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Building With Things That Last

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

cornerstone

“For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.  10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.”  1 Corinthians 3:9-13

At first glance you may be asking, what does this passage have to do with discipleship? It is a passage that teaches the importance of building things that will last, specifically lives that will persevere in Christ. It is a pretty common word picture in the New Testament to view our lives as a building that is continuously being built. This passage reminds us that we can build with materials that will hold up well and materials that will fail when tested.

During the Middle Ages when many Gothic churches were built, they would mine the stones for construction, sometimes as far as 50 miles from where the church was being built.   The rocks from the mine would be transported to the building site via a human chain of volunteers.  The church could not be built if anyone in the rock chain were to drop the stone or fail to do their part.

Today, the church is still dependent upon believers faithfully working together doing their part to see the church built up to be all God desires her to be.  More importantly, the Bible declares that our future reward comes from building Christ’s church, making disciples who make disciples. In other words, it’s not what we know, but what we do here on earth that will seriously impact our heavenly experience. Translation: the time to prepare for tomorrow is today.

The Apostle Paul describes the church as a building in our text and stresses the quality we should strive for in constructing each stage—from laying the foundation, through the actual construction, to the final inspection. Notice he says, “…the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.”  Not how much work, but rather what kind of work. Not the quantity but the quality. In other words, your life’s work can be wood or hay or straw — or it can be silver, gold, or costly stones. And on that day, the fire will put it to the final test. You say, “I am in Christ, what fire?”  We know that the Bible not only tells us that God is love, but it also tells us that our God is a consuming fire as well. (Heb. 12:29)

Paul continues in vv.14-15If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.  The Corinthians understood this illustration because not too long before this was written, their whole city was devastated by fire. They had seen the damage fire could do. Naturally as the fire swept through the city all the homes constructed of wood, hay, or straw, were now a pile of ashes. But the more wealthy homes that were constructed with marble and beautiful pillars of granite were still standing after the fire had swept through.

Will our life’s work stand the test of the fire when we come before the Lord? Will it have lasting eternal value – or will it end up in ashes?  What are some examples of these two kinds of materials? I would suggest to you that a heart of service is like gold, silver, and precious stones, while spiritual laziness and the attitude, “let others do it, I’ve done my time,” is like wood, hay, and straw in God’s sight. Generosity with the Lord and with His people is gold, silver, and precious stones, while self-centeredness and stinginess are wood, hay, and straw. Coming to church with a heart of worship is the former; coming to impress others is the latter. Doing ministry only after it has been bathed in prayer is the former; doing it in one’s own strength is the latter.

Finally, I think it’s worth noting that wood, hay, straw are found above the ground. They catch the eye, just like many people’s ministries do. They are quite plentiful and easy to find.  However, silver, gold, and precious stones are found below the ground. Nobody sees them – like many people’s ministries. They’re not just lying around in a field waiting to be picked up. It takes a lot of hard work to get silver, gold and precious stones. That’s why they are so expensive. Their quality for building and their rarity are what makes them valuable.  Again, it’s the quality, not the quantity that sets their value. Many things are difficult in the Christian life, but we should desire to build with things that last and hold their value, not only on earth, but in heaven as well.

david ><{('>

The Disciple's Fruit

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Disciples Fruit (1)“My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.” John 15:8

Did you know that when faced with the decision of taking a penny a day doubled every day for a month versus taking a million dollars in cash, that it would be more profitable to take the penny a day doubled every day for a month?  If you did the math, the penny a day doubled every day for a month would come to $5, 368,709.12.

Why is it so much more? The answer is known by every banker and investor, it’s the power of multiplication.  Jesus understood the power of multiplication as He trained His disciples to make disciples who would make disciples.  Within 2 years, His twelve disciples filled Jerusalem with their teaching (see Acts 5:28). In 4 years, the churches were multiplying and growing throughout all Judea, Samaria, and Galilee (see Acts 9:31). Within 19 years, they “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). And within 30 years, the gospel was bearing fruit and growing around the world (see Col. 1:6). Jesus’ disciples unleashed a movement of multiplication that continues even today to sweep around the globe and reach every people group on the planet.

When it comes to bearing fruit as a disciple of Jesus Christ there are two important things we must understand.  First, that God expects a person to begin to bear fruit that brings Him glory beginning at the moment of conversion.  Our lives must prove to a people who watching that we truly belong to Jesus.

Secondly, we must understand what spiritual fruit is if we are to measure it in our lives.  The Scriptures teach us that there are basically three categories of fruitfulness in a believers life.  Galatians 5:22-23 describe a character fruit that we are to bear.  At the moment of conversion the Holy Spirit comes to live in and through the believer transforming that person into the likeness of Jesus from the inside out.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)  The longer you walk with Christ, the more you are transformed by the Spirit to look more and more like Him.

Philippians 1:11 also describes spiritual fruit known as conduct fruit.  “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)  A follower of Jesus is called to be different from everyone else and when you love God and love people, choose integrity and honesty, lead with compassion, serve with humility, and give generously, you are reflecting Jesus to the people around you.

A third category of spiritual fruit is known as conversion fruit, leading others to faith in Christ.  Jesus often spoke of people coming to faith as the reaping of a spiritual harvest. Jesus said, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few” (Matt. 9:37; see also Luke 10:2 and John 4:35-38).  When you share the gospel with a person far from God and they come to faith in Jesus, you are bearing spiritual fruit. When you invest in a person – just as Jesus invested in His disciples – and you teach him or her to walk with God and invest in others, you are producing lasting spiritual fruit.

For three and half years Jesus poured His life into His disciples, teaching them how to preach the gospel, minister to the hurting, and make disciples who make disciples.  Disciple making is a decision. No one will make you invest in others. It’s a choice you have to make and the real question is, “Will I obey the command of Jesus found in Matthew 28:18-20?”  If you choose to obey then you know to look for that character fruit, conduct fruit, but most of all that conversion fruit.  Decide today to glorify God by investing in people, making disciples who make disciples.

My Kids, My Responsibility

Wednesday, March 02, 2016
 train up a child

One of the most important things you will ever do for or with your children is to disciple them to a living, personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  We live in a society that assumes that when children grow up they will automatically cast off the family’s beliefs and values.  But the Bible sees things differently.  The book of Proverbs says that the childhood years have a formative influence that lasts throughout life: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).

There are a number of mistakes that I see Christian parents making today.  One of those is to think that our duty as Christian parents consists solely of disciplining our children.  Now I want to make it clear that I wish more parents were engaged in this part of the process and would stop trying to be their child’s best friend and be the parent.  The Bible clearly states the importance of discipline (see Heb. 12:6Prov. 13:24).  But discipline – the process of bringing the will into submission – is not enough.

Something else that a lot of well meaning parents do is to think that all they need to do is to find a good church or children/student program and drop them off and everything will be great.  That just add water, microwave mentality is most certainly a recipe for disaster when it comes to discipling our children.  I won’t deny that a great group at church for your children is an asset in your discipling process, but it’s not the silver bullet so many parents are looking for.  Our generation is seeing a shockingly high percentage of young people raised in a Christian environment who do not continue in the faith outside of the home.  Surely, the primary reason is the poor quality of Christian discipling that is taking place in our churches.  But I am persuaded that another reason is that many parents do not recognize their role in discipling their children in the faith.

What does it look like for me to disciple my children?  To ask that question indicates that you’re starting to realize the importance of discipling your children. As a christian parent I was always wondering, “Am I doing enough?  How can I be sure that I’m really discipling my kids?” We can find insights about discipling our kids from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the Old Testament, we receive specific direction from Moses to parents. In the New Testament we learn about discipleship from the example of Christ.

In Deuteronomy 6, Moses is giving his farewell speech to the people he loved and he specifically speaks to the parents in the group. Of all the important things he wants them to remember, verses 5-7 sum up the how-to of discipling children.

  1. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.” Verse 5 starts with your own heart. In order for you to disciple your children, you need to love the Lord yourself.
  2. “Speak the Word of God to your children all the time.” Verse 7 tells us to speak to our children about God and His Word–when we’re sitting at home, when we’re traveling, when we lie down for bed, and when we wake up. In a nutshell, speak to your children about Him all the time.

In the New Testament we have the example of discipleship as done by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He chose a group of 12 men and did life together with them pouring into them as the first disciples.  Notice that we learn from Jesus example many of the same things we learned from Moses.  We see Jesus over and over in the Gospels speaking to His disciples and teaching them God’s Word. Two examples where we see this taking place in the Scriptures are:  Mark 4:34, “He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.”   Again in Luke 24:27, “and beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

The process of discipling children really consists of loving God with all your heart and speaking His Word to them. Share with them how God’s word has impacted you, teach them what you’ve learned from your quiet time. Talk to them before bed, when they wake up, while you’re at home, and while you’re traveling. If you’re having trouble starting these conversations, here is a link to a resource you can take advantage of to get things rolling (http://d6family.com/splink/.)  Scroll to the bottom, enter your email address, and each week you’ll receive three great conversation starters to help you in the process of discipling your children. Be encouraged that the God who has called you to do this will help you accomplish it as well.

david ><({‘>

Does Jesus Believe Your Profession Of Faith

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Show me don't tell me“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs that He was doing.  But Jesus on His part did not entrust Himself to them, because He knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for He Himself knew what was in man.”  John 2:23-25

Opposition is definitely not a tell tale sign that you are not being effective in ministry.  It was in Jerusalem that Jesus had an extensive outreach, yet was being opposed by the religious leaders.  Jerusalem was a very special place and was held in high regard by the Jews, but it was also the place where Jesus was later condemned to die.

Despite the opposition of the religious leaders many were believing in Jesus.  The response of the crowds would’ve been any pastor’s dream come true.  Our text tells us, “many believed in His name,” of course this happened, “when they saw the signs He was doing.”

It’s important to understand that miracles were not simply for drawing crowds, but Jesus tied His miracles to the truth of His message.  People are drawn to the sensational, whether it’s the feeding of the 5,000 or the lights, smoke and energy of a Christian concert.  Jesus’ miracles gave proof that He was the Messiah of Israel, but many failed to see the Messiah in the miracles, all they could focus on was entertainment and excitement.

“Many believe” seems like it ought to be a good thing at first glance, until further examination reveals a deficiency.  Jesus saw this deficiency and our text says He “did not entrust Himself to them.”  The words believe and entrust are the same words translated here.  In other words, while many were running around saying, “I believe in Jesus,” Jesus did not believe their profession of faith.

You might wonder why Jesus would respond like this?  The answer is seen in v.25 “He knew what was in man.”  Christ rejected them because He knew what was in their hearts.  They were basically unsaved believers.  It didn’t matter what they said with their mouths their hearts, which Jesus could see, were revealing something very different.

It’s one thing to respond to a miracle but something quite different to commit yourself to Jesus Christ and continue in His Word (John 8:30-31).  You might fool mankind about your faith, but the Lord knows who is for real and who is false.  Vance Havner used to say, “You can be just as straight as a gun barrel and just as empty.”

The crowds were excited and loved watching Jesus miracles until His words began to penetrate their hearts.  The 5,000 that He fed wanted to make Him king until He preached on the Bread of Life and then they started to scatter.  John 1:17 says, “grace and truth come through Jesus Christ.”  In grace Jesus fed the hungry; in truth, He taught the Word.  We have more of an appetite for physical food than we do spiritual truth.

People who want Jesus’ works but not His Word will never share His life.  The Word penetrates our heart and conviction follows.  The problem is conviction can either lead to conversion or opposition, but there is no neutral.  Miracles are awesome, but they should always lead us to the Word (John 5:36-38), and the Word generates saving faith.  “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.”  (Romans 10:17)

david  ><({‘>

Consumer Church

Wednesday, February 17, 2016
 Burger-King-Have-It-Your-Way
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of break, and in prayers…And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42, 47

The context for these verses is the response of some 3,000 people to the Apostle Peter’s preaching.  Peter boldly stood and declared to the people that the only solution for our sin sick soul is to repent and embrace by faith the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins.

From this we learn that there are some key ingredients that result in the evangelistic growth of the church.  I use to term “evangelistic growth” because so much of what we see in the mega church era is transfer growth.  In an article entitled “The Myth of Church Growth” by David Dunlap he cites that for all the growth in the megachurch era, the number of Americans who claim to be “born again” has remained a constant 32 percent.  He goes on to say that up to 80 percent of all growth taking place today doesn’t come from conversions, but from transfers.

What has happened is that we have gotten away from making disciples as commanded in the Great Commission – Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Our mandate has been attraction and we treat the church as if it were a business which has lead to a consumer mentality amongst our congregations.  

There was a survey of 1,000 church attenders where they were asked why the church existed and according to 89 percent, the church’s purpose was “to take care of my family’s and my spiritual needs.”  Only 11 percent said the purpose of the church is “to win the world for Jesus Christ.”  Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship said that in the long run, “if we train consumers instead of communers, we’ll end up with customers instead of disciples.  It might fill up an auditorium, but it will never turn the world upside down for Christ.”

God is not impressed with the fact that we have memorized the Great Commission…He wants us to fulfill it.  It’s time that we traded in entertainment for exhortation and embraced what it means to make disciples who crave a steady diet of solid teaching from the Word of God.  Put down those Twinkie sermonettes and learn to feed yourself from the “bread of life” (John 6:35).  

If we’ll focus on the priorities given to us in Scripture: worship, prayer, evangelism, learning, and loving we’ll see the Lord add to the church those that are being saved.  As we discover that church growth is God’s business and under His control, we will see consumerism driven from the church.

david ><({‘>

Who Am I?

Monday, January 11, 2016
 who-am-i-
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”   Romans 12:3

In our text the Apostle Paul is saying it’s alright to think about yourself.  Many people try to teach some false form of humility that purports that the Christian life consists of never thinking about yourself.  Now it’s true that some Christians have abused this to a point where all they do is think about themselves.  However, we are instructed to think about ourselves, especially in regards to whether we are in the faith or not.  2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”   We are to take the time occasionally, to evaluate where we are in our walk with Jesus Christ.

The problem with thinking about ourselves too much is that we start to define our self-esteem or feelings of worth based on our skills, accomplishments, status, financial resources, or even appearance.  This leads to a feeling of independence and pride which generally results in self-worship, dulling our desire for God.  No wonder James tells us (James 4:6) that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  Perhaps our cues on considering who we are should come from Jesus who told us in Luke 17:10, “You also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'”

I’m not saying that who we are as Christians is defined by whether or not we walk around with low self-esteem, but  it is defined by who we are in Christ.  Our self-esteem comes from having a right relationship with God.  Something is considered valuable by how much a person is willing to pay for it.  1 Corinthians 7:23 says you have been bought and paid for by Christ.  Romans 5:8 says, “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  We know that we are valuable because of the high price God paid for us.

The Bible says gave us worth when He purchased us to be His own and because of this He alone is the one who should be praised and worshiped.  I think the highest value we can give ourselves is by not becoming involved in sin that enslaves us.  One sure fire way to do this is to conduct ourselves with humility that thinks of others as better or more important than ourselves.  Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

“Lord help me to stop being selfish and trying to impress others.  Help me to be humble and to think of others as better than myself.”

><({‘>  david

Leave Nothing On The Table

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

empty table“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26

“Leave nothing on the table,” is an interesting phrase, especially in regards to Christian living. The “table” in this expression comes from poker, where if you don’t play intelligently, you’re leaving your money on the poker table. The sports world has similar phrases. They say to players about to start a new game, “Go out there and play sixty minutes of ball and leave nothing on the field.” Obviously I have better things to write about than how to play a good game of poker or football. However, if you feel convicted that in 2015 you might have left something on the table or the field that could’ve been used for the Lord’s glory then keep reading.

In 2016 if you are going to take the utmost advantage of everything available to you in becoming a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ then you’ve got to take your cues from the Lord.

When Jesus used the word hate in our text He was not advocating that the requirement for leaving nothing on the table as His disciple was to actually hate family, friends and ourselves. What He was doing was using a sharp contrast in order to make a point. We know that hate is the opposite of love and what’s interesting is that the direction of this hate is not toward something that could be easily hated like sin. Instead we are instructed to hate what would be considered the noblest thing we could love – our family. The emphasis here is that our love for God is to be so strong that our love for anyone or anything else would pale in comparison.

Leaving nothing on the table means that our love for God must take pre-eminence over all things. This could be relationships like we see in Luke 9 where a man tells Jesus in v.59, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Right there conflict arises because if Jesus is truly Lord and we are His disciples then He is first, not us. This man was really using his family as an excuse to leave nothing on the table and wanted to wait until they grew old and died before he would follow Jesus. Jesus reply was, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God” (v.60).

Leaving nothing on the table not only impacts our relationships, but it also impacts our resources. When the Rich Young man approached Jesus with questions about eternal life in Mark 10, touting the fact that he had kept all the commandments, Jesus let him know that he has still left something on the table. Mark 10:21-22 “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; come, follow me.’ 22Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”

Jesus wants to test our heart. He wants to be sure that we love Him more than anyone or anything else. If there ever comes a time when the call of some earthly love and the cross of Christ are in conflict, the call of Christ must prevail. Will you step out from the fickle multitudes and fair-weather followers today and be a true disciple of Jesus, loving Him more than anyone or anything else? If so then make a commitment today and tell the Lord that in 2016 you will leave nothing on the table.

><({‘>  david

Turn Down The Spotlight

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas manger

“Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.”  Hebrews 11:36

In the midst of reading about the great people of faith in Hebrews 11 we see many familiar names.  We remember the the stories we were taught in Sunday School as a child.  Their names and the faces from flannel graphs are etched in our brain.  However, we get to our text and the names stop and we’re simply told that others suffered for the faith and were found faithful.

I don’t know about you but I would wonder why my name wasn’t worthy to be mentioned.  I know that sounds pretty prideful, but I guess that’s how we are, always looking for the spotlight.  It seems that we all strive to be recognized as significant.  Yet the truth is we are whether anyone else but God acknowledges that.

In Alicia Britt Chole’s book, Anonymous: Jesus’ Hidden Years…and Yours, she writes – “From God’s perspective, anonymous seasons are sacred spaces…Unapplauded, but not unproductive: hidden years are the surprising birthplace of true spiritual greatness.”

She goes on to say, “Jesus was born in Bethlehem in a smelly animal pen (followed by hidden days). He was circumcised in the temple on his eighth day (followed by hidden months). Before turning two, Jesus received a visit from Eastern wise men (followed by hidden years). At the age of twelve he teaches in the temple (followed by almost two entirely hidden decades).”

Jesus never ran toward the spotlight. He never focused on drawing large crowds or marketing His brand. He knew that unseen does not equal unimportant.

Today I want to focus on being known by the only one who’s opinion really matters and that is Jesus Christ.  Today I want to focus on my relationship with Him and praise God for that relationship that was made possible because the baby born in obscurity was crucified for me.

Merry Christmas and may Emmanuel, God with us bless you today.

david ><({‘>

Don't Judge Others Because They Sin Differently Than You

Thursday, November 19, 2015

help upThe Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.”  Luke 18:11

I have to ask this, “Can you really be humble before God while criticizing others?”  I believe that’s a question I have to ask myself and consider frequently. 

As a disciple of Jesus Christ I really don’t want to be considered a Pharisee and would like to put as much distance between us as possible.  However, no matter how far I seem to run from self-righteousness I always end up bringing the Pharisee with me, that is myself.  The truth is that’s how pride works, the further I try to run from it, without a thorough self-examination, the more it seems to cling to me. 

This troubling scenario seems to occur when I sit down with like-minded friends and start to criticize others or another group? Maybe it’s those who don’t have the same political views I have.  Sometimes it’s those within my vocation that I don’t agree with.  Maybe it’s someone who has fallen in a certain sin that I don’t wrestle with.  And yes, sometimes it’s even another church where in my humble opinion they just don’t seem to get it.  No matter the topic, these conversations usually have two things in common: first, I’ve found a following that parrots my opinion, and second, no one wants to stop and try to understand what’s really going on.  Of course Proverbs 27:17 says we’re to have those iron sharpens iron type conversations, but I’m talking about a conversation where you simply want your own opinion validated.  I’d like to know where the Bible encourages us to have those kind of conversations.

Some people who claim to be Christians actually will say, “You know, I love the Lord. I just don’t love the church.”  Sorry, but that is impossible, because 1 John 5:1 says, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too.”

It is popular today to criticize the church. But understand this: When you insult the church, you are speaking critically of someone whom Jesus loves.  The church is the bride of Christ. We belong to Him, and He loves us. In fact, the apostle Paul used that analogy in Ephesians 5:25-26 when he wrote, “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.”  Some people claim to be Christians, yet they don’t attend church. But if you are a Christian, then you will long to be with God’s people. 

The other thing that I am repulsed by in our text is how little empathy this Pharisee has for the tax collector.  Has this Pharisee ever tried to collect taxes from people?  The answer is “no” because he has zero in common with “that sinner.”  Truth be known, I often have very little experience with what I criticize. In reality, when I condemn and criticize what I’m actually communicating is that I think I comprehend God better than they do.  That I would never do that because I have a superior handle on the Scripture.

Perhaps in my superior understanding of the Scriptures I have forgotten that Romans 14:5 says,“Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” That’s not saying that I’m convinced of my own opinion, but that every Christian will be called to account for his own convictions. Not the convictions of another person or group that I just cut to shreds with my criticism. 

In the rush to confer with our “like-minded” friends and point out the speck in our brother’s eye, we forget the plank in our own.  Since it is so difficult to live consistently with our own convictions, to criticize others is always the preferred method of self-justification. 

What needs to happen is for our faith and our life to intersect.  I still believe the purpose of the church as Ephesians 4:2-16  says is, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. 

In my humble opinion in living according to our convictions we should focus our outward attention on how we can love the people around us. As Christ said, the mark of a Christian is not their ability to find fault with other’s beliefs and actions. Instead, he said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). 

david ><({‘>

Respect

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
respect“For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”  1 Peter 2:15-17
 
Aretha Franklin said she had to have a little respect or “when you come home you might find that I’m gone.”  I don’t want to dive into the rest of the lyrics but it’s interesting how people just want a little respect.  I remember being taught as a young boy to respect my neighbors, my teachers and really all adults that had authority over me.  Of course the desire of any parent is for this training to translate into a way of life as an adult.
 
God’s standard is that we value all people regardless of who they are.  God wants us to honor the entire circle of any relationship we might have and wants us to respect the dignity of every person. I watched news the other day and was broken hearted as a college student who disagreed with a decision made by a professor shouted and degraded this man in public because it was her “right” to be heard.  It always seems to come to that, “My rights and forget what God says in His Word.”  For all our screaming and barbed comments we fail to show any hint of intelligence and simply make ourselves appear foolish.
 
Before we became Christians we had our own do-it-yourself-kit about what is valuable and who is actually worthy of our respect. We had our standards and naturally they were very low. Once we became Christians our standards changed. Our attitude is different. Our outlook is different. We are a new creation and we no longer think as we once thought (Rom. 12:1-2) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” 
 
What value do you put on people? A child of God should see in every person a soul for whom Christ died. They may be red, yellow, black or white. They may have a different opinion that you do and get on your last nerve.  They may be dirty or clean yet Christ died for them. Christ died for each soul of every person everywhere in the world.
 
More than 240,000 people, including 12,000 children, have been killed in Syria’s conflict which broke out in March 2011 and yet those numbers roll off us like water. Our estimation of human life has become very cheap. Each person killed has a family. Each one will need a funeral and a casket. We become hardened to these reports and hearing them means very little to us. We have become so callused that the loss of life becomes common place.  We only have room in our hearts for our wife, husband or child – only then would those stats mean something to us.
 
Have you ever noticed that everyone who undergoes surgery has the “best” surgeon in the hospital? Who told them that? The nurse. Do you think that she would say “He is not much of a surgeon but I am sure he will do his best?  When my son graduated from medical school he was given the privilege of practicing medicine.  Yes, I’ve heard the jokes about doctors practicing and how when it comes to your husband, wife or child you would just as soon have them practice on someone else.  What I’m trying to say is that human life becomes valuable if we love the person. God, however, wants us to honor all men.
 
God loved the world (Jn. 3:16). Christ died for all (2 Cor. 5:14,15; Heb 2:9). If God puts this value on all human beings shouldn’t we as Christians also put the proper value on every human being on earth? Do you have the right estimation of the value of the worth of a human being?  If so, then let’s learn to show some respect.
 
david ><{(‘>