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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

 

1 Corinthians #8 – The Single Adult Christian and Sexuality


Up to this point, Paul had been dealing with the sins reported to be known in the Corinthian congregation. Now he takes up the questions about which they had written to him.

Some liberal critics have accused Paul of being against both marriage and women. These accusations are not true, of course.

Nor is it true that in 1 Corinthians 7:6, 10, 12, and 25 Paul is disclaiming divine inspiration for what he wrote. Rather, he is referring to what Jesus taught when He was on earth (Matt. 5:31-32; 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-12; Luke 16:18).

Paul had to answer some questions that Jesus never discussed; but when a question arose that the Lord had dealt with, Paul referred to His words. Instead of disclaiming inspiration, Paul claimed that what he wrote was equal in authority to what Christ taught.

Christians Married to Christians (1 Cor. 7:1-11)

Apparently one of the questions the church asked was, “Is celibacy [remaining unmarried] more spiritual than marriage?” Paul replied that it is good for a man or a woman to have the gift of celibacy, but the celibate state is not better than marriage, nor is it the best state for everybody. Dr. Kenneth Wuest translates Paul’s reply, “It is perfectly proper, honorable, morally befitting for a man to live in strict celibacy.”

1 First Corinthians 7:6 makes it clear that celibacy is permitted, but it is not commanded; and 1 Corinthians 7:7 informs us that not everybody has the gift of remaining celibate. This ties in with our Lord’s teaching in Matthew 19:10-12, where “eunuchs” refers to those who abstain from marriage. “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18) is generally true for most people; but some have been called to a life of singleness for one reason or another.

One purpose for marriage is “to avoid fornication.” First Corinthians 7:2 makes it clear that God does not approve either of polygamy or homosexual “marriages.” One man married to one woman has been God’s pattern from the first. However, the husband and wife must not abuse the privilege of sexual love that is a normal part of marriage.

The wife’s body belongs to the husband, and the husband’s body to the wife; and each must be considerate of the other. Sexual love is a beautiful tool to build with, not a weapon to fight with. To refuse each other is to commit robbery (see 1 Thes. 4:6) and to invite Satan to tempt the partners to seek their satisfaction elsewhere.

As in all things, the spiritual must govern the physical; for our bodies are God’s temples. The husband and wife may abstain in order to devote their full interest to prayer and fasting (1 Cor. 7:5); but they must not use this as an excuse for prolonged separation. Paul is encouraging Christian partners to be “in tune” with each other in matters both spiritual and physical.

In 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, Paul applied the principle stated in 1 Corinthians 7:1 to single believers and widows: If you cannot control yourself, then marry.

The Responsibilities of Marriage Partners (7:2-6)

Because of fornication it is better for every man to have a wife.”

Sexual drive is God given; but must be fulfilled within the bounds of marriage. Love is something which is expressed by seeking the best for another even when the emotional enthusiasm has diminished.

Paul’s inspired judgment is that man has the right of choice in the question of marriage.

Obligations in marriage.

Sexual intercourse in marriage is not just permitted; it is commanded. The husband and wife belong to each other. Deprive not one another except by mutual consent. Could relate to temporary separation during a time of religious involvement. Without the consent, separation should not take place. Agreement based on a time of prayer. Such prayer was not commanded.

Generally thought of during specific needs and times.

The necessity is there to come back together to avoid Satan’s temptation which is ever present. The idea of separation between husband and wife is a concession, not a command.

 Paul’s Personal Example (7:7-8)

Paul possessed self control with regard to sexual desires. He credited his self control in sexual desire to a gift from God. Paul wished everyone possessed that gift as he did 1 Corinthians 7:9. 

Better to marry than to burn.”

“Burn” – Has to do with present sexual feelings or desire. Does not mean burn in torment. Paul stresses the need for marriage as the means of controlling sexual desires. Marriage should be exercised before sex; not as a result of having sexual encounters. Sexual desire is God given and therefore, not impure if placed in the context of marriage (Hebrews 13:4). In spite of the distress, marriage is better than being overtaken by temptation.

All covenants with God have a visible sign.

Sex is the Marriage Covenant’s Visible Sign

And sex is a sign of the marriage covenant between a man and a woman and God. Sex is a visible sign that makes visible the invisible reality of the union of the two people. The sign of the marriage covenant is sex.

According to the Bible, every other woman in the world a man relates to as a sister or a mother, but only one does he relate to as a wife. The sign between you and that only other person who you relate to as your spouse is sex.

It is designed to be a sign of permanence, safety, security, faithfulness.

Implicit in having sex is the promise of faithfulness. Sex communicates to the other person’s heart and to God the father: “I am touching you because I promise never to leave you nor forsake you. The exchange of our most intimate gifts communicates permanence. That is why sex belongs in marriage.

In this context, we are able to see why sex as a single adult is so damaging. When you have sex with someone as a single adult you are doing two things:

1) you are making permanent promises to the other person’s soul while you have temporary intentions. This creates confusion, anxiety, and insecurity.

2) Sex as a single adult makes a mockery out of the covenant between a man and a woman before the Lord and brings you into a state of spiritual disconnection. It doesn’t matter how brief the hookup or how strictly physical it is, sex outside of marriage leaves devastation emotional and spiritual devastation in its wake.

1 Corinthians 6:18: Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.

The way we typically see things is as commitment increases so does physical intimacy. We basically earn the right to be more intimate as we stay with the person longer. If you haven’t been allowed to have a kiss after three dates then you might get a little upset because you have the right to have a kiss. That’s what dating people do. “We are dating, come on. I’m going to go find someone else.”

However, what the Bible indicates is that if there are only two types of relationships, those you relate to as brothers/sisters/fathers/mothers or husbands/wives, then there are only two levels of sexual intimacy. No sexual intimacy or total sexual intimacy. Please don’t tune this out because it’s some preacher guy who is out of touch. There is no middle ground. No “friends with benefits”. No “hook-up buddies”. No dating and doing everything but intercourse. Because sex includes more than the act of intercourse.

I am not trying to draw a new set of rules for you. I am trying to get you to think about your sexuality in a new way. The way you relate to the opposite sex. Relating sexually as if you were married to that person you are dating brings incredible relational, emotional, physical, and spiritual confusion.

And you are setting yourself up for failure.

Sex as not a birthright or a mile-marker needed after so many days in a relationship. The damage from sex as a single adult comes not because you don’t have the right person, but because it is in the wrong context. The truth

is that the only place where sex is going to be satisfying to your soul is when it is the visible sign of the invisible covenant you have made with that one person of the opposite sex. It is the way we demonstrate our commitment to the covenant to that one person for the rest of our lives.

Managing your Sexuality as a Single Adult

So how does a single person resist the temptation? Sometimes the sex drive seems almost overwhelming especially for those single adults who are single again after being in a marriage relationship where they enjoyed sex in its rightful context.

Here are some practical steps to managing your sexuality as a single adult:

Do not seek sexual satisfaction through touching or being touched by another person, even if you stop short of sexual intercourse.

A lot of single adults will draw a line at not having intercourse but will do everything else. They call it messing around. For married people, “messing around” is the onramp onto the freeway.

Single adults consistently operate in this realm of “messing around” doing everything but the final act and then they wonder why they cannot manage their sexuality.

Do not seek sexual gratification through self stimulation.

Self stimulation does not solve sexual pressure. Many Christians believe that it is a healthy way to deal with their sexual desires. But it is not. Not only can self gratification become habitual, but it produces guilt, is accompanied by lust, and, most importantly, contradicts the God-given design of sexuality.

The sexual act is not designed to be done alone for selfish gratification. Sex is created for relationship with the opposite sex in a marriage covenant. When you gratify yourself, you are training yourself to not need another person physically, emotionally, and mentally, to satisfy yourself. It is pseudo sex.

The more you train yourself to satisfy yourself physically before marriage, the more likely you are to satisfy yourself physically after you are married. Because it’s not really about sex. It is about our lazy, self-centered desire, to satisfy ourselves rather than give ourselves to and for another person. The answer to your pent up  sexual desires is not gratifying yourself, but resisting temptationResist and avoid sexual stimulation.

James 4:6a-7 6 But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil  desires…7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

It is a no-brainer that pornography is destructive and works against you in your quest to be sexually pure. But the real test is what you do with the more common sources of sexual stimulation. R-rated movies, Men’s Health magazine, the newspaper, television, music videos.

In our society you cannot escape sexual stimulation, but you can refuse to seek it. And you can avoid it often when you see it coming. This will tell you whether you are enslaved or free. Can we say no to our bodies that want us to keep looking?

This becomes easier the more we focus on Christ and pure things. There is no better way to overcome a bad desire than to push it out with a new one. It is in prayer that we summon the divine help to produce in us that new desire for God. Fill your mind in God’s Word.

There is nothing that renews the mind like regular meditation on the Scriptures.

Embrace Christian Community

Hebrews 10:24: Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.

The struggle to resist temptation and manage your sexuality must be done in with the help of others seeking the same goals. For some of you the odds are not in your favor of having a lot of success with this because you are surrounded by people who do not believe the same things as you. Every conversation and outing is focused on sex and hooking up. Christian community gives you strength and support. Others will join to help you get to where you want to go instead of trying to rip you off course. You can pray for each other and hold each other accountable.

Make Spiritual Compatibly the Highest Requirement for Romantic Relationships

2 Corinthians 6:14 (Holman Christian Standard Bible): Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and  awlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness?

The Bible clearly teaches that it is not appropriate for Christians to be in a relationship where an unbeliever has control over their life. This is especially true for dating relationships. It is hard enough to stay sexually pure as a dating couple when you are both spiritually aligned  with Christ as the center of the relationship. But when the  people is not in agreement and one is trying to remain sexually pure and the other does not have the same goal, guess which one will eventually win? You must make spiritual compatibility your highest priority.

Don’t get Desperate.

Desperate people make poor choices. Desperation begins when faith in God’s future and the enjoyment of the present disappears. When you believe that it will never happen unless you begin to take steps to make it happen yourself because you are just sick and tired of waiting.

When you get desperate you make mistakes. You will make compromises you never intended, date people you should never have dated, marry someone that is not a good fit.

As a single adult, the Bible teaches in 1 Corinthians 7 that it is a special time in life where you can pour yourself into ministry and serving others more than at any other time in life. It is a time to live for God boldly, to grow close to him and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Do not become desperate. Desperate people make desperate decisions and pay drastic consequences.

Conclusion

Many want that sexual experience because we believe that that is the pinnacle of feeling loved by someone as a human. But we can learn to replace that with the love that can only be found in the total abandonment to Jesus then we can begin to be loved completely by him and him  alone.

There is going to come a day that even though you are  in a great marriage that there are areas that your spouse can never satisfy.

Inside the covenant of marriage sex is like a great meal, satisfying and nourishing. Outside of marriage it is more like candy. It might give you a short rush, but is full of empty calories with no nourishment. And a steady diet of it will make you sick. It will make you sick in your relationships with the opposite sex and it will make you sick in your relationship with God. Jesus has given us a choice. Now what are you going to do with it?

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in 1 Corinthians, Sermon

 

How a fish story may help your marriage


16472951_1534275359935562_6600254523845811070_nDid it ever occur to you that we can learn a lot about having a better marriage by thinking about fish? You’re probably thinking that I’ve lost my rocker. But bear with me for a moment.

It’s been said fish don’t know that they live in water. How could it be otherwise? Water is their universe and the only environment they’ll ever live in. Their world view is dictated by the limits of their perceptions.

And except for that rare and insightful fish that may occasionally stick his head above the surface of the water and wonder about the world above, the vast majority of fish naively swim around their entire lives, blindly accepting the water as the only reality there is.

We humans also tend to blindly accept our perceptions as the only reality there is. This is important to understand if you’re concerned about having a harmonious marriage. Why, you ask? Because “control issues” often drive a couple apart and toward divorce.

In these cases, one partner may be passionately opinionated that his (or her) perceptions constitute the only reality there is. This person may believe so strongly his viewpoint equals “The Truth” or “Reality,” he can’t imagine that anyone having a different opinion can be right.

Furthermore, this dominant spouse is uncomfortable with any differing opinion, often due to a subconscious insecurity and fear that a challenge will diminish his worth in some way. And when the dominant spouse refuses to look at the partner’s point of view, it’s a source of conflict—whether acknowledged or not by either spouse.

When the more assertive mate imposes his will over and over, and the submissive partner gives in repeatedly, the sad result is an unhealthy dynamic in which both partners share responsibility for the marriage going downhill due to these control issues in the relationship.

A little-known fact is that both spouses behave the way they do basically out of fear of facing change and growth.

For the controlling spouse, the mode of command and control is viewed as a path to security. He may feel this way because confronting differences in opinion may seem frightening to him and he feels more secure if the spouse is in agreement. If confronted, he may use anger to cover up his fear of change.

For the submissive partner, giving in is seen as the path of least resistance because it avoids the frightening discomfort of facing the spouse’s anger. This is especially true when the submissive partner never learned to appropriately deal with anger growing up. Being submissive is often habit learned as a child and is carried into the marriage.

Both of these viewpoints don’t see the bigger picture. The truth is, both spouses have set up the control situation—one by dominating, the other by agreeing to be dominated. And in the short term, the marriage may seem stable and relatively happy. But long term, the control issues can be a recipe for marital disaster.

Instead, what can help is when one or both spouses have a revelation—an “ah ha” moment of realization in which they realize:

  1. The status quo is leading to an unsatisfactory partnership. The likelihood of divorce is increased if nothing changes the trajectory of the marriage.
  2. There is a much better way for two people to coexist within a marriage. True love, passion, mutual respect, and fun are not only possible, but they are readily attainable, as difficult as that seems, to many distressed spouses.
  3. That positive change is possible even if only one spouse is willing to take small steps. This can be true because changing one partner almost always forces the other mate to adapt in some way. And if the change is positive, then the adaptation is likely to also be positive.

So how can one or both proactive partners initiate positive change in a marriage? A few of the things you can do are:

  1. Be willing to grow, to change, to learn. This requires courage, because it means looking at yourself and being honest with what you see. And it requires getting out of your comfort zone to proactively try new behavior.
  2. Maintain respect for each other. This includes adherence to fair fighting rules—no name calling or put downs. This becomes easier if you actively and intentionally focus on the qualities in your mate worthy of respect.
  3. Be willing to embrace authenticity. This means sharing your real feelings. It implies being honest with yourself and with your spouse. It requires getting past facades and exposing the real you to your partner.
  4. Admit when you are wrong. Have the humility to accept that to err is human and to admit that we all make mistakes. This implies being open minded to other points of view or opinions.

For the most part we define our individual world view based on the way we’ve been programmed by our past—the unique and personal history that each of us take into a relationship.

And as you work on opening up your perceptions and awareness, you will open the portal of your heart to improving your marriage. You now hold in your grasp the boundless possibility of starting today. (Borrowed from Lee Hefner)

 

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2017 in Marriage, Sermon

 

Bible Study Textbook series … free online downloads


Facebook JesusIsLordofthisWebSite placeforyou2

 ——————————————–

College Press commentaries free for download online

cpmed1http://www.collegepress.com/storefront/node/238

Here is a link to my One Drive folder that has all of them:

https://1drv.ms/f/s!AldRtemY-fLrgt8h_Fd8qrXhf1OjGQ

Many of you are familiar with the Bible Study Textbook Series (The Old Green Commentaries).  These were very popular several years back and many of you have requested copies of these timeless treasures.  Because reprint cost are so high we have chosen not to reprint but instead, we are offering them electronically for free. Feel free to download them to your computer.  These files are very large and may take a while even with high speed and DSL services. Thank you for your interest.

IF you do not find what you want, send me an email (ged880@yahoo.com) and I can send another link to get these free resources. Here is a link to my One Drive folder that has all of them: 

https://1drv.ms/f/s!AldRtemY-fLrgt8h_Fd8qrXhf1OjGQ

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2016 in Sermon

 

Warning Signs That Leaders Are Not On Board


leaders on board(I found two excellent articles that address much-needed issues among leadership)

By Brandon Kelley 

What happens when leaders get passionately divided? Church splits. Or worse.1 If leaders get divided and don’t reconcile, they can become viruses within the body of the local church that leads to a slow death.

If you want to lead an effective team, you must identify the warning signs that leaders are not on board. They don’t always come with flashing lights and loud noises, however, they do show up before they rear their ugly head in the form of division.

What happens when leaders get passionately divided? Church splits. Or worse.

If leaders get divided and don’t reconcile, they can become viruses within the body of the local church that leads to a slow death. To avoid this, you must unapologetically be aware of warning signs and address them when they come up.

  1. They don’t take initiative

Are you left to doing everything yourself? Do the things within their realm of responsibility and authority continue to go undone? If so, you may be dealing with a warning sign. Leaders are not on board when they fail to take initiative.

This is so important because it can be disguised as laziness, but in all reality, it is something much worse.

Leaders who are on board take initiative and get things done. They start things without being prompted or asked. They write down what they learned from a meeting and then they go and take action.

If you are constantly encountering a leader who never takes initiative, then your warning sign detector must begin to go off.

  1. They don’t come with ideas

When you have those exciting, high-level-focus meetings where you are dreaming about the future and strategizing for what is next, do you find that you are the only one coming up with new ideas? It could be that your team isn’t made up of idea people, but it could be that your team does have idea people who have ceased to share.

This is a problem because it could be coming from a lack of trust or a lack of care.

Leaders who are on board, think about the problems facing the church and come with solutions and ideas to address them. Leaders who are not on board let others worry about those things.

If you have a leader who never comes with solutions or ideas, you may want to pay attention to your warning sign detector because it is beginning to flash.

  1. They don’t practice alignment

Once decisions are made, do you find yourself having to revisit that same decision over and over again with a leader?

Leaders who are on board align themselves with the decisions that are made and move forward despite the potential that they disagreed with the decision itself.

The key with alignment is that the leadership team doesn’t make decisions based on consensus, but it makes them based on alignment. If the decision is aligned with the mission, vision, and strategy of the church, then leaders should fall in line behind it. They can voice their opposition to it, but at the end of the day, the leader (and team) walks away ready to take charge and defend the decision.

If a leader brings up complains of others about a decision, but they didn’t explain and defend the decision, themselves, it may be because they are not aligned.

Great leadership teams are made up of leaders who are aligned. They may disagree in the moment, but once the decision is made, they go forth together.

If after decisions are made, a leader continues to bring up their opposition to it, your warning sign detector should begin going off.

2 Keys To Having An Effective Conversation

Once you’ve identified one of these warning signs, it’s time to have a conversation with them.

First, be honest and specific with your concern.

Second, let them explain.

Ray, I value you as a leader and all that you do for ______ church. I’m a little concerned, though, it seems as though, for the past ______ [timeframe] you haven’t been [insert concern]. Is anything going on? Am I off-base here?

Conversation Breakdown

  1. I value you.
  2. I’m concerned.
  3. This is the concern.
  4. Open-ended question.

Then listen.

 How Church Leaders Can Have A Positive Confrontation Conversation

Posted by Jay Mitchell

“I’m so frustrated with Jack. I’ve been paying him a salary to deliver on this project and not only has he not delivered, I haven’t seen anything that tells me he’s even working on it. It’s driving me crazy!”

I was sitting across the table from a senior leader for our weekly coaching appointment. The organization had been growing steadily over the past year and things really seemed to be moving in the right direction, but this leader’s frustration with one of his key employees had become a regular part of our conversations over the last month.

So I asked him, “So what did he say when you talked to him about the ways he is not meeting your expectations?”

Looking a little embarrassed, he said, “I haven’t talked to him about it yet.”

I don’t know many people who look forward to having hard conversations. Whether it’s with other church leaders, a boss, spouse, child, or friend, confrontation does not come naturally to most of us. Many church leaders avoid it whenever possible.

However, great church leaders understand the need for healthy confrontation and the tremendous opportunity for growth that a well-managed confrontation affords.

If you’ve been putting off having a hard conversation, here are some simple steps that you can take to make it a little easier.

  1. Make a Plan.

Before you have the conversation, take a moment to think through what you want to say, how you want to say it, and what your desired outcome will be. Write down how you would like the conversation to go.
• When and where will it take place?
• What are the issues that need to be addressed?
• How will you address those issues?
• What is your desired outcome?
• What are some ways the conversation might get derailed, and what will you do if that happens?
• How will you know the conversation achieved its desired outcome?

  1. Take responsibility to initiate the conversation.

Remember, it’s up to you to take the first step in having that hard conversation. If you wait for the other person or group to come to you, the conversation will probably never happen and you’ll just get more frustrated and angry while you wait. They may not even be aware that there is an issue at all. Make a call or send them an email asking for some “face time” to discuss a few things.

Never use email as a substitute for a face-to-face conversation or at least a voice-to-voice conversation on the phone. Email is too impersonal, and it is far too easily misunderstood. Your tone should be positive and upbeat, but be sure to let them know that the issues you want to discuss are very important.

  1. Set the tone.

There is a difference between negative information and negative communication. Negative information is simply information that someone doesn’t like, and it’s just an unavoidable part of life. Negative communication is delivering the information in a way that ends up leaving people feeling angry, hurt, or defensive. When you have a hard conversation, the goal is to deliver the negative information using positive communication, leaving people feeling encouraged, challenged, and motivated toward the desired outcome. The tone of the conversation should be straightforward, positive, honest, and hopeful. Avoid anger or condescension in your voice. Be direct and honest, but calm and positive.

  1. Affirm the person, the relationship, and the desired outcome.

An example of what my friend might use when he has that hard conversation with his employee is this:“Jack, I have appreciated having you on the team. You work hard, and I value our working relationship. I have some issues I need to discuss with you which may be difficult to work through. But I am really hopeful that not only will we understand each other better, we will both be more effective in accomplishing our goals as we build this company.” Obviously, it’s important to say only that which is true in your affirmation. Don’t go overboard, but find something you can affirm as you get started and as you paint the picture of the desired outcome.

  1. Be specific and don’t get sidetracked.

Clarity about the issue is critical.
• What’s the problem, and how is it negatively impacting the organization?
• How is it affecting you personally?
• What exactly isn’t working?
• Where has the person’s performance failed to meet your expectations? This, of course, assumes that the expectations they have failed to meet have been made clear to them. You might want to ask them to explain to you how they perceive the expectations and clarify them if they aren’t clear.
• How will you both know that the issues are getting resolved?

It’s important stay on track in the conversation. They may want to roll out a laundry list of their own complaints about you, your leadership style, or company culture. Don’t get sidetracked. Say something like this: “Those may be important issues for us to talk about in another conversation. Right now, I want to be sure we get deal with this particular issue.” 

  1. Set a time to revisit the conversation.

There is no “magic conversation” that solves all the problems in a relationship. Be sure to let them know that you value the relationship and you are looking forward to continuing the conversation over time.

Set a time in a week or two to revisit the conversation. Take note of progress that’s been made and address any other lingering issues during the follow up conversation. Once they get up the courage to have the hard conversation, many church leaders are so relieved to have done it that they never go back to be sure that the original issues have been fully addressed. Setting a time to revisit the conversation not only normalizes this kind of interaction but demonstrates that you really are committed to growth and are interested in making the relationship work over time.

There is no such thing as an easy confrontational conversation. But if you follow these simple steps, those hard conversations can yield remarkable growth in your organization and in your leadership skills.

 

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2016 in Sermon

 

God’s Attributes: The Goodness of God


goodness of GodIn and of itself, God’s power is not nearly as comforting as when seen in light of several of His other attributes. Two of these attributes are the “goodness” of God and the “wisdom” of God. The God who is all-powerful is the same God who is good and wise; God’s power becomes a source of great comfort and encouragement to the Christian. It is comforting to know One with so-o-o-o much power is also ‘good.’

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting (Psalms 107:1).

How great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast stored up for those who fear Thee, which Thou hast wrought for those who take refuge in Thee, before the sons of men! (Psalms 31:19).

(1) The “goodness” of God is prominent in the opening chapters of the Bible. Repeatedly, God pronounced everything which He created “good” (see Genesis 1:4, 10, 18; 1 Timothy 4:4). In chapter 2, God saw that it was “not good” for Adam to be alone, and so He created a wife for him (2:18-25). In the garden of Eden, where God had placed Adam and Eve, there was “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” From the fruit of this one tree, the man and woman were forbidden to eat. We shall return to this matter of “goodness” in the garden, for it is a vitally important truth. Suffice to say the issues of “goodness” and “evil” are prominent at the beginning of the Bible.

(2) The goodness of God appears to be the sum total of all of God’s attributes. The goodness of God may thus be viewed as one facet of His glorious nature and character and also the overall summation of His nature and character.

Then Moses said, “I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!” And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion” (Exodus 33:19; see also Exodus 34:5-7).

(3) We cannot separate what is good from God. You cannot have goodness without God, just as you cannot have God without goodness. God alone is good:

I said to the LORD, “Thou art my Lord; I have no good besides Thee” (Psalms 16:2).

God is the source of everything that is good: Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow (James 1:17).

God does not withhold anything that is truly good from His children: For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11).

(4) Man’s eternal destiny is determined by his decision as to how one can truly be good in God’s sight (See John 5:28-29; Romans 3:1-26; Titus 3:3-7).

(5) Apart from the divine revelation of the Scriptures, we cannot recognize true goodness, for it cannot be understood apart from knowing God and seeing life from His perspective. This is precisely the point of Psalm 73 which we will now consider, for it gives us a radically different definition of “good.”

Good Defined in Psalm 73

Asaph, a Levite who was chief of the musicians under David (1 Chronicles 16:4-7,37), composed Psalm 73. My conviction is that the central theme of Psalm 73 is the goodness of God. The first and the last verses of the psalm contain the word “good.” Through the course of time and this psalm, Asaph undergoes a radical change in his understanding of the meaning of the term “good.” Because Asaph’s misconception of the meaning of “good” is virtually the same as evangelical Christians today, we must understand the message of this psalm and the meaning of the term “good.”

Asaph describes a period in his life when he had serious spiritual struggles. His premise was the goodness of God, particularly His goodness to His own people, Israel: “Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart!” (verse 1).

To Asaph, this affirmation of truth meant that because God was “good” to Israel, God’s blessings would constantly be poured out upon those Jews who were righteous. On the other hand, the unrighteous could expect many difficulties. Now there is an element of truth in this, as we can see from the blessings and cursings of Deuteronomy 28-30. But it was not altogether true, and this was evident even in the Book of Deuteronomy:

2 “And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).

Asaph admits to his readers that he strayed far off course. He was so far from the truth that he came close to destruction. In his words, “his feet had almost slipped” (verse 2). He seems to be confessing that he considered giving up the faith and forsaking the way of righteousness, supposing that it was of no real benefit.

Asaph’s problem was largely due to his distorted perspective. First of all, he was envious of the wicked. Unlike Lot, whose righteous soul was vexed by the sin all about him, Asaph wished he could be in the sandals of those who were wicked. He did not hate their sin; he envied their success (verse 3). Second, he was self-righteous. He looked upon himself as being better than he was. He seems to have supposed he deserved God’s blessings and concluded his “righteous living” had been in vain:

13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure, And washed my hands in innocence; 14 For I have been stricken all day long, And chastened every morning (Psalms 73).

These verses also suggest Asaph views his suffering as coming from God. God was punishing him, he supposed, for being godly. Third, Asaph seems to have been consumed with self-pity. It is really difficult to see life clearly when you are looking at it through tear-filled eyes. And these tears were the tears of self-pity.

I believe Asaph’s words in verses 4-9 which describe the wicked are a description of those whom Asaph saw in the congregation of Israelites who came to worship. Asaph is talking about wicked Jews rather than pagan Gentiles. I also believe Asaph’s analysis is highly distorted and inaccurate.

Asaph makes some very sweeping generalizations in the first half of the psalm, implying that all the wicked prosper and the righteous, which surely included him, suffer. He wrongly supposes the wicked are always healthy and wealthy and thinks none of the wicked experience the difficulties of life. Even in their death, they are spared from discomfort. He likewise thinks those who prosper are all arrogant, blaspheming God, daring Him to know or care about what the wicked are doing.

There is some measure of truth in this. Some of the wealthy wicked would be just as Asaph has described them. But Asaph has over-generalized, making it seem God blesses all the wicked and punishes all the righteous. The wicked flaunt their wickedness and are blessed. The righteous practice their righteousness and are punished for doing so. As far as Asaph is concerned, there is good reason to consider joining the wicked rather than fighting them (see verses 10-14).

But Asaph was wrong, and this he confesses at several points in the psalm.

2 But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling; My steps had almost slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant, [As] I saw the prosperity of the wicked (verses 2-3).

15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,” Behold, I should have betrayed the generation of Thy children (verse 15).

21 When my heart was embittered, And I was pierced within, 22 Then I was senseless and ignorant; I was [like] a beast before Thee (verses 21-22).

The turning point in the psalm is verse 15. Up to this point, Asaph viewed life from a distorted human perspective. To him, the goodness of God meant health and wealth, not unlike the “good life gospeleers” of our own day. But, as Asaph admits, he was wrong. In verses 15-28, he explains why he was wrong, ending with an entirely different definition of “good.”

When Asaph came “into the sanctuary of God,” he was able to “perceive their end” (verse 17). Now Asaph viewed the prosperity of the wicked in the light of eternity rather than simply from the vantage point of time. Those who seemed to be doing so well in their wickedness Asaph now saw in great peril. Their feet were on a slippery place. In but a short time, they would face the judgment of God. Their payday for sin might not come in this life, but it would surely come in eternity:

18 Surely Thou dost set them in slippery places; Thou dost cast them down to destruction. 19 How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors! 20 Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when aroused, Thou wilt despise their form (verses 18-20).

How foolish, even beastly, Asaph had been to think the wicked would get away with their sin, and there would be no day of reckoning. How foolish to conclude God was punishing him for avoiding the sinful ways of the wicked. Asaph now sees his relationship with God in its true light. Eternity holds for him the bright hope of God’s glorious presence. But in addition to this future blessing, Asaph has the pleasure of God’s presence in this life:

23 Nevertheless I am continually with Thee; Thou hast taken hold of my right hand. 24 With Thy counsel Thou wilt guide me, And afterward receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven [but Thee]? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (verses 23-26).

Asaph now sees that the prosperity of the wicked has hardened their hearts toward God. They have become proud, arrogant, and independent of God. Asaph also sees his “affliction,” whatever that might be, as a source of great blessing. His suffering and agony drew him closer to God; the prosperity of the wicked drew them away from God. His trials were indeed a gift from God for Asaph’s good. His struggles had led him into a deeper intimacy with God and were thus worth all the agony and distress of soul. Trusting God and living a holy life are not just the means to eternal blessings; they are the way to great temporal blessings as well.

Now Asaph understands the “goodness” of God in a different way. He has a new definition for “good.” In verse 1, “good” really meant the absence of pain, difficulty, trouble, sorrow, ill health, or poverty. In verse 28, “good” means something far better than physical prosperity:

28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Thy works (verse 28).

Nearness to God—intimate fellowship with God—is our highest good. We may say then that whatever interferes with our nearness to God, our fellowship with Him, is actually evil. And whatever draws us into a deeper fellowship with God is actually “good.” When God brings suffering and adversity into our lives, our confidence in His goodness should not be undermined. Instead, we should be reassured of His goodness to us.

In the end, Job’s suffering brought him nearer to God; thus it was good, and God was good in afflicting him. Paul’s suffering brought him nearer to God, and he saw it as a blessing (Philippians 3:10). The chastening of the Lord in the life of the Christian is not only evidence of our sonship, it is God’s working in us for good (Hebrews 12:1-13; see Romans 8:28).

The Relevance of the Goodness of God

The goodness of God is a life-transforming truth. Let us conclude by considering ways the goodness of God should intersect our attitudes and actions.

(1) The goodness of God is a character trait which applies to every other attribute. God’s wrath is good. God’s holiness is good. God’s righteousness is good. God is good in His entirety. There is nothing about God that is not good. There is nothing God purposes for His children that is not good. God gives to His children only that which is good. And He withholds nothing good from us. God is good, and He is at work in our lives for good. Nothing which God creates, nothing which God accomplishes, is not good.[1]

We must take this truth of God’s goodness one more step. God allows nothing to happen to the Christian which is not good. We all know this passage well:

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to [His] purpose (Romans 8:28).

We may be convinced of God’s goodness and yet doubt that everything which happens to us is good. We carefully avoid blaming God, because we know He is good. So we blame Satan for our trials and tribulations. Or, we can always blame people. May I remind you Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was brought about by a “messenger of Satan” (2 Corinthians 12:7), and yet God permitted this so His strength might be manifested through Paul’s weakness (12:7-10). And the “evil” Joseph’s brothers intended against him God intended “for good” (Genesis 50:20). Whatever comes into the life of the Christian is a part of God’s purpose to bring about our good and His glory.

(2) We must conclude that teachers who tell us God wants only to bless us with healing and prosperity in this life are, in truth, false teachers. Their teaching leads Christians to the same conclusion Asaph reached in error, a conclusion which, upon reflection, he confesses to be evil and beastly. Knowing God is not the way to the “good life” as taught by the “good life gospeleers.” In fact, as Asaph indicates, along with countless others in the Bible, suffering is often the means by which we come to know God more intimately.

67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Thy word (Psalms 119:67).75 I know, O LORD, that Thy judgments are righteous, And that in faithfulness Thou hast afflicted me (Psalms 119:75).

(3) The goodness of God is evident in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is the “good news” (Isaiah 40:9; 41:27; 52:7; 61:6; Luke 1:19; 2:10; Acts 8:12; 13:32; Hebrews 4:2, 6), and good it is! God is good to all men in His common grace, showering blessings on the wicked and the righteous alike (Matthew 5:43-45; Acts 14:16-17). But God is particularly good to those who believe in the gospel.

Nowhere is the goodness of God more evident than in the person of our Lord. In His goodness, God provided a way for sinners to be forgiven and to be declared righteous. It is not by any good works which we do, but on the basis of the goodness of the Lord Jesus Christ (see Romans 3:19-26; Titus 3:4-7). If you have never trusted in His saving work, I have words of exhortation for you,

8 O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! (Psalms 34:8).

With this offer of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, I must also issue a word of warning. The goodness of God is directed toward our repentance (Romans 2:4). If we reject the goodness of God in Christ, if we reject the gospel, then we bring upon ourselves the divine wrath of God:

(4) The goodness of God is a foundational truth that shapes our perspective toward God and His dealings with us in this life. The goodness of God is a fact to which the Bible often testifies. It is a fact which every Christian should believe and embrace. But more than this, it is a perspective through which all of life’s experiences should be viewed.

In the biblical account of the fall of Adam and Eve, it is significant that Satan’s attack was on this dimension of the character of God. It is true Satan virtually called God a liar, but the first attack of Satan was waged against the attribute of His goodness. It was a subtle attack, but one that should be obvious to the Christian who reads these words:

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.’ “ 4 And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! 5 For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1-5).

God is good, and everything He created is good. But the one thing in the garden which was not “good” to eat was “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Satan’s seemingly innocent question was intended to undermine Eve’s confidence in the goodness of God. By the time Satan has finished, Eve has come to view God as the One who is less than good, and the forbidden fruit as that which is good. Once Eve doubted the goodness of God, it was a great deal easier for her to disobey Him. If God was not good and was not acting for her good, then why should she obey Him? Indeed, why should she not act independently of God in seeking her own good—the forbidden fruit?

Satan first changed Eve’s perspective of God, and then he was able to persuade her to disobey God by eating the forbidden fruit. The goodness of God is a perspective from which we can and should view all of God’s commands, including His prohibitions. It is apparent from what happened as a result of the eating of the forbidden fruit that God forbade that fruit for man’s good. The prohibition was an expression of God’s goodness. She did not understand why God forbade it, but knowing that God was good should have been enough. What a good God forbids must be evil, and what a good God commands must be good. We must know the truth found in the Word of God to avoid Satan when he tempts us to change our perspective of God. He often does this by causing us to doubt God and His Word.

May God grant that His goodness becomes a truth we not only accept, but embrace, so that it becomes the perspective from which we view all of the events of our lives.

[2] A. W. Pink, The Attributes of God, p. 52.

[3] Ibid, pp. 52, 53.

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2016 in Sermon

 

Words to Live By #11 Learn to Be Content


covet-definition(Exodus 20:17 NIV) “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

The tenth word to live by takes us back to the first. The first and tenth words to live by are bookends. Unlike the other eight that are focus on visible actions, the first and tenth have to do with our heart, or our state of mind.

Exodus 20:1-4 (ESV) And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me.

The tenth word to live by is a perfect sign-off to the ten words to live by. It reminds us that unchecked desire, jealousy, and discontent leads us to violate the other commandments. As a result we wound our neighbor and wreck our life together.

Many of us are overworked trying to earn more so that we can own more. We may be able to get more, but we lose the time to enjoy what we have. But instead of labeling this as coveting, we describe it as ambition, providing for the family, supporting a lifestyle, working for a better life, getting ahead.

   King David ignored God’s words to live by. He stole another man wife thus ignoring two of the words. He lied about it and had the other man murdered thus ignoring two more of those words. He invoked God’s name to justify his actions, thus he violated even another. But it all began by ignoring the tenth word to live by. He was coveting his neighbor’s wife. And he ignored the tenth because he ignored the first. David should have been doing what God called him to do – leading the armies of Israel – but instead he was at home.

Coveting is the attitude of heart that preceeds us not living according to God’s words. The remedy is to go back to the first word that God spoke. He will be our God. We are to be his people.

The Hebrew word translated covet here refers to “enthusiastic desire.” Coveting the misdirected energy of a heart set on wrong goals. A person is covetous who lets his values get so warped that he wants all the wrong things to the neglect of all the good things, wants one wrong thing with such a consuming passion that he is willing to sacrifice any and all right things for its sake, or simply becomes selfish with the blessings God has entrusted to him.

As long as God is in his rightful place in a human life, everything else fits in relation to him. Get God out of the central place in that life, and all values within it become hopelessly fouled-up.

It was to this sinful spirit that the very first temptation called the human race. Do you remember Satan’s temptation of Eve? It was to eat the forbidden fruit, right? Yes, but why eat the fruit? The temptation didn’t center on the fruit itself but on Satan’s promise that eating it would turn her into a god. He told her: “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).

The first temptation was to self-enthronement and covetousness. Make yourself into a god, Eve!

Covetousness causes people to judge all things in life from a single perspective, i.e., worth to self. Jesus once warned a certain man: “Take heed, and beware of covetousness, for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). The point of his warning seems to be a practical one about the outcome of having a covetous heart.

Covetousness lives and breathes in an atmosphere of the single desire to get and never give. It generates the desire to have any and all forbidden things. Even Paul admitted the personal problems caused for him by covetousness. He wrote: “I should not haw known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment, wrought in me all kinds of covetousness” (Romans 7:7b-8a).

How to Restrain Wicked Covetousness

First, cultivate your own strengths and abilities. Rather than resent and envy others their assets, capitalize on your own. A woman sees someone more beautiful and says, “Oh, I wish I could be that woman!” A man sees someone who is wealthy and powerful and says, “1 wish I could trade places with him!” I suppose we’ve all done it in one setting or another. But have you ever stopped to realize that such a wish involves a type of suicide? In order to be someone else, you would have to stop being you! Rather than wish for some self-destructive impossibility, it is wiser to find and develop your own assets.

Second, learn to rejoice with others over their good fortune. The Bible says: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). For most of us, it is easier to do the latter than the former. To see someone really prosperous and happy seems to evoke feelings of “Why couldn’t that have been me?” rather than genuine joy on that person’s behalf.

Third, trust God. “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Matthew 6:31-33).

Fourth, be content with the things you have. “There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8).

Story of the fisherman and the business man – An exhausted businessman traveled to a faraway island for a vacation. Everyday he went to the beach to swim and relax and every day he noticed a man with a boat and fishing net. He was cleaning one, maybe two fish every day. The business man finally asked, “You’re a fisherman, right? I noticed that you catch just one or two fish a day.” The fisherman replied, “Yes, I usually find plenty of fish in the morning.” The businessman asks, “But what do you do with the rest of your day?” Fisherman: “Well, let’s see. I clean the fish to eat or sell. I go home and take a nap. I work on my house, I eat supper with my family, then I play guitar and sing with my friends.” The businessman with furrowed brow said to the man, “Well see here, if you were to fish all day you could probably triple your profit. You could use that to buy a bigger boat, hire workers, and maybe even expand your business by getting into distribution.” “Why would I do that?” the fisherman asks. “Why, you could eventually get to the point that you would be set of life. You could quit work, stay home most of the day, take vacations, relax and spend time with friends and family whenever you wanted.” “Well man, that’s what I am doing now but I only have to catch one fish a day to do it.”

Contentment will come to us when we escape our slavery to things, when we find our wealth in friendship and our joy in caring about people, and when we realize that our most precious possession is the grace of God through Jesus Christ.

Luke 12:13‑21 And someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbiter over you?” And He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a certain rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2016 in Sermon

 
 
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