• Greetings & Welcome

    Greetings & Welcome

The purpose for this website is to provide resources for the body of Christ to grow into all the fullness of Christ and of the Holy Spirit, and to see and treasure and more effectively proclaim the good news of His glorious person and kingdom.

Everything on these pages should be easy to copy and paste. Nothing is copyrighted, but attribution of authorship is appreciated. I hope something herein will encourage you and perhaps enlighten you re: Jesus’s person, kingdom purposes and ways. And if it does, I would be delighted if you could tell someone else about it or maybe use it in your ministry to others.

I’ve been studying the Bible for 40 years and attempting to practice and teach it to others, albeit with no where near the devotion and obedience of which He is worthy. Over the years I have compiled a wide variety of studies, sermons, articles, and such, that I intend over time to post herein. And of course I will be posting fresh writings most every week.

God bless you richly, and thanks for stopping by. And thanks to Zach & Danny for photos, and to Luke for helping to create and design and oversee this website.

Yours in Christ,


P.S. Re: sermons – when I preach, I do not read my sermons, so my spoken sermons always have twists and turns that my manuscripts do not. You can access some of my spoken sermons at www.thewelllosos.com

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INTRODUCTION – In our ongoing series of sermons through the 16 chapter book of I Corinthians, we come this morning to the 13th chapter, affectionately known by many as “the love chapter”. Even some unbelievers, who know little of the treasures of the Bible, know this chapter exists because of usually having heard it spoken of at a wedding. I myself have chosen to speak from this chapter at some of the weddings I have done. Though I want to say this morning, its intended purpose was not for marriages as much as it was for congregations.

Because the 66 books of the Bible were written as whole units with great strategic purpose, every placement of a chapter or verse in a given book is strategic and intentionally placed. So that begs the question, Why did Paul choose to deal with the subject of loving one another after chapter 12 and before chapter 14, both of which deal specifically with the subject of the spiritual gifts that Jesus – the Head has given to His body?

Let me say first of all Paul doesn’t tell us why. So my answer to this question is certainly subject to your discernment. Here are some of my meditations or thoughts over this last week:

In many respects, it is the exercise of spiritual gifts within a given congregation that determine whether that congregation will operate by the wisdom and power of God or by the wisdom and power of man. And it is love for one another that will determine whether the wisdom and power of God can be entrusted to the said congregation. It is love for one another more than anything else that will determine how all of the spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit wants to entrust to us here at the Well will be stewarded. It is love for one another more than anything else that will determine whether those gifts are abused and used to manipulate and control, or whether they are humbly exercised in the fear of God solely for the edification of the saints.

For me to effectively use the gifts the Holy Spirit has entrusted to me in and for His church, I must feel about His church the way He does. Now interestingly, the Holy Spirit gives some of His gifts to us way before we feel about His church the way He does. He doesn’t wait until we are fully mature in our love for one another to give His gifts. But He does expect us to long for increased maturity in our love for one another even than we long for increased anointing of our gifts. And He does expect us to long for increased anointing in the exercise of our gifts.

So while it might seem to us at times that He should wait to bestow gifts until we are mature enough to handle them, He in His sovereign goodness and wisdom chose not to wait. But He does wait for us to wait upon Him for both our love and our anointing to grow and increase – – always recognizing the need for both, and the danger of having anointing without love.

“A great artist of France in the 1800’s named Gustav Dore, stood before his easel which held his magnificent painting of our Savior – Jesus. He looked at it and then turned away in sadness, and said, “I could have painted Him better if I had loved Him more.” As we look at our levels of anointing in the exercising of our gifts, may we see them increase as our love for Jesus and our love for the brethren increases. Let me say it this way, We will see them increase as our love for Jesus and His body increases.

So with that introduction let’s dive into the chapter and specifically let’s deal with the question – just how important is this love thing?
By the way – some say the gift of tongues is no longer given. Others say it is still given but it is the least of the gifts. Well if either of those is the case, and Paul is trying to show the greatness or primacy of love in these first three verses by contrasting it with other greatly coveted and important things in the kingdom of God, why would he start with a gift that is no longer important, and not to be coveted? (read vs. 1-3)

I. The Great Value of Love – vs. 1-3 Two main points in these 3 verses.
A. great anointing in spiritual gifts (tongues, prophecy, revelation) as wonderful and important as that is for the body’s growth and edification, can’t touch the power and importance of love for the brethren and sistren – vs. 1,2
B. great sacrifice and willingness to give away one’s stuff and even sacrifice of one’s life as necessary as that might be, can’t touch the power and importance of true heart felt love for the brothers and sisters – vs. 3

These things are all important and God given. The church can’t go forward without these things. But they don’t hold a stick to love in terms of importance and impact.

So before we go forward with the rest of this chapter, it would seem to me, that those who lead and who care about the health and vitality of the church – must help the church see its activities and ministries and health through the love lens. And surely one of the great defects of the church of Christ in our day is that we often elevate a man’s gifts to such a degree that we overlook and foolishly excuse his or her lack of love.

If someone were to come and hang out with us for say a month and check us out, and conclude that we are a very busy church involved in many things and meeting many needs and giving and serving in sacrificial ways, but not notice anything unusual about our love for one another, then we would need to ask some hard questions about the kind of fruit we are bearing, and the kind of values we have established.

II. The Characteristics of Love – vs. 4-7 15 of them; 7 positive; 8 negative; 7 attributes of supernatural love; 8 attributes or actions that have nothing to do with God’s supernatural love (read it)
A. Patient – love is very slow to get frustrated or give up on someone; it is longsuffering;

B. Kind – not gruff; gentle; winsome

C. Not jealous – able to hold people in an open hand; not putting an expectation on them that they were not meant to bear or keep; glad for their success and fruitfulness; glad they are thriving in God ordained relationships that I am on the outside of.

D. Does not brag – doesn’t do or say anything that brings attention or glory to one’s self

E. Is not arrogant – never boasts of things one owns or has won or accomplished as if we received or won or accomplished them solely on our own. Or that somehow we deserved them.

F. Does not act unbecomingly – – does not act with ulterior motives; is not manipulative; sometimes our love is like the 4th grade class who sent a get-well card to their teacher who was recovering from surgery. The card read: “Your 4th grade class wishes you a speedy recovery, by a vote of 15 to 14.”

G. Does not seek its own – is not covetous; self consumed; trusts God with his or her needs and reputation. When with others able to look upon their needs as more important than my own.

H. Is not provoked – – can’t be ruffled; because we are dead to anger and resentment – – nothing anyone does can rile us and bring out that old contentiousness we used to walk in

I. Does not take into account a wrong suffered – – Graham Cooke once said about God’s love, “God is never disillusioned with you – because He never had any illusions about you in the first place.” Perhaps one of the reasons we hold on to grudges and find it easy to be offended by our brothers or sisters is we put them on a pedestal they were never meant to be placed on. We put expectations on them God never approved of.

J. Does not rejoice in unrighteousness – true love mourns and is grieved by all sin and unrighteousness. It mourns when anyone sins regardless of how they have treated us in the past. It can never join in the fleshly and sensual revelry that the world seeks to find joy and happiness in.

K. But it Rejoices with the truth – true love – God’s love is always looking for truth and finds joy when truth is embraced to whatever degree.

L. Bears all things – true love always has in mind Jesus’s 77 times 7 rule of thumb. True love is always mindful of how long suffering and merciful God has been with us.

M. Believes all things – unless we have strong reason not to believe of course. But the point is true love wants to believe, and is not suspicious and accusatory.

N. Hopes all things – true love has strong roots in the greatness and goodness of God and in His ability to do the unthinkable and the impossible and thus is always dripping with hope, where others have given up hope.

O. Endures all things – true love is very very slow to throw in the towel. Though true love may feel like quitting, they trust God to hang in there a little longer.

III. The Permanency of Love – vs. 8-13 (read it) (4 observations)
A. Love never fails unlike prophecy, tongues and knowledge – vs. 8. All these wonderful gifts will die off and be of use no longer when Jesus returns.

B. Even when on the top of our spiritual game, our prophesying and revelation knowledge is at best partial. Vs. 9 But love always hits the mark – love never fails.

C. When Jesus returns, all these gifts will no longer be necessary. Vs. 10 implication is love will still be necessary and will always be the currency of heaven.

D. To love effectively we must grow up completely. Vs. 11
Children have to be taught to share. They are basically selfish. They cry and throw tantrums when they don’t get their way.
It is understandable that when we first come to Christ, we are highly unrefined and very self centered, rather childish.
But Paul is saying, in his journey there came a point where he firmly and decisively did away with his childish, immature and selfish ways. Jesus called Paul to be a great lover like Him. And Paul became just that!

Brothers – God forbid that we relegate being perfected in love to the sisters!

Men it is manly to love!

– “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” 16:13,14

Men must beware in the church that we just want to fix buildings; and develop practices and policies; and make plans; and do budgets; and even do missionary trips – – and fail to grow in the daily experience of loving our brothers and sisters – – not just in word or tongue, but in deed and truth as John the apostle instructed us.

BTW – there is a big difference in the N.T. between being child like and being child ish.

IV. The Early Church’s Love – – if time
When Jesus told His disciples, “A new commandment I give to you – that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. “ it evidently stuck!

There are various historical accounts of such outside the history book called the book of Acts. For instance, there was an unbelieving Greek writer named Lucian who lived between 120 and 200 AD. Upon observing the warm fellowship of the Christians in his region, he wrote, “It is incredible to see the fervor with which the people of that religion help each other in their wants. They spare nothing. Their first legislator (Jesus) has put it into their heads that they are brethren.”

Historical accounts of the church in the third century have noted that when a devastating plague swept across the ancient world, Christians were the only ones who cared for the sick, which they did at the risk of contracting the plague themselves. Meanwhile, pagans or unbelievers were throwing infected members of their own families into the streets even before they died, in order to protect themselves from the disease.

Well if Jesus can produce that kind of love in His church in the first few centuries after Christ died and rose again, surely He can do it in our day.

So let me end our discussion by suggesting a few practical things we can give some time and attention to grow in love for one another.

V. The Way to Love – –
How do we grow in or develop this kind of love for one another? Well I would suggest that we first acknowledge with the Lord Jesus – that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5); and that we acknowledge with the apostle Paul, that .”…nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; Romans 7:18.

Agape love does not come natural. None of us are born with it. Growing up in the South might make you a little more outgoing and and a little more courteous, but it does little or nothing to make you more loving as in loving as Christ loved.

Second, while we were born in sin and with the inability to truly love people, and while we were born without the capacity to truly love people in our sinful unregenerate nature, in Christ we have everything we need for life and godliness. In Christ – we have supernatural ability and overflowing capacity to love even the most unlovely or the most difficult to love (according to humans standards). Gal. 2:20

Third, because we are born in sin, and because we have all grown up in a sin tainted and idolatrous and self consumed world, whose love is increasingly growing cold, and because we inherit the sin patterns or generational sins of our parents and ancestors, we need to pray David’s prayer of Psalm 51, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” – – especially in this hour – those sins that keep us from loving one another like Jesus loves.

Great lovers will always be Great Cleansers – knowing how crucial it is that no sin is allowed to hinder the flow of Christ’s love in and through us.

With that in mind, let’s transition now to the Lord’s Table. And I want to turn your attention to

Read I John 4:7-10 as our meditation passage while we observe communion.

I Cor. 11:23-32 – – “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me. In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

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This is a study I began for our elder/leadership team, and then got distracted with other things. I thought if I posted it in its very unfinished form that might motivate me to finish it. 🙂

Perhaps I should convey at the outset that I believe apostles and prophets are offices and giftings still given today by Jesus Christ – the Head of the Church – and are still needed today. Sadly some studies on leadership leave them out.

Apostles – 58 x’s; In gospels 9 occurrences – none really instructive or didactic; Apostle – 19x’s (none in gospels);

Deacons – 5 references (Phil. 1:1; I Tim. 3:8,10, 12, 13) in 2 passages; never mentioned in book of Acts though some feel the men (Stephen, Phillip, etc.) appointed to serve the poor/tables in Acts 6 were the first deacons. (no references to “Deacon”). Emphasis is on serving (e.g. I Tim. 3:13). No reference to leading, overseeing, ruling, etc. Less than half as many qualifications expected for deacons as contrasted to elders.

Elders – 15 x’s applicable; all occurrences in gospels = negative – speaking of the Jewish elders of that day;
“Apostles and Elders” together occurs 6 x’s in Acts (15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23; 16:4); Acts 20:28, 31 is instructive since addressed to elders in church in Ephesus – – “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, ….to shepherd the church of God…” vs. 28; “Therefore be on the alert…” vs. 31.

There are 23 expected characteristics for elders to be pursuing/growing in from I Tim.3 & Titus 1. 19 deal with character; 4 deal with action in the church – e.g. “able to teach” (I Tim. 3:2); “take care of church of God” (I Tim. 3:5); “able..to exhort in sound doctrine” (Titus 1:9); “able…to refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).
Finally elders per I Peter 5:1f. are to: “shepherd the flock of God among you..” vs. 2; “exercising oversight” vs. 2; “proving to be examples to the flock” vs. 3

Evangelists – 1 x in Eph. 4:11; Evangelist – 2 x’s – Acts 21:8; II Tim. 4:5

Leaders – 3 x’s in N.T. that are applicable; Matthew 23:10 “Do not be called leaders”; (2519 = kathegetes – sometimes translated “teacher” – defined as “an authoritative guide” – only time used in N.T.) Context of Matthew 23 is key to understand Jesus’s command; Heb. 13:17 “Obey your leaders..” Heb. 13:24 “Greet all of your leaders” (2233 = hegeomai)
Leader – see Matthew 23:10 & Luke 22:26

Overseers (bishops in some translations) – 2 x’s – Acts 20:28; Phil. 1:1; Overseer – 3 x’s – I Tim. 3:1, 2; Titus 1:7 Generally understood to be synonymous with elders e.g. Acts 20:28 – speaking to the elders of the church in Ephesus Paul says, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers,..”

Pastors – 1 x in N.T. – Eph. 4:11 – purpose is to equip saints (No references to “Pastor”)

Prophets – 88 x’s; Prophet 67 x’s; prophetess (2 x’s) – Luke 2:36 & Rev. 2:20; prophetesses – (1 x) – Acts 21:9.

References in N.T. to O.T. prophets:of the 88 references to “prophets” in the N.T., 63 of them pertain to or are speaking of the Old Testament prophets.

Of the 88 references to “prophets” in the N.T. 6 refer or pertain to false prophets.

The remaining 19 references refer or pertain to present day prophets, though most of the 8 references to prophets in the book of Revelation could refer to both present and past.

References to prophet in N.T./Church Age or in the present: Gospels: Matthew 10:41 (on receiving a prophet); 11:19 (John the Bap.) cf. 14:5, Luke 1:76; John 1:21, 25; Matthew 13:57 Principle: “….A prophet is not without honor…” (cf. Mark 6:4, Luke 4:24, John 4:44);
Jesus as Prophet – John 4:19, 6:14, 7:40, 7:52, 9:17,
Acts: 21:10 “a certain prophet named Agabus came down…”;

References to prophets in N.T./Church Age: Matt. 23:34; Acts 11:27, 13:1, 15:32; I Cor. 12:28,29; 14:29, 32; Ephesians 3:5, 4:11; Rev. 10:7, 11:10, 11:18, 16:6, 18:20, 18:24, 22:6, 22:9;

Question of Eph. 2:20 “having (“God’s household” from vs. 19) been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,”
Are present day prophets meant to be considered part of this foundation? Some believe yes. I believe not. Here are my reasons:
1. “having been built” appears to imply something that has already taken place.
2. When prophets are discussed in Ephesians 3:5, it is clearly a reference to the Old Testament prophets and the original 12 apostles (minus Judas) and their writings.
3. In Rev. 21:14 the idea of a foundation and the apostles being a part of that foundation clearly refers to the original 12 (minus Judas)– “And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

Rulers – only appears in relation to civic leaders (e.g. Matt. 20:25, Rom. 13:3, etc.) greek word = arkown.

Teachers – 6 x’s applicable; Teacher – 2 x’s applicable;

“Govern” does not appear in N.T.
“Lead” – no applicable passages
“Leads” – Romans 12:8 (the gift of leadership)
“Shepherd” – 3 x’s applicable = John 21:16; Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:2
“Rule” – 1 applicable time = I Tim. 5:17; proestotes = a participle signifying “to stand before,” lead, or show how. It does not mean driving, but leading – especially by example (e.g. I Peter 5:3 “….nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.” – spoken to elders)
“Led” = 1 applicable reference – Hebrews 13:7

Jesus’s overall emphasis/teaching on leadership in His church? Anti title (don’t be called rabbi, father or leader – Matt. 23:8-10); anti – authoritarian; pro – servanthood (the greatest serves) Matt. 23:11,12; Luke 22:26; shepherd His sheep (Jn. 21:15-17); Jesus on proper response to prophets – Matt. 10:41 – “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward;…”

How was the church led in the book of Acts?
Ch. 1 – Jesus gathered and commissioned the apostles to wait for power to fulfill their mission. The apostles and others then gathered for days waiting on the Lord in prayer. Peter at one point felt led to appoint an apostle to replace Judas. All those who were there put forward two men, prayed, cast lots, and Matthias was chosen.
Ch. 2 – All still together; Spirit comes; tongues break out; crowd gathers; Peter preaches gospel; crowd responds; church multiplies dramatically; new converts baptized (because of large number I’m guessing many participated in that baptism – probably beyond apostles – vs. 41); they – the church “were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching…” vs. 42; “many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles” vs. 43;
Ch. 3 – lame man healed by peter and john; crowd forms; peter preaches;
Ch. 4 – religious leaders show up; arrest peter and john; tried in court; peter proclaims Christ; threatened peter and john and released them; afterwards returned home and gathered with ? NASV inserts “companions” but not in greek; probably other apostles and core folk, though possibly whole congregation (see vs. 32); they prayed and God showed up (vs. 31). Great unity in the church; Apostles with great power testifying of resurrected Lord; proceeds of sold properties laid at Apostles feet.
Ch. 5 – Peter – an original apostle – facilitated the slaying by God of Ananias and Sapphira. Vs. 1-10. “At the hand of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people.” vs. 12 After being arrested twice and then flogged, they returned home and “kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
Ch. 6 – Several developments re: leadership arise in this chapter. First rapid growth caused some growth pains. Second the 12 apostles determined they could not meet the legitimate need, and thus asked the congregation (literally “multitude”) of disciples to choose seven men to meet this physical need. “They” then chose the 7 and brought them before the apostles, who prayed and then laid hands on them. And they began to meet this need/serve. These servants are not called deacons, but many scholars believe this was the beginning point of appointing deacons to meet physical/material needs in the church.
Ch. 7 – Stephen’s defense & murder
Ch. 8 – “Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John…” vs. 14 Apostles in Jersualem recognized leadership.
Ch. 9 – vs. 26 the disciples in Jerusalem were afraid of newly converted Saul. “But Barnabus took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road…” vs. 27 Apostles in Jerusalem still recognized leadership.
Ch. 10 – Peter with Cornelius and gang
Ch. 11 – Peter returns to Jerusalem and reports to the uncircumcised men (at least) about his ministry to Gentiles (vs. 2f). “the church at Jerusalem …sent Barnabus off to Antioch” (vs. 22). Barnabus (on his own evidently) pursued Saul of Tarsus to help him (vs. 25,26). “…some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch (not sent evidently) to minister as the Holy Spirit led. One named Agabus prophesied accurately about the coming famine. The church in Antioch took measures in response to that having taken place (vs. 27-30) First time prophets appear in Acts.
Ch. 12 – Peter’s imprisonment & angelic release.
Ch. 13 – Prophets & teachers of the church in Antioch were ministering to the Lord and fasting. No mention of apostles or elders or pastors. The Holy Spirit spoke to them and commanded them to “set apart Barnabus and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Prophets and teachers typically don’t overly appreciate each other. But in this church they were the ones who in harmony and unity heard the word of the Lord and carried it out. In vs. 2 the Holy Spirit “said”. In vs. 4 the Holy Spirit “sent”.
Rest of chapter details Barnabus and Saul’s traveling ministry
Ch. 14 – first 22 verses and last 5 verses = more accounting of Barnabus and Saul’s traveling ministry. In vs. 23 we find that Saul and Barnabus had appointed elders in every church after “having prayed with fasting”.
Ch. 15 – Some men came down to Antioch from Judea spreading a false works gospel in the church there. Paul and Barnabus took issue with them. Eventually were encouraged to take some of the brethren and head to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles and elders in the church there about this issue.
“apostles and elders” show up together in vs. 2, 4, 6, 22, 23 as those who helped solve this crisis and had the authority to do so.
“Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message.” Vs. 32 They were prophets from Jerusalem (vs. 22) and “leading men among the brethren there”. They were chosen by the apostles, elders and whole church to accompany Paul and Barnabus (vs. 22). Appears Judas and Silas were probably in those long meetings in Jersualem as this issue was hammered out.
Paul and Barnabus’s squabble in vs. 36-41 shows the freedom and autonomy there were given to carry out their mission.
Ch. 16 – “….decrees which had been decided upon by the apostles and elders…” shows where the authority lied in the church in Jerusalem. Vs. 4 rest of chapter more missionary exploits of Paul with timothy and silas.
Ch. 17 – more missionary exploits of paul, silas and timothy
Ch. 18 – Paul, Priscilla and Aquila, and Apollos
Ch. 19 – Paul in Ephesus
Ch. 20 – Paul still the major player, but important to see that though it might appear from vs. 3, “….he decided to return through Macedonia” that Paul was a loner or independent or made decisions on his own, he was at that time accompanied by Luke at least, and there were 7 others of his team, who had been with him, but as vs. 5 states, “…had gone on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas.” Important as we focus on the references to “he” in this chapter that we do not neglect the many references to “we”.
I also find it interesting that when Paul and Luke (and perhaps the others on his team) got to Ephesus, he chose to focus on the elders (the leadership of the church there) (vs. 17). His great concern was for the sheep as seen in vs. 28-30 etc. But he knew key to the safety and welfare of the sheep is the ministry of the elders to them.
Apostles must care for the sheep of individual congregations by equipping their leadership (elders, etc.,) to shepherd the sheep appropriately in the fear of the Lord. Paul did not exclusively equip leaders. He did at times minister to the sheep or members of a congregation or church in a city. But he knew that their fate depended upon their leaders in many ways, though ultimately on God Himself (see vs. 32).

1. No control seen. Variety of leadership and initiatives taken.

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It is absolutely critical for we disciples of Jesus Christ to be grounded in the truth of both our sin nature and our new nature or identity in Christ. Only when we are regularly reminded of how we were before Christ saved us, will we appreciate the greatness of His salvation. Only when we are regularly reminded of who we are in the flesh in the present, will we appreciate the greatness of His grace, and cleansing blood, and impartation of the life of Christ by His Spirit. I’m hoping this will especially serve us all in having more meaningful times at the Lord’s table. The following chart is given to that end. It is not exhaustive by any means. I have confined this study to the New Testament.

Our Sin Nature

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, …..all these evil things proceed from within… “ Mark 7:20-23

“ And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” Mark 10:18

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Sprit to those who ask Him?” Luke 11:13 Continue reading A Primer on Our Sin Nature vs. our New Nature/Identity in Christ

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I handed out this primer yesterday in our service as a resource for those longing to experience Christ more at His table!

I. Communion Passages: Jesus – Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-20; John 6:53-56; Luke – Acts 2:42. 20:7; Paul – I Cor. 10:21; I Cor. 11:20-22; I Cor. 11:23-29; (see full passages under “resources”)

II. Names of in Scripture: Lord’s Supper – I Cor. 11:20; Table of the Lord – I Cor. 10:21; Breaking of Bread – Acts 2:42 & 20:7; Sacrament & Eucharist are not found in the New American Standard Bible

III. A Prayer Before Holy Communion from the Agbia: “Lord, I am not worthy to have You come under my roof because I am a sinner, but only say the word; “your sins are forgiven” and my soul will be healed. I am barren and empty of any goodness; I have nothing but Your compassion, mercy and love to mankind. You descended from Your Heavenly Glory to our humility and consented to be born in a manger. O’ Holy Savior, do not reject my humble and miserable soul which is waiting for Your glorified coming. As You did not refuse to enter the leper’s house to heal him, please Lord, come into my soul to cleanse it. As You did not stop the adulteress from kissing Your feet, please do not prevent me from coming near You to receive Your Holy Body and Your Sacred Blood. May this Holy Communion banish every corruption and mortify all my evil desires. Help me to obey Your commandments and heal my soul and my body from every sin. May Your Spirit dwell within me and make me united with You, so I may live for the Glory of Your Name. Amen.” (The Agbia is the prayer book of the Egyptian Coptic Church, which was started 2,000 years ago by the apostle Mark). Continue reading Primer for Coming to the Lord’s Table/Partaking of Communion

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Matt. 26:26-30 – – “While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom. After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”

Mark 14:22-26 – – “While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mt. of Olives.” Continue reading Communion Passages in N.T.

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INTRODUCTION – One of the books I’m reading right now is the 2nd book written by Rosario Butterfield, entitled “Openness Unhindered.” Rosario became a Lesbian in her early college days, and then as she went on for her PhD and then into a very influential tenured teaching post at Syracuse University – she became a widely known and very vocal lesbian activist and apologist. Her first book is entitled “The Secret Thoughts of an unlikely convert”, and a highly unlikely convert she was. So unlikely that most believers who knew her or knew of her didn’t even try to help her come to know Jesus Christ. Most, if they dealt with her at all, sent her condemning letters of the judgment that awaited her – especially after she dared trash the Promise keepers movement in one of her columns in the late 90’s. Continue reading Freeing Up the Fragrance – – I Corinthians 9

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“I must take care above all that I cultivate communion with Christ, for though that can never be the basis of my peace – mark that – yet it will be the channel of it.” Charles H. Spurgeon

In my last blog post I shared about some of the lessons I was learning about the call to oneness with my wife. One of the major ways grace has been coming to us in this season in our marriage is by increasing our oneness and intimacy with Christ, and that, through the use of a variety of devotionals. (Devotionals are books or daily emails that were written for the express purpose of helping us go deeper in our walk with God). That’s what I want to share about in this post.

As the Holy Spirit has been unraveling some of the subtle sin patterns that have enabled me to be so busy in the kingdom, and yet lose my passion for the King, I have discovered anew the great value of devotionals in stimulating my passionate pursuit of the King of kings and Lover of all lovers. Continue reading A Rediscovery of Devotionals!

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July 16, 2017
INTRODUCTION – As we have been walking together through the pages of the apostle Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, we have noted several times that the social context into which this church was planted was one of extreme sexual immorality, and thus significant relational damage. Sexual immorality always results in emotional and relational damage to all involved – whether in first century Corinth or in 21st Century Central Coast of CA communities.

Josh dealt with this when he preached on chapter 5. Elizabeth dealt with it last week in chapter six. And we are going to deal with it again today in chapter 7.

The good news of the kingdom of God – this wonderful supernatural realm that the risen Christ rules and that we all have begun to operate in and experience – is that there is a far superior way of living life and handling our sexual passions and needs, and walking out the marriage covenant with our spouse than that which the world system offers. Continue reading Marriage, Oneness & Sex – – I Cor. 7:1- 5

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So I’ve discovered again of late how “oneness challenged” I am in the flesh…..Jesus once in the context of a discussion about divorce reminded His hearers of what God’s original intention was regarding marriage. Quoting Moses in Gen. 2:24, Jesus “answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
One flesh speaks of sexual, emotional, spiritual, mental and relational oneness. Two very diverse people of opposite genders laying down their rights, their self focus, their independence, and pursuing together oneness, harmony and unity in every area of life. Continue reading Oneness Challenged

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June 18, 2017
My mother’s phone call – my files – Dave Barry on Fatherhood

Prayer for Holy Spirit power and revelation

INTRODUCTION – One of the disciplines the Holy Spirit led me to practice many years ago is daily praying through a portion of our church directory . So for instance this morning I prayed for all of our individuals or families whose last name starts with T-Z.

And one of the many things I pray for each of you every week is that you will grow in the joy of being a co laborer for the harvest with Jesus. One of the things Jesus promises to do in and through the life of every person who is born again by the Spirit of God is to make them what He calls a “fisher of men (or women)”. Continue reading Faith in The Power of God – I Cor. 2:1-5

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June 10, 2017

“I cannot imagine a greater motivation to pray than that God enjoys having me in His presence. He enjoys my company.” R.T. Kendall

The first time I ever remember hearing about the value or the practice of a daily quiet time with God was probably in my first or second year of high school. To play with one or more of the four sons of this godly couple down the street from me, I had to often interact with their mother. One day she gave me a booklet published by Intervarsity Christian Fellowship called “The Quiet Time”, and asked me to read it. Miraculously I did read it and then gave it back to her. She asked me what I thought. I replied it was great. She then said, well then now you need to practice it. For the next four years I rarely did. I had one foot still largely in the world at that time in my life, and the discipline of starting my day with God (or even ending it with Him) just never kicked in. Continue reading My Journey with Daily Quiet Times

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June 8, 2017

“By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

One of the skills I developed early in life is that of judging others. Whether it was a friend or relative or neighbor or fellow student or teacher or coach or leader in our church or a leader in government, if they had a fault, I was sure to find it. I could even identify their motives and the state of their hearts – hidden as that was to the naked eye! And I especially specialized in making sure someone around me knew of my latest insights into someone else’s character (or lack of).
Sadly that skill (or vice actually) is at an all time fever pitch in our culture today. Our cable networks even pay people to do it daily as a profession. Few seem able or willing to grasp the seriousness of the poison they are spewing, much less the seriousness of the judgment they are bringing upon themselves as a result of their own unrighteous judgment. Continue reading Fleeing from Unrighteous Judgment

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Why should we make teaching in the local church a priority?

– Because Jesus’s consistent pattern of ministry was as follows: “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.” Matthew 4:23

– Because Jesus commanded us to make disciples by “…baptizing them…and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) Continue reading The Importance of Teaching in the Church

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May 14, 2017

INTRODUCTION – Lucille Ball – one of the great female comediennes of my early years on this planet, and of all time really – said of wisdom, “In life, all good things come hard, but wisdom is the hardest to come by.”

One of the primary reasons true wisdom is so hard to come by is because Satan – the father of lies and the god of this world – has created a world system of belief and thought patterns and attitudes that operates on a false or corrupted sense of wisdom – a socially acceptable wisdom if you will. And he (that is Satan) has succeeded in getting most of our cultural influencers to embrace this worldly wisdom. The apostle James, who was never one to mince words, refers to this wisdom or way of seeing and doing life as earthy, natural and demonic in chapter 3 of his epistle as contrasted with divine or heavenly wisdom. (We will look at that passage later on) Continue reading The wisdom of God vs. the wisdom of man – I Cor. 1:10-25

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“Heavens” in the old and new testaments
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:9 Then God said, ” Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so.
Genesis 1:14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years;
Genesis 1:15 and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.
Genesis 1:17 God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth,
Genesis 1:20 Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” Continue reading Heavens in the Old & New Testaments

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“Heaven” in the Old Testament

Genesis 1:8 God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
Genesis 2:4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven.
Genesis 6:17 “Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish.
Genesis 11:4 They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose topwill reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” Continue reading Heaven in the Old & New Testaments

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I provide these passages especially for worship leaders, and other leaders of Christ’s church who want to worship Him in spirit and in truth. And who thus want to plumb the depths of the whole counsel of God on anything having to do with singing and music. May the Holy Spirit open your eyes and ears as you meditate on the following.

Sing in the Old and New Testaments
“Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and said, “I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea.” Exodus 15:1

“Miraim answered them, “Sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; The horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea.” Exodus 15:21

“The Israel sang this song: Spring up, O well! Sing to it!” Numbers 21:17 Continue reading Sing, Singing, Sang, Sung, Sings, Music in the Old & New Testaments

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This study is designed to help us understand the importance and role of dreams, visions, revelations, etc., in the kingdom of God.

Dream in New Testament
Matthew 1:20 – angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream
Matthew 2:12 – warned by God in a dream
Matthew 2:13 – an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream
Matthew 2:19 – an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph
Matthew 2:22 – after being warned by God in a dream
Matthew 27:19 – last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him
Acts 2:17 – and your old men shall dream dreams Continue reading Dream, Dreams, Vision, Visions, Trance, Revelation, Revelations in N.T.

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INTRODUCTION – Around the end of April of 2015 – our son Joshua called Anne and I and asked if he could come over and sit down with us. That conversation started the ball rolling that eventually (after many hours of meetings with our elders) led us to install Joshua as lead pastor as of June 1st of 2015, and then send Anne and I off on a three month sabbatical for those summer months to get rested up and re – envisioned for the years ahead.

When I jumped back in the saddle in early September of that year – our elders began to process together over many hours the changes that the Holy Spirit — primarily through Joshua was wanting to bring about.
One of the questions we wrestled with in some of those meetings (and I believe Steve Sharp joined us in some of those discussions) was what tag line or motto would best characterize who we are becoming, and what we are most pursuing as a people. Our eventual choice was: “People encountering Jesus.” We knew there were safer more acceptable words to use rather than “encounter” – but we all eventually concluded this was the word that best summed up what God wanted us to pursue, and what God wanted us to expect of Him. Continue reading Encountering God – Only One Thing is Necessary

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INTRODUCTION – William Carey, the great missionary statesman and missionary to India, said of the promises of God, “The future is as bright as the promises of God.”

Indeed for the children of God, the future is bright because God has given us promises for every step of our journey with Him. Everything God has willed for us, He has paved the way with His promises. They are like stepping stones for all the fullness of Christ and all the fullness of the Holy Spirit to become ours.

So this study is designed to help us stand on God’s promises until His highest will and purposes for us are accomplished. May this simple outline aid in this pursuit. Continue reading Attaining God’s Highest by the Promises of God

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This morning after my time with the Lord, I checked my emails, the weather, and a smattering of news headlines from a few sources including charismanews.com. Therein was an article entitled, “16 Million Reasons People Are Leaving California by the Millions.” I suppose much of what Mr. Snyder wrote was true or possible (e.g. massive earthquake and tsunami coming some day), but I question the wisdom or purpose of such an article. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the potential additional sales of his latest book referred to in the article.

But my purpose of this blog post is not to criticize his article. It is rather to celebrate the Romans 11:4 reality that the living God has “…Kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” The context of that amazing revelation is God’s response to the prophet Elijah, who had lost all hope and faith in God’s ability to finish and preserve what He started with His chosen people Israel. Against all odds and so many attempts by evil governments and armies to wipe Israel out, they continue to thrive today physically; and their spiritual revival is soon to follow.

And the same can be said about the body of Christ in California. Yes our State is self destructing in many ways, and the worst may still come, but God in His amazing grace and power has called many thousands of His sons and daughters to dig our heels in and unite together to see “His glorious kingdom come and His will done” here in all its fullness before Jesus returns.

Last night Anne and I gathered with 33 others of our fellowship (most under age 35) (see pic above) at my son’s house for a night of worship and prayer. Every time when we thought their living room, dining room and kitchen were maxed out with people, someone else would walk in the door.

Extravagant praise filled the house with children wandering to and fro. Testimonies of God moving and working were shared at points; sometimes demonstrations of Him moving and working were evident in our midst. I know these kinds of gatherings are happening all over the world and are on the increase.

So to all of those who live in the cities of America or Israel or Nepal or Sumatra who know and walk with God, and who have discerned and submitted to His calling to dig your heels in and focus on what He is doing and saying in your city or State, rather than focusing on all the doomsday prophets – – I have one thing to say – “You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.” And I am very proud and thankful to be counted among you today.

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At some point this last week I felt led to go find in my office my copy of “Revival Fire” by Wesley Duewel sensing my own need for “revival fire” to be stirred up in my spirit. God has done some amazing things in this country that at a number of times in its history seemed bent on self destruction. Wesley does a great job of chronicling many of these revivals and awakenings as well as the significant ones in other nations. I struggled over which account to record for you. What struck me about the one I chose is first it was mostly layman led and inspired; and second Wesley speaks twice of an “unusual spirit of prayer” as he lays out his account of what some call “The Layman’s Prayer Revival”. Might this be the year when this “unusual spirit of prayer” is rediscovered in America? I hope you are stirred as I was by what God did in such a short time through ordinary men and women. May He do it again in our day. Continue reading An Unusual Spirit of Prayer

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January 26, 2017

When I was a child, we could be pretty self righteously brutal to our friends whom we caught lying. I’m not clear on whether I first heard the saying, “Liar, liar pants on fire” from one of them, or if I first heard it among my children and their friends when one of them was caught lying. Either way this many years later that little saying was was more on target than we realized.

There is an epidemic of lying going on in our national conversation, most obvious among those we have to listen to the most (e.g. media personalities, government officials, and ex government officials), but it certainly is not limited to them. Continue reading “Liar, Liar Pants on Fire”

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Lie in Old Testament:
Lev. 19:11 – “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.” Re: man
Numbers 23:19 – “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” re: God
I Sam. 15:29 – “Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.” Re: God
II Kings 4:16 – “Then he (Elisha) said, “At this season next year you will embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord, O man of God, do not lie to your maidservant.” Re: man
II Kings 9:12 – “They said, “It is a lie, tell us now.” And he said, “thus and thus he said to me, “Thus says the Lord, “I have anointed you king over Israel.” Re: men
Job 6:28 – “Now please look at me, And see if I lie to your face.” Re: men
Job 34:6 – “Should I lie concerning my right? My wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.” Re: men
Psa. 62:9 – “Men of low degree are only vanity and men of rank are a lie; In the balances they go up; They are together lighter than breath.” Re: men Continue reading Lie, Lied, Lying, Lies, Liar, Liars in Old and New Testaments

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Dear Squire & anyone else that wants to listen in,

Thanks for your thoughtful response to my facebook post today. As you have probably discovered by now, I rarely allow myself to get into debates or elongated conversations on facebook.

But in your case, since I so appreciate your zeal for knowledge and your sincere interest in politics and the welfare of our nation, I’m going to make an exception, but in the form of a blog post if you don’t mind.

As to President Obama’s farewell speech on Tuesday, it has been duly noted by another that he mentioned the word “republic” once, and the word “democracy” and its variants no less than 25 times. This pattern is pretty much in keeping with his tenure as our President over these last 8 years and in my view is not accidental. Continue reading Republic or Democracy are We?

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