Putting OFF the Old Things / Putting ON the New You!

THE KARATE KID STORY –

The Karate Kid is a 1984 American martial arts feel good film.  It’s an underdog story.

Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) trains the young man Daniel (Ralph Macchio) in the art of Karate for protection against neighborhood bullies.

Mr. Miyagi begins Daniel’s training by telling him the requirement of commitment that accompanies Mr’ Miyagi’s curriculum.

After Daniel agrees, Miyagi assigns Daniel to complete various lengthy, menial chores that appear to have nothing to do with Karate.

“Wax On / Wax Off”

THE EPHESIANS 4:21-24 STORY – “Putting OFF / Putting ON”  and the COMMITMENT Begins…

[21] assuming that you have heard about him, and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus  [22] to PUT OFF your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,  [23] and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,  [24] and to PUT ON the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.  [ English Standard Version (ESV) Bible.]

2 Corinthians 5:17 says,  “Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away.  Behold, the fresh and new has come!”  [Amplified Bible]

I beg to differ with a lot of Christians living in the world today saying or thinking that they can keep on LIVING the old life and claim to be a child of God.

I’ll admit it is not easy...it’s the hardest thing we have ever done.

  • TO SHARE THE GOSPEL,
  • PREACH THE GOSPEL,
  • TEACH THE GOSPEL,
  • LIVE THE GOSPEL.

The Bible says if you are SAVED by the GRACE of God, you’re a NEW CREATURE.

There is a lot of people who are hanging on to the old lifestyle; trusting in the material things and not living by the spiritual things.

Galatians 6:15 says,  Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation”  (NIV Bible).

Romans 6:4 says We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

Thank God We Are SERVING A Risen Savior…

And the Bible tells us that we’re supposed to WALK in the newness of life.  I remember when my three children were learning to walk.  My wife and I would hold our hands out across the room, encouraging to take one step, to place one foot in front of the other.  As long as they could see our faces they would slowly move forward.  As soon as they looked down at their feet, they lost focus and would stumble and tear up.  When that occurred, I think mom and dad also teared up.  But the training, the exercise, the dedication to commitment went on.

IT ISN’T EASY –

“Yes, but we all sin–we slip, we fall down and skin our knees– and fall short of God’s glory, don’t we?”  We sure do.  We still have the old body–the outside, but thanks be to God, we have a new man on the inside!

We sure do.  We still have the old body–the outside, but thanks be to God, we have a new man on the inside!

IF we are SAVED…and we’re a NEW CREATURE, we ought to live like it, then!

I’d like to point out a few training steps in “Putting Off and Putting On” A NEW NATURE.  

I’m not a Mr. Miyagi by any means, but here we go.

THE REQUIREMENTS OF COMMITMENT:

NUMBER ONE:  We need to be FOCUSED.

There are people who will talk about everything BUT God.  In church, social gatherings, sharing on social media, etc.  They are worried about everything BUT God.  They are not worried–not concerned–about lost souls.  I don’t care if the church I’m attending has 5 or 500 members on Sunday morning or if we have carpet on the floors. We’ve got to get past all the ‘STUFF’ in the church and start focusing on putting God first and caring about lost souls.

We’ve lost our FOCUS.

It’s sad to say that there’s a lot of Christians in the world that never picks up the WORD of God, then tries to stand up and give praise to God.

You’ve got to READ God’s Word, PRAY and SEEK God’s face in all that you do.  That’s what a godly or any relationship is all about.  You can’t have a close relationship, an intimate relationship at a distance.

The Bible says that JESUS came to SEEK and to SAVE that which is lost.  That’s what our FOCUS should be.  Nothing else!

I’ve been asked over the years by some people, “Why do we even have the church?”

The answer should be, “So we can get more lost people in here so they can find salvation!”

Sure the pastors of our churches could stand on a platform and preach, and preach, and preach and you’ll get some strength from it.  But if there aren’t any lost people sitting there on Sunday mornings, what are you going to do with that “strength”?  What are you going to do with the wisdom of God when you get it… IF you get it?

If you are not consistently READING your Bible during the week, you can bet you’re NOT SHARING Christ either.

We’ve lost our FOCUS.

If you’re going around trying to find a place where you can fit JESUS into your life, you’re in bad shape.  You have to fit your life into what Christ wants you to do.  Don’t go around telling God you need to see if you can fit Him into your schedule.

Christ Jesus is my whole life!  Without Him, I’m nothing!!

Several years ago, after realizing I had been playing spiritual games with people around me, I made this vow to God NOT to listen to man and just listen to Him.

Luke 14:27 says “Anyone who does not carry his cross and follows Me cannot be my disciple.”

There are more churches today than there has ever been…And there are more church goers than there has ever been.

BUT the Bible clearly says that the HARVEST is great but the LABORERS are few.

I see something wrong with that.  Hosea in the Old Testament, chapter five, says ‘a man should go with their herds and their flocks to SEEK the Lord but they shall not find Him for he has withdrawn Himself from them.’  [Paraphrased]

I saw a marquee in front of a church, a big church, awhile back that read…

MESSAGE For SUNDAY:

HOW TO GET ALONG WITH YOUR SPOUSE

I thought, if you get close to the LORD, you’ll know how to get along with your spouse.

You’ll know how to get along with everybody!

We’ve got to stay FOCUSED on JESUS–keeping our eyes on Him.

NUMBER TWO:  We need to be FAITHFUL.

John 8:31  “…If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples”  (AMP).

Christians will go work at a job and be there every day to get their paycheck–and God will tell them to do something and they can’t do it.

The LORD called me to SHARE the Gospel message through a weekly blog six years ago.  So I’m going to keep doing what God says to do.  I’m not going to back up or slow down so others can catch up.

WE NEED TO BE FAITHFUL.

Don’t ask what you want, but ask what He wants!

NUMBER THREE:  We need to be FRUITFUL in our new life.

Being FRUITFUL means you’re SAVED AND…you’re growing in the process!

It means that God’s ministry through you reaches other people and helps them the way God is helping you.

There are people who look back on their lives saying they haven’t done anything for the Lord.  It doesn’t work that way.  Our BLESSINGS come from our labor.  That’s why a lot of people aren’t acting blessed.  They aren’t doing anything!

Galatians 6:7

“Don’t be misled:  No one makes a fool of God.  What a person plants, he will harvest.  The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others–ignoring God!–harvests a crop of weeds.”  [MSG}

 

What are you planting; producing for the Lord Jesus Christ?

NUMBER FOUR:  Being Friendly!

We need to be friendly in our NEW LIFE.

Some of the meanest people can be “church folks”.  Whether you attend a Baptist, Assembly Of God, Independent/Bible church…YEP,  we are often called the “church folks” in the community.

It’s NOT niceness that will get you into heaven…BUT IF YOU ARE NICE, God will BLESS you for it.

According to Dictionary.com, the word NICE means  “pleasing; agreeable; amiably pleasant.”

We in the family of God are not supposed to have any kind of evil communication or put a stumbling block in front of our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus for them to trip over.  Like a child learning to take their first steps, our SPEECH is supposed to be established with GRACE and encouragement and not condemnation.

Romans 7:6  says this:  “But now that we.re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God”  [MSG].

And in Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus’ words,  [24] “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  [25] For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it”  [NIV].

There seems to be a lot of folks more involved with themselves than they are with their Savior.

In a Discipleship Journal, Carole Mayhall tells of a woman who went to a diet center to lose weight.  The director took her to a full-length mirror and on it, he outlined a figure and told her, “This is what I want you to be like at the end of the program.  Days of intense dieting and exercise followed, and every week the woman would stand in front of the mirror, discouraged because her bulging outline didn’t fit the director’s ideal. But she kept at it, and finally one day she conformed to the longed for image  [Daily Bread, August 8, 1990].

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU LOOKED AT THE IMAGE IN THE MIRROR?______________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS –

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search – Settings: Advanced search.

Various Bible Translations:  Furnish by BibleGateway.com

 

 

 

 

“I CAN ALMOST SMELL THE BREAD BAKING!”

RECIPE (Scripture Study):  Acts 13, Acts 16, and 1 Timothy 4:11-16.

The simplest bread recipe I’m told only has THREE INGREDIENTS–Flour, water, and yeast.  When combined together you get warm, fluffy, delicious bread.  END OF STORY?  No.  Unless ALL three of these ingredients are modified in some way,  the end results will never be useful.

AFTER HARVEST, the wheat must be threshed, winnowed, and ground into flour.  If one or more of these steps are not completed correctly, the BREAD will fail.

Water must be purified–if too many impurities are found in the water, the bread will have a bad taste and not rise correctly.

Yeast is an odd animal–and yes, it is an animal.  It is a microscopic little critter that changes something chemically.  We don’t know where the first YEAST came from, but historians think the first batch of yeast may have come from natural impurities in the flour and was left in the sun too long.  Bakers would then take small pieces of dough–called LEAVEN–that had already risen and mix it into the new dough that rises well.

IN THE BIBLE, the Israelites are called to make unleavened bread; not adding the leaven to their dough, preventing the dough from rising.

Just like bread making can only be made if ALL ingredients are mixed together properly, Christians must also work together with other believers in order to become something better.

Just like the THREE aforementioned ingredients are needed to make BREAD, also THREE types of people must work together in order to become more mature as true believers.

Let’s take a look at the life of the Apostle Paul and find out what these types of people look like:

PAUL started out as SAUL, a Pharisee, dedicated to wiping out Christianity off the face of the earth.

While traveling to Damascus, he has an amazing encounter with God, changing his life forever.  After this meeting, though, the real fun begins!

Saul is now a CHRISTIAN and began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues of Damascus.  The CHANGE was so amazing and the transformation so complete, the people around him began wondering what was going on.

Eventually, the Jews of Damascus got so suspicious of Saul they began to plot to kill him!  So when Saul heard about this, he gets while the gettin’ was good and escaped to Jerusalem.

Well, things didn’t start much better for him there–the disciples were afraid of him thinking he was trying to trick them.

Finally, A Man Named Barnabas…

Barnabas took Saul to the other apostles telling them his story.

Saul was able to stay with them for a short time, until, more threats sent him away.

Eventually, Saul meets back with Barnabas at Antioch, and they are sent together on a missionary journey covering eastern Greece and most of Turkey.

ACTS 13:4 –  “So then, being sent out by the Holy Spirit. they went down to Seleucia, and from [that port] they sailed away to Cyprus”  (AMP).

Now skipping ahead to VERSE 44:  [44]  The next Sabbath almost the entire city gathered together to hear the Word of God [concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God].  [45] But when the Jews saw the crowds, filled with envy and jealousy they contradicted what was said by Paul and talked abusively [reviling and slandering him].  [46] And Paul and Barnabas spoke out plainly and boldly, saying, “It was necessary that God’s message [concerning salvation through Christ] should be spoken to you first.  But since you thrust it from you, you pass this judgment on yourselves that you are unworthy of eternal life and out of your own mouth you will be judged.  [Now] behold, we turn to the Gentiles” (the heathen).  [47] For so the Lord has charged us, saying,  “I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles (the heathen), that you may bring [eternal] salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.”

Without the INFLUENCE of Barnabas, Paul would have likely died in Jerusalem, and certainly not have gone on to be a MISSIONARY to the Gentiles.

Barnabas didn’t have to vouch for Paul, but he did anyway.  In fact, Barnabas was always looking for someone to ENCOURAGE.

Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas part ways because Barnabas wanted to give someone else–John Mark–a SECOND CHANCE.

This is fitting I think because the name “BARNABAS” wasn’t his given birth name. Actually, he was named Joseph, but because of his repeated actions of encouragement, the other apostles renamed him, Barnabas, meaning “Son of Encouragement.”

We also need a BARNABAS in our lives.

True, Paul had the POWER of the Holy Spirit behind him, but that doesn’t mean that he never made any mistakes.  He was still very immature as a believer and needed a mentor, someone like Barnabas to encourage and help him grow in his faith.

We also need a BARNABAS in our lives–for that’s the FIRST of the 3 Types of people we need to work with.

We ALL need someone who is spiritually more mature than we are to encourage us when our life gets tough and act as a mentor.  This person may be older, younger, or the same age we are but will be further along in their walk with the Lord to help us as we follow the Lord in our own walk.

That brings us to the SECOND type of person needed.

Moving to Acts chapter 16, we see Paul is traveling with SILAS and Luke.

While in Philippi, something amazing happens.  A female slave who had a spirit that was predicting the future, constantly following Paul and his comrades, shouting that they were servants of the Most High God.  She kept this up for so long, eventually, Paul became annoyed, turned around, and told the spirit to leave the woman.  Let’s pick up the story in VERSE 19:

[19] When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.  [20] They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar  [21] by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”  [23] The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods.  [23] After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.

I thought this passage of Scripture was interesting.  This chapter of Acts does something few chapters in the Bible do.

Acts 16:1-10 are all written in the third person–that is, using phrases like “he did this” and “they did that.”

Starting in verse 11, it now switches to the first person–using phrases like “we did this” and “we did that.”  Since the author of the book is usually thought to be Luke–who was actually present here and dutifully recorded everything that happened.  This means that Luke was with them during their encounter with the fortune teller.  In fact, Acts 16:17 says, “She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, these men are servants of the Most High God…”  That tells us that there were more than just Paul and Silas and Luke–but a small group of fellow disciples and followers were there as well.

So why then, would the local authorities only arrest Paul and Silas instead of the entire group?  Because Paul & Silas were their leaders.

Paul and Silas worked together to bring the Good News to the people of Philippi because they were both at the same point in their Christian WALK by constantly encouraging each other and standing up for each other.

A Perfect Example–

Paul is the one who commanded the spirit to leave the slave woman, NOT Silas.  But Silas stood next to Paul in front of the magistrate; Silas went to prison with Paul; and, as we can read in Verse 25…Silas prayed and sang hymns in prison with Paul.

THE SECOND type of person we need in our lives is a SILAS.

We need someone who can walk alongside us as we follow Jesus.  Typically, this person ends up being an ACCOUNTABILITY partner–the person you feel so comfortable being with that you SHARE everything–your deepest doubts, and hardest troubles.  Oh yes, your DESIRES too!

So we need a Barnaba as well, to WALK AHEAD of us and a Silas to WALK ALONGSIDE us.

So, it becomes pretty obvious that the THIRD person needed in our lives–is someone to WALK BEHIND us.

In Paul’s life, that person was Timothy.  Timothy was a native of Lystra, where Paul and Barnabas had healed a crippled man in ACTS 14.  By the time Paul returned to Lystra in ACTS 16, Timothy was already respected–if young– a member of the Christian community.

Timothy joined Paul on his missionary journeys and is even credited as a co-author with Paul to the books of 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon.

Paul wrote TWO letters to Timothy giving him advice and encouragement in his ministry–just like Barnabas did to Paul years earlier.

1 Timothy 4:11-16 is some of the most well-known advice given from Paul to a young man in the ministry:

[11]  Command and teach these things.  [12] Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.  [13] Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.  [14[ Do not neglect your gift, which was given to you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.  [15] Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.  [16] Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Paul’s advice to Timothy was good, and Timothy grew to become a LEADER in the church.

When Paul was in prison in Rome, he saw his life approaching an end and called Timothy to him in 2 Timothy 4 for a final visit.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE–

Just because Timothy was younger than Paul doesn’t mean that those we mentor must be younger than us.  It’s entirely possible for a young person to be further along in their Christian WALK than an older person.

THE THREE TYPE OF PEOPLE WE NEED IN OUR LIVES–

A BARNABAS, who walks before us; a SILAS, who walks beside us, and a TIMOTHY, who follows behind us.

If we don’t have all THREE INGREDIENTS–types of people in our life– then we’ll be unfinished, like unleavened bread.

What’s more, though, is that we are not only expected to HAVE all three types of people in our life, but we’re also expected to BE all three types of people for others in our life.  

We are not only expected to be MENTORED to but to be a MENTOR.  We are not only expected to have someone to walk alongside us and encourage us but to walk alongside them and encourage them to encourage them.  In this way, ALL BELIEVERS work together for learning, encouraging, and teaching, to proclaim the Good News, the Gospel, and spread the kingdom of God to the ends of the earth.

So now you have the know-how to put three specific ingredients (three types of people) together in your life.  

So are you ready to smell the FRESHNESS of New Baked Bread?  If you haven’t already, it’s time to start assembling the ingredients first!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS –

Photos:  Google Image Search, Advanced Settings.

Bread Making Source for this Blog:  Basic bread making; re-learning traditional skills, Part 1 – the components of a good loaf – Bondant Welsh Food.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

“Why bother, I’ll Just GIVE UP and QUIT!”

A Study in Philippians 1:12-20 –So grab your Bible.

I have taught a class for many years.

Borne many burdens, toiled with tears;

But folks don’t notice me a bit.

I’m so discouraged

I’ll just quit.

 

Sometime ago I joined the choir

That souls I might inspire;

But folks don’t seem moved a bit,

So why bother to sing?

I’ll just quit.

 

Christ’s cause is hindered everywhere,

And folks are dying in despair.

The reason why?

Just list a bit;

The church is full of folks who quit.  

[See Footnotes [i] ]

Giving up is always a temptation when there is a lack of visible results…

Some of the REASONS WE WANT TO GIVE UP AND QUIT can vary:

1.  FEAR OF FAILURE.

2.  SKEPTICISM I’M NOT THE ONE.

3.  I’M NOT TRAINED ENOUGH.

4.  SOMEONE ELSE CAN DO IT BETTER.

5.  I DON’T WANT TO BE THE FIRST, LET SOMEONE DO IT AND THEN I WILL FOLLOW.

6.  I HAD A BITTER EXPERIENCE.

7.  THIS IS NOT MY CUP OF TEA.

8.  I DON’T WANT TO BE EMBARRASSED.

9.  I’M JUST TOO SENSITIVE TO HANDLE FAILURES.

10.  MY SUPPORT SYSTEM IS POOR.

11.  I DON’T PREFER TO TAKE THIS RISK WHEN ALL IS FINE.

12.  WHY GET IN A MESS?

Some of the reasons I listed are overlapping, but still this is how we can feel and reason out…whether to QUIT & REMAIN A BIT SATISFIED…even though we know we can do it more than we’ve ever tried.

Marilyn von Savant once said,  “being defeated is often temporary, giving up makes it permanent.”

Thomas Edison –  “many of life’s failures are people who didn’t realize how close they were to success when they gave up and quit.”

King Solomon –  “for an upright man after failing seven times, will get up again”  (Proverbs 24:16).

“THE LITTLE SATELLITE THAT COULD”–

In 1972, NASA launched an exploratory space probe named the PIONEER 10.  The primary mission was to reach Jupiter, photograph its moons, and beam data it collected back to earth.

This was a bold plan.  Up until then, no satellites had gone beyond Mars and scientist feared the asteroid belt would destroy PIONEER 10 before it would ever get to the planet Jupiter.

But the “little satellite” accomplished its mission, and much more!  Flying past Jupiter in 1973, PIONEER 10 continued on its journey to the edge of our solar system.  It passed Saturn, flashed by Uranus, past Neptune and then Pluto, some four billion miles from the Sun.  And it’s still going!  Now, over 8 Billion miles from the Sun, it keeps sending signals.  Despite the distance, PIONEER 10 continues on to beam back signals to Earth.

Commenting on the “little satellite” in Time Magazine, Leon Jaroff says,

“Perhaps most remarkable is the fact that those signals

emanate from a eight-watt transmitter, which radiates about 

as much power as a bedroom night-light, 

and takes more than nine hours to reach earth.”

“The Little Satellite That Could” Wasn’t Even Qualified…

Yes, according to the scientists, to do what it accomplished it wasn’t qualified.  But it kept on going and going.  By simple longevity, its tiny eight-watt transmitter radio accomplished more than anyone ever expected.

So it is when we offer ourselves to SERVE the LORD in any activity, no matter how large or how small the mission seems to be.  God can work even through someone with only “eight-watt” abilities.  [See Footnote [ii] ]

God cannot work, however, through someone who GIVES UP and QUITS. 

Many times we are too quick to blame others, even blame God for our personal decisions.  Many times our personal decisions are based on success or more specifically the lack thereof!

Paul's Stairway to Imprisonment
Paul’s Stairway to Imprisonment

You would think BEING CHAINED to a guard in a Roman prison might make one question if  “God was telling Paul to quit?”  That thought never crossed the apostle Paul’s mind.

What did he do?  He used it as an opportunity to witness to others, to share the gospel with the guards and even took the time to write a letter [today, we would probably TEXT instead of write a personal letter], to the believers at Philippi.

The Christian Life Today…

Though we may never be thrown in prison for our faith in Christ Jesus, there are times in our walk that may resemble imprisonment:

— Those times of difficulty…

— Times of struggle…

— Times of adversity…

— Times of discouragement, disillusionment, and depression.

I’ve been there!  And in those times…I JUST WANTED TO QUIT…to throw in the towel and GIVE UP on my church I was attending, the people who made the decisions, and so on!

FINDING ENCOURAGEMENT:

In reading Paul’s story while writing this letter to the church, Paul says,

“Everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Gospel.”

Here is the Apostle, bound in chains for his preaching and he is REJOICING because the palace guard knows that he is in chains because of Christ.

He goes on to tell his readers that “because of his imprisonment, many other believers have gained CONFIDENCE and boldly speak God’s message without fear.”

Perseverance Prevents Giving Up and Quitting…

Roget’s Thesaurus says to PERSEVERE is to “persist, die-hard (STUBBORNNESS).”  References in our bibles to the perseverance of believers who “stand firm (i.e. endure) to the end”,  [Matt. 10:22; 24:13; Mark 13:13].

There’s a REASON for where we find ourselves in a given situation:  failures in ministry, a dysfunctional family, ‘stuck’ in your job, etc.

For PAUL….we find the REASON for his imprisonment–

[12] Now I want you to know, brothers, that what happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.  [13] As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.

News Travels Fast…

It was no different in Paul’s time.  Just imagine for a moment the talk of the Imperial guard and those who were present when Paul made his defense for himself known to all  (let me tell what that crazy prisoner just said to the Governor!).

Paul knew, that because of his imprisonment, JESUS was being MAGNIFIED and he was delighted in knowing this!

What if you were put in prison for a crime you had not committed?  Would you be a WITNESS for Christ or would you wallow in self-pity? Whatever your PRISON might be, the principle still applies.

Paul understands the reason for his own predicament he is facing…BUT he also sees in his spirit, the RESULT of this particular situation.

OTHERS WERE ENCOURAGED – v. 14

Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

The BRETHREN that had knowledge of Paul’s imprisonment were ENCOURAGED by his boldness and stand; his not giving up regardless of the ‘stuff’ he was going through.

Our CONFIDENCE can bring about changes…

PAUL was confident – v. 19

“For I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.”

The Jews had denounced Paul as an enemy of Caesar.   And yet, he was CONFIDENT that when the fullness of the GOSPEL was known, he would be released.

In their PRAYERS – through your prayer…

Paul knew that they were genuine followers of Jesus and their constant prayers were being lifted up to God for him which in turn…gave him the CONFIDENCE to “stand firm”, “endure to the end,” not to give up and quit!

In 1999, I faced the difficult situation when facing open heart surgery.  I knew before going into the operating room that PRAYERS from all over the country were being lifted up in faith on my behalf.

I can give personal testimony to a JOYFUL CONFIDENCE I received before being rolled down to surgery…GOD WAS IN CONTROL!  And in recovery from the successful 7-way Bypass Surgery, I gave testimony of God’s hand to all who would listen…or not!

In Christ’s Provision…

And the Spirit of Jesus Christ SUPPLIED…furnishing whatever is necessary.

Paul knew that JESUS would supply his needs:  “And my God will liberally supply  (fill to the full)  your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 4:19 AMP).

BEING COURAGEOUS IN DIFFICULT PLACES– V. 20

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”

Earnest Anticipation…{G} (Apokaradokia) (ap-ok-ar-ad-ok-ee’-ah) – intense anticipation or expectation.

This idea that Paul presents is, there is the idea of WATCHING FOR SOMETHING.  Paul wasn’t ashamed and he was bold in his defense of the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

Paul didn’t care about the CONSEQUENCES.

His GOAL in the midst of his difficulties was to MAGNIFY JESUS, even if it cost him his life.  It is never a SACRIFICE unless it will cost you something (Hebrews 13:15).

COMPLACENCY IN THE ASSEMBLY HAS ITS DANGERS:

Paul’s Counsel from his Jail Cell–

” [13] Brothers [sisters], I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  [14] I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  [15] All of us who are mature should take that such view of things.  And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.  [16] Only let us live up to what we have already attained”  (Philippians 3:13-16).

Paul’s Advice and God’s Promises if…

“…for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap…if we do not give up”  (Galatians 6:9).

I hope you get some understanding from God’s Word–through the apostle Paul’s prison letters.  GIVING UP and QUITTING isn’t an option!

WHY?  Jesus anticipates that question with His answer in Galatians 6:10:

“So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers].”

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Footnotes:  [i] Eldorado Evangel – Sermon Illustrations.com  [ii] Craig Brian Larson, Pastoral Grit: The Strength to Stand and to Stay; Bethany House, 1998.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, NIV

Photos:  Photo Pin.

The Vital Signs of Spiritual Health

The Text today is:  PSALM 26

THE NEW YEAR IS HERE!

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Have you heard the greeting, “Have a healthy and prosperous New Year!”?

Doctor’s Dilemma–

I couldn’t be a doctor today.  Besides the blood, needles and sharp scalpels…there’s all those sick people!  Sick people all day long!  How depressing!  You visit someone at a hospital…you get them well, and then they turn around and get sick all over again!  Even Jesus said in Mt. 9:12 –  “Those who are strong and well [healthy] have no need of a physician, but those who are weak and sick.”

DOCTORS see you at your worst and they hear all your aches, complaints, pains and physical ailments.  Just once, I would like to make a doctor’s appointment, sit down in the examining room…and, when he asks me what’s wrong, I say, “Nothing…I just wanted to stop by and cheer you up!”

MAKING AN APPOINTMENT TO SEE THE GREAT PHYSICIAN–there’s no waiting! :

This is what DAVID is doing–he’s going to the GREAT PHYSICIAN…getting a SPIRITUAL check-up…only to find out…that he’s spiritually fit!  DAVID has been taking preventative medicine for his soul.  He has found the sin remedy and applied it to his heart and life.

David was a man after God’s own heart.  He wanted to please GOD in everything that he did, just as we did when we were small and wanted to please our parents in everything we did.  Now like David, we didn’t always do it…but that’s what David always wanted to do.

Trusting God to Keep DAVID from “Back Trouble”–

How many of you reading this have had problems with your back?  The older I get, it seems, the more trouble I have.  Notice what king David said in Psalm 26:1 (b):  “…I shall not slide.”

“Backsliding” —

David knew, as long as he trusted in, leaned on, and relied on the Lord, GOD could keep him from sliding back into sin.  As soon as he started looking to his own strength…trusting in himself, he would soon have “Back Troubles”–he would start to slide backward.

“LOVING-KINDNESS” – Psalm 26:3 (a):

What did David see when he looked at GOD’s FAITHFULNESS to him?  It was evident, because he saw GOD’s LOVING-KINDNESS!

Has GOD been GOOD to you this past year?  AMEN?

You may have experienced tragedies…some hard times…some disappointments.  BUT…it could have been a whole lot worse.  If it wasn’t for GOD’s “loving-kindness”…His grace and mercy…the devil would have had a hey-day in your life.

When you’re SPIRITUALLY HEALTHY, like David, you will see the positive side of everything GOD allows in your life.

Walking in GOD’s Truth [faithfully]– 

Psalm 26:3 – “I have walked in Your truth [faithfully]” (Amplified Bible).

Compare this verse now, with Verse 1: “I have walked in MY integrity.”  As far as DAVID knew, walking the way he knew, his WALK should be equaled to his TALK.  I don’t know about you, but boy…do I need the Holy Spirit’s help in this area at times, and He certainly has conversations with me in this area.

DAVID didn’t do one thing and believe another…he practiced what he preached.  He could say with the Apostle Paul in Acts 23:1 – I have lived before GOD, doing my duty with a perfectly good conscience until this very day.”

BUT…some people can be walking in their own INTEGRITY–their character…BUT…still  not walking in GOD’s TRUTH.

Did I confuse you here?  Let me try to explain.  In their own minds, they might be doing what THEY THINK is right!  BUT…in GOD’s mind, they aren’t walking according to His TRUTH–His Word.  They might be justifying their own sins within their own conscience and mind.

In other words, they might not see that SIN as a sin.  There may be sin present in their lives without their acknowledgement.  That’s why DAVID adds in Psalm 26:3 – “I have walked in YOUR truth.”

The Importance of How GOD Sees Our Life–

It’s really not how WE see our life.  We may not see our symptoms of sin…but GOD does!  That’s why we need to go to the Doctor–he may see something we missed!

I’ve heard before, that men in particular,  refuse to go to the doctor after confessing their symptoms to their wives because…he doesn’t want to know for sure what the problem is…and his condition gets worse!

DAVID could say, “I have walked in Your truth”, NOT JUST in what I think is right…but in what GOD thinks is right.

There are many STANDARDS today for right/wrong–

PEER pressure sets one standard;

PARENTS may set certain standards;

SOCIETY may set certain standards of behavior;

RELIGION sets standards for conduct and belief.

That all said, there is only ONE STANDARD by which we will all be judged on…GOD’s STANDARD!  We need to say along with DAVID:  “I have walked in TRUTH.”

HOW TO STAY SPIRITUALLY HEALTHY – Psalm 26:4-5: 

[4]  I do not sit with false persons, nor fellowship with pretenders;  [5] I hate the company of evildoers and will not sit with the wicked.

DAVID tells us how he was able to stay in Spiritual Health–he separated himself from the ways and influences of the wicked.  Much of our sinful indulgences are determined by the company we keep–by outside influences.  That certainly doesn’t mean we should avoid all contact with non-believers.  How else can we give our testimony?  What the emphasis here is, association is different than “hanging out with” continually.

While it is true that our hearts are “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9)…it is the INFLUENCE of others that drives us to commit these sinful acts.

My mother repeated this phrase to my brother and I when we were young on several different occasions:  “SIN LOVES COMPANY”…AND…the easier it is to join in…commit to the sin…we want to justify it.

How many times have you heard, perhaps used the words yourself...”But everybody else is doing it!”  Not for DAVID!  He’s going to stay away from people who TURN THEIR HEARTS away from GOD.

Another Spiritually Healthy Key – 26:6:

“I will wash my hands in innocence, and go about Your altar, O Lord”

DAVID points out another vital sign of Spiritual Health– Hand-Washing!

David came to the HOUSE OF WORSHIP with INNOCENT HANDS!

Have you ever wondered…why do people stay away from church today?  Perhaps, it’s because of a guilty conscience.  And yet, what a better place to come, with guilty hands and receive cleansing!

A LOVE for God’s House – 26:8

Another SIGN of a Spiritually Healthy Christian is LOVE for God’s house.

Those who sincerely LOVE GOD, have a love for God’s house…and will be in Church regularly.  It’s one thing to shun evil companions (that’s “negative goodness”)…it’s another thing to shun GOD’S HOUSE.

One way to bring joy & fulfillment into your life is to do what DAVID did in 26:8:  “Lord, I love the habitation of Your house, and the place where your glory dwells.”

Why was this so important and special?

“That I may make the voice of thanksgiving hear and may tell of all your wondrous works”  (26:7).

TO DAVID, WORSHIP was a POSITIVE experience…not just NEGATIVE living (shunning the “bad and the ugly” company you keep).  He LOVED to go to GOD’S HOUSE, because there, he could proclaim in public, what GOD had done for him in PRIVATE!  Psalm 122:1 says,

I WAS glad when they said to me,

Let us go to the house of the Lord.

DAVID MAKES A REQUEST!

“Gather me not with sinners and sweep me not away [with them], nor my life with blood-thirsty men.  In whose hands is wickedness, and their right hands are full of bribes”  (26:9-10 AMP).

I like the way the Message Bible gives a mental picture:  “When it’s time for spring cleaning, don’t sweep me out with the quacks and crooks.”  

Being in sound Spiritual Health, DAVID can come to GOD with his requests.  David is saying, “When the day of harvest comes, GATHER ME in with the Godly.”

 THERE ARE 2 Types of HARVEST…WHEAT and the he TARES.

Harvest Time
Harvest Time

There are only 2 types of people – the LOST and SAVED.

Only 2 ways…GOD’S WAY and the DEVIL’S WAY.

Only 2 destinies…HEAVEN and HELL

Psalm 1:6:  “For the Lord knows and is fully acquainted with the way of the ungodly  [those living outside God’s will]  shall perish (end in ruin and come to naught)” – Amplified Bible.

DAVID KNOWS …which harvest he will be gathered into.

GOD KNOWS…who belongs to His family…He knows your name, how many hairs on your head (in my case, there’s not much there to count)…the thoughts and intents of your heart.

WE CAN’T TELL the wheat from the weeds (“tares”)…BUT GOD KNOWS!

What lies ahead for David (and us)…IF we are Spiritually Healthy Christians?

26:11 –  “But as for me”  

David isn’t going to let anyone drag him down, ruin his Spiritual Health.  He knows the wicked are infected with SIN–Society calls it a “Social Disease”–but whatever you want to call it…it’s still SIN.  And DAVID is going to stay away from them.  He knows that it is GOD’S MERCY keeping him away from SIN!

HAVING A GOOD FOOTHOLD ON THE ROCK–

The Vital Sign of having a good foothold on the Rock unfolds in 26:12 (a):  “My foot stands on an even place” ; “I am standing in a safe place”– NOT on a “slippery slope”.

DAVID KNOWS that slipping on SIN will ruin his relationship with GOD.   So, David wants to stay away from slippery places; to stand on FIRM GROUND–there, in the midst of “the congregation will I bless the Lord” (26:12 (b).

Having a Healthy & Happy New Year Ahead!

How concerned are we for our health…Spiritually speaking?  EVERYONE wants to have good health this coming year, I know I do.  AND David points us in the right direction.

OUR PHYSICAL AILMENTS –  We should follow our Doctor’s orders.  So why don’t we follow the orders of the GREAT PHYSICIAN for our SPIRITUAL AILMENTS?  Might the diagnosis be as simple as...”self-denial”?

Let’s spend the New Year, as concerned about our PHYSICAL HEALTH, as we are about our PHYSICAL HEALTH.  AND…when we do…we might find out…THAT…our PHYSICAL HEALTH will improve too!