Archive for September 2008

“… follow my example …”

September 30, 2008

“Everything is permissible”-but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”-but not everything is constructive. 24 Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”  

27 If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake- 29 the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?

31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God- 33 even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
(1Corinthians 10:23-11:1; NIV. Please read 1Corinthians 9-12.)

The Christians in Corinth were immature – childish. As their father in the gospel, Paul, has taught them fundamental of the faith, but now he wants to teach them how to make spiritual, God-approved decisions, regarding those issues that are not a matter of absolutes or essentials. He will share with them seven stages to reaching God’s approval for one of these issues. In other words – here are seven questions to ask before you decide to do anything that is not directly commanded or condemned:

1. Is it “permissible“? Check the Word. Is it commanded or condemned? If commanded, do it. If it is condemned, then do not do it.

2. Is it “beneficial“? Is it going to help you? Help anyone? (Or is it just something you want to do, and you are just looking for a way to justify it?)

3. Is it “constructive“? Maybe this is the same point as the one above. But my friends at the OPEN think that this one means, “Is it going to help anyone else?”

4. Is it “to the glory of God”? Are you going to do this “to” the glory of God, or are you just thinking that God can be glorified in all we do? This word from God demands intent.

5. Is it possible that it might cause others “to stumble“? Will other people be hurt or hindered from following Jesus? (Note: this means “stumble” not “grumble”.) Will this cause others to follow your example and sin?

6. Is it possible that it might help others “be saved“? This is the opposite of the one above. Will other people be encouraged to follow Jesus? Will this cause someone to follow your example and be saved?

7. Is it something that Jesus would do? Simple enough (didn’t say easy). What would Jesus do? Not a slogan – but a serious consideration of the actions and reactions of Jesus. (I may not always know … but if I am asking it – I might not be to far from it.)

 ON SECOND THOUGHT: I learned these “stages” from this Scripture many years ago from Richard Rogers, one of my favorite teachers of all time. He spoke at the Gateway Evangelism Workshop in St. Louis, and his keynote address was titled (something like): “Seven Gateways to Approval”. I received a tape of the lesson – and as I listened to Richard open the Word of God for his audience, it opened up my heart. I must admit that I have not always made my decisions about such matters as Paul taught the Corinthians (or as Richard taught me); but I believe it to be God’s wisdom … and my life would be far different – far better had I made certain to walk through the seven gateways of approval. (I thank God for Richard Rogers.)

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“… some of you were …”

September 29, 2008

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1Corinthians 6:9-11; NIV. Please read 1Corinthians 5-8.)

Talking about the “right kind of people”? What about the “sexually immoral” … the “idolaters” … the “adulterers” … the “male prostitutes” … the “homosexual offenders” … the “thieves” … the “greedy” … the “drunkards” … the “slanderers” … the “swindlers”? It is certain that they will not “inherit the kingdom of God”.

And “that is what some of you were”.

But they had been “washed” … “sanctified” … “justified” … “in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God”. These were the people that were called by the gospel … added to the Church … included in God’s family. They had been “those kind of people” … but now in Jesus they are His kind of people.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: I am in a fellowship of prodigals, who are “those kind of people”. The teacher was an adulterer … and in our number are people who have openly admitted to addictions to alcohol, other drugs, and to porn. We have heard confessions of prostitution, illegal activities, and domestic violence … along with greed, jealousy, and bitterness. We “were” …  but we have been “washed” … “sanctified” … “justified” …  thanks to Jesus and the Spirit. We may have been “those kind of people” … and we may not be your kind of people … but we are His kind of people. Now … that’s my kind of church.

“… boast in the Lord …”

September 28, 2008

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-and the things that are not-to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.   31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
(1Corinthians 1:26-31; NIV. Please read 1Corinthians 1-4.)

I am among those who are “called”.

I was (am) not among those wise by “human standards”“influential” … or of “noble birth“.

But I was (am) among those who are considered “weak” … “lowly” … and “depised“.

Therefore, the fact that I am “in Christ Jesus” – and that He is my “righteousness”“holiness”“redemption” … is all to the glory of God. Let the boasting begin!!!

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Not long ago a preacher student mentioned that in one of his “evangelism” classes he was taught to look for a certain type of person to invite to church … to teach … to baptize, so that the church can be built with the “right kind of people”. I have no idea if the student misunderstood or not … but if it is being taught – even implied – may God break that spirit in us. If unschooled fishermen are welcome … if death-breathing terrorists are welcome … if pig pen-smelling prodigals are welcome … if dying-on-the-cross thieves are welcome … if caught-in-the-act adultresses are welcome … then I will fit right in. Those are my kind – His kind – of people.

“… many people in this city …”

September 27, 2008

Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. 8 Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized. 9 one night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”  11 So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
(Acts 18:7-11; NIV. Please read Acts 18.)

A sincere man … a religious leader in a violent and wicked city … believed in the Lord and was baptized.

A sincere man … a missionary in a violent and wicked city … taught many who believed and were baptized.

But is was not easy. Corinth was a frightening place … especially for this godly man with a Jesus heart. He wanted to leave … but if he stayed, he wanted to keep quiet. (Can you imagine how scary this place was to make a man like Paul afraid to preach?)

But God visited him – reassured him that he would be safe … urging him to stay, because He had “many people in this city”. He stayed for a year and a half.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Implied in what God promised Paul … is the truth that God knows that there are people in this city, too. They are here … waiting for someone to introduce them to Jesus. There is nothing to fear … no one is going to harm us … we just need to put aside our fear and keep on “gossiping” the good news to all of our family and friends … all over town.

“… when the Lord Jesus is revealed …”

September 26, 2008

All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
(2Thessalonians 1:5-10; NIV. Please read 2Thessalonians 1-3.)

In this second letter from God to the Christians in Thessalonica … Paul again focuses our attention on the second appearing of Jesus.

It will be a day of justice … 

It will be a day of relief …

It will be a day of punishment …

It will be a day of destruction …  

It will be a day of marvel …

ON SECOND THOUGHT: I long for that day … come Lord Jesus.

“… the Lord Himself will come …”

September 25, 2008

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.
(1Thessalonians 4:13-18; NIV. Please read 1Thessalonians 1-5.)

In this letter from God to the Christians in Thessalonica … Paul mentions the second appearing of Jesus at the end of each chapter. Such repetition … demands our attention.

If Jesus is coming …

1. Let us serve the living and true God.

2. Let us receive the Word.

3. Let us love the family of God.

4. Let us please the Lord.

5. Let us put on the armor of God.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: We do not know when the Lord may return … so we should be ready. So … if you knew that He was coming tomorrow … what would you do … to get ready?

“… judge the world with justice …”

September 24, 2008

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28’For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone-an image made by man’s design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”
(Acts 17:22-31; NIV. Please read Acts 17 … at least a couple of times.)

In these words from God … Paul, standing at the pinnacle of human wisdom and reasoning, declares the might and majesty of the Almighty. His glory … humbles the proud. His power … conquers the conquerors. His wisdom … confounds the philosophers. His dominion …  governs the governments. His judgment … judges the unjust.

But the point of this sermon is … Jesus is coming … and He “commands all people everywhere to repent”.

So … reflect on the philosophical prisms of this treatise … meditate on the spiritual vistas of this homily … but in the end … you better just get ready … for here comes the judge!

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Does it surprise you that the “most intellectual” – “most sophisticated” – “most respected” people of that age – “sneered” at the gospel? Why would we think that it will be different … now? So … what are we to think of those teachers or professors, who teach and counsel missionaries to build their church plants by reaching out to the “right kind of people”?