2018

Jesus Christ is celebrated for a variety of reasons this time of the year. One of the primary reasons should be because He is Light. John says of Him in his gospel, “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:4,5)

Our hope and sense in these days is that the church in the West will increasingly know and love and worship Him for being the Light. This will happen as we His people welcome and seek His light to break through and expose our spiritual blindness. 

Spiritual blindness is a bigger problem in the church than most realize. Our objective in this blog is to speak to that reality from the Proverbs. 

King Solomon spoke to this reality often in the latter half of The Proverbs. For instance, he states in chapter 16:

1.  “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the Lord weighs the motives.”  Proverbs 16:2

Because we all tend to compare ourselves with others, and because usually there is at least one person in our acquaintance who is seemingly far less moral or righteous than we are, we have learned to justify ourselves. After all “I have never done that”; “I’ve never gone to that place”, “I’ve never watched that movie”, “I’ve never been addicted to that”, etc.

2.  “Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthyman?” Proverbs 20:6

What we claim about ourselves, and what is true about us is often two different things. We often feel about ourselves what we would want people to think about us. But “trustworthiness” according to King Solomon is rare indeed. Crucial to a man or woman being truly trustworthy is that they are the same person in private (when no one is watching) that they are in public.

3. “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin’? Differing weights and differing measures, Both of them are abominable to the Lord.” Proverbs 20:9,10

Most of us in so many words speak of ourselves to others as being clean and pure. But often the measuring stick for our cleanness and purity is contrasting ourselves with others or with obvious and known wickedness in our society. One of the things we learn early on in life is how to find someone, who contrasted to us, makes us look good. Men and women do this all the time. But God hates this measuring stick. The best of humanity is still a rotten standard in His eyes. 

4. “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts.”  Proverbs 21:2

Again our tendency is to justify ourselves (almost always by contrasting ourselves with someone we deem obviously worse in word and deed).  But while we might not do the things they do or say the things they say, God looks at our hearts, our motives, our inner attitudes, and our inner conversations.  His weighing standard is of course Himself!

5. “There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes, Yet is not washed from his filthiness.” Proverbs 30:12

It is normal for people on this planet to literally consider ourselves as “pure” when in fact we are filthy internally.  Our personal assessment about ourselves can rarely be trusted unless it is based on the righteous standard of the holiness of God.

Thankfully Jesus is Light! He is going to open our eyes and remove our blindness. He came to wash us thoroughly and completely from all of our sins, and the corruption our sins have produced.  May we all learn to cling to Him for His much needed Light, and His precious blood that washes us white as snow.

“who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” Titus 2:14

“how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:14

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INTRODUCTION – We are jumping into chapter two of Paul’s letter to Titus this morning if you would like to turn there in your Bibles.     As Elizabeth taught us last week – this letter is considered to be one of the pastoral epistles – which are epistles or letters that were more specifically written to help the church know how to how to be the church in the midst of the darkness and perversion all around her. 

While this letter to Titus is one of the three pastoral epistles, I do not believe Titus himself should be seen as a pastor. Pastors or elders or overseers are called to shepherd the sheep in a given location. They are to dig their heels in a particular city or region and do their part to see the saints equipped, and the sheep in that given city or region shepherded, and the lost saved. They are to lay their lives down to see Christ’s kingdom come and His will done in their region until Christ clearly leads them elsewhere, if He ever does.  

An apostle on the other hand, tends to not be confined to one locale or one congregation.  An apostle typically oversees a number of churches and/or ministries and is given more to travel and to equipping equippers – and pastoring pastors. 

While Titus is never called an apostle in scripture, he functioned more like an apostle than a pastor. Paul calls him his “partner and fellow worker” in II Corinthians ch. 8. Titus ministered in Corinth for some period of time. He traveled with Paul to Jerusalem at one point in Paul’s journeys.  He traveled to Dalmatia for ministry at one point.  And now we see him appointing elders in every city in the island state of Crete.

Now,  one of the aspects of church life that is designed and intended to give God glory in every place where the church has been established is that its members look more and more like their Savior.

For young churches like these newly planted churches in Crete, there were not many – if any seasoned, mature believers to learn from and to model after; so Paul gave Titus in this letter some specific character targets to shoot for in the various age groups and stations of life.

He starts off as he should with Titus himself.  vs. 1 & vs. 15

“But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.” Vs. 1

“These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” Vs. 15

Please note the intended contrast in vs. 1 with the divisive men in 1:10,11 that the phrase, “But as for you” tips us off to.  Paul warns Titus in that passage, “For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.”

Titus, on the other hand is to teach these new believers and try to ground them in sound doctrine.  His every word in any context – official meeting or casual conversation – should help establish whomever he is talking to in sound doctrine, sound thinking, and thus sound behavior all centered on the Lord Jesus Christ. He is to do it faithfully and firmly, knowing it is crucial for the health and well being of Christ’s church, regardless of opposition or resistance.

One of the greatest responsibilities any apostle then or today has over any church is that it be grounded in sound doctrine.  That’s why Paul brings up doctrine four times in this short letter. And he also speaks of it in the other two pastoral epistles – I & II Timothy.

What is doctrine? Well doctrine is basically the body of truth given to us in the scriptures.  It is everything the King would ever want you to know about His kingdom, again as communicated in the Scriptures.  

One of the many expressions of God’s goodness to mankind is that He hasn’t left anything to chance or doubt.  He could have just given us one book instead of 66. But He loves to share His secrets with His people. He loves to tell us about Himself.  He loves to reveal His ways and His deeds or works.  He wants us to know how He has dealt with mankind since the very beginning. And He wants us to know what can be expected of and from Him in the now; and He wants us to know how things are going to end up (generally speaking) in the future.

Sound, Christ like, and God pleasing behavior rides on the back of sound, Christ centered doctrine. Sound doctrine protects Christ’s church from confusion and deception. It helps her rightly examine the more subjective aspects of kingdom life like prophetic words, dreams, visions, trances, etc.  It provides guard rails for the life of the Spirit.

Satan knows this better than we do sometimes I’m afraid. And that is why one of his main weapons against the church is raising up false teachers, false prophets and false apostles, who like him seek to deceive and spread false doctrine, but who are very cunning and seemingly religious or spiritual in the way they do it. 

How we are to be grounded in sound doctrine in the church is a whole other discussion that our teaching team is beginning to grapple with. One thing we know for sure is it was never meant to be confined to one man doing all the talking and teaching. All of us can and should play a role in the building and preserving of sound doctrine. I find it interesting that the believers in Berea – even after hearing the teaching of the greatest theologian (other than Jesus) ever to live, still “examined the scriptures daily to see whether these things were so”;  and the Holy Spirit through Luke calls them noble minded as contrasted with the believers in Thessalonica. You can read about that in Acts chapter 17.  But again – more on that perhaps in the near future.

After giving Titus specific instructions for his life and ministry there in Crete, Paul now turns to the older men there in the church. vs. 2   “Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.”

I want to make a few comments on this characteristic of being Sensible. We were told in ch. 1 that elders are to be sensible; as are old men in vs. 2, young women in vs. 5, young men in vs. 6, and then all of us as seen in vs. 12.  This characteristic is obviously of great concern to the apostle Paul.

Translated “sensible” in the New American Standard version; the NIV & NLT = self controlled;  It has the idea of being in control at all times of our passions and drives or lusts.  

Why is this quality necessary for older men in the church?  Well possibly because older men tend to think they’ve put in their time; they’ve worked hard all their life; so now they are entitled to sit back in their easy chair and enjoy their favorite shows or sports or both on their wide screen T.V.’s ; while enjoying a big bowl of ice cream to boot – every night!                 Now I’m not saying thou shalt never as an old man watch t.v. or eat ice cream.  But if you as an older man are going to be sensible or self controlled, which is a fruit of the Spirit by the way, then entitlement to the American way has to go. Older men if they are born again and thus baptized or placed into the church by the Holy Spirit; are therefore temples of the Holy Spirit; and therefore He the Holy Spirit would prefer to make the judgment or determination on how His temple spends their time, and what they eat or drink, or how much they eat or drink, and what they watch, etc.

The lie of the evil one, besides this entitlement lie, is that older men are washed up and cannot bear any significant fruit in their old age.  The good news of the kingdom of God is that our fruit will only get riper in old age as we learn to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh.

Psalm 92:12-15 has been a guiding light for me as people sometimes ask me these days if I have retired, or if I am soon planning on retiring:

“The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, They will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green, To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”   This is normal kingdom life and expectation for older men (and women).

Speaking of older women, let’s read Paul’s instructions for them – vs. 3,4a 

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women….”

Older women likewise are notto see themselves as “retired” or having earned a life of ease and pleasure after years of hard work raising children, and perhaps grandchildren, and/or working in the workforce. Nor should the church see them as such. Older women in the kingdom of God are the key to seeing younger women thrive.

As long as there are younger women around, older women can bear fruit by imparting to them the life of Christ and the life of the Spirit that they have learned over the years, and are still learning hopefully.

Please note the first of four “So that” purpose clauses in this chapter that shows up in vs. 4       “so that they may encourage the young women….”

In the kingdom of God, this is what older women were designed to do.  But as some of you older women (and men) might have learned – this doesn’t just automatically happen does it?  

Older women and we older men have to cultivate the kind of spiritual life and character that causes younger women (or younger men) to feel safe with us and therefore dare to open their lives to us.

And that first of all requires that we learn to listen and not react, not unrighteously judge, and not preach.  

The more an older woman gives herself to becoming the kind of godly woman vs. 3 describes, the more she will see doors open to impart this life to younger women.

Sometimes there is a tendency in older women (or men) in the church to want a platform to teach the younger women (or men), rather than taking the time to cultivate the piety that ultimately opens more doors than any platform ever could.  Piety ultimately bears far more fruit in terms of generational transfer than platforms (even organized men’s and women’s ministries) ever will.

OK. What about younger women? – vs. 4b, 5

“…to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”

Here is the second “so that” purpose clause in this passage: “so that the word of God will not be dishonored.  When younger women are known to be Christians, but are not known to be Christlike, God’s word is mocked, and the lost who know them chalk this up as one more hypocrite to add to the long list.  But of course the converse of this is when younger women walk in this kind of godly character, the word of God is honored and respected even among the lost.

Titus has a few words for younger men – vs. 6-8

“Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.”

Here’s the third “so that” purpose clause: “so that the opponent will be put to shame…”  godly young men can actually cause the opponents of the church to shut their mouths.

What about Bondslaves? – vs. 9,10

“Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.”

Here’s the fourth purpose clause:  “so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect”.  Doctrine can actually be adorned or beautified and magnified by the behavior of slaves.

Why should older men and older women and younger men and women and slaves give themselves to the pursuit of godliness and holiness? Because when they do – 

  • younger women will receive the encouragement from older women they so desperately need
  • the word of God will not be dishonored in Christian marriages
  • the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about the church
  • the doctrine of God our Savior will be adorned and wonderfully displayed

All of this of course is only possible by the empowering grace of God

Paul wants to make sure we know that, so he is now going to speak of four wonderful things the grace of God does in the world and in the church in vs. 11-14.

First of all it brings salvation to all men – vs. 11 

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,”

God has always been a God of grace.  A God who gives lavishly to men what they could never deserve or earn.  Jesus Christ, as John the apostle tells us in his gospel – – walked on our planet in plain view as one “full of grace and truth”.  Those who met Him and knew Him John says received “grace upon grace”.  Grace exploded on planet earth in and through the Savior Jesus Christ, and it is extended or freely offered to every man, woman, young person and child – regardless of ethnicity, or privilege or economic status, etc.

Second, the grace of God instructs those of us who have been born again by the Spirit of God to deny ungodliness and worldly desires – vs. 12a 

“instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires…”

When we begin to see how unworthy (not worthless) we are; when our eyes are opened to how utterly sinful in our flesh we are; and when we see how great His grace is towards us – – when we see and begin to taste how great His love and unconditional acceptance is; when we begin to experience His favor and power poured out on us all because of the goodness of His heart – – we gladly deny all matters of ungodliness and worldly desires.  They lose their grip on us. Praise God!!

Third the grace of God instructs we believers to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age – vs. 12b 

“instructing us to ……live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.”

   The grace of God, defined by some as unmerited favor and blessing, but also defined as enabling power to please God and become like Him – – this amazing grace teaches us how and motivates us to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the midst of the perversion and corruption that surrounds us.

Finally the grace of God instructs us to look for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus – vs. 13 

“looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”

  The grace of God as we begin to taste it and experience it, enables us to break all illicit ties with this world, and look forward to and anticipate the glorious return of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Death is no longer feared, but rather embraced as our pathway to unhindered intimacy and fellowship with our great Savior.

What is so “great” about Him?

Well first of all He gave Himself for us. vs. 14 a

“who gave Himself for us….”

He willingly walked back into Jerusalem on that fateful day, knowing the Jewish religious leaders were going to capture Him and unlawfully arrest Him and unlawfully try Him; and unlawfully and brutally beat Him, and finally crucify Him on a criminal’s cross. He did that for you and me. And He did that to accomplish a number of things, two of which Paul emphasizes in this passage: – 

First to redeem us from every lawless deed – vs. 14b 

“who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed,….”

 Before Jesus invaded our lives and saved us from our sins and made us new creatures, we were slaves to sin and lawlessness. By that I don’t mean we necessarily broke major laws of our land; but we broke God’s laws – on a daily basis – – the greatest one being to love Him with our whole heart, soul, strength and mind.  Jesus died to set us free from this awful bondage to sin – – a bondage that was more awful than most of us realize.

The second reason Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood was to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds – vs. 14c 

“who gave Himself for us ….to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”

The most wonderful  purifying and cleansing agent in the universe is the blood of Jesus.  There is no sin, no bondage, no addiction, no generational long time sin pattern that it can’t cleanse.  The blood of Jesus can take a Corinthian church and turn it into a Philippian church. 

You know, God’s strategy for reaching the whole world with the wonderful news of His saving grace has never really changed. He has always been about forming a people among whom He could dwell and manifest Himself, so that His manifested presence in our midst first purifies us of all defilement, and then spills out on all those within reach with God appointed and Spirit directed good deeds. 

Do you sense Him calling you out of the world, or rather calling the world out of you in these days brethren? 

I know some of you do. Oh the joys that are ahead of The Well – Los Osos  – – when we get serious about breaking our friendship with the world.  Oh the zeal for doing every good deed that is going to be increasingly ours – – as we finally begin to hate the things He hates and love the things He loves, and therefore find ourselves free from all the things that used to trip us up.

Jesus said in the sermon on the mount to a crowd of disciples, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they (plural) shall see God.”  (Matthew 5:8).  There is no greater happiness in this earthly life than allowing our great Redeemer and Savior to clean us up from the inside as a people so we can see Him as He is, and experience Him in our midst, and thus have His intended impact on the outside watching world.

Can we pray into this some as His people this morning?  

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I started out my Fathering blog with this quote from “Transformation of the Inner Man” – “ If the father has truly lived the Way in Christ; it is easy for a son to do the same; if the father has not, our Lord will first have to overcome and bring to death in the son what the father was.” This is a necessary work of Christ to release the negative effects that our fathers had on us. One of the things Anne and I were contending for in that blog was that in our quest for holiness and cleansing and sanctification, the Holy Spirit will at times have us revisit the way we were fathered, and especially the negative effects from the way we were fathered. Continue reading Fathering Blog Follow Up

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King David is the only person in scripture deemed as “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). I suppose there are a number of reasons why God esteems him as such. But surely one of them is because of how much David loved and cherished the people of God. David felt about God’s people like God did, and therefore he longed for the next opportunity to worship and seek God with them.

The following scriptures serve to highlight this, and hopefully will stir us up to a greater love for and desire to worship with God’s people. Continue reading David’s Delight in the Gathered People of God, and Commitment to Corporate Worship

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“The word of the Lord” appears in the New Testament – 16x’s in 12 verses. The purpose of this study is to help clarify the difference between the phrase, “The word of the Lord” and phrases such as “the word of God” and terms like “the scriptures”. At first appearance, they may seem to all refer to the same, but further investigation proves otherwise.

Scripture: Luke 22:61 The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” Tou logou tou Kuriou (from logos)

Comments: Something specific and personal and prophetic Jesus spoke to Peter.

Scripture: Acts 8:25 “So, when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.” Ton logon tou Kuriou

Comments: Is “the word of the Lord” herein the specific and personal rebuke that Peter spoke to Simon? And thus different from the gospel mentioned in the latter part of the verse? Appears to be so.

Scripture: Acts 11:16 “And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” tou rhematos tou kuriou

Comments: Here Peter is referring to a specific prophetic declaration of Jesus made apparently more than once to His disciples re: the soon coming baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Scripture: Acts 12:24 “But the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied.” Logos tou Theou

Comments: Wouldn’t this refer to the preaching/proclamation of the gospel and the teaching of Christian doctrine (e.g. teachings of Jesus and prophetic O.T. passages re: Jesus) by the apostles and other disciples, as well as any specific, personal and prophetic words added in?

Scripture: Acts 13:44, 48-49 “The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord. … “ ton logon tou kuriou 48 “When the Gentiles heard this, they [began] rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” Ton logon tou kuriou 49 “And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.” O logos tou kuriou

Comments: Proclamation of Christ and His kingdom? What God is saying through His servants. Certainly would have been based or grounded in whatever scriptures they had available to them.

Scripture: Acts 15:35-36 “But Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch, teaching and preaching with many others also, the word of the Lord.” Ton logon tou kuriou 36 “After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, [and see] how they are.” Ton logon tou kuriou

Comments: The “word of the Lord” was taught, preached, and proclaimed by Paul, Barnabus and the “others”. Much of this ministry appeared to be to believers. The “word of the Lord” thus consisted of whatever the Holy Spirit led them to convey to these believers, again grounded and based in the scriptures available to them, but personal and specific to the audience.

Scripture: Acts 16:32 “And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.” Ton logon tou kuriou

Comments: “him” refers to the Philippian Jailer, who started to kill himself, presuming the prisoners had escaped. Paul intervened; he then wanted to be saved from his sins; and thus Paul began to minister “the word of the Lord” to him, which obviously had to be the gospel or good news re: Christ and His kingdom and how to enter it.

Scripture: Acts 19:10, 20 “This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. …” ton logon tou kuriou 20 “So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.” Tou kuriou o logos

Comments: The good news about Christ and His kingdom?

Scripture: 1 Thess. 1:8 “For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.” O logos tou kuriou

Comments: The good news about Christ and His kingdom?

Scripture: 1 Thess. 4:15 “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.” En logo kuriou

Comments: Paul appears to be claiming that what he and his co-workers were teaching the Thessalonians about the return of the Lord came straight from the Lord (for Paul at least through special revelation).

Scripture: 2 Thess. 3:1 “Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as [it did] also with you;” “o logos tou kuriou”

Comments: The good news about Christ and His kingdom?

Scripture: 1Pet 1:25 “BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.” And this is the word which was preached to you. “ to de rhema kuriou

Comments: Taking into account vs. 23 wherein we learn we are born again “through the living and enduring word of God”, and then the latter part of vs. 25 that should literally read “And this is the word which was preached as good news to you”, we know first of all that “the word of the Lord” is this “word which was preached as good news to you.” We know that the apostles preached Christ/the good news in at least 3 ways: 1. Old testament scriptures pertaining to Him; 2. The actual words and teachings of Christ; 3. Revelations of Christ such as Paul received and spoke of in II Cor. 12.

“word” in vs. 23 in greek is logou from logos; “word” in vs. 24 both times in greek is rhema.

Questions: 1. How does “the word of the Lord” differ from “the gospel of the kingdom”?

2. What is the significance of rhema in Acts 11:16 & I Peter 1:25 as contrasted with the use of Logos in all the other passages?

3. While “the word of the Lord” clearly does not always refer to scripture, does it not include it in some of these references such as Acts 12:24, Acts 13:44, 48-49, I Peter 1:25, etc.? ?

Possible Definitions: The word of the Lord is the message conveyed through one of God’s servants that proclaims Christ and His kingdom in a specific and personal way to the audience grounded in or based in the scriptures.

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INTRODUCTION – The author of www.evilbible.com says this re: the Bible and the scourge of slavery: “Except for murder, slavery has got to be one of the most immoral things a person can do. Yet slavery is rampant throughout the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments. The Bible clearly approves of slavery in many passages, and it goes so far as to tell how to obtain slaves, how hard you can beat them, and when you can have sex with the female slaves.”

Psalm 145:8,9 says this about the God of the Old and New testaments – the same God who wrote the Old and New testaments through the minds and pens of men: “The Lord is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The Lord is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.” Later in vs. 17 it says, “The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds.”

So who should we believe? Well one of the passages evilbible.com uses to make its argument just so happens to be the one we are going to look at today in our ongoing series through I Timothy. So please turn in your Bibles if you will to I Timothy 6:1,2 Continue reading Slavery & The Kingdom of God – I Tim. 6:1,2

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“If the father has truly lived the Way in Christ; it is easy for a son to do the same; if the father has not, our Lord will first have to overcome and bring to death in the son what the father was.” John & Paula Sanford, p.99, “Restoring the Christian Family”

God has always been about producing a people among whom He could dwell, and through whom His will and ways and person could be manifested. His intentions began to be revealed in a known and clear way first to Abraham, as seen initially in Genesis chapter 12.

While there were a handful of things that God promised to do for and through Abraham, it all started with making him into “a great nation” (vs. 2). This idea of a nation in God’s mind was not a political entity as much as it was a relational entity. A relational entity or a people through whom “all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (vs. 3). Continue reading Restoring The Truth About Fathering

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Knowing some years ago that I was more like the 12 disciples (who often did not see the value of children) than I cared to think, I decided to search the scripture for what God says about their value. The following study came from that search. May the Lord continue to help us all feel about children the way He does!

Children Are a Blessing and a Gift from God
Psalm 127:3-5 “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;…”
Psalm 128:1-4 “…..your children like olive plants around your table….” = sign of God’s blessing Continue reading SEEING CHILDREN AS GOD SEES THEM

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These promises have been a great encouragement to me over the years to talk less and pray more, though I still need to talk less and pray more. I trust they will be an encouragement to you as well!

Matthew 6:6 “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be give to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Matthew 7:8 “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Continue reading Jesus’s Prayer Promises

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Some behavioral experts say the first six years of life are the most formative. For sure our years growing up with our parents and other relatives if they are close by have a lasting effect on the way we see and handle life.

Because of my own journey of self-examination particularly surrounding the decline and death of my father, and the experiences others have shared with me, I recently began to study in earnest the scriptural theme of what some call “generational sins”, sometimes referred to in scripture as the “sins of the fathers”. Continue reading Generational Sins Study

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One of the most glorious ongoing works of our great Savior Jesus Christ is that He is continually cleansing His church from all of our unrighteousness and defilement by His precious blood and by the intimate work of the Holy Spirit.

Our role is to cooperate with Jesus and with the Holy Spirit.

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” II Corinthians 7:1 Continue reading A Simple Tool for Cooperating with the On-going Cleansing Work of Christ

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INTRODUCTION – This morning I hope to help broaden and strengthen your perspective on how life works, & how the kingdom of God intersects this fallen world; because that is what I believe Solomon – the preacher – is after in chapter 10, if not in this whole book called Ecclesiastes. Even back then, I think Solomon knew that people could place their faith in God to escape hell and judgment and to find much needed forgiveness for sins, but never really learn how to live like God meant for us to live.

You see perspective pretty much more than anything else determines whether we thrive or just survive. Perspective determines whether we see the glass half full or almost empty. Perspective – that is wise and godly perspective – shields us from the onslaught of lies that constantly come our way from the father of lies, and from this corrupt world system that is well oiled and crafted by the father of lies, and from our own sinful flesh. Continue reading Truths for Thriving – – Ecclesiastes 10:1-20

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I. For knowing Christ –
A. “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” Luke 24:27

B. “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life, it is these that testify about Me.” John 5:39

II. For spiritual growth and sanctification –
A. “But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 Continue reading The Supreme Value & Fruit From Bible Reading, Meditation & Study

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INTRODUCTION – Ecclesiastes is a great book for those of us who tend to be too black and white, too anal, too uptight, too dependent on formulas, or just too unlike Christ!

I want to confess that it is not the easiest book to understand, much less apply or heed. Parts of Chapter 8 are especially challenging. One of the things that helped me this week was my reading on Wednesday in Thomas a Kempis’s “Imitation of Christ” re: the study of scripture and how to handle difficult to understand portions. Here’s what he said,
“Our curiosity proves a hindrance to us, for while reading the Scriptures we sometimes want to stop to debate and discuss, when we should simply read on. If you wish to derive profit from your reading of Scripture, do it with humility, simplicity and faith; “ Continue reading Overcoming sternness with Wisdom – Eccl. 8:1

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June 17, 2018
INTRODUCTION – As we jump into Ecclesiastes ch. 4 today, I want to direct my thoughts primarily to the working folk among us, because that is what most of this chapter is about.

Thinking back to Genesis ch. 2 if you would for a moment, soon after God created Adam and Eve , He set them to work in this beautiful and most likely quite expansive garden in a place called Eden.
The living God is a God who loves to work. He never dreams of retiring. He enjoys and takes great delight in working and creating and accomplishing and healing and redeeming things on the earth. And part of being created in His image is having a mind and capacity to not only work, but to enjoy it. Continue reading Four Maxims for the Marketplace – Ecclesiastes 4

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In my first study on cleansing posted on March 10th, I sought to establish a couple of important truths. First that our wonderful Savior performed an initial cleansing and washing in each of us when we were born again by the Spirit of God. For instance, in Acts 15:9, Peter testifies of Christ’s saving and cleansing work among the Gentiles, “and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.” Second, that He continues to cleanse and purify His church until we are forever with Him.

Then in my second study posted on April 8th, I sought to establish that we have an active role to play in the ongoing cleansing work of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 7:1, Paul exhorts, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Continue reading Getting Cleansed Part I

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Greetings Husbands: I originally developed this as a pre-marital counseling tool minus the prayer requests. Then when I realized in June of 2017 that I was taking my wife for granted and not leading and pursuing her like I should, I turned this into a daily prayer tool. The transformation in me and in my marriage, has been significant. May the Holy Spirit use this tool to help you become the husband God called you to be!

I. We are to leave our parents and cleave to our wife and become one flesh – Gen. 2:24, Matt. 19:5 Eph. 5:31 Father, please help me honor, but leave and have good boundaries with my parents, and to ever more cleave to my wife and become one in every way with her.

II. We are to give our wife happiness – especially during our first year of marriage. Deut. 24:5 Father show me creative ways to make my wife happy all the days of our life together. Continue reading A Husband’s Job Description Prayer Tool

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“There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes Yet is not washed from his filthiness.” Prov. 30:12

In my previous and first study on this whole subject of Cleansing, we focused on knowing and trusting our Savior as One who came to cleanse us from all sin and defilement until the day that we are with Him face to face.

In this study I want to focus on our role in this all important call from our Savior to be continually cleansed. Then I hope to follow this study up with some very practical steps for developing a lifestyle of being daily washed and cleansed from sin, defilement and corruption.

The reality sadly in the body of Christ today is that many of us have been able to serve and minister and seemingly be used (sometimes greatly) of the Lord, and yet have huge blind spots as to our own personal need for inner transformation and cleansing. Continue reading The Call to Purity – The Believer’s & Church’s Role in Being Cleansed from Sin

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INTRODUCTION – I was grieved this last week to hear from a dear friend of yet another local congregation (not anywhere near here) being torn apart because of ungodliness and worldliness among the elder board or elder team.

Another friend wrote me this last week telling me of his grief in learning that a good friend of his had quit walking with the Lord.

God’s will and full intention is that the elders of His church – wherever in the world a corporate expression of Christ’s church finds itself – thrive in the carrying out of their ministry, and that they end their race strong and well, and that Christ’s church is safe and secure under their leadership and care as a result.

God’s will and full intention for every believer in His church is that they also thrive in the fulfillment of their calling, that they experience the fullness of Christ and the Holy Spirit in ever greater measure, and that they end their race strong and well. Continue reading How to Thrive and End Well in Christ – – I Peter 5:1-14

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The Cleansing/Purifying Work of the Savior/Messiah

In some circles of the body of Christ there is great emphasis on the initial saving work that Jesus does when unregenerate sinners turn to Him for salvation (justification). And well there should be an emphasis throughout the body of Christ on this wonderful saving work, and our role in it. But it is crucial that we all know that Jesus our Savior does not stop or slow down once God has “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13).

While there is an initial and wonderful cleansing work by our Savior when we are born again (see Titus 3:5), He continues to cleanse us from the roots and foundations until the day we are finally and ultimately saved or delivered (glorification), and forever joined with Him in heaven. Sadly many seem to be unaware of or not sufficiently aware of and embracing this current work of our Savior.

So the following scriptures are given so that we can all know and experience Him as the great Purifier and Cleanser of His people. May He reveal Himself to you in this way as never before as you meditate on these scriptures. Continue reading Knowing Jesus as the Great Purifier/Cleanser of His People

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On July 16th of this year I posted a blog entitled, “Oneness Challenged”. I’ve had some months since to continue to try to understand and pursue this God created oneness with my wife. So I thought it might be helpful to revisit oneness in marriage with a little more Biblical exposition. This is just a start, but there is enough herein to make it worth posting.

The first inkling we get of the call to marital oneness appears in Genesis 1:26, 27.
Genesis 1:26,27 “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Continue reading Marital Oneness – Revisited

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This little study was motivated by our church name change from “Los Osos Christian Fellowship” to “The Well – Los Osos” . The enemy of our souls loves to lie to us in our times of great difficulty that there is no hope; that our sin or someone else’s is just too great. May the Lord continue to convince us of the unfathomable depths of resource we have in Him for every challenge and battle and difficulty and impossibility we will ever face, and may we ever know Him as the life giving Well, Fountain, Spring, and River.
Continue reading Well, Wells, Fountain, Fountains, Spring, Springs, River, Rivers in the Old & New Testaments

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