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.
“Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” – (Galatians 4:16)
As I read verse 15, I thought of the phrase, “Don’t Shoot The Messenger”. I looked back in the blog archives and discovered that I have used that phrase as the title to two other posts derived from two different passages. It seems that men of God throughout the Bible have had trouble being negatively received by the people they are ministering to.
In this morning’s passage, Paul is trying to straighten out the problem of legalism in the churches of Galatia. They apparently were trying to mix New Testament Christianity with the Old Testament Law. By doing so, they were adding to salvation by grace through faith, making it a salvation of works. Paul explained to them that if they were going to try to keep the Law, they had better do it perfectly, which, of course, is an impossibility. We are not saved by keeping the Law, and we are certainly not kept by keeping the Law. Salvation comes through faith in Christ, and our Christian life is to be a walk of faith.
The point I am trying to make here in this post, however, is that the Christians in Galatia were very fond of Paul until he started preaching something that went contrary with what they were doing. They had been influenced by some people who were corrupting their thinking. Paul was merely trying to get them back on the right path, but the people didn’t want to hear it. Instead of searching the Scriptures as the Bereans did, and listening to the truth, the people were stubbornly holding on to their false doctrine; and Paul became the bad guy.
I have had this type of thing happen to me in the ministry. I have had people who at one time loved me, later turn on me and become an enemy. Usually it was because there was something in their lives that was inconsistent with the teaching of the Bible and the will of God. Instead of fixing the problem, they decided to get mad at the messenger. I understand that doctors sometimes experience this same scenario. They are just reporting the truth revealed through their examination. They didn’t cause the problem, but somehow they end up with the blame.
Let’s stop blaming the messengers that God sends into our lives. If the messenger is telling us the truth, then we must face it. We really ought to thank those who are being honest enough with us to help us by telling us what we really don’t want to hear. But how can we get help if we don’t know the truth. Don’t shoot the messenger.
Posted in Thoughts From Galatians by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
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 perfectly 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 1 comment.
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.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 34:6
Read the “1206 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.” (2 Corinthians 8:8)
“Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.” (2 Corinthians 8:24)
Tradition states that back in the days of the Roman Empire there were unscrupulous stoneworkers who crafted sculptures, but would sometimes cover the flaws and cracks in their work with wax. However, when the hot sun would beat upon their products, it would melt the wax and ruin the appearance of the sculpture. Potters also were guilty of sealing cracked and even broken wares with wax in order to sell them at the market, but when the unsuspecting buyer returned home and put something hot in the the pot, plate, or cup, it would also melt the wax. Eventually, men of character who traded these goods would stamp their wares “sine cera” meaning without wax. These two words eventually evolved into meaning “genuine” or “honest”.
In our text Paul states very candidly that we prove the sincerity or the genuineness of our love through the grace of giving. If you love someone you will give to them. If you love God, you will give back to Him. You may have heard this old saying that bears repeating here: “You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.” Do you genuinely and honestly love the Lord, then give to Him. You may say, how do I do that? Well for starters, I would strongly recommend that you give to the work of His local church. God has chosen the local church as the vehicle for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. But then beyond that, you may want to give to some things that you believe in. At our church, we are always taking up special offerings for various causes and people that have a need. Learn to give. God is a giver, not a taker. People who are yielded to God will be like Him and will also have a giving spirit about them.
Giving not only proves the genuineness of your love, but it also demonstrates the sincerity of your faith. If you say that you believe God, than believe what He says about giving:
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38)
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shallnot be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10)
God promises to bless those who give back to Him. Notice that I said “give back”, because everything we have was given to us by Him in the first place. You can trust God with your money. Don’t get greedy. God loves to bless His children, but He cannot bless a child that doesn’t listen to Him.
Posted in Thoughts from 2 Corinthians by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 34:1 – 4
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 2 comments.
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 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.
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. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (1Corinthians 13:1-2)
Good morning. The Beatles were close: all you need is love. When your source of love comes from stone idols, multi-armed Hindu gods, or yourself, your source of love is wrong. Let’s look at the rest of the chapter to see what love is and discover the True Source of Love…
“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, 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. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1Corinthians 13:3-13)
Charity, or love, will help us to fulfill the greatest of the Commandments…
“And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)
And this love Jesus gave us in a new commandment…
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35)
The love we need to love God, our enemies, our brethren, and our neighbors comes from God: love is of God…
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1John 4:7-8)
“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)
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
All you need is love: the love that only comes from the True, and Living God.
Posted in Devotions by Pastor Ted Stahl with no comments yet.
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.
“18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” (1 Corinthians 12:18)
1 Corinthians 12 discusses the spiritual gifts given by God to individual members of the Body of Christ, which are to be used edify and encourage the Body as a whole. Many of the particular gifts discussed here in this chapter were transitional gifts that were prominent in the first century when the Church was very young. This here particular gifts, including healing, tongues, miracles, etc. have ceased since the full canon of Scripture was completed (see 1 Corinthians 13:8). Another list of spiritual gifts is given in Romans 12, which is more applicable to the Body of Christ today (see Romans 12:5 – 8).
Within the context of the body of a local New Testament Church, there are many needs, which God has promised to supply (Philiipians 4:13). Each member of the local body must find the gift (or gifts) that God has given him (or her) and then find the place within the body where that gift (those gifts) can be put to full use, and where they can be beneficial in edifying the body as a whole. Some can teach; others are good administrators; others are quiet encouragers; some have been blessed financially and love to give; still others are handy and build and fix things. Whatever gift(s) you have, you need to fully develop them for the Lord and put them to a good use at the church.
By the way. These gifts are God-given. They are not given to glorify any individual, but to edify the body. Some gifts will be readily seen by others, while some are more behind the scenes; but, all are equally needful. Every member of the body is just as important as another.
Have you found your place within the body? Have you discovered the gift(s) that God has equipped you with? If you have, you need to develop those gift and put them to full use for the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ within the body of your local church.
If you haven’t discovered your spiritual gifts yet, here is a spiritual gifts test that may help you:
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
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.
“24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-25)
Did you notice while reading 1 Corinthians nine that Paul emphasized the need to control himself. The word “temperate,” means self-control. Paul uses the illustration of people who are in athletic contests who need to have self-control. They cannot expect to win the race if they are overeating and under-exercising. It takes a great deal of self discipline to be able to control one’s fleshly appetites and put in the time and sweat needed to achieve “the crown” or trophy in a sporting event.
It is almost the same spiritually. Paul taught earlier (chronologically) in Galatians that temperance was a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23), meaning that it is what the Spirit of God produces in our lives as we are yielded to Him. So, for the believer, temperance is not a fleshly character trait, it occurs when the yielded Christian allows the Spirit of God to control his body, subduing his fleshly appetites. It is not self-discipline, it is Holy Spirit discipline. It is saying no to our flesh and saying yes to what the Spirit of God wants us to do.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson 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.
“Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” (1 Corinthians 6:7)
One of the many problems that Apostle Paul was dealing with in his correspondence with the Church in Corinth was the problem of disputes between the brethren. Apparently, conflicts from within the church body were being brought before the secular courts for resolution. Paul uses some pretty strong language rebuking them for resorting to such measures in order to settle their disagreements, and he even uses a little sarcasm in order to drive his point home. However, we can glean some important principles from this problem at Corinth that will help us in our dealings with fellow believers today.
1. Never sue another believer. Personally, I have never sued anybody, Christian or not; but, I will not go beyond what the text is clearly teaching here. In Corinth, Paul was dealing with individuals from within the same church. Believers need to be very careful when dealing with each other, carefully considering all possible end results of their transactions. When we enter into an agreement with somebody, we seldom think about anything ever going wrong, but often that is not the case. We need to be able to resolve our disputes among ourselves.
2. Be willing to let it go. You may not be able to do this in every case, but if it is at all possible, be willing to forgive (and forget) the damage that was caused you by the offending brother. After all, isn’t that what Jesus did, and is still doing, for us.
3. Follow the procedure outlined in Matthew 18:15 – 17
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” (Matthew 18:15-17)
According to Jesus’ instruction in Matthew, the offended brother should first go to the offending party and try to work out the disagreement between them. If that doesn’t work, then he is to bring in another person or possibly two to help bring about resolution. If this fails, then the dispute is to be brought before the church for a final decision. The church was the last “court of appeals” for any case.
4. Be a peacemaker yourself. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “blessed are the peacemakers”. Every church needs to have a few Sprit-filled, impartial people who could sit down with two disagreeing parties and help them come to a mutual agreement.
As long as there are Christians who possess “a flesh” there are at times going to be disagreements within our churches. God prepares us to deal with these disputes in a Christlike way without airing them out before the unsaved world. I think that point two above is the most important instruction out of the four. There are going to be many times in life where we should be willing to give in and just let God deal with the situation. If it is a financial dispute, understand that all money belongs to God and He is well able to replace whatever amount you lost.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.