Showing posts from March, 2017

Week 25 Hope -- You Can Cope Because of the Hope

Sunday in three different LifeGroups, I taught on what it means to “believe.” We discussed briefly that to believe (a verb) is essentially the same as trust (generally a verb) and faith (generally a noun of the same word believe). So what is hope?
     It's sometimes hard to see the difference in faith and hope. Perhaps it is easier to see the difference if we look at the opposites. The opposite of faith is doubt and the opposite of hope is despair. Thus, faith speaks to the intellect or understanding, and hope speaks to the emotions. Both are battles within the soul, the seat of our intellect, will and emotions. Martin Luther said that faith rests with the understanding, and teaches and prescribes; hope rests in the encouragement of the soul and gives strength and courage.
     Hope brings joy and its opposite, despair, brings sadness. Faith is an “evidence,” (see Hebrews 11:1) and its opposite, doubt, is also fueled by conflicting evidence. But Paul adds a third part to the …

24: Self-Control -- What stone will you take or sacrifice will you make?

Self Control, as found in the fruit of the Spirit, is a word that used to be translated as “temperance.”
In my family McKeown Bible from the 1870s, there are pages filled with births, marriages and deaths. Strangely and I am sure purely accidental, the only page that is blank was the page entitled “Temperance Pledge,” which in the day meant a pledge against partaking of alcohol.
As a result of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, our “self” is controlled by God’s presence and Holy Spirit, not as a result of will-power or simply by “thinking.” In BELIEVE, the first 10 weeks is on how to “think” like Jesus, but it is more than that. It is as the title states, we need to really believe that Jesus is with us always and at all times and then behave and become like Jesus.
     In the story of David and Goliath, all of David’s brothers and Saul’s army believed in God but only David put his faith into action. With Abraham, he believed but it was only evidenced and actually realized when he offer…

23 Peace -- Where do I find strength to battle anxiety and fear?

On Sept. 3, Labor Day Weekend, I posted the devotional below, anticipating this week's study on PEACE. Six months later, we are at Week 23 in our BELIEVE study. How have you grown in this study? Did your grow in the virtue of JOY last week? Are you ready to grow in PEACE?
     For me, as I anticipated, this section of study on virtues has been the most convicting. Last week, I was actually embarrassed to admit I struggle with the virtue of Joy, or being content. This week will also be a week of conviction to be at peace, with Shalom.
     I was mentored in hospital visitation by a missionary who would visit, read a Scripture, and then pray with the person in recovery. (I will always remember our first visit was with a man who asked "Do you want to see my scar?" I don't know why he asked because he went ahead and showed us anyway!) My mentor always used the same verse, Philippians 4:6-7. Years later, I understand why. No other verse fits any better for hospitals…

22. The Surprising Joy/Test-Tribulation-Temptation Connection

After writing on the sorrow/joy connection, I came across this:
The tree dug in,
 facing fiercest wind,
   will stand well past tomorrow;
It's the deepest roots
 which yield sweetest fruits,
   though grown by greatest sorrow.

    As I go through this week’s BELIEVE material on Joy, I am finding that this lesson is the one out of all 22 chapters so far which I need to learn the most. Of all of the lessons, this is the one I score the least for the test on page 171. Ironically, this is also the one Randy Frazee’s wife gives testimony that she too struggled with the most.
    Why? Here’s my theory: there is a love connection with joy and a sorrow connection with joy, but there is also a temptation / tribulation / testing connection with joy. I fail to enter into the joy because I falter at one or all of the “Triple T” connections.
    All three words, temptation, tribulation and testing are found in James chapter 1.
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face temptati…

22. The Sorrow Joy Connection

The love / joy connection (see yesterday's blog) may be obvious, but the sorrow / joy connection may not be so obvious.
     When my grandmother died at age 87, I went back to my hometown from south Texas. People from my first church pastorate, First Baptist Church of Whitt, came to the visitation and we sat right there in the funeral parlor with the casket open and laughed and had a wonderful time. All the while my grandmother’s body was a mere few feet away. But her spirit was at home with Christ in God.
     This is not unique to me to have joy and sorrow mixed at a funeral. In fact all Christians have those bitter sweet emotions just like Jesus did at the grave of Lazarus. But it is unique for Christians to be able to have joy like the world could never understand or imitate.
     The people of Nehemiah’s day had a similar experience, but not because of a death, but because of their own home coming to the promised land and the rebuilding of the walls around the city and the…

Chapter 22 -- The Love Joy Connection

I guess it is actually pretty obvious: there is a connection between joy and love. Just look at people who are in love…They are pretty happy.
Okay, perhaps I am no Sherlock Holmes for stating the absolutely obvious. George Orwell said, “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” In other words, when it’s a nice pretty day, why do we need to say so? Because it’s good to say what we know to be true and sometimes it makes us appreciate it all the more! And honestly, sometimes we miss the absolutely obvious!
Ponder the opposite. Without a loving heart, there is very little joy. When Paul listed the fruit of the Spirit, he actually listed only one fruit: love. The other eight are subcategories of that fruit of love, and he begins with joy.
But Paul is not the only one who points out the absolutely obvious. Jesus spoke in John 15:8, “By this My Father is glorified that you bear much fruit, so you will be My disciples. As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you: abide…

Chapter 22: Joy -- The second part of the fruit of the Spirit

Several people in our church come to mind when I think of people who are joyful despite adverse circumstances. In addition to love, can you think of a characteristic more appealing than a person who has joy?

     In the fruit of the Spirit listing found in Galatians chapter five, right after love is the word “joy.” It seems as if Paul is saying that in addition to love the number 2 characteristic for a Christian should be joy.

    And why not? We have a God who loves us and wants a personal relationship with us. We have eternal life, and rewards in heaven waiting for us. Even when we fall into times that tempt us to fall away, Jesus’ own brother said we are to count it all joy when those trying times come. Hebrews even says Jesus endured the cross because He knew what joy awaited him afterwards.

This devotional from Zondervan is day two on virtues we Christians should possess.
    What gives us true happiness and contentment in life?
     God may shower us with blessing…

Drop the mike, er, the pen!

The Killeen carnival left this week, coincidentally just in time for Ash Wednesday. So, what does the carnival and Ash Wednesday have in common?
Carnival comes from the word “meat” (carne) and “leave” (Latin: levare). Historically, Roman Catholics and other believers have said “goodbye to meat” on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during the season of Lent.
Whether you forego meat in the upcoming days before Resurrection Sunday, I encourage you to add a little more “spiritual meat” from the Word of God to your spiritual diet.
The King James version translates Heb. 5:12 this way, “Ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.”
Too many Christians are having to be bottle-fed rather than digesting the stronger meat of the Word of God. Twice in the Bible (see also 1 Cor. 3:1-2) Christians are told they are so spiritually malnourished that they could not handle solid “food.”
So what shou…