Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Serve God Today

Please take time to read 1 Corinthians chapter 7.  This chapter is full of things that I will not get to in this post and you'll be instructed far better by reading it than by reading this post.  I, in this post, will focus my attention on just one point.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"  This question is/was asked of us a lot.  "What will my future be like?"  This is a question I find myself asking a lot.  I find myself daydreaming about the future and the great things it has in store for me.

I often look to the future and wonder about all the great things I'll be able to do for God.  "When I______ then I'll be able to do_________."  Dreaming about the future and wishing to do great things later is not a bad thing; but I do feel that someday can be the bane of today.

"Nevertheless, each one of you should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him..." 1 Corinthians 7:17

Many times we feel that we must rise to another position to really serve God.  If we are single, we must wait to be married to really serve God.  If we are in an entry level position, we must wait until we are in management to really serve God.  Or, sometimes we feel that we must leave our position in life altogether and become a missionary or monk to really serve God.

The apostle Paul clearly says that we are called by God to whatever position we are in today.  Whether or not we are called to always be in our present condition I do not know.  But I know with certainty that wherever you are today is where you were called to be today.  God makes no mistakes and He plans to use you for His glory and your good today right where you are, with no exceptions.

So, if you are a student, serve God in your school today.  If you are a factory worker, serve God in your workplace today.  If you are a patient in the hospital, serve God in your room today.  We are all assigned to where we are by the Almighty God in order to serve Him today.

That's why I end each post on this blog with the word "today".  We are able to serve God today.  Amen.  By His grace He enables us to do things that will last for eternity regardless of RATHER because of our present situation.

So if you are single, serve.  If you are married, serve.  If you are a student, serve.  If you are a worker, serve.  If you are retired, serve.  Don't wait for someday.  Serve God today.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Enjoy God's Mercy

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've been given the opportunity to lead the youth group at church through the book The Knowledge of the Holy.  This study, for me, has been an invigorating look at the attributes of our great God.

Last Wednesday we looked at four attributes of God including His mercy.  God's mercy is something with which all Christians should be familiar.  God's mercy is one of the attributes of God that allows us to be on friendly terms with the Holy Uncreated One.

A. W. Tozer, the author of the book, defines mercy as these two things: God's goodness confronting human suffering and guilt; and God's being actively, infinitely and inexhaustibly compassionate.  The definition is an amazing source of hope.  We need God's goodness to confront our suffering and guilt and we would not get that were it not be for God's active, infinite, inexhaustible compassion.

God's mercy is a source of immense hope.  That being said, why don't we enjoy God's mercy more?

For centuries the Church has cried for mercy again and again.  "Kyrie eleison!  Christe eleison!"  "God have mercy!  Christ have mercy!"  The Church has cried again and again for mercy and this is not necessarily a bad thing, nor is this necessarily a good thing.

When we cry for mercy what are we crying for?  If we are crying out for God to continue His purifying work in us; if we are desiring that God be merciful and release us more from the temptation of sin; if these are the reasons, then cry out for mercy.

But, if we the saved Church are crying out for God to save us from the penalty of sin then we are wasting our time.  Faith believes that Christ died for us once and for all.  Faith cries out to be saved from the penalty of sin once and then needs not cry out for this ever again.  When we claim Christ death and resurrection as ours we are guaranteed the mercy of God.  Amen!

Tozer put it this way:
"We may plead for mercy for a lifetime in unbelief, and at the end of our days be still no more than sadly hopeful that we shall somewhere, sometime, receive it.  This is to starve to death just outside the banquet hall in which we have been warmly invited."

This mercy is not to be repeatedly clamored for.  This amazing mercy of God is to be enjoyed today and everyday.  We should dance, sing and shout for joy that we have received God's infinite, inexhaustible compassion.  Cry no more!  We, through the blood of Christ Jesus our Lord, have been freely given the mercy of God.

Enjoy God's mercy today.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sexual Immorality

Take time to read 1 Corinthians chapter 6.

"Flee from sexual immorality.  All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.  Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own, you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body."  1 Corinthians 6:18-20

Sexual sins were rampant in Corinth.  The temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was in town and it employed over a thousand prostitutes as priest and priestesses.  Sex was an important part of the worship of Aphrodite and I imagine they had no problems getting people to attend worship there.

Sex in worship was no doubt extremely appealing to those in Corinth and attracted worshippers from all around the world.  But God called His people in Corinth to purity rather than promiscuity.  So, Paul instructed the Corinthians to flee from sexual immorality.  The temptation of sexual immorality was, and is, too great of a threat to flirt with.  We are better off fleeing from sexual immorality than battling it head on.

This advice has been given to us time and again.  You know to flee from sexual immorality.  You know to set boundaries in your dating life.  You know that you are to remain sexually pure until marriage.


Sex before marriage will have negative consequences in some way.  Below are just a few facts that support that:

1) You'll have to tell your spouse about all you did with someone other than him/her.  Shame may follow.
2) 50% of sexually active adults will get an STD before age 25. (According to the American Journal of Medicine 102 (5a) 3-8)
3) In 2008 there were 110 million prevalent STDs amongst American men and women.
4) Sex releases oxytocin which helps bond the two engaging in intercourse.  The more people you have sex with the more likely you are to have a broken heart when each relationship or one night stand doesn't work out.
5) You defile the temple of the Holy Spirit.

These are just a few ways that sexual immorality hurts us.  "He who sins sexually sins against his own body" is definitely true.

We are called to purity.  God created sex for marriage and in marriage it is a very good thing.  God calls us not to be a slave to sexual temptation, but instead to be a slave to Him.  "You are not your own, you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body."

Flee from sexual immorality of all kinds today.

Friday, October 11, 2013

God's Omniscience is Awesome

The past few weeks I have had the privilege of leading the students in my church's youth group in a book study of The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer.  I've mentioned before that it is one of my favorite books and I've been very excited to teach on it because Tozer spends time looking at the attributes of God, which blow my mind.

This week one of the attributes we looked at was the divine omniscience.  When we say that God is omniscient we mean that He knows everything.  God knows everything that can be known because He is the author and creator of everything.  As Tozer puts it, "God perfectly knows Himself, and being the source and author of all things, it follows that He knows all that can be known."  God also knows everything that was, is and is yet to come because He is outside of time and isn't bound by future or past.

This means that God cannot learn and has never learned.  God has always just known.  For, if He gained knowledge that would mean He was less than perfect before gaining that knowledge.  God never discovers anything and cannot be surprised.

This is all very cool and mind blowing to say the least.  However, I'm sure you're wondering what difference it makes in your life that God is omniscient.

One of the first things that people think of when they hear that God is omniscient is this: "If God knows everything make sure you don't commit a hidden sin because He'll know about it even if no one else does.  Or don't even think about sinning because God even knows you're thinking about it."  This is true, but not all that beneficial.  It does inspire fear and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but I find this way of thinking bogs us down with guilt and paralyzing fear.

Here a much better reason of why it matters that God is omniscient.  Read this quote from A. W. Tozer's The Knowledge of the Holy:

"No talebearer can inform on us, no enemy can make an accusation stick; no forgotten skeleton can come tumbling out of some hidden closet to abash us and expose our past; no unsuspected weakness in our characters can come to light to turn God away from us, since He know us utterly before we knew Him and called us to Himself in the full knowledge of everything that was against us."

This is AWESOME!  God knew us fully, knows us fully and will know us fully.  He knows our deepest, darkest secrets and dirtiest inner thoughts; yet He still chose to love us with His infinite love!  God in His perfect knowledge looked at us and deemed us lovable.  He saw us and desired for us to be His bride to be His children.  Wow!

This should inspire us to live a life worthy of this calling even though He chose us when we were unworthy of the calling.  This causes us to live a much holier life than simply the fear that God sees us and will judges us.  God sees us and will love us.

Also, if God looks at your deepest, darkest secrets and dirtiest thoughts and loves you, then you have no right to hate yourself.  You can't call unworthy and unlovable what the Author and Creator of Life, the King of Kings has already pronounced lovable and worthy.  You can't hate what Jesus died for.

God is omniscient.  He knows everything.  He knows you at your worst and chose to love you with His infinite, unfailing, unmatchable, perfect love.  This is the Gospel friends.  Praise God for His omniscience today.

Monday, October 7, 2013

When a Church Gets a Yeast Infection

How many of you clicked on this because of the title?  I want to first apologize to those of you offended by this title, but I'm just trying to add a little humor to a serious topic.  Please take time to read 1 Corinthians chapter 5.

The church at Corinth had a nasty problem.  A man in the church was sleeping with his dad's wife.  Now, whether that's his mom or step-mom we don't know.  What we do know is that this situation makes all of us scream "YUCK!!!"

The church at Corinth had another problem.  No one did anything about this man sleeping with his dad's wife.  The man was unrepentant and proud, yet the church didn't address the issue or disassociate themselves from this wickedness.

Paul said that the church at Corinth should expel this man.  That they should hand him over to Satan, which means they should allow him to be in the world without the support of the church.  They should have done this for a couple of reasons.

First, this man should have been expelled from the church for his own good.  If they "handed him over to Satan" he could be crushed and hopefully left with no option but to run back to the refuge of the cross.  Sometimes tough love means letting someone hit rock bottom.  This is hard but it is for the ultimate best even if it's not for the immediate best.

Second, this man should have been expelled from the church for the good of the church.

"Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?  Get rid of the yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast... as you really are.  For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.  Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast of malice wickedness, but with the bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth."  1 Corinthians 5:6-8

Paul is using a compound of analogies here.  He's drawing from the Passover meal during which the Jews were required to clean their home of all the yeast in the house.  Then they were to eat unleavened bread all week.  Paul's also drawing from the Last Supper, which was a Passover meal.  In the Last Supper Jesus said that the bread was His body.  Finally, Paul is hoping the reader remembers that the Church is called the body of Christ.

The church at Corinth, in order to best represent Christ as His body, needed to remove the yeast.  In this case, the yeast was this immoral man who was sleeping with his dad's wife.

In this letter from Paul we can see that a little yeast ruins the whole batch.  It only takes a little yeast to make a whole loaf rise.  It only takes a little immorality to make the whole church misrepresent Christ.  So, the local church must practice church discipline for the sake of the immoral members, the sake of the congregation as a whole and the glory of Christ.

Before we go nuts here, I must point out that church discipline only applies to those who claim to be Christian and are part of your local church.

"What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?  Are you not to judge those inside?  God will judge those outside.  'Expel the wicked man from among you.'"  1 Corinthians 5:12-13

We are not to pass this kind of judgement on those outside the church as if we are God.   We need to welcome all kinds of "sinners" into our fellowship.   That being said we are to practice church discipline regarding the members of the church.

You may also ask, "Where do we draw the line with keeping the immoral brothers outside of the church?  If we removed all those who are immoral we'd have an empty building on Sunday."  To this I'll say, "I don't know."  All I know is the line is somewhere before sleeping with your dad's wife.  I write that half-jokingly, but also truthfully.  I believe this chapter of 1 Corinthians not to be a template for church discipline, but an example.  I don't know where to draw the line of immorality, but I would suggest this is why you prayfully choose leaders who can wrestle with these kinds of decisions and make wise judgements.

This chapter is tough.  It is often skipped, but I believe it to be important.  Bottom line, take morality seriously within the local church, don't let a little yeast spoil the whole batch.  And secondly, don't be the immoral brother because what you do affects all those that have pledged to represent the body of Christ with you.

Strive for purity within your church and work to dissociate your church from  blatantly, hypocritical "christians" today.