Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Guiding Others to Freedom in Christ

In my early years (ages 12-18) I attended church several times a week and I grew in Christ in some amazing ways.  My life was getting on track spiritually and I was seeking to know the heart of God.  However, I developed a poor understanding of Christianity by striving to live up to everyone else’s expectations of me instead of God’s Word and the standards that He has set for me.  I was truly not free; in fact, I lived in bondage to the desires, whims, and preferences of everyone else—it was most miserable.  This religion, I discovered later was not Christianity according to Christ, but a religion that was fabricated by controlling men and it was very oppressive (Even though those people meant well they were Biblically in error.).

God has given His children a precious freedom in Christ, which means He not only freed us from sin and shame but God has given His children the privilege of living unto Him.  In this process of Christian growth it is truly fine that Christians look a little different although God’s righteousness is the standard for all of our actions.  Being free, enjoying one’s liberty in Christ, and allowing others that same enjoyment is often hard to do, especially if one is insecure.  This is especially hard if one was raised by legalistic parents or led by a legalistic pastor.  This type of parenting and leadership is often manipulative and ultra-controlling.  It leaves no room for the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of those who know Christ and it is often a very judgmental religion. 

Rather than using God’s Word as a tool to teach the Truth in a spirit of love it is often used as a hammer to beat people down into submission.  For many, including myself, it often takes years to walk freely under the authority of God and His Word alone without a cloud of guilt hovering over us for failing to comply with a list of man-made rules. God’s Word and His Spirit are sufficient to lead all men and women into righteousness without a list of rules imposed by others. 

If you have truly been set free from the bondage of sin and you are now living unto Jesus Christ, be careful casting judgment on those who remain under bondage from a list of rules that are imposed by others.  The Apostle Paul identifies them as the weaker brothers in Romans 14:13-23.  Let’s not use our freedom in Christ as a stumbling block for those who still struggle under a system that holds them hostage.  Choose to live as a mature Christian and keep pointing others back to Christ.  The joy that you have in the Lord will serve as the greatest proof that you have been set free from the bondage of sin.


            “It was for freedom that Christ set us free….” (Gal. 5:1)

            “For he who has died is freed from sin.”  (Rom. 6:7)

            “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free….” (Rom. 8:2)

            “If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Helpful Resources for Good Bible Study

How are we to study God’s Word without going to Bible College or possessing a large library of Biblical books?  Christ promised when He left this earth that He would send us the Spirit of Truth, which would lead us into all truth (John 16:3).  In other words, God’s own Spirit helps us to understand the depths of Scripture and God’s Spirit also brings believers into the knowledge of salvation.  We also know from Scripture that there are godly men and women who have the gift of teaching in order that they can help us understand the depths of God’s Word. 
I have been blessed to add to my personal library over the years, while attending seminary, so I currently have about 3500 volumes to use as I study each week.  The challenge is that not everyone has the same resources at their disposal when they want to study the Word of God.  Allow me to suggest that the Internet is still a free resource but it is not always a safe resource for searching out Biblical Truth.  I would personally not read some things that various men write due to disagreement in their theology or their sloppy interpretation skills.  Some Internet sites appear sound in their teaching and some are outright blasphemous and heretical as they deviate from God’s Word.
In one sense, every Christian should be a theologian~~one who studies the depth of God’s character and His Word.  I would like to share with you some various tools that can help you study the Word of God.
Ø  Maywood’s Leadership Library has many great books and commentaries.
Ø  Here are some external resources that you can begin to utilize:
Ø  Start with the Bible / Read the Text over & over again / Compare Scripture with Scripture & Pray through the Text as you read.
Ø  Study with others who are digging into the depths of God’s Word.
Ø  Ask questions about the Text and seek the answers in the Text.
Ø  Your pastors can also help you find the right answers or resources.
Studying can become so much more enjoyable as you begin to make use of the various tools that God has provided for us to know His Word!  Come and join a Life-Group to study God’s Word with us if you have not joined one yet.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Addicted to Pain Killers?

Most of us at one time have chosen to make use of pain medications in order to numb the pain of something that we were experiencing.  We all have different pain tolerances and some of us may even refuse to take pain meds to help deal with the misery and discomfort we’re experiencing.  Medications are not inherently evil.  In fact, the Bible speaks of the need for Timothy to “use a little wine” for his illness (1 Tim. 5:23).  At the time the Bible was written, people would often use alcohol to alleviate pain and unpleasant symptoms (Proverbs 31:6).  It is the abuse that is wrong and what the Bible would condemn.

Today, as in times past, people strive to mask their problems instead of dealing with them.  This may be true with physical problems as well as spiritual problems.  Dealing with problems is often more difficult but it eliminates the problem at its roots.  Masking problems only prolongs or exasperates the issue that must be dealt with later.  Ignoring our problems only compounds the real issue and ultimately complicates the resolve if neglected.

There are many today who are addicted to pain killers and they do not believe that they can exist without them.  Many acquire and possess them illegally as their addiction has become so severe.  We may feel that this does not represent us but could it be us “spiritually”?  Do we subsidize our Christian lives with things that are not of Christ and things that are not godly in order to offset the pain that we live with each day?  Do we create an environment around ourselves to help us live with the pain and discomfort instead of repenting and turning to God?  Many of us have silent pains and hurts that we deal with each day and nobody knows about.  I would like to ask, “what are we self-prescribing for these problems”?

What I am asking is, “Is God our remedy and present help in time of trouble?” (Psalm 46:1) or have we found a temporary replacement for Him?  Are we dependent upon a foreign substance or a cheap substitute for joy to help us make it through this life instead of seeking the strength and joy of the Lord (Neh. 8:10; Phil. 4:13)?  God is truly concerned about our pain and heartache and He longs to be our Remedy.  Are we willing to seek the comfort from the One who gives healing both spiritually and physically in order to find rest and healing?  Christ welcomes us, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)