Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Daily Living God's Way

James 5:13 (NASB95)
Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.

The Bible declares itself to be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. But how does that 'flesh itself out' in my daily life?

Simply stated, I can trust the instruction from the Word to guide my thoughts and actions throughout the day. For instance: "Is anyone out there suffering?" Well, according to the Bible, you must pray. The cure for suffering is prayer. We can suffer from any number of maladies, but the answer to all suffering is prayer. Whether the suffering is emotional pain from a broken relationship or spiritual suffering from unconfessed sin, God says the answer is prayer. Notice that it wasn't a simple 'suggestion' but rather a command, "he MUST pray".

What the bible is telling me is that my suffering can ONLY BE RESOLVED THROUGH PRAYER. If there were other 'options' available, the bible would have said, "Is anyone out there suffering? You might try praying." However, there are no other options to conquer our suffering other than to take it to the one who can put an end to suffering. We MUST pray. The suffering that is spoken of here is the kind of suffering that robs us of our peace. The reason we take our suffering to the Lord, according to scripture is that "the chastisement of our peace was upon Him". Jesus has already paid in blood to take away the suffering of His children.

Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. The direct opposite of having lost our joy is to be joy-filled. That's what the word 'cheerful' means. It means that my inner countenance is bubbling over with happiness. But why would the bible instruct me to sing when I'm cheerful? It is difficult to offer hope to others when you yourself are suffering. It is difficult to encourage someone else when your soul needs encouragement.

Colossians 3:16 (NASB95)
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

When I am singing, the bible isn't talking about just any old song. It is talking about spiritual songs that are born out of the "word of Christ". When I sing those songs, it not only continues to promote my cheerful heart, but it also instructs and admonishes those around me. Those songs serve as instructions for daily living.

So, If I'm suffering, I MUST PRAY. If I'm cheerful, I am to sing. In whatever condition you find yourself today, try the appropriate biblical response and see what great things God does in your life!

Monday, September 17, 2007

How My Sin Looks To God

Saturday we had a "Crud War". We built a big 'slip-n-slide' on the hill in front of the church, put a pit at the bottom and filled it with spaghetti sauce, honey mustard dressing, cranberry sauce, peas, corn, hominy, tomatoes..... you get the idea. Then, the Turn Life kids had fun sliding into the pit. A few observations about that exercise.

The pit represented sin. The slide down the slope into the pit was pretty easy and seemed to build up speed as you went. So it is with sin. The slide down the slope seems pretty slow and managable at first, but then it gets out of control.

Once you landed in the pit, you were covered with some really nasty, really smelly stuff. That's what sin does to us in the eyes of God. It makes us really dirt, really smelly and really unpresentable.

If you hadn't been in the pit, everyone really smelled bad to you. On the other hand, if you had "pit-stuff" all over you, you really couldn't smell how bad it was. After awhile you got used to it. Again, so it is with sin. It's easier for me to recognize sin in someone else's life than it is in my own because after I've worn my sin for awhile, I get used to it.

Finally, we hosed everyone off to get them clean again. That's where Jesus is so important. I was dirty and filthy in the yuck of my sin and Jesus came and washed it all away so I can stand before God "clean".

It may have seemed like a really dumb idea to some, but the spiritual application will really stick with the kids who participated.

Are you Tempted?

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NASB) 13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

Are you tempted? Well, if you’re human you are! I was reading my devotion this morning and this was the subject. We are all tempted in certain ways, but temptation in itself is not sin. Temptation is just proof that I am human. In one sense, we tend to think of temptation as “bad”. Temptation is really just a ‘short-cut’ to what I want to do or be in my life. It is Satan’s attempt to get me to take matters into my own hands rather than trusting God.

How are you tempted? The temptation that comes your way often speaks of something on the inside of you. What is truly in your heart is the area in which you are tempted. If I am tempted by sexual images or stories, I need to beware that the sexual desire within me needs to be tamed or it will lead me on a shortcut that will be harmful. Sexual desire in itself isn’t bad. God made us sexual beings. But that physical attraction is to be harnessed within the framework that God has provided, which is marriage. If I allow my temptation in this area to control my life, I am prone to look for short-cuts. And those short-cuts are generally sinful. Rather than cursing the temptation, I need to learn to understand that this is a spiritual condition; a heart condition. And as such, I need to treat it. I need to saturate it with the salve of the Word. I need to admit it to myself, rather than denying that it exists and learn to channel my energy in the direction that God has provided.

If I can view my temptation as a tool to gauge my heart, I can learn to diagnose my spiritual condition by the kinds of temptation I face. Then I can address those things with God; asking for His help in overcoming them. God’s goal for my life isn’t to rid it of all temptation. It is to carry me through every temptation.
Hebrews 2:18 (NASB) 18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Living in Contrast

As I said Sunday, there is a stark contrast displayed in the bible that sets the stage for a life of tension to be lived by Christians in the last days. 2 Timothy 3:1-9 shows the self-absorbed, rebellious attitude of end-time earth dwellers and Titus 2 show the life of a believer. The believer is expected to live in this tension. But they are also encouraged that they can do it successfully. Today we look at the reality of end-time Christian existence and how we can successfully be different in this present world.

The Life of Contrast

2 Timothy 3:12 (NASB) 12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Just for the record, I don't think "Rosie" is the anti-Christ! I just think she represents much of the mindset and heart that are spoken of in 2 Timothy 3. Paul wrote to Timothy and told him that a day would come when the majority of people would be selfish, greedy, proud arrogant, rebellious, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God. All of these attributes are referred to as "end-time", and would be evident inside and outside the church. Paul didn't say "brethren" would have these attributes, but "men", meaning in general "society". In fact, Paul goes on to say that if we desire to live a godly life we will be persecuted for it.

Now I don't now about you, but I don't really like the sounds of "being persecuted". Because we live in the times predicted by Paul, we don't want to do without or to sacrifice for our faith. But Paul said this would be our lot in life. Doesn't sound like a very effective recruiting method to me! It's almost as effective as Jesus saying "Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me". That doesn't sound very appealing either! Not to the natural man. But Paul goes on to tell Timothy that the key to successfully navigating these perilous times lies in the Word. Paul told Timothy to know the Word, stand on the Word, live by the Word, and preach the Word. He also told Timothy that just as God had delivered Paul in every circumstance, He would deliver us if we would follow his advice.

To that end, the first and most important command that we need to "live by" is this: Love God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, all your strength. Love God more than anything else in this world. Then, love your neighbor like you love yourself. This instruction from Christ will guard our hearts from the wickedness of the day in which we live and it will cause us to be different than the rest of the world.

For those who were interested, here's the link to the episode of "The View" when Rosie said that "Radical Christianity is much more of a threat to America than radical Islam".

Monday, September 10, 2007

So What Are You Made Of?

Thanks for another great weekend! I hope everyone was blessed and was a blessing. As I thought about the devotion this morning, I couldn’t escape what I read in Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost For His Highest”. So, I share it with you today. I hope it challenges you as it did me, so that we can all better serve Christ.

Don’t forget the “Crud War” is this Saturday at 2PM. We need your ‘stuff’ to go in the pit. Also, kids, don’t wear anything ‘good’. It may be a real mess before we’re done!

Pastor Scott


"When thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee" (John 1:48).

Worshipping as Occasion Serves. We imagine we would be all right if a big crisis arose; but the big crisis will only reveal the stuff we are made of, it will not put anything into us. "If God gives the call, of course I will rise to the occasion." You will not unless you have risen to the occasion in the workshop, unless you have been the real thing before God there. If you are not doing the thing that lies nearest, because God has engineered it; when the crisis comes instead of being revealed as fit, you will be revealed as unfit. Crises always reveal character.

The private relationship of worshipping God is the great essential of fitness. The time comes when there is no more "fig-tree" life possible, when it is out into the open, out into the glare and into the work, and you will find yourself of no value there if you have not been worshipping as occasion serves you in your home. Worship aright in your private relationships, then when God sets you free you will be ready, because in the unseen life which no one saw but God you have become perfectly fit, and when the strain comes you can be relied upon by God.

"I can't be expected to live the sanctified life in the circumstances I am in; I have no time for praying just now, no time for Bible reading, my opportunity hasn't come yet; when it does, of course I shall be all right." No, you will not. If you have not been worshipping as occasion serves, when you get into work you will not only be useless yourself, but a tremendous hindrance to those who are associated with you.

The workshop of missionary munitions is the hidden, personal, worshipping life of the saint.
—My Utmost For His Highest

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Having a Cleaver Home in an O'Donnell world

Having a "Ward Cleaver Home in a "Rosie O'Donnell World"

Romans 1:15-17 (NASB) 15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."

This week I will start a new series on Sunday mornings by the title above. In that series I want to raise the question "Was the Cleaver household a true representation of family life in America?" I also want to look at the likelihood of having such a family in today's culture. To that end, I was reading a really interesting piece of sarcasm written by a "politically incorrect CPA" in Michigan. In her article from 2001 she writes,

After all, the Cleaver family, in all its straight-laced purity, could not accurately describe the typical American family, even in the times in which the TV show was produced. The Cleavers certainly don’t illustrate the family I grew up in. I do not ever remember Ward Cleaver yelling at the kids (he always spoke calmly), while I ALWAYS got yelled at. Plus, I never thought that anyone could have two sons and keep the kitchen appliances and the carpeting THAT clean. Now I realize it was all pure deception, probably on the part of some 1950’s right-wing conspiracy.

For my part, I want to say that I grew up in the 60's and 70's and I lived in a "Cleaver" home. My dad went to work everyday while mom managed the home. My parents always spoke calmly and the kitchen appliances and the carpet were "that clean". But more importantly, I grew up with a set of values that were instilled in me by my parents, not society. My character was formed by people who were actively engaged in my life on a daily basis.

When my father was my age, I was 13 or 14 years old. I can remember that every day after work, he would come home and we would sit down together at 5:00 for supper and then go out and work in the garden. When the chores were done, we would grab a ball gloves and my dad would work with me till we were both tired on my baseball skills. He would catch hundreds of pitches a week. I'm certain all this undue attention totally messed up my life.

Today, if you go to mighty-mite football practice or games, you will see a huge number of moms there to support their kids. But where are the dads? Are we too busy making a living for our family to live with our family? Please don't misunderstand me, this isn't an indictment on mighty-mite football dads. My real intent is to engage the question, "Can we have a Cleaver home in a Rosie world?"

If you want to read the entire piece from the Michigan CPA, the link the page is http://www.lewrockwell.com/decoster/decoster29.html

As for me, I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes and the righteous man shall live by faith.