June 30, 2011
“… as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” (2Peter 3:12)
Jesus gave a great discourse on His Second Coming (Matthew 24, 25). In that discourse He proclaimed: “And this gospel … will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24: 14). The prophets and the apostles proclaimed an event that is called the Day of God, or the Day of the Lord. When Peter added his voice to the chorus he gave an awesome description of that Day (2 Peter 3).
Peter also gave a prescription regarding that Day. Peter wrote that it is possible to speed the coming of that Day of God. When you, as a thinking person, ask the question, “How can we speed the coming of that Day?” Jesus gave us the answer when He declared that the gospel must be preached in the whole world as a witness to all the nations and only then the end will come.
That means we can speed the coming of that Day by doing everything we can to get the gospel into the nations of this world. I believe this means that one day the gospel will be taught in a nation somewhere in this world and then God is going to say, “Now I can bring down the curtain. I can have My Day because the gospel has been proclaimed in the whole world as a witness to the nations!”
By helping ministries like the Mini Bible College get the Word of God into people and people into the Word of God, together we can speed the coming of the Day of God!
June 24, 2011
“Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1: 15)
In this verse James gives us what we might call the anatomy of a sin. One day more than twenty years ago, my wife had to be gone for six or seven hours. As I watched sports television in the evening, every thirty minutes or so there was an advertisement promoting pizza. I truly love pizza but I’m not supposed to have it because I am a diabetic. Each time the commercial was shown I developed a stronger desire for that pizza.
I had a telephone and some money, so eventually I called and ordered a pizza. I told them I was in a wheelchair so please walk in. When the delivery man arrived, I told him to place the pizza on the blanket in my lap and take the box with him (to leave no evidence.) When my wife returned, however, as she picked up the blanket to fold it a small pizza crust dropped to the floor. The consequences were disastrous!
According to James sin involves a lure, a look, a strong desire, and eventually temptation – then sin and death, which means “the pits.” It is as if the lure is a piece of metal and our strong desire is a powerful magnet. If we don’t do something to break up that magnetic field between our desire and that lure, we will sin. I didn’t do that, so the pizza landed in my lap.
James shared this with us so we would understand the importance of breaking up that magnetic sequence of sin. Are you willing to do that?
June 18, 2011
“This is how we know we are in Him: whoever claims to live in Him must walk even as Jesus walked.” (1 John 2:5-6)
In the first sixteen verses of his short letter, the Apostle John tells us about a prescription for fullness. His prescription comes in seven parts: facts, faith, forgiveness, fellowship, follow-ship, fruitfulness, and then fullness. His facts are the death and resurrection of Jesus. When we believe the first fact we have forgiveness. When we believe the second the result can be fellowship with a risen Christ.
By changing one letter in the word “fellowship” I have come up with the key to John’s prescription for fullness. When you go through this letter observe the repetition for emphasis of this concept. You will know that you know when you walk even as Jesus walked.
This word follow-ship is also a key to the fullness emphasized by Jesus. His covenant with the apostles was “Follow Me and I will make you” (Matthew 4:19). The most important part of the Great Commission of Jesus occurred when He commissioned the disciples to make disciples (Matthew 28: 18-20). A synonym for discipleship is apprenticeship. Jesus apprenticed the apostles and He commissioned them to apprentice disciples.
A great claim of Jesus was recorded in the Gospel of John Chapter 7 when Jesus declared that His teaching was the teaching of God. Jesus also proclaimed that we can prove that when we do his teachings (John 7:17).
According to Jesus the doing leads to the knowing. Intellectuals have claimed for millenniums that the knowing will lead to the doing. Jesus said “Oh know, when you do you will know.” Are you willing to do that you might know the teaching is the Word of God?
June 13, 2011
“For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart…” . (1John 3:20)
In the Bible the heart is often referring to our emotions. The Apostle John is using the heart in that sense in the verse quoted above. What he is essentially writing is that if the way we feel condemns us, God is greater than the way we feel.
Before he writes these words, he was challenging his readers to love in actions and not merely in words. He follows this insight that God is greater than the way we feel with the prescription that we should keep the two great commandments of Jesus: that we are to love God and our neighbor as much as we love ourselves (Matthew 22: 35-40). Jesus claimed that these two commandments would fulfill all the commandments in the Bible.
We are to love when we look up, when we look around, and when we look in. He was teaching that we are to love God completely, love others unconditionally, and love ourselves correctly. Loving ourselves does not mean that when we pass a mirror we should stop and have our devotions. Jesus was teaching that we should say the same thing about ourselves that God says about us – that He loves us.
The prescription for depression the Apostle of Love is giving devout disciples is that when our heart condemns us, we should realize that our faith is not to be based on something as fickle as our feelings. Our faith is to be based on the reality that we believe and apply the commandment to love.
The last thing we should do when our heart condemns us is to isolate ourselves into a pity party. We should get with people and love them.
June 3, 2011
When the first church I started began its first building, there was a young sailor with a family of two small children who was struggling to pay his bills. One Saturday night there was a knock at my door and he stood there with a beautiful hunting rifle. He could not even speak. He just gave it to me and ran down the steps from my apartment.
That Monday I went to a gunsmith and asked him what he could give my church for this beautifully hand carved weapon. He looked at me so strangely and asked me “What are you preaching in your little church over there that could get a man to give you a gun like this?”
Later I was asked to speak to the Elders of a Presbyterian Church. They were not specific about what they wanted; they simply said they would ask me questions. The meeting opened with a question from a very familiar voice: “Just tell us how you got the man’s bird gun?”
The gunsmith was one of the Elders at that meeting. As a result of a retreat with those Elders discussing stewardship, wonderful things happened. I believe God can use the sacrificial giving of a sailor’s bird gun more fruitfully than he does the larger gifts given by wealthy people who do not give sacrificial gifts.
If we think about it, we all have a “bird gun.” Stewardship challenges us to give that cherished treasure to God. That is what Lonnie Gunter did. If the members of the body of Christ would all catch the vision of what sacrificial giving looks like, it would revolutionize the way our churches are funded today and in every generation.