Archive for August 2008

“… straighten out …”

August 31, 2008

The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished …
(Titus 1:5; NIV. Please read Titus 1-3 … at least a couple of times.)

A young preacher is sent to a difficult place to “straighten out” the Church, i.e., “set in order the things that are lacking”  (NKJV); “complete our work” (NLT); “amend what was defective” (RSV); “do whatever was needed” (LBP); “finish what you started” (TTV – Tim Trotter version from the OPEN).

For the Church (wherever you are) to be the Church that the Lord wants it to be … that the community needs it to be … we must “straighten out” some things. Every Church – no matter where – has some things that need to be “set in order” … or completed.

In order for the Church to be complete – we will need:

1. A God-fearing … Word-holding … Christ-living … leadership.

2. A faith-living … example-setting … gospel-adorning … membership.

3. A grace-receiving … hard-working … fruit-bearing … fellowship.

We have some work to do … don’t we?

ON SECOND THOUGHT:  Years ago … when I was a preacher (a very young preacher), I read this letter – looking for some direction for my ministry. Titus 2:10 (NIV), says, “… so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” I was reading a different translation (not one of the usual), when I came to this verse … but it was translated: “… so that in every way they will show forth the beauty of God’s Word”.  I like the way that said it. I believe that the teachings about Jesus are attractive – and there is nothing I can do to “make” them that way … but I can – by my actions and attitudes – “show forth” just how beautiful they are. This may be the secret to church growth – the secret to fixing the Church – just letting people see how beautiful Jesus is!

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“All Scripture is God-breathed …”

August 30, 2008

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2Timothy 3:14-17; NIV. Please read 2Timothy 3-4 … at least a couple of times.)

Five Good Reasons to Read the Bible:

1. It can save you: “… make you wise for salvation …”

Do you want to know about salvation? The wages of sin and the free gift of eternal life? Redemption by blood or justification by faith? Or do you just want the answer to the question that all sinners ultimately ask, “What must I do to be saved?” Read your Bible. The Word can “make you wise for salvation”. Let Jesus answer your questions. (Let me suggest – that if you already believe in Jesus … that you start in the book of Acts.)

2. It can teach you: “… useful for teaching …”

What do you want to learn? Do you want to learn about salvation or damnation? Heaven or hell? Right or wrong? The creation or the final judgment day? The Ten Commandments or the parables? How to love your mate or how to raise your children? The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus? The Church or the Christian life? Read your Bible. The Word is “useful for teaching“. (Let me suggest that you read the letter to the Ephesians.) 

 3. It can rebuke you: “… useful for … rebuking …”

A rebuke is meant to stop you. And there are some things in my life that need to be stopped! There are times that God speaks in commands … sometimes in promises … but there are also times that He speaks in “rebuke”. He intends to put a STOP to certain actions and attitudes. No discussion – STOP. Do you want to know what kinds of things the Lord might want you to stop? Read the Bible. The Word is “useful for rebuking“. (Let me suggest that you read the wisdom of God in Proverbs.) 

4. It can correct you: “… useful for … correcting …”

There are things that you need to START – other things that you need to STOP. But once in a while you just need a little correction. You know that you are not to kill – but maybe you have an issue with anger. You know that you are not to commit adultery – but maybe you have an issue with lust in the heart. You know that you are not to lie – but maybe you have an issue with not letting your “yea be yea” or your “nay be nay”. Read the Bible. The Word is “useful for correcting”. (Let me suggest Matthew 5-6-7.) 

5. It can train you: “… useful for … training …”

You know what to do – you have read the commands – but you do not know how to do it. You have learned what to do – but still do not know how. Like learning to whistle … to ride a bike … to bake a cake … to throw a curve-ball … to catch a fish … to diaper a baby … to drive a car … to build a house … all of these and more … you cannot learn unless someone shows you what to do. They cannot just teach you … they must show you. Want to learn how to love your neighbor … to teach the gospel … to raise your children … to restore your brother … to praise the Lord … to give with a cheerful heart … to visit the widows and orphans … to pray in the Spirit … to sing with the spirit and understanding … to be like Jesus? Read the Bible. The Word is “useful for training”. (Let me sugget the gospel of Luke – do what you see Jesus do – at least the things that you can do.)   

ON SECOND THOUGHT: When I was a boy, I began trying to read my Bible everyday. My mother was my biggest ally. Even when I became a teenager – started dating – I would come home late – never after curfew 🙂 – and as I got ready to get in bed, I would find my Bible open … on my pillow … with my lamp turned on. She knew that I wanted to read my Bible … so she helped me. And I have been reading my Bible everyday (for the most part) all of my life. Thank you, Mother.

“… fan into flame …”

August 29, 2008

I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
(2Timothy 1:3-7; NIV. Please read 2Timothy 1-2 … at least a couple of times.)

These words – breathed by God – come from the heart of a father to his son (in the faith).

Though the gift Timothy received came by the “laying on” of the apostle Paul’s hands … our gifts also come from the Spirit … and we need to “fan” them into flame.

For God did not give us a “spirit of timidity” (which says, “I can’t”.) –

but a spirit of “power” (which says, “I can” … because “I can do all things through Christ …”) –

a spirit of “love” (which says, “I must” …  because “the love of Christ leaves me no choice …”) –

a spirit of “self-discipline” (which says, “I will” … because “I beat my body and make it my slave …”).

ON SECOND THOUGHT: My father (Bill Boyles) and my father in the faith (Cline Paden – God rest his soul) have both seen my tears. I hope that they were (are) reminded of my love for them – that they were (are) filled with joy. To all of those, who might consider me a father (in the faith) … “fan into flame” the gift of God that is in you … because the Lord’s church needs you now – more than ever before.

“… set an example …”

August 28, 2008

… but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.
(1Timothy 4:12; NIV. Please read 1Timothy 4-6 … at least a couple of times.)

These words from God … written by a wise father to his faith-son … sum up the responsibility of every disciple … every preacher … every member of the body of Christ.

… “set an example” … “in speech“: This is not just about “not” cussing, gossiping, or lying … it also involves encouraging the weak, confronting the contentious, and telling the Story to the lost. 

“set an example” … “in life”: This is not just about “not” doing this or that wrong … it also involves enjoying the gifts of God, being good to others, and walking in the steps of Jesus.

“set an example” … “in love”: This is not just about “not” being jealous, irritable, or keeping a record of wrongs … it also involves being patient, kind, and giving the benefit of the doubt.

“set an example” … “in faith”: This is not just about “not” doubting, rebelling, or disobeying … this also involves conviction about things not seen, confidence in what God says or does, and commitment to the will of God.

“set an example” … “in purity”: This is not just about “not” dirty dancing, looking at porn,  or having sex before marriage … this also involves a consideration of women, a singleness of mind, and a respect for the marriage vows.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Years ago … back in the day when I was a preacher – a very young preacher – a wise elderly sister came up to me after my lesson. She wanted to to teach me a poem …

“If everyone in this church is just like me … what kind of church would this church be?”

I cannot remember that sister’s name (the Lord does) … but I have never forgotten her words – and the truth of what her poem asks?

“… a trustworthy saying …”

August 27, 2008

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(1Timothy 1:15-17; NIV. Please read 1Timothy 1-4 … at least a couple of times.)

These words from God … are the theme of the Bible … the heart of the gospel … and the hope of every sinner.

He came “to save sinners” … and He proved it by saving the “worst of sinners”.

So … He must have known that we were sinners. He must have known that we needed saving. He must have wanted us to be saved. He must have been willing to do whatever it would take to save us. He did … and did it. Now that is a “trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance”!

So … trust it.

So … fully accept it. 

 ON SECOND THOUGHT: That “trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance” includes me. It has to include me … or God wouldn’t have said it. (He doesn’t lie … can’t lie.) It has to include me … or it wouldn’t be “trustworthy”. It has to include me … or it wouldn’t deserve “full acceptance”. So … accept it fully, because God wouldn’t lie … and if He can save Saul (and me) – He can save you. Trust Him!

“… restore him gently …”

August 26, 2008

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5 for each one should carry his own load.
(Galatians 6:1-5; NIV. Please read Galatians 4-6 … at least a couple of times.)

“Caught in a sin” … ever been there? Ever known the shame – the grief – the fear that comes with being “caught“? In that moment … when there seems to be no hope … you need someone who is “spiritual” to “restore” you “gently“.

“Spiritual” would mean someone from God … someone who knows how God treats sinners. Is it too simple to say … someone like Jesus? Watch Him with the sinful woman, weeping at His feet while the Pharisee considers himself more spiritual than Jesus. Watch Him with the woman “caught in the act” – He does not condemn her. Watch Him with that condemned thief, as He invites him to Paradise with Him.

“Restore” would mean to help that man or woman (caught in sin) become “just like new” … to let God make them just like He made them the first time. No scars … no limps … no scarlet letters.

“Gently” could mean only one thing – take it easy on them. All of us have been there … all of us could find ourselves “tempted“. So … when you are helping someone “caught in sin” treat them in the same way that you would want to be treated – need to be treated – and do not act like you are superior or in any way more enlightened and holy than they are.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: My memories of how I was treated … when I was “caught in sin” … are so vivid, my stomach churns as I type this. So many people ignored me – wrote me off. So many others felt like it was best to “make me pay” for my sins. But so many others – many among our fellowship of prodigals – have shared with me this kind of love – bearing my burdens – allowing me to rest and heal. I want to be that kind of brother.

“… lead us to Christ …”

August 25, 2008

Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. 26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
(Galatians 3:23; NIV. Please read Galatians 1-3 … at least a couple of times.)

The Law of God … whether the law of sin and death given to Adam and Eve in the garden or the Law of Moses given to Israel from the mountain … made us conscious of sin – the penalty of sin, death. But the Law did not just condemn – it served as our schoolmaster to “lead us to Christ” … so that we could be “justified by faith” – since we could never be justified by the Law.

Can I believe that? Can I trust that?

If I put my faith in Him, then I can become a son of God … for when I am “baptized into Christ”, I am clothed with Christ. I “belong to Christ” … and I become an “heir according to the promise“.

Can you believe that? Can you trust that?

ON SECOND THOUGHT: A few days ago we walked “the Roman Road” … so today, let us walk through the Galatians Gate:

God condemns us … because we sin (Galatians 3:19f).

God saves us … because we have faith in Jesus (Galatians 3:24-25).

God clothes us … because we become sons of God, when we are baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26-27).