Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Because of ONE THING, I am Joyful

Photo by Holley Gerth
Scripture: Psalm 27:4-6
One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord And to meditate in His temple.  For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.  And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

Insights: Look at the heart of David as he petitions the Lord.  He is asking the Lord to help Him to know Him.  He is purposefully seeking the Lord and desiring to dwell with the Lord.  He wants to meditate on the Lord.  Notice what he desire the Lord to do for him in the midst of his personal relationship.  He longs to be comforted by the Lord when he is experiencing trouble.  He wants the Lord to conceal him in the tabernacle or dwelling place of the Lord.  God will be his hiding place and in this difficult time, God will also be the One to lift him up.  Because God does all of these works, David is able to say he shouts with joy and he sings praises to the Lord.  Beloved, joy is not some external attribute.  Joy is something the Lord places inside of His children.  Joy does not mean we do not have trials and tribulations.  In fact, I sense we are able to recognize the Lord’s ability to produce joy within us in our most difficult days.  I will readily admit, I do not long for those days of difficulty.  I am perfectly capable of experiencing joy in good times, but I appreciate the joy more in hard times.  Joy, non the less, is the result of the one thing.  A personal relationship with the Lord Jesus gives the believer joy and it is supernatural in nature.

Questions:
 1. Do you have the joy of the Lord residing within you?
 2. Do you long and seek after the Lord with all of who you are?

Prayer: Father, I do want to know You.  I want a deep and intimate relationship with You.  May I grow in Your grace and cultivate the disciplines in my life which help me know You more personally.  Amen.



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Because of ONE THING, I am Confident

Photo by Chris & Karen Highland
Scripture: Psalm 27:1-3
The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?  When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.  Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident.

Insights: In verse four, which we will get to tomorrow, David says the words, “one thing.”  I titled the sermon Sunday, One Thing, and obviously verse four is where I derived the title.  I explained to the congregation if we had this one thing, then we would also have four traits in our lives.  The first trait is found in today’s verses and it is confidence.  Notice David is not Pollyanna in his view of life or his situation.  He uses the words evildoers, devour, adversaries, enemies, host, and war.  All of these things are rising up against David, and yet, he says he will not fear and he shall be confident.  Why is he able to be fearless and confident?  The answer is because the Lord is his light and salvation.  The Lord is his defense.  I wonder what happens when we face fear and dread.  Do we throw our hands up in the air and quit?  Do we run away?  Do we hide?  Do we allow all of our insecurities to incapacitate us with the ability to press on for Jesus?  Beloved, if we know God personally and are in an abiding love relationship with Him, then we can also face whatever circumstance with power and victory in Christ Jesus.

Questions:
 1. Would an outside observer describe you as being a confident or insecure type of person?
 2. How would you evaluate your life?

Prayer: Father, many times I am insecure in my leadership, but You have called me to influence those around me.  Let me do so in Your strength and power.  May I be found faithful in the midst of my insecurities.  Amen.



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Friday, March 24, 2017

Proclamation to Men is Obedience to Christ

Photo by brett jordan
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

Insights: We conclude this week with the idea of our proclamation to men is obedience to Christ.  Look at the verses with me.  Paul writes, “For the love of Christ controls us.”  He continues, “they who live might no longer live for themselves.”  The emphasis of these two statements is we are obedient to Jesus.  He controls our lives.  Our desire is no longer for ourselves, but for Him.  We ought to want to please Him with all of who we are.  His work has put my old self to death.  I am dead in Christ.  I did not, however, remain dead.  I rose again in Him.  Because of this new life I am compelled out of gratitude and love to obey the Lord Jesus.  Jesus Himself said, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments (John 14:15).”  In my sermon Sunday I talked about how many in the church are practical atheists.  In a conversation with such a person they would tell you they love Jesus.  They would even say they have received Him as Lord and Savior.  They would be good church going people.  They would not, however, have life changing fruit to display as evidence of their love for Jesus.  When He commissioned them, they would not obey.  They would live for themselves and would quench the Holy Spirit from controlling their lives.  Beloved, I believe this practical atheism is the reason 93% of all churches are stagnant or plateaued.  It is this practical atheism which explains why 95% of church attenders have never led a person to Jesus Christ.  Let me challenge you to strive for intimacy with Jesus.  I say this because what I know to be true about Jesus is He has an amazing way of changing who we are to honor Him.  The more you know Him the more you will desire to obey Him.  Pursue Him with a reckless abandon and be in awe of His presence and power.

Questions:
 1. Are you obedient to the Father?
 2. What evidence is there of your obedience?

Prayer: Father, forgive me when I walk in rebellion of Your commands.  Strengthen me to display my love for You in real and profound ways.  Let my life bring You glory.  Amen.



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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Presence among Men is Flexible

Photo by sabreguy29
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:13
For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you.

Insights: In today’s verse we discover a third truth about our ministry to people.  This truth is we need to be flexible in the hands of the Lord God.  Notice with me in the verse Paul states if he is beside himself, then it is for God.  In other words, this is like king David’s comment to his wife when he said, “I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes (2 Sa 6:22).”  In essence David and Paul are telling us there are times we worship and express our faith as if the Lord God is an audience of one.  He is always our focus, but there are times He would have us to let go of our inhibitions and surrender ourselves totally to Him with a reckless abandon.  When we live with this unhindered devotion many people will say we are out of our minds or as Paul wrote, “beside ourselves.”  People are not always receptive to religious zeal, but there are times in which God calls us to this kind of vulnerability with Him.  Paul went on to write in today’s verse, “if we are of sound mind, it is for you.”  Now this thought is when we are more reserved and logical in our approach to faith.  We are more diplomatic in our conversations and we use more intellectual and logical means of persuasion rather than emotional and spiritual.  When we portray Christ in this manner we are doing so for the purpose of winning lost people to Jesus and that is why Paul says, “it is for you.”  Beloved, the key, whether we are beside ourselves or of sound mind, is to be centered on the Lord Jesus.  Let Him be the One guiding you to actions of exuberance or reservation.  Realize the goal is to bring the Lord glory by our actions of obedience.
Questions:
 1. Are you flexible in your approach to ministering to other people?
 2. What techniques or styles have you used to share Jesus with others?

Prayer: Father, help me to be flexible in Your hands.  Let me display my faith as You would have me in various situations and conversations.  I want to be pliable in Your hands.  Amen.



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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Power before Men Resides in the Heart

Photo by John
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:12
We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart.

Insights: Yesterday we learned our ability to persuade men begins with an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus.  Today, we learn our power to live a transformed life resides in our heart.  In other words, God sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins.  Jesus rose from the dead and conquered sin and death.  He then ascending into heaven and God promised to send His Holy Spirit to dwell inside the hearts of anyone who would call on the name of Jesus to be saved.  Upon our reception of Jesus, our lives are changed because of His residing presence in our hearts.  The problem, however, comes to light in today’s verse.  For far too many church attenders in the United States, we desire moral rectitude more than spiritual transformation.  Look at the verse with me for a moment.  It reads, “. . . so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance. . . .”  In our western church culture we desire for people act rightly even if it means they go to hell.  We want them to have behavioral and ethical changes, but honestly do not really care about heart change.  This truth gets played out Sunday after Sunday with the conversations congregants have with each other as well as with the pastoral staff.  We are far to easily angered about issues of irrelevance than we are about the eternal condition of a soul.  Before our even worship service a congregant came to me and told me about listening to Steve Brown with Key Life Ministries.  Steve Brown said Jesus tells us to catch them and then He will clean them.  Brown was using a fishing metaphor.  Unfortunately, for us, we want them to get cleaned up first then we will catch them and take them to Jesus.  Beloved the reason is because we are more concerned about appearances than we are genuine heart change.  Real power comes from heart transformation, not behavioral modification.  Let us trust Jesus to do what only He can do to make us powerful and eternally changed.
Questions:
 1. Do you focus more on behavioral modification or authentic spiritual life change?
 2. Are you experiencing the transforming power of transformation because of the Lord’s work within your heart?

Prayer: Father, transform me to live in the power of Your grace and presence.  I need You to move in my life to such an extent that it is obvious I am Yours and You are mine.  Amen.



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Monday, March 20, 2017

Persuasion of Men Begins with the Lord

Photo by howtostartablogonline.net/legal
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:11
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.

Insights: In today’s verse we see the phrase, “we persuade men.”  It was from these three words I titled this weeks sermon Ministry to Men.  I am using this word men in a universal sense.  It could be men or women.  It is referencing humanity at large.  In today’s verse we see our persuasive ability actually begins with the Lord God Himself.  Notice the verse states we fear the Lord.  This fear is the kind of fear Solomon wrote about in the book of Proverbs when he stated, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”  I contend, at some point, we followers of Jesus lost this reverential fear of God.  We take Him for granted and then wonder why they Lord is not working in the midst of our lives.  Let’s skip the “we persuade men” phrase once again and move to the manifestation aspects of this verse.  Notice we are first made manifest to God and then to the consciences of others.  Manifest means to make known or evidential.  We can see and observe something that is made manifest because it has been pulled out and revealed.  When we are discussing being made manifest to God then we are alluding to our usefulness to Him and His kingdom.  This idea is found in Paul’s other writings when he discusses vessels for noble and common purposes.  Our manifestation before the Lord allows us to be noble vessels which are useful to His kingdom.  We also become useful and manifest to others because we are useful to the Lord.  He equips us, because we have wisdom from our fear of Him and we are useful because we are made manifest to Him.  With this equipping having taken place we are then able to persuade men of the truth regarding the gospel and our Lord Jesus Christ.  I write all of this in order to say, our persuasion of men begins with the Lord.  Beloved, let us cultivate our relationship with Jesus and let us be in awe of what He will do in and through us to persuade others of the truth regarding His saving work.
Questions:
 1. Do you fear the Lord God?
 2. Would others characterize your life as being useful to the Lord God in terms of your service to Him?

Prayer: Father, I all too often fall short in my service and obedience to You.  I know at the end of the day it is because of a relational disconnect on my part.  Help me to be manifest to You, and therefore, useful to Your kingdom.  Grow me in Your grace so I can truly persuade men regarding their need for a Savior.  Amen.



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Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Forth Type of Person is the Person Who is a Genuine Believer

Photo by timchallies
Scripture: Mark 4:20
“And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”

Insights: We conclude this weeks Thoughts by Scott with the fourth type of person.  As a review, you will recall the first type was the person who immediately rejected the gospel.  The second type of person was the one who thought the gospel was just too hard.  The third type of person was just too busy.  The forth type of person is a genuine believer.  The first three types of people were not authentically born again.  They were never truly saved.  They may have attended church now and then, but they were never truly His.  This forth type of person, however, truly does belong to Jesus.  Their lives are sold out to Him.  They really have been bought with a price and are no longer their own.  Their gratitude for their salvation is utter devotion to the One who saved them, Jesus Christ.  These new creatures have one distinguishing characteristic and that is fruit.  In other words, true saved people bear fruit in their lives.  Notice from the verse they are not required to bear equal amounts of fruit, but fruit bearing is an evidence of conversion.  There are those who have been spiritually gifted by the Holy Spirit as evangelist.  These type of people bear a hundredfold crop of new believers.  If, however, you have not been gifted by the Lord in this fashion, you are not given a pass.  You are also called to bear fruit.  You ought to desire to bear fruit.  Your crop may be only thirty or sixty fold, but a crop ought to be produced non-the-less.  I hope and pray you are really born again.  I pray if you are really born again that you desire to surrender yourself to the Lordship of Jesus and let Him work in and through you to bear fruit.  May your life bring Him glory as you serve and share Jesus with others.  May you yield a very large crop of new converts for His kingdom.

Questions:
 1. Have you truly entered into a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus?
 2. Does your life bear fruit of genuine conversion?

Prayer: Father, I know I am Yours.  I have fruit which has come to be as a result of my devotion to You.  Yet, Lord, I want even more fruit.  Increase my faith and let me be bold for You.  Let me have more opportunity to share the gospel with those in need of Jesus.  Amen.



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