Sunday, May 09, 2010

Who I Am

This study builds a little on the themes covered in these two studies: The Giver, Or The Gifts? and Blessed Contrasts In Scripture Please read these two studies for more Scripture references on some of these points below.

Many before the time of Christ were waiting for the Messianic kingdom to right the wrongs in this world (grievances, violence, wrong judgment, sin - Hab 1:3-4, 13; 2:2-3). They were looking for a time (ie. an event) when a King would rule over the earth and restore order (in fulfillment of the “vision”, ie. of the Old Testament prophecies) – Jesus directs us to Himself. Hebrews 10:38.

Many of the Jews in the time of Christ were looking for a political and social Messiah. Many rejected Christ because when He came the first time, He was not here to right all the political or social wrongs, but to deal with our sins. He did not come as “King” (though He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, and will come back one day to reign), but as Saviour.

Some followed Jesus for the wrong reason – because He did a miracle that provided for their needs. John 6:24-26.

They sought to make Jesus king – by force, seizing Him by violence! John 6:14-15.

When He was betrayed by Judas and surrounded by the armed guards in the Garden of Gethsemane, He refused to fight back, but gave Himself up to them. John 18:3-9, 12.

When speaking to Pilate, He stated His kingdom was not yet of this world; therefore His followers would not fight back with physical weapons. John 18:33-36.

40 days after Jesus arose, just before He ascended to Heaven, His disciples asked Him a question about His coming kingdom: Acts 1:6-7. Jesus changed their focus, then the angels pointed to His return, not just to His kingdom – ie. pointed to Him. Verses 9-11.

The Samaritan woman was waiting for the Messiah to reveal all things. Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah.” John 4:25-26.

Martha was waiting for a coming day, an event (ie. the future day of resurrection) - Jesus redirected her to a person, Himself. I Am the Resurrection and the Life. John 11:23-26.

The end of all arguments – whatever is going on in the world or in the lives of His people, God declares:
I am the LORD (or the Lord GOD - 164 times)
I am God (9 times)
I Am, and there is no other god (or saviour) beside Me (Deut 4:35, 39; 1 Sam 2:2; 2 Sam 7:22; 1 Kings 8:60; 1 Chron 17:20; Is 43:10-12; 44:6-8; 45:5-6, 18, 21-22; 46:9; Hosea 13:4; Joel 2:27)

Many in the world are running around looking for each of these things – even God’s people – but what we need more than provision, more than something to happen – what we need is Jesus Himself!

When we need (spiritual) light - He is our Light. He is Light. Psalm 27:1; 1 John 1:5.
When in need of strength - He is our strength. Psalm 28:7.
When we need wisdom - He is our wisdom. 1 Corinthians 1:30.
When we need understanding - He is understanding. Proverbs 8:14.
When we need mercy and grace - He is merciful and gracious; that is His name (in the Bible, a name represents who someone is, their character). Exodus 33:19; 34:5-7.
When we need peace with God, peace of mind, peace with man - He is our peace. Ephesians 2:14.
When we are hopeless - He is our hope. 1 Timothy 1:1.
When we have no purpose or reason for living - He is our life. Colossians 3:4.
When we are scrambling, seeking the truth - the truth is in Jesus. He is the Truth. Ephesians 4:21; John 14:6.
When we are desperately seeking for someone to love us, He not only provides love - He is Love. 1 John 4:8, 16.
When we are looking for safety, security, shelter from the storms of life – He is our shield. Genesis 17:1.
When we are looking for something lasting in life, something to carry on from generation to generation – He is our inheritance. Numbers 18:20.
When we are looking for a way to be right with God, not only does the Lord provide righteousness - He is our righteousness. Jeremiah 23:6.
When looking for salvation, Jesus not only provides salvation – He is our salvation. Psalm 35:3.
Not only does Jesus save – He is our Saviour, and it is to be Him we are looking for – not just some future day or some kingdom, some future event – Jesus Himself! Titus 2:13; 2 Timothy 4:8.

What is our focus? Even as believers, are we seeking the Lord Jesus Christ for what He can do for us (and yes, we should be seeking Him for every need we have) – OR for who He is? Seeking for something we need, for something to happen - OR for Jesus Himself?

May 9th/2010
Jerry Bouey

P.S. I didn't know which blog to post this in - on this study blog or on my sermon outline blog (A Shadow Of Things To Come). It fits both, as it is basically self-contained notes. This is part of the series I have been preaching on the I Ams of Jesus, and some of the thoughts that came out of it. I think the message was received pretty well today. It certainly gave some food for thought, and was a blessing to study out and preach. I hope it is also a blessing to you.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Giver, Or The Gifts?

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
and cometh down from the Father of lights,
with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

James 1:17

Are you at life's peak, in perfect health and blessedness,
Is your life filled with abundance, wealth, and happiness,
Do you have everything you've ever wanted, almost utmost bliss,
Then I ask you, where's your faith -
In the Giver, or the gifts?

So many times we gauge our life by our position, our possessions, or our prosperity.
But what about our walk with the Lord?
Are we looking to the Giver, or the gifts?

When the nation Israel become prosperous, they took their eyes off of the Lord. Their faith was in the gifts, not the Giver. This brought them only heartache and grief. (See Deuteronomy 8) God tested the Israelites to see where their faith was, in God's Word (the Giver) or their prosperity (the gifts). Sometimes He lets His children have what they desire, but sends leanness into their souls, because they choose their desires over the Lord. (Psalm 106:15)

If the Lord took away your health, your wealth, and your physical prosperity,
where would your faith be -
In the Giver, or the gifts?

Are you blessed with all the friends that you could ever wish,
Do you have joy unending in your family relationships,
Or are you alone, abandoned, with those friends so sorely missed,
Oh where do you look for comfort -
In the Giver, or the gifts?

So many times in life we are satisfied by our earthly relationships, and we tend to neglect God. Instead of Jesus having the preeminence in our lives, He often takes second place. We are looking to our family, our friends, and our acquaintances (the gifts) to meet all our needs, to give us a sense of belonging, to let us know that we are loved, and we neglect the Lord (the Giver), except when we want something or face a crisis.

We neglect to maintain our fellowship with the Lord, and then when family or friends reject us, we cry out to God and blame Him, though He was always there. His love always remains constant and He doesn't change. We do. We walk by sight and look to the gifts, not the Giver - which we must look to in faith. Many times we use our loneliness as an excuse to go our own way, to walk in sin, to find comfort from worldly pleasures.

Yet we often forget that, in the Bible, many of God's children were abandoned, rejected, forsaken by men, but the Lord never deserted them!

We see David encouraging himself in God (1 Samuel 30:6), Jesus rejoicing that His Heavenly Father was always with Him (John 16:32), and the Apostle Paul proclaiming the Lord's faithfulness to stand by His servants when all others have turned away (2 Timothy 4:17). These men of God (and many other men and women of God throughout the Bible and throughout history) looked to the Lord for their comfort and solace. They maintained their relationship with the Lord (the Giver), so that when their other relationships (the gifts) failed, they had Something (Someone) Eternal to rely on.

They relied on the Giver, not the gifts.

Many times we look to the things of this world (the gifts) to give us satisfaction, to give us peace, to give us contentment, and we neglect to look to the Lord Jesus Christ (the Giver), who alone can give us true satisfaction, give us His perfect peace (John 14:27, and Isaiah 26:3), and to give us lasting contentment in Him.

Are you looking to the Giver, or the gifts for your real needs in life? The things of this world are only temporary, the things of Heaven are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Where are you looking for fulfillment in your life -
In the Giver, or the gifts?

My friend, who are you relying on -
The Giver, or the gifts?

Where does your strength come from -
The Giver, or the gifts?

Where do you look to for peace and happiness -
The Giver, or the gifts?

Where's your faith in times of trials and distress -
The Giver, or the gifts?

April 28, 2001
Jerry Bouey

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Continue

When we look through the New Testament, we find the concept of continuing in Christ and the things of God a repeating theme. It is interesting to note that there are twenty one different Greek words that are translated into English as continue (or a form thereof). Eight of these words are relevant to this study, so I wanted to take a look at them here.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary gives this definition for continue: “1. To remain in a state, or place; to abide for any time indefinitely. 2. To last; to be durable; to endure; to be permanent. 3. To persevere; to be steadfast or constant in any course.”

For the purpose of this study, I will list the numbers and definitions that Strong's Concordance gives for each Greek word, followed by the main verses or passages relevant to this study that use that particular Greek word. Consider each definition as you meditate on these passages.

1) 3887 parameno - from 3844 and 3306; to stay near, i.e. remain (literally, tarry; or figuratively, be permanent, persevere):--abide, continue.

James 1:22-25 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

How does a true believer keep his life clean? By tarrying near the Word of God like a man peering intently into a mirror, letting the Word reveal areas where Biblical principles need to be applied - revealing areas where his conduct, words, and thought life need to be corrected - then continually sticking by the mirror of the Word and letting its living power transform his life.

2) 3306 meno - a primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy):--abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), X thine own.

John 8:31-32 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

If you want to be Jesus' disciple and have victory over sin in your life, remain in the Word of God.

John 15:9-10 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.

Stay in God's love - don't let this world or your flesh move you from walking daily with the Lord and keeping His commandments. If you want close fellowship with Him and His blessing upon your life, continue in His love.

1 Timothy 2:15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

2 Timothy 3:14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

Stick with what the Lord has already taught you from His Word - remain there; stand and don't be moved.

Hebrews 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

1 John 2:24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.

The proof is in the pudding. Apostates will cast off true Biblical faith when it is no longer convenient for them, but true believers will always continue believing in the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Father.

3) 4342 proskartereo - from 4314 and 2594; to be earnest towards, i.e. (to a thing) to persevere, be constantly diligent, or (in a place) to attend assiduously all the exercises, or (to a person) to adhere closely to (as a servitor):

Acts 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

The early church was fervent in seeking the Lord in prayer, for themselves and for others.

Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

These Christians persevered in Bible doctrine, in fellowship with one another and in communion with their Lord. They certainly are our example to follow!

Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

Acts 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

Romans 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

Colossians 4:2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

Over and over again, the New Testament teaches the importance of prayer and how these early believers continued in it. Are we continuing in prayer today - being diligent in it, or are we growing listless and careless in our petitions for those around us?

4) 4357 prosmeno - from 4314 and 3306; to stay further, i.e. remain in a place, with a person; figuratively, to adhere to, persevere in:--abide still, be with, cleave unto, continue in (with).

1 Timothy 5:5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.

5) 1961 epimeno - from 1909 and 3306; to stay over, i.e. remain (figuratively, persevere):--abide (in), continue (in), tarry.

Acts 13:43 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

We are not just to start in God's grace - we are to remain in it, to tarry there! This is what the book of Galatians is all about. Too often a believer gets saved by grace, but then tries to live the Christian life in his own strength and power after that point in time. God's grace is His power given to us to enable us to live a life that is pleasing to Him (see Titus 2:11-12). I love Strong's definition for this word: "Graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude)."

Romans 11:22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

Colossians 1:20-23 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

1 Timothy 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

6) 1696 emmeno - from 1722 and 3306; to stay in the same place, i.e. (figuratively) persevere:--continue.

Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

The term "the faith" is referring to the fundamentals of the faith, the body of doctrine by which someone must hold to be saved. A person may be confused on some doctrine - but they cannot knowingly reject the fundamentals of the faith and be saved. Jude exhorts us to "earnestly contend for the faith" (see verse 3 of this short book). There are a lot of "professing" believers out there who teach you can be a "Christian" and reject the fundamentals of the faith (for example, the deity of Christ, His finished work of redemption upon the cross, or His literal, physical resurrection) and still know the Lord, still be His child, still be saved. They are fooling themselves! When a person casts off the faith, they prove they were never saved to begin with - no matter what they may think or what experience they may have had.

A true child of God will persevere in the faith and stay there, in that exact place - nothing and no one will be able to move them from the truth.

7) 5281 hupomone - from 5278; cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy:--enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting).

Romans 2:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

In accordance with the Biblical principle of reaping what you sow (see Galatians 6:7-9), a believer will be rewarded by the Lord Jesus Christ for continuing in well doing, in persevering in their service to the Lord, even when times get rough or it seems there may never be lasting fruit from their efforts. Our labour is not in vain because God will keep His Word (see 1 Corinthians 15:58).

8) 1275 diapantos - from 1223 and the genitive case of 3956; through all time, i.e. (adverbially) constantly:--alway(-s), continually.

Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

If you have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation, you are His child forever - and it is only fitting that we praise Him all the time - yea, even forever for all He has done for us, in us, and through us for His glory!

Preached February 28th/2010
Written May 6th/2010
Jerry Bouey