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Pastor's Blog Email david@hillviewbaptist.net

Identity

Wednesday, November 09, 2016
 like-him-in-this-world

In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, for we are as He is in this world.  1 John 4:17

We have been in a series on the gospel of John at Hill View where every verse is an attempt by the Holy Spirit to help us see Jesus Christ more clearly.  John has a way of getting the greatest truths across in the simplest of ways.  One of those great truths is also seen in one  of John’s epistles, our text, “for we are as He is in this world.”  You couldn’t say anything that is more powerful in a more succinct  way.

The day that we embraced by faith what Christ did for us His life becomes our life.  In our effort to make disciples we must communicate clearly that Jesus did not come to teach a better way to life – He came to give us His life.  Paul understood this as he said in Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ.”  He didn’t say for me to live is to live like Christ.  Of course what is logical here is that we cannot live the Christian life until we have the life of Christ.  Galatians 2:20 says, I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

One might ask what it means for the Christ to live in me.  If we are to be as He is in this worldthat means His joys become our joys.  In John 15:11 where Jesus is talking about what it means to abide in Him and He in us, He says, “These things have I spoke unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”  The common misunderstanding is that joy is happiness, but happiness is dependent upon what happens to us where joy is an inside job independent of what happens around us.

Christ living in me means that His joys are our joys and then the converse of that is also true, His sorrows become our sorrows.  This means the things that break the heart of our Lord also break our heart.  The things that weighed heavy on Jesus heart, weigh heavy on ours.  Luke 19:41-42 we read that, when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.”  Jesus is still burdened over a lukewarm church and a lost world today.  If we can walk the streets of this world and not feel that same burden then it would be to our benefit to be sure that Christ actually does live in us.

We begin to see now that the blessings and the burdens come with the shared life of Christ.  Another blessing is that Christ’s friends become our friends.  Jesus said again in John 15:14, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”   While it is true that God so loved the world and that Jesus was a friend of sinners, it is also true that there is a special fellowship that is shared only amongst those who love the Lord and demonstrate this through obedience.  Perhaps the coldness that some say they feel amongst the people of God is a sort of self-imposed isolation that is the result of disobedience.

Another burden that comes with the shared life of Christ is that His enemies are now our enemies.  Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:23, “but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.  The more that we are as He is in the world it becomes clear that those who oppose our message are really “…enemies of the cross of Christ”  (Philippians 3:18).  n Philippians 3:18 Paul speaks of   The lines are clear and to experience the shared life of Christ we discover what James was talking about in James 4:4, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Again, Galatians 2:20 says, I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. This means that Christ’s cross becomes our cross and a cross has but one purpose – death.  Luke 9:23 says, And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  This means there is a dying to our self, our priorities and plans.  The interesting thing I’ve discovered in my  walk with Christ is this not only needs to happen every day, but frequently within that day.

Finally, and most amazingly is that the shared life with Christ transcends this world.  This means that His future is our future.  1 John 3:2 says, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”  1 Timothy 2:12 says, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.”  We are simply waiting for our King to return, but for now we are to be like Him in this world.

david ><({‘>

The Three-Strand Life Of A Disciples

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
 

three-strand-chord

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

The Greek philosopher Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”   One key item to keep your eye on as you look for growth in the life of a disciple is accountability. And while you won’t find the word accountability in the Bible, the principle is taught from Genesis to Revelation. In looking to the Scriptural principles for accountability we discover that the examination in the life of a disciple is three fold or has three strands.

First, we are accountable to God. Romans 14:12 says, So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. In an age where the individual is worshiped and everyone is saying, “I just have to follow my heart,” we would do well to remember that God has the ability to change our heart and even give us a new heart that is perfect toward Him. Ezekiel 36:26-27 says, And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and causeyou to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Being accountable to God means that we must examine our own walk with the Lord. Proverbs 4:26-27 says, Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. 27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. We can keep our hearts perfect toward God by asking God to reveal and remove any thing in our heart that would keep us from loving Him with our whole heart. “Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.” (Psalms 26:2-3) We can know what is in our heart by the things that we think and the words that come out of our mouth. Psalm 19:14 says, May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Secondly, we are accountable to our spiritual leaders. Hebrews 13:17 says, Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. I’ve never been one that had a desire to rule over or lord over people. I hope that is a sign of humility and not a shrinking away from the serious calling for which I will give an account. I want to communicate that as the pastor of the flock and an elder in the church I am just a man like any other with the same struggles and failings. However, I also need to communicate that God expects Disciples of Christ to obey and submit to their leaders and to call for that.

Thirdly, we are accountable to other believers. There is an old Jewish proverb that says, “A friendless man is like a left hand bereft of the right.” Proverbs 27:17 says, Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Rod Handley, the former president of FCA said, “Accountability will not remove sin or keep you from sin, but it helps you become aware of your sin, and helps you focus your attention back on Christ. Being accountable (to another person) takes honesty, and if it doesn’t exist it will be a meaningless experience.” Who have you given permission to speak the truth in love into your life and hold you accountable for keeping the promises and commitments you have made? At Hill View our discipleship strategy calls for this to take place in a D-group (discipleship group) we where have encouraged people to become a part of a group of 3-5 people who are seeking together to go deeper in their connection with God and with other believers. However, this is not going to happen with out accountability.

The strength of the disciple’s life is found in these three strands being intertwined throughout their life. It starts with one realizing their hopeless condition apart from God’s saving grace. In that realization you repent and receive God’s gift of forgiveness and purpose for your life. You then move from an individual who was alone and separated from God by sin to son or daughter of God and co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17). However, the third strand is found in a disciple making relationship within the family of God. Galatians 6:1-2 says, Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. How grateful we should be for Christian friends who help us walk straight.

In considering the wisdom of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 4 as it relates to a disciple’s life we understand that one strand could be broken easily; two strands would require more strength, but three strands woven together could not be easily broken. I think more important than the strength found in numbers would also be the unity of these three strands – what a beautiful picture of the growing, thriving life of a disciple-making disciple of Jesus Christ.

 

david ><({‘>

A Missional Mindset

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

missional.jpgAs disciples of Jesus Christ we must intentionally live on mission where God has planted us. This means that most of our mission work won’t be done carrying a passport in a foreign land, but it will occur during our everyday lives.

To live this way every day of our lives requires a power beyond us. This is the power that Jesus Christ promised in Acts 1:8 when He said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” As we make disciples there will be times that we feel inadequate and that is why we must never stop depending upon God to impact the lives of those we are investing in.

Notice the plan Jesus gives us in Acts 1:8 for living missionally. Jesus says that with the power of the Holy Spirit, “you will be My witnesses.” The great plan of discipleship is not wrapped up in how many verses I have memorized or how good my arguments are for Christ, but rather in the simple desire to be used by God to point to Jesus Christ. Our main task is to draw attention to Jesus, not ourselves. It’s much the same as when you look in the mirror, your attention is not drawn to the glass that is doing the reflecting, but to the reflection itself.

The question could be asked, “How do we reflect the image of Jesus and point to Him?” This is where I say missional living needs to become a mindset that affects how we dress, how we act, how we speak, everywhere we go. In living a changed life we also verbally witness that Jesus is the reason our lives are different. People may debate many things but they cannot argue with a changed life.

The interesting thing I’ve discovered about a missional mindset is that people are not seen as targets or assignments, but simply as someone precious and valuable to God. Our approach then becomes more about caring about someone because God cares, than checking off an assignment. I remember when I was attending the Moody Bible Institute that each week we had to turn in our PCM (Practical Christian Ministry) report. While I understand the importance of accountability, I often wondered in the scramble on Fridays was to check a box off or to rejoice in opportunities I had to be used by God to point someone to Jesus. The difference is the missional mindset.

In aligning my heart and mindset with the Master I have noticed that the longer I am a Christian, the harder I have to fight becoming isolated and insulated from the divine appointments I could take advantage of. Perhaps accountability for the mission is a good starting place, but somewhere in my walk with the Lord it has to be my desire and intention to be His witness. The missional mindset takes my calendar and hands it to the Lord saying, “Here this is yours to fill in because I want to be on mission with You everyday, in every way possible.  

david ><({‘> 

Disappointed in Discipleship

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

discipler

The highest calling we have received in life is to give God glory by making disciples. Everyone who has embraced that calling says with the Apostle Paul, (1 Corinthians 4:16) I urge you, then, be imitators of me. Again (1 Corinthians 11:1) Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. However, nothing is more disappointing than to look behind you and see that the one you’re discipling isn’t following.

Of course there’s the old Afghan proverb, “If you think you’re leading and no one is following you, then you’re only taking a walk.” But before you have a meltdown, contemplating your effectiveness as a disciple-maker I want you to hear Jesus’ heart (John 6:67) “Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’” If you live long enough someone is going to disappoint you.

Jesus experienced disappointment in His earthly ministry. Another passage that comes to mind is Jesus encounter with the rich young ruler. In Luke 18 the rich young ruler came to Jesus asking what more he needed to add to his portfolio to inherit eternal life. Of course he thought he had all the bases covered and as Jesus reminded him of what the law required this rich young ruler was ecstatic that he could say he had not committed adultery, he had not murdered anybody or stole from anyone. He was able to truthfully say that he had never bore false witness and that he had honored his father and mother.

I’m sure this rich young ruler was all set to hear Jesus’ words of affirmation, but (Luke 18:22-23) Jesus said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have…and come, follow Me.”But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. Jesus gave the clear call of discipleship this young man like He does to everyone of us who claim the name of Christ – come, follow Me. Jesus didn’t try to lure him, He simply issued the call to follow Him as a disciple and then left him alone.

To be sure this wasn’t the only disappointing experience Jesus had with those who claimed they wanted to follow Him. He was disappointed when the disciples fell asleep when He had asked them to watch and pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was disappointed because Jerusalem would not embrace His message and it brought Him to tears. Jesus definitely faced disappointing moments but He did not allow that to distract Him from His mission and it did not affect His attitude towards people. He loved them unconditionally and prayed for them even though they disappointed Him.

Probably at the heart of the problem we have with people disappointing us is the misplaced expectations we place on them rather than God. We should never stop believing in the potential of people, but our trust must be placed firmly in God. People even with the best intentions will let you down, but God is always faithful.

To grow and go forward in spite of disappointments we must learn from them. Ask yourself, “What does God want me to learn from this?” “What fruit am I manifesting in my life when I am disappointed?” Disappointing moments are opportunities to demonstrate the same kind of forgiveness God offers to you. Sometimes they even reveal areas in our own lives that we must work on.

Don’t let disappointment distract and sideline you, instead ask God to give you wisdom to not put your faith in people and trust in Him and Him alone.

david ><({‘

I Saw The Church

Thursday, September 01, 2016
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44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.   Acts 2:44-

Several years ago studies were conducted among former American prisoners of war to determine what methods used by the enemy had been most effective in breaking their spirit. Their findings revealed that the soldiers did not break from physical deprivation and torture as quickly as they did from solitary confinement or from disrupted friendships caused by frequent changing of personnel. Attempts to get the prisoners divided in their attitudes toward one another proved to be the most successful method of discouraging them. It was further learned that the soldiers were not sustained primarily by faith in their country or by the rightness of the cause for which they fought. They drew their greatest strength from the close attachments they had formed to the small military units to which they belonged.

While I was working with disaster relief teams in Louisiana, it was amidst the trash heaps hauled to the road by those displaced by the devastating floods that I beheld a marvelous sight – I saw the church. Oh I drove past several buildings with steeples on them, but that’s not where I saw the church. I saw the church as I looked at a woman who drove all the way from Indiana to help clean up debris and then sleep in her mini-van at night. I saw the church as daily cleaning supplies, diapers, clothes and food were dropped off at the gymnasium of a church building, and it was the church that sorted, fed and distributed to those in need. I saw the church as people from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Indiana, New York, and California covered in sheet rock dust and debris sat together eating after a hard days work and encouraged each other with laughter and love. There was a togetherness amongst this small group of people that could not be explained any other way apart from a common relationship with Jesus Christ. I heard one pastor comment as we were eating, “If this is what happens when disaster strikes, perhaps all of the United States needs to be flooded.”

This picture I paint for you of the church isn’t the first one ever to be seen. Matter of fact the first recorded glimpse we have of the church is in Acts chapter 2 where we read in v.42 that they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

To see the Church one would think you needed to be in a worship service on Sunday, but that view of the church limits fellowship to mere attendance. That view of fellowship is more like a jar of marbles where everyone is in the same jar bumping into one other but having little impact on each other’s lives. I believe fellowship is more like a jar of grapes that bleed on one another. In Biblical fellowship our faith should rub off on each other. The first believers had real spiritual needs that drew them into fellowship with others who had the same needs and naturally they bled on one another.

What I saw and experienced in the hot Louisiana sun was warm, loving, Christ honoring fellowship. Too often church attendance turns us into iceberg Christians where we just float around and bump into one another. I like what one visitor to a church had to say of his experience, “I don’t want to say that it was a cold church, but I did notice the ushers were wearing ice skates.” I realize you can’t have fellowship without being together, but I also understand there is a big difference between attendance and togetherness.

One things that drew people together was a sense of responsibility for each other. Did you notice it said they were, “Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”These offerings were coming from those who had “glad and sincere” hearts. No one could bear to have too much while others had too little. This was a part of their worship – not some inside bulletin cover on Sunday, but at the heart and core of their worship they were responding to God by responding to each other. Again I want to remind you that it wasn’t just their physical needs that drew them together but it was their understanding of God’s love which made a new life possible. It wasn’t the result of their behavior because they had just finished nailing God to the cross. Their response in worship was due to the power of God. Hearts were responding to God’s presence. Their worship was a result of being drawn to God through the effect of the cross. They were confident that Christ lived and died so they could be free from sin. This was the drawing power of the occasion.

A sincere fellowship is always attractive. Attractiveness is the natural quality that flows from a genuine fellowship. People want to know the source of it all. Luke records that they “praised God and had favor with all the people.” There were no arguments over names, formulas, creeds, rituals or tradition; it was just a simple heartfelt response to God and one another. No argument over the kind of music, or the order of worship, or which church to join. There is attractiveness about this spirit. In fact, it was there that others saw the attractiveness of the fellowship of the first believers. It was that attitude that brought others into a relationship with God. It was here that we see the first believers unified, magnified and multiplied. It was a powerful testimony to the unsaved. The risen Lord continued his ministry from heaven and people continued to be saved. Because day by day they were seeing the church.

Let’s be the visible church of Jesus Christ today.

david ><({‘>

Textbook Discipling

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

d-group

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”          John 8:31-32

There’s a buzzword out there today and it is ‘discipleship’. Some look at it as a program to add, while others refer to it as a pattern to follow. Many are looking for the latest material you can use but actually the textbook was written a long time ago. Now I am the first to admit that I am always curious how a fellow pastor is implementing this mandate to make disciples amongst their flock, but the simple truth is that Jesus said to be His disciple you need to abide in His Word. In considering what it means to abide in God’s Word consider this; the Bible is the baseline for making disciples who make disciples because the Word needs to get into you just as much as you need to get into the Word.

Jesus said that one of the benefits or results of this abiding in His Word is that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. Two interesting questions came to mind in reading that. First, what is true freedom? Second, am I free?

I know that there are things that I have no desire to do at all and in that sense I am not free to do them. I’m sure I could muster up the willpower every once and while to do them, but is that freedom? I also know that even if I have the desire to do something, but not the ability, again I am not free to do it. Then again, if I have the desire and the ability, but not the opportunity, the frustrating reality is I am not free to do it. If all the things necessary line up and I have the desire, the ability and opportunity but in the end it destroys me then I am not free indeed.

To be fully free, we must have the desire, the ability, and the opportunity to do what will make us happy forever. No regrets. And only in an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ who died and rose for us, can that be possible.

In considering this abiding that Jesus is speaking of and the resulting freedom, we have to ask, “Freedom to do what?” As a disciple our abiding encounter with the Word of God is not simply to procure doctrinal truth, but rather to possess the freedom to put doctrinal truth into practice. In following Jesus through the gospel of John it is apparent that studying the Word of God and not putting it into practice through devotion will only lead to a pharisaical intellectualism.

However, before you hate on the intellectuals remember that doing something simply out of devotion without know why you do it just leads to moralism. There has to be a balance where studying and abiding in the Word of God has it natural effect and that is right behavior. What we must do as followers of Christ is close the gap between what we know and what we do. If the Scriptures teach us to bridle our tongue a disciple is looking for a tangible way to do that. If the Scriptures teach us to serve one another a disciple is looking for a tangible way to shoulder kingdom responsibilities in their church and community. If the Scripture teaches that we are to make disciples then a disciple is looking for those 3-5 people they can pour their life into in order to teach them what it means to abide in the Word.

We have the textbook for discipling and nothing less than abiding in God’s Word will free you to do what you were created to do. Let’s go make some disciples who make disciples.

david ><({‘>

The First Stone

Tuesday, August 09, 2016
 

stone-in-hand

“Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”  John 8:11b

The context here is John 8:1-11 where the woman caught in adultery is brought before Jesus.  I can imagine this must have been a pretty dicy moment until Jesus intervened.  Can you picture this woman being dragged in with a red face, her hair in disarray, and then thrust before Jesus in embarrassment.  Her emotions must have run the gambit from rebellion and anger to loneliness and fear.

The amazing thing about the false advertisement of sin is that separation from God is purposely left off the label.  Any time we find ourselves wrestling with a sense of isolation and fear, the first thing we need to do is search our soul and confess our sins so that we can have peace with God and enjoy the fullness of His presence again, rather than lash out and blame others for what we are experiencing.

There are two amazing stories running simultaneously here in our text.  One is obvious, someone has been caught in the act of adultery which is forbidden in the Scriptures by the Lord.  The second story is that of these scribes and Pharisees who claim’ to be truly concerned about holiness and justice, but in fact are not.  The reason I use the word ‘claim’ is because it obviously takes two people to commit adultery and if they’ve caught this woman in the act, where is the man?  These accusers were claiming to act on Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22 saying, “Teacher this woman has been caught in the act of adultery and the law of Moses commands us to stone such a woman.” (John 8:4-5)  They conveniently overlooked the fact that the law actually required both the man and woman to be stoned.  This woman was nothing more than a pawn being used to trap Jesus in a dilemma in order to discredit Him.

All eyes were on Jesus as these men waited with rocks in hand to see if Christ would condemn her.  If He didn’t then He would contradict Himself when He said in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”   On the other hand if He did condemn her to be punished then He would contradict what He said in Luke 9:56 when He said, “For the Son of man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”  These Pharisees did not accept that Christ could show mercy to sinners and also keep the Law.

Of course there is no trapping Jesus or tripping Him up.  He looks at this hypocritical crowd and says in John 8:7, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” The word ‘sin’ here is very specific and referring to this actual sin the woman was caught in, adultery.  Jesus gave them the go ahead, and I’m sure the woman in shock braced herself for her fate.  However, rather than feeling the blows of stones coming her way, she heard the thud of stones hitting the ground.  No one condemned the woman because sinners don’t condemn sinners and God doesn’t condemn sinners until the other side of eternity.  Jesus had fulfilled the law because now there were no eye witnesses to accuse her.  Jesus also saved a life because this woman who repented of her sins experienced Jesus’ freeing forgiveness which enable her to go out and live a different life.

Jesus gave this woman what every heart needs, love and forgiveness.  He actually chose to save us all by dying on the cross as the payment for our sins.  Titus 2:14 says, “He gave himself for us, to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.”  It’s obvious we can’t throw the first stone so let’s drop the rocks and spread the gospel so that lives might be saved rather than destroyed.

david ><({‘>

Learn By Doing

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.  And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”  The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”  John 6:51-52

The context here is that Jesus has just fed the 5,000.  The people seeing that Jesus had the power to put bread in their stomachs wanted to make Him King.  Jesus wanted them to get their focus off of their stomachs and on to the satisfaction He could give to their souls.  He explains to them that He is the bread of life, giving eternal life to all who would believe and receive Him.

Rather than consider the source of life before them and make the application to their lives, they decide to argue about the meaning of Jesus’ words.  Jesus referring to these kinds of people said in Matthew 23:24, “You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!”  But before we come down too hard on these religious leaders we must admit that all too often the same thing occurs in the church today.  We would rather debate the meaning of the words rather than make an application of the Word in our lives.

Here the Jews, which is usually referring to the religious leaders, are ignorant to the symbolism Jesus is using and want to criticize His message.  The word used in our text is “dispute” which means to wrangle or quarrel over.  A failure to believe or embrace Christ’s words often results in bad behavior which gives way to strife, bitterness and criticism.

The teachings of Jesus were always straightforward and easy to understand by the common person.  His use of the phrase, “eat my flesh,” simply meant that just as physical food becomes a part of your body after you take it in, so we must receive Christ into our innermost being so that He can give us eternal life.

We now live in a society where people would rather debate the proper prayer to pray to receive Christ than to hold forth the Bread of Life that people may come, eat and live.  I’m always leery of the one who prefaces their claim to know Him whom to know is eternal life, by stating what they don’t have to do or can continue to do and still be a disciple of Christ.  We need less debate and more application.

My heart is often heavy for those who judge and stifle the service of others as they look down their nose finding fault with their life, yet all the while failing to do the hard work of repenting and restoring relationships.  We need less debate and more application.

Christianity, the Bible and Jesus Christ have become nothing more than an argument for a select bitter band of people who claim the name of Christ.  Their mantra is, “You’re not doing it right, you’re not following Him right, or you’re not believing correctly.”  Perhaps what has brought this mindset to the surface is really a soul that is famished for the Bread of Life.

I believe with all of my heart that, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  ( 2 Timothy 3:16-17). However, I also believe that a careful study of God’s Word without a heartfelt application results in a hypocritical legalism that fails to exude the aroma of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:15), in our conversations.  It’s definitely time for less debate and more application in the family of God.

 david ><({‘>

Wake Up America

Tuesday, May 03, 2016
 National Day of prayer“Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins.  Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God.”  Isaiah 58:1-2

I am excited about participating in the National Day of prayer this year because anytime people are gathered to not only talk to God, but also listen to God, there is hope.  America is facing a spiritual crisis and it’s time that we wake up as a nation to what is going on around us and comprehend the price future generations will pay.

God is calling for a people to go about telling this nation of it’s rebellion, transgression and sins.  This heralding is to be like a trumpet blast to get people’s attention, because outwardly there are those who say they want to know God and draw near to Him, but in reality this is nothing more than a show.

The point of Isaiah 58 is that outward actions and talk is simply not enough.  In other words a piety that does not produce a passion for God-exalting ministry and practical mercy is really worthless.  I have no doubt that I will gather with some “Bible reading,” praying folks who enjoy doing these things.  But do we as a nation enjoy God and His ways or are we more interested in enjoying our own self-justifying religion, while we forsake the judgments of God.  The indictment is clear and should frighten us, God is not pleased with a public show that doesn’t produce fruit.

You might question what kind of fruit God is looking for.  I think character fruit would be something God expects.  Galatians 5:22-23 describes character this way: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faith, gentleness, and self-control.  When a person receives Christ by faith, the Spirit of God goes to work transforming that person into the likeness of Jesus from the inside out.

Another kind of fruit God expects is conduct fruit.  Followers of Jesus produce good works that glorify God and demonstrate His love to the world.  Philippians 1:11 speaks of the “fruit of righteousness.”  This is the fruit of a life that lives righteously and serves God faithfully.

However, of all the fruit I believe the one God expects the most is conversion fruit.  When you share the gospel with someone and they come to faith in Jesus, you are being fruitful.  When you disciple a person teaching them to walk with God and invest in others, you are producing lasting fruit.

I am hopeful that as we gather to pray this Thursday that it will be a time of self-examination, as well as, petition.  I am prayerful that God will put it on my heart and the heart of many others who are in Christ to live fruitful lives as disciples of Jesus Christ.

david ><({“>

Shaking The Four Month Mentality

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Jesus harvest soonJesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.  Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest?’  Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”  John 4:34-35

Christ was so consumed with his work that he thought little about his own need for food.  Job described this kind of thinking when he said in Job 23:12, “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.”  I have experienced times in my own life when I was so enthused about what I was doing that I might have skipped a meal or two, but I would be ashamed to tell you how many of those times were spent focused on God’s will.

We live for satisfaction, but sadly we go to the wrong places to find that satisfaction.  We’ll often look toward eating, experiences, entertainment, material things, or even relationships for a lasting satisfaction that’s just not there.  The disciples were also slow to understand this as they thought Jesus was talking about literal food and were wondering where he got it from.  We know that Jesus was talking about something far greater.  In a way we are like the disciples always preoccupied with the here and now failing to recognize the priority of the Father’s work.  For Jesus leading the Samaritan woman to experience salvation was the true nourishment he sought.  The disciples were satisfied with bread, but Jesus was satisfied with accomplishing the Father’s work.

In v.32 Christ said, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”  The position we are to take in the Father’s work is one of submission to his will.  You say, “What is the Father’s will?”  Urgent engagement in the harvest of the lost is God’s will.  Phillip Brooks said, “Seek your life’s nourishment in your life life’s work.”  The will of God ought to be just as much, if not more, satisfying to us as sitting down to a great feast.

The trouble is we are in and out, up and down and dabble in doing the will of our heavenly Father.  The satisfaction we seek can only be found in being persistent in the Father’s work.  This is why Christ said in v.34 that he must accomplish his work.  There was no half-way serving with Jesus.  Aren’t you glad that finishing was on his mind when from the cross of Calvary he said, “It is finished” (John 19:30)?  If we are ever to know the eternal satisfaction we were meant to experience we must see that it is found in being faithful to finish, as well as, in being faithful to the finish.

Jesus changes the image from food to harvest quoting from a familiar Jewish proverb that talks about waiting for the harvest as he points to the villagers coming out to the well to meet him, thanks to the witness of the Samaritan woman.  The disciples, so much like us, went into the village to find bread to satisfy their stomachs, but failed to share with anyone the bread of life that would satisfy their souls.  The woman took their place!  The question we are left with is this, is our pursuit of the lost urgent or is our response, “There’s still four more months”?  In what ways are you finding satisfaction in making disciples?  Or, are you telling yourself there are four more months till harvest?  It’s time to shake the four month mentality.

david ><{‘>