Baptism at Singles Retreat - 147 Baptized!!!

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Law: Understanding it’s purpose is the Purpose.

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 1:8-11 But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

Application: Here is a clear light into the reason for the Law. The Law is good, but how could someone have used it unlawfully? This was the problem Jesus encountered and the church continues to encounter. The Law tells us to be separated from sin and those that would try and lead us into sin. It did not mean to completely separate from sinners – their the ones we need to encourage toward God. When Jesus walked the earth, the religious leaders had perverted the Law into a set of beliefs that were meant to be steps toward sinless perfection and heaven. Jesus ate with sinners and was confronted by these same leaders. Lk 15:1-2 & Matt 9:10-11. It still goes on today through “Churchianity”. That is never what the Law was intended for! The Law is not for the righteous person. Why? The righteous person does not need the Law due to the fact that they are already living righteously. The Law was given to point sinners to the standard that they needed to have if they were to please and be accepted by their Creator. It takes a humble person to assess and apply the purpose of the Law. Sadly, many of us arrogantly put ourselves above the Law. The people Jesus spoke to were not used to that kind of preaching so they were shocked. When the truth hits you in the head you can respond one of two ways; humbly say, “Wow, I need that.” or arrogantly, believe that you don’t need the truth and continue living the way you have chosen.  This is why there was such a dichotomy from those who heard what Jesus said as He preached the Sermon on the Mount and why it was so shocking to the people:

Matthew 5:20 (NASB95) “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

They must have thought “IMPOSSIBLE!!” and that was the very point of the Law. It was never made to make people righteous. It was made to show people how far they were off, that in turn would drive them to God asking how can they meet that standard. God in turn would guide them to see that they could not, so He must do it for them. That is exactly what Christ did with His life, death and resurrection. Trying to make our selves righteous through works is not a Pharisaical problem, or a Jewish problem – it is a prideful human problem. The Law should be used by all of us today – not as the path to heaven because that path will end before we make the connection to the eternal. No matter how righteous you are, in the end, the path of the Law will always stop short of eternal life. Does it matter if you miss heaven by a mile or only by 13 inches? Either way you still miss it! Like a trapeze swinger when you miss the bar ~ you miss and fall. We should use the Law to continually see the standard of God and realize how much we need Him working in our life on a daily basis to live in a way that glorifies Him. That’s the difference of understanding the work of salvation. Those that use the Law as a path toward heaven will find themselves falling short. Those that see the Law as their teacher on what is sin will move into a relationship with God through Christ and will immediately already be in the eternal. They may still be in an earthly body, but God sees them perfect and sinless in Christ. From that vantage point they now will endeavor to live holy, not to get to heaven, but because they are going to heaven!

Meditation Questions: Do you live good, so God will love you or because God loves you. Do you think you get close to living up to God’s standards? What are God’s standards? If God’s Word states no one is righteous, what does that really mean? Why is it important that we know the Law? What is the difference of the Law and grace? If it were possible for us to keep the Law and save ourselves, what would that say about God as a Father? Why did Jesus have to die?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wanting to be a teacher is not good enough

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 1:6-7 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.  

Application: Here’s the real difference of what “Biblical anointing” actually means. Today many preachers claim they have “the anointing” because of the WAY they present what they teach. A lot of bells, lights and showmanship. But Father, You do not call that anointing – You call that noise! The issue has never been in the form of what is said, it has always been in the substance of what is said. Notice – first and foremost – these teachers have “swerved” from the truth. They have left the path of what Truth is. Paul states they have “turned aside”, this is a medical term that was used to describe limbs that were dislocated - ektrepō (ἐκτρεπω) The outcome is “fruitlessness”, meaning noise but no substance:

Fruitless - ματαιολογία mataiología; a vain talker. Vain talk, empty conversation or babbling, Empty prattle,[1]

Reference is made here to quite a doctrinal wrench from the true position. This was no slight misinterpretation of the Word, but a serious change of position doctrinally. The words, “vain jangling,” are mataiologian (ματαιολογιαν), made up of mataios (ματαιος), “that which is devoid of force, truth, success, result, that which is useless, to no purpose,” and logos (λογος) “a word.” Thus, the compound word means “useless talk.” Their talk was vain in the sense of being in vain, futile.[2]

The most interesting and revealing point of this passage is found in the phrases “wanting to be” &even though” This is where we see the lack of anointing. It is good to “want to be” a teacher, however there must also be a call from You Father to be one. This is no mystical call, it is clear in scripture anyone that desires to be a teacher must be equipped to be one. These teachers expose they are not “teachers because their desire is what vindicates them, not their understanding of the Truth. That’s why Paul states “even though”! Even though they do not know the Truth, understand the Truth and seem to be unwilling to study the Truth to know it, they still insist they are teachers. It’s like someone wanting to be a doctor, but unwilling to become equipped in a way that validates their call to that position, still performing surgery! Not on me you won’t! So it is when teaching the Truth of God. Desire is essential and should be there, but being a good steward to learn the Truth, study it, engraft it, which in turn establishes His call on you, that is what the Word describes as a teacher! Father give us the hunger to know Your Truth so we can teach others!

Meditation Questions: What do you think when you hear a teacher “bashing” formal training? Do you believe the Holy Spirit can use formal training to equip teachers? Can a person be a teacher with no formal training?  Does it have to be “either/or”? If you desire to be a teacher of God’s Word what are the standards you have? Do you believe there can be a balance? What is that?

[1] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
[2] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (1 Ti 1:5). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Our teaching MUST be qualified

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 1:5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Application: Look at the purpose given for why we teach. NOT transfer of data, but transformation of life! Data is essential but not the key! Many people have the data, but because they do not know what to do with it, no change in life takes place. The most knowledgeable men in Israel put their own Messiah to death! This is where so many miss it. They study doctrine to gain data, but that is not Your intention for it Lord. You want us to gain the data, in order for us to have a new life in You! Notice Paul employs key descriptive words to amplify how the understanding of truth affects the characteristic of love. We don’t love just from our heart, conscience and faith. They are qualified:

Pure - καθαρός katharós; Clean, pure, clear, in a natural sense unsoiled, unalloyed.

Good - ἀγαθός agathós; Good and benevolent, profitable, useful.

Sincere - ἀνυπόκριτος from the priv. a, without, and hupokrínomai, to pretend, simulate. Originally it meant inexperienced in the art of acting. In the NT, it came to mean one without hypocrisy or pretense, unfeigned, genuine, real, true, sincere (Rom. 12:9; 2 Cor. 6:6; 1 Tim. 1:5; 2 Tim. 1:5; 1 Pet. 1:22; James 3:17).[1]

Our heart is unsoiled, clear and unalloyed – not mixed with other agendas. Our desire is that what we teach will be to the benefit of the hearer, not to our benefit. With a nature to sin, this is so important.

Our Conscience is benevolent, useful to help guide in our teaching. This is especially important in teaching because the conscience will witness to us if our motives are right. If we teach for some ulterior reason, our conscience will testify against us.

Our faith is genuine – we do not trust in ourselves, but in the (data) knowledge we have from Christ, our redeemer and the new creature you are transforming us into. You will use it in the lives of the people we share the same gospel with to transform them.

We must raise the level of our commitment to all the spiritual truth we share, whether it be a testimony of what You have done in our lives, the gospel of Salvation or some deeper theological issue. We always represent You, Lord.  The same love You gave us and the same truth we share to others must be qualified in this way, if it is truly from You.

Meditation Questions: When you share something about God to someone, are you just as concerned with HOW you share it as what you share? When we share about God do we make sure the person we are sharing with understands that we are confident in the Word, not ourselves? What are you looking for when you study scripture, addition to the brain? Change in the heart? Both? What is most important and why?

[1] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Avoiding dead ends

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 1:1-4 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope, 2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 4 nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.

Application: What does this mean? Paul is making it clear that Timothy is to take a vocally firm and even aggressive stand against false teaching. It is not a matter of “just teach the truth”, he is to directly instruct others not to teach false doctrine. This is a move of confrontation. Many in the Body of Christ shy away from this, yet I see this as clear and firm as any other command of scripture. The key here is the reason that Paul gives such a stern command. He is not saying questions are bad, but questions for questions sake, or just to cause confusion? Questions that lead to only more questions, and end only in questions? What profit is in that? Paul gives us an expanded answer in 1 Tim. 6:3-5 This may be what many in the world consider good “philosophy”, to spend time composing questions leading nowhere, with no conclusion. However, it makes for lousy living! Even You, Father bring a conclusion to the questions we will never answer with Deut 29:29! Paul affirms that we need to be involved with teaching that which “furthers” the plan of God. The word “administration” is about stewardship:

οἰκονομία oikonomía;  to be a manager of a household. The position, work, responsibility or arrangement of an administration, as of a house or of property, either one’s own or another’s - It is the divine purpose which is said to be administered. The meaning is the administration of God’s saving purpose pertaining to the fullness of the times. [1] The correct reading is oikonomian (οἰκονομιαν), made up of oikos (οἰκος), “house,” and nomos (νομος), “law,” the compound word meaning “household economy,” in the sense of the administration of the affairs of a household. The word here refers to the scheme or order of salvation as devised and administered by God, the method of operation of God’s salvation in the life of the believing sinner. The words, “which is in faith,” speak of the fact that faith is the sphere or element in which this salvation operates. Thayer in his lexicon offers the following translation: “which furnish matter for disputes rather than the (knowledge of the) dispensation of the things by which God has provided for and prepared salvation, which salvation must be embraced by faith.”[2]

Paul is instructing Timothy to denounce time in “so called” study about nothing that leads nowhere. We are to immerse ourselves in teaching that is from the plan of God and engrafted through faith. This causes growth and answers any questions that God has supplied an answer to. Father, time is valuable, let us not fall into the trap of the enemy and squander our time learning nonsense! We need to keep our eye on the gospel and Who You are, not get caught following false ideas that appear “deep”, but in reality are empty paths to dead ends. What we learn should impact our life or it really is useless.

Meditation Questions: What kind of teaching attracts you? What impact has it had on you? Do you become over involved in questions that have no answer? What does that show? Do you think the enemy wants to keep you busy doing things and studying things that accomplish nothing eternally? If no, why? If yes, how should you handle your time then? If we believe we really are stewards of the things of our Lord, who will hold us accountable?

[1] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
[2] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (1 Ti 1:3). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Protecting the world from eternal misinformation

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 1-3 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope, 2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,  

Application: It has always amazed me that many leaders in the church seem to deliberately ignore the over whelming statements by all three major writers in the NT – Paul, John and Peter – concerning our duty to stand and protect the Truth of our faith. Again, let me be clear here, I am not talking about dividing the church over a man made “ism”. There is no place for that among believers. I am speaking directly about when the Word states something black and white, but we hear some famous church leader state something different and we do not call him on it because we claim that would not be “loving”. The NT does encourage all of us to love – in fact Jesus made that a signature of discipleship. In the Bible God does not separate the Truth from any aspect of life, whether that be worship, business or fellowship. The “community”, of believers is not held together, by holding hands and singing Kumbaya in a circle. It is “The Truth” that bonds our hearts to Him! The truth that we love God first in our lives binds us together. The truth that we claim we are saved by grace alone and no one’s works can save them, binds us together. These same truths produce a unified love for our God and each other. So why many in the church allow false teaching to go unchallenged is beyond me.

Paul was animate about leaders protecting “The Truth” – even with their lives. So many seem to be afraid of sacrificing popularity or even a friendship to stand for The Truth. We do not need to be vindictive – that would not be the Spirit of Christ, but we should speak firmly, with grace, and openly when we see error of any kind being taught in the Body of Christ. The word Paul employs here covers a wide range of abuse of The Truth:

 “Strange” - ἑτεροδιδασκαλέω heterodidaskaléō; from héteros (other but different) and didáskalos (teacher) To teach a doctrine different from one’s own (1 Tim. 1:3; 6:3) - to teach differently. [1]

The words, “teach no other doctrine,” are the translation of a negative and the verb heterodidaskaleō (ἑτεροδιδασκαλεω), the latter word being made up of the verb, “to teach,” and the word heteros (ἑτερος), which means, “another of a different kind.” The idea is not merely that those exhorted are not to teach any other doctrine, but they are not to teach a different doctrine, a doctrine which is contrary to the true doctrine. Our word, “heterodoxy,” namely, false doctrine, refers, not to doctrines of false religions, but to doctrine which poses as true Christian doctrine, but which is diametrically opposed to the true teachings of Christianity. This is what Paul is referring to.[2]

The Word speaks for itself, and when we present it as it is, we are loving the world the way Christ did. Truth is not always easy to hear, but it is always freeing! Our job is never to make or manipulate a decision from anyone. Our responsibility given to us by the Lord is to lovingly share the Truth and leave it to those who listen to accept or reject it. If they see us change it to fit our desires they will think they can do that also and in the end there will be no standard of Truth. God made it clear – His truth is Truth! Don’t twist it, play with it or ignore others who teach it when they change it. I have no quarrel with the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or any other religion. I think they are wrong, they think I am wrong and God would desire us to tolerate each other. He has given them the right to teach whatever they want and in the end He will expose what the Truth is and all will be accountable for themselves. Our stand should be; they can preach what they want, they do not claim to represent the Lord Jesus Christ or His Word. However, when the teachers claim to represent Biblical Christianity it is a different matter. We must be committed to defending the Truth the Word brings and if that means calling false teachers out, even publically, the example and exhortations of Paul should be enough to motivate us. When it is a nobody like me teaching false doctrine, I have no problem leaving that to the one on one confrontations that local churches can do. But, if the teacher is world renown we must have leaders that God has raised to public view step up to their responsibility to the Lord, the Faith, the Body of Christ and to a lost world that depends on us to defend the Faith and keep it what God stated it to be. Father, help us defend the Faith, even when it means denouncing the “Strange” teachings coming from someone that claims to be a believer.

Meditation Questions: When you listen to a speaker do you allow “style” to determine if you think he is “great” or substance? What does that say? With “superstar” preachers in the world, what should be the standard the Body of Christ demands? When was the last time you really enjoyed a message and later decided to ask yourself – what did I like about it? Why did Jesus warn so much about how we listen? Consider Matthew 13:1-23

[1] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
[2] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (1 Ti 1:3). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

CHRISTianity vs. Churchianity

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope

Application: When we claim to everyone we know that a relationship with Jesus Christ has changed our lives, what do we mean? How has this relationship changed our lives? That is a justified question that deserves an answer. What about “I tried Christianity and it didn’t do anything for me!” I have met individuals that feel that way justifiably…and I sympathize. The sad part is that many do not listen to scripture carefully. The Word never claims that Christianity can bring hope. Nowhere does it say that religion can satisfy the deepest needs of the human soul. So when someone has tried a system and called it Christianity, yet finds it wanting, I understand. When you do not have the Person of Christ in the system – it is no longer Biblical Christianity – it becomes Churchianity! (Not a real word, but still a reality) Without the Person of Jesus Christ involved in an intimate, growing relationship it is all a religion, which is nothing more than a system of beliefs to guide one’s life by. Where is the hope in that? Notice what this word conveys:

Hope - ἐλπίς elpís - desire of some good with expectation of obtaining it.[1]

A system cannot supply that! Life is too fluid to try to live within a methodology that is so rigid. It does not give, it only breaks, either your commitment to the religion, or it breaks you. You lose you, and become another clone that walks in goosestep to the demands of the system. This is not so with Jesus Christ. He allows mistakes, failures, even rebellion. He celebrates victories and maturity. He deals with each individual and each circumstance on their own merit and with an appropriate response. With one believer that fails, He might teach a very important lesson, with another one He might just encourage them to push on and try again. With one believer that rebels He might spank with a firm hand to awaken them and keep them from even more danger, with another one He might extend mercy and see if that grace stirs the heart to return. CHRISTianity is about Jesus and a relationship with Him. Having paid the debt of sin in FULL, defeating the sting of the grave and now offering a relationship into a family whose Father is the Creator – we have a hope than no one can understand! Get that! You can’t understand it, you can ONLY experience it! In Jesus we have the hope that the impossible IS possible. We have the hope that we never die, we just sleep. No more permanent separation for any in Christ. Our hope is to see Him and each other forever in eternity. No religion can produce this, only a God – the Godman – Jesus Christ.
Meditation Questions: Do you sense hope in what you believe in? What does that look like? When you identify who you are, do you think of a group, a denomination or a person? What does that say? Why does God want us in local churches? What is the danger if we do not become a part of a local Body? What is the balance needed? The Lord encourages us to be there for one another, but where should our hope be? So when individuals leave the church because they are disappointed in people what does that show?

[1] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.