A Puffed-Up Mind

July 13, 2019 by Mark Clements

Colossians 2:16-18

“Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,” Colossians 2:18.

Early Christians in Colossae faced multiple forms of false teaching from influential leaders who appeared to have supreme intelligence and spiritual experience. These false teachers attacked the simplicity of the believers’ faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, insisting that they were somehow disqualified from the true knowledge of God since their experiences did not match the leaders’ experiences. True believers in Jesus were being judged by religious Jews because they did not observe certain Jewish feasts or festivals. Paul reminded them that those Old Testament ceremonies pointed to Jesus, who came and provided the substance of the promises to which they pointed. Other false teachers had actually strayed from Jesus and were embracing a mystical, experiential cult, promoting a false humility and the worship of angels. Both of these groups were pressuring the believers to leave their foundation of Christ through prideful fleshly manipulation, and Paul encouraged them to resist them.

Daily, we are met with spiritual resistance. God’s enemies will use every tactic possible to knock us off balance, including manipulation, bullying and asserting their superiority because of supreme intelligence or experience. The gospel is simple enough for a child to grasp, but that does not mean it is inferior. It is the power of God and it reveals His righteousness (Romans 1:16, 17). We must actively resist manipulation from false teachers and stand firm on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ, no matter how smart or manipulative false teachers might be. We are qualified by faith in Christ, therefore no human being can make us disqualified through their vain imagination or high intelligence.

JUST A THOUGHT: Christ qualifies you.

https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com/2019/07/13/bogard-press-daily-devotional-98/

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For The Troubled Heart

The pressures and burdens of life don’t have to result in despair. It’s important to know where to go for comfort.

BY CHARLES F. STANLEY

 

The holiday season has always been one of the highlights of the year for me. As the chill of winter approaches, I look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas—occasions to celebrate the blessings God has given, especially the birth of our Savior. But through my life and years of ministry, I’ve seen how these holidays can also be difficult—how despair often lurks close by, following us from errand to errand and event to event—threatening to weigh down our journey to the manger of Christ’s birth.

The sad reality is that our lives don’t always look like a picture-perfect Christmas card. Loss, loneliness, health concerns, relational conflicts, financial and other problems know no season. And sometimes they come when the rest of the world is celebrating. The stark contrast can leave us feeling even more defeated and discouraged.

 

WHERE CAN WE GO FOR HELP WHEN LIFE LOOKS HOPELESS?

When we see no way out of despair or trouble of some kind, most of us want the company of someone who’s gone through a similar situation and understands our struggle. Perhaps that’s why we so readily identify with biblical characters like David or the apostle Paul, who experienced the discouragement of afflictions.

In 2 Corinthians 1:8, Paul writes of one of the most difficult times in his life, “We were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life.” This crushing experience was so overwhelming that he saw no way out and felt his life was soon to end: “Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves” (2 Corinthians 1:9).

Whether you feel slowly pressed into hopelessness by the accumulation of many everyday stresses or life has been upended by one overwhelmingly difficult and painful situation, what you need is encouragement. The Greek word translated as “comfort” or “encouragement” is paraklésis, which means “a calling to one’s aid.” And isn’t that what we need when we’re overwhelmed—someone who will stay with us, walk beside us through the dark valley and somehow lift us up when we grow weak?

 

THE TRIUNE GOD IS OUR SOURCE OF ENCOURAGEMENT.

When Paul was at his lowest point, “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” came alongside to encourage him in the midst of his affliction (2 Corinthians 1:3). Do you see the Lord as an encourager, or does He seem more like a condemning judge to you? Sometimes we develop a lopsided perspective of God, which doesn’t include encouragement as one of His attributes.

Sometimes we develop a lopsided perspective of God, which doesn’t include encouragement as one of His attributes.

God’s comforting nature is displayed by all three members of the Trinity, not simply by the Father of mercies. Paul said, “Just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:5). And in John 14:16, Jesus described the indwelling Holy Spirit as “another Helper,” which in the Greek language means a comforter or encourager of the same kind—in other words, equal to Jesus Himself.

All members of the Trinity are coequal with one another, and the entire Godhead is at work lifting us up, giving comfort and support in adversity. Upon salvation, we aren’t expected to fend for ourselves. God tenderly cares for us as His children, and He’s promised never to leave or forsake us. Even when we feel as if we’re all alone in our struggles, God is there, carrying us through when we have no more strength to continue.

If we never had troubles, we’d never know this comforting aspect of God or depend upon Him as we should. In fact, He sometimes allows us to go through suffering and hardships that are beyond our ability to bear “so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God” (2 Corinthians 1:9). He sovereignly rules over every situation we face, setting limitations on the intensity and determining the depth, length, and darkness of the valley we walk—all with the purpose of bringing us through, looking more like His beloved Son and having a closer relationship with Him.

 

HOW DOES GOD ENCOURAGE US?

With so many assurances of His comfort, why are there times when we can’t sense it? We’re struggling and sinking, and feel as if He’s left us on our own. Perhaps the problem is that we have not availed ourselves of His means of encouragement.

    • Prayer. Our first response to pain or trouble should be to go to the Lord in prayer, pouring out all of our questions and concerns to Him, our loving Father. God is always with us, wherever we go and whatever we’re doing. Our circumstances might make us feel otherwise, but if we find a moment to commune with God, we can be filled with His light, wisdom, love, and peace.

He sovereignly rules over every situation we face, setting limitations on the intensity and determining the depth, length, and darkness of the valley we walk.

  • The Scriptures. Secondly, in times of pain or trouble we can prayerfully go to God’s Word, asking the Holy Spirit to help us read and understand what’s in it. This is one of the primary ways that the Lord speaks to us and restores our hope. Psalm 119:49-50says, “Remember the word to Your servant, in which You have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your word has revived me.”If you don’t know where to begin, go to the book of Psalms. There you will find David calling out to God in despair while at the same time drawing near to Him for comfort. We can also derive encouragement from biblical accounts of people like Paul who have gone through suffering while trusting in the Lord.As the Holy Spirit implants God’s Word into our heart and mind, our perspective will change. We will realize the truth of Paul’s words—that compared to the eternal weight of glory awaiting us, our trials on earth are but momentary (2 Corinthians 4:17). Our circumstances may not change, but our attitude will. Instead of focusing on our difficulties and pain, our eyes will be fixed on the Lord and His Word, and our trust in Him will grow.
  • The church. God’s encouragement is also given to us through fellow believers. Christians are not supposed to live in isolation but as a community of believers who love and care for each other. When one person is struggling, the others come alongside to help. And as each of us draws near to God and receives His comfort, we are then enabled to encourage others with the same comfort we received (2 Corinthians 1:4).

 

HOW WE RESPOND TO DISCOURAGEMENT IS CRUCIAL.

One of Satan’s choice tactics is discouragement. If he can bring us to despair, our spiritual growth will be limited, our fruitfulness hampered, and our worship hindered. We’ll often begin to think that God has abandoned us or is angry, yet this is when we should remember that He’s the one who can bring hope and encouragement in our time of need.

So often we want God to do our bidding and rescue us immediately, but what He’s offering us is so much greater.

When the bottom drops out of your life and you are filled with anxiety, fear, or sorrow, are you going to withdraw into a shell of pain? Will you get angry or throw a pity party? None of these responses will bring relief, and they may actually lead to further suffering.

Perhaps you’ve called out to the Lord for help but have been disappointed that He didn’t change your situation. So often we want God to do our bidding and rescue us immediately, but what He’s offering us is so much greater—the comfort that comes from knowing Him. In those quiet moments alone with the Lord, He offers us strength and encouragement to persevere and grace to trust and delight in Him alone. There is nothing in the world to match the intimacy we find in His presence during times of need. I pray you’ll live confidently and love boldly—and that as you draw near to God and His people, you discover the grace of being fully His.

 

ISTOCK

https://www.intouch.org/read/magazine/the-pulpit/for-the-troubled-heart

 

Bible Contradiction? Is God the author of confusion?

 

For today’s post we will tackle the question the Skeptic Annotated Bible asked: Is God the author of confusion?

Here are the two answers which the skeptic believes indicate a Bible contradiction:

Yes

Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called [c]Babel, because there the Lord confused the [d]language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:7-9)

but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27)

No

for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” (1 Corinthians 14:33)

(All Scriptural quotation comes from the New American Standard Bible)

Here’s a closer look at whether or not there is a contradiction:

 

  1. When dealing with skeptics’ claim of Bible contradictions it seems one can never be reminded enough of what exactly is a contradiction.  A contradiction occurs when two or more claims conflict with one another so that they cannot simultaneously be true in the same sense and at the same time.  To put it another way, a Bible contradiction exists when there are claims within the Bible that are mutually exclusive in the same sense and at the same time.
  2. One should be skeptical of whether this is a Bible contradiction given the Skeptic Annotated Bible’s track record of inaccurately handling the Bible.  See the many examples of their error which we have responded to in this post:   Of course that does not take away the need to respond to this claim of a contradiction, which is what the remainder of this post will do.  But this observation should caution us to slow down and look more closely at the passages cited by the Skeptic Annotated Bible to see if they interpreted the passages properly to support their conclusion that it is a Bible contradiction.
  3. A bit of background of each verse in its context might be helpful for readers.
    1. Genesis 11:7-9 in a chapter that is about the tower of Babel.  Humans were trying to gather and build a Tower that reached heaven but then we see God frustrate that attempt.
    2. Both 1 Corinthians 1:27 and 1 Corinthians 14:33 are verses in a letter written by the Apostle Paul to a church in Greece at a major city of Corinth.  Here he writes to them even as the church is in chaos and confusion about right doctrines and practice.
  4. The skeptic cited 1 Corinthians 14:33 as denying that God is the author of confusion.
    1. Note in the context it is talking about the necessity of having church service in an orderly fashion.  Verse 33 appeals to the basis for that is because “God is not a God of confusion.
    2. The Greek word for “confusion” here is ἀκαταστασίας.  In the NASB ἀκαταστασίας in Luke 21:9 is translated as commotion, in 2 Corinthians 6:5 is translated as tumults, in 2 Corinthians 12:20 as disturbance and James 3:16 as disorder.  We thus see here from the lexical range that 1 Corinthians 14:33 is denying God is any of those things in His attribute of who He is within Himself (the genitive case is showing an attribute of God here).
    3. To be technically correct 1 Corinthians 14:33 says “God is not a God of confusion.”  It does not say God is not an “author” of confusion, whatever that means by the skeptic.  This is an important distinction in that God within Himself in His character is not confused but that does not mean God might ordaining confusion outside of Himself for His own purposes.
  5. The skeptic cited 1 Corinthians 1:27 as denying that God is the author of confusion but the skeptic hasn’t properly interpreted that verse.
    1. 1 Corinthians 1:27 talks about God shaming the wise and the strong people of the World because of God’s election of the unwise and the weak.
    2. Here the skeptic is making a categorical fallacy in interpreting this verse: God shaming sinful prideful people is not the same thing as somehow God being the author of confusion.  Shaming someone is not the same thing as bringing about confusion per se (you can shame someone without confusing them).
    3. Moreover part of shaming them means that they will have some understanding adequate enough to feel ashamed.  And that understanding is contrary to confusion.
  6. The skeptic cited Genesis 11:7-9 as asserting that God is the author of confusion but it still does not contradict with 1 Corinthians 14:33 when both verses are properly interpreted.
    1. Remember 1 Corinthians 14:33 is talking about God’s attribute not being a God of confusion within Himself and it is not about God not being able to bring about confusion in circumstances outside of Himself, for His greater purposes.
    2. Genesis 11:7 and Genesis 11:9 clearly reveal that God did confuse the people’s language at the tower of Babel.
    3. However that does not mean that God Himself is a God of confusion as His internal attribute.
      1. That is because God can bring about confusion upon others as an act of punishment.  Within the Biblical worldview a just punishment doesn’t mean the judge is somehow the attribute related to those punishment in other contexts divorce from acts of justice such as being a sadistic pain giver, etc.
      2. Likewise God is a God who is acting in judging sin in Genesis 11 with the story of the Tower of Babel.
      3. So this does not contradict 1 Corinthians 14:33.
      4. Also it might seem paradoxical but it not an actual contradiction to say that God in a penal way brought about confusion of language and yet He is not a God of confusion.  For example I was in the Marines and knew a sniper who saved the lives of four other Marines.  He was a life saver.  Yet in saving the life of others he taken the life of those who were violently trying to kill those Marines.  He’s a life saver, because he saved lives of his fellow Marine; yet to do this he did have to act in the capacity of taking lives.  Still given the context it would still be proper to say he’s a life saver.  Likewise God is not a God of confusion and since He is orderly He has to judge sin and frustrate the plans of sinners.
    4. Patrick Hawthorne also added this insight: ” God confused their language but not their minds. By that I mean, God’s intent was not to confuse the people through deceit. He stayed true to His Word without any violations or contradiction. The people were still able to think and act according to the plans and purposes of God which never changed. The only difference was that the were unable to communicate with each other at the present moment.”  Think of a riot.  Those in law enforcement might hinder the communication of rioters (use of tear gas, specific removal of riot leaders, etc) by means that seems chaotic but one wouldn’t say the law enforcement group are breaking the law of being disorderly when they are trying to bring about order.
  7. We shouldn’t miss that worldviews are at play even with the skeptic’s objection to Christianity.  The worldview of the author of the Skeptic Annotated Bible actually doesn’t even allow for such a thing as the law of non-contradiction to be meaningful and intelligible.  In other words for him to try to disprove the Bible by pointing out that there’s a Bible contradiction doesn’t even make sense within his own worldview.  Check out our post “Skeptic Annotated Bible Author’s Self-Defeating Worldview.”

https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2019/07/11/bible-contradiction-is-god-the-author-of-confusion/

With Every Blessing

When the body has need, the Lord is faithful to provide

BY CHARLES F. STANLEY

Maybe you can picture it: Jesus Christ ascending into heaven. Perhaps you’ve imagined who was there and how they reacted. Though most Christians have heard the story numerous times, one part often gets overlooked: the Lord’s final words. Although the book of Matthew recounts the last thing Jesus said as being the Great Commission to go into all the world and make disciples, Luke’s gospel gives an additional detail: “And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51).

 

Jesus’ last act before returning to His Father was to bless those first members of His church. In fact, everything about the church is the result of God’s grace. Sometimes we think of grace as simply the way we are saved, but it’s actually the means by which we exist as God’s people. The church was founded by grace, is kept by grace, and will reach its culmination by the grace of God. From beginning to end, the church has been showered with blessings and gifts from the Lord.

 

THE GIFT OF THE CROSS

The cross is the only means by which we can be saved and become a part of Christ’s church. When Jesus hung there with hands and feet pierced by nails, a divine exchange took place: “He [God] made Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). His life for our life—the gift of a God who, in humility, chose to live as a human being and die at the hands of His creation, that we might no longer be estranged from Him.

He has set us free. As a result of that loving gift, forgive­ness of sins and the righteousness of Christ are given to everyone who repents and believes in Jesus as Savior and Lord. The One who made us—and who has lovingly sustained us even as we have lived apart from Him—has opened heaven to us. Of course, a person can refuse that gift. But all who do will one day be required to stand before Him and offer an account for why they turned away from His love. In that moment, they’ll receive God’s righteous judgment, the truth of their hearts revealed. The cross is the only hope of salvation—it is the only way to be united with Jesus and live with Him for all eternity.

The One who made us—and who has lovingly sustained us even as we have lived apart from Him—has opened heaven to us.

The cross of Christ also gives us victory over sin. For those of us who have been saved, there is another blessing that comes through the cross. When Jesus was crucified, we were so closely identified with Him that we died with Him: “Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Rom. 6:6). The person we were before salvation—what the apostle Paul calls “our old self”—has died, and we have been raised with Christ to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). This new life is actually Christ’s life lived in us through the Holy Spirit, who now indwells our physical bodies.

God didn’t save us and then leave us to struggle through life as best we could. We have His presence and power in us through His Spirit. Because of the cross, we never walk through trials and temptations alone but can overcome through Christ and live in triumph rather than in continual defeat.

 

THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT

God’s gracious blessings to the church include spiritual gifts that ensure the body of Christ can grow and build itself up in love. Spiritual gifts are divine abilities that equip us to serve the Lord effectively. Although they’re given to each believer individually, they are for the common good of the church (1 Corinthians 12:7). As we work together according to each one’s unique giftedness, the church benefits and we experience the joy that comes from obediently serving the Lord.

Although spiritual gifts are given to each believer individually, they are for the common good of the church.

Therefore, we each need to discover our spiritual gifts and begin using them to accomplish what the Lord created us to do. Being a good steward of our gifts requires more than sitting in a church pew on Sundays. No matter how little we think we have to offer, God wants us to make ourselves available for service. Instead of using our difficult backgrounds, inadequacies, or past failures as excuses, we should do our best and trust the Lord to work through us.

 

THE GIFTS FOR THE CHURCH

God has also given other blessings to the church as His corporate body. We as His people can boast of nothing, nor can a church accomplish anything apart from His supernatural enablement. Everything a church needs is provided by its head, Jesus Christ:

    • Gifted Leaders. After His ascension, Jesus gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to equip the saints to serve and grow in maturity (Eph. 4:11-13). The apostles and prophets recorded the divine revelation that we now have in the New Testament, and evangelists and pastor-teachers continue the work of building up the body of Christ.
    • God’s Word. Scripture says the church becomes “the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). That’s why the preaching of the Word is a top priority for pastors. It’s also the reason that God’s people should strive to live Christ’s life at all times, with all love and humility, in their communities: so that the truth would be evident (Matt. 5:14-16).

We as His people can boast of nothing, nor can a church accomplish anything apart from God’s supernatural enablement.

  • Fellowship. Those in Christ have a connection with each other that transcends every societal barrier (Gal. 3:26-28). Our commonality is the Lord Himself, who binds us together in love.
  • Prayer. Before His crucifixion, Jesus promised the disciples that He would provide whatever they asked in His name (John 14:13-14).
  • Ordinances. Jesus left His church two ordinances as reminders. Baptism symbolizes our salvation, when we died to sin and were raised to life in Christ (Rom. 6:4), and the Lord’s Supper helps us recall His death and anticipate His return (1 Corinthians 11:24-26).

All these magnificent gifts should motivate us to worship our Lord, who has abundantly supplied His church with every spiritual blessing. Because of His goodness, we want for nothing. Therefore it’s our privilege to walk humbly with Him, serve Him joyfully, and freely share with the world the message of salvation in Christ.

 

REFLECT

The Cross: Scripture clearly teaches that we are so intimately connected to Christ through salvation that we have died with Him—our old self was crucified, yet we still struggle with sin. And in the same way, we are declared righteous, but we know our thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions are not always godly. Paul described this struggle in Romans 7:15-25.

We are so intimately connected to Christ through salvation that we have died with Him—our old self was crucified.

  • How do you identify with this scenario?
  • What particular sins seem to take over, even though you hate them?
  • How does knowing your position in Christ help you stand firm against sin?

Spiritual Gifts: The gifts of the Spirit are listed in Romans 12:6-81 Corinthians 12:8-11, and Ephesians 4:11-12.

  • Which of these gifts do you think you may have? How are you using it (or them)?
  • If these gifts are necessary for the common good, what do you think happens when some church members don’t use their gifts?
  • Imagine what your church would be like if all members were serving in their areas of giftedness.

Gifts for the Church: Review the list of gifts Christ gives to the church. What do these blessings reveal about His love and care for His body? What needs of yours are met by Christ through these wonderful gifts?

 

PRAY

Father, thank You that Your grace appeared at the cross of Christ, bringing me salvation. Now I ask that You continue Your gracious work in me by training me to deny ungodliness and worldly desire and to live righteously in this present age. Help me grow in love for Christ and His people, and may Your grace flow through me as I serve them by using my spiritual gift. I ask this in Jesus’ name and for Your glory. Amen.

 

MEDITATE

PRACTICE

If you feel as if you are losing the battle against sin despite the fact that the Bible says you have died to it, try praying scriptures like Ephesians 4:22-32 or Colossians 3:1-17, both of which affirm what God desires for you. Any time you offer prayers according to His will, you can be confident that He will answer (1 John 5:14-15).

Are you uncertain what your gifts are? If so, compare how you respond to situations or needs with the list in Romans 12:6-8. But also remember that gifts are discovered as you jump in and serve. Often, other people can help you discern your specific areas of giftedness.

 

Photograph by Ryan Hayslip

https://www.intouch.org/read/magazine/the-pulpit/with-every-blessing

 

Developing Your Missions Statement

BY DAVID JEREMIAH

An entire generation of television viewers—from the sixties and seventies—can instantly identify the tense, anticipatory opening music to one of TV’s most popular series: the original Mission Impossible. The series ran from 1966–1973, portraying a small team of secret government agents—the Impossible Missions Force (IMF)—as they succeeded in “saving the world” in sixty minutes week after week.

The opening scene of each episode followed the same dramatic format nearly every week. The leader of the IMF would listen to a small tape recording from a government official containing the team’s next assignment. After a brief description of the problem to be solved, the agent on the tape would say, “Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to . . .”—followed by a specific mission description. After the recording ended, the tape would self-destruct to avoid any evidence that the assignment had been given.

Should you decide to accept it. That was the key conditional element in every assignment. The IMF was given the option of declining the assignment if they deemed it too risky—but of course they never did. Through ingenuity, spy-craft, subterfuge, brilliance, and bravery, the IMF always accomplished their mission.

Three elements characterized every assignment the secret agents received:

  1. The mission: It was always clearly defined.

  2. The mandate: Once the mission was accepted, there was no backing down.

  3. The missions: The IMF was a team; each member had their own specific role to play in accomplishing the larger mission. So, there were individual missions that contributed to the overall mission of the IMF. And those individual missions were critical; they were interdependent. If any IMF team member failed to accomplish his or her individual mission, the overall mission would fail.

The Christian Church—the Body of Christ—has three parts that parallel the assignments of Mission Impossible’s Impossible Missions Force. Let’s review the first two briefly (the mission and the mandate) before we cover the third in depth: the individual members’ unique missions.

The Mission

The Church is like the IMF in this way: We have a mission. But we are unlike the IMF in this way: Our mission is possible, not impossible! Our mission comes from God Himself; He would not have given us an assignment that was impossible to carry out. The Church, then, is God’s Possible Missions Force—possible, not impossible!

So, what is our mission? It is found in all four Gospel accounts as expressed by Jesus:

Matthew 28:19-20. Make disciples of all the nations, baptizing and teaching those who choose to follow Jesus.

Mark 16:15-16. Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every person.

Luke 24:47 (see also Acts 1:8). Be Christ’s witnesses in all the world, preaching repentance and forgiveness in His Name.

John 20:21. Duplicate Christ’s redemptive mission in the world. As God sent Christ into the world, so Christ sends us: “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

In summary: Go into all the world, preach the Good News of God’s Kingdom and salvation to every person, training new believers to be committed Christ-followers through baptism and teaching God’s Word.

The Mandate

Our mission is different from that of the television series in another way: Our mission is not optional. Jesus didn’t say to the apostles, “Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to preach the Gospel and disciple the nations in My Name.”

Not only is the overall mission not optional, the unique mission of each member of Christ’s Body is not optional. As much as we like to stress the word grace in our discussions about salvation, we sometimes don’t stress the word Lord as much as we should. Said another way, Christ’s lordship should impact our decisions, activities, and priorities more than it does.

In general, servants are subject to the desires of their master. Yes, servants can disagree or even disobey. But inherent in the servant–master relationship is the notion of obedience. It is not a relationship of options. God did not give Moses Ten Suggestions; He gave Moses Ten Commandments. Likewise, Jesus said, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46)

Government secret agents have options; they can walk away. Not so with disciples of Christ. Our calling Him “Lord” means we are prepared to fulfill His mission to spread His Gospel around the world.

The Missions

Do you remember the question that used to show up on signs in front of churches years ago? It asked, “Are you a Clairol Christian? Only your hairdresser knows for sure.” The question is a reasonable one; God never intended for us to be secret agents for Jesus. We are to be lights on a hill, not lights under a basket; doers of good works and words for all to see and hear. Our public lives—words and deeds—are to be part of our “missionary” lifestyle (Matthew 5:14-16). Our entire life, lived in service to Jesus Christ, is to be a missionary life, a mission-minded life, just as Jesus’ own life was.

But we are all different—having gifts, strengths, ages, locations—and therefore our personal missions will differ. The apostle Paul’s comparison of individual Christians with different parts of the human body illustrates this fact (1 Corinthians 12). Every organ and limb—indeed, every cell!—contributes something unique to the human body’s overall mission of health and strength. It’s the same with the Church’s mission to reach the world for Christ. We all have a unique part to play based on our unique abilities, giftedness, and location.

The following questions can help us each craft a personal mission statement regardless of who we are and where we live:

  1. Who is in my circle of influence? (neighbors, coworkers, friends)

  2. What is their spiritual condition? (churched, unchurched, secular, religious)

  3. What entry points into their lives exist? (ethnicity, language, workplace, recreation, common interests, acts of kindness or charity)

  4. With which person(s) do I have the most available opportunity for witness, service, or influence?

  5. What am I willing to invest or sacrifice (time, finances, preferences) to help this person(s) come to know Jesus Christ now and for eternity?

Those questions, and others you will think of, can jump-start your thinking about your personal mission statement—your unique role in helping the Church fulfill Christ’s Great Commission: Who am I? Where am I? Who are my neighbors? What are their needs? Do I truly believe God can use me to reach them for Christ?

The Mission Statement

The modern corporate management movement gave rise to the formulation of corporate mission statements—a way for companies to decide, and state, what their purpose is. They can be short—“To save people money so they can live better” (Walmart)—or long—“FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards” (the Federal Emergency Management Agency).

Every company’s employees can craft their own unique mission statement—how they contribute to the overall mission of the company based on their job responsibilities: sales, administration, design, manufacturing, or other. And the same can be true of every Christian—developing a personal mission statement.

Mission statements can change over time and in light of varying circumstances in your life. So consider the next twelve months: What kind of personal mission statement can best reflect the opportunities God has given you to help fulfill Christ’s mission to disciple the nations? Consider using the following examples as a format for your personal mission statement for the next year, depending on your personal situation.

Example A: “To befriend my two new neighbors, invite them into our home, learn about their spiritual condition over time, and trust God for an opportunity to introduce them to the Gospel.”

Example B: “To develop a plan for evangelizing the families in my neighborhood by starting a weekly kids’ club for stories, refreshments, games, and lessons.”

Example C: “To become trained in crisis pregnancy counseling and secure a ministry position in this field either in the community or my church.”

Get the idea? Ask God to help you craft a personal mission statement that will aid the Church in fulfilling the Great Commission and impacting our world for Christ!

https://www.davidjeremiah.org/magazine/article?id=208

VIDEO Micah

By Chuck Swindoll

 

Who wrote the book?

The prophet Micah identified himself by his hometown, called Moresheth Gath, which sat near the border of Philistia and Judah about twenty-five miles southwest of Jerusalem. Dwelling in a largely agricultural part of the country, Micah lived outside the governmental centers of power in his nation, leading to his strong concern for the lowly and less fortunate of society—the lame, the outcasts, and the afflicted (Micah 4:6). Therefore, Micah directed much of his prophecy toward the powerful leaders of Samaria and Jerusalem, the capital cities of Israel and Judah, respectively (1:1).

Where are we?

As a contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea, Micah prophesied during the momentous years surrounding the tragic fall of Israel to the Assyrian Empire (722 BC), an event he also predicted (Micah 1:6). Micah stated in his introduction to the book that he prophesied during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah in Judah, failing to mention the simultaneous string of dishonorable kings that closed out the northern kingdom of Israel.

During this period, while Israel was imploding from the effects of evil and unfaithful leadership, Judah seemed on a roller-coaster ride—ascending to the heights of its destiny in one generation, only to fall into the doldrums in another. In Judah at this time, good kings and evil kings alternated with each other, a pattern seen in the reigns of Jotham (good, 2 Kings 15:32–34); Ahaz (evil, 2 Kings 16:1–4); and Hezekiah (good, 2 Kings 18:1–7).

Why is Micah so important?

The book of Micah provides one of the most significant prophecies of Jesus Christ’s birth in all the Old Testament, pointing some seven hundred years before Christ’s birth to His birthplace of Bethlehem and to His eternal nature (Micah 5:2).

Surrounding Micah’s prophecy of Jesus’s birth is one of the most lucid pictures of the world’s future under the reign of the Prince of Peace (5:5). This future kingdom, which scholars call the millennial kingdom, will be characterized by the presence of many nations living with one another in peace and security (4:3–4) and coming to Jerusalem to worship the reigning king, that is, Jesus Himself (4:2). Because these events have not yet occurred, we look forward to the millennial kingdom at some undetermined time in the future.

What’s the big idea?

Much of Micah’s book revolves around two significant predictions: one of judgment on Israel and Judah (Micah 1:1–3:12), the other of the restoration of God’s people in the millennial kingdom (4:1–5:15). Judgment and restoration inspire fear and hope, two ideas wrapped up in the final sequence of Micah’s prophecy, a courtroom scene in which God’s people stand trial before their Creator for turning away from Him and from others (6:1–7:20). In this sequence, God reminds the people of His good works on their behalf, how He cared for them while they cared only for themselves. But rather than leave God’s people with the fear and sting of judgment, the book of Micah concludes with the prophet’s call on the Lord as his only source of salvation and mercy (7:7), pointing the people toward an everlasting hope in their everlasting God.

How do I apply this?

Much of Micah’s indictment against Israel and Judah involves these nations’ injustice toward the lowly—unjust business dealings, robbery, mistreatment of women and children, and a government that lived in luxury off the hard work of its nation’s people.

Where does the injustice dwell in your own life? Who are the lowly in your life? Do you need a call toward repentance, like the people of Israel and Judah did?

Micah’s impassioned plea for God’s chosen people to repent will cut many of us to the quick. Most of us don’t decide daily to cut people down or find ways to carry out injustice. Instead, we do it out of habit. Let’s allow the words of Micah to break us out of our apathy about extending justice and kindness to others and press on toward a world that better resembles the harmonious millennial kingdom to come. Let’s determine to live as God desires—“to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).

https://www.insight.org/resources/bible/the-minor-prophets/micah


Overview: Micah


Unlocking the Old Testament Part 52 – Micah


 

Three Questions, One Answer

BY DAVID JEREMIAH

“Estamos bien en el refugio, los 33.” (“We are well in the shelter, the 33.”)

That seven-word message set off a wave of euphoria in Chile and around the world. It had been written in red letters on a scrap of paper and taped to a drill bit that penetrated an area of a gold and copper mine just north of Copiapó in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile—written by the 33 miners who had been trapped 2,300 feet underground 17 days earlier.

The Copiapó mining accident, as the world came to call it, became the most-watched rescue mission in world history. There was every reason to believe that, one, the miners had not survived the initial cave-in; and, two, if they had survived they would likely starve to death before they could be reached. Rescuers on the surface had no idea where they were in the labyrinth of tunnels, ramps, and rooms that spread out underground like arteries, veins, and capillaries.

But “the 33” survived the blast and took refuge in an area three miles from the entrance to the mine. And 17 days later, when an exploratory drill bit punched through the roof into their pitch-black sanctuary, they let the world know: “Estamos bien”—“We are well.”

As soon as rescuers discovered the miners were alive, a collaborative effort began to devise a way to get them out: three international drilling rig teams, every ministry of the Chilean government, engineers and technicians from NASA, and more than a dozen multinational corporations. On October 13, 2010, fifty-two days after the miners were discovered—69 days since the cave-in—all 33 were brought to the surface alive.

The rescue took 24 hours as the miners were brought to the surface one at a time in a specially-designed, bullet-shaped capsule, barely larger than a human being. The capsule contained oxygen and medical monitors. The capsule was lowered through a shaft until it reached the miners. One at a time, each miner stepped into the capsule and stood upright, sunglasses and monitors in place, ready for the 15-minute ride to the surface. It is estimated that more than one billion people around the world watched some or all of the televised rescue of “the 33.”*

While the Copiapó mine rescue was definitely a dramatic and glorious end to what could have been a terrible tragedy, it is not the largest, most difficult, or most critical search and rescue effort ever conducted. That would be the search and rescue that was initiated by the incarnation of Jesus Christ who said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

And there are three critical components to that search and rescue operation, outlined by Paul in Romans 10:14 in the form of three questions—three questions that all have the same answer: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”

Three questions, one answer—and the answer is . . . you! (and me!) We are the ones called by God to carry out the search and rescue mission that Jesus Christ began and continues. Those who need rescuing cannot hear without a preacher (you and me), they cannot believe without hearing, and they can’t call upon a God in whom they have not believed.

It all starts with you and me leaving the light, entering the darkness, and taking the Gospel to a lost world. Let’s look at Paul’s questions in reverse order to see immediately how we are the critical links in God’s search and rescue effort.

How Shall They Hear?

“And how shall they hear without a preacher?”

The preacher God is talking about here is not necessarily one who enters the pulpit on Sunday mornings on a vocational basis. Yes, those preachers are included, but it will take many more “preachers” to accomplish Christ’s search and rescue than the ones who preach vocationally. Indeed, there are too many preachers today who never share the Gospel with the man on the street, considering that’s not their calling. Preachers who think that way need to heed the words of Vance Havner: “A preacher who is too big for a little crowd would be too little for a big crowd.” A preacher with nothing to say to a lost soul on the street has little to say to his congregation on Sunday morning.

God has called every Christian to be a preacher of the Gospel. Every Christian is to answer Paul’s question with the words of Isaiah when the Lord said, “‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’” And Isaiah said, “‘Here am I! Send me’” (Isaiah 6:8).

Wherever you and I go in this world, we go as an answer to a question. We are the preachers without whom the lost will not hear. We are the ones who are to “gossip the Gospel” to those we meet—simply as a manner of course, sharing the reality of our life in Christ and the reason for the hope that is within us “with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

Question: If the spread of the Gospel depends on people like you and like me, how likely is it that the lost will be found and rescued?

How Shall They Believe?

“And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?”

Sometimes we forget that the Gospel is a propositional message—that means it contains certain truths, certain propositions, which must be communicated. The Gospel is specific, not general (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). People need to hear (or read) it with understanding. The danger of the Gospel cavalierly presented or carelessly received is seen in Jesus’ own words: “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart” (Matthew 13:19a).

We are the ones who must know, understand, and clearly present the Gospel so it is believable. Whether people believe or not is not ultimately up to us. But if they don’t believe, it must never be because they didn’t hear the Gospel clearly from us.

Question: Are you and I prepared to communicate clearly and carefully the Gospel found in the New Testament—a Gospel that is believable for those who hear?

How Shall They Call?

“How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?”

In the verse immediately preceding Romans 10:14, Paul makes this bold promise: “For ‘whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’” And he then asks in verse 14, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?” Paul depends on a bit of simple reasoning here: No one is going to call on Christ to save him who does not believe Christ can save. And in order to believe, they must hear. And in order for them to hear, you and I must preach the Gospel to them.

Question: Do you have the boldness to ask, encourage, and exhort the lost to believe that Jesus can save them?

The great English preacher, the late John R. W. Stott, in speaking about those called to preach from the pulpit, said, “The Christian preacher is to be neither a speculator who invents new doctrines which please him, nor an editor who excises old doctrines which displease him, but a steward, God’s steward, dispensing faithfully to God’s household the truths committed to him in the Scriptures, nothing more, nothing less and nothing else.”

And I submit that those words apply to you and me in the daily course of our life as well. We have not been called to be clever or original, but to be faithful witnesses of the saving mission and message of Jesus Christ, the Lord. Of all the ways in which He could have saved the lost, He decided to use us and now depends on us to be faithful stewards of the commission given to us: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

Three questions, one answer. The search and rescue mission Jesus set in motion is now up to us to carry out. Just as the miners trapped in the darkness were dependent on those in the light to save them, so the lost of this world are depending on us. God has called us to be their answer by going, praying, giving, and preaching the Gospel.

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Copiap%C3%B3_mining_accident#Extraction (accessed 12-17-11).

https://www.davidjeremiah.org/magazine/article?id=207