No Study-July 23, 2014

No Regular Wednesday Night Bible Study during July

God’s Servants-July 20, 2014

God’s Servants-July 20, 2014

Philippians 2:1-16

We are here to nominate Deacons today. The word deacon means to be a servant. Although we are coming to nominate some that will later be set aside for this specific office of servant, it is really the work of the whole body of Christ to do the work of service. So what does that look like? What are some of the hurdles we face? What will it require of us? How do we live that out in practical ways in our day-to-day life?

Richard Foster Quotes:

In services we must experience the many little deaths of going beyond ourselves. Service banishes us to the mundane, the ordinary, and the trivial. (pg. 126-127)

The authority of which he spoke was not an authority to manipulate and control. It was an authority of function, not of status. (pg. 127)

“Whoever would be great among you must be your servant…even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve” (Matt. 20:25-28). Therefore the spiritual authority of Jesus is an authority not found in a position or a title, but a towel. 128

True service is a life-style. 129

Self-righteousness fractures community. In the final analysis, once all the religious trappings are removed, it centers on the glorification of the individual. Therefore it puts others into its debt and becomes one of the most subtle and destructive forms of manipulation known. True service builds community. 129

Nothing disciplines the inordinate desires of the flesh like service, and nothing transforms the desires of the flesh like serving in hiddenness. The flesh whines against service but screams against hidden service. It strains and pulls for honor and recognition. It will devise subtle, religiously acceptable means to call attention to the service rendered. If we stoutly refuse to give in to this lust of the flesh, we crucify it. Every time we crucify the flesh we crucify our pride and arrogance. 130

We must see the difference between choosing to serve and choosing to be a servant. When we choose to be a servant, we surrender the right to decide who and when we will serve. 132

Additional thoughts

God’s servants communicate, participate, imitate, demonstrate, invite, and replicate.

Communicate the good news of Jesus Christ (John 3:16)

Participate in the life of the body and particularly in worship. The church gathers for worship first and foremost and then for discipleship fellowship is a natural outflow of worship and discipleship. If we simple gather for fellowship we run the risk of gathering for ourselves and not for Christ or His Kingdom and are no different from a social club. (do not forsake the assembling of yourselves…)

Imitate Christ in his Character, Consistency, and Compassion (Phil. 2:1-16)

Demonstrate the love of Christ (washing feet, feeding the hungry, helping those in need)

Invite others to begin the journey of worship and service.   (Matt. 28:16-20) I have heard it said communicate the gospel by any means possible and use words if necessary. I do not disagree that our lives must be an example of what we say but to the one who gave us the written word and the Word incarnate we must use words, if not then no one will know why we do what we do.

Participate teach others to grow the Kingdom of God, the more we do the faster it will grow. The growth will not be through adding but will be exponential multiplying its result. (Acts 2:41; Acts 9:31)

God’s servants should model Christ in service, love, and dedication to His bride and the world He came to save. In doing so we become leaders not because of power or position, but in service and in love.

How best is this lived out…in faithfulness in our relationships

1st In relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

2nd In relationship with our families

3rd In relationship with our family of faith

4th in relationship with the world that Christ died to save

 

Direct Quotes from The Celebration of Disciplines, Richard Foster

Life through the Spirit-July 13, 2014

Life through the Spirit-July 13, 2014

Romans 8:1-11

In this passage the good news comes first, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of Life has set us free from the law of sin and death. What great news we have to know that there is no longer any condemnation, we do not have to be afraid of the penalty of sin which sets us free to come to Christ in hopeful anticipation. We come to him in love knowing that he gave his very life for us.

Could the law set us free? Paul states that the law could not set us free because it was weakened by sinful nature. The law is revealing of our human condition and distance from God. We are not able in and of ourselves to bridge that distance. Because God is loving, kind, and desires a relationship with us, God sends his Son to take the penalty for us. We thank God that he set us free by sending his Son in our likeness (sinful man) to be a sin offering, condemning sin in the flesh so that the requirements of righteousness could be met in us who don’t live for sin but for the spirit. God provides the way that we can be with him.

The requirements of holiness and righteousness must be met or we remain separate from God. A holy God is set apart and separate from that which is unholy. Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it on our behalf, by dying to meet its penalty he set us free to live again.

Our living is a reflection of our inner life and devotion. Those who live out their sin nature has their mind-set on it already, just as those who live out the life of the Spirit already have their minds attuned to the Spirit. The mind controlled by sin nature will only lead to death, whereas the mind controlled by the Spirit will have life and peace. The nature of sin is to seek itself and not God’s will and is hostile to the will of God. It cannot and will not submit to the will of God. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. Before the life of sin or the life of the Spirit has taken its shape and made its impact on the world in which we live, it has already made a home in our hearts. Where is your mind and heart today?

You are not controlled by the sinful nature if the Spirit of God lives in you. What great news! To be controlled by sin means that it is not an occasional occurrence upon our lives, but is a daily habit ruling our lives. Anyone who has this spirit does not belong to Christ. We do not often realize how we are controlled by the sin in our lives and this sin keeps us from the life God has promised and has fulfilled in his Son. We need to break free in Christ.

If Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. The body is dead because it has been crucified with Christ in the penalty of death for the sin of our lives. In this sin loses its control and power of us, because we are dead in the flesh but alive in the Spirit. The Spirit of the one who raised Christ from the dead is also alive and at work in us and he can give also life to our bodies every day through his Spirit, who lives in you. Be encouraged, there is nothing too great for God to accomplish in and through our lives.

The Struggle-July 6, 2014

The Struggle-July 6, 2014

Romans 7:8b-25a

“For apart from the law, sin is dead.” It is the law against sin that defines it for what it is and also with it brings then penalty which is death. Paul said that he was once alive apart from law, but when the commandment came, so did sin and death too. What was intended to bring life actually brought death. Sin seized the opportunity through the commandment to put do death. The law is holy, and the commandment is good is holy, righteous and good.

So Paul continues did this good thing become the death of me? In no way, but it is in order that sin would be recognized for what it really is. It is through this commandment or law, that the sin anywhere and everywhere would be recognized as such and the penalty thereof is death. This is true even when sin is found at work in us.

Paul continues with share about the struggle he is having and this struggle is not only a struggle for Paul, but for all who look at, understand, and accept the law, and then look at ourselves and what the law produces in us. It is good and brings about death in us because of the sin in our lives. To recognize it as such brings us to a place of struggle because we want to do good and right, but it is hard and sin has a hard grip on our lives and will not give up easily.

“I don’t do what I desire to do, but what I hate I do.” Have any of us ever been there? Sometimes we will continue to do the things that we do not wish to do. However, to say that we hate what we do, then it is at least a positive step, because if we hate what we are doing then we recognize it as in opposition to God. It means that we agree that the law is good, even if the sin is found in me. Although we struggle we recognize it as good and true coming into agreement that God is right. It also means that we are (because of the law) able to recognize sin as sin.

It is because sin is living in me that know that nothing good lives in me, my sinful nature that is. I have the desire to do what is good, but cannot still do it. Have you been there? We all have. Even if we have the desire to do good things, we in and of ourselves are powerless to the pull of our sinful nature upon our lives. This does not mean that all hope is lost but we must continue to remain faithful and vigilant. Sin will continue to work upon us day-by-day turning us from our desires to do good things, to our natures that lead to sin and death.

Paul describes the struggle this way, “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” We are sinners by both nature and choice, and so we must remain focused on what can rescue us from our sin. Sin is a daily struggle and we must remain vigilant.

If there is one thing this passage clearly communicates is there is a struggle between, flesh and spirit, between sin and God’s law. I know that many would think, “Since I am a Christian why have I not been delivered from sin?” “Why is Paul mentioning this?”

We have been delivered from the penalty of sin but the reality of sin is as close as our own DNA. It (sin) does not take a day off but is in pursuit of us trying to get us to forsake the one who gave all putting our trust in lesser things, lesser people, and even ourselves. I am sure we have all been let down at times by things, people, and we have even let ourselves down too. We must take up our cross daily, daily crucify our desires, daily follow Christ, and daily demonstrate our love for Him.

“Are you and I in the daily struggle with sin for our hearts, or are we only weekend warriors?” Which one of these will have a greater result within the battle?” When Jesus asks His disciples to come and follow Him, He was not asking them to take a class or learn facts, but was asking them to forsake all and follow Him. Jesus didn’t just want their hearts or their empty promises, He wanted their lives and He wants our too.

In any war we must keep in mind the struggle. During the time for our nations struggle for independence there were some who believed that the United States should be independent and free from the rule of the British Crown. This view was not shared by everyone who lived in the colonies. There were also many Loyalists who were faithful to the crown and wanted to remain British citizens. There was a clash of ideology long before the soldiers and militia ever picked up arms and the real battles came.

Although these struggles are well documented just like in any struggle there are also some who would just prefer to sit things out. Perhaps they didn’t want to choose sides so they could wait and see who wins, or they were afraid of the cost and sacrifice it might take to win, or worse what if they chose the losing side possibly facing treason and death. Sitting on the fence is also a dangerous place to be.

My friends there is no sitting on the fence when it comes to sin. Failure to engage will cause you to lose everything you thought you were not risking by sitting still. Sin does not take a day off and so we must remain aware of it and its control of our lives. Sin will win some battles from time to time but we should be aware that just because we have pledged ourselves to Christ that other things won’t still try to woo our hearts.

Paul says, “My inner being delights in God’s law, but another law is at work in my flesh, waging war against the law of my mind making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my body.” This struggle is mental, physical, and spiritual. It is a bad place to be caught between my desire to do good, and recognizing goodness as good, but being powerless in and of ourselves to do anything about it.

If I can’t do anything about my condition, then what hope do I have? Paul asks it this way, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” If I can’t do it, is there someone who can rescue us, and if so who? The answer is we can thank God because we have been saved through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Jesus Christ can and does save, but there still is the struggle day by day to trust Him with our very lives, to crucify our desires, and give our whole selves over to Him it is not a one time commitment, or a short-term commitment for “weekend warriors”, but is a daily struggle to live for Him who died for us.