Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Friday, July 2, 2010
We have recently started a new sermon series at EBC on "The Doctrine of Sin". Eaton's Bible Dictionary defines sin as "any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God." Today's society is not big on the idea of sin, in part because recognizing sin would mean to recognize that there is a higher power than self that we are to answer to. In our humanistic society the ultimate power is "self", we seek "self"-esteem and "self"-awareness through "self"-actualization and "self"-empowerment. There is no place in our self-centered lives for recognition that there is a power mightier than self and that we have transgressed against Him. But sin is very real and is very much a part of human existence today and throughout history...beginning with Adam & Eve.
In Genesis 3:1-5 we see the serpent approach Eve with the idea of eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?'" (Genesis 3:1). This is a classic technique that Satan uses to lure us into sin, twisting the words of scripture to suit his needs. God's actual words were "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Genesis 2:16-17). The serpent casts God in a negative light (perhaps like an overly strict parent) by focusing on what He told Adam and Eve NOT to do versus all the bounty of the garden that He gave them free reign over.
But for all the part that the serpent played in the Fall of Man, he did not force Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary On The Bible breaks down the Fall into five steps:
1.) Eve saw. She could have, even should have, chosen to look away from the temptation.
2.) Eve took. She chose to take the fruit offered, the serpent did not and could not force her.
3.) Eve ate. Even if she did not intend to eat when she took the fruit, the temptation once she
held it was too great for her to resist.
4.) Eve gave it to Adam. She did not want to be alone in her transgression, so she invited Adam to share in it.
5.) Adam ate. Adam could have chosen to rebuke Eve and refuse to eat, but he chose to share in her sin and, therefore, disobey God.
Once they had eaten of the fruit "the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings." (Genesis 3:7). This is an example of how man tries to cover his sins to the world, to appear "good" and "righteous" to his fellow man so he makes "aprons of fig leaves" to cover his true nature. Genesis 3:8 goes on to say "And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden." We often think we can hide our true sinful nature, but we cannot hide from God. He knows our deepest thoughts in our heart of hearts, no amount of covering or hiding can keep that from Him.
The world today would have us believe that we are "not really that bad" or we are "better than _________ (fill in any name here)" and that is "good enough". But we cannot gauge our lives against the lives of those around us who are also living in sin. We must hold to a higher standard set forth by God in the Bible. Only through salvation by Jesus' death on the cross, His word, and prayer can we be acceptable to once again dwell in the presence of our Lord God.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Solomon addresses the brevity of life in these verses. While we cannot live recklessly and irresponsibly with no thought to the consequences of today's actions, we should live each day appreciating it as the gift it is and adhering to God's will for us. We should do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord not because today may be our last, but because it is what He instructs and desires us to do.
In verse 4 "But for him who is joined to all the living, there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion." Here we see that the noblest, most upstanding men (and women) who die without salvation and without knowing God have no hope, but the vilest and worst of creatures have hope as long as they have life.
Eccl. 9:9 says "Live joyfully with the wife who you love all the days of your vain which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun." Although Solomon seems to have a sarcastic attitude towards the reader here, he addresses the issue of monogamy and loving one woman for a lifetime. Proverbs 5 also addresses this in v. 15-21 instructing again that man should have one wife and not be "enraptured by an immoral woman and be embraced in the arms of a seductress." (Proverbs 5:20). We are to be faithful to our spouse throughout our lifetime.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Friday, May 7, 2010
"And Samuel said to Saul 'You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you'." -1 Samuel 13:13-14
David and Saul were men with two very different hearts.
- Willing to obey
- Served God
- Cared for God's will
- Had a heart centered on God
- Consistently sought God
- Satisfied with external acts of sacrifice, not truly obedient
- Served himself
- Cared for his own will
- Had a heart centered on himself
- Devotion to God was sporadic
Elizabeth George breaks down a "Heart that Obeys" into 5 steps:
1. Concentrate on doing what is right.
"Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things." Philippians 4:8
Seek God's guidance through scripture and prayer.
"In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:6
2. Cease doing what is wrong.
Stop any activity contrary to God's will immediately. It's not enough to ask forgiveness later if you have continued to sin after you realized you were doing so. God forgives us, but He expects that we will make an effort to change the behavior.
"For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted." Hebrews 2:18
3. Confess any wrong.
God expects us to acknowledge our sin and ask forgiveness. I think of how much I appreciate my children when the confess their transgressions before I even have a chance to catch them at it and confront them.
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:8-9
4. Clear things with others.
While it is important to confess our sins to God, it is also important to apologize to those who have been hurt by our sinful actions. While this is not always possible, we should make every effort to set things right with those we have transgressed against.
5. Continue on as soon as possible.
God does not want us to dwell in our sins. He wants us to learn from them and move on with our lives, serving Him to the best of our abilities.
"Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
4) Improved Relationships
- You cannot think about yourself & others at the same time.
- You cannot hate the person you are praying for.
- You cannot neglect the person you are praying for.
"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." Matthew 5:44
"Let your conduct be without covetousness, be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said 'I will not leave you nor forsake you'." Hebrews 13:5
The world would have us believe that more is better, things will make us happy, and money is the answer to all. But God tells us differently....the voice of truth says that we are to be content with what we have, not ask for more. This does not mean that being poor is good or being wealthy is bad...we are to be satisfied with what we have, be it little or much. Elizabeth George says "If he doesn't meet it, you didn't need it!".
"For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory, no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly." Psalm 84:11.
The world teaches us that self-confidence is what we should strive for. Be independent, self-reliant, need no one else. But God teaches us we should need Him, depend on Him, rely on Him. Through prayer we can become "God"-confident. As we make choices that honor God, His spirit fills us and we are able to confidently share our joy.
"Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing." Psalm 100:2
God-confidence gives us the ability to do His will with delight, anticipation and courage.
"I delight to do Your will, O my God; and you law is in my heart." Psalm 40:8
7) The Ministry of Prayer
Most of us know the power of prayer, how it can change lives. It is a ministry in itself. As a wife and mother who works outside the home, I often feel I don't have the time I would like to devote to ministry (a fact that I am trying to change). But, I can always pray. My ministry is through my prayers.
Father, help me to pray for my enemies. Let me lift them up to you, bless them and their families. Lord, let me be content with what You have provided for me. Keep the desire for more out of my heart and away from my soul. Remind me that the things of this earth are fleeting, and my treasure is in Heaven with You. Help me to be "God"-confident, not self-confident, for I know that I am weak and my only value is in You. Lord, let my prayers be a ministry, remind me to pray for those seeking You and those who need healing, physical and spiritual. Let my prayers change lives through You.
Friday, April 23, 2010
I am continuing my journey to becoming "A Woman After God's Own Heart". This week I have been reading on prayer. According to Elizabeth George...there are 7 blessings to prayer (I am sure there are more, but these are the 7 discussed in the book!). I am going to break this down into 2 posts for ease of reading.
1) A Deeper Relationship with God
Prayer increases faith and provides a place to unload your burdens. No matter what this world can do, God has already overcome it!
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33.
Prayer connects you to God in a personal and intimate way. I have a place to go and lay all my burdens down on God and He cares personally for each and every one.
"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7.
Prayer teaches us that God is always near. It is vitally important to take time every day to spend alone with God. I find the more I do that, the more I find my self seeking Him in times of joy as well as trouble.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1
"The purpose of prayer is to reveal the presence of God equally present all the time in every condition." Oswald Chambers (Scottish minister & teacher 1874-1917)
Prayer trains us not to panic. Often we go to God in a panic already, over a situation that has arisen in our lives. But He already knows, and does not desire His children to panic. If we are constantly seeking Him in prayer, we have no need to lose heart and panic.
"Then he spoke a parable to them, that men ought always to pray and not lose heart." Luke 18:1
2) Greater Purity
Confessing sin is imperative to the process of spiritual growth. We cannot continue to mature if we are holding on to our old and sinful ways.
"Likewise their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things." 1 Timothy 3:11
Confess sins not only at prayer time, but each time you do them. Pray for God to remove it from your life. I often find myself frustrated with people on the road...especially when I am in a hurry; I also find myself frequently confessing my sin of anger (otherwise known as 'road rage') to God as I am driving!
"If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell." Matthew 5:29
3) Confidence in Making Decisions
Make no decision without prayer. Great idea...but harder than you think. I make dozens of decisions on a daily basis, some big, some small, but I know I should stop and pray before each and every one. Prayer before making decisions results in peace about what you decide and a confidence in that decision and its outcome. Prayer can also prevent us from making decisions to please others or ourselves rather than what pleases God.
"For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ." Galatians 1:10
Lord, guide me in my prayer life. Help me to build a stronger relationship with You. Remind me to confess my sins to You, for otherwise, I cannot mature. Let me bring every decision to You. Guide my heart and help me to please You, not me, not anyone else.
Monday, April 19, 2010
- Roots are unseen. The most important and largest part of the plant is underground, not in plain view of society.
- Roots are for taking in. "When we spend time with Christ, He supplies us with strength and encourages us in the pursuit of his ways." (Elizabeth George)
- Roots are for storage. We can draw on our reservoir stored from God's word in times of trial.
- Roots are for support. "The support of a healthy root system is vital for standing strong in the Lord." (Elizabeth George).
The root system of a plant acts as a place to exchange waste for nourishment...Christ can act as our nourishment and will take our "waste" in exchange for His blessings. Weariness for strength, weakness for power, problems for solutions, turmoil for calm, hopes for promises, doubt for assurance. Whatever troubles we bring to Him, nourishment for our lives can be found in His word.
Lord, help me to develop a healthy root system by being in Your word every day. Take my "waste" and exchange it for Your blessings in my life. Help me to build up my reservoirs to draw on in times of trouble and drought. Let live abundantly and produce fruit for Your kingdom.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
So I am wrapping up my study on the characteristics of the "aged women" mentioned in Titus 2:3-5, the characteristics of a "teacher". In doing so, I looked at 3 women in the Bible who had some of these characteristics. Women that I can look at today as a model of these characteristics.
- OBEDIENCE-In a time when faith in God was definitely outside the "mainstream", she trusted Him and Noah. Even in the face of public humiliation for her husband building the Ark, she trusted God and Noah and did not waver in her obedience to either.
- SUBMISSION-Again, she submitted to her husband, even when society told her he was crazy. She trusted him to be obedient to God and, in turn, she was submissive to Noah.
- PATIENCE & PERSEVERANCE-Not only did she submit to and obey Noah and God, she persevered in raising a godly family in a society that put little to value on faith in God. We consider society today to be far from God's will, but in Noah's time, society was so bad, that God saw nothing to redeem but Noah and his family. Yet even in those dark and terrible times, Noah's wife raised her sons to be men of God.
- FAITHFUL-Even in times of trial, when she did not understand God's purpose in a situation, she was faithful and obedient to His will.
- COURAGEOUS-A Jewess in the harem of the Persian king....that takes some serious courage. She maintained her faith, openly, in a time when it could mean persecution, even death.
- RESOLUTE-Esther resolved not to waver in her mission from God. She was determined to save her people by whatever means necessary and willing to risk her own life and well-being to do so.
- GRACEFUL-Even though she was both courageous and resolute, she was also graceful. Never overbearing or forceful. Calm and serene in the face of danger and persecution.
- LOYAL-Ruth stayed with Naomi, travelled with her to a foreign land and started a new life.
- HUMBLE-She only took what wheat she needed for her and Naomi to survive. She did not become greedy when she easily could have taken more.
- BRAVE AND COURAGEOUS IN LOVE-Although Boaz is the "kinsman redeemer" and certainly in a better social situation than Ruth; she, too, took a chance when accepting his courtship of her. She did not have a good history when it came to love and relationships, and he was significantly older than she. But she looked past that and saw the true value of his generous spirit.
- TRUSTING AND HONEST-Ruth trusted Naomi to guide her through Boaz's courtship, she was in a foreign land with foreign customs. She also trusted Boaz to be sincere in his offer of marriage.
There are many women in the Bible that exude characteristics of a Titus 2 woman. I have barely scratched the surface of the guidance the women of the Bible have to offer us today. I hope you read this and use this as a starting point to look for your own role models among these amazing women.
Friday, January 15, 2010
So in my last post I discussed qualities of learning-my own teach-ability and willingness to learn what God has to teach me in these verses.
I am sure there are many more, but those are the qualities I feel a teacher needs to be effective.
Titus 2:3 refers to the "aged women"...John Gill's Exposition of the Bible defines "aged women" as "ancient widows, wives of elders, godly women in years." These are women who have a knowledge of God's word and have been obedient to His will for many years.
Reverence ("behavior as becomes holiness") is defined by the Dictionary of Words from the King James Bible as "to show respect or fear" and defined by another dictionary as "a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe". I love the idea of being "tinged with awe" when referring to my feelings for my Heavenly Father..because He is truly awesome!
These verses also indicate the aged women are not to be given to much wine...but there are other things that can impede our ability to teach and set a good example when we are "given too much". Some of the ones I have struggled with in the past (and some I still do) include:
- idleness (TV, Internet)
- excessive spending
Not only do the "aged women" need to possess these qualities, but they should display them at all times. Those of us with children know that they learn by our example, not necessarily by what we tell them is right.
These qualities are not just for the "aged women". They are to be taught, by example, to the young women so that we (yes, I still consider myself in the "young women" category!) can start practicing these behaviors as well. And although I may consider myself a "young" woman, I know that I am an example to someone else who may be younger or less experienced that me. The process of becoming a "Titus 2 woman" is just that, a process. There is no magical age where you go from "young" to "aged" and suddenly start displaying the characteristics outlined by Paul in his letter to Titus. It is possible for young women to start these behaviors now, although I do believe that age, maturity, and experience play a vital role in the process and for those, there is no substitute.
So women, young and "aged", consider your daily walk. Consider your behavior in EVERY situation, not just when you think someone else may be watching. For we are always teachers to someone and we want to set a good example at all times.
Friday, January 8, 2010
After studying the instructions in Titus 2:3-5, I answered several questions regarding how these verses apply to my life. I struggled with whether or not to share my answers, then I prayed about it and felt led to share what I had discovered about myself.
1. How well do you receive teaching and instruction?
- I receive instruction better than I used to. I still struggle when the instruction is on a topic that I am familiar with and feel comfortable with. I sometimes have an attitude of "I know all there is to know about this, what else could I possibly learn." But, I am continuing to realize that there is always more to learn about everything!
2. In what are do you see your greatest need for instruction?
- In having a gentle and quiet spirit.
- In maintaining my home, improving my homemaking skills.
- In diligence and perseverance. I tend towards laziness and I give up easily on things I truly want that require effort.
3. Could you take care of these things today?
- I should be taking care of these things every day. Reading God's instruction and applying in my daily life.
4. How do you handle the negative reactions of others to changes, decisions, or convictions you make or maintain?
- I recently read a book that contained very wise counsel on this subject. As long as what I am doing is in line with God's will, I should not concern myself with the opinions of others.
- That said, often God uses friends, family, even strangers, to help us see when a decision or change we have made or a conviction we are upholding is not in His will. In light of that fact, when I feel that I am getting negative feedback, I go to Him in prayer.
5. Do you remain gracious in your thoughts and speech when confronted by negative reactions?
- I would like to say yes to this question, but in all honesty, I cannot. I have vastly improved in my ability to hold my tongue. I have practiced praying before I speak, especially when I am emotional about the subject. However, I cannot say my thoughts always remain gracious. I frequently find myself asking God's forgiveness for impulsive and ungracious thoughts towards those who I feel have wronged me in some way.
6. Do you bring undue criticism upon yourself?
- While I have been able to learn to control my tongue, I am still working on controlling my facial expressions and body language. So, although I may not verbalize my frustration or anger, most people can see it clearly written on my face. This can result in criticism related to having a bad attitude or quick temper.
- As I previously mentioned as well, I do tend towards laziness. I happen to have a very giving husband and I have been known to take advantage of that characteristic. This is definitely still a work in progress for me!
7. How do you handle praise?
- In a word, poorly. I tend to get embarrassed and try to shift the focus to another subject. I also am terribly afraid of being prideful, so I tend to reject any kind of praise or commendation.
8. Are there changes you perceive the Lord convicting you to make that you are anxious about?
- I do perceive that God has many changes in store for me. With my husband studying to be a pastor, I feel that God has His work cut out making me a suitable pastor's wife!
- This brings to mind the scripture Philippians 4:6 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." Although initially I may have some anxiety about what God has called me to do, I know that He has a perfect plan for me and my family. I can find peace in prayer.
I hope these questions and answers will help you see how the words of Paul in Titus 2:3-5 can and should apply to you and your daily walk.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Tonight, I have studied, in depth, what each of these 3 verses means to me as a wife and mother and woman seeking God's heart. I studied several cross-referenced verses to get a better grasp of God's direction.
Titus 2:3 "the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teacher of good things"
- 1 Timothy 2:9-10...God instructs women to be modest in apparel and adornment, to let their good works be their ornamentation.
- 1 Timothy 3:11...characteristics for wives of deacons: reverent, not slanderous, temperate, faithful in all things.
- Genesis 1:26-27...God specifically states that He made us (man and woman) in his own image.
- 1 Peter 3:3-4...again, God admonishes women to dress modestly and have a gently and quiet spirit.
The summary of the message for Titus 2:3 is the characteristics of a godly woman include modest apparel, good works, reverence, not slanderous, temperate, faithful, a gentle & quiet spirit. Definitely traits I am striving for!
Titus 2:4 "that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children"
- 1 Timothy 5:14...God instructs young widows to remarry so that they might have homes and children.
God's purpose for women is to manage their families and homes. To love their husbands (this is purposefully listed first) and their children and to raise their children in fear and admonition of the Lord.
Titus 2:5 "to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed"
- Roman 2:24...blasphemy & hypocrisy are characterized by pride, vanity, and boasting whereas true faith in God is characterized by humility and thankfulness.
- 1 Corinthians 14:34 & 1 Timothy 2:11...women should not be loud and argumentative in church, but quietly seek knowledge of God's word from their husbands in their homes.
- Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18 & 1 Peter 3:1 &5...wives should submit to their husbands. Even if their husband is not a Christian. By submitting, wives can bring their husbands to faith in Christ, just through their submissive behavior.
- 1 Timothy 6:1...admonishes servants and slaves to obey and honor their masters, even if they (the masters) are not Christians. Again, through their submission and obedience, they can lead the non-believing master to Christ.
This verse enforces the importance of obedience and submissiveness to God and our husbands. This behavior is paramount to the word of God NOT being blasphemed.
So God expects many things from women of faith: submission, obedience, temperance, modesty, faithfulness, and much more. These behaviors do not come naturally or easily and are often not encouraged by the secular world, but are vital to our Christian walk. I continue to pray daily that God changes my carnal nature and gives me the ability and desire to pursue these characteristics in my own life.
Monday, January 4, 2010
"So teach us to number our days, that we may gain heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12
To number our days is to:
- set store by time
- mourn for the past that we have wasted in worldly pursuits
- use the present diligently
- understand that we cannot know the future and must, therefore, not delay our salvation and gracious works of prayer
- do not procrastinate
- make valuable use of each moment
To gain a heart of wisdom:
- give attention to eternal things
- be humble
- fear the Lord
- study His word
- fellowship with other Christians
This verse teaches me to be diligent daily. To spend my time in pursuit of the plan that God has for me. It encourages to not be wasteful of my time (which is a gift from God) by being lazy and idle. This goes along with God's instructions in Titus 2 regarding being a "keeper at home", always busy and diligent.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
So I am starting a new journey today. A journey to becoming a "Titus 2" woman. In Paul's letter to Titus, he gives him instruction related to his role in the organization and supervision of the churches in Crete. He gives specific characteristics of what is expected of the men and women of the church.
"the older women, likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of the good things-that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed." Titus 2:3-6
Today, I discovered a Bible Study outline by Pamela Spurling (achristianhome.org) that will guide me through the scripture in pursuit of becoming a "Titus 2" woman.
Proverbs 14:1 says "A wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands."
To build up is defined by Baker's Evangelical Dictionary as "strengthening, establishing, causing to prosper". There are many ways we can can "strengthen or establish" our homes (reference- "John Gill's Exposition of the Bible"):
- good house-wifery, prudent economy-keeping a clean and tidy home, being budget conscious
- looking well to the ways of the household-knowing what the members of the household are doing, being involved in their lives
- guiding the affairs of the house with discretion-keeping family business at home, not airing "dirty laundry" to others
- keeping all things in a good decorum-preparing for company, keeping a neat and tidy living space
- bringing up our children in virtue, and in the fear & admonition of the Lord-I think this one is self-explanatory!
To "pull or pluck down", however, is defined as "to ruin or destroy". There are many ways we destroy our households and families, many of which are encouraged by today's worldly society:
- idleness & laziness
- lavish and profuse way of living
- negligence of economy/budget
- attention to other diversions (e.g. television, Internet, shopping, etc.)
So I have made 2 lists, one of ways that I am "building up" my home, and one of how I am "plucking down" my home. (No...I am not going to share my personal lists!).I also made lists of ways I can change my behaviors and things I can do to build up and stop tearing down. Call it a sort of "New Year's Resolution"....or better yet, the first step on my path of becoming a Titus 2 woman!
I am blessed that God has provided these instructions and look forward to sharing my journey through His word with you!