Archive for October, 2013

RENOVATE: Week 5

The theme verse underlying the purpose of the Renovate movement is Matthew 10: 39, “He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it.” (NASB) These words were spoken by Jesus in reference to Himself and are the very capstone of authentic living. This week I would like to first consider a passage of scripture taken from the October 27th reading found in 1 Timothy 5: 5-6, “Now she who is a widow indeed, and who has been left alone has fixed her hope on God, and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives.” (NASB) These verses correspond remarkably with the words of Jesus above.  The Apostle Paul is instructing his young apprentice, Timothy that as he leads God’s people, in the context of the church caring for widows; the true widow, one who has learned well by way of suffering in the school of God’s providence; recognizes her only hope rests in God and not in her self-centered desire for personal preservation. Her dependence, her life, is rooted solely in her relationship to her Provider and Sustainer. She is not like the woman bent only on self-indulgence and self enrichment.  The former woman is alive because she has lost herself in her Savior. The latter is dead because she thinks protection and provision lie within her own ability and manipulation; thus, in the groping to find herself, she has already lost herself.

In this instance, the “true widow” is marked by a life rooted in the faith of a Loving Provider; forged in the intense fires of trial. Naturally, most people long to avoid suffering; yet, in a strange and beautiful way, suffering becomes an incredible platform for faith and an astounding catalyst for the joys of heaven. Hardships experienced in this existence, bringing about tears (of which God “stores in a bottle” according to Ps. 56: 8), will ultimately render heaven a place of greater joy for the one who endures them; the one who trusts in the God of purpose exercising sovereignty over them (Rom. 8: 28).

Pushing this theme a bit further, I want to explore the October 28th reading from Psalm 119: 71-72.  The Psalmist states, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes. The law of Thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” (NASB) To read and digest scripture is to come to grips with the fact that this universe, in consequence of mankind’s sin, is fallen. Within this present state of affairs, the existence of evil, under the sovereign power of a Holy God, produces trials and suffering of every kind. In the words of Jesus, “… for He (God) causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45, NASB)

I must submit that one of the most atrocious, damnable heresies contaminating the modern church is the concept of a “health, wealth, and prosperity” gospel. Proponents of such teaching reduce the unimaginable work of Christ, His cross and resurrection, to the futile pleasures of this limited fallen world. They cause men to “seek treasures here, where moth and rust corrupt and thieves break in and steal;” rather than in heaven where things exist incorruptible. Consequently, individuals under such teaching diminish God to a cosmic genie that jumps at the beckon call of those who possess enough “faith.”  I assure you, even a cursory reading of the Bible does not present such a God!  Consider the passages of scripture in focus today. While no one is pretending that suffering is pleasant or completely understandable; within the universe God has placed us it would seem to be purposeful, even necessary.

Don’t fall prey to the liars who would seek to lead you astray for their own ill-gotten gain. Such teachers will focus the hearts of many on the glossy trappings of this world and drive their hearers away from the truth of the gospel directly into the pit of hell at their own destruction.  Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Remember that in Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, one of the key snares before the Savior was to wear His crown without going through the cross (Matt. 4: 1-11, Luke 4: 1-13). How sinister the evil one to infiltrate the church with the very same enticement robed in the language of the gospel.

Be diligent to study the scriptures and know the truth.

In Christ,

Pastor Rob

RENOVATE: Week 3

This week’s devotion gets at one of the fundamental purposes underlying the Renovate movement. Consider a reading from October 13th. “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee.” (Psalms 119:11, NASB) I want to encourage you to keep going and not to lose heart as we examine God’s Word together. I know how the pressures of life and busy schedules can distract you from this endeavor. As far as the evil one is concerned, that is exactly the point. When you engage in reading and contemplating the scripture, you become extremely dangerous to the powers of darkness that are bent on destruction. Sin, and the temptation towards it, is the greatest weapon in the arsenal of Satan. With an open Bible, an open mind, and an open heart you are absorbed into an ever deepening relationship with the God who gave you life. As you preoccupy yourself with hearing from the LORD in His Word, the Holy Spirit of God who gave you life from the dead the moment you believed in faith will be recognized as fighting the enemy on your behalf; freeing you even more to learn about and love the Savior! Conversely, the devil wants nothing more than for you to put down your Bible and attempt to fight your battles in your own power; your own “flesh.” In Romans chapter eight, the Apostle Paul warns that it is the “flesh” that leads to death; he also commends it is the Spirit that leads to life and peace. Therefore, take the advice of the Psalmist today. “Thy word I have treasured in my heart…” Not only hear and read the word, but receive it into the areas of your life that you deem most dear; mix it with faith (believing its admonitions and promises even when it doesn’t make sense); cherish it in your mind and memory for future use, where it might dwell deeply and be of service to you on many occasions. Why? “…That I may not sin against Thee.” The word of God is the most powerful antidote against sin. Not only does the instruction of it forbid sin, but the promises of it influence you toward a pure heart and life. It helps you, through grace and faith, secure a relationship with God in Jesus Christ; and, likewise, successfully deny sin and the lusts of this world. What will your life look like at the end of this journey? This much I know… you will never be the same! In Christ, Pastor Rob

RENOVATE: Week 1

As we all begin this journey together, it is fitting we get underway with this specific devotion. Who are you? That is a rather broad question; yet if Jesus is your savior and Lord, the answer to that question becomes very narrow.

I will focus this week on scripture that is found in our Oct. 2nd reading. Paul says in Ephesians 1:22-23, “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (NASB)

These verses speak of God the Father in reference to God the Son. Jesus was given and the benefactor of that unfathomable gift is the church. The church, which is spoken of as Christ’s body, reaps all the unsearchable dividends of being related to Jesus.

What I find curious in these verses is the Apostle Paul’s use of the word translated in English “fullness” from its original language. Does it mean, as in an active sense of translating the word, that Christ fills the church and also all things as well? Of course we know He fills the church so this would be a proper understanding.

However, what if we considered the word in a passive manner of translating it? Could it be that in some strange way the church fulfills Christ, who Himself fills all things in every way? And if so, what would that look like? I think a clue can be found in what Luke writes at the beginning of his book known as Acts. He says, “The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach,” (Acts 1:1 NASB). Luke’s “first account” is what we call the Gospel of Luke. Since this is true, what does Luke mean here in Acts when he says all that Jesus “began” to do? Isn’t his gospel a record of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection? I thought Luke did a good job at covering all the bases regarding Jesus.

In order to understand this, we need to realize the Gospel of Luke is about what Jesus does in His Body. The Acts of the Apostles is about what Jesus does in His Body. Do you see the difference?

Let’s get back to the first question I asked. Who are you? Do you realize that you are an eternal being? Your mind (or conscience) and spirit will live forever. Even so, in a physical environment, how do your mind and spirit operate? Thoughts are expressed through a mouth, movements, facial expressions, and so forth. Thoughts are received through sound, sight, taste, touch, feeling. A will is carried out through feet that take your mind and spirit where you wish to go and eyes that light the way. In other words, your soul and spirit cannot function without a body. What is a body? It is the means whereby a spiritual being functions in a physical environment. Jesus functioned in the Gospel of Luke in His human body. Jesus functioned in the Acts of the Apostles in a little group of believers in this city and a little group of believes in that city… His church!

Remember Jesus told His disciples that He had to go away so that God the Holy Spirit could come. Since that is the case, dare we say that He lacks (not a good allusion to use when speaking about God… only for expression of the idea I’m trying to convey) something? And could that which He lacks be the means whereby a Spiritual Being functions in a physical environment? And could that be His body, the church?

No wonder the Apostle Paul often used analogies for the church such as hands, feet, eyes, and ears! Who are you? If Jesus lives in your heart, you ARE the church! Now that is exciting!!

One more thing… With what I have just said, you might be intimidated at the idea of fulfilling such a lofty role. Consider a verse from our Oct. 3rd reading. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10 NASB) I prefer the New American Standard’s rendering of this verse to our devotional Bible. It uses the word workmanship rather than creation. The original word carries the connotation of masterpiece, or work of art! We have been created IN CHRIST JESUS for good works… which He prepared beforehand!! So be the eye, the ear, the mouth, the hand, the feet, whatever you are created to be all for His glory! The pressure is not on you to perform; He has even taken care of what you are supposed to be and do so you are completely free to LOVE Him!!!

YOU ARE THE CHURCH. BE THE CHURCH.

In Christ,
Pastor Rob