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May 6, 2020 – What Has God Asked Me to Do?

Read Romans 12

“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:” Romans 12:4

 

Just prior to verse 4 in Romans 12, Paul says, “as God hath dealt to every man a measure of faith”. God has not left one person unprepared for the work of ministry. God has not “short changed” anyone. It is a human trait to compare ourselves with others. Paul said in 1 Corinthians, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” (2 Corinthians 10:12) 

It is dangerous to compare ourselves among ourselves. The purpose of most comparisons is to commend ourselves, to see that we are as good or better than others. Our world is built on competition. We love to root for our team when it is winning. We hate when our team loses. Christianity is also very competitive. We like to think that our church is better than their church, or at least as good as the best churches. We love to think that our relationship with the Lord is better than the relationship that others have with Jesus.

There are a number of serious problems in this thinking:

1. We are glad that we have had so many blessings. Obviously God is pleased with us to give us so much compared to others. We equate possessions with pleasing God. The more we have the more God must approve of us. 
 
That goes for churches as well as individuals. We have a large building that is paid for, obviously God likes what He sees and has blessed us. If we see the beautiful building the Mormons have, we believe that Satan is blessing them. Those thoughts do not reflect the mind of God when He states, “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” (James 2:5) 
 
2. We think that it is unfair if we go through suffering when others have no hurts or pains. We have lost so much and others have lost nothing at all. It is unfair for God to take so much from us. The problem in that thinking is that we do not know what God has asked of the other. We only know the present, we do not know the future. We have to realize that this world is not fair, but the shortness of this world compared to eternity makes the reality of the fairness of God unimportant in the present. God will make all things right. 
 
We are all made different with different roles and offices in the body. We need each other and if God allows us to have blessings, or if God takes everything from us, it is simply because he has given us a different purpose than our other brothers and sisters. God knows our purpose.  He promises, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11 
 

 

 
 

An Exercise to increase our Faith:

Peter saw John and asked the Lord, “And what shall this man do?” 

Jesus responded,  “What is that to you?” 

This lesson is another exercise in evaluation. Have we compared our gifts and abilities with someone else in the church?  Is that a fair assessment? God gives to each of us – gifts, opportunities, and testings. All of these things work for our good and they work for the good of the purpose that God has for us.

 



May 5, 2020 – Our Potential with the Holy Spirit Indwelling

Read John 14

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:26 -27

 

Every personality reaches its potential for the Lord when it is controlled by the Spirit of God. God intended us to be united and connected with Him. This passage comes just before the illustration of the vine and the branches. In that illustration Jesus said, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will and it shall be done unto you.” That is incredible potential. But He also said, “Without me, ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). The branch cannot bear fruit of itself, neither can we bear fruit unless we abide in Him.
 
The Holy Spirit was sent to teach and remind us of what we need to know about the will of God. It is incredible that He promises to teach us ALL things. It means we can know all that God wants us to know to accomplish His will. For instance, if I sent you instructions on how to put up a gazebo at your house, I might say, “this paper contains everything you need to know.” The emphasis is on the gazebo. In the case of the Holy Spirit, the emphasis is on the work of Christ. 
 
There are several other things in these verses that are connected to the potential that we will realize with the Holy Spirit. He tells us that the Holy Spirit will give us peace. The peace of Christ will be left for us so we will not have a troubled heart and we will not be afraid.
 
We read in the New Testament that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of power, love and of a sound mind. The potential of the Holy Spirit enables us to do “all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). The Holy Spirit is a person who dwells with us in every trial and testing. He is the one who sees every opportunity to share about Christ. He is the one who brings glory to Jesus. 
 

Every Christian is a child of God and has been given a different ministry in the body of Christ. The reason? We are all different. God created us uniquely and with our different personalities and purposes, God has given us specific abilities to accompany our various personalities to accomplish His will in us.

 

An Exercise to increase our Faith: It is difficult to know what God wants us to do. One of the ways to understand His will in my life is to see what abilities He has given me. He asks us to use His abilities to do His work. If we have an ability, we need to use that ability for God’s work. If we are not blessed in that area, then that is not what God has for me. If we are given an ability to teach, then we need to teach. The same holds true of all that God has given to His children. 

 



May 4, 2020 – Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Read Psalm 139:1-18

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:14

 

The Psalmist makes some incredible statements.

  1. God covered him in his mother’s womb
  2. God saw his substance before it was completely formed
  3. All of my members were written when they as yet did not exist.
  4. God has precious thoughts towards me.

 

The Psalmist is getting a small glimpse at the immense effort and detail  God put into His plan for my life. I need to understand and it must be in the forefront of my decisions that I am made in the image of God. God understands my thoughts afar off. He knows me better than I know myself. We have become experts in  knowing  what is wrong with us.  We have volumes that list all the disorders of this human body and mind. It is good to know what is wrong with you.

The Psalmist seems to think that seeing what is good in us is more important than seeing what is wrong with us. God’s purpose and potential are less visible than the sin that has entwined our fabric. With the death of Christ, the fabric of being made in the image of God should become much more visible and active. 

No man seems to understand the depths of his sin, and no man seems to understand the magnitude of God’s likeness in our own life. We need to be students of the purpose and plan of God for us as members in His body on this earth.

I said on Sunday that every personality is in the likeness of God. No one has every aspect of God’s likeness, but we all share in God’s plan of intellect, emotion, and will. Every personality comes from the personality of God. God can use each personality on this earth to do a portion of His work. The Holy Spirit empowers and brings us to the potential of what God created us to be, including being an image bearer.

This is one of the reasons that God could in the Bible use an ignorant fisherman and a brilliant lawyer by the name of Paul to write a complete revelation of God’s Word in the books of John and Galatians. Each of them have a vocabulary that is included in the mind and heart of God. 

The first step in understanding who we are is to know that we are image bearers that are now given the Spirit of God to bring to fruition all that God intended in seeing our substance yet being unformed.

An exercise to increase our Faith: God wants us to look at all creation with awe. That is true of heaven and the earth, but it is also true of the way that God has created us. We are an amazing creation. Truly, from 2 Corinthians 5:17, if we are saved, we are a “new creation.” If the first creation was amazing, this second creation, the new nature and the indwelt saint is even more amazing. It is important for us to see us as God sees us, not to hate the way we are, but to love the work that God has done in us to make us in His image.

 



May 2, 2020 – The More You Are Forgiven, The More You Will Love

Read Luke 7

“Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”  Luke 7:47 

 
Jesus went into the house of Simon, a Pharisee. Simon was a good man and he was the only Pharisee who asked Jesus over for a meal. Simon seemed interested in learning more about Jesus. During the meal, a woman of the street came and began to wash the feet of Jesus and wipe them with her hair.
 
Simon concluded that Jesus couldn’t be of God because he obviously did not know what kind of woman she was. If he were the Messiah, he would reflect the holiness of God, and this woman was not godly. Jesus knew his thoughts and shared with him a “what if.”
 
What if there were two men who owed a debt. The one debt was huge and the other small. If both of the men were forgiven, which of the two men would love their benefactor the most? Simon rightly concluded that it would be the one who was forgiven the most. 
 
The story now took on two different characters, one being the woman and the other being Simon. Simon did not have as much sin as the woman. Simon knew and so did Jesus that this woman had a lot of sin. He said, “her sins are many“. Jesus forgave the woman of her sins.
 
It was obvious to Jesus and to all who heard his analogy, that the woman loved him. She wet his feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair. She kissed and anointed his feet with a fragrance. The woman loved much. But to the one who has little forgiven, the same loves little.

Now we have two other people: the first is me with a lot of sin, and the second is me with little sin. It depends on how I look at my life. If I see my life as a good man, with little need of forgiveness, I will not see the value of the Lord’s death on the cross. If I see God’s grace as saving “a wretch like me,”  I will have a greater appreciation for the love that took that sin and forgave it. I have a lot of sin, it matters if I see myself as God sees me or if I see myself as a good man. If little is forgiven, I will love little.

 

An Exercise to increase my Faith: Bow before Him and seek His mind on the degree of sin in your life. Consider the price Jesus Christ paid to forgive you. Then ask yourself if you truly love Him for His great love wherewith He has loved you.
 

 



May 1, 2020 – Ask

Read Matthew 7

“Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.”  James 4:2 

 

The Bible says, “Ask and it shall be given to you.” The principle is that God is a loving father. If we as fathers know how to give good things to our children, do we not think that God can give good things to us if we ask Him for them. The idea in Matthew 7 is to continue to ask, knock, and seek Him. If we do not give up, we know that God will give to those who are diligent in asking.  
 
He gave a parable about an unjust judge in Luke 18. The point of the passage in verse one is that man should pray and not faint. A woman came to a judge and asked him to avenge her of her adversary. The judge did not care, but still he judged for the woman. Why? Because she kept coming to him and wouldn’t leave him alone. God brings this as a conclusion, “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” (Luke 18:7) 
 
God gave us this parable to explain about prayer. Prayer is asking, it is about coming with our needs to the One who can meet those needs. Prayer is a belief that God wants to provide for us. If we see God as our Father in heaven, then it is right and proper to ask for our daily bread and to ask for His will to be done on earth and in heaven. It is right and proper to ask him to forgive us our sins and to ask Him to lead us not into temptation. 
 
We understand that we have many needs and that God has the ability to provide for those needs. We also understand that if our needs are not met, it is probable that we have not asked God to take care of those needs. Often, we wonder why we have tried so hard in vain to “fix our problem,” but we haven’t asked the One in heaven who can and who desires to help us.
 

The author of Hebrews says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16). It seems obvious that the reason we can come boldly to the throne is because God will accept us before His throne and He will receive our petition because He created us to need Him.

 

An Exercise to increase my Faith: Discipline says that we know where to go for help. A college student doesn’t necessarily go to college to get all the right answers, he goes to learn where to go and how to find the answers. We need to know where to go to find our source of help and strength. What is there in your life that is stealing peace and joy? Is there anything that God desires to give you? Ask.

 



April 30, 2020 – He That Waters Will Be Watered

Read Proverbs 18

“The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” Proverbs 11:25 

 

“What’s in it for me,”  may not be something we say, but it could be something that we think. In looking for things that would be helpful in our lives, we are prone to look at what builds us up and what feeds us and satisfies us. 
 
I have been reading lately about developing community in a neighborhood. There was a trend in the past to move out of the cities into the suburbs. The housing prices made the commute worthwhile. But there was a down side to suburban living. The time spent traveling to and from work meant that many never got involved in a community. They did not know their neighbors and rarely saw anyone in the neighborhood that they moved to. They just didn’t have the opportunities to become involved in their community. 
 
There is a growing trend to move back into the city to find a neighborhood where you could become a part of community, to really know and get to know those in a close environment. A house is not the most important part of living. People are finding that community is more fulfilling than having the perfect home. 
 
The principle in Proverbs 11 states that the secret to being fulfilled is to water the lives of others. When you invest in people, the harvest will always bring enrichment to you. The purpose of life is not to get, but to give.  The verse is interesting in its logic. You would think that the more you gave, the less you would have.  But the wisdom of Proverbs tells us that giving brings fatness. 
 
We have often said that you don’t go to church to find a friend,  you go to church to be a friend.  In being a friend you find a friend.  The Bible says “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24).
 

It is hard to watch visitors who come to church and have a hard time making a friend. If we could convince them that they need to be a friend, it would be easier for them than finding a friend. All of us need to be on the watch for those who need us to become a friend. Jesus came to be a Savior, but He also made it clear that He came to be a friend.

 

An Exercise to increase my Faith: Who do you know who tends to sit along in church? Is there someone in your church who has a hard time making friends? Could we take a moment to send them a note of encouragement, to begin the process of being friendly so that they will find a friend in us?

 



April 29 – Nothing Changes Without Pressure

Read Hebrews 12

“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Hebrews 12:11 

 

Here is a life principle that I believe also applies in the church. Our children will normally take the path of least resistance. We read in Ephesians 2, “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:” (Ephesians 2:2). 
 
We also will go in the direction of the world because the course of this world has a strong current. It does not take any effort to follow the world. This is similar to the law of inertia. An object at rest tends to remain at rest and an object in motion tends to remain in motion. If we do not exert an external force upon an object, that object will “go with the flow.” If we want our own world to change, to go contrary to the course of this world, then we need an external force of energy. God’s will and God’s Word provides us with those forces that change us.
 
For instance, God’s discipline is designed to bring about a change. We read in our verse for today that no chastening for the present seems to be joyous but grievous, NEVERTHELESS AFTERWARD IS YIELDETH THE PEACABLE FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.” It is hard to change, but God has granted us the energy that we need to change. “The love of Christ constrains us.” It is an external force to motivate us. The fear of the Lord also motivates us to “persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:11). Renewing our mind also helps us not to be “conformed but to be transformed” (Romans 12:2).
 
In the church, God uses the exhortation of fellow believers to move us away from the world and into the way of truth and righteousness. “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:” (Hebrew 10:24). The word provoke is not very pretty. It does not seem to fit the context of love and good works. The word parorgidzo, has the word anger in it: Orgidzo. It is translated anger 5 times and provoke to wrath 8 times. How does this fit the idea of love and good works? Most commentators would agree that this is similar to a cattle prod. It pokes and prods people to go into a different direction than they are going. It hurts sometimes. But when we are going in the correct direction,  there is a greater joy in our life, so we allow that prodding to take place. We do not get angry even though we are being prodded. The end of the prodding is something good for us. 
 

It seems more loving not to prod or nag our children. But remember, there are two forces acting upon your children,  and according to the formula, they will go in the direction of the greatest force. 

 

An Exercise to increase our faith: Has someone prodded you lately? How did you react? Did you realize that there was a need for a force to be applied to your life to get you to move in the right direction? Now would be a good time to evaluate what a true friend said when they provoked you to love and good works.

 



April 28, 2020 – You Can’t Impart What You Do Not Possess

Read Matthew 12:33-37

“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”  Ephesians 4:28 

 

In order to give to others in need, we have to have what they need. What are some of the things that are needed in our community and in our church? First, there is a great ignorance in our community for the Word of God. In order to meet that need, we have to have time with people and we have to have conversation with people. But even more important than that, we have to have the Word of God within us so that we can give out God’s Word to those who need to hear it.
 
George Washington, the General, was patrolling the grounds when he came upon a soldier who was out of his barracks.  The General asked him what he was doing since the man could have been a spy sneaking into camp. The private replied that he was praying. General Washington said to the man, “Get down on your knees and pray out loud right now.”  The man, fearful of the consequences, fell on his knees and poured out his heart to God. The General listened and when the man was through, said, “If you weren’t given to much prayer in practice, then you would not have been able to pray diligently in the testing.” He left the man alone to pray. 
 
For us, we want opportunities, but before God will give us those opportunities to share His Word, He requires us to have something to share. The Bible tells us to be “ready to give an answer to every man who asks us the reason of the hope that is within us” (1 Peter 3:15). We need to be ready to answer.
 
Our verse for this day is Ephesians 4:28. We look closely at the end of this verse that says, “That we might have to give to those in need.” We need to study when we are alone with God, so we can share when we are alone with man. The study of God’s Word is essential to fulfill God’s command to be “instant in season and out of season.” 
 

This verse is talking about a major principle in life. This is about why we are saved, to give to those who have a need. This is about why we study the Bible, to give to those who have a need. This is also about why we work. We do not work primarily to provide for our own needs. We work to provide for the needs of others. God wants us to labor with our hands so that we will have to give. It is not about giving to ourselves so we will have more to enjoy. It is about disciplining our life to say “no” to our own wants, so we will have to give to others’ needs.

 

An Exercise to increase our faith: While we are sheltered at home, we are probably not spending as much as we used to spend in driving or eating out. Work this week at putting some money aside for someone who might have lost a job or have had hours reduced at work. It is not only important for brothers in the church, it is also important to reach out to the friends and neighbors who may have a greater need at this time than we have.

 



April 27,2020 – Our Bodies are God’s Temple

Read Psalm 139

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  1 Corinthians 6:19-20

 

For the next six days, we will be looking at various principles that seem to hold true in life and in the Word of God. God has given us principles to live by. God designed the universe and placed within it certain laws that govern our actions. Fulfilling the laws of this universe that God has placed in it is called discipline. A disciple has to be disciplined. For instance, the Bible says, “man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). The principle involved reading the right Words, the Words that come from God, but it also involves eating the right type of food. Jesus said that man does not live alone by bread, but it must be concluded that man needs bread to live. Man has to live on this earth and eat the foods that are fit for his body as the temple of the Holy Ghost. 
 
Eating wrong is a problem for a disciple. It not only shortens a man’s life but it also affects the man or woman’s effectiveness by reducing an energy level that God desires us to have to fulfill His will each day. God told us to eat certain foods. He told us to refrain from eating certain foods. For instance,  It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood.” Leviticus 3:17 
 
I know that this is Old Testament, but God forbade man to eat blood before the law was given. He did not want man to eat blood or fat. This is a perpetual statute. Eating fat is not good for us. That we know. If we eat an abundance of fat,  it will lead to health problems including cholesterol and heart disease.
 
There are other laws of nature that are also important for being disciplined. We need to sleep. The Bible says, “For so he giveth his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2). We are not to think that we are better if we sleep less. God designed us to need sleep and He gives sleep to those He loves.
 
God also has designed us to need exercise. While it is true that the Bible says, “bodily exercise profiteth little” (1 Timothy 4:8), it does profit. One of the reasons it profits little is in light of eternity. This body will not last very long. But the work that we do in this body can produce fruit that lasts for eternity. Therefore, it is important that we remain healthy in order to accomplish the work that God gives. Exercise is not the end. It is the means to that end. 
 
In light of our ministry here, God wants us to finish the work that he has given us to do. In order to accomplish all that God has for us, we need to see our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, and we need to take care of them so we will have the energy and the health to give back to God.
 
 

An exercise to increase our Faith: During this “shelter at home,” we need to take care that we do not over indulge in foods that will hurt our effectiveness for God. We need to take time to exercise. This week, spend some time taking a walk and praying while you walk. If you are walking in your neighborhood, pray for each house and the people in those houses that they would not become sick and that you would meet them and be able to  build a relationship with them.

 



April 25, 2020 – Finish a Project

Read Colossians 1

“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.” 1 John 4:17 

 

The word perfect us used 38 times in the New Testament. What is surprising is that 32 of those times it is mentioned about man. It is our goal to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. The Bible says, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) 
 
How can we as men be perfect like our Father in heaven is perfect? That is as much of an impossibility as is the statement, “Be ye holy for I am holy.” Surely, we are not able to be holy as God is holy. The word perfect in the New Testament is the Greek word Telios. It means “brought to completion.” The words on the cross “It is finished” was tetelistai which comes from the word Telios. It means brought to completion. The main problem is that we haven’t as yet been brought to completion in any area. We are not yet holy as He is holy. But God wants us to keep working until we finish the project. 
 
My dad was a hard worker, but he never finished a project. Our house and our cabin had many rooms that were partly finished, mostly finished, but nothing really was ever one hundred percent done. Trim was not up in all of the rooms,  lights weren’t all installed. Carpet was only partly done. It didn’t bother my dad to leave things mostly completed. It has always bothered me.
 
I am glad that God didn’t stop half way through creation and say that it was enough. He went on to complete and finish all of the things that He started. The most important work on the earth is people. First, we are not completed yet. God still has a work to do and He wants us to work with Him to accomplish that work.
 

Second, we are enlisted by God to do the work of completing a discipleship process in the life of people. We begin by sharing the gospel, but that is only the beginning. We are not done. In fact, the work doesn’t end until we “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” We can’t get satisfied with our life half way compete, nor can we get satisfied with the work of grace half way complete in others. There is much work to do to finish the work. Jesus said when He left this earth, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” John 17:4 

 

Jesus was intent on finishing the task that was given Him. That work of Christ has been going on for 2000 years. He did a great job of planting the church.  Paul also said “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:”  (2 Timothy 4:7).  Paul finished the work that God had given Him and the results of His work have also continued. 

 

An Exercise to increase my Faith:  Have you had a ministry in the life of a new believer? Is that work complete? Perhaps there is still some molding that needs to be put up or a door hung in that person’s life. Our goal is to complete the task that God has given to us. If He entrusted you with a work of discipleship, don’t be satisfied until you have finished the task.