Saturday, March 30, 2019

Hide Outs, Hold Outs & Hang Outs


Today’s message begins with Three Truths from the Bible
1.   No one is born perfect in the eyes of God.
2.   A person must be Born-Again to enter the Kingdom of God.
3.   We cannot please God if we are unwilling to change.

Change what? Whatever needs to change in order to please God. You should know if you are at odds with God’s Word, if you are, then change!

Change is an interesting concept in the Bible. Some might argue that God’s greatest challenge is getting people to change. In fact it could be said that the biggest problems we have in life could be solved if we or others would only change: Change your mind; Change your heart; Change your ways – or maybe even – Change your socks. Any change for the better is a good change.

However, There is a nature in mankind that moves us to create Hide Outs, Hold Outs & Hang Outs for Sin. We are born with a human nature that:
·        Hides out so no one will know what we think or do.
·        Holds out and keeps thinking and doing whatever we want despite what the Bible or anyone else says.
·        Hangs out with other people who think like we think or do what we do.

In contrast to human nature, one of the most enduring messages in the Bible is the message of repentance. Repentance is a change of mind that produces a change in behavior. We repent by faith in God, through earnest prayer. When we repent before God, we are forgiven by God. Then it is our responsibility to forsake the old nature and embrace the new. We should do our best to live the change and not relapse into the old patterns of life.

Many people are on the road that leads to destruction. The Bible says that there is a broad pathway that leads to destruction and many walk thereon. Unless they are willing to “Turn From” their preferred and familiar ways and “Turn To” God’s new way, they will continue to cause problems for themselves and for others. Without change, life can be hell.

The message of the Bible is clear concerning the need for people to repent. Noah preached the message of repentance for 120 years before God shut the door of the Ark. Jonah was sent to Nineveh to preach a message of repentance, however, Jonah first had to repent himself and change his mind. God challenged Jonah to change and as a result, both Jonah and Nineveh were saved.

So what if we are required to change our minds or change our ways to please the Creator of the universe? It is a very small price to pay for all the blessings and benefits God affords. God’s greatest blessings are out of this world. Let’s look at some NT verses that speak about this change.

John the Baptist preached change:
Matthew 3
1  In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,
2  and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

This was John’s only message: Get right with God … Jesus is coming!

Jesus preached change:
Matthew 4:17  From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

The Disciples preached change:
Mark 6:12  So they went out and preached that people should repent.

After His resurrection, Jesus was still preaching change:
Luke 24
46  Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,
47  and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

The Apostle Paul preached change:
2 Corinthians 7
9  Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.
10  For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Paul encouraged Timothy to preach change:
2 Timothy 2
25  in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,
26  and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

Change comes from a decision to not hide out, hold out or hang out with others who provide us a shelter for our sin. Repentance means change …
·        Check yourself … take an inventory of your beliefs and actions.
·        Challenge yourself with the Word of God … stop battling the Bible.
·        Change the way you think to line up with what God thinks and begin living life as a fully committed follower of Christ.

You can repent today!
1.   Accept the fact that God is right, and you are wrong.
2.   Pray and ask God to forgive you.
3.   Embrace a new day and begin to live a new way.

You can do it!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Titus 2 Proper Doctrine


The practical interpretation of the New Testament word ‘doctrine’ is best understood to be an established set of teachings which guide, guard, and govern the Church. The established doctrine of the Church is important to keep the Church on target, teaching the unchanging Word of God, while remaining outside of and above the influence of a changing world. Time has a way of changing people, but time does not change the truth.

The Bible is the standard of truth, and sound doctrines based on the Word of God are necessary to live a life that pleases God and endures all seasons and survives every situation. Instead of the Bible being out of tune with the changing world, the changing world is out of tune with the Bible. Truth is a servant given to us by God. The purpose of truth is to reveal the highest path and practice of life. There is no better way than the way of truth. Truth, even in its rebuke, is kind and caring. Sound doctrines are teachings aimed at revealing and preserving the truth. They are like lights shining on the best paths of life. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Psalms 119:105

God is wise and His love is never-failing. This does not mean that He agrees with our reasons for straying outside of truth of His Word. God could have left us to ourselves and judged us anyway. However, He was gracious to us and gave us His Word. Then God called, qualified, and commissioned ministers to instruct and encourage us to follow sound doctrine. These doctrines are written in and preserved in the Holy Bible.

Sound Bible Doctrines
1.   Guide us, our families, and the Church
2.   Guard us, our families, and the Church
3.   Govern us, our families, and the Church

When Paul left Titus on the Island of Crete in about the year 63/64 AD, Paul told him to establish, order, and appoint qualified leadership for the Churches in every city. A few months later Paul wrote his letter to Titus by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and encouraged Titus to continue doing what Paul had left him to do by teaching the people to follow sound doctrine. This evening I will provide a well-studied commentary on each verse as we read through the 2nd chapter of Titus.  

Titus 2 NKJV
1 ¶  But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine:
2  that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience;
3  the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things — 
4  that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,
5  to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
6  Likewise exhort the young men to be sober-minded,
7  in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,
8  sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.
9  Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back,
10  not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.
11 ¶  For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
12  teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
13  looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
14  who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
15 ¶  Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

Sound Bible Doctrines
1.   Guide us, our families, and the Church
2.   Guard us, our families, and the Church
3.   Govern us, our families, and the Church

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Do You Pur?


Have you ever disliked someone so much that you sat around imagining their downfall or day-dreaming about how you might turn the tables and get revenge?  Revenge is a human character flaw that can all too often capture the minds of men and women and control their lives. The desire to get back at someone for some perceived or actual injustice can totally consume a person. Revenge minded people are tortured souls.

Decisions that aren’t motivated by love and tempered by mercy give way to the very worst elements in us. Acting on unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred, strife, division along with selfish acts and attitudes is the most like the devil we can ever be as a Child of God. Satan cannot possess a Born-Again Believer, but hatred can … jealously can … envy can … anger can …

Our Bible story today deals with a man who could not get over the feeling that he had been done wrong and he became totally consumed with the idea of revenge. This man went to such extremes with his plans to get revenge that it consumed him and controlled everything he said and did. God did not support him, and the man ended up hanging himself on the very gallows he had built for the one he felt had done him wrong. For the past 2500 years, every year on a special day, there is a remembrance of God stepping in to save His children from the vengeance of this man named Haman. That special day is called “Purim” and it was celebrated this past week on March 21st. Do you pur? We’ll talk more about that later.

Let’s turn our attention to the Scriptures in the Old Testament Book of Esther. The account of Queen Esther is a familiar story to some of you. But, for our purposes today, allow me to give the highlights before we make the points and discover the principles God has for us this morning.

Esther 1:1 Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus (this was the Ahasuerus who reigned over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia),

Nearly 480 years before Jesus was born there was a Persian King named Ahasuerus. He had a reputation of being quite rash in his behavior. It is recorded that he once scourged the sea and put his engineers to death because a storm destroyed a bridge that had been built for him.

2  in those days when King Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the citadel,
3  that in the third year of his reign he made a feast for all his officials and servants — the powers of Persia and Media, the nobles, and the princes of the provinces being before him — 
4  when he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the splendor of his excellent majesty for many days, one hundred and eighty days in all.

The King made a feast and invited all of the important people from his kingdom. The feast lasted 6 months. During the last portion of the King’s celebration of himself he made a request of his queen, a very beautiful woman named Vashti, to present herself before him and his friends so that the King could show off her beauty. She refused and as a result was banished from the presence of the King forever.

About 2 years later, in the fifth year of his reign, King Ahasuerus led 2,000,000 soldiers to war in his attempt to conquer Greece. He had a habit of feeling pretty good about himself. However, his progress was arrested by Leonidas, warrior king of Sparta, and his famous 300 at the Pass of Thermopylae. That would not be his last disastrous encounter with the Greeks. In the end Ahasuerus, also known as Xerxes, returned to Shushan with only 5,000 of the 2 million soldiers he set out with.

Esther 2:1 After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus subsided, he remembered Vashti, what she had done, and what had been decreed against her.

After his return the King began experiencing some depression and regretted his decree against Queen Vashti. The King’s servants came up with a plan. They gathered all the beautiful young virgins in the provinces and gave them one night with the king to see if any one of them could cheer him up and ultimately replace Queen Vashti. One of the young virgin’s was an orphaned Jewish girl named Esther. She was being raised by her cousin named Mordecai. Mordecai was a devout worshipper of Jehovah and he initially encouraged Esther to keep her ethnicity and her religion a secret. She obeyed Mordecai.

Esther 2:16  So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.

When it came Esther’s turn to be with the King, he was smitten with her he and asked her to become his new queen.

About 4 years into the marriage Haman, the villain of this story, was promoted above all the other princes in the land. He sat beside the King and enjoyed great influence with him. However, Haman was a selfish and prideful man. Haman felt entitled to royal privileges and he demanded everyone bow down to him as he rode through the streets of the city.

Esther 3
5  When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow or pay him homage, Haman was filled with wrath.
6  But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him of the people of Mordecai. Instead, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus — the people of Mordecai.

Mordecai, the cousin of Esther, refused to bow and pay homage anyone but Jehovah. Haman felt disrespected and publicly humiliated by Mordecai, but Haman had no real power to punish him. So, Haman began to hatch a plan to get revenge. He wanted to destroy Mordecai and everything Mordecai stood for – namely, the worship of Jehovah and therefore, all the Jews. Haman just needed to get the King’s approval. First, Haman needed a fool proof plan. Remember … he knew King Ahasuerus was a rash man …

Esther 3
7 ¶  In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur (that is, the lot), before Haman to determine the day and the month, until it fell on the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.

“they cast Pur” – Pur means to cast lots … roll the dice … pick a card … read the tea leaves … flip a coin … shake bones. Fortune tellers or diviners or wise men, casts lots for Haman so that he could find the very best day on which to take his vengeance on Mordecai and the Jews. Haman looked to the world for his answer. He devised a devilish plan to succeed.

Let’s review the characters: The King, Ahasuerus; Queen Esther; Mordecai, the good guy cousin who raised Esther; and Haman, the bad guy who hated the good guy and wanted to kill him and exterminate the Jews.

Haman must have imagined that some super astrological being, perhaps the God of pur, was in charge and on his side. However, Jehovah is in charge of everything including the roll of the dice. God caused Haman to believe that the best day to get his revenge was yet 11 months away. Haman believed the pur, silly man, and this gave the Jews almost a year to pray and prepare and position themselves for the deliverance God would send. When the bad guy Haman decided on the date, he went to the King with his plan.

8  Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from all other people’s, and they do not keep the king’s laws. Therefore it is not fitting for the king to let them

The King agreed to let Haman kill Mordecai and all the Jews and gave him the authority to send letters in his name to every Province in the Kingdom declaring the 13th day of Adar as open season on Jews and their possessions. Anyone could kill and steal and rob any Jew of anything, including life, without penalty on that day.

You can read the rest of the story and see how God brought deliverance to His Children through Esther. Even though she was afraid and stood to lose everything, she nonetheless stood before the King and won a great victory for her people. When Haman saw his plans were thwarted, he went home and hung himself on the very gallows he had planned to hang Mordecai.

We can learn a lot from Haman and Queen Esther. Both of them were faced with real concerns … they both made critical decisions that affected their lives and the lives of others. Let me ask you:

Do you pur? How do you make decisions? Is life a roll of the dice for you? Are there any standards that guide your life or does anything go? Does your strategy come from Jehovah God or from the God of this world? How do you handle being done wrong? Are you vengeful or unforgiving?

Haman was a bad man, but You don’t have to be a bad man to have a bad plan. We can get plans from so many sources, but unless our plan comes from God – it might be no more successful than Haman’s.

How can we know if we have a God plan?
1.  A God plan is motivated by love.
a.   A satanic plan is motivated by hatred.
b.   Mordecai and Esther cared more about others than themselves.
Haman only cared about himself. He was arrogant and prideful. He thought he was better than others. He felt entitled. Each Purim Jewish family reads the book of Esther together. Every time the name of Haman is mentioned the crowd in unison “boo” the name.

When a person only cares about themselves no one else will care for them.

2.  A God plan won’t end up with you on the throne.
a.   A God plan won’t end with other people bowing down and paying homage to you or telling you how right you are.
                                         i.    If that’s what you’re going for … think again!
                                        ii.    If you want to be great … it will come through humility!
b.   A satanic plan will end up with you becoming the grand master of all truth and wisdom. But it won’t work … it’s an empty life.
c.   A God plan might end up with you being promoted but it won’t pass through the land of you promoting yourself.
                                         i.    Self-promotion is not promotion … (John 8:50)
                                        ii.    “For a man to seek his own glory is not glory.” (Proverbs 25:27)

3.  A God plan won’t violate God’s Word, His Will or His Way.
a.   Other plans promise love, joy, peace, prosperity but they won’t deliver.
b.   The devil’s plan will get you hung.
                                         i.    Especially when you’re trying to hang someone else.
                                        ii.    Whoever roles a stone or digs a pit will fall in. (Pro 26:27)
c.   From where or from whom did you get your plan?
                                         i.    Do you Pur or Do you Pray?
                                        ii.    Go to the Word, not to the World

Romans 12:19  Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Team Ministry


This evening we continue our study of the Book of Titus. Just a short recap and a little background that may help shine some light on the scriptures we will read tonight.

The exact year is questionable, but I put it at about 63/64AD. Titus and Timothy were both disciples of the Apostle Paul and worked for him in the ministry. They were both good for nothing men team members. I say this with the consideration that they had not been hired and weren’t being paid as though their ministry position was a job. These men were invited and felt called to join themselves to the Apostle Paul and to the ministry Paul had received from Jesus. They were disciples and as such they could expect to accompany and assist the Apostle on his missionary journeys and to be sent out by him to preach and do ministry under Paul’s guidance and governance.

Jesus modeled this same pattern of team ministry.

Mark 3:14  Then Jesus appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach.

Jesus did not hire employees, but rather He raised disciples. Disciples are spiritual sons and daughters of the ministry. Paul had merely copied Jesus’ model. He took the Great Commission to go and make disciples literally.

When disciples were sent out to minister, they were given a task or a location or a ministry to perform and expected to either provide for their own needs by working when they could, or hopefully receive food and lodging from benevolent men and women to whom they ministered along the way. Such was the case with the Apostle Paul and with both Timothy and Titus. Paul admonished every missionary to enter into the houses of those willing to accommodate us and eat whatever is set before us without complaint.

Timothy and Titus had been with the Apostle Paul in Rome when he was under arrest and living in his own house awaiting audience with the Roman Caesar who would hopefully be favorable to his appeal. At some point both Timothy and Titus were given specific assignments by Paul. Titus was left on the Island of Crete to help bring order to the Churches there while Timothy was sent to Ephesus to assist the Church in that city. Paul however, traveled on to Greece and within a few months he wrote letters to both of these men from there. These two letters, which we now have as the NT Books of Titus and 1 Timothy, were written at the same time, from the same place, to young men who were laboring to accomplish the goals Paul had set for them. These are letters of instruction and encouragement. We see similarities in these two letters, and they serve to complement each other. Let’s pick up our study this evening with Titus 1:15. Paul wrote:

15  To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.
16  They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

This phrase has been used out of context to excuse and justify behavior God never intended to be ok for His children to engage in. We must hold a standard of correctly interpreting each verse of the Bible in light of the one-story God is telling and in context with all of the other verses in the Bible. Simply put: We interpret scripture with scripture.

Paul is not giving a license in verse 15 for the saints to do just anything their soul desires and call it pure. Sin is sin without regard as to whether you are Born-Again or not. However, for the sinner, everything is sin. And, nowhere in the Bible is the Christian given some special pass or license to commit sin without penalty.

From further study we can see that verse 15 is evidently referring to the question of eating things sacrificed to idols or things which were considered ceremonially unclean under the law of Moses. In fact, this is one place where comparing this verse with the contemporary writings of Paul to Timothy can help to clarify this issue and the interpretation.

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.

So when Paul wrote to Titus that all things were pure to those who were pure of heart, he was evidently talking about the much-considered question of that day concerning the eating of some meats. Paul also addressed this subject with the Corinthians as well. It was a big topic and Paul held that since there are no other gods and that idols are empty beliefs, things sacrificed to them have no special meaning.

However, the concept of everything being impure or unclean to those who are not Believers in Jesus is a strong statement that stands on its own.

Titus 1 NKJV
15  To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.
16  They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

Even their thoughts are defiled and of a truth, unbelievers are disqualified from serving in any capacity of leadership and ministry in and for the Church. The principle of being unequally yoked together with unbelievers, (2 Corinthians 6:14), is a strong admonition of the Lord both in the Old and in the New Testaments. (Oxen and Asses by Pastor Ron Hammonds, Unequal Yokes – Deuteronomy 22:10)

Remember, Paul is instructing Titus concerning how the Church should be structured to have order, power, legitimacy and longevity. Church is Team Ministry, and not everyone is qualified to play on or lead the team. It’s not a matter of our conservative interpretation or intolerant point of view, this truth is the clear intention of the whole counsel of God’s word on qualifications for leadership within the Church.

Paul continues … “But as for you Titus …”

Titus 2  NKJV
1 ¶  But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine:
2  that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience;
3  the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things — 
4  that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,
5  to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
6  Likewise exhort the young men to be sober-minded,
7  in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,
8  sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.
9  Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back,
10  not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Your Greatest Day


Micah 6:8  He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God.

Three Truths for Today
1.   You were born with a purpose.
2.   You may not know what it is.
3.   God wants you to discover your purpose and pursue your destiny.

Based on these three truths there remains but one question:
Question: How can I know God’s will for my life?

Imagine you are 33 years old and you have 33 days to live and you know it. That’s where Jesus was on this day in history, 5 weeks before Passover, near 2000 years ago, (1992 years by my calculations).

Passover was the yearly feast instituted by God and given to the Children of Israel through Moses. God wanted the world to remember how He delivered His Children from death through the blood of a Lamb. There were like 1500 dress rehearsals before Jesus’ final performance in Jerusalem.

Now imagine that you are 33, and that you have 33 years; 33 weeks; or 33 minutes to live, and you don’t know it? You won’t be on this stage forever.
·        What are the chances that you will accomplish the purpose for which you were born?
·        Do you know your purpose?
·        Will your life count?
·        Will you make a difference to anyone else?
·        Are you even paying attention?
·        What part are you playing in God’s eternal plan?
·        Will you be successful?
·        You have but this one chance to find and complete your purpose – this one chance is called your life on earth …

How can you know God’s will for your life?

1.  Do justly
a.   A commitment to do what is right.
b.   Perform the judgements of the Lord.
c.   Accept what God says is right and wrong.
d.   Allow God to be right, and true, and just in your eyes.
2.  Love mercy
a.   Perform all the acts and duties required by
                                         i.    Mercy
                                        ii.    Kindness
                                      iii.    Benevolence
                                      iv.    Charity
b.   Love to love others …
3.  Walk humbly with your God
a.   Own and show your dependence on Him.
                                         i.    Acknowledge your iniquity
                                        ii.    Submit to His salvation
b.   Give glory to God for every blessing.

The Bible teaches these simple steps which lead us all to discover our purpose and to pursue our destiny. In order to accomplish God’s will:

1.   You must be Born-Again. (John 3:7)
2.   You must be faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:2)
a.   On your Job (Luke 12:42)
b.   With your Family (1 Timothy 5:8)
c.   To your Church (1 timothy 3:15)
3.   You must be willing to let others see Christ in you. (Matthew 5:16)

Passover is soon approaching … 33 days left before we celebrate Good Friday and the anniversary of the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. I want to encourage you to take these 33 days between now and Good Friday, should the Lord grant each one of us this much time, and work on these things. You have a great purpose given to you by God. Discover the joys of living a life that is pleasing to God … a life in the center of His will.

Make your commitment with me right now in prayer to:
1.   Do what is right in God’s eyes
2.   Perform all the duties required by love
3.   Own up to and show others that you trust and depend on God

By taking anyone of these steps you will begin to discover your purpose and be well on your way to your greatest day.