Friday, April 30, 2010


According to 1 Timothy 4:7-8 the purpose of spiritual discipline is godliness. If we are to be like Christ—that is what Godliness means—then we must be good stewards of our time and our money. This post will focus on the stewardship of your money. Before continuing with this post, I recommend that you read Psalm 24 in order to gain some much needed perspective.

Why is the Biblical use of our money and resources so crucial to our growth in Godliness? There are at least three reasons…

  1. A matter of obedience
  2. An indicator of spiritual maturity
  3. A self-representationhow you use your money expresses that you are, what your priorities are, and what you value.

Most of the principles discussed in the disciplined use of time post also apply here. The exception being that time cannot be replaced, but money and material resources can be replaced. Let’s consider how the Bible would have us discipline ourselves for the purpose of Godliness in the specific area of giving our money and resources for the sake of Christ and His work.

(1) God owns everything you own.

  • Psalm 24; Exodus 19:; Job 41:11; Haggai 2:8; Leviticus 29:23; Psalm 50:10

This means we are stewards of God’s possessions. We are to use and enjoy the things God has allowed us to have, but as stewards we are to always be mindful that they belong to the King and are primarily to be used for His kingdom! Essentially, we do not own anything. God owns everything, and we are His stewards.

(2) God wants His wealth in circulation.

John 3:16— “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

God is a giver. All creation is designed by God to give. In his sin, man tends to be a taker rather than a giver

Ecclesiastes 5:13— “There is a sore evil [which] I have seen under the sun, [namely], riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.”

(3) Giving is an act of worship.

Philippians 4:18— “I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things [which were sent] from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.”

Not only our praying, singing, preaching, and response to the preaching are worship, but giving a tithe and offering is also worship. Giving is much more than a duty or an obligation; it is an act of worship to our God!

(4) Giving should be planned.

1 Corinthians 16:2— “Upon the first [day] of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as [God] hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”

This principle connects with the previous one. When the church assembled—on the first day of the week—they were to give an offering. The point is that our giving should be planned; when to give and how much to give. All worship should be offered according to preparation. This includes giving. Be prepared to worship.

(5) Giving reflects faith in God’s provision.

Mark 12:41-44 The poor widow was willing to give “all her living” because she believed God would provide for her. The more we believe God will provide for our needs, the more we will be willing to give, and the less we trust God, the less we will give.

(6) Giving should be done with the right attitude.

2 Corinthians 9:7— “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

You do not “pay the church” because God does not send a bill. Not only should our tithe and offering be cheerfully given, but it must never be offered with a legalistic mindset. Your giving and how much you give should be determined by love not legalism. Giving is a matter of the heart not a matter of manipulation; a matter of the heart, not the calculator. I don’t know anyone’s heart but my own. I gladly leave your heart to you and God, but I do know that our giving must be done with the right attitude and generous.

(7) Giving should be sacrificial and generous.

2 Corinthians 8:1-5— “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.”

Christ was not then and is not now impressed with the dollar amounts. How could He be?! Remember Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” Whatever we give we are simply returning what is His anyway. It’s not “one for God and nine for me”; instead, it’s “all is His so I will sacrificially and generously give.”

(8) Generous giving will be blessed by God.

Luke 6:38— “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8; Proverbs 3:9-10; Mark 10:28-30)

Give generously because you should, not because you want a huge return on your investment. God blesses generous giving so that we may give even more! When we generously give God is glorified. It starts and ends with God. It’s all about Him! The God who gives everything is the God who made everything.

Stop and Consider

If you…

  • Grudgingly give – your approach says, “I have to”
  • Dutifully give – your approach says “I need to”
  • Thankfully give – your approach says “I want to”
  • Joyfully give – your approach says “I love to”

Which two approaches do you think are best? Which best describes your giving? This is assuming, of course, that you do give.

When we have given to God all that we are and all that we have we are simply giving Him what is already His own. God is never in our debt. He owes us nothing, but He is so generous with everything! We should be likewise.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

For Cryin' OUT quiet

According to 1 Timothy 4:7-8 the purpose of spiritual discipline is godliness. If we are to be like Christ—that is what Godliness means—then we must discipline ourselves in the area of silence and solitude. This lesson will focus on our need of the twin disciplines silence and solitude.

Explanation of Silence & Solitude

The discipline of silence is the voluntary and temporary abstention from speaking to achieve certain spiritual goals. At times there may be no outward speaking, but there will be internal conversation between you and God. At other times, you may simply “be still” and hear God’s voice through His Word.

Likewise, the discipline of solitude is the voluntary and temporary withdrawing to privacy for spiritual purposes. As with silence, solitude may be sought in order to participate without interruption in other spiritual disciplines, or just to be alone with God.

Before we delve into the valuable reasons for these twin disciplines, briefly consider these three thoughts.

  1. Silence & Solitude complement fellowship. Without silence we are shallow. Without fellowship we stagnate. Be balanced.
  2. Silence & Solitude usually go together.
  3. Silence & Solitude are antithetical to our culture. Our culture conditions us to be comfortable with noise and/or crowds. Most people have an aversion to quietness and an uneasiness with being alone.

WARNING: This is not a call to isolation or disengagement from your church or Christian friends. Biblical reality calls us to be involved in the lives of others. Balance is necessary so that time is given to serious silence and solitude.

There are many Biblical reasons for making priorities of the disciplines of silence and solitude.

Reasons for Silence & Solitude

1) To follow Jesus’ example

Mark 1:35— “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Matthew 4:1; 14:23; Luke 4:42)

Jesus knew the importance of silence and solitude. Christ’s on behavior demonstrates that the desert and the closet are places of strength for the Christian—just as they were for Christ (Psalm 46:10).

2) To hear the voice of God better.

  • 1 Kings 19:11-13; Habakkuk 2:1; Galatians 1:7

An obvious reason for silence from earthly voices and noise is to better hear from the Voice of heaven. It is good to be alone to hear the voice of Him whose presence is unseen yet more real than any other.

3) To express worship to God.

Habakkuk 2:20— “The LORD [is] in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.” (Zephaniah1:7; Kings 6:7)

Worship does not always require words, sounds, or actions. Sometimes worship consists of a God-focused stillness. Our Silence can show reverence for God.

4) To express faith in God.

Isaiah 30:15— “Thus saith the Lord quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.”

5) To be physically and spiritually restored.

Mark 6:31— “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”

You will "come apart" one way or another. Better to come apart to rest in and be refreshed by the Spirit than to come apart because you haven't.

6) To regain a spiritual perspective.

  • Luke 1:20; 63-64

The verses above provide an example, albeit a negative one, of how closing our mouths can help open our minds. There is no better way to get a more balanced, less worldly perspective on matters than through the twin disciplines of silence and solitude.

7) To seek the will of God.

Luke 6:12-13— “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.And when it was day, he called [unto him] his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.”

Perhaps one of the most common reasons believers have a time of silence and solitude with God, at least on occasion, is to discern His will in a matter. Again, Jesus is our example.

8) To learn to control your tongue.

Proverbs 17:27-28— “He that hath knowledge spareth his words: [and] a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: [and] he that shutteth his lips [is esteemed] a man of understanding.” (Ecclesiastes 3:7; James 1:19)

Learn to hold your tongue in private will enable us to better hold your tongue in public. The disciplines of silence and solitude will remind us that we are able to get by on fewer words.

“We may lay it down as an elemental principle of religion, that no large growth in holiness was ever gained by one who did not take time to be alone with God.” - Austin Phelps

Unless you plan for daily times of solitary silence before God other things will rush in to fill your time like water into the Titanic.

Stop and Consider

  • Set a goal of daily silence and solitude.
  • Establish a place for daily silence and solitude.

Stop and Answer

  • Will you seek daily times of silence and solitude?
  • Will you start now?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Look at the Time!

According to 1 Timothy 4:7-8the purpose of spiritual discipline is godliness. If we are to be like Christ—that is what Godliness means—then we must be good stewards of our time and our money. This lesson will focus on the stewardship of our time.

Psalm 90:12— “teach [us] to number our days, that we may apply [our] hearts unto wisdom.”

Imagine you were given $86,400 at the beginning of every day. There is only one catch, you have to use every single dollar that day, if you don’t spend it, you lose it, but every morning another $86,400 was deposited in your account. What would you do with the money? Do you think your values would be reflected in how you spent your $86,400 each day?

Pay close attention to this: God has deposited into your life bank 86,400 seconds every day (60 second x 60 minutes x 24 hrs = 86,400). It’s called time. These seconds are not transferable to the next day. When they’re gone, they’re gone; you can never go back and relive them again. Your time account carries over no balance. Will you spend your time, your 86,400 seconds, in a way that brings honor and glory to God? Do you even think this is important?

Godliness is the result of a disciplined spiritual life, but at the core of a disciplined spiritual life is the disciplined use of time. In order to be like Jesus—that’s Godliness—we must be disciplined with our time.

Time is a gift. David wrote in Psalm 31:15a, “My times [are ]in thy hand .” With us time is not a matter of ownership but stewardship. God is eternal. He is without beginning and without end. God created time, and He has entrusted to everyone one of us the same amount of time to spend.

Seven Biblical principles with regard to time.

(1) Use Time Wisely because “the days are evil”

Ephesians 5:16—“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

“Evil” in the sense of opposition, persecution, and distraction. There are many things and people, both good and bad, that would steal your time. Don’t allow that to happen.

(2) Time is short

James 4:14— “ye know not what [shall be] on the morrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away”

Time is a limited commodity. Use it well.

(3) Time is Passing

1 John 2:17— “the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever”

You cannot save time, and you cannot buy time. You can only spend, invest, or waste time.

(4) Time cannot be Regained

John 9:4— “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”

You may lose some things and then regain them. Time will never be one of them. Once it is gone, it is gone for good. Don’t waste your time (life) and don’t cry over time (life) already wasted. Instead, begin right now to spend the rest of your time (life) in the will of God (1 Peter 4:2).

(5) Your Remaining Time is Uncertain

Proverbs 27:1— “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”

It is wise to plan and prepare for tomorrow, but you should live like today is all there is. For a believer that should mean not wasting one moment but spending and investing our time in the joyful and often times difficult service of Christ our King.

(6) You’re Accountable to God for Your Time

Romans 14:12— “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”

Each of us will give an account for every word which we speak (Matthew 12:36) and every talent which we have received (Matthew 25:14-30), and we will likewise give an account for every moment we have spent.

(7) Use of Time is Prep for Eternity

2 Corinthians 6:2— “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now [is] the day of salvation.”

Are you prepared for eternity? Once this time is over, there will be no second chance to prepare. There is a specific day on the calendar when all preparations for eternity will be over. Are you prepared? Is your family? How about your friends?

Simply put, laziness and wastefulness are sinful. The book of Proverbs alone is full of warnings against laziness and wastefulness (6:6-11; 18:9; 24:30-34; 26:13-16).

As Moses prayed in Psalm 90, we need to learn to “number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (90:9-12). Evaluate your use of time, and discipline your days, hours, and minutes for the purpose of Godliness.

“To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1ff). The question is not, “Is there time?” The question is, “How are you spending your time?”

Your may only need to fine tune your use of time. Maybe you need a major overhaul. Just remember this, a disciplined spiritual life is impossible without the disciplined use of time. Godliness is our goal. Spiritual discipline is the means. We must discipline our time for the purpose of Godliness. You will either master your minutes or they will master you. You will either use your time, or your time will use you.

“Time is a resource that is nonrenewable and nontransferable. You cannot store it, slow it up, hold it up, divide it up or give it up. You can’t hoard it up or save it for a rainy day–when it’s lost its unrecoverable. When you kill time, remember that it has no resurrection.” - A. W. Tozer

You have 86,400 seconds deposited into your account every morning. Each one that isn’t spent is wasted, and you’ll never get it back. How are they being used?

Stop and Consider

Are you spending, investing, or wasting your time? List how your time is used. Compare your usage of time with the seven Biblical principles listed in this lesson. What steps do you need to take to discipline your time for the purpose of Godliness or to keep your time disciplined for the purpose of Godliness? Are you willing to take those steps?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

When Anger is Sinful

Man's anger doesn't produce God's righteousness. How could it? All anger is not bad - Ephesians 4:25-32 - but not every expression of anger is productive, let alone helpful. When is anger sinful? The Puritan Richard Baxter offers these thoughts.
  1. When it opposes God or good; as in the case of those who become angry with us because we seek to win them to the Lord or separate from their sins.
  2. When it disturbs our reason, and hinders us from thinking rightly.
  3. When it causes us to act unbecomingly, so as to use sinful words or actions.
  4. When it causes us to wrong one another by our words and deeds, or to treat others in a way in which we would not like to be treated.
  5. When it is mistaken and with no just cause behind it.
  6. When it is greater in measure than that which provoked the anger.
  7. When it makes us unfit to do our duty to God or man.
  8. When it hinders love, brotherly kindness and the good we might do for others.
  9. When it encourages malice, revenge, contentions, division, oppression of those under us, and dishonor to those over us.
  10. When it lasts too long, and does not cease when it has accomplished its purpose.
  11. When it is used as a means to further our selfish, carnal, and sinful ends. When we are angry because our pride, profit, enjoyment, or fleshly will is crossed.
Do not allow yourself to be easily provoked, especially over the wrong things. Check your anger against Baxter's list. I think it will be helpful. It certainly has convicted and challenged me!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Precious Blood of Christ

I praise and thank my God for the shed blood of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. Without Jesus Christ I was dead in my trespasses and sins, as is all mankind apart from Christ. My sin earned wages, namely death, but Jesus Christ died in my place. I love the truth of 2 Corinthians 5:21, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

Listen to this simple yet universal fact: without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. But not just any blood would do. Not just any sacrifice would be acceptable. Only the perfect, sinless, and willingly shed blood of Jesus Christ could atone for my sins, and for yours if you will repent and believe. That is one reason why Christ's blood is so precious, as Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:19.

When I woke up early this morning that was what I read from Spurgeon's devotional. It was so stirring I had to share it with you.
Standing at the foot of the cross, we see hands, and feet, and side, all distilling crimson streams of precious blood. It is “precious” because of its redeeming and atoning efficacy. By it the sins of Christ’s people are atoned for; they are redeemed from under the law; they are reconciled to God, made one with him. Christ’s blood is also “precious” in its cleansing power; it “cleanseth from all sin.” “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Through Jesus’ blood there is not a spot left upon any believer, no wrinkle nor any such thing remains. O precious blood, which makes us clean, removing the stains of abundant iniquity, and permitting us to stand accepted in the Beloved, notwithstanding the many ways in which we have rebelled against our God. The blood of Christ is likewise “precious” in its preserving power. We are safe from the destroying angel under the sprinkled blood. Remember it is God’s seeing the blood which is the true reason for our being spared. Here is comfort for us when the eye of faith is dim, for God’s eye is still the same. The blood of Christ is “precious” also in its sanctifying influence. The same blood which justifies by taking away sin, does in its after-action, quicken the new nature and lead it onward to subdue sin and to follow out the commands of God. There is no motive for holiness so great as that which streams from the veins of Jesus. And “precious,” unspeakably precious, is this blood, because it has an overcoming power. It is written, “They overcame through the blood of the Lamb.” How could they do otherwise? He who fights with the precious blood of Jesus, fights with a weapon which cannot know defeat. The blood of Jesus! sin dies at its presence, death ceases to be death: heaven’s gates are opened. The blood of Jesus! we shall march on, conquering and to conquer, so long as we can trust its power!
Praise God for the precious shed blood of His Son!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Anger Management

The focus for 2010 at Rodgers Baptist Church, where I am blessed to be the Associate Pastor, is Extreme Love. The particular focus for this month is "Extreme love works at overcoming anger", an idea based on and expressed best in 1 Corinthians 13:5, " not easily provoked." As I've been thinking from scriptures about being not easily provoked I immediately thought of my Pocket Puritan edition of Anger Management, a selection taken from Richard Baxter'sChristian Directory.

Baxter wrote that
Anger is a passionate emotional response to a perceived evil that would cross us or hinder us from something good. It has been given to us by God for our good. It stirs us up to vigorous resistance against anything that opposes God's glory, our salvation, our real good, or the good of our neighbors. Anger is therefore good when it is used to its appointed end, in the right manner and measure. But anger may be sinful.
For the remainder of this month I'll post some excerpts from Baxter that will help us manage our anger.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Get Wisdom about Your Friends

The sitcom Friends was, and in syndication is still, immensely popular. The show chronicled six young adults navigating their way down the river of life in New York City; each depending on the other to make it through the day. Their motto:

I’ll be there for you,
When the rain starts to pour.
I’ll be there for you,
Like I’ve been there before.
I’ll be there for you,
‘Cause you’re there for me too!

That is the epitome of friendship, is it not? Everyone wants a friend, or friends, like that, and the sextuplet of "thirtysomethings" from the show was the poster child of Generation X friendship. Of course, their camaraderie rarely stacked up to the Biblical description of friendship, yet the concept of the show struck a nerve in American society: we all need and want close friendships.

Friends are important! You need and want people who will “be there for you when the rain starts to pour” and during all other times as well. Friends are important at every stage of human life and development. Even married adults need Godly friends other than their spouse. Ladies, your husband cannot meet every relational need that you have. He simply cannot do it. You need some good, Godly female friends. Men, there is no way that your wife can meet every relational need that you have. You need some good, Godly male friends.

Tragically, the current sexual confusion in our culture has led to the erosion of true male companionship so that if men are seen caring for one another in any substantive way the "Are they gay?" question immediately rises. God forbid that this cultural confusion should prevent the men of God from developing and strengthening good, Godly friendships with one another.

Let us define the friendship that I am encouraging you to develop before we continue. Friendship is a unique same–sex relationship which stretches and satisfies both people. With that as a frame of reference let us consider from the Proverbs Five Friendship Factors.

Choose Your Friends - Proverbs 12:26

At first glance Proverbs 12:26 seems arrogant. Some digging into this verse is required. The Hebrew verb "tuwr" is used 23 times in the OT, and only in Proverbs 12:26 is it translated "is more excellent". It means "to search and spy out, to guide, or to carefully choose". (In Numbers 13:2; 16; 17; 21; 25; 32 when the twelve spies searched out Canaan this Hebrew word is always translated as “search, searched, searching, or spy.") And the word translated “neighbor” is also translated “friend”, (as we shall see later in the lesson - Proverbs 17:17; 27:17). Therefore, “the righteous is more excellent than his neighbor”
is not an elitist statement but is a command for the righteous to carefully choose his friends.

Why should the righteous carefully choose his friends? Because wicked “friends” will lead the righteous astray. The apostle Paul concurred with Solomon. He wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” Bad company corrupts good character. You become like the people with whom you hang around, so choose your friends wisely. Here are three key words to help you wisely choose friends: eternity, affinity, and loyalty.
Choose friends who are going where you are going! Choose friends who are doing what you’re doing! Choose friends who are fighting what you’re fighting!

Your best friends; your closest friends should be born-again, Bible believing, fully-devoted, church-committed, followers of Jesus Christ! The prophet Amos asked the rhetorical question "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3) Of course two cannot walk together if they do not agree. You cannot be "together" and going in different directions. Your first priority in choosing a friend should be someone who is a committed follower of Jesus Christ. Choose friends who are not only headed for the same eternal destination as you, but friends who live with eternity in view!

Yes, it is good and right to have relationships with non-believers, but you should not allow people who do not know Jesus Christ to be the sole means of meeting your friendship needs. If you need to ask why then read 1 Corinthians 15:33 and Amos 3:3 again. This is one reason why children, teens, and adults should be active in their local church; so that they may form and further friendships with fellow believers.

Friendship factor number two is…

Love Your Friends - Proverbs 17:17

A friend steps forward when the world steps away. Erma Bombeck said that a friend who loves at all times “doesn’t go on a diet when you’re fat!” D.L. Moody said, "A true friend is like ivy, the greater the ruin, the closer he clings.”

Why is love the most excellent way of relating to people? (1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:13) Because God is love (1 John 4:8), and the simplest most profound description of Christian character is love! Proverbs 17:17 is the litmus test of friendship. You know your friends not by how they operate when the sun is shining, the breeze is lightly blowing, and life is good. You know your friends by how they relate to you when the sky is dark, the wind is howling, and life is bad. Your acquaintances will disappear during adversity. Your friends will not.

Choose your friends wisely. Love your friends, especially in adversity, and friendship factor number three…

Enjoy Your Friends - Proverbs 27:9

This enjoyment includes, but goes beyond...

  • enjoying the game together
  • enjoying the hunt together
  • enjoying the shoe store sale together

Real friends go below the surface and engage in rich, “hearty counsel”; they candidly discuss what really matters. Real friends have the freedom and confidence to open their hearts to one another with no reservations. Real friends do not fear a hasty conclusion, a harsh, unfair judgment, rejection, or that that their confidence will be violated.

Proverbs 27:10,

"Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off."
Hold fast to tried and true friends. In some cases, these true friends are even closer and more helpful than family.

This is what it means to enjoy your friends!

Protect Your Friends - Proverbs 16:28

This proverb is not a warning for the perverse man to cease sowing strife, although that would be wise and God honoring, but this is a warning for people who want to protect their friendships. Beware! There is a certain kind of person who is perverse in the sense that he delights in separating friends. This dishonest, perverse person sows seeds of strife that bloom into the separation of true friends. Here are some ways in which the perverse person sows these seeds.

  • Bad Reports – Why is the phrase “it’s none of my business” almost always followed by the word “but”?
  • Half-truths
  • Exaggerations
  • Motive Assessments – no one knows the motivation of another unless it has been shared. Who can know “why” a person has or has not done a thing? You are not God.

Here is how you protect your friends from bad reports, half-truths, exaggerations, and motive assessments.

  • Stop the Repetition – Do bad reports stop with you or do they continue on down the grapevine? If you are a conduit for bad reports you are a lousy friend! Gossip, rumors, slander, even truths that have no business being shared, all of that should stop with you. Stop the repetition, and foster a reputation of intolerance towards that type of conversation.
  • Cover the Transgression – here is a helpful list from Proverbs: 10:12; 11:13; 12:23; 17:9. Protecting your friend by covering the transgression does not mean condoning sin. It simply means not spreading the strife.

This leads to the fifth factor of friendship.

Correct Your Friends - Proverbs 27:6

"The kisses of an enemy" in the modern vernacular is called "kissing up." That is what an enemy does. A friend’s wounds are faithful, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. The true friend loves enough to say the hard, truthful word even though that word may cause pain. Real friends do not hesitate to provide a rebuke, when necessary, from the Word of Truth (Psalm 141:5; Galatians 4:16; 6:1-2). These wounds work both ways, because no friend enjoys confronting his friend with a rebuke.

Proverbs 27:17,

"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."
When iron rubs against iron sparks are going to fly, and a real friend loves enough to tell you the hard thing.

If you want to be and enjoy deep, lasting, authentic friendships you will choose your friends wisely, love your friends especially in times of adversity, enjoy your friends completely, protect your friends loyally, and correct your friends lovingly and truthfully.

Of course, the ultimate friend is Jesus Christ (Proverbs 18:24).

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Do you know this man Jesus as your friend? I did not ask if you know of Him or about Him. Do you know Him as your Friend, your Savior, and your Lord?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Serve for God's Glory (not your own)

According to 1 Timothy 4:7-8 the purpose of spiritual discipline is godliness. If we are to be like Christ—that is what Godliness means—then we must discipline ourselves to serve as Jesus served
Mark 10:45—“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
“Fellowship with God leads straight to obedience and good works. That is the divine order and it can never be reversed. No one can long worship God in spirit and in truth before the obligation to holy service becomes too strong to resist.” - A.W. Tozer
The call to serve the King of kings and Lord of lords seems exciting and noble, but typically it is as undistinguished as washing someone’s feet. The ministry of serving may be glorious, but it is most often ordinary.

There are public ways of serving:

  • Pastoring

  • Singing/playing an instrument

  • Teaching

  • Giving a testimony

Serving, however, usually involves things like…

  • Nursery duty

  • Audio/visual tech

  • trash duty

  • serving meals and cleaning up afterwards

  • running errands for the homebound

  • taking a meal to a family

“Most service, even that which seems the most glamorous, is like an iceberg. Only the eye of God ever sees the larger, hidden part of it. Serving is as commonplace as the practical needs it seeks to meet." - Donald Whitney
Why does serving require discipline? Because two of our deadliest sins—laziness and pride oppose any kind of service except that which serves the self. If we do not discipline ourselves to serve then we will only serve occasionally or when it’s convenient or when it’s self-serving.
“[Serve others] to train yourself away from arrogance, possessiveness, envy, resentment, or covetousness.” - Dallas Williard

Every Christian is Expected to Serve

The life of a believer is not a life of idleness. When you are born again your sins are forgiven, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses your conscience in order for you to, “serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14).
“There is no such thing as spiritual unemployment or spiritual retirement in the Kingdom of God.” - Donald Whitney
Not in the church either.

Six motivations for disciplined service.

  1. Obedience—Deuteronomy 13:4. Any true Christian would say that he wants to obey God, but we disobey God by not serving Him. Not to serve God is sinful.
  2. Gratitude—1 Samuel 12:24. It is no burden to serve God when you regularly review what great things He has done for us. If we cannot be grateful servants of Him who is everything and in whom we have everything, what will make us grateful?
  3. Gladness -Psalm 100:2. Do not grudgingly or grimly or glumly serve God. Serve Him gladly! Something is wrong if you cannot serve the Lord with gladness (Psalm 84:10). Is serving God something you really enjoy or merely endure?
  4. Forgiveness NOT Guilt - Isaiah 6:6-8. The prophet was straining out of his skin to serve God in any way possible; not because he felt guilty, but because his guilt was taken away.
    “The [saved] serves his Lord out of love for the God who gave so great a price for his redemption. O you who are seeking salvation by the works of the law, what a miserable life yours must be! The child of God works not for life, but from life; he does not work to be saved, he works because he is saved.” - C.H. Spurgeon

  5. Humility—John 13:12-16. The flesh will serve only to earn or gain something from the service. That is not Christ-like service (Philippians 2:3)
  6. Love—Galatians 5:13. There is no better fuel for service that burns longer and provides more energy than love.

“Do I like this work? No. My wife and I do not like dirt. We have reasonably refined sensibilities. We do not like crawling into vile huts through goat refuse. But is a man to do nothing for Christ he does not like? Liking or disliking has nothing to do with it. We have orders to ‘Go’, and we go. Love constrains us.” - Anonymous missionary cited on pg. 123 in Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines

Every Christian is Gifted to Serve

At the moment of salvation the Holy Spirit comes to live within you, and He brings gifts (1 Peter 4:10-11; Romans 12:4-8)! These gifts are given for service in and through the local church. Discipline yourself to faithfully serve in your church, using your spiritual gifts. This does not necessarily have to be a “recognized” or “elected” position. Work at overcoming the temptation to serve only when it’s convenient or exciting.

Serving is hard work.
Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. - Colossians 1:29.
Here Paul is describing service to God as agonizing to the point of exhaustion! Good thing that God supplies the power to serve Him. Serving Jesus Christ in your local church will often he hard, but remember that service costing nothing usually accomplishes nothing. Also remember that while serving God is work, there is no work so rewarding and so enduring (John 4:34; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:58; Hebrews 6:10).

Making a Commitment

You are expected to serve. You are gifted to serve. The question is, are you willing to serve? At times—often times—serving is a matter of spiritual discipline. If you are to be like Jesus Christ, you must discipline yourself to serve as Jesus Christ served.

Are you willing to answer this “Help Wanted” ad?
Gifted volunteers for difficult service in the local expression of the kingdom of God. Motivation to serve should be obedience to God, gratitude, gladness, forgiveness, humility, and love. Service will rarely be glorious. Temptation to quit place of service will sometimes be strong. Volunteers must be faithful in spite of long hours, little or no visible results, and possibly no recognition except from God in eternity. Sign below if interested.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Get Wisdom about Alcohol

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise (Proverbs 20:1). The most dangerous drug in America is alcohol. Cocaine, marijuana, heroin, ecstasy, nicotine, all of them bow before King Alcohol. Alcohol is the most dangerous drug in America, and this nation worships King Alcohol. We all need to get Biblical wisdom and understanding in regards to alcohol, but first consider these statistics:

  • More than 100,000 U.S. deaths are caused by excessive alcohol consumption each year.
  • Direct and indirect causes of death include drunk driving, cirrhosis of the liver, falls, cancer, and stroke.
  • The alcohol industry does $30 billion annually
  • Over $600 million is annually spent on alcohol advertisements
  • 71% of adult Americans drink
  • 78% of adults between the ages of 18-29 drink
  • 65% of youth surveyed said that they got the alcohol they drink from family and friends.
  • 80% of all crime has alcohol involved
  • 50% of all single vehicle accidents are due to drunk drivers
  • 25% of all family problems are alcohol related
  • The per capita consumption of alcohol in America for people 15 and older is 32 ½ gallons!

I never drank a drop, so who drank my 32 ½ gallons?! Alcohol is dangerous because of its availability, its acceptance, and its affect. Alcohol not only affects the drinker, but the friends and family of the drinker, as well as the community of the drinker; all are horribly affected by alcohol. Alcohol causes homes to unravel. Alcohol crushes lives and devastates dreams, hopes, and hearts. Alcohol brings moral, physical, spiritual, mental, and financial disaster. What does the Bible, specifically the Proverbs, have to say about alcohol?

You might be surprised that the use of wine is not specifically condemned in Scripture, in fact, there are some texts which speak favorably of wine (Psalm 104:15; Deuteronomy 14:26; 33:28). How can this be? You should not confuse the intoxicating wine of today with the wine spoken of in Bible times. When the Bible speaks positively of wine, the wine mentioned was basically un-intoxicating. Strong drink is always condemned because it was an unmixed, fermented, and intoxicating drink.

The Scriptures always condemn drunkenness (Isaiah 5:11-12; 28:7-8; Habakkuk 2:15; Ephesians 5:18; Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:19-21). Drinking is never commended in scripture, except for medicinal purposes (Proverbs 31:6-7; 1 Timothy 5:23). Drunkenness is condemned. Abstinence is commended.

  • Priests were to abstain from alcohol (Leviticus 10:9).
  • Part of the Nazarite vow involved abstinence (Numbers 6:3).
  • Leaders were never to drink (Proverbs 31:4-5).
  • John the Baptist, whom Jesus referred to as the greatest man “born of women” (Matthew 11:11) never drank “wine or strong drink” (Luke 1:15).

Seven Biblical Reasons for Alcohol Abstinence

1 – Because Drunkenness is a Sin not a Disease

In 1956 the American Medical Association (AMA) declared alcoholism a disease. If alcohol is a disease then it is…

  • The only disease that requires a license to propagate it.
  • The only disease that is bottled and sold.
  • The only disease portrayed as glamorous.
  • The only disease that produces government revenue.
  • The only disease that is habit forming.
  • The only disease spread through advertising.
  • The only disease which has no germ or virus as the cause.

Drunkenness is not a disease. Drunkenness is a sinful choice. However, the majority of Americans believe that alcoholism is a disease. The majority of Americans are wrong. Hodgkin’s disease is a disease. Parkinson’s disease is a disease. Alcoholism is a choice to imbibe until one is drunk; drunkenness is a self-inflicted sickness as a result of poisoning one’s self.

2 – Because Alcohol is a Mind-altering Drug

Christ desires His followers to be under only one influence – the influence of the Holy Spirit. Alcohol will hinder what a believer should want most, namely to recognize and to do the will of God.

  • Romans 12:2“Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
  • Ephesians 5:17-18“Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.”

The mature believer does not ask: “What can I do and still not transgress God’s will?” But rather: “Is there anything at all that I can do or stop doing that will better enable me to recognize and do the will of God?”

Drinking alcoholic beverages – whether or not one drinks until drunk – does not increase one’s sensitivity to the will of God. On the contrary, it weakens the intensity of our desire to be holy as God is holy. Drinking alcoholic beverages contradicts and threatens what a Christian should most value.

3 – Because Alcohol Impairs Wisdom

The thrust of this series is to challenge the readers to “get wisdom and get understanding.” Drinking alcohol defeats that purpose because alcohol impairs wisdom.

  • Proverbs 31:4-5, “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: 5Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.”
  • Priests were forbidden to drink. Leviticus 10:8-9, “And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying, 9Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee.”

You may argue that you are not a king, prince, or priest, but, if you are a believer, the Bible says otherwise.

  • 1 Peter 2:9 – “ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”
  • Revelation 1:5-6 – “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father.”

If you are to get wisdom and understanding the last thing you need to do is drink alcohol. Even small amounts of alcohol impair wisdom. Consider the following:

  • Trained typists committed 40% more errors after only small amounts of alcohol
  • 1 oz of alcohol retards muscular reaction 17%
  • 1 oz of alcohol increases decision making time by 10%

Alcohol will steal your memory, your reflexes, your capacity to reason, your defenses against sin, and your ability to glorify God. Alcohol will cost you in wisdom. Do you have any wisdom that you want to waste?

4 – Because Alcohol is an Unnecessary Drug

  • Proverbs 31:6-7, “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. 7Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”

This is not a call to knock back some cold ones after a rough day at work, or after a tough loss by the team, or after being left by your spouse. This is the prescription of alcohol as a drug for someone who is dying. This is the prescription of alcohol as a painkiller or sedative.

No doctor would prescribe Southern Comfort for his patient nowadays because alcohol is an unnecessary drug. It has one purpose: to cause drunkenness.

5 – Because Alcohol is Destructive

Proverbs 23:29-34a: “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? 30They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. 31Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 32At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. 33Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. 34Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. 35They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not.”

Alcohol destroys the individual. Drinking destroys brain cells and causes sluggish thinking, behavior and speech. Drinking leads to obesity, liver disease, heart disease, and moral failure. Alcohol destroys the individual and the family. Child and spousal abuse, adultery, murder, poverty, and rape all go hand in hand with drinking. Alcohol destroys the individual, the family, and the community. The stats listed at the beginning of this lesson drive this home. The social cost of drinking and drunkenness is astronomical.

A loaded 737 carries 215 passengers. Imagine if a loaded 737 crashed once a week killing all on board. There would be outrage in the streets and in the halls of Congress. More than 369 people die every week as a result of alcohol induced causes, and hardly anyone whispers a complaint. Alcohol is destructive to everyone.

6 – Because Alcohol is Addictive

Proverbs 23:35b, “When shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.” Why would any Christian drink a beverage that not only blurs the fine shades of moral restraints, but is also habit-forming? Alcohol is addictive. One drink leads to another…and anotherand another.

  • 1 Corinthians 6:12, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

Again, the only influence a Christian should be under is the influence of the Holy Spirit. Why would a blood-bought child of God place himself in bondage to the bottle? Be in bondage to Christ, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light, but do not place yourself in bondage to the bottle.

7 – Because Wisdom Calls for Abstinence

Abstinence is the choice of wisdom and understanding. Abstinence is the highest, best, and most wise course a believer can take; it is a choice that will not render shame. Proverbs 20:1, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” To be deceived is to be led astray. The social drinker, the sometimes drinker, the every-now-and-then drinker is on the path that leads astray. Do not even get on that path. Get wisdom and get understanding about alcohol: choose abstinence.