“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is ; but exhorting one another : and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)
Good morning. This is about my worst enemy. Actually the devil is our worst enemy, but excluding that snake, I guess this is about my other worst enemy. My worst enemy has some things in common with our worst enemy. He does not want me to hold fast my profession of faith, he would rather see me wavering. He would rather me crawl into a shell than to provoke others unto love and good works. And as the day approaches, he seems to be working overtime. The apostle Paul even wrote about him…
“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:15-25)
My worst enemy is me. Tuesday, while reading Proverbs 16, I got a solution for suppressing my worst enemy, even sending him into remission…
“When a man’s ways please the Lord , he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7)
According to this verse, God’s Word, and God’s Word is truth, if my ways please the Lord, He can even make my enemies to be at peace with me. How can we please the Lord? Have Faith…
“But without faith it is impossible to please him : for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
And where do we get faith from? From God’s Word…
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
And how do we know if we have heard God’s Word? Think about your kids…
“Go clean your room!!!!!!!!!!”, you scream.
Is it clean? If it is clean, your kids heard.
God gives us things to do in the Bible. Are you reading your Bible on a daily basis. That would be a good place to start. Do you pray daily? The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. How about soul winning? He who winneth souls is wise. Do think it would be wise to leave a tract with the gas station attendant. How about sending a tract back in the “junk mail” you get. The postage is already paid for too. It’s all part of the Great Commission . Do you think it would be pleasing to God? We are to provoke one another to good works. Are you?
“When a man’s ways please the Lord , he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7)
Peace. (James 2:20)
Posted in Devotions by Pastor Ted Stahl with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Isaiah 40:31
Read the “1219 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” – (Hebrews 6:1-2)
The foundation of a house is very important. In fact, it is the most important part of the house because if it is not strong, the rest of the structure will not be able to stand for very long. However, if we are going to have a complete house we must build on top of the foundation. So, in order to have a house, we have to build beyond the foundation.
Kindergarten and grammar school are also foundational in the process of education, but if a student is going to learn all that he needs to know in life, he will have to enter into middle school, then high school, and possibly even higher education. Now this does not mean that we will never re-visit the things that we learn in grammar school, for those truths are the building blocks for everything else that we are going to learn in life. A knowledge of basic mathematics is necessary in order to do algebra, geometry, calculus, and accounting. Similarly, the basics of grammar and word building are necessary in order to effectively and intelligently communicate on an adult level. small child who is only about two and a half years old likes to play with pretty simple toys. He can even content himself with spoons and spatulas, and pots and pans. However, he won’t enjoy these things for very long as he will want to move on to bigger and better things. His world will enlarge. He will move beyond the confines of the house, and begin to explore the back yard, and eventually he will enter into the world; exploring and learning about all that is out there. He will not stay a toddler forever.
The passage above from Hebrews 6 teaches us this same principle, but the application regards our spiritual life. Too many Christians never grow up beyond the foundational truths of salvation. Now don’t misunderstand me, I love thinking about my salvation, and I re-visit those foundational truths often, but I also moved on beyond those foundational principles. At the end of chapter five, Paul rebukes some of his readers for their lack of growth:
“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” – (Hebrews 5:12-14)
Don’t stay a baby Christian. Grow up. Take those foundational principles of Christianity and incorporate them into a deeper walk with God. The only way that you will be able to do this is to be daily in the Word of God, and weekly in the services at your church where the Bible is preached and taught. Don’t miss any opportunity that comes your way that will help you grow up in the Lord. Take advantage of chances to participate and serve in the ministry. By serving, you are exercising and putting into practice what you learned in the classroom. There is no excuse for not growing, especially if you are part of a church that is flooding its members with opportunities to serve and grow. Get involved. Grow up in the Lord. Move on to bigger and better things spiritually.
PS – I need to warn you about one more thing. If you do decide to grow up and move on in your spiritual walk, you will be leaving behind some of your friends that will not choose to take that journey with you. That’s OK, though. You will find many more friends that will share your vision as you move further down the road. Don’t let anything or anybody hold you back from the journey of faith that God wants to bring you on.
Posted in Thoughts from Hebrews by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Proverbs 27:15
Read the “1218 Evening andMorning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” (Hebrews 1:4)
“But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.” (Hebrews 6:9)
“And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.” (Hebrews 7:7)
“For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.” (Hebrews 7:19)
“But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6)
“For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” (Hebrews 10:34)
“But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:16)
“Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:” (Hebrews 11:35)
“God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:40)
“And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:24)
Did you ever notice how many times the word “better” is used in the Letter to the Hebrews? This epistle was written to Jewish people, both saved and lost. God was encouraging the saved Jews to not look back to what they had under the Old Testament Law, because that what they now have in Christ is better. God was also challenging the lost Hebrews to consider Christ as the fulfillment of all of the Messianic prophesies, and that He was in reality what all of their ceremonies and traditions pointed to. Old Testament Judaism was only a shadow of the substance of New Testament Christianity. Christianity is better for all of the reasons mentioned in the verses above.
My goal this morning is not to go through all of the points made in Hebrews regarding the better relationship that the New Testament believer has when compared to the Old Testament Jew; but rather, I would like to simply state that my life is also much better since I have been saved. Like the song says:
“What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart.”
I have been a Christian now for over two decades, and I can say without hesitation that the life I now live as a child of God is infinitely better than what I had before. Not that I don’t still have my trials and struggles with the flesh, which I certainly do; but there are just so many blessings associated with being a Christian. My life is better now, my family is better now, and my future is sealed, secure and full of hope. Talk about a retirement plan. What a great God we serve, and what an awesome Saviour. Have you stopped to consider today how much better your life is since Jesus came in?
Posted in Thoughts from Hebrews by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 3:1
Read a previous post from this passage – “Sometimes You Have To Stand Alone“
Read the “1217 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” – (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” – (Matthew 24:6-8)
“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” - (2 Timothy 3:13)
Consider what our world has endured since the new millennium began over a dozen years ago: the terrorist attack on 9/11; several cataclysmic earthquakes; tsunamis that have wiped out hundreds of thousands of people; out of control wildfires caused by record drought conditions; economic disasters bringing record unemployment; the Middle East in complete turmoil; several hurricanes and cyclones, and even a new classification of storm called a “super storm”; and a senseless slaughter of school children and adults in Connecticut. I do not think that I am overstating the condition of our world when I say that we are living in perilous times. These man-made and natural disasters have all been prophesied long ago by God in the Bible, so we should not be too surprised by what is taking place, though we are certainly grieved and impacted by these things. But we were warned, and we should have been prepared. We have also been given the principles that we need in order to live for the Lord in these perilous days, while continuing to reach people with the gospel.
The upside of all of this is that people are thinking about God. Unfortunately, many are blaming God even for the man-made tragedies, but at least they are thinking. This past weekend, we had several people show up at church who we haven’t seen in a long time. They are confused, and frightened, and I don’t blame them, because no matter how much we know from the Bible about the time that we are living in, there is still a lot of details that are left out. We do know, however, that God knows; and none of these events has taken Him by surprise, and they are all somehow part of His plan that will ultimately bring about the Millennial Kingdom of Christ. The Bible gives the illustration of birth pains, which (I’m told) are very painful, but also temporary; and these perilous days, though extremely trying, are also temporary, and will eventually yield to a time of greater peace, prosperity, and security. No pain, no gain.
We have established that the times are certainly perilous, and will only get worse; but what can we do? Just keep going. Keep going to church; keep going to the prayer closet; keep going soulwinning; keep loving people; keep standing for the Lord:
Posted in Thoughts from 2 Timothy by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Today’s Passage – 1 Timothy 4 – 2 Timothy 2 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 121
Read the “1216 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Read previous post from this morning’s reading passage – “Where Would Our Church Be Without the Young People“ and “Christian Growth“
“Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.” (1 Timothy 5:1-2)
Did you ever wonder why God had to include such simple, almost a ‘no brainer’ type instruction to live by? Having respect for other people should be taught at a young age and followed throughout our life.
In more recent days, I’ve notice that being disrespectful to others is starting with children younger and younger. I’ve seen and heard many disturbing things coming from children while shopping or just being out and about. Many times you see on the news of boys under the age of 13 robbing, killing and sexually molesting others. What happen to game playing, participating in sports, build a fort? Sounds crazy doesn’t it? It’s the same thing with preteen girls. They seem to be only interested in looking older and or sexy so they can ‘attract’ the boys. They not only are disrespecting themselves but their parents by rebelling. They listen to the ‘pop world’ and not their parents. But many times the parents are to blame.
Several years ago, I heard a great sermon on “Looking Forward to the Past”. It was about how the older generation looks to the younger generation to set up the standard instead of the elder.
“And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was yet in Egypt, heard of it, (for he was fled from the presence of king Solomon, and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt;) That they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying, Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee. And he said unto them, Depart yet for three days, then come again to me. And the people departed. And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people? And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever. But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him: And he said unto them, What counsel give ye that we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, Make the yoke which thy father did put upon us lighter? And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins. And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day. And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him;” (1Kings 12:2-13)
The younger generation should always look to the past generation to set up the standards for the next generation.
Now in fairness, it almost seems cruel to blame the young people without pointing the finger to the older crowd. As parents we’ve dropped the ball.
“And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.” (Judges 2:10-12)
I’m sure most of you who are reading this blog, try hard, and with much prayer, to train up your own children to do right in the Lord. But we should also
consider inviting others to church so they can learn also.
Together let’s labor to expand the Kingdom of God and by example train up the young while respecting the old.
Posted in Just for Ladies by Camille Stahl with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 119:105
Read the “1215 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;” (1 Timothy 1:12)
I have always been very fond of this verse. Paul knew that he had been given an awesome privilege when God called Him into the ministry; and I am very conscious of the fact that my calling is just as special and important as Paul’s. I notice also from this verse that Paul didn’t say that God called him because of his qualifications, except for the one thing that God found in him, which was faithfulness. God does not call the qualified; He qualifies the called, and He will call those who are faithful.
What does it mean to be in the ministry? What does a minister do? Is it just getting up in front of people and yelling for 45 minutes on Sunday morning? My friend, it is so much more that that. Let me share with you some thoughts regarding what the ministry entails:
1 The Ministry Is About People – People have all kinds of problems and needs. A true minister of God does not see people as a means to fulfill his desires or goals; rather a minister recognizes that he is called of God to serve the people; to give the people what they need in order to have the very best of God’s blessings upon their life. A minister does not try to be God to the people, but rather tries to bring the people closer to God.
2 The Ministry is About Prayer – I must confess right now that this area is the weakest part of my ministry for the Lord; and it is number one on the list of things that I would like to improve in the new year. Actually, as of now, it is the only thing on the list. According to Acts 6, the apostles felt that their primary duties were “to give [themselves] continually unto prayer. and the ministry of the word.” That would be a pretty good starting point for preachers today. We need to pray for our people, our churches, our communities, and our country.
3 The Ministry Is About Perspiration – There is work to be done. The Bible says that the office of a Bishop is a good “work”. Many full-time servants of God are lazy. They get up late, eat too much, and go home early. It will take a lot of work to be effective as a minister. There is soulwinning, visitation, hospital visits, administrative work, counseling, cleaning, planning, building, etc. Preachers ought to be up early and on the job before the world get’s up. Satan never stops working to advance his agenda.
4 The Ministry Is About Preparation – The pastor should spend hours in the study, preparing to feed the flock that God has entrusted them with. His people deserve fresh bread from Heaven that came directly out of time spent with God in study and in prayer. Sometimes, it is easy to get lazy in preparation. We can quickly throw some “fast food” together to serve our people; but God expects more out of His ministers. Work, pray, and study so that God’s people will be fed gourmet meals from the pulpit each week.
I hope that you can see now that the ministry consists of so much more than is visible on the surface. What a privilege it is to serve such an awesome, wonderful, omnipotent, and merciful God. What has God called you to do? If you have been called to a ministry, it is because He found you to be faithful; but are you still faithfully fulfilling what God has called you to do?
Posted in Thoughts from 1 Timothy by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32
Read another post from this passage – “What’s Right With It”
“So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.” – (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8)
What do people think of when they here your name? What do they think of when they hear the name of our church? Notice what it says in the above verses about the reputation of the Church at Thessalonica. They were examples to all the believers of Macedonia and Achaia, which are both part of the Grecian Peninsula. Then it goes on to say that their reputation went beyond their immediate area, and spread abroad to “every place”. I am not in agreement with those who would say that the gospel should not be audibly spoken to those around us, only lived; but it seems that these Thessalonians, not only spoke the gospel with their mouths, they communicated their faith with their lives also. So much so that they were famous for their faith throughout the world.
What kind of reputation do you and I have. I am not suggesting that we should strive for some kind of notoriety among fellow believers, but I do think that we should be concerned that our lives are consistent with what we believe. Our words as well as our actions should communicate to those around us that we are indeed followers of Christ. I want our faith to be known in our community as a church that loves the Lord in sincerity, and believes and follows the Bible literally. Again, I am not seeking the accolades of men, but I do want the world to know that there are churches out there that are real.
Jesus said that we are to shine the light of the gospel to the world around us. It seems that this church in our passage today did just that. I hope that our church will have that same testimony.
One more thing. Did you notice what the caption says on the picture above. One foolish act can ruin an otherwise good reputation. Some mistakes that we make will take a long time to recover from, and unfortunately, some we will never recover from completely. I am not trying to condemn those who have made mistakes in the past here as much as I am trying to admonish and encourage those who have yet to blow it. Nobody is perfect, but the less skeletons we accumulate in our closets the better testimonies we will be. Keep your reputation in tact. Christ is glorified when we live out our faith in sincerity and purity, without hypocricy.
Posted in Thoughts from 1 Thessalonians by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Colossians 3:1-17)
Good morning. According to the dictionary, a zombie is a dead body that has been reanimated by a power or spell. You see them every day. They walk the earth just like you and I, going about their business. The spell, and the power, and their business are called sin. Zombies go about their business of committing acts of anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication from their mouth, and lying. Sometimes the living can be like zombies: they do the same things that zombies do. Yes, even though they are called Christians, and are made alive by the Holy Spirit living inside them, they can still do the works of Zombies: acts of anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, etc.
How can we get rid of the zombie in us? Take the advice given in verses 16 and 17…
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Colossians 3:16-17)
Peace! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Posted in Devotions by Pastor Ted Stahl with 1 comment.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 61:1 – 3
Read the “1212 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” (Philippians 2:5)
“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16)
I just want to jot down a quick thought from the Scriptures this morning that I hope will be a blessing to you. Jesus is God. As God, He is equal with the Father in everything. Jesus is omniscient, meaning that there is nothing that He does not know. There is nothing that escapes His mind, unless He chooses to not remember it. But here in our text, the Bible is not referring to omniscience, but rather it is referring to Christ’s attitude. He had the mind of a servant; not the knowledge of a servant, but the humility of a servant. As God, He could have demanded that all of humanity bow the knee to Him. He also could have demanded that every creature in the universe should serve His every desire. But that is not what He did, is it?
It is funny how little, sinful man who is by nature a lowly servant, and has no right to boast at all, is always trying to magnify himself; trying to make himself look better in the eyes of other men. Yet Jesus, who deserves all of the glory, humbled Himself, even unto death. Why, because He loves us. If He demonstrated His love through a form of humility, ought not we do the same thing. We are so full of ourselves. God tells us here that we should have the same mind, the same humble attitude that Christ demonstrated when He came to this earth to be born of a woman, to live a selfless life of service to men, and finally to die a horrible death on the cross in order to atone for your sins and mine.
“And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:44-45)
“Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” (John 13:13-17)
Posted in Thoughts from Philippians by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 55:17
Watch the Growth Points video by Pastor Chappell – “Pressing Into the New Year with Godly Passion“
Read the “1211 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” (Ephesians 4:13-15)
“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:1)
“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” (Hebrews 5:12)
One of the many problems with the modern concept of Christianity in our world today, is that it is producing very immature Christians. At one time the churches of America understood that they had a responsibility to teach and preach sound Bible doctrine. Unfortunately, in most of our churches the Bible has been replaced with entertainment; and in some cases has been almost removed altogether. If you were to travel back in time to the first half of the 20th century you would see that all Bible believing churches had multiple opportunities for the people to come to the House of God in order to learn Truth. Gradually, as the years passed, sermon lengths became shorter, and whole services were eliminated. It is rare to find an evangelical church with Sunday School for adults or evening services on Sunday, or Bible studies / prayer meetings during the week. It is no wonder that our country is rapidly deteriorating when God’s people are feeding sparsely on Jello and Tapioca, instead of meat. It is also not surprising that Christians are dropping like flies into all kinds of immorality when they are not taking in enough spiritual nourishment to strengthen them against the wiles of the Devil.
This lack of Bible can also be seen in our homes. There used to be such a thing as “a family altar” and family devotions. There was a time when it would not be uncommon for Christian fathers and mothers to read the Bible with their children. It was not at all unusual for a mom to insist that her children get up out of bed a little earlier so that they could spend some time in the Word of God before they faced the day. Now we are too busy finding out what all our friends are doing on Facebook; or perhaps we are engrossed in the latest immoral sitcom on television. Shame on us. We are producing a bunch of weak, baby Christians who could not possibly be strong enough to carry the torch to the next generation.
In our passage today we see that God gave us all that we need in order to grow and mature in the faith. Notice vs. 11 – 12:
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11-12)
God gave us pastors and teachers, but unfortunately they are too busy trying to please a carnal group of people instead preaching the Word of God. I heard just this morning of a pastor of a church (that was once a fundamental Baptist church) who went to a football game on Sunday morning instead of going to his pulpit. He got his wife to fill in for him. Shame on that pastor, and shame on that church for not firing him.
We need to get back to the basics; back to the Bible. We need to get rid of all of the technology that is supposed to be helping us so much, get rid of the social media, the filth on television, the mindless video games and internet surfing, and get back to “study[ing] to show [ourselves] approved unto God, [workmen] that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” And our churches need to get back to filling their services with sound doctrine, and lots of it. We are losing the battle. Few are getting saved today because our lights are too dim, and our salt has lost its savor. We need to wake up and go back to what worked before we completely lose this generation.
Posted in Thoughts from Ephesians by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Memory passage for the month of November – Luke 1:26 – 38
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 40:31
Read the “1210 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” – (Ephesians 2:8-10)
These verses in Ephesians are perhaps among the most familiar in the Bible. We often use vs. 9 – 10 to convince people that salvation is not through our good works, but solely though the grace of God, which is available only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace has been defined as unmerited favor, or receiving something that we do not deserve. What a wonderful truth it is to know that our salvation is not dependent upon our good works, which are totally insufficient, and fall miserably short of the mark. As the verse teaches, salvation comes through the free gift of God’s grace. Jesus paid the price for our sins when He died on the cross, and now makes salvation available to any who will simply receive Him by faith.
However, just because works are not acceptable as payment for our sins, it doesn’t mean that we should not “work” for the Lord after we are saved. Verse 10, which is not quoted nearly as often as vs. 9 – 10, teaches very plainly that God has ordained that we should work for Him, after salvation. God has got a specific plan for each one of His children. He has something for all of us to do. Our job is to determine what God’s will is for our lives, and then do it. There are lots of opportunities for service in a local church.
Posted in Thoughts from Ephesians by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Today’s Passages – Galatians 4 – 6; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 48:1 & 2
Read the “1209 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
So, What’s Got You Ticked Off?
(Galatians 4:16) Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?
Paul was preaching to the Galatians that it’s not through their works, the way of salvation, but through faith. He tried to tell them that they are free from the bondage of works and that salvation is free through Christ, (doing righteous works are a result of salvation not a way to obtain it).
The Galatians had been taught a lie. The doctrines they learned, and the character of those who had led them astray, and by their own error, proved that Paul ceased to be their friend. People don’t want man to tell us of our faults. The reason is, it pains us and we makes us take a good hard look at ourselves. We do not like to have another person tell us how to act or what to do and so on. It’s just human nature for someone to dislike the one who tell us of our faults, or the faults of our families, as our friend. We love to be flattered and it’s painful to think we must repent. Then we stay away from whom is reproving us for our faults and become offended at the truth. Yet they is our best friend.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful,” (Proverbs 27:6)
We’ll resist the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who brings the truth to our heart, and to convict men of their sins.
How often have you gone to a church service and got mad at the Preacher because it seemed his sermon was about you? I have. Believe it or not, it’s what we needed, a message from God. When you get your electric or credit card bill, do you get mad at the mailman? Of course not! Sound silly? But that’s what we do when we gossip about the Preacher because of his sermon God gave him.
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)
Whose fault is it that the electric and credit card bill is high? We shut off lights and stop spending too much to rectify the bills. Shouldn’t we do the same with the preaching? Just saying.
If you’ve made the mistake of staying out of church because of a sermon, pray to God, ask for forgiveness and get back to church. Trust me, it will make your Pastor’s day.
Posted in Just for Ladies by Camille Stahl with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 47:1
Read the “1208 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Read a previous post from this passage – “The Schoolmaster“
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)
The letter to the Galatians was one of the earliest of the epistles written by the Apostle Paul through the inspiration of the God. In the very early church, there was evidently a problem with legalism. Legalism is the attempt to put people who are saved by faith back under the law. I need to explain here exactly what I mean by “under the law”. In Old Testament days the people of God (the Jews) lived according to the law of Moses which contained three different types of laws: civil law (government), which helped them live in a peaceful society; moral law, which taught them what was right and wrong morally speaking; and ceremonial law, which were the particular laws that had to do with their system of worship. These ceremonial laws legislated their holy days, their assemblies, and their feasts, etc. The Jews created a system of rules that was impossible for anybody to keep perfectly. That’s why Paul says later in this letter to the Galatians that the law was our “schoolmaster”, in that it taught us that we were sinners in need of mercy. Christ is the only man who fulfilled all of the law, meaning He never was guilty of violating any command of God in any of the three categories.
Now when God says in the New Testament that we are no longer “under the law”, and that we have been freed from the bondage of the law, He is not saying that we are free to commit moral sin; or that we are free to break the laws that government creates in order to keep the peace, unless, of course, those man-made rules disagree with God’s rules. We are, however, free from all of the ceremonial laws that the Jews lived by, and there were a whole lot of them. By the way, not being “under the law” also means that we have been freed (saved) from the penalty of not keeping the law. The people of Galatia were “bewitched” into attempting to combine the doctrine of salvation through faith alone with the keeping of the Jewish law. By doing so, they just frustrated the concept of grace. Christ fulfilled the law, and He died for us who could not keep the law. We are free! Free from the penalty of sin; free from the bondage of a myriad of rules and regulations that are impossible to live by anyway; and free to love and serve God according to the dictates of our own consciences and understanding of God.
I feel compelled to make one final comment here. The term “legalism” has often been used in reference to standards and convictions. I am not a “legalist” if I have a personal standard in my life that I believe God is pleased with. Having some Biblically based guidelines in my life to live by does not make me a legalist, unless I believe that adhering to these rules somehow saves me. I am not saved by how I live my life, but I do try to live a life that glorifies God because I am saved.
Posted in Thoughts From Galatians by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 3:5 & 6
Read a previous post from this passage – “Do You Pass the Test“
“Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.” – (2 Corinthians 11:22-30)
“And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” – (2 Corinthians 12:15)
Are you looking for a job? Do you want to make lots of money, live in a spacious, comfortable home, drive a fancy car? Are you looking for something that will not require a lot of your time and energy, but will yield great financial benefits? Do you require a good health insurance package, including dental and optical? Do you desire a great retirement package that will allow you to retire early with enough income to live comfortably? Then don’t apply for this job.
Welcome to the ministry. Paul the apostle was perhaps the greatest Christian that ever lived, but look what his earthly benefit package included: rejection, beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, hunger; and long, thankless hours. The ministry is not something that you do because of what you will get from it in this life. Those who surrender to God’s call to ministry will more often than not, know a life of sacrifice and struggle. Don’t misunderstand me, the ministry does have it’s great moments, and there is a good deal of satisfaction knowing that you are making an eternal difference; but the fact remains that if it is earthly rewards that you are looking for, you will most likely not get them in the ministry.
However, the ministry does provide the best eternal retirement package there is. Those who sacrifice for the Lord here on earth, will receive an abundant return for their investment in Heaven; and those benefits will last a lot longer than any earthly retirement package.
In spite of all the negatives that Paul had to endure, however, he would not have traded places with anyone else in the world. He couldn’t do anything else; and he learned to be content with whatever the will of God provided for him. As much as I often gripe about some of the aspects of the ministry, I don’t think that I could be happy doing anything else either. True happiness and joy is being in the center of the will of God, wherever that leads you.
Posted in Thoughts from 2 Corinthians by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
“We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” (2Corinthians 6:1-10)
Good morning. If you happen to drive past Germania Cemetery, on Moss Mills Road, tell Melissa, “Happy Birthday!”: she’s 39 today. On February 16, 2012, at 1:15 am Thursday, Cervical Cancer took her to her new home: Heaven. My wife remarked today that many people do not seem to be in a ‘Christmas Spirit’. We just finished with Thanksgiving, and I was thankful for God’s salvation, and a Heaven. Early this year, my brother went home to be with the Lord. Shortly after that, my Uncle Frankie joined him there. All this was evident around the Thanksgiving table. Just me and Camille, my sister Ruthie, and my sister-in-law: Kathy. Our group is shrinking in size. But we can still be happy knowing that the separation from loved ones is only for a season. Let me give you three ways to have happy holidays…
1) Have JOY (Jesus, Others, You).
Put your sorrow into perspective. Start with Jesus. We thank God on Thanksgiving for all the love He has given us throughout the year…
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phillippians 4:19)
We celebrate Christmas. Yeah! Santa Clause! No! Emanuel, God in the flesh, Jesus’ birthday. We thank God for sending us His only begotten Son…
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
On Resurrection Sunday (Easter), we celebrate Jesus’ sacrifice, thank God for the love He showed us, allowing His Son to die on a cross, and shed His precious blood for us…
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Romans 5:8-9)
We should be thankful, not only on those special days, but every day of the year. If we keep our focus on the One who gives us every breath we breath, our lives will start coming into perspective. JOY: Jesus first, and then others.
One thing we learned from our dwindling table, is that life is short: compared to eternity, our life is just a breath. Do you really have time for petty quarrels with family and friends? You don’t know how much time you or they have left on this earth; is it worth it? No. Go bake some cookies and be reconciled with them…
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” (Matthew 5:21-24)
Jesus first, others second, then you. And what do you think our attitude should be? Jesus was our example. Shouldn’t we be more like Jesus who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (1Peter 2:24). Paul vowed…
“And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” (2Corinthians 12:15)
If you are saved, your not going to Hell. Why do little things bother us so much? We need JOY: Jesus, others, then you. So…
1) Have JOY.
2) Have Peace.
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:26-27)
Some may have been praying for Melissa’s recovery: that God would heal her from the Cervical Cancer. Thank you for your prayers for they were answered. Like I said, my daughter is 39 today. When she was 8 years old, she was afflicted with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. She underwent several joint replacements which gave her some relief from the pain. But the drugs she was taking affected her bones. When her head started slipping down on here spine, the doctor told us it would be a 4 hour operation. Ten hours later, the doctor told us she would be okay. He was able to wire her head so it would not slip. The reason it took 6 hours longer: every time he went to place a wire, a piece of her vertebrae would break off. Melissa was no stranger to pain. After almost thirty years of dealing with the pain of Arthritis, and the Cervical Cancer, God finally healed her by taking her home. Now she is alive and well, no more aches and pains. She is with her Saviour: the Lord Jesus Christ. And in perfect condition: even better than new! We can have peace through all this… but… we still miss her. And that brings us to…
3) Have Faith.
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1Thessalonians 4:13-18)
It’s only for a season, and then we’ll get to see Melissa again. So Have JOY, Have Peace, Have Faith, and you will have a happy holiday!
Peace! (Jesus IS the reason for the season.)
Posted in Devotions by Pastor Ted Stahl with 1 comment.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 34
Read the “1205 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” – (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)
I remember one time I was walking in a store, kind of in my own little world, when I turned and accidentally bumped into someone. In their frustration, they asked me: “Are you blind?”. I guess I was. I mean I wasn’t paying attention, I was too busy focusing on other things that I just didn’t see the person I bumped into. Many years ago something similar happened to me. I was going along, living my life, when all of a sudden a light bulb clicked on in my heart and mind, and I saw for the first time that I was a lost sinner in need of a Savior. I had been in that condition for a very long time, but I just didn’t see it. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand it. Someone once said that light is to the eyes what understanding is to the mind; and although I had been a lost sinner for my whole life, I didn’t realize it until God opened my understanding to the Truth.
There are a lot of people out in this dark world who are lost in their sins. The god of this world (Satan) has them blindfolded. They are either deceived because of their religion, or distracted due to their pursuit of power, possessions, and pleasures; but they simply do not recognize their lost condition. Jesus talked about this:
“For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” – (Matthew 13:15)
The Bible tells us that Israel is blind (at least for now) to the fact that their Messiah has already come:
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” – (Romans 11:25)
These people are not less intelligent than those who have been saved, and neither are they worse sinners than Christians; they are just blind. I have some friends and family members that are blind to this truth, but what can I do about it?
1 I can pray – God will have to open their eyes to the Truth. I must pray that they will be able to see the truth of the gospel before it is eternally too late.
2 I can continue to proclaim the truth. Satan is busy deceiving and distracting. I need to be busy proclaiming. I need to figure out ways to get people to listen to the Word of God. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
3 I can persist – There were many people who were trying get me to see Christ before my eyes were opened. They never gave up on me. They kept preaching to me, and praying for me, until finally it all sunk in. I must not give up on the people I love, either. I am not sure whether or not they will all come to a saving knowledge of Christ, but I am confident that some will. I need to keep at it, for their sakes.
Posted in Thoughts from 2 Corinthians by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 25
Read the “1204 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Read a previous post from this passage – “A Family Addicted to the Ministry“
“For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:16-19)
When I was working for my dad’s candy company, I would occasionally run into miserable people; people who seemed to take pleasure in ruining the day of everybody they came in contact with. There was one person in particular that I especially dreaded having to deal with. She worked for a supermarket that I delivered to in Philadelphia and her job was to check the order that I was bringing into the store to make sure the invoice was correct. Her job title was “security receiver”. She hated her job, she hated life, and she particularly hated the vendors, like me, who were delivering products to her store. She would sometimes make us wait outside in the rain or snow for long periods of time until she finished doing some “important” other task, like sweeping the floor, or filing away some paperwork. The worst day of my week was the day that I had to deliver to this store.
One day, however, I noticed something on her car, which was always parked right outside the back door of the store. There was an “OBX” sticker on her back bumper. “OBX” represents the Outer Banks area of North Carolina. I didn’t think this lady enjoyed anything about life, but apparently she enjoyed spending time in North Carolina. One day I decided to take a chance and talk to her about the bumper sticker. Her countenance changed immediately, and I think she even smiled. She began to tell me all about her past trips, and how she was looking forward to an upcoming vacation. Her attitude changed as she began to think and talk about something she enjoyed, and, more importantly, something she looked forward to. She transformed (at least temporarily) from a miserable person to a happy one.
In our text above the Apostle Paul states that people who do not believe that Christ is risen, and who also won’t acknowledge a resurrection of all believers, are miserable people. Why? Because they have no hope, nothing to look forward to after this life. Paul says that if all we have is this life then we will be a most miserable people. Later on, in verse 58, Paul states that because of the hope that we have, we can be steadfast, unmoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord. Why? because we know that all of our labor down here will pay off with a wonderful reward in eternity.
The lady at the supermarket got happy temporarily thinking about a vacation. How much more should God’s people get happy thinking about the fact that because Christ is risen, we know He has the power to raise us up as well, and pull us out of this earth, which can oftentimes be a miserable place, and take us to a place that is anything but miserable, a place of exceeding, eternal joy.
Posted in Thoughts from 1 Corinthians by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 92:1
Read “How to Pray for Your Pastor in December” by Pastor Chappell
Read the “1203 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1)
“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matthew 5:44)
“And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.” (1 John 3:23)
“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12 & 13)
The Bible speaks much about love. In our passage today the word “charity” is used, which is the same word that is translated “love” many other places in the Bible. It means to love unconditionally; to have a deep abiding love that goes far beyond mere affection. This is the kind of love that God has for us. It was what He demonstrated (commendeth – Romans 5:12) when He died for us sinners. Why God loves us I do not know, but the Bible tells us He does.
This kind of Bible love spoken of here in our text and some of these other passages as well is something people often claim to have for others, especially in word. In other words, we often say that we love certain individuals or people in general. However, in practicality, I don’t think that we are being entirely truthful. Love is clearly more than just words, and it is even more than just feelings. Love is action. Love can be seen in the things that we do as well as say. In vv 4 – 7 of 1 Corinthians 13 there are listed practical examples of how love is put into action. Let me list them for you here:
suffereth long, (patience)
and is kind;
charity envieth not;
charity vaunteth not itself, (does not boast)
is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, (inappropriately)
seeketh not her own,
is not easily provoked,
thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity,
but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things,
believeth all things,
hopeth all things,
endureth all things. (is able to survive anything, unconditional)
There are 15 practical applications of real love in those four verses. Take a good look at each one of them individually. Now ask yourself honestly: Do these demonstrations of love show up in my love for others? Or am I falling short? I think we both know the answer to that question. We all fall short, don’t we. I am not trying to make you feel bad, but I am trying to get you to realize how much needs to be done in our lives in order for us to truly represent Christ as His ambassadors. Remember, the Bible is clear that people will only see Jesus in us as we demonstrate love before them and to them. Now, here is the exciting part: You can’t love people in the flesh. It is not something that you can do on your own. You see, God is love; and you can only love people if the Holy Spirit of God is in you and is not being quenched (hindered from working in and through you). We must yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit of God inside of us. We must allow Him to love people through us. We must somehow get ourselves: our feelings, our hurts, our desires, etc. out of the way.
Do you want to love people as Jesus loves people? The world has love, but it is a conditional love. Some people are easy to love, but most people are not. Jesus died for a bunch of unloveable people. We must take our love up another notch if we are truly going to be His disciples.
Posted in Thoughts from 1 Corinthians by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
Today’s Passages – 1 Corinthians 10 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 18:3 & 46
Read the “1202 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Who’s Your Daddy?
“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-6)
Our text starts off with the writer talking about the remembrance of the time when Israel first left Egypt. For four hundred years they prayed to be freed from the bondage of Egypt. They wanted to have the freedom to worship Jehovah God, and God answered their prayers. He send Moses who led them out to the mountain of God. On the way they passed on dry ground as the enemy drowned before their eyes. They witness the very presents of God in a pillar of fire by night and a cloud during the day. He fed them manner from Heaven and they drank the water from the rocks. But how quickly they forgot the very One who was with them each moment of the day.
“And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.” (Judges 2:10-14)
Now I would like to look at verse 6.
“Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.”
God has written His, road map / instructional book, the Bible. It is to guide us and protect us as the pillar of fire and cloud did for the children of Israel. He didn’t free His children from Egypt’s clutches without walking with them and showing them the way. Neither will He leave us to flounder to find our own way. We try to point our finger at Israel and wonder how they could form a calf of gold to worship it under the mountain of God. Are we not just like them? We have our gods we worship. Money, boats, jewelry, a sports team, other people and many more. These ‘gods’ keep us from serving the One True God. You ask how? Sports may keep you out of church because of playing or watching them. Riches may have you working a second or third job during church time to pay for them. Other people may entice you to stay out late on a Saturday night. Now you’re unable to get up for church the next day and even miss your devotion time.
All that said to say, we must be in our Bible daily to learn from the examples revealed to us. The Bible is our instruction to learn Evil’s crafty ways and avoid them. It’s our sword. Most would never dream of going anywhere without our cell phones. How then can we leave our home in the morning without spending time with God?
Together let’s fight the Devil until he goes where he belongs.
Posted in Just for Ladies by Camille Stahl with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Joshua 1:8
Read the “1201 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Read a previous post from this passage – “Stumbling-blocks“
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)
Let me give you a parallel verse to the one listed above:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)
God says that we are bought with a price, meaning we no longer belong to ourselves. Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price by shedding His blood on the cross of Calvary. The context of 1 Corinthians 6:20 has to do with committing sin, which we have no right to do as believers; but I believe this verse tells us much more than to not commit sin. It deals also with our desires, our will. We really have no right to do with our lives that which we desire to do, unless those desires are God-given desires. Romans goes on to tell us that it is reasonable for us to yield our will to the will of God. I often quote another verse from Romans:
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” (Romans 7:18)
Notice that the “no good thing” that Paul refers to in this verse is his will; and “that which is good” is the will of God. This tells us the same thing that our text tells us. We have no right to do with our lives that which we desire. Our desires need to be surrendered to God. He owns us. He purchased us on the Cross of Calvary. This does not just mean that we shouldn’t commit sin, it goes way beyond mere obedience to His moral laws. Our goals, desires, and especially our passions need to yielded to the control of the Holy Spirit of God.
God desires to mold us and shape us to perform an ordained work (Ephesians 2:10) for Him, He has the perfect plan for our lives; and His plan will bring us the most fulfillment, and the most happiness. We may think we know what we want, but we must be very careful to determine that the thing which we want is what God wants for our lives. We often sing the song, “This World is Not My Home”; but really when you think about it, we could sing, “This Life is Not My Own”. We belong to God. He has purchased us, and it is our reasonable service to give our lives completely to Him.
Posted in Thoughts from 1 Corinthians by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 61:1 – 3
Read a previous post from this passage – “Baby Christians”
“I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” - (1 Corinthians 4:14-16)
First Corinthians is a pretty strong letter; it contains a lot of bold criticism for the Church at Corinth. However, it is important to remember that the Apostle Paul was not writing to these people simply to set them straight. He loved these people very dearly, and wanted to see them get back on track. Paul gives the analogy of a father’s love for his children in order to describe his love for this struggling church. Paul had started this church. He served these people, and lived among them for eighteen months on his second missionary journey. He cared deeply for these Christian brothers and sisters, which gave him the right to “rebuke them sharply”.
There has always been this debate in our society about tough love. Many would say that if you are too strong in your discipline that you will drive your children away into rebellion. However, I disagree with that line of thinking. I believe that you can be strong with those who know that you genuinely care for them. If you truly love people, they will let you be straight with them. My pastor in Texas used to say that you have to build up a bank account of love with your people before you can have the right to get tough with them. They need to know that you genuinely care for them. When I worked in the supermarket in Texas, I had a store manager who was brutally honest with his employees. He was occasionally very tough, but at the same time we knew that he genuinely cared for us; he loved us. As a result there was nothing that we wouldn’t do for him. He earned our love and respect.
The Apostle Paul could say what he said to these Corinthians because they knew that He loved them. The preachers, Sunday School teachers, and leaders in our churches need to demonstrate that kind of love for the people they serve, and this will, in time, give them the right to get tough when it becomes necessary. People will simply not give an ear to someone who doesn’t truly care.
Posted in Thoughts from 1 Corinthians by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Deuteronomy 32:4
Read the “1129 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 15:7-13)
Notice in v. 9 (above) the phrase: “it is written”. Then notice the phrase “and again” used three times. Paul quoted from several Old Testament passages here to support what he was trying to teach to the believers at Rome.
Let’s look first at the context:
In Romans 15:7 – 13 Paul is admonishing the Jewish and Gentile believers to get along with each other. The Christian Jews had a tendency to look down their noses at the Gentile believers. They also held onto many of their Old Testament traditions, which they were entitled to do under grace. However, the Gentiles were not as concerned about these things and did not do them. The cultural differences of these two groups could sometimes cause friction within their churches. In chapter 14 and in the beginning verses of 15, Paul is challenging the saints to acknowledge that there may be different convictions and preferences observed by different believers. The believer with the stronger conviction, or perhaps a different preference, should not stand in judgment of the believer who did not share his conviction or preference. Between the Jewish believers and the Gentile saints, there were probably many such differences. Paul admonishes both groups in vs. 5 and 6 to get along. Why? Because God had received them both.
In vs. 9 – 12, Paul reminds them of the mercy that God said He would show to the Gentiles by using four (actually five) passages from the Old Testament as supporting texts. Here are the supporting Old Testament passages:
Romans 15:9 was supported with these two Old Testament verses:
“Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.” (2 Samuel 22:50)
“Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.” (Psalms 18:49)
Verse 10 is a paraphrase of:
“Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people:…” (Deuteronomy 32:43a)
“O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.” (Psalms 117:1)
“And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.” (Isaiah 11:10)
I was challenged by that fact that Paul used so many Scriptures to support his argument. Paul was obviously well versed in the Old Testament, and used it to back up his teaching, especially to the Jews. Many Christians today, and even preachers are weak in their knowledge of the Bible, and even those who may know the Bible, fail to use it enough to support their messages. The Bible should be the main source in our preaching and teaching because it is the only source of Truth. Our messages, whether formal sermons to our churches or merely informal instructions to our family and friends, need to be based upon and supported by the Bible. People need to know that our instructions to them are from God via His Word, not just some philosophy rooted in man’s opinion.
Posted in Thoughts from Romans by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51
Read the “1128 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” - (Romans 11:25)
My preacher back in Texas used to share an illustration regarding Romans 11:25 that I thought was very profound. He said that he was on the lookout for the last Gentile that would be saved before God takes the Church up to Heaven. Dr. Gray is a tenacious soul winner, and he believes that this verse teaches that there will come a day when the “fulness” of the Gentiles will be complete. He wants to be the one who shares the gospel with that last Gentile.
When Jesus came to this earth, He offered Himself to the Nation of Israel as their Messiah. Though many of the Jewish people received Him (and still do today), the nation rejected Him:
“He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” – (John 1:11)
Because Israel rejected their Messiah, God has temporarily refocused His attention on the Gentiles. The good news of salvation – the Gospel – has been flowing freely to the Gentile nations of the world for 2000 years; but it seems to be coming to a close. I believe we are very close to the time when God will pull out of this earth all those that have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, via what we call the rapture. Christ is coming soon to take His Bride – the Church – back home to Heaven. Then God will once again turn His attention back on the nation of Israel; and someday Israel, as a nation, “will look upon [Him] whom they have pierced”, and will realize that they were wrong about Him.
“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:” – (Romans 11:26)
However, until that time comes, we who are part of the bride are to “occupy”, or stay busy, till He comes. We are to do our best to get the message of Christ to every person on the planet. Someday that last Gentile will be saved, and Jesus will take us home. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Posted in Thoughts from Romans by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Today’s Passages – Romans 8 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – 1 John 3:1
Read the “1127 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Read previous posts from today’s reading passage – “Paul’s Motivation“ and “‘Whosoever’ Meaneth Me and ‘Preacher’ Meaneth Me, Too”
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,” (Philippians 1:3)
Last night, as we were studying the Book of Romans during our Wednesday Evening Bible Study, I was reminded of the fact that one of the characteristics of our fallen nature is a lack of thanksgiving. Romans 1:21a states: “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful;”. Selfishness and discontentedness come naturally to sinful men, but true thanksgiving, on the other hand, is supernatural, something that we can only get through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit of God within us. The carnal man sees himself as the center of the universe and is never satisfied or content with the way life treats him. Conversely, the spiritual man sees himself as a rotten sinner deserving of nothing but judgment, so much so that when he receives even the smallest blessing, he is thankful for it.
I have an awful lot to be thankful for today. God has truly blessed my life in so many ways. However, after carefully considering how awesome God has been to me, I have realized that the things that I am most thankful for are not things at all; they are people. God has brought into my life so many wonderful people. Not only has He given me an amazing wife and great children (and now grandchildren); God has also blessed me with many good friends that have been a tremendous source of encouragement and strength during the difficult seasons of life. You cannot place a value high enough for family and friends. If I were to lose all of the things that God has blessed me with, but still retained my friends and family I think I could still find happiness; but if I were to lose the people I think my life would be miserable.
To all of my family and friends, I would like to say “Thank You”; and please know that I truly appreciate the fact that God has brought you into my life.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 47:1
Read a previous post from this passage – “Peace“
Read the “1126 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” – (Romans 4:7-8)
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” – (Isaiah 53:6)
“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” – (James 2:23)
“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” – (2 Corinthians 5:19)
In our passage today, and in three of the verses above, you will notice the word “impute”. This word is not used today as commonly as it once was, but it precisely describes a wonderful truth about our relationship with God. The word “impute” means to record, or rekon to ones account. It is a word used more frequently in the financial world. For example if I make a payment to one of my crediters, that amount is imputed on the record. In other word, the record would show that a payment has been made.
As far as our relationship with God is concerned, the word “impute” means that Christ’s payment of blood on the Cross of Calvary was recorded on my account of sin. He did not pay for his own sin, because He knew no sin; but His payment was for me, and you, if you are saved. The Lord’s atonement was put on my record. It gets even better. Not only did the Lord’s payment take care of all of my past sins, it also is sufficient to cover any future transgressions. The Lord “will not impute sin” to those that are saved.
This does not give us a liscense to sin, however:
“What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” – (Romans 6:15-18)
We should try our best to not yield to the sin that is in our human nature (“our members”); but, praise be to God, when we do fail there is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins that completely atones for our sins from the past, as well as our sins in the present and the future.
Posted in Thoughts from Romans by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – 1 Timothy 1:17
Read the “1125 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: … For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;” (Romans 1:24, 26-28)
The Apostle Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans from the vantage point of the City of Corinth near the conclusion of his third missionary journey. The city of Corinth was a very immoral place whose practices had crept into the church. There is even a report of an incestuous relationship between a man and his step-mother. Paul explains in the first chapter of Romans, from verses 18 – 32, the depravity of mankind, which he was seeing on a daily basis as he travelled through Corinth and the rest of the Roman Empire. Sin was everywhere, and it was not only accepted, it was even condoned by the mainstream of the citizens.
Today it has become much the same way in America. Sin seems to find no boundaries, and our society is steeped in its wickedness; and there are few who are voicing an opinion of opposition. In the verses listed above, we see that man’s rebellion against God eventually leads to unrestrained lusts, which will manifest themselves into many forms of sexual immorality including fornication, adultery, and homosexuality. In America today homosexuality is being forced down the throats of the people. The schools are spending millions of dollars convincing our children that the old fashioned concept of monogamous, heterosexual marriages are just not in step with today’s enlightened culture. The government is creating volumes of legislation designed to silence anybody who speaks against the madness that is consuming our country from the inside out.
Homosexuality is still sin. God called it an abomination in the Old Testament, and even destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of it. And though homosexuality was not specifically mentioned, I am sure that it was part of the “wickedness” that grieved God in Genesis 6 causing him to destroy the entire earth with a flood. Here in Romans 1, God reaffirms His disdain for sexual impurity, and though He loves people, all people, all sinners, including those who are guilty of homosexuality, He still hates the sin.
I do not think, however, that Christians should elevate one particular sin over another. It would be wrong for us to emphasize the wickedness of homosexuality and minimize other sins, which are just as sinful in the sight of God. Remember, God also said that “divers weights are an abomination unto the Lord, and a false balance is not good” (Proverbs 20:23), referring to cheating people in business transactions. It is all sin, and it is all displeasing to the Lord. But we must not call homosexuality or any other sin anything but what God calls it. The present culture will call you a racist or a homophobe if you do not go along with its pro-homosexual agenda. As Christians, however, we need to be far more concerned about God’s opinion than we are about what the world thinks is right. “We ought to obey God rather than men.”
In these last days, I can only imagine that man will continue to get further and further away from the will of God, but Christians must stand firm. Don’t be duped by this sinful generation into thinking that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. It is sin. Don’t stop loving all people, including homosexuals. Don’t stop trying to share the message of forgiveness that is available to all of us sinners through the shed blood of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary. But don’t capitulate to this world either by calling homosexuality anything other than what it is – sin. We are all guilty of sin, but let’s not be guilty of disagreeing with God about what sin is.
Posted in Thoughts from Romans by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Ephesians 4:32
Read the “1124 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” (Acts 28:30&31)
The last few verses of Acts sum up the purpose of Paul’s entire life, to preach Christ. No matter where he went, and no matter who he was talking to, Paul preached Christ. In these last three chapters we see Paul rehearsing his testimony before Herod and Festus. Later we see him being the spiritual leader during the crisis of the shipwreck; and later still he is ministering to the people on the island of Melita. Paul had one focus in life and that was to be an ambassador for the Lord Jesus Christ. He could have gotten bitter about his unjust treatment; he could have gotten discouraged because of his lack of liberty; but he just kept preaching Christ: to kings and governors; to soldiers; to his fellow prisoners; to the barbarous people on the island; to the Jews and Gentiles at Rome.
I am thankful for the faithfulness of Paul, and men (and women) like him that have also been faithful to preach Christ. I was saved because someone was faithful to preach the gospel to me. In fact, I had several somebodies who had witnessed to me. I am thankful for my friend Kathleen who preached Christ to me; and for Pete; and for Doug, a dairy man at Shoprite who invited me to church; and for Reverend Riter who knocked on my door while canvassing for a bus ministry; and for men on the radio like J. Vernon McGee who were also faithfully preaching and teaching, and were used of God to ultimately reach me.
I am also thankful for the men of God that He has used to influence my life after my conversion; men who discipled and trained me. I couldn’t possibly list all of the people that have helped me a long the way; but let me mention one: Pastor Rick Wedemeyer is the one man that I have had a relationship with since the early days of my salvation. Pastor Rick has never turned me away. Even when he was going through turbulent times himself, he always had time to encourage me, and he always helped me.
I wonder if my life will have the same impact and influence on this generation. I want to be faithful to preach Christ to my generation as Paul was to his; and I also want to be used of the Lord to help develop and mentor younger Christians. How about you? Do you desire to be a faithful ambassador for the Lord? Do you witness when given the opportunity? Do you take time to teach those that are still babes in Christ? You and I are saved because somebody else was faithful. Let’s be faithful also.
Posted in Thoughts from Acts by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34
Read a previous post from this passage – “What Are You Waiting For?“
“And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” – (Acts 24:16)
In our passage today, we see the great Apostle Paul standing before Governor Felix. The official accusation that was laid against him was by the religious leaders was that he was a “mover of sedition”, and that he “profane[d] the temple”. (Acts 24:3 & 4) The real beef that the nation of Israel had against Paul was that he was a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that he taught that Jesus Christ was risen from the dead. Paul did not try to hide his faith in Christ and the resurrection. He boldly declared that Jesus Christ was the true Messiah, was God in the flesh, and that He had, in fact, risen from the dead. However, though Paul was bold in his conviction and preaching regarding the message of Christ, he was not guilty of what he was being accused of. He stated that he strove (exercised) to always have a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.
Paul had a clear conscience. He loved the nation of Israel, and he wanted more than anything to see them come to faith in Christ. He preached the message of salvation boldly, which was exactly what God had called him to do. His first concern was to obey God. However, sometimes in obeying God, we will offend men; but we ought not go out of our way to be an offence to men. The message of a resurrected Christ was what offended the Jews. Though Paul did nothing to hurt the Jews, his message was nevertheless offensive to them.
God has called us to be light and salt to this world. We will offend God if we refrain from what he has called us to be. This world is getting more and more offended by Christians who are living in obedience to God’s call; but we must not let that stop us from telling them what they need to hear. If I have to choose between offending men, and offending God, I must choose to offend men. However, it is not my desire to hurt men. I love people, and I will work hard (exercise myself) to be as loving and non-offensive to them as possible, but there will be times when my life and my message as a Christian will offend them. However, even when the world gets offended, I can still pillow my head with a clear conscience knowing that I did what God has told me to do.
Posted in Thoughts from Acts by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Matthew 6:33
Read the “1121 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy. And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.” (Acts 21:8-14)
Good morning. Jesus said to a disciple named Ananias in a vision…
“…Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” (Acts 9:11-16)
The Apostle Paul had been through alot. He still had alot more to go through. He was beaten, stoned, imprisoned, all for the cause of Christ. And now he had made his mind up to go to Jerusalem. In our passage in Acts 21, he was warned that he would be bound and turned over to the Gentiles. The disciples who were gathered with him, tried to talk Paul out of going. But Paul was in the ministry. And he told them, “What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Are you in the ministry? If you are saved, you are…
“And he [Jesus] said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
Did you ever notice the first two verses of ‘Am I A Soldier Of The Cross’, by Isaac Watts?
Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His name?
Must I be carried to the skies to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed thro’ bloody seas?
Are you in the ministry? Is it really that difficult to hand somebody on the street a tract. Or even leave one in a public rest room? Paul was in the ministry. Beaten and locked in prison, he was still ministering the gospel to those around him…
“And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:23-31)
Are you in the ministry? Just something to think about.
Peace! (Matthew 28:18-20)
Posted in Devotions by Pastor Ted Stahl with no comments yet.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Matthew 6:33
Read the “1121 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” (Acts 17:30)
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts 3:19)
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
This word “repent” has been the source of much dispute among Christians for as long as I can remember. On the one end there are those that say that repentance is simply a changing of one’s mind, and on the other end there are those who say that repentance is reformation, meaning a change in behavior. Many would also add that repentance involves a mourning over past actions, a sorrow for sin. I really do not think, however, that the concept of repentance is all that difficult to understand. The first thing that we need to clarify here is that we are referring to repentance as it regards salvation. Obviously the word repent, as any other word, can be, and is, used in a variety of contexts.
One dictionary defines “repent” (μετανοέω [metanoeō]) ” to think again”, or to think afterwards, like an afterthought. When I trusted Christ as my Saviour, I had to re-think all that I thought I knew about Jesus and salvation. I previously thought that salvation was somehow dependent upon my good works, and learned that I was wrong. So repentance certainly involves a change of mind, and in a simplistic, literal sense I would wholly agree with the definition of repentance as a changing of one’s mind.
However, repentance as it regards to salvation is so much more than just a changing of mind. There also is a change of attitude about sin. Before I was saved, I didn’t think sin was such a big deal. I tended to minimize sin, instead of considering myself “exceeding sinful”. God had to bring me under conviction, which caused me to see sin more like God sees it, rather than the way I had previously viewed it. Then when I realized my guilt and understood the penalty that I deserved there was also a change of heart, a brokenness, a humility. Unrepentant sinners tend to justify themselves. I finally saw my sin from God’s perspective, and there was guilt. Now, I must also state here that I believe it is possible to have guilt without repentance. Esau was sorry, but he did not repent. Sorrow will bring a person to the place where he can repent though. Guilt does not always lead to repentance, but repentance always involves guilt.
Finally, I knew that salvation would involve a change in direction. Don’t get nervous. I am not saying that I believed I had to work my way to Heaven, but I knew that saved people lived differently than unsaved people did. I knew that the direction that I was previously going was wrong, and I needed God to get me turned around. When I trusted Christ as my Saviour, he changed my direction. I have not perfectly followed His plan at all times, but my desire is to stay within His will for my life, which was not even the slightest concern before I was saved.
So here goes. I am going to give you my best definition of the word “repentance”. Repentance as it regards to salvation is a change of mind, heart, and attitude that brings about a change in direction.
Posted in Thoughts from Acts by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.