Monday, November 2, 2009

Choosing by Faith based on Value

All right, it has been a while. I have gotten the business from a few folks and so I thought I would get in the blogging game once again. We began a series in the life of Moses here recently and I could not help but be impressed with what decisions He made at a critical time in his life. Many of you are familiar with those mentioned the hall of fame of faith in Hebrews 11. Moses made the list. We read in Hebrews 11:24-27 these words "By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible."

When one ponders in the circumstances that this decision was made in and the consequences associated with the decision, one cannot help but conclude that his faith was truly remarkable.

Moses recognized something that we as God's redeemed children must recognize in order to make similar decisions with respect to the will of God. The reproach of Christ is greater riches than any temporal pleasure the world system offers. Do you believe that? It is not likely that you can relate fully to what he gave up and how he suffered for Christ. It is difficult to think in these terms because our objectives tend to revolve around what is before us in time and does not take into account the eternal.

His decisions, like ours, were and are the result of what he and we esteem has value. To him there was no comparison. The reproach of Christ trumped all other temporal pleasures and riches. He is in the hall of fame of faith for reason. He had his eye on the prize. He knew what really had value and pursued it by faith, regardless of personal sacrifice. The world system does not nor could it value such a pursuit.

What is directing your choices? The answer is your value system. We always make time and choose according to what we feel is important in both the short and in the long term. (not what we SAY is important). So, how does your values system fair when compared to Moses and what the Word of God says has true value? Do you have your eyes on the prize. This is no different than the other saints that has been used by God. This is merely following the mindset of our Savior "who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and is set down on the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2. The time is short. Only one life will soon be past -only what is done for Christ shall last. Let me encourage you to walk by faith as Moses did and choose to do God's will for God's glory.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Use it or Lose it

It seems that everybody who has lived for more than 30 years can validate the familiar adage "if you don't use it you lose it". For those of you, like me, who have not attended college for more than 25 years, the mere thought of doing differential equations again makes the reality of this well known axiom painfully obvious. The principle rings true not only in the class room, but also on the golf course, in the exercise room, in the sewing room and in the spiritual realm. There are countless examples that one could cite to drive home the point that one must use learned information in a practical way in order to retain it and benefit from it.

This principle can be seen in several places in the New Testament. I will cite two. In the span of 4 verses in the first chapter of Peter's second epistle, knowing that he would soon depart this world, frankly told them 3 times that he was reminding them of truths that they had already learned (1:12-15). He was distressingly aware of the potential for believers in Christ to neglect and forget crucial information that would affect their spiritual condition in Christ. Peter knew the principle: “If you don’t use it, you lose it”

The writer of the book of Hebrews offers a rebuke to these believers with these words:
Hebrews 5:11-14 Of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

These believers' unwillingness to "use" the word of God indicated that they were "dull of hearing". Their sluggish response to the Word of God is where their spiritual slide began. Had they been "using" the Word of God, they would have been able to teach others by this time, but instead they were spiritual babes in need of being taught the basics of the Christian faith once again. Since they “did not use it, they lost it”.

The consequence was spiritually devastating: Their ability to discern good from evil waned and their service to Christ faltered. They were not going on to maturity and not redeeming the time for their Savior

"Using" the word God is essential to spiritual growth and success. It requires diligence to learn, understand and apply. God gave specific instructions to Joshua when he took the reins of leadership from Moses:

Joshua 1:8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

In other words, “use it and be successful, lose it and fail.” Spiritual success for you and me is no different than it was for Joshua. It requires reception, meditation and application of God’s Word by faith.

So, dear believer, with respect to the Word of God, are you using it or losing it? Are you "meditating" on it or have you become "dull of hearing"? Are you growing in the grace and knowledge of the Savior or are you retrogressing to spiritual babyhood? Is your spiritual discernment increasing or decreasing?

I leave you with the words of the Savior communicated with His disciples that provide the means of “using it and not losing it”:

John 15:4-5 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sufficient for the day is its own trouble

Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. These words, spoken by the Savior (Matthew 6:34), clearly indicate that He was well aware of the trials and issues of life that plague believer and unbeliever alike. There is no limit to the burdens that accompany a life lived in a sin cursed world. A pain free, hassle free, problem free life is impossible at this point in history. And it is these things coupled with the many uncertainties in life that can cause great anxiety.

But Christ wants to communicate some things to encourage the hearts of those whom He has saved by His grace. In this passage, beginning in verse 25, we are commanded not to worry three times.

Since "do not worry" is a command, what this means is that it is not in the will of God for you. We could even say that worry is a sin. There is a tendency to view worry or anxiety as allowable and yet, would we consider another sin, such as murder allowable?

Christ not only commanded His child not to worry, but gave some reasons why it is not necessary. He mentions that it doesn't help or fix anything (v 27). - and while we all will vouch for that on paper, rarely are we impacted by this truth. Paul was pretty emphatic with the Philippians: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (4:6-7).

Another reason we are not to worry is because of WHO is taking care of us. Our Savior referred to the all knowing, all powerful God of the universe as our "Heavenly Father" (v 32). There is not a more loving and caring Father in the universe than ours. Christ told us plainly that He KNOWS what we need (v 32). If our Heavenly Father is taking care of little sparrows that in the eyes of man have very little value, Can we not rest in the reality that "we are of much greater value than they". If He is in such control and cares when even a little bird falls to the ground, why would you even begin to doubt His care for you?

The cure for worry is given in verse 33: "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Are you casting your burden upon the Lord for you know He cares for you? Are you seeking His face by faith and waiting patiently for Him? He will never leave us nor forsake us, His grace is sufficient for the trouble we will face today. So rest in Him.

Monday, April 20, 2009

This is Monday and Mondays certainly mean different things to different people. Some love Mondays as it gets them back into a routine in life that they appreciate and enjoy - but it seems that the prevailing view is the Mondays are unwelcomed, at least to some degree. Mondays indicate the start of a new work week or a new week of school or a new week of the same old - same old. Some know, to a degree, what is coming and have certian expectations, others do not know what to anticipate.

What I have found is that every Monday for me is different. Since I do not have a crystal ball, I do not give a tremendous thought to what "might" be. But I do recognize that every Monday begins a week in which my Heavenly Father has a number of things in store for me that are designed to remind me of His grace, His mercy, and His love as He seeks to work in and through me to accomplish His will for my life.

It is comforting to know that "my times are in His hands" (Psalm 31:15) and that "His compassions are new every morning, Great is His faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23). I know that what ever is in store, there are opportunities to see that "I am not sufficient of myself to think anything as of myself and that His grace is sufficient" (2 Cor 3:5-6, 12:9-10). I know that "all things are working together for good" and therefore can "rejoice evermore" (1 Thessalonians 5:6). This forms a backdrop for me to "strive according to His working" (Colossians 1:28-29), knowing that the believer's "labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Dear believer in Christ, My you be resting in His all sufficient grace as you labor in love for Him this week.

Monday, April 13, 2009

You cannot see me but I have a large grin on my face. Forgive my child like glee, but this is the first blog I have ever fiddled with. At times technology excites me and at times it scares me. The one thing that reassures me regardless of my emotional condition and current circumstance in life is the unfailing promises available to me in the Word of God that I can take comfort in because of my salvation in Christ. When I placed my complete trust in the finished work of Christ, who purchased my salvation with His once-and-for-all sacrifice for my sins, I received, along with eternal life, a position in Christ in which I received all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Now personal comfort is mine for the taking by faith as I entrust my life moment by moment to my Savior's care. I wonder at times how many are longing for internal peace and yet will not come to the Prince of Peace to who said in Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." The Lord Jesus Christ will give His perfect peace abundantly to those whose mind is stayed upon Him (Isaiah 26:3). I sincerely hope that all who happen to read this post will know the truth of Philippians 4:6-7 which states "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Not only does God offer a full and free salvation to any and all who simply receive it by faith, He offers His perfect peace on the same basis - simple trust in Who He is and What He has accomplished for us on the cross in dying for all of our sins.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Upcoming Events

  • April 18-19........................Young People Banquets @ DBC
  • April 18..............................Church Work Day
  • April 25.............................11 am - Ladies Tea for Marilyn
  • May 15-16.........................Young People Saturation Weekend @ DBC
  • June 4-6.............................Men's Camping Trip
  • June 8-10...........................Silver Bay VBS
  • June 22-24.........................Marcell VBS
  • June 29-July 1...................Vacation Bible School
  • July 6-8..............................Clarissa VBS
  • July 5-7..............................Sr High Young People's Outdoor Thing @ DBC
  • July 20-22..........................Milwaukee VBS
  • July 26 or Aug 2.................Church Picnic & Baptism
  • August 19-23......................Evangelistic Outreach at the Itasca County Fair
  • August 8-23........................Bible Camps
  • September 11.......................Young Peoples Annual Fall Kick-Off @ DBC
  • September 18-20................College Age and Up Fall Retreat
  • September 27....................10 Year Anniversary
  • October 14-18....................Fall Bible Conference
  • November 13-14................Young People's Saturation Weekend
  • December 13......................Christmas Program
  • December 31......................New Year's Service