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Archive for the ‘Examine Yourself.’ Category

His House or Dollhouses?.

Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”
John 2:17

Recommended Reading
John 2:13-22 [ ]

Huguette Clark was a reclusive heiress who owned mansions in California and New York, though she never visited them. She preferred her Fifth Avenue apartment. She also rented a room in a local hospital, despite being in ideal health (she lived to be 104 years old). Her one and only interest was collecting dolls. She spent millions of dollars on dolls, doll clothes, and dollhouses. Her biographer called it her passion and obsession. Her love for her dolls dominated her life.

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Every person needs a passionate pursuit. We need something we can pour our lives into, a cause to which we can give our lives. But it should be a worthy passion and a worthwhile pursuit. It should touch on the eternal — on matters related to God’s house, not dollhouses. It was said of Jesus: “Passion for God’s house burns within me” (John 2:17, NLT).

People are passionate about many things in life — politics, sports, health — but let’s be passionate about growing in our walk with God and advancing His work. Ask Him today for His zeal.

If we want to be thoroughly hot with zeal, we must go near to the furnace of the Saviour’s love.
Lady Powerscourt

Exodus 28-30

By David Jeremiah.

Out on a Limb.

Walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
Colossians 1:10

Recommended Reading
John 15:1-8 [ ]

Will Rogers quipped, “You’ve got to go out on a limb sometimes because that’s where the fruit is.” Christians often find themselves out on a limb; but wherever we are, we’re to bear fruit. The New Testament writers used the word “fruit” in many ways. Hebrews 13:15 talks about “the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” James used the word “fruit” to describe our good works (James 3:17). John the Baptist described our changed behaviors as “fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8). In Romans 1:13, Paul used “fruit” to describe those coming to Christ under his ministry. In Galatians 5:22, he used the same term for the attitudes that characterize mature Christianity: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,” and so on.

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In all these cases, we can say the word “fruit” describes the demonstrative results of Christian maturity. If we’re growing in Christ, there should be evidence of it. People should see the signs of our Christian faith. The Father is glorified when we bear much fruit.

Are you fruitful?

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.
Saint Basil

Exodus 24-27

By David Jeremiah.

Fading Investments.

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.
Matthew 7:24

Recommended Reading
John 14:1-7 ( )

Generous people have this in common: they know possessions are temporal. Rather than trying to grasp and collect all they can, they give. When we forget the temporal nature of our possessions, we spend our energy protecting what we have and grasping for more. While the world equates money, prestige, and power to success, Christ reminds us that the world’s success is temporary.

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If we listen to the world, we are building on sand which will be washed away. If we listen to Christ, we are secure. He is our Rock. If we pay attention, the temporary nature of possessions is clear: Clothes wear out, computers die, glassware breaks, and coffee spills onto our recently purchased carpet.

The signs are all around us. This world, our possessions, and even our lives on earth are temporary. If we listen to Christ, finding our satisfaction and security in Him, we are set free from our frantic gathering of earthly success and possessions. We live in the truth that Jesus is preparing an eternal home for us that will not fade. When we follow Him and His teaching, we are investing in eternity.

We talk about heaven being so far away. It is within speaking distance to those who belong there. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.
Dwight L. Moody

Mark 8-9

By David Jeremiah.

Are You a Good Steward of the Gospel?.

Are You a Good Steward of the Gospel?

Stewardship is an important biblical word and vital Christian concept. Unfortunately, we usually think it refers only to money.

A steward is one who has been given the responsibility to manage or care for someone or something. He’s not the owner. The steward is simply the caretaker. He’s the manager of property belonging to another. As a result, the steward is accountable to the actual owner.

The Bible says that God is the owner of everything and that he gives humanity a stewardship to care for and manage his gifts. Our lives are to be comprehensively God-Centered. God owns everything. We do not. Everything is ultimately for God, not us.

In theory, this all sounds right and good. Few Christians would dispute it. However, the issue of stewardship being lived out is a perennial problem for believers. For example, when you read these verses, don’t you have a little something inside of you that wants to resist them? Or at least qualify them?

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Can you imagine putting one of these as your life verse? Whether I live or die, it’s all Christ! And I’m good with either. Let me live and I’ll magnify Jesus. Take my life and I go and see Jesus. It’s all Jesus; and I’m good with that! I do all for the glory of God. I do everything, everyday, all the time, for the showcasing of the glory of God. That’s me.

Sometimes we encounter these verses and their corresponding principles and say, “Oh, that’s just Paul being Paul. That is varsity Christianity. I play on the little league team.” Instead of taking these verses to be literal and personal they become ethereal.

It shouldn’t be this way. Paul and other Christians viewed this as the right response to the gospel. They viewed life in light of a stewardship. They worked for and served God in light of his ownership of all things.

Jonathan Edwards, the 18th Century preacher and writer understood the concept of gospel stewardship when he wrote his 70 Resolutions. These personal declarations of what and who he wanted to be pivoted out of the fact that he was to be a steward of his entire life. Here is a sampling:

# 52 I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.

#70 Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.

# 6 Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

# 4 Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

# 5 Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

# 7 Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

Quite an impressive list, and it’s only a sampling. The point with Edwards and the Apostle Paul is that the Christian must view his/her life in terms of a stewardship. Far from being exclusively on the varsity team, stewardship is to be characteristic of every Christian.

How Do We Become Good Stewards?

Start by remembering these three truths:

1)    God is the owner and giver of all good things.

In the beginning there was only God. If we were to undo every moment all the way back to the beginning we would be left with God. He initiated and brought forth creation. (Genesis 1:1, 2Psalm 24:1, 2)

There is nothing that is that is not God’s. He has the title deed to everything from crickets to countries. He is the owner of our time as well as our treasures. He is the basis and end of our joy. It’s all his.

In fact, the Bible goes so far as to say that every good gift is from him: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)

When we start thinking about what we have, we must remember that it is not ultimately our own. We are stewards of what God has given us.

2) Sin corrupts God’s good gifts by making them about us.

Instead of seeing God’s good gifts as from God and for his glory we often make them about us and for our glory. Romans 1:18-25 says that a big part of what’s wrong with the world is that instead of honoring God and giving him thanks, we worship and serve the creation. This is the ultimate perversion of a gift. It is to take a gift that we are to be stewards over and make ourselves the owner of it instead. Who get’s slighted in this scenario? God. It’s his glory that is robbed when we make much of ourselves instead of him.

I remember a conversation with one of our little children. She was eating some chips and I asked for one. She turned her back and said, “No. These are mine.” In what sense were they hers? She could not even open the bag herself, much less create them out of nothing. She is dependent on countless people to provide those chips for her. They are not “hers.” That’s exactly how we act with the gifts of God. Our favorite word is the favorite word of the toddler: “mine.” This is my body, my money, my time, my life, my house, my clothes, my job, my family, my, my, my, my. This is what happens when we take what we are supposed to be stewards of and make ourselves the owner of them. These are gifts from God that we are accountable for. Sin, however, corrupts these good gifts by making them about us.

When we think about stewardship we have to think about what sin has done to corrupt our own hearts and minds. Sin turns God’s gifts on their head and makes them about us rather than God.

3) The Gospel liberates us to glorify God through faithful stewardship.

The good news is that the gospel liberates us from this bondage. The gospel rescues us from squandering God’s good gifts by making us stewards of them. The gospel causes us to be grateful and giving. Gratitude and generosity are the characteristics of gospel stewardship.

A great example of this in the Bible is Levi, also known as Matthew. In Luke 5:27-32 we read that this tax collector was converted and followed Jesus. He made restitution for his robbery and threw a party for Jesus and his friends. The one who was all about himself (greedy) became about others (generous). That’s exactly what the gospel does; it frees us from squandering God’s gifts by making us stewards of them.

The gospel simultaneously loosens our grip on this world by giving us eyes to see the world to come. The result is a gospel stewardship that reflects grace and gratitude.

That’s not super Christianity. That’s mere Christianity.

Erik Raymond

Erik Raymond is pastor at Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Nebraska. He and his wife, Christie, have six children. You can follow Erik on Twitter @erikraymond and read his blog at  

Are You a Stumbling Block to Others?.

You really shouldn’t watch that movie. You really shouldn’t listen to that music. You really shouldn’t read that book. You really shouldn’t drive a car that expensive. You really shouldn’t wear a purse like that. You really shouldn’t allow your kids to read Harry Potter. You really shouldn’t go to that bar to eat wings.

Oh, I didn’t realize. How come?

Because other people think it’s wrong. You might be a stumbling block to them.

This kind of exchange happens pretty often between Christians. We tell other Christians not to do certain things because they might become a stumbling block to someone else. Or we refrain from doing certain things because we are afraid we might become a stumbling block. The only problem is most of us aren’t exactly sure what it means to be a stumbling block.

So what exactly does scripture mean when it talks about causing someone else to stumble?

Let me start by saying what it does not mean. Doing something which other people think is wrong does not necessarily make you a stumbling block. I’m talking about areas not clearly spelled out in scripture. Lying, cheating, slandering, stealing, and sexual immorality are all clearly sin. I’m talking about gray areas here.

Paul clearly addresses the whole idea of being a stumbling block in 1 Corinthians 8. The issue at hand is food offered to idols. The Corinthians, with their “superior” knowledge, knew that idols were not the true God. This knowledge led them to insist that it was perfectly fine for them to eat food offered to idols.

Paul, however, was concerned for those who had been saved out of idol worship. For these people, eating food offered to idols was akin to idol worship itself. And so Paul says to the Corinthians:

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. (1 Corinthians 8:9-11)

Paul’s concern IS NOT that someone may see the Corinthians eating meat offered to idols and then assume the Corinthians are in sin. Paul’s concern is that a fellow believer may join the Corinthians in eating food offered to idols, even though it goes against his conscience. Paul is ultimately concerned that the Corinthians will encourage fellow believers to act against their consciences.

Let me put a modern day spin on it. Generally speaking, I do not think it is wrong to smoke cigars (within reason, attending to all the appropriate health concerns, making sure you don’t get addicted, etc.) You however, are convinced that smoking cigars is wrong. Do I have to stop all cigar smoking because I know you think I am doing something wrong? No. Scripture doesn’t forbid smoking cigars. My liberty in Christ is not restricted simply by what other people might think of me.

But (and this is really important), if I smoke a cigar around you and that in turn leads you to smoke a cigar, even though you think it is sin, then I have become a stumbling block. My liberty in Christ has actually encouraged you to sin against your conscience. When our “rights” lead others to act against their consciences, we have become stumbling blocks.

This is why Paul says:

Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. (1 Corinthians 8:13)

Love for my brothers in Christ guides and restrains my liberty in Christ. If smoking a cigar or watching a movie or listening to an album or reading a book will lead you to violate your conscience, then I will cheerfully give up that right when I am with you. Love always triumphs over liberty. Unity always triumphs over personal rights.

We are free to enjoy whatever scripture does not forbid. If a person thinks we’re wrong, so what? However, our freedom must always be wrapped in concern and care for others. If our freedom actually leads someone else to violate their conscience then we have become a stumbling block.

So let’s eat and drink and not eat and drink for the glory of God.

Stephen Altrogge

Stephen Altrogge serves as a pastor at Sovereign Grace Church. Find out more at The Blazing Center.

“Even Longer”.

Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
1 Corinthians 15:33

Recommended Reading
1 Corinthians 15:29-34 ( )

“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?” asked Piglet in one of A. A. Milne’s timeless children’s stories, to which Pooh responded, “Even longer.”

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The Lord wants us to have friendships that last forever, and even longer. Christians only part to meet again (while the unsaved only meet to part again). Yes, we’ll know our loved ones in heaven and our relationships there will pick up where they’ve left off on earth.

The Resurrection Chapter of the Bible — 1 Corinthians 15 — is packed with encouragement about our eternal destiny. But right in the middle of this chapter is verse 33, warning us, “Evil company corrupts good habits.” The apostle Paul said that without the hope of the resurrection, all that’s left is an attitude of: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (verse 32). This godless, secular attitude can spread to our hearts very quickly, doing great damage. God created us to be in relationships with each other, but we must choose our close friends wisely. Be with those who build you up; flee from those who tear you down.

True friends … face in the same direction, toward common projects, interests, goals.
C. S. Lewis

Jeremiah 50

By David Jeremiah.

Looking in the mirror…

By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
Matthew 7:3

I’ve been a Christian most of my life. When I sit and I listen to sermons, sometimes I think, “Wow, my mom, my sister, my wife, my dad, my brother, my friend, they need to hear this sermon” or “This is a sermon the world needs to hear.” However, how often do you or I say, “Man, this is the sermon I need to hear; this is about me”?

I think most people in the world today believe that, if you make a policy, pass a bill, change the rules, it’s going to change the world and it doesn’t. A policy change is only as strong as the people who support it.

Jesus says, in the Kingdom of God, if you change one person, you change the whole world. That one person you ought to change is yourself. You change yourself and you change the whole world.

Prayer: Dear Lord, when I find myself wanting to change everyone around me, that is when I need to look at myself. Help me see myself through your eyes of love and discernment so that I can become the best version of myself. Amen.

Reflection: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?Looking in the mirror…

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