Tuesday, July 31, 2012

In All Things, Charity

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Romans 14:1-23

Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. ... One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. Romans 14:1,5 (NKJV)

From whence come all these denominational divisions, all these divergent opinions, all these differences in Christ's beautiful Body?  Are we not called to walk with each other in love?  Yet we find arguments, offenses, divisions, fights that rend the fabric of God-ordained relationships within the Church.  Ought we not to have grace and acceptance toward one another rather than competition, criticism, and distrust?  How can we find the common ground of cooperation in the Body of Christ?

St. Augustine coined a phrase which John Wesley loved to quote: "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity."  He was addressing the manner in which the Church, the Body of Christ, is to cooperate together in the world. 

Paul addresses this in Romans 14.  He warns us to refrain from "disputes over doubtful things" (vs. 1).  This means that we ought to be able to discuss our different interpretations of Scripture without descending into argument.  The "doubtful things" here are matters of personal opinion, not foundational essentials of the faith.

Traditions are not necessarily bad.  They are simply our own ways of doing things.  "One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike."  One church observes communion one way, while another church uses a different approach.  One church has hymn books while another 
projects the songs on a screen.  One fellowship uses a liturgy while another prefers unstructured spontaneity. "Let each be fully convinced that his own way is best for him." 

But, IN ALL THINGS, CHARITY.  In all things, let the the love of God cover our non-essential

May we be united in this:  That JESUS IS LORD.  THE SCRIPTURE IS TRUE.  Men need the REGENERATING WORK OF REDEMPTION.  Beyond these essentials, we must allow liberty. 

Like a great army so will be the great Body of Christ.  We are different in our various functions, our various assignments, our various emphases.  But we are united in the cause of Jesus Christ.  May the world know that He is Lord!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Knowing the Time

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Romans 13:1-14

11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Romans 13:11-12 (NKJV)

David once prayed in the Psalms, "So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Ps. 90:12).  So, here's the question: How long will you live?  How many days has God allotted to you?

Of course, none of us knows the answer to that question.  We could live for decades yet ahead, or we could go to meet Jesus this afternoon.  No one knows but God Himself.  BUT HE DOES KNOW. 

Paul speaks to us about "knowing the time."  What time?  There are two answers really.  First, is YOUR TIME.  He speaks of that time being short.  We have this one and only precious life that God has given us.  It is a gift of days -- a gift of moments.  We are called to live it to the fullest -- to live it to God's glory -- to live if for all that God wants it to be.  It's like waking up to breathe in all the beauty, power, potential, and wonder of this great thing called LIVING.

Second, there is this matter of KNOWING THE TIMES -- the times in which we live.  As we walk through this world, we are to have an affect.  We are to make a difference.  We are not just spectators watching a passing parade.  We are an army walking through a war.  We are soldiers carrying liberation.  We are healers dispensing eternal medicine.  We are to accurately discern our times, so that we can speak words on target -- so that we can give ourselves in the right places.

If we know OUR TIME, we will be better able to affect OUR TIMES.  God has placed you here in this unique place to do a special thing.  You are a part of a great grand plan.  So, may this day be all God wants it to be.

Bitter to Sweet

Here's the notes from the message at New Life Community Church yesterday.  To listen to the audio, go to our website at http://www.newlifesite.com/.

Inside Story, Part 6                                                                            Sunday, July 29, 2012
 “Bitter to Sweet”

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)

23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

22 Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. 24 And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” Exodus 15:22-24 (ESV)

Directly out of one the greatest miracles of the Bible, they are met with bitter waters.
Wilderness of Shur.  “Shur” – hard to translate, but perhaps closest is “wall.”  They ran into a wall.
25 And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.  Exodus 15:25a (ESV)

There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, 26 saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.” Exodus 15:25b-26 (ESV)

Compound name of God:  JEHOVAH-RAPHA
Context is healing bitter waters.

27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water. Exodus 15:27 (ESV)
Why this verse?  7 means completeness.  12 speaks of divine government.  After healing of bitter waters comes “completeness” and “Lordship”

1.     Bitterness contaminates EVERYTHING

14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;  Hebrews 12:14-15 (NKJV)

Defile – Gk. Miaino which means to stain, to dye, to tinge, to color or contaminate.

2.     Bitterness sets you up to see JESUS

20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” 22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning. Ruth 1:20-22 (NIV)

16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.  Ruth 4:16-17 (NIV)

3.     Bitterness requires HEALING

and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.”  Exodus 15:26 (NKJV)

Sunday, July 29, 2012


"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Romans 12:1-21

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

There is a very fundamental sense in which we DO NOT FIT in this world. We are citizens of the age to come. We have been translated out of the kingdom of darkness and into the Kingdom of God's Son. We are to live our lives IN this world (fully engaged and active) while not being OF this world (see John 17).

How can we do this? The Bible says that a TRANSFORMATION must take place. While continuing decay and destruction takes place in all things worldly, there can be a regeneration, a renewal simultaneously taking place in us by God's redemptive activity.

Our spirits are alive in Christ. That happened at new birth. Now our minds are invited to join in this unstoppable "re-making" of our entire being. King Jesus will ultimately prevail. All our attitudes, all our ideas, all our opinions will ultimately bow before Him. We will ultimately declare, "Let God be true, and every man a liar."

His truth has the power to transform us. We are invited today to allow that work in our minds, and as a result in our actions. This will demonstrate God's good plan. "He does all things well."

Saturday, July 28, 2012

God is Still God

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Romans 11:13-36

Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: Romans 11:22 (NKJV)

God NEVER CEASES TO AMAZE ME! There will always be new depths of truth, of insight, of revelation, of wonder .... of worship .... as we draw near to Him. At the end of this chapter, Paul has a bit of a "Hallelujah Breakdown". He bursts into praise at the awesome vastness and glory of the knowledge of God.

It has been said that there are supposed "contradictions" in the Bible. Some have accused that there are "discrepancies" within truth. But, the contradiction is not in God. It is IN US. We want to be able to capture God -- to capsulize Him. We want to bring Him down to be contained within OUR minds. When He goes beyond our ability to understand, we criticize Him. Some may even hate Him. BUT GOD IS STILL GOD.

In our childish way, we want Him to be totally predictable. But, within His Person will always be that which is BEYOND us. Incidentally, this is the basic meaning of "holy". In Him will always be a combination of goodness and severity, of justice and mercy ... of transcendence and imminence ... of unity and diversity ... of love and judgment. And the list can go on.

There are aspects of God's truth that I do not yet understand. There are ways that He works in my life that are hard for me to put together. There are turns in the road that can confuse me. But GOD IS STILL GOD. And He is awesome. It is Him I will follow!

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Power of the Proclamation of God's Word

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Romans 10:14-11:12

14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:14-15 (NKJV)

It is God and God alone who saves. It is the working of God the Holy Spirit that does a regenerating work in us that produces new life. When we speak of redemption, we are never talking about man's activities of self-improvement. In addition, we are not even speaking of any human activities of ministry to one another. Redemption is divine territory.

We might ask then what is the use of any human effort. If I cannot get the job done, then what is the usefulness of my work? As a preacher and teacher of the Word of God, this can often rise up in our minds as we watch people go year-in and year-out with little transformation. At times, it seems that our words are nothing but wind that accomplishes nothing.

But we must realize a fundamental truth of ministry. God created the world BY HIS WORD. His work of redemption is accomplshed BY HIS WORD. Faith is ignited in the human heart BY GOD'S WORD when it penetrates our hearing. The WORD OF GOD is the instrument of divine activity. It matters not how much I love people if it is nothing more than MY love. It matters not how much I stay up and labor. It matters not how many works I ACCOMPLISH. All that matters in the degree to which God is working THROUGH me BY HIS WORD.

Though the vessel may be weak, it is the MESSAGE that is strong. The delivery of God's Word is the instrument for the transformation of lives -- for the transformation of nations -- for the transformation of history. We are the carriers of the seed that will change the world. Therefore, carry it well. Carry it boldly. Carry it clearly. Such is the nature of true ministry.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Faith and Confession

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Romans 9:25-10:13

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 9:8-10 (NKJV)

There is connection between your heart and your mouth. Jesus taught this when He said, "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45). So, what is the importance of your confession?

There are those who place such importance on words that it becomes impossible to even acknowledge a head cold since that means somehow empowering the head cold. At the other extreme are those who act as if their words are nothing.

The correct understanding lies around the concept of ALIGNMENT. When faith rises in our hearts, it will always seek to come out, to express itself. Faith is active. Faith involves movement toward God and in agreement with God. That faith is not a compartment in us set apart from the rest of our being. Rather, it moves out to permeate all that we are.

As faith blossoms in the human heart, it will affects all other areas of life. This is where our mouth (our confession) becomes so important. This is the first portal to full deliverance and full alignment with the will of God. Confession determines direction. You may have a heart full of faith, but if your words speak differently, your heart will grow small. If your confession flows out of your true heart-faith, that faith will grow and ultimately prevail.

So, today speak God's Word. Think His thoughts. Express your praise. Do not hold it in. Give voice to your faith. If you will, your heart will expand with God's love and His power. YOUR FAITH WILL GROW.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

God's Chosen People

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Romans 9:1-24

who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.  But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel.  Romans 9:4-6 (NKJV)

Romans 9 deals with the topic of ELECTION.  This has always been a hard and confusing teaching to many folks.  I had an individual ask me one time, "Do you believe in election?"  I answered, "Of course I do.  It's a biblical word."  Actually, I know that I was sidestepping his question.  He was not asking me if I believed that election was in the Bible.  He was asking if I believed that God foreordains EVERYTHING so that man no longer has any free will.  By this extreme view, man is but a puppet.  The true biblical teaching about election does not require fatalism.

Romans 9 speaks of God's ELECTION of Israel.  They are called GOD'S CHOSEN PEOPLE. But, when we speak of God's actions to choose or elect us, we need to ask another question.  Chosen for what?  If Isael was chosen, what were they chosen for?

The answer is in Romans 9:4-5.  There are eight "things" that came through Israel.  Each of them is a study in itself. 

But the main "thing" is JESUS.  Israel was not chosen so that they could say to the rest of the world that they were special and superior to all other peoples.  Israel was chosen ultimately for one main reason:  TO DELIVER JESUS TO THE WORLD.

One final thought, and Paul echoes this: if the election of Israel was based on delivering Jesus to the world, what happens then when Israel rejects Jesus?  Answer: "they are not all Israel who are of Israel."  In other words, the true Israel are those who love and worship Jesus.  Election is no longer based on national identity.  It is "the election of faith."

Monday, July 23, 2012

In All These Things

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Romans 8:26-39 37

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39 (NKJV)

In Romans 8:35, Paul lists a litany of troubles: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword! This is not the picture of a happy life. This is PAIN! No one would want to live such a life. It is normal for each of us to seek the greatest pleasure and ease possible. I, for one, am all for it.

But, we who follow Jesus have a very fundamental problem. It seems that God often chooses to lead us into challenges rather than away from them. He seems to delight in giving us circumstances in which we can shine His glory. Romans 8:37 says "IN all these things we are more than conquerors." He places us right in the middle of chaos and says, "Now, you bring order." He puts us in the middle of despair, and says, "Now, you bring hope." He puts us in the presence of hatred and hostility, and says, "You will shine my love and my peace." We are placed in a messed up world so that we can bring the wholeness of Jesus right into the most fundamental and basic of circumstances.

How does He do this in us? How does He do this THROUGH us? He gives us an UNBREAKABLE CONNECTION. Nothing can break it. It is the steadfast, covenant love of God for you and me. It is stronger than the devil, stronger than distress, stronger than dirt! And it DEPENDS ON HIM. He has graciously conferred His love on us so that we might shine WHO HE IS to the world. My dear friend, THAT'S AWESOME!!! That's fantastic! That is enough to make anyone happy - no matter what.

Black Hole: Dealing with Depression

Here's the Notes from the message preached at New Life Community Church yesterday morning.  If you want to listen to the message, you can do so at http://www.newlifesite.com/.

Inside Story, Part 5                                                                Sunday, July 22, 2012
 “Black Hole”

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. (NIV)

So, how is your soul?
Eugene Peterson: "I had a pastor when I was a teenager, an adolescent, who always greeted me with, 'How are things with your soul today, Eugene?' The question left me stuttering and tongue-tied. I hardly knew I had a soul. Mostly I had hormones." … “I came to dread that
question because it just involved a series of clichés. Some people think it means, "How are your
devotional life and your quiet time?"  In Jesus' day, a lot of Pharisees had real regular devotional lives, but their souls were a mess.”  Eugene Peterson recalled that in his church, it kind of meant, Am I all fired up with intense emotions?

The attack on the basic part of us.  Our identity, our security, our personhood – our soul.
Great pressure to be something we’re not.

Illustration:  College newspaper with ad about EGG DONOR.
Genius Egg Donor Wanted
Great Compensation
“We are a couple seeking high-achiever egg donor to help build our family.  As an example of our ideal egg donor, it could be a 21-year old ______________ University student with an A grade point average and near-perfect SAT scores, having won several awards in high school and university.  We hope our child will be a top student, as each of us was, and able to go to _______________ University or another top university.”

New York Times front-page story dated June 10 which says that up to 40% of students in high-achieving high schools are now taking amphetamines to try to get more focused and raise their SAT scores.

Entitled message BLACK HOLE.
Wikipedia:  A black hole is a region of spacetime where gravity prevents anything, including light, from escaping

NASA:   A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can not get out. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space. This can happen when a star is dying.

Because no light can get out, people can't see black holes. They are invisible. Space telescopes with special tools can help find black holes. The special tools can see how stars that are very close to black holes act differently than other stars.

A Black Hole is an IMPLOSION. 

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.  But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.  O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 131:1-3 (ESV)
Weaned – Strategic Disappointment


Psalm 42

To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When shall I come and appear before God?   My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”  Psalm 42:1-3 (ESV)

Three Surprisingly Biblical Conditions (P.S. remember Ecc. 3!)
1.     OPPRESSING circumstances.
2.     Internal TURMOIL and DEPRESSION.
3.     FIGHTING for hope.

10 As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.  Psalm 42:5 (ESV)

11  Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 42:11 (ESV)

Six Lessons from Psalm 42:
1.     Talk to God about your FEELINGS.
Vs. 9. 
I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

Not always wrong to ask WHY. 
Forgotten – this is an Overstatement.  Vs. 8 – By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
So why if he KNEW God had not forgotten him, did he ask why He had forgotten him?  Because it FELT like God had forgotten him.  The Psalmist talks about what he feels, while at the same time stating what he believes.
2.     Confess God’s SOVEREIGNTY.
Vss. 5 and 11.  “My salvation and my God.”
Vs. 9.  God is my rock.
Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves  have gone over me. 

Illustration:  climbing Duns River Falls.

3.     SING in the night.

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. 

4.     PREACH to your own soul.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation  

11  Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones:
Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says,: “Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.” (Spiritual Depression, 20-21)

Listen, self: Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.  If God is for you, who can be against you? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for you, how will he not also with him graciously give you all things? Who shall bring any charge against you as God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for you. Who shall separate you from the love of Christ?

5.     REMEMBER God’s presence.

These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. 

6.     THIRST for God.

1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;  Psalm 42:1-2 (ESV)

Horatio Spafford

Before he lost his daughters in a shipwreck:

He invested most of what he had in real estate.
He lived in Chicago and lost it in the Great Chicago Fire.
It destroyed his home. They had no insurance. Lost his money.
Lost their son to scarlet fever.

Then he put his wife and their four remaining daughters on a boat to go to England. He had to stay behind for business. There was a shipwreck, and his wife ended up sending him a telegram with just the words,
"Saved alone. What shall I do?"

All four of their daughters were lost. He gets on a ship, and when he gets to about the same place in the ocean where his daughters were all drowned, he writes these words:

When peace like a river attends my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, you have taught me to say
It is well with my soul.

Expectation is Invitation

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Romans 8:9-25

24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Romans 8:24-25 (NKJV)

Hope is one of our most valued possessions in Christ. Hope is what keeps us going. Hope is the solid, firm expectation of the good that is to come. It is the anchor of our souls.

When we have hope, we are able to endure anything. Without hope, it is hard to get out of bed. Hope gives us energy. The loss of hope drains us of motivation and the will to go on.

Scripture tell us that we are redeemed not only for the benefits that are ours NOW -- peace, joy, comfort, blessing -- we are also redeemed with view toward a FUTURE that cannot be dimmed, cannot be defeated, cannot be denied us.  It is a firm and secure hope of what lies ahead.

It is in this light that, a few verses later in Romans, we read the great words, "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28).  Hope holds on to the conviction that no matter how things may look right now, God is bringing good out of it. 

This is vitally important because when we live in hope, we are better prepared to receive that hope.  Our attitude paves the way.  It is in this sense that we often say: EXPECTATION IS INVITATION.  What you are expecting, you are also inviting.  So, if you expect to have difficulty, there is a sense in which you are inviting that difficulty.  If you are expecting God's blessing, you are in a better place to receive that blessing when it come.

So, let's live in hope.  When we do, we are really agreeing with God about our future.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Battle of the Mind

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Romans 7:14-8:8

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Romans 8:5-6 (NKJV)

If you have receive Jesus Christ as your Lord, then you have been born again and your spirit is now alive.  You have new life in Christ!  Now you are faced with a DAILY WALK.  Will you walk in life or will you walk in death? 

The Bible teaches us that when we are justified, when we are regenerated by the Spirit of God, we have passed from death into life.  Romans 8:1 say that "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." But, having been redeemed, we now face a daily choice. We must now SET OUR MINDS. 

There is a barrage death-dealing information coming at us every day.  There are thoughts and words that would seek to deceive and mislead us.  If we allow this mental attack to win, it will fill our minds with thoughts that lead to defeat.  One author called this The Battle of the Mind

There is an old saying: "Sow a thought, reap an action -- sow an action, reap a habit -- sow a habit, reap a character -- sow a character, reap a destiny."  Your thought life is powerful.  It is God's responsibility to give you NEW LIFE.  It is your responsibility to build NEW THINKING.

So, today you can set your mind on truth and purity, noble things and honorable things, virtue and praise (see Philippians 4:8) or you can dwell on matters of condemnation, matters of dispair and doubt.  Throughout the Bible, there is a call -- Choose life!  Choose to walk in life.  Not only does this please God, it is the best way to live.

Reflections on Aurora

Reflections on Aurora

Today my three grandchildren are here visiting from Louisville, Kentucky. I am reflecting on the world in which these three beautiful children are growing up. For all its advancements in terms of comfort, health, and pleasure, it is yet also a world in which random, senseless killing of innocent people seems to come with alarming regularity.

In the aftermath of Thursday midnight in Aurora, Colorado, questions rise in our minds. Our first concern, of course, should be for those who are suffering, but questions of a wider scope should be addressed. Why are these things happening? What is going on in our culture? What can and should be done?

In asking these questions, we should not descend into undue assignment of blame or guilt. This is certainly complex territory. There are a multitude of influences and forces at work in our society. Forces that are particularly targeting our youth - young men and women such as James Holmes, Dylan Klebold, and Luke Woodham. These three and others like them may not be "the average youth" of our day (who knows?), but the forces at loose today are affecting us all and we've simply got to wise up and take action.

It is as if there is an endeavor being made to rip the hearts out of our children. A multi-pronged attack is under way to destroy our kids. I do not personally know James Eagan Holmes. Therefore, I cannot exactly know what motivated him to kill 12 people and injure a score of others. But, I can make a few observations about currents at work around us.

1. There is THEOLOGICAL and PHILOSOPHICAL void in our land. There is a section of youth culture that has bought into the anarchist, nihilistic worldview. This atheistic, pseudo-intellectual persuasion is growing. In some sectors, it is referred to as the New Atheism. I am aware that not all atheists are mass murderers or terrorists, but the atheistic worldview has communicated a message to our youth. The loss of absolutes has opened the door to an incredible loss of value and meaning.

Decades of teaching an EVOLUTIONARY WORLDVIEW has taught our kids that they are nothing more than the product of chance and necessity. The moral punch of evolutionary thought is "survival of the fittest" and that robs us of individual, intrinsic worth. If progress is the result of random mutation, then MISTAKES are guiding us. Nietzsche and Darwin are walking hand-in-hand.

This nihilistic, amoral wordview is embodied in the Batman character called "the Joker".  He represents chaos and thrives on violence.  It was this persona that James Holmes assumed Thursday night.

2. A Pandora's Box of evils have assailed our youth in the form of sexual experimentation beginning at an early age. Where has this come from? Again, many factors contribute but it is my belief that the ubiquitous MASS MEDIA of our day has set an example of promiscuity, adultery, and sexual confusion.

3. Along with these is a growing DRUG and ALCOHOL ABUSE problem among our youth that may be epidemic. This has life-long repercussions. With the loss of innocence and the deluge of substance abuse, there is also the loss of purity and of wonder, as well as the obvious performance alteration and loss of native ability.

4. Perhaps most telling of all is the loss of FAMILY IDENTITY and INFLUENCE. With the deterioration of family, there is the loss of perhaps the greatest stabilizing force in life. The absence of strong, stable fatherly influence has cut the legs out from under many.

When I look at my grandchildren, I want to protect them. I want to build an insolating shield around them so that the devil and the world cannot hurt them.  This afternoon I took them to the movies.  We saw the new Ice Age movie.  It was a delightful time.  I also thought about those kids who just a few nights ago went to the movies not knowing what was about to happen.

Aurora means "dawn."  That's the meaning of the name.  It speaks of the breaking of new light into the world.  Today, Aurora, Colorado is a dark place.  But, hope will rise again.  In the midst of such darkness, may the light of truth shine.  Jesus, and Jesus alone, is the only light that can disperse this darkness.  That is becoming clearer every day.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The WHY Question

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Romans 7:1-13

6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. Romans 7:6 (NKJV)

Motivation is a very important matter in our relationship with God. It addresses the "WHY Question." Now, don't get me wrong here. I believe it is always important that we do the right things. Whether we like it or not, whether we understand it or not, it is always good to obey, to do rightly. But God carries us further. He asks us why we follow Him, why we obey, why we continue to keep our lives in direction toward Him, why we serve.

It is in this respect that "we have been delivered from the law." If we keep the law in an endeavor to win God's favor, we will live a life of frustration and fear. If we live a life seeking to somehow do enough to be found worthy, we will fail.

So, why do you serve God? Why do you give tithes? Why are you faithful in church attendance? Why do you refrain from sinful actions? So many people live in fear that God will rain down wrath on them should they in any way mis-step. Some denominations even teach that you must go to church on Sunday or you will go to Hell. I know folks who give tithes because they think if they don't God will take ALL their money. This attitude produces a begrudging, resentful compliance. God, however, wants us to "serve in the newness of the Spirit." We don't obey to WIN God's favor. Instead, we serve because we HAVE God's favor. This is abundance of life.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Credit to Your Account

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Romans 6:1-23

10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:10-11 (NKJV)

The word "reckon" in Romans 6 is very important. By modern usage, it means "to make an educated guess" or "to conjecture". The biblical word is far stronger. It is the Greek word logidzomai, and it is a bookkeeping term. It means "to write on your account". It is precise. It involves a clear determination of VALUE and the an EXACT CREDITING of that value to a second account.

Watchman Née in his great book The Normal Christian Life points out three words that are central to our walk with God. Those three words are here in Romans 6. They are:

1. KNOWING (vss. 6 & 9)

2. RECKONING (vs. 11)

3. YIELDING (vs. 13) - the NKJV uses the word "present" for "yield".

This is revelation territory. This is breakthrough territory. It is ignited by our HEART-KNOWING the value of Christ's death and our death in Him. Then we RECKON. We write what is on Christ's account onto our account! We become as rich as He is! Lastly, we YIELD ourselves in daily obedience to Him. My eyes are no longer mine. My hands are no longer mine. I am dead in Christ, but alive in Christ.

This is truly a matter of the heart. So ask God today to open your eyes to your true identity in Him. By confession and decision, write God's words all over your life. The result will be a river of power and joy flowing through your every action.

What Jesus Has Done for Me

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Romans 5:6-21

8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:8-10 (NKJV)

By the death of Jesus, we are forgiven of all our sins!  This is wonderful news.  He has erased our guilt and shame.  He has done this as a display of His great love for us. 

For many people, this is the full picture of what Jesus has done for us.  But, there is far more!  It might be said that this first half of redemption deals with the NEGATIVE.  God through Christ takes away our sin and pollution.  But, then there is the POSITIVE giving of Christ's righteousness to us.  He not only takes away the bad, but He now gives the good!

This is the great doctrine of IMPUTATION.  Our sin (our life) is imputed to Christ and He bears our wretchedness on the Cross.  And, Christ's righteousness (His life) is imputed to us as the gift of grace.

This is what it means when Scriptures says that "we are reconciled through His death" (NEGATIVE) and "saved by His life" (POSITIVE).  My unworthy, sinful life is taken by Him.  His perfect, pure, and wonderful life is received by me!  Such is the grace of God.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Becoming Champions of Faith

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Romans 4:13-5:5

19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. Romans 4:19-21 (NKJV)

Abraham is called the Father of Faith. He serves as an example to us of the life of faith. It is of primary importance that we learn how to operate in faith toward God. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 6:6). If, however, we move in faith, God is pleased. Scripture says that He is never ashamed of those who trust Him no matter how faltering we may feel in our endeavors to walk this walk (Heb. 6:16).

There are several ingredients of the faith walk which we find in Abraham's story.

1. God required for him to WAIT. Our flesh usually hates to wait. We want answers now! Abraham received God's promise relatively early in life, but had to WAIT until he was an old man to see the fulfillment.

2. Abraham had to face NEGATIVE CIRCUMSTANCES. His body was old! His wife, Sarah, was beyond child-bearing age. It just did not seem possible anymore. God orchestrated the situation to the point that it was impossible by normal standards.

3. Abraham's faith ignited off of God's PROMISE. Just as the promise did not waver, so Abraham did not waver. Abraham's faith was fueled by the contemplation of God's unchanging truth and veracity. By this, he broke out in praise. He grew in the midst of challenge.

4. PERFORMANCE is God's responsibility. Our part is simply to have CONFIDENCE in Him and His character. God does NOT help those who help themselves. He helps those who have full, unwavering confidence in Him.

Learning to live in faith toward God is central to a vibrant relationship with God. We can no longer leave this dimension to the level of being an after-thought, a minor element in our experience, a neglected sidebar. We must become CHAMPIONS OF FAITH.

Faith Alone in Christ Alone

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Romans 4:1-12
4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.  But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, Romans 4:4-5 (NKJV)

How can a man be made right with God?  This is the central question of the Bible.  This is the foundational question that undergirds our lives.  If God really does exist (and we believe He does!), and if man lives beyond the grave, then the major question we all face it where will you spend eternity.  How can fallen, sinful man be made fit to enter God's perfect heaven?

Human wisdom (and human religion) answers this question by pointing to man.  We must perform a certain number of good deeds in order to merit heaven.  WE MUST PREPARE OURSELVES.  We must refrain from bad and engage in good if we want God to even consider allowing us into His heaven.

But, here's a couple of interesting corollaries to this position:

1. If man EARNS God's favor, then he DESERVES God's favor.  If that's true, then God's favor is no longer a gift, but rather a debt.  God then OWES us heaven.  We can then command God to fulfill His debt to us.  The end result is that we boss God around.  He is no longer on the throne -- WE ARE.

2.  If man can't earn God's favor, then what are we to do?  Paul answers: NOTHING.  We can only receive it as a gift.  But, we might further ask, "Isn't there some level of repentance or cleaning up that we must do BEFORE God will accept us?"  Paul speaks directly to this when he says that God "justifies the ungodly."  God's justifying action does not come BECAUSE  we have cleaned up our act, but BEFORE we clean up!  He justifies law-breakers, not law-keepers.

If man's actions are not a factor in our justification, then what is?  The answer rings out to us loud and clear:  BY FAITH and faith alone.  That faith is IN CHRIST ALONE, not in man's actions but in God's provision.  Praise the Lord!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Time Bomb: Handling Your Anger

Here's the Notes from Sunday's message at New Life Community Church.  You can listen to this message by going to our website at http://www.newlifesite.com/.

Inside Story, Part 4                                                                            Sunday, July 15, 2012
 “Time Bomb”

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Psalm 139:1-3 (NIV)

23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
Two times – at the beginning and the end of this psalm – David speaks of God searching our heart/searching our souls. 
Hebrew word for search – chaqar .  Means “to investigate, to search or search out, to explore”
Vs. 1 says He HAS searched me; Vs. 23 prays “NOW search me.”
Principle:  God already knows everything about us.  Now He wants to turn the lights on so we can walk in freedom – “the way everlasting.”

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)

Today we’re going to talk about ANGER. 
What makes you angry?
Examples:        Traffic
                        Arrogant or rude people
                        Big Things:  child abuse, dishonesty in government, poverty,
Over 20 times in Scripture, ANGER and FIRE are used together.  Anger can be good – warm you, cook your food, make life better.  Or it can be bad – burn your house down.
26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. Ephesians 4:26-27 (NKJV)
Foothold:  Gk. Topos.  Opportunity, Location, Place
Definition:  an·ger:  /a strong feeling of displeasure, hostility, annoyance, or belligerence aroused by a wrong or a grievance or a perceive wrong or grievance; wrath; ire.
So long as there is evil in the world, there will be (should be) anger that such evil exists.
There are at least 6 different words in Hebrew for ANGER – ranging from irritation to fury or rage.
There is good anger and bad anger.  Unfortunately, we are usually so unable to handle our anger that it is almost always seen as bad.

Good anger is the result of SEEING CLEARLY. 
Bad anger DISTORTS everything it touches.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:6-7 (NIV)

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-32 (NIV)

Two Wrong Ways to Handle Anger
1.     SPEWERS.  They EXPRESS.
For Spewers, there is a direct connection between their anger and their mouth – their words.
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. Proverbs 29:11 (NIV)

Billy Sunday – shotgun
A quick-tempered man does foolish things. Proverbs 14:17 (NIV)

Have you ever had a time that you got so mad that you did something you regretted later?
James 1:19.  Quick to hear/listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.


For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  Psalm 32:3 (ESV)


The older brother got so angry that he would not even go into the house. His father came out and begged him to go in. Luke 15:28 (CEV)

A Third Group:  CIRCULAR

How to Handle Your Anger.
1.     Find out why you’re angry.
2.     DO NOT succumb to impulse anger.
3.     Realize that you’re the one in danger.
4.     Bring the situation under the control of the Holy Spirit.
5.     For BAD ANGER:  Put it out!
6.     For GOOD ANGER:  Find God’s Release