Friday, March 30, 2007

 

Life's Like That But It Shouldn't Be

1Cor 6 :1 Does any of you who has a complaint against someone dare go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?
2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest cases?
3 Do you not know that we will judge angels—not to speak of things pertaining to this life?
4 So if you have cases pertaining to this life, do you select those who have no standing in the church to judge?
5 I say this to your shame! Can it be that there is not one wise person among you who will be able to arbitrate between his brothers?
6 Instead, brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!
7 Therefore, it is already a total defeat for you that you have lawsuits against one another. Why not rather put up with injustice? Why not rather be cheated?
8 Instead, you act unjustly and cheat—and this to brothers!
9 Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: no sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals,
10 thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom.
11 Some of you were like this; but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

 

Col 3:12-17 Passing the Peace

Col 3:12-17
12 Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forgive. 14 Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. 16 Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Longfellow wrote a significant poem during the American Civil War.

I heard the bells on Christmas day Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come, The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head “There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail With peace on earth, good will to men.”

2 verses not usually included:

Then from each black, accursed mouth The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound the carols drowned Of peace on earth, good will to men.

It was as if an earthquake rent The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn, the households born Of peace on earth, good will to men

Verse 15 says, “As members of one body you were called to peace.” Not only do we enjoy peace with God and the peace OF God, we can enjoy peace with others as well. Satan is the great divider. He wants to divide every nation, every church, every marriage and every family. The Holy Spirit binds us together as one. The Bible says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3) Sadly, too many churches and Christians groups are known more for their fighting and splitting than for their forgiving and submitting. Someone said whenever you have two Baptists you have three opinions. But the peace of Christ allows us to disagree without being disagreeable. There will always be differences of opinions, but when we are walking in the Spirit, the peace of Christ will serve as the “umpire” over our differences, and we will submit to the Spirit of God.

Until the Prince of Peace comes to earth again we will not have Peace. But in the church oneness of unity and peace

Luke 2: 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Worship wars over Style rather than substance. Doctrine wars really issues of personality style and type.

Have you ever come across the practise of Passing the Peace in an Anglican church? I don’t know that a handshake or aan embrace necessarily passes peace along to anyone. But Paul directs us to pass peace to all those we meet. How do you do that? You can pass Peace on to others By Being Rightly related To One Another

Passing The Peace By Bearing With one Another

James 5: 9Brothers, do not complain about one another, so that you will not be judged. Look, the judge stands at the door! . It reminds me of a young father who was standing in the middle of a grocery store with a screaming kid in the shopping basket. The child was red-faced and crying loud enough to be heard all over the store. The young father was repeating, “Easy, Donald. Take it easy, Donald. Calm down, Donald.” A lady who overheard him said, “Sir, I want to commend you on the way you’re talking to Donald. You know how to speak to a child, calmly and quietly. Good job.” She bent down to the child and asked, “What’s the problem little Donald?” The man said, “Oh no. His name is Henry, my name is Donald. Take it easy, Donald!” Displaying longsuffering or patience means we don’t respond in anger when we are mistreated or insulted. Booker T. Washington was born a slave but became a great African American educator and innovator. He founded Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He was the first African American to be a guest in the White House when Teddy Roosevelt invited him to dinner. The story is told that one day Mr. Washington was walking down the street in Tuskegee and a wellto- do woman asked him if he would like to earn a few extra dollars chopping wood. Instead of being offended or telling her who he was, he simply rolled up his sleeves and chopped the wood. A few days later, when the woman learned he was the President of Tuskegee Institute, she apologized profusely. She was so impressed with Booker T. Washington’s humility and longsuffering she organized a group of local donors to fund Tuskegee Institute. That’s a great example of being longsuffering. The Bible says Jesus displayed longsuffering when He was insulted, “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” (I Peter 2:23) When we wear Jesus’ patience, we’ll demonstrate the same kind of behavior.

Passing The Peace By Forgiving One Another

Living with the dent in the car. There are all kinds of dents and bruises in our relationships.

In Matthew 18, Jesus told the parable of a man who owed his boss, the king $100,000. The king demanded payment, but the servant couldn’t pay and begged the king to forgive the debt. The king had mercy on the servant and erased the debt. That same day the servant went out and found a fellow servant who owed him $10. He seized him by the throat and said, “Pay up now!” The fellow servant didn’t have the money and begged the first servant for mercy. Instead, the servant had him arrested and thrown into jail. When the king heard about this, he was furious. He had the first servant brought back and said, “I forgave you $100,000, and yet you wouldn’t forgive your fellow servant? Forget that! Now, you owe me the $100,000 and you’re going to jail until you can pay it off.” That story describes our lives. We owed a debt we could not pay, and God forgave it. The Bible says “God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8) When you have truly experienced God’s unconditional forgiveness, you will be willing to extend forgiveness to those who sin against you.

Passing The Peace By Loving One Another

Love is the key to patience, because the Bible says, “love is patient.” And the key to forgiving others is to love them because we read, “love keeps no record of wrongs.” The Bible says love covers a multitude of sins. When it comes to dressing in style with Jesus the Beatles were right when they sang, “All you need is love.

Passing The Peace By Ruling Ourselves

If we would have peace in the church Be Ruled By The Peace Of Christ.

We read in verse 15, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” The word “rule” means to serve as a judge or umpire. It means to overrule. In a court of law, an attorney may stand up and say, “Objection your honor!” If the judge decides the objection is out of order, he or she simply says, “Objection overruled!” (Which means, “Sit down and be quiet.”) That’s what the peace of Christ can do for you. When fear leaps to its feet and says, “Boo!” The peace of God immediately calls for order and says, “Boo overruled! Fear, sit down and be quiet!”

Objection overruled. I’m the judge and I have decided.

An umpire brings stability and peace and order to a game. “I’m out of order” peace disappears.

He brings order and stability.

The Umpire decides what is right.

It feels good to me! No but you are still out of order.

A troubled soul is a trouble maker.

A full bucket washes out and sloshes out on every body.

What’s in the bucket? Overflowing with love or overflowing with bitterness?

Peace in the heart means peace in the church. She’s got the peace but I got the pieces. False peace of Jonah fell asleep in the hold of the ship.

The wicked say peace peace when there is no peace for the unrighteous.

You cannot have peace unless you surrender to the Lord Jesus.

His Peace Must Rule Our Hearts

His Peace Must Rule Over Your Fears

Jesus promised us this inner peace when He said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you

may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

We think of peace being the absence of stress—but the Bible teaches peace is the presence of God in the midst of your stress. This phrase “the peace of Christ” assures us we can have the same flesh-and-blood peace Jesus experienced. The believers in the book of Acts experienced this supernatural peace of Christ. It is the peace that caused Stephen’s face to shine like an angel as those jagged stones impacted his body. (Acts 7:60) This is the peace that enabled Peter to sleep soundly on the night before he was to have his head chopped off (Acts 12:6). It is the peace that inspired Paul and Silas to sing songs at midnight in the middle of a dungeon. (Acts 16:25) It is the peace that empowered the prisoner Paul to stand tall on a rolling deck of a ship caught in a violent storm for two weeks (Acts 27:35). This is the same peace that is available to you when you hear about the next terrorist attack. This is the same peace available to you when you get that scary diagnosis from the doctor. This is the same peace available to you when you feel all alone and afraid. Let the peace of Christ overrule your fears!

Acts 16 the Spirit of Jesus hindered them.

Sometimes the Umpire settles disputes in ways we don’t like.

He needs to settle the issue not what I think but what He thinks.

Isa peace like a river.

His Peace Must Run Our Your Thoughts

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Read God’s Word! Let it dwell at home in your life.

Some Doubt the word

Some Deny the word

Some Devalue the word … rarely reading it or living by it.

Some Depend by the word

Some Declare the Word

Some Devour the Word.

Bread milk food

Jeremiah 15:16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

Read meditate digest it

Josh 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Psalm 1:3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Teach the word 2tim 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

We are like post offices the message comes to us and through us.

Convey the message.

Admonish encourage rebuke and reprove.

I.e. Warrior of Ethiopia chemist gaoled during communist Derg’s, found Bible hid and read it. Became a medical orderly and ministered to prisoners. Beaten often for being a Christian by the guards. Peace in midst of conflict.

His Peace Must Reign In Worship

Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

145 times commanded to sing to the Lord but all in the power of the the Spirit

Our Worship must be in Spirit

Our Worship must be substantial. Word based, doctrinal Christ honouring Worship in Spirit and Truth

Diversity Psalms to God hymns doctrinal songs about the Lord and spiritual songs everthing else.

1 Cor 14:26 How is it then, brothers? Whenever you come together, each one has a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, [another]language, or an interpretation. All things must be done for edification.

Each one participating.

Focus giving thanks to the Lord, doing everything for the Lord.

We are not here for the rhythm song or sound of the music but to give glory to God.

Every song should give thanks to God.

Evangelise and Edify but all for An audience of one

Glory to God in the highest and then peace on earth.

Hunger

The Father seeks those to worship Him I (Jn 4)

There is a longing for God. Hunger for us to have a passion for someone greater than ourselves.

Community.

1741 Handel at end of rope strokes paralysed lost eyesight through cataracts and poor surgery severe arthritis, no longer popular in debt feared debtors prison loomed.

Charles Jennens, who organized the Scripture texts for Messiah, was a staunch Protestant

• He intended the Messiah text to challenge the deists, who denied Christ's divinity

• He had admired Handel's music for 15 years before Messiah (1741)

• He gave Handel the text for the oratorio ‘Saul’ (1739) and for Handel’s masterpiece ‘Belshazzar’ (1744)

• Music historians suspect that Jennens wrote the text for ‘Israel in Egypt’ (1738)

Inspired by the Word and admonished by a friend he wrote greatest classical piece the Messiah Wrote in 24 days the Messiah

1. His redemptive sacrifice, His agony at Calvary 2. His sacrificial death, resurrection & ascension

3. The beginning of evangelism 4. The world and its rulers reject the Gospel 5. God's triumph 1. Promise of bodily resurrection 2. The day of judgment and general resurrection

3. The victory over death and sin 4. The glorification of the Messiah

July 10, 1741: Charles Jennens wrote in a letter, "I hope I shall persuade Handel to set another Scripture collection I have made for him... I hope he will lay out his whole genius & skill upon it, that the composition may excel all his former compositions, because the Subject excels every other subject.

The Subject is Messiah."

• 22 August : Handel begins to compose Messiah

• 28 August : Completes draft of Messiah Part 1

• 6 September : Completes draft of Messiah Part 2

• 12 September : Completes draft of Messiah Part 3

• 14 September : Completes orchestration of Messiah

• Handel’s Messiah was composed in 24 days!

It was as if all heaven was open and I saw the Great God before me.

The hallelujah chorus King George stood before it in honour.

That’s worship isn’t it.

I’m not one for empty ritual.

Passing the peace? Well… but are you experiencing peace enjoying peace and being an agent of God’s peace?

Are you Passing The Peace By Bearing With one Another?

Are you Passing The Peace By Forgiving One Another?

Are you Passing The Peace By Loving One Another?

Are you Passing The Peace By Ruling Yourselves?

His Peace Must Rule Over Your Fears, Run your thoughts and Reign In your Worship.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

 

Malachi 2:17 Why AMWAY Rallies Don’t Last.


Malachi 2:17 Why AMWAY Rallies Don’t Last.

" What a piece of work is Man," says Shakespeare, looking up for a moment from his absorbed contemplation of the endless human drama that so fascinated him, " how noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a God, the beauty of the world " ; and then, without a pause, he adds, " and yet to me what is this quintessence of dust!” and launches out into hot scorn! Sometimes Shakespeare loves us, for our sheer bigness : at others flames out into a searing contempt, that bites like fire, in description of such ugly sordidnesses of mankind. He will draw you by the score of characters so noble that we look up at them reverently, proud to belong to such a breed: yet, turn the page, and he will show you man vicious, drunken, sensual, horrible, crawling his slimy way among the mud—surely the pitifullest of insects after all. Quick ! Set your foot on it, and squelch the noxious thing! And is it not indeed a strange enigma, this mystery that haunted him, that out of the same stuff of human nature there have been fashioned a Nero, and a Jesus Christ ? And that in every one of us, in you, in me, there is something akin to both of them—a something clean and stately and spiritual, whose home is the stars ; aye and, God pity us, another something, no less surely there, low and grovelling, that pulls us fiercely down with a dreadful haul of steady strength; that all our days that lesser and that greater in us tug us staggeringly to and fro, spilling and overturning things into a wild disorder; trampling our characters into a confusion of broken bits of things—sins of which we tire; and virtues, half won, and then dropped again. For we are earthy and of the earth, yet something more : are august creatures with immortal spirits, and yet something less : only poor, frail, passionate after all:

Browning pictures us, " Sadly mixed natures, self-indulgent, yet Self-sacrificing too; how the love soars, How the craft, avarice, vanity, and spite Sink again, sliding into silly virtue, and slipping into stupid crime” big and little, good and bad, lovable and selfish, a babble of a hundred contradictories shouting each other down.

Meredith in one of his poems has a vivid metaphor in which he tells us that the progress of the world, mental and otherwise, is like that of a drunk man, in that it lurches all but into the ditch of the extreme upon one side, and saves itself only by staggering with a sudden tipsy run all but into the hedge of the opposite extreme upon the other; and so to and fro unsteadily, never advances fairly down the centre of the road.

We are, like Emerson, emerging that night from the heated meeting of men so passionate about what seemed to them so all-important, taken aback and daunted by the placidity of Nature, to whom it all meant just nothing at all. " Why so hot, little man, why so hot ?. " After all, what is human history, they ask, with all its pomps and sacrifices but the heaving of a restless ant heap ? This earth, that seems so vast to us, is literally a mere dust speck, lost in the infinities of space; so tiny, that the nearest star has never noticed it is here ; so trivial, that, did our whole solar system drop out of the sky to-night, it would make no more difference in the illimitable heavens of God than when in a forest, miles long and more miles wide, one leaf flutters to earth somewhere at its heart.

Man is such a mixture. Christians are such a mixture. Today in the Christian church world wide, who do you think is winning? God or sinful man?

I had a short discussion with a missionary leader this week regarding a painting.

The painting “Waiting for the Tide” shows a fishing boat loaded with nets and rods and lines, ready for fishing. It lacks only one thing. Water under the boat. The tide has gone out. What a picture that is of the church today! Where are the deep and lasting conversions of 50 years ago? Where are the times of real and true revival where communities were transformed by the power of the gospel? Where is the faithfulness to scripture? And faithfulness to evangelism that was the dynamic of Baptist work 40 , 50 and 60 years ago? 50% of people attended church 40 years ago, now it is less than 10% and less than 3% of the community attend an evangelical church! The tide has surely gone out. things are desperate!

Where are the Tinsely’s and Ridley’s that led aggressive evangelistic missions into the hearts of our cities?

Oh there are some good things. It has been encouraging to have a few of the young conservative pastors become lecturers at out Baptist theological college. I would never have dreamed of that occurring 15 years ago.

But Is the tide going in or out?

Are we really seeing God at work? Will there be revival? Will what purports to be the Christian church in Australia become evangelical again?

Like Shakespeare we feel ourselves saying “What a piece of work is the church!” its such a mixture. There is the sublime, godly men preaching the gospel. There is the ridiculous, ungodly pastors performing ungodly antics to draw a crowd. There are characters so noble that we look up at them reverently, proud to belong to such a breed: yet, go to the next church and we will see man vicious, drunken, sensual, horrible, crawling his slimy way among the mud.

What a mixture is the church! And what are we? Sadly mixed natures, self-indulgent, yet Self-sacrificing too; how the love soars, How the craft, avarice, vanity, and spite Sink again, sliding into silly virtue, and slipping into stupid crime”

Is the tide of God’s power displayed in Australia coming in? Or is it going out? Are we on the brink of revival or the brink of ruin? Malachi is “the preacher” “My Messenger”

His first appeals have been individual in nature, calling priest and people individually to repentance.

His call now in chapter 3 is more a corporate call. Here we have described the general backsliding and the general renewal.

1. The General backsliding: The Tide goes out. Wearying

2:17 You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you ask, “How have we wearied [Him]?” When you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the Lord’s sight, and He is pleased with them,” or “Where is the God of justice?”

God does care about man. God does care where your heart is at. God is concerned and finds it wearying when our spiritual state is like the tide going out.

You may have heard that there was a meeting for women this last week where 16,000 women attended. It was a great rally I heard some interviews state. “You really felt the Holy Spirit grinding down deep inside you.” Do these rallies work? Is our lifestyle any more godly? A typical statement by a speaker was that wives need to lose a few more pounds because then you can get up to sexual antics in bed better with your husbands. Well…sounds like a great Amway rally, but where is the dealing with sin as sin. Where is the call to an ongoing godly lifestyle?

1. By Empty Profession

You have wearied the Lord with your words. Words without heart. Mouthing religious phrases, but where is your heart really?

Matt 6: 19 Don’t collect for yourselves treasureson earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness—how deep is that darkness! 24 “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.

Is the tide going out or coming in?

2. By Evil Persuasion

“Everyone who does evil is good in the Lord’s sight, and He is pleased with them,”

Eccles 5:2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

Is the tide going out or coming in?

3. By Easing Perimeters

“Everyone who does evil is good in the Lord’s sight, and He is pleased with them,”

We have tended to become a society that highly values human autonomy. You are free to decide and do and be whatever you want to be. In the main that’s not a bad thing. There’s a term for that: Liberty.

But sometimes liberty goes too far:

In the days of the Judges human autonomy was its height. Judges 2 The Angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim and said, “I brought you out of Egypt and led you into the land I had promised to your fathers. I also said: I will never break My covenant with you. 2 You are not to make a covenant with the people who are living in this land, and you are to tear down their altars. But you have not obeyed Me. What is this you have done?

When the Angel of the Lord had spoken these words to all the Israelites, the people wept loudly.

10 After them another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works He had done for Israel. 11 The Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. They worshiped the • Baals 12 and abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods from the surrounding peoples and bowed down to them. They infuriated the Lord, 13 for they abandoned Him and worshiped Baal and the • Ashtoreths.

Judges 21 25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever he wanted.

There is always the tendency for water to find its own level. And its usually the lower level. Corruption in government shouldn’t surprise us. It’s the way people are! Downgrade in the church shouldn’t surprise us. It’s the way people are. And the tide seems to be going out fast these days.

Here are some things that folks have said to me of recent days:

“Divorce is a good thing, I am glad for divorce so I can try a variety of relationships”

“He is homosexual. Its a good thing, it makes him a better actor”

“God intends you to be rich and wealthy so you can enjoy your dreams”

These statements were made to me by Christian people. Is the tide going out or coming in?

4. By Evil Profanity

“Where is the God of justice?”

Ecc 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.

I have heard supposedly Christian people giving up on Christianity because they didn’t have their lives work out exactly they way they felt they should work out.

They get angry with God because they are not wealthy or healthy enough. I think its quite sad.

Is the tide going out or coming in?

3:1 “See, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to His temple, the Messenger of the covenant you desire—see, He is coming,” says the Lord of • Hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of His coming? And who will be able to stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire and like cleansing lye. 3 He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.
4 And the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will please the Lord as in days of old and years gone by.
5 “I will come to you in judgment, and I will be ready to witness against sorcerers and adulterers; against those who swear falsely; against those who oppress the widow and the fatherless, and cheat the wage earner; and against those who deny [justice to]the foreigner. They do not fear Me,” says the Lord of Hosts.
6 “Because I, • Yahweh, have not changed, you descendants of Jacob have not been destroyed.

2. The General Renewal The Tide Returns Reviving

Emotion driven commitments generally fade: i.e. the effects of the Welsh revival in 1905 weren’t as deep and long lasting as the revivals of the 17th and 18th and centuries. Finney’s revivals had a much greater fall out rate than others in the same era. What was the difference? Pietistism versus convictional.

1. The Lord Enters On The Scene 3:1

- 4:5, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:"

Isaiah 40:3-5, "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see [it] together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it]."

People were Looking For Elijah To Come: The Scribes were sure that Elijah would come before the Messiah.

Matthew 16:14, "And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias (Elijah); and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets."

Mark 6:15, "Others said, That it is Elias (Elijah). And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets."

Luke 9:8, "And of some, that Elias (Elijah) had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again."

There is always an Empty Chair reserved at the Oxthodox Jewish Passover Feast, to be Ready For Elijah when he comes again. A child is sent to the door to see if Elijah has come.

The Time of The Second Coming of Elijah. Malachi 4:1, "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." --- V. 5, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:"

Matthew applies Isa. 40:3 to John the Baptist. Matthew 3:3, "For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias (Isaiah), saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."

Jesus applies Isa. 40:3 to John the Baptist. Matthew 11:9-10, "But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is [he], of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee."

John Denies that he is Elijah. John 1:21, "And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No."

However, Jesus says that John The Baptist Is Elijah. Matthew 17:9-13, "And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist."

John The Baptist was the Elijah of the First Coming of Jesus. Luke 1:15: For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17, "And he (John) shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

Matthew 11:7-14, "And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft [clothing] are in kings' houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is [he], of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And IF YE WILL RECEIVE [IT], THIS IS ELIAS (ELIJAH), which was for to come."

What’s it all about? God stepped in! Lord .. the Messiah! “and the Lord, whom ye seek”

This is a pun on the depravity of the people. The Lord whom you seek .. do you really seek Him?

He comes suddenly to His temple. The Messiah comes to the temple! He has come.

Judaism says that they have to build the temple so He can come! But here it says He comes suddenly. Ezek tells us He comes to build His temple. The messiah has to have already come!

Lk 2: 41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.

45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. 49And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?

Later in John 2, we see the Lord entering the temple suddenly: And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, 14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; 16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. 17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

Clearly the Messenger was John the Baptist, preparing the way for the Lord!

Prepare! To deal with hardened hearts. To confront them. Like Elijah! Like John the Baptist!

The Lord emphasises the convictional aspect. We need to repent because… we feel we need to? Or because, it is a way of getting blessings? Or because He is Lord and confronts us with His reality!

behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

Yahweh! He changes not! This is His plan!

2. The Lord Exposes The Sin 3:2,3

2 But who can endure the day of His coming? And who will be able to stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire and like cleansing lye. 3 He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.
Revival is not the discovery of some new secret. You may have seen of recent days that Oprah Winfrey is offering the “secret to success” on her TV show. Revival, the tide turning is the rediscovery of old truth. Its first of all discovering the truth about our sinfulness.

Revival firstly takes place in the church, where our sins are exposed by the Lord to our hearts. It is us dealing fairly with our sins.

3. The Lord Establishes The Saint 3:4

4 And the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will please the Lord as in days of old and years gone by.
Revival is us discovering that the there is a way to please the Lord, its by the sacrifice system. Itws not our sacrifices that please the Lord, but the one true sacrifice that takes away our sins.

Heb 10 But in the sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Therefore, as He was coming into the world, He said: You did not want sacrifice and offering, but You prepared a body for Me. 6 You did not delight in whole burnt offerings and sin offerings. 7 Then I said, “See, I have come— it is written about Me in the volume of the scroll— to do Your will, O God!” 8 After He says above, You did not desire or delight in sacrifices and offerings, whole burnt offerings and sin offerings, (which are offered according to the law), 9 He then says, See, I have come to do Your will. He takes away the first to establish the second. 10 By this will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all. 11 Now every priest stands day after day ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.

4. The Lord Embarrasses The Sinner 3:5

He shows what their life is about. Is it about profit? Look at how men perceive preaching as profit:

5 “I will come to you in judgment, and I will be ready to witness against sorcerers and adulterers; against those who swear falsely; against those who oppress the widow and the fatherless, and cheat the wage earner; and against those who deny justice to the foreigner. They do not fear Me,” says the Lord of Hosts.

The Lord deals directly with sin. If we will not repent of it, God will expose us in it.

1 Timothy 5: 24 Some people’s sins are evident, going before them to judgment, but [the sins]of others follow them. 25 Likewise, good works are obvious, and those that are not [obvious]cannot remain hidden.

1 Peter 4:17For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?


Folks may i share with you a few words about the tide going out in the disciple Peter's Life, and how the Lord came back to him. It takes place in a personal encounter on the Sea of Galilee.

Matthew 14:30 Beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me

The Pathos of a Wasted Life There are two sights in human life which fill the heart with profound sorrow. The first is that of a person who has sunk. When we see a face made loathsome by iniquity and think that once it was innocent and childlike; when we hear of somebody who bore an honoured name, but is now in the depths of degradation, that is one of life's most piteous spectacles. It arrests even the worldly-minded who cherish no ideals for humanity; how much more must it sadden one who has anything of the vision of Christ Jesus. Men who are sunken—women who are sunken—are the heartbreak of the home and of the city. There is such infinite pathetic waste in a wasted, miserable life. But to the seeing eye and the perceiving heart, there is another spectacle which is not less tragic—it is that of the man who is beginning to sink.

Our Best Qualities May Be Our Ruin Peter's temperament put him in this danger. He began to sink because he was Simon Peter. The other disciples were all safe. It never occurred to them to leave the vessel. They were men of sagacity and common sense and knew the difference between land and water. But Peter was reckless, headstrong and impetuous, acting on impulse

Sinking amid Familiar Surroundings Simon Peter was a fisherman, and all his life had been spent beside that lake. He had played on its shores as a little child; he had known it in summer and in winter. And it was there, in these familiar scenes, amid what was habitual and customary, that he began to sink.

Sinking after Loyal Discipleship He had known Christ and had loved and followed Him before this hour of peril on the lake. We all remember that great hour in history when Peter had been called to the discipleship. Then he had left all and followed Jesus; he had made the full surrender to the Lord. And from that hour he had companied with Jesus and seen His miracles and heard His words and enjoyed the infinite blessings of His friendship. No one would doubt the reality of that. That self-surrender was intensely real. And Peter loved his Lord and knew His power and was never happy except in His companionship. And it was after all that rich experience—that self-surrender and devoted service—that Peter on the lake began to sink.

Sinking While Obeying Christ Our Lord had not forbidden him to come. And so do I learn that on permitted paths—on ways that are sanctioned by the voice of heaven—it is possible now, as on the lake of Galilee, for men and women to begin to sink.

Peter Began to Sink When He Began to Fear

Sinking Unobserved

But the Lord Jesus Christ Is Never Far A way When Peter began to sink, his Saviour was not far away. Immediately He put out His hand and grasped him. How far Peter had walked upon the water the narrative of Scripture does not tell us. Shall we say fifty yards, or shall we say a hundred yards?—it matters not whether fifty or a hundred. If the nearest human hand was fifty yards away, the hand of Christ was not fifty yards away; immediately He put forth His hand and helped him. My brother, just beginning to sink, will you remember that Christ is at your side? All human help may seem very far away; remember that He is not very far away. He is near you now; near you where you sit. You need Him sorely and He is there for you. Cry out now, "Lord, save me, or I perish," and He will do it to the uttermost for you.

The Lord Jesus Christ is not far away from you. He wants to draw near to you. he wants to revive you. he wants that the tide should come back in on your life?

What a mixture is man? "What a piece of work is man?" Let the Lord go to work on you. Experience His cleansing and refining. Then maybe the tide will come in on our nation once again.



Friday, March 23, 2007

 

From "Warriors Of Ethiopia" by Dick McLellan

Adopted for Life

"Praise he to God who has blessed us, for He chose us in him to he adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ." Ephesians 1 :3-5

"You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father'." romans 8:15

The little boy sat alone crying on the dusty road. The few neighbours had buried the young woman, his mother. Then they collected their tools and jackets and hurried away. They didn't want to be involved any further. They had enough troubles of their own. The young woman was hardly more than a child herself. She died of fever, an infection of some unknown disease, untreated and alone. A woman passing by saw her body on the dirt floor near the open door of the shack and alerted the nearest neighbours. No one bothered about the boy. No one wanted him. He was just abandoned. The little grass shack where he lived with his mother was about to fall down anyway. The boy and his mother were outcasts. Not accepted by the locals. There was some story about an unknown father. Rape? His mother did not give the child a name. She had no reason to. Then, quite suddenly, she died - alone.

Like all of his neighbours, Takke was a hard-working farmer with a few acres of land. When an evangelist came to their area and preached the Gospel of Christ, Takke was one of the first to respond. To him, one of the amazing aspects of the Gospel was that God had "adopted" him into His family.

The evangelist read from the Bible that God had by Jesus Christ adopted us to Himself as sons. Then he read that we were no longer in bondage but free because we received "God's Spirit of adoption" and we "belong" to His family. He also read that God redeemed us by the blood of Jesus to adopt us as His sons and gave us His Holy Spirit in our hearts to cry, "Abba Father." It was all so new, so wonderful! It gripped Takke's heart and mind. Takke rejoiced and shared this Good News with his wife and his neighbours. Some of them believed too, and they built a "Prayer House" on his land in the village.

The concept of adoption was foreign to the Wolaitta people. This animistic tribe feared "Shaitan," the devil, the many witchdoctors who demanded gifts and sacrifices, and most of all, they feared the spirits of their ancestors whom they believed never left the village and could bring had luck if they were offended. When a man died, his brother was obliged to take the wife and have children with her for his brother. The children would be called by the dead man's name. Occasionally and out of necessity, a family might take a child of a relative who died into their home and raise it for the relative. But that child always kept his father's name. It would inhabit only its share of its father's possessions. Usually there wasn't much to inherit!

One day Takke was riding his mule home from a distant market. He drove his two donkeys along ahead of him. As he passed through a small village, he heard about the sudden death of the unmarried young woman. Then he saw the little black boy on the road. He was naked and filthy and crying for food. He was only about a year old and very thin. No one came to answer his cries or seemed to care.

Takke asked, but nobody wanted the boy. "He will soon die or the hyenas will eat him," said a man who shrugged his shoulders and turned away.

Takke sat on his mule, looking at the boy. He thought of his own family of three sons and two daughters. "If no one else wants him, I'll take him," he said. He dismounted, wrapped the boy in his shawl and climbed back on the mule. Then he hurried home. The villagers were glad to see him go. Now it would not be their responsibility to bury the child when he died.

Takke's wife was somewhat surprised when her husband arrived home from the market with a baby in his arms! But she just took the baby and put him on her breast. When he was fed, she washed him and wrapped him in a cloth. She held him in her arms and sat on a small three-legged stool by the fire. Only then did she look at her husband for an explanation.

Takke told her the sad story of finding the outcast boy on a road weeping for his mother who had just died - no name - rejected - sure to die - nobody wanted him.

"I believe God sent you there at just the right time," his wife said, "Let him be our child. He is black, not brown like our other children, but he will be one of us. He will bring us happiness. Let us call him Desalegn (I have joy)." That night the other children were told that Desalegn was their new brother. They were all to love him and care for him and teach him good things. The girls carried him around on their hacks. The boys looked after him for hours.

So it was that the little boy grew up as Takke's son. He was loved and hugged, fed and washed, clothed and disciplined. He did everything the other children did. He ran and played, jumped and climbed. Every year at Christmas time, like all the others, Desalegn received new clothes. That was always a great day!

When he was old enough Desalegn was sent to school with the other children. He was enrolled as Desalegn Takke. His brothers protected him from the few bullies who called the boy "black" or

"stranger" or much worse. The oldest brother Gusho was very strong and no one dared hurt Desalegn while Gusho was around. At home Desalegn looked after the sheep with his brothers, then, as he grew bigger, he watched the cattle and donkeys too. He learned to plough with the oxen, to sow the seed and to reap the harvest. With his brothers, he picked the coffee beans and dug up the sweet potatoes, peanuts and ginger roots. He collected wood for his mother's fire and cut grass with a sickle for the animals to munch on at night. Takke sometimes took Desalegn to the market where he soon learned to trade and barter.

While still a young teenager Desalegn accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour. The lessons taught by his parents as the family read the Bible and prayed together every night, were well learned.

The church elders who examined him for baptism said Desalegn knew all the answers about his faith and was ready to follow the Lord. With about 500 other new Christians from churches in different villages, he was baptised in a river not far from the village. Vida and I were among the thousands of people watching from the riverbank.

Soon Desalegn was involved with other young people in the life of the church. Everyone worked together to build a new, much larger Prayer House and to buy a piece of land which they called "The Lord's Harvest." The Christians all ploughed the land together. Then they sowed corn, sweet potatoes and ginger. They used the crops to feed the poor, to support their pastor and to send evangelists out to reach distant tribes with the Gospel.

So the years passed. The girls married and left home. The older boys married, built separate houses for themselves but stayed on their father's land. Takke treated them all alike. As the family grew, he purchased some more land that they worked together. Gusho became one of the leaders of the churches in their area. Desalegn came to our SIM Bible School at Bolosso for two years and became the pastor of a church. Desalegn and I became good friends and often shared ministry at church meetings and District Conventions. He married a lovely Christian girl and with the others, still farmed Takke's land. For a time there was a lot of persecution of Christians. Desalegn, Gusho and Takke spent many months in prison. The opposition and suffering seemed only to strengthen and multiply the believers.

Then Takke's wife died and Desalegn mourned for her, the only mother he knew. Takke was getting old too, and as his strength failed, he called the four boys together. He said, "I love you all. Keep following the Lord. Teach your children as I taught you. Desalegn, I adopted you as my son. I gave you my name and fed and clothed and educated you. You are mine. Now I want you and the other boys to equally share all of my property. Soon I am going to die. I am going to my Father who adopted me. Promise me that you will all equally inherit my possessions." The four boys promised to do as their father asked. They placed their right hands on Takke's knees, as is their custom, and vowed to obey.

When Takke died a few weeks later, the family called all the Christians together for his funeral. Crowds of non-believers came to show their respects too. It was a huge funeral. There were several thousand people there. At the graveside, Gusho and Desalegn preached the Gospel of God's grace and several people came to repentance and faith.

In hundreds of homes that night, the families sipped their coffee as usual, laced with rancid butter and salt and they ate the roasted corn. They also talked a lot about Takke and his boys. They discussed how Desalegn was adopted - a bit different, a stranger, with no claims or rights - but how he was given a new name, a new family, a new relationship, a new father, clothes, food and education. Most of all they talked about the new thing they had seen that day. It was unheard of in Wolaitta. It was new, strange, different. The adopted boy had been made an heir and equal with the sons! That was amazing! And it was all a free gift - grace, the preacher called it - undeserved, unearned, just to be accepted! Many people would go to the "Prayer House" in the following weeks to ask some more of the preacher. Some of them would accept Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord too and would stay and join the believers.

Desalegn, like most of the pastors in Wolaitta's rural areas, is a "bi-vocational pastor." He still farms the land with his brothers. And with his sons! They have bought extra land for the growing families of Takke's sons. Desalegn still preaches every Sunday, visits the sick, teaches the Word of God to young people, and seeks the lost. Often he is invited to preach in other places and he regularly uses "adoption" as the topic of his message.

When Desalegn gives his testimony, he tells of dying, unwanted, unloved, alone and of Takke saving him, making him his own son, making him a member of a new family, everything provided and even given an inheritance. He loves to read Galatians, chapter 4 and verse 7 and says, "I was a slave of sin, of Satan, of death but I was saved and became a son and heir. By God's grace alone, because Jesus shed His blood for us, we can all be free from Satan and eternal death. By faith we can become God's children and inherit all His riches in Christ."

Epilogue

The last time I was driving through the Bolosso countryside, I met Desalegn again on the side of the road. What a reunion we had! He was on his way to visit an old believer who was sick and "hoping to go soon!" Desalegn still farms the land and he still preaches the Gospel. He and his wife have six children - and also several orphans whom they have adopted!


Monday, March 12, 2007

 

Jerry Bridges wrote: "As a new Christian I prayed that God would use the Bible to guide my conduct. Then I began diligently to seek to obey it. I had never heard the phrase "the pursuit of holiness," but that became my primary goal in life. Unfortunately, I made two mistakes. First, I assumed the Bible was something of a rulebook and that all I needed to do was to learn what it says and go do it. I knew nothing of the necessity of depending on the Holy Spirit for his guidance and enablement. Still worse, I assumed that God's acceptance of me and his blessing in my life depended on how well I did. I knew I was saved by grace through faith in Christ apart from any works. I had assurance of my salvation and expected to go to heaven when I died. But in my daily life, I thought God's blessing depended on the practice of certain spiritual disciplines, such as having a daily quiet time and not knowingly committing any sin. I did not think this out but just unconsciously assumed it, given the Christian culture in which I lived. Yet it determined my attitude toward the Christian life.

As I see it, the Christian community is largely a performance-based culture today. And the more deeply committed we are to following Jesus, the more deeply ingrained the performance mindset is. We think we earn God's blessing or forfeit it by how well we live the Christian life.
Most Christians have a baseline of acceptable performance by which they gauge their acceptance by God. For many, this baseline is no more than regular church attendance and the avoidance of major sins. Such Christians are often characterized by some degree of self-righteousness. After all, they don't indulge in the major sins we see happening around us. Such Christians would not think they need the gospel anymore. They would say the gospel is only for sinners.
For committed Christians, the baseline is much higher. It includes regular practice of spiritual disciplines, obedience to God's Word, and involvement in some form of ministry. Here again, if we focus on outward behavior, many score fairly well. But these Christians are even more vulnerable to self-righteousness, for they can look down their spiritual noses not only at the sinful society around them but even at other believers who are not as committed as they are. These Christians don't need the gospel either. For them, Christian growth means more discipline and more commitment.
Then there is a third group. The baseline of this group includes more than the outward performance of disciplines, obedience, and ministry. These Christians also recognize the need to deal with sins of the heart like a critical spirit, pride, selfishness, envy, resentment, and anxiety. They see their inconsistency in having their quiet times, their failure to witness at every opportunity, and their frequent failures in dealing with sins of the heart. This group of Christians is far more likely to be plagued by a sense of guilt because group members have not met their own expectations. And because they think God's acceptance of them is based on their performance, they have little joy in their Christian lives. For them, life is like a treadmill on which they keep slipping farther and farther behind. This group needs the gospel, but they don't realize it is for them. I know, because I was in this group.

Gradually over time, and from a deep sense of need, I came to realize that the gospel is for believers, too. When I finally realized this, every morning I would pray over a Scripture such as Isaiah 53:6," All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all," and then say, "Lord, I have gone astray. I have turned to my own way, but you have laid all my sin on Christ and because of that I approach you and feel accepted by you."
I came to see that Paul's statement in Galatians 2:20, "The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me," was made in the context of justification (see vv. 15-21). Yet Paul was speaking in the present tense: "The life I now live ...." Because of the context, I realized Paul was not speaking about his sanctification but about his justification. For Paul, then, justification (being declared righteous by God on the basis of the righteousness of Christ) was not only a past-tense experience but also a present-day reality.
Paul lived every day by faith in the shed blood and righteousness of Christ. Every day he looked to Christ alone for his acceptance with the Father."

Yes Jerry's experience was also my own. And, as we read last week in Colossians 2 It was also the experience of these believers too!

Legalism doesn’t work Run, John, run, the Law commands; But gives him neither feet nor hands. Far better news the Gospel brings; It bids him fly and gives him wings.” —John Bunyan

Mysticism doesn’t work

The moral failure of modern mystics.

On expressing my concerns for a certain church where the head pastor was recently outed in the news paper for pedophilia and other staff for sexual immorality:

“Maybe Good doesn’t look at sin as we think.”

Asceticism doesn’t work Augustine is greatly influenced by asceticism, which looks as if it is something held in high regard by the Church and Christians at this time. The story of the two friends at Trier who abandon their possessions and their betrothed to follow God affects him greatly. Alypius after his conversion is praised for subduing his body by walking barefoot on the frozen soils of Italy. Chasteness in particular is held in high regard. The betrothed of the two friends at Trier dedicate their virginity to God, Augustine notes that Nebridius served God in perfect chastity after his conversion and of course Augustine himself sets out to be celibate.

Paul now shows us what does work. How in this world can you be holy? How can you be a holy eprson, and not fall into the traps of legalism, and its emptiness, mysticism and its foolishness, asceticism and its barreness?

Let me ask you a few questions:

1. What Is The Centre Of Your Life?

Throughout its about you with Christ.

Risen with Christ

Died with Christ

Hid with Christ

Christ who is our life

In Him we died, in Him we rose, In Him we triumphed o’er our foes; In Him in heaven we took our seat And heaven rejoiced o’er earth’s defeat.

John Fawcett (1740-1817), an important Baptist figure in the North of England, and came across these great lines: Depraved minds on ashes feed Nor love nor seek for heavenly food.

Augustine thou art a Platonist, not a Christian a platonist., for this is what you think about, this is what you talk about this is where your hearty is set. What would they say of you?

I did a funeral for a fisherman. He had pone fo those plaques with a singing fish on it. It had two songs.. “I gotta get out of this place”. And “Don’t Worry Be happy.”

William James divided all religious people (in several religions) into the once born and the twice born. The once born are the people of the journey, of the holy continuity, whose lives are more or less at home in Zion. The twice born have such inner tension that they must release it in a burst or blow apart. Augustine (and St Paul) are the classical examples of this type of believer

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

What are the three things you are currently seeking the most? What are the three things you love the most? What are the three things you think about the most? What do you read? What do you watch? What do you daydream about? ponder? Based on your answers, what is your preoccupation, God or self? What should your preoccupation be? If your preoccupation has been yourself, why is that ? If your preoccupation has been yourself, then you need to make the commitment today to concentrate on Christ.

2. What Is The Concentration Of Your Life?

“Where you stand is dependant on where you sit” politicians stand on issues dependant on where they sit in parliament.

Seek things above, mind Matt. 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (involves our motivation)

We continually must decide to turn our minds and hearts toward Heaven. The tense of Paul's command is that we must be actively, constantly turning our thoughts Heavenward. This is not our normal practice. Normally we fret, stew, finagle, rearrange, plot and despair. Then and only then do we sometimes turn toward Heaven. To be heavenly minded we must deliberately turn God's way FIRST. Whenever you feel one of these emotions begin to well up inside you . . . look up.

We must resist the notion that true happiness can be found in anything this world has to offer. It is not in the new car, the faster computer, the new mate, the bigger home, the highest award, the swelling bank account. It's not in the lottery, or the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes. True happiness is not in the will of a rich relative . . . it will only be found in Heaven! The Lord's instruction must be kept close to our heart: (Matt. 6:19-21) "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." If our greatest desire is for the things of this earth, that's where our heart is. If our greatest desire is for the things of Heaven, that's where our heart will be.

We must make time to "look up". The first way to do this is to make time to read the Bible. We must read with a desire to be instructed. The Bible is God's thoughts for us. As a student can't become a Doctor unless he reads the medical books, a football player can't succeed unless they know the plays, and a mechanic cannot fix the new machine he has never seen before without consulting the book, so a believer can't fix their thoughts on Heaven without consulting the Scriptures.

DEDICATE Yourself To The PURSUIT of God. (V. 1)

Set affections on things above heart Phil. 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (involves our meditation)

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Erasmus 1529 in Antwerp “We can not call any man a Platonist, unless he have read the works of Plato. Yet call we them Christian, yea and divines, which never have read the scripture of Christ. Christ sayeth, he that loveth me doth keep my sayings, this is the knowledge and mark which he hath prescribed. Therefore if we be true Christian men in our hearts, if we believe unfeignedly that he was sent down from heaven to teach us such things as the wisdom of the philosophers could never attain, if faithfully we trust or look for such things of Him, as no worldly prince (be he never so rich) can give unto us, [then] why have we any thing in more reverence and authority, then his scripture, word, and promise, which he left here among us to be our consolation?”

CONCENTRATE On The WILL of God. (V. 2)

3. What Is The Circumference Of Your Life?

The circumfernce is those things that affect your practical Christian living. its where the rubber hits the road.

The circumference is affected by the center
listen to George Mullers testimony : "There was A day when I died, utterly died, died to George Mueller, his opinions, preferences, tastes, and will—died to the world, its approval or censure—died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends—and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God." Thus answered George Mueller when asked for the secret of his successful service. While it is never wise to set up any personal experience as a pattern for others, there is back of all successful spiritual service that which answers in some practical way to the above—namely, a surrender, a voluntary consent to the frightful and blessed implications of the Cross. With many Christians this surrender is a definite crisis in their Christian experience. Countless Christians, on the other hand evade this concrete, crisis-identification with Christ in death and resurrection, fearing that it savours of fanaticism; and therefore prefer to continue in a kind of indefinite and ineffective Christian life. To them that is the one all-important thing. As to their Christian inheritance they remain lazy, hazy, and indefinite—living a life of little fruit and less fight. While they feel that they would like to enjoy an abundant life, they consider the terms too severe, and therefore oppose any crisis. They refuse to consent to their crucifixion with Christ. The gateway lo their goal lay through nothing short of a grave.

The pathway into the Christian's holiness is marked out through death and resurrection. "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:3,4). Christ's pathway back to glory could have been by no other way than through death and resurrection. Neither can mine, for the servant is not above his Lord. Maxwell.

"The believer's whole disposition should orient itself toward heaven, just as a compass needle orients itself toward the north." To be "preoccupied with heaven is to be preoccupied with the One who reigns there and His purposes, plans, provisions, and power. It is also to view the things, people, and events of this world through His eyes and with an eternal perspective. . . it is to allow our preoccupation with heaven to govern our earthly response."[MacArthur, COLOSSIANS p. 128]

What does Paul mean when he says we died to sin? It's fairly obvious he doesn't mean we died to the daily committal of sin. If that were true, no honest person could claim to be justified because we all sin daily. None of us truly loves God with our whole being and none of us actually loves our neighbor as ourselves (see Matt. 22:35-40). Nor does it mean we have died in the sense of being no longer responsive to sin's temptations, as some have taught. If that were true, Peter's admonition to abstain from the passions of the flesh would be pointless (see 1 Pet. 2:11). So what does Paul mean?

Some Bible commentators believe that Paul means only that we have died to the penalty of sin. That is, because of our union with Christ, when Christ died to sin's penalty we also died to sin's penalty. Well, it certainly means that, but it also means much more. It also means we died to sin's dominion.

Consider Yourselves Dead to Sin
So we are free from both the guilt and the dominion of sin. But what use is this information to us? How can it help us live out a gospel-based pursuit of sanctification? Here Paul's instructions in Romans 6:11 are helpful: "So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus."

The circumference takes in everything about your life Vs 5 Now MORTIFY the deeds of the flesh. There are some thigs you can stop doing now. You no longer have to live captive to your own desires. You can put to death some of these things.

SEPARATE Yourself From The ENEMIES of God. (VS. 5-7)

4. What Is The Conclusion Of Your Life?

What is your destination? What is your destiny? When I speak of destiny I speak not of that which the world thinks of, "fate, chance, or luck." Our destiny speaks of "one's lot" in Christ by the divine providence (the ability to see beforehand and act) of God.

Looking for the appearing of Christ.

Knowing we will appear with Him glorified!

1 John 3:2-3 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

SATURATE Character With Hope.


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