Saturday, June 24, 2017

IS GOD SAFE? NO, BUT HE IS GOOD!

 
        Is God good?  Yes, but is He safe?  That is the question we must ask ourselves before we step out and serve the Creator of the universe - Jesus Christ Almighty.  In C. S. Lewis' masterpiece of literature, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, the character Aslan represents Jesus our Lord.  Upon finding out she was a bout to meet Aslan and he was a lion, Susan asks "Is he - quite safe...?" The reply she received: "Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe.  But he's good.  He's the king I tell you."  If you are looking for safe, look elsewhere -  hell was made for wimps.  If you are looking for good, Jesus Himself said, "there is none good but God."


     God calls us to:  2 Samuel 10:12  Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the LORD do what seems good to him." The good God of Scripture does not want to use us in comfort zones or "safe spaces".  The God I serve calls me out of my comfort zone on a regular basis!  The God I serve requires courage.  In sharing my frustration with a friend this week, he reminded me, "You've gotten comfortable dude, God doesn't want you to be comfortable." 

     I think one of God's favorite question from His children is one borne of frustration: "What more can I do Lord...?"  God's response must be, "I thought you'd never ask!  Let me show you!  Come on, let's go do this together!"  This is where the fun begins.  Look at all the cool things God's servants got to do in scripture: Noah got to sail around the world, David got to slay a giant, Jonah got to see the inside of a fish and lived to tell about it, Daniel got to spend the night with a pride of lions, Peter got to walk on water, Elijah got to fly to heaven in a chariot of fire, and Ezekiel got to go for a ride with God in a... well I am not entirely sure what he is describing in Ezekiel chapter 1, but it seems awesome!  So awesome Ezekiel could not speak for the next seven days.  The point is, serving God is an adventure and it is not always easy and it is certainly not safe.

If you are looking for adventure and fulfillment check out the path Jesus marked out for you from foundations of the earth. Serving God will not be easy, safe nor comfortable but I promise - IT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND!

Related post - WHAT IS GOD'S DIRECTION FOR MY LIFE

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

WHAT IS GOD'S DIRECTION FOR MY LIFE? - FOLLOWING PILLARS OF CLOUD AND FIRE

   


Have you ever felt adrift? Have you ever felt as if your life was directionless or that maybe you were running ahead of God, or falling behind? How do you know if you are walking with God or off on some rabbit trail? Can we even know what direction God wants us to go?


During the Exodus the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, but there was purpose in their wanderings. God was accomplishing His work in them and in others through them. To the outsider looking in, it appeared the Israelites were meandering lost with no clear direction. This prompted Pharaoh and his army to attack and ultimately die in the Red Sea. The Israelites were not meandering aimlessly, they were following God's direction.

The Israelites had a physical manifestation of the presence of God, a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

Exodus 40:36-37 Throughout all their journeys whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the sons of Israel would set out; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day when it was taken up.

Exodus 13:21 The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.


Today, the church has a physical manifestation of God to guide us. We have the Holy Spirit indwellingThe key for us, as believers, is knowing God to the point we are able to sense His leadership in our lives. God is a personal being and to say He merely desires relationship with us would be a gross understatement. All we can know about God is found in scripture but to truly know God requires building a relationship. God initiated contact with us, He gave us a perfect world to live in - we messed it up. He gave us leaders to follow - we rebelled against them. He gave us His written Word - we allow it to collect dust on a shelf. He sent us His Son - we killed Him. He sent us His Holy Spirit - we disdain His influence.


As a society, we have worked hard to misunderstand and misrepresent God. We have attempted to re-create the creator in order to justify our own will and behavior. God has SO MUCH MORE for us than just knowing about Him. How can we expect to know what God wants from us if we do not know God. I cannot trust direction from someone I do not know, much less believe the direction is authentic. Take the time to know God, spend time with Him in prayer, worship, fellowship with other believers. Seek out discipleship. Only after you know God can you truly know His plan for your life.

Friday, June 2, 2017

WHY SHOULD GOD CARE WHAT I DO?

  Image result for why does God care what i do        
      
Why should God care what I do?  Is God some petty control freak who demands my obedience in order to placate His ego?  What am I to God that He should even be aware of my existence in the vastness of all creation?  What difference does what God thinks about me even matter... I mean, really, who cares!?



     God cares.  God cares because He craves fellowship with His creation.  God cares because He desires to bless me and provide my needs and to pour out His Spirit upon me and then use me to reveal His great love to others.  God cares because God is love.

     Recently, a couple who is very dear to me began fostering a young child who, by all indications, was most likely abused. The child seems a bit distrustful  of men.  The foster dad desires a relationship with the child and is excited when the child responds to his kindness. Slowly, he is building a relationship with the child and every positive response from the child absolutely lifts his heart.  I believe this is how it is with God.  Our desire for Him lifts His heart!  We are hurt by people because people are broken and we distrust God because He becomes one more person who has the opportunity to let us down or take advantage of us.  

    God is not human and not bound to human weakness and sin.  God is not selfish or self serving that He should harm us, not even inadvertently, for His own agenda.  Everything in all of creation screams of God's love for us. Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

     Know this, God not only loves you, He exults over you... this means, when the Creator of the universe thinks of you, He is jubilant!  Imagine, the Lord of all creation jubilantly singing over your very existence!!  

God became a man (Jesus Christ) and died in our place in order to restore fellowship with us, even though we were not interested in fellowship with Him.  God cares about our behavior because it is often harmful to ourselves and/or others and hinders our ability to receive all He has for us.  

Why should God care what I do?  Because He wants what is best for me, He wants to reveal His great love to me and He wants to reveal His great love through me. That's why God cares about what I do!

     

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

WHERE IS GOD WHEN...

       One of the most asked questions during tragedy is "Where is God?"  When the bottom falls out, we wonder, "where is God?" When our expectations are not met, or we fail, or when we are the victims of the neglect and sin of others, or when things just do not go as planned, we ask, "where is God?"  

     So often, we are lied to and told, if we live by a certain formula of obedience and we do just the right amount of good deeds and practice just the right amount of religious observances, life will be, not only smooth, but prosperous.  Jesus told us life would be tough.  Jesus is not looking for followers who want a nice easy life, He is looking for people like the Apostle Paul who are willing to suffer hardship, deny self and go without basic comforts for the sake of the lost.  

    Sadly, many abandon God, feeling betrayed because expectations were not met.  If I do good, good things happen, right?  Not necessarily, after all, what is the minimum amount of good I must do in order to "release" blessing in my life.  Thankfully, our relationship with Christ is not based on our performance, for if it were, we would all be in trouble. Even if there were some magic Good Meter measuring my deeds, how would I know if I were doing enough good in order to receive the amount of comfort, health and wealth I desired?  What if I were able to work to the blessing and knew just the right amount of good I needed to do in order to get what I wanted?  Would my motive cancel out my action since it is selfish at the core? The question is moot, I am called to deny myself, pick up my cross and follow Christ.  I should have no expectation of an easy life in the flesh. 

  As Christians, we must remember, we are called to pick up our crosses and follow Jesus. The Bible tells us: one day we will share in the glory of Christ, we will rule and reign with Christ and we will live in an environment where there is no danger, sickness or tears. Gratification deferred must be our mindset as we set our hearts and minds on Christ. 

     The key to getting though adversity is acknowledging this is not our home.  At home, I want to feel, well...  at home! I want to be comfortable, happy and secure.  If I view this life as home, I have certain expectations, demands even. I want what everyone else has, I want wide open roads clear of obstacles, I want instant gratification!  If I recognize my home is in heaven with God, when I recognize just how fleeting this life is in terms of eternity, I am able to experience the joy of the Lord in any circumstance or situation.  If we lose sight of the big picture, we will get lost in the weeds of life and lament our situation. As we stay focused on the prize, hardships here only serve to make There look so much better.  

    So where is God when life takes, what we believe to be, a wrong turn?  Right there with us, just like He was when we were on top of the world.  Where is God, He is on the throne and in control and working all things together for good for those who love Him.  Without the guidance of God's Word, we will forget these truths,  as we abide in Christ and continue in His Word we will know exactly where God is and we will yearn to be with Him in glory!


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

TO HELL WITH HER, SHE'S ALWAYS BEEN THAT WAY!

   
 "She's always been that way."  This was a community's excuse used to ignore the plight of a Muslim woman in a Muslim country living in filth.  Recently, a good friend of mine returned from a mission trip to a Muslim country.  To protect my friend, I will not reveal his name, nor the country he visited, as he plans on returning. What I will reveal is the miracle which took place in the life of a poor woman, neglected and abandoned by her family and community.  

    As my friend related this story to me three nights ago, I felt compelled to share it here.  In a small, run down, trash filled house in the Middle East, lived a woman whose life was changed by the name of Jesus Christ.  This poor woman was living in squalor as trash completely covered the floor of her home.  This was not trash as one would envision, this trash was rotten chicken parts, food refuse, and other bio nastiness.  The woman herself was confined to a single chair from which she was physically unable to get up due to infection eating both her legs.  Food was brought in but no efforts to care for the woman's other needs were made.  As the woman sat in her own filth, unable to rise from her chair, surrounded by rotting refuse, my friend inquired of the community as to why no one lifted a finger to help her.  

     "She's always been that way," was the response.  "She's always been that way," was the excuse to ignore the horrible plight of a fellow human being in need.  "She's always been that way," was reason enough to allow a woman to exist in terrible pain from infection and remain trapped in filth.  Not only did the community not help this woman, they were clear that no one else would be permitted to help her either.  My friend's hear broke for this woman and as he prayed for an answer to her situation, God clearly spoke to him about praying over her in the name of Jesus Christ.  My friend went to her home with food and asked permission to pray with her.  For a Muslim woman, in a Muslim nation to allow an American Christian man to pray with her is a miracle in itself.

    My brother in Christ prayed over this woman, in the name of Jesus, asking God to intervene in her life.  The woman thanked my friend and he left.  Days later, my friend returned and found that some of the trash had been removed from the home.  After being prayed for, the woman received a visit from her family who began to move some of the trash out of her home.  My friend dropped off food, prayed the name of Jesus over the woman again and left.  The next time my friend dropped by, all the trash was removed and the woman had received medical treatment for her infection.  My friend shared Jesus with the woman, dropped food, prayed with her and left.  The last time my friend saw this woman, she was sitting outside in the sun for the first time in a very, very long time.  She was overjoyed, shared her gratitude and faith in Christ with my friend and a few days later she died.  The woman is in the presence of God, right now, because someone did not accept "she's always been that way," as an excuse to write her off.


    All around us are people who seem hopeless. No one is a lost cause.  How many people do we fail to reach out to or think are beyond reach because, "they have always been that way?"  By labeling someone as "always been that way", we find an excuse to ignore needs and basic human kindness.  The guy addicted to drugs, "he's always been that way", the gal who is reckless and promiscuous, "she's always been that way."  The man who has a terrible disposition and seems to derive pleasure by making those around him miserable, "eh, he's always been that way."  Writing someone off as having always been that way is spiritual laziness at best and damnable neglect at worst.  What is really being said is, "To hell with them, they've always been that way." 

     "They've always been that way" may be just the lie Satan will use to keep believers from reaching out to a lost soul in need of salvation. "Always been that way," may be the very lie used to send a person God loves to hell.  Not everyone will respond to the Gospel message, not everyone will change and turn to Christ, but, don't be the person who stood by and watched a life go down the drain.  

    If you are a believer, and you are reading this, chances are, someone cared enough about you to share the Gospel and lead you to Christ.  Per chance, God is placing a lost cause person on your heart right now, someone who has "always been that way."  God loves them and so should you - now... what are you going to do about it?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

METAL MISSION OF KNOXVILLE

     One day, when Jesus was walking in a large crowd, a woman, afflicted many years with an  illness, longed for healing from the Messiah.  Knowing she could not get his attention in such a large crowd, the woman did all of which she was capable, reaching out, she touched the fringe of His garment.  Previously, I had written about this dear lady and her faith.  CLICK HERE to read  When I wrote about this lady and her faith, I had no idea that God would, almost two years later, use this passage of scripture to launch a ministry
 

     For the past three or four years, I have been trying to fit into a mold that is not me.  I cut my hair, took out my earrings and, for the most part covered my tattoos with more business type attire.  For the past few years, I have felt like a fish out of water.  Over the past few months, I began to realize, I am not being true to the person that God has allowed me to become and am attempting to fit into what society finds acceptable.    

      My family and I went to the Punk Rock Flea Market in Knoxville, an annual event held at a local tattoo parlor.  This is not a mainstream event and most of the vendors and shoppers are somewhat fringey.  Plenty of tattoos, piercings, various colored hair in interesting styles and people who were very nice and enjoyable to talk to. This began a stirring in my heart as I considered the story of the lady above, grabbing the fringe of Christ's garment.  I wondered, who is reaching out to this segment of society?  As we are currently planting house churches in Knoxville, I felt led of God to start a fellowship that would be welcoming to those on the fringe of society, so to speak.  With nothing but a burden on my heart, I had no idea where to start.

     I shared this with my wife, who is also not a traditional looking church goer, with pierced nose and tattoos, and she was immediately engaged.  We began to pray.  We began to share this vision with others and others shared their desire to reach out to those not served by traditional church, for various reasons.  I shard the idea with my friend Victor and he shared with me his desire to minister with his world renowned band Place of Skulls.  Victor had contacted churches and offered to play outreaches, all to no avail.  We began to pray.  As we prayed, we realized that we both had the same desire to reach the lost and minister to believers who are less traditional.  As we kicked around different ideas, Skyler, my son in law became as engaged as Victor and I and together we prayed our way into Metal Mission of Knoxville.  

     Special thanks goes out to Pastor Brian Smith of the First Heavy Metal Church of Christ in Dayton Ohio.  Victor and I conference called with Pastor Brian and he gave us great guidance and encouragement and sent us a goody box filled with t-shirts and outreach material.  Up to this point, we had no official name and were, with permission, partnering with Heavy Metal Church.  Pastor Brian was gracious enough to allow us to use his logo and bus in our promotional material.    
    On March 28, 2017, about a week after we agreed the name Metal Mission of Knoxville, we had our first outreach event.  Fearing the unknown, we prayed that God would fill the Open Chord club.  We were astounded to see a standing room only crowd.  Place of Skulls played a 30 minute set, I spoke for almost 20 minutes and Place of Skulls rocked the place out with another 30 minutes of hard driving, God honoring music.  The response was more than we could have hoped for.  Many people came together behind the scenes to help make the night happen, from prayer warriors to Metal Missionaries putting posters up all over town. 

     The lady who grabbed the fringe of Jesus' cloak  was on the fringe of society, herself.  Suffering for a bleeding illness, she was considered unclean and would not have been  welcome to approach a religious figure, let alone dare to speak to or touch one.  God saw her need and honored her faith by healing her.  She may have been an outcast to mainstream society, but God loved her and her needs mattered.  Many churches do not welcome people with long hair, tattoos and piercings or denim and leather.  Even churches with a policy to welcome everyone do not necessarily know how to minister to or even relate to those outside the mainstream.  Where can these people go to serve and have their needs met?  Metal Mission of Knoxville hopes to be that ministry. 

     MMoK has immediate opportunities to serve in the homeless community of Knoxville.  Just about every Romans 12 gift of the Spirit is needed to run this weekly outreach.  MMoK does not expect people to transform overnight, we believe the work of the Holy Spirit convicts and transforms the heart of the believer. MMoK does not ignore or excuse sin, either.  Opportunities to learn and grow exist through home churches and local churches who see the value of such a ministry.  Pastor Bryan Glass of Berean Bible Church has been very supportive and engaged.  MMoK also has discipleship opportunities available, with a 6 month intensive program that confronts real life issues head on.  

    Metal Mission of Knoxville is not about being cool or gimmicky,  MMoK is about being real.  Being real with God, being real about who an individual is in Christ and being real about the transforming power of the Gospel.  Come check us out on Facebook to learn more: https://www.facebook.com/Metal-Mission-of-Knoxville-1405236649523179/

Life can be tough as hell sometimes, but Jesus Christ is tougher then Hell!


Saturday, April 22, 2017

IS SOCIAL MEDIA HARMING YOUR TESTIMONY?


        Double minded Christianity is destroying the testimony of the church.  Failing, as all humans do is one thing, a lifestyle of sin or continuing in a defining sin is quite a different matter.  Many believers struggle in matters of faith as each is at varying stages of growth and maturity.  The bottom line factor is: are you more submitted to God or the pleasures of the world?



Colossians 3:8-10  But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 

     Social media is the great bearer of souls.  For some reason, many people feel perfectly comfortable posting a spiritually sound and uplifting meme one moment and a foul language ridden, sexually crude comment the next.  We live in a world where we can learn everything we need to know about someone by spending five minutes looking through a Facebook page or perusing a Twitter account.  

    There was an age when people built relationships by spending time together, conversing, sharing a meal.  In twenty first century America, I can find out what movies you like, what music you listen to, what you believe, (or claim to believe) and what type of causes you are interested in.  I can find out who you love and you hate, who you admire and who you despise.  I can know, not only your political affiliations, but how you stand on almost any political or social issue. All his can be accomplished with out ever speaking or meeting in person.  Every post, every like, every share, every retweet, every follow reveals who you are, how you think and whether or not we would get along, if we ever actually interacted face to face.  

    Social media also reveals your heart... Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms will reveal more of your inner being than you can imagine.  Twitter and Instagram are especially telling as much of what is posted on these is quick and impulsive.  A hundred harmless posts and tweets, every few days, adds up to a great deal of personal information, inadvertently shared.  People are looking and paying attention.  Ministry opportunities will be gained and lost based on social media posts.  Future employers are looking as well.  Before I conduct an interview, I look.  

    The point to all this is, do not be double minded.  Social media will expose you!  If you are committed to the cause of Christ, then be committed all the way.  1 Corinthians 10:31  So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 
This includes sharing your thoughts on social media.  Think about what is posted and ask, "will this honor or dishonor God?" God makes it clear in scripture, He does not tolerate double mindedness - Revelation 3:15-16  "'I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." Part of being real with God is being honest about who we are.  Pretending to be holier than we actually are will almost always end in embarrassment.  Trying to seem cool and trendy is just as lame on social media as it is in person, few people are fooled.  

     If you are a church going, Bible reading, Jesus spouting Christian, be ever so careful what you like, share and post.  Be a consistent witness for the cause of Christ.  Do not flaunt your liberty at the expense of someone else's stumbling.  If you think it might be wrong, it probably is.  Honor God and do not give anyone a cause to accuse you of sin.  


    
     

Friday, April 14, 2017

JUST AS I AM - JUST AS YOU ARE


   While I listened to Maximus by King James today, a cover of the old hymn Just As I Am moved me in an amazing way.  As I listened to this metal'd up, bluesy, version of a classic hymn, I could not help but ponder the vast greatness of God vs. my seemingly insignificant place in the universe and God's infinite and personal love for me. I felt incredibly minuscule and overwhelmed by love at the same time.  Just as I am - this is how God wants me to come to Him. In all my weakness, in all my fear and in all my inadequacies, God loves me.  
 

     I do not need to clean up my act in order to come to God and accept Christ's love and sacrifice, nor do you.  The clean up comes after I submit myself to His will through faith in the cross.  The clean up is not by my might, nor by my power, but by God's Spirit.  Zechariah 4:6  Then he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. This is an amazing promise. This is liberating.  This is something I can grasp and understand.  

     In the song Just As I Am, the call is simply as it sounds, come as you are.  This means God wants you and your personality.  God wants to change destructive practices and attitudes but He does not want  to give you a spiritual lobotomy.  Each person experiences life in such a way that life shapes us.  Our genetics coupled with our environment serve to make us who we are.  Each is unique in style and substance.  God wants to use you, not some watered down generic version of you.  

     One of the biggest traps we fall into is trying to conform to what others think we should be or look like, rather than what God thinks.  God will reveal the changes that are necessary, and yes, there will be changes in behavior and attitudes as God draws you toward holiness in the sanctification process.  Change is a partnership between you and the Holy Spirit. 

     Won't you join me as I stand before the living God, just as I am, recognizing I have nothing to offer but what He has given me and allow Him to transform you, from who you are to what He wants you to be?  


Check out legendary guitarist Rex Carroll and King James on this moving rendition you probably never heard before:










Wednesday, April 5, 2017

WHO IS THE DISCIPLE JESUS LOVES - GO LOOK IN THE MIRROR

   
      Have you ever experienced true love and favor that you know you did not deserve?  Have you ever felt singled out for favor by someone who made you feel important?  Most people know what it is like to be singled out for ridicule or to be simply ignored.  To be singled out as special, for most people, is rare, and even more rare is being singled out as special just because you are you and not for something you have accomplished or have to offer. 


    In his Gospel account, John the Apostle refers to himself as the disciple Jesus loved.  At first, this may seem a bit arrogant or prideful, however, in the context of understanding God, this is a very accurate statement.  In fact, this is a statement that any born again believer in Christ can make!  I am the disciple Jesus loves...


     I have nothing to offer Christ but the abilities and desires He has given me.  I possess no astounding talent and have no amazing capacity to love others.  The Bible tells us all good things come from the Father.  Therefore, if there is any good in me, it is there because God placed it there.  Yet, bankrupt of any natural ability, I am the disciple Jesus loves.  God does not necessarily love me because of who I am, but because of who He is.
    YOU are the disciple Jesus loves!  If you were the only one in the world, Christ would have died for you.  Society makes us feel inadequate, our failures based on human effort make us feel unworthy, our interaction with other broken people make us feel unlovable, yet... we are loved, individually by the King of all creation. 

     Do you want to see the disciple Jesus loves?  Go look in the mirror and know you have eternal value to the One who matters most, Christ the King!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

CONFORMING VS TRANSFORMING - BEING WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST

 
   How does a ministry balance "come as you are" invitations to Christ with the Biblical call for transformation?  In our multicultural, all inclusive, tolerance based society, this can be a difficult road to navigate.  Do we insist upon immediate repentance of blatant sin or do we recognize a process of sanctification?  Can a guy with a purple mohawk or a gal with multiple face piercings grow in Christ inwardly and still look the same on the outside.  Where do we draw the line on "acceptable sin"?  What is acceptable sin and is there even such a thing?  

      As society becomes more and more "tolerant" of, well, basically everything, how does the church, especially in the context of evangelism, respond to today's culture with a message of God's holiness and remain relevant?  A big trap to avoid is, when we call others to holiness, we do not consider ourselves the model for holiness!  Jesus Christ is the model of holiness.  When a guy who grew up in an upper middle class home, in an upper middle class neighborhood goes to a seminary after college and then falls into a pastorate in an upper middle class church he has a much different life experience than most people to whom he will minister.  This upper middle class pastor, who probably spends most of his adult life in a coat and tie, may believe the appearance of an average upper middle class person is the appearance that best represents holiness. The only problem is, Jesus never addressed hair style and clothes.  

    The Bible clearly tells us men should not wear women's clothes and women should not wear men's clothes. Where the Bible speaks on tattoos and piercings, it also prohibits the eating of bacon, shrimp and lobster...  Unless you are practicing Judaism and relying on the Law of Moses for salvation (which cannot be done) these prohibitions do not apply, anyway.  

     So purple mohawk guy, pierced face gal,  sleeved young man, Jesus loves you, hair dye, hardware, tattoos and all. God's purpose for you may very well include your less than traditional appearance.  

    Blatant sin, which we could categorize as sin that leads to death, should be addressed and dealt with as soon  as possible in the life of a new believer.  If a person is truly surrendering his life to Christ and not merely looking for "fire insurance" against hell, there should be some immediate repentance of blatant sin.  If someone is coming to Christ for salvation, chances are he is well aware of the fact there is blatant sin needing to be dealt with and are seeking God because of that sin in the first place.  

     The early church fathers instructed the non-Jewish believers to abstain from sexual immorality, eating of blood, eating strangled food and food sacrificed to idols.  We see a Biblical precedent in the book of Acts where people involved in witchcraft and sorcery immediately gave up their evil practices and burned their books and other associated items.  So, yes, there are behaviors and lifestyle choices that are absolutely incompatible with the Christian life, and no, this is not an exhaustive list of what we can and cannot do.  

     Discipleship is the key to all of this, teaching the new believer about the role of the Holy Spirit in convicting conscience about sin and the role of the Holy Spirit in helping us overcome the desire to sin.  This helps us avoid, all together, the question of "acceptable sin".  In truth, there is no such thing as acceptable sin, however, there are certain things that are sin in the life of one and not the other.  To a drunk, having a beer is sin, to a person who has no compulsion or desire to be drunk, relaxing with a beer probably is not a sin.  Where the Bible speaks clearly, we should obey and where the Bible is silent, we ought to pray and seek the counsel of the Holy Spirit before we attempt to remove every perceived speck from our neighbor's eyes. (for more on the topic of specks and beams, CLICK HERE) 

     Come as you are evangelism is absolutely legitimate, but, a remain as you are message is just as wrong as saying "change so you look like me".   God will change the new believer from the inside out, dealing with bad and dangerous behavior, not necessarily general appearance.  So, the message should be, "come as you are, expect God to transform you and your life, but, be the person God has allowed you to become, because He has use of you whether you are more comfortable in a sweater vest or a leather vest". Matthew 6:33  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

SERVING WITH JOY AND NOT COMPULSION

   
  Why is the Western church in such disarray?  Spiritually speaking, one of the most deadly practices we find in the church is compulsory service and observances.  Compulsory service has an appearance of godliness, but in reality is worthless and hollow. How many come to church begrudgingly, slogging through the worship songs with no thought given to words sung nor to the One sung to?  How many paltry dollars are dropped in the offering plate out of a sense of obligation or coercion?  How many zoned out heart and minds sit through  a carefully prepared message from the Word?  How many think they have done their duty for God by suffering through yet another church service or performing some religious task?  This is why the church is dying in America, too many people are pretending and not enough are truly committed to what they claim to believe.

     In 2 Chronicles 30-31, we find the Hebrews celebrating Passover, properly, for what may be the first time in 250 years.  Though they celebrated it a month late and not all the people were ceremonially clean, the hearts of the people were wholly dedicated to God and His glory.  So joyful an event was the 7 day festival, the people decided to celebrate for another 7 days.  After they celebrated, they willfully and joyfully went through the land and destroyed all that brought dishonor to God.  The Hebrews did not begrudgingly quit doing things they enjoyed for fear of retribution or punishment, they genuinely desired to honor and please God with their daily lives. God's wrath on the nation was temporarily averted because the people served Him with their heart, rather than out of obligation.

     Coming to that place, where we are desiring to please God, not just trying to avoid punishment, is part of maturing in Christ.  When we repent from bad habits and attitudes because our hearts are truly convicted by our love for God, this is real Christianity.  When we simply attempt to live by a set of rules because the rules seem to be what Christians are supposed to do, we are deceiving ourselves and opening the door for self righteousness.  True obedience and discipleship start with a change within.  Inward change does not begin with outward subjugation to a given set of dos and don'ts. There is no joy found in compulsion, only a sense of duty and obligation that can bring stress or pride, both destructive.  

     Authentic change can only come by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ.  Attempting to live a holy life without the supernatural empowerment of the Holy Spirit is frustrating at best and self destructive at worst.  It simply cannot be done.  Religion is a system of order and compulsory behaviors designed to bring us closer to God.  Religion is empty and without power.  Relationship draws us closer to God through knowledge and understanding of His word and desire to please Him.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

LOVING THE DEAD - BECAUSE CHRIST LOVED US WHEN WE WERE STILL DEAD

  
  What can the dead do?  If a person died in front of you, would you attempt CPR or take some other action in order to help revive them, would you shout at them to wake up before it is too late, or would you just ignore them and walk on by?  Spiritually speaking, Christians come in contact with the dead every day.  What is our response? I hope we remember that we were once spiritually dead and now have the responsibility to share life.  

Ephesians 2:1&4-5  And you were dead in the trespasses and sins... But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

In the Christian community, we know we are to love one another, and how we do that varies more or less.  Sadly, it is often more less, but we know better.  How the Christian community relates to those outside the church is a different matter.  Perception is king and pop culture portrays the church as narrow minded and bigoted, perceiving the average Christian as a hatemonger.  One of the biggest obstacles we face is our own rhetoric and behavior.  Legalistic congregations and even some parachurch organizations have been known for some outrageous behavior.  So called Pastor, Fred Phelps, and the antics of the his Westboro Baptist Church comes to mind, when we speak of "hate filled" Christians. 

     While clowns like Phelps (oh, was that less than loving? Jesus called the religious hypocrites worse) give a black eye to the Christian community, there are myriads of believers quietly working in outreach ministries demonstrating the love of Jesus.  This is who we need to be.  This is how we overcome the stereotype of bigot and hater.  This is the Great Commission.  


     Pastor Bob Beeman is an example of a guy who gets it right: 




     
    Loving one another is behavior oriented, not words or platitudes.  The guy who tells his wife "I love you" and then smacks her around does not love his wife, he loves himself.  True love may never say the words "I love you" but is demonstrated in actions of good. Those who are lost in sin need to know God loves them. We must endeavor to love by considering others better than ourselves. Our behavior toward those dead in sin may be the difference between them finding salvation or remaining alienated from God. Find someone to bless today and tell them you love them by your actions not your words! 
      

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

POWER TO OVERCOME- WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS!

 
  Struggling through life is not what God intends for His children.  No, this is not a "God makes everything great" post, this is a God makes everything bearable post.  Just like everyone who breaths air, you and I will go through tough times.  Walking with Jesus gives us the power to overcome in adversity.  Notice we do not overcome adversity, we overcome in adversity.  Overcoming does not necessarily mean our problems go away, it means we are not destroyed and it means we can flourish while in the midst of adversity.

     The Bible tells us: 1 Corinthians 10:13  No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. God gives us the ability to endure.  Jesus withstood the face to face temptation of Satan in the wilderness.  Jesus endured because He focused on the Word of God. Though Jesus is God, He chose to limit Himself to manhood in order to save man.  As a man, Jesus learned scripture the same way we do, He studied it and memorized it.  Jesus is an example to us, in His humanity.

     The same power Jesus had to endure hardship is available to us, as believers in Christ.  1 John 4:17  By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 
 Some wallow in self pity rather than seeing adversity as an opportunity for God to manifest His power.  God has imprinted us with His very image.  This sets us apart from the rest of creation. Even the angels are charged with serving mankind:  Hebrews 1:13-14  And to which of the angels has he ever said, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet"?  Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? 

     Know God loves you and know He promises to never leave you nor forsake you.  All the power of God and is available for sustaining us when life gets difficult.  When tough times come, pray and seek His comfort and strength.  God my not change your circumstances but He will change your perspective.  God uses adversity in our lives to empower us for His service and to prepare us for His blessings. God also promises us peace and joy regardless of circumstances.  Romans 8:37  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  God's design is for us to flourish and grow, even in the midst of hardship and difficulty.  Give Him the opportunity to demonstrate, not only His power, but His great love for you.  


Friday, March 3, 2017

REDISCOVERING WORTH - A TALE OF 3 MOTORCYCLES


    I remember a time when I was given 3 motorcycles that had been left in an abandoned storage facility.  None of them ran, nor were they titled.  At one time, these bikes came off an assembly line with hope and promise.  Each bike was crafted with a specific purpose in mind.  All three bikes were good for transportation and fun.  Each bike went from the factory to a person entrusted with it's care, maintenance and proper use, ensuring each bike fulfilled it's destiny.  Somewhere along the line, these bikes each became neglected and mistreated by the person entrusted with their care.  Each bike apparently malfunctioned because of improper care.  These bikes had no power of their own to maintain themselves properly, yet when they no longer worked as designed, they were declared worthless by their caretakers.  Mishandled, these bikes became erratic in their behavior.  The owners were either abusive, negligent, or simply not equipped to own and maintain a motorcycle.  As each motorcycle began to "misbehave", none of the owners seemed willing to take responsibility, all three owners told these bikes, once their pride and joy, they were worthless.  All three owners cast these bikes out and abandoned them because they did not meet expectations.  Possibly having a bike was not exactly as they had envisioned.  


     As outcasts, these bikes sat in an abandoned storage pod with other cast offs and broken items deemed worthless by those entrusted with their care.  As so often is the case, these broken cast offs found their way to each other. Now, obviously, these bikes are inanimate objects without thought of feeling, but for the sake of analogy, imagine these were sentient creatures with the power of thought and emotion.  Imagine what the neglect, misuse and dissatisfaction of the owners would do to these bikes.  Imagine what "life" was like for these three as they are declared worthless by those who should have loved and cared for them. Imagine the hurt and bewilderment as they are abandoned and left as if they never existed.  Imagine how that would sit together, yet alone, year after year believing they somehow failed or stewing in anger and feeding off of each other's misery.  

    Sadly, and devastatingly so, there are many people who have this same story.  Babies born with God given purpose and design, often  to parents who are excited and hopeful, yet ill equipped and selfish.  Some are born into hostile environments where they are unwanted from the beginning.  After a life of neglect, abuse and improper parenting, many of these babies grow up resentful, rebellious and worst of all, hurt... deeply hurt.  Broken by the ones entrusted with care and nurturing, these broken children grow into broken adults.  Because of behavioral issues or attitudes born of bad parenting, these broken children are declared worthless or "troubled".  Cast aside by society, many of these naturally gravitate to others who have been similarly treated and worse behaviors and attitudes manifest. When a person believes he is worthless, he is without hope and behaves worthlessly.  

      Mainstream society and church shuns those with tattoos, piercings and multicolored hair.  It becomes easier for people to ignore those who are different and pretend no problem exists. The broken and distrustful often gravitate to the fringes of society and the mainstream church seems content to leave them there.  What mainstream society and churches do not realize is that those with the hardest shells often built those shells in response to deep harm caused by those who were entrusted with love and care.  A hard shell ensures no one else gets in to cause harm.  Jesus came to seek that which was lost, is that not what the church is to be doing also?  We cannot just build a building and start preaching and expect people to show up, we have to go to where the people are.  What we have is a message of hope, the message is worthless if it is not shared.  

     Thankfully, the story of the motorcycles does not end with abandonment in a warehouse.  Two of those bikes were actually able to fulfill their original purpose and intent.  One was worked on and able to run and given to a family member, another was given to an immigrant who needed transportation.  These bikes were not able to rebuild themselves or suddenly start up and ride off into the sunset, they needed help and care.  Once they received the help and care necessary, they were able to fulfill the role for which they were designed.  So many people are just like these bikes, not ever realizing that they have potential or that anyone even cares about them.
  
     If the church is not willing to go to the fringes of society to rescue the lost, there will be no rescue of the lost.  And  by the church, I am not talking about the First Baptist Church of Whatever, I am talking about you and me, the Body of Christ, fulfilling our calling and purpose.  No one is worthless, no one is forsaken of God, so why is the church content with allowing whole segments of society believe they are worthless and forsaken?  Part of the reason is this kind of ministry is messy.  Our cookie cutter ideas of what faith and sanctification should look like does not match this kind of ministry.  We too often think salvation should come with a suit, tie and a haircut when sometimes salvation means new tattoos and different t-shirt.  

       Like many people, these bikes were made with care and specific purpose, but, due to the negligence and mistreatment of others, sat in obscurity.  There are many people who, though fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving creator, were mistreated and neglected, cast aside and forgotten, or simply ignored. This mistreatment often leads to poor choices which only serve to magnify feelings of alienation.  The church cannot... must not, ignore those who are hurting or deemed worthless by holier than thou hypocrites. The church, which is you and me, must step up and step out and seek what was lost and what was cast aside and what was deemed worthless by corrupt and sin addled society.  

Sunday, February 26, 2017

PRETENDING TO BE PERFECT HELPS NO ONE!


Matthew 5:48  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

One of the biggest pitfalls in the life of a believer is the perceived need to appear perfect all the time. Another big danger comes when we begin to think we have attained some level of spirituality that makes us, somehow, better than most. I am flawed, I sin, and I will always have the propensity to sin BIG. Pretending that I am not helps no one and being real opens the door to relational discipleship.
This does not excuse my sin, nor does it negate my pursuit of holiness, it merely recognizes my need to avoid self righteousness.  Clearly, Scripture calls me to pursue perfection.
Pretending to be perfect not only harms my witness, it also harms others around me.  The ultimate goal for myself and any believer is consistency in what I say and do.  If I claim to love God and others, my actions must indicate the same.  Blatant hypocrisy and double mindedness are one of the greatest hindrances to the Great Commission. 
   The Scriptural call to perfection is not a call to a destination but a call to a lifetime pursuit.  Romans 8:29  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Part of the Holy Spirit's ministry in the life of the believer is transformation. 
     Perfection comes when Christ calls us home, whether that should be at life's end or the rapture of the church.  Until perfection comes, we are called to be real.  Real with others and ourselves.  Pretending to be holier or more perfected than I actually am is dangerous as it gives the enemy an opportunity to expose me as a fraud and ruins whatever testimony I may have had.
     We certainly need to strive for holiness while being honest about our walk with God.  Being honest about our struggles does not mean accepting our sin and excusing it by simply saying, "that's who I am."  Being honest means admitting a problem and submitting to the will and transforming power of God.  Being honest also means trusting someone to whom we can be accountable.  We are not meant to walk this life alone, God made us for community and gave us each a unique role in the Body of Christ.  Someone is relying on me to do my part as I am relying on others to do theirs. 
     The call to perfection does not require, nor expect us, to attain in this life.  The call to perfection is a call to a life fully submitted to the will of God. Do not pretend to be better than you are and, at the same time, do not settle for a life of sin and struggle.  Remember, though a righteous man falls seven times, he gets back up!  

Monday, February 20, 2017

OF SPECKS AND BEAMS - SEEING SIN IN OTHERS

 
 One of the most mishandled aspects of church life is dealing with sin in the camp.  Sin is either ignored and allowed to fester or it is hastily and harshly confronted. Sin ignored can lead to spiritual irrelevancy as seen in many mainstream denominations which have chosen the liberal path of "tolerance".  Sin dealt with harshly or hastily often leads to legalistic self righteousness which can strangle the message of love, grace and redemption found at the cross. Ignoring sin and legalistic campaigns against sin are two sides of the same coin, a coin that renders the Gospel powerless.  Scripture gives very clear guidelines when it comes to dealing with sin in the church, and, as in every case when believers stray from the clear dictates of God's word, ignoring God's instruction leads to destruction. 


   Mat 7:1-5  "Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
  
Most everyone is familiar with Jesus' teaching on specks and beams when it comes to addressing sin.  Jesus gave this example for a very specific reason, not everything perceived as sin in a person's life is sin.  Sin in one person's life can often lead to perceiving sin in others.  If a man is a liar, he may assume everyone else is a liar as well.  If am woman is a thief, she may assume everyone around her is a thief also.  Perceiving sin in others will affect interaction.  Distrust will always hinder intimacy and healthy relationship building.  

     Jesus was a carpenter, by trade, therefore, the concept of specks of sawdust and wooden beams or logs would have been very familiar to Him.  Jesus knew sin in a person's life could skew perception of others, for this reason, Jesus made it clear, sin must be dealt with personally before it could be dealt with corporately.  This is a very important lesson for the modern church, as we often excuse sin in our own lives while holding others to a higher standard than which we hold ourselves.  If I am torn up with sin, how can I accurately discern sin in the life of another?

  

Monday, January 16, 2017

WILL 70 NATIONS BOW TO SATAN AGAINST ISRAEL?

GENESIS 10:32  These are the clans of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations, and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood. 

DEUTERONOMY 32:8 - When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.


     After the flood of Noah, God divide the earth into nations. In Genesis 10, we are given a list of 70 nations.  When God divided the nations, He divided them according to the number of the Ben Elohim, or sons of God.  These sons of God are generally referred to as angels. 

 We see these angels first in Genesis 6 when a number of them transgressed God's design and mated with human women creating giants and ultimately causing the great flood. 
Gen 6:4-5  There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.   And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 

 2Peter 2:4-5  For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;   if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;  

Jude 1:6  And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—

We also see the sons of God mentioned in Job 1 as they present themselves before God: Job 1:6  Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. 

Another term we can use to describe these beings is powers and principalities: Ephesians 6:12  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 

  We can deduce many of these sons of God have thrown their lot in with Satan and rebelled against the God who created them. These sons of God, we are told from scripture, are rulers, authorities and cosmic powers of darkness.  Like their counterparts in Genesis 6, their end will be the lake of fire: Matthew 25:41  "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Satan's plan has been, throughout recorded history, to destroy God's plan for man:

1. In the Garden of Eden, Satan tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden tree - God declared His plan of redemption in Genesis 3:15

2. The sons of God endeavored to corrupt man's bloodline by mingling angelic and human DNA Genesis 6:9  These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. - God repopulated the earth with a genetically pure bloodline

3. After entering the land, Israel was corrupted by foreign gods and almost lost it's national identity - God continued to discipline the nation back to spiritual purity

4. King Herod tried to kill the Messiah  - God sent Jesus to Egypt to protect Him

5. The early church was persecuted unto death by Rome - God protected and strengthened and underground movement

6. Rome attempted to absorb Christianity by blending it with paganism - God brought forth the Reformation and gave the Bible in the language of the people

7. Hitler tried to kill all the Jews - God stopped Hitler and gave Israel back their homeland in 1948 and Jerusalem in 1967

8. Now, 70 nations are attempting to give Jerusalem to a people who are not a people, a people who have no claim to the Holy City.

   These are just a small sampling of Satan's campaign against God.  Each and every time Satan and his minions have attempted to derail God's plan, God defeats his evil plans.  God's will shall always be accomplished: Isaiah 14:24  The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: 

These 70 nations aligned together against Israel are directed by the powers, principalities and authorities of darkness all under the influence of Satan himself.  This, in a long line of failed attempts to destroy God's people and plan, will be one more opportunity for God to display His power and glory.  

The end game in this agenda seems to be taking Jerusalem, and with it the Temple Mount, away from any control of the Jews.  Taking the Temple Mount will prevent a rebuilding of the Temple, which must take place before Christ can return.  

Even the Jesuit Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis seems to be on the side of Satan in this campaign.  The Vatican has recently recognized the Palestinian state and Palestine will not negotiate on Jerusalem, so by default Francis is on the side of Satan in this conflict. for more on the Pope's evil click HERE

The first attempt to prevent a third Temple was the building of the Satanic Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.  Muslims believed they had built their evil structure over the very site of the Jewish Temple, however, modern surveying techniques have discovered the Temple was on the south side of the Temple Mount.  True to prophetic scripture, there is room enough to build the Jewish Temple without disturbing the Dome of the Rock.  The Dome of the Rock actually stands in what would have been the outer court. Revelation 11:1-2  And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.  But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. 

This latest attempt to derail God's plan will also fail, but at what cost to humanity. Satan's attempts to stop God often cause great bloodshed and loss of human life.  World War II being a great example.  

Rest assured, these 70 nations and the evil forces provoking them shall not prevail, the passage from Revelation above proves this.  Now is a time for prayer. Prayer for the peace of Jerusalem, prayer for the hearts of the men and women being used as tools of evil and prayer that God's people remain faithful and resolute. 

God's plan for man shall stand and Christ shall rule from Jerusalem, our role is to go and make disciples while we pray against the powers of evil and their influence over mankind.





Wednesday, January 11, 2017

COLOSSIANS - BEREAN BIBLE CHURCH MIDWEEK STUDY

What follows is the study for Berean Bible Church midweek study.  This study shall be updated weekly as we progress through the book of Colossians.  If you are in the Knoxville area, please come visit us and participate in our interactive study.  

Please feel free to leave comments and ask questions in the comment section. Hope this study will be a blessing!

                                         COLSSIANS



Colossae was a city in ancient Phyrgia, which is moder Turkey today

Phygia was a thriving region and you might be familiar with King Midas who was from Phyrgia

The population of Colossae was Jewish, Gnostic and pagan

The city was destroyed in the 12th century by the Turks and continues to lie in ruins

Paul identifies himself and Timothy as the writers of the letter.

The city was destroyed by an earthquake circa 60 AD so this letter would have been written as early as the 50's or as late as early 60.

Colossians is a prison epistle and was written about the same time as Ephesians and Philemon

Paul had most likely not visited Colossae, as we will see and the church there was most likely founded by Epaphras, who may have been converted by Paul's teaching in Ephesus

Paul learns of heresy and false teachings taking place in the church and thus writes this letter in order to protect the sanctity of the Gospel

One of the heresies Paul deals with is Gnosticism or the belief that the flesh cannot be saved, but the spirit can be saved by secret knowledge – a theme we find prevalent in John's first epistle

Paul also deals with the concept of false teachers as does Peter in his 2nd epistle and Jude in his brief letter




Chapter 1:1-10

  1. V. 1-2 – Paul identifies himself and Timothy as the senders of this letter, the recipients being Saints and faithful adelphoi which is literally siblings – brothers and sisters
  1. V. 3-4 – By virtue of the fact that Paul is thankful for the faith he has heard about, we can discern that he was not the one to have established this church.
  1. V.5-8 – We see here that Epaphras is credited with being the minister to Colossae, while Paul has heard about the church. In matters of heresy, it may well be that Paul was sought out to correct error that had crept into the church and may very well have been sought out by Epaphras as he was not as astute with scripture as Paul. Remember, scripture at the time was primarily the Old Testament. Paul being a Pharisee would have a very powerful working knowledge of scripture where a Gentile convert teaching the church would not have necessarily had the tools to combat heresy.
This is important for us to remember when we are faced with something we may not understand or comprehend, there is no shame in calling on a more seasoned brother or sister for guidance.

Paul is also indicating that the spread of the Gospel is making it's way way around the world. There has to be a supernatural component to this as most pagans would have no reason to consider the Gospel. God reveals in every man a sense of need or emptiness. Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

People try any number of methods to fill this need, yet only in Christ can a person be fully satisfied


  1. V. 9-10 – Notice a progression here – knowledge of His will is first on His list, then wisdom and understanding to walk properly, in order to please God through bearing fruit and then increasing in the knowledge of God. Before we can please and understand God, we have to discern His will. The revelation of God's will is progressive:
1. God's will for sinners is to be saved: 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

And 1Timothy 2:3 -4 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
God is not cruel to leave us without evidence of His existence either: Romans 1:19-20 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

  1. We know His revealed will is that we read, pray, fellowship, worship and serve
  2. only after we follow God's revealed will, do we get specific instructions

Then we learn what it means to live worthily of the Gospel – attitudes and hidden sin is dealt with as holiness becomes a priority.

Notice we clean up our lives after salvation... It is the power of God's Spirit in us that gives us the ability to overcome sin

Then, as we walk in holiness, we bear fruit and in the midst of bearing fruit, we increase in the knowledge of God in order to continue the cycle of sanctification, spiritual growth and service.


WEEK 2
JANUARY 18


Chapter 1:11-14

Last week, we looked at the process of salvation, sanctification and ongoing spiritual maturity. As unbelievers, we discover God's will for us in salvation, we respond, He imparts unto us wisdom and knowledge so we know what He requires of us, we put those things into practice and begin go bear fruit, which in turn leads us to increased knowledge of God which in turn helps us to know how to walk, which allows us to bear more fruit which.... you get the idea, it should be an never ending cycle of learning, doing, bearing fruit. We never arrive and we never attain perfection, only awareness of the depths of our need for more!

  1. V.11-12 – Paul's prayer for this group is that they have access to all the power available to them from God to accomplish all of His will for them. 1 John 4:17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. Once we recognize we have all the power Jesus had access to as a man, we will be free to step out into more and more opportunity.
And we are not only empowered to works of service but notice the end of V. 11 – we have access to patience and joy. If we find ourselves joyless or impatient, we are not fully receiving from God what He makes available to us.

DISCUSSION: what ways do you think we can better access God's provision of patience and joy?

Also, check our verse 12 – we are qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints! Now, to preach a benefits oriented Gospel is to offer false hope in this world, but to buffer the harshness of the true Gospel with the hope and promise of benefits in the coming world is wise.

The inheritance we have to look forward to is the inheritance Christ receives as First Born of all creation. In the following verses, we will explore what it means for Jesus to be First Born of all creation and what inheritance means to God as revealed to us in scripture. Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.


II. V. 13-14 – Until we realize that the world we are living in is Satan's we cannot fully grasp this passage and the ramifications it has for us when we begin to consider EVERYTHING in this world that is not in favor of Christ is working against Him. This sounds extreme and can lead to legalism if we are not careful, but let me build my case from scripture: 2Corinthians 4:4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Jesus speaking of Satan said, John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.

And remember, when Satan tempted Jesus, he offered Him all the kingdoms of the world for one act of worship. Satan could not offer what was not his to give if it was a true temptation. Obviously Jesus was not deceived into thinking Satan had dominion when in deed he did not.

We often struggle with what of this world we can participate or indulge without getting in trouble with God. This starts with a faulty premise for a couple of reasons:

  1. We should not be basing our actions on whether or not we will get in trouble, but whether or not what we are doing brings glory to God 1Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
  2. Every vestige of this world is corrupted by it's god and the world we live in is truly the kingdom of darkness 1Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
    Properly exegeted, this passage is referring to the Jewish believers who fled persecution in Israel to Gentile lands. But, we can also apply this to us as believers living in a corrupted world because we are told we are citizens of heaven, Jesus told us He went to prepare a place for us.
Before we become like the Amish, and wall ourselves off from society, we have to temper this truth with something else Peter wrote: 1Peter 2:16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

And I think, ultimately, the question of, “is this ok?” can be answered Romans 14:23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
If you think it might be wrong, then for you, it is, until you work it out with God. I cannot answer for you, nor can your pastor or accountability partner, only God.

Now, back to the idea of our being delivered from the kingdom of darkness:

we have established this is the kingdom of Satan. Being the kingdom of Satan, this world is designed to reward sin and keep people from finding salvation. Matthew 12:30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters

this means all of our entertainment, all of our science, all of our public education system, everything that is not done specifically to promote faith is actively working to destroy the testimony of God in the public forum. Everything is literally against us...

So, by default, unless Trump is truly a born again Christian and his motive is to promote the Gospel, he will ultimately be used as a tool of Satan to thwart the Gospel


The point of this passage is, we are now freed from the kingdom of darkness and to participate and support it's work against the Kingdom of light is counterproductive and possibly dangerous.  


WEEK 3
JANUARY 25


COLOSSIANS 1:15-20



Last week, we looked at the kingdom of darkness. We currently live in the kingdom of darkness, yet we have been delivered from this kingdom of Satan by the blood of Christ.


Tonight we will look at Christology 101, the person, nature and work of Christ and even His relationship to the denizens of the kingdom of darkness


  1. V. 15 – Image of the invisible God
    A. – throughout history, there have been what is called THEOPHANIES. A theophany is an appearance of God. Here we are told that Jesus is the IMAGE of the invisible God, therefore we can call these theophanies more accurately a Christophany. When God appeared to man in the Old Testament, these men were interacting with the pre-incarnate Christ.

1. Genesis 3:8-9 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?"
Here is the first recorded appearance of God with man, after man fell.

2. Genesis 18:1&22 And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD.
Abraham spoke face to face with God and even bargained for the people of Sodom – 3 men showed up, two angels and one God – Jesus, the image of the invisible God

3. Joshua 5:13 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you for us, or for our adversaries?" And he said, "No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, "What does my lord say to his servant?" And the commander of the LORD's army said to Joshua, "Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.
Joshua meets Jesus in the role of the commander of Yehova's army

4. Judges 13:18-22 And the angel of the LORD said to him, "Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?" So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to the LORD, to the one who works wonders, and Manoah and his wife were watching. And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the LORD went up in the flame of the altar. Now Manoah and his wife were watching, and they fell on their faces to the ground The angel of the LORD appeared no more to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. And Manoah said to his wife, "We shall surely die, for we have seen God."
Manoah and his wife are visited by the Malach Yehova, the Angel of the LORD, who tells them of the upcoming birth of Samson. When Manoah saw the offering burned up and the “man” they were speaking to rise up to heaven, he realized he was actually speaking to God.

5. Finally, the strangest of all Christophanies, we find in Ezekiel: Ezekiel 1:25-28 And there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads. When they stood still, they let down their wings. And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
Ezekiel 10:20 These were the living creatures that I saw underneath the God of Israel by the Chebar canal; and I knew that they were cherubim.
Ezekiel saw a sight so foreign to even our frame of reference that I have yet to see an artistic rendition that captures what Ezekiel attempts to describe. The best I can deduce is that Ezekiel sees some sort of craft powered by cherubim and sitting on top of the cherubim we see a being who speaks to Ezekiel and it is not until chapter 10 that the being sitting atop the cherubim is identified as God

So we know, according to this verse in Colossians, when God appeared unto man, it was Jesus, who was and is the image of the invisible God


B. Firstborn of all creation: this is positional, meaning Jesus is preeminent over all of us who are adopted as sons and daughters of God, through the Gospel.

Jewish firstborn sons had birthright – They received a double portion of the inheritance but also took on the responsibility for caring for his mother and any unwed sisters, basically replacing the father and having ultimate say over family matters. Positionally, Jesus has rule over us, His spiritual brothers and sisters because of His designation of Firstborn over all creation


  1. V.16 – All things were created by Christ: John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

We do not dispute this idea, but the ramifications of the second part of this verse, few of us ponder. Jesus not only created ALL of the visible and invisible, thrones, dominions, and authorities but all these things were made for Him to serve Him. This is not just referring to human government, but spiritual powers as well: Deuteronomy 32:8 When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.
Now, remember, when Ezekiel pronounced against the king of Tyre, in Ezekiel 28, we quickly realize that the king of Tyre is not a man, but an “anointed guardian cherub”, which most scholars believe is Satan himself.

So, even though many of these invisible powers and authorities are actively working against God's plan, God will used their efforts to bring about His desired purpose, the same way God used the evil intent of the sons of Jacob, concerning their brother Joseph: Genesis 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
We see in this the true omnipotence and sovereignty of Christ in that the forces of the kingdom of darkness are arrayed against Him and yet these forces will only serve to bring about His desired results.


  1. V.17 – Christ being before all things brings us back to John 1:1-3, but the second part of this verse is science on the quantum level.

Within the nucleus of an atom, there are positively charged particles. These particles should repel one another in the same way two positively charged magnets repel, yet, they atom is held together by, what scientists call, “strong force”. The Apostle Paul has identified for us what this strong force is – it is Jesus Christ.

2Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
The word elements stoicheion can be translated as base or order, the very building blocks... the word melt is luo literally meaning unloosed, so when Jesus no longer holds all things together, the very building blocks of our world will be unloosed and we see this very thing happening in Revelation:
Rev 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.
The entire creation will literally vaporize into nothing once Jesus ceases to hold the atomic structure in place!

  1. V.18-20 – Once again, Paul brings us back to the headship of Christ as it pertains to the church now and one day over all those called the children of God in the 1000 year reign and in the world to come.
So from these passages, we see that Christ is head over all creation, even the parts of creation that are actively working against Him, whether they be men, or spiritual beings of darkness or even the very atomic structure of all things.


Jesus is the image of God in whom all the fullness of God dwells. We serve an awesome creator who has not only given us of His righteousness, but will also share with us His glory. 


WEEK 4
FEBRUARY 1


Colossians 1:21-23 -

Last week, we looked at Jesus being the image of the invisible God and how He showed up in different places throughout the Old Testament in what we call Christophanies. This week will look at the work of Jesus in the life of the believer and the mystery of the church revealed to the world.


  1. V.21-23 – As we look at this passage, the first thing we notice is our transition from being alienated from God to being reconciled to God. Jesus, in His flesh, acquired for us that which we could not acquire for ourselves. Paul is very specific in his declaration of Jesus accomplishing in the flesh because a heresy had cropped up within the early church called Gnosticism. Gnosticism is teaches the flesh is completely corrupt and therefore cannot be saved. The spirit of man is whole but corrupted by the flesh and can only be set free by secret spiritual knowledge. 1 John deals extensively with this topic. Paul briefly touches on it here in order to show that Jesus came in the flesh, died in the flesh and AROSE in the flesh. Gnosticism taught Jesus did not physically rise, but rose spiritually to free our spirits from the corruption of the material world.

This false teaching raises doubts about God's inherent goodness and the goodness of creation.

The work of Christ gives us not only reconciliation with God, but transfers righteousness to us presenting us holy and blameless before God

At salvation, we are declared righteous, in the forthcoming process of sanctification, we are made holy, by the power of the Spirit.

This leads us to verse 23 – a verse used by those who believe we can lose our salvation. We can establish our salvation is secure in the hands of God. We can show clearly a believer cannot be lost.

Jude 1:24-5 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

John 6:37 -39 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.


So, if God Himself is responsible for maintaining the security of the believer, nothing we do can cause us to lose our salvation, so, this verse must mean something different.

I, and many others, believe this passage deals with those who claim faith but are not truly regenerated. The test of true salvation is abiding in Christ. When someone claims to have had a conversion experience and then falls away, this is evidence that they were not truly saved.

John makes this very point in his first epistle: John 2:18-19 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us

Jesus also addresses this in the parable of the sower: Luke 8:10-15 he said, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that 'seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.' Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience

Back to verse 23, notice that Paul is tackling a third issue in this one sentence. The Gospel has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven. Rom 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

The evidence of a creator is revealed in creation. Only a depraved mind that refuses to acknowledge the authority of God can accept the intricacy of the universe is a cosmic accident. Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

The constellations of the night sky tell the story of the Gospel: Job 38:31-33 "Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth?

Mazzaroth only appears in this passage of Job but is associated with what we call the Zodiak. In fact, this work morphed into Mazalot, meaning astrology and the Hebrew expression Mazel Tov is derived from this, meaning, loosely, good luck.

The bottom line in all this is, if one is truly saved, he will abide in Christ and not turn away from the hope of the Gospel and all men will be without excuse because God revealed the Gospel to all men through the revelation of creation and by the proclamation of the Gospel in the very stars.



WEEK 5
FEBRUARY 8 

Colossians 1:24-26

Last week, we spent a good deal of time discussing eternal security in light of verse 23, which seems too indicate one could lose salvation if one does not continue in the faith.  The truth of that passage, in light of many other passages listed in last week's lesson, is leaving the faith is an indication that one was never saved and one falls into the first three categories of the 4 types of soil Jesus spoke of in His parable of the sower.

This week, we will look at three verses and discuss the fact that we all have a specific purpose in Christ.  We are all called to some type of ministry and we are all equipped by God to function as an integral part of the body of Christ.  There is none who is expendable and none who is non-essential

Just think of what part of your body you would gladly live without, and you will quickly realize that no part of our body is expendable and there is no part we would gladly amputate or excise. 

  1. V. 24 – Paul is not saying that Christ's work was insufficient or that somehow he is making up for what Christ could not do. What he is referring to is Christ could not continue on earth and provide salvation. Jesus went to the cross, rose and then arose to heaven. So, in that sense, Jesus could not continue His earthly preaching ministry, so we are left to pick up where He left off. We are to fill the role of testifying to the truth of God, just as Jesus did while He walked the earth.

  1. V.25 – Paul establishes here that he was called and commissioned by God to carry the message of the Gospel. All of us are called by God to fulfill a specific role and purpose in the body of Christ. Paul recognized his calling was from God and was designed to serve others with the truth of the Gospel.

Likewise, we are called by God for a specific task and service designed to meet the needs of others. Ephesians 4:11-12 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

  1. V. 26 – the mystery that was not revealed prior to the resurrection of Christ is the church. No where in the Old Testament do we find the church and Jesus did not even reveal His plan of establishing the church until Peter proclaimed Him Messiah in the upper room, and even then, it was not emphatic until the day of Pentecost when the Spirit empowered the disciples and 3000 were saved.

WEEK 6 - 
FEBRUARY 15


  1. V. 27 – Because the Jews rejected their Messiah, and then drove His followers out of Israel, the Gospel came to the Gentile world. This was always God's plan from the beginning: Gen 12:1-3 Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."


  1. V. 28-29 – This is the goal we all should be working toward in one way or another, presenting everyone mature in Christ. Each of us has a role to play, some directly to the unbelievers, some directly to believers, some to both. Some have a wide swath of influence and same are called to a smaller area of influence. None is more important or necessary than another and all are vital members of the Body of Christ. We work in unison, we work in harmony, we compliment one another and we each support the whole. Christ is our head and if we follow His lead, we will not step on each other, we will, not be jealous or resentful of one another and we will view each member as vital. This is the goal of the servant of Christ and this must be the goal we strive toward on a daily basis!

WEEK 7
FEBRUARY 22


Chapter 2

  1. V. 1-2 – Paul shows that even though he has never been to these churches, nor has he met these people, he is connected and concerned about them. We also, are connected to every believer.

This means we should be concerned about our brothers and sisters – especially the one we see all the time. We should be praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters in other countries.

Also worth noting, we do not know who we may be influencing. The Colossian church and the Laodiciean churches sprang up as a result of the work Paul was doing in Ephesus.

  1. V. 3-4 – As believers, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, giving us access to wisdom and understanding to know the truth. 1 John 2:27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

When someone teaches you something, even though what they say man sound plausible, if it does not match up with scripture, they are a fraud. Johnathan Cahn has written 2 bestselling books and is hawking a third. You may remember the book the Harbinger. This book compared modern day America to ancient Israel and compared 9-11 to God's judgment on Israel. Cahn presented a very convincing argument, he spoke at the president's inaugural prayer breakfast and presented a very plausible explanation for 9-11 being a harbinger of further judgment to come. In his second book, The Mystery of the Shemitah, Cahn predicted an economic collapse on Wall Street for September 2015. Oddly enough, the market skyrocketed in September 2015. Everything Cahn wrote pointed to the stock marked collapsing, the market never fell.

As plausible and scripture filled as his writing was, Cahn was wrong. Cahn made millions of dollars selling his books and will probably continue writing garbage as long as people are willing to pay for it.

  1. V. 5 – Again, this is a reference to the connectedness of all believers.

  1. V. 6-7 – Walk in Christ – be rooted, be built up

Paul is referring to sanctification, first we receive Christ, then we have to walk in Him. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? (DISCUSSION)

Walking in Christ means we must learn what pleases Him. Where do we go to learn what pleases God? The Law.
Psalm 1:1-2 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 119:69-72 The insolent smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your precepts; their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law. It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Ok, so this is Old Testament, what does the New Testament have to say on this subject?

Romans 7:22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,
Paul prefaces this with how the Law brought death and condemnation, yet he delights in the Law. What are we missing as a church when it comes to the Law?

As we learn what pleases God, we walk in Him, becoming fully rooted in the Word, and being rooted we are able to be built up into the image of God.

Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Part of the work of sanctification is that we are transformed into the image of Christ. - This means we are to be in a constant state of change and growth. We are to diminish and Christ must become more evident in our lives. John the Baptist understood this at the height of his ministry: John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease."
Growth must be on going, there is never a time when we “arrive”

  1. V. 8 – The world has a way of reasoning that is contrary to spiritual truth. In verse 4 we are warned against plausible arguments from false teachers, here we are warned to not be drawn in by worldly philosophies or world order(stoichion). Human reasoning draws us to think with out heart and to be motivated by emotion or erroneous arguments: “Is God really going to send 1 billion Muslims and 1 billion Chinese to hell because they believe differently than you?” See how this question not only draws you into an emotional response, but reduces the truth of scripture to personal belief.
    There is a natural order to how the world operates and facts will not be allowed to get in the way. Science touts an unsupportable theory of evolution, meteorology knowingly presents false information to support a man made climate change. In 2006, Al Gore said we only had 10 years left before the world became a frying pan. Gore could not have been more wrong, yet he is still flying around the world lying about man made global warming.

One of the biggest lies we are told is to “go with your heart”. Think with your emotions, ignore facts, especially if they are Biblical truth. The world system elevates what we feel over what we know. This is the way that seems right to a man but leads to destruction.


WEEK 8 
MARCH 1


Colossians 2:9-17

Last week, we talked about being rooted in our faith and being built up in the Spirit. We discussed sanctification and how we are being transformed into the image of Christ. Also we talked about the need to know truth so we do not get tricked by false teachers and philosophies that sound reasonable and persuasive.

Tonight, we will look at the person of Christ and our relationship to Him

I. V. 9-10 – The deity of Christ is a non-negotiable when it comes to the Christian faith. To deny this is to deny salvation itself. If Jesus is anything less than God, then the prophecies of scripture are false and God is a liar and therefore not good. Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
So, the messiah has been prophesied to be God, he has to be God, or else God is a liar.

As the fullness of deity dwells in Christ, His Spirit is in us as well. By our indwelling, we have access to knowing God's direction and leading. We need to do more than simply acknowledge His headship, we must follow it as well. James 1:23-24 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

A good gauge of our spiritual life is our willingness to submit to the Lordship of Christ.

  1. V. 11-12 – circumcision has to do with removing of the flesh. In the sense of our hearts, we must allow God to cut away our fleshly desires and attitudes. Our negative traits and annoying or abrasive mannerisms also fall into this category. Anything that hinders our growth or ability to reach others.

Where, in the old covenant, the cutting of the flesh was an event, today, we use baptism as an outward sign of our relationship with Christ. In baptism we identify with Christ's death burial and resurrection. Death signified by relinquishing our control to the baptizer, burial signified by our being placed under the water and resurrection signified by our being raised up out of the water.

When we identify with someone, we tend to want to be like them. By identifying with Christ, He becomes more to us than some abstract idea or far away God. It is imperative to our spiritual lives that we see Jesus as real and not mythological.

Many families spend as much or even more effort convincing children that Santa is real. Countless Christmas specials deal with believing in Santa. A central theme of the movie Elf is Santa loses his power because people do not believe in him.

Eventually, children find out the truth about Santa and no longer believe. Sadly, 10 to 15 years later, these same kids see Jesus the same way they see Santa. Christ becomes an abstract idea that is intangible. That is why it is so important that we understand that baptism is so much more than symbolically washing our sins, it is identifying with a real historical person and savior.


WEEK 9
MARCH 8
    1. Colossians 2:13-17

    Last week, we looked at the deity of Christ and why it is so fundamentally important to our faith that we have this truth settled and understand it from scripture.

    We also talked about identifying with Christ in baptism and how important it is that we identify with Christ that He does not become sOme abstract idea or mythical creature.


      I. V. 13-14 – It is so important that we remember our spiritual state prior to our salvation. If we forget what we were saved from, our spiritual life can become stale and we can take our relationship with God for granted. If I forget my sense of lostness before Christ, I will not appreciate what He has given me. This opens us up to the danger of thinking God somehow owes us something for our obedience or faithfulness.
      Who among us has not at one time or another gotten frustrated with God or at least with life and thought, “hey I deserve better than this...”? When we begin to forget what we owe, we begin to think we are owed something.
      This is all a matter of keeping things in perspective and not giving into emotion or bad philosophy, as we discussed before
      II. V. 15 – Prior to Christ, the gentile world was owned wholly by Satan and his evil forces. In the resurrection, Jesus not only conquered death, but stripped Satan of his claim to humanity. For the first time in since Mt. Sinai, God is accessible to man outside the Law.

    All of Gentile culture was designed to acknowledge authority other than God's. Religion was polytheistic and elemental, meaning man worshiped creation rather than the creator. Now, the Gentile world is brought into fellowship with God through the cross.
    Moreover, our faith is not one of rules but of faith.

      III. V. 16-17 – The law was designed to reveal our need for Christ. In our faith, we have acknowledged our need for Christ and are no longer bound to observe dietary laws or observe feast days. These were all things that foreshadowed the reality of Christ. Even this world we live in is but a shadow of the true reality we will discover in our glorified state.

    What we consider reality is no more reality than a stick man drawn on a piece of paper. There are dimensions of time and space that we can only imagine, there are beings and creatures that we catch tiny glimpses of in scripture but cannot comprehend. This will all fade away and one day we will stand in the presence of God, in His fullness, also something about which we can only speculate and imagine.


WEEK 10
MARCH 22

    Colossians 2:18-23


    Last meeting, we talked about the importance of recognizing our current reality is not reality at all, but a mere shadow of what is to come when we pass over to the other side
    I. V. 18-19 – Within the faith community, we find those who would like to set the “rules” for what a believer looks like. It gets very easy pursuing the “rules” to lose sight of what is important, devotion to God. We are to bring glory to God, not live by a set of self imposed rules or put on an air of super spiritualiy by focusing on things that make us seem enlightened.

Cookie cutter Christianity is very dangerous, as it creates a facade that can mimick faith but really masks the death within with a false piety.

Ascetcism is the avoidance of all indulgences for religious purposes. Yes, we are absolutely commanded to deny the flesh when it interferes with our spiritual growth and service. There are many who have wasted their lives by shutting out the world in order to pursue God. Hermetic monks live life in silent obscurity thinking they are somehow honoring God. Denying all pleasure for the sake of piety is at best deceptive and at worse self deceptive. Imagine a life completely wasted denying all enjoyment for the sake of being acepted by God only to find out it was all for naught.

Worship of angels – we do not see this very much today, but back a couple of decades ago, angelism booming. As the New Age movement came into it's own, spirit guides and contacting angels was very popular. Equally dangerous is the veneration of saints practiced by the Roman church. Praying before icons or to the dead for help and guidance is a direct violation of God's law.

Revelation 19:10
And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, See you do it not: I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy

1:13 And to which of the angels has he ever said, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet"? Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
Angels are sent out for the sake of believers, not to be worshipped. Even more, we will judge angels, how could we judge someone worthy of worship? 1 Corinthisns 6:3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!

Going on about visions – I believe God gives visions. I believe God is currently using dreams and visions in the Muslim community in order to bring many of them to Christ. Acts 2:17 - “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;

Where the danger comes in is when we begin to chase after visions in lieu of scripture or when someone creates a following for themselves by claiming visions. Many have been deceived by claims of visions. The Koran was written according to the so called visions of Mohammed. Mormonism was begun due to the so called visions of Joseph Smith.

If a vision conflicts with scripture it must be discarded. When a vision supercedes scripture by speaking where scripture is silent, great care must be taken in giving credence. A vision should be verified by scripture in some way. Jeremiah preached against those who would speak of visions that did not come from God: Jeremiah 23:16 - Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; They speak a vision of their own imagination, Not from the mouth of the LORD.

The key is balance – we need to tame the flesh and deny indulgences when they interfere with our faith. To not eat a food because it tastes good or to deny the use of shoes or the comfort of a pillow for spirtual reasons is foolishness. We must acknowledge the existence and ministry of angels, we cannot worhsip or even invoke them. Hebrews
And balance when it comes to visions. We should not discard visions out of hand, but we have to at least be very skeptical.

  1. V. 20-23 – Rules do not save, rules do not change hearts, rules lead to deception and self righteousness. We cannot reduce our faith to a set of rules. Faith is relationship not guidelines or lists of dos and don'ts. Submission to the Spirit of God leads to changed hearts. We cannot legislate morality.

Simply stating a rule is never enough, we have to know something is wrong because God says it is wrong. An authority greater than ourselves must come into play when we deal with behavior. Scripture gives us some pretty clear commands about what is and what is not acceptable behavior. The danger comes in when we expound on and add to the scripture. The Bible tells us not to be drunk, we cannot make that a prohibition against alcohol. The Bible commands the priest to abstain from sexual contact before ministering before the Lord, we cannot make that a call to celebacy for ministers.

God wants our devotion to be born of love and gratitude, not fear of punishment.

The pharisees were perfect examples of what happens when we live by rules rather than faith and Jesus had no good words for them.

Mar 7:6-13 And he said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, "'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men." And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die. But you say, 'If a man tells his father or his mother, "Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban"' (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do."

Mat 23:1-4 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.

We are prohibited from adding to scripture and should not declare things that scripture is silent on. If we do all things from a motive of honoring God and loving others, we will discover that we have a good deal of liberty as followers of Christ.

WEEK 11
MARCH 28

While chapter 2 warns against pursuing righteousness, by living by rules, or by attempting asceticism, one might get the idea that we are at liberty to indulge the flesh.  Chapter 3 clears up any misconceptions.  In chapter 3 we will see that the righteous are called to live in righteousness by the power of God.  Rule observance can affect the behavior but it cannot offer inward change.  Inward change comes through God and should affect outward obedience.  Rules are religion and religion fails where relationship overcomes.


I. V. 1-3 - If we are believers, we have been raised with Christ.  This means our attention and focus needs to be on things above.  this does not contradict the previous verses in chapter 2 because those verses were speaking of attempting to live righteously with human effort.

Having died with Christ, we are now dead to the things of this world - we are now heavenly citizens and should have our focus and planning with that in mind.  

How much thought do we really give to our heavenly planning as far as storing up treasure.  Paul seems pretty engaged with the idea.  What if we were more upward focused?  Would we be more eager to submit to the transforming power of the Spirit, more eager to surrender to stupid attitudes and habits that seem to define us?  

Verse 3 is pretty emphatic - we have died, so when we willingly and willfully live in sin, we are living in death.  We acknowledge we are unable to change of our own accord, but we cannot be unwilling to allow God to make the change.  

Being hid in Christ denotes a protection and covering.  We must utilize the protection and covering

II. V. 4 - Always keep in mind what we will be when Christ returns - we will share in His glory

III. V. 5-6 - Now, in contrast to chap 2, where we are told not to get trapped in obeying rules, we get what seems to be a list of rules.  But, notice the inward direction.

"put to death what is earthly in you" We are not talking about looking good on the outside, we are talking about submitting to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.  this is all about inward change affecting an outward result, so we are no longer following the rules but changing our desire to break the rules.  We need to get away from "I can't do that" to "I don't want to do that."  


WEEK 12
APRIL 5

Last week., we contrasted chapter 2's call to avoid self righteous rule observance with chapter 3's call to inward change affecting outward obedience.

This week, we will look at the things of the world we are to be transformed from.  One of the biggest problems is many in the church do not know what is wrong because we either spend all our time on the Gospel message or we spend too much time speaking about how to be fulfilled in our Christian walk.  


I. V. 7-8 - Paul Acknowledges that this is the normal for unbelievers.  This is one of the biggest obstacles we face in the church, society's normalization of sin.  For some reason, we just accept co-habitation as the new normal, we never bother to address issues of pre-marital sex, nor do we seem to put expectations of celibacy on adult dating couples.  Purity is discussed in youth group, but how much time do we spend on discussing purity in grown up church?  We seem to spend an inordinate amount of time speaking against the gays, who are, for the most part, unbelievers, but we ignore a tom of sin within our congregations.  

Sinners sin, that is their job, it is not the business of the church what sinners do.  It needs to become the business of the church what believers do.  If we are not teaching transformation and freedom from the sins of society within the church, we have no moral authority to address the sins of the lost.  From what are we calling people to repent?  

We seem content to sit and criticize society while we fund sin with our entertainment dollars.  We are content to sit and judge the sinners outside the church as long as the sin outside is greater than the sin inside. We must never fall into an "at least I don't ...." attitude.  Lost sinners need our love, not our judgment, the church needs to police itself, not allowing love to be an excuse for ignoring sin in the camp.


Notice verse 8, these are things that spring from within.  Luke 6:45  The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Even obscene talk is an outward manifestation of an inward problem.  

The bottom line is this - are we willing to allow God to transform us or are we comfortable in our sin, or are we just afraid of change? 


WEEK 13
APRIL 12


COLOSSIANS 3:9-15

Last week, we continued to look at the inward changes made by the Holy Spirit affecting outward changes in behavior. We focused on the negative behaviors that we should see change in sanctification, this week, we will look at the positive attributes we should begin to exhibit in Christ.


  1. 9-10 – this passage is saying that we need to be real with one another. The word for lie pseudomai means to utter a falsehood. It is from this word we get the term psuedo as in pseudo-christian, meaning a fake believer. One of the biggest tragedies in the church is people faking faith.

Because we feel compelled to appear perfect and problem free in the church, we put on an act. We must be real with each other because the Word tells us we are to pray for one another and we are to carry each other's burdens: Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

How can we carry burdens for one another if we are all perfect? Being real means sharing struggles, doubts, fears, and weakness. My dishonesty about my spiritual state may cause others to feel inferior or even hopeless. Have you ever felt that everyone gets life but you? That's because so many feel that they have to appear perfect for appearances sake.

Be honest with yourself and be honest with others. Don't feel you have to know all the answers have the perfect life.


  1. V. 11 – prejudice has no place in the body of Christ. This means we do not discriminate nor segregate. Sadly, Sunday is the most segregate day of the week, as multitudes of people intentionally separate themselves from one another based on color and national origin.

This verse is not saying all cultures are valid, however. We must be careful to avoid the trap of multiculturalism. In multiculturalism, all forms of worship and all distinctions are held as equal. All men are created equal, not all cultural behaviors are. Now, there may be some cultural practices that I personally disdain, but they are not necessarily sin, for this, I must practice tolerance. I do not like rap music, there is christian rap music. Because I do not like rap, does not mean Christian rap is evil, it means I have to tolerate it because someone else does like it and probably no one in this room would enjoy much of my personal music collection.

Where a cultural practice is clearly sin, we can and should take a stand against it in the church. If a person who comes from a culture in which they drink fresh blood from a cow, as is practiced in places in Africa, we would have to say, “not in the church” because scripture speaks against that.

Personal preference is not a valid reason to ban something, Biblical prohibition demands that we do not tolerate something.


  1. V. 12-13 – We have seen the lists of all the don'ts, here is the list of dos. These are the attributes the world may view as weaknesses. These are the things, when practiced, we may feel as if we are punching bags or door mats. This is not speaking of extreme cases where we or someone in our charge is in physical danger. This is speaking of life as it is lived among other people who have a predilection, like ourselves, to serve self.

We all have a self centered nature. We all blow it with one another and we all let each other down from time to time. This passage tells us that we are to have a higher response than our natural bent towards revenge and self elevation. 1 Peter 4:8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

This is what we need to be pursuing in our own hearts, love toward one another. If you are in the grocery store, and someone you do not know bumps you with a cart, you may get angry, even if they apologize right away. You may think, or, hopefully not, say, “watch it jerk!” but if your best friend accidentally hit you with a shopping cart, you might laugh it off. Why? Because you love for your friend is bigger than your desire to not be accidentally hit with a cart. Your less than desirable response to the stranger is based on your lack of love for that person.

Learning to love one another in the church will spill out to unbelievers who need to see our love in action in order to draw them into salvation and discipleship.

WEEK 14
APRIL 19


I. V. 14 – this is the conclusion Paul comes to, love binds all these things together. Love is the one thing that allows us to move on from slights. Do you love me more than I annoy you?

We have discussed toxic relationships in the past, where someone is intentionally harming you or attacking you in some way, that is different. This is about loving each other in our natural state of self, with the ultimate goal of helping one another overcome out natural desire to serve self.

In love we become God centered and others centric.

II.  V. 15 – by practicing these things, we naturally produce peace, which is a fruit of the Spirit. Worry, anxiety, fear, these are all natural go tos for most people. The pharmaceutical industry is making billions of dollars per year marketing drugs aimed at producing what we can get naturally from God, peace. Is it always wrong to take medication, no, but it may not necessarily always be right in every circumstance, either. That is a matter for personal prayer and decision.


God wants us to live in peace, God provides for us a method in which we can live in peace, by putting these principles into practice.  


III. V. 15 - Notice how loving one another means teaching and admonishing?  We are sometimes polite to the point of detriment.  We never want to hurt someone's feelings so we never correct anyone or address difficult situations unless we absolutely have to.  

Dealing with issues when they are small can often avoid big hurts later. 

We are also called to worship with one another - 


Hebrew_13:15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

Matthew 5:23-24 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.


So, if you are at odds with a brother or sister, you really should not be worshiping together until you attempt to reconcile.


IV. V. 17 - If you are unsure if you should do something, ask yourself, "can I do this in the name of the Lord?"  or "will doing this bring glory to God or make me feel better?" or "will this put someone in their place or bring them closer to God?"  We have to weigh our motive before acting.  

V. V.18-19 - when the marriage relationship is functioning properly, the husband is loving his wife as Christ loves the church, making it easy for the wife to submit to the husband's authority.

Ephesians 5:22-25  Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.   Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 

Balance is the husband loving the wife submitting - the husband keeping the wife's best interests in ALL decisions, and the wife trusting the husband to follow God and to protect the family

WEEK 14
APRIL 25


Colossians 3:20-4:4


As we finish up chapter 3, we continue to look at relational Christianity. Relational Christianity is what demonstrates our faith in every day life as we interact with others. Last week we looked at how we are to deal with those in the body and with spouses. This week, we will look at the relationship between parents and children and employees and employers. We will also look at the importance of prayer in the church and the life of the believer.


  1. V. 20-21 – God uses the parent child relationship in order to pass along the knowledge of Himself. Deuteronomy 11:18-19 "You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

The parent's role is to instruct and train. Children are commanded by God to obey their parents. This is not something God takes lightly as He instructed us to honor our parents in the 10 commandments.

The responsibility of the parent is to raise up a child in such a way as to not frustrate or hinder them. This means being an example in word and deed.

  1. V. 22-4:1 – A believer in the work force has a responsibility and opportunity to share his faith by his work ethic. I have been incredibly disappointed by people who serve in their church and come to work and do a terrible job. In my experience as an employer, the more outspoken a person is about their faith, the less quality work they do. If you are going to proclaim your faith at work, you had better back it up by your life and work performance.

If you are a boss, you are to represent your faith in the way you treat your employees. They will be looking for hypocrisy, favoritism toward others and inappropriate behavior.

WEEK 15
MAY 3

Colossians 4:2-18

Last week, we looked at personal relationships, between husband and wife, parent child and employee and employer

Tonight, we will look at how we ought to pray for one another and how we ought to interact with unbelievers.

  1. V. 2-4 – this is an important call to prayer. Not only does Paul tell his readers to pray with thanksgiving, but also to pray for his ministry. We need to be praying for each other's ministries. None of us has it all together and we all need guidance from God and power from above. It is important we are constantly lifted up to the Father that we do not get discouraged or off track.

Notice that Paul, the writer of scripture, is asking for prayer that he might speak his meassage in a clear and understandable manner. None of us has it all together. Confidence should not come from our own ability but in the knowledge that God empowers us to do His work. This is why we need each other's prayers.

  1. V. 5-6 – this is instructions on how we ought to live towards outsiders. When we are with unbelievers, we need to make the best of our time WITH THEM in order to have the salvation of their souls in focus.

If we participate in foolishness and profane talk we cannot possibly draw them to truth. Be friendly, have a sense of humor, but keep your witness in sight.

Let the words you speak be words that cause a thirst for truth. Judgmental harsh speech will not create a thirst for truth but defensiveness and resentment. You may be the representive of the church for someone and how you represent your faith is key.

Brian Welch is the guitarist for the band Korn, and he is a believer. Brian shared that at one of his shows some transgendered fans came and asked him to pray for them as they had been terribly mistreated, including by Christians. Brian prayed for them, chooosing to demonstrate love rather than condemnation, recogizing that these guys were not going to hell because they were transgendered, they were trangendered because they were going to hell. The Christian community attacked him heavily for not condeming their lifestyle. Welch built a bridge in which to share the Gospel and lead these guys to Christ, who loves them.

When Jonah was sent to Ninevah to preach, God loved those people even though they were very bad and persecuting Israel. God knew faith properly exercised would bring about a change in behavior, a cange in behavior will not bring anyone to faith.


  1. V. 7-9 – We do not know much about Tychius, but we do know a little bit about Onesimus. Onesimus was a run away slave who met Paul and became a believer. As it so happens, Onesimus' owner was a man named Philemon, a man apparently led to the Lord by Paul. The book of Philemon is the letter Paul wrote to Philemon on Onesimus' behalf asking Philemon to forgive Onesimus and in essence, grant him his freedom.

  1. v. 10-11 – Paul completes the list of Jewish ministry partners and notice Mark the cousin of Barnabus. Paul and Barnabus had a falling out over Mark who left the first missionary journey for less than honorable reasons. Barnabus reconciled with Mark and wanted to bring him along on the second journey, Paul said no way and this cause Paul and Barnabus to split. The work was now doubled as Paul went with Silas and Barnabus went with Mark.

Apparently, by the time Paul ended up in prison, he and Mark had found restoration so Paul vouches for him in Colossae. It is ok to make a decision concerning someone's prior behavior in ministry.

When someone makes a bad choice, that can be a warning about that person. But notice, Mark was given the opportunity to prove himself and that led to restoration between him and Paul. It is ok for us to be wary of someone who fails in a big way, but we also need to recognize true repentance and allow for restoration.
  1. V. 12-18 – Paul's last instruction that has real application to us is in verse 17 – be sure to fufill the ministry received from the Lord. - God has entrusted each of us with a specific purpose and function in the body of Christ. It is up to us to put the effort into our spiritual lives in order to be effective in the work God has called us to.


Colossians is a book of practical Christian living. If you are reading this through blogspot, please feel free to comment or ask questions. I hope this study is a blessing!