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Showing posts from July, 2007

A Clean, Clear Conscience (part 1)

Each Christian should be ruled by a conscience that is clean, clear, and consistent with Scriptural teaching. Sadly, though, many Christians dull their consciences by not confessing sin—even to the point where the conscience becomes warped or seared.

We begin our new life in Christ by having our conscience cleansed from guilt. It is very clear in Hebrews 9:14 and 10:22 that the blood of Jesus Christ is the means of this cleansing. Once our conscience is clean, Scripture then describes it as good or clear.

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5 NIV)

...holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. (1 Timothy 1:19 NIV)

They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. (1 Timothy 3:9 NIV)

The relationship between a good, clear conscience and a sincere faith is very important. But when the deep truths of the faith are held in a…

Guilt and Ignorance (Great Grace)

Among church members today there are two problems which commonly make up the average spiritual/mental state. They are, simply stated, guilt and ignorance. This is very true of church members who are not Christians, but it is also true in a different way for the Christians.

A statement Paul made for the Jews applies equally well to unconverted church members today:

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (Romans 10:1-4 NIV)

Guilt is the reason people seek to establish their own righteousness, and ignorance is the reason they do it their own way.

Although guilt is the main problem in the non-Christian, he may be…

The Tongue (part 2)

The two greatest positive uses of the tongue are recorded in the tenth chapter of Romans. The first is confessing Jesus Christ and calling upon him. It is our part in our salvation.

But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (Romans 10:8-10 NIV)

Our salvation has to do with our heart and mouth. The latter expresses the former.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13 NIV)

The second positive use of the tongue is preaching Jesus Christ.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?
And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?
And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
And how …

The Tongue (part 1)

For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. (Matthew 12:34, 35 NIV)

I would like to draw your attention to the words “overflow” and “stored up.” Whatever is “stored up” is brought out. Good “stored up”—good comes out. Evil “stored up”—evil comes out. Not only is “good” or “evil” brought out, but they “overflow” out.

Apparently from this text, the mouth is an overflow valve venting what is stored up. The teaching here is not on watching your mouth, but on storing up good. If we endeavor and temporarily succeed in keeping our mouths shut to keep the stored up evil from coming out, it would be like blocking the safety valve on a pressure cooker. Sooner or later there would be an explosion and the contents would come out anyway. The emphasis is on the heart, not on the mouth. Let us store up good. We then will not have to watch our mouths.

(An exc…

The Spring of Living Water

My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. (Jeremiah 2:13 NIV)

Do you see the difference between these two sins? The first is forsaking an artesian well, a flowing well of life-giving water. There is no end to the supply. God is this life-giving spring. To forsake this source is evil and foolish.

The second sin is salvation by effort. It recognizes the need for water, but wants a cistern, a reservoir of water. The sin is in digging the cistern. That itself does not provide the water for the cistern. If there were a provision of water to put into this reservoir, the result would be stagnant water. However we have another problem: it is a broken cistern, a leaking reservoir. Soon there is no water, not even stagnant water. To dig this cistern is evil and foolish. It is a works-effort for life and does not provide life.

Jesus said:

Everyone who drinks this water …

Illegal Aliens

If estimates are right; there are 12,000,000 illegal aliens (immigrants) in the United States. We came to the conclusion yesterday that these illegals were also immoral sinners. We, as Christians, have been told by highest authority to take the message of the good news to the uttermost part of the earth. It looks as if many tribes and tongues have come to us. We do not have to go to them.

In Romans five, verses six to eight, we find that Christ died for the ungodly, for sinners. These people fit the qualification, the basic requirements.

They are sinners.

Jesus defined “neighbor” as someone who was of a different religion, a different race, away from home, beat up, half dead, robbed, and helpless. Many (all) of these illegals qualify as neighbors who are to be loved.

Here are few of the people who were saved when they were strangers in another land. Paul, the Ethiopian, Cornelius, Apollos, Lydia, Priscilla, and Aquila and many of the 3,000 saved at Pentecost.

I am not suggesting that you s…

Spiritual Maturity by C. Stephen David

“And now I will show you the most excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31).

Ever since I became a Christian, I often heard five important steps on how to grow in spiritual life. It has been emphasized that this is how one can excel towards spiritual maturity. The five steps are – prayer, bible study, church fellowship, tithing and witnessing. However, it was later I happened to learn that one could practice all these things and yet live an unspiritual and immature life. As important as they are, nowhere in the Holy Scripture do we find that these are the signs of spiritual maturity. What then is the sign of spiritual maturity?

The Important Ingredient
These days the Lord has been drawing my attention to ponder over the most significant ingredient of my life and ministry. It is something without which I cannot become spiritually mature. He has shown me how greatly I am missing and neglecting it in my life. I was convicted that my Christian life is shallow, my spirituality is a sham, my preaching is …

Heaven Welcomes Aliens

There is, presently, in this country an impasse on making new laws or enforcing old laws on illegal immigrants.

However, these immigrants have a bigger problem than violating the laws of the United States. They are not only illegal immigrants, they are immoral immigrants. They may not be caught violating U.S. laws but they are always caught violating God’s laws.

It is difficult if not impossible to be an illegal immigrant without lying many times and in many ways. This includes false identification papers, false driver licenses, stolen social security cards, lying to employers, school districts, and to police.

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Revelation 21:8

There are no illegal aliens in Heaven.

Gossip

“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;” Romans 1:29, 30

Notice all the evil things that a decadent society is guilty of. Right in the middle of this list is gossip. Gossip is not an innocent pastime. It is very evil. Its nature consists of several things.

1) It is made up of a lie or lies. It is not true. It declares to be true. That is the nature of a lie. Truth tellers do not say, “I am telling you the truth.”

2)It is malicious! Kind, good things do not get gossiped about.

3)The person who tells you this bit makes you promise not to tell anyone. “I can keep a promise. It is the people I tell it to who can’t.”

4) It is not just the tellers who are gossips. The listeners are also gossips, even if they do not tell anyone.

“The words of a gossip are like cho…

Paul, an Example

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 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. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:12-17 NIV)

Notice that Paul was a blasphemer, persecutor, and a violent man. We are quite sure that he was not an adulterer, or thief, or liar. He would have said so. He did say he …

Gracious Answers

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6 NIV)

“Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Peter 3:14b-16 NIV)

Gracious answers—gentle answers—are God’s effective means of reaching people.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

Witness in the Spirit: Self Control

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God… (2 Timothy 1:7, 8 NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22, 23 NIV)

Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control. (Proverbs 25:28 NIV)

We have all seen or participated in witnessing situations where the Christian has not exhibited self-control. He has gotten loud or angry or annoyed, and this annoyance has shown. To have power without love is awful. To have power without self-control is tragic…disastrous. It is power that keeps us from being timid or ashamed of Jesus Christ. Self-control keeps us from acting in ways in which we should be ashamed.

Self-control is a fruit of…

Witness in the Spirit: Faithfulness

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)

When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. (John 16:8-15 NIV)

So then, men ou…

Witness in the Spirit: Kindness

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness… (Galatians 5:22 NIV)

And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. (2 Timothy 2:24 NIV)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV)


…in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left… (2 Corinthians 6:6, 7 NIV)


Recently I have encountered people who have an obsession with power. They say that they want the power of God. It seems, though, that they want power to possess it for themselves. If this were not the case, rather they would desire to be vessels for God’s power to further His kingdom by spreading the Gospel of Christ Jesus; that is the way with the power of God (Romans 1:4,16; 1 Corinthians 1:18, 22-…

Witness in the Spirit: Goodness

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness… (Galatians 5:22 NIV)

He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. (Acts 11:24 NIV)


Barnabas was full of the Holy Spirit. He was also a good man. This is not surprising since the fruit of the Spirit is goodness. The text says that a great number of people were brought to the Lord. Barnabas was in a witnessing, evangelizing situation. Goodness is a necessary characteristic of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. It is also a necessary characteristic of effective witnessing.

To witness with the content of the good news without being good is to contradict with our life that which we are saying with our mouth.

Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (1 John 2:6 NIV)

If we are going to talk good news, we must walk good news. Witnessing in the Holy Spirit is an assurance that there will be no contradiction between our walk …

Knowledge or Love?

The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (I Timothy 1:14 NIV)

Paul was a man of great wisdom and knowledge but he plays them down. More than that, he writes them off.

Knowledge puffs up but love builds up. (I Corinthians 8:1b NIV)

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:18-21 NIV)

When we speak, do we display our knowledge or our love? Are we conscious of the abundance of grace, faith and love that was poure…

In the Same Way

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. (1 Peter 3:7 NIV)

The word “honor” in KJV is “respect” in the NIV. The real definition comes from the context. The sentence starts out, “Husbands, in the same way…” Which way? Verse 1 of chapter 3 starts out “Wives, in the same way…” Which way? We have to go back to chapter two, verses 18-25:

“The same way” refers, first, to the command given to the Christian slave:

Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. (1…

God

When the Ten Commandments were first given, that is, before the first set of stone tablets (and certainly before the second set), they were not given in pageantry. They were given in terrifying, first-person reality. These events are described in Exodus 19, three months after the Israelites left Egypt. Thirty-nine years later Moses recalls these events that surrounded the oral declaration of the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 4 and 5); again in Hebrews 12:18-28 the events are described in contrast to something far more wonderful.

Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. (Deuteronomy 4:12 NIV)

You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully… (Deuteronomy 4:15 NIV)

You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other. (Deuteronomy 4:35 NIV)

Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the…

A Likeness to the Father

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 sons 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? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48 NIV)

Jesus begins with “You have heard that it was said.” And what was said included a portion of Scripture, which was then taken out of context and added to. Here is the correct Old Testament quotation:

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:18 NIV)

False teaching often includes some Scripture in order to make what …

Making Restitution (part 2)

When it comes to money or things, the cost to the thief is the value of the thing, plus 20%. That is a high rate of interest, but it is not the highest rate.

If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep. (Exodus 22:1 NIV)

There it is: 500% for oxen, 400% for sheep. Why the difference and why so much? The Scripture does not tell us “Why.” Here is a possibility. Oxen are alive; they reproduce oxen; they pull the plow; they provide meat, leather and milk. Sheep are alive; they reproduce sheep; they provide milk, meat and wool.

We see two examples of this in Scripture. First, there is David’s reply to Nathan’s story.

He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity. (2 Samuel 12:6 NIV)

The second is Zacchaeus’ statement to Jesus.

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I h…