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Showing posts from October, 2016

Chapter 9: Stewardship...On Loan From God

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The following was originally posted on Aug. 23.  Do you remember Dr. Randy Wallace’s illustration from Sunday about the rancher who gave him the keys to the ranch? We don’t have the ownership to the kingdom of God, but we do have the keys! We have access of what gates get opened and what gates get closed.
That is an excellent illustration not only of the keys to the kingdom, which Randy preached from in Jesus’ encounter with Peter in Matthew 16:15-19, but also with all of our possessions and talents. A certain radio personality says that he has “Talent on loan from God.” You may or not like the personality, but isn’t it true that ALL of our talents are merely loaned to us from God and by God and only maintained by His grace?
Last week a person came in for benevolence help and when I asked where she went to church, she indignantly replied, “I don’t go to church! Churches don’t help anybody.” To which I replied, “We can only help other as people give to us.”
We don’t get government gr…

Why must I love everyone if God "hates" Esau?

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If God wants me to be compassionate, isn’t God saying “do as I say, not as I do?” (See page 128, BELIEVE). Didn’t God say, “Jacob I have loved and Esau I have hated” (twice in fact, in Mal. 1:2-3 and in Rom. 9:13).  Why does God command us to meet the needs of people when He Himself doesn’t do it?
    If you were to spend some time on these passages in Malachi and Romans, you would see that the Bible does not say that God “hated” the actual person of Esau, but rather the nation of Edom, descendants of Esau, and to a broader sense, any nation other than Jacob, also known as Israel. Furthermore, the word “hate” is a relative term when used in comparison and contrast of the word “love.”
    Jesus did a similar thing when he said the following (see Luke 14:26-27, and Matt. 10:37-38):

26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and …

Why is Compassion so important?

Jesus wants to shock us into caring with compassion. Many Christians simply will not show compassion and mercy and forgiveness, even though Jesus strongly and repeatedly commanded us to love as He loved us.
     As I mentioned on Wednesday night in the Believe class, it has been hard to write anything on Compassion. Yes I have had a busier than normal week. But I believe it’s more than that. I am truly pondering the lavishness of God’s love and compassion on me and us as sinners, both redeemed and unredeemed.      I also ponder that many of those whom we show compassion on do not always respond with faith, repentance, change, or with a more godly lifestyle.
     I also know that often times, my heart becomes jaded against being compassionate on those who are only wanting a hand out and not wanting to really allow God to change them.
“So, if you need food, go to a grocery store,”I could and have said. “If you need money, go to the bank. Need gas? Go to the gas station. Why come to the …

Chapter 8: The Relevance of Compassion

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This blog was originally posted on Aug. 22.
  In Sunday’s sermon (Aug. 21), Dr. Randy Wallace, pastor of FBC Killeen, preached on “Who Cares?” from Matthew 16:15-19. Without compassion we as a church are not relevant to those who pass by. He quoted our youth minister Matt Cornelius, who had said last year at D-Now, “God doesn’t need you. You need God.”
    What is interesting about that is that it is true God doesn’t need us in order to show God’s compassion. But the fact that he does use us may be is even more profound! He doesn’t NEED us, but He chooses us to be His instruments of compassion.
    As we prepare for BELIEVE, we will see in week 8, Oct 30, that our LifeGroups are the mobilization, organization and functioning of the church in action. When we do OCLOC (Our Church Loves Our Community) at our Trunk or Treat on Monday, Oct. 31, we are proving our relevance to our community by reaching out and being a blessing of God to our community.
    One final nugget from Sunday’s se…

Believe that God is loving AND righteous to humanity

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When does all not mean all? When does whoever not mean whoever? When does world mean part of the world?
Do you take the Bible for what it says? BELIEVE on pages 121 through 123 shows that “Jesus’ offer of forgiveness and restoration to God for eternity is for everyone.” Yet some do not believe that all means all, whoever means whoever means whoever and world means the world.
All will not believe, but the Bible does say that all might believe, meaning they could believe. Many have questioned how could God create people that He foreknew would not believe. What about those enemies of Israel whom God commanded Israel to kill, including the babies?
Last week, we read in Gen. 15:16 that Abraham was told that “in the fourth generation (Israel) shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” God was patient with the Amorites, even sending His chosen people to Egypt for 400 years until the sin of the Amorites was complete. By the time Israel returned to the Promised L…

Believe that Humanity Has Fallen Short of God's Glory

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Last week, at the Bell County Expo, we heard at the annual meeting of the J.A.I.L. Ministry a wonderful and emotional testimony of a mother whose son, a Navy officer, committed and was convicted of murder. Carol Kent’s story of a mother’s heartache over the sinfulness of her child and the overcoming love of a mother was moving to say the least.
Imagine Adam and Eve, knowing that their own sinfulness was now living out in their offspring, and that they were to blame. They lost one son to death at the hands of his brother, and then they lost the other son, who was banished to the east of Eden. All of humanity is fallen and we as Christians need to see how horrific our sin is in order to truly understand how great God’s love and forgiveness is and how greatly we are in need of receiving and giving that same type of love and forgiveness. Love for the unlovely, unlovable, and unloving in no way excuses the sins of others, nor is it our place to overlook the call for justice when evil o…

Believe in God's Power of Love

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When I think about “all people are loved by God and are in need of a Savior,” I think of the rich young ruler, found in Luke 18: 18-23, Matt. 19:16–22 and Mark 10:17–22. The man (who by the way is never called “young”) was seeking eternal life. Even though he had lived an outwardly moral life and had been blessed with great riches, he felt like he was missing something.
    “What more do I lack?” he asked Jesus. The point today is not Jesus’ answer but rather that Jesus
1) loved the man who rejected His call to eternal life and
2) that the man was the man who was responsible for rejecting Jesus’ call.
     When the man walked away from Jesus, the Bible records an interesting comment about Christ. Mark and Matthew both say that Jesus loved the man who was rejecting His call. God loves us but He doesn’t love because of us. He loves because He is love.
     People often have a hard time thinking about a loving God and a literal “Gehenna” (the Biblical word for hell). Because it is h…

Believe God's Love for Humanity -- even if they are not saved

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There are some Christians (a lot of Christians) who believe that Jesus did not die for all of the people in the world but only for those whom God pre-chose. There are others (again, a number of Christians) who believe God pre-selected those who would believe but only because He, in His perfect power and knowledge, looked ahead in time and knew who would and who would not answer the call to receive salvation. And there are others who believe salvation is like a lost lottery ticket or check, which could otherwise bring great riches, but since it is unclaimed, there are no effectual benefit. As we learn about humanity and compassion, I hope we will think through what we believe about God, His love and how we should respond in compassion based on what we believe. There is room for good people to disagree with certain elements of what we believe. God is infinite and when there are some Scriptures that seemingly “conflict but not contradict” with other Scriptures, the result can cause conflict…

Believe in God's Love for Humanity--Despite our Flaws

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I have been thinking of the “depravity of humanity” lately (seriously, I have been. Just watch the news and you can’t escape it), and this week we are studying humanity, both our depravity and also the love God has for us.

Have you ever thought about out of all of us seven billion people, none of us, not one, are perfect? Do you every think that maybe God has some responsibility in the defect of our design? Have you ever wondered like Paul says, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will? … Why have You made me like this?”

(I am treading lightly on this because Paul’s inspired response was “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? … Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?”) See Romans 9:19-20 (NKJV).

Why are we humans so depraved, so sinful, so mean and evil to one another? There is a biblical answer and hopefully by the end of the week, we will have a deeper understanding of o…

Believe God's Love for Humanity--God was serious when He said that "love others" thing

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“I love humanity,” someone once said, “it’s people I don’t like.” (I think it was Linus Van Pelt!)
     In our world, we sometimes get bogged down by reality, by the nitty gritty, when it comes to actually putting things in practice.

    It’s easy in my daily quiet time to wax eloquent and write devotionals and espouse all the virtues of Christianity.

    But then, the sun rises, people wake up, and I have to deal with them! I don’t know how many times I had to apologize the other day, but apologies are best made beforehand by not doing something that you know that you know that you know that you are going to having to walk back later on and apologize for!

    One day our church’s assistant administrator, Kay, came into my office and I was smiling.
    “What?” she asked.
    “What, what?” I replied.
    “Why are you smiling?” she responded, a little hesitantly.
    “I am just trying to be pleasant!” I defended.
    Maybe it is because I need to smile more and it shocked her. Maybe it…

Believe in the Church as a Place for Grace

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Sometimes (often times?) the church gets a bad rap because it does not operate perfectly. But can you point to any entity that is operated by humans that functions perfectly?
     How about the school system? Hospitals and even doctors have huge insurance policies for malpractice. We are seeing airbags that are supposedly designed to protect us being recalled.
Are police departments without criticisms? What about our city or county governments? No? 
Well, surely our national government and election process, that runs like a well-oiled machine, right?
     OK, please stop snickering. Since we can agree that no organization operates without some degree of dysfunction, can we make a higher call for our organizations, including the church? Can we ask for some grace?
     Grace. No I don’t mean saying a prayer of “grace,” like you would before a meal, although all of the entities I’ve listed could definitely use more prayer. No, I mean can we imperfect people give a little more grace and m…

Believe in the Church as a Fellowship

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The Church Fellowship
            Fellowship means community      The local church is to be a fellowship in that we are to love one another, be at one with one another, and to walk in harmony with one another. Someone defined fellowship as “two fellows being in the same ship, going in the same direction.”  In order to be a Christian, you must commit yourself to Christ, and in order to be a church member, you must commit yourself to the  fellowship.
            To be a Christian without being a part of a fellowship is like a man who wants an intimate relationship with a woman, but not willing to commit to marriage.  In a marriage, commitment is not only going through a ceremony, signing a license or wearing a ring. It is also seen in a daily devotion to joyfully show loyalty to the person to whom you are committed.
            Both the wedding ceremony and the daily devotion are necessary to build a committed life together. In a church fellowship, you cannot have true interdependency amon…

Believe in the Church: We are the original politically incorrect people

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Who doesn’t love the birth of a baby? On the Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2, we see the birth of the church. In our reading in BELIEVE, we see four elements in Acts about the church:
    The community emerges (Acts 1:1-11; 2:1-41).     The commission of the church enlarges to include Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1-8, 14-17, 25; 9:31).      The congregation expands to even the Gentiles as seen in Acts 11:1-18).      And ultimately, conversions to ends of the earth “For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “’I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” See Acts 13:47 and Acts 13:1-3, 38-52.

   The church, or God’s called out ones (which is what the word church in the New Testament language really means), is called out to be independent from the world. In other words, the church was the original politically incorrect society of believers. Somehow, we have convinced ourselves that if only we were more like the world that the…

Believe in the Church: Christ is the big picture

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The proverb of “You can’t see the forest because of the trees” means that we often miss the overall picture because of the details. The Lordship of Jesus Christ in the church is paramount. The needs of the individual members, though important, must come under the direction of the overall leadership of Christ in accomplishing His purpose.

     Believe it or not, not everyone is always happy about everything that goes on at the church. Sometimes people stop giving. Sometimes people start griping. Others stop coming. Paul said we need to not be infants but rather mature, speaking the truth, but in love so that we can grow and build up the body in love, all under the headship of Christ (Eph. 4:15-16).
     Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, found in Matt 16:13-19, is the first reference by Christ to the church. The centrality of Christ is the rock on which Jesus built the church. Just as there were three analogies to the church on our interdepend…