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Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Gift of Conviction

“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” John 16:8

Jesus taught the disciples many wonderful truths about the Holy Spirit. Just before His ascension Jesus told His disciples to go back to Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit. (Luke 24:49.) On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit fell on each believer filling them with power from on high to fulfill the ministry Jesus called them to, and to teach and lead them on their journey of life. Today everyone who believes in Jesus receives the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:9-11.) However, as believers we need to daily seek being field with the power, anointing, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We seek Him by staying focused on spiritual things, (Romans 8:5), and through prayer.

The word convict that is used in this scripture is a word that requires action. When God convicts us we humble ourselves before Him agreeing with Him that He is right and we are wrong. It should produce repentance within our lives. In reality God is always right; if God then convicts us of a wrong we must repent or stand in danger of being in rebellion against Him.

We shouldn’t fear God’s conviction. God’s heart is not to bring us down but to build us up. We should rejoice over God’s convicting work in our lives. God convicts us of our errors to restore us into being healthy and productive. Apart from the convicting power of the Holy Spirit we would never know we are sinners standing in rebellion against a holy God. Nor, would we ever know His righteousness, or His righteous standards. Even if we did know of His righteousness and His standards we would not have the ability to live in accordance to it. Praise God that the Holy Spirit empowers us, teaches us, guides us, and convicts us to live in harmony with the Him. Truly, the Lord has not left us on our own. Even those who continue to rebel against the Lord are convicted of His coming judgment and are therefore still without excuse.

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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Biblical Mandate for Missions and Evangelism

Jesus said to the disciples just before His ascension in Acts 1:8, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” As we study the book of Acts we clearly see the progression of the gospel starting in Jerusalem, going to Judea and Samaria, and then to the remotest parts of the earth. We can clearly see Acts 1:8 as the outline and the purpose statement of the books of Acts.

  • The gospel proclaimed in Jerusalem: Acts 2-8:3
  • The gospel proclaimed in Judea & Samaria: Acts 8:4-12:25
  • The gospel proclaimed to the ends of the earth through Paul’s three missionary journeys: Acts 13-28

In Acts 13:1 we see the church of Antioch praying and fasting leading to the Holy spirit saying in verse 2, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” The church then fasted and prayed again, laid hands on them and set them out to carry the gospel to the remotest parts of the earth.

Acts 14:21-23 says, “After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” This text of scripture shows us the clear twofold purpose of the work that the Holy Spirit set out for these men on their missionary journeys to do. The first purpose was to share the gospel and the second was to start churches.

In every city Paul and his team of missionaries were faithful to preach the gospel. They would preach the gospel in Synagogues, along the riverside, by the gates of cities, houses, and prestigious lecture halls. Even while in the presence of governors and kings who held his life in their hands, Paul was faithful to preach the gospel.

In every city Paul and his team entered there were many who rejected the gospel and often persecuted Paul. Yet, at the same time there were many who accepted the gospel with gladness. When the gentiles heard that God’s grace was available to them through the preaching of the gospel, they were especially responsive. Acts, 13:48-49 says, “When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.” I wonder how many who live today in our own communities would respond to the gospel when they hear that they are not too far removed from the grace of God. But how will they hear unless we tell them? Most of the time they will not come to us because they feel unworthy, however, if we go to them they may very well respond.

Paul was on a journey traveling from city to city preaching the gospel. He seldom stayed in any a city for very long, sometimes as little as two weeks. For this reason he knew churches need to be started in these cities as a continuing base of ministry. Paul trained elders for these churches who would then take leadership positions to establish order, to protection from false teachers, to educate, and to give direction. I Timothy 5:7 says, “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.”

The churches had a twofold purpose. First they needed to disciple the new believers. Secondly, although many in these cities responded to the gospel there were many more that did not hear and needed to be evangelized. The good news is that there were now churches established in these cities as an evangelistic lighthouse of the gospel; not only to their generation but to the ones to come.

God’s order has not changed. He still fully expects His churches to send, pray for, and support missionaries just as the church at Antioch did. Something interesting to notice about Paul’s missionary journeys is that he only went to larger cities of major commerce and trade that was easily accessible to the rest of the world. These were the perfect locations for churches to grow and multiply by sending missionaries out into the rest of the world.

God also still fully expects His churches to be a lighthouse of the gospel to their own communities and to disciple those who come to the faith where they too will become effective workers for the kingdom. If we are not faithful to this task the world will then be condemned to hell separated from the grace of God for eternity and we will be responsible because we refused to do what God fully expects of us. Remember though, Europe was the first continent to be considered a Christian continent in great part to Paul and his team of missionaries being faithful to the Holy Spirit and the calling He set them apart to do. What would God do through us today if we are simply faithful?

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Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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What Motivates You?

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 NASB

Selfishness, conscience, and love are the three basic motivators in the lives of Christians and non-Christians alike. Selfishness seeks only what is beneficial to the individual with their personal wellbeing their only motivator. Those who are motivated by conscience are motivated out of a sense of duty and obligation in doing what is right whether it be legal or moral. The one who is motivated by love isn’t concerned for his own well being, nor does he do what he does simply because it’s the right thing to do according to the law or morality.

As Christians love should be our only motivating factor. Selfishness is strongly condemned in the Word of God. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit.” As Christians we should have a clear conscience of God’s law and expectations of morality. However, Jesus said in John 14:14, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

Jesus commandment for us is to love. If we love Jesus the commandment of love will come naturally, without thought, and without hesitation. The more we love Jesus the more we will naturally obey this commandment of love. When we are living in accordance to the commandment of love it will impact every area of our lives from our families to our churches, in our service, giving, selflessness, even our conscience.

How then do we grow in this command of love? Jesus said we are to love one another even as He has loved us. He is our example. We love God because He first loved us. The more we seek Jesus in our daily lives the more we will know Him and the more we will love Him The know and love Him the more His love will have a transformational impact upon our lives. We don’t seek love; we seek Jesus-He is love.

Selfishness and conscience have had great negative impacts on our families, and churches. This negative impact has caused many in the world to turn away from the Lord. Children who are raised in church are turned away by seeing the hypocrisy of selfishness and conscience rather than the love of the Lord and far too many churches are better known in their communities for their fighting rather than their evangelistic efforts and works of ministry. However, the commandment of love when seen by the world will be a beautiful and refreshing sight to them. It will draw them in rather than turn them away. Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Are you a disciple of Jesus? What motivates you?

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The True Treasure of Heaven

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 NASB

Keeping this scripture in its biblical context we see Jesus warning us not practice our righteousness before men to try and gain their approval. He tells us that the things we do in secret our heavenly Father will see and thus reward. In other words our goal of service should never be for the applause of man but the approval of God. When we are rewarded with the applause of man it is temporary and always leaves us empty and longing for more. However, when we gain God’s approval we are blessed beyond any earthy means.

Jesus is our reward. Today He is too us the treasure in these earthen vessels. In heaven there will be no need of the sun, moon, or stars, for He will illuminate heaven with all His glory. On earth our joy, our peace, our satisfaction, our blessings, and anything we find praise worthy should only be found in Him. In heaven the streets of gold, the walls of jasper, the gates of pearl, and the heavenly host of angels will only remind us of His glory and splendor.

As we invest in our families, our churches, our communities, and the lives of one another our singular goal should be to shape them so they to remind us of Jesus. Anything else falls short. If Jesus is our heart He will be our treasure and all else will leave us unsatisfied.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Beautiful Feet

“HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” Romans 10:15 NASB

           Clearly the church is failing in regards to evangelizing this lost world. Thom Rainer recently wrote in a blog titled, Where Have All the Baptisms Gone? “I recently reported the latest statistics for our denomination. It’s not a pretty picture. Our membership declined again, this time by 105,708. And our baptisms were down to 314,956, the lowest level since 1948. But in 1948, we only had 6 million members. Today we have 16 million members. We are reaching less people for Christ, even though we have 10 million more members than we did in 1948.”

Even the most spiritually blind person among us today can see that this world is becoming morally bankrupt while they slip further from the Lord. Immorality of every sort is socially acceptable toady in almost every facet of society, even in many churches. Bible believing Christians are left asking the question why. Why is this world slipping further and further away from God’s righteous standard?

We are quick to make excuses that it is a sign of the times we are living in. We say the Lord is coming back soon and we are therefore seeing the apostasy. There may be truth in these statements, but this truth should cause us to work even harder for the kingdom and not less. We are even quick to pass the blame on everyone else. We say that the government, the judicial system, the news media, and the entertainment industry for the most part are anti Christian liberals who stand against us. We say things like, “If we can get Washington right we will reclaim this nation for the Lord.” However, there is a major problem with statements such as this. It is not the government’s job nor responsibility to lead this nation to the Lord-it is the churches.

The clear picture that statistics such as this, that Thom Rainer quoted, and many more like it, is that the church is not doing its job. God has given a clear biblical mandate to all Christians to share the gospel message of Jesus. Just prior to His ascension Jesus gave the final instructions to His disciples to go into all of the world and proclaim the gospel. (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:47-49, John 20:21). Jesus said in Acts 1:8, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” He said, you shall be, or you will be, My witnesses. Jesus intentions for His church to share the gospel are abundantly clear.

Jesus asked the disciples in Matthew 16:13, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They said in the next verse, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” Jesus then asked them in verse fifteen, “But who do you say that I am?” At this time Simon boldly answered in verse sixteen, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” In the next verse we see that Jesus was greatly pleased with Simon’s answer and said, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Jesus then renamed Simon Peter saying, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church.”

When Jesus renamed Simon He called him Peter which is Petros in Greek. Petros is a small stone or a rock. A brick can fall under the category of a petros. It is certainly not a foundational stone that someone would build a house on. Rather it would be the small stones, like bricks, that would rest upon the foundational stone.

After Jesus named Simon Petros, He said “upon this rock I will build my church.” The word that Jesus used for rock was a different word than the one He used for Simon Peter. Jesus used the Greek word petra as the rock that the church would be built upon. Petra is a large rock, a foundational stone that is much different than the small stone, petros, Simon was called. Clearly Peter is not the foundational stone that the church is built upon; Jesus is. Jesus is the one who gave His life so He could redemption the church. To say any other is the foundation of the church is not only biblically inaccurate, it is outright blasphemous.

Peter clearly understood what Jesus was talking about. Peter wrote in I Peter 2:4-5, “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.” Who is the living stone? Jesus is. He is the one that was rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God. We are the ones who come to Him also as living stones that are being built up as a spiritual house. This is the perfect portrait of the church.

The church is not a physical building, an address, or location. The church is a spiritual house. Jesus is the living stone that is the foundation. We are living stones being built up on that foundation. Just as bricks are laid atop of the foundation of the building we are laid atop of Jesus who is the foundation of the church. We are also laid atop of all of the other believers who came before us such as Peter. Peter was named Petros because he was the first to confess Jesus as the Christ. Upon our confession of Christ we are saved and therefore laid atop of the foundation of Christ as the church.

After Peter gave us this wonderful picture of the structure of God’s spiritual house he then gave us an understanding of its function. He said in I Peter 2:9, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Jesus didn’t save us to give us a get out of hell free card. He saved us out of darkness and into light so we would have a relationship with Him and so we would proclaim to the rest of the world, which remains in darkness, of His excellencies and His marvelous light so they too would be drawn to the light and have a relationship with Him and not stand in darkness separated from God doomed to eternal condemnation. Clearly, this is one of the main functions of the church; the whole church.

Paul wrote in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” If the gospel is truly the power of God for salvation, as the Word of God says that it is, and we refuse to share the gospel we are then guilty of condemning this world to hell. How will they repent of their sins if we don’t tell? How will they walk out of darkness and into the marvelous light if we don’t tell? How will they know their sins will eternally condemn them if we don’t tell? “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” (Romans 10:14-15).

The feet that carry the good news may become callused, bruised, and bloody; they may become dusty, dirty, and grimy; they may become tired, weary, and worn, but they are beautiful to God. Far, they are bringing the good news of Jesus to a lost world of whom He loves.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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A Great Reward

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NASB

Without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:1 tells us what faith is, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11 then gives us several testimonies of individuals that faced a variety of circumstances in their lives. They all had one great attribute in common, “For by it, (faith), the men of old gained approval.” (Hebrews 11:2).

When we have faith in God we must have full assurance that He is. Alongside this assurance we need to have full conviction the He is with us if we are His children. An amazing truth that we often overlook is when Jesus was conceived we were reminded of who He is; He is Emanuel, God with us. Another amazing fact that is often overlooked is the words of Jesus just prior to His ascension, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” From His conception to His ascension He has promised to be with us. However we must believe with assurance and conviction; that is faith.

Although the bible assures us that God will be with us, the Word of God also tells us time and time again to seek Him. This particular verse tells us that God rewards those who seek Him. As Christians our lives are powerless without the presence of God. We should seek Him from the time we wake up in the morning to the time we lay our head down at night. We should even desire to dream about Him. It is only through the presence of God within our lives that we have true victory in life. However, we don’t seek victory, or blessings, or gifts, or power, or wisdom, or might, or anything else within our lives. What then do week seek? We seek Him. God has promised us a reward when we seek Him. What is the reward? He is our reward! He is all we need! He is victory, He is the ultimate blessing and the giver of blessings, He is the greatest gift and the giver of great gifts, He is power, He is wisdom, He is might, He is anything and everything we will ever need. When we seek Him we are rewarded with Him. What a great reward!

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Fasting and the Work of the Church Go Hand in Hand

“Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” Acts 13:1-3 NASB

I often hear pastors and minister fuss that they can’t get their congregation to move out of the pews and into the community for the sake of the gospel. I must admit I have grumbled those same complaints more than a time or two myself. However, we often fail to realize the fact that we are in a spiritual battle and not a physical one. We are only effective in winning a spiritual battle if we fight the battle with spiritual weapons of warfare. Fasting and praying is one of the greatest spiritual tools God has given to us.

Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. As we look out into our world it doesn’t take long to understand just how plentifully full the fields are with the lost who need to be harvested with the power of the gospel. Yet, we are often left disappointed when we see so few doing the work of the Lord. God has clearly called all Christians to share the gospel.  Unfortunately most Christians have never shared the gospel with anyone. Jesus said that we are to pray to the Lord of the harvest that He would send workers into the field, in other words, Jesus is telling us to fight this battle with spiritual weapon of prayer.

We see in this text of scripture the church at Antioch praying and fasting. While they were praying and fasting the bible says that “the Holy Spirit said.” It isn’t coincidental that the church was seeking God through prayer and fasting and then heard from Him. In fact this should be the norm, just as the church seeking God through prayer and fasting should be the norm.

When the Holy Spirit spoke He told them to, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” They prayed to the Lord of the harvest and God answered by sending out workers into the harvest field. God was calling Barnabas and Saul, (Paul), to go out into the world and preach the gospel to the lost.

Before sending Barnabas and Saul into the mission field the church at Antioch prayed and fasted once again for their newly appointed missionaries. Notice that they didn’t send them out into the fields of spiritual war to fight the battle alone. Although Barnabas and Saul were sent out and the others remained, the church was spiritually in the mission field fighting the spiritual battle as partners in the trenches of spiritual war with them. The church continued to fight the fight with them by praying and fasting. Through the power of prayer and fasting we can stand alongside missionaries, pastors, and evangelists all over the world; even if they are on the opposite side of the world at the time-far it is a spiritual battle.

When Paul went out into the mission field and preached the gospel, many were saved. He formed churches and trained leaders who would help lead the church so he could go into other cities and do the same. The new believers needed a church to help them grow in their walk with the Lord. At the same time there were still many lost people in those cities that needed to hear the gospel. These cities were now the spiritual responsibility of the new churches.

Paul knew what an enormous task the churches had in reaching their community and training new believers. He also knew the power of prayer and fasting. Acts 14:23 says, “When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”

Are we reaching our communities, cities, counties, states, and nation with the gospel? Are we praying? Are we fasting? Lost people are not simply caught up in a philosophical thought that is contrary to the gospel; they are in spiritual bondage. Before we can change their philosophical view, we need to call upon the Lord of the harvest to transform and change their spiritual condition through the power of the gospel. Once they have accepted the gospel they are spiritually teachable and ready for the church to teach them to observe all that Jesus has commanded. It begins with prayer and fasting, it continues with prayer and fasting, and it ends with prayer and fasting.

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Posted by on March 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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