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Word for the Week: Shortcut

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Do you have any shortcuts you like to take? Maybe it's a certain road that gets you to your destination quicker. Maybe it's buying some ingredients already cooked to save you the step of making them from scratch. Maybe it's wearing a jacket or sweater over a shirt to keep from having to iron out the wrinkles. 

When it comes to our walk with the Lord there are NO SHORTCUTS. None. The path to growth and maturity is one that requires hard work and diligent determination. 

So something such as daily Bible reading may seem difficult, but as Paul reminds us in Rom. 10:17 our faith comes from these words. The way to have stronger faith is by spending time reading, studying, learning and applying what the Bible teaches. There's no shortcut to stronger faith. The person who wants it must spend time reading the Bible. 

This is true of sin. There is simply no shortcut for sin. When we've disobeyed God there are no shortcuts to receiving His forgiveness. Some certainly try. They think coming to worship, taking the Lord's Supper, reading my Bible and praying more often will certainly make things right. They think, "If I do something good for someone else, that'll offset the bad I've done." None of this is true. There's one answer to sin - Jesus. If you've sinned the only way you'll find forgiveness is through the blood of Jesus. This is why Peter's answer to the Jews at Pentecost was to "repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins." Acts 2:38. Those who have been baptized (Christians) who sin must repent from that sin, and confess it to God, asking for His forgiveness (1 John 1:9). There's no substitute for this. There's no shortcut to forgiveness or eternal life. 

Shortcuts may work in some avenues of life, but they certainly don't work in our walk with the Lord. Don't look for the easy way out when it comes to your relationship with God or your salvation. Love and serve the Lord, giving your best. Start today! 

Jesus and Authority

Monday, March 16, 2015

What comes to mind when you hear the word "authority?"  Authority carries the idea of power and position. We think of "Authority" figures like judges, teachers, coaches, and parents. Jesus was asked about authority in Matthew 21:23-27. The Jews wanted to know what authority Jesus was operating under ("by what authority"), and where He got the permission to do so ("who gave you that authority"). 

Jesus demonstrated through His living and teaching that He was one who had authority. In Matthew 7:29 Jesus taught as one who had authority. This verse comes at the end of the sermon on the mount. When you look back to Matthew 5 and how Jesus taught in this sermon, it is clear He didn't teach like the Scribes. The scribes would quote different Rabbis in their teachings. Jesus said 18x "I say to you...". That's a statement of authority! Who are you to be saying these things? Where did you get the right? 

In Matthew 8 Jesus comes upon a centurion who recognizes that he is like Jesus, in a position of authority. In Matthew 9 Jesus demonstrates that He has the authority to forgive sins (something only God can do), but doing something only God could do - He healed the paralytic man. In Matthew 10:1 Jesus sends out the apostles giving them authority. 

The Jews had a valid question. You are someone who is teaching and living as if you have authority. What rules, commands are you following, and who gave you the right/permission to do so? 

Jesus not only had all authority (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-22), but He submitted His will to His Father's commands/authority (John 8:28; Phil. 2:8). 

Col. 3:16 says that we must do all in the name of the Lord Jesus - that is - under/by the authority of Jesus. The questions the Jews asked Jesus are the very same questions we must be asking today. By what authority are you doing the things you are doing - in the church, in the home, etc.? And, who gave you that authority? Elders, pastors, parents, teachers, lawmakers, they all are positions of authority, but their rule submits to the throne of God. No man can ever give me the right to do what God has said is wrong. Acts 5:19 - we must obey God rather than man. God's authority trumps all authority. 

Two great questions to ask - why not consider them and ask them today? 

Thursdays with Bill - A Common Sense Principle of Effective Bible Study

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A COMMON SENSE PRINCIPLE OF EFFECTIVE BIBLE STUDY

 

                  Turn in your Bible to Acts, chapter 16 -- and while holding your Bible open at that chapter -- turn to Matthew, chapter 7.

a.Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7 record Jesus’ sermon on the mount.

  1. The particular verse I want you to consider is v7: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
  2. Acts chapter 16 records some of the events of Paul’s 2nd missionary journey.
    • Of special interest in the chapter are the conversions of Lydia and her household, and the Philippian jailor and his household.
    • The particular verse I want you to consider is v31 where Paul tells the jailor what he must do to be saved: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
  3. So . . .
    • Matt 7:7 -- “Ask and it will be given to you . . .”
    • Ac 16:31 -- “Believe . . . and you will be saved . . .”

 

                  I want to do a comparison study of these 2 verses in order to illustrate a very important principle of effective Bible study that will help you in coming to an accurate understanding of any Bible verse.

  1. We need to appreciate and practice this principle of Bible study our-selves and we need to teach this principle to others.

b.No one can understand the Bible who does not understand and prac-tice this principle.

 

1. Before I state the principle of Bible study I’m talking about, I want to call your attention to the fact that these 2 Bible verses are similar in some ways.

 

                  These 2 Bible verses are not found in the same context, and they are not dealing with the same subject, but they are alike in some very important ways.

 

The teaching in both of these verses is the teaching of the Lord.

  1. Matt 7:7 is a part of a sermon that Jesus Himself preached during His personal ministry.
  2. Ac 16:31 is a part of what the Lord taught to His apostles that He com-manded them to teach to others on His behalf.
    • Jn 16:12-14
    • Matt 28:20
    • 1Cor 14:37

 

                  The teaching in both of these verses is in the form of a command.

  1. Jesus commanded the multitude: “Ask . . . seek . . . knock.”
    • In both the English and Greek texts these words are in the impera-tive mood.
  2. And Paul commanded the Philippian jailor: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. . .
    • In both the English and Greek texts the word “believe”  is in the imperative mood.

 

In both of these verses a promise is attached to the command.

  1. In Matt 7:7 Jesus commanded: “Ask.” And He promised: “. . . it will be given to you.”
  2. In Ac 16:31 Paul commanded: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” And He promised: “. . . you will be saved.”

c.In both verses, obeying the command is made a condition for receiving what was promised.

 

In both of these verses doing what is commanded is necessary for salvation.

  1. In Ac 16:31 an alien sinner is commanded to believe on Jesus in order to be saved.
    • And in Jn 8:24 Jesus said: “If you do not believe that I am He you will die in your sins.”
  2. In Matt 7:7 Jesus commanded: “Ask, and you will receive.”
    • And in Ac 8:22 the Christian who sinned had to repent and ask God’s forgiveness in order to be forgiven.

 

So there are some interesting similarities between these 2 Bible verses.

 

2. But these 2 Bible verses are alike in another important way, and it is this similarity that illustrates the principle of Bible study I mentioned at the be-ginning of the lesson.

 

                  These 2 Bible verses can be rightly understood only by considering all else the NT says on these subjects.

  1. No one could possibly draw accurate conclusions about “asking” and “receiving” from God if the only verse he considers is Matt 7:7.
  2. And no one could possibly draw accurate conclusions about “believing” and being “saved” if the only verse he considers is Ac 16:31.
  3. The teaching in both of these verses is qualified and explained by other verses in the NT that must also be considered.

 

                  “Ask, and you will receive” is qualified and explained by other NT verses; and it can be rightly understood only in the light of those other verses.

a.I have never known anyone who believes that all anyone has to do in order to receive his request from God is “ask.”

  1. No one believes that Matt 7:7 is all we need to know about “asking” and “receiving.”
  2. Matt 7:7 is qualified and explained by . . .
    • Jas 1:5-6 -- ask in faith, without any doubting
    • 1Jn 3:22 -- we receive what we ask if we keep His commandments and do those things that please Him
    • 1Jn 5:14-15 -- we receive what we ask when we ask according to His will
    • Jn 15:7 -- we receive what we ask if we abide in Jesus and Jesus abides in us
    • Jas 5:16 -- only the fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (see also 1Pet 3:12)
    • Jas 4:2-3 -- we must not ask out of selfish, sinful motives

 

                  In the same way, “Believe . . . and you will be saved” is qualified and ex-plained by other NT verses; and it must be understood in the light of those other verses.

  1. The same common sense approach we use in understanding Matt 7:7 must be used in order to understand accurately Ac 16:31.
  2. No one thinks Matt 7:7 is all there is to asking and receiving; and no one should think Ac 16:31 is all there is to believing and being saved.
  3. Ac 16:31 is qualified and explained by . . .
    • Mk 1:14-15 -- believe and repent (see also Lk 13:3, Ac 20:21)
    • Rom 10:9-10 -- believe and confess Jesus (see also Matt 10:32-33)
    • Mk 16:15-16 -- believe and be baptized (see also Lk 7:30)
    • Ac 15:9 / 1Pet 1:22 -- believe and obey (see also 2 Th 1:8)
    • 1Jn 3:23 -- believe and love one another (see also 1Cor 13:2)
    • Jas 2:14-26 -- faith and the works of faith (See also Jas 2:17)
  4. Even the immediate context surrounding Ac 16:31 shows that there is more to it than just: “Believe . . . and you will be saved.”
    1. The very next verse says: “Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him.”
    2. And v33 says after they spoke the word of the Lord to him, he was baptized.
    3. So, vs31 is not all he was told in answer to his question.
    4. v31 was the word of the Lord, but it was not all the word of the Lord that he needed to hear in order to be saved.

 

3. This comparison study of Matt 7:7 and Ac 16:31 illustrates the common sense principle of effective Bible study I mentioned at the beginning of the lesson.

 

                  The principle: The teaching of any one verse of Scripture must be under-stood in the light of all other verses of Scripture that deal with that same subject.

  1. What is said in one passage may be explained, qualified, or clarified by other passages.
    • We cannot arrive at the whole truth from a partial study.
    • We must consider all God has said on any subject.
    • Psa 119:160 -- “the sum of Thy word is truth”
  2. Jesus used this very principle in answering the Devil’s 2nd temptation in Matt 4:6-7.
    • The Devil said to Him: “If you are the Son of God throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge concerning you,’ and ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone’” (Psa 91:11-12).
    • Jesus answered: “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God’” (Deut 6:16)

 

Conclusion

 

                  The sum total of all that God has said on any subject is the whole truth on that subject.

  1. It ought to be the earnest desire of every one of us to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth -- in order that we may do it.
  2. Are you trying to learn and do all of God’s will for you?
  3. Are you ready to render complete obedience to Him now?

Bill Walton

Word for the Week: Silence

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

...silence... What comes to your mind when you think of silence? Some people crave silence. Think of parents with little children whose house is constantly filled with loud noise. Or maybe you live in a busy area where there's lots of noise from traffic, trains, or other happenings around you. You may have a job which fills your day with continual conversations and sounds. Silence is appealing to some. 

Others can't stand silence. Something always has to be turned on and plugged in. To them silence is awkward. They'd rather fill the void with music, TV, anything than to be left with just their own thoughts. 

Habakkuk 2:20 reads, "The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him." 

There is a time for us to speak our mind, and to fill our mind with words and music and other influences, but we must also remember that there is a time for us to be silent. This silence recognizes the importance of God, the need to reflect before Him, seeking His wisdom and counsel. There are times in our life when we need to spend in silence with the Lord in prayer. There are times when we need to quiet our mind and calm our heart, and listen to the words of the Lord through reading the Bible. Instead of constantly interjecting our own opinions, or filling the dead air with the words of others, be still, and seek the words of the Lord. Hear what He has to say. 

Why not set aside some time this week in silence. Unplug from the world. Turn off all the distractions. Pick up the Bible and approach the Lord in silence - coming not to speak, but to listen. 

Jesus and Nicodemus

Monday, March 09, 2015

In John 3 Jesus is visited by a Pharisee named Nicodemus. It is an interesting encounter. It is clear that Nicodemus is curious about Jesus and the works which are pointing to His divinity (John 3:2). It is also interesting that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, perhaps out of fear from his fellow Pharisees, the majority of whom hated Jesus. 

The focus of Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus is on how one may enter the kingdom of God. Jesus says one must be born again (John 3:3). This puzzles Nicodemus, just as it puzzles many today. Even though Jesus helped clarify what He meant, there is still a sense of confusion by some as to what it being described here. Jesus said unless one is born of water and the Spirit, they cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven (John 3:5).

Born carries the idea of a new life. When a child is born they begin life here on earth. So the word "born" gives the impression not only of "life" but also of "beginning." How can one be born of water? Jesus is talking about baptism, being immersed in water. When someone comes out of obedience to the Lord's commands (Mark 16:16), and a humble, repentant heart seeking forgiveness (clean conscience - 1 Pet. 3:21), it is through baptism that God forgives a sinner of their sins (Acts 2:38). Their sins are washed away (Acts 22:16). In obeying Christ's command and being baptized, Christ removes our sins just as the flesh was removed from the body through circumcision (Col. 2:11-12). Paul wrote that we are baptized into Jesus' death (Rom. 6:3). When we are baptized we die to our sins just as Christ died for us, and as Christ rose from the dead, we rise from the water to a new life free from sins (Rom. 6:4). It is a new life with a new identity as we were once without Christ, now we are in Christ (Gal. 3:27). 

Jesus told Nicodemus that to enter the kingdom of God one must be born again. Have you been born again? Do you have the faith of Nicodemus to seek after Jesus, even in the secret of night, as long as it means coming to know and follow the Lord? 

Thursdays with Bill - God Has a Law

Thursday, March 05, 2015

GOD HAS A LAW

 

Matt 14:1-10

1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus

2 and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.”

3 For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife.

4 Because John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.”

5 And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.

6 But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod.

7 Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.

8 So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.”

9 And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her.

10 So he sent and had John beheaded in prison.

 

                  The angel of the Lord told Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, that his son would preach in the spirit and power of Elijah.

  1. We certainly see an example of that in John's confrontation with Herod over Herod's unlawful marriage to Herodias (who had been married previously to Herod's brother).
  2. John the Baptist certainly had the courage of his convictions.

 

Many people in our society today take marriage and divorce for granted.

  1. They have the attitude that …
    • a man can marry anybody he wants to, anytime he wants to;
    • and he can divorce his wife anytime he wants to, for any reason he wants to
    • and a woman can do the same.
  2. What God has to say about it doesn’t enter into their thinking at all.
    • As the psalmist David laments, “The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts” (Psa 10:4).

 

                  But God has a law!

  1. God has ALWAYS had a law, and man has ALWAYS been under law to God.
    • Adam and Eve were under law to God.
      • They could not have been guilty of sin if they had not been given a law to live by:
        • 1Jn 3:4 (KJV) – “Whosoever committs sin trans-gresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”
          • NIV: “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”
    • The children of Israel were under law to God.
      • Psa 78:1 – “Give ear, O my people, to my law; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.”
    • The Gentiles were also under law to God.
      • Rom 3:9 – “What then? Are we (Jews) better than they (Gentiles)? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.”
      • Rom 3:19 – “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”
    1. Herod and Herodias were under law to God:
      • That's why John could say to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have her."
    • And while it is true that we are saved by God’s grace, it is also true that we are obligated to God’s law:
      • 1Cor 9:21 – “not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ”
      • Jer 31:33 – “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
    • And the fact is: the godly man “delights in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psa 1:2)

 

                  Yes! God has a law.

  1. And His law includes restrictions and regulations on marriage and divorce and re-marriage.
    • Anyone who violates His law is guilty of sin.
      • Remember: “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 Jn 3:4)
      • And sin separates the unrepentant sinner from God:
        • Isa 59:1,2 – “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.”
      • If the sin is never repented of, the sinner will be separated from God for eternity
        • Jas 1:13-15 – “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”
        • Lk 13:3 – “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

 

                  It is absolutely essential that we learn God’s law, and learn to respect His law, and teach His law to our children.

  1. To that end, consider the question Jesus was asked concerning divorce; and consider the answer He gave:
    • Matt 19:3-9 – “The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?’  4 And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,  5 and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”?  6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.’ 7 They said to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?’  8 He said to them, ‘Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.  9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery’”

 

                  God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16; Matthew 19:6).  And God does not allow divorce, except for the cause of sexual immorality (Matt 19:9 – “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

  1. Any man who divorces his wife for a cause other than sexual immorality sins in so doing.
  2. And any woman who divorces her husband for a cause other than sexual immorality sins in so doing.

 

                  When a man divorces his wife for a cause other than sexual immorality, he sins in more ways than one:

  1. In the first place: when a man divorces his wife for a cause other than sexual immorality He disobeys the Lord’s explicit command (and that is sin).
    • Matt 19:6 – “… what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
    • 1 Cor 7:10,11 Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.”
    • And disobeying the Lord’s explicit command is foolish indeed:
      • Matt 7:26,27 – “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
  2. In the second place: when a man divorces his wife for a cause other than sexual immorality He disregards and vio-lates his marriage vows:
    • Mal  2:14 – “… the LORD has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant.”
  3. In the third place: when a man divorces his wife for a cause other than sexual immorality He repudiates his lawful obliga-tions:
    • Rom 7:2,3 – “For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.”
    • 1 Cor 7:2-4 – “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”
  4. In the fourth place: when a man divorces his wife for a cause other than sexual immorality He proves himself unworthy of trust – and that is a far more serious offense than most peo-ple realize:
    • Rom 1:31,32 – “… undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”
  5. And finally: When a man divorces his wife for a cause other than sexual immorality he causes the wife he has divorced to commit adultery.
    • Matt 5:32 – “But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.”
    • And causing someone to sin is a terrible thing in the eyes of God:
      • Matt 18:6,7 – “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!”

 

                  Men in our society have made laws that permit divorce for any cause.

  1. But God has a law! And God's law prohibits divorce except for the cause of sexual immorality.
  2. So what are we to do?
    • “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Ac 5:29).

 

                  To be sure, it can sometimes be very hard for us to carry out the requirements of God’s law concerning marriage (Eph 5:22-24) and divorce (Matt 5:32), but that’s true of other aspects of God’s law as well:

  1. Example: Matt 5:38-46 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 “If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 “Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”
  2. Example: 1Pet 2:18 “Servants, be submissive to your mas-ters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.”
  3. Example: Rom 13:1-5 “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.”

 

                  Anyone who is thinking of divorcing – for whatever reason – will find plenty of support for his decision, if he chooses to follow that course.

  1. There are many “practical atheists” in our society – men and women who act as though there is no God and no law of God to be concerned about.
    • They may claim to be believers, and they may be church members in good standing, but even the most important choices and decisions they make are made with little or no regard for what God has to say about it.
      • They are, as a practical matter, atheists.
    • And they are not at all reluctant to share their ungodly advice and self-serving philosophy of life with anyone who will listen.
  2. The “believer” who is thinking of divorcing will be sorely tempted to follow their counsel, but “blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly” (Psa 1:1).

 

The true believer’s “delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psa 1:2).

 

The true believer listens to the voice of the Lord, and follows Him.

  1. Jn 10:27 – “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

 

CONCLUSION

 

                  God has a law of salvation also.

  1. God’s law of salvation for the alien sinner requires …
  2. God’s law of salvation for the Christian who sins requires …

 

Bill Walton

Word for the Week: Gift

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

We know what gifts are. They are pleasant, thoughtful presents. They communicate how others are important to you, and how much you care for them. The greater, larger, or more personal the gift, the greater the gesture and message is shown. 

The Psalmist asks a fair question about God's gift giving - "When I consider Your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty!" Psalm 8:3-5

Who is man that God would give such incredible blessings to him? What is it about us that God would care to create an incredible world to enjoy and live in? Why would God crown us with glory and honor? To be honest, we're no one. We certainly don't deserve these kind gifts. We've made plenty of mistakes, giving God more than enough reason to turn away from us. Yet, He loves us. He cares so much for us. 

God's greatest gift was that of His Son (Rom. 5:8; John 3:16). It was God's way of saying, "I would rather die than be without you. I am willing to give of what is most precious to me, in order to save you." God has given to us an incredible gift. He offers grace, forgiveness, and hope (Eph. 2:8). It is up to you to respond by faith and receive that gift (Rom. 5:1-2, Mark 16:16). 

The next time you feel down, unimportant, insignificant, just stop and remember - God loves me and cares for me, and has blessed me richly. This is especially true when it comes to our salvation in Him. "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" 2 Cor. 9:15

Jesus and the Law

Monday, March 02, 2015

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons." Galatians 4:4-5

Jesus was born a Jew, while the law (Old Law, law of Moses) was still in effect. Here are a few thoughts about Jesus and the law: 

  • Jesus knew the law - He was able to quote the law, such as the time He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Luke 4:3-12). He was able to open the large scroll of Isaiah and find the passage He was looking for (Luke 4:16). Often times when Jesus was asked a question, He would point the person back to the Scriptures (Matt. 19:4; Luke 6:3; Luke 10:23). The Jews were amazed with Jesus' understanding (John 7:15).
  • Jesus obeyed the law - Jesus didn't break the law. He kept it. In regards to morals, language, worship, Jesus was pure. He was without sin (Heb. 4:15). He kept the Passover (Luke 2:41-42; Luke 22:13). When tempted by Satan, Jesus did not violate the Scriptures, yet answered every attempt by quoting the Law. 
  • Jesus Fulfilled the Law - Matt. 5:17-18 - Jesus did not come to destroy or abolish the law. He came to fulfill it, and free us from it's bondage, establishing a new law. The old law required perfect obedience, and because of this no one could be justified by the law because everyone sins (Gal. 3:10-11; Rom. 3:20-23). So Christ came to earth to redeem us from the law, and established a new law (law of Christ - Gal. 6:2), where we are justified by faith (Gal. 3:14; Rom. 3:26; Rom. 5:1-2). So Jesus came to earth, and fulfilled the law (Luke 24:44-47). 

Does all this mean that we no longer have commands to obey? Not at all. If we love Jesus we will keep His commandments (John 14:15; 1 John 5:2-3; 2 John 6). The Hebrew writer reminds us that Jesus became the author of salvation to all those who obey Him (Heb. 5:9). Paul wrote to Christians to bring about the obedience of faith (Rom. 1:5; Rom. 16:26). So the theme of obedience and keeping the Lord's commands still exists. What has changed is the law we follow. Jesus came and fulfilled the old law, and established the new, a law/covenant inaugurated by His blood, where we may find true forgiveness and life on the basis of obedient faith. 

Thursdays with Bill - There is Forgiveness with God

Thursday, February 19, 2015

THERE IS FORGIVENESS WITH GOD

Psalm 130:4

 

                  I know ... and I know that ... and I know that .

  1. So I know there are going to be times when you will give in to temptation and you will sin.
    • And there may come a time when you go further in sin than you ever intended to go or ever thought you would go.
      • You may do the very thing you thought you would never do -- just as Peter did.
  2. When you sin, you need to believe that God can and will forgive you – no matter how grievous, despicable, and reprehensible your sins may be.

 

                  If you have committed sin, or if in the future you commit sin, that is especially grievous and reprehensible, you may be tempted to believe that God will not forgive you.

  1. If Judas Iscariot hung himself because he believed he was deserving of death and not deserving of forgiveness, he was right.
    • He was deserving of death – and so are we.
    • And he was not deserving of forgiveness – and neither are we.
  2. But, if Judas hung himself because he believed God could not or would not forgive him, he was wrong – dead wrong.

 

                  The psalmist, in Psa 130:4, assures us that "there is forgiveness" with God.

  1. And, in Psa 103, David heart bursts forth with praise and thanksgiving for          the God who can and will forgive anything and everything.
    • Psa 103:1-3 – "Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: 3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, 4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, ..."
  2. And, in that same psalm, he re-assures us with comforting words that ought to cause every sinners heart to rejoice.
    • Psa 103:10-14 – "He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. 14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust."

 

                  Isa 1:11 – "'Come now, and let us reason together,' Says the LORD, 'Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.'"

  1. That's what I want to do in my sermon this morning.
    • I want to reason with you concerning God's willingness to forgive even when your sins are "like scarlet" and even when your sins are "red like crimson."
    • And I want you to realize that if God would forgive David of the grievous, reprehensible sins he committed, then God will forgive whatever sins you have committed – when you deal with your sins in the way that David ultimately dealt with his sins.

 

So, for a little while this morning, I want to talk about what David did that caused God to be willing to forgive him – even though his sins were "red like crimson."

 

1. David made a heartfelt confession of his sins.

 

                  The way to forgiveness begins with an honest, sincere confession of the sins that have been committed.

  1. Prov 28:13 – "He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy."
    • David knew that; and David did that:
      • Psa 32:5 – "I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,' And You forgave the iniquity of my sin."

 

                  Nathan confronted David with his sins, and David faced up to his sins and dealt with them in the right way.

  1. Nathan: "Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. 10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife" (2Sam 12:9-10).
  2. David: "'I have sinned against the LORD" (2Sam 12:13).
    • David has “come to himself” and he sees his adultery with Bathsheba, and his treachery against her husband, as “TRANSGESSION, INIQUITY, SIN, (and EVIL), involving every kind and degree of guilt” (Speaker’s Commentary)
      • Psa 51:1-4,14 – “Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight ... 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, the God of my salvation, ..."

 

                  And David makes no attempt to justify himself; he makes no excuses for what he did.

  1. In Psa 32:2 David says: “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.”
    • “No guile” means “no dishonesty, no attempt to disguise, gloss over, extenuate, or justify the sin” (Speaker’s Com-mentary)

 

                  Confess your sins honestly to yourself and to God ... and to others if that’s what is needed.

  1. It’s hard ... I know it is – but there is no way to receive God's forgiveness without it.

 

2. David truly sorrowed for his sins.

 

                  There is no better example of godly sorrow in all the Bible than the example of David.

  1. Psa 6:2-7 – "Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled. 3 My soul also is greatly troubled; ... 6 I am weary with my groaning; All night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears. 7 My eye wastes away because of grief; ..."
  2. Psa 38:3-17 – "There is no soundness in my flesh Because of Your anger, Nor any health in my bones Because of my sin. 4 For my iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. 5 My wounds are foul and festering Because of my foolishness. 6 I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. 7 For my loins are full of inflammation, And there is no soundness in my flesh. 8 I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart. 9 Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. 10 My heart pants, my strength fails me; As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me. ... 17 For I am ready to fall, And my sorrow is continu-ally before me."

 

                  True repentance is motivated by godly sorrow.

  1. 2Cor 7:9-10 – “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.”

 

                  And sorrow for sin ought to be directed mainly toward God.

  1. Others may have been hurt by our sins ... and we ought to sorrow for the hurt and harm we’ve done to others – but it should not compare with the sorrow felt for sinning against God.
  2. That’s why David said: “I have sinned against the Lord” (2Sam 12:13).
    • And: “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight” (Psa 51:4) – see Speaker’s Commentary

 

3. David accepted full responsibility for his sins.

 

Whenever a person claims to have repented, but is always trying to make excuses for what he did, or points the finger of blame at someone else, I am made to wonder about his “repentance.”

 

                  David’s sins were at least as grievous as the sins of Saul, who was king before him.

  1. But when David was confronted with his sins by Nathan, David said: “I have sinned...” (2Sam 12:13) –  and there was no attempt to shift blame to Bathsheba or make excuses for himself in any way.
    • But when Saul was confronted by Samuel, Saul said (paraphrase): “it was the people ... the people made me do it” (1Sam 15:15,21,24)
    • And Adam tried to shift the blame to Eve: “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Gen 3:12).

 

                  I know that circumstances and situations can make us more vulnerable to temptation, and I know that other people can put a stumbling-block in our path - but we are still free to choose.

  1. We can choose to do evil or do good.
  2. And ultimately we must bear the responsibility for our own actions.
  3. And the willingness to accept full responsibility for our sins is a step on the way to genuine repentance.

 

4. David sincerely repented of his sins.

 

Psa 51

 

                  A person who is sincerely repentant resolves to do 3 things.

  1. One: He resolves to quit his sin.
    • If he has been stealing, he resolves to quit stealing.
  2. Two: He resolves to make amends for whatever wrongs he has done to the extent that he can.
    • Ac 16: 33 – the jailor “washed their stripes”
    • Lk 19:8-9 – “I restore fourfold” (see NAS)
    • Ezek 33:14-16 – “Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, 15 if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die.  16 None of his sins which he has commit-ted shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live.”
  3. Three: He resolves to re-dedicate himself to God's service.
    • Psa 51:12-14 – "Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You. 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteous-ness."

 

5. David longed for forgiveness of his sins.

 

                  Listen again to these excerpts from and .

  1. Psa 6:2-6 – "Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled. 3 My soul also is greatly troubled; But You, O LORD – how long? 4 Return, O LORD, deliver me! Oh, save me for Your mercies' sake! ... 6 I am weary with my groaning; All night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears."
  2. Psa 38:1-22 – "O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure! 2 For Your arrows pierce me deeply, And Your hand presses me down. 3 There is no soundness in my flesh Because of Your anger, Nor any health in my bones Because of my sin. 4 For my iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. 5 My wounds are foul and festering Because of my foolishness. 6 I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. 7 For my loins are full of inflammation, And there is no soundness in my flesh. 8 I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart. 9 Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. ... 15 For in You, O LORD, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God. ... 17 For I am ready to fall, And my sorrow is continually before me. 18 For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin. ... 21 Do not forsake me, O LORD; O my God, be not far from me! 22 Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!
  3. Psa 51:1-15 – "Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. ... 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. ... 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, ..."

 

                  Do you remember the Air Florida plane crash into the icy waters of the Potomac River in February of 1982?

  1. Maybe you remember the extraordinary courage of the man who kept handing the rescue line from the helicopter to other survivors in the water, and helping them to get lifted out of the water to safety, until his body became so numbed and fatigued that he sank beneath the surface of the water and drowned.
  2. But the point I want to make is this: Imagine the fear in the minds of those people in the icy waters, thinking any moment they would drown.
    • Imagine the tenacity with which they grabbed hold of the rescue line lowered to them from the helicopter hovering overhead.
      • They must have wanted out of that water more than they had ever wanted anything before in their lives!
  3. If we want God’s forgiveness, I believe we’re going to have to want it more than we want anything else in the world.
    • We’re going to have to want forgiveness enough to repent and turn from every sin – no matter what the cost.

 

Conclusion.

 

There is forgiveness with God -- when we accept full responsibility for our sins ... truly sorrow for sins ... sincerely repent of our sins ... make a heartfelt confession of our sins ... and longingly seek God's forgiveness.

 

- Bill Walton

Word for the Week: Amen

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

One of the most commonly used words in our assemblies is the word "amen."It is found in several verses throughout  the Bible. It is often times the last word said in unison following our prayers. There are even some hymns which have the word "amen" sung in the final stanza. 

The Greek word "AMEN" describes something that is firm, sure, reliable, faithful, and true. This word is also used as an adverb and carries the idea of the listeners approval, confirmation, and support of what has been said. In saying "amen" we are saying "So be it! This is truth! May it be fulfilled!" Thayer's states that, "it was a custom, which passed over from the synagogues into the Christian assemblies, that when he who had read or discoursed had offered up a solemn prayer to God, the others in attendance responded Amen, and thus made the substance of what was uttered their own." 

We see amen used as the exclamation point of praise. Here are some examples - 1 Timothy 1:17Revelation 7:10-12. Using amen in the end of praise is the bold proclamation that I agree with the statements of praise given, let this truth be known. 

We most commonly use amen in the end of our prayers. A Biblical example is 1 Corinthians 14:15-16. When we say amen to one's prayer, we are saying to one another, and to God that we agree with all that this person has said. It is approving and endorsing our participation of listening in agreement to the words spoken. 

Isn't it interesting that the word amen is used in the very last verses of the Bible. Jesus says that He is coming again, and John's response is, "Amen. Come Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen." Can we say "amen" to this statement, of Jesus coming again? Are we ready? Are we prepared? Do we have the blessed assurance John had to fully agree with Jesus' promise to return quickly? Give some thought to "amen" and the good that can come from boldly vocalizing my agreement to words being spoken.

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