Easter - 2018

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Working out what is being worked within!

Salvation is ongoing and it must be worked. This is not that our salvation comes by something we do. Salvation comes through belief in Jesus and him alone. What it does mean that our immersion in Jesus is from head to toe and we are to be completely covered in Jesus throughout all our lives.

Jesus went to the cross once and for all…our response is to strive and seek to be more like him all that we are, all that we live, and all that we do.

This text is often misused to instill fear into people, warning them that it means that they can lose salvation. What does it mean to work out our salvation with fear and trembling? Paul can hardly be encouraging believers to live in a continuous condition of nervousness and anxiety. That would contradict his many other exhortations to peace of mind, courage, and confidence in the God who authors our salvation. The Greek word translated "fear" in this context can equally mean "reverence" or "respect." Paul uses the same phrase in (2 Corinthians 7:15) where he refers to Titus as being encouraged by the Corinthians’ reception of him “with fear and trembling,” that is, with great humility and respect for his position as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul himself came to the Corinthian church in “weakness and fear, and with much trembling” (1 Corinthians 2:3), mindful of the great and awesome nature of the work in which he was engaged.
The sense in which we are to work out our salvation in fear and trembling is twofold. First, the Greek verb rendered “work out” means "to continually work to bring something to completion or fruition." We do this by actively pursuing obedience in the process of sanctification, which Paul explains further in the next chapter of Philippians. He describes himself as “straining” and “pressing on” toward the goal of Christ likeness (Philippians 3:13-14). The “trembling” he experiences is the attitude Christians are to have in pursuing this goal—a healthy fear of offending God through disobedience and an awe and respect for His majesty and holiness.

"Trembling" can also refer to a shaking due to weakness, but this is a weakness of higher purpose, one that brings us to a state of dependency on God. If you have ever watched the Olympic games, you see athletes working so hard their muscles are trembling with strain. I wonder how many of our spiritual muscles actually strain? Obedience and submission to the God we revere and respect is our “reasonable service” (Romans 12:1-2) and brings great joy.

Psalm 2:11 sums it up perfectly: “Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling.” We work out our salvation by going to the very source of our salvation—Jesus Christ and  His revealed Word of God—wherein we renew our hearts and minds, coming into His presence with a spirit of reverence and awe.
Working it out what God is working within ... You know I love ya, Don

Monday, February 24, 2014

Salvation is to continue ... on and on and on!

It is interesting that the Scripture does not view salvation as a noun. In fact, this text views salvation as a verb…salvation is to be active and transforming and making adjustments in the lives of God’s people. Salvation has some sort of expectation or results in mind. It is not terminal…but ongoing.
To continue is to keep going: to last, or make something last, beyond the present or throughout a period of time… it is to not stop: to keep up an activity or state already begun.  It is to continue…Paul tells the Philippians to cling to humility and to embrace the attitude of Jesus and then in response to humility and attitude…he says to continue in Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue
There’s an old story about Dr. Benjamin Warfield. He was a theology professor at Princeton Seminary. While he was still at the height of his academic powers, his wife got sick. And she became an invalid. He took care of her for ten years. During that ten-year period, he never spent more than 2 hours away from his wife. Even though she was handicapped, she still loved to read. And so Dr. Warfield would sit at her bedside day after day. And read to her. He was always gentle and caring with her.

One day, someone asked him, "Have you ever thought about taking your wife to an institution?" Then you could write bigger books and have a bigger ministry." But Dr. Warfield said, "No way. My wife is my ministry. I will never leave her side. I am going to love her and take care of her as long as God grants us life."

That’s how the Lord Jesus feels about us. He will not walk away from us. He will not abandon us. He will not throw us away like yesterday’s news.. He will minister his love and his compassion to us just as Dr. Warfield did for his wife.
This is also a prime example of what it is to continue in the Christian faith…we are to press forward…push onward…and to continue…even when life seems to over whelm us.
Hebrews 12:1-3 outlines it with; “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Salvation is to continuous processes... You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

You! Release the burdens of the flesh...

Philippians 2:6  
Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be exploited,

I love Vacation Bible School. I am forty years old and I think I have been to 39 Vacation Bible School programs. I recall at the close of one of our VBS weeks, I remember getting a card that I decorated and attached the card to the string that was attached to a helium filled balloon. After all of us had attached our balloons, we stepped outside and released the balloon that carried our card with it. We were giving our message away to someone that might receive it as the helium deflated.
I was thinking about that this week and it occurred to me that when YOU! and I release that which ties us down, our message is carried even further. What would have happened if I had never let released the string? The balloon would not have lifted up. The attitude of Jesus was: as a man he was tied to the flesh. So, he released it. He let the burden of trying to achieve righteousness by himself go and released it.
The NIV states that Jesus knew that being equal with God was not something that could be grasped…so he released it. Letting the burden of striving and driving for personal gain…personal success … self-gratification. The "me first" mind set is rampant in society and has led our society to the edge of collapse. We have perversion, AIDS, unwanted pregnancies, violence, abortion, political scandal, and family breakups. The list could go on but the fact is, it is rooted in "me first" or what I call the "I" syndrome.
The successful means to fight against the “I” syndrome is to release it. The world does not revolve around you. Life is not only about YOU!
When we release our false impression of entitlement, we are free from the pecking order. The statements, “I want it now!” “I don’t want to hear your excuses!” “I deserve it!” “I am right!” “I want it done my way!” “I will quit if you do that!” no longer apply. Our response becomes…”Help me understand why you feel that way?”.
Luke 14:25-27 records Jesus saying… "Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 'If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple'." Jesus is saying that the old pecking order is not of God…but that YOU! are to have an attitude of release.
 Letting it all go... you know I love ya, Don

Monday, February 17, 2014

YOU! No more pecking order!


We are examining “YOU” as a member of the body of Christ.
Bill Hybels notes: "Take ten chickens, any ten. Put them in a pen together, and spread a little chicken feed. In short order, you will witness an amazing phenomenon. In a matter of minutes, the chickens, previously strangers, will form a hierarchy based on dominance or, in everyday language, they will establish a Pecking Order. Instinctively, they will determine, through a series of skirmishes, who the Number One chicken will be; then the Number Two; the Number Three; all the way down to the unlucky Number Ten chicken.

Much is at stake in this dance of domination. Chicken Number One pecks at and intimidates Chicken Number Two, without experiencing any kind of retribution from Chicken Number Two. Chicken Number Two will take it from Chicken Number One but will turn around and peck away at Chicken Number Three, who will in turn, take out its frustration on Chicken Number Four. The Pecking Order continues all the way down to Chicken Number Ten, who, needless to say, has a pretty miserable life - pecked but no one to peck."
This phenomenon of the Pecking Order does not belong exclusively to chickens. We see it today very clearly in the business world. But the truth is, it’s not just in the business world but everywhere. It happens at family picnics, parties, class reunions, sporting events, conventions, and the Church.

I recall at a recent lunch at a convention for pastors, this very phenomenon. Most of the discussion revolved around a few questions. So where do you pastor? What is your position? How many people attend your church? How big is your staff? Some even ask, "How big is your budget?" I saw preachers, missionaries, and church workers, lining up in the order. The truth is no one is immune to this phenomenon.
We all have the tendency to look at others in terms of their profession, educations, wardrobes, cars, homes, and with the subconscious mindset of fitting them into the Pecking Order.

So, what’s the problem. It’s natural. Here is the problem. Jesus Changed the Pecking Order!

Our Text today is Philippians 2:5-11 NRSV:

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to the point of death—
    even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him
    and gave him the name
    that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
    every knee should bend,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
    that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

In order to be great in God’s kingdom, you and I have to willing to embrace the attitude that Jesus demonstrated. We learn from the text that Jesus was against the Pecking Order. Jesus understood that equality with God was not something that we can grasp…in our flesh we seek to serve our selfish desires and ourselves. In contrast, God’s order is love, compassion, and right living. A CHRIST-FOLLOWER is one that is willing to follow Jesus’ example by embracing attitudes of release, reverence, and resolve. God responds to his people that living with this attitude by lifting them up and granting his reward.

I refuse to line up in the packing order... You know I love ya, Don 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

It's all about YOU! ... your willingness to value others.

A humble heart is discovered in valuing others. Any person of any age can increase their relationships with others if the person decides to find value in the others person. Paul says in 2:3, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Humble individuals seek to value those around them
Alicia thought she had the perfect fiancé. As she was getting to know Michael and his family, she was very impressed by how much his parents loved each other.
"They’re so thoughtful," Alicia said. "Why, your dad even brings your mom a cup of hot coffee in bed every morning."
After a time, Alicia and Michael were engaged, and then married.
On the way from the wedding to the reception, Alicia again remarked on Michael’s loving parents and his mom’s morning coffee in bed.
"Tell me," she said, "does it run in the family?"
"It sure does," replied Michael. "But you should know -- I take after my mom."
A Person that is united with Jesus, values others in their relationships. A humble person recognizes that there is value in the other person, even if they don’t see eye to eye.

Do YOU value others? I Value you and you know I love ya, Don

Monday, February 10, 2014

It is all about you!....your humility!

YOU! Your are to be … Humble…Have you ever met a truly humble person?  Some famously humble people are people like Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln, Elvis Presley, The Manning Family gives the impression of Humbleness…but what about the people in your own life? Do you know anyone the sacrificially gives without strings and loves without anything in return and lives with a kind spirit and touch.
Being humble is like being one single Daffodil among all the green. There is a need to be full of life, yet there is a simple gift of being modestly decorated. Humble is not proud or arrogant. Humble is modest although successful. It is accepting a position of insignificance, inferiority, subservience and living low in rank, importance, and status. A humble person is a courteously & respectful in life.
The humble ones are the ones that do things for Christ that no one notices and yet they are still faithful to God throughout everything. John Madden said, “Self-praise is for losers. Be a winner. Stand for something. Always have class, and be humble.”
A humble follower of Jesus seeks to stand for something and seeks to build relationships by being humble. It just happens to be Valentine’s week and this is a time when our culture has an obsession with “Eros” love. The best advice for a great relationship is to be humble…to demonstrate humility and honor the other person.
In Philippians 2, God is teaching Christians to walk humbly in unity, in valuing others, and serving the people around you.
Humbly loving you....Don

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Prayer is Seeking God.

Peter and John return and report the problem. The response of the believers (several 1000 of them) what the Sanhedrin told them…they were to keep their mouths shut!
The people respond with Acts 4:24: “When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God..” Let me ask you…when you hear of an issue, how do you respond? The believers hear the reports and at this point they are not threatened by persecution, the threat is to stop doing this new religion and healing a lame man go about your lives before Jesus. Their response is to seek God… Strongly leaning toward Prayer is to seek God in every circumstance…when you wake up, in your quiet time with God, before your meals, before you leave the house, before you turn on the TV or read a book, and before you go to bed.  Seeking God is not hard. God is not interested in your formalities…He is interested in getting to know you.
Psalms 34:29 states; “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry (or prayer).” Or As God called to the Prophet Jeremiah in 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” God desires to know you.
Brian Brown tells the story of being at the community pool with his family. Kids were screaming, playing, and splashing in the pool, music was playing, the lifeguard whistles were blowing and in the midst of the conversation, his wife quiets him. He said, "What are you doing?"

"Shush, did you hear that?"          "Hear what?" he said.

"Listen!"        And over all of the noise, she had heard their youngest daughter screaming. As she listened to it, she then said, "OK, every thing's alright. That's a happy scream."

He said he was blown away that, over all of the other voices, she not only recognized her child's voice but also was able to identify what type of scream it was. Why? Because every day she talked with them and in the process learned the sound of their voices.

And then he writes, “ that's what it takes for us to understand His voice, that every day communication and spending time saying to God, ‘Speak to me’." This is why it's so important spending time in prayer. The only way you will be able to hear the voice of God is if you spend time seeking God.
Prayer is seeking God…Christ followers are devoted to knowing God. You know I love ya, Don

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Least is often the Most! Simply Talking to God!

Prayer is a word that describes a relationship. Disciplines of prayer provide patterns for attending to God throughout the day. Prayer is a divine dialogue through an intentional encounter with the creator of the universe. The prayer disciplines open our gaze and bearing to God. Prayer is sustained less by duty. It is increased by a desire to connect and grow in intimacy and communion with God.
Acts 4:23-31  
On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
“‘Why do the nations rage, and the peoples plot in vain?  The kings of the earth rise up
    and the rulers band together against the Lord
    and against his anointed one.'

Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

 … an amazing text that grants some very articulate postures for the purpose of praying and directly experiencing God. Our devotion to prayer brings about a radical transformation. It is an inward posture of humility, dependence, and responsiveness that changes us.

Prayer is talking with God. Any encounter with God will bring about transformation… radical transformation.

Henri Nouwen is considered a pioneer and leader in the modern spiritual formation circles. He struggled a great deal with depression during his life. Yet, he finds a super natural comfort in prayer. Nouwen writes, “To pray is to descend with the mind into the heart, and there stand before the face of the Lord, ever-present, all seeing, within you.” He also wrote; “Prayer is the way to both the heart of God and the heart of the world – precisely because they have been joined through the suffering of Jesus Christ…prayer is letting one’s own heart become the place where the tears of God’s children merge and become tears of hope.”
Prayer is the radical transformation of the heart that is not interested in the manipulation of the spiritual… in contrast: The follower of Jesus prays so as to allow the Spiritual to manipulate, grow, and advance the physical.

You know I love ya, Don