Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Philippians: Paul’s Theme Unpacked

Philippians: Paul’s Theme Unpacked

The basic idea of the epistle [letter] is joy. This idea of rejoicing or ‘keeping our chin up,” or better yet, jumping for joy… is found 16 times. This idea, appearing in both noun and verb form throughout – with ample conclusion from Paul as to why someone would have such joy as a Christian.
Examples include:
  • Joy in suffering, for in our suffering, God accomplishes good (1:12-14)
  • Joy in the sacrificial giving of one’s time and energy (2:17-18), and of one’s goods (4:18), to meet the needs of others and to do God’s will, thus following Christ’s example (2:4-11)
  • Joy in knowing Christ and experiencing His resurrection (3:8-10)
  • Joy when agreement happens with other believers and people in general (2:4; 4:2-5)
  • Joy over the sufficiency of Christ (4:13, 19), which produces satisfaction for every situation
The Apostle Paul was an interesting character. I say interesting, because one should take a genuine interest in why he was so devoted to Christ and strong in his faith. Such an interest [with this letter/book] should invoke some thoughts as to why we Christians (who by and large in the States) don’t suffer as the early Christians did for believing what we claim to believe – and yet we don’t measure to the joy and faith of those going through such “physical” persecution and confusion. One would also have to pay homage to our brothers and sisters in other countries – who are suffering such persecution to this day.
To be understanding of Christ’s sacrifice and submissive to God’s will is to realize that all things gained in this world will never match up and will always fall short of the Glory of God – practically and spiritually.
If you’re looking for reasons to find joy in your faith and solid examples to support those reasons – look to this letter and find comfort knowing you have all you need in Christ.
Philippians 4
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Monday, May 7, 2018

A Deeper Understanding Of The Scriptures

As I process the fact that the Christian life is not one of “sudden enlightenment” and “supernatural bestowment of understanding”, I begin to find joy in what seems to be a toilsome journey that is reading and comprehending the Bible. The Word of God is designed to bring us fulfillment, wisdom, guidance and assurance as we make our way through life. This year, I will read it. Next year, I will read it again and it will carry different weight than before. Our goal is not to win the legalistic race of checking the “I read my Bible, did you?” box. That denies its purpose. Rather, our goal should be to the let the Holy Spirit enrich our lives with the everlasting truth within the pages of Genesis through Revelation. As I read, I will begin attempting to peel back the layers of the text – simply to understand it for myself, so I can help others seek the same understanding.
At the church I attend, our pastor referenced a path he suggests for those looking to go through the Bible in a different manner then reading from cover to cover. His suggestion is this order:

     Mark (suffering and labor of Chris),  
     Philippians (Apostle Paul in Prison, working out the Gospel and its meaning),
   Matthew (the biggest compilation of the teachings of Jesus),
     Ephesians (Understanding Salvation),
     John (Understanding the deity of Christ),
     Colossians (Discovering the identity of Christ),
     Luke (the most detailed of the gospels),
     Romans (Understanding the gospel from the Christian perspective),
     Genesis & Exodus (Understanding the origin of God’s creation),
     Galations & Hebrews (Understanding what it means to have faith and the importance) and finally,
   Psalms & Proverbs (wisdom and encouragement) throughout.

This blog series will be about the sections of each book that I feel I need to flesh out in greater detail. I will use other references and then record my own conclusion. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide me in this journey.
The Parable of the Sower: Unpacked.
Many challenges with understanding the Bible is that you have be able to differentiate when something is meant to read for face value or if it has a deeper meaning beyond what it seems to be on the surface. This parable (referenced below) taught by Jesus is one of those that can catch you off guard if you don’t pay special attention. As you read through, the basic story makes sense. Jesus teaches the people about spreading seeds. He teaches that some seeds, depending on the soil they’re on, either don’t grow at all, grow quickly but don’t last or get smothered to death – while others will grow and flourish. He then says, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear” and is finished with his lesson.
His disciples are somewhat perplexed as to why he teaches in parables. Jesus explains that most people won’t embrace the Word of God right away or they’re too simple-minded to process the gravity of His lessons. He goes on to explain that by teaching people simple wisdom, He is prepping their minds to receive the good news – in a way they can process. Parables were used quite often in Jewish circles to teach lessons.
He then goes on to explain the seed analogy to His disciples in further detail. At this point, everything seems easy enough to process.
The interest bit that throws a wrench into the mix, is the section where Jesus says:
“[11] He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables [12] so that,
“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
             and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’”
 At first glance, this passage seems to come off like Jesus taught in parables for the purpose of preventing people from understanding what he was talking about. And it seems like the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven were only given to a select few men. This isn’t the Jesus we know. Why would He do such a thing?
(As I mentioned in the first paragraph, a deeper look is required to understand the actual meaning. [Tip: Read those little footnotes.]).
Jesus wasn’t trying to keep anyone in the dark. In fact, He was doing quite the contrary. The way to comprehend this passage is found in the piece of scripture Jesus quotes to make his point. He was quoting Isaiah 6:9-10, a passage that prophecies Israel’s hardened hearts for God. Basically, it’s saying that no matter what is done, those who have ears to hear the truth – will either embrace it or deny it. There’s no need to “beat a dead horse”. Understanding this piece peels back a layer.
When we read the words “so that” it creates that level of confusion. “So that” what? Long story short – if you reference other translations (i.e. NLT, ESV, etc.) you’ll find that Jesus is saying He teaches this way, “so that” the prophecy in Isaiah can be fulfilled. Which is, after all, the reason Jesus came – to fulfill prophecies of the old testament and to bring us salvation.
(NLT) Mark 4: 10-12
10 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secret a of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders,
[12] so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled:
‘When they see what I do, they will learn nothing.
When they hear what I say, they will not understand.
Otherwise, they will turn to me and be forgiven.’”
My last comment on the Bible and its intricacies is that different passages may seem to contradict themselves. This will remain a consistent point of strife for believer’s and non-believers alike. Remember that context is important, and the Bible as a whole will never contradict its main message – which is the story of our salvation. 

The Parable of the Sower
Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
    and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’[
13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word.15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

Saturday, March 31, 2018

From all of us at World Church Unites we want to wish you all a very Happy Easter!! Remember Christ CHOSE His death to save you, that's right YOU! He chose you...

All you have to do is accept Him. We love you lots!!! WCU

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Life Transformation - All things are possible with God

In my walk with God – I grow closer to Him everyday. I was thinking how very different my life is than just several years ago. I remember a sermon where my pastor was telling me about his early view of God. Basically he explained that when he was young he thought the whole idea of God was to make children behave and to comfort old people when they were dying. Now keep in mind that he grew up going in church - so it’s not like he didn't know God. He was just a bit cynical (like perhaps a lot of us are at times). He went on to say that once he saw a total life transformation of someone in his family, he easily could see God everywhere. The fact that life change IS possible and there IS any good in this world is proof God exists.

Now I would say that once you experience the Holy Spirit – you don’t need any more convincing. That’s where I am today. It’s been a long journey for me and I’ve surrendered my life to Christ. But let’s just say that you haven’t experienced the Holy Spirit and you are seeking after answers in your life. What would you think if you witnessed a total life transformation in someone in your life? What about a change in you? Would you wonder how it happened? Maybe.

But ponder this. God changes lives every day. If you pray for His purpose in your life – He will come forth. Don’t be afraid to try it. Surrender to God's will and tell Him that you want to surrender. Watch. God transforms lives! Old habits seem to disappear, struggles become less so, and there is a peace that surpasses all understanding. The creator of the universe knows you and He wants you to know Him. He loves you RIGHT where you are - but He doesn't want to leave you there. God wants you to live in the purpose that He created you for. Step out in faith today and ask Him into your life!

Look at the scripture Mark 10:27 and see what Jesus had to say about this.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Back To The Blog!

It's been a very busy time for me since June of 2012 and my last post - but I'm not making excuses - just getting back to the Help For It All blog. I am in the Spring semester at Liberty University getting my Master's Degree in Christian Ministry - Worship. I have a new video and single being released on April 1st - my new website has gone live (where you can get a sneak preview of the new single) - and lastly we are in a blizzard here in Western NC. So there you go . . . but blog back on!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Christ seeks you whether you seek Him or not

A lot of us grew up going to church – many of us didn’t. The whole Christ concept is easy for some to grasp because they have believed for a long time. Others can’t understand the paradox of God coming to earth in human form to reconcile with the world – and that faith is all you need. Seems farfetched to some. There are debates among all sorts of people - from pastors – to philosophers – to ordinary people like you and me, on how and why God seeks us. So for a moment we are going to assume that we all stand in the same place – and let’s say it is a place of “I don’t know what I believe.”

Well now we can look at what makes Jesus so awesome. The coolest thing about Jesus Christ is that He seeks a relationship with you whether you seek one with Him or not. In fact, he does with every human on earth. 
In Luke 19:10 the scripture says: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
And in Revelation 3:20 it says: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

The reality of the situation is that God seeks ALL of us – good, bad and indifferent. Drug and alcohol abuse, crimes committed, terrible brokenness – no problem, because His love is beyond all understanding of what we know of love. Whether you believe, once believed, or never believed – you are precious and worthy in God’s eyes. I would make the argument that if you are a non-believer, He seeks you even more than anyone else – for He wants you to have an understanding of who He is, and that you can have a personal relationship with Him. In Matthew 18 we learn - “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”

That is what amazes me the most! That the creator of the universe has time to deal with me and MY issues. Healing for MY brokenness and solutions for MY problems. Man I tell you – if you would have told me 5 years ago that I would be blogging about the love of Christ, I would have said YOU were nuts. But I can share this with you in all honesty and earnestness. Jesus has changed me. When I truly turned my life over and accepted His love and forgiveness – the game changed. And every day I grow in my faith and my walk with Christ - it just keeps getting better. I know sometimes it’s hard to believe what you don’t understand and what you can’t see. But if you make the decision to take that “mustard seed sized" step of faith – He WILL SHOW UP.  I guarantee you of that. I don’t stand on my own words and understanding – I stand on His.
“Heavenly Father I come to you in prayer. I just read this thing on the internet that was talking about Your love and forgiveness and I don’t know what to believe anymore God.  But I know that I need the peace and understanding that it talks about in the scriptures. I want to know You – I want to know the truth. Please show yourself to me Lord. I invite you into my heart and my life starting today. Thank you Jesus for dying so I can live - and in your precious name I pray – Amen”

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Is ambition and greed the same thing?

Having the drive to be successful is a good thing. Making good grades - excelling in sports - practicing a musical instrument to be a great player - making money - not a bad thing. Being ambitious is part of a lot of people’s make-up - and it should be! Where the gut check lies is in your priorities. When you become greedy - you will fall.

    Psalms 10:3 - "the greedy man curses and spurns God"
    Proverbs 11:6 - "the treacherous are caught by their own greed"
    Luke 12:15 - "be on guard against every form of greed; life is not in possessions"

So what's the difference? Ambition can be centered on using God given gifts to be good at something. Maybe even using that talent to further His kingdom. To use it to help others knowing that it is the right thing to do. To honor God with those very gifts. Greed is more about your 'stuff'. Keeping up with the Jones's so to speak. Some actually gain their total identity by what they do - what they have - what their title is. It's VERY easy to get caught up in worldly things - but it's a dangerous place to be. Especially for followers of Christ. If you want to lose something - make it your idol.

One of my all time favorite church sign messages is "if you really want to make God laugh - tell him about your retirement plans" Priceless...

True joy comes in wanting what you have. Not always wanting more. Taking what you are given with grace. Pure joy comes in giving or helping someone in need. If God has blessed you with the means to help others - make no mistake - it is expected of you to do so. In a world of Wall Street meltdowns - greed in this country has gotten out of control. A lot of folks are simply interested in what they have. Where their children go to school. What kind of house they live in. Guard yourself from that mind set.

If people in this country would follow God's principle in this area, we wouldn't need welfare - healthcare reform - bail outs or government redistribution of wealth. A country based on these principles would take care of itself. Truly loving your neighbor and caring for people in a real way. Given the opportunity I believe people with the means will always do the right thing. So as the Congress is battling over the debt ceiling and America is on the brink of default - think about that. Pray about it.

One Nation Under God doesn't sound bad to me.