Our Most Important Discipline

disciplineAs we begin the new year, here is a reminder for us of the critical importance of reading Gods Word on a daily basis.

 

  1. Gods Word is our source of truth (instruction manual for life)

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

 

  1. It is our source of spiritual life (your starving without it)

 

Matthew 4:4

But he answered, “It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

 

  1. It is our guide book for life (tells us how to go)

 

Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

 

  1. We are to teach others about it (so we have to know it ourselves)

 

Deuteronomy 11:19

Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

 

  1. Gods Word convicts (which we desperately need)

 

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

 

  1. DOING is vital to our effectiveness – hear then do!

 

James 1:22-25

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

 

 

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A True Friend?

AccountabilityA true friend and disciple of Christ, is one who is willing to encourage and correct. For most of us, encouraging others comes easy. But, correcting, rebuking, or holding others accountable does not. This is a matter of pride. We don’t want to be seen in a bad light. We don’t want others to be angry with us. We care more about ourselves than the other.

If we truly care for someone, we will make the effort to correct them when we see the need. Wouldn’t a parent stop a toddler from sticking a fork in a light socket, even though it will result in an angry response from the child? Obviously.  The parent loves them too much to allow them hurt themselves.


2 Timothy 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching


Too often, we see people making decisions that will lead to pain and judgment, but chose not to correct them with love and patience. The easier path is to ignore it. We tell ourselves we shouldn’t judge; its not our responsibility to say something.  But scripture tells us something different. We are not the judge; God is. But, we are messengers of His Word. We are called to reprove, rebuke, and exhort according to scripture.

My greatest friendships are those with whom I know I can count on to be faithful to this call towards me. They are faithful to scripture, to the Lord, and they have my best interest in mind. It is a rare friend that will be authentic in this way.

Jesus once rebuked Peter and called him Satan! He loved Peter dearly and was willing to correct him.

I want to be rare and authentic for the glory of God –  don’t you?

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Christians and Homosexuals

Sola Scriptura

It has occurred to me that the notion of Christians hating homosexuals seems to be far too prevalent. Both the news media and social media tend to feed this lie.

I hope to clarify what scripture says and how this should be acted out by Christians.

Its important to understand that Christians rely on the Bible (scripture), for their source of truth. Everyone has a world view. Scripture defines the worldview of the Christian (or should).

Scripture is clear in its condemnation of homosexual behavior. Both the old and new testament call it a sin. In 1 Corinthians it is listed with other sins, such as heterosexual sin, adultery, stealing, drunkenness, and cheating. Homosexual sin does not have a special status. It is sin like all the others. (Sin is anything that goes against Gods law).

Do Christians sin? Yes. So, what’s the difference between a sinning Christian and other sinners?

  1. Christians believe in who Jesus Christ is and what He did. Due to this belief, they have been made righteous in Gods sight (an incredible miracle).
    • 1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.”
  2. Christians acknowledge their sin. This is confessing or agreeing with God. And God forgives us of these sins.
    • 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Christians still sin. I sin everyday. The apostle Paul said he was the CHIEF of sinners! But I hate my sin. And I am sinning less than I used to. I will never stop sinning; I will sin less with time as God works in my life.

A person who is not a Christian has never believed in what Christ did and who He was. And they do not use scripture as their standard. They have their own “worldview” to decide what is right and wrong.

So what should a Christians response be to people who are not Christians? As with most social issues, it is the tone of the conversation that inflame the arguments and make so-called Christians appear hateful. Hate is not (and should never be) the motivation for speaking out. It is my hope that when Christians speak out on this issue that they will do it with grace and kindness, but still set forth God’s truth without apology

  1. We are to speak the truth in love. When the topic of sin and God comes up, its our job to tell people what scripture says and do it in a loving way. That’s it.
    • Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15
  2. We are to do our best to live peacefully with everyone and to live a life of obedience to Gods Word. “
    • Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

For those reading this who are not Christians and have known me, I hope and pray I have lived out these directives; to speak the truth in love, to live at peace with others as much as possible, and to walk in obedience to scripture.

I view those who live a homosexual lifestyle the same as others who do not embrace scripture and the Christian faith. I do not accept or embrace their lifestyle and they do not accept or embrace mine. Hate needs not be a part of the equation. It is my calling and privilege to walk in a way that honors God and that never includes hating people. I hate sin – most especially my own. I don’t hate people.

In closing, here is what the Savior Jesus Christ said in Matthew 5:43-46…

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

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The Daniel Pattern at Work (Part I)

PatternYour job is an opportunity to show Christ to the world. It is a calling.

The first two chapters of the book of Daniel give us a solid pattern to follow in our professional life. We see this young man who was forced into an environment very different from what he was used to (remind you of your workplace?). But he made choices that honored God and he was ultimately rewarded for it.

Daniel 1:8 “But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself…”

  • Daniel made up his mind ahead of time to do the right thing. It is far easier for us to make a commitment to do the right thing, ahead of time instead of in the heat of the moment. Better yet, make a public commitment to one or multiple people, to help hold yourself accountable.

Daniel 1:17 “God gave them (Daniel and his fellow abductees) learning and skill in all literature and wisdom…”

  • Scripture is clear that when we ask for wisdom, He will grant it. Our desire should be to do excellent work. We should ask God to help us to be great at what we do, so that He will be honored. A strong work ethic and excellent skills, are the foundation to a credible testimony in the work place.

Daniel 2:14 “Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion…”

  • This is how Daniel responded as he was sought out to be killed. For something he didn’t do! I struggle to respond with prudence and discretion when people slightly annoy me. Daniel was a wise and mature young man who was obviously under the control of the Holy Spirit.

Resolve ahead of time to do what is right

Be great at what you do

Respond to others with forethought and caution


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A Foundation of Confidence Built through Obedience 

foundationWorries, fears, doubts, etc. Most of us struggle at times with these things. We spend time and emotional energy worrying about the future. The world presents myriad issues to be concerned about; the health of those we know and love, our financial security, how we are perceived by others, our children’s future, wars and conflicts, politics, etc. The list is endless.

We spend much time and energy working to mitigate these worries and fears. Planning, saving, pursuing education, knowing the right people, having the right job, getting the kids into the right school, etc. Planning is a good thing, but it must not become the main thing.

At the end of Matthew chapter 6, Christ taught clearly and specifically about worrying. He asked, “can you add an hour to your life by worrying?” Instead, He said to first seek the kingdom and His righteousness. Then, what we need will be provided for.

You’ve heard this all before. “Trust God and it will all work out!” “Let go and let God!” But, these superficial cliches are missing a key ingredient.

Obedience


“Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!” Psalm‬ ‭119:1-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬


When we are walking in full obedience, we have nothing to fear. Pursue obedience. Pursue and hunger for righteousness. And everything else will work out. Even the troubles that come can be faced with confidence as we walk in obedience.

The first step? Genuinely pray as David did in Psalm 51:10 –

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

And keep obedience to Him as the main thing!

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Perspective

eternal life

Ever meet someone who had a limited perspective? That colleague who just can’t see the bigger picture. That young person who is drowning in the drama of the day. The adult who is oblivious to the world around them. We are guilty too – Believers are expected to have an eternal perspective.


James 4:14

What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.


Years ago I heard a message regarding keeping eternal perspective. I began to think more about the fact that this life is infinitely short in comparison to eternity. Although it is easy to become focused on getting all I can out of this life, my actions during this brief journey on earth have an eternal impact.

What if I said that if you lived in the woods with no food or water for 24 hours, I would give you 500 million dollars, peace and happiness for the rest of your days! You would have to be insane to not be willing to rough it for 24 hours for that kind of reward. This analogy pales in comparison to what is in store for those who love and follow Christ.

Scripture tells us our life is a mist. The older I get the more I see it. As Believers we are commanded to sacrifice. To put our wants on hold and obey Christ. To put God first, others second, and ourselves last. God has a great reward for those who love and follow Him. And sacrificing for a minute is nothing if you have an eternal perspective.


2 Corinthians 4:17

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.


Our troubles are light and momentary. I have to be reminded of this too.

Cultivate an eternal perspective.

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Above All Else

So much clamors for our attention. The opportunities to do things seems endless; sports, shopping, entertainment, and hobbies alone can consume us. We live in a society that enables us to stay endlessly busy.

But, does busy equal effective? Years ago Stephen Covey wrote about putting “First Things First”. He showed us how to develop a vision of who we want to be and how to manage our time to support that vision. His approach is logical. For a Believer, the “vision” is clear.

God’s Glory.


Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (NIV)


An impartial view of our calendar and checkbook will go a long ways in telling us if we are putting His kingdom first. The specifics of how we apply these truths will vary by person. But, the principles apply to all of those who are followers of Christ.

  • How are you using your time and talent in ministry?
  • How are you consistently praying for the advancement of Gods kingdom?
  • How much time do you put into reading Gods Word?
  • How are you giving financially to help more people hear the good news?
  • Who are you discipling?

I was once challenged to create a personal mission statement. This exercise helped to clarify how I would live out the mandate to “seek first His kingdom”. Over the years I have edited, but it has continued to be a guiding document for me. It is framed in scripture and gives practical guidance for me.

I encourage you to do the same. Save it and refer back to it.

As a friend of mine has said, “dont dumb your way through life”. Have a plan and then work the plan. For the Glory of God.

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