Monday, August 29, 2016

To God be the Glory - Galatians 1:3-7

Today we continue our study through the book of Galatians by looking at the true message of the gospel and that it is something that none of us could ever earn in and of ourselves.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Gospel of Grace - Galatians 1:1-2

Today we introduce the letter to the Galatians as the Declaration of Emancipation from legalism.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

We Need Church

Saying “I love Jesus but not the church” is as irrational as saying to your best friend, “I like you—I just can’t stand being around you.”

 Click to read article.

Evangelism: Decision Time

Today we conclude our brief study on the call to evangelism by looking at how to actually share the gospel with others.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Evangelism: Turn the Conversation

Today in our study on evangelism, we talk about how to turn the conversation to spiritual things when talking about Jesus to others.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Evangelism: True Measure of Success

Today in our study on evangelism we talk about the difference between simply saying that we are Christians and obeying what our Lord has clearly commanded us to do.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Evangelism: The Sin of Silence

Today we continue our study on the subject of evangelism by looking at staggering statistics that show that the average Christian is not actively sharing their faith with those around them.

Evangelism: Introduction

Today we begin a new study on the call to evangelism. In this study, we will find that God has always had a plan to reach lost man with the gospel of Christ, and yes, that plan involves us.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Prayer: Qualifications

In today's final study on prayer, we discuss some qualifiers for prayer such as humility, sincerity, boldness, faith, simple, persistent, definite, and Scriptural.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Prayer: Hindrances, Part 2

Today we continue our study on the subject of prayer and things that hinder our prayers from being answered according to the Bible.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Birthdays - Revelation 2:11-12

Revelation 2:11 says, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” When I was in Bible College, I had a teacher that used to tell us preacher boys that God gave us two ears and one mouth because we were meant to listen twice as much as we spoke.” That’s some pretty good advice. I wish more people would take it to heart. That’s including, at times myself.

In this verse we also come to the second promise of salvation to him who overcomes. He will not be hurt by the second death. The second death is spoke of again in Revelation 20:6 where it says, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” What is the second death? While all men, short of the rapture, will die a first time in this life: only those who have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will not suffer the second death which will occur after the Great White Throne judgment. This death will result in the one who has not placed their faith in Jesus Christ being cast into the Lake of Fire to never see or experience the presence of God again. It’s been said that if a person is born once (physically) they will die twice (physically and spiritually). If a person is born twice (physically and spiritually) they will die once (physically). My physical birth happened on September 26, 1966. My spiritual birth took place while I was a nine year old boy attending a revival service in Greenville, South Carolina. Those two births assure me that I will only die a physical death, but never a spiritual one. How about you? How many birthdays do you have?

Now let’s look at verse 12 where it says, “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges.” Again, we must remember that the names of these churches have much to do with the situations they were in at the time. The first Church of Ephesus, had left its first love and thus its name meant "desirable” or “first love". The second Church of Smyrna, was under deadly persecution and thus its name meant Myrrh which was a spice used in the embalming process. 

Now we come to the Church of Pergamos. This is where I want you to put your thinking caps on for a minute. We are going to break the word down. "Per" means "mixed or objectionable." "Gamos" means “marriage or wedded”. For example, “polygamy” means married to many and monogamy means married to one.  

So Pergamos means "mixed or objectionable marriage." We will see as we read the letter that Jesus accuses Pergamos of compromise because it married the world. This is the church of compromise. It’s the church that originated the phrase, “Why can’t we all just love each other and get along?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that statement. Yes, the Bible does teach that we are to love one another and “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom 12:18). However, the Bible also says in Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” 

As a pastor, I have been forced to make some decisions in regards to who our church was to have fellowship with.  Many of them were long, drawn-out, painful, and prayerful decisions. In the end, old relationships were sometimes broken and new ones were formed.  However, all of them were made based upon the clear teaching of the Word of God. There is not nearly as much “guess work” in the Bible as many would have us to believe!

So, the Church of Pergamos was the compromising church. It was the church that had “married” the world and God certainly saw that as “mixed or objectionable. I remember hearing one time that the boat is okay in the ocean as long as the ocean doesn’t come into the boat. Unfortunately, that’s the story with not only the Church of Pergamos, but also many churches today. Next time, we’ll take a closer look at that sharp sword with two edges and how God intends to use it.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Prayer: Hindrances

Today we continue our study on things that can hinder our prayers.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Suffering - Revelation 2:10

Revelation 2:10 says, “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Jesus is telling this Church of Smyrna that they are about to suffer persecution. Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:12, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."

I guess the question should be, “Is it in God’s plan that Christians suffer?” The answer is, “Yes.” That cannot be denied. I often hear Christians say "Satan, we bind you in the name of Jesus!" But we must understand something. Just because you want to bind him does not automatically mean that God wants to bind him. Sometimes God does allow Satan to do things out of his sovereignty that we cannot stop. Jesus told the Church of Smyrna to be faithful unto death! 

First, I think of the story of Job in the Old Testament. In Job 1:6-12 it says, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them…And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?...And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.” Did God allow Job to suffer? Yes.

Second, I think of Peter in the New Testament. Jesus said to Peter in Luke 22:31-32, “…Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." Notice that Jesus did not pray that Peter would be delivered from the “sifting” that was to come, but that his faith would not fail him when it was over.

Third, I also think of Paul the apostle said in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, "…there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Wouldn't it have been great if Job, Peter, and Paul could have all just have bound Satan and averted their suffering? Job would have never had such a horrible time by losing everything he owned, his children, and his bodily suffering. Peter could have avoided his three denials. Paul could have escaped the thorn in his flesh. But that was not in God’s plan for their lives. James said in James 1:2-4, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (various trials); Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” God used their suffering to perfect them. Maturity in the faith comes with the realization that God often allows Satan to buffet us for His divine purposes.

Finally, notice that the Christians in Smyrna were promised that if they were faithful in their testing and persevered unto death that they would receive the crown of life. The Bible speaks of five crowns that can be received by all Christians based upon their faithfulness in this life. The first crown is the Imperishable Crown spoken of in 1 Corinthians 9:25. The second crown is the Crown of Rejoicing spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 2:19. The third crown is the Crown of Righteousness spoken of in 2 Timothy 4:8. The fourth crown is the Crown of Life spoken of here in Revelation 2:10 and in James 1:12. And the fifth crown is the Crown of Glory that is given to pastors spoken of in 1 Peter 5:4. And what will we do with them when we get them? Throw them at His feet (Revelation 4:4 and 11)!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Health and Wealth - Revelation 2:9-10

Let’s pick it up today in Revelation 2:9 where it says, “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.” I want to take a look at a few things in this verse. First, notice that the Lord says that He knows their works, tribulation, and poverty. Many people believe that they live in poverty today. But the word Jesus uses here means to be completely destitute and having nothing at all. Can you imagine being a Christian in a time and place that you couldn't get a job because of your faith in Christ? A place where your property and belongings were confiscated because you had decided to follow Jesus? This was an everyday reality to the Christians in Smyrna. Thank God we live in a nation where we are free to worship God without fear of persecution.

Notice that Jesus doesn't tell them the lie that we so often here in the church today. "Oh, if only you had a little more faith brother, or repented of that sin, then you'd be healthy, wealthy, and wise!" On the contrary, Jesus said in Matthew 8:20, Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." Those who propagate this false message would do well to read 1 Tim 6:3-5 where Paul said, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.Did you see that? We need to withdraw from anyone who teaches that godliness is a means of gain or getting rich.

Instead, it goes on to say in 1 Timothy 6:6-11, But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” Godliness with contentment is great gain.

On another note, it’s interesting that they felt they were poor and Jesus had to remind them that they were rich. Later we will see in the last days Church of Laodicea (that’s the one we’re living in right now) that they felt they were rich and Jesus will remind them that they are poor when He says in Revelation 3:17, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” 

Notice also that the Lord says that he knows the “blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.” The Apostle Paul said in Romans 2:28-29, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Jesus also had a confrontation with the Jews over this subject in John 8:37-44. The Jews spoke of here were those who had religion on the outside, but no heart for God on the inside. There are many of those running around the church today as well.

Now let’s look at Revelation 2:10 where it says, “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Jesus is telling this church that they are about to suffer persecution. We will talk about it more next time.