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Your Attitude When Financially Supporting Ministries

Here’s a quick, powerful lesson on the purpose of financially supporting ministries. At this time of the year, many ministries are asking for your year-end gift. Once you’ve discerned which ministries to support (which I hope includes your church!), you need to make sure you have the right attitude when giving.

Philippians 4:17 says, ““Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.”

Paul made this statement after acknowledging the Philippians’ financial support to his ministry. Here’s the lesson:  We give because we want to see fruitful ministry. It’s not about the money we give; our motivation should be the ministry fruit that will be produced.

A perspective for ministries:

Be good stewards. Don’t just seek the gift to say look at what we got, but set your hearts on how to use that money for the most ministry effectiveness.

A perspective for givers:

Don’t boast in your gift (the amount or the fact that you gave). Boast in what the Lord does (the fruit) with the gifts of the faithful.

Let’s be generous and see more ministry fruit!

Five To Focus 54. Four Reasons For Stagnant Faith (Part 2)

The glory of the past and shame of sin are the first two reasons discussed in last week’s episode (#53) on why you might be stagnant in your faith. This week’s reasons: You are consumed by their past to the point of being blinded to your future, and you are overwhelmed by all that needs done in the future. Let this be an opportunity for personal reflection to see if you are pressing on for the what the Lord has for you (Philippians 3:13-14).  

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Are You An Enemy of the Cross?

You need to make sure that you are not an enemy of the cross. There are dire consequences.

Let me explain from Philippians 3:18-21. This passage teaches us the difference between enemies of God (or the cross) and citizens of the kingdom of heaven.

Some walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. They have enmity with, are in opposition to the cross of Christ–not just that they don’t like it or just refuse to accept the message of the cross, but enemies conveys that they are actively opposing the message of the cross.

What is the message of the cross? It is at least:

  • the shed blood of Jesus Christ;
  • the forgiveness of our sin;
  • the breaking of the bondage to sin;
  • the release from eternal torment and damnation apart from Christ;
  • the fullness of life on this earth, filled with hope and guidance from the Holy Spirit.

And yet, some live in opposition to this!  Philippians 3:19 describes the enemy of the cross.

Their end is destruction.

This makes sense because the cross represents the release from eternal torment. If you live as an enemy to the cross of Christ, then you are heading down a road to destruction.

Instead of destruction, though, Jesus made a better way: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, ESV)

Their god is their belly and they glory in their shame.

Belly is a way to refer to appetites/desires of a person. Those who live as enemies of the cross are letting their desires take the place of God. “They glory in their shame” can be understood in at least a couple ways:

They glory or boast in things they should be ashamed of.

We see this today:  

  • The high school student bragging about girls he slept with;
  • The drunkard celebrating his activities from the past weekend;
  • People not only engaged in sinful behavior but parading it around.

They improperly boasted in glorious things

Some commentators think this passage refers to those who claimed to be associated with God but truly were not. They lived under the law and found their worth there.

Some Bible translations say “their glory is their shame.” The understanding is that they were boasting in things like circumcision and dietary laws they followed—things that would have been to their glory as the people of God—but because of how they spoke about it or because of their pride, they were actually shaming themselves.

Their minds are set on earthly things.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?  The enemy of the cross doesn’t have an eternal perspective, so they can only set their minds on earthly things. Life is all about their desires, and the current situation becomes life or death to them because they have no other framework from which to evaluate it.

This is the life of an enemy of the cross. Does it describe you?  If so, the good news that God has graciously allowed you to be a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. The next post will describe how that status affects your life.

 

Five To Focus 53. 4 Reasons For Stagnant Faith

The glory of the past and shame of sin are the first two reasons discussed in this episode on why you might be stagnant in your faith. Next week, Ryan will discuss another two reasons. Let this be an opportunity for personal reflection to see if you are pressing on for the what the Lord has for you (Philippians 3:13-14).  

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Five To Focus 52. Press On Despite the Past

A race in 1954 is a good illustration of what Paul is talking about in Philippians 3:14. Take five minutes to focus on pressing on in your faith in Jesus without looking back and possibly missing the blessing of serving Him.

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Five To Focus 51. A Concise Meaning of Life and Death

In one short sentence, Paul tells us what life and death are all about! Let this episode encourage you that whether life or death, it is about Jesus.

Scripture: Philippians 1:21-24.

 

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Own Your Faith. You Can’t Borrow It.

We sometimes act a certain way because someone is watching. In the presence of a teacher, we might sit up straight and pay attention. In the presence of a parent, we might stop picking on a sibling.

The same could be true with our faith. It is easier to act like a Christian when someone you consider to be a spiritual mentor is watching.

In the letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. . .” (Philippians 2:12, ESV) The Philippians have obeyed the gospel message about Jesus. They were to continue living by faith in Jesus, following the commands of God, whether Paul was with them or not. Living by faith should not only be done when seen by some kind of spiritual leader in your life.

The same is true for us: Our obedience and lifestyle of faith is based upon Jesus, not some other person.

Notice how v.12 says work out your own salvation. Own your faith. You can’t borrow it. The Philippians weren’t made holy by Paul; they were only made holy by Christ when they responded to Him for salvation. If their faith was authentic, then they should continue to work out their salvation, to let it take its effect in their lives.   

Some people try to act better in the presence of certain people, but genuine faith is not a show. Paul was telling the Philippians to live a life committed to Jesus whether or not he was with them.

Some will try to take the title of Christian because they were born in America or because their grandmother was a godly lady and took them to church. But you can’t borrow someone else’s faith. You must make it your own by repenting of your sin and believing in Jesus Christ.

Faith is not dependent on a spiritual leader. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

Five To Focus 50. The Struggle of Persevering

You might be wondering somewhat the same thing: Why should I keep on living in the faith? Or maybe even: Why do I still have to be on this earth? What we learn from Paul is this: the motivation to keep striving for Christ has no place for selfishness.

Scripture: Philippians 1:21-24.

 

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The Fleeting Pleasures of Sin

Was that mingling into sin worth it?

  • That outburst of anger that seemed to relieve some pressure;
  • That venture into pornography that seemed to fill a need;
  • That indulgence of pride that increased your confidence even at the expense of other people’s feelings;
  • That bout of drunkenness that made you forget some of your troubles until you came to your senses with your troubles intensified;

There is pleasure to sin. But the Bible is clear that sin’s pleasure is fleeting. The writer of Hebrews uses Moses’ life to illustrate this point.

“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” (Hebrews 11:24–26, ESV)

Moses could have continued to experience the lavish and at times unrighteous lifestyle of growing up in Pharoah’s court, but instead, he chose to fully associate himself with the people of God even though it would lead to mistreatment (since the Israelites were slaves at that time to Egypt). He considered mistreatment for the cause of Christ to be more valuable than all the treasures of secular Egypt.

The pleasure of sin is fleeting. It goes away. Then you’re back to where you started–the pressures, the needs, the confidence, the troubles–the things you desired or tried to eliminate are still there, and sometimes even more complicated because of the sin in which you engaged.

The problem is that you’re left with the same result after sinning than what you had before:  the guilt of sin that has been passed down to every person since Adam (Romans 5:12), and the result of sin: spiritual death (Romans 3:23 & 6:23).

So how do you fight past the temptation of sin’s pleasure? You keep your eye on the reward. That’s what Moses did. He knew there was something greater coming in the Lord than what the world would offer. Moses wasn’t perfect, and neither are we. There will be times we give into sin, but remember that whatever you believe is being offered by that worldly temptation, there is something so much greater in Christ.

Look to the reward of Christ, not the fleeting pleasure of sin.

Five To Focus 49. It Has Been Granted To You

If you have been given the chance to know the Creator of the Universe, to be forgiven of your sins, to be declared righteous by God through Christ, to receive the eternal reward of heaven instead of the eternal punishment of torment in hell upon death–If you have been given this chance, then why would you choose anything else?

Scripture: Philippians 1:29.

 

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