Sunday, September 21, 2008

God's chastening, part 1 of 3

The bible is clear that God will chasten His children.
Hebrews 12:5
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

Lets look at the definition of
chasten as it pertains to the Word:

1) the whole training and education of children (which relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this purpose now commands and admonitions, now reproof and punishment) It also includes the training and care of the body
2) whatever in adults also cultivates the soul, esp. by correcting mistakes and curbing passions.
a) instruction which aims at increasing virtue
b) chastisement, chastening, (of the evils with which God visits men for their amendment)

WOW! That's a lot more than what we commonly think when we consider chastening, isn't it? Lets go further into this verse to the phrase "...
when thou art rebuked ..."

1) to convict, refute, confute
a) generally with a suggestion of shame of the person convicted
b) by conviction to bring to the light, to expose

2) to find fault with, correct
a) by word

1) to reprehend severely, chide, admonish, reprove

2) to call to account, show one his fault, demand an explanation
b) by deed

1) to chasten, to punish

How does God do this?
I believe He uses His Word, for one. I also believe he allows us to suffer consequences from our sin. If we are not in His will, then we are possibly in sin, are we not? If we do not keep our word to someone because we think we have a better idea for a situation, we are bound to suffer the consequences of not keeping our Word. The bible says we reap what we sow! Lets go further into this passage to verse 6:

6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Lets examine "...
he chasteneth ...":

1) to train children
a) to be instructed or taught or learn
b) to cause one to learn

2) to chastise
a) to chastise or castigate with words, to correct

1) of those who are moulding the character of others by reproof and admonition
b) of God

1) to chasten by the affliction of evils and calamities
c) to chastise with blows, to scourge

1) of a father punishing his son
2) of a judge ordering one to be scourged

From here we can gather that God will chastise with either words (be it from a loved one, or from His Word), or actions- 'by the affliction of evils and calamities'. Being chastised from anyone never feels good, so lets not fool ourselves in thinking that evils or calamities will not fall upon us. I do however believe that God can bring upon good during chastisement. This leads to my continual thought: "What is God trying to show me (or teach me) through this situation?". Food for thought!

What about "...
every ..."? Oh this is a good one. I often see the mindset that unless you are suffering from some type of persecution or calamity all the time, you are not a "good Christian", but this verse appears to dispel that mindset. Lets look:

1) individually
a) each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything
2) collectively
a) some of all types

side note: "... 'The whole world is gone after him.' Did all the world go after
Christ? 'Then went all Judea, and were baptized of him in Jordan.' Was all
Judea, or all Jerusalem baptized in Jordan? 'Ye are of God, little children',
and 'the whole world lieth in the wicked one.' Does 'the whole world' there mean
everybody? If so, how was it, then, that there were some who were 'of God?' The
words 'world' and 'all' are used in some seven or eight senses in Scripture; and
it is very rarely that 'all' means all persons, taken individually. The words
are generally used to signify that Christ has redeemed some of all sorts—some
Jews, some Gentiles, some rich, some poor, and has not restricted his redemption
to either Jew or Gentile." (Charles H. Spurgeon, Particular Redemption, A
Sermon, 28 Feb 1858).

Okay we're learning here! Lets go deeper ... "... son ..."- this was a LONG definition, so I'm going to put the first part here and if you want to read the rest, go on to the page, okay?

1) a son
a) rarely used for the young of animals
b) generally used of the offspring of men
c) in a restricted sense, the male offspring (one born by a father and of a mother)
d) in a wider sense, a descendant, one of the posterity of any one,
1) the children of Israel
2) sons of Abraham
e)) used to describe one who depends on another or is his follower
1) a pupil

Does this mean that God only chastises men? No, women are not excluded from God's chastisement. I know when the Lord first started dealing with me about my role as a wife in our home, I was receiving some rough chastisement, the Lord sure gave me a great big spiritual spanking, and I knew it! Women depend on God just as a man, therefore, women are not exempt from God's chastisement. But looking further, this word also encompasses the following definition:

3) those whose character God, as a loving father, shapes by chastisements (Heb. 12:5-8)
d) those who revere God as their father, the pious worshippers of God, those who in character and life resemble God, those who are governed by the Spirit of God, repose the same calm and joyful trust in God which children do in their parents (Rom. 8:14, Gal. 3:26 ), and hereafter in the blessedness and glory of the life eternal will openly wear this dignity of the sons of God. Term used preeminently of Jesus Christ, as enjoying the supreme love of God, united to him in affectionate intimacy, privy to his saving councils, obedient to the Father's will in all his acts

Lets move on to "...
he receiveth ..."

1) to receive, take up, take upon one's self
2) to admit i.e. not to reject, to accept, receive
a) of a son: to acknowledge as one's own

When we are born again, we are adopted into the family of God:
Romans 8:15
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

The reason we need salvation to begin with is because sin separates us from God, he is a Holy God. When we are born again, a bridge is made between us and Him, and he receives us to himself. We become His, he adopts us. I like to say we become "spiritual Jews" ;o)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Words to live by

Zechariah 8
16These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:
17And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.

I read this passage this morning and found it so profound, yet so simple. "These are things you need to do", and he just lays them out.
Be truthful.
Do not tolerate lieing within your gates (home).
Plan no evil against anyone ... this one I'll go as far as to THINK no evil towards anyone.
Find false oaths unacceptable.

These are things he hates, so we should, too. Such a basic plan to live by in our daily lives. What a great foundation to lay for our children. This is what kids can grasp, so there's no reason we as adults should not be able to grab hold of these concepts and do so. Yet, will we choose to do so?

I was reading in a forum recently a conversation about Christians boycotting companies that promote, or even, do not oppose, homosexuality. There were scores who said they had nothing to do with a major theme park in our country, or the merchandise of the company that owns the theme park, because of their refusal to stay neutral in the culture war. There was a lone Christian there that shared her thought that she felt such a boycott was not ... necessary perse, because there are TONS of companies out there, that support the lifestyle in one way, shape, form or fashion and we might be supporting that company.

I understood what she is saying. "Choose your battles". I watched the thread unfold, with her conversing when she could with the rest of those who chose to boycott, then there was "the post". The one that says anyone who has that wavelength of thinking is just making excuses not to live a godlier life and stand up for the Lord. Whhhaaaaaattt?

Okay lets step back. The bible says nothing about boycotts. Can we acknowledge that? Are we really questioning the fruitfulness of some one's spirituality because they choose to purchase merchandise from a company that supports the homosexual lifestyle? Since when did we become the judge and jury of what is in some one's heart?

That person was thinking evil towards their neighbor. Even worse, towards a sibling in Christ, which IMO is worse. We all have our own convictions regarding certain things, but we must be careful in our words not to strike down another because they do not share the same convictions. If the bible does not say "boycott companies that ...", then clearly, there's a gray area and we are left to seek the Lord in the matter.

If we all acted the same, we would be one boring family, that's for sure. We all have our own purpose in this giant family in Christ, lets remember to respect each other.

Lets be truthful:
acknowledge there are gray areas that the Lord has left in our world to cause us to seek Him out for His guidance, not the opinions of others.

Lets not be so dogmatic about our convictions that it might cause someone in our home to lie to us for fear of confrontation. Have you ever had someone visiting that was lost, and when trying to talk to them about the Lord they acted much more spiritual than you know they are? There's such thing as showing respect for some one's way of life, then there's the matter of someone feeling like they have to act like something they are not around you, because of how you act through your attitudes, words, and actions.

Plan no evil against anyone.
If someone does not share the same convictions as you, and you are having a hard time wrapping your mind around how someone can feel that way- it might be a good idea to just not say anything at all. You stand a better chance of getting understanding and wisdom in the matter of you pray for that person, rather than accusing that person of making excuses for not being the same as you, and coming off as legalistic or "better than thou". That person might be the weaker Christian and your attitude may cause them to stumble greatly in their walk with the Lord because of what you might say.

Find false oaths unacceptable.
This can be applicable to witnessing. Most anyone will say "Yes I'm a Christian" to avoid speaking to you. There are many versions of the term "Christian" out there. To us who know truly what it means to be a Christian, this is unacceptable, that person may indeed be false! How about asking "Have you been born again?". You can tell from their reaction where the truth lies. Even if you don't get to lead them to the Lord that day, you know more what to pray for then rather than accepting the person's word that they were a Christian, when it's very possible, they truly are not according to the Bible's standards.

Have you ever read through the book Zechariah? This is my first time. What a treasure. Those two verses just jumped out at me this morning. I hope this was a blessing for you, as it was for me to find these verses. Why not comment and share your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Message to our children

I love King David. Out of all of the people in the bible, I am drawn to David most. The Lord saw fit to show him at his best, and at his worst. Though David he shows the potential we have as humans to be righteous, pleasing to God, on the mountaintop, as well as in the valleys, at our worst with sin in our lives taking rule. Having clinical depression, I relate with David greatly because after reading about him you can see the same highs and lows in him that a Christian dealing with clinical depression would have in their own lives. David "makes it real".

I'm reading in Chronicles now, and run into David's charge to Solomon for when he will become King over Israel. I am wowed each time I read about David, and this time is no exception. David tells Solomon what we all should be telling our children (and remember for ourselves!):

1 Chronicles 28
9And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.

20And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.

What comfort and security is to be found in these verses! David in these verses was leaving a legacy of holiness to his child, assurance of the faithfulness of our God. He not only tells him how good God is, but how HOLY he is as well. Oftentimes we tend to forget to remind our children how HOLY God is.

Lately I have been reminding our children when things are not going well for them, how what they are experiencing could possibly be the result of unconfessed sin in their life that they have not repented from. In my own life it has been hard enough to keep that in the forefront of my own life, I want to train my children to have that thought second nature unlike their mom's experience. I don't want them to forget that our God will not tolerate sin in our lives, and when we walk in sin and with self centered prideful attitudes, we lose our fellowship with God and our prayers will be hindered.

Likewise, I want them to be confident of the faithfulness of our God. This is why it is important to always remind them when God's faithfulness is being revealed in our lives. We experienced the loss of an infant family member just a number of months ago, that we were very close with and spent an unordinary amount of time with. That tragedy was devastating to our family and I've felt as if I lost one of my own children. It's one thing to experience the loss of an infant as an adult, but imagine what goes through the mind of a tender 6 year old girl's heart when thinking about God allowing a baby to die. Imagine feeling helpless as you watch her go through the motions of grief, not really knowing what do to but praying without ceasing! Yet, time heals all hurts. It is when I see her able to look at the baby's picture, and not burst into uncontrollable tears, I am able to show her how God has helped her in her grief. How God has given her peace in her heart to be able to start thinking about how much she loved the baby, without having the overwhelming thoughts of how much she misses it.

God is so good, so faithful, and so true to us. We don't know why God allowed the baby to die, but we do know he done it for His glory. That, we can count on. He started a work in us the day the baby died, and one day we might be able to minister to another family that experienced the same thing we did. One day my daughter might be able to comfort a classmate that does not know Christ, who experienced the loss of an infant in their life. I want my children to understand and be confident that when they seek the Lord, they will find Him. That as long as they are seeking Him, He will finish the work He started in them until the day He returns.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Josiah's testimony

I have been reading through the books of Kings, and it has been quite interesting. It seems more Kings than not, "..done evil in the sight of the Lord". Today I read the most positive testimony yet from the book of Kings, and unless there's a more positive one in chapter 25 (the last, which I will read tomorrow)- it is, the most positive, God honoring testimony by a King of Israel. When we hear of people who have accomplished great things for the Lord, we think "wow, I wish God could use me ...". Ladies (and gentleman)- God CAN use you!! Don't let the enemy Satan deceive you in this matter! Seek Him, and you will find Him.

You see, Josiah was eight years old when he become King in Jerusalem. He reigned for thirty one years, so he was thirty nine when he died. He died fighting on behalf of the Lord. I can only imagine, how did Josiah, having such a wicked father in Amon, and grandfather in Manasseh (Ma-nas`-seh), turn out so godly for the Lord? One can only conclude that his mother, Jedidah (Je-di`-dah) taught him the way of the righteous. Thank God for godly mothers!

Lets see what the scriptures say about young Josiah-

2 Kings 22
1Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath.

2And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.

I love how God made sure to be so precise in His Word to include "... and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.". At eight years old, this boy knew exactly what to do to please God. I bet the inhabitants of Jerusalem turned their heads to the side, puzzled, at the godliness of this young leader, knowing the wickedness that went on before him! For sake of time I'm hitting only the highlights of this story but I encourage you to read all of it from 2 Kings 22-24.

We start seeing what Josiah accomplishes for the Lord in the eighteenth year of his reign. First he restores the temple. The priests find a book of the law, brings it to him, and he learns of the wickedness of his forefathers, and is distressed. Why? Because he knows what is right. I've noticed that a big concern of godly Kings is that their country live in peace, and that they know they will die in peace. Lets see more into our story:

2 Kings 22
11And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.

13Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.

{Below is the messages from the prophetess... she had just explained the wrath that wold be upon the people because of the forefather's wickedness ...)

18But to the king of Judah which sent you to enquire of the LORD, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard;

19Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD.

20Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again.

From that point, we see King Josiah on fire for the Lord, casting down alters to false gods, slaying the priests that had committed such abominations against the Lord- he was finally bringing Jerusalem back to its original state of righteousness, putting it back in God's will for them again. They were about to have the passover again, and it was mention that there had not BEEN a passover held (for a very long time).

chaper 23:
21And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant.

22Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah;

Josiah, becoming a king at 8 years old, dieing at 39, had pleased the Lord. It is written:
chapter 23:
24Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.

25And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Who is Richard R. Hill?

Richard R. Hill is my brother in Christ, come to find out. Yours too, if you have been born again! I got to "meet" him while researching something for a devotional, and I found his testimony:

On Dec. 25th, 1943 I left NYC going overseas to Ireland, then to England.
Leaving New York Harbor I saw the Statue of Liberty going out of sight. I left
with a sad heart not knowing if I would ever see her again. I arrived at Port
Stewart, Ireland and moved on to England. I camped and trained in the beautiful
Nottingham Forrest for the "big night". During the six months there, I met a
girl named Joan Pilgrim. Her parents took me in and made me more comfortable
when I was so far from home. Wedding plans were discussed but God had other
plans for me. On June 5th, 1944, I was part of the D-Day invasion into Normandy.

While flying over the English Channel, I made the greatest decision of all
time -to give my life to Christ. I had always heard THE WORD during my boyhood
in Oklahoma at the old camp meetings; but, now it all came back to me and the
Holy Spirit was calling my name. In that big old C-53, I kneeled to pray. I saw
plainly the face of Christ, but His eyes were closed. I continued to pray until
...Jesus opened His eyes. I knew without any doubt that at that moment I was
forever saved. Whatever happened from then on was all in God's hands.

I encourage you to read his page. You see, Mr. Hill served our counntry in World War 2 and was a POW for a year. We should be so thankful for the sacrifice his family and he made for our country. I also encourage you to read this page about D-Day, too. You'll be blessed!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The praying church

sun PM notes, sermon by K.B. on 8-3-08

Acts 2:42
42And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

A church will never be on fire for the Lord unless it is a church of prayer. Satan wants to keep us from praying. That is his biggest goal in his fight against the church- not to keep us from studying the bible, not from working within the church, but from praying. Praying is us, fellowshipping with God. It is us, calling on the God almighty, our heavenly father, asking, for His power.

The praying church is proclaiming its dependence on God to make things happen.
Acts 1: 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

In Acts 2:42 they were "
steadfastly" in prayer:
1) to adhere to one, be his adherent, to be devoted or constant to one
2) to be steadfastly attentive unto, to give unremitting care to a thing
3) to continue all the time in a place
4) to persevere and not to faint

5) to show one's self courageous for
6) to be in constant readiness for one, wait on constantly

Are we steadfastly in prayer today? How often do we pray with our church family? What is the first service to give up, when the thought comes of not going to a service in a week's time? Usually, it is the mid week prayer meeting, isn't it?

The praying church is depending on God's power to do God's work.
Acts 3:1
Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

Acts 4:31

31And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
Acts 4:33
33And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

Without God's power, plans, strategies, all the study in the world means nothing! Prayer links our nothing to His power. A prayerless church is like a tank in a car without gas- it can go nowhere.

The praying church is a united church:
Matthew 18:19
19Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

Of course the context of that verse is having to do with dealing with a brother that has offended you, but would you not agree that a church is much more than two or three people? A church that prays is in one accord. We get our English word "symphony" from the word accord; imagine a church praying together as if it was a symphony, everyone praying their special "part", all in harmony seeking to God's will, unified, together.

Have you ever prayed with someone you did not care for? I would think it wold be hard not to love someone who I was praying with. When Pastor mentioned that I thought about people who not that I necessarily don't get along with (I'm easygoing most of the time ;o) but people who I know we disagree on a lot of things. I think of a family member of mine. I would really have a hard time not feeling closer to her, knowing she and I were praying with the same purpose and of the same frame of heart, to my God. When we are praying, our desires become God's desires, we are closer to Him as a result of seeking His power and will through prayer.

The praying church seeks God for laborers.
Matthew 9:37 -38
Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

It prays for protection over God's people, likewise, it trusts God for protection from Satan. It is aware that Satan wants to discourage and divide the body of Christ, and will tempt Christians not to live for the Lord. He would love nothing more than to distract our attention from what the Lord wants us to do individually, and as a church.
Matthew 26:41

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

The praying church is able to go through great trials and tribulations because they are unified in prayer.
Acts 12:
3And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)
4And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
5Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.

Here we have Peter, thrown in jail. Instead of the church coming together and figuring out how to make bail for him, or how to bust him out of there, they called a prayer meeting. How many times do we exhaust every measure of our own selves that we can come up with, then when we can do no more, we pray? Isn't that a bit backwards? I remember someone saying once "Well all that is left to do is to pray...", like that's the last resort. Praying, should be our FIRST resort. Trust me, I'm preaching to myself too! I tend to forget my own life verse a lot when I am wallowing in my flesh!

Proverbs 3:5-6
5Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

"He who prays the most, helps the most". It is these people who are able to trust God more wholly and depend upon His power to make things happen. That has got to be a peace that is unbelievable to understand unless you have actually experienced it, don't you think? Have you experienced that kind of peace?

A praying church asks for the opportunity to share the gospel.
Colossians 4
1Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.
2Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
3Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:


Last night I took a journey
To a land across the seas.
I didn't go by ship or plane
I traveled on my knees.

I saw so many people there
In bondage to their sin,
And Jesus told me I should go,
That there were souls to win.

But I said "Jesus, I can't go
To lands across the seas."
He answered quickly, "Yes, you can
By traveling on your knees."

He said, "You pray, I'll meet the need.
You call, and I will hear.
It's up to you to be concerned
For lost souls far and near."

And so I did; knelt in prayer,
Gave up some hours of ease,
And with the Savior by my side,
I traveled on my knees.

As I prayed on, I saw souls saved
And twisted persons healed,
I saw God's workers strength renewed
While laboring in the field.

I said, "Yes Lord, I'll take the job.
Your heart I want to please.
I'll heed Your call and swiftly go
By traveling on my knees."

By Sandra Goodwin

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The revival at Corinth

2 Corinthians 7: 8-12

I read this passage this morning and it was one of those moments where the scriptures just come to life for me. I've read this chapter many times, but this aspect of it just never come forth. I believe the Lord opens your eyes to scriptures, not all at once, but in doses. I got a dose this morning and I thought it was so interesting!

In verse 8 Paul is speaking about the letter he wrote to the Corinthians earlier. I would assume that would be the letter of First Corinthians. In that book some BAD things were going on in that church, and that was quite the serious letter. Lets examine the result of that letter:

8For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.

Lets look at the word "
sorry"; there are four definitions, but I believe the latter two likely applied to the Corinthians because of the nature of that church at the time it was built:
1) to make sorrowful
2) to affect with sadness, cause grief, to throw into sorrow
3) to grieve, offend
4) to make one uneasy, cause him a scruple

Now lets check out the usage of "
1) it is a care to one afterwards
a) it repents one, to repent one's self

Other expressions of this particular word would be likened to:
* refers to an emotional change
* has reference to particulars,
* signifies nothing but regret even amounting to remorse

Paul was probably dreading writing that first letter. He probably was sorrowful in his heart that he even had to write such a letter to God's people! Lets not forget that men within the church were sleeping with their step mothers, others were cheating on their wives and not trying to hide it, needless to say with no intent on stopping. There were some awful things going on. He didn't want to write it, but he did write it, but he was sorry that he had to write it in the first place. We've all been in that predicament, haven't we? Some times the right thing is not always the easiest.

9Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.

He saw the benefit of writing his letter. Yes, the Corinthians were probably embarrassed that Paul called them out on the sinful manner in which they were living, but Hallelujah the holy spirit was able to work in their hearts- they were not so hardened that they were beyond reproof. They were receptive to what Paul was saying, and though they might have been sorry they got "caught" by the preacher doing such things, or they were sorry that they had reason for accusation, nevertheless, their sorrow led them to get right with God. They were made sorry for the right reasons, they realized their error as it pertained to God, and they were thankful that Paul was bold enough to write the letter.

10For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

We experience this, too. The Pastor is preaching away on something that is hitting close to home, and boy oh boy- are we feeling pretty sorry for ourselves in that service! The Lord deals with our hearts, and convicts us of our sin. This can only happen if the Holy Spirit is living within us, and that can only happen if we have accepted Christ as our Savior and had our sin debt taken care of by the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for the sins of the world. But we know it doesn't stop there, we must still confess our sin as we sin day to day.

I would like to point out that the assertion that one is no longer a sinner
after they are saved- is NOT biblical. Yes, when we are saved, our sins are
washed away, but that does not mean we are not a sinner and will never sin again
in our lives. We continue to be sinners, our purpose in life from the time of
salvation is to become more Christ like- but we will not be sinless until we get
to glory. So I encourage anyone who listens to one who asserts that we're
sinless after salvation to think twice about listening to one who teaches
such things- they are NOT BIBLICAL.

The epistle of First John was written to believers, not the lost, and it

1 John 1
8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves,
and the truth is not in us.
9If we confess our sins, he is faithful
and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word
is not in us.

So the Corinthians confessed their sin and repented. The unrepentant believers that were put out of the church, some were probably reinstated to the church. Praise the Lord! I believe verse ten speaks of two different kinds of sorrow, heavenly sorrow, and worldly sorrow. It's rather self explanatory, but heavenly sorrow is the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer's heart, which brings them to repentance. However, if a lost person is sorrowful, what is accomplished? Nothing, unless that sorrow brings them to the desire for salvation. In that case, they are brought into life by the repentance of their sins and calling upon Jesus to be saved. Otherwise, their sorrow accomplishes nothing but death in the end.

The following is a very "loaded" verse, there's a lot in there-
11For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Lets break it down and examine the words here- because they sorrowed unto repentance:

carefulness it wrought in you"
1) haste, with haste
2) earnestness, diligence
a) earnestness in accomplishing, promoting, or striving after anything
b) to give all diligence, interest one's self most earnestly

They were more careful about striving for what pleases God, and not themselves.

clearing of yourselves"
1) verbal defence, speech in defence
2) a reasoned statement or argument

I imagine that Paul's letter brought much discussion and conversation into the church. I am sure there were some rumors that were dispelled in the midst of their investigations. It is just as much reason to rejoice when someone who is being lied about, is cleared, as it is someone who being accused rightly, repents, don't you think?

1) indignation, irritation, vexation

Ever heard of "righteous indignation"? I've been accused of being "too passionate" when discussing things of the bible before. I never understood that, and the Lord always brought to mind that phrase. I'm sure when the Corinthians received Paul's first letter, people who might not have otherwise said something to exhort their brothers and / or sisters, did so after the letter. You know sometimes it is GOOD to get excited about the things of God!! Sometimes it is GOOD to step out on the ledge, and risk "sounding offensive" to one who is not walking with the Lord in the way they should, to the one who might not have a clear understanding of what God's Word says about something.

If we are ever going to accomplish something for the Lord, we need to learn when it's time to be bold! Instead of thinking about "peace always", how about thinking "God always ... peace in due time", because there will be times in a Christian's life when things are completely up in the air. Emotions will get high, and feelings will be hurt, just like in the Corinthian church- but do not hinder what God might be trying to accomplish through someone for the sake of "peace", you might just hinder some one's walk with the Lord. Praise God that the Corinthians got some righteous indignation in them and as a result their church was cleansed from the unholiness that was infiltrating them.

1) fear, dread, terror
a) that which strikes terror
2) reverence for one's husband

Do we think that after Paul's letter, that the people in the church feared the Lord just a bit more than they did before? Paul was probably hundreds of miles away- yet he knew what was going on in that church. They didn't even have phones, computers for internet, faxes, even the telegrams were not in existence then. Yet God saw to it that Paul knew what was going on. That alone, is amazing to me. I believe the Corinthians had a much greater respect and reverence for God after their cleansing. I also believe that husbands and wives had stronger relationships as well, because the infidelities were repented of.

vehement desire"
1) longing

I believe the Corinthians had a deeper relationship with God, and they longed for His return much greater than they did beforehand. How deep do we truly long for Christ to come back? How deep does that desire burn within our souls, that we would be burdened to seek others actively for His kingdom?

1) excitement of mind, ardour, fervour of spirit
a) zeal, ardour in embracing, pursuing, defending anything
1) zeal in behalf of, for a person or thing
2) the fierceness of indignation, punitive zeal
b) an envious and contentious rivalry, jealousy

Do you think they had a renewed excitement to serve the Lord above anything else they had going on? I bet they had a brand new soul winning program started and everyone attended! Do we really have a zeal for Christ?

1) a revenging, vengeance, punishment
side note: With respect to 2Cr 7:11: "...meeting out of justice; doing justice to all parties.

It crosses my mind when I read this, how BIG of a revival must have happened in that church as a result of Paul's first letter calling on them to forsake their wicked sins. To think of the sins that were happening, their were some seriously broken families in that church. I know how hard it would be for me to reconcile with my husband if I knew he was committing adultery. It would take a LOT of grace through God for me to be able to "forgive and forget".

"In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter."
I can only imagine an entire church experiencing such brokenness, for the entire church to be able to be reconciled one to another again. In today's churches certainly there would have been at least one family that would have left or fell by the wayside, yet, our bible does not leave us to believe that, but that ALL parties were reconciled! Praise God!!

12"Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you."

It wasn't that Paul was trying to stir up hurt within the church. Surly his letter could have been seen as that, like he was "judging". Lets remember, we ARE to judge, a
righteous judgement. Surly Paul could have been deemed as "overly passionate", and some might think he needed to stop being so pressing in his letters. I believe the wife of the man who was committing adultery was thankful that Paul was so pressing, that he followed the Lord's lead and wrote that letter, so that her husband could repent and her marriage could be made whole again only through the power of God.

This passage perfectly explains, that even though sometimes someone might be saying something (maybe even to someone else) that makes you uncomfortable, it might be the better thing to pray for that person, and that God accomplishes His work in that person's life and / or what that person was trying to say, instead of labeling them as "too passionate", and not trying to understand what they are truly saying or convey through their words.

Paul was not happy about what he was having to write about, yet he wrote it anyway- because he knew that's what God would have him to do. As a result, the Corinthian church was redeemed from their sins because they listened to what Paul had to say, therefore, experiencing a GREAT revival in their lives.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Soulwinning: Marking your bible

Sunday school notes; lesson by S.V. on August 3, 2008

Psalm 126:6
6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Our church has a growing relationship with
Bearing Precious Seed Ministries. What this ministry does is prints out copies of the KJV bible, John & Romans, and New Testaments in various languages, puts them together and sends them to churches in the countries where the languages are spoken (free). We've had two opportunities now to have 2-3 days at a time to bind the scripture booklets together. This ministry prints the scriptures, and churches put forth the labor in binding them or putting them together to be shipped off. It's a partnership in getting the Word of God to people who otherwise would not have it.

Our church completed another scripture project this past week and in addition to what is being shipped out today (the day this article was written), we completed 20,000 John & Romans with customized covers for our own church. The covers have our church information, picture, etc ... we are about to do a "40 days of prayer and fasting", and when we are finished with that we are going to go out into our community as groups and pass them out, inviting people to our church. Sound familiar? (I've always thought the JWs were so dedicated to their cause in the way they covered total areas in groups like they do...)

So our lesson for Sunday school was soulwinning, and how to mark our bibles and / or use the John / Romans booklets to lead someone to Christ. A very good but forgotten point among a lot of Christians was made: we pray for God to use us, but do we let him? We ALL are called to be soul winners if we are saved, yet how many of us actually participate in soul winning activities and actions? You have to actually GO soul winning, not just think about it or think people will just come to you! The bible says "He that goeth forth..." - not "he that stayeth home" "he that lives righteously", but "He that goeth forth..".

A marked bible is just one of the tools to use when witnessing to a lost person. I remember our teacher telling a story of a man that cold not read. However, he knew the scriptures necessary to talk to someone who was lost in order to lead them to the Lord. He started out with the first, and had the person read the verses to him, and he talked to them about it. His bible was marked so the person flipped the pages and read each verse and they talked about the need for salvation and Jesus' finished work on the cross at Calvary. The man could not read, yet he was still an effective soul winner!

I learned there are advantages to using the John & Romans booklets when witnessing. There are three definite ones.
1) You can leave it with the person you are talking to.
These booklets have the whole books of the gospel of John, and the book of Romans in their entirety. In those two books, is the picture of Calvary and the plan of salvation. Even if they do not get saved when you are talking to them, they have the ability to go forward with the information needed provided in the back of the booklet, and be saved.

2) People are less likely to throw these away.
Even lost people have respect for the bible, and a John and Romans is indeed, two books from the bible! These booklets just might linger for a good while in some one's car or home, to be there at a different season in their life where they might be more receptive to the gospel and plan of salvation. The opposite is likely true for regular tracts (though tracts are equally valuable.) Tracts are more easily disposable.

3) You can get the person started in reading the bible.
Those two books are just enough to wet the appetite for a new believer. It's a good jumping off point!

How to mark your own bible for witnessing purposes:
1) Have a starting point. Turn to Romans 3:23.
Romans 3:23
23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

ALL of us have sinned, and unless one understands this first, how will they understand the need for salvation? Sin was the entire reason for the cross, why else do we need to be saved?

A person can go their whole life and not go to the doctor. One day they can wake up not feeling well and go, to find out they have cancer. They find out there have been screenings available for years to catch cancer early to have a better chance of recovering, but theirs is aggressive and advanced. If they had known about the screenings, they would have partaken in them. The same applies to salvation. UNTIL one understands that they are a sinner and needs salvation, they will never accept salvation because they do not understand the need that they have. How many people die not having that understanding and go to hell because of it? It's too late then :o(

2) Mark the passage and note what it means if need be, and write down where to turn next- which would be:
Romans 6:23
23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Because we have sinned, there is a penalty for our sin. That penalty is death, and nothing less according to the bible. Jesus Christ was sent to pay that debt for us.

Next verses:
Romans 5:8
8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

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

Jesus is the one, and our salvation lies in Him and Him ALONE. He is the one that paid the wages for our sin, for ALL of our sin, and that was death. It happened on the cross at Calvary, and he done so willingly, for us!

Next verses:
Romans 10:9-10

9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Romans 10:13
13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Anyone who calls upon Him, who puts their faith and trust in Him can have their sins forgiven. "Whosoever" means ANYONE and everyone!

and lastly:
John 1:12
12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Whosoever calls upon Him for salvation and receives him as their Savior, He gives them power to become a son of God. You could stop and the verses would be complete here.

3) Lead them in the sinner's prayer.
I know a lot of people disagree with the idea of "the sinner's prayer", but it needs to be understood that it's not the prayer that saves- it is the confession with one's mouth that they are a sinner in need of salvation, is what saves a person. But confession must indeed be made in order for one to be saved! Praying is talking to God, s unless you ask God for forgiveness of your sins and acknowledge the need for salvation, there is absolutely NO WAY one can be saved. So, one must pray in order to be saved.

Isn't it said "Communication is the key to every relationship"? That applies to God, too!

4) If you are using a John & Romans, there are helps in the back of the booklet that can get one started in their Christian walk. It is similar to
this post from Apples of Gold ministries.

5) Encourage the person to get into a good, bible believing - preaching church as soon as possible whether they are saved at the time of your conversation or not!

Romans 10:17
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

I would like to hear your witnessing stories- things you have done to communicate the gospel with people, ways you have shown God's love towards others recently. Please leave a comment! *CG

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Preeminence (pt2)

Sunday School Notes from 5/3/08, teacher S.V.

Colossians 3:1-11

It does little good if Christians declare and defend the truth, but fail to demonstrate it in their lives. They profess that the know God, but in works deny him:

Titus 1:16
16They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

- With religion, you are still dead spiritually. Religion is what is natural to us, because eternal life is not religion. When you lose religion, you have not lost a relationship, you have lost: religion! A relationship was not there to begin with.

What should we do?

1) We should seek the heavenly:
Colossians 3
1If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
4When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

What is in our mind, is what we put in it. If we spend more time watching TV or on the computer than reading our bibles, then TV shows or things from our computer lives will be what is in the forefront of our minds instead of what we read in our bible reading for that day. I like something someone I know said a long time ago, it was in the middle of a conversations about self help books for Christians, "spiritually motivating" type books ... she said "Lets quit reading books about the bible, and just start reading the bible!" I really liked that.

a) we died with Christ
If we lived in heaven, would we live the same way we do here? Or would we live differently? We should be living as if we were living with him. YES, that's a tall order to fill ladies (and gentlemen)!

b) we live in Christ
If we think about it, we really are already living with Him, because the Holy Ghost is living in our hearts if we have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. We must put in practice what is right by Christ.

c) we are raised in Christ
When we were saved we gained heavenly status, and we should be seeking heavenly things here.

d) we are hidden in Christ.
Colossians 3:3
3For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

2) We should slay the earthly (mortify) = put to death
Colossians 3:5-9
5Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
6For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
7In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
8But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
9Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

As we see in the verses above this does not mean slay people, but slay the sin that is in our lives. Put it away, deal with the sin and get rid of it. When we were born again, we become new creatures in Christ and our salvation should reflect that very fact in our outward lives. Those things offend Christ.

a) Sensual Sin:
Satan has taken sensual things and used it to destroy the family. We must always be on guard for the sake's of our families that we do not allow such things to sneak into our homes. People used to be ashamed of such things being in public life and now it's an everyday thing. People are so densensitized to sensuality in the media it is just not an issue anymore. At the time this was written one of the popular songs on the charts is called "I kissed a girl". That would be fine, but it is sang BY A WOMAN! Years ago, there would have been a public outcry against that sort of thing.

Matthew 5:29-30
29And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
30And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

b) social sin:
8But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
9Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

Every one of us at some point in our lives have committed these sins, yet, society seems to think they're "not as bad" as the above mentioned sensual sin, but it is!! These sins separate a person just as far from God as if they were looking at porn online. How has it come that we think some sins are okay? What is wrath? It is anger exploding. What makes this "less" of a sin than looking at the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue? ESPECIALLY when that anger that is exploding is towards your children? We should all repent!

3) We should strengthen the Christly:
Colossians 3:10-11
10And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
11Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

"renewing" is kin to daily bathing. Each morning we should put on the new man of salvation, and put off the dead man that is in his sins. We should be constantly renewing ourselves in Christ, and that comes from washing ourselves in His Word, repenting to God our sins, putting on the new man and leaving the old one behind.

Has this helped you today? I sure hope so. Please leave me a comment if it has! If I can help you in away way please let me know!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Inheriting the wind

Sunday School Notes from 7-27-08, teacher R.S.

Proverbs 11:29-30
29He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.
30The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.

Do you have a Christian family? Some cannot answer that question with a yes; because of that, when they make decisions for the Lord, it will naturally trouble his "house", his family. It is important to make the distinction that verses such as this are not speaking about troubling a house because of decisions for God, being a bad thing. NO, no one likes strife, and you want to live as peaceably as you can possibly live with all men. But we cannot shy away from making decisions for the Lord because the unholy in our "houses" might get upset.

On the flipside, what happens when a Christian in a family is the one who stirs up the strife? Oh that's not good at all, is it? We as Christians expect a higher level of behavior and standards from other Christians, realistically speaking. While we are all sinners, we are not to act like the ungodly. When we make decisions to follow the Lord in an area of our life, we are doing so in following His will for us, and other Christians should be in a position in their own walks to where they are able to support you, whether they would neccessarily make the same decisions as you or not.

What is family?
Well, if you are saved, you are part of the family of God. Usually you will be able to recognize your brothers and sisters in Christ in public, because there's a peace about them that surpasses normal, human understanding. I believe the verses above can apply to family in our home, and family as in the body of Christ. Sometimes within the body of Christ there seems to be people that others just do not want to listen to. I know in my own experience there have been people in whom I have tried to reach out to, to be a friend to, to counsel with, and they just do not want what I have to offer them. They may not even realize I see it, but it become obvious after a period of time, they did not want what I had. I have to say it hurt! Sometimes when we distance ourselves from our family, we are distancing ourselves from what our family has to offer us.

Proverbs 15:27
27He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.

"Inherting the wind"- lets discuss the charactristics of wind, shall we?
Sometimes you cannot tell which way the wind is blowing. Our teacher spoke about golfers who will take a few pieces of grass and toss them in the air to see which way they blow to be able to see which way the wind is blowing. Wind can be elusive, destructive, or restless- but one thing you can count of, it is always on the move! Do we really want to inherit that for ourselves? being tossed to and fro, never knowing what direction we'll be going next?

The fruit of the spirit- something we all should be fostering in our walks with God:
Galatians 5:22-23
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

We must be striving for fruit, and not heading in a direction where we would be inherting wind like characteristics. Homes should have order. Some homes have invisible problems, even though they appear to have order on the outside. They might be burdened, or heavy hearted. Do you pray about the problems in your home, or do you complain about the problems in your home to the Lord (and others)?

We should be happy and content with what the Lord has given us.

Numbers 23:27
27And Balak said unto Balaam, Come, I pray thee, I will bring thee unto another place; peradventure it will please God that thou mayest curse me them from thence.

King Solomon describes an unsettled home as a troubled home. What do you want to leave for your kids? I know we have a lot of work to do in our home if we are to leave a legacy of peace and order to our children!! A home inheriting wind will turn into a whirlwind, just like a hurricane builds speed.

Proverbs 11:29
"He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart."

The fool is always living for his sin, and rejects God's wisdom. Righteous people produce living fruit. If you had an apple tree tha did not produce apples, would you allow it to stay, or would you cut it down? Most people would cut it down in order to plant another tree in its place that would produce fruit. A wise person is a model for a meaningful life. People will reap the life they live in this world- no one sins and gets away with it. Your sin will always find you out, one way or another!

What sin do you have in your life that you have not dealt with yet? There are alwaus consequences for our sin, some consequences are bigger than others. Sometimes it takes years for those consequences to surface, but they will surface. When they do, it is going to hurt, too. The world is knocking on our door- we must strive to protect our families while reaching the world with the gospel of Christ.