Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Genuineness of Faith

Peter says in 1 Peter 1:7, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” In other words, Peter is saying that trials can be purifying experiences for all of us. God often allows trials to come into our lives, not to break us, but to make us.

It’s been said that temptation is that which puts to the test. Trials sent by God do this. A test is never employed for the purpose of injury. Just as a weight is attached to a rope, not to break it, but to prove it. Pressure is applied to a boiler, not to burst it, but to certify its power of resistance.”

Notice that he says, “being much more precious than gold that perisheth.” The picture here is of an ancient goldsmith who puts his crude gold ore in a crucible, subjects it to intense heat, and thus liquefies the mass. The impurities rise to the surface and are skimmed off. When the metal-worker is able to see the reflection of his face clearly mirrored in the surface of the liquid, he takes it off the fire, for he knows that the contents are pure gold. It is with God and His child as well. He puts us in the crucible of Christian suffering, in which process sin is gradually put out of our lives, our faith is purified from the slag of unbelief that somehow mingles with it so often, and the result is the reflection of the face of Jesus Christ in the character of the Christian. This, above all, God the Father desires to see. Christlikeness is God’s ideal for His child. Christian suffering is one of the most potent means to that end.”

Notice that our faith is to be “tried by fire.” Charles Spurgeon once said, “Indeed, it is the honor of faith to be tried. Shall any man say, ‘I have faith, but I have never had to believe under difficulties’? Who knows whether thou hast any faith at all? Shall a man say, ‘I have great faith in God, but I have never had to use it in anything more than the ordinary affairs of life, where I could probably have done without it as well as with it’? Is this to the honor and praise of thy faith? Dost thou think that such a faith as this will bring any great glory to God, or bring to thee any great reward? If so, thou art mightily mistaken.”

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Preeminence of Doctrine

I was just cleaning off some disk space and I found this message that I taught at Calvary Chapel San Antonio a few years ago. God bless Pastor Ron and the folks at CC San Antonio!

The Preeminence of Doctrine

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Correction Refused

If there is anything that I've learned in years of studying the Bible, it's that none of us are perfect. We all still fall so desperately short of God's ideal for us. It's been said that God will allow us to come to Him just the way that we are, but He loves us too much to let us stay that way. Determined not to give up on us, He brings correction into our lives. II Timothy 3:16-17 says that all Scripture is "inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." From this verse we see that God has given us His Word for the purpose of reproving, correcting, training and equipping us.

Understanding all of that, and I don't know of one Christian that would deny it (at least not in my circles), why is it that we find it so hard to accept correction? I don't think any of us would say that we are perfect. Most of us readily admit that we are flawed to the bone. Don't believe me? Ask your family and friends to be honest with you. We all have our shortcomings, faults and blind spots. No sane person would deny that. All that said, why can we not handle correction?

As I look back over my years of ministry and all of the people that God has brought in and out of my life, it saddens me to remember all of those who simply could not be corrected. It didn't matter how I told them. I could be direct. I could beat around the bush for a little while. Take them to lunch. Try to break it gently, etc… It was all to no avail. In the end, the correction was rejected and the relationship lost. An old preacher friend of mine told me one time, "Son, you can pat them on the back ninety-nine times, but correct them one time and they'll hate you forever." Why is that? Proverbs 12:1 says, "Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid." That's some pretty strong language coming out of the Bible! Jeremiah 5:3 says, "O Lord, do not Your eyes look for truth? You have smitten them, but they did not weaken; You have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent."

In the end, I'm forced to conclude that we are simply an arrogant lot. Our American culture has convinced us that we have the right to be right. Proverbs 16:25 says, "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." The writer of Proverbs also wrote, "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance…" Take that last verse to its conclusion and you arrive at the fact that those who do not and will not except correction do not fear God. How truly sad.

The Ant and the Grasshopper

This was sent to me in the other day from one of my friends in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. It will really make you think where our nation is going.

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.


The ant works hard in the withering heat and the rain all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while he is cold and starving. CBS, NBC , PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. America is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so? Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper and everybody cries when they sing, 'It's Not Easy Being Green.' ACORN stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house where the news stations film the group singing, We shall overcome. Then Rev. Jeremiah Wright has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper's sake. President Omama condemns the ant and blames President Bush, President Reagan, Christopher Columbus, and the Pope for the grasshopper's plight. Nancy Posi & Harry Reid exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share. Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer. The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government Green Czar and given to the grasshopper. The story ends as we see the grasshopper and his free-loading friends finishing up the last bits of the ants food while the government house he is in, which, as you recall, just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around them because the grasshopper doesn't maintain it. The ant has disappeared in the snow, never to be seen again. The house is eventually abandoned and taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the ramshackle, once prosperous and once peaceful, neighborhood. The entire nation collapses bringing the rest of the free world with it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Great Quote

Peter Marshall once said, "It is better to fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bearing with the Weak

Using Romans 14:1-7 as my text, I want to talk about some principles of conduct for Christians in questionable matters. If we had time to really dig in, we would find that Paul basically gives three guidelines. 1. Conviction – Looking forward. 2. Conscience – Looking in. 3. Consideration – Looking out. In other words, Conviction anticipates, Conscience meditates and Consideration hesitates. I believe that conviction, conscience, and consideration should govern how and why we do what we do.

This reminds me of the Tate Family, "Do you know how many members of the Tate family belong to your church? There is old man DicTate, who wants to run everything, while Uncle RoTate tries to change everything. Their sister AgiTate stirs up plenty of trouble, with help from her husband, IrriTate. Their son DebiliTate is often a bad influence on other children. Whenever new projects are suggested, HesiTate, and his wife, VegeTate, want to wait until next year. DisorienTate has never quite figured out what is going on. Grandpa DisserTate will talk on and on about most any subject when given a chance. GesTate takes a long time to come to conclusions on new ideas. Then there is Aunt ImiTate, who wants our church to be like all the others. DevasTate provides the voice of doom. And of course, there are the black sheep of the family, FragmenTate seems to always be stirring up division, AposTate has formed his own following and AmpuTate has cut himself off from the Church!

Today we have two extremes about Christian conduct in questionable matters; no separation and total separation. This second group is the ones that Paul labels weak in the faith in this chapter. We must learn to balance Christian freedom and Christian responsibility. I submit ten principles for balance in each of our lives.

1. We should not be judgmental in disputable or gray areas (14:1–9).

2. We should be convinced in our own mind as to the rightness or wrongness of an action (14:5).

However we must keep in mind 1 Cor. 6:12 which says, "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient…"

3. We must realize that we all will stand ultimately before God and give an account (14:10).

Hebrews 4:13, "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."

4. We must not put a stumbling block in the way of our brothers (14:13).

I Cor. 8:12 "But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ."

Matthew 18:6 "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."

5. We must always act in love (14:15).

Galations 5:22a "But the fruit of the Spirit is love…"

6. We must pursue actions which promote peace (14:19).

Romans 12:18

7. We must seek to edify others by our actions (14:19).

I Corinthians 14:12 "Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification (building up) of the church that you seek to excel."

1Co 10:24-25 "Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. (25) Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience' sake;"

8. We must do only that which can be done in faith (14:22-23).

Romans 1:17 "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."

9. We seek to glorify God in all that we do and say (15:6).

Romans 12:1

10. We must always love one another, even when we disagree (15:7).