Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Family Update

We know that many of you have been praying for Alicia and I in the last couple months. We have made the move to Belgrade, ME and I have been called by Belgrade Bible Church to work part-time as their assistant pastor. It has been a jam-packed month! We've been working on painting some of our apartment and getting the trailer ready to be rented. Over-all we are settling in nicely and have felt very welcomed by the folks at our new church home. We do miss our State Street family terribly though.

Alicia has been seeing a hematologist in Augusta regarding the blood-clot issues she had in her leg. We found out that she has a genetic predisposition to clotting. The doctor isn't too worried about it, but did say that we should take some precautions for the future. She will be on coumadin for another few weeks.

I'm still looking for part-time work in the Waterville or Augusta area. Please pray that the Lord will open the door at the right place of employment.

Thanks for your prayers and God bless!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Truths About The Living God - Psalm 84:2

Psalm 84:2

“My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.”

What do we learn about the living God?

What does your soul long for? What do you desire above all things? Is it things of this life? Earthly treasures? Things that really will not matter to eternity? Or maybe you have a legitimate desire to serve God in some way.

Even the last mentioned thing may become a wrong desire.  Life can become very busy, especially as a Christian serving the Lord. We need not to be caught up in the matters of life. Instead, we should say, as David said, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in His temple.” We must always return to the basics of having an intimate, loving relationship with our God. Our primary desire, always, should be simple communion with God.

In the second half of this verse, the psalmist literally says, “My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.” Do you find joy in your God, in the one and only living God? Knowing your God should fill you with joy, and make you want to praise Him! There are so many reasons to praise God. Spend some time right now praising the living God for a variety of things. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Like Precious Faith

1.29.2012 - Belgrade Bible Church – AM Service

J. Vernon McGee –
“Second Peter is the swan song of Peter, just as 2 Timothy is the swan song of Paul. There are striking similarities between the two books. Both epistles put up a warning sign along the pilgrim pathway the church is traveling to identify the awful apostasy that was on the way at that time and which in our time has now arrived. What was then like a cloud the size of a man’s hand today envelops the sky and produces a storm of hurricane proportions. Peter warns of heresy among teachers; Paul warns of heresy among the laity.

Both Peter and Paul speak in a joyful manner of their approaching deaths. Paul said that he knew that the time of his departure had come. He had finished his course. He had been on the racetrack of life, and now he was leaving it. He had fought a good fight, and he had kept the faith. A crown of righteousness was laid up for him. You will find that same triumphant note here in 2 Peter as Peter also faced the prospect of death.

Both apostles anchor the church on the Scriptures, on the Word of God, as the only defense against the coming storm of apostasy.”

It is a good idea to try and outline books of the Bible for memory’s sake. 2nd Peter has a very simple outline that makes the book easy to remember. Each of the three chapters in 2nd Peter covers a different topic. In chapter one, Peter gives us Foundational Truths. In Chapter two, Peter warns of False Teachers. In chapter three, Peter discusses Future Things. These three titles will help you remember what is in this great letter from Peter.

“Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:” -2 Peter 1:1
Who is the writer? “Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ”

“Simon Peter” - The name Simon was given to him at birth, Peter is the name given to him by Jesus.

Why did Peter choose to introduce himself as ‘Simon Peter’ instead of just ‘Peter’ as he did in his first epistle?

1. The name ‘Simon’ marked some key failures in Peter’s life – (i.e. Luke 22:31-34 – Jesus predicts Peter’s denial; John 21 - Jesus asking if Peter loved Jesus.) Peter could have used both names to indicate the change that had taken place in his life. It is as if he is saying, “This is who I was before, and this is who Jesus helped me become.”

2. Simon Peter used both names to clearly indicate who wrote the book. This would make it harder for false teachers (against whom the book is written) to discredit what is taught here.

“a bondservant” – doulos – Thayer’s Greek Definitions tells us that doulos means “a slave, one who gives himself up to another’s will, those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men, one devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests.” What a rich meaning! Peter first identifies himself as a slave. He shows not only his humility and subservience, but also shows to us who his master is. He is slave of Jesus Christ, our God and Savior (v. 1), our Lord (v. 2). Take a look at Exodus 21:2-6 for a description of what exactly a ‘bondservant’ is. The bondservant was a slave who had the option to go free but chose to stay. He loved his master and desired to serve him forever. He was a willing slave.

“The following story is to illustrate the attitude of a willing slave. The incident took place at a slave auction in the Southland during the days of slavery. A fine looking young man was placed on the block for sale. Among the interested bidders was an Englishman who outbid a number of other interested buyers. When the deal was finally consummated, the young slave chided his purchaser for buying a slave when slavery was already abolished in England. To the young man’s chiding the purchaser replied: ‘I have bought you to set you free.’ Overcome with emotion, the slave said: ‘Sir, I will be your willing slave forever.’”
Peter has the same attitude as King David. Psalm 116:16 – “O LORD, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds.” Jesus had done so much for Peter. He chose Peter, taught him, rebuked him, and worked with Peter to make him into the solid-rock type man that Jesus would use to proclaim salvation to so many. Peter learned what Jesus taught the disciples in Mark 10:43-44. They must become slaves if they were to follow Christ’s example.

This attitude of a bondservant is not specific to Peter. Other NT writers also considered themselves slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans – Paul a bondservant of Jesus Christ, Philippians – Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, Titus – Paul, a bondservant of God, James – James a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, II Peter – Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, Jude – Jude a bondservant of Jesus Christ. These epistles all begin with the declaration of slavery to the Lord.

“and apostle” – apostolos – means ‘messenger’ or ‘ambassador’. More specifically, here it is in reference to those few men who were hand-picked by the Lord Jesus. The book of Acts shows us the that the word Peter uses here is not just a generic term for messenger.

Acts 1:1-3 – “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”

Acts 1:21, 24-26 – ‘“Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who knows the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.’

Who is Simon Peter writing to: “to those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:”

“like precious” – literally means ‘of equal value or honor’. This faith produces the same precious effects in the apostle and in the Christian.

How is that faith obtained? By the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:18-21 – Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

APPLICATION: Let’s Make a Connection

The reality of Peter’s faith is that he was a slave of Jesus Christ. He had given himself up to be subservient to the will of Jesus Christ. He had committed his service to extend and advance the cause of Jesus among men. And he had devoted his life to Jesus at the disregard of his own interests. He was a slave of Jesus Christ.

Peter’s second epistle is written to those who have obtained like precious faith—to those who hold their faith of equal value or equal honor. The people that Peter is writing to understand that their lives have been given to the service of Jesus. Their sole purpose had become the furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They could be described as devoted to Jesus at the disregard of their own interests. They were slaves of Jesus Christ.

The words of Paul echo throughout these thoughts:

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Ephesians 2:8-10 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Philippians 1:21 – For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

This is not extra-ordinary Christianity, it is ordinary Christianity. Peter, and those to whom he writes, are not Super-Christians, they are normal Christians.

It is time to evaluate your faith. II Corinthians 13:5 tells us to examine ourselves as to whether we are in the faith.

Some piercing questions:

Have I given myself up to be subservient to the Lord Jesus Christ?

Have I given my service to extend and advance the cause of Jesus to the ends of the world?

Have I devoted my life to Christ at the disregard of my own life?

Why have I not lived my life this way?

What changes must I make in my life to live my life this way?

Men for God - Session 4

Gary Stairs
"Long-Haul Men" - Destination

There is nothing special about us that ensures we will arrive at our destination the way God wants us to. The long haul is still in front of us and God wants us to FINISH WELL. God never fails! He can help us to finish well.

Philippians 4:7-

The Peace of God that passes all understanding comes when we think on these things. Meditate on those things. Those are the things that bring the peace of God.

What you have learned, received, heard, seen in me...DO! The doing is where we often get tripped up. Put into practice what you already know.

"For I have learned..." There is a process to becoming what God wants us to be. Paul knew how because he had been through the midnight hours. You have to learn the long-haul. Take heart--God never intended this to be instantaneous.

4:13 - I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Has Satan won this day, month, year, circumstance, reaction, pride, relationship with your wife, kids, church?
It takes time to become like God wants you to be!

1. Be Thankful - Philippians 1:3-8 (Past) - Be thankful for every remembrance of everyone. (the jail in Philippi, beatings, midnight hour) God help me get to the place where I am thankful for EVERYTHING.

2. Be Prayerful - Philippians 1:9-11 - (Present) - that love will GROW in knowledge and discernment. Not a puppy-love but a DEEP LOVE.

If we don't learn to make sound, biblical choices, we are IN TROUBLE. We need to make excellent choices. All of us are only 1 bad choice away from a ruined life. (Demas has forsaken me having loved this present world) This is why Paul prays. This is why we pray for our kids. This is why we pray for our wives. Don't just pray it...DO IT...LIVE IT.

3. Be Purposeful - Philippians 1:20 (future) - Be biblically focused in our relationships. I don't want to be ashamed before God. I want CHRIST TO BE MAGNIFIED in me.

Allow God to do it in you. Obey His leading.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Men for God

Wrapped up the conference this afternoon. We're headed back to Maine. I'll put up the final message notes tonight. What a great time in the Word of God!

Men for God - Session 3

Gary Stairs - "Long-haul Men"


Remember, the 'long-haul life' is not a sprint, but a marathon. It is a journey, and often journeys have Detours and Delays. They don't happen on our time-schedule.

Acts 16 - 2nd missionary journey

v. 1-5 - Great results. God is blessing. They increased in number daily.

v. 6-7 - Stopped in their tracks. The Holy Spirit said 'no.'


Paul had to submit to God's delay, but not quit. The delay made no human sense.

v. 8 - They listened to God

v. 9-10 - A vision appeared. God re-directed them and opened an incredible challenge because they chose to submit and remained committed to the long-haul.

v. 22-24 - Beaten and imprisoned - DELAYED

v. 25 - They kept on going. In the midst of a Midnight Experience, they persevered. Often in the midnight we find crisis, conspiracy, and confusion. Make the choice to keep going on. You can't understand what God is doing in the midnight, but you can make that choice to rejoice. The prisoners heard them.


v. 27-28 - People around us are also in a midnight hour. The jailer is at the point of death. Much like the teens in our culture, this jailer had given up hope and is at the point of suicide. Paul and Silas intervened because a life is on the line. They could have not said anything. The man that caused their DELAY was now vulnerable before them. They chose to intervene.


God has placed you where you are to answer this question for those around you. "Long-haul living" requires making choices. Make the right choices. Make the choice to submit and not quit. Make the choice to rejoice. And make the choice to intervene.

Allow God to lead you. Obey His promptings. 

Men for God - Session 2

Day two of the Men's Rally here at NBBI. I'm convinced that there is nothing quite like 300 men singing praises to our God. It is incredibly moving to listen to. What a great day that will be when we can all sing with one voice in heaven.

Gary Stairs
"Long-haul Men" - Tracking

Don't over complicate God's will. God's will is that we BE SAVED, then live life to the fullest UNDER HIS DIRECTION.

God's tracking system will never fail. It will never lead you down the wrong road.

You cannot know the will of God apart from the Word of God (the infallible tracking system).

Psalm 139 - We are not being asked to follow a fallible, man-made plan.

V. 1-6 - God is perfect in His knowledge. Totally complete. Socrates: "know thyself". God: "know the One who knows everything about you."

V. 7-12 - God is perfect in His Presence. He is always there to provide course corrections for "long-haul living".

V. 13-16 - God is perfect in His control. Let the one who knows what He is doing be in control.

V. 17-18 - God is perfect in His love. He takes care of us. We are never off His mind.

V. 23-24 - "lead me"- Perfect Submission to God's tracking system.

Allow God to lead. Obey His promptings.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Men for God - Session 1

I'm at the Men for God rally at NBBI today and tomorrow. So I'll be posting what notes I take down.

Gary Stairs
"Long-haul Living"

It's a marathon, not a sprint.
We want our lives to make a difference.

PAUL - Acts 26

You get to know a man by knowing his testimony.

V. 9 - Paul was religious, sincere, he wanted to make a difference, he was serious, admired, strict, he wanted to do many things...CONTRARY to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This is a life of FRUSTRATION and NO PEACE. (contrary - Matt. The disciples on the sea, the wind and waves were CONTRARY to the boat.)

V. 12 - The road to Damascas. Jesus speaks to Paul. God got Paul's attention. GOD CAN GET OUR ATTENTION. He put Paul in the dirt. It was a personal message. Only Paul heard the message.

V. 16 - "Stand up" God brought Paul from Pride to Humility. "I will make you a minister and a witness" (only through God's Power) God gave Paul PURPOSE.

The Purpose of long-haul living - "minister and witness"

The Plan of long-haul living - what God will reveal

We don't know all the plan, but God reveals it one step at a time. "You're going to have to trust Me."

At the end of a long-haul life, look back and say WOW WHAT A LIFE!

V. 17 - The Promise - "I will deliver you" - With God's promise we can trust in God in even the most difficult steps.

V. 19 - Paul was obedient

V. 22 - Paul endured and continued because of God's faithfulness. With His help we can enjoy living His way--the Long-haul life.

Allow God to work. Let Him get your attention. Obey what He reveals.

I believe that you can listen to the messages to the Men for God rally at www.nbbi.ca

Speak Carefully

"Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him." -Proverbs 26:4

In keeping with posts of late, today also has to do with proper, ethical speech. Solomon encourages us not to answer a fool according to his foolishness. All I can think of at the moment is how our culture presses us in the exact opposite way. Society would have us believe that if we do not answer an argument in a quick, witty way we are foolish and unwise. This could not be further from the truth.

When presented with an argument or a foolish matter, Solomon tells us that it is best not to answer. Now, some matters require a response, but keep in mind that your response does not need to be immediate, and it certainly does not have to be according to the foolishness of the fool. Choose your words carefully and speak on your own terms, not on his.

We are also told here what will happen if you do not pay attention to this proverb. You will become like the fool. By answering quickly, rashly, and abruptly you will have become a fool yourself. I can't think of better encouragement to heed this proverb. In essence, Solomon says if you want to be considered wise, do not answer a fool according to his folly.

Think about it for a moment. Are you becoming like the fools that you answer? Are you being pulled into the trap of foolish words? Be careful how you speak. Do not become a fool by answering him, even when you just want to keep him quiet. Let the Holy Spirit guide your tongue and only speak (1) the truth, (2) appropriately, and (3) carefully.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Speak Appropriately

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." -Proverbs 25:11

Do you ever read proverbs like this one and wonder what it means? The other day we looked at a proverb that warned us of the consequences of lying. Today we're going to look at a proverb that encourages us to speak appropriately. Let's break this one down for a moment. The topic in this short proverb is 'a word fitly spoken'. The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates this phrase as, "a word spoken at the right time". I think that conveys the idea of the text well. Solomon is describing appropriate speech.

A word spoken at the right time is like apples of gold. Both the fruit and the material are desirable things. Apples are sweet to the taste and pleasant to look at. Gold is a precious metal that is desired by many. A word spoken at the right time is as desirable as apples of gold. All who hear it will feel fulfilled and pleased. A word fitly spoken will be enjoyed by all who hear and considered as valuable.

Solomon goes on in his description of fitting words. Not only are they like apples of gold, he describes them as being 'in settings of silver.' I can't help but think that if I had something as valuable as an apple of gold I would not put it on a plain wood table or alone on some bookshelf. Something as valuable as that deserves to be placed in a valuable, beautiful setting of silver. An appropriate word will not only be pleasant to the ears, it will be spoken in the right setting.

Often, we commit to speaking the truth, but we fail to speak the truth at the right time. The truth can do a lot of damage if it isn't spoken and applied in the right situation. Let me ask you, are your words appropriate? Are they valuable and pleasing to those who hear? And are they spoken in the right setting? Commit to not only speaking truthful words, but also speaking truthful, appropriate words. Honor God with your speech and seek to build others up, imparting to grace to those who hear.

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." -Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Valley of Vision - Resurrection


Great was the joy of Israel's sons,
   when Egypt died upon the shore,
   Far greater the joy
   when the Redeemer's foe lay crushed in the dust.
Jesus strides forth as the victor,
   conquering of death, hell, and all opposing might;
He bursts the bands of death,
   tramples the powers of darkness down, and lives forever.
He, my gracious surety,
   apprehended for payment of my debt,
   comes forth from the prison house of the grave
   free, and triumphant over sin, Satan, and death.
Show me herein the proof that his vicarious offering is accepted,
   that the claims of justice are satisfied,
   that the devil's sceptre is shivered,
   that his wrongful throne is levelled.
Give me the assurance that in Christ I died,
   in him I rose,
   in his life I live, in his victory I triumph,
   in his ascension I shall be glorified.
Adorable Redeemer,
   thou who wast lifted up upon a cross
   art ascended to highest heaven.
Thou, who as Man of sorrows
   wast crowned with thorns,
   art now as Lord of life wreathed with glory.
Once, no shame more deep than thine,
   no agony more bitter,
   no death more cruel.
Now, no exaltation more high,
   no life more glorious,
   no advocate more effective.
Thou art in the triumph car leading captive
   thine enemies behind thee.
What more could be done than thou hast done!
   Thy death is my life,
   thy resurrection my peace,
   thy ascension my hope,
   thy prayers my comfort.

The Valley of Vision, p. 86-87, Banner of Truth Trust, 1975

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Speak the Truth

"A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who speaks lies will not escape." -Proverbs 19:5

I've been meaning to write this post a few days. I've finally found a few minutes to get it done.

Often the temptation for us to lie is strong. Let's face it, sometimes it is easy to just expand the facts of a story just a bit, or to cover up a mistake that we've made, or to take the credit for something we have not done. It is easy to lie. It is natural to us to speak falsehoods. Psalms 58 tells us that men go forth from the womb speaking lies. Since we have so many years of practice doing it, many times we don't even notice that we have lied.

I want to challenge you and I to stop lying. Put it away. Crucify the flesh and its passions daily. This little verse in Proverbs serves as a warning to us if we do not put away lying. Yes, lying may bring you temporary benefits, but God Almighty is listening. His Word says that he who speaks lies will escape. Put away lying. Avoid the sure punishment that will come.

How do we avoid the punishment? Speak the truth. Ephesians 4:25 says, "Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another." It would be a difficult thing to just drop lying. It is much easier to replace a sinful habit with a righteous one. So stop lying and speak the truth. Build your neighbor up with your words.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Truths About The Living God - Psalm 42:2

Psalm 42:2

"My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?"

What do we learn about the living God?

Think of a day in your life when it was extremely hot outside, and you were working or playing hard in the blazing sun. Perhaps you were running a marathon, or playing an indoor sport. I don't know. When you were done doing whatever it was you were doing, what did you do? I'm going to guess that you were thirsty, and that you got something to drink. That would be the logical thing wouldn't it? Remember that awful feeling of thirst? Your mouth was all dry and pasty, and hardly able to swallow anything. You would just about give anything for some water, or anything to cool you down.

Does your soul feel that way about God? Do you desire nothing more than to be in God's presence, and to experience a close relationship with Him? Do you want to be filled with Him? Jesus said in John 7:38, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink."

Now think of when you got your drink. I bet you didn't just sip it a little at a time. You probably chugged it down and possibly dumped some of it on your face, but it felt great didn't it? Oh and you probably didn't stop with just a couple swallows.

This is the way it should be in our relationship with God. You should always have that thirst for the living God, and when you are in His presence, you should be satisfied, refreshed, and renewed. If you don't thirst for the living God, chances are, you're filling yourself with other junk. Jesus said to the woman at the well in John 4:13, "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." Only God can fill that thirst that you have. Dwell in His presence, and always be thirsty for God. Only He can satisfy.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Valley of Vision - Reconciliation


Thou art beforehand with men
   for thou has reconciled thyself to the world through the cross,
   and dost beseech men to accept reconciliation.
It is my responsibility to grasp thy overtures of grace,
   for if thou, the offended part, act first with the word of appeasement,
   I need not call in question thy willingness to save,
   but must deplore my own foolish maliciousness;
If I do not come to thee as one who seeks thy favour,
   I live in contempt, anger, malice, self-sufficiency, and
   thou dost call it enmity.
Thou hast taught me the necessity of a Mediator, a Messiah,
   to be embraced in love with all my heart,
     as king to rule me,
     as prophet to guide me,
     as priest to take away my sin and death,
   and this by faith in thy beloved Son who teaches me
   not to guide myself,
   not to obey myself,
   not to try to rule and conquer sin,
   but to cleave to the one who will do all for me.
Thou has make known to me
   that to save me is Christ’s work,
   but to cleave to him by faith is my work,
   and with this faith is the necessity of my daily repentance
   as a mourning for the sin which Christ by grace has removed.
Continue, O God, to teach me
   that faith apprehends Christ’s righteousness
   not only for the satisfaction of justice,
   but as unspotted evidence of thy love to me.
Help me to make use of his work of salvation as the ground of peace
   and of thy favour to, and acceptance of me the sinner,
   so that I may live always near the cross.

The Valley of Vision, Banner of Truth Trust, 1975

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 28:18-20

"And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to then end of the age." Amen." -Matthew 28:18-20

To whom is this command spoken?

This command is spoken to the disciples that had gathered in Galilee on the mountain that Jesus had appointed.

What does this command require?

Go and make disciples of all the nations by baptizing of them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and by teaching them to observe all things that Jesus had commanded.

What truths do we learn through this command?

Let's just break this down by the various phrases of these verses.

Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth. He is the Master. There is no one who has authority over Him. Surely this is a reason to obey Him. Keep in mind that Jesus begins this final command by appealing to His authority. He is God.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations. This is perhaps the trickiest part of the command. Is the command 'Go' or is the command 'make disciples'? In the Greek, the imperative in this phrase is 'make disciples.' What we have translated as 'Go' literally means as you are going. Some use this knowledge to excuse their disobedience. Jesus doesn't excuse not going, but rather He assumes that His disciples will go as a part of their disciple-making. Going is essential to making disciples of all nations. The only way that Jesus disciples would reach some from all nations is going.

What does it mean to make a disciple? The word disciple literally means learner. So disciple-making innately involves making learners of Jesus. I believe that all of Jesus' disciples are to be life-long learners. Learners never stop learning. Learners keep studying and keep obeying Jesus until they meat Jesus face to face.

Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Baptism is a matter of obedience, not preference. Jesus commands it as part of making disciples. As a disciples of Christ, you must be baptized. There is much truth here regarding the doctrine of the Trinity. Notice that Jesus says that there is one name, yet three persons. Three in one, one in three, oh what perfect tri-unity.

Teach them to observe all that Jesus commanded. This phrase is why we began this study in the first place. In order to teach all that Jesus commanded, you must know what Jesus commanded. Read through the Gospels and search for the commands of Christ. Seek them not just for knowledge but also for obedience. Put into practice that which you seek to teach. Follow all of Christ's commands, not just some of them.

What are the blessings of obedience and the consequences for disobedience?

Reaching the lost and seeing disciples grow into disciple-makers are two of the blessings of obedience. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing one of your own learners seek someone out to teach themselves. This honors God and brings Him glory.

Disobedience to this command results in failing to reach the world for Christ.

Disciples, seek to be obedient to your Master. Honor Him by making disciples of all the nations. By the way, He will be with you always, even to the end of the age.

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 28:9-10

"And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" So they came and held Him by the feed and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me." -Matthew 28:9-10

To whom is this command spoken?

Mary and Mary Magdalene (v. 1)

What does this command require?

Rejoice! Do not be afraid. Go and tell [the disciples] to go to Galilee.

What truths do we learn here?

This is Jesus first appearance after His resurrection. Mary and Mary Magdalene came to see the tomb where Jesus was laid. There they saw an angel of the Lord and heard him declare that Jesus had risen from the dead. As they were on their way back to tell the disciples, Jesus met them and said, "Rejoice!" What a happy, joyous occasion this is! Jesus is alive. Rejoice! The women fell at His feet and worshiped Him. They were overjoyed at this awesome event.

Jesus then gives them instructions. First, He says to them, "Do not be afraid." Certainly that would have been a possibility, after all, Jesus was beaten and crucified just three days earlier. There is no reason to fear, however. Jesus is alive and in the flesh. He appeared to the women in bodily form, not as a spirit or as a ghost. The women were able to hold Him by the feet.

Secondly, Jesus says to these two women, "Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me." I find this intriguing because Jesus was there on the road to the tomb. Why couldn't the disciples have met Him on that same road? Whatever the reasoning, Jesus commands these two women to give a specific message to the disciples.

Mary and Mary Magdalene were obedient to Jesus. Later in this chapter we find the disciples gathering in Galilee on the mountain that Jesus had appointed. Tomorrow we will look at the final command in the book of Matthew, the Great Commission.

What are the blessings of obedience?

Because the women were obedient and gave the disciples the message that Jesus spoke to them, the disciples then went to Galilee where Jesus appeared to them to give them the Great Commission.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Living Godly in Christ Jesus

The other day I was going through my Bible reading plan, and read 2 Timothy chapter 3, verse 12, which says,

"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

This sentence has stuck in my head. When I read this verse, I can't help but ask, am I really living godly in Christ Jesus? In North America we really don't suffer very much. You have to wonder why. "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." This is a promise. If we are really living godly lives, the way we are intended to live, we are going to suffer persecution. If you're not suffering, examine your own life and see why. We can never be too holy, despite what some people may think. We must press on towards the goal, which is holiness.

The disciples and Christians that we read about in the book of Acts suffered. Why? Because they were completely obedient to Jesus' commands. He said preach the gospel. They preached the gospel, and they suffered for it. Think about this today. If you're not suffering persecution, it's possible that you're not living the godly life you should be.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Truths About The Living God - 2 Kings 19:4, 16

2 Kings 19:4, 16

"It may be that the LORD  your God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the LORD your God has heard. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left....Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God."

This passage is very similar to the previous passage we looked at in 1 Samuel. The same word reproach is used in both passages. What does it mean?

First of all, let's look at the word as a verb, since that is the way it is used here. There are a few definitions:

1. To charge with a fault in a severe language.
2. To upbraid; to suggest blame for any thing.
3. To treat with scorn or contempt.

Reproach as a noun is defined as:

1. Censure mingled with contempt or derision; contumelious or opprobrious language towards any person; abusive reflections; as foul-mouthed reproach.
2. Shame; infamy; disgrace.
3. Object of contempt, scorn or derision.
4. That which is the cause of shame or disgrace.

If you read the context of these verses, you'll see the whole story. The king of Assyria and his minions were boasting against Israel and against God, mocking them, and reproaching the living God. The Assyrians did not realize who they were dealing with. This is the living God they're speaking so disrespectfully about. They classified Jehovah with all the false gods of the day. Little did they know, they were extremely wrong, and they would soon receive their just reward. Look at what happens to these wicked people:

"And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses--all dead. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh. Now it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the temple of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Then Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place." - 2 Kings 19:35-37

What do we learn about the living God?

As we have previously seen, the living God is to be taken seriously. He is the one and only living God. He is infinitely holy, set apart from all other things. It is a serious thing to mock Jehovah, and to treat Him with scorn, or to speak wrongfully about Him. It is a fearful thing to be contrary to the living God. Those who blaspheme Him will ultimately pay the price, as Sennacherib got what he deserved. But those of us who are saved by Jesus Christ must every day acknowledge God's holiness. He deserves all we can give Him. Some have tried to display God as our "buddy," but God is not our buddy. He is the living, almighty God. We must display reverence to Him. It is true, God loves us and desires a close relationship with Him, but He must be honored, as a child should honor his father.

When we have a correct view of God, which is a high one, we will have a correct view of ourselves, which will be a humble one. We also will see sin for what it is: an attack on God. So having a correct view of God will lead to a life of holiness, which is what we should all be striving for. As we strive to be holy, we must not do it on our own strength, because we will surely fail. We must always depend on the Holy Spirit to enable us to live a holy life. Do you have a correct view of God? If you do, you will not tolerate sin in your own life.

Friday, January 13, 2012

When Becoming A Foreign Missionary

Back in my freshman year at NBBI, a missionary came to our missions class. He gave us this very helpful information, which I hope you will find just as useful. 

When Becoming a Foreign Missionary:

       I.      Be sure you are called by GOD.
a.       If you aren’t doing something here, you won’t be doing anything there.

    II.      In the field, remember: you are the foreigner. They didn’t invite you. God called you. Adapt.

 III.      Learn to discern between God’s Word and your culture or preferences.
a.       You are there to preach the Word, not to share your preferences/culture.

 IV.      Make it clear what you will do and what you won’t do.
a.       You aren’t going there to be their savior. Christ already did that.

    V.      Keep it balanced
a.       Ministry
b.      Health
1.      Spiritual
2.      Emotional
3.      Physical
c.       Relationships
d.      Family life

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 26:51-54

"And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. But Jesus said to him, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?" -Matthew 26:51-54

To whom is this command spoken?

Spoken to Peter (John 18:10).

What does this command require?

Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.

What truths do we learn here?

Jesus is more interested in fulfilling what He was sent to earth to accomplish than protecting His own life. Peter missed this point. He didn't want his Master to die. Peter took matters into his own hands and tried to split Malchus in two. I wonder what Peter was thinking. Remember, there is a whole multitude of people with swords and clubs that are here to arrest Jesus. I think that Peter was trying to fulfill what he had said earlier in this chapter. Take a look at Matthew 26:33 - "Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble." 

Jesus didn't need Peter's help. As Jesus says here, He could have called out to the Father and more than twelve legions of angels would be at His command. But this was not Jesus plan. Jesus knew that things had to happen this way in order to fulfill the Scriptures. 

What are the blessings of obedience? the consequences for disobedience?

Peter putting his sword in its place allowed Scripture to be fulfilled, just as God had planned.

If Peter disobeyed Jesus, Peter would have probably been killed by this mob. (all who take the sword will perish by the sword))

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 26:36-43

"Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there." And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done." And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand." -Matthew 26:36-46

To whom are these commands spoken?

The first command is spoken to the disciples. I believe that Judas is not present here because a little later in the chapter, Judas comes with the great multitude to arrest Jesus. The second and third commands are spoken to Peter and James and John. The fourth is spoken to all the disciples.

What do these commands require?

Sit here while I go and pray over there. (for all the disciples)
Stay here and watch with Me. (for Peter, James, and John)
Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation (for Peter, James, and John)
Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand. (for all the disciples)

What truths do we learn from these commands?

There is much to be learned here. The time of Jesus betrayal is soon coming, and Jesus brings His disciples to Gethsemane to pray. To the rest of the disciples He commanded them to sit and pray, then He took Peter, James, and John (His 'inner three' disciples) further into the garden to pray. Jesus was exceedingly sorrowful at this time. He was agonizing over His forthcoming death. He commanded these three disciples to 'watch' with Him.

Jesus goes a little further into the garden by Himself to pray. He then falls on His face and cries out to the Lord, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." After this prayer, Jesus returns to find the three disciples sleeping. They couldn't stay awake. Perhaps they didn't fully understand the gravity of the situation Jesus was facing. Perhaps they were just too tired. Perhaps they didn't understand what Jesus meant by 'watch with Me.' So Jesus commands them again to watch but this time He adds to the command and says, 'Watch and pray.'

Again Jesus goes away and prays to His Father and again He returns to find the disciples sleeping. This time He didn't wake them up and He didn't give them another command. So Jesus went and prayed again by Himself. After this third session of prayer, Jesus returns and wakes up the disciples. One final command is given them, "Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand."

What are the consequences for disobedience?

The disciples failed to obey Jesus here. He commanded them to pray and they slept instead. They failed to understand what was really going on. They failed to pray.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 26:26-30

"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom." And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." -Matthew 26:26-30

To whom are these commands spoken?

Jesus is with His disciples in the upper room. Here He institutes the Lord's Supper with them.

What do these commands require?

Take, eat; this is My body. Drink from [the cup], all of you.

What truths do we learn here?

Rather than exposit all of these verses, I would just like to look at the truth surrounding these two simple commands. First, Jesus commands the disciples to take and eat of the bread. The bread represents His body. It doesn't become the body of Christ, but is simply a representation of it. Second, Jesus commands them to drink from the cup, which represents Jesus' blood.

This whole ceremony is a representation of the new covenant established by Jesus sacrificial death on the cross.  It is the beginning of the fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:31-34 which says, "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." -Jeremiah 31:31-34

It seems that each command that we cover reveals how privileged the disciples were to receive these commands directly from our Lord. I can't think of anything more thrilling than participating in the fulfillment of God's Word and the revealing of God's plan. This brings new meaning to celebrating the Lord's Supper for me. It means that each time we partake of the Lord's Supper we proclaim that there is forgiveness of sins, knowledge of the Lord, and a new covenant with God. All of this is because of Jesus death on the cross and resurrection.

What are the consequences for disobedience?

Simply put, if you disobey this, you are missing out on one of the biggest blessings of the Christian life.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Book Review: What the Bible Says About... Being A Man

By J. Richard Fugate
Published by Foundation for Biblical Research, 223 pages

There is a great lack of real men in our world, even among Christians. But what does it mean to be a real man? J. Richard Fugate has divided this book into four sections, the first entitled Where Are We and How Did We Get Here? In this section the author explains the historical, social, philosophical, and spiritual reasons why there are real men missing in our society. In section two, called The Make-up of Man's Soul - Who Am I? Fugate describes the creation of mankind, along with the differences between men and women, physically, mentally, etcetera. In section three, The Functions of a Biblical Man - Who Should I Be?, the writer gives a clear explanation of the biblical role of man. Lastly, in section four, The Ultimate Role of Biblical Manhood - Leadership, J. Richard Fugate tells what biblical leadership is, what biblical leaders look like, and the roles that must be filled.

The author does a wonderful job of using Scripture to support his points. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it very helpful to me. I liked the use of history, the Bible, and even humor throughout the book. I really learned many things about being a man, and what I should be striving for. It really gave me a sense of purpose, and a good understanding of who I am and who I should be.

The book is really written for married men, but it is better to learn these things before marriage, so as to be a better husband from the start. So whether you are married, single, or not even thinking about any of that, I recommend this book for all men. Perhaps you have a skewed understanding of what being a man is. J. Richard Fugate will guide you, from the Bible, on what things may need to change in your life, and what things you may be already doing right. The book is 223 pages of large font, making it a very easy read. If you can get your hands on it, do it. Be a real man. Be God's man.

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 26:18

"And He said, "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, 'The Teacher says, "My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples."'" -Matthew 26:18

To whom is this command spoken?

The previous verse indicates Jesus is speaking to His disciples.

What does this command require?

Go into the city to a certain man. Tell him that this message from Jesus, "My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples."

What truths do we learn from this command?

Jesus' earthly ministry is coming to an end. He has spent three years with the disciples teaching and training them to be sent out after His death and resurrection. The events are all falling into place and soon Jesus will be crucified. Jesus realizes this and sends His disciples to prepare for the Passover, which would become what we remember as 'the Last Supper.'

Once again, we find that Jesus has a specific plan in mind. He didn't send the disciples to just anyone to prepare the Passover. He sent the disciples to a certain man. This man was a man who had a house with an upper room. He would have been a man that was obedient to the things of God. He was a man appointed by God for this specific time.

What are the blessings of obedience?

The disciples were obedient to this command. Jesus sent them to get things ready for the Passover, and they obeyed. Because of their obedience, the disciples saw the plan of God unfolding before their eyes and they participated with Jesus in this final Passover.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 25:13

"Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." -Matthew 25:13

To whom is this command spoken?

This is a continuation of Jesus' discourse in response to the disciple's question: what will be the sign of your coming?

What does this command require?

The word translated 'watch' literally means to keep awake or to be vigilant. So the command here keep awake,  watch intently.

What truths do we learn here?

Jesus is coming back. There is no doubt about it. Some have tried to put a date down as to when He will return, but we know from this verse that we do not know the day or the hour in which Jesus is coming. The previous verses record for us a short parable about ten virgins in order to help us understand this command. Five of the virgins were wise and five were foolish. They were all waiting for their bridegroom to return for them. When the bridegroom returned, the foolish virgins didn't have any oil in their lamps so they asked the five wise virgins for some oil. The wise didn't lend any oil to the foolish for their might not have been sufficient for all. When the bridegroom returned, those who were wise entered into the wedding with him and the door was shut behind them. When the foolish returned from buying oil they said, "Lord, Lord, open to us!" but he answered them, "I do not know you."

This short parable teaches us a vital truth about Jesus return. We must be ready for Him to come. The wise virgins put oil in their lamps and waited for the return of the bridegroom. They knew he was coming back, and they looked for his coming. The foolish virgins did not prepare for his return. How sad it will be for those who do not prepare for Christ's return. He will say to them, "I do not know you." There is no second chances for those who hear those words from Jesus. When He returns, you must have already made your choice to follow Him.

So the question for you and I this morning is: Am I ready and waiting for Christ's return? O Christian, do not slumber or grow weary of waiting for your King. He is coming back on a day that we are not expecting. Let us eagerly await His return and let us be faithful in our preparation for our King. "But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good." -2 Thessalonians 3:13

If you have not trusted Christ as your Lord and Savior, the question for you is: What is keeping you from trusting in Jesus for salvation? The time is short. Jesus' return is unexpected. You must make your choice before He returns. Why not trust Him today? Why not admit that you cannot save yourself and that you need a Savior? He is eagerly awaiting your call. Come to Jesus, lay your sin at His feet, stop living for yourself and live for Him. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household." -Acts 16:31

What are the consequences of disobedience? the blessings for obedience?

If you are disobedient, you will hear Jesus say to you, "I do not know you."

If you are obedient, you will enter the wedding, just as the wise virgins in the parable.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, New Home

Alicia and I have moved from Presque Isle to Belgrade. We're not sure if this is a permanent move yet, but we're seeking the Lord's guidance and we are confident that He will reveal His plan for us as the days go by. Please join us in praying for our future.