Money

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On a recent trip to Seattle I walked into a coffee shop and they had a tip jar with a clever version of a very familiar bible verse. It was slightly altered to meet their intended goals.

It said “Money is the root of all evil. Cleanse yourself here”, I’m not sure they ever read the verse in Paul’s second letter to Timothy where he instructs him to rightly divide the scripture, but that’s a topic for another day.

Money of course itself is not evil, how can it be, it’s an inanimate object. The “love” of money is the object of the verse as Paul is teaching his son, in the faith, Timothy how to pastor a church. Our relationship to money is the point of which Paul is addressing.

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What you think about “your” money reveals the condition of your heart, and is critical to your relationship with God, because it’s really not your money it’s God’s and He has entrusted you to steward it faithfully.

Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack; Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Mark 10:21-22

The rich young ruler did all the religious things… He followed all the rules, but when push came to shove it was about his money. Jesus exposes his sinful, idolatrous, greedy, covetous heart and shows him that he is unworthy to follow Him.

Is your money a stumbling block to your relationship with God?

Don’t just pass over this question; your very life may hang in the balance. I can’t possibly know the condition of your heart, but Jesus does, just has He did with the rich young ruler. We all like money, and we all need money but how much is enough and for what reason do you need it?

Acts 2:44-45 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

Am I telling you to sell all your stuff and give it to the elders of your church for distribution? No, but are you willing? What is your heart in the matter, do you bristle at the thought of this verse?

Jesus spoke much about money and material possessions and if we have somehow missed the significance then it’s time to reexamine our relationship with mammon (our stuff) because it’s at the heart of the matter you desire to serve.

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 16:25

What does your life consist of? Does it merely revolve around finances, or do you set your mind on the things of God? Do you really trust Him with your life?

…For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:32-33

I urge you to examine your relationship to your money and how that relates to your relationship with God. This is a topic that must be discussed and exposed.   It must be exposed not because I say so, but because the Lord said so. Are you storing up for yourself treasures on earth, or treasures in heaven?

By God’s grace we can grow in this very challenging area of life, that it may bring Him glory.

Kevin

Holy Land – Day 1 – Paul Preaching

Acts 26:1-3  Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.”  So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself; “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews.  Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.”

Can you imagine this scene?  Paul had been brought to Caesarea in chains; this coastal town on the Mediterranean where he has been given the opportunity to give testimony to thousands as they come to watch and listen.

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Who could have ever guessed how God would use Paul’s suffering and imprisonment for His ultimate purposes.  Paul would have never come up with this plan, but he knows God’s purposes are much bigger than his own personal comfort.

Today, will you let your momentary affliction affect what might be God’s plan, or will you embrace it as Paul did for the furtherance of the gospel?

Acts 25:23 So the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp, and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at Festus’ command Paul was brought in.

imageToday we stood where Paul stood and proclaimed the good news.  The same place where God poured out judgment on Herod as he was proclaimed a “god” by the people (Acts 12:22).  What a thrill, to see how God works in all circumstances to accomplish His desired goal.

Kevin

The Walking Dead

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God’s Word is full of glorious and awful truths…  Why do I say awful?  I say that because often Scripture presents things that we just don’t like to hear.  There are times when I read things I really don’t like and yet what am I to do with those that I don’t care for?  Often I see people wanting to explain them away as meaning something else or, like I do sometimes, skim over and not deal with the reality of them.

Ephesians 2:1-3 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

There is so much awful truth in these three verses that if I really sit down and put my mind around what it means it’s devastating.  Devastating because it’s a pride crusher, awful because it means what it says and I then I have to consider how pathetic I really am in telling people this awful truth.  I must come to grips with the people in my life I love that are dead in their sins and trespasses.

Can we just read this plainly without a deep exegetical analysis of this text and know what it really means.  “Yes”, I say and that is what is so scary about the Bible.  It’s why people reject the truth, because they know what it means, but they don’t want to accept it so they would rather continue their hell-bound race than submit to God’s Word.

Paul tells us in very plain and simple language that ALL of mankind is dead.  This is a spiritual deadness that resulted from the fall in the garden, not an immediate physical death, but the kind of death that causes us to be blinded to our present condition.  Every one of us lives in two realities, one is that we are alive walking around, but we will die.  Secondly, every one of us is dead spiritually, unless God causes us to live.

“Well, what does Paul ‘really’ mean by dead?”

nek-ros’ From an apparently primary word νέκυς nekus (a corpse); dead (literally or figuratively; also as noun): – dead.

Dead means “dead”, without life, not breathing, not walking around doing anything, buried, under the ground, being eaten by worms, DEAD.  Spiritually dead, of course, not some sort of a zombie state, but that is a decent analogy of the unbeliever’s condition, they are walking around dead and don’t realize it.

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned–

There it is again, death spread to all mankind because of Adam’s sin.  It’s an inherited trait, a true disease that afflicts all mankind.  This is the doctrine of Total Depravity.  Perhaps better described as Total Inability, man is incapable of doing good.  Of course sinful, dead man will respond with “Are you saying nobody ever does anything good?”

Mark 10:18 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good?  No one is good but One, that is, God. 

Total Depravity does not mean mankind is incapable of any morally good actions, but they don’t have the ability to please God through their actions.  It’s quite straightforward.  Not only are we dead, we are also deceitful and desperately wicked and we will fool ourselves into thinking highly of ourselves.

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?

Let’s go back to the beginning for a moment because I know people will decry the ability for man to freely choose.  Adam was created by God and was given everything that he needed to live and enjoy God.  He was placed in a perfectly climate controlled environment.  He was given a beautiful wife, and purpose by tending the garden, naming the animals.  Not only was he able to walk and talk with God, he even had the opportunity to eat of the tree of eternal life.  Yet Adam “freely chose” to disobey the one simple command God had given him.

He only had ONE rule.

We all have by nature selfish desires.  God gave mankind the ability to choose and he chose by nature to disobey God, and because of this death spread to all mankind.  Therefore, we are incapable of restoring a right relationship, or cannot earn favor with God through our actions.  The very best we have is nothing but a filthy garment, an unclean thing says Isaiah.  (Isaiah 64:6).  This word filth is a discarded menstrual rag, have you ever thought of your best works in that manner?

Has anyone ever seen a dead man get up out of the grave? Lift themselves up by their boot straps, so to speak… I live near a cemetery and we walk through it often, it’s serene and peaceful, there is very little activity taking place. I’ve never seen a grave disturbed from below, never heard of the dead rising and coming back to life, except when reading my Bible.  This is all of mankind’s spiritual condition before a Holy God.

There is good news for those that understand this condition…

Ephesians 2:4-7 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus

What an amazing and glorious truth.  What an awful truth for those that don’t recognize their condition.  If you’ve never understood you are spiritually dead, I pray you will meditate on these words, repent of your sin and beg God to be merciful.   He will not cast out those who come to Him broken and in need of Him.

Kevin

Words matter

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Have you spent any time considering how many words you speak in a day?

What did you say?

What was really important about what you said?

In other words, words matter.  More importantly how we speak matters.

The vast majority of the populace will give very little thought to what they say on a daily basis.  Those in the Evangelical Christian world will probably give more thought, but today I want to focus on a subset of those that desire some serious reformation in the way we use our language.

I’m hopeful those that will read and really consider this will believe they are Christians.  Not just a person that attends a weekly church service, but someone that lives a true life of discipleship and desires to be obedient to the demands of scripture.

Am I an expert in the English language and have a mastery of my words?  Far from it, but I have a desire to change, I’m hopeful you will as well.

Let’s begin by throwing out the obvious.  I will probably do another article on this someday.  Christians should NOT use course language of any sort (Ephesians 4:29, 5:4, Colossians 3:8 and many others).  If you are accustomed to this and you call yourself a Believer you need to examine your claims to Christianity.

Jesus was very clear when He said “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.”  In other words you are what you speak (Matthew 15:18-20).

Christians should not use foul language of any sort or foolish joking.  Our call is for holiness not for foolishness.

Ecclesiastes 10:1 Dead flies putrefy the perfumer’s ointment.  And cause it to give off a foul odor; so does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor.

Do you want to be respected for wisdom and to be honored?  Then stop trying to be funny.

Today let’s focus on “cultural” words; the words that creep into culture and are adopted into the everyday language.  This can be commonly referred to as slang or in another generation “jive talk” (I have to laugh writing this as I’m sure my kids will make fun of me), but you know what I’m talking about if you grew up in the 70’s.

Here is a selection of some of these terms that Believer’s should stop using.

“like”

Unless you are  using it properly, this is an awful phrase to utilize and it really dumbs down your ability to communicate your message properly.

“OMG”

This is a clear violation of the 3rd Commandment.  Even though some will try and pass it off as “gosh” it’s still a reference to God and His name.  Please stop it.

“You know what I’m sayin’…”

Need I say anything else?  This is filler and is common in ghetto style talk.  It will not make you look cool and will definitely make you appear less intelligent.

“Just sayin’…”

If you have something to say to somebody and you stand behind your words, don’t hide behind this phrase.  Allow your “yes” to be yes and your “no” to be no.  If you need to confront sin in someone do so in a Biblical manner.  See Matthew chapter 18.

“Don’t judge me…”

This is another modern phrase that the youth of America enjoy.  In other words “please excuse me from any responsibility”.  I have no authority to judge you other than by the Word of God, but if that is judging you then you need to discuss it with Him.

“Umm”

This is my number one and we could also throw in “ahh” as a similar type word.  We’ve began working with our children and ourselves to eliminate “umm” from our vocabulary.  Again, this is filler.  I’m trying to fill in time or make a transition to my next thought.

I think “umm” is devastating to the person who really desires to think before they speak.  We want to be heard and in an effort to be heard we speak quickly and don’t take the time to formulate our ideas.

Therefore our mouth spews out things we haven’t thought through thoroughly (say that quickly three times).  This is one of the things I really enjoy about writing.  I have an opportunity to “think” and then put my words on paper.  If I can transfer this over to the way I communicate in person it will really be beneficial to me as a communicator.

I could spend a more time going through other words that I think God finds offensive and makes the Believer less credible in their message but I’m hopeful I’ve made my point.  So why should we be concerned about this?  I see a couple quick reasons.

The number one reason is to be a better ambassador and witness for Jesus Christ.  The Lord was very purposeful in His use of language.  He spoke with clarity and authority.  The result was few words but very powerful and direct words.  Imitate me as I imitate Christ says the Apostle Paul.

Secondly, we need to constantly be reforming.  If we are truly to live Romans 12:2 then this should be an area to bring under control.  “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless…  James 1:26

Today I urge you to be mindful and purposeful in your spoken words.

Kevin

What’s on your mind?

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Philippians 3:17-20 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.  For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame – who set their mind on earthly things.  For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul begins this section of his letter to the Philippians addressing them as “Brethren”, fellow believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.  He quickly makes a distinction between two types of people.  There are those that follow his example and then there are those that don’t.

This is very challenging.  It comes down to the simple fact there are those that will be saved and there are those that won’t.  No second chances…  No Purgatory…  We live once and we die once and then the judgment (Hebrews 9:27, 4:13).

This makes it very clear what we are to look for as believers.  We look for those that follow Paul’s example.  He gives us a pattern, a way to live.  We are to live like Paul.  The Bible is to be our guide book.  It gives us everything necessary for life and godly living.  In addition we are to follow the example of those more mature believers and church leaders that set an example (Hebrews 13:17).

Today I want to focus on the second half of this verse.

This past week I had a wonderful text message conversation with a man that is struggling with sin.  He’s claimed that Jesus Christ is his savior.  I’ve asked him and challenged him if Jesus is his Lord?

Paul is telling us that we are to note those that follow their own ways.  They are enemies of the cross.  It doesn’t mean I won’t preach the gospel to this man.   He doesn’t even realize he’s an enemy, but he is living in a self destructive manner.  His “god” is his belly.  He wants to fill himself up with the things that won’t last eternally.

“For a tiny drop of pleasure he’s willing to drink a sea of wrath” – Thomas Watson.

So, “what’s on your mind?”

Are the things of God on your mind or the things of the world?  Here Paul is giving us a way to examine ourselves; to see if we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Is your “christianity” on auto-pilot?  Do you show up to church on a Sunday morning and go through the motions or are you out working for God’s kingdom?  Have you considered why you were saved?

My friend is living a disobedient lifestyle, but yet wants to claim the privileges of being a child of the King.  I know he doesn’t like the problems that his sin causes him, but at this point in time he seems to be unwilling to come to grips with how offensive this is to God.  He doesn’t understand that rebellion is a heinous offense.

His sin will be paid for.  The big question is who will pay for it?  Will it be Christ at the cross or will he have to pay for it himself?

1 Samuel 15:22-23  So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices.  As in obeying the voice of the LORD?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.  And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.  Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”

I’m hopeful my friend will see that his sin is separating him from a Holy God and that he will understand the cost.  I’m hopeful he will see that obeying God is the proof text of salvation and what’s on his mind will confirm or deny his claims.  I’m hopeful his end won’t be destruction.

Kevin