Judgment

Posted: February 22, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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“And as it is appointed for men to die once, and after this the judgment.”

Hebrews 9:27

Every person will appear before the judgment seat of Christ when they die, however, there are two judgments spoken of in the Bible. One is the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). This is for unbelievers.  The second judgment is for those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. They are not judged at the Great White Throne Judgment but at the Bema Seat, where believers will receive their eternal reward. (2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

The Bema Seat is a place where neither our beliefs nor our eternal destination is being judged. Only those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ during their life on earth will appear before the Bema Seat. What will be judged is our works. The Bible says that every work will be tested. Some works will burn, some will remain. That which remains will be rewarded by God. It’s amazing to think that the choices we make each day are directly linked to our experience in eternity.

“God is more interested in my eternal happiness than my present comfort”

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What criteria will be used to test our works at the Bema Seat?

  1. The test of relationship (John 15:4-5) All eternal fruit is born out of a relationship with Jesus Christ who is the True Vine.
  2. The test of motive (Matthew 6:1-6) Those things done with self-seeking motives will not be rewarded.
  3. The test of love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3) Since God’s greatest commandment is to love, all that I do must first pass through this grid in order to be in alignment with God’s will.

Ultimately, the purpose of the Bema Seat is not loss but gain. The Apostle Paul was looking forward to that day when he would meet his Lord face to face and receive from him the crown of righteousness. (2 Timothy 4:7-8) In heaven the twenty four elders are shown continually casting their crowns before God’s throne as they worship Him. (Revelation 4:10-11) We should all live each day in such a way as to anticipate with great expectation those words from Jesus: “Well done, good and faithful servant!…Enter into the joy of your Lord!” (Matthew 25:23)

“He is no fool who gives away what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Jim Elliot

Sample Questions:

  1. What is the difference between the Great White Throne Judgment and the Bema Seat?
  2. What will be judged at the Bema Seat?
  3. How do things you are doing now stand up to the test criteria that will be used at the Bema Seat?
  4. How will Judgment Day change how you are living today?

 

Christ’s Return

Posted: June 6, 2016 in Basic Training

Lightning

The Bible speaks of 2 monumental events that are yet to come; the “rapture” of the Church and the physical second coming of Jesus Christ to the earth.

The Rapture

1 Corinthians 15:50-53, 1Thessalonians 4:13-18, Daniel 9:20-27 – These passages speak of the “rapture”, in which Jesus will snatch His Bride from the earth just prior to the 7 year “tribulation”.  The living and the dead will be united with Jesus in the clouds and will spend the 7 year tribulation with Jesus. This final 7 year period of history will culminate in the return of Jesus to the earth with all of His saints where He will reign for 1000 years (Revelation 20:1-6).

The Second Coming

Zechariah 14:4-9, Revelation 19:11-16 –  These passages speak of the day that the Lord Himself will set His foot back on the earth for the second time. Jesus will physically stand on the Mount of Olives, the same place from which He ascended into heaven, and take His rightful place as King of kings and Lord of lords on the earth.

“Since He may come any day, it is well to be ready every day.”

Hudson Taylor

Matthew 24 – In this chapter of Scripture Jesus gives us quite a few details about His second coming. Here are just a few:

  • Jesus will return physically to the earth in a way that cannot be mistaken or misunderstood.  The second coming is not figurative or symbolic, but literal.
  • No one knows the day or the hour of Jesus’ coming.  Jesus will come like a thief in the night at an unexpected time.
  • We are to keep watch and eagerly anticipate His return.

Jesus’ imminent return should motivate us to live our lives with purpose and to serve Him as if the time were short.  Jesus said it is the wicked servant who says his master is staying away a long time and then begins to neglect his fellow servants and waste time with drunkards. Christians are to encourage one another with the hope that we will all one day see Jesus face to face and be with Him for eternity.

Live inside the circle. Be transformed!

Sample questions:

  1. What does the Bible say will ultimately happen to every person who has put their faith in Jesus Christ?
  2. What does the Bible say about Jesus’ return to the earth?
  3. Why do you think God hasn’t revealed the day of His second coming?
  4. List 2 ways the hope of Christ’s return will change the way you live your life today?

 

Evangelism

Posted: May 30, 2016 in Basic Training

Evangelism

I once had a friend describe to me how his small group was going to focus on “going deep”. To him this meant focusing on Bible study and closing the group to new people. My first thought was that you won’t study the Bible for very long before you find a passage that teaches you to reach out to people in order to care for their spiritual and physical needs. Then what will you do? It didn’t take long before my friends’ small group began to feel stale and died. I have found that you will never meet a more excited believer or go to a more exciting church than one that is winning people to Christ.  Jesus commanded His disciples to preach the gospel and make disciples of all peoples. (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8) God is calling us to go both deep and wide!

2 Corinthians 4:3-6, Matthew 12:28-29, John 6:44 – Evangelism begins with prayer. You and I would not be Christians unless somebody had prayed for us.  Because the God of this world (the devil) has blinded unbelievers to the truth, prayer must be lifted up on behalf of people to remove those blinders and give them a real opportunity to respond to the Gospel.  We as believers have the authority in Jesus name to bind the enemy in order to remove those spiritual blinders, and to loose the Holy Spirit to draw people to Christ.

“Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.”

D.T. Niles

2 Corinthians 4:1-2, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 –  Evangelism requires that we share the Word of God simply and without deception. God’s power stands behind the Gospel message. We often think we have to be eloquent, educated, or clever to share the gospel.  Paul, who was a very educated man, knew that the key to evangelism was simply sharing Jesus Christ and Him crucified and then trusting in God’s power and ability to save people. (Romans 1:16).

John 17:20-23 – Evangelism happens among believers who love one another in the bond of peace and unity. How we interact as a community of faith will determine whether or not Christ is displayed to a lost world. God has no other plan to reach the world other than through the Church! If people do not see Christ in His Church they will not see Him at all.

Live inside the circle. Be transformed!

Sample questions:

  1. What is the connection between prayer and evangelism? Are you praying for the lost?
  2. How do you share your faith with someone who does not know Christ?
  3. What is the connection between evangelism and how believers treat one another?
  4. Do you have a plan to go both “deep and wide” in your faith? What does that look like?

Spiritual Gifts

Posted: May 23, 2016 in Basic Training

Gift

Every person in the Body of Christ has been given a spiritual gift in order to build up others.  It is important for each of us to know what our gift is so that we can rightly function as a part of God’s Church.

The Parable of the Spilled Coffee

One day a group of believers were meeting in a home when a woman accidentally dropped her cup, which broke and spilled coffee all over the floor. Each person in the group responded differently to the mishap, according to their spiritual gifts.

The prophet prayed to see what the Lord was doing and rebuke the devil.

The teacher gave some advice.  “Next time if you will put your cup on the coffee table, that won’t happen again.”

The person with the gift of leadership responded by organizing a clean-up committee.

Bill, who had the gift of service, hurried to get the mop.

The person with the gift of exhortation said, “We all make mistakes so don’t let it get you down.”

The person with the gift of mercy put her arm around the woman, patted her hand and said, “I feel so badly for you.”

The person with the gift of giving exclaimed, “I’ll buy a new set of coffee mugs to replace the broken one!”

What is a spiritual gift?

Romans 12:6-8 – The Greek word for gift is “charisma”, which simply means an endowment of grace and empowering given by God for the purpose of building up other believers and producing spiritual fruit for the Kingdom of God.  A spiritual gift is both a motivational factor in a person’s life and a grid through which one perceives the needs around them.

There are 7 spiritual gifts listed in Romans 12:

  1. Prophesy is forthtelling the Word of God. A person with the gift of prophecy will usually have a passion for prayer and intercession (see Jeremiah 27:18).
  2. Service is the modeling of truth. A person with the gift of service will have a passion to meet the practical needs of others.
  3. Teaching is the impartation of truth. A person with the gift of teaching has the passion to impart, interpret and define truth through the Word of God.
  4. Encouragement is the exhorting of others. Often a person with this gift is very black and white in their thinking.  An encourager will both call people to excellence and righteousness as well as comfort and build up others.
  5. Giving is to bless others in practical and tangible ways. A person with the gift of giving has the passion to bless others from the abundance of all they possess.
  6. Leadership is the ability to govern well. A person with the gift of leadership is usually someone who can see the big picture and solve problems.
  7. Mercy is the ability to empathize and sympathize with those who are hurting. A person with the gift of mercy has a compassionate heart toward others.

To discover your spiritual gift determine what motivates you and how you respond to the needs around you.  Ask yourself questions like:  Who do I most relate to in the Parable of the Spilled Coffee? What would be my priority if I was made lead pastor of the church?  When have I been the most fruitful in ministry?

Live inside the circle. Be transformed!

Sample questions:

  1. What is your spiritual gift?
  2. How will you use your gift in the Body of Christ?
  3. How does Satan attack you in the area of your giftedness? How will you combat him?
  4. In the “Parable of the Spilled Coffee”  which person do you most identify with?

Giving

Posted: May 16, 2016 in Basic Training

Giving

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Jim Elliot

 

Giving is a simple act of faith that is to be practiced by all followers of Jesus Christ. Giving is one of the most basic expressions of love (see John 3:16) and is a reflection of the character of God. There are many blessings and promises in the Scriptures associated with giving that are ours as we choose to obey God in how we handle our possessions and finances. We miss out on these blessings when we don’t give, therefore, we need to know what the Bible says about giving!

2 Corinthians 9:6-15 – In this passage we see several important truths about giving:

  • Giving changes us on the inside. When we give, something happens inside of us. We give away our selfishness which results in our flesh diminishing even as our spirit grows stronger. By giving we are imitating Jesus and by doing so we are becoming more and more like Him. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21) This is another example of how God changes our hearts when we change our mind.
  • Giving is a way to acknowledge God’s provision and give thanks. We are not lucky to have what we have, we are blessed by God. Giving simply says “thank you God for providing for me. I acknowledge that all I have is a blessing from You!
  • Giving is an act of faith. The Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God. By acting in obedience to God’s Word I believe by faith that I will reap an eternal  harvest because God is faithful to His promises. God loves faith and giving is an act of faith.

Challenge Accepted!

Malachi 3:6-12 – Here we see God’s command to give the tithe. A tithe simply means a tenth. God challenges us to tithe and then watch and see what He will do. When we tithe God promises to :

  1. Open the floodgates of blessing (v10)
  2. Hold back the devourer (v11)
  3. Preserve what you already have (v11)
  4. Make your land a delightful land (v12)

While tithing is just one example of Biblical giving, this is the only instance in the Bible where God challenges us to put Him to the test.

Romans 12:1 – Just as God gave Himself for us, when we give our lives to Him in worship and make Jesus Christ the Lord of our lives we are positioning ourselves in the center of God’s will and becoming candidates for the supernatural!

Live inside the circle. Be transformed!

Sample questions:

  1. Why is giving an act of faith?
  2. What should be our attitude when we give?
  3. What happens inside of us when we give?
  4. What is a tithe? What does God say He will do if we tithe?

Promises

Posted: May 9, 2016 in Basic Training

One of the best and most straight forward ways to exercise faith is by praying the promises of God. There are more than 3000 promises given in the Bible. Each of these promises are ours to grab hold of by faith through prayer.

Rainbow 2

Yes and Amen!

2 Corinthians 1:20 – All of the promises of God are “yes” in Christ. This means that the basis through which we receive blessings from God has been changed from performance in order to earn those blessings, to the person of Christ who has already earned for us all the blessings of God.

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”

2 Corinthians 1:20

Ephesians 1:3 –  It is important to understand the differences between positional truth and practical truth. This verse says that in Christ we have been given every spiritual blessing. Something may belong to me positionally (in Christ), but I may not experience it practically. This is like having money in a bank account but never spending it. God wants us to experience all that He has graciously blessed us with in Christ.

Faith enables me to experience practically what is mine in Christ positionally. I read God’s promise and say “yes, I believe Your promise”, then I say “amen”, which simply means “let it be so”. By faith I pray into my life that which is mine in Christ according to God’s will.

“The Bible is full of God’s promises to provide for us spiritually and materially, to never forsake us, to give us peace in times of difficult circumstances, to cause all circumstances to work together for our good, and finally to bring us safely home to glory. Not one of those promises is dependent upon our performance. They are all dependent on the grace of God given to us through Jesus Christ.”

Jerry Bridges

The following scripture verses are just a few examples of the many promises God has given us in His Word. We have every spiritual blessing in Christ. God is waiting for us to say “yes” and “amen”!

Mike’s top 10 favorite promises.

1 John 1:9, Philippians 4:19, James 1:5, Philippians 4:6-7, Romans 8:28, Malachi 3:10-12, Isaiah 41:10, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Isaiah 40:29-31, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

Live inside the circle. Be transformed!

Sample questions:

  1. What is the basis through which we can lay hold of the promises of God in the Bible?
  2. What is the difference between positional truth and practical truth?
  3. What is the role of faith in experiencing God’s blessings (give an example of how this works – see Galatians 3:1-5)
  4. Find a promise in the Bible that pertains to a circumstance that you are currently going through. Write it down, memorize it and pray it!

 

Walking in the Spirit

Posted: May 2, 2016 in Basic Training

Street Walking

Do not think of a purple elephant!

We have been forgiven of our sins and set free from the slavery of our sinful nature. It is God’s will that we now live our lives empowered by the Holy Spirit.  The Bible shows us how to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit in a practical way, moment by moment, day by day.

What is sanctification?

Romans 6:13, Romans 12:1 – The first step to walking in the Spirit is sanctification. Simply put, sanctification means that I offer myself to God to be set apart for His exclusive use. Each vessel in  the temple was sanctified. They were created and set apart for one purpose, the worship of God.

Do not think of a purple elephant!

Romans 8:5-6, Galatians 5:16-18 – Walking in the Spirit means choosing to set my mind on what the Spirit desires.  Too often our focus is set on the sins we struggle with and the things we do not want to do.  In these verses God promises that if we set our minds on what the Spirit desires we will not gratify the desires of our sinful nature. Focusing on what I should not do is like the purple elephant. The more I try to not think of the purple elephant the more my mind fixates on it (what are you thinking of right now!). When I repent of sin I turn and move in a new direction focusing on God’s best for my life.

Hebrews 4:12 – A big part of setting my mind on the things of the Spirit is reading and obeying the Word of God. Why?  Because the Spirit has spoken through the Word.  The Lord will never show me something that does not line up with His Word.  He will never lead me in a way which asks me to do something that contradicts His Word.  Therefore I cannot walk in the Spirit without being in the Word.

“My flesh is like a black dog while my spirit is like a white dog. The dog I feed will grow while the other one diminishes.”

Unknown

Romans 8:28, James 1:2-4 – Another key to walking in the Spirit and becoming mature is learning to see God in every circumstance of my life. It’s easy to whine and complain about the circumstances and trials that I face.  Joy comes from looking and seeing God at work in my circumstances and knowing that He will work all things together for good if I love Him. God is active in both our trials and our successes to bring us into a deeper relationship with Himself and to accomplish His good and perfect will.

Live inside the circle. Be transformed!

Sample questions:

  1. What is sanctification? How is it lived out?
  2. Why is the Bible a key element to walking in the Spirit?
  3. What happens when we choose to set our minds on what the scriptures desire? What happens when we don’t?
  4. How can you apply the promises of Romans 8:28 and James 1:2-4 to a situation you are currently facing?

Victory Over Sin

Posted: April 26, 2016 in Basic Training

Breaking Free

Imagine you are back in school and a bully takes your lunch money. You feel helpless because the bully is physically bigger and stronger than you. Flash forward to your 20th high school reunion. You are enjoying the event and connecting with old friends when a voice from the past makes your blood run cold. It’s the bully who took your lunch money and he’s demanding that you give him your wallet! When you turn around to face your nemesis you are stunned to see a man in a wheelchair paralyzed from the neck down. He is yelling at you demanding that you give him your money. What do you do?

How do we experience victory over sin on a daily basis?

The struggle with sin is a reality that every believer comes up against. Jesus has given us everything we need to live a victorious life.

Romans 12:19 – We were all born with a sinful nature. This sin nature is like the schoolyard bully in that it easily controls us and the choices we make. In order that we may experience victory over sin in our lives God not only shed His blood for the forgiveness of our sins, but He dealt a death blow to our sinful nature which produces the sins.

How is this victory possible?

Romans 6:1-7 – We usually think of Jesus’ death as being only substitutional, but this passage says Christ’s death was also inclusive. Each one of us was personally included in Jesus’ death.  Just as I sinned “in Adam” I have died “in Christ”.  Sin has been rendered powerless (v 6).  The illustration given is that of a slave who has died, but the master is still hanging around.  If the slave has died the master no longer owns the slave nor does he have authority over him to rule his life anymore.  The former master is rendered powerless.  Like the bully who is now in a wheelchair, he can make all the demands he wants, but he has lost his power to control! Because I have died I now have the power to choose.

What are my choices?

Romans 6:11-14 – Once I understand that I have been set free from the slavery of sin, I am now free to offer myself to God so that He can use me as an instrument of His righteousness. To be truly free, Jesus must be Lord and Master. I will either offer myself to God or by default I will offer myself to sin to be it’s slave once again.

Galatians 2:19-20God doesn’t want to improve me, He wants to replace me by living His life in me and through me by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Victory over sin is not a question of trying to become a better person, but of yielding my will and my right to rule my own life to God.

Live inside the circle. Be transformed!

Sample questions:

  1. Why do Christians continue to struggle with sin?
  2.  Jesus’ death was both substitutional and inclusive. What is the difference between the two.
  3.  How do you benefit from being included in Jesus’ death?
  4.  How will you practically apply Romans 6:11-14 to your life?

Discipleship

Posted: April 11, 2016 in Basic Training

Did you know that if 1 person were to disciple 1 other person for 1 year, and then each of them were to disciple 1 person the following year, and this continued one year after the next for just 34 years, all 6 billion people on earth would have been discipled? Although this may be an unrealistic goal, it nevertheless demonstrates the power of multiplication that takes place when Christ followers exercise simple faith in obedience to Christ’s commission to go into all the world and make disciples.

Hand Up

What is discipleship?

During the three years of Jesus’ public ministry He invested a significant amount of His time and energy into training twelve men. These 12 “disciples” lived life with Jesus, traveling with Him throughout Israel as He preached and ministered to people.

 

Luke 9:1-27, Luke 10:1-20 –  Discipleship happens through relationship. Instead of a classroom model where just information is disseminated, Jesus chose an apprenticeship model where He not only taught His disciples, but He modeled life and ministry and character day by day in a variety of situations. In these passages Jesus trains and then sends His disciples out to do ministry on their own. When they return He uses both their successes and their failures as opportunities to further hone their ministry skills.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Ephesians 4:11-13, Titus 2:1-8 – Discipleship is intentional. In these passages we see that discipleship is to happen in the home within families and is to be a priority of the church. Personal discipleship should be done man to man and woman to woman. It does not happen by accident.

“Discipleship is about living out of the overflow of God’s love and grace for our lives by pouring into others. It’s life on life, spiritual mentoring that invites someone else to follow Christ with us. Discipleship leverages the power of God working through us to equip others.”

Efrem Smith

Matthew 28:16-20, Acts 1:6-8  – In these passages Jesus gives His disciples the “Great Commission” where He instructs them to go and make disciples of every nation, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything He commanded and taught. Jesus has commissioned us to make disciples in Jerusalem (where I live and work) in Judea (the nearby areas) then Samaria (a nearby area with a different culture) and then to the ends of the earth (those places where they have not yet heard the gospel).

Discipleship begins with one person and goes on to touch the world!

Live inside the circle. Be transformed!

Sample questions:

  1. What does biblical discipleship look like?
  2. What are the benefits of an “apprenticeship” model of teaching as opposed to a “classroom” model?
  3. Are you currently being discipled? What does that look like?
  4. Are you discipling someone? What does that look like?

Lordship

Posted: April 5, 2016 in Basic Training

Money

Imagine someone gives you $100 (thank you very much!). As you enjoy your day strolling down Main Street you may choose to spend your money in all kinds of ways. The various stores and restaurants offer a myriad of opportunities for you to spend your new found wealth. Since it’s your money, how you choose spend or not spend your money is of no consequence to anybody but you!

Now imagine your friend (let’s call him Sam) gives you $100 with express instructions to give it to another one of your friends (we’ll call her Beth) later that day. This time when you stroll down Main Street the way you think about that money in your pocket will be totally different. Even though the stuff in the store windows may look just as enticing, you’re not likely to spend any of the money in your possession for the simple reason that it does not belong to you!

This in essence is what it means when I allow Jesus to become Lord of my life. I relinquish my right to use my life for my own will and purposes. My hands, feet, time, resources are no longer mine to spend as I choose. They now belong to Him.

“The question in salvation is not whether Jesus is Lord, but whether we are submissive to His lordship.”

John MacArthur

Acts 2:36Jesus is Lord. What this means is that Jesus has been given the position of authority to rule all things in heaven and earth. When I make Jesus my Lord I am giving Jesus jurisdiction to exercise this authority in my real-life experience.

Ephesians 1:20-23, Ephesians 1:3In heaven, Jesus reigns both positionally and practically. On earth, there is still a battle for rulership, not positionally, but practically in my real life experience. That’s why it says, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. As people created with free will, God will not impose His rule on our lives without us inviting Him to do so.

Colossians 1:15-18 – In this passage we see that God’s express purpose for all creation is that in everything Jesus would have supremacy. It is God’s will that all creation would submit to His rule and authority.

We can know with absolute assurance that we are in the center of God’s will when we make Jesus Lord of our lives. The $100 representing our life is no longer ours to spend as we choose. It all belongs to Him!

Live inside the circle. Be transformed!

Sample questions:

  1. What does it mean to make Jesus Lord of your life?
  1. What are some areas of your life that need to be surrendered to Christ?
  1. What is the difference between Jesus’ positional rule and His practical rule?
  1. How do we know what God’s will is for our lives?