A Stable Foundation

stbhic5a1I recently caught just a bit of “the Herd with Colin Cowherd”. Colin had a radio show in Portland when I was preaching with the church at Wilsonville, Or. When he moved on to the larger stage of ESPN, his time slot changed, and it was no longer convenient to listen in to the broadcast. Colin always has a wide range of subject matter that he incorporates into his thoughts that have centered around professional sports. (though he had a more non-sporting material with his local show).

Colin was extrapolating how recent studies like this one “Homeownership boosts children’s educational achievement” (and others done at USC and UC San Diego) correlate stability to success from academics, to teen pregnancy, poverty, etc. Colin argued that stability was the primary key to success for modern NFL franchises noting the coaching shuffle for the bottom of the brackets and perennial winners had a stable coaching staff.

It is not really that big of stretch to link this simple concept:

24  “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.
25  “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.
26  “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
27  “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Mt 7:24–27). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

So my suggestion is to build stability in your life, heart, and home. It clearly begets success

Phillip W. Martin

 

Stewing In Our Own Juice, by Robert F. Turner

When someone’s sinful conduct rebounded upon him, my dad would sometimes say, “He is stewing in his own juice.” Dad meant he was reaping what he had sown. This is a Bible concept, in both the good and bad sense. We do not really 46get away” with anything. Our deeds and thoughts are “naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13). Since we are in God’s world, where the very character of God is manifested in his creation; and since we will be eventually judged by our Creator; we should know that our well-being, now and in eternity, depends upon our living according to his rules. Three times in the first chapter of the Roman letter Paul indicates “God gave up” the pagan world to the consequences of their own conduct. He allowed them to “stew in their own juice.” There is a practical principle here for all of us: we carry in ourselves the seed of harvest, both temporal and eternal.

We are often self-deceived: thinking possessions can make us happy; our cunningness can reap the benefits of true wisdom; the snares we set for others can give us freedom. This is to proceed without reckoning with God and his principles of righteousness. Greed only heaps up treasures that “moth and rust corrupt.” The cunning are caught by others more cunning, and are usually overcome by the strength of honorable wisdom. The book of Proverbs is literally filled with such admonitions. “The rich man’s wealth is his strong city . . . ” but the destruction of the poor (by which he gain ed his wealth) eventually becomes his poverty (Prov. 10:15). “The integrity of the upright shall guide them; but the perverseness of the treacherous shall destroy them” (11:3). If evil-doers seem to prosper (as indeed they do) remember the advice of the Psalmist: “Fret not thyself. “Evil-doers shall be cut off” (Psa. 37:7-11).

The prophet Habakkuk affords an excellent example of the principle we are discussing. Habakkuk recognized the sins of his people and cried out to God to do something about them. God revealed he was sending the Chaldeans to overrun and punish Judah for her sins. Habakkuk objected, “Holdest thy peace when the wicked swalloweth up the man that is more righteous than he?” (1:13) He was told “the righteous shall live by his faith” (f.n. “in his faithfulness,” 2:4). God has not forgotten his own.

But that is not all. The wicked Chaldeans, used by God to punish Judah, were still accountable for their deeds. The wine (of greed and pride) is treacherous. The very nations they had conquered would “take up a parable . . . a taunting proverb” against them (2:5f). There follows five “woes” promising them the fruit of their own wickedness. Habakkuk learned the true meaning of faith. He waited patiently for the punishment due Judah’s wickedness, and said, “Yet I will rejoice in Jehovah, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (3:16f). He was now attuned to God’s judgments.

Reaping what we sow is also applicable in far less dramatic cases. Some girls use extreme makeup and tight clothing to throw themselves at the boys. They get a cheap date, cheap popularity, and eventually a cheap husband who likely holds marriage as a “cheap” arrangement. Later the divorced mother with children to support “stews in her own juice,” and just can’t figure out why it happened. I remember talking with a divorcee who told me each of her three husbands were alcoholics. I asked, “Where do you get. your husbands?” and was told she met them where she worked – in a bar. I do not say all divorces have such obvious cause-effect relations, but the general principle remains true: we sow the seed of our own harvest. The boy who is lazy, changes jobs-often, does sloppy work, and is a “clock watcher, ” finds it hard to understand why he finally runs out of jobs. The world does not treat him fairly; or does it?

Preachers try to “win debates” with trickery, character assassination, or unfair use of papers or pulpit – and are shunned or held at arms length by many brethren. Of course they can always say those brethren can not take “sound” teaching, but I wonder if they never take a look deep inside themselves. It is equally true that those who compromise truth and repeatedly excuse ungodly conduct may finally find themselves in the “liberal” camp. How did they get there? The “seed” produced their fruit. They may not feel the “stewing” now, but ultimate consequences are inevitable.

Retribution and judgment lie woven into the nature of creation, and are an integral part of God’s revealed will. We “program” our own destinies far more than we may realize, and we should not have to wait for the unchangeable final judgment to do something about it. Instead of blaming fate or “others” for our plight, we should take a hard look at our past, the seed of our present. In our yesterdays we were mixing the ingredients of today. We are storing up our eternal future by present lifestyles and response to God. That is one reason it is so hard to truly repent, to turn about, to “kill the old man.” But God’s goodness can have a great influence if we but give it consideration (Rom. 2:4f). We still have life, and with Christ that means hope. It is up to each of us to trust him, and begin sowing the seeds of an eternal inheritance.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 15, p. 455
August 6, 1987

via: http://www.truthmagazine.com/archives/volume31/GOT031198.html

 

A Refuge in Times of Trouble, by: Ken Weliever

Via: http://thepreachersword.com/2013/11/21/a-refuge-in-times-of-trouble/

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The Old Testament Patriarch, Job, observed over 3,000 years ago, “Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.”

I have been reminded of that this week.  Again.

Rescue teams have been searching the Barren River in Bowling Green, Kentucky, looking for Adam Smelser, missing since Sunday afternoon.  Evidently he went for a run.  Then a swim. And hasn’t been seen since.  I feel the grief and heartbreak of his parents, family and friends.

Then on Monday Norma Jean received a call that her cousin, Carolyn Parslow, collapsed suddenly. She was taken to Florida Hospital and never regained consciousness. She passed away on Tuesday evening.  We are leaving for Tampa tomorrow where I will preach her funeral service on Saturday.

I think back this year of those who have left us too soon.  Azaiah DeGarmo. Marty Pickup.  Ted Brewer.  And there are many others.  Friends that I have loved.  Families we’ve been close to.  Earthly relationships that are severed.

Then there those who are suffering with an incurable, debilitating disease. A fire that destroyed a family’s home.   A father who has walked out on his family.  Someone who has lost their life savings.  And people who have lost everything in the Typhon stricken Philippines.

So what is the answer? How do we cope? Where do we turn when Trouble troubles our lives?

The Psalmist says, “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”  (Ps. 9:9-10)

Let me suggest four ways God can be your refuge that I have observed from my friends who are suffering and based on Biblical teaching.

(1) Live in God’s Presence. James said, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” Jesus promised “I am with you always even to the end of the world. Mt 28:29.

When we suffer adversity, we can know that we are in the presence of God. What a great encouragement, comfort and consolation.

One man said, where was God when my son died?” The answer is: The same place he was when His son diedIf you feel forsaken, Jesus knows how you feel. God is not a spectator of our pain, we are in his presence.

(2) Learn from God’s Promises. The Psalmist affirmed that God would be with us. That he is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.” God promises help. Comfort. Hope. He says, “I care. And I will care for you.” (I Pet. 5:7). He feels our pain. And will supply our every need.

(3) Lean on God’s Power When Sennacherib, king of Assyria invaded Judah, the king stood up and said. “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him.  With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah” (2 Chron 32:7-8)

Finite strength is undependable and expendable, but God’s infinite power is sufficient for every need. Indeed we are “kept by the power of God” (1 Pet 1:5)

(4) Look For God’s Purpose God’s purpose is not to make you miserable. Paul said to “rejoice in the Lord” God does not send pain, problems and pressures. God is the giver of good gifts. (Jas. 1:18)

Why does trouble come? Maybe it is because of the evil of other people. Sometimes it is the result of living in a natural world that is filled with sin, suffering and separation. It could be through our own poor choice (Gal. 6:7-8) Or maybe the Devil is trying to trap us (1 Pet. 5:8)

So what is God’s Purpose for me as I experience life’s problems? To walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7) To use adversity to make me stronger (Jas 1:2-3) To focus on God’s eternal plan in Jesus. (Eph. 3:11) To claim victory through His love, grace and mercy. (Rom 8:30-31)

We all will suffer trouble in this life. Sometimes extreme tragedy will befall us. Yet, whatever the trial or trouble, there is help.  Hope. There is God.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

On a Christians Commitment in Marriage, by: Doy Moyer

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While we need to be concerned about the influence our spouses will have on our spiritual lives (see On Christians Marrying Non-Christians), we must ourselves be committed to serving our spouses and helping them serve the Lord. In other words, marriage shouldn’t be all about me. It is about me to the extent that I must bear responsibility in glorifying God. It is about me in the sense that God calls upon me to glorify Him. But my focus must be first on God, then on loving my spouse as Christ loves His people (Eph 5:22ff). Therefore, while I must be concerned about the type of person I marry, for the sake of my own soul, I must be even more concerned about the type of influence I will have on my spouse. Not only do I need a spouse who can aid me in serving God and preparing for eternity, but I need to be a spouse who will aid her in serving God, also. A single Christian praying for a spouse should not just pray, “Lord, send me the right person,” but “Lord, make me the right person for someone else.” Focus on being the right kind of person and the right of kind of person will be attracted to you.

Dedication in marriage is not a 50/50 proposition, and if that’s how we view it, then we will feel justified in treating our spouses in a lesser way than we are capable of or responsible for. This means that even if a spouse fails to try or gives less than his or her best, we are still responsible to give our very best to the marriage. My approach to marriage must not be conditioned upon the way my spouse acts, but upon God’s will. This is because, as Christians, we are to approach all things with an attitude of service to the Lord.

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Col 3:23-24).

This is an over-riding principle for all that we do, and this should be no less true in marriage. It is the Lord Christ whom we ultimately serve, and therefore our treatment of our spouses and our commitment to marriage is built upon this principle rather than upon some quid pro quo with our spouses.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Phil 2:3-5)

This passage, though dealing with relationships broader than marriage, must nevertheless be applied within a marriage. Our commitment is to be like Christ, to have His attitude in everything. Once again, this is not based on how others act, but upon our primary commitment to God. In this sense, then, marriage is about my spouse, not me. Just as Christ did nothing through selfish ambition, so we must act in humility toward our spouses in order to serve them and their interests (primarily spiritual interests). If I make marriage about my own personal happiness, then likely I will act out in selfishness and end up destroying the marriage and the happiness of my spouse, not to mention my own happiness in the process. Make marriage about your spouse, not yourself, based upon the principles demonstrated by Christ in humbling Himself to die for our sins. In this way, the husband can love Christ as He loves His body (Eph 5).

Christians must also recognize that marriage is a direct reflection of God’s relationship with His people. This is Paul’s primary point in Ephesians 5. After speaking of the submission of the wife and the love the husband is to have for her, Paul then says, “I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church” (vs. 32). I believe that one of the main reasons God initiated marriage in Genesis was to showcase male and female as His creatures made in His image. He then used the marriage metaphor throughout Scripture to describe His relationship with His people — with Israel and then with His people under Christ. Prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and Malachi stress the importance of this principle as the people had committed acts of adultery with foreign gods. Now marriage to Christ as His people is primary for the child of God. We are the bride of Christ, adorned for Him in covenant relationship (cf. Rev 21:2). Paul used marriage again as the illustration to show that we were made to be joined to Christ in order to bear fruit to God (Rom 7:1-4).

These ideas highlight the importance of physical marriage for God’s people. Marriage was made by God. He joins two together. Breaking the covenant is treachery (see Mal 2:15-16), and He hates divorce. God intends marriage to reflect His own covenant relationship with people made in His image. I believe that this understanding of marriage will help us realize just how important our commitment to our spouses needs to be. Marriage ultimately isn’t about us, but about God’s own commitments to covenant. Though God made marriage for mankind, He made it for the greater purpose of reflecting His image. May God help us to reflect it properly.

Doy Moyer

Via: http://www.mindyourfaith.com/1/post/2013/11/on-a-christians-commitment-in-marriage.html

Going “to Worship”, by Doy Moyer

The phrase is biblical. The basic idea of worship is to do reverence or bow down and pay homage to another. From this general concept, some have argued that worship is just everything we do as Christians rather than particular “acts of worship” (a phrase that has been disparaged). Instead, it is supposed to be our lifestyles as worship (“lifestyle” is one of those loaded terms). While it is vital that we sacrifice ourselves for the Lord (Rom 12:1-2), and we recognize that all of life is to be lived in reverence to God (and in that sense worship), the concept of worship in Scripture is used in an even more specific sense as intended actions. Paul speaks of going up to Jerusalem “to worship” (24:11). Worship is said to have an “object” (Acts 17:23; 2 Thess 2:4), who is supposed to be God only. Worship can be in ignorance if not directed specifically to the right One (Acts 17:23), and it can be “in vain” if merely on the lips but not in the heart (Matt 15:8-9). But if worship is just life in general, then wasn’t Paul already worshipping went he went up to Jerusalem “to worship”? Why would he want to go to Jerusalem “to worship” if it was just his lifestyle as worship? Unless there was some intended action he had in mind, this would make no sense.

It is true that any worship of God is to be an extension of who we are (i.e., not out of character for us), but it is still something we do with specific actions in addition to how we generally live. This is not about worship being confined to a church building. It is about intended and specified actions as worship, whether individually or together.

The Hebrew writer said, “let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Heb 13:15). Singing praise to God is worship as it renders special homage to God, whether done individually or with others (Jas 5:13; Eph 5:19-20; Col 3:16). Surely this also may be said about our prayers of praise (e.g., Acts 4:24ff). The praise Psalms should be sufficient to see that. If we speak of going “to worship,” do we not have in mind these very actions?

So, yes we can go “to worship” God as our divine object (an object with whom we share a fellowship), rendering praise to Him in a special way through songs and prayers. Our lives are to be consistent with this, but living our “lives as worship” does not entail foregoing the specific actions. Rather, those actions, especially when we are together, are only enhanced when done by those whose very lives are given as living sacrifices.

Doy Moyer

 

Via: http://www.mindyourfaith.com/6/post/2013/10/going-to-worship.html

The Greatest Commandment, By Doy Moyer

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Matt 22:34-40

Why is loving God the greatest commandment? In a nutshell, because it gets to the foundation of our true motivation for serving God. It strips away our pretensions and forces us to come to terms who we really are and what our purposes are.

There are some commands that we can outwardly and ritualistically do by rote. We can attend assemblies. We can mouth the words of songs and prayers, we can take the bread and fruit of the vine of the Lord’s Supper, and we can put on an outward show that may fool those around us. But loving God with all the heart, soul, strength, and mind is not something that we can ultimately fake. The actions are outward, but this command goes to the very depth of our being. We don’t want simply to be “attenders”; we want to be sacrifices.

Sometimes we focus on the outward items, but must never neglect the heart and mind. Loving God this way means giving him every fiber of our being — truly denying self and giving ourselves as complete sacrifices, holy and acceptable to Him (Rom 12:1-2).

God has never accepted mere ritualism. Just read the prophets, where you will find some of the strongest rebuke and judgment geared toward ritualism (cf. Isa 1). It wasn’t acceptable then; it isn’t acceptable now. God deserves our heart, soul, strength, and mind. Nothing is left untouched.

To see this point even more, let’s look to a couple other passages:

1. Matthew 15. Recall that Jesus rebuked the Pharisees here for placing their tradition on par with or above God’s commandments. Then, He quoted Isaiah: You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors ME with their lips, But their heart is far away from ME. ‘But in vain do they worship ME, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.”

This is taken from Isaiah 29, where God is, in no uncertain terms, pronouncing judgment on a wicked and obstinate people — His people here, Jerusalem, not the surrounding nations. According to verse 13, their “reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote.” There was no heart and soul in their relationship with God, and so they were ripe for idolatry, deaf and blind like the idols they served, unable to appreciate what God had done for them.

2. Deuteronomy 6, where the original command to love God with all the heart was given. Here we should notice the close connection to the first of the Ten Commandments. After the initial command is given to love God, He then tells them to pass the instruction on to their children, to make it permanent, not just on the frontals of their foreheads or the doorposts of their houses and gates, but in their hearts. They were to make sure they remembered this as they entered the land and built their houses and enjoyed the fruit of the land. Why? Verses 12-15 answers: “then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name. You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you, for the Lord your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of the Lord your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth.”

What intrigues me here is the relationship to the first of the Ten Commandments: 1) Have no other gods before Me; 2) Make no graven images; 3) Do not take the Lord’s name in vain; 4) Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. In Deuteronomy, He says to fear only the Lord, worship Him and swear by His name; don’t follow any other gods.

Here’s the point. A person might outwardly keep the Sabbath. A person might not make a graven image. He may not even take the Lord’s name in vain through falsely swearing by Him. A man might do that without truly loving God. But the one thing he could not do without loving God with all the heart, was to have no other gods before Him. How so? Having another god before Yahweh was more than just having a material image to bow down to; it is more than outward action. It is deeply connected to what is in the heart. If a man places, in his own mind, anything before God Almighty, then he has violated the point of this command.

So it is with us, for if God is not first in all, then, we have made gods of ourselves. Loving God with all the heart, soul, strength, and mind places our own deaf and blind gods, whether in mind or in material, on the altar to be burned up and forever laid to rest.

Doy Moyer

viahttp://www.mindyourfaith.com/1/post/2013/10/the-greatest-commandment.html

A People Set For Restoration

This week I posed what I suspected would be a valuable question: “In your experience, or studied understanding, what are some “poor excuses” for multiple churches/congregations who “teach the same things” in a given locality? Feel free to respond privately as well.” I received a wide range of responses both publicly and in a private format.  At a later point I will address some of those comments. For today I thought it best to consider how things are, rather than how did get here. With that in mind, and know that many hurt as I do about the deep divison among those who claim to follow the Christ

Be Forgiving

If you really want reconciliation, our foremost importance is the ability to forgive and let the hardness of the past fade. We all know it hurt, but will it not hurt more to let the injury exist untended?

21Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22J*sus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.g

23“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.h 24When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.i 25And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26So the servantj fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.28But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,k and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,l until he should pay all his debt. 35So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21-35 ESV)

Be Ready for Forgivness

I have lost track of how often folks worry so deeply if the one they hurt will or could ever forgive them. When they finally build up the courage they need to beg for forgiveness they often behave with such amazement! They wonder how it is they could ever have waited so long to have things right again. If you really want to be a person set for reconciliation, be ready to accept forgiveness openly.

7A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8(For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13Jesus said to her,“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.b The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” (John 4:7-15 ESV)

Be A Disciple

Jesus declared a simple truth:

15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15 ESV)

Instill within yourself a deep love of Christ, and you will find yourself seeking to be at peace with God and if possible all men. Were there one thing you could do to help build a bridge, it would be to teach people to love the Christ.

Be An Example

Finally make sure you show reconciliation both in matters involving those who claim Christ, but also to all men.

6If you put these things before the brothers,a you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10For to this end we toil and strive,b because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

11Command and teach these things. 12Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15Practice these things, immerse yourself in them,c so that all may see your progress. 16Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:6-16 ESV)