Friday, May 11, 2018

Honor God With Tithes


DO I REALLY HAVE TO TITHE?

Tithing is simply a tangible way in which God’s people are able to express worship. God has given us all that we have. We respond by returning a portion (Deut. 16:17; 2 Cor. 9:6,7). I recently heard a message from 1 Corinthians 16:2, that developed three points that were helpful.

1. Giving should be regular (first day of the week),
2. There is no exception (every [each] one of you)
3. Give proportionately (as God has prospered)

Paul could have issued an exception clause, but he didn’t. Surely there are exceptions, right? Well, not according to God’s Word. Tithing is not restricted to any particular economic class. It is expected from every class. It is interesting that several times in Scripture God chooses to illustrate giving by way of the poorest of His people: the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17), the widow in the gospels (Mark 12:42,43), and the poor churches in Macedonia (2Cor. 8:1,2). If the poorest can give with the expectation of God continuing to provide, there is really no good excuse for any.

I don’t think a child of God needs to be convinced that it is honoring to the Lord to give proportionately and consistently from all that God enables him to gain. This is not a form of bargaining with God by which we expect big returns on each dollar given. We give to honor the One who has first given to us. We give to participate in the work He has ordained for our generation. We give that we might fellowship with others in providing for gospel laborers and needs of others.

While those who make more are generally able to give more, assuming they order their finances well and keep their lusts in check, every believer is expected to lay aside regularly a portion from that with which God blesses them. To not do so is to ignore a primary way in which honor can be tangibly shown to Jehovah-jireh. One must ask: if you ignore the Lord in this area of your life, what about other areas? Where your treasure is, there your heart will be found. Where is your heart?   

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Second Coming of Jesus


EVEN SO, COME, LORD JESUS!

Is it true, as someone recently indicated to me, that John wrote Revelation, including 22:20, before 70 a.d., having in mind the coming of Jesus to destroy Jerusalem? After all, Jesus said, Surely I come quickly. And wasn’t the Apostle Paul expecting the same when he wrote to churches encouraging them with the hope of the Lord’s coming? And isn’t it most natural to understand Jesus’ words in the gospels (ex. Matthew 24), watch...for you know not the hour, to be primarily referring to His coming in the generation to whom He was addressing?

The point of this short article is not to answer all the questions relating to Jesus’ prophesy of the destruction of Jerusalem and how the statements of His coming fit in. The point here is simply to respond to the proposition that when Jesus or the Apostles spoke of the coming of Christ they were thinking of His coming in their generation to destroy Jerusalem and the temple. Those who think this way tend to read most, if not all, references to the coming of Christ in the Epistles and Revelation as history.  And if not all history, they certainly do not think references to the future coming of Christ to be intended for us.

It is a grave error of interpretation to teach that references to Christ’s coming again primarily refer to 70 a.d.. Such teaching should be rejected. Here are three reasons, among others, that may help dispel this error:

1. Quickly refers to suddenness, not time frame. It fits Paul’s description (and Jesus) of Jesus’ coming as a thief in the night (1Thess. 5:2).
2. Peter concurs with Paul regarding the nature of His coming, as a thief in the night (2Pet. 3:10). Peter is answering the objection of those who see the delay in the promise of His coming to be an indicator that He is not coming. Peter dispels that notion and concludes that we look for new heavens and a new earth, following fiery renovation of the present, which happens at His coming. His “delay” is intentional so that all those He does not intend to perish will come to repentance.
3. Finally, John’s reference to Christ’s coming and appearing in 1 John 2:28 and 3:2,3, are intended for all of the sons of God in these last days following the resurrection of Christ. This is OUR hope, not merely those present at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 a.d..

Any teaching that distracts our faith and hope from the coming Christ and that would discourage us from praying, Even so, come, Lord Jesus, must be rejected.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Please Bring Your Bible



DON’T TEXT AND WORSHIP

At the risk of sounding legalistic, I am going to suggest that you consider bringing an actual bound Bible to the meeting house on Sunday. It is more and more common for preachers to use iPads and other electronic devices in the place of the bound paper Bible. I’m not sure if they are following the trend in the congregations or the congregations are following their lead. Nevertheless, it is more and more common to see folk looking at their phone during the preaching.

What difference does it make so long as the participant is looking at Scripture? Maybe none, if that’s all that is being viewed. Smart phones are used for many things other than a Bible. It doesn’t only represent that in which the word of God is found, it represents everything else in one’s life and in this world. There is at least a subconscious connection to your busy life when you are handling the nerve center of communication in your life. Isn’t that distracting? Do you really tune all else out and focus upon the word of God and the gathered worship when you are holding your smart phone? Be honest.

Oh, and what about the vibration or pop up message that comes in the middle of a pressing point in the message, or even prayer? Can you honestly say that you are not distracted? Isn’t it easy, and tempting, to quickly check a message, and even send one when a thought enters your mind? It can’t wait, can it? That’s one of the problems with bringing a phone into a church meeting. It really can be a distraction.

Hold and Bible instead of a phone in the assembly, if for no other reason, to aid you in staying focused. We are gathered for the important purpose of collectively praising our God, praying, reading Scripture, and being taught and exhorted from God’s Word. Handling a phone in a service can be spiritually distracting: “don’t text and worship.”

Friday, October 20, 2017

HOPE IN GOD, PERIOD

Ps 42:5, Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

Ps 42:11, Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Ps 43:5, Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Ps 71:5, For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.

We often encourage ourselves or others when facing a major trial in which we desire a certain outcome, by saying, hope in God. By which we mean hope in God for a particular outcome. If that desired outcome doesn’t come, or is delayed, we are negatively affected: emotionally and practically.

We are saved by hope (Rom. 8:24); we have a lively hope, which includes an inheritance assured by the resurrection of Christ (1 Peter 1:3); God has determined an expected end (Jer. 29:11) for His people. There is certainly nothing out of line with hoping for that which has been promised.

But are we hoping in God when something else beyond God is that for which we really hope?
Hope in God is not a means to an end, so that the thing beyond God takes precedence over HIM. God is not a means to an end – He is the highest good and the chief end!
Hope in God is not a step to something else, but the end…the resting place.

When we come to this conclusion in the exercise of our faith, it has a profound impact upon us.  

Hope in God:
·         Affects our emotions…He never changes. When we know by the witness of His Spirit in us that we are His and He is ours, then knowing Him in Whom we hope is emotionally stabilizing. Peace, joy, confidence, contentment, and rest are all effects of hope in God.
Psa 146:5, Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:
·         Affects our expectations…knowing that His will is perfect, hope in God keeps us expecting no more or less than what He determines is best for our lives.
Ro 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Produces a spirit of thankfulness, in everything: Inevery thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thess 5:18
·         Affects our exertion…knowing that His way is best, hope in God keeps our will submissive to Him and our lives committed to do His revealed will. Produces motivation to serve Him.
Titus 2:12-14, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
·         Affects everything, every day…life can get really difficult and challenging. Jeremiah experienced this and was ultimately encouraged with hope by meditations upon God:
Lam 3:21-26, This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.                                                                                        
HOPE THOU IN GOD!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Work For More Than Yourself



ABILITY TO GIVE IS A BIBLICAL REASON TO WORK 

Working is the ordinary means ordained by God to provide the necessities of life. But have you considered that simply providing for your necessities is not the only reason for having an income? Far too many think only of making a living for themselves. “So long as my needs are met I can give thanks and be satisfied. After all, isn’t this what Paul taught? And having food and raiment let us be therewith content (1Tim. 6:8).” This is obviously true, especially in light of the greedy heart that Paul is exposing. But this is not the only truth to consider.

At least two other Scriptures indicate that part of God’s intention for you in working is to have extra to be able to give. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth (Eph. 4:28). And, I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). It is godly to make enough money and budget what you make to have extra to be able to give to the needs of others.

You cannot give to needs that arise above your own if you do not have a sufficient income, savings, and budget with purpose to give. You should be prayerful stewards of what God entrusts to you, and then trust Him for more, that you might have more to distribute (1 Tim. 6:18). 

Oh, by the way, make sure you are not robbing God by holding on to all that He gives you. It is all His. Acknowledge Him by designating a healthy portion from the top, not the leftovers.  He is worthy of worship. One way to express that worship is through monetary giving. You will always find a way to invest in that which is most valuable to you.  

Friday, March 17, 2017

Your Treasure and Your Heart



YOUR BUDGET SAYS SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR HEART

What does your budget, or use of money, say about you? Have you looked over your expenses recently? Is it even fair to evaluate one’s heart, or placement of priorities, by looking at one’s budget?

When Jesus was asked a question by someone who was concerned about getting his fair share of the family inheritance, He responded in Luke 12:15, ...Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. What do your expenditures say of what you believe life consists? Jesus’ warning is still valid today!

After speaking about life priorities and exhorting His disciples to live with a different value system than the world around them, He gave this well-known dogma in vs. 34, For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Jesus certainly seems to make the connection between what you treasure and your treasure. What you treasure (your heart) will always be revealed by where your treasure is going. You support what you believe to be valuable. What you give yourself to and what you give to is really what you treasure. 

While the applications are many, and it would do you good to evaluate other areas of your life objectively, I’m especially thinking here about financial resources. That takes us back to the budget. What do you see about yourself when you consider where your money goes? Is there evidence that your treasure is somewhere other than this world and this life? Do you see significant resources going toward support of things that have eternal value?

Don’t misunderstand. Using your resources to provide for your family in every way that is proper is godly and reveals a right heart. There is no need to think that you need to starve your children in order to support a missionary. God is not calling you to abandon personal and family care and responsibility to build up His kingdom with all of your finances. He doesn’t really even need your finances to build His kingdom! But if He has your heart, your finances will reflect that.  

While it is possible to tithe and your heart be far from God (Pharisees), it is not possible for your heart to be after God and your budget not reflect that. The ministry of the gospel is the primary mission of Christ’s church. Are you contributing generously and cheerfully to the support of the ministries of your church? Where is your heart?

If you don’t see how your budget can handle giving unto the Lord, then it is time you evaluate the priorities of your heart. ...seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you (Luke 12:31)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Strength In Weakness



MANAGING SEVERE INFIRMITIES

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 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. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Whatever this thing was in the Apostle Paul, he calls it an infirmity. The word is typically used to refer to a physical sickness, or some form of weakness in the physical frame. This seems to be the way Paul intends it in this context. The word is translated weakness in verse 9.

It is certainly proper to pray fervently for the removal of one’s infirmity. This requires identifying and naming it. It is not out of order to investigate one’s infirmity as one seeks to determine the cause, and perhaps a solution from the Lord. If the Lord grants healing, those who know about His intervention will join together in giving Him praise.

But, God may have other plans for us in regard to infirmities. They certainly affect us. We are weakened by them. We are challenged physically, emotionally and mentally. We need help! 

God gave Paul as an example to us that we might know how to best respond to continuing and severe infirmities. If through prayer God is not pleased to bless means or directly intervene to grant us healing, we must assume that He will grant us grace. This includes a special measure of the power of Christ resting upon us. 

It seems that this special grace comes when one resigns to glory in the infirmities as that which God has ordained. To glory, in this case, is not incessantly focusing upon it and talking about it. This glorying is to recognize the infirmities to be from our Father’s hand so that in the context of our recognized weakness we might be instruments that manifest the power of Christ. 

This is really an amazing response to infirmities that only makes sense to one who is a recipient of the grace of God. It is a response of self-denial. It is an attitude of repose, deflecting attention from one’s infirmities to the sustaining grace of God which overshadows with the power of Christ, which reaches into dimensions of life unknown in times of strength.

While we should be concerned for and care about the infirmities of others, sometimes our God chooses to manifest Himself most in the midst of infirmities. So, while it is right to seek to be delivered from infirmities, it is better to know the power of Christ in the midst of them. He is glorified as we reflect His strength in our weakness.