Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Guarding Our Bodies for the Lord: 1 Corinthians 6:11-20

These verses remind us that the moment we accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, God set us changed us from what we were to something that now can bring Him glory and honor. He has washed us, declaring us righteous and setting us apart because of the finished work of Christ. God desires our practice to match the position that He has brought us into. He wants us to live a holy life, but Satan seeks to entrap us in sin and defeat us. One of his methods is get us to misuse our bodies in one way or another. 

But God has made us to be a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and He desires for us to use our bodies to glorify Him by guarding and surrendering our bodies to Him. 

I have heard some people say, "It's my body, so I can do want ever I want with it!" But that really isn't true. As a Christian I belong to God, spirit, soul and body! So lets look at this a little closer and learn what the Word of God says. 

Our Bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit 
These verse remind us that when we admit we are a sinner and realizes that Christ died to pay the penalty of our sin (Romans 3:23, 6:23), that the Holy Spirit indwells us at that very moment. Ephesian 1:13 says, "..Having believed you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the day of redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." The Holy Spirit is given that we might glorify God (John 16:14). The body of the believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit. A temple is a place that ought to be holy! It is a place that should be kept clean and pure, undefiled! 

Our Bodies were Bought at a Price 
These verses show us that we now are no longer our own, that we do not belong to ourselves any more. In 1 Peter 1:18-19 Peter reminds us "Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by the tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." God has paid a price for us. The Lord Jesus has paid the ransom for our redemption with His precious blood. God has purchased us for now and the future. Paul reminds us over and over again that as a Christian my life is not mine. Listen to these verses: 

"For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live we live to the Lord and if we die we die to the Lord. Therefore weather we live or die, we are the Lord's" (Romans 14:7-8). 

"For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus; that if One died for all then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again' (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). 

"Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works" (Titus 2:14). 

So we are not our own but we are His own special people. Our bodies belong to Him! 

Our Bodies are to Glorify God 
Going back to our verses in 1 Corinthian 6, we learn that our bodies are members of Christ (v15). How can we be joined to Christ and think we are independent to do what ever we want. We are bought with the blood of Jesus, redeemed and we have become the property of God. We now belong to Him and should live in a way that please Him! In Romans 6:11-14, 19 Paul puts it this way: 

"Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey its lust. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." "For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness." 

There was a time when we were under the power of sin and could not do anything but give into it. But now in Christ we "have died to sin." But we must reckon, consider or count it to be so! We can not allow sin to have control, we are to glorify God in and with our bodies. With every member of our bodies. How do we do that? 

Romans 12 :1-2 challenges us, "I beseech you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Notice in these two verses the whole person is involved, body, mind and will. The Christian's body is God's temple because the Spirit of God dwells within us (Romans 8:9). It is our privilege to glorify Christ in our body. Paul desired that "Christ will be magnified in my body whether by life or by death. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:20-21). The Lord also wants to transform our minds (Ephesians 4:17-24, Colossians 3:1-11) and He does that by His Word. But it has been said that "your mind controls your body and your will controls your mind." We must surrender our own will to Him. 

I would like to go back to 1 Corinthians 6, because what seems to plague so many of us today is sexual sins. The Spirit of God knew this and warns us about this in the context of our chapter. Back in verse 12 He reminds us that sexual sins are harmful. They are not profitable! Then He goes on to warn us that sexual has a way of controlling us and says, "I will not be under the power of anything." Then in verses 13-14 the Spirit of God makes it clear that sexual sins God's plan and purposes for the bodies of His people. A Christian's body is for the Lord. But we learn three other things about how sexual sins affect us. They affect us emotionally, (v12) and that is connected with our soul. They also affect us spiritually by block the channels of our relationship and of course sexual sins affect us physically (v 18). 

This is why it is so important for us to present our bodies as a living sacrifices to God. Here are three practical ways to offer your body to God: 

Cleanse your body. We need to detox our bodies.“Let us purify ourselves from every pollution of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness out in God's fear" (2 Corinthians 7:1 JND). The way you pollute your body is by what you eat or drink, and the way you pollute your spirit is by what your see or hear. 

Care for your body. “No one ever hated his own body, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church” (Ephesians 5:29). God expects you to take care of your body by keeping it in good shape, getting enough rest, and eating the right foods for good nutrition. Not watching any thing would hurt it, "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes" (Ps. 101:1). We need to be like Job and make a covenant with our eyes in Job 31:1. 

Control your body. “Each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor (1 Thessalonians 4:4 ESV). This means you tell your body what to do; it doesn’t tell you what to do. Controlling your body also means to have self control “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should do” (1 Corinthians 9:27)

As we think about surrendering our bodies to the Lord, lets think about some of the individual parts of our bodies. For that let's focus on some verses in Proverbs 4:20-27 

Our Heart and Mind. We have looked at verse 23 in detail in a previous study, but look at verse 21. We are to keep the instructions of the Lord at the center of our heart. His Word must have the main stage of my heart. He must have the preeminent place in my heart (Colossians 1:18). 

Our Ears (Prov. 4:20) should be open to ear His instruction like the perfect servant spoken of in Isaiah 50:4, "He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned. The Lord God opened My ear and I was not rebellious nor did I run away." Each morning we ought to wake up ready to hear what the Lord wants to say to us thought His Word. 

Our Tongue, which would include our mouth and our lips (Prov. 4:24) again ought to be like the Lord Jesus who could say, "The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a Word in season to him who is weary" (Is. 50:4)

Our Eyes (Prov. 4:25) ought to be looking straight ahead at the Lord Jesus "looking off unto Him the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Our Feet (Prov. 4:26-27) should be running after Him! 

Our Hands ought holy and lifted up to Him for praise, prayer and power for service (1 Timothy 2:8). 

Our bodies our gifts from the Lord and we should guard and protect it in a way that would bring Him glory and honor and show the world that we are set apart for Him.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Guarding Our Minds for the Lord

"Gird up the loins of your minds" (NKJV)
"Prepare your minds for action" (NASV)
"Preparing your minds for action" (ESV)
"Think clearly and exercise self-control" (Living)

These different translation of 1 Peter 1 :13 help us understand the real meaning of this verse. We also have to keep in mind that in the Bible times they wore really long robes. So to gird ones self has the idea of pulling up the robe or anything else that is hanging loose in our lives, so that we can really get serious about running or working or whatever it was that you were to to achieve. To "gird up the loins of our minds" has the idea then of doing what it takes to get your mind ready to serve the Lord. Pulling back everything that would hinder you from living for Him!

If athletes dedicate and discipline themselves in order to possibly win a race and receive “a perishable wreath” from the world, how much more should believers in Jesus Christ dedicate and discipline themselves to absolutely win and receive an “imperishable” wreath from God (1 Cor. 9:25)? Paul reminds us that as a soldier of Jesus Christ each of us ought to "be girded with truth" (Ephesians 6:14). Here Peter challenges us to live in this world that is dark with sin in such a way that our lives are set apart to make a difference. So as one who is running after Christ, I am to be girded that I might be a winner. As a soldier I am to be girded that I might be a warrior and here I am to be have my mind gird that I might be a witness for Christ.

If Peter was writing this today he might use a different analogy. I would like to suggest for us in thinking about guarding our minds for the Lord, the analogy of a computer. Most of us have computers, a desk top or a lap top and we all know the importance of protecting our computers. If we are going to be useful for the Master our minds have to be protected just as we protect our computers, even better! 

I sat down with a friend of mind (he's a computer geek) and had him tell me all the things we need to do to protect our computers. He gave me a long list of things, but I have narrowed it down to five. 

Protect your mind by installing a fire wall.
I am told that one of the way to keep your computers problem free is to make sure you have a good firewall up. A firewall, as I understand it isolates the computer from things like the Internet. It allows the information that is safe to freely enter while keeping that which is not safe out.

Our minds need a spiritual fire wall in order to guard our thoughts! 2 Corinthians 10:5 exhorts us to "bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." Proverbs 23:7 reminds us as a man "thinks in his heart, so is he." The Lord Jesus echo this when He declared, "For within man, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornication, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within man" (Mark 7:21-23). So we must bring every thought into captivity to protect our minds. How do we do this? I would suggest that our fire wall is the Word of God. The Word of God is "quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and the joints and marrow, and is a discerning of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). Paul knew the importance of the mind, his had been changed. He confessed before Agrippa, "I thought...I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26:9). His cry, "Lord, what would you have me to do?" (Acts 9:6) shows that he had completely changed his way of thinking and had become captive in mind to his new Master. In Romans 12:1-2 he stress the need for Christians to have their minds renewed when he wrote, "I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Only the Word of God can act as a firewall to protect our minds from the constant influences of this world. 

Provision your mind by installing antivirus software.
Many of us have had viruses destroy our computers. They get attached to a program and eventually can destroy the computer if not clean up. We have been provided the greatest antivirus software known to mankind, the indwelling Spirit of God! If we want to guard our minds for the Lord, we must allow Him to work in our lives. He does that through prayer. In Matthew 26:41 the Lord Jesus admonished the sleeping disciple to "watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." If we rely on our own strength, we will fail (Proverbs 28:26, Jeremiah 17;9, Matthew 26;33). 

We must prevent any viruses from attacking our thoughts, by keeping our antivirus programs up to date. Paul told Timothy this when he said, "Follow the pattern of sound words that you have heard from me, in faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit (treasure) entrusted to you" (ESV). Romans 8:5 reminds us "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." We must daily allow the Holy Spirit to renew our thinking as we yield to His convicting and changing in our lives.

Purifying your mind by guarding against spy ware and feeding on good food.
Spy ware can invade your computer without you even knowing it. It can track your computer usage, what Web sites you visit. It collects your information and can even send it to a third party without your permission. This can be a real threat to your privacy and to your computer. 

We have an enemy that watch us and try to sidetrack us and cause us painful experiences. 1 Peter 5:8 exhorts us to "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Satan is always going to attacks us one way or another. He is always trying to influence our thinking. But we must take action to stop the spy ware of Satan. By feeding on those things that are "noble, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is anything praise worthy, meditate on these things" (Philippians 4:8). We must not allow him to have anything to work with. Romans 13:14 says, "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill it lusts." Ephesians 4:27 tells us to "give no place to the devil." We should avoid T.V. shows, magazines, WEB sites, conversation, and situations that will set us up for a fall. We should also avoid spending time with those who would encourage us down these wrong roads.

Prevent dangerous contact by pursuing after the Lord. 
Our computers can be contaminated when we receive and open unknown emails or other programs from unknown sources. As those who desire to guard our minds for the Lord, we must not listening to wrong teaching. We shouldn't spend time with those who might influence our thinking in a wrong direction. Psalm 1 says, "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper."

Partners for Accountability
The Internet is a helpful and entertaining tool, but because most of its activity is anonymous, it is also full of hidden dangers for those who are seeking to keep their minds pure for the Lord. So there are many filtering systems and accountability programs to help. In the same way the Lord has provide us with a family of other Christians around us. Hebrews 10: 24-25 says, "Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some, but exhorting one another , and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." We have one another to encourage and build each other up in our faith, but also to hold one another accountable. The Lord has place us in His body that we might help one another (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12 and Ephesians 4).

Just as we worry about our computers we must be concerned about protecting our minds! We must be on guard and realize the power influences that are out there in movies, music, the Internet and many other things. We must understand that the road to sin starts in our minds and we must get off that road before we travel too far because it will take us places we don't want to go!

Let's go back to were we started in 1 Peter 1:13. We are to girded up the loins of our minds in order to be prepared and we are to be alert to those things that might threaten to control our thinking. But I would like to end by looking at the last part of this verse. We are told to "rest our hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." We are to be prepared, be alert and lastly, be focused. Don't get sidetracked, keeping looking of f unto Jesus! Keeping our eyes on what really matters.

I think David knew the dangers of an unguarded mind. He had gone down the wrong road starting with his own unguarded and ungirded thoughts. But listen to the longing of his heart in Psalm 19:14, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight O Lord, My Strength and my Redeemer." May that be the prayer of everyone of our hearts!

Walking with the Lord

In ancient harbors, ships often had to wait for the incoming tide to raise the water level sufficiently to allow them to sail in. The Latin phrase ob portu (against the port) described a waiting ship's position just outside the harbor. The English word opportunity derives from the phrase ob portu to describe when one prepares and waits for just the right moment to act. 

Each of us have many opportunities waiting for us everyday. For some college, for others work and for others marriage. We are one of those ships just waiting for the tide to come in and carry us out to sea. The sea is the world full of all sorts of open doors and I would like to suggest just that the tide we as Christian should be waiting for is the Lord. There are many tides, many things that would carry you off onto life's sea. But as Christian's we want to follow the Lord and walk with Him on an day to day basis. What does that mean? What does it mean to walk with the Lord? 

I thought of Enoch in Genesis 5:24. There we read that Enoch walked with God. There are actually only about 7 or 8 verses in the entire Bible that speak of Enoch. But if we look at them I think we see a man who waiting on the Lord, who walked Him. In Genesis 5:24 we read that Enoch walked with God. In Hebrews 11:5 we learn that he was well pleasing to God and in Jude 24-25 were told that he was a witness for God. I would suggest to us that the order is important. A life that is walked with God is pleasing to Him and only a person who walks with God can serve God. 

What does it mean to walk with God? Here is a man who is surrounded by ungodliness, walking with God. What does it mean? Enoch did not literally walk with God; this is unquestionably a figurative expression, but a figurative walk involves the same thing today as it did then. 

First, it means to have Fellowship with God. To walk with God is to develop an on going relationship with Him through prayer and reading His Word. To make that relationship preeminent in our lives.You see if we are save God is present in our lives. In some of our lives, He is prominent. But the Lord doesn't simply want to be present or even prominent, He desires to be preeminent (Col. 1:18)! Like in any relationship, walking with the Lord is, me wanting to get to know Him better. To know what please Him, really it is to put Him first in all my decision making. Matthew 6:33 comes to mind, "Seek first the Kingdom of God". The apostle Paul, after 30 years of serving the Lord said, "That I might Know Him" (Phil 3:8). He constantly wanted to know the Lord better! That is the first thing in a walk with God. 

Second, it means to make Forward Progress in my walk by keeping in step with Him. You cannot walk with someone if you do not keep in step with them. A walk is not like moving on one of these moving sides walks at the airport. It is not smooth; it is a repetition of almost falling. Have you ever analyzed your walk? Every time you take a step you almost fall. You allow your body to go off balance, and then you catch yourself with your other leg. Then you shift to that one and you almost fall again, only to catch yourself. The man or woman who walks with God is the man or woman who lives on the verge of a fall. That means if God is not there to support and strengthen you, down you go. You are counting on Him to come through and to keep you steady. That is what a walk with God involves. It is always a walk of venturing out. It is never satisfied with the status quo, never content to remain in a quiet state, doing nothing, waiting, enjoying one's self. It is forever moving at the same pace God moves. It means taking a step when God insists. 

The third thing, is that we are Free of Hindrances in our walk with God. There was no controversy between God and Enoch. You really can't walk happy with someone in you have problems with them. They were in agreement. "How can two walk together unless they have agree" (Amos 3:3)? There were no hindrance between Enoch and his God. This is so important for you as you move forward in life, to have nothing that is in between you and the Lord! 

Enoch was not conformed to this World, we know that because his life pleased the Lord. Don't let this world squeeze you into it's mold (Rom. 12:1-2), walk with the Lord and live to please Him! 

Enoch was not controlled by this world, he serve the Lord. Your education, your occupation and your marriage should never control you, but should be tools for you to live to glorify the Lord. 

Enoch was not condemned with the world, but the Lord took him out of the judgement that followed. Genesis 5:24 says that Enoch “was not; for God took him.” The Bible doesn't say how God took him. Hebrews 11:5 sheds some light on Enoch, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Heb. 11:5). The word rendered “translated” comes from the Greek metatihemi and means to transpose, to change. The word is used only six times in the New Testament and translated “were carried over,” “are removed,” “being changed” and “turning.” This is a beautiful picture of the rapture of the church when the Lord Jesus returns for it (1 Cor. 15:51-54, 1 Thess. 4:13-18). 

As you venture out from this point in your life there will be many opportunities, some good and not so good. But walk with the Lord and never be satisfied in your pursuit of Christ and you will find satisfaction, joy and meaning that can only be found in Him. Pursue Christ. It is Christ that makes the difference. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Having a Vision: A Look at Proverbs 29:18

Where there is no vision the people will perish. Without a real vision we have no direction, We wander aimlessly through life with no real objective. Helen Keller was asked once “What would be worse than being born blind?” to which she replied “Having sight without a vision.” What a profound statement by a girl who was born into this world Deaf, Dumb and blind. She could not help how she came into this world but she sure could help how she left this world. We can’t help how we came into this world but we can help how we leave it! Our verse says, "Without a vision the people perish."

The word vision means sight, dream, revelation or enlightenment.
The word perish means to die or to expire.

Vision is Awareness: Which the ability to See!
How is your vision? I'm not talking about your physical eye sight. I'm talking about seeing with what has been called our third eye, the eye of faith! Someone has define spiritual vision "as the ability to see things that are unusual, having competence in discernment or perception; intelligent foresight." Someone else said, "Vision is the art of seeing things invisible." We need greater goals (what can be done) and greater objectives (how it can be done). We need visions that are worthy of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! 

Moses had a spiritual vision, we read of it in Hebrews 11:24-27 . He had never brought anyone else out of captivity. He had no clue what course was laid before him. He just knew that God was showing him a vision of something that was to come to pass in the future. As he looked into the burning bush God reveal to Him what He was going to do through Moses. The world would say that Moses blew it when he refused to be call the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. But Moses’ vision enabled him to see into another world.

Jarius came to the Lord Jesus because his daughter laid at home sick unto death. He came believing that if he brought the Lord to her she would be healed. But were told, "As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe" (Mark 5:36). What was the Lord saying? He was saying don’t look with the physical but look with the spiritual.

To see the unseen you have to ignore what people say. Turning a blind eye to what unbelief would say, not allowing myself to be controlled by human logical, believe there is more to life than meets the eye. Don't limit God. The Word tells us that we walk by faith not by sight. It has been said that our vision must be Spirit born, Spirit fed and Spirit led to really accomplish any thing for the glory of God. 

How do you get a vision?
Take a good look at God. Get to know what He is like. Think of each of those men and women in Hebrews 11, they all had an on going real relationship with the Lord. They new who He was and what He was capable of. Once we understand how awesome God is, we will not hesitate to believe God for great things.

I read that Bruce Lee had a fighting style unlike any other because he developed it himself. The main part of his fighting style was aim 6 inches beyond your target. What a concept for us as followers of Christ! What are we aiming at? Are we aiming at our target or beyond the target? I have to admit that much of the time my aim falls short. Instead of 6 inches beyond, I aim 6 inches this side of my target. What if we could adopt this concept of aiming beyond? What could we accomplish?

Vision is Attitude: Which is the Ability to Believe! 
Abraham was willing to believe God even though it seemed to go again the laws of possibility. His attitude was "I trust God." Even though my wife is way pass the age to bear a child, I trust God (Romans 4:18-26)!God help us to have enough faith in God to believe. Think about the father in Mark 9:24 "And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."

Paul reminds us that God has begun a good work in us and will complete it. He goes on to say, that "it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" As God is at work in us and He a work to do through us as well! He will and does help us do everything and that includes helps our faith become stronger, how? Paul then reminds us that the power for this type of living by faith is not ours or in our own strength. He declares, "I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me" (Philippians 1:6, 2:13, 4:13). 

There are many things that we have no control over as we seek to live for the Lord such as our background, our age, our gifts, but there is one important thing that we do have control over. How much we choose to believe God.

I heard a story of a Sunday School class that was asked to go home and count the stars in the sky as part of their next S.S. lesson. They came back with various numbers. Some said 100, some said 1000, some said a million. Finally the teacher asked a little boy who had said nothing, "How many stars did you count?" He replied, "3". The teacher asked how did you only see 3? He said, "I guess we just have a small backyard." That’s our problem when it comes to believing, we have a small backyard. Our faith needs to be strengthened and that is through His Word. You don’t need much faith. Faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains.

Vision is Action: Which includes Courage to Trust
Courage is going forward in spite of fear. Our problem is that too often we want to live in our comfort zone. When God gives us a vision to accomplish what He wants accomplished He takes control of situation and takes it out of man's hands and then we to have the courage to rely on Him. Like in Gideon in Judges 7. He went from having twenty two thousand people with him to ten thousand to three hundred. He went from twenty two thousand to three hundred and still had the courage to trust God for victory!

Think of those early Christians in the book of Acts (4:13, 9;27, 13:46, 14:3, 19:8, 28:31). They all had a God fed boldness that led them to trust the Lord and to move forward in their faith! They prayed for this boldness (Acts 4:29-30) and according to Ephesians 6:19-20 so must we! Our boldness is based on our hope in Christ (2 Corinthians 3:12). We must say what needs to be said when it needs to be said and do what needs to be done when it needs to be done (1 Thessalonians 2:2)

What if the men and women of faith in the past did not want to move beyond their comfort zones? 
They walked daily with the Lord and were persistent. This is what we are encouraged to do in Galatians 6:9 and 1 Corinthians 15:58. Many visions are never realized because we give up too soon! 

Some of us have tunnel vision: which is focusing on small and often insignificant problems in the assembly. Some of us have a vision that is near sighted, always focusing on the negative never positive. Some may have far sighted vision which is to think it's all out of reach! 

But what we need is a vision that has: 
A large scope worthy of its mission, reaching the lost. Specific steps to accomplish our goals, and teaching others. Faith in the Lord and in His Word and boldness and perseverance in carrying it out!

Vision is the Ability to see what others can’t. --Faith to believe what others will not. --Courage to do what others say can’t be done. 

I read where Christopher Columbus’ dairy at times seems to be very repetitive. Page after page simply says, "This day we sailed on!" What a great motto for a Christian.
Anybody can start the race, but they don’t give out the awards until you finish. Do you have a vision for your life? For our children? For our assembly? For the lost? 

Behold I say unto you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! 
John 4:35

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Digging a Little Deeper

Personal Challenges to Guarding Your Heart
  1. Carefully read Psalm 24:1-6. What condition must your heart be in as you approach God?
    Compare this to Psalm 15, what can you learn?
  1. Look at 1 Timothy 1:5. Paul mentions that the goal of the commandment is Love. What three areas of our lives does he say this love comes and how we can enjoy such love?
  1. After David had sinned with Bathsheba, what did he ask the Lord for (Psalm 51:10)? What type of attitude is the Lord looking for when we make a mistake (Psalm 51:17)?

  2. How can you keep a pure heart before the Lord (Psalm 119:9-10)?
  1. What promise is given in Matthew 5:8? what does this mean on a daily basis for you?

Guarding Your Heart Questions

Why Guard Your Heart?
  1. What two individuals are after your heart (Proverbs 23:26, Acts 5:3)?
  1. What is the first and greatest commandment concern the heart (Matthew 22:37-38)?
The Importance of the Heart:
  1. According to Luke 6:45-45, how does our heart affect our actions?
  1. What determines what our heart will be full of (Luke 12:34)?
  1. In what way will the heart affect our lifestyle (Psalm 14:1, Luke 12:35)?
  1. What are at least two dangers of concerning our hearts (Luke 21:34, Deuteronomy 11:16)?
  1. What do we learn about our the heart from the following verses:
    a. Proverbs 28:26 ___________________________________________________
    b. Jeremiah 17:5 ____________________________________________________
    c. Jeremiah 17:9 ____________________________________________________
God Knows Your Heart:
  1. Consider the following verses, what do they have to say concerning God and your heart?
    a. 1 Samuel 16:9 ____________________________________________________
    b. Psalm 7:9, 44:2, Revelation 2:23 ______________________________________
    c. Jeremiah 11:20, 17:9-10 ____________________________________________
    d. Acts 1:24, Hebrews 4:13 ___________________________________________

Challenge for Our Hearts:
  1. How and what do these verse challenge you to do?
    a. Job 11:13-15 _____________________________________________________
    b. Psalms 101:2 _____________________________________________________
    c. 1 Chronicles12:38 __________________________________________________

God's Desire for Your Heart:
  1. According to 2 Chronicle 16:9, what is God looking for concerning your heart?
  1. How does Psalm 112:7 instruct us?
  1. Read Hebrews 4:12. What does God use to do heart surgery on us?
  1. What is our hearts to be like in relation to God's Word and why (Proverbs 7:1-5)?

  2. Where are we to hid God's Word and what does that mean (Psalm 119:11)?

Guarding Your Heart for the Lord (Part 2)

How do we keep our hearts pure for the Lord? 
The Source must be clean. Before anything good can flow from our hearts, to the glory of God and to the good of others around us,our hearts must be changed. We must turn over our hearts, our lives to the Lord and He will give us a new heart. For those of us who have been saved and given a new heart (2 Cor. 5:17), it is only fitting for us to surrender that heart back to Him! He requests that from everyone of us. He says in Proverbs 23:26, "My son, give me your heart." I think of that little booklet by Robert Boyd Munger, "My Heart Christ Home." It is a beautiful illustration of how the Lord comes into the home of our hearts and He doesn't just want to be in the house, but a wants to be at home in your heart! He wants to be able to go into every room of your heart. If we are holding part of our heart for ourselves the enemy will target that area of our life and attack us through it. That is why we must surrender our hearts to the Lord.

The Source must be filtered. The filter for us as Believers is the Word of God. "All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God (God breathed), and is profitable for doctrine (that which teaches us what's right), for reproof (that which teaches us when we go wrong), for correction (that which teaches us how to get right), for instruction (that which teaches us how to stay right), that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16). That is why it is so important to hide His Word in our hearts. The Psalmist knew about this filtering system to guard our hearts when he wrote, "How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to your word. With my whole heart I have sought you; Oh let me not wander from Your commandments.Your word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You."

The Source must be screened. We used to have a swimming pool and it had a good filtering system, but we also had to skim it with a screen, usually on top of the water, but at times the sediment would settled down deep into the pool. We had to screen out what didn't belong. I want to use this as a picture of cleaning out our hearts by the confession of sins. Things that we might have allowed in our lives by our actions or our attitudes. Scripture reminds us that, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

The Source must be protected. There are two things that protect our heart along with the Word of God and confess. They prayer and praise. We are instructed in Philippians 4:6-7 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be known to God; and the peace of God which passing all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." In Acts 16 we see Paul and Silas in prison, having been beaten and locked in shackles. But their they were at midnight praying and praising God. I believe that their praying and praising guarded them from discouragement and disappointment. Out of their praying and praising hearts flowed a spring that affected the lives of all around them.

The Source is constantly looked after by another. We have seen that our hearts our always under attack by Satan, this world that we live in, and even by our own flesh. But we have someone that is very interested in our hearts and in every aspect of our lives. He is constantly praying for us just as He did for his disciples in John 17. He prayed that they be kept (guarded) from the evil one. In Hebrews 7:25 we read that this same One, our Lord and Savior now lives in Heaven as our Great High Priest and He is able to save or deliver us to the uttermost those who come to God through Him since He ever lives to make intercession for them. Our hearts can be guarded from giving into temptation when we come to Him confessing our weakness and our dependence on Him. He then supplies all we need!

Proverbs 4 speaks a lot about the path which we are on (4:11, 14-15, 18-19, 26-27). If we are going to walk on the path of wisdom, in a world that has turn it's back against God, we must guard our hearts by surrendering totally to Him, being in the word and allowing it to be a filtering system for us, by keeping short accounts of our sins and by being dependent in prayer and thankful in praise. And all the while realizing that we have a great High Priest to turn to in our weakness.

Guarding Your Heart for the Lord (Part 1)

Listen to this verse in a couple other translations of Proverbs 4:23: 

"Keep your heart more than anything that is guarded, out of it are the issues of life." JND

"Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the spring of life." ESV

"Keep your heart more with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." NKJV
"Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do." NLT

What is the Heart?
What does it mean to guard your heart? First off let's ask what do we mean when we use the term heart? When the Bible uses this word it is not referring to the muscular pump in our chest, for God Himself has a heart and He is Spirit. The Hebrew word for heart is lebab. It not only includes the motives, feelings affections, and desires, but also the will, aims, principles thought and intellect.

The first place the word heart is used in the Bible is in Genesis 6:5, where we read "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil." Then in the next verse we read "the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart." These are the first two usages of the word heart. In the New Testament the Greek word for Heart is kardia, from which we get the word cardiology. The heart is the center of the inner life of man and the source or seat of all the forces and functions of the spirit and soul. So the heart is the real you, your inner core, it is the in contrast to the external side.

What does it mean to "keep" or "guard" your heart?
The word keep means to guard or to watch over, it means to pay very close attention to. Our hearts are very valuable. We don't guard worthless things. We take our garbage to the street every Thursday night. It is picked up Friday morning. It sits on on the street all night long completely unguarded because it is worthless. I don't stand guard over my garbage, even though it is true one mans junk is another man's treasure. But you don't guard things that you deem worthless!

Why does God put such an emphasis on your heart?
Look at Proverbs 23:7, there we read, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he." The heart is the real you and according to this verse, what is in your heart is what you are! From the heart all our actions flow. The Lord Jesus confirmed this when He declared that, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure in his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." So the heart determines our actions and it also determines what we value "for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Luke 12:45). The heart determines our life style, "the fool says in his heart there is no God" (Psalm 14:1), so he lives like there is no God or a day when we must give account to that God. Our hearts determine how we treat one another, the Lord brought this out in the parable of the Servants. The one "servant said in his heart 'My master is delaying his coming and begins to beat the men servants.." (Luke 12:45). Our hearts can cause us to get distracted and we are counseled to "take heed to yourselves lest your heart be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the cares of this life.." (Luke 21:34).

All this show us that out of our heart flow the issues of life. If our heart is kept right, our life will be honoring to the Lord. He is looking for hearts that are right before Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong to those whose heart is loyal to Him."

God knows your heart
 The Bible says, "man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart." He know and test the hearts and most secret parts of man (Psalm 7:9, Jeremiah 11:20, Acts 1:24). Scripture reminds us that all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him whom we have to do" meaning that He knows our motives and the intentions of our hearts.

Keep the streams pure
Our hearts are like the source or pool of water that feeds a mountain streams. Proverbs 4:23 challenges us to "watch over your heart with all diligence for from it flow the springs of life" (NASV). We should want to keep the source clear an unpolluted from anything and everything that would affect the flow of pure water. If we plug up the spring with too much junk it will hinder the flow. If we poison the water, the water will become toxic. In either situation, you threaten life downstream. Just like everything depends on the condition of the source, so too in our own life if our heart in unhealthy everything else will be affected.