45 minutes | Jun 5, 2023
The Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1-8)
The Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unjust Judge in Luke 18:1-8 is commonly misunderstood. The wrong interpretation is, “Be persistent in prayer until God gives you what you want.” The correct interpretation is if an unjust judge can be persuaded to give justice to a woman he has no regard for, then how much more will God, who is just, give justice to his elect whom he loves. Table of contentsAlways Praying Without Losing Heart“Ought Always to Pray” Involves a Disposition Toward GodWe Can “Lose Heart” When Praying Because It Is Hard WorkWhat the Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unjust Judge TeachesThe Judge with no Regard for JusticeThe Persistent Widow Who Wants JusticeParables Don't Give all the DetailsGod's View of WidowsThe Widow Only Had Her PersistenceThe Point of the Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unjust JudgeThe Widow Represents Us…to an ExtentThe Incorrect Interpretation of the Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unjust JudgeThe Correct Interpretation of the Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unjust JudgeWhen Will God Provide this Justice?There Have Always Been "Widows" Wanting JusticeDo We Have Faith Like the Widow?The Parable of the Persistent Widow Makes Us Wonder, "Why the Delay?"Footnotes https://youtu.be/rmSjtzzEvHE The Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unjust Judge in Luke 18:1-8 teaches God, who is just, give justice to his elect, whom he loves. The chapter breaks in Scripture are helpful, but they were added by man. One of the dangers with them is they can cause us to think, “This is a new chapter, so it must not be related to the previous chapter.” But it’s the opposite with The Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unjust Judge. We need to keep the previous chapter in mind to interpret the parable correctly. Everything Jesus taught in Luke 18:1-8 flows from his teaching at the end of Luke 17 on his Second Coming. The second half of Luke 18:8 says, "when the Son of Man comes." This is the context. The parable is related to Jesus’s Second Coming. Robert Stein wrote, “The parable serves as a concluding illustration to Luke 17:22-37 [about Jesus’s Second Coming].”1 John MacArthur’s sermon on The Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unjust Judge is titled, “Persistent Prayer for the Lord’s Return.” Always Praying Without Losing Heart Jesus knew that as his disciples waited for his return, they could become discouraged, lose heart, and begin to doubt, so... Luke 18:1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. It’s a theme in Scripture that we ought always to pray: Romans 12:12 says, "be constant in prayer" Ephesians 6:18 says, "praying at all times" Colossians 4:2 says, "continue steadfastly in prayer" 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, "pray without ceasing" When I was Catholic, there was only one way to pray: kneeling with your eyes closed, head bowed, and hands folded. I remember one time when someone wanted to pray with me and I thought we couldn’t pray, because we couldn’t kneel. When I became a Christian I learned that we didn’t have to pray this way, but I read verses like this one that we ought always to pray, and I was confused. I thought, “How could I pray all the time? I won’t have time for anything else, such as eating, working, or even sleeping, because I can’t pray while I sleep.” To be honest, if you’re like me, and you have trouble sleeping, you pray because you know it will help you fall back to sleep. “Ought Always to Pray” Involves a Disposition Toward God We are not expected to – literally – pray all the time. There’s a place for concentrated prayer times, but praying all the time refers to a receptive disposition toward God. Let me give you an example that I believe illustrates this. When we lived in California, one of my good friends, Pat Mundy, was a cop. One time I was with him, and he noticed someone he said, “didn’t look right.
17 minutes | Jun 1, 2023
God’s Preparation Process for Abraham, David, and Us (Philippians 1:6)
How does God prepare us for service? Philippians 1:6 says, "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Read or listen to this chapter from my book, A Father Offers His Son, to learn about God's preparation process for Abraham, David, and us! Table of contentsGod's Preparation Process for AbrahamGod Prepared Abraham through Their RelationshipGod Prepared Abraham through Previous TestsThe Family TestThe Walk by Faith TestThe Famine TestThe Fear of Man TestThe Generosity TestThe Compassion TestThe Giving TestThe Spiritual Leader TestThe Circumcision TestThe Integrity TestThe Ishmael TestGod's Preparation Process for DavidGod's Preparation Process for UsThe Danger of Forgetting God’s Past FaithfulnessWe Can Be Confident God Is Preparing Us (Philippians 1:6) How does God prepare us for service? Philippians 1:6 says, "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." God has preparation process for us to complete us. God's Preparation Process for Abraham We doubt that we could be like him if given a a test of such magnitude. But God prepared Abraham for the test in Genesis 22, and it should be an encouragement that He also prepares us for the trials and tests we face, such as the Coronavirus. God Prepared Abraham through Their Relationship By the time Genesis 22 takes place, Abraham had a deep history with God. Abraham had been through many experiences with God, and as a result, he knew Him. When Abraham interceded for Sodom, he talked God down from fifty righteous people to ten righteous people (Genesis 18:32). The exchange looked like a conversation between friends, which is fitting since three times in Scripture Abraham is called God’s friend (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23). At points, Abraham worried about pushing God too far, but the longer they talked, the more Abraham learned about God’s patience and graciousness. Experiences in relationships can allow trust to build. Abraham had been through so much with God that he trusted Him, even when He asked him to sacrifice his son. When Abraham first met God back in Genesis 12, could he have passed the same test he passed in Genesis 22? Did Abraham have the faith in Genesis 12 to do what he did in Genesis 22? I doubt it. God prepared Abraham for Genesis 22 in the previous ten chapters. Abraham needed great faith to sacrifice Isaac, and God built that faith in Abraham through their relationship. For example, Abraham believed God would raise Isaac from the dead, and God convinced Abraham He could raise Isaac from the dead by bringing two other bodies back to life—his and Sarah’s. Abraham knew he and Sarah could no longer have children. Their bodies were “dead,” but: And not being weak in faith, (Abraham) did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. Romans 4:19-21 Abraham believed God could raise Isaac from the dead. Why? He experienced God supernaturally raise his and Sarah’s “dead” bodies in their old age so they could have Isaac. God Prepared Abraham through Previous Tests God also prepared Abraham for the test of Genesis 22 through the tests He gave him in the previous chapters. The Family Test Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house.” Genesis 12:1a This is the “Family Test” that involved leaving his relatives behind. Abraham failed by bringing his nephew, Lot. The Walk by Faith Test Now the Lord had said to Abram: “[Go] to a land that I will show you.” Genesis 12:1b At the same time,
42 minutes | May 28, 2023
The Battle of Armageddon and One Will Be Taken and the Other Left (Luke 17:33-37 and Revelation 19:11-21)
In Luke 17:33-37 Jesus taught "one will be taken and the other left." People are “left” to enter the kingdom. Other people are “taken” in judgment to the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19:11-21). This resembles the way the wicked people in Noah’s day were "taken" by the flood. Table of contentsGive Up This Life to Receive Eternal LifeLot’s Wife Sought to Preserve Her Life but Lost It Noah and Lot Lost Their Lives to Keep ThemHow Does "Losing Our Life" Relate to the Second Coming?Why Is Luke 17:36 Missing? The Prophetic TimelinePeople Are “Taken” to the Battle of Armageddon People Are “Left” to Enter the KingdomThe Birds (Visibility) and Corpses (Judgment) of the Battle of ArmageddonJesus's Two ComingsThe Sword Out of Jesus's Mouth Defeats the Enemies at the Battle of ArmageddonThe Battle of Armageddon Will Be Like a WinepressJesus's Names in Revelation 19The Battle of Armageddon Is an Execution Versus a BattleEternal Torment in Hell Versus AnnihilationOne Will Be Taken and the Other Left to Separate the Saved and Lost https://youtu.be/AqSbMD94btA In Luke 17:33-37 Jesus taught "one will be taken and the other left." People are “left” to enter the kingdom. Other people are “taken” in judgment to the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19:11-21). This resembles the way the wicked people in Noah’s day were "taken" by the flood. Give Up This Life to Receive Eternal Life A paradox is a statement that seems contradictory, inconsistent, untrue, or even absurd, but is still true. There are several paradoxes in Scripture: Matthew 23:11 says, "Whoever wants to be greatest, should be everyone’s servant." Mark 9:35 says, "Anyone who wants to be first, must be the very last." 2 Corinthians 6:10 says, "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything." If you’re sorrowful you’re not rejoicing, if you’re poor you don’t make others rich, and if you have nothing, you don’t possess everything. 2 Corinthians 12:10 and 13:9 say, "When we are weak we are strong." When you’re weak you’re not strong. James 1:2 says, "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials. Joy is the last thing you experience in trials." Luke 17:33 says, "Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it." This is one of the most well-known paradoxes in the Bible. The paradoxical nature is immediately noticeable: You can’t preserve your life and lose it. Preserving your life means you did NOT lose it. You can’t lose your life and keep it. Losing your life means you did NOT keep it. It’s easier to understand this paradox if the verse is broken in half. When Jesus says, "Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it," He’s referring to people who live for this life and pursue what the world offers. These people will not find eternal life. Then when Jesus says, "but whoever loses his life will keep it," He’s referring to people who give up their earthly lives for Him. If we do this, we will find eternal life. It’s like Paul said in Philippians 1:21 that "to live is Christ." We surrender to Him, inviting Him to use us in whatever ways He deems best. It’s the language of Romans 12:1: "Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." We are no longer living for ourselves. We’re living for the Lord. Jim Elliot famously said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Lot’s Wife Sought to Preserve Her Life but Lost It Luke 17:33 flows perfectly from the previous verses, because they contain three examples of what Luke 17:33 describes. Lot’s wife looked back to her true home, Sodom, which she valued more than the next life that God had for her. She is a perfect example of someone who sought to preserve her life but lost it. Noah and Lot Lost Their Lives to Keep Them On the other hand,
23 minutes | May 26, 2023
Bible Verses About Working Diligently Apply to Everyone (Proverbs 13:4)
Proverbs 13:4 says, "The soul of the diligent is swiftly supplied." The Bible verses about working diligently should encourage and challenge everyone. Read or listen to this chapter from Work and Rest God’s Way to learn about diligence in the Bible. Table of contentsThe Importance of DiligenceApply the Principle of Putting Off and Putting OnRemember, Stopping Is Only the First StepPut on Working DiligentlyProverbs Are Generalities, but not GuaranteesWorking Diligently Produces WealthWorking Diligently Leads to PromotionsMy Example from Army ROTCJoseph's ExampleDavid's ExampleJesus's ExampleWorking Diligently Means Finishing What You BeginWorking Diligently Produces SatisfactionA Diligent HeartSpiritual DiligenceFootnotes The Importance of Diligence Maybe you’re reading this book because you want to be more diligent, repent of laziness, find joy in work, learn to rest, or all of the above. Changing is hard. As a pastor, I’ve heard many people say, “I’m going to stop this” or “I’m going to start that.” I’ve said the same myself. Only 64 percent of New Year’s resolutions last longer than the first month, and only 46 percent last longer than six months. We often begin well, but within a short period of time, we find ourselves resuming what we committed to stopping or stopping what we committed to starting. How can we change…for good? Apply the Principle of Putting Off and Putting On The single greatest reason we fail to change, at least regarding sin, is we “put off” without “putting on.” When we hear the word “repent,” unfortunately we often think only of stopping, but we must also think of starting. If there’s a sin we want to repent of, we must replace it with a corresponding behavior. John the Baptist is a man whose message can be summarized in the word “repent.” He said, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8 and Luke 3:8). We don’t typically associate repentance (stopping) with bearing fruit (starting), but we should. The apostle Paul also knew how to preach repentance. In Acts 26:20 he said, “Repent, turn to God (stopping), and do works befitting repentance (starting).” This is known as putting off and putting on, or severing and replacing, and it’s explained in Ephesians 4: Verse 25 says, “Put away lying.” This is what we put off, followed by: “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor.” This is what we put on. We can’t simply stop lying. We must also make a conscious effort to start telling the truth; ensure what we say is accurate. Verse 28 says, “Let him who stole steal no longer.” This is what we put off, followed by: “Rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” We can’t simply stop stealing. We must replace theft with hard work and generosity. Since this is a book about work’s blessings, it’s worth noticing that it serves as a remedy for theft! Verse 29 says, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth.” This is what we put off, followed by: “But what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” We can’t simply stop saying unwholesome things. We must intentionally speak words that edify and encourage. Verse 31 sums it up: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” Put off all this, and then put on verse 32: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Paul makes the same point in Colossians 3: Verse 8 says, “Now you are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.” Verses 12 and 13 say, “Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another.” When we repent of the sins in verse 8, we’ll produce the fruit in verse 12. The actions are presented in opposing pairs. If there’s a sin that you need to repent of,
17 minutes | May 22, 2023
How to Avoid Spiritual Laziness (Hebrews 12:4)
When we hear the word lazy, we almost always think physically, but what about spiritually (Hebrews 12:4)? Read or listen to this chapter from Work and Rest God’s Way to see how to avoid spiritual laziness. Table of contentsThe Dangers of Spiritual LazinessA Field (or Life) Overgrown with Thorns and WeedsDon’t Rest on Previous Labor to Avoid Spiritual LazinessLaziness Toward Spiritual DisciplinesLaziness Toward Temptation and SinMental LazinessBe Encouraged by Christ's Second Coming to Avoid Spiritual LazinessFootnotes When we hear the word “lazy,” we might immediately think of an unemployed forty year old living in his parents’ basement, or people on welfare who are capable of working. They’re physically lazy, but what about spiritual laziness? We aren’t sleeping in bed all day or standing on street corners asking for money, but are there other ways we’re lazy, such as spiritually? The Dangers of Spiritual Laziness The following verses begin with another strong criticism of physical laziness, but they introduce a spiritual application that we’re wise to consider: I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man (Proverbs 24:30–34). The end of these verses is repeated from Proverbs 6:10–11. God wants to make sure we don’t miss two points. First, there’s a strong association between sleep and laziness. Second, unexpected disaster awaits the lazy. The words “saw…considered…looked” reveal that the father studied the field owned by the lazy man who lacks sense (devoid of understanding), just as he earlier instructed his son to study the ant. Wise people learn by observation, and just as we can learn from good examples (the ant), we can also learn from bad examples (the lazy man). The lazy man’s neglect is evident by the shambles and overgrown weeds infesting his property. The dilapidated state leaves the owner without profit. The owner is responsible for the ruin of his own field, depicting the way lazy people ruin whatever they encounter. Proverbs 18:9 says, “He who is slothful in his work is a brother to (or is like) him who is a great destroyer.” What exactly do lazy people destroy, or waste, besides fields they own? Two things: the talents God has given them and the time of people investing in them. Lazy people do such a bad job “working” that whatever they do will have to be thrown out or done again. They’re more work than help. A sluggard is painful as an employee; no boss wants an inefficient sluggard who won’t get the job done. Proverbs 10:26 says, “As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy man to those who send him.” Vinegar in our mouths and smoke in our eyes isn’t deadly, but it is annoying, just like a lazy employee. A Field (or Life) Overgrown with Thorns and Weeds Thorns appear in the sluggard’s life like they appear in his field. In both cases, he’s too lazy to remove them: “The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns” (Proverbs 15:19). A field representing a person’s life is a common metaphor in Scripture. Jesus told the parable of the sower with the different soils (fields) representing different people (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23). Regarding the ways God used Paul and Apollos in people’s lives, Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field” (1 Corinthians 3:6, 9). When God described the work His Word does in people’s lives, He said: For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud,
17 minutes | May 17, 2023
Are You Looking for a Christian Finance Workbook?
Are you looking for a Christian finance workbook that is based on biblical principles? Read or listen to the Introduction to the Your Finances God’s Way Workbook to see why it stands out among finance workbooks. Table of contentsA Finance Workbook for ChristiansKeeping God’s Word in Your HeartA Christian Finance Workbook Heps You Be a Doer Versus Only a ReaderFinancial Storms Will ComeThe Importance of ObedienceResponse Determines OutcomeWisdom and Foolishness RevealedThis Finance Workbook Offers the Benefit of Writing on LearningUsing This Christian Finance Workbook A Finance Workbook for Christians Finances are one of our most important stewardships. If for no other reason than that, we should want to manage them well. So, let me commend you—you went beyond simply reading Your Finances God’s Way to also purchasing this accompanying workbook. You are investing time and energy (spiritual, mental, and emotional) to learn how to handle money in ways that please God and bring Him glory. Keeping God’s Word in Your Heart As a pastor, I’ve spent numerous hours doing counseling. The time with people has given me familiarity with the most common problems people face. I have seen them struggle and then find the solutions in God’s Word, which provides us with wisdom for every area of life, including finances. When I ask you to trust God’s Word, I do so because I have seen it work in my life as well as the lives of people I’ve counseled. This workbook is designed to encourage practical application and bring real change (because that’s what applying scriptural truth does—it brings about change). For this to happen, we must keep God’s Word in our heart, as it repeatedly reminds us: “These words that I command you today shall be on your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:6). “The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip” (Psalm 37:31). “I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8). “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). “Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart” (Job 22:22). While Your Finances God’s Way is not the Word of God, it is a guide filled with the Word of God. I have written this workbook to help you apply the teaching from the book and keep God’s Word in your heart. As Jesus said, “The good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15). A Christian Finance Workbook Heps You Be a Doer Versus Only a Reader From years of weightlifting, I’ve had lower back issues. I’ll go to the physical therapist and learn the stretches and exercises I’m supposed to do at home, but I rarely do them. My wonderful wife, Katie, repeatedly says, “Why do you go to those appointments if you’re not going to do what you’re told?” I don’t have a good answer. My actions indicate that I think simply going to the appointments helps me, but I’m deceiving myself. We make the same mistake when we read scriptural truth but fail to apply it to our lives. James 1:22 says, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” This verse reveals a common mistake I make with the physical therapist and many of us make with God’s Word: We learn it without applying it to our lives. We do this with our finances when we believe we have done enough simply by learning what the Bible teaches about money, reading Christian finance books, and attending Christian conferences or Bible studies on money. But as believers, our responsibility goes much further than simply obtaining information. We must also apply it, or none of the knowledge we gain will be of any benefit. We do not learn God’s Word simply for the sake of acquiring knowledge. We learn it so that we can apply it and better serve the Lord. Jesus said, “My mother and My brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it…If you know these things,
40 minutes | May 15, 2023
Why We Should Remember Lot’s Wife (Luke 17:32 and Genesis 19:26)
Jesus told us to remember Lot’s wife (Luke 17:32). Genesis 19:26 says she became a pillar of salt. What should we learn about her? Table of contentsThe Two People in Scripture to RememberWhy It's Surprising We're Told to Remember Lot's WifeDon't Look Back!Lot’s Wife Shows the Lord Knows How to Rescue the Godly and Punish the UnrighteousLot’s Wife Disregarded God’s GraceThe Grace Lot's Wife ReceivedLot’s Wife Disobeyed Divine CommandsLot’s Wife Loved the WorldWhy Lot's Wife Wanted to Remain in SodomSodom Is a Type or Shadow of the WorldLot’s Wife Was Close to SalvationWhat Should We Remember About Lot's Wife?Examine Yourself https://youtu.be/cMyNs7ppUWQ The Two People in Scripture to Remember There are only two people in Scripture we are told to remember. One is Jesus Himself: Luke 22:19 He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” The other person is, surprisingly, Lot’s wife. If you told me there was a person in Scripture to remember, besides Jesus, I would guess someone like Abraham, David, or Daniel for two reasons: Their godliness - I could imagine Jesus telling us to remember one of these men, because of how godly they were and how much there is to learn from them. Their content - I could imagine Jesus telling us to remember one of these men, because of how much is written about them in Scripture. Why It's Surprising We're Told to Remember Lot's Wife Lot’s wife wouldn’t even make the list for the opposite of these two reasons: Her ungodliness The lack of content about her Aside from this verse, there is only one other verse in Scripture about her, and it’s a famous one… Genesis 19:26 But Lot's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. Jesus tells us to remember Lot’s wife, but we know almost nothing about her: We don’t know when she was born We don’t know where she was born We don’t know who she was born to; we don’t know her parents We don’t even know her name Something making this even more interesting is the verse about her is in Genesis, which is the book of origins. There are more genealogies in Genesis than any other book in Scripture. Genesis has six genealogies, while Numbers is in second place with only two. Yet in the book that is all about people’s backgrounds, there is nothing about Lot’s wife. So why did Jesus tell us to remember a woman whom we know almost nothing about? Let's back up to the previous verse for content: Luke 17:31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. This sounds strange, because we don’t spend time on roofs, but in Jesus’s day roofs were flat and people would spend time on them. There were stairways on the outside of the house leading up to the roofs. Think of the paralytic and how the four men carried him up to the roof. They would have done so using external stairs. Don't Look Back! The context is the the Second Coming in Luke 17:22-30. Jesus is destroying His enemies and establishing His Kingdom on the earth. This isn’t the time to turn back because the danger will be so great. People shouldn’t be looking back longingly at their possessions. Doing so would show: a focus on the earthly versus the heavenly that this life is more important than the next life So, this is a warning to people who are obsessed with the physical instead of the spiritual cling to their earthly lives despite all that heaven offers are tempted to confuse the enjoyments of the world with the eternal life that could await them When Jesus returns, true believers will not be concerned about what is in the house. They will be concerned with what is in heaven. The end of the verse says "not [to] turn back.
21 minutes | May 11, 2023
Behold the Kindness and Severity of God to Faithful Servants and a Wicked and Lazy Servant (Romans 11:22)
Romans 11:22 says, "Behold the kindness and severity of God." We see the kindness and severity of God to two faithful servants and one wicked and lazy servant. Read or listen to this chapter from Your Finances God’s Way to see the relationship to money. Table of ContentsThe Kindness of God to Faithful ServantsBringing God JoyExperiencing God’s JoyThe Severity of God to a Wicked and Lazy Servant People Can Be Wicked Because of What They Don’t DoThe Master Expects SomethingIs the Kindness and Severity of God Determined by Works?Faithful Servants Versus a Wicked and Lazy ServantUse or Possibly Lose What God’s Given YouThe Extremes of the Kindness and Severity of GodFootnotes Before I became a Christian, I believed in God. I wasn’t an atheist, but I hadn’t heard the gospel, repented of my sins, and put my faith in Jesus Christ. At that time, if you had asked me about God, I would’ve told you how good, gracious, loving, and kind He is. But I would not have told you how severe, holy, just, and righteous He is. When we describe God with some of His attributes but leave out others, we create a false god, or idol. Instead, we must do what Romans 11:22 commands and “Behold the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you.” We see the kindness and severity of God on full display in the parable of the talents as He deals with the three servants. Let’s consider the first two servants, who were recipients of God’s kindness, and then the third servant, who was a recipient of His severity. The Kindness of God to Faithful Servants Because the first two servants had been “faithful over a few things,” it would make sense for the master to make them rulers over few things. Instead, he said he would “make [them] ruler over many things.” God is gracious. We will receive more from Him than we’ve done for Him. It should encourage us that the master was pleased with the servants even though they had been “faithful [only] over a few things.” If we thought we had to be faithful over many things to please the Lord, we might feel like failures. Instead, God is pleased with faithfulness over only a few things if that’s all He’s given us. In addition, the “few things” needn’t be big things. In Matthew 10:42, Jesus said, “Whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” Talk about being faithful over little! What’s littler than giving someone a cup of water? With God, even the smallest acts will be rewarded. When the master said, “I will make you ruler over many things,” he promoted those men. They went from being servants to rulers. The reward for serving the Lord is greater service in the future. Bringing God Joy I’m sure when we have marriages that reflect Christ and the church, when we raise children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, and when children obey their parents, it brings God joy. Although there’s one thing in Scripture that seems to bring God more joy than anything else, and that’s people being saved. In Luke 15 are three well-known parables about salvation, and joy is the theme of each. In the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin, Jesus said, When he has found [the lost sheep], he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!” I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninetynine just persons who need no repentance…When she has found [the lost coin], she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!” Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (verses 5-7, 9-10). There’s joy in heaven not just over the salvation of hundre...
50 minutes | May 8, 2023
The Second Coming of Christ Will Be… (Luke 17:22-30 and Acts 1:11)
In Luke 17:22-30 lightning is a metaphor for the Second Coming of Christ. Just as lightning is visible, quick, and unexpected, Jesus's Second Coming will be too. In Acts 1:11 the angels said Jesus would return from heaven the same way that He ascended to heaven: bodily and physically for all to see. Table of contentsFirst, Like Lightning, the Second Coming of Christ Will Be VisiblePreterism Is the Belief That the Future Is in the PastPartial PreterismFull Preterism Is HereticalSecond, Like Lightning, the Second Coming of Christ Will Be QuickSuffering and Then GloryJesus's Second Coming Is Associated with Two Familiar Accounts of JudgmentFirst, the Days of NoahSecond, the Days of LotThird, Like Lightning, the Second Coming of Christ Will Be UnexpectedJesus’s First Coming Was for Salvation and His Second Coming is for JudgmentIf We Don't Want to Be Taken by SurpriseFootnotes https://youtu.be/-nMUXR7tfLs In Luke 17:22-30 lightning is a metaphor for the Second Coming of Christ. Acts 1:11 teaches Jesus will return from heaven like He ascended. Contrast allows things to stand out. For example, when the moon is out during the day, we can’t see it very well, because it is close to the color of the sky. But we can see the moon very well at night, because its white and gray color stands out so sharply against the black night sky. Similarly, lightning stands out incredibly well against the night sky, because of its bright white color against the black background. Jesus chose lightning as a metaphor for His Second Coming: Luke 17:22 And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. Jesus was going to be gone from the disciples and they were going to long to see Him. But he said they would not be able to, because they would not be alive when He returned. Maranatha was the common greeting among Christians in the early church. It is an Aramaic word that means “the Lord is coming” or “come, O Lord.” The desire the disciples would have to see Christ is the same desire we should have. Many New Testament verses encourage us as believers to have this desire. Here are a few: 1 Corinthians 1:7 As you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Thessalonians 1:10 Wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead. Titus 2:13 Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ Jude 20 Waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. There were going to be people claiming that Jesus had returned, and he did not want His disciples misled into thinking that He had returned in some secret or mysterious way that was concealed from the world. Because, the truth is, there will be no mistaking when Jesus has returned. There are three reasons it is very fitting to compare Jesus’s Second Coming with lightning. First, Like Lightning, the Second Coming of Christ Will Be Visible The disciples would not need to believe people who said, “Look, there!” or “Look, here!” because the Second Coming will be as visible as lightning that lights up the whole sky. In the Amplified Bible, Luke 17:24 reads, "For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, gives light to the other part of the sky, so [visible] will the Son of Man be in His day." There will be no mistaking when Jesus returns. It will be universally visible. Acts 1:6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,
23 minutes | May 4, 2023
What Do Manna and Money Have to Do with Each Other? (Exodus 16)
Manna and money share similarities. The Israelites were to each take “one omer” (Exodus 16:16), which is a tithe: “An omer is one-tenth of an ephah” (Exodus 16:36). Manna is fitting illustration of money in that it did many of the things for Israel that money does for us. Read or listen to part of this chapter from Your Finances God’s Way to learn what manna and money have to do with each other. Table of contentsWhat Is the Relationship Between Manna and Money?Manna and Money Provide and TestManna and Money Require Avoiding Greediness and WastefulnessLearning to SaveEnforced DifferentlyThe True and Greater Bread from HeavenFootnotes As we come to the end of our wonderful journey, how can we tie together the many concepts we have discussed up this point, such as stewardship, giving, and saving? Paul might have done that for us when he talked about money in 2 Corinthians 8:15: “As it is written, ‘He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.’” This is a quote from Exodus 16:18 about the manna the Israelites collected each morning during their time in the wilderness. What Is the Relationship Between Manna and Money? What do manna and money have to do with each other? Quite a bit, actually! The Israelites were to each take “one omer” (Exodus 16:16), which is a tithe: “An omer is one-tenth of an ephah” (Exodus 16:36). The term translated “one-tenth” is the Hebrew word also translated “tithe.” Manna serves as a fascinating and fitting illustration of money in that it did many of the things for Israel that money does for us. And what Israel was and wasn’t supposed to do with manna resembles what we are and aren’t supposed to do with money. Manna and Money Provide and Test Exodus 16:4 records that “the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.’” God sent the manna to provide for the Israelites and test them, just like God uses money to provide for us and test us. Manna and Money Require Avoiding Greediness and Wastefulness The Israelites needed manna like we need money, but they had to avoid being greedy like we must avoid being greedy. The people accused God of “[bringing them] into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Exodus 16:2). This helps us understand how difficult it was for the people of Israel to take only what they needed. Not surprisingly some didn’t listen and couldn’t eat all of what they collected. Verses 19-20 record what happened: Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. They were supposed to avoid wasting the manna, like we’re supposed to avoid wasting money. If they kept too much for themselves, versus leaving it for others, there were problems. Similarly, if we keep too much money for ourselves, versus giving it to others, there are problems for us too. The manna began to decay and stink, and, figuratively speaking, money we shouldn’t have begins to decay and stink. Learning to Save Exodus 16:22-24 tells us what would happen when the Israelites handled the manna correctly: On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’” So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. The manna taught the Israelites to save: They gathered twice as much on the sixth day so they wouldn’t have to gather any on the Sabbath.
22 minutes | Apr 27, 2023
How to Pay Off Debt (Psalm 37:21)—Here Are the Best Strategies!
Psalm 37:21 says, "The wicked borrows but does not pay back." Do you want to know how to pay off debt? Read or listen to this chapter from Your Finances God’s Way to learn the best strategies for paying off debt. Table of contentsStrategies to Avoid a MortgageFirst, Consider a RentalSecond, Live ModestlyThird, Purchase a Starter HomeTwo Pieces of Advice if You Decide to Purchase a MortgageFirst, Understand "Qualifying"Second, Choose a 15-Year Versus a 30-Year MortgageThe Best Strategies for Paying Off DebtSacrifice to Pay Off DebtLive Below Your Income to Pay Off DebtBuy Used to Pay Off DebtStay Home to Pay Off DebtFirst, Build RelationshipsSecond, Avoid ConflictThird, Invest in Your HomeFirst, Avoid LavishnessSecond, Avoid Unnecessary ExpensesThird, Avoid “Going Big”Fourth, Avoid Expensive HobbiesEnjoy Cheap or FreeKeep the End in MindContinue GivingPut Extra Money Toward DebtWhat About When You're Out of Debt?Possibly Missing Out on God's BestFootnotes When couples in the church I pastor give birth to a child, I try to bring them a meal, meet the baby, see if they need anything, and pray with them. When Robert and Katy Cunningham had their fifth son, I went to see not only them and their new baby, but also their new living situation. They (seven people, including five energetic young boys) had moved into a broken-down motorhome that was sitting on the property where Robert was building their house. They went to great lengths to observe Psalm 37:21. When I returned home, I told my wife two things. First, I shared how proud I was of Robert and Katy for their commitment to being debt-free and all the sacrifice that was involved in sticking with that conviction. Second, I said, “We don’t have very much to complain about!” Not long ago, Robert finished the construction. They were able to move out of the motorhome and into their new house debt-free. Maybe you have said, “People can’t buy a home with cash.” I have heard this argument many times, and Robert and Katy’s testimony (as well as many others) reveals it is not true. I have watched young and old people alike, inside and outside my church, purchase homes without mortgages. Here are three points of advice to help you do the same. Strategies to Avoid a Mortgage The biggest debt most people have is a mortgage. Here are three strategies to possibly avoid one! First, Consider a Rental Many people argue that it’s better to buy a house because if you rent, you’re throwing money away. The idea is the money would be better off put toward the cost of your house. This appears to be true until you consider how much of a mortgage payment goes toward the interest versus the principal. The money going toward the interest isn’t going toward the price of the house any more than rent goes toward the price of the house. If you want your money to go toward the price of the house, save up the money and buy your house with cash. Second, Live Modestly We have friends who lived in a basement until they could buy their first home with cash. Some other friends lived in a two-bedroom rental with seven children. Did these situations involve sacrifice and living modestly? Definitely. But how good do you think these people feel now as they live in their homes with no debt? Third, Purchase a Starter Home When I talk about buying a home with cash, it might be more accurate to say homes. Who says you need to live in your dream home in your twenties or thirties? A better approach is to purchase a smaller starter home with cash and save up for your next home. Then sell your starter home, which is hopefully worth more than when you bought it, and use that money, along with the money you’ve saved up, to purchase your next home. As your family and income grow, so does your home. Two Pieces of Advice if You Decide to Purchase a Mortgage If, for whatever reason, you still decide to go ahead with a mortgage, let me offer you two points of advice. First,
48 minutes | Apr 24, 2023
Jesus Will Bind the Strong Man (Satan) – Hebrews 2:5-9 and Matthew 12:29
In Matthew 12:29, Jesus said people were seeing Him "bind the strong man," referring to Satan. This showed Jesus is stronger than Satan, and able to deliver people from his kingdom. Learn how Satan obtained a kingdom (Hebrews 2:5-9). Table of contentsThe Book of Hebrews Is About Jesus Being BetterJesus Became Better than the Angels?God Gave Man AuthorityMan Forfeited His Authority to Satan at the FallSatan Offered Jesus His AuthorityThe Antichrist Accepts Satan's OfferSatan Is not Ruling and Reigning in HellSatan is the Ruler Over this WorldHow the World's Kingdoms Look to Man Versus GodWe See Jesus Bind the Strong Man When His Kingdom Destroys the World's Kingdoms The Gospels Record the Kingdom of God "Crashing" into Satan’s KingdomJesus Our Kinsman RedeemerJesus Binds the Strong ManJesus Could Bind the Strong Man Because He Is StrongerJesus Binds the Strong Man to Deliver People into His Kingdom https://youtu.be/vqnWvpobMc4 Jesus Will Bind the Strong Man (Hebrews 2:5-9 and Matthew 12:29) The Bible could be thought of as The Tale of Two Kingdoms: the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. We see Jesus "bind the strong man" (Satan) throughout His earthly ministry when His Kingdom defeated Satan's kingdom. An obvious question might be, how did Satan get a kingdom? It was not when he was kicked out of heaven with one third of the angels. If he received a kingdom at that time, it would seem like he was rewarded for his rebellion. Instead, another event took place that gave Satan a kingdom, and I think the clearest passage helping us understand it is found in Hebrews 2. Because we are jumping into Hebrews, let me briefly explain this wonderful book. The Book of Hebrews Is About Jesus Being Better If we put ourselves in the place of Jewish Christians, consider how difficult it was for them to let go of all they knew to embrace Christianity: all the temple worship, sacrifices, and holy days. Christianity wasn’t an improved Judaism. It replaced Judaism. Think of the parable of the new and old wineskins: Luke 5:36 No one tears a piece from a new garment (referring to the New Covenant) and puts it on an old garment (referring to the Old Covenant). If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine (referring to the New Covenant) into old wineskins (referring to the Old Covenant – you don’t force the New Covenant into the Old Covenant). If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. The Old and New Covenants can’t be combined or they’ll both be ruined. But this is exactly what Jewish Christians were trying to do! Luke 5:38 New wine (referring to the New Covenant) must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine (referring to the Old Covenant). desires new, for he says, ‘The old is [better].’” This captures the situation with the Jews: they thought the Old Covenant was better because they drank the old wine of the Old Covenant. Hebrews is written to show them how much better Jesus is than everything in the Old Covenant. So, it’s not that the Old Covenant is bad, it’s just that Jesus is better. For example: The Old Testament sacrifices were good, but Jesus’s sacrifice is better. The Sabbath was good, but the rest found in Christ is better. The Levitical priesthood was good, but the Melchizedekian priesthood, which Jesus is part of, is better. Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant, and he was a good mediator, but Jesus is a better Mediator. Jesus Became Better than the Angels? In the first few verses of Hebrews 1 the author describes how much better Jesus is than the prophets. Then the author describes how much better Jesus is than the angels: (NASB) Hebrews 1:4 having become so much better than the angels, to the extent that He has inherited a more excellent name than they. Saying Jesus became better than the angels makes it see...
26 minutes | Apr 20, 2023
Learn a Biblical Stewardship of Money with Your Finances God’s Way
Do you want to develop a biblical stewardship of money? I've got the book (and workbook) for you! Read or listen to this chapter from Your Finances God’s Way to learn about financial stewardship in the Bible. Table of ContentsGoing Into Full-Time Ministry without Being Paid MuchSome Credibility and EncouragementLiving on a Single-Income with Modest SalariesWhen People Don't Understand a Biblical Stewardship of MoneyThe Devastating Nature of Financial Problems“Are You Going to Help Me Become Rich?”How Wealthy Are Americans?What About the Cost of Living in the United States?A Biblical Stewardship of Money Requires WisdomWisdom's Greater ValueHow Your Finances God's Way Gives You a Biblical Stewardship of MoneyA Committed Heart Is Needed for Biblical Stewardship of MoneyThe Your Finances God's Way Workbook Provides a Biblical Stewardship of MoneyOur Relationship with Money Reflects Our Relationship with Christ I was driving home feeling terribly discouraged. I don’t think it would be too much to say this was one of the lowest points of my life. I had to tell my wife, Katie, who was pregnant with our first child, that I had just been laid off. With the loss of my job as an elementary schoolteacher also came the loss of our medical insurance. You see, about two years earlier, I learned of a teaching position available on a local naval base that would give me credit for my military service. This resulted in a considerable raise, but the one drawback was that I lost my secure, tenured position at the district where I taught. The Great Recession hit, and schools began cutting new teachers. So even though I’d been teaching almost ten years, I was included in the terminations. I knew it was going to be difficult to find a position anywhere because every district was facing the same financial crunch. You might be thinking, So, a book about finances God’s way. Did you just think that God would somehow provide you a job? Actually, I did! Years earlier, I became a Christian in my early twenties during my first year of teaching elementary school. Soon after, my passion for ministry increased. So, you can probably imagine my excitement when a local church, Grace Baptist in Lemoore, California, was looking for a part-time youth pastor. I applied, they hired me, and my elementary school schedule—which granted me summers and holidays off—worked wonderfully with my church position. Going Into Full-Time Ministry without Being Paid Much After losing the teaching position on the naval base, I was still a parttime youth pastor, but the pay wasn’t enough to support my family. I told my senior pastor I would have to look for a teaching position elsewhere, and more than likely, that would mean no longer serving as their youth pastor. Grace Baptist’s leadership team stepped out in faith and brought me on fulltime. I knew this was a huge financial strain on the church, but because I felt called to ministry and trusted God to provide, I gratefully accepted the job. Within a few months, as I made the transition to full-time youth pastor, my income dropped by nearly two-thirds. My medical insurance and retirement were gone as well. I had to support my growing family on a fraction of the salary I had received earlier. Believe it or not, we didn’t feel the financial pinch because we had a biblical stewardship of money. We had already been living frugally, so we didn’t have to make any lifestyle changes. The major difference was that we couldn’t put as much extra money toward our mortgage. This book is the genesis of how all of us, regardless of our financial situation, can use what God has provided even when we find ourselves with less to spend because of commitments, payments, a crisis, or job change. I’ll give you Tip One right now: Live off less money than you make, and you’ll be prepared if you ever really must live off less money than you make! In the pages ahead, I’ll share more tips to put in your financial-planning pocket.
50 minutes | Apr 17, 2023
The Kingdom of God Is in Your Midst (Luke 17:20-21)
In Luke 17:20-21 Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God is in your midst." Jesus said this because He was on the earth and people could see Him, hear Him, and touch Him. He had the kingdom with Him. To be near Jesus was to be near the kingdom. Table of contentsThe Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven Are the SameJesus's Purpose During His Earthly MinistryThe Changing Message of the Unchanging Gospel They Preached the Kingdom of God in the GospelsThey Preached the Coming Messiah in the Old TestamentThey Preached Christ Crucified in the ChurchJesus Spiritually Established the Kingdom of God at His First ComingWhy Look and Pray for the Kingdom of God When It Already Came?Jesus Will Physically Establish the Kingdom of God at His Second ComingNobody Is Born into the Kingdom of GodFootnotes https://youtu.be/W5PC5vvR-g8 In Luke 17:20-21 Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God is in your midst" because He was on the earth and to be near Him was to be near the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is one of the most important topics in Scripture. This is the Kingdom Jesus rules over. Every Kingdom has a king, and this is the Kingdom where Jesus is King: 2 Peter 1:11 There will be richly provided for you an entrance into THE ETERNAL KINGDOM OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. Jesus brought His Kingdom Him in His first coming when He came from heaven to earth. Every believer is part of this Kingdom, because it’s the Kingdom for people who have Jesus as their King. Matthew 3:2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” John the Baptist paved the way for the Messiah. He said the kingdom of God is "at hand" because He knew Jesus was bringing the kingdom of God with Him. The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven Are the Same Kingdom of Heaven is the same as the Kingdom of God. The title Kingdom of Heaven only occurs in Matthew’s Gospel because it’s the Jewish Gospel and the Jews were sensitive to the word “God” being used. To avoid offending his Jewish readers, Matthew says Kingdom of Heaven.67 John told people what to do to prepare for the kingdom: repent. We enter the Kingdom by repentance and faith in King Jesus. That was and still is how to enter the kingdom. Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The ESV and NKJV read "at hand," but they have footnotes that they could also read "has come near," which is how it reads in the NIV. "Has come near" is preferrable for two reasons: It is past tense: the kingdom HAS COME, which it had, because Jesus brought it with Him. The Kingdom was NEAR is also fitting because Jesus was on the earth and people could see Him, hear Him, and even touch Him. He had the kingdom with Him. To be near Jesus was to be near the kingdom. Jesus's Purpose During His Earthly Ministry The phrase Kingdom of God occurs 54 times in the gospels, and 32 of those times are in Luke. Luke is THEE Gospel that gives the most attention to the Kingdom of God. Luke 4:43 is the first time the phrase Kingdom of God occurs, and it’s very fitting: Luke 4:42 the people sought [Jesus] and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them 43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” People were trying to keep Jesus from leaving, but He told them he had to go so he could preach the kingdom. He went so far as to say this was his purpose. We see Him fulfill this purpose throughout His earthly ministry. A few examples: Luke 8:1 Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and BRINGING THE GOOD NEWS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD. And the twelve were with him, Jesus goes through the cities and villages preaching the kingdom of God, and then He commissions the twelve to do the same: Luke 9:1 And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases,
30 minutes | Apr 13, 2023
God Loves a Cheerful Giver and How You Can Become One (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Paul said, "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). Read or listen to this chapter from Your Finances God’s Way to learn the scriptures on sowing money, and how you can become a cheerful giver God loves. Table of ContentsGod Gives to Us So We Can Give to OthersWhat Do the Scriptures on Sowing Money Mean?The Principle of Reaping and Sowing Is Repeated in ScriptureIf We Give Enough Will God Make Us Rich?Do We Reap in This Life or the Next?God Gives Us Grace So We Can Give MoreGive Cheerfully Because God Loves a Cheerful Giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)Putting God FirstGod Loves a Cheerful Giver Among Other ThingsGod Loves a Cheerful Giver Like Parents DoGive with the Right HeartGod Loves a Cheerful Giver and Here Are Three Encouragements to Help You Become OneConfession and Prayer Can Help You Become a Cheerful GiverScripture Memorization and Meditation Can Help You Become a Cheerful GiverReflection on God’s Greatest Gift Can Help You Become a Cheerful GiverFootnotes Our God is a giver. He: “gives to all life, breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25) gives us abundant life: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10) gives us wisdom: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5) gives us gifts: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17) The greatest gift God gave us is His Son: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with him freely give us all things?” Ephesians 5:1 commands us to “be imitators of God,” which means we should give too. Proverbs 21:26 says, “The righteous gives and does not spare.” Why is giving righteous? God’s actions define righteousness. Because God gives, giving is righteous and makes us imitators of Him. God Gives to Us So We Can Give to Others In the parable of the unforgiving servant, the master rebuked the man: “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” (Matthew 18:32-33). The wicked servant was condemned because he wouldn’t forgive as God had forgiven him. This reveals an important principle in Scripture: We should do for others what God has done for us. For example, we should love others because God loved us: “As I have loved you…you also love one another” (John 13:34). We should forgive others because God forgave us: “Forgive one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Regarding giving, because God is a giver who has given so much to us, we should give to others. Some spiritual gifts, such as teaching and leadership, seem like gifts because there’s a benefit to the person receiving the gift. But other gifts, such as mercy and serving, don’t seem like gifts because they seem to benefit others more than they benefit the people who received the gifts. This gives us insight into why God gives us gifts, which we must consider because God’s reason for giving gifts can be different than our reason. We typically give gifts to bless the recipient, but God gives gifts to bless the recipient and so the recipient can bless others: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10). We can enjoy the gifts God has given us—for example, God has given me the gift of teaching, which I enjoy—but being good stewards of our gifts means using them for others’ benefit. This applies to all God has given us, including our wealth. Let’s return to two of the parables we looked at earlier. First, in the parable of the talents,
47 minutes | Apr 9, 2023
For If Christ Is Not Raised (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)
In 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 Paul hypothetically discussed "for if Christ is not raised." Read, listen, or watch to learn what it means for believers if Christ was not raised, and what it means for unbelievers that Christ was raised. Table of contentsWe All Have DoubtsWhat Makes People Heretics?What It Means for BelieversFor If Christ Is Not Raised a Believer’s Preaching is WorthlessFor If Christ Is Not Raised New Testament Authors Are LiarsFor If Christ Is Not Raised a Believer’s Faith Is WorthlessFor If Christ Is Not Raised a Believer’s Sins Are UnforgivenFor If Christ Is Not Raised the Dead Cease ExistingFor If Christ Is Not Raised a Believer Should Be PitiedWhat It Means for UnbelieversBecause Christ Was Raised an Unbeliever’s Works Are WorthlessBecause Christ Was Raised New Testament Authors Are WatchmenBecause Christ Was Raised an Unbeliever’s Sins Are UnforgivenBecause Christ Was Raised the Dead Live Eternally in Hell or HeavenBecause Christ Was Raised an Unbeliever Should Be Most Pitied https://youtu.be/r3v2SV_Bm1c "For if Christ is not raised" is a hypothetical situation in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19. Learn what it means for believers and unbelievers. We All Have Doubts Having doubts is common. Sometimes we have doubts about insignificant things like our orders at restaurants or the clothes we put on. Other times we have doubts about more significant things: "Should I have taken this job, moved here, made this purchase, or married this person?" You should not have this last doubt, because as soon as you’re married your spouse became the right person. The Corinthians were having doubts about, of all things, the resurrection! 1 Corinthians 15:12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? Paul makes a logical point: “If you believe Christ was raised from the dead, you should believe Christians, or those in Christ, will be raised from the dead as well.” Why Gentiles and Jews Doubted Christ's Resurrection Gentiles doubted the resurrection, because of their pagan philosophies and religions. When Paul was at Athens he preached about the resurrection, and Acts 17:32 says, "When they heard [Paul preach the] resurrection of the dead, SOME MOCKED." They mocked because they thought everything physical was bad, and couldn’t believe God would raise physical bodies from the dead. John MacArthur said the idea was “repulsive and disgusting” to them. The Jews struggled with resurrection because of the Sadducees., who didn’t believe in anything supernatural. Acts 4:1-2 says, "As [Peter and John] were speaking to the people…the Sadducees [were] greatly annoyed because [Peter and John] were…proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead." The Sadducees were prominent Jewish religious leaders, more than likely they influenced the Jews not to believe in the resurrection. What Makes People Heretics? If they doubted Christ’s resurrection, they wouldn’t be believers, because there are certain non-negotiables in the Christian life, and Christ’s resurrection is one of them. People who deny Christ’s resurrection are heretics. The Corinthians had many problems, as the previous 14 chapters reveal, but they weren’t heretics. One fourth of professing Christians don't believe in the resurrectionfrom, which means one fourth of professing Christians are heretics. Unfortunately, most of the articles said, “one fourth OF CHRISTIANS don’t believe in the resurrection.” This language is terrible, because it implies people can be Christians AND NOT believe in the resurrection. So, it’s worth noticing I said “one fourth of PROFESSING Christians” deny the resurrection. This one fourth must not be familiar with these verses, because Paul explains the terrible problems associated with doubting the resurrection. He plays a game with the Corinthians: “Let’s pretend Christ was not raised.” What It Means for Believers
21 minutes | Apr 6, 2023
The Parable of the Talents Teaches Faithful Stewardship (Matthew 25:14-30)
Is the parable of the talents about money (Matthew 25:14-30)? Read or listen to this chapter from Your Finances God’s Way to have your questions answered and learn what this parable teaches about faithful stewardship. Table of ContentsEncouraged By the Parable of the TalentsThe Parable of the Talents Reveals God Judges Believers' Stewardships Versus SinsFirst, God Gives What We Can HandleSecond, God Judges Our Proportion Versus Our PortionThird, God Does Not Compare Us with OthersThe First Danger of Comparing Is DiscouragementThe Second Danger of Comparing Is PrideIn the Parable of the Talents Servants Receive the Same Reward for Going to Battle and Guarding the SuppliesAre You the 400, 200, First Servant, or Second Servant?Footnotes Everything belongs to God. Deuteronomy 10:14 says, “Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it.” God said, “Every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine” (Psalm 50:10-11). Psalm 89:11 says, “The heavens are Yours; the earth also is Yours; the world and all its fullness, You have founded them.” First Corinthians 10:26 quotes Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.” Of course, God’s possessions include all the wealth throughout history. This means your money isn’t your money! It’s God’s money. In Haggai 2:8, God said, “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine.” David wanted to build a house (or temple) for God. When he was told he couldn’t, he did everything he could to help his son Solomon make this happen, only stopping short of doing the building himself. David collected the materials, including the silver and gold. After the people gave even more than was needed, David prayed in 1 Chronicles 29:14, 16: Who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, and of Your hand we have given You…O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own. David understood they were simply giving back to God what He had given them. John 3:27 says, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.” When we understand that all wealth belongs to God, our entire perspective of money changes. We come to view our finances correctly as one big stewardship. If we understand money is a stewardship, we will be wiser with the money God has given us. We will be less likely to waste it because we understand it is God’s money, versus our own. We will even find it easier to be generous and give it away because we know it is God’s money, versus our own. Encouraged By the Parable of the Talents The apostle Paul said, “It is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). If you’ve ever put someone in charge of something that belongs to you, you know the one thing you value more than anything else is faithfulness. The parable of the talents gives us the encouragement we need to be faithful. A talent was the largest denomination of money in the Greco-Roman world, estimated to be worth as much as 6,000 denarii. Because a denarius was one day’s wage, this was approximately 20 years’ worth of work. Although the talents in the parable can represent any of the stewardships in our lives— time, marriage, children, abilities, possessions, positions in life—because Jesus chose a unit of money, this makes the parable of the talents particularly applicable to the stewardship of finances. John MacArthur said this parable “illustrates the tragedy of wasted opportunity.”85 Second only to time, there aren’t many things we waste more than money. This parable should inspire us to act otherwise and be faithful stewards: The kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to...
26 minutes | Apr 3, 2023
Let Patience Have Its Perfect Work to Become Better Versus Bitter (James 1:4)
James 1:4 says, "Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." Read or listen to this chapter from Enduring Trials God's Way to learn how to let trials make you better versus bitter. Table of contentsWe Must Choose to "Let" Patience Have Its Perfect WorkLet Patience Have Its Perfect Work to Avoid Becoming BitterBitterness Is the Temptation During TrialsDavid Was Made Better by TrialsDavid Trusted God's SovereigntyAsa Became Bitter by TrialsDiscussion Questions I would love to be able to say, “Trials always produce patience, and patience makes you perfect and complete, lacking nothing,” but sometimes it would be more accurate to say, “Trials produce bitterness.” God wants to use trials for our good, but it's tempting to become bitter. When people are suffering, there is greater potential for them to question, criticize—or worst of all—turn from God. Perhaps you can think of people experiencing a trial and they said something like, “How could God let this happen to me? I do not deserve it! I wish I could give Him a piece of my mind!” If we're honest, we can probably think of times trials did not produce patience or maturity in us. Instead of making us better, they made us bitter. We Must Choose to "Let" Patience Have Its Perfect Work The wording of James 1:3-4 is odd. If we never read the verses before we would probably expect them to say, “…the testing of your faith produces patience, which makes you perfect…” Instead, there are instructive words: “let patience have its perfect work.” The Greek word for let is echō, and it's a verb because James is commanding us to do something. We must “let” trials “work.” Echō means, “To have, hold, own, possess, lay hold of.” Here are two places it's used: Matthew 3:13–14—“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need (echō) to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’” Acts 2:44–45—“Now all who believed were together, and had (echō) all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had (echō) need.” Of the 712 times echō occurs in the New Testament, 613 times it is translated as “have,” because it is not simply about accepting trials in our lives. We must take ownership of them. Instead of resisting trials, we must embrace them. This is how we “let” God use them for our benefit. The alternative is to fight against trials, which hinders the “perfect work” they can accomplish. Before doctors administer a shot, they say, “Relax. Try to remain as calm as possible. This will hurt, but it will be worse if you resist.” The doctor is telling you to accept what is about to happen because failing to do so will only make an already painful situation even worse. It is the same with trials. We cannot avoid them. They hurt, and we make them worse when we resist. Instead, we must accept them, trusting God wants to use them for our good and His glory. This is how we "count it all joy" and “let” trials make us better. Let Patience Have Its Perfect Work to Avoid Becoming Bitter Trials and temptations are not the same. Trials are tests from God, and He uses them for our benefit. Temptations, on the other hand, come from our flesh: Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. James 1:13-14 As much as God uses trials to bring out the best in us, Satan uses temptations to bring out the worst in us: Every person in the world will encounter various trials throughout life. Satan seeks to defeat you by tempting you to trust your own wisdom, to live according to your self-centered feelings, and to gratify the desires of your flesh. In contrast, God’s will is for you to be an overwhelming conqueror in all of these tests for His honor and gl...
18 minutes | Mar 30, 2023
The Couple’s Bible Study for Christ-Centered Relationships
Your Marriage God's Way Workbook is the couple's Bible study husbands and wives can do together for Christ-centered relationships. Read or listen to the introduction to see why this workbook stands out among husband-and-wife Bible studies. Table of ContentsBeing not Only Hearers, but DoersUsing this Couple's Bible StudyTake Your Time and Pray!Expect Tension with This Couple's Bible StudyFocus on the Way Your Spouse FeelsCrucify Your Flesh When Doing this Couple's Bible StudyApologize the Right WayThe Negative Consequences of Failing to Apologize Well Forgive the Right WayFootnotes Let me commend you for prioritizing your marriage! You went beyond simply reading Your Marriage God’s Way to also purchasing this accompanying workbook. Second to our relationship with Christ, our relationship with our spouse is the most important relationship in our life. We should invest in it so that we can have Christ-centered relationships. That’s what this workbook is—an investment of time and energy (spiritual, mental, and emotional), for your joy and God’s glory. Being not Only Hearers, but Doers In Your Marriage God’s Way, I wrote: The importance of going beyond hearing (or reading) to obeying is a regular theme in Scripture. Jesus said, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it…If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (Luke 8:21; John 13:17). We do not learn God’s Word simply for the sake of knowing it. We learn it so that we can apply it. James 1:22 urges us to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” This verse reveals a common mistake people make. They learn God’s Word and believe they have done enough and fall short of applying it to their lives. Husbands and wives do this when they believe they have a marriage built on Christ simply because they know what the Bible teaches, read Christian marriage books, and attend Christian marriage conferences. But none of their learning will have any effect if they are not obeying Scripture’s instructions. As believers, our responsibility goes much further than simply obtaining information. We must obey what we have learned (pages 241-242). You are doing your part to be not just a hearer (or reader), but a doer (or obey-er) of the Word. What better way to apply what you have read than to go through a workbook with your spouse? I am confident your investment will pay great dividends for you and your spouse. Why am I so certain? Two reasons: First, the instruction in Your Marriage God’s Way is drawn from the Bible. As the Author of marriage, God knows exactly what husbands and wives need to have healthy, joyful Christ-centered relationships as He intended. The second reason is less spiritual and more practical. Before becoming a pastor, I was an elementary school teacher. That’s when I learned how people learn. When I started preaching—telling people to open their Bibles versus telling students to open their math books—it was another form (albeit infinitely more important) of teaching. Whether I’m delivering a sermon, speaking at a conference, or guest preaching, I do my best to provide those in attendance with message handouts that have lessons and blanks to fill in. Why do I do this? Because as you’ve probably already heard, people retain more information when they take notes versus only listen.91 But did you know their retention is even better when the notes are handwritten versus typed?92 Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve written much by hand. We’ve moved away from letters to emails and many of us rely on our computers all day. But you can be encouraged in knowing the answers you write in this workbook will have a much better chance of staying with you because you wrote them down. Plus, this will help you remember the content from the book as you cement the material in your heart and mind, especially as you put things into practice.
55 minutes | Mar 27, 2023
The Ten Lepers and Their Spiritual Leprosy (Luke 17:11-19 and Leviticus 13)
In Luke 17:11-19 Jesus cleansed ten lepers of their physical leprosy. Only one of them returned and ended up being cleansed of his spiritual leprosy. https://youtu.be/13bpSzKhUjk In Luke 17:11-19 Jesus cleansed ten lepers of physical leprosy. One of them returned and ended up being cleansed of his spiritual leprosy. Table of contentsUnderstanding LeprosyLeprosy's Physical Effects Leprosy's Spiritual EffectsLeprosy's Mental EffectsLeprosy's Emotional EffectsWhy Lepers (Sadly) Weren't PitiedWho Might Lepers Approach?Cleansed Leprosy in the Old TestamentMiriam's CleansingNaaman's CleansingThe Ritual for Cleansed Lepers in Leviticus 14Cleansing Physical Leprosy Identified the Messiah’s ComingGreater than Moses and ElishaJesus Noticed the Ten Lepers Thanklessness and ThankfulnessLook Past the Ten Lepers' Physical Leprosy to Their Spiritual LeprosyLeprosy Is a Picture of SinA Beautiful Picture of Cleansing Spiritual LeprosyJesus Wants to Cleanse Our Spiritual LeprosyThe Greatest Cleansing Any of the Ten Lepers Received Leprosy and its variants are mentioned 68 times in the Bible. The number of references alone makes it worth understanding. Regarding the account of the ten lepers in Luke 11:17-19, understanding leprosy helps us better understand: The lepers’ desperation when they came to Jesus How dramatic and wonderful it was for Jesus to heal them How thankful they should have been when Jesus healed them Understanding Leprosy Leprosy's Physical Effects Leprosy began as small, red spots on the skin. Before long the spots grew and turned white, with a shiny or scaly appearance. Then the spots would become dirty sores and ulcers because of the poor blood supply. The sores and ulcers would spread until they covered the body. Lepers would lose feeling in affected areas, and without pain as a warning system they’d experience other injuries: They might twist an ankle but continue walking, worsening the tearing of the ligaments. If they were cooking with a fire, they wouldn’t know if they got too close and burn themselves. Because they were forced to live away from civilization in unsanitary environments, they might not notice – and I’m not kidding – if rodents were chewing on them while they slept. The body would start to fall apart: Hair would fall out. Fingernails and toenails would become loose and fall off. The joints of fingers and toes would rot until the fingers and toes themselves fell off. Gums would shrink until teeth fell out. The disease would affect the larynx, producing a grating quality in the leper’s voice. The skin around the eyes and ears would begin to bunch, with deep furrows between the swellings, so the face started to look like that of a lion. Leprosy would eat away at the victim’s face until their nose, palate, and even their eyes would rot away. Since lepers had parts of their bodies rotting, they put off a terrible odor, and these are only the physical consequences. There were spiritual, mental, and emotional consequences as well. Leprosy's Spiritual Effects Spiritually, because lepers were unclean, they were removed from the religious life of the nation. Say goodbye to ever being able to corporately worship the Lord again. Leprosy's Mental Effects Mentally, leprosy was terrible because there was no cure. Lepers had to live with the reality that their condition would only get worse. As terrible as this week was, the next week would be even worse and the week after that even worse. Leprosy's Emotional Effects Emotionally, leprosy was terrible because it meant the end of human relationships. Unless you want to risk your spouse, parents, children, siblings, or friends contracting leprosy you stay away from them. All suffering is helped by the love and support of family and friends, but lepers couldn’t even experience that. Imagine for a moment, you can never kiss your spouse again, hug your children or parents again.