Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Touch of the Master's hand

Myra Brooks Welch tells the story of a battered, scarred violin held up for bid by an auctioneer who hardly thought it worth his time. And it apparently wasn't, for the final bid was a grudging three dollars. But as he was calling, "Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three," a gray-haired man came forward and picked up the bow, wiped the dust from the old instrument, tightened the strings, and played the most beautiful melody—"as sweet as an angel sings."

When the music ceased, the auctioneer, holding it up with the bow, said in a different tone, "What am I bid for the old violin?" Instead of three dollars, it went for three thousand!

The people cheered, but some of them cried,
"We do not quite understand—
What changed its worth?" The man replied,
And many a man with a life out of tune,
And battered and torn with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd.
Much like the old violin.
A "mess of pottage," a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He's going once and going twice,
He's going—and almost gone.
But the MASTER comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul, and the change that's wrought

Such change is incomprehensible for those outside. But all who have experienced that touch perfectly understand.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Letter from Jada Pinkett Smith on Blended Families

In our Noonday and Evening Bible Studies, we are currently studying the Christian Home. It has been amazing! Both eye opening and jaw dropping some of the opinions I have heard that was not based on one ounce of Biblical fact concerning the roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives.

We have taught from the original intent of God concerning marriage. I realize everyone has not followed or was not aware of God's blueprint for marriage so we have divorced people, remarriages, children outside of wedlock and blended families.

In early preparation, I have found Biblical and Secular stories to try and highlight this issue. I ran across a letter I am using for an example. Let me say as a disclaimer, I am not sure if this actual letter that has been accredited to Jada Pinkett Smith belongs to her or not, nor am I endorsing all of what she believes or stands for. I will continue to say The Word of God is our example; however, the words of this letter, regardless of the source or the origin is worthy of discussion in our (YAM) Young Adult Ministry Discussion as well as in our Bible Study.

This is the letter:

A letter to a friend: Blended families are NEVER easy, but here's why I don't have a lot of sympathy for your situation because... we CHOOSE them. When I married Will, I knew Trey was part of the package...Period! If I didn't want that...I needed to marry someone else.

Then I learned if I am going to love Trey...I had to learn to love the most important person in the world to him...his mother. And the two of us may not have always LIKED each other... but we have learned to LOVE each other.

I can't support any actions that keep a man from his children of a previous marriage. These are the situations that separate the women from the girls. Your behavior is that of an insecure child who needs to recognize her own weaknesses that MUST be strengthened to take on the task at hand.

We can't say we love our man and then come in between him and his children. THAT'S selfishness...NOT love. WOMAN UP... I've been there...I know. My blended family made me a giant… Taught me so much about love, commitment and it has been the biggest ego death to date. It's time you let your blended family make you the giant you truly are.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The ABC's of Prayer

As most things happen in our studying, we discover one nugget while trying to unearth another gem! I ran across this preparing for something else so in order to commit this to memory, I will share this with the blog while trying to apply this to my life. Hope this helps! Owens

There was a little boy who was saying his prayers one night when his father walked in and heard him praying. The father heard his son saying his ABC’s. The father asked him why he was saying his ABC’s and he said he did not know much about praying so he figured that if he would say his ABC’s God would grant him what he needed under each alphabet.

A- Assurance
B- Bounty
C- Courage
D- Deliverance
E- Encouragement
F- Faith
G- Grace
H- Health
I- Influence
J- Joy
K- Kindness
L- Love
M- Miracles
N- Nourishment
O- Obedience
P- Power
Q- Quality
R- Restoration
S- Safekeeping
T- Thanksgiving
U- Understanding
V- Victory
W- Will Of God
X- Those Things I Need I Cannot Write
Y- Years To Serve My Master
Z- Zeal To Serve My Master

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Clothed in Christ, Colossians 3:5-17, Sunday School Lesson

Why should we put off the old deeds and put on the qualities of the new life? Pail gives us four(4) reasons as the lesson trasitions from taking off into putting on from verses 5-11 into verses 12-17.

God chose them (v. 12a). The word elect means "chosen of God." God's words to Israel through Moses help us to understand the meaning of salvation by grace: "The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people. But because the Lord loved you ... hath the Lord brought you out [of Egypt] with a mighty hand" (Deut. 7:7-8).

This miracle of divine election did not depend on anything that we are or that we have done; for God chose us in Christ "before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4). If God saved a sinner on the basis of merit or works, nobody would be saved. It is all done through God's grace that it might all bring glory to God.
Of course, election is a "sacred secret" that belongs to God's children. It is not a doctrine that we believers explain to the unsaved. "The Lord knows them that are His" (2 Tim. 2:19), so we must leave the working out of His eternal purposes with Him. Our task is to share the Good News of the Gospel with a lost world.

God set them apart (v. 12). That is the meaning of the word holy. Because we have trusted Christ, we have been set apart from the world unto the Lord. We are not our own; we belong completely to Him (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Just as the marriage ceremony sets apart a man and a woman for each other exclusively, so salvation sets the believer apart exclusively for Jesus Christ. Would it not be a horrible thing, at the end of a wedding, to see the groom run off with the maid of honor? It is just as horrible to contemplate the Christian living for the world and the flesh.

God loves them (v. 12). When an unbeliever sins, he is a creature breaking the laws of the holy Creator and Judge. But when a Christian sins, he is a child of God breaking the loving heart of his Father. Love is the strongest motivating power in the world. As the believer grows in his love for God, he will grow in his desire to obey Him and walk in the newness of life that he has in Christ.

God has forgiven them (vv. 13-14). "Having forgiven you all trespasses" (Col. 2:13). God's forgiveness is complete and final; it is not conditional or partial. How is the holy God able to forgive us guilty sinners? Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. God has forgiven us "for Christ's sake" (Eph. 4:32), and not for our own sake.

Chosen by God, set apart for God, loved by God, and forgiven by God. They all add up to GRACE! Now, because of these gracious blessings, the Christian has some solemn responsibilities before God. He must put on the beautiful graces of the Christian life. Paul named eight graces.

1. Put on... tender mercies (Col. 3:12). The Greek uses the term bowels of compassion because the Greek people located the deeper emotions in the intestinal area, while we locate them in the heart. As believers, we need to display tender feelings of compassion toward one another (see Phil. 2:1ff). This is not something that we turn on and off, like the TV set. It is a constant attitude of heart that makes us easy to live with.

2. Put on... kindness (Col. 3:12). We have been saved because of God's kindness toward us through Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:7; Titus 3:4). We, in turn, ought to show kindness toward others. "Be ye kind one to another" (Eph. 4:32) is God's command.
3. Put on... humbleness of mind (Col. 3:12). The pagan world of Paul's day did not admire humility. Instead, they admired pride and domination. Jesus Christ is the greatest example of humbleness of mind (Phil. 2:1ff). Humility is not thinking poorly of oneself. Rather, it is having the proper estimate of oneself in the will of God (Rom. 12:3). The person with humbleness of mind thinks of others first and not of himself.

4. Put on... meekness (Col. 3:12). Meekness is not weakness; it is power under control. This word was used to describe a soothing wind, a healing medicine, and a colt that had been broken. In each instance, there is power: a wind can become a storm; too much medicine can kill; a horse can break loose. But this power is under control. The meek person does not have to fly off the handle because he has everything under control.

5. Put on... longsuffering (Col. 3:12). This word is literally "long-temper." The short-tempered person speaks and acts impulsively and lacks self-control. When a person is longsuffering, he can put up with provoking people or circumstances without retaliating. It is good to be able to get angry, for this is a sign of holy character. But it is wrong to get angry quickly at the wrong things and for the wrong reasons.

6. Put on... forbearance (Col. 3:13). This word literally means "to hold up" or "to hold back." God is forbearing toward sinners in that He holds back His judgment (Rom. 2:4; 3:25). Meekness, longsuffering, and forbearance go together.

7. Put on... forgiveness (Col. 3:13). This is the logical result of all that Paul has written so far in this section. It is not enough that the Christian must endure grief and provocation, and refuse to retaliate; he must also forgive the troublemaker. If he does not, then feelings of malice will develop in the heart; and these can lead to greater sins.
8. Put on... love (Col. 3:14). This is the most important of the Christian virtues, and it acts like a "girdle" that ties all the other virtues together. All of the spiritual qualities Paul has named are aspects of true Christian love, as a reading of 1 Corinthians 13 will reveal. Love is the first of the fruit of the Spirit and the other virtues follow—joy (Col. 3:16), peace (Col. 3:15), longsuffering, gentleness, kindness, and meekness (Col. 3:12).

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sunday School Lesson, February 17th, 2013 Clothed in Christ, Colossians 3:5-17

In Paul's writing, theology is always followed by a call to live it out. For Paul, doctrine demands duty; creed determines conduct; facts demand acts. For example, in the book of Ephesians, the first three chapters are given to highest theology, only to be followed with this practical call in Ephesians 4:1—"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." This call introduces the remainder of the book.

Similarly, the magisterial theology of Romans 1-11 culminates in this great doxology: "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen" (Romans 11:36). This is followed by a most practical call: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices" (Romans 12:1).

We have the same thing here in Colossians, where the sublimely esoteric theology of Chapters 1 and 2 spawns the challenge in 3:5—"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature." For Paul, doctrine demands duty; creed determines conduct; facts demand acts.

We turn now from the positive to the negative. There are some people who do not like the negative. "Give us positive doctrines!" they say. "Forget about negative warnings and admonitions!" But the negative warnings and commands grow out of the positive truths of Christian doctrine. This is why Paul wrote, "Mortify therefore."

No amount of positive talk about health will cure a ruptured appendix. The doctor will have to "get negative" and take out the appendix. No amount of lecturing on beauty will produce a garden. The gardener has to pull weeds! The positive and the negative go together, and one without the other leads to imbalance.

It appears that the greatest problem among the Christians at Colossae and the surrounding area was one of sexual sins. Most of the sins listed were things involving sex, except for greed.

The word "fornication" or immorality (porneia) includes sex between a man and women who are not married to each other, or two persons who are of the same sex. The Greek word used here is the word that produced our English word pornographic or pornography. Paul’s challenge to his readers is to put to death pornographic sexual relationships.

Paul also used the word "uncleanness" or "impurity" as something to be put to death. The word "uncleanness "or "impurity" (akatharsia) speaks of the impurity of lustful living.

The word "passion" or "inordinate affection" (pathos) means to suffer. It is an affection of the mind. This word speaks of uncontrolled desire. In the words "evil concupiscence" or "evil desires" (epithumia), Paul was dealing with a longing for what is forbidden.

In the word "greed" or "covetousness" (pleonexia), Paul was speaking of a desire to have more without any regards for the rights of others. It suggests that a person will go after what he or she wants and will not consider the pain and agony it will cost others.

Paul let his readers know that the sins of the flesh will incur the wrath of God. The word "wrath" (orge) means anger, temper, movement or agitation of the soul. It speaks of anger exhibited in punishment.

After warning us against the sensual sins-, Paul then pointed out the dangers of the social sins (Col. 3:8-9). Dr. G. Campbell Morgan called these "the sins in good standing." We are so accustomed to anger, critical attitudes, lying, and coarse humor among believers that we are no longer upset or convicted about these sins. We would be shocked to see a church member commit some sensual sin, but we will watch him lose his temper in a business meeting and call it' "righteous indignation."

The picture here is that of a person changing clothes: "Put off... put on" (Col. 3:9-10). This relates to the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Col. 3:1); for when He arose from the dead, Jesus Christ left the graveclothes behind (John 20:1-10). He had entered into a glorious resurrection life and had no need for the graveclothes. Likewise, when Lazarus was raised from the dead, Jesus instructed the people to "loose him, and let him go" (John 11:44).

We've all heard the old adage, "You are what you eat." You might want to add another, "You are what you wear." There is actually a term today called "clothes cognition" which is used to describe the connection between clothing, psychology and conduct. As strange as that might sound to us "clothes cognition" is really about the clothes you wear and having them direct who you are and how you act in the world.

When we are putting on a particular piece of clothing, we are not only giving impressions to other people, but we are also giving an impression to ourselves. We feel the fabric on our arms; that allows us to take on the characteristics of those clothes. Whether or not "clothes cognition" means anything to you personally, there really is something to being "Clothed in Christ."

This covers the section of "PUTTING OFF" but you are not complete until you PUT ON! The emphasis in this section is on motives. Why should we put off the old deeds and put on the qualities of the new life? God willing, I will address that in the next blog.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Clothed in Christ, Colossians 3:5-17, Illustration

I am compiling my notes for the Sunday School lesson and I pray I will be able to commit that to this blog later this week. Today, an illustration for Colossians 3:15 has overtaken me:

Colossians 3:15 (ESV)
15  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful

An old story which comes from the Salvation Army in the last century tells of a strong-willed woman who had been nicknamed "Warrior Brown" because of her fiery temper. She was often belligerent and became enraged whenever she got drunk. Then one day she was converted. Her entire life was wonderfully changed by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. At an open-air meeting a week later, she told everyone what Jesus had done for her.

Suddenly a scoffer threw a potato at her, causing a stinging bruise. Had she not been converted, she would have lashed out at the man furiously. God's grace, however, had made such a profound change in her conduct that she quietly picked up the potato and put it into her pocket without saying a word. No more was heard of the incident until the time of the "harvest festival" months later.

Then the dear lady who had been known as "Warrior Brown" brought as her offering a little sack of potatoes. She explained that after the open-air meeting she had cut up and planted the "insulting potato," and what she was now presenting to the Lord was "the increase." Warrior Brown had allowed "the peace of Christ" to be umpire of her life.
What are we to do with this peace? "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." What does that mean? F. F. Bruce, the New Testament scholar to whom we owe so much, says "rule" carried the idea of "arbitrate." In many extra-Biblical sources, the Greek word used here referred to the function of one who took it on himself to decide what is right in a contest.

The sense here is, "Let the peace of Christ be umpire in your heart amidst the conflicts of life. Let it decide what is right. Let it be your counselor."

How much misery we would avoid if we permitted "the peace of Christ" to umpire in our hearts. How many words we would hold back if he were the arbitrator in our lives. How many sleepless nights we would forego if we did that. How the Church needs this too, "since as members of one body you were called to peace."

I pray I will have a more detailed copy of all the verses of the Sunday Lesson for this week by Friday!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Who do you Trust

Psalm 118:8It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

The story is told that a national magazine assigned a photographer to take pictures of a forest fire. They told him a small plane would be waiting at the airport to fly him over the fire. The photographer arrived at the airstrip just an hour before sundown. Sure enough, a small Cessna airplane stood waiting.

He jumped in with his equipment and shouted, "Let's go!" The pilot, a tense-looking man, turned the plane into the wind, and soon they were in the air, though flying erratically. "Fly over the north side of the fire," said the photographer, "and make several low-level passes." "Why?" asked the nervous pilot. "Because I'm going to take pictures!" yelled the photographer. "I'm a photographer, and photographers take pictures." The pilot replied, "You mean you're not the flight instructor?"

Sometimes we are like the pilot and put our confidence in the wrong people. The middle verse of the Bible warns us about putting our confidence in men.

Who do you Trust?????????????The President? The Pastor? Congress? Put your Trust in God