Archive | October, 2012

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT DISCIPLINE

31 Oct

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT DISCIPLINE by Chip Ingram

Parents can learn how to best discipline their children by taking note of how the Bible says God disciplines us.

The second case study I want us to look at doesn’t come from sociological research but from inspired Scripture. The subject is a group of spiritual children, Jewish Christians who are rebelling and pulling away from Christ. They are suffering persecution and wondering if the Christian life is worth the trouble. They know the right thing to do — maintain faith in Jesus. But that seems too hard, so they’re crossing their arms and turning away.

We can listen in on God’s response to these Christians in Hebrews 12:1-11. This is how God disciplines His children. (By the way, any time you see God operating as a parent in Scripture, take note. If you’re the kind of parent to your children that God is to His, you’re right on target.)

After a brief introduction, the writer of Hebrews reminds his readers that they have “not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” in their struggle against sin (v. 4). He also reminds them that God calls them “sons” and encourages them as such (v. 5-6). After all, they’re Jewish believers who are very familiar with the Old Testament, so they know the encouragement God has already given in Proverbs 3:11-12: “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” In other words, he acknowledges that they’re going through a hard time and suggests they consider whether that hard time is a matter of God’s discipline. If it is, it’s only because God delights in His children.

Then the writer gets to his main teaching: “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!” (vv. 7-9).

The passage gives a very human illustration: “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness” (v. 10). The point? “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (v. 11).

Do you see what Scripture is saying here? Far from being a dirty word, discipline is evidence of love. When you consistently discipline your child and do it with the right attitude — compassionately, under control, with consistent boundaries and consequences, and focused on the child’s best outcome — you are expressing love exactly as God sometimes expresses His love. It may seem uncomfortable both to you and your child at the time, but in the long run, it’s the most selfless, compassionate thing you can do to set your child up for happiness in life and fruitfulness in God’s Kingdom.

The Bible’s perspective on discipline is affirmed by what many psychologists and sociologists are now learning about child development: that children left to themselves will do what all people left to themselves in a fallen world will do. They’ll make bad decisions that produce pain and turmoil in their lives. Relationships won’t work right, money will be mismanaged and debt will pile up, conflict will erupt both within and without, and long-term goals will never be realized. So God tells the Hebrew Christians that the adversity they face comes from His loving hand, not because they’re bad, but because He wants the best for them. That’s our motivation as parents as well.

Taken from Effective Parenting in a Defective World published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2006 by Chip Ingram. All rights reserved

Source:www.focusonthefamily.com

SOMETHING TO HIDE

31 Oct

Something To Hide by David C. McCasland

Read: Psalm 32

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. —Psalm 32:5

If you have something to hide, Mike Slattery may have the solution. Several years ago, a cell-phone company wanted to erect an antenna on his property and disguise it as a pine tree. Mike had a better idea and built a fake barn with vinyl panels that allow the radio waves to pass through them. He developed that concept into a company that builds structures to hide antennas for aesthetic and security reasons. Slattery is convinced that many of his neighbors still have no idea what’s inside his barn (The Gazette, Colorado Springs).

Most of us are trying to keep something out of sight. It may be as harmless as clutter in a basement or as toxic as the moral and spiritual failings we try to hide from others, ourselves, and even from God.

In Psalm 32, David described the futility of trying to conceal his sin (vv.3-4) and the relief of opening his soul to the Lord: “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (v.5).

Confessing our sins to God and forsaking them brings a sense of freedom to our souls and the awareness that we have nothing to hide.

Lord Jesus, help me come to You when I would rather run and hide my sinfulness and foolish ways;
Forgive and make me clean inside. —Sper

Whenever we’re ready to uncover our sins, God is ready to cover them.

Taken from “Our Daily Bread” by RBC Ministries.

“JESUS IS MY REFUGE AND FORTRESS!”

30 Oct

“JESUS IS MY REFUGE AND FORTRESS!”

On August 31, 2012, Surigao City in the Philippines where my family lives, experienced a 7.3 magnitude earthquake. Samar Leyte had 7.6 magnitudes. It was the strongest we had ever experienced in our city.

But I thank God, through His Son Jesus Christ, that although it was so strong His hands were upon these places. He was in control of the situation.

A red alert was broadcasted on television and over the radio. My heart was filled with fear as I remembered my family back home. I could not help but just cry and trust God to protect my family in the Philippines affected by the earthquake. I was again reminded of the fear I felt a few years back in the Philippines. Just four days after giving birth to my son we had to evacuate to the mountains as we received news that the tsunami in Japan would affect our area too.

On learning of the earthquake I immediately called my mother who told me about the miracle that happened to my son as the Lord protected him from a very grave accident.

My house back in the Philippines is not fully completed yet. A metal bar had been placed on top of our four bedroom house to hold the ceiling fans but because of the earthquake the metal bar dropped and almost killed my son. It was just in time that my mom quickly snatched up my son from the bed. She only managed to grab his big toe and she pulled him out of the bed just as the heavy metal rod fell exactly where my son had been sleeping. The metal rod could have impaled my son. I thank God and really praise His name as He directed my mom to act in time and save my son, Hallelujah!

As Psalms 91:1-2 says “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

God came to save my son, He covered him and shielded him from harm and indeed God is faithful and He is will always be my refuge and fortress. Hallelujah!

All praises and thanksgiving belong to Him alone and also thank God for all the brothers and sisters in Christ who prayed for us and our place during the earthquake.

In Christ,

Janeth Saranza

BCS Filipino Service

STAND FAST

30 Oct

Stand Fast by Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Read: 1 Kings 11:1-13

Shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life. —Philippians 2:15-16

As I waited to make a right-hand turn at a busy intersection, an ambulance appeared over the crest of a hill, speeding in my direction. Someone behind me honked, urging me into the crossroads. I knew the ambulance would be unlikely to stop and that it could have been disastrous to make my turn. So I kept my foot on the brake pedal and stayed put.

Spiritually speaking, we need to “stay put” and remain faithful to God despite pressure from others. King Solomon had to learn this the hard way. He began his reign by asking God for wisdom (1 Kings 3:9), and his prayer at the dedication of the temple revealed his loyalty (8:23,61). But he did not remain committed. He married many foreign women who eventually influenced him to worship other gods. By the end of his life, his “heart was not loyal to the Lord” (11:1-6; Neh. 13:26).

Today, just as in ancient times, people may prompt us to shift our loyalty away from God and His truth. Yet with God’s help we can hold fast to the word of life (Phil. 2:16). If you feel pressured to enter a dangerous intersection of beliefs, study God’s Word, put on His armor (Eph. 6:10-18), and ask the Holy Spirit for help (1 Cor. 2:10-12). Then stand fast with your fellow believers in Christ.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you—
Ye dare not trust your own. —Duffield

To avoid being pulled into error, keep a firm grip on the truth.

Taken from “Our Daily Bread” by RBC Ministries.

DEFENDING THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS – PART 1

29 Oct

DEFENDING THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS by Justin Holcomb

Part 1

Of all the teachings of Christianity, no doctrine is more central than the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The truth of the resurrection has been attacked from every angle. New books and television media regularly appear questioning the truth of the resurrection, re-hashing old theories about what happened to Jesus’ body. Since the resurrection is crucial to Christianity, Christians ought to be able to give answers to the inevitable questions about the truth of the resurrection.

Historically Credible Accounts

The first step in defending the resurrection from its detractors is to establish the fact of the historical events that took place as conveyed in the Gospels. As philosopher William Lane Craig notes in his book Reasonable Faith, “The issue is whether the gospel narratives are historically credible accounts or unhistorical legends.”

The Empty Tomb

One of the easiest parts of the resurrection data to establish is the fact that the tomb is empty. Because the location of Jesus’ burial was known to those living in Jerusalem, it is unlikely that they would have believed the apostles’ claims about the resurrection of Christ if there was not an empty tomb. Jesus’ burial is widely attested in early, independent testimonies, both biblical and extra-biblical.

The fact that women are primary witnesses of the empty tomb in the Gospel accounts is further evidence of their authenticity. This is because, as is often noted, women were not considered reliable witnesses in first-century Jewish culture, so it would have been foolish for the authors to fictionally construct an account involving women in order to gain credibility.

Matthew 28:11–15 speaks of a myth that was spread among the Jews concerning the body of Christ. Apparently, the Jews were saying the disciples stole the body of Christ. This is significant because the Jews did not deny the tomb was empty, but instead sought an alternative explanation to the resurrection. The emptiness of the tomb is a widely attested historical fact.

However, just because the tomb of Christ was empty does not necessarily mean the resurrection happened. There are four alternative hypotheses to the resurrection that have been advanced over the years:

  1. The Conspiracy Hypothesis

The conspiracy hypothesis says that the disciples stole the body of Christ and continued to lie about his appearances to them. According to this account, the resurrection was a hoax.

This hypothesis is not commonly held in modern scholarship for several reasons:

  • This hypothesis does not take into account that the disciples believed in the resurrection. It is highly unlikely that numerous disciples would have been willing to give up their lives defending a fabrication.
  • It is unlikely that the idea of resurrection would have entered the minds of the disciples, as such an event was not connected to the Jewish idea of a Messiah. The scholar William Lane Craig writes, “If your favorite Messiah got himself crucified, then you either went home or else you got yourself a new Messiah. But the idea of stealing Jesus’ corpse and saying that God has raised him from the dead is hardly one that would have entered the minds of the disciples.”
  • This hypothesis cannot account for the post-resurrection appearances of Christ.
  1. The Apparent Death Hypothesis

The second hypothesis attempting to explain away the resurrection is the apparent death hypothesis. This view says Jesus was not completely dead when he was removed from the cross. Once in the tomb, Jesus was revived and escaped, thus convincing the disciples of his resurrection.

This view is difficult to hold for a few reasons:

  • It is unlikely that a half-dead man would have been capable of even getting up to walk, much less moving the huge stone that sealed the tomb, over-powering Roman guards, and fleeing from sight.
  • This theory cannot account for the disciples’ attribution of resurrection to Christ, for if they had seen him after he was revived, they would have merely thought he had never died.
  • It is also foolish to think the Romans, who had perfected the art of executing people, would have let one slip by without ensuring he was dead.
  • Finally, given the physical torture described in the Gospel accounts, it is highly unlikely that Jesus could have survived crucifixion.

(To be continued next week)

Source:www.crosswalk.com

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

29 Oct

Making A Difference by Bill Crowder

Read: Matthew 9:27-38

[Jesus] was moved with compassion for them. —Matthew 9:36

Elizabeth’s story was moving, to say the least. Following a terribly humiliating experience in Massachusetts, she caught a bus to New Jersey to escape her embarrassment. Weeping uncontrollably, she hardly noticed that the bus had made a stop along the way. A passenger sitting behind her, a total stranger, began making his way off the bus when he suddenly stopped, turned, and walked back to Elizabeth. He saw her tears and handed her his Bible, saying that he thought she might need it. He was right. But not only did she need the Bible, she needed the Christ it speaks of. Elizabeth received Him as a result of this simple act of compassion by a stranger who gave a gift.

Jesus is our example of compassion. In Matthew 9, we read, “When He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (v.36). Not only did our Lord notice the pain and hurt of broken people, He responded to it by challenging His followers to pray for the Father to send out workers to respond to the hurts and needs of this dying world (v.38).

As we follow Christ’s example, a heart of compassion for shepherdless people can compel us to make a difference in the lives of others.

Father, open my eyes to see the hurts and struggles of others. Then open my heart to respond to them, so that through me they may see You and Your love. Amen.

A world in despair needs Christians who care.

Taken from “Our Daily Bread” by RBC Ministries.

TRUTH AND LOVE

28 Oct

TRUTH AND LOVE by John Piper

Think with me for a moment about education and relationships. Some of you care deeply that EDUCATION FOR EXULTATION not ignore or marginalize relationships of love. They are essential in real, lasting, life-changing education. Amen.

So I turn to the Bible. I find in place of the words, “education” and “relationship,” the words, “truth” and “love.” So what does the Bible say about how truth and love relate to each other? There are at least four ways of talking about this relationship.

  1. Truth aims at love.

“The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). Note: instruction is not the goal, love is. Instruction is the means. It is subordinate. Truth serves love. Education serves relationships – mainly the relationship between us and God, but also between Christian and Christian, and between us and unbelievers. The “goal” of all our education is love.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider one another how to stir up to love and good deeds, . . . encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:23-25, literal translation). The aim of our “considering one another” and “encouraging one another” is that we stir up love. We mingle insight into “the confession of our hope” with insight into “each other,” and the effect is stirring each other to love. The truth of doctrine and truth of people-watching unite to aim at love.

2.  Love aims at truth.

“Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). Love is glad when truth is spoken. Therefore love aims at truth. It supports truth.

“Out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you” (2 Corinthians 2:4). Here is an example of how love aims at truth. Paul is filled with love and it compels him to write a letter that was hard, and caused sorrow in him and in the Corinthians. But it needed to be said. So love said it. Love speaks the truth personally and doctrinally.

3.  Love shapes how to speak the truth.

     “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). There is an unloving way to speak the truth. That kind of truth-speaking we should repudiate. But there is a way to speak the truth in love, and that we should seek. It is not always a soft way to speak, or Jesus would have to be accused of lack of love in dealing with some folks in the Gospels. But it does ask about what is the most helpful thing to say when everything is considered. Sometimes what would have been a hard word to one group is a needed act of love to another group, and not a wrong to the group addressed. But in general, love shapes truth into words and ways that are patient and gentle (2 Timothy 2:24-25).

4.  Truth shapes how to show love.

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:2). It is not always obvious which acts are loving. So John tells us some truth will help us know if our acts are loving. One truth test for our love is whether we are keeping the commandments of God toward people, In other words, love cannot be cut loose from the truth of God’s will. Truth shapes how to show love.

Let us pray that God will cause his love and truth to abound and mingle in us in all these ways for the glory of his truth-filled love and love-filled truth.

Pastor John

source:www.desiringgod.com