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pastorway

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, March 30, 2007

Saved

John 10:9
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

Jesus is not only the Good Shepherd, He is also the only door to enter God's kingdom. He serves as the Way to the Father so that we might "be saved."

We use that term a lot in the church but how often do we really stop and think about what it means. If we have "entered Christ" then we are saved! Saved from what? Saved to what? Saved, why? Saved, how? Those are the questions we will answer today.

We are saved from a number of things when we believe in Christ. First we are saved from sin. Because Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life and He imputes His righteousness to us now God is able to declare us righteous (justified) and we are right with God. He has taken away our sin and imputed to us His rightness with God. He saved us by taking our sin upon Himself on the cross – the death He died was OUR death - the one we should have died as a result of our sin. (Rom. 6:23) So now we are saved from (freed from) sin (Romans 6).

Secondly we are saved from death. The wages of sin is still death, but because the price for our sin has been paid we never have to fear death! We may die physically, but that is simply a transformation as we step into life in the spiritual realm face to face with Christ. But we will never die spiritually – we will not die the eternal death in hell that the lost will. The death we are saved from is referred to in Scripture as the Second Death. To be separated from the goodness and grace of God and to suffer the agony of dying forever! (This could also be termed being saved from judgment or wrath!) In examining this closely we see that since we are saved from the wrath of God, we are literally saved from God's justice. We are given mercy and favor (grace) instead of justice and wrath.

Thirdly we are saved from self! We now have the power from the Holy Spirit to be self-controlled or better said, Spirit-controlled, so that we can overcome temptation and sin and truly live a victorious life! We are saved from everything wicked and awful that we were without Christ.

Fourth we are saved from bondage. Before we entered Christ we were bound in sin. Another term is to be dead in sin. There was no spiritual life in us at all. We were dead to God and would never have even thought to come to Him unless He had called us by His Spirit to salvation. (1 Cor 2:14; John 6:39, 44). In essence to be saved is to be free! Truly free. In reality our freedom is nothing more than slavery to Jesus! Now we are bought at a price and belong to Him for all eternity.

If we are indeed saved, we now know what we are saved from – but what are we saved TO? We are saved to His glory for His good pleasure. He saved us because He wanted to save us! It glorifies Him to show His love and mercy through our salvation. Actually, the Old Testament talks about it being HIS salvation.

We are also saved to eternal life - now we can live forever in the presence of God because our sin debt has been paid and we are counted righteous in His sight! The thing that separated us from the Heavenly Father has been removed and we have been reconciled to Him just as He wanted.

Our eternal life is secure from before we are even born. While all of us will live forever somewhere because of Jesus now we can be sure that our eternal life is lived in His presence, with Him in the new heaven and earth instead of separated from Him in the lake of fire!

Jesus saved us to good works as well! We have the power daily to do what is right because He has given us freedom to chose obedience to His Word and His will whereas before we were bound to sin. He produces through us the works that glorify Him! He lives through us on a daily basis to help us BE right with God moment by moment.

We have been saved to fellowship. Our ability to fellowship carries us through trials and hardships and gives us reason to rejoice with one another at all that God has done for us! You cannot enjoy true fellowship unless you are serving God with brothers and sisters in Christ. The lost offer no fellowship and no godly counsel. They provide no encouragement of help in true times of need, because they do not know our Father - and even if they are blood related, they still aren't family as much as other believers are and can be! There is a friend closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

To continue our list, we are also saved to carry out a mission - and that mission is to spread the good news of the Gospel to as many people as we possibly can. We have purpose in our lives, not the least of which is proclaiming the salvation that has been secured by the sacrifice of our Savior!

I know there is much more, but today I will let you finish the list - what else can you think of that we have been saved TO?

Now let us answer the final two questions: why are we saved and how are we saved? We are saved because God loved us so much that He created us to have fellowship with Him - and when Adam and Eve sinned and broke that fellowship, God's plan to redeem us was simple - He would send His Son to die in our place, to pay the penalty for our sin and to give us His rightness with God.

His desire for fellowship saw Him plan this out long before He even created us. He knew we would fall, and He knew what it would cost Him to redeem us and He still created us and loved us enough to carry out His eternal plan!

The how is as simple as can be. We are saved when we are regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:1, 5-6; Ezek. 11:19) and then converted, justified, and adopted. All of this happens as we answer His call and turn from our sin (repent) to Christ (believe) in faith. We are called by grace through the Spirit of God and respond with the faith He has given us. He saves us, we don't save ourselves - and He continues to save us! We are saved, we are being saved as we grow to be more like Him day by day, and we will be saved. Eventually our bodies will be redeemed as well as our spirit! (see also Eph 1:3-4; 1 Peter 3:18; Eph. 2:8-9; Acts 5:30-31; Acts 11:18; Gal. 1:1-9, 11; Rom. 8:15; and 1 John 3:1).

Jesus tells us that we will be saved if we "enter" the proper door, namely, Him! He is the Way, Truth, and Life, and none of us can hope to ever come to the Father unless we come through Christ. And once we are saved and part of His sheep fold, then we can come and go and find pasture!

The implication here is that we are now free! We can come and go as we please, whereas before we were dead and bound to sin and to sin alone. Now we have been given our freedom to "roam" the Kingdom and go wherever we want! Indeed, finding God's will is not nearly as difficult as we make it - if we are walking by faith in obedience to the Word of God and following the direction of the Holy Spirit, then we can do whatever we desire, for to delight in Him is to find Him giving us the very desires of our heart! (Not the object of desire, the desire itself!)

He also tells us that as we go and come we will find pasture. He is talking here about being spiritually fed and growing in grace. I want to look at several ways that we are fed as we "go in and out to find pasture." We are fed spiritually by the Word, by pastors and teachers, and by fellowship with others.

The first on our list is obvious. We are fed by the Word of God. It is to be to us like food as we must have it to survive. From it comes our faith and our desire to do His will. From it comes the instruction as to what His will is and will continue to be. The Word tells us how to be safe, be saved, and be fruitful. In it we find His blueprints for our life, day to day. The Bible serves as an owner's manual (written by our Creator and given to us so that we can "run" the most efficiently and as long as possible!).

Secondly we are fed by pastors and teachers. The Church is the Body of Christ to which has been given leaders to “plant and water” , to grow us and equip us to live our lives by faith and in a manner that serves as salt and light in a tasteless and dark world! The job of a pastor is to feed (equip, teach, instruct, encourage, counsel, motivate, care for, rebuke, etc.) the flock of God. As a matter of fact the Bible is plain in telling us that the pastor of your church is actually God's gift to that church! (see Eph. 4:11-16). And we are also fed by others who teach us, whether through tv or radio, or by books or tapes - there are many good teachers out there who can give us a steady diet of truth! (see our links for some of the best on-line teachers).

Thirdly, we are fed and nourished by fellowship with others. There is a great need in our day for believers to realize that the Spirit of God has gifted them to minister to others in the body of Christ! (boy, there's a whole other study on spiritual gifts!) Many times we fail to see that the trials we have faced and endured or have fallen to are there for us to share with others to "save" them from the same mistakes or to sympathize with them as they face the same kind of hardships that we have had to endure! There is great encouragement and strength in sharing our Christian walk with others - that is precisely why we are COMMANDED not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together for worship regularly (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Because of Christ, we are free to go in and out and are promised that we will find pasture. We will be fed many times and many ways, most of all we are fed by His love for us as He walks side by side with us and often even carries us through this life! Today, be thankful to God for the things He saved you from when He accepted you in His Son. Today - BE SAVED!

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Wrong Way

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

Verse of the Day - Matthew 7:13
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

Daily Scripture Reading - Isaiah 32

Puritan Catechism
Question #52 - Which is the fifth commandment?

Answer - The Fifth Commandment is, "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12).

Devotional Thoughts
It seems these days that everyone wants to take the easy way. There are diet programs that claim that you can lose a lot of weight in no time with no effort - just pop a pill. Who needs to exercise when you can pay a plastic surgeon? Who has to watch what they eat when a doctor can simply remove most of your stomach? Why work when you can win the lottery? Why put forth the effort when you can sit back and get what you want through deception and fraud? Who wants to work hard? We all want it easy! The easier the better.

Think about it. We have fast food and get impatient with microwave ovens. Nothing really takes much time or effort any more. We can get the best now for less. We can buy now and pay later. We can have it all right now. Why delay gratification?

No wonder then there are those who want to make going to heaven easy! Of course, that means easy from a fleshly and fallen standpoint. While we may understand that the gospel is truly simple, we tend to make it much more difficult than it has to be and in doing so we find people leaning toward taking the easy way out. Whether it is universalism, or the false notion that we are all basically good, or a myriad of other demonic doctrine, we seem to think that lies are easier to trust than the truth.

We should not be surprised though because Jesus did tell us that the easy road, the broad way, the wide path leads to destruction. And many find it, walk it, and follow it to its end. Taking it easy all the while going the wrong way.


Nothing that is worth anything is ever easy! As Spurgeon stated, "All that befalls us on our road to heaven is meant to fit us for our journey's end. Our way through the wilderness is meant to try us, and to prove us, that our evils may be discovered, repented of, and overcome and that thus we may be without fault before the throne at the last. We are being educated for the skies and for the assembly of the perfect. What we shall be does not yet appear because we are struggling up towards it. The Lord gets His best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction."

But still, we long for peace, for comfort, for ease. We think we deserve heaven. We believe that we are owed a good life. But the easy road is a one way street to destruction.

It is very interesting to think that so many people around us believe that they are going to heaven when they die. Sure there are the diehard (no pun intended) atheists, agnostics, and pagans. But when asked in a poll recently, 89% of people responding stated that they believe in heaven and 75% think they will go to heaven when they die. Heaven after all should be easy, right?

And there is also evidence that suggests to us that we all believe in heaven but surely hell is a myth made up to scare people into submission. After all, other polling data tells us that many more people believe in heaven than in hell. What a tactic! What propaganda! The devil will work overtime to make people believe they are going to heaven no matter what they believe or do and at the same time he will convince them that there is no such place as hell and no punishment for sins. Politicians would sell their souls to have such gifted spinners.

Let us look at these lights along the broad way. What do we see along the sides of the road? Signs that tell us "This Way" for a good time! "Turn Here" for health, wealth, and happiness. Only a few more miles and then we can retire in ease without a care in the world. Sin matters not. God never said anyone would go to hell. There is no hell. Sin is not sin, it does not displease God. No, what many call sin is really just a disease, an addiction, a mistake, a failure, a character flaw, a weakness. It is not your fault. You are good. You are right. You know the truth. You are okay.

But lest we are lulled into a false sense of security this is what we know for a FACT - to take the easy way out is to walk straight into doom. For all the jokes and misconceptions about hell and the devil what we often miss is that it is the easy, flesh pleasing, sin nature pampering life ends in torment, in fire and darkness, in solitude, suffering forever under the wrath of God.

And remember, some would say that hell is being separated from God, but that is not true. Destruction in the lake of fire is suffering from the absence of God's mercy. But He is there, pouring out His wrath on sinners. And all that keeps one from this easy way out is the sinless life and atoning death of Jesus Christ - where it was He who bore the wrath upon Himself for us. Repentance and faith in Him secures the forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life. And to follow Christ is to shun the easy way for a better way.

So remember that the easy way, the "natural" choice often leads quickly to destruction. That which is worth dying for is all that is truly worth living for. And while living a life of obedience may be hard, it is not impossible for we have His grace given freely to us so that we might endure. May we continue to reject the broad way. May we press on through the narrow gate. As we will learn tomorrow, the narrow gate leads to life! But there are few that find it for too many would rather take it easy. In light of eternity, which is actually more easy? Serving self as a slave of sin, or serving God as a slave of Christ? That which is truly easy runs contrary to our fallen nature. Don't allow your flesh and emotions to confuse you - it is by taking the hard way that we grow in grace and grow closer to our Savior. The easy path only serves to take us away from Him and toward our own undoing.


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

Three Important Precepts by Charles Spurgeon
Hell - The Furnace of Fire by John MacArthur

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Golden Suggestion

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

Verse of the Day - Matthew 7:12
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Daily Scripture Reading - 1 John 3

Puritan Catechism
Question #52 - Which is the fifth commandment?

Answer - The Fifth Commandment is, "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12).

Devotional Thoughts
Jesus has given us instruction about our relationships with others, specifically regarding the command not to judge one another, and He has illustrated His point in verses 3-5 of Matthew 7, addressing the speck and plank and the dangers of hypocrisy. As He teaches about relating to others He also includes verse 7-11 which we have examined the last few days. There we have seen Him tell us how to relate to God in faith, asking, seeking, and knocking - praying without ceasing. Then in verse 12 we begin with the word, "Therefore."

Of course I have said before that when we come to a therefore in the text we need to stop and ask what the therefore is there for. Here it points to what we have just been learning. Because we are to turn away from hypocrisy and because we are not to judge one another, and because we are to live a life of dependence upon God in prayer - because of all these things we are given the Golden Rule.

This command existed before Christ taught it. This was not a new truth. It appears in rabbinical writing and other writings that predate Christ. However, it was usually given as a negative command, that is, as Rabbi Hillel's version read, "What is hateful to yourself do not do to someone else." So it is negative in the aspect that it is not a command to do, but to not do. Jesus here though gives this as a positive command. As it is often restated, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

The actual command, the rule, states, "Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them." And we must take notice, this is a Rule, not a Suggestion. Jesus does not give us the Golden Suggestion here. Today we often hear this as a Suggestion, don't we? It is quoted, misquoted, twisted, and even mocked. Some say that the golden rule is that those who have the gold make the rules. Others present it as a moralism that we should attempt to live out though someone always has exceptions to the rule.

Looking at it though, Jesus presents this Rule, this Law, as a summary of the Law and Prophets. That means that just like the First and Second Great commandments - love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself - this goes beyond a goal for happy living. This is a summary statement of the will of God for us in our daily lives and relationships. This is God's Word to us. We MUST do unto others as we would have them do to us.

This is a radical teaching. There is no exception clause. There is no way out. Treat people like we would want to be treated. This is contrary to human nature. It goes against pride and the feeling that we have rights that are to be defended at all costs. It puts us in a very awkward position - for without the help of the Holy Spirit we cannot obey this Rule.

And lest we think otherwise, this is a Rule that applies to every relationship that we have - no matter how shallow or how deep. No matter how we know or relate to someone else, we are always to treat everyone else as we would want to be treated. This is truly what it means to esteem all others as better than ourselves. It is condescension, but not in a prideful way. It is humility. It is thinking the best of others no matter what they do or say toward us.

In relating this back to prayer Matthew Henry notes, "We cannot expect to receive good things from God, if we do not fair things, and that which is honest, and lovely, and of good report among men. We must not only be devout, but honest, else our devotion is but hypocrisy." How we relate to others tells us a great deal about how we relate to God.

The Apostle John makes this case for us in his first epistle. He writes there:

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth (1:6).

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (2:3-6)

He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (2:9-11)

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. (3:16-18)

There are more examples but I think this will suffice. The lesson we are learning is that the way in which we relate to others is a direct evidence of how we relate to God. And if we follow the Golden Rule we most likely are walking with God. Those who see the Rule as only a Suggestion, those who hate others and despise others and judge and condemn - if they claim to be a Christian they are actually a hypocrite. They claim to be something that their life, their fruit, declares that they are not!

For we see that this Rule is not given only to instruct us in how to relate to others. It is given to point us to the need for grace in every relationship. It is given to hold up the standard of holy and righteous living as we express our love to God through obedience.

The final lesson for today then is a reminder - if we are not right with others then we cannot be right with God. No one's relationship with God is good and healthy if they do not get along with other people around them! Those who do not live by the Golden Rule, striving to be at peace with all men, as much as depends upon them, those demonstrate for us the futility of working to live the Christian life by the power of the flesh instead of dependence upon the Spirit.

Today, keep the Rule!

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

Loving Our Neighbor by Richard Baxter
The Content of Kingdom Love by John MacArthur

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Good Gifts

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

Verse of the Day - Matthew 7:9-11
Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Daily Scripture Reading - James 1

Puritan Catechism
Question #52 - Which is the fifth commandment?

Answer - The Fifth Commandment is, "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12).

Devotional Thoughts
Jesus, the Master Teacher that He is, takes a hold of our imaginations here in order to instruct us about the very nature of God. This is an important and needed lesson for us today lest we forget Who God is and what He has done. Indeed, most that we can say is wrong with the church and our families today is rooted directly in a wrong view of God. How do we get a wrong view of God? We misread, misunderstand, or misapply the Word of God, for it is the written Word of God that reveals Him to us. That is why it is so crucial in the church that we have teachers who know the Word and even more importantly know the Author of the Word!

False teaching often introduces fleshly doctrines, not that they appear obviously carnal, but they are man-centered. What we see in the Scripture is a God centered world view and lifestyle. If we focus on self, on our needs and wants, then our eyes are fixed on the wrong subject. The hard truth is that this life is not about us! It is about God - about glorifying and worshipping and pleasing and obeying and loving Him.

Part of what is wrong in our view of God is evidenced in how we pray and in what we expect from our prayers. Jesus has been teaching us to ask, seek, and knock. He has shown us the need to persevere and the Scriptures teach us to ask in faith, to expect an answer. But then, when we focus on self, God becomes nothing more than an Almighty ATM, dispensing whatever we need as soon as we need it as long as we know the right PIN number. If not, if our needs seem to go unmet, that usually drives us in search of a new formula, a new phrase, a new method of praying - like all the books in the bookstore that promise us results NOW if we just do it the way they do it. What a scam! Teaching prayer for profit instead of learning from the prophets how to pray (sorry, couldn’t resist that one).

Listen - prayer is not about getting needs met. Prayer is about fellowship. It is about building that relationship of trust and dependence upon God. A benefit of that relationship is then that we are privileged to take our needs before God so that He can meet them and be glorified in doing so. But if the focus is only on the needs then we are missing the purpose behind prayer.

To make the point, Jesus points us to earthly parents. We know that we are fallen and sinful beings. We know that we struggle with sin. It does not take more than a few minutes of watching the evening news to understand depravity. But for the most part even sinners know how to answer a request from their child.

What father is there, everything being "normal", that will respond to a request from a child for food by giving him something that will not feed him but will instead hurt him? What moron would answer a child's request for bread by giving him a rock? "Here, son. I know you wanted some bread, but I have a better idea. Eat this rock! Yum – good with the peanut butter, isn’t it? Or even better, I know you asked for some fish, but I'd rather you eat this SNAKE!" Yikes! Of course that is not what a father does. Not even a dim-wit-poor-excuse-for-a-man father as portrayed on the latest sit-com. We know how to give our kids what they need, for the most part.

So why then do we have such a difficult time trusting God to give us what we need? There it is – Jesus’ point jumps off the page at us. If in our depravity we know how to meet the needs of those dependent upon us then how much more will an Omnipotent, All Holy God be able to give us good gifts? If we who are sinful know how to give good gifts then how much better at gift giving is God? He gives good things to those who ask.

We need not simply presume that God gives good gifts, for if we take the time to look at Scripture we see that the only kinds of gifts that God gives are good gifts! It is not just that He gives good gifts, all His gifts are good by virtue of the fact that it is HE who gives them.

We might need a moment to wrap our heads around this one, because the usual complaint about that which motivates us to become prayerless is often based in the idea that we asked God for what we needed and He did not come through for us. He did not give us that for which we asked, begged, and pleaded. Even when we offered to do whatever He asked if He would just answer this one little request!

But look, James 1:17 tells us, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." Again, this does not only mean that God gives good gifts - it means every gift He gives is good. All that we have from His hand to provide for our needs, protect us, convict us, discipline us, stretch us, and grow us - it is all good.

Some ask why bad things happen to good people. This assumes that there is such a thing as a good person (Rom 3:12; Matt 19:17). It also assumes that trials, tribulations, and other various circumstances sent directly from the hand of God to us are bad! God does not give bad gifts. He alone is good and He knows what is best, and everything that happens to us is working for His glory and our good (Rom 8:28).

It is the selfish, fleshly attitude that cries out when our rights are violated and our needs go unmet. The truth is that we have no rights because we are blood bought slaves of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 6:19-20; 7:23). Further, if our needs are unmet then there are several possibilities. First, they are not needs - because God promises to meet every need (Phil 4:19). Second, perhaps we are asking amiss, asking selfishly (James 4:3). Third, it is not that God will not answer it is only that He has not answered yet (Ps 27:14; 37:7). Fourth, perhaps the answer was "No" and we are just being stubborn! And the list could go on.

Whatever the case may be we must regain a right view of God. He is able to answer, willing to answer, and He answers giving us every good gift. Are we asking correctly? Are we asking in faith, without doubting? Are we asking all the while knowing that the gifts God will give us are always good, even if they do not look so good to us at first?

We must ask, why is it that hindsight is 20/20? If we are asking in faith, truly knowing Who God is and what He can do, then why can't foresight be 20/20?? Look through the eyes of faith - then we will see how gracious, merciful, and giving our God really is. When we see all the answers He has given us, and when we recognize how good His gifts really are, we cannot help but praise and glorify Him. And that is the reason we pray in the first place - we pray so that God might be glorified!

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

How We Ought to Think about God's Providence by Thomas Boston
Delight in Prayer by Stephen Charnock

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

What Day Was Jesus Crucified?

Three Days and Three Nights

This really should not be a controversial question, but it tends to be based upon one verse of Scripture.

Matthew 12:40:

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Some take this verse to mean that Jesus had to be crucified on Wednesday. In order to be in the grave a full three days and three nights Jesus could nt have been crucified on Friday, which is the day traditionally remembered as the day of the week Jesus died.

If He was crucified on Wednesday, then here is how He was in the grave "three days and three nights":

Night 1 - Wednesday night
Day 1 - Thursday
Night 2 - Thursday night
Day 2 - Friday
Night 3 - Friday night
Day 3 - Saturday

Resurrected after sunset Saturday, which would have been considered Sunday morning.

However, when you understand that the phrase "three days and three nights" is idiomatic, that is, that it means simply 3 days and can be taken as whole days or even a part of 3 separate days, then it makes sense that He was crucified on Friday.

Further, other than this one verse in Matthew where the phrase is used, every other reference to 3 days says that Jesus will be raised ON the third day, not after three days and nights. Look at the other verses that speak to this:

Matt 16:21
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.

Matt 27:64
Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, "He has risen from the dead.' So the last deception will be worse than the first."

Mark 9:31
For He taught His disciples and said to them, "The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day."

Mark 10:34
and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again."

Luke 9:22
saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day."

Luke 24:7
saying, "The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again."'

Acts 10:40
Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly

So then when we understand that "three days and three nights" means any part of three days, we see that Jesus was crucified on Friday and put in the tomb before sundown. That means we have:

Day 1 - Friday
Day 2 - Saturday
Day 3 - Sunday

And He was raised, according to all of these other verses, ON the third day, on Sunday. To say otherwise is to allow an idiomatic phrase used in one verse to obscure all the other verses that are clear as to the fact of the resurrection being on the third day, not after three days and nights.

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Fellowship: Our Duty to One Another in the Church

I wanted to provide a link here for a series of articles I am posting on The Spurgeon Underground Blog that deals with the topic of fellowship. You can check them out here:

Fellowship: Our Duty to One Another in the Church

The First Foundation of Fellowship: One Body, Many Members

The Second Foundation of Fellowship: Do Not Be Unequally Yoked Together with Unbelievers

The Third Foundation of Fellowship: Fellowship in the Gospel

Stay Tuned, more articles will follow.

~pastorway

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Knock

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

Verse of the Day - Matthew 7:7-8
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Daily Scripture Reading - Acts 12

Puritan Catechism
Question #51 - How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?

Answer - The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days (Lev. 23:3), and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God's worship (Ps. 92:1-2; Isa. 58:13-14), except so much as is taken up in the works of necessity and mercy (Matt. 12:11-12).

Devotional Thoughts
We have seen that prayer is defined as asking so that we might receive that which we need from God, and it is seeking Him so that we might trust Him to provide those things for which we have asked. In asking and seeking we know that the focus is on God, not on us or our needs. As we depend upon Him and ask Him and seek from Him what we need, we are reminded that He is our Provider and that He is in control of every aspect of our lives.

Today we see that prayer is likened to knocking so that the door might be opened to us. What door? The door to communion. Jesus is telling us here that we are able through prayer to ask of God and seek from God, but it all starts with the knock – opening the time of communion with God.

We must never think of prayer as a chore, and if we view it as a duty it must be a duty of love for God. We must also never take prayer lightly, as if communion with the Almighty is a little thing or an easy thing! Throughout Scripture we see examples of men and women who struggled in prayer. Hannah prayed with such focus and lack of self awareness that Eli thought she was drunk. Daniel prayed for 21 days before he received an answer brought by an angel who had to fight his way there. Jesus agonized in the garden, facing the cross and pleading for the will of the Father to be accomplished, and when the disciples were asked to pray with Him and for Him during this time they grew weary while praying and fell asleep.

Prayer is never easy. It is never cheap. And we should never think that we have the right to burst in on God and make demands. We approach Him with faith and with boldness, but we must do so humbly and reverently. We are after all speaking with God.

As we look at what it means to knock we need to remember that the thing which most often hinders our prayer is sin. Whether it is pride, apathy, greed, or an attitude of legalistic obedience, these things hinder our communion with God. To knock then is to do what is necessary to gain entrance into this time of communion with God. It is to prepare our hearts and minds by confessing sin and meditating on the truth about who God is.

Do we desire to pray? Do we want to spend time with God? Do we long for that “sweet hour of prayer”? Or is it more like a fast food drive through where we place our order and drive around and wait for the answer to be delivered so we can get on with our day?

Interestingly, when we as a church allow sin and impurity to harden our hearts, Jesus comes and does the knocking. In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” This is not a verse that speaks of Jesus knocking on the door of the heart of a lost man seeking to gain entrance – no, this is Jesus standing outside the door of the lukewarm church! This is the church that has become so dependent upon themselves, their self-righteousness, and their programs that they feel that they have no need of the power of the Holy Spirit. Even when the church is in this hardened state, Jesus desires fellowship with us, though He must deal with our sin. He does so by knocking – by letting us know He needs to be let in – that our sin needs to be confessed and the door opened.

Just as He seeks communion and fellowship, to “dine” with us, so we too must come to God desiring to commune, to be fed by His Word through His Spirit. We must knock. The things of God are not easily opened. We must be diligent to seek after God, to ask, even if the answer takes some time. We must be ready to commune with God, never expecting an automatic hearing from Him. He is holy. And while we are told to approach Him with boldness, we must do so with humility knowing that it is only by the blood of Christ that we have this access.

We cannot rush into prayer. We must remember that we are talking to God. And we must prepare to enter His presence. Jesus taught us about this when He gave us the model prayer and began by saying to our Father, “Hallowed be Your Name.” Above all else in prayer, whether we are asking, seeking, thanking, pleading, interceding, or praising, our focus must be on the holiness of God – we cannot forget that He is holy!

In the Scriptures there are examples of those who forgot that God was holy. In one instance recorded in 2 Samuel 6:6-7, the ark was being carried in a manner contrary to God’s instructions. It was put on a cart instead of being carried by the priests. The priests carried the ark before the people in a way that reminded them all of God’s holiness. But this time, transporting it on the cart, the cart started to tip and Uzzah reached up to steady it – no doubt a good intention, but again, contrary to God’s specific commands. When Uzzah touched the ark, he died. He handled that which was holy in an unholy manner.

Does this mean that God will kill us if we pray without preparation, or if we dare enter His presence without giving thought to His holiness? Well, think about it. To fail to be holy, or prepared, or reverent, or humble when we approach God is to sin, is it not? And what are the wages of sin? Death (Rom 6:23). Our reaction to this proves that we have a low view of God, a high view of self, and a wrong view of sin. We think of God as one of us. We think God owes us. And we think sin is nothing more than a failure or mistake.

We learn then that when we pray we must first knock – we must be prepared to enter the presence of God. We can be humble and bold at the same time when that boldness is founded upon the truth about the atoning death of Christ. He died so that we could come boldly in faith. His life and death and resurrection makes the Way for us to come to God in prayer, knowing that we will be heard and that our prayers will be answered. Not because we have needs, but because God is faithful to provide for us!

The underlying truth in these words shows us that when we ask, seek, and knock we are coming to God on His terms, focused on Him instead of ourselves and our needs, and we are expecting Him to answer because of the work that Christ has done on our behalf. How precious the truth then that we do not pray alone, for Christ Himself makes intercession (Heb 7:25) for us and the Holy Spirit takes the things that we cannot even express with words (Rom 8:26-27) and utters them to the Father!


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

Motives for Prayer by Thomas Boston
True Prayer - True Power! by Charles Spurgeon

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Seek

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

Verse of the Day - Matthew 7:7-8
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Daily Scripture Reading - Isaiah 51

Puritan Catechism
Question #51 - How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?

Answer - The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days (Lev. 23:3), and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God's worship (Ps. 92:1-2; Isa. 58:13-14), except so much as is taken up in the works of necessity and mercy (Matt. 12:11-12).

Devotional Thoughts
In our text this week we see that Jesus is teaching us how to pray. He uses the terms ask, seek, and knock, but we see that He is using the terminology in order to make a point about how to pray. Matthew Henry says of these terms, "Ask, Seek, Knock (v. 7); that is, in one word, 'Pray; pray often; pray with sincerity and seriousness; pray, and pray again; make conscience of prayer, and be constant in it; make a business of prayer, and be earnest in it.'" Yesterday we saw how it was that we are to pray, asking according to God's will, in Jesus name, led by the Holy Spirit, in faith without doubting or fear. Today we will learn how prayer is typified in seeking.

How are we to seek God? How are we to pray as if we are seeking? We seek with earnestness, with determination, with faith, and with the assurance that we will find that for which we are seeking. And we seek God - not the answers! This is important. We often think that we are to seek the answer to our prayers, but what we learn is that we seek God. We seek to know Him. We seek to please Him. We seek His face, not His hands.

Many seek to get things from God, but that is a wrong view of God and of prayer. Yes, we ask and we seek, but the goal is not ultimately so that we get what we want - the joy of asking and seeking is in taking the time to get to know God better as we talk, listen, discern, wait, expect, and trust Him for the answer. The answer then is not the goal, as the needs we have are simply a means of growing in grace as we walk with God.

Del Fehsenfeld, Jr., used to say that our needs were like a "grace ambulance". We have needs and God by His grace meets those needs. The need is not the focus - God is as He meets the need. Think about how often the Scriptures tell us to seek God. In the dozens of verses that tell us to seek God we are not told to seek the answer - we are told to seek Him, to seek His face, to seek to know Him and see Him in the need!

As we seek God we also see that the term teaches us the nature of prayer - we seek as if we had indeed lost something valuable. We depend upon God to help us when that which is valuable to us has been lost or misplaced. Jesus tells us in several parables that the gospel is something that is valuable, to be sought and sacrificed for so that we might possess it and be possessed by it.

Calvin says of Matt 7:7, “Nothing is better adapted to excite us to prayer than a full conviction that we shall be heard. Those who doubt can only pray in an indifferent manner; and prayer, unaccompanied by faith, is an idle and unmeaning ceremony. Accordingly, Christ, in order to excite us powerfully to this part of our duty, not only enjoins what we ought to do, but promises that our prayers shall not be fruitless.” We seek then because we trust that we will find that for which we seek – we seek with determination, believing that God will provide for us what we need.

So we start by seeking the gospel, the forgiveness of sins. This we will not do on our own, as the Holy Spirit must first convict us and draw us. But then as we are saved we learn to seek God daily. To seek to please Him, to seek to have our sins forgiven as we walk in the grace He has freely supplied.

We seek next God's glory. Everything we do should be done for His glory, not our own. We seek for God to be exalted and magnified. We see then that using the term seek in the place of prayer shows us how our prayer life is to be focused on God, not self. We have needs but we go to God, trusting Him to meet them.

We should also seek to edify and encourage other believers. Our motive then is not selfish, but selfless, so that even in our need others might be blessed. Paul praised the church in Philippi for this very thing - they had great needs and yet in the midst of their lack they supplied gifts for the needs of the church at Jerusalem.

The key today for us to remember is that we seek with our whole heart. God is not impressed with half-hearted prayers, prayers offered for the benefit of those listening instead of prayers of worship as we adore God for all He is and has done. In fact, in Jeremiah 29:13 we read, "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."

Where is your heart? Is it divided? Are we seeking to please self and hoping that we can please God at the same time? Or are we loving God with all our heart? This is the first and greatest command - love God with our whole heart. And yet if our hearts are full of doubt and worry then we are missing the great privilege of seeking God. We miss the time that we could be spending in fellowship exercising faith all because we are preoccupied with the need instead of with the One who can meet the need.

What do you seek? What do you spend your time pursuing? Is it God? Do you seek Him? Today, when you see a need, thank God for giving you an opportunity to seek Him!

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

Seeking Richly Rewarded by Charles Spurgeon
Prayer by Leonard Ravenhill

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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Recovering a Right Perspective

Weekly Devotional Recap Page

Proverbs 4:7 - Introduction for the Week
Ephesians 5:1-7 - Recovering a Right View of God
1 Kings 18:20-40 - Recovering a Right View of Worship
Ephesians 5:8-14 - Recovering a Right View of Self
Ephesians 5:15-21 - Recovering a Right View of Sin
Matthew 13:1-9 - Recovering a Right View of Others

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Articles

Articles by Pastor Way:

Myth Busters

Fruit or Fluff?

The Death of a Church

How Many More (on abortion)

The Duty and Importance of Family Worship (compilation of quotes)

Liturgy - Our Order of Worship

The Wedding

pastorway and the Puritan Board

The Assault on the Family

The Difference Between Discipleship and Debate
A Shocking Truth about the Making of Disciples

The First Foundation of Fellowship
The Second Foundation of Fellowship
The Third Foundation of Fellowship

Does Your Worship Please God?

Saved!

Reformation Day, Oct 31, 1517

Texas Independence Day

Remembering Rev. Del A. Fehsenfeld, Sr.
Remembering Agnes Kathryn Cox (my grandmother)

Articles by Others:

Worldly Minded and Non-Attending Members - by Elder E.C. Mahurin

Eat, Don't Argue - by Charles Spurgeon

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards #1-24
The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards #25-48
The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards #49-70

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Ask

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

Verse of the Day - Matthew 7:7-8
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Daily Scripture Reading - Mark 9

Puritan Catechism
Question #51 - How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?

Answer - The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days (Lev. 23:3), and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God's worship (Ps. 92:1-2; Isa. 58:13-14), except so much as is taken up in the works of necessity and mercy (Matt. 12:11-12).

Devotional Thoughts
I am sure that we are all fairly familiar with the verses we will study this week. We have heard them quoted often, and as we get to the end of the paragraph we are looking at we will see that The Golden Rule is quoted over and over again - though rarely actually lived out. Within the context, these verses follow an admonition not to judge one another, though as we have studied, that too is often misquoted and misused. But in that context let us examine what Jesus says and see why He says it.

As a summary, Matthew 7:1-6 tells us not to judge one another in a negative way but instead to measure out goodness to one another. As we do these things we are told how to keep things in perspective - it is the parable of the speck and plank (part 1 and part 2). We have a choice to make, we can remove the plank from our own eye or we can bludgeon our brother with it as it sticks out of our eye during our self righteous attempts to pluck the speck from his eye. So as we learn not to judge and how to deal with sin in our lives and the lives of those around us, we see Jesus conclude these verse by telling us not to cast our pearls before swine. This one is easy to understand - who among us would take the most expensive and precious piece of jewelry they could find and throw it out into the pig pen? At the time Jesus was preaching, the pearl was one of the most rare jewels. And the pig was one of the most "unclean" animals to the Jew. Who would ever think to take their most valued possession and toss it to pigs? And these were wild boars who would just as soon rip a person to pieces with their tusks if they had the chance.

Jesus Himself told the disciples that as they were a witness, some would heed their message, others would not. Not every person we talk to will believe what we tell them about Christ. We will, at times, see our witness rejected. And Jesus said that if the gospel was shared and a person was of such evil character that they refused the gospel and fought against the witness - then we are to "shake the dust off our feet." The kind of judging God expects of us is judging when to witness, when to rebuke, when to comfort, and when to quit.

And now to follow this up in His Sermon in the Mount, Jesus tells us:

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

We need discernment. We need wisdom. In order to do what He has just told us to do in verses 1-6 we must have the right perspective. And yet so often we do not. Our eyes are blinded by the things of this world and our minds are confused by our emotions and our desires. So often we are quick to judge. So what can we do about that? What remedy do we find in the Scriptures?

Jesus says, "Ask."

Is it that simple? Well, yes, it is. He tells us here to start with that if there is something we need then we should ask. This is so simple that I wonder how we mess these verses up so often. But there it is, simple enough. Ask.

Now a test to use when we are studying the Scripture is to seek to keep in mind the whole counsel of the Word of God. The Bible does not contradict itself. If we think we have found a contradiction in reality we have just found a passage we do not understand. So if we are to understand what Jesus means when He tells us to ask, and it will be given to us, then we need to see what else the Bible says about asking.

Can this be the magical formula that the health and wealth prosperity preachers proclaim to us? Is this the spell that opens the windows of heaven? Can we COMMAND God and DEMAND of God and EXPECT God to respond to our every whim, if we only ask with enough faith (and send $1000 to the toothy grin looking at us from inside the TV)? Do we have the authority to go to God and ask for anything we want and do we then have the right to expect that God will do whatever we ask, on the spot? ABRACADABRA. HOCUS POCUS. And all that cloaked in the terms of faith and trust?

The Word of God tells us that if we ask in prayer believing then we will be given that for which we ask. But are there qualifications? John Gill summarized the way in which we should seek to pray by writing that we should ask, "according to the will of God, in the name of Christ, and under the direction, guidance, and influence of the Spirit, in faith, and with submission to the divine will." Let us look at these Scriptural qualifiers.

Ask in According to the Will of God

Gill starts and finishes here, with the will of God. In telling us that we should ask with "submission to the Divine will" we see that he is telling us to pray as Christ did in the Garden the night He was betrayed. Jesus prayed, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."

We see that He prayed for what He wanted, but also prayed that God's will would be done. His flesh, being fully human, was distraught at the thought of the cross. In this regard His flesh was weak, yet His spirit was willing. He prayed specifically that the Father's will be done.

This is asking in submission. It is admitting that God knows best and that we are to desire His will above all else. So even as we take the things we want before Him we do so admitting that we truly want His will to be done.

But how do we know the will of God? How can we ask according to His will? We must be attentive to the Scriptures. We are told that it is God's will for us to be sanctified (1 Thess 4:3), have wisdom (James 1:5), love Him with all we are (Mark 12:30), and love our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27). If we can just strive to do these then we will be walking in His will.

Luke 9:23 sums this up as we are instructed to deny self, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. We do this as we ask according to the will of God.

Ask in the Name of Christ

This attribute of praying is most often applied by closing the prayer by saying, "In Jesus' name." However, that is not what this means, and in fact, to use a catch phrase without knowing what it means actually demeans the name of Christ. This is not praying and adding to the end "Jesus name."

John MacArthur puts it this way, "Jesus’ name signifies all that He is and all that He would want. Praying in His name means praying in accordance with His character and His will." So it is praying not just with the words "in Jesus name", but with the while mindset that we are able to come and pray only through the atoning death and resurrected life of our Lord. It is coming to the Father through Christ, by virtue of His name, of which we are heirs!

Ask under the Direction of the Holy Spirit

Are we influenced and led by the Holy Spirit? We are if He indwells us, that is, if we are saved. The Holy Spirit points us to Christ. He convicts us of sin. He illumines the Word of God to our minds and hearts. He teaches us truth. He seals us for the day of redemption, guaranteeing our salvation.

Too often we pray with a view toward the will of God and according to the nature and attributes of Christ, but we neglect the Holy Spirit. We do not rely on Him as we should. We pray and live under our own power so to speak, all the while He is there and He is able to teach us to pray as we ought.

It is the Holy Spirit who gives us power and even the desire to pray as we should. He leads us as we seek to understand the Word of God and the will of God. Another way to say it is that we should pray as we are instructed in the Scriptures, for the Holy Spirit inspired the written Word of God. So to pray under His guidance is to pray in ways that we are taught to pray in the Bible.

Ask in Faith

Finally, we see that for our prayers to be answered we must pray in faith. We must believe that God hears and is able to answer. We must trust Him for the answer. And we must not doubt.

To doubt really is to have a lack of faith, so doubt is the enemy of prayer. James tells us that when we ask, we should ask without doubting, for "he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."

God expects us to believe Him when we ask. Why would we ask if we did not believe He could and would answer in the first place? Then again, we are rebuked in James 4 for the times that we ask amiss, that is, we ask for things only to "spend" on our own pleasures, with no regard for the will of God.

We see then that we are expected to ask God for the things that we need. By doing so we are able to grow in our relationship with Him through the conversation of prayer. We are also able to see Him provide. Asking shows dependence and humility, as well as faith and hope. And as He hears and answers, giving us that for which we have asked, we learn to trust Him even more.

Jesus begins the lesson on prayer here with this word. Ask. It denotes dependence, expectation, need, and faith. It tells us about ourselves and our God. When we have a need, we need to ask. When we ask, we will receive.

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

How the Spirit enables Us to Pray by Thomas Boston
What Sinners Should Plead with God by Ralph Erskine

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Phillip's Phunnies - St Patrick's Day

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




Q: Why do people wear shamrocks on St. Patrick's Day?
A: Regular rocks are too heavy.

Q. What do you get when you cross poison Ivy with a four-leaf clover?
A. A rash of good luck!

Q: What's Irish and sits outside all year?
A: Paddy O'Furniture!

Q: How can you tell if an Irishman is having a good time?
A: He's Dublin over with laughter!

Q. Did you hear about the Irish water polo team?
A. Four horses drowned.

Q. Have you heard about the Irish boomerang?
A. It doesn't come back,
it just sings songs about how much it wants to.



He Died Laughing

Paddy was found dead in his back yard, and as the weather was a bit on the warm side, the wake was held down to only two days, so his mortal remains wouldn't take a bad turn. At last his friends laid him in the box, nailed it shut & started down the hill into the churchyard. As it was a long, sloping path one fellow lurched into the gatepost as they entered the graveyard. Suddenly a loud knocking came from in the box. Paddy was alive! They opened the box up and he sat up, wide eyed, and they all said, “It's a miracle!” All rejoiced & they went back and celebrated late into the night, but just before morning the poor lad died. Really died. Stone cold dead. They bundled him back into his box, and as they huffed and puffed down the hill the next morning, the minister said, "Careful now, boys; mind ye don't bump the gatepost again."



Wishful Thinking

Murphy, O'Brien & Cassey were dicussing the words they would like to hear spoken over their coffins at their wakes.

Casey says, "I would like them to say 'He was a wonderful family man- he always supported his wife and kids, and they never wanted for anything'".

O' Brien says, "That's lovely Casey. But I would like to hear them say, 'He was a great man in the community - he undertook a lot of projects to make his community a better place.'"

Murphy says, "Thats's very nice, O'Brien. But I would like to hear them say, 'Look! He's moving!'"


Extreme Sports

An Irishman went to a pet shop and asked how many budgies were in stock. "We have 99" replied the shop owner "Give me the lot" he said. He went to a tailors shop next door and had 99 pockets sewn into a jacket, put a budgie in each pocket, went up to the Post Office Tower and jumped off. He hit the ground with a smack and lay there groaning until a passer-by came and asked him what had happened. "I don't know sir" he replied "but that's the last time I try that budgie jumping."



What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate

"Well, Mrs. O'Connor, so you want marital counseling?" the minister questioned his congregant. "Tell me about it. Do you have a grudge?"

"Oh, no," replied Mrs. O'Connor. "Shure now, we have a carport."

The minister tried again. "Well, does he beat you up?"

"No, no," said Mrs. O'Connor, looking puzzled. "Oi'm always first out of bed."

Pushing on, the minister said, "What I'm trying to find out are what grounds you have for complaint."

"Bless ye, sir. We live in a flat -- not even a window box, let alone grounds."

"Mrs. O'Connor," the minister said in considerable exasperation, "What is the reason for you seeking this counseling?"

"Ah, well now, it is so we can communicate better" said the lady, "because the man just can't hold an intelligent conversation."



Every Head Bowed and Every Eye Closed

At the end of his sermon the pastor said: "Now, instead of asking you all to bow your heads and close your eyes, I will instead ask, which of you thinks truly he is bound for Heaven? Would you please stand?"

He was pleased to note that nearly all of his congregation stood up.

"That's good," he exclaimed. "But now, let me ask you, which of you thinks he is bound for Hell? Would you stand?"

After a few seconds, Jock slowly got to his feet, and remained standing as the pastor eyed him with sadness.

Afterwards, as the worshippers filed out, Pastor O'Brien pulled Jock aside and asked him, "Now, Jock, what is it that makes you fear you're bound for Hell?"

He responded, "O, I have no fear for my own outcome, but I did feel sorry for you standing up there all by yourself."




Seriously Now:

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The Good Shepherd - John 10:1-15


Weekly Devotional Recap Page

The Sheepfold - John 10:1-4

Introduction for the Week
John 10:1 - Thieves
John 10:2 - By the Door
John 10:3 - His Voice
John 10:3 - By Name
John 10:4 - His Own Sheep


The Door - John 10:5-10

Introduction for the Week
John 10:5-6 - Missing the Point
John 10:7 - I Am the Door
John 10:8 - Thieves and Robbers
John 10:9 - Be Saved
John 10:10 - Life


The Good Shepherd - John 10:11-15

Introduction for the Week
John 10:11 - I Am the Good Shepherd
John 10:12-13 - The Hireling
John 10:14 - Know and Known (part 1)
John 10:14 - Know and Known (part 2)
John 10:15 - The Father Knows

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Sermon on the Mount - Matthew 5-7

Weekly Devotional Recap Page

Giving - Matthew 6:1-6

Matthew 6:1-6 - Introduction for the Week
Matthew 6:1 - The Fear of Man
Matthew 6:2 - Hypocrites
Matthew 6:3-4 - A Secret
Matthew 6:5 - To Whom Do You Pray?
Matthew 6:6 - Shutting the Door on Self-Righteousness


Praying - Matthew 6:7-11

Matthew 6:7-11 - Introduction for the Week
Matthew 6:7-8 - Vain Repetitions
Matthew 6:9 - Pray Like This
Matthew 6:9 - Our Father
Matthew 6:10 - Your Kingdom and Will
Matthew 6:11 - Daily Bread


Forgiveness - Matthew 6:12-15

Matthew 6:12-15 - Introduction for the Week
Matthew 6:12 - Forgive
Matthew 6:13 - Temptation
Matthew 6:13 - Amen
Matthew 6:14 - If You Forgive
Matthew 6:15 - If You Do Not Forgive


Fasting - Matthew 6:16-21

Matthew 6:16-21 - Introduction for the Week
Matthew 6:16 - When You Fast
Matthew 6:17-18 - When You Fast (part 2)
Matthew 6:19 - True Value
Matthew 6:20 - Heavenly Treasures
Matthew 6:21 - Where is Your Heart?


Good Eye - Matthew 6:22-24

Matthew 6:22-23 - The Eyes Have It
Matthew 6:22-23 - Getting An Eye Full
Matthew 6:22-23 - Who Turned Out the Lights?
Matthew 6:22-23 - Just Me and My Shadow
Matthew 6:24 - Cross Eyed


Worry - Matthew 6:25-34

Matthew 6:25 - Don't Worry
Matthew 6:26-29 - Why Worry?
Matthew 6:30 - At the Heart of Worry
Matthew 6:31-32 - He Knows
Matthew 6:33-34 - Seeking First


Judge Not - Matthew 7:1-6

Matthew 7:1 - Judge Not
Matthew 7:2 - Measured
Matthew 7:3-4 - Speck and Plank (part 1)
Matthew 7:5 - Speck and Plank (part 2)
Matthew 7:6 - Pearls before Swine


Ask, Seek, Knock - Matthew 7:7-14

Matthew 7:7-8 - Ask
Matthew 7:7-8 - Seek
Matthew 7:7-8 - Knock
Matthew 7:9-11 - Good Gifts
Matthew 7:12 - The Golden Suggestion
Matthew 7:13 - Wrong Way
Matthew 7:14 - One Way


Fruit - Matthew 7:15-20

Matthew 7:15-20 - Introduction for the Week
Matthew 7:15 - Beware of False Prophets
Matthew 7:16 - By Their Fruit
Matthew 7:17-18 - Good or Bad
Matthew 7:19 - Fire!
Matthew 7:20 - You Will Know


On The Rock - Matthew 7:21-29

Matthew 7:21-29 - Introduction for the Week
Matthew 7:21-22 - Lord, Lord
Matthew 7:23 - I Never Knew You
Matthew 7:24-25 - The Final Parable (part 1)
Matthew 7:26-27 - The Final Parable (part 2)
Matthew 7:28-29 - Astonishment and Authority


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Daily Devotional Index

TIME in the Word Ministries
(Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement)


Current Devotional Series:

The Whole Armor of God - Ephesians 6:10-20

Devotions in this series include:

Ephesians 6:10 - The Power of His Might
Ephesians 6:11 - The Wiles of the Devil
Ephesians 6:12 - The Rulers of Darkness
Ephesians 6:13 - To Stand
Ephesians 6:14 - The Belt of Truth
Ephesians 6:14 - The Breastplate of Righteousness
Ephesians 6:15 - The Shoes of the Readiness of the Gospel
Ephesians 6:16 - The Shield of Faith
Ephesians 6:17 - The Helmet of Salvation
Ephesians 6:17 - The Sword of the Spirit
Ephesians 6:18 - Praying Always
Ephesians 6:19-20 - Preaching Boldly


Exegetical Series:

Sermon on the Mount - Matthew 5-7
Devotions in this series include:

Matthew 6:1-6 - Giving
Matthew 6:7-11 - Praying
Matthew 6:12-15 - Forgiveness
Matthew 6:16-21 - Fasting
Matthew 6:22-24 - Good Eye
Matthew 6:25-34 - Worry
Matthew 7:1-6 - Judge Not
Matthew 7:7-14 - Ask, Seek, Knock
Matthew 7:15-20 - Fruit
Matthew 7:21-29 - On the Rock

Learning to Walk - Ephesians 4-5
Devotions in this series include:

Ephesians 4:1-16 - Walk in Unity
Ephesians 4:17-32 - Walk in Truth
Ephesians 5:1-7 - Walk in Love
1 Thess. 5:14-22 - Five Keys to a Grateful Heart
Ephesians 5:8-14 - Walk in Light
Ephesians 5:15-21 - Walk in Wisdom
Ephesians 5:22-33 - Walking in Married Life

The Good Shepherd - John 10:1-15
Devotions in this series include:

John 10:1-4 - The Sheepfold
John 10:5-10 - The Door
John 10:11-15 - The Good Shepherd

Faith - Hebrews 11
Devotions in this series include:

Hebrews 11:1-12 - Faith
Hebrews 11:3 - Worldviews
Selected Scriptures - Trusting Jesus
Selected Scriptures - Where Does Faith Come From?
Hebrews 11:13-22 - The Patriarch’s Faith
Hebrews 11:23-29 - Moses’ Faith
Hebrews 11:30-40 - Overcomers’ Faith

Learn to Discern - Selected Scriptures
Devotions in this series include:

1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 - Abstain From Every Form of Evil
Selected Scriptures - Overcoming Obstacles to Discernment
Selected Scriptures - Practice Makes Perfect
Matthew 15:1-20 - Discernment or Defilement


Topical Series:

Always Reforming - Selected Scriptures
Devotions in this series include:

The Protestant Reformation – Where Is It Today?
Sola Scriptura
Sola Gratia
Sola Fide
Solus Christus
Soli Deo Gloria

Seven Marks of a Healthy Church - Selected Scriptures
Devotions in this series include:

Introduction
The First Mark: Worship in spirit and truth.
The Second Mark: Prayer is central.
The Third Mark: Love for Christ and the Brethren is demonstrated.
The Fourth Mark: Preaching the Word of God.
The Fifth Mark: The Ordinances of Baptism and Communion.
The Sixth Mark: Church Discipline.
The Seventh Mark: Church leadership.
Summary of the Purposes of a Sound Church
The Role and Duties of Pastors – Part 1
The Role and Duty of Pastors – Part 2

Recovering a Right Perspective - Selected Scriptures
Devotions in this series include:

Introduction
Recovering a Right View of God
Recovering a Right View of Worship
Recovering a Right View of Self
Recovering a Right View of Sin
Recovering a Right View of Others

Resurrection Week - Selected Scriptures
Devotions in this series include:

Introduction: Bible Reading Plan
The Triumphal Entry
Cleansing the Temple
Jesus’ Last Parable
The Last Supper
Behold the Joy – The Crucifixion
The Risen Christ

Worldliness - Selected Scriptures
Devotions in this series include:

Is the World Smiling at You?
Worldliness
Do Not Think Like the World
Do Not Talk Like the World
Do Not Act Like the World
Do Not Look Like the World
Do Not Worship Like the World


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Friday, March 16, 2007

Cross Eyed

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

Verse of the Day - Matthew 6:24
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Daily Scripture Reading - Matthew 25

Puritan Catechism
Question #50 - What is required in the fourth commandment?

Answer - The fourth commandment requires the keeping holy to God such set times as he has appointed in his Word, expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy Sabbath to himself (Lev. 19:30; Deut. 5:12).

Devotional Thoughts
It is often the simplest principles we find in the Scripture that are the most helpful to us in living the Christian life from day to day. These are things that should truly be obvious but we seem to miss them. Whether it is our being busy, our days being so positively full, our being overwhelmed by the stress that surrounds us, or our lack of faith, we seem very prone to miss the simple truths that God has for us.

One of those truths is the principle of stewardship. If we could only learn and if we would only remember that we are nothing more and nothing less than stewards. It is not a matter of stewards over what. We are just stewards. Nothing really belongs to us, but everything we “have” and everything we are is given as a trust - given to us to use as good stewards.

In these verses from Matthew 6 we have seen principles dealing with things from wealth to worry, and in the middle of it all we have seen the importance of having a good eye, an eye that is focused on Christ and on things eternal. As the title of today's devotional notes, we really should be focused upon Christ and His life and work, His sinless life, His substitutionary atoning death on the cross, and His resurrection. Above all of that too there is the matter of His Lordship.

And as we move through these verses we find in the middle that the real lesson here is not about things, it is about us. And it is about Lordship and Mastery. We are stewards of the grace of God. We are stewards of all that He gives us. And we must give an account to Him for the way in which we handle His provisions.

As I mention the term Lordship we need to understand that Jesus is Lord. We do not make Him Lord. Who do we think that we are, as if we could appoint Him to a position of sovereign ownership and control? He IS Lord. The question then is only a matter of stewardship. Are we obedient stewards, or rebellious stewards? He IS Lord. Do we obey Him?

The term Lord means Master. One who is in control. The authority belongs to the Master. The servant, the steward, the slave would never think to dictate to the Master or offer criticism to the Lord. No. Remembering their place they would simply bow to the Master and hope to be able to do His will for His pleasure.

Interestingly then we come to a verse that tells us, "No one can serve two masters." It is another simple principle. We can only serve one master at a time. We will be loyal to that master, and if another master vies for control, for loyalty, or for authority, then we will either love one and hate the other, or we will be loyal to one and forsake the other. There cannot be two masters!

As a side note, it is interesting then that the Church has One Lord, and in modeling His rule He has established that in the home their is one head - the husband. Not two in charge. One. One Lord. One Master. We cannot serve more than one at a time, plainly and simply. And in this context the choices are God or mammon. Mammon is a term for the things of this world, often used to denote money. Did you get that? It is impossible to serve God and anything else, especially the temporary things of this fallen world.

Why is that? Psalm 123:2 tells us:

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, until He has mercy on us.

We look to our Master. So where are we looking? As we have talked about the eyes, are we looking to others? To self? To sin? Or are we cross eyed? And now we see another simple truth. As we look to see who we serve, we must look at how we think, talk, and live. How do we make decisions? Does the way we live really say that Jesus is our Master and we are His obedient steward? Or are we ruled by the things of this world?

There are those who serve themselves. They think that they are their own lord. As it is put, some believe that they are the master of their own destiny. But then we must look back at previous lessons, where we have learned that we are never in charge. We are never the lord. We are not our own masters. Think about this. Jesus is Lord and so we either serve Him or we rebel against His rule. If we rebel, are we really in charge? Are we? Of course not. We are either slaves of righteousness or we are slaves of sin.

Who or what is in control? Who is the one master we serve? Are we controlled by our lust? By other people? Or by the Holy Spirit? We are learning that either the Spirit is in control, or sin is in control. One truth we must understand is that we are never in control! Self is never in charge, for we are living as a slave of unrighteousness and sin, or we are living as a slave of righteousness and of Christ.

As we live this life of stewardship, are we being good stewards? Are we loyal and loving and faithful to our Master, the Lord Jesus? Are we cross eyed? Because it is only as we fix our eyes firmly upon Him that we can run a good race, finish the course, and find the faith to overcome daily those things that would push us off course.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Heb 12:1-2

We do only have One Master. As faithful stewards then, are we serving Him?

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

The Sunday School Teacher - A Steward by Charles Spurgeon
Seeing the Authority of Jesus by John Stevenson

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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