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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO www.timeintheword.org

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Friday, June 30, 2006

Judge All Things

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - 1 Corinthians 2:14-15
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one

Daily Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 5-6

Puritan Catechism
Question #31 - What benefits do they who are effectually called, partake of in this life?

Answer - They who are effectually called, do in this life partake of justification (Rom. 8:30), adoption (Eph. 1:5), sanctification, and the various benefits which in this life do either accompany, or flow from them (1 Cor. 1:30).

Confessing Our Faith
A daily reading from The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689, as amended by Charles Spurgeon.

Chapter 9 – Free Will

Devotional Thoughts
As we have been learning to discern we have seen that we must work at learning and knowing the difference between right and wrong, and even as we learn which is which we are to flee the evil and cling to that which is good. But is it just a matter of deciding to discern, making up our minds and doing it? No. There is more to it than that. So today I want to spend a little time examining those things that are necesaary for us to have in order to actually practice discernment as we go through our daily lives. What do we need in order to discern?

The first answer should be obvious. In order for us to discern the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, and sound and unsound doctrine we must first have the Holy Spirit! Think about it. Without the Spirit we do not have spiritual life, wisdom, understanding, or faith. Simply put, if we are not indwelt by the Spirit of God then we cannot discern.

The natural man, we are told, does not receive the things of God and in fact cannot know them at all because the things of God are foolishness to a lost man (1 Corinthians 1:8). You see, the things of the Spirit of God are spiritually discerned - meaning that without the Spirit there is no discernment, no understanding, no grasp of the truth of the Word of God that is in any way eternally meaningful. As Jesus told Nicodemus, if a man is not born again by the Spirit of God then he cannot see the kingdom of God.

As those who have been saved know experientially, we are sealed with the Spirit of God. He is the downpayment on our salvation, our Comforter and Convictor, and the promise of the truth that we will finally be saved as we persevere by grace (Ephesians 1:13-14). We also know that we are told not to grieve or quench the Spirit by disregarding the Word of God (1 Thess 5:19-22; Eph 4:29-32). We also know that we are told that if we are filled with (controlled by) and walk in the Spirit then we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

So we cannot expect a lost man to discern. And while there are those who do not discern as a result of sinning there are also those that cannot discern for they are masquerading as a Christian when in truth they do not know Jesus Christ. And since they have no part of the Spirit of God it is quite impossible for them to discern. We must have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and leading us if we are to be able to discern.

Secondly, we must have wisdom (Eccl 8:5). Wisdom, as we have discussed it, is having a right perspective. And if we do not have a right perspective then how on earth can we be expected to discern the difference between right and wrong? And if we do not have wisdom it is actually quite easy to remedy the problem. The Word of God tells us that whoever lacks wisdom should ask of God who gives to all men who ask liberally (James 1:5-8).

Thirdly, we see that we must have faith! We must take God at His Word if we are to experientially know the difference between good and evil. Without faith we cannot please God and without faith we cannot see His purposes in our trials and tribulations. Without faith we cannot know what the Bible says for to understand it we must believe it! We must trust God and His Word to teach us the difference between that which will harm us and that which will help us.

Notice now though that the act of discerning is referred to as judging. I want to bring this up because there are those out there who will say immediately, "Wait a minute. We are not suppossed to judge. The Bible says, 'Judge not lest ye be judged.'"

Can you hear that objection. It would make us think that we have misunderstood the Word of God but in reality those who most often quote the verse about judging not are the most likely to completely miss the whole context, meaning, and point of that verse! How is that for a mis-judgment?

I do not have time today to go through all of the facts about what it means to "judge not" so I will provide a link instead to a previous series of devotionals I wrote on the topic if you would like to read it : Judge Not - Matt 7:1-6.

But what I do want to cover today includes the fact that we are told often in the Scriptures to judge!! Most often we are told to judge ourselves. But as we will see we are also told to judge each other within the church and to judge the difference between right and wrong. In fact, learning to discern can be defined as learning how to judge rightly.

In 1 Corinthians 2:15 we are told that the spiritually mature man is to judge all things. As we grow out of the milk stage and into eating solid food we are expected to judge. 1 Corinthians 5:12 finds Paul expecting the church to judge its members - to determine and discern whether we are living as we ought. If not, we are to deal with sin in our midst as the Scriptures teach us. But we must make a judgment - is what we are confronting sin or not? To discern is to judge. It is to know the difference and to know how to proceed in dealing with a sinning brother or sister.

1 Corinthians 6:5 finds Paul lamenting the fact that there was not a mature believer who could judge between Christians and thus settle disputes by deciding who was right and who was wrong. We also see in 1 Corinthians 11 several verses where Paul expects us to judge whether something is right or not. And in those verses we are even expected to judge ourselves! We are to diagnose and deal with sin and pursue health and life and goodness.

And the bottom line is that we cannot judge as we ought if we do not know how to discern. Remember, to fail to discern is to sin. And here we have seen that the Bible commands and expects us to be able to judge ourselves and other believers when it comes to determining what is and is not right. No wonder we are confronted with so many gray areas today in the church. We do not know how to discern and judge whether things are right or wrong and so we declare with timid confidence that if we cannot determine if it is right or wrong then it is a gray area and we should not judge those who do or do not partake in that gray area.

But are there really gray areas? Are there categories of behavior that are moral, immoral, and amoral? Can an action or an attitude really be neutral? We are not told in Scripture to flee the immoral and pursue the moral and amoral. No. There is right. And there is wrong. And the reason everything is colored on a gray scale today is that people in the church refuse to judge, fail to discern, and simply do not know what God's Word says about many things.

This is a sad indictment, but I am sure it is true. Too many today would rather argue about their liberty in Christ all the while using it as a cloak for self-satisfaction and pride enhancement. And this is completely contrary to the Word of God. How can I discern that? How can I make that judgment? Because I know that we are warned in the Scripture explicitly about the danger of using our liberty for an occassion for the flesh (Gal 5:13). Further we see that we are told that we are either slaves of sin or slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:19-23).

So judge what I have said. Measure it against the Word of God. Am I telling you the truth? If not, then please disregard anything I have said. But if what I have said in these devotions does match up to the Word of God then I have good news - you have heard the Word and are now therefore responsible to DO the Word. Remember - we are not to be heaers only, but doers of the Word.

So when it comes to discernment - just do it!

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

A Call for Discernment - Part 1
A Call for Discernment - Part 2
A Call for Discernment - Part 3
by John MacArthur

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Exercising Our Senses

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Hebrews 5:14
But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Daily Scripture Reading - 1 Timothy 6

Puritan Catechism
Question #31 - What benefits do they who are effectually called, partake of in this life?

Answer - They who are effectually called, do in this life partake of justification (Rom. 8:30), adoption (Eph. 1:5), sanctification, and the various benefits which in this life do either accompany, or flow from them (1 Cor. 1:30).

Confessing Our Faith
A daily reading from The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689, as amended by Charles Spurgeon.

Chapter 8 – Christ the Mediator

Devotional Thoughts
In learning to discern we have seen that we must work at gaining understanding. We must do our part in learning the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, and sound and unsound doctrine. Interestingly at their roots the words good and evil allude to health. The word good means to be clean or healthy. It is that which promotes life. Evil on the other hand is literally "that which causes harm." Evil hurts us. It destroys life and well being. So as we learn to discern we see that it is more than just striving to know the difference between right and wrong. It is a matter of life and death, living the abundant life of a Spirit filled believer or dying as a result of the wages of our sin coming due!

Today we will look for a moment at Hebrews 5:14, where we follow up on the thoughts of the last few days recognizing that in order to discern we must move beyond the milk stage of our Christian life. We must be maturing. We must be nourished from the Word of God and taught the truth so that we are able to understand and obey God's will. And we see that solid food belongs not to the babies, but to those who are of full age. They are growing up. They are maturing. They are experienced. They are older.

These who eat solid food are not novices. They are not newborns. And we must remember, this is not a comparison. It is not that the older are better than the younger. For the young need milk. And the old need solid food. This is age appropriate spiritual appetites. There is nothing at all wrong with a baby drinking milk or a grown up eating solid food. What is out of place is trying to force feed meat to babies or insisting that grown ups only drink milk. We must learn how to nourish one another with the Word.

So what is it that makes us grown up? In real life it is a matter of time. It is age. Days, months, years, decades. We are infants, grow to be children, young men and women, and then adults. However, it is not a matter of time when it comes to our spiritual life. We know this as it is plainly evidenced in the Bible that many young people were used mightily of God to accomplish His purposes. Spiritual growth and maturity is not a matter of time, it is a matter of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.

Knowledge refers to facts. And any person young or old can regurgitate facts, but when we add to facts wisdom, that is, the right perspective, then we see that we can learn facts in a way that they influence who we are and how we think, talk, and behave. Understanding comes into the mix as we must know how to have a right perspective as we ponder the facts and make decisions. Understanding is having the ability to use both the perspective and facts we have and arrive at good, sound decisions. Simply stated, to understand is to discern.

The words used here are that those who eat solid food are those "who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." They use their senses. They have exercised their senses so that they might discern good and evil. They by reason of use have come to understand the difference between good and evil, between that which promotes life and health and that which destroys life and health. (As a side note, how often do we think of sin in terms of that which harms us? Kinda takes the glamour out of that temptation, doesn't it?)

In speaking of our senses though we need to be very clear. Those who are maturing are using their senses for the purpose of discerning. That is why our senses are bombarded daily with things that would distract us from this important mission! Think about it. Let us talk about our senses and the battle that is fought so that we might pay attention to good or evil.

We sense through sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch. It is the experiencing of the world around us. There is a physical reality here as well as an emotional and spiritual reality. We are spiritual beings living in a fleshly body, all one whole being that is created in the image of God. And we learn the difference between good and evil experientially.

But what dominates our senses these days? We suffer from sensory overload. A simple illustration is found in the world of television. Each year producers of TV shows push the limits more and more trying to gain and keep an audience and win more market share of viewers. More sex. More violence. More language. More shock! Why the downward spiral? Because once they gain an audience it takes more and more to keep that audience!

Think in terms of food. If you eat at a restaurant and the food is awful and the service deplorable will you go back? No! I hope not! We go back to that which pleases us. And the more it pleases us the more eager we are to return.

Another example is found at the amusement park where each year the rides get more and more outrageous. Why? Because we demand more of a thrill, more of a ride, more of an experience!

Sin is like that! The more pleasure we can find the more we want. But in the face of the sensory overload we live amidst, we must learn to discern!! To meditate on the Word, to be still and know He is God, to wait on the Lord. In these times of microwaves that are not fast enough and drive through fast food that takes too long, we must not ever put aside spiritual disciplines for the sake of selfish fulfillment. We must lay up treasures in heaven, having and eternal perspective instead of a temporal perspective.

The truth is, it is easy to feed the flesh and overload our senses. It is easy to drown out the Spirit of God with the methods, music, and messages of the world. It is all too easy to drown in a pool of pleasure unaware of the danger that surrounds and engulfs us.

But those here, those who discern, those who know the difference between good and evil, they are those who exercise their senses in that very pursuit - to know the difference between good and evil so that they may do the good and shun the evil. As Paul wrote to Timothy he encouraged him to do two things - to flee and to pursue.

What was Timothy to flee? He was to flee from envy, strife, arguments, selfishness, greed, hatred, wrath, discontentment, and all the other works of the flesh that the Scriptures warn us about. He was to run away from youthful lusts and selfish ambitions. He was to shun those who cause division in the Body of Christ. He was to fight for the truth against those who lie!

But it was not enough for Timothy to flee these things. Just as importantly, he was told by Paul to pursue "righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness." He was to yearn for the fruit of the Spirit in his life. To chase after being right with God and loving Him with all he was! And that is our example - to flee what is evil and to run after what is good.

But how do we know which is which? Here is the practical application of learning to discern. We learn as we go. We learn from others and from our experience. Mostly we learn from the Word of God. We must know the Word if we are to know God's standards of right and wrong. And as we learn from the Word and are discipled in the Christian life we must keep in mind that when we find evil we should shun it - not play with it! And when we find good we should embrace it and hold firmly to it.

How are you exercising your senses today? Are you filling your senses with the works and wants of the world, the flesh, and the devil? Or are you exercising your senses toward godliness? Deep down you know the answer. I pray that you are learning to discern and fighting to do what is right for all the right reasons.

Tomorrow we will take the time to see just exactly what we need in order to discern.

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Discipline Yourself by Don Whitney
How to Spend the Day with God by Richard Baxter

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Got Milk?

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Hebrews 5:12-13
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.

Daily Scripture Reading - Philippians 3

Puritan Catechism
Question #31 - What benefits do they who are effectually called, partake of in this life?

Answer - They who are effectually called, do in this life partake of justification (Rom. 8:30), adoption (Eph. 1:5), sanctification, and the various benefits which in this life do either accompany, or flow from them (1 Cor. 1:30).

Confessing Our Faith
A daily reading from The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689, as amended by Charles Spurgeon.

Chapter 7 – God's Covenant

Devotional Thoughts
Speaking of learning to discern, were you aware that babies need milk? It's true. Babies of every sort find nourishment for their growing bodies by drinking milk. God has designed mothers to produce milk for their babies. And no one ever found fault with a baby who needed and wanted milk as if that were some sort of an aberration.

Spiritually speaking we know that milk is used by writers in the Bible to refer to the simplest and most basic elements of the Christian life. Just as newborns need milk so too new believers need to be fed the milk of the Word - the simple, basic, foundational truths from God's Word that will nourish their souls.

However, what is strange is the notion that a person who is grown would refuse to eat solid food and would instead only seek to drink milk. As we grow we learn to eat solid food. We outgrow the milk stage and while we as a grown up may enjoy milk (especially with Oreos) we know that milk is not enough to sustain us. We need solid food if we are to be nourished.

So think with me a minute about what the writer of Hebrews has written here. He has stated that there are those who are dull of hearing, they refuse to learn to discern, and as a result of this sinful behavior we are told that they have not grown, they have not been nourished by eating meat, but by some deformity and some irregularity they have come to need milk instead of solid food.

These people should by now know enough to be teaching the Word to each other (making discples - Matt 28:19-20) and assisting each other in their spiritual growth and development. However, they are not teachers and instead are needing to taught. And the real tragedy here is not that they need to be taught - for indeed we all need to be taught continually. The trouble is that they need to be taught the "first principles of the oracles of God", that is, the foundational basic truths found in the Word of God.

These people, through the hardness of their hearts and the dullness of their hearing have forgotten the most basic things about God and His Word. They have come to need milk. It is not that they have failed to grow into eating solid food. No. They have fallen back into needing milk. They have lost ground! They have returned to an infantile state.

Now, we are to be childlike in our faith, but we are never to be childish. And here we see that one of the results of failing to discern is that we lose ground, we backslide. We miss the differences between right and wrong and slide back to the point that we actually need to have the simplest doctrines reiterated to us so that we might walk in the truth.

We cannot miss the point that milk is important. Babies NEED milk. Without it they will not be nourished, they will not grow, and they cannot live! However, what we have here are people who have outgrown this stage and yet have now fallen back into it. They cannot grow. They are stunted and harmed in their lives because they have dulled their hearing. They have, in the words of our text, become unskilled when it comes to the Word of God.

As we grow out of our spiritual infancy and into "adulthood" we not only move beyond needing milk to needing solid food, but we also learn how to handle the Word of God. We learn to read, interpret, apply, and obey the Word. The goal for us all is that we be workers who need not be ashamed because we are able to rightly handle the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15). But if we slide back into infancy and immaturity then we will fail in our attempts to handle the Word of God. We will be unskilled.

How can we be unskilled in the Word and lead our families? How can we be unskilled in the Word and worship as we ought? How can we be unskilled and be pleasing to God? We can't. If we fail to discern, harden our hearts, and backslide then we will fail in the Christian life and our duty to God and one another.

We are God's children in that He has adopted us and made up part of His family. But we are not to find ourselves in a constant and unending state of infancy. Babies are cute. Grown men wearing diapers and drinking from a babies bottle are not cute - its unnatural. As we apply the text in our study we must remember that there is nothing cute, admirable, or worthwhile to be found in a group of people who dull their hearing, fail to discern, and therefore cannot help but backslide and act like big babies.

We are to desire the meat of the Word. And just as every child wants to grow up we too must strive to grow in grace and mature in our walk with the Lord. Milk is good and necessary for nourishing babes. But we should be past that already.

Are you growing in your walk with the Lord? If not, what is holding you back? Are you only drinking milk? You know the phrase - Got milk? Well, if all you've got is milk then perhaps it is time you learned to ask, "Where's the beef?"

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Simple Steps to Solid Study by John MacArthur
The Feast of the Lord by Charles Spurgeon

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Dull of Hearing

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Hebrews 5:11
...of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.

Daily Scripture Reading - Exodus 7-8

Puritan Catechism
Question #31 - What benefits do they who are effectually called, partake of in this life?

Answer - They who are effectually called, do in this life partake of justification (Rom. 8:30), adoption (Eph. 1:5), sanctification, and the various benefits which in this life do either accompany, or flow from them (1 Cor. 1:30).

Confessing Our Faith
A daily reading from The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689, as amended by Charles Spurgeon.

Chapter 6 – The Fall of Man, Sin, and Punishment

Devotional Thoughts
In Hebrews 5 the writer of this text of Scripture is explaining how Christ is a better High Priest than there had ever been. He has established that Jesus is the Word through which God is speaking to us now. That Word is in fact a better High Priest Who has offered a better sacrifice (Himself) to ratify a better covenant (the New Covenant) for the salvation of His people and the glorification of God.

As we learn about Jesus and His priesthood, as He is a priest in the order of Melchizedek, we find that there is much to be told to us about this wonderful High Priest. The writer speaks of Jesus saying that there is much to say, some of which is indeed hard to explain. Likewise John closed his gospel by writing, "And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written."

The point being, we serve a wonderful, at times unexplainable, great and mighty God! His ways are above our ways and His thoughts are above our thoughts. It truly is a matter of grace that we can comprehend anything about Him at all, there is just so much to know. But as the writer of Hebrews makes his case he mentions one drawback, one obstacle, one roadblock that prevents the reader from knowing all that they can know about Jesus. What is it? It is a lack of discernment!

Yes, it is the same sin we discussed yesterday - failing to discern. And it is couched in terms that tell us that there is so much to learn about Jesus and yet we are "dull of hearing." The term can be translated "sluggish" or "slow" and it refers to a dulling or muffling of sound. It is as if we can hear sound but not quite make out what the sound is or where it is coming from.

Over and over we read in the Scriptures that in order to know what God is doing we need ears to hear and eyes to see. We are born deaf and blind. We cannot hear or see or comprehend what God is all about or is doing. In fact we are born spiritually dead in our sin. And that is why it is said of God's amazing grace that "I once was blind, but now I see." He opens our eyes. He unstops our ears. Then we can hear and understand, and obey.

But the text shows us that there is a problem when we try to explain the truth about Who Jesus is to people. They may be dull of hearing. Their ears are stopped up. The truth cannot be heard. They cannot discern the truth or urgency of what we are telling them as we preach the gospel and present to them the Lord Jesus.

The same thing happens as we are discipled and strive to grow in grace. At times we miss an opportunity to grow and participate in a daily walk of victory with Christ because our ears get all stopped up and we fail to discern right from wrong, good from bad, sound doctrine from unsound. So what causes us to become dull of hearing?

The first cause of dullness of hearing is God. Yes, you read that correctly. God hardens hearts, stops ears, and closes eyes. At times in order to accomplish His purposes for His own glory according to His own good pleasure He will move deliberately to harden us to His Word and His will. As the Potter who has authority and freedom over the clay He has every right to do with us as He pleases and we cannot blame Him for doing what He does for His own glory.

An example of this is seen in Isaiah 6:9-10. As Isaiah has seen the Lord lifted up in the Temple and he overhears the Lord having a discussion with Himself. God asks, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Isaiah's response, after having been cleansed with a coal from off the altar (signifying the sacrifice of Christ to forgive our sin) replies immediately, "Here am I, send me!"

When he does express his desire to be used of God to preach His Word God tells him something rather shocking. God says to Isaiah:

And He said, “Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ “Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.”

As Isaiah is ready to preach the truth that will be used to bring the dead to life and the lost to salvation God replies that his ministry will involve preaching to people who will not and cannot understand what he is saying! They will hear but not understand. They will see but not recognise what they are seeing. God says He will make their heart dull, their ears heavy, and their eyes shut. And He will do this in order that they will not be able to hear the gospel and repent!

That sounds harsh doesn't it? But what a warning for us. Just as Nahum's prophecy to Nineveh and Obadiah's to Edom, there comes a time when a people run so far into sin against God that He cuts off all ways and hopes of escape from judgment. At this point, when God turns people over to their sin, He does not tell them to repent, for they will not repent. No, it is too late for that. He hardnes them, giving them over to their lust, and allowing their sin to destroy them. God hardens their hearts and dulls their hearing.

Another example for us of course is Pharoah. God told Moses that He would harden Pharoah, and when Pharoah refused to let the people go God sent the plagues and did miracles and proved for all the world to see that He alone was God. He glorified Himself in Pharoah's stubborn refusal to do what He commanded.

But notice here too that we see another cause behind the hard heart and the dull ears! Just as God can harden and dull, we also see that a second cause of dull hearing is that we can dull our own hearing and blind our own eyes. In Exodus 7:3-5, 13 God hardens Pharoah. But we also learn in Exodus 8:15, 32 that Pharoah hardened his own heart! He knew the truth but willfully refused to yield to God's Word.

Pharoah shows us that while God may actively harden us we can also harden ourselves! We can make ourselves dull of hearing. When we do we have actually failed to discern! We miss the truth. We miss what is right. We overlook and fail to see what God wants of us. We dull our own hearing when we decide not to listen.

Failure to discern happens all to often. We find truth inconvenient and would rather indulge our flesh and our own will for a time and so we reject the truth of God's Word and do what we want. We make of ourselves our own god and we do what we want to do. We make excuses. We blame our flesh or we blame others. We actively and willfully decide to sin by refusing to discern and do what is right no matter the cost.

Here in Hebrews 5 there is so much that the writer wants to tell the reader about Jesus but they have dulled their hearing and would not understand. How frignetning. To think that we can fail to discern and as a result miss precious truth about Jesus!! This is exactly why failing to discern is a sin. We hear the truth and do not listen. We harden our hearts. We tune God's truth out and we close our eyes and stop up our ears. All as a sacrifice on the altar of self-service so that we can do what we want to do, even while knowing it is wrong. We chose to refuse to discern. And we compound sin upon sin.

What have we missed from the Word of God, from our pastor as he preaches, from the songs with which we worship God, from other believers as they teach and testify? What riches have we cheated ourselves out of when it comes to knowing more of Jesus all because we fail to discern and dull our hearing? The thought should grieve us - that we would go to such lengths to excuse our sin that we turn a deaf ear to our Lord.

Discernment is the first line of defense against sin and dishonoring Christ. Don't disengage your heart, soul, or mind today - instead work, pray, and strive to purposefully approach the day with an attitude of willing discernment - looking for the good and embracing it all the while rejecting and shunning the evil and harmful and unhealthy things that will surely confront us.

Do not fail to discern! Make your mind up right now. Do what is right, not by chance, but by design. Do what is right because you refuse to do what is wrong.

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Heresies by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
The Folly and Danger of Parting with Christ for the Pleasures and Profits of Life by George Whitefield

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Monday, June 26, 2006

Failing to Discern

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Romans 1:28-32
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

Daily Scripture Reading - Romans 1-2

Puritan Catechism
Question #31 - What benefits do they who are effectually called, partake of in this life?

Answer - They who are effectually called, do in this life partake of justification (Rom. 8:30), adoption (Eph. 1:5), sanctification, and the various benefits which in this life do either accompany, or flow from them (1 Cor. 1:30).

Confessing Our Faith
A daily reading from The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689, as amended by Charles Spurgeon.

Chapter 5 – Divine Providence

Devotional Thoughts
In examining our current sermon series we are studying what it takes to "Learn to Discern." But before we can learn to discern, or even what discernment is, we need to make a note of Romans 1:28-32.

These verses show us what happens when people refuse to acknowledge God. In truth, each and every person is born with a knowledge of God and His Law in their hearts and minds. However, it is within our fallen human nature to work very hard at repressing that knowledge. You see, to admit the truth, that there is a Holy, Almighty God means that we as His creation are accountable to Him. And fallen, fallible man hates nothing more than accountability to a Perfect, Infallible, Higher Being. We crave the fulfillment of our own lust and pride, living to sin. And we will do literally whatever it takes to get away with it!

When we do this, if not for the intervention of God and His grace by the power of the Spirit, we will chase sin until it consumes us. We will believe the lie that sin is satisfying and we will learn the hard way that committing sin is like drinking salt water. The more you drink the thirstier you get until you die from dehydration! Sin leads to sin which leads to sin. It never finally or completely satisfies and it will eventually kill us.

If we reject the gospel and the truth that we are born with, we reject that knowledge of God and refuse to retain the truth in our hearts and minds then God will give us over to a debased mind. In other words, when we consistently and constantly abandon God in our thoughts He will abandon us to our sin. He will turn us over to be consumed by our impurity.

That truly is a frightening thought. But it happens all around us every day. Sinners who fight for all they are worth to deny the existence of God. And God turns them over to that vain, futile thinking. When this happens there is evidence. Jesus tells us we will know men by their fruit. A good tree bears good fruit and a bad tree bears bad fruit or no fruit at all.

Those who are turned over to their debased minds to be ruled and ruined by their own sinfulness bear identifiably wicked fruit. The text lists them for us:

... being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful ...

Unrighteousness is the opposite of righteousness. To be righteous is to be right with God, so to be filled with unrighteousness is to be filled with that which makes us wrong with God. Sexual immorality, wickedness, and all the rest that is listed here tips us off that a person who lives like this and acts like this and talks like this and thinks like this does not know Jesus Christ (Rev. 21:8).

In studying this terrible passage we must take note of a particular sin that makes the list. Often we think of sin in degrees - some being worse than others. And when we think of categories of sin we usually think along the lines of those things which are impure, immoral, or idolatrous. We admit immediately and willingly that murder, sexual immoraltiy, and disobedience is sin. But how often do we think that it is a sin to be undiscerning?

And yet there it is in verse 31. Those who are turned over to their own devices and debased minds are undiscerning. That means that we can classify a lack of discernment as sin! Did you get that? We often wrongly think that discernment is a gift and we either have it or don't. But the Scripture lists a lack of discernment as a sin, as a mark of living in depravity!

So what does it mean to discern? Discernment is the ability to know the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, the sound and unsound. In the Old Testament it is referred to as "understanding." In the New Testament it is spoken of as knowing the difference between sound and unsound doctrine, recognising the differences between the truth and a lie.

As Christians then we are responsible for learning how to discern! To fail to discern is sinful. To close our eyes and refuse to inform our consciences so that we might sin and get away with it is no excuse. For us, sin is a matter of life and death! And to willingly neglect the truth and to live with our eyes closed shut while good and evil stare us in the face is to sin against God, ourselves, our families, and our church.

Again, this is worth stating over and over again. It is the responsibility of every Christian to learn, to be discipled in the Word, so that we can know how to be discerning. To fail to discern is to walk in darkness. The next few days then we will look at what we must learn in order to discern. We will study those things that prevent us from discerning rightly and those things which are necessary if we are to walk in the light and hold fast to the truth.

Are you ready to learn to discern? If so, I will see you tomorrow!

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Exposition of Romans 1 by John Gill
Inexcusable Irreverence And Ingratitude by Charles Spurgeon

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Learn to Discern

I am a few weeks behind on posting my sermons online due to circumstances already lamented earlier. But now I am finally catching up. While we have learned this last week how the world is influencing the way we think, talk, act, look, and even worship we need to know what we are to do about it. And the answer is that we must Learn to Discern. Discernment, understanding the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, sound and unsound doctrine is the key to obeying the command that we not be conformed to this world! And that is the title of my newest sermon series started a few weeks ago - Learn to Discern.

The first message in this new series is taken from Hebrews 5:11-14 where we learn what prevents discernment and the basic things that we need in order to learn how to discern. In this message we also learn that to fail to discern is actually a SIN! Yes, to be undiscerning is to be walking in sin. What makes us 'dull of hearing'? What is necessary for us if we are to learn to discern the difference between good and evil? We must learn to discern if we are to walk by faith and obedience to the Word of God.

Here is the message online available to download or listen to for free as always:

Can You Hear Me Now?

The second message in this series takes up where the first left off. Hebrews 6:1-12 tells us what the milk of the Word is, what those elementary doctrines of the faith include. And then the writer gives us avery stern warning about the "Peril of Not Progressing." If we hear the Word, participate in the church, see the work of the Spirit, understand the gospel - and then reject it all, we cannot find repentance! Just like Nahum's message to Nineveh - there was not a message that they should repent, for it was TOO LATE. They were told only to prepare for the doom and judgment that was coming. Likewise in the church today there are those who see, hear, and understand the gospel and yet they reject it, refuse to obey it, and deny it - and for them, there is no hope!! Sound harsh? Yes. But it is true. There is a great and serious peril if we do not progress and move on to maturity. To fail to discern then is to miss the staggering difference between right and wrong and between life and death.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Phillip's Phunnies - What Did You Say?

A merry heart does good, like medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Eye Halve a Spelling Chequer

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rarely ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect in it's weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

-- Sauce unknown


Reducing Repetitive Redundancy

The Committee for the Reduction of Redundancy and the Antiproliferation of Repetition has decided not to meet until they have their first meeting and thus will not be meeting until the first time.

Their Pre-meeting Statement was released to make this clear before they had their first meeting, so that it would not be confusing.

So their first meeting will actually be their first meeting and they will not have a meeting before the first meeting.

This should help avoid having people show up for their first meeting before it is held, since to do so would be confusing to those who did so and this is what they want to avoid by reducing the confusion and lessening the repetition.

Choosing Your Words

In summarizing the history of an Old West Bandit you could say:

Sundance Cassidy - Horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison, 1885. Escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged, 1889.

Or, you could say:

Sundance Cassidy was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1885, he devoted several years of his life to service at a government facility, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Sundance passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.

Introducing Euro-English

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English has been chosen as the official language of the EU rather than German.

As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five year phase-in plan that would be known as "Euro-English".

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of the "k". This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan have 1 less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like "fotograf" 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be ekspekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent "e"s in the language is disgraseful, and they should go away.

By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v". During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi to understand ech ozer. Ze drem vil finali kum tru!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Do Not Worship Like the World

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Exodus 20:3
You shall have no other gods before Me.

Daily Scripture Reading - Psalm 96

Puritan Catechism
Question #30 - What is effectual calling?

Answer - Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit (2 Tim. 1:9) whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery (Acts 2:37), enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ (Acts 26:18), and renewing our wills (Ezek. 36:26), he does persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the gospel ( Jn. 6:44-45).

Confessing Our Faith
A daily reading from The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689, as amended by Charles Spurgeon.

Chapter 4 – Creation

Devotional Thoughts
This is perhaps the most critical area that the we see the world encroaching upon the Church. Beyond how we think, talk, act, and look the world presses in on the church to influence the way we worship! I want you to read this devotional carefully and give it some thought. I am going to say some things that will stretch our minds a bit and help give us a better perspective in the fight against the flesh and the devil and the world that all hate our Savior. Remember, we are in a war! So let us prepare for battle.

Today we will see that we are not to worship like the world. Often we think of worship as what we do on Sunday and Wednesday, or when the church gathers. Some have family worship on a daily basis - a practice commanded by the Scriptures by the way. But often we see worship as something we do for a time and then we get on with our lives. But worship is not an event. It is not just an experience. It is a way of life. Worship is declaring the worthiness of God. Praising, loving, adoring, glorifying, and magnifying Him. Worship is communion, an expression of humble dependence, a sacrifice and surrender of ourselves to God. Worship is not an event or a circumstance. It is how we live. And how we live proves who or what we really do worship.

We cannot forget that the Bible is full of warnings about idolatry. Often we read those passages and we think we are safe because none of us in our post modern sophistication has idols, statues, or altars erected in our churches or homes that honor false gods and demons. Right? But idolatry is about the mind, the heart, the mouth, the life!! Worshipping an idol is a matter of placing anything above God, in His place.

The first command we are given from God through Moses is "You shall have no other gods before Me." And Jesus tells us, "The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment."

To have no other gods. To love Him (and thus as we have shown, obey Him) with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. That is the supreme commandment of our God. His first and primary command and expectation of us is that we worship Him alone with all that we are!

So then we see that living a life that worships God at every opportunity is a life that GIVES to God love, glory, obedience, faith, honor, etc. Worship is about GIVING God His proper and right place in our lives. He IS Master, Lord, King, and Sovereign. Do we think, talk, act, and look like it? Do we worship like it?

I ask because in truth the world has its own style of worship. By style I do not mean the type of music or the liturgy. These are but circumstances and elements of our corporate worship of God. By style I mean that the world has a way to worship its gods. How does the world worship?

Every false religion differs from the true faith in that every false religion presents a savior other than the Christ of the Bible and a gospel of works to appease its god. Every false religion worships for what the worshipper can GET as a result of worshipping the deity of choice.

Think about it. Whether it is working for salvation, or being good enough that the good outweighs the bad, or appeasing god through sacrifice or self denial - it all focuses on the benefit to the worshipper. Worldy worship is worship offered with a motive and expectation to GET something in return. It is therefore deep down actually selfish worship. It is greedy. It is proud.

Worldy worship, worship designed to elicit a response from the object being worshipped that benefits ME is a violation of the First Commandment. Think about this now.

The world worships to GET.

But, on the other hand, if we are worshipping God as He commands, then He is our God and we declare HIS worthiness with everything we are and have! If we worship to GIVE God glory, praise, adoration, love, etc, then we worship as He commands. The focus is not on GETTING for self, but on denying self and coming to GIVE God all that He deserves and desires.

Can we ever truly and finally declare the glory of God? Of course not. So then if we want to come even close we had better get started!! We had better remember that we should prepare daily for a life of worship. We should focus on GIVING God what He wants instead of on GETTING what we want!

Listen. Anyone who attempts to enter into the worship of God and does so for what they can GET out of it is actually and truly not worshipping God! If we worship to GET for self, for peace, for happiness, for prosperity, for fulfillment, etc, then who are we ultimately worshipping?? Ourselves!

And so we see how easy it is to place our own SELF up as an idol, as another god before the True and Living God in our lives. And we are told to entice people into coming to church to hear the gospel. We do all that we can do to make people want to come to God for what they can GET from Him. But the gospel, as an invitation and as a command is not preached so that we may come to GET for self - because the very first word of the gospel message is "Repent." And repentance is a turning away from all that we are without Jesus Christ! The first word of the gospel is death to self.

We should not ever think about worship or the gospel in terms of what we can GET. Because it is about what we can GIVE.

Again, think! Before we are saved we cannot worship God. We cannot understand His Word. We cannot submit to His law. We cannot please Him! We are unable and incapable. So to think that we can come to God as we are for what we can GET is to miss the whole point that the gospel frees us to GIVE to God what He commands - worship!! The gospel removes our sin and guilt not so that we can then GET whatever else we want from God (in Jesus' name of course). No! The gospel removes our sin and guilt so that now we can GIVE God the glory He is owed.

The Church has switched the focus of the gospel. Because we have become accustomed to worshipping our god for what we can GET for ourselves we have missed the truth. We have started to preach a man centered gospel instead of a Christ centered gospel! What are we to preach? Christ, and Him crucified. Why? So that we can GIVE God all that He desires and deserves.

Worship is not about us. It is about having no other gods before Him!

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Don Whitney on Ten Ways to Improve Your Worship Service,
Ten More Ways to Imrpove Your Worship Service, and
A Third Ten Ways to Improve Your Worship Service

How Then Shall We Worship by John MacArthur

Worship in Spirit and Truth by Pastor Way

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Do Not Look Like the World

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - 1 Tim 2:8-10
I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.

Daily Scripture Reading - Proverbs 31

Puritan Catechism
Question #30 - What is effectual calling?

Answer - Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit (2 Tim. 1:9) whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery (Acts 2:37), enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ (Acts 26:18), and renewing our wills (Ezek. 36:26), he does persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the gospel ( Jn. 6:44-45).

Confessing Our Faith
A daily reading from The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689, as amended by Charles Spurgeon.

Chapter 3 – God's Decree

Devotional Thoughts
We have followed a fairly simple progression, or digression, through the influence and affect that the world has on the church. We have seen that followers of Jesus Christ do not belong to this world. We are not of the world. And if we befriend the world and adopt worldy thinking, speaking, and behavior then we make ourselves an enemy of God. Do we even realise how serious a charge that is? To make ourselves an enemy of God?

And just as we are not to think, talk, or act like the world today we will see that we are not to look like the world. We are a peculiar people! That does not mean we dress in peculiar fashions, necessarily. But it does mean we are in EVERY WAY conceivable different and distinct from the world.

Let me state right off that some in circles I have traveled think that this means we are to shun all that is fashionable and dress in clothing and in styles that were "in" 30 years ago. The truth is, first, that those nasty styles have unfortunately come back in vogue, and secondly, purposefully dressing out of date proves nothing when it comes to our spirituality.

The bottom line is that Christians should always be presenting themselves from the inside out as modest, moral, and mature. The world dresses in the opposite way. The world is immoral, immodest, and immature. Let's think about these as we examine the Scripture and what it tells us about our outward appearance.

1 Timothy 2:8-10 truly sums this discussion up concisely:

I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.

Admittedly, some people think that these verses address specifically the women. They think that modesty is a topic women need to study but a man can wear whatever he wants! However, we see in context that this is for men and women. It is for all of us.

The men are expected to pray and be holy without wrath and doubting. Women adorn yourselves in modest apparel and don't look like the world. It is really a shame that we should even have to say that we need desperately to teach young people (and old alike) not to dress like the world. But we must teach each other not to talk, think, act, or dress in any way like world because we don't belong to the world. And if we love dressing up in the latest immoral and immodest fashions and cannot wait to shop for these revealing cloths, then the truth is we are embracing the world and the love of God is not in us!

Again, men, you are expected in every way inwardly and outwardly to be known for your holiness and communion with God. You are to openly and actively shun and reject uncontrolled anger and immaturity in the faith! You are to stirve to be self-controlled, spiritually mature, and HOLY. You should be known for your prayer not your profanity, your spiritual maturity and not your fantasy sports team.

Women, you are to be modest. Modesty of course is lost when the inside does not match the outside. Really, if the outside appears modest but the inside is not then worldy attitudes and words will tip off the observant observer. And if the inside is rebellious, self saturated, and immodest, then the outside will most likely reveal that true state of being.

Modest

What is modesty? For men and women it is humility, love, gentleness. It is the fruit of the Spirit. For men it is being manly and strong, a leader yet also transparent and holy. For women it is being feminine and submissive to your husband.

In fact, the measure of beauty men is your wife. She, not the cheap counterfeit images that the world offers, she is the measure of true beauty for you. Wives, your husband is the ideal man. Teach this to your kids and they will not fall for the vain images presented all around us today.

Men, if you want to know if you are being immodest or flirtatious, ask your wives. They know what women are looking for. Women, if you need to know if you are dressed seductively, ask your husbands. They know!

Why is modesty important? Because to be immodest is to literally make an offer of yourself to another person in a sexual way - a person that has no right to think or act toward you in a sexual manner. To entice a member of the opposite sex through dress, attitudes, or speech is to defraud others, to betray your marriage and purity, and to sin against God and your family. Even if you are single, to offer to a person who is not your spouse what rightly and truly only belongs to your spouse is to lie and defraud. EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT AWARE THAT YOU ARE BEING IMMODEST, immodesty is still a sin!

As a side note, it is true that if a person is filled with lust they can lust at another person who is modestly dressed. But we as believers should be aware, educated, and active in our living, talking, and looking so that we are what we appear to be - holy. We should never give the world an opportunity to cast its eyes upon us in a lustful manner!

Moral

Just as we are to be modest, we are also to be moral. The word modest means "well arranged" and the word moral means "clean." In truth, this brings up a point I have been pondering for some time. In this day and age it seems that there is a lot of discussion going on about sex before marriage. Some teens in a recent poll even explained that many "acts" that were once considered taboo are now not even considered "sex". Sex has come to refer only to intercourse. And we in the church have let the world define the terms to the point that a former President of the United States argued about what the meaning of the word "is" is when he was accused of having sex with an intern!

But when it comes to not looking like the world here is what we must remember. While the Bible is specific in why God has given us sex within the context of marriage we must not let the argument descend to the point that we are arguing what is and is not sex. No. The discussion needs to be about what is and is not IMMORAL. Immorality, uncleaness, lust - it all refers to those actions, thoughts, and words that defile. So we are to be moral. Good, right, and clean, above reproach. If our words or actions lead others into sin then that is immoral! If the way we dress is designed to draw attention to our bodies, or designed to draw a man or woman's eye to features that are in fact reserved for admiration by our spouse in the privacy of the marriage, then we are being immoral.

Let us raise the standard to where the Scriptures firmly place it - not on sex or even on lust. But on being moral!

Mature

Third, in not looking like the world we need to be mature. We need to look and act our age. The world is obsessed with youth. As if growing old were a curse. In truth the Bible has lots of positive things to say about growing old!! It is God's plan for us. If we continue to live we will get older.

And yet the world has gone to extremes from injecting toxins into the body to erase wrinkles all the way to radical make-over surgeries that reconstruct our every feature. Listen, if you have such a bad self image that you need radical surgical mutilation in the name of feeling better about yourself then you have more serious problems than a big nose, chin, or thighs!

Chasing youthfulness in dress, cosmetics, or through surgery is really fearing man and being driven by pride further and further into sin. Why do we fear the world? Why do we fear what other people think about us? Like Del Fehsenfeld, Jr., used to preach about fearing men, "We should be more concerned with what God knows about us!"

Maturity is expressed in dressing nicely, being well put together, and being deliberate in how we present ourselves inside and out. It is more than the clothes we wear. It is so much more that the outward appearance. But the outward appearance is a factor in determining what our standards of modesty, morality, and maturity are. In other words, being a slob, a snob, a siren, or a saint starts in the heart and works its way out in how we present ourselves to others.

The church needs to wake up and see that the world has invaded. It is telling us how to think, talk, act, and dress. And in the end, the result is that we cannot tell by looking who is and is not a follower of Jesus Christ. And if someone has to ASK us if we are a follower of Jesus then we surely must not look much like Him!!

Today, with purpose and determination, strive to think, talk, act, and look modest, moral, and mature.

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Purity by John MacArthur
Female Piety by John Angell James
For Single Men and Women by John Piper
The Counsel on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Do Not Act Like the World

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Rom 12:2
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Daily Scripture Reading - Ephesians 2

Puritan Catechism
Question #30 - What is effectual calling?

Answer - Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit (2 Tim. 1:9) whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery (Acts 2:37), enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ (Acts 26:18), and renewing our wills (Ezek. 36:26), he does persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the gospel ( Jn. 6:44-45).

Confessing Our Faith
A daily reading from The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689, (as amended by Charles Spurgeon).

Chapter 2 – God and the Holy Trinity

Devotional Thoughts
We have seen in these last few devotionals that as disciples of Jesus Christ we are to be being conformed into His image. We are supposed to look like Him. In order to do that we have to start with the heart and the mind. We cannot think like the world. We cannot have worldy attitudes, thoughts, or desires! Just the same, what we think comes out of our mouths so if we are thinking as we should then we will also be talking as we should. In fact, some think we can be pure in our minds and hearts and still talk like the world, but in reality it is our mouth that tells the truth about our hearts! There is NO excuse for Christians who use profane and vulgar speech. For them to do so is to deny the Lord who bought them and truly is to take His name in vain.

In our daily life it is important too that we look like Jesus. Do not act like the world! The world is obsessed with self and with sin. The Church, the bride of Christ cannot and will not be chasing after the world. Did you hear that? The TRUE church will not chase after the world, lusting and yearning for sinful pleasure and self-fulfillment. The TRUE church seeks what John the Baptist described - that they might decrease and Christ increase. The world around us does not need to see itself in our lives. It needs to see more and more of Jesus.

The Bible commands us, telling us that we are not to be conformed to the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We also hear Jesus tell us that He is the light of the world and Paul in Ephesians 5 tells us that we were once darkness but now we are light. We have been transformed. And as we ARE now light we must walk in the light. Listen to the Word of God:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.

We are expected and commanded to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. As Peter wrote to us in 1 Peter 4:3-5:

For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

We have spent (wasted)enough time already walking in the lust of our flesh. Why keep doing so? We will give an account to God and we are expected to follow Jesus. Following Jesus does not mean we claim to be His and to love Him all the while doing whatever WE want. HE is Lord. We are not. HE has bought us. We are His. And to claim to be His and to love Him is to obey Him (1 John 2:3-5; 5:3)!!

All that this world has to offer is passing away. It leads to destruction. It builds up self and destroys faith. Why would we even want to be like the world? Well the sad truth is that we are still sinners. Though saved by grace we do fight the flesh every day. That war, that epic battle is one we will fight until we die or Jesus returns. Okay. We know and accept that. What next?

Next we must make up our minds, and speak with our mouths the truth that we belong to Jesus and will follow Him no matter the cost. In fact, we learn that denying the flesh is the only way to be truly satisfied. When we hunger and thirst after righteousness (being right with God) then Jesus Himself promised we would be completely satisfied (Matthew 5:6).

We think that the world offers satisfaction, but how often do you sin and then think, "Wow! I am so satisfied. I think I will never want to do that again!" No. When we sin, if we are His, then the Spirit convicts us and we detest what we have done and want to never do it again not because of any satisfaction it brought us but because we despise our weak and sinful flesh. Sin never satisfies. It may give us a temporary sense of fulfillment but ultimately when we live to sin we are driven to sin more and more to find any semblence of this temporary and cheap fulfillment.

The temptation to sin always tugs at our flesh. It always over promises and under delivers. But Jesus can and will satisfy us. He is the light. The living water. When you drink of Him you will not ever thirst again! If we act like the world we are denying His Word. We are falling for a cheap counterfeit. We are settling for less than the best and will always come out worse rather than better.

Don't worry if the world hates you and thinks you are weird. Don't fear man more than God. Don't buy the lie that you have to please others in order to find fulfillment. The only person you HAVE to please is GOD and you can only do that by faith in His Son.

Don't waste your time today trying to fit in where you don't belong. We are not of this world (John 15:19; John 17:14, 16). Don't deny your Savior by acting like those who hate Him. Don't act like the world!

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Recovering a Right View of Self by Pastor Way
A Solemn Deprival by Charles Spurgeon

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Do Not Talk Like the World

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Eph 4:29; 5:3-4
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

Daily Scripture Reading - James 3

Puritan Catechism
Question #30 - What is effectual calling?

Answer - Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit (2 Tim. 1:9) whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery (Acts 2:37), enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ (Acts 26:18), and renewing our wills (Ezek. 36:26), he does persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the gospel ( Jn. 6:44-45).

Confessing Our Faith
A daily reading from The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689, as amended by Charles Spurgeon.

Chapter 1 – The Holy Scriptures

Devotional Thoughts
As we continue now in our examination of the influence of worldliness in our midst in the church, we move from the mind to the mouth. We learned that we are not to think like the world, but are instead to have the mind of Christ. We are not to be conformed to this world, but are to be transformed by renewing our minds in the Word daily. And one sure way to see what is in the mind is to listen to what comes out of the mouth!

Jesus is clear when He says in Matthew 15:

Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man.

It is not what we eat that defiles us (as in eating unclean foods under the Old Testament Law), but it is what we say! It is what comes out of our mouths that reveal the true thoughts of our hearts and minds. And if we are not to think like the world then why in the world should we be allowed or expected to talk like the world?

Ephesians 4:29 makes the point in a way that I believe ends all debate. And yes, sadly, lots of people out there in the world will tell you that it is absolutely fine for a follower of Jesus Christ to use profane, vulgar, rude, and shocking language. They will offer all sorts of defenses - logical, philosophical, and even an attempt at a Scriptural defense of this undefensible position. You see, the Bible makes it clear. If we are not thinking like the world then we will not talk like the world, and to talk like the world shows the world (and the church) what is in our hearts and minds.

So back to Ephesians 4:29:

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

Let NO, NONE, NOT A SINGLE corrupt word come out of your mouth! We are to think on things that are "true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and are of good report," with "virtue" and being "praiseworthy." Since that is TRUE, then what we say should reflect what we think. Why? Because the words we speak have the ABILITY to impart GRACE to those to whom we are speaking.

Think about this. Why on earth would the world, the flesh, and the devil want to corrupt our speech? Well, bluntly put, because to corrupt our speech removes the grace giving qualities of what we say! And if our words can impart grace, and people are saved BY GRACE, then why do you think there is such a battle over the words we use?

So what is a corrupt word? It is a word that is by definition "rotten, putrefied, corrupted by one and no longer fit for use, worn out, of poor quality, bad, unfit for use, worthless."

Another Scripture that helps us understand is found in Ephesians 5:3-4:

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

We are not to talk about filthy uncleanness! Foolish talking and coarse jesting refers to taking sin lightly, or joking about immorality and depravity. To have a wrong attitude about the seriousness of sin to the point that we LAUGH at sin is to violate this verse of Scripture. Bad language simply is not fitting for a follower of Jesus Christ.

Today, watch your mouth! Do not talk like the world. If you do it reveals a heart problem that needs immediate attention. And remember, it is not enough to not say inappropriate words. We should not think them either!!

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

A Shocking Truth about the Making of Discples by Pastor Phillip M. Way
Taming the Tongue - Part 1 and Part 2 by Pastor John MacArthur

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Monday, June 19, 2006

I'm Back

Well, what a time this has been! First my computer crashed. Then my internet service conked out for a week and a half. And then a thunderstorm knocked our power out all over this side of town for 15 hours on Sunday.

But I AM BACK and I will be posting again regularly, Lord willing, beginning tomorrow.

However, amidst the cheers and hoorays, I have to say right off that I am still having computer trouble! It turns out that all my repairs were futile as the real issue is a problem with the mother board. *groan* So while I am limping along I do not know when this computer will die a sudden and horrible death. And I have little hope at this point in a resurrection for the system no matter how firmly I lay my hands upon it!!

So pray for us as we work toward saving the money necessary for a new, reliable system.

See you tomorrow.

~pastorway

Sunday, June 11, 2006

More Tecnical Difficulties

Due to ongoing problems with our internet service provider I have not had access to the internet since Thursday and continue without access until later in the week.

Thanks for your patience! See you soon.

~pastorway

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Do Not Think Like the World

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Philippians 2:5
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus...

Daily Scripture Reading - Psalm 19

Puritan Catechism
Question #29 - How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?

Answer - The Spirit applies to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us (Eph. 2:8), and by it uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling (Eph. 3:17).

Confessing Our Faith
A daily reading from The First London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1646.

Chapter 52 - There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust, and everyone shall give an account of himself to God, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Acts 24:15; 1 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:12. Matthew 25; Revelation 22:11-15.

Devotional Thoughts
The warning from our study this week is a warning against worldliness. As we continue in this study we need to be discerning. Worldliness is all around us! And discernment is one of the weapons we have to use in the fight against the world and its wayward ways.

I want you to be discerning. In fact, it struck me in last week's sermon as I was preaching and we read Romans chapter 1 and chapter 2, we saw a long list of sin that was being judged. One of the sins listed there was that they were undiscerning.

I had been taught (erroneously) years ago that discernment was a gift from God and that you either had it or did not have it! But to be un-discerning for the believer is sin. We are told that the undiscerning are willfully sinning, and so we must teach one another to be discerning.

Part of discerning when it comes to worldliness is to remember that the Bible tells us "whatever is born of God overcomes the world." If that is true then what can we say about a church that is overrun by the world instead of overcoming it? Think about that for a moment - "whatever is born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that overcomes the world our faith." What does that mean to us if the church is not overcoming the world? Then they don't have faith!

So many churches try to entertain and so many try to water down the gospel and the world floods in and they allow youth groups that are full of immorality, singles and college groups that are full drunkenness and parties, churches that are full of people chasing after the world to fulfill their own lust in whatever form they can find it. And yet, if the church is not overcoming the world then it is not rightly to be called a church - for "whatever is born of God overcomes the world."

And it is not that we fight a battle to overcome the world on our own because the battle has already been won! Jesus states "I have overcome the world", and if you're trusting in Him then that is what Romans 8:28 tells us. We are "more than conquerors." But we really do try to make it more of a battle that it is. The truth is we are more than conquerors and the world has already been defeated, so why do we surrender and fall so often? Why is it so easy to stumble into sin and into worldliness? Why is it that our lives are shaped by the pressures of the world around us instead of we in the church turning the world around us upside down?

The church needs to be reminded about who she is in Jesus Christ. We should be ashamed! We should be disgusted! We should be angry when the church looks like the world. We shouldn't tolerate it because the world is passing away in the judgment of God and to embrace worldliness is to reject the very grace of God (see Romans 6).

Quite simply we learn from Scripture that we cannot afford to love the world. We cannot be like the world. We must protect ourselves against worldliness. The first step in fighting this fight is that we must not think like the world.

Philippians 2:5 tells us (in this deeply moving passage where the writer is talking about the humiliation of Christ as he has come and become a man and lives among us in his dying to death of a thief on the cross), "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." Also we read in Psalm 19:14 "Let the words of my mouth and the meditations on my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord my strength and my Redeemer." In Philippians 4:8 we read, "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." Proverbs 20 37 tells us "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he."

Examine those verses and then answer this question:

Do you think like the world?

It is hard, since we are surrounded by the world and we began to think like the world and while we may not speak like the world or hear the words they use often come out of our mouths, is it any better to think those words and have them in our head? We are told not to think like the world. We are told to take every thought captive to Christ. If it is praiseworthy, if it is true, if it is noble, if it is just, if it is pure, if it is lovely, if it is a good report - think on these things!

How often do we willingly take into our minds things that do not meet the standard given in Philippians 4:8 when it comes to what we think about? Maybe it is for the sake of entertainment? Whether it be on the radio, in movies or on TV - whatever area that we are exposed to - why is it that we so willingly embrace the thinking of the world and let it in a our hearts and our minds instead of holding everything up to the Scripture to test it? We just open the door wide instead of refusing to think like the world. Why?

Think about it!

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

How to Keep the Heart by Charles Spurgeon
When I Was a Child I Thought as a Child by Edward Griffin

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship