Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Church Etiquette


Key Scriptures: 1 Timothy 3 NKJV

14 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly;

15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

Text: 1 Timothy 4 NKJV

1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,

2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,

3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving;

5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.

Let’s begin tonight by taking a closer look at the Apostle Paul’s admonition to Timothy.

1 Timothy 4 NKJV

1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,

* the Spirit expressly says: Not a vagueness of speech or vision but clarity and specificity – clearly speaks with there being no mistake about what is to come.

* latter times: In this last dispensation if you will … during the last days before the end –

Hebrews 1 KJV

1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son

In the book of Hebrews, the Apostle Paul reveals that we are already in these last days – this last dispensation of time if you will, so that these things are occurring from now until the very end. Now back to:

1 Timothy 4 NKJV

1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,

* depart from the faith: Greek word translated depart – apostesnotai – apostate – a verb = ‘to depart’ from the faith in this instance … this is the main thought of this scripture.

2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition

* falling away: speaking of the apostasy to come - the great defection, again from the faith

* 1 Timothy 4:1 … some will depart from the faith – some: according to Barnes, implies not merely a small number but rather a greater number which will depart from:

* the faith: the doctrines which constitute Christian faith.

> Those teachings, truths and principles held dear and once delivered by the inspiration of God to the Holy Apostles and Prophets, and especially by His Own Son, Jesus.

1 Timothy 4 NKJV

1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,

* giving heed: yielding credibility and giving place in the church

* deceiving spirits: literal demons which manifest their evil intentions through deception, eventually deceiving the very elect if it were possible … but it is not! That’s the greater message – some are given to know and know for sure without yielding to deception … the elect of God continue to see clearly and continue to reinforce the doctrines of Christ and not the doctrines of demons.

* doctrines of demons: false teachings which take the body of Christ off of the solid rock foundation and away from the purposes of God. This is why we are told:

1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (KJV)

What are some of these doctrines of demons?

* Universalism

* Humanism

* Situation Ethics

* The Brotherhood of Man

* Ultimate Reconciliation

* Legalism

* Many other fads, trends and trivial pursuits

The gods of these religious and secular pursuits are no gods at all but are demons.

The Apostle continues speaking expressly concerning these seductive deceptions of his day which some accepted and taught in the church.

1 Timothy 4 NKJV

2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,

3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving;

5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.

In the end we must remember that we are in the soul harvest business. We are not in the business of teaching people how to become rich, successful, happy, powerful, educated, healthy or fulfilled with the exception that it stems from and leads to the harvest of souls as is God’s will.

We must reach, teach and keep people for the cause of Christ and with God’s word disciple every believer to make a living, make a life and make a difference.

However, the days are upon us that men do not endure sound doctrine and the church is under attack. Later in his life the elder Apostle, Paul, wrote to his young son in the faith, Timothy, again encouraging him how he ought to behave in the church …

2 Timothy 2 NKJV

2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;

4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Making The Difference


People will seldom die for something which they are unwilling to live for.

Key Scripture: John 15 NKJV

12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

13 "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

This weekend is Memorial Day weekend, the time we set aside in the United States of America:

* this one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all;

* this land of the free, home of the brave;

* this nation that was built on the ideal embraced and taken from a poem by Emma Lazarus written in 1883 which welcomed more than 12 million immigrants to Ellis Island from 1892 to 1954:

“… Give me your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

* this nation who defends the weak, feeds the hungry, gives to the poor and protects the rights of each individual regardless of race, color, gender, national origin or religious affiliation;

* this nation of the people, by the people and for the people, who has always given its very best and brightest sons and daughters in defense of these ideals …

We should yield solemn respect to those who gave their time, talent and treasure, pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to serve our country in times of war and peace, those who sacrificed their lives in that noble cause.

These men and women made a difference.

We owe our nation, our homes and our cars, our jobs and our hobbies, our past, our families and our future to those brave Americans who unselfishly made that difference.

There are so many heroes in our past who served in one way or another to make America great. Men and women alike … those who sailed with and supported Columbus, families on the Mayflower, the colonialists who braved the elements of a new harsh world, those early pioneers and settlers of the west, men and women of science and medicine, those who brought the railways to connect the Atlantic with the Pacific, people like Lewis and Clarke, Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers and the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr., … so many educators and philanthropists, inventors and astronauts, homemakers and shipbuilders, factory workers and farmers … America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, a land filled with heroes.

Every day of the year could be a special day commemorating a different segment of our society for their unselfish and sacrificial contribution in making America great and leaving a legacy behind.

However, one class of citizen stands out on the front lines of our nation when we think of the heroes of our past, it’s the American Soldier. Memorial Day is about those who died defending us in war.

So, in honor of those who gave their lives in sacrifice for our freedom we have set aside a national day of remembrance, we call it Memorial Day, which again we celebrate tomorrow and as I said earlier, this is Memorial Day Weekend. Everyone is encouraged to take a moment at 3 p.m. tomorrow and remember those brave souls who chose their course and served the cause, giving their lives in defense of our Nation’s decided best interest.

In fact let’s take a moment together right now and thank God as we prayerfully honor these lives and the sacrifice they made.

Although we may not all have served in the military or have family members who died in the cause of freedom, we are all soldiers … soldiers of the cross, born again into the army of God.

How can we as soldiers of the cross make a difference for the Kingdom we serve and the cause of our Commander in Chief, Jesus?

Turn with me in the word to

Mark 8

34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

35 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

36 "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?

37 "Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Whosoever will, can make a difference.

How can we as soldiers of the cross make a difference for the Kingdom we serve and the cause of our Commander in Chief, Jesus?

What we believe makes a difference

What we say makes a difference

What we do makes a difference

1. What we believe makes a difference

* Mark 9:23 All things are possible to him who believes

* Matthew 13:58 & Mark 6:5 Unbelief stopped the work of Jesus

> Impossibilities become possible when we believe!

2. What we say makes a difference

* Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue

* Proverbs 6:2 Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth

* Numbers 14:28 As you have spoken in My ear so will I do unto you (Joshua and Caleb against the ten spies)

* Luke 6:45 Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks

* Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart … this is why we guard our hearts with all diligence because out if it flows the issues of life … words! It’s not that which goes into the body that defiles but …

3. What we do makes a difference

* Matthew 25 NKJV

35 ‘for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;

36 ‘I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

40 "And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

* 1 John 3 NKJV

17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

This is the Gospel message – Romans 10

* What we believe – “if you believe in your heart …”

* What we say – “and confess with your mouth …”

> You will be saved!

But what then?

* Living the life of a Born Again Believer means that we do something about what we believe and something more than mere words.

* We don’t work for Jesus to get saved or to go to heaven … rather we work because we are saved and on our way to heaven!

What we do makes a difference! That’s why there is a memorial day!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Principles of Faith


The Word of God teaches that success is more than a one step process. And sometimes God sends us down a road to get to the end of the road and at other times He sends us down the road to get to the fork in the road. Therefore we must wisely consider every opportunity as we lay our lives in God’s hands.

When we place our life in God’s hands the adventure becomes a script that only He can write. What seems like a surprise to us is often a plan to God.

Our part is to stay focused on our call, keep an eye out of the peripheral, offshoot ideas along the way and always be ready for a new word from God.

We must not be enticed to follow after other Gods like money, power, pleasure or position. Nothing will ever satisfy the soul like waking up each day in the center of God’s will for your life.

Like every other major decision in the life of a Believer and follower of Jesus, our new ideas and new words from God should stand and pass three tests before we commit to any new course. Recently our home groups used these three tests as a teaching guide for making decisions. These three tests I speak of are:

1. The Word of God Test

2. The Witness of the Holy Spirit Test

3. The Confirmation Test

This morning I want us to look at what can happen in the life of a Believer once they make a decision and launch out on their new adventure. Today we are going to learn some principles of life that will help strengthen our faith.

Turn to Matthew 14 ... we will begin reading out text momentarily.

The story of Peter walking on water … leading up to this event:

* John the Baptist had been imprisoned & beheaded by Herod

* When Jesus about John, He went to a deserted place to pray

* The multitudes found where Jesus was and came to Him

* Jesus had compassion on them and healed their sick

* It became very late and the great multitude needed food

* All that was available was 5 barley loaves and 2 small fishes

* Jesus took them, blessed them, broke them and gave them to His disciples and the disciples gave them to the people

* More than 5000 men, besides women and children ate their fill

* Twelve baskets full of fragments were taken up afterwards

* Then late in the afternoon, Jesus instructed His disciples to get into a boat go to the other side of the lake while He sent the multitudes away

* Jesus dispersed the multitudes and went up into a mountain to pray

* When evening came Jesus was on the land alone and the ship was in the midst of the sea, tossed by the boisterous winds which blew contrary to its desired course

* Verse 25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

* The Fourth Watch - During these days the Roman system of night watchman helped everyone keep up with the near time. Each night was broken down into four, three hour shifts. It went like this:

> The 1st Watch 6 til 9 p.m. Evening

> The 2nd Watch 9 til 12 midnight Midnight

> The 3rd Watch 12 til 3 a.m. Cock-Crowing

> The 4th Watch 3 til 6 a.m. Morning

* Jesus spent the night in prayer

* The disciples spent the night rowing hard against the winds, only making about 3 miles in the more than 9 hours of hard work.

Have you found Matthew 14 yet? We will begin reading in:

Matthew 14 NKJV

22 ¶ Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.

23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.

24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.

25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. (Between 3am and 6am)

26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear.

27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid."

28 And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."

29 So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.

30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"

31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"

32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God."

There are at least four Principles Of Faith we learn from this account.

1. All things are possible with God

* God is not limited by the impossible

* If it is you God, ask me to do something impossible

2. Truth is not determined by a show of hands

* Not everyone will always agree or go with you

* Eleven men stayed in the boat, only one got out …

3. Failure is not defeat

* … a part of the process, not the problem

* … not punishment, but positioning for the future

* Our Heavenly Father is the God of another chance

* We must be willing to cry out, ‘Lord, save me!”

4. What you do makes a difference

* Life may not be all about you

* Acts 16 … the prisoners were listening

* Zaccheaus met more needs than his own

* Who is watching you?

Someone is watching you, listening to you, following you through life.

They may never be the one who gets out of the boat or walks on water or risks such failure and public humiliation. However, these sit ready to be forever changed by what they see you do and how you react to the challenges faith in Jesus demands.

Decide this morning that you are going to start living life by faith believing that all things are possible with God; unhindered by what others may believe or say; that your past failures will not serve to defeat you in Jesus’ name; and that others will come to know Him because of you and how you choose to live your life in faith.

God is going to use your life to teach somebody something! … you might as well be the example of someone who wins the fight, even if they do get beat up some and lose a round or two along the way!


1. All things are possible with God.

2. Truth is not determined by a show of hands

3. Failure is not defeat

4. What you do makes a difference

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother’s Day


Key Scriptures: Ephesians 6 NKJV

1 ¶ Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

2 "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise:

3 "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."

Our text for today comes from:

Mark 3 NLT

31 ¶ Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived at the house where he was teaching. They stood outside and sent word for him to come out and talk with them.

32 There was a crowd around Jesus, and someone said, "Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you."

33 Jesus replied, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?"

34 Then he looked at those around him and said, "These are my mother and brothers.

35 Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother."

Now we know from the stories in the Bible that Jesus was born the son of a very special young woman, Mary. Following prophecy Mary was a young virgin girl living in the town of Nazareth which situates a few miles west of the Sea of Galilee.

The bible accounts that Mary, who was engaged to be married to a good and godly man named Joseph, found favor in the eyes of the Lord and God, by divine appointment, chose her to be the mother of His only begotten Son, Jesus. Before Mary was married, while she was still a virgin, Mary became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit according to the Word of God. This was a sign that Isaiah prophesied would point to the miracle birth of the Messiah, God’s Son and Savior of the whole world.

Although Joseph and Mary were subsequently married, the bible firmly declares that Mary remained a virgin until after the birth of Jesus in the town of Bethlehem. After Jesus’ birth we know very little about His life except that God had chosen this very special woman to be His mother and to raise Him in preparation for His destined call.

One glimpse we have of Jesus is at age 12 when He visits Jerusalem with His family for the Passover Feast. In His youthful zeal Jesus remains behind in the temple debating with the scholars of the day when His family departs Jerusalem on their long journey back to their home in Nazareth. After three days of searching for Jesus His mother Mary finds Him in the Temple. One can imagine the relief.

Jesus, like many young men on their own has acted unwisely in His parents eyes and therefore He is corrected by His mother …

Luke 2:48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you." (NLT)

Jesus and His mother may have had a disagreement about their concerns but nonetheless, Jesus obeyed His mother and returned to Nazareth.

Luke 2 NLT

51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.

After all was said and done, Mary, His mother, treasured all these things in her heart. And, as a result of Jesus grew in wisdom, stature and in favour with God and men.

Basically, God and other people look favorably on children who obey their parents even if there is disagreement … children should obey their parents and God expected nothing less from His Son, Jesus!

On another occasion we find Jesus as a young man most likely in His twenties. One day He is attending a wedding with some of His close friends when the wedding party ran out of wine. Jesus’ mother said to Jesus, Son, “they have no wine.” Let me paraphrase Jesus’ answer in today’s terms:

Oh Mom, come on … what do you want me to do? I don’t think it’s a good idea that I get involved.

It appears from scripture in John 2 that His mother ignored Him and just said to His friends, guys … just do whatever He tells you. And with that you know the rest of the story, Jesus turned the water into wine.

In these accounts we see that Jesus has a habit of unquestionably obeying His mother … so why now, later in His life, during His ministry in the Galilee, does Jesus seem to brush off His mother’s request? Well, let’s look at the story again and see if we can better understand the point Jesus is making.

Mark 3 NLT

31 ¶ Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived at the house where he was teaching. They stood outside and sent word for him to come out and talk with them.

32 There was a crowd around Jesus, and someone said, "Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you."

33 Jesus replied, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?"

34 Then he looked at those around him and said, "These are my mother and brothers.

35 Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother."

It is evident here that Jesus is in no way attempting to bring disrespect to His mother or to the relationships He has and values among His half brothers and sisters. So, what truth is He teaching us here?

The truth of spiritual relationship.

Jesus is revealing a truth to His listeners in that day and to those who will hear Him now. There are spiritual relationships which are more real and even transcend the earthly and valuable biological ties which we call family.

Every person who has come inside, into the family of God … every person who does the will of the Father has become a member of the family, into a close personal relationship with Jesus.

Jesus is not disavowing or disrespecting or dishonoring His mother, oh no, He has been raised well by her and she, above all other women on the earth is blessed, however, Jesus is making a special statement of inclusion to everyone who would dare come unto Him, believe He is the Son of God and begin to do the will of His Father.

So, where does this leave us this morning? What can we conclude?

1. Jesus respected His mother – you respect yours.

2. Jesus obeyed His parents while He was under their authority even when He had a different perspective – you obey yours while God has you under their authority.

3. Jesus included others in His spiritual family – you need to make room for more spiritual mothers, brothers and sisters – be a part of the family of God.

I close with scripture which reminds me of my mother’s love … allow me this liberty of paraphrase if you will. This is taken with some personal license from 1 Corinthians 13.

A Mother’s love suffers long and is kind; it does not envy; it does not parade itself, is not puffed up;

A Mother’s love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;

A Mother’s love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

A Mother’s Love never fails.

Thanks mom!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Church Etiquette - Part 4


Key Scriptures: 1 Timothy 3 NKJV

14 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly;

15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

Text: 1 Timothy 3 NKJV

1 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.

The King James translation says ‘office of a bishop’. Office, position, basically it is the same since both of these phrases are translated from one Greek word: Episkope

The Greek word Episkope is used only four times in the bible. One it is translated Bishop, here in 1 Timothy 3:1; once it is translated Bishoprick in Acts 1:20 when speaking about a replacement for Judas who vacated his leadership position; and twice this word Episkope is translated ‘visitation’, (Luke 19:44; 1 Peter 2:12), in reference to the Holy Spirit coming earth investigate, inspect, oversee or superintend God’s children.

Episkope is the compound word made up of two distinct Greek words: The first is Epi = over & Skopos = watch; view; see

These two words combine to make up the Greek word for oversight, Episkeptomai, and from there the word Episkope, which denotes the office or position an overseer would occupy.

God ordained the Office of a Bishop in the church so He would have someone in position to look out over and look out after His family in the earth. This is a chief stewardship position in the Body of Christ which deals with the governing of a church or churches. It is a trusted and guarded office to which many aspire but never attain. The first requirement is that of desire to give one’s life to this office. This office is not work which a person does but rather that which a person is.

After a recognized desire to serve in this office, a lifelong pursuit is in order. Let’s look further to see basic qualifications.

2 A bishop then must be:

* blameless,

* the husband of one wife,

* temperate,

* sober-minded,

* of good behavior,

* hospitable,

* able to teach;

3 not given to wine,

* not violent,

* not greedy for money,

* but gentle,

* not quarrelsome,

* not covetous;

4 one who rules his own house well,

* having his children in submission with all reverence

5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?);

In years gone by I have had occasion to deeply study this scripture to make sure I qualified to be a chief steward and take care of the church of God. After intense prayer, meditation and diligent study I am now a qualified and confident to speak on the interpretation of this verse.

First this scripture is not saying that if a person has problems in his household with a spouse, children, finances or sin, then that person is automatically disqualified from the Bishoprick. Rather this scripture is saying that if a person has some trouble in his own house or family and is not actively engaged in dealing with this trouble, working on it to manage and correct the problem, then it should be accepted that if faced with trouble in the church he would not take the initiative or measures necessary to solve or correct those problems either.

However, if one is seen as being actively engaged in dealing with family matters of trouble and difficulties which commonly arise from time to time, then it can be reasonably accepted that this person, given the oversight of the church, would also be successful in leading that church and actively managing the problems which will of certain arise within the family of God.

Evidence to this interpretation is the Apostle Peter who was ordained to the same office as Judas Iscariot. Although Peter denied knowing Jesus violently with cursing, he did not leave it so but recovered himself, strengthened himself, repented and re-engaged. Later we find Peter once again serving the law out of fear and refusing to eat with Christians who were not Jews. He was rebuked by Paul to his face and as we believe, he repented and changed his ways to be no respecter of persons.

God has no perfect people to work with but He works with those of us who, even though we fall or face troubles, do our best to recover ourselves and manage those things under our authority, not ignoring or abdicating our responsibilities as leaders in the Body of Christ. Bishops therefore must have a record of ruling their households well, busy addressing and actively employing corrective measures when problems arise.

Furthermore, a Bishop’s qualifications demand that he be:

6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.

The devil, it appears, suddenly found himself to be somebody in his own eyes, a legend in his own mind as some would say, and this pride in his position, along with the prestige and power which came with the position, caused the devil to fall. A desire to be great or to think oneself to be great is a danger sign.

If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, you must be the servant of all. Let another man’s lips praise you and not your own. Pride goes before a fall. We should not think too highly of ourselves but soberly, recognizing that it is the grace of God which sustains us.

Many times this truth is not embraced in the young or the unproven. Perhaps this is why some say that we should never trust a man who does not walk with a limp. (Reference to Jacob wrestling with the angel in Genesis 32. This is where Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, from a Cheat to a Prince.)

7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Simply here, a Chief Steward, as a representative and leader of the church, must be an example in the community and not just in the church. Community respect can be difficult to obtain and retain in these days. Not to say that Church leaders will not at times be called to speak out against sinful practices a community may adopt, however, no justified finger of reproach should be pointed at these leaders.

These points of having a good testimony within the community often deal with simple things such as paying of just and honest debts, being a person of your word, presenting a kind and caring image of a loving God full of mercy, forgiveness and grace, giving aid to those in need and dependable to help.

8 Likewise deacons …

The Greek word translated deacon here is: Diakonos

I copied this from the Strong’s Concordance Greek Dictionary

diakonos dee-ak’-on-os

probably from an obsolete diako (to run on errands)

AV-minister 20, servant 8, deacon 3; 31

1) one who executes the commands of another, esp. of a master, a servant, attendant, minister

1a) the servant of a king

1b) a deacon, one who, by virtue of the office assigned to him by the church, cares for the poor

1c) a waiter, one who serves food and drink

Verse 8 continues: Likewise deacons:

* must be reverent,

* not double-tongued,

* not given to much wine,

* not greedy for money,

9 holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.

It is important that deacons be disciples of the doctrine of the church so that they may have personal confidence in the scriptures.

10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless.

The standard of approving those who are engaged in practical matters of service in the Church should include a time of proving or period of observation in the work before they are officially ordained and set into that office.

It has been said that we don’t ordain people so that they will become a minister or deacon, but rather we ordain people who we find already engaged in ministry or service and as we see them growing to meet the scriptural qualifications we place the leadership’s seal of approval upon them and officially recognize their calling by publicly ordaining them to a specific work.

An extra set of requirements we see here in the following verses are attached to those wishing to become deacons in the church …

11 Likewise their wives must be:

* reverent,

* not slanderers,

* temperate,

* faithful in all things.

Now further qualifications for the office of a deacon …

12 Let deacons be:

* the husbands of one wife,

* ruling their children and their own houses well.

13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

The Apostle Paul then gives us our key scriptures revealing why he is being divinely inspired to write these things … so that we might know how we are to behave ourselves or conduct ourselves in the Church.

14 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly;

15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Edge


Key Scripture: Proverbs 22:3 A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. (NLT)

Now with this in mind, let’s turn to our text for today:

Genesis 14:1a And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar

History records that approximately 1913 years before Christ there lived a king named Amraphel, he was the King of Shinar which is the land situated in the Euphrates Valley the same area known as Mesopotamia, Babylonia, the Persian Empire which is modern day Iraq. King Amraphel is historically known for at least three things:

1. He united Babylonia under one rule, and made Babylon his capital and reigned for 43 years.

2. He codified Babylonian law 400 years before the Mosaic law. King Amraphel is better known to us by the name of King Hammurabi, (according to credible research and recently discovered monuments). His code of law, known as Hammurabi’s code or codex Hammurabi, is one of the landmarks in world history. Today we possess the actual originals of the code of laws, administrative orders and official letters of King Hammurabi (Amraphel), who was a contemporary of Abraham.

King Hammurabi ruled 1945 BC to 1902 BC, also known as King Amraphel, King of the Euphrates Valley & Mesopotamia - Babylon – Shinar - Sources: Eclectic Notes, Hertz, Pentateuch, Soncino Press p403 and Easton Dictionary of the Bible, Amraphel 221

King Hammurabi in his turn ruled over the people known as the Sumerians whose history included:

· Building the first brick houses

· Starting the first schools in the world

· the division of the circle into 360 degrees

· the division of an hour into 60 minutes and those minutes into 60 seconds

· they devised a strong family organization

· they gave us our first city states

· they pioneered the alphabet, architecture, weights and measures, and scientific irrigation

In their greatest day, this region was ruled by King Hammurabi.

What is the third thing this king was known for?

3. He is the King responsible for kidnapping Abraham’s nephew, Lot, from Sodom and Gomorrah.

The Story of Genesis 14 …

The five kings allied together in around the salt sea near the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah served underneath the government of King Chedorlaomer of Elam, (modern day Iran). Of all these five kings and their lands produced they owned nothing and decided to break rank and rebel. After thirteen years they revolted against Chedorlaomer.

When Chedorlaomer heard of the rebellion of these five Kings he gathered three Kings more Kings and their armies with him, including King Amraphel, or King Hammurabi as he is better known today, and came against the cities in the lower salt sea plains in the vale of Siddim.

These five rebellious Kings lost the war and as a result many of their people were taken captive as slaves along with the goods of the land. There was one particular man living in the city of Sodom who was taken captive that makes this story Bible worthy. Let’s see who this man was – turn with me to the book of Genesis, Chapter 14.

Genesis 14 NKJV

11 Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way.

12 They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, for he dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner; and they were allies with Abram.

14 Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.

15 He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.

16 So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.

The Question: How did Abram defeat King Hammurabi and these 4 armies when the 5 Kings of the south and their armies couldn’t do it before him?

Abram had an edge! What is The Edge?

Notice verse 14: Abram had foresight and planning – He was evidently a prudent man who looked down the road and prepared himself. (just as our Key Scripture encourages us all!)

1. He armed servants – evidently Abram had spent some effort, forging, sharpening and stockpiling weapons of warfare so as to equip his shepherd/soldier/servants …

2. He trained servants – evidently he had spent some time and energy training them for battle in the times of peace, prior to this need …

3. He used servants – evidently Abram was unafraid to engage these trained shepherd/soldier/servants in the battles life demands …

These things are great, but what gave Abram the edge? The Kings he was facing had most likely done the same thing … They armed, trained and used their soldiers …

What gave Abram The Edge?

4. These shepherd/soldier/servants, who Abram trained, armed and used were:

Born in the house.

That’s the edge --- these men were all born in the house. In this case they were born in Abraham’s house. They had been raised with the same philosophy, speaking the same language, embracing the same values, working on common projects, connected, related, joined together by something invisible but something as strong as life itself. These men were born into the vision Abraham had since God had added them to his household.

When we share a common philosophy, common language, common vision and common work, nothing can be restrained us whatever we might imagine to do from building the tower of Babel to putting a man on the moon.

God has given us all capacity to be shepherd/soldier/servants, born in the house of His choice.

Having a common set of values, a common history and a common future can make us care for and act like family with people we have no blood relationship with.

· Explain the difference between WWI, WWII and Vietnam. Make note about soldiers going to war in WWI & WWII with people from their own community, city, town or school. Buddies, family members, team mates before they went to war, knowing they would also return home to face their sisters, mothers and sweethearts and live and work with them for the rest of their lives made these men fight a little harder to cover their flanks and stand strong in their day of battle. However, in Vietnam we saw a drastic change to the place where soldiers often met for the first time on the field of battle, never having seen them before and with no reason to believe they would ever have to see them again after they returned home. There was no connection, no camaraderie, and often no common philosophy, history or future. Not that friends can’t be or weren’t made in battle, but …

There is something to be said about being a part of something bigger than just yourself … sharing a common philosophy, a common history and a common future. There is strength in family, born in the same house, raised under one vision, embracing others as family.

To be born was not our individual choice … but to be born again is.

To be born into a natural home was not our choice, but to be born into a spiritual house is.

Psalms 68:6 and 1 Corinthians 12:18 combine to tell us that God has a special place for each one of us in a family of His choice.

God has a house for each one of us. A house of His choice. Have you been born into the House of God?

God has a plan and a will for you but only you can commit yourself to the house of God and submit yourself to:

1. Be armed (equipped)

2. Be trained (prepared)

3. Be used (productive)

4. Be a servant, born in the house (family)

This depth of relationship is an expression of covenant.

Covenant means, ‘your good at my expense’.

Do you have a church family that knows you and cares about you as you know and care about them? With whom do you share common vision, philosophy, future? Who would you go to war for?

This kind of relationship begins when we take the first step. Decide today that you are going to find a cause worth your life and pledge yourself to it. Open your heart to God and He will birth His house in you and give you the winning edge in the battles of life.