Sunday, September 30, 2012

October 1, 2012

In our LIFE Groups this Fall we are studying the thought-provoking book "RADICAL" by David Platt.
This evening we had a great meeting and one of Platt's statements we discussed from Chapter Two in the book was this:
"We spurn our Creator's  authority over us. God beckons storm clouds, and they come. He tells the wind to blow and the rain to fall, and they obey immediately. He speaks to the mountains, "You go there," and to the seas, "you stop here," and they do it." Everything in all creation responds in obedience to the Creator....until we get to you and me. We have the audacity to look God in the face and say, "No!"
Wow! It does take alot of audicity to tell God, "No" when He demands and deserves a "yes"! Audacity and stupidity is actually what it takes.
You defy or disobey God at your own peril! Think about Adam. Think about Jonah.

Read this thoughtfully:
"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,  since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised. Amen."  Romans 1:18-25
Let me ask you, "Is there an area of your life where God is asking for a "yes" but you are giving Him a "no"?
I urge you to reconsider. You DO NOT want to say, "No" to God!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 30, 2012

"For this very reason make every effort to add to your faith, goodness and to goodness, knowledge and to knowledge, SELF-CONTROL." II Peter 1:5-6
Several years ago the ABC news show "20/20" did an experiment on self-control with a group of pre-schoolers. The reporter told the children they could have a cookie right then or they could choose to wait some 20 or 30 minutes until he returned from an errand and they would then get two cookies. Upon giving those instructions the reported left the room and the cameras watched how the children responded.
Of course, there were several who grabbed the cookie right away and munched on it in front of those trying to be more self-controlled and hold out for the double reward. The camera was trained on them as they tried to exercise restraint. One put his head down in his arms to remove the temptation. Another closed his eyes. Others sang, or hummed and one even tried to sleep. But they mastered self-control and were rewarded with two cookies.
A follow up study done years later revealed that those who were able to show self-control were happier and more successful in life and relationships. The self-indulgent ones were more anxious, more prone to depression and less successul than those with self-control.
Which group do you identify with? Would you grab the cookie or could you hold out for two?
Not only was this an educational and enteraining experiment but it revealed the three basic ways that people deal with life:
Self-dedicated - Those who always want the cookie and have to have it now! They make no effort to deprive themselves of anything they desire.
Self-medicated - Those who don't want to deal with the emotional, spiritual or mental pain caused by self-dedicated living and dull it by artificial means.
Self-controlled - Those who, in the strength of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit, are able to defer gratification and deal with pain in order to receive the better reward.
How would you identify yourself:
Will you surrender and live for God's joy rather than your own pleasure?
Will you discipline your destructive behavior and trust God to handle your pain?
Will you give control to God and give His Spirit control?

September 29, 2012

A self-centered, self-indulgent snob opened the door of his BMW, when suddenly a car came along and hit the door, ripping it off completely. When the police arrived at the scene, the yuppie was complaining bitterly about the damage to his precious BMW.
"Officer, look what they've done to my Beeeeemer!!!", he whined.
"You rich snobs are so materialistic, you make me sick!!!", retorted the officer. "You're so worried about your stupid BMW, that you didn't even notice that your left arm was ripped off!!!"
"Oh my gaaawd...," replied the rich snob, finally noticing the bloody left shoulder where his arm once was,
"Where's my Rolex?!!!!!"

This humorous story illustrates the self-dedicated life or the life given over to the all-out pursuit of pleasure.

Blaise Pascal said, "There is a God-shaped hole in the human heart." This self-centered snob knew something was missing but he didn't know what it was. Obviously, he thought he could fill the emptiness from the outside in.

Many people believe the same thing. Alexander the Great was able to conquer the entire known world by age 30 but he could not control his own passions. He died of syphilis in a drunken stupor at just 32.

The self-dedicated life always leads to sadness and often tragedy. Just ask Michael Jackson or Amy Winehouse or Whitney Houston, to name a few. People who live just for themselves often end up dying by themselves as victims of their own excesseses.

To the ambitious, self-motived, self-seeking, self-striving, self-interested person, Jesus says, "Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest."

To the sensuous, self-indulgent person seeking validation and acceptance, Jesus says, "I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly."

My mother says, "A person all wrapped up in himself makes a pretty small package!"

Don't be that guy! Live large from the inside out!

Who do you think is the only ONE Who can completely fill that "God-shaped void" in the center of your being?

Then why not ask Him? Why not shift from self-dedicated to Savior dedicated?



Thursday, September 27, 2012

September 28, 2012

Peter has been giving us great advice on how to work out the graces He planted in us when we received Jesus Christ for salvation.
"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control" II Peter 1:5-6

As I have thought about this great portion of Scripture I think of how few people I see who actually live self-controlled lives.

I have recognized three ways people deal with life in the 21st century:

The Self-Dedicated Life

The Self-Medicated Life


The SELF - CONTROLLED Life, I Corinthians 9:24-27

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

“self-control” = “getting a grip on your life - establishing stability”
This is the life God has called you and equipped you to live!
Five Qualities Of Self-Controlled Living:

POSITIVE GOALS, V. 24 – Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win”
Self-controlled people live for a goal bigger than their own desires and wants. Here are some positive goals to live by:
Take responsibility
Spiritual growth is your responsibility. You will have to answer to God for how well you developed the grace He placed within you. It is up to you to bend every effort to add moral courage to your faith and to know the heart, the mind and the holiness of God!
Live with integrity
Integrity means to integrate what you believe into how you live. Self-controlled people will say what they mean, do what they say, and humbly seek forgiveness when they don't.
Welcome accountability
Self-control requires help from the outside. Just like an athlete needs a coach and and a referee, a growing Christian who values self-control will allow a trusted friend to hold him to a high standard.
PRACTICES DISCIPLINE, V. 25All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize”.
What disciplines have you built into your life? Discipline means saying "no" to harmful things and "yes" to helpful things!
World-class athletes can't be gold medal contenders by sitting at the Krispy Kreme every day. Olympians give up the donuts to have a chance at the gold.

PROVIDES FOCUS, V. 26 – So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches.”
How do you maintain your discipline in the pursuit of your goals?
I watched the sprinters in the Olympics and they were running directly at the finish line with their full focus on that tape. They weren't looking back or to the side or zig-zagging but striding straight to the finish.
Self-controlled Christians stay focused on the goal of pleasing God with their spiritual growth!
PROMOTES WHOLENESS, V. 27 - "I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”
Self-controlled people, whether athletes or believers, are fully engaged in the race. They train the mind, the emotions and the body in order to compete at the highest level. I did not see any half-hearted competitors at the Olympics this Summer/
Do you daily surrender your mind, heart and body to God’s will?
The bottom line on self-control is you or I can't do it! Self-control is actually God-control and self-control is self-surrender!

Self-control is one of the gifts given by the Holy Spirit once He is in control of your life!

D.L. Moody said,  - "I believe firmly that the moment our hearts are emptied of pride and selfishness and ambition and everything that is contrary to God's law, the Holy Spirit will fill every corner of our hearts. But if we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God. We must be emptied before we can be filled."
So, how is your self-control?
What are your goals?
How is your discipline?
Where is your focus?
Are you entirely engaged?
Are you filled with the Holy Spirit?


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

September 27, 2012

Peter is making the case for spiritual maturity. I think it is a pretty strong case when he starts out by stating that God has given you EVERYTHING you need for godly living.
God placed those graces and virtues in you when you received Christ. Now it is up to you to develop - or work out what God has put in.
"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control" II Peter1:5-6 
The point of having faith is to live it out in every day life. Otherwise, what good is it?
We have already considered the virtures of goodness and knowledge. Next is the rare virtue of self-control. Do you have it?
If people don't master self-control they often choose one of two other approaches to life:
Some choose self-dedication - living only by selfish motives to gratify desires and lusts. That is fine for infants and toddlers, but not so good for terrible two year-olds or adults.
This self-dedicated life-style often leads to another destructive way of dealing with life I call the self-medicated life.
Self-destructive behavior results in pain and brokenness. Some of the pain is self-inflicted and some results from the destructive behavior of others. When you have emotional, spiritual or mental pain, those hurts must be dealt with. How do you choose to soothe your pain? A bad choice can actually intensify the pain.
Some choose to self-medicate with "comfort food" and the more comfort they need the more food they eat.
Some self-medicate with alcohol and it the process become over-dependent on it or use too much.
Some self-medicate by spending money and buying things.Overspending and indebtedness creates more pain.
Pain is very real and unavoidable in life. Jesus experienced pain when He walked the earth. He understands pain! That is why He invited you, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
Have you taken a serious look at what is causing your pain?
How do you deal with your pain?
Is your "medication" of choice relieving your pain or deepening it?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 26, 2012

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control" II Peter 1:5-6

I mentioned that I observe three primary ways of approaching life:

Those who are self-dedicated
Those who self-medicate
Those who are self-controlled

Today I want to work with the first approach - self-dedication.

What do I mean by self-dedication?

A self-dedicated person is one who is primarily dedicated to satisfying himself, his wants, his needs, his appetites, his whims and his pleasures. His credo is:

If it feels good I’ll do it!

If I want I will get it!
Life is short and I want to max it out.
Hugh Hefner has been one of the leading proponents and adherants of this hedonistic life-style. These people seem to believe that happiness comes from the outside in
In the New Testament Jesus told a story of a very wealthy man who was doing so well that he ordered bigger barns to be built to hold his bountiful bumper-crop! With so much wealth he now had no worries and decided he would live a self-indulgent life. But he didn't make it through the night and his life ended.
Jesus called that man a fool.
You and me and Hugh Hefner and this Rich Fool all have one thing in common. We all have a God-shaped void in the core of our beings. Until that void is filled we can never be contented and only God can fill that void. Trying to find satisfaction in anything else will only bring frustration and disillusionment.
Maybe that is why Jesus said, "But seek first my kingdom and my righteousness and all these others will be added to you as well."
Where are you looking for happiness and satisfaction?
Can you recognize any self-indulgence in your life?

Monday, September 24, 2012

September 25, 2012

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;"  II Peter 1:5-6

Self-control is mentioned here as one of the graces that must be developed to work out the faith that God imparts to believers. According to Peter that faith gives us "everything we need for godliness".

Self-control is also listed among the gifts of the Spirit that are evidence of a life filled with the Holy Spirit.

Cleary, self-control, the ability to get a grip on your passions and emotions, is a sign of Christian maturity.

The are three options I have observed for dealing with life:

1) Self-Dedication

By this I refer to a totally self-indulgent life-style. This attitude of life not only lacks self-control but it has no desire for self-control.

A self-dedicated person gratifies every whim as often as possible. Whatever this person wants they get it.

Greed, lust and sensuality are al they live for.

2) Self-Medication
The lack of self-control characterized by the self-dedicated life leads to feelings of anxiety, loss of self-respect, shame, depression and addicitons. In an attempt to deal with the emotional and psychological pain caused by self-indulgent behavior, a person will self-medicate with one or more of the following:
*Alcohol consumption (I need a drink)

*Food as comfort

*Eating disorders

*Exercise disorders

*Gaming (OnLine Gaming Anon) (1/10 young people)

*Internet activities (61% addicted – FB, Twitter, stock trading, gambling, etc)

*Prescription drugs (1/12 HS seniors– Vicodin 1/20 — OxyContin)

12-17 year olds abuse prescription drugs more than ecstasy, heroin, crack/cocaine and meth combined.

*Substance abuse (cigarettes, marijuana, meth, cocaine, etc)

*Sexual promiscuity


Unfortunately, these behaviors not only fail to help you get a grip on life but instead get a grip on your life.
3) Self-Control
Of course, this is the only acceptable life-style for Christ-followers. Rejecting a life of self-indulgence and a life of self-medication takes a strength greater than you have.
How then do I achieve the self-controlled life?
That will be answered over the next several blog posts. But for now, which life-style most characterizes you?
What has a grip on you?



September 24, 2012

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control"  II Peter 1:5-6
God, through Christ, has given you everything you need for godliness. That is amazing truth!
Now it is up to you to allow God's Spirit to develop these graces to live out through your attitudes and actions. Peter urges you to "bend every energy" toward adding to your faith. The word for "add" means to support what God wants to accomplish.
You are to add to your faith moral courage to choose what is right and the practical knowledge to discern what is right.
To "goodness" and to "knowledge" you are to add "self-control".
Uh, oh! That's a tough one!
According to William Barclay, the word used for "self-control" means literally "the ability to take a grip of oneself".
Do you have a grip on yourself?
Are you in charge of your emotions or do your emotions get the best of you?
Which has a stronger hold on you faith or feelings?
The battle between reason and passion IS the struggle of the human condition. No one really wants to live and indifferent life devoid of passion. Nor should you live an indulgent life
giving in to every passionate desire.
Bringing these two in balance is further complicated for a Christian who has a sinful will at war with the Spirit of God. This is a struggle you are probably familiar with. The great Apostle Paul was and expressed it like this:
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Romans 7:15-25
As you identify with the frustration expressed in these verses, take hope from the knowledge that both Paul and Peter discovered how to live with great passion under the grip of self-control!
Are you struggling to get a grip on your emotions? Do you find yourself still struggling to balance passion and reason?
I will be dealing with that this week. You will not want miss any of the upcoming posts!
In the meantime, yield your struggle to the Holy Spirit and lean on His strength!


Saturday, September 22, 2012

September 23, 2012

"Make every effort to add to your faith goodness and to goodness, knowledge...." II Peter 1:5

The knowledge that is required to strengthen your faith is a practical faith that arises out of a relationship with Christ.

To have this knowledge you need to begin with a head knowledge. But also you need a HEART knowledge.

Jesus prayed for that:

John 17:20-25 -  I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;  that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:  I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.  O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me.
The Apostle Paul thought it is important:
II Corinthians 4:6 – “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

Romans 5:5 – “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Peter had a heart knowledge of Jesus. I am sure he remembered fondly of the enounter he had with the resurrected Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus tenderly reassured him that He had forgiven Peter and that He stilled believed in him! That day Peter was restored and called back to ministry. It was after that day he had his greatest ministry because now he had not just a head knowledge of Christ but a heart knowledge as well!
You can’t know God well until you get your heart right! Is your heart right?

The knowledge you want to add to your faith is a HEAD knowledge and it is also a HEART knowledge but what you really need is a HOLY knowledge!

Peter knew about that, too!

I Peter 1:13-16 – Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
As he wrote these words to these early Christians I am sure he was fondly remembering that day in the upper room when the Holy Spirit fell upon him and the other 119 Christians who were there. He must have had a warm feeling as he recalled preaching under the anointing of the Spirit and how 3,000 responded to his words by accepting Christ!
It is good to have a HEAD knowledge of God. It is even better to possess a HEART knowledge of Him, but the fulfillment of those levels of knowledge only comes when you receive a HOLY knowledge!
Do you have that holy knowledge? Have you received the Holy Spirit? Is your will surrendered to His will so His Spirit can fill you?


Friday, September 21, 2012

September 22, 2012

“Make every effort to add to your faith goodness and to goodness, knowledge….” II Peter 1:5

According to, William Barclay, the original Greek word used for knowledge is “gnosis” a practical knowledge, that knowledge which enables a man to decide rightly and to act honorably and efficiently in the day to day circumstances of life.

It is easy to think that knowledge is the key to gaining access to all the good things God wants you to have. Most world religions teach you some version of this idea - the way to God is through meditation and enlightenment. Unfortunately, some Christians buy into that notion.
Peter teaches just the opposite. In the first few verses of this chapter he stresses the truth that when you received Jesus as Savior you also received everything you need to live a godly life. So, the purpose of knowledge when added to moral courage, is to help you know how to live out what God has put in.
You must know it so you can grow in it so you can show it!
What do I need to know about knowledge?

You Need A Head Knowledge

Here’s your “head” start:

Romans 12:1-2 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

II Corinthians 5:17 –“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!”
You need to know God and You can’t know God well until you get your mind right! You can't get your mind right without a knowledge of the Word and a personal relationship with Christ.
Peter must have been thinking how he got to know Jesus after he left his nets and began following Him. Peter heard the teachings, marvelled at the parables, beheld the miracles and then declared in an inspired moment, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!"
By following Christ, Peter gained knowledge of Who He was!
That is how you will know Him and how I will know Him. Paul said, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing from the Word of God!"
Have you gotten your head right? Do you know Who Jesus is? Are you learning form His Word?