Think About IT: God’s Will Is Not Always So Easy

Whether one has chosen the Lord’s will is not determined by whether things get better.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus surrendered to the cross that lay before Him, bearing our judgment, and that was of course the eternal plan of salvation; therefore, He made the right choice. He was in the perfect will of the Father.

However, immediately after the decision to follow the Father’s plan no matter the loss, things went from bad to worse, and then worse even still. He was betrayed by a friend, tried by hypocrites, innocent but declared guilty, denied by a disciple, rejected for a criminal, mocked, flogged, crucified, and ultimately enveloped in the wrath of God and abandoned by the Father unto death.

The Lord’s will is known by the Scripture rather than by what happens after our choice.

“And He was saying, ‘Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will’” Mark 14:36.

The Friendship of Church Discipline and the Gospel

On one occasion, the chief priests and elders approached Jesus while he was teaching and asked him, “By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?” (Matt 21:23). While it is obvious that the priests and elders were disputing rather than making careful inquiry, the question they asked is good and deserves being asked and answered. Many indeed ask by what authority does the church practice church discipline? In answering this question, I will seek to briefly demonstrate that we not only practice church discipline because of explicit commands to do so (Matt 18:15–20; Rom 16:17–18; 1 Cor 5:1–13; 1 Tim 1:19–20; 2 Thess 3:6–15), but also because church discipline is inextricably related to the gospel, evangelism, and the Great Commission. Continue reading →

Think about IT: Loving Those People

Showing the gentle kindness and concern of Christ toward those who love us is good, but such disposition toward our enemies is indeed supernatural.

If we are truly showing Christ’s love, it can never be limited to those who love us or those whom we believe will reciprocate.

Christ commanded us, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44). This kind of love and praying requires us to die to self for the flesh wars against such acts (Gal 5:19-21). When we pray for our enemies, it permits us to experience some of what our Lord felt when his enemies crucified him, and his response was to pray, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing”(Luke 23:34).

There is simply a dimension of knowing Christ that is unknowable without loving those who seek to harm us. Resentment, bitterness, revenge emanate from our flesh, but loving the ones who may be deserving of our wrath emanates from Christ living through us.

God’s great love in salvation is for those who will accept it and become his children as well as those who will reject his incalculable sacrifice and immeasurable love. It extends even to those who seek to undermine the gospel. may we experience his fullness by walking among enemies of the gospel as he himself did.   

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” John 3:16.

Think About IT: Receiving Compliments that Honor Christ

Compliments are more pleasing to the ear and honoring to Christ when they come not from the complimented.

Matthew was a tax collector prior to following Christ, an occupation which was one of the most loathed by the Jews. They saw them as traitors.

If God had not used Matthew to pen the gospel that bears his name, he would have remained basically a faceless apostle. When the other gospels mention him, he is simply referred to as Matthew.

When Matthew refers to himself in the gospel he penned, he refers to himself as “Matthew the tax collector.”

Matthew’s designation of himself reminds us that it is for others to cast us in the best light, and it is for we who have been redeemed to remember who we are without Christ.

“Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus” Matthew 10:3.

Bibliography for Studying Scripture

­­SELECTED STUDY BIBLIOGRAPHY  5/31/16 

The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Victor Books, 1984

The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Victor Books, 1985

 Unger’s New Bible Dictionary, Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press, 2006

Logos Library System, several upgradeable levels are available. Find out more at www.logos.com

An Exhaustive Analytical Concordance (Strong’s or NAS)

Eerdmans’ Handbook to the History of Christianity, Dr. Tim Dowley, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977

Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Walter A. Elwell, Baker Book House, 1984

Evangelical Ethics, John Jefferson Davis, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 2003 or Christian Ethics: Contemporary Issues and Options, Norman L. Geisler, Jan 1, 2010

Kingdom of the Cults, Walter Martin and Ravi Zacharias, Bethany House Publishers; Rev Updated edition (October 1, 2003) or latest update

Lectures in Systematic Theology, Henry Clarence Thiessen, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1983, or Eerdmans Revised edition November 9, 2006

Nave’s Topical Bible, Orville J. Nave, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2002

Pronouncing Bible Names, W. Murray Severance, Holman Bible Publishers, 1983

Things to Come, J. Dwight Pentecost, Zondervan Publishing House, 1982

Dispensationalism, Charles C. Ryrie, 2007

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, W. E. Vine and F.F. Bruce, Fleming H. Revell Company, 1996

Betrayal

Serving in the work of our Lord Jesus provides ample opportunity for turning a servant’s heart into a cynic’s heart. An act of betrayal can hurt so deeply, disappoint so significantly, and rupture faith so cunningly that we can find ourselves moved a step or two away from the servant’s heart and closer to the cynic’s heart.

We may still serve others, but now with less passion, or we may even move to a fuller blown cynicism in which the foremost thought in serving others is protecting ourselves from the pain of betrayal.

Betrayal can only happen in such a poignant fashion by someone we love, and to whom we have unguardedly given ourselves. To guard against even the possibility of being betrayed again is to become only a shadow of the servant we once were. Whereas, we can rightly guard against cynicism by keeping our eyes upon our Lord Jesus, desiring to experience him in every way, and praying for his protection (Matt 6:13; Phil 3:10).

We may pray, let not my heart be guided by the wound of betrayal, and guard me from using prayer to heal my wounds by wounding others. Let me bear the pain of betrayal as my Lord Jesus did, and by doing so reflect his love to others and grow to love him more. May I rejoice that by his grace I am not the betrayer;  may I learn more of my Lord from the anguish of betrayal.

“Even my close friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.” (Psalm 41:9).

Think About IT: The Proper Exercise of Authority

Authority without submission is the stuff of which tyranny is made.

Before a person can exercise godly authority as a leader in the home, church, or culture, he must learn how to be under authority (Titus 2:1–14). Godly servant leadership is developed in the context of learning how to be under authority. This includes learning how to support the leader even when we might disagree about the how or why of the leader’s decisions.

Supporting the authority of the person over us only when we agree with his or her decision is easy and requires little humility. The development of humble leadership is nurtured when the future leader follows with respect and diligence in those times when he would do it differently if he was in authority.

Even following the leadership of someone who is rude, condescending, and arrogant can result in the essential tutelage for becoming a servant leader. It provides the follower with a poignant picture of how ugly leadership without humility and servanthood really is. This experience can serve to make a follower into a true godly servant leader because he knows firsthand the unnecessary hurt inflicted upon others and how such undermines respect for the leader who so leads.

I have had such an experience. It was over thirty years ago, and it is still my most powerful experiential reminder to seek to lead others in humility and respect. As unpalatable as the experience was, I would not take anything for what I learned from being under such objectionable leadership. It taught me that godly leadership is really a priceless quality of exercising authority.

“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many”” (Matthew 20:28).

 

 

Think About IT: Humility In Knowledge

Christians should know that however much more we believe we know than others, we really know so little in comparison to what some know, what we shall learn, or what can be known. We should always seek to know more and know what we know better. But being aware of the vastness of what we do not know is equally important, and even more so for the sake of humility.

Awareness of proportional knowledge bears the fruit of humility, whereas awareness of only what we know so well bears the fruit of pride. The latter is an ugly portrayal of Christ with its concomitant boasting and judgmental insensitivity, but the former nurtures a life of learning and teaching with respect and kindness.

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches’” Jeremiah 9:23.

Thanksgiving to God for Making us a Dad

Thank You for this blessing beyond the beyond. In this You have enabled me to grow deeper in my understanding of You as my Father, though, I make no comparison of quality, only of enlightenment. It has truly enriched my understanding of sacrificial love, devotion, caring, sadness, and joy that a child can bring.

It makes me weep for the sadness I bring to You when I act spoiled and ungrateful or untrusting. It makes me ever so grateful when I follow and grow, albeit by grace and grace alone, knowing this pleases You. Because you have graciously made me a father, You have allowed me to experience with my own children the majesty of what it feels like when they honor me, as well as the grief when they do not; thus, heightening my desire to please You.

You have allowed me the sadness of parenting to remind me of my frailness as well as theirs, and our constant need of Your grace. You have allowed me to give and receive love to help me grow in appreciation of Your love; although, it is unfathomable in all of its fullness.

May my fathering reflect you so that my children love and follow you more than they do me. Thank you my heavenly Father for granting me the honor of being an earthly father to my children.

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Think About IT: Expressing Our Desires Not Demands!

Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane reflects the heart of a true servant of the Father. He knew that He, as a man, merited heaven. As the God-man, He knew there were myriads of angels awaiting His command.

He also knew full well what awaited Him at the Cross. It was not the taunts, flogging, and degradation of man that caused Him to pray in the dirt and sweat drops of blood. Rather, it was those hours He would be abandoned by the Father and hurled into the cauldron of God’s judgment for the sins of the world. The price exacted for sin in those hours could not have been paid by man, even if every human suffered God’s judgment of hell forever.

Jesus knew His options and prayed His desire to the Father to “let this cup pass.” And yet, with the hallowedness of heaven and the hell of the cross before Him, He willingly chose the Father’s will above everything else, “yet not as I will but as you will.”

This was not passive resignation or a mere prayer formula, but the prayer of total trust. Like Jesus, we should make our petitions known to God with total trust in God’s granting, delaying, or withholding.

When we pray, the very requests that we make may well be God’s best for us. He may answer that prayer and work in ways that he would not have had we not made our requests known to him.

Just as Jesus did, we should always make our requests known for that is the will of God (Matt 6: 11-13). Additionally, we should always pray remembering that our  prayers are never more powerful than when expressed in reverence and total trust. Demanding prayer is “my will be done; trusting prayer is “your will be done”. Demanding prayer reaches the ceiling, whereas trusting prayer reaches the heart of our heavenly Father.

“And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will’” (Matthew 26:39).