks to bring you back into fellowship with your Father.

When Satan accuses you, he uses your own sins in a hateful way, and he seeks to make you feel helpless and hopeless.

Judas listened to the devil and went out and hanged himself. Peter looked at the face of Jesus and wept bitterly, but later came back into fellowship with Christ.

When you listen to the devil’s accusations (all of which may be true), you open yourself up to despair and spiritual paralysis. “My situation is hopeless!” I have heard more than one Christian exclaim, “I’m too far gone—the Lord could never take me back.” When you have that helpless, hopeless feeling, you can be sure Satan is accusing you.

 As long as you are feeling guilty, you are under indictment and you are moving farther and farther from the Lord. True conviction from the Spirit will move you closer to the Lord.

Satan wants you to feel guilty. Your heavenly Father wants you to know that you can be forgiven. Satan knows that if you live under a dark cloud of guilt, you will not be able to witness effectively or serve the Lord with power and blessing.

Sad to say, there are some ministers/churches that major in guilt. They seem to feel that unless a Christian goes home from service feeling like a failure, the services have not been a blessing.

Definitions and Key Thoughts

Guilt is a feeling of deep regret or remorse caused by feeling responsible for a failure or loss.

Guilt can lead to shame if the feelings of guilt are based on an act or acts that were thought to be sinful or displeasing to an authority figure.

There is a difference between feeling guilty and actually being guilty. If a moral law has been violated, a person is guilty, regardless of whether or not he feels guilty. On the other hand, just feeling guilty doesn’t mean that a moral law has been violated.

It is important to clarify whether the guilt is caused by a sinful act or from inappropriate regret.

True guilt is caused by sin and is God’s way of calling us to repentance and restitution.

False guilt is a burden of responsibility and blame we place on ourselves for failure to live up to our own or someone else’s expectations.

Paul had a situation like that in the church at Corinth. One of the members had fallen into sin and had refused to repent and make things right with God and the church.

1 Corinthians 5:1-6 (ESV)
1  It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.
2  And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
3  For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.
4  When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus,
5  you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
6  Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?

2 Corinthians 2:6 (ESV) 6  For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough,

At first, when this sin was detected, the Corinthian believers were very complacent and refused to act. Paul’s letter shocked them into their senses; but then they went to the other extreme and made it so hard on the offender that they would not forgive him!

So Paul had to counsel them,So that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, lest somehow such a one be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him…in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:7, 8, 11

Excessive guilt and sorrow can only lead to depression, despair, and defeat. Sometimes it leads to destruction.

The first epistle of John was written against the teaching of the Gnostics of that time…and we still have some of their ‘way of thinking’ at work in our congregations. It’s the idea that we can grow as individuals to the point that we will eventually be perfect…the discussion of perfectionism.

 1 John 1:8-10 (ESV)
8  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 
Jesus Christ stands at God’s right hand to intercede for us!

1 John 2:1 (ESV)
1  My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Dealing with True Guiltth

Guilt caused by sin requires an understanding of confession and forgiveness.

This kind of guilt is prompted by the Holy Spirit working in the conscience. The individual is motivated to confess sin and experience God’s cleansing.

Confession, request for forgiveness, and/or restitution needs to happen if possible (that is, if the person hurt is still alive, or if restitution is able to be made in any form).

Move On

Once you’ve confessed, apologized, and made restitution, don’t beat yourself up anymore, Leave it with God.

Turn off the mental tape player. Satan, not the Holy Spirit, is the accuser Rev. 12:10). Satan wants to create feelings of condemnation resulting in unnecessary guilt. Turn him off!

Keep a “guilt pot:’ Anytime you feel guilt creeping in, write that guilt feeling on a piece of paper and throw it in the pot. (The pot will remind you that God is the Potter, always at work on you, and you are merely the clay-Isaiah 64:8,)

This perfecting ministry has two aspects to it. As our High Priest, Jesus Christ intercedes for us and provides the grace that we need when we are tested and tempted. If by faith we turn to him and come to the throne of grace, he will see us through to victory.

But if we yield to temptation and sin, then he ministers as our Advocate to forgive us and restore us to fellowship once again.

LOVE FOR ALL song (136)

Love for all and can it be? Can I hope it is for me…I, who strayed so long ago, Strayed so far, and fell so low?

I, the disobedient child, Wayward, passionate and wild…I, who left my Father’s home, In forbidden ways to roam

To my Father can I go? At His feet myself I’ll throw; In His house there yet may be, Place a servant’s place for me.

See! my Father waiting stands; See! He reaches out His hands: God is love, I know, I see, Love for me, yes, even me.

Biblical Insights

So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself– Genesis 3:10

Adam already knew he had sinned, He felt an inner awareness of wrongdoing called guilt, given by God as an internal corrective. The realization of guilt could have brought Adam to repentance and confession, Instead, Adam tried to cope with guilt and shame by avoidance and denial.

As long as we blame others and refuse to take responsibility for our wrong actions, we remain mired in sin, Guilt cuts us off from God’s redemptive healing. God invites us to be honest about our sin and confess it to Him, When we do, God is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9),

At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God. And I said: “0 my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens.” -Ezra 9:5-6

Despite our mistakes and failures, God is willing to meet us at our point of need. Sometimes we can make amends by specific action. At other times we suffer the consequences of our sin, but through repentance, we can experience God’s grace and love.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. . . Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide ill the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” -John 8:31-36

No truth is more glorious to imprisoned people than to be told that they are no longer condemned but are set free! Christ brings that good news.

Often, however, believers who have been set free still keep themselves behind bars. They feel guilty about their past, or that they can’t be perfect in this life.

The feeling of guilt is healthy and productive when it helps us to know when we have done something wrong. But oppressive guilt can also keep people from being able to rejoice in their new life in Christ. That kind of guilt is a prison. We needn’t stay locked up if Christ has set us free.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. -Romans 8:1

Failure to keep the law perfectly leads to condemnation. Since no one can keep God’s law perfectly, all people are condemned. The law brings guilt because people realize they are powerless to keep it. Christ’s death for us, however, sets us free. If Christ no longer condemns us, then neither should we condemn ourselves.

 But I don’t ‘feel’ forgiven…I don’t ‘feel’ saved. This might be true because

  1. We do not believe God
  2. We do not see ourself as God sees us

 1 John 1:5-8 (ESV)
5  This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
6  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
7  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 
Do not listen to the voice of the devil! Instead, listen to the voice of God. Turn to the Word and believe what God says.

Rest assure that your Advocate in heaven is waiting to forgive you and restore you. To delay admitting and confessing sin is only to give Satan a greater opportunity to damage your life and ministry.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2017 in Encouragement, Sermon

 
 
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