Month: October 2018

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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The Holy Spirit Gives Confidence in Salvation

Maybe one of the most asked questions by Christians is: how do I know I am saved?

 
We all want a good guarantee with important parts of our lives.
You want insurance on your home to guarantee the replacement of your belongings.
You buy that extra protection on that electronic device or appliance so you are guaranteed that it will be fixed or replaced.
You make sure there is a good warranty on that vehicle so you are guaranteed that it will run like its supposed to.
You want your bank to be insured so your money is guaranteed to be there.

In very simplistic terms, then, how do you know that your salvation will have its effect on your life?  How do I know I am saved?

One area of Scripture that answers this question (not the only one) is 1 John 4:13-15, so we will look deeper into this passage.

 

Verse 13 says ”By this…” John uses this phrase to introduce a concept he really wants to make sure his listeners grasp. In fact, it appears 11 times in this letter.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us. So, what is this? The guarantee of the Holy Spirit. I hope you will be encouraged and gain confidence through this post. this message.
I want to point out a natural movement we see in the text, which consists of three parts. Let’s start at verse 14 first. We see apostolic authority here– John was one of many who saw and testifies about Jesus. So, understand here that it’s not just someone talking without experience. You can trust what you’re reading because it is written by someone who is speaking out of what he has seen.

1st Part of the Movement: v.14

The movements follow a pattern: this happened, then this happened. The first movement: He saw and testified that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

“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)

Apart from Jesus Christ, you are perishing and will perish eternally under the wrath of God. But God has made redemption possible for you. The Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.


2nd Part of the Movement: beginning of v.15

That happened. Then this:  whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God.  Jesus came to this world and finished the work that is necessary for you to be redeemed. But Romans 10:9 tells us, “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  
The second part of the movement is that you have to confess Jesus. It’s not enough just to know that Jesus came into the world. Many people are smart enough to know that Jesus was a real man on the earth, but there must be a belief behind this confession, like Romans 10:9 says.
So, the 1st part is that the Father sent his Son into the world. That happened.
Then, what is to happen is that every person has to decide to confess Jesus Christ. To believe in their heart that God raised him from the dead and that he has paid the penalty for sin and brings victory in this life.
That happens. Then, the 3rd movement.

3rd Part of the Movement: end of v.15

When you confess your belief in Christ, you will be saved. So this happens: God abides in you and you abide in God. Theologically this is called our union with Christ. Wayne Grudem summarizes it:  “We are in Christ, Christ is in us, we are like Christ, and we are with Christ” (Systematic Theology, p. 1256).
Millard Erickson gives 4 implications of our union with Christ (Christian Theology, 3rd Edition, p. 882-883):
We are counted righteous.
We now live in Christ’ strength.
We will suffer.
We have the prospect of reigning with Christ.

Now, even with these three events being true in your life, some might wonder, how do I know this has all happened?

 

The Guarantee

This is where the guarantee of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance.

 

Let me ask:
Do you feel the conviction of sin?
Are you conforming to the image of Christ?
Are you learning and discovering biblical truth?
Are you finding liberty/freedom over sinful thoughts, words, actions?
Are you experiencing the guidance of the Holy Spirit, often evidenced by peace you will feel?
Are you telling others about Jesus, being his witness?
Are you loving others?

This is the work of the Holy Spirit in you. That is evidence of the salvation inside of you.
Look at the similarities to what Paul wrote:

13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,  14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13–14 (ESV)

Specifically, the Holy Spirit seals the believer and guarantees the believer’s inheritance.
“Seal” generally means to put a mark upon something as a sign of its authenticity. Believers are sealed. And the Holy Spirit is the “guarantee” of the inheritance we have in Christ. The Holy Spirit is valuable enough to give the believer a sense of security by which to live faithfully until that great inheritance comes.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t come and go. You are sealed, which is the link to the secure eternity we have in Christ (inheritance). This should give you confidence.

 

photo courtesy of Xavier Mouton Photographie 

Five To Focus 48. Living Worthy of the Gospel Despite Opposition

Are you living a life worthy of the gospel?  Can people look at your life and see that you are living by the truth of God’s Word? Or will they look at your life and see that you are living in sin and there really isn’t anything different in you than what they see in the world? We continue to look at Philippians 1:27 in this episode.

 

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Five To Focus 47. You Are A Citizen of Heaven

Here is our command: fulfill all the duties devolving upon you as a member of the body of Christ. This episode looks at Philippians 1:27 to begin focusing on the truth that you are citizen of heaven and are commanded to live like it!

 

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The Foundational Attitude You Need During Difficulty

Joni Eareckson Tada became a quadraplegic at 17 years old. Her faith resounded despite the obstacles and she leads an organization for people with disabilities. In her book, When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty, she wrote:  “Subdue your heart to match your circumstances.”

My guess: it is hard to bring our hearts under control when our circumstances seem out of control.

Circumstances arouse feelings, emotions, and words, which are the overflow of our hearts (Luke 6:45). Perhaps they lead us to not think clearly through certain situations. In fact, many circumstances can lead to confusion, anger, and resentment to the point of not seeing the reality of our circumstances because our hearts are out of control.

We might wish we weren’t in a particular circumstance, but we have to face the reality. Joni had to realize that she was going to be in a wheelchair. She talks about her earliest struggles, but at some point she chose to accept her reality and glorify God through it.

While you should have many supporters and might seek counseling and medical care during difficult circumstances, the Apostle Paul reveals two foundational ingredients to a mindset that will lead to persevering and glorifying God: prayer and the Holy Spirit.

Now that might sound so simple, but sometimes we neglect even the most simple, foundational things during difficulty. Paul wrote to the Philippians:

“… Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:18b–20, ESV)

He was in prison when he wrote that. His confidence through difficulty came through prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit. In other words, our attitude through difficulty must start with a humble reliance on God’s help.

Are you struggling? Start with prayer and asking the Holy Spirit to guide you through your reactions and actions.  

Five To Focus 46. It Is Well With My Soul

Horatio Spafford wrote this hymn during a time of severe grief. Listen to the story behind my favorite hymn, and a little fact about it that I didn’t know until I prepared for this episode.

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Why Our Church Is Starting A Prayer Walking Ministry

Tonight at 6:00, the Central Baptist family will join together to prayer walk in some of our surrounding neighborhoods. This is the start of our 1st Wednesday Prayer Walking ministry. While it is starting as a monthly ministry, my hope is that our people will see its effectiveness and we’ll do it even more down the road.

I’m thankful for those who are helping organize this ministry. As we met to brainstorm and plan, the intention was clear: we believe God will bless and bring opportunity through our efforts to pray for our neighbors.

Here’s why our church is starting a prayer walking ministry:

  • We believe prayer is commanded by God (1 Thess. 5:16-18)
  • We believe churches should be houses of prayer (Is. 56:7; Matt. 21:13)
  • We believe we are to love our neighbor (Matt. 22:37-39)
  • We believe that we should intercede for others, and that the Holy Spirit will intercede for us even when we don’t know what to pray (1 Tim. 2:1; Rom. 8:26)

Our hope, then, is that going into our neighborhoods will increase our opportunities to pray for, witness to, and serve our neighbors, effectively loving them. We want to be a house of prayer where people know that we love them enough to lift them up before our Father in Heaven.

Five To Focus 45. You Are A Partaker Of Grace

Last week, we looked at one of our identities as a believer in the local church—we are partners in the gospel. Today we continue that theme by looking at another aspect of our identity within the body of Christ as Paul tells us in Philippians 1:6-7.  

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