csibiblestudy


My Hope
July 29, 2018, 2:21 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

“For thou art my hope, O Lord God: thou art my trust from my youth.” (Psalm 71:5)

As I drove past a small church, I noticed their sign.  On it was a short message – hope is trusting things unseen.  I thought, great thought but as I drove it was like the Holy Spirit was causing me to re-think the statement.  As I pondered the words, I realized they were insufficient as a definition and explanation for hope.  My problem wasn’t with trusting or unseen, but with THINGS!  So I thought about improving the definition.  Things was such a generalization.  What about trusting the wind?  The wind is unseen although it’s results aren’t.  Maybe on a hot day, I could trust a gentle breeze to bring relief, but the wind associated with a storm or hurricane produces no hope, only horror at the devastation it produces.  So hope isn’t trusting everything unseen.  I need something or someone who has characteristics that give meaning to my hope.  Biblically, hope seems to be based in something or someone that always comes through for you.  God directed me to Psalm 71.  The writer is an older man, like me, who is reflecting back on his life.  Life, being life, is full of events, circumstances, and incidents which at time are blessings mixed with tragedies.  There are great times of success as well as the times of crushing defeats.  Does that describe your life.  All of these were at one time unseen, but collectively don’t provide the basis for trust.

Look at the verse, the psalmist directs his words and focus to God.  Remember, this is an older person, reviewing his life.  The one thing or person he can always trust in any and all situations is God.  He comes through.  The writer relays this insight; “thou art my trust FROM MY YOUTH.”  Throughout the stages of life the one certainty, and the only certainty was, is, and always will be God.  Can’t you see the assurance the psalmist has in God that is not learned in a classroom or from a sermon.  This assurance comes from a daily relationship with God.  I find Him trustworthy and consistent to His revealed character.  I find Him present in both blessings and storms.  And even when I can’t see the “why” through walking with God, I have learned to trust Him regardless of whether He helps me understand.  As an older person, I can shout AMEN to “You are my hope, LORD GOD”.  My hope is in Christ alone!  You?

Jesus, my strength when I am weak

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Relentless Pursuit
July 28, 2018, 5:01 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

As a young man, I often played in sports competition so many of my illustrations come from that background. In so many athletic endeavors, there is a finishing point. Imagine a close contest and the finishing line, the goal line, home plate is in sight and you are striving with all that is within you to reach that goal. All energy and attention is directed toward one goal. Paul shares with us his relentless pursuit of the goal and prize of Christianity, living life in the supernatural presence of the resurrection Lord God Jesus the Christ. Every ounce of energy, every thought, every emotion is directed in pursuing the place in the plan of the Lord God Jesus the Christ. We have the freedom to live life in the way God intended as we follow the Lord God Jesus the Christ. Make this your pursuit today!



A Short Lesson about Spiritual Gifts
July 22, 2018, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

Paul taught, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us… let [us] use [them] in proportion to [our] faith,” Romans 12:6.

The spiritual gifts are found in three separate passages in the New Testament:  Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12–14; Ephesians 4

According to 1 Corinthians 12:6, God the Father pours in the power, Jesus the Son assigns the ministry, and God the Holy Spirit gives out the gifts as He deems necessary for the proper functioning of the church body.

The gifts organized:

Gifts used primarily for the establishment of churches

  • Establishing Gifts (Ephesians 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:29):
    1. Apostles, (no longer needed)         2.  Prophets, (no longer needed)
    2. Evangelists (missionaries)              4.  Pastor-Teachers.

These gifts are used in the organizing and leading of the church as the people are equipped for the work of the ministry.

  • Supporting Gifts (Romans 12:6-8):
    1. Prophecy                                           6. Service,
    2. Teaching,                                           8. Encouragement,
    3. Giving,                                              10. Administration/Leadership,
    4. Mercy.

Gifts used as the tools to enable the ongoing ministry of the church today.

  • Ministry Gifts (1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 27-31):
    1. Wisdom,                                         13. Knowledge,
    2. Faith,                                                15. Healing,
    3. Miracles,                                         17. Prophecy,
    4. Helps,                                              19. Administration,
    5. Leadership,                                    21. Distinguishing Spirits,
    6. Speaking in Tongues,                  23. Interpreting Tongues.

If you are not allowing the Holy Spirit to work through your spiritual gift, you are causing the church to be impotent in carrying out its ministry.

Identifying and Using Your Spiritual Gifts:

  1. A spiritual gift is a God-given ability, distributed to individual Christians by the Holy Spirit that allows him/or her to work through their lives to help the church execute its mission on earth.
  2. Natural talents are physical abilities to do special things. Some natural talents might be musical ability, carpentry, mechanical aptitude, and artistic skills. Spiritual gifts are spiritual abilities to do certain things. Natural talents are often the vehicle through which spiritual gifts can be used.
  3. A spiritual gift is not the best indicator of Christian growth and maturity for a Christian. The best indicator of Christian maturity is the evidence of the Fruit of the Spirit in a believer’s life.
  4. Every believer has at least one spiritual gift.
  5. Spiritual gifts are given to believers when they are saved.
  6. Your prayers, faith, or life will not bring better spiritual gifts because God determines what gift you are given and remember it is a gift and therefore not earned.
  7. Spiritual gifts mature and develop over time and through use to their full effectiveness.
  8. While there are specific gifts or specific enablement for things necessary for the church, there are duties all Christians should have, regardless of their spiritual gift. For example, the gift of evangelism is a specific gift, but all Christians are to share the gospel. There is the gift of mercy, but all Christians are to be merciful.
  9. Spiritual gifts can be lost if we neglect them.
  10. Some spiritual gifts may be more beneficial to more people but since, some spiritual gifts are no longer needed, but no one should become proud because of their gift.
  11. Spiritual gifts can be misused.

5 Questions to Help You Identify Your Spiritual Gifts

  1. As I study how gifts operate in the Bible, do any resonate in my soul?
  2. What do I enjoy doing?
  3. What is the holy spirit telling me?
  4. What ministry in my life is God blessing?
  5. What gifts do others see operating in me?

As we are engaging in Christian service in obedience, others may see a gift in us long before we ourselves are aware of it. Occasionally, others recognize that we don’t possess a gift we think we have.



The Light
July 20, 2018, 1:06 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,
John the Apostle wrote to the early church “but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)  From this one verse, we discover one condition and two results.  
First the one condition- if we walk (or live) in the light that is Jesus.  We need to make sure that we don’t misunderstand what is being said.  John is explaining that since by God’s grace we have been placed in fellowship of light with Jesus from out of the darkness that characterizes our life before salvation- the darkness of sin.  John is not telling us that we have to stay in the light by our choices but that because of God’s grace we have the opportunity to walk in His light.  By faith I received that gift of grace and found myself aware of the reality and existence of God who reveals His way in His Word and illuminates my understanding of His light by the work of the Holy Spirit within me.
As a result of God in me, there are two dramatic results.  First, we fellowship with others who walk in the light that is Jesus.  Because God knows we struggle on our own, we have the wonderful fellowship that He provides with others who are taking the journey of Light in following Him.  Those believers or “light walkers” see life totally different than the culture we are in.  Each of us lifts the others and we find encouragement in our brothers and sisters as we follow Christ.  Second, we are cleansed from the stain of all sin.  Please remember that our new nature is not stained by sin.  God removes all sin from us and even eliminates the power that sin once had upon us.  I still struggle with sin and at times fail to follow Christ in the light.  However, my new life in Christ should never be characterized by a constant walk in darkness.  In my deepest struggle with my sin nature, I will never been separated from the light.  Jesus transformed me from being permanently in deep darkness to being eternally in the light of the powerful presence of God.  The proof of my salvation is walking in the light because a new life is indicated.  
 
By faith, we accept the grace and love of Jesus and turn from darkness to Him, the true and living Light. We follow Him, staying in His light. We become a part of His family and enjoy sharing His light with other followers and as we follow Him, we stay away from sin’s stain. What an amazing God we serve and love!


No Longer Fearful
July 19, 2018, 1:29 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)

In looking at the above verse, these things are among the most obvious observations.  There are two mandates- Don’t fear anything and don’t be afraid.  There are five reasons for us to believe the two mandates- I (God) am with you, I (God) am your God, I (God) will strengthen you, I (God) will help you, I (God) will take hold of you with My righteous (victorious, saving, powerful, just) right hand.  Now we are faced with one choice- Trust God to do what He states He will do or live fearfully because we face overwhelming circumstances each day.

Seems pretty simple doesn’t it.   Yet each year research is done to find out what Americans fear.   A recent survey, called the Chapman University Survey of American Fears given in 2017 looked at eighty fears Americans have.  This survey which claimed to “provide an in-depth examination into the fears of average Americans” is based on the responses of 1.207 Americans. From this survey, the assertion that Americans’ top ten fears are: (1) corrupt government officials, (2) healthcare issues, (3) pollution of oceans, rivers, and lakes, (4) pollution of drinking water, (5)  not having enough money for the future, (6) high medical bills, (7) U.S. involvement in another World War, (8) Global Warming and Climate Change, (9) North Korea using nuclear weapons, and (10) air pollution.  Of the eighty items on the lists, some were personal like death, sickness, unemployment, lost of personal data, tragedies and some where national.  Fear of public speaking, flying, and the sight of blood were included as well as the fear of zombies, ghosts, and clowns.  I don’t know if you noticed, but isn’t it interesting that the top ten reflected the majority of news stories in American media?  It seems like the impact of the news media is very strong in the American culture.   Maybe a real fear should be the impact of the news media upon the every day lives of Americans.

I think this highlights a major concern for Christians in several regards.  First, on a personal level, what are my fears.  To be honest, the fear of clowns is not a major fear of mine.  I don’t know that pollution and global warming would be high on my list either.  My fears tend to be more personal and relate to my life.  Most deal with the fear of future events that may or may not happen.  I wonder how many of my fears are “what if” fears.

Second, I noticed that the list of fears weren’t fear about what happens after death.  We are so focused on the limited and temporary time spent on earth that we fail to consider the unrestricted and eternal “time” that will be spent in eternity.  Yet, we the life which we exist upon this earth is described as a mist of steam that almost before you notice it, is gone.

Third, I noticed how much we concern ourselves with is material things.  Spiritual concerns are rarely things upon which we think yet that is the realm upon which God places emphasis.  We rarely give ourselves over to focusing on the things which matter most to God because we are so consumed with things that are sometimes ridiculous.  One such “fear” on the list was the fear of what people are saying about you.

So what are things we should fear?  According to the verse in Isaiah, nothing.  It is interesting to note that Isaiah is a prophetic book, written to Israel about judgment and exile to come upon them.  Israel failed to listen to God and as a result, faced judgment that would alter the nation.  But even in the midst of this, God wanted Israel to trust Him completely and to ignore the pursuit of the things associated with this life.  As the church, let us decide to set our affection upon God and the things of God.  Taking control of my life and surrendering it to God acknowledges that He is worthy of my complete and unreserved trust.  That should be the practice of those living with no fear.

Just wanted to get you to thinking about living without fear!  Blessings!

ER

 

 



Silence!
July 14, 2018, 11:53 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

Imagine your first appearance before the Lord!  He will embrace you, if you’re like me, you’ll become overwhelmed by the thought that the God of the Universe just hugged me like I am family, and the tears start flowing as you drop to your knees and hug the feet of your God, your Savior, your Lord, your All.  I can see Him, perhaps with a smile upon His face as He lifts your head and tells you to get up because He has much to show you.  At some point, as you know, you will have a heart to heart with the Lord, as He reviews with you your walk of faith.  I’m not sure what all will be said, but what if Jesus asks you. “Well, Ed, how did you like the spiritual gift I gave to you?”

So the point of the blog- spiritual gifts.  What in the world is a “spiritual gift”? By “country boy definition”, a spiritual gift is some ability that we receive at salvation from the Holy Spirit.  It enable us to go beyond our ordinary ability in serving God as we follow Him to fulfill His ultimate plan.  A spiritual gift is something which you do and are surprised that you can do it.

So, what is your spiritual gift?  Would it be that you were called to speak before a group and although you were afraid, you did it and everybody told you how good it was.  Or maybe you were in a situation and somebody asked you to lead singing and you found out you could sing.  Maybe it was a positive attitude in a time of trials.  Perhaps you lead a group to accomplish a goal.

To answer the question, “what is your spiritual gift” you need to start in the Bible.  There are three places to look for “lists” of spiritual gifts: Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 28-30; and Ephesians 4:7-12.  Take the time to read the passages and then ask God for wisdom so you can discern your gift.  Or maybe gifts.  Remember, every Christian has at least one spiritual gift so don’t think you don’t have one!  As a believer, God saved you so you could go into the world, allowing the Holy Spirit to minister through you!

Okay, you have your homework.  Get busy and discover your spiritual gift!



Walking Like Our Father (1 John 2:1-14)
June 23, 2018, 1:36 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book
Walking Like our Father (1st John 2:1-14)
“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men,
because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you,
And you have overcome the wicked one.”
 
My son has three sons, in whom I see so much of their father at their age. Except for the time my son is working, he wears a baseball cap. He has always loved to wear caps; I do as well. But my son has a unique way of wearing his cap and each of his sons copy his style when they wear their caps. Baseball caps have a flat bill and my son leaves it flat. There used to be a style associated with shaping the bill of a cap with just the right curve, but my son leaves his bill flat. So, do each of his sons. It is normal for children to copy their parents, so when John writes to his “little children” he is trying to get them to focus on being like and walking like our Father. Our Father doesn’t sin, so John writes don’t sin and break God’s law. He wants us to copy our Father in how we live in this world.
But notice that John, after his plea not to sin, also wants to encourage those who fail at attempting to walk like our Father. If we sin, we have an Advocate with the Father. An advocate is one who stands up for me and intercedes when I fail. His name is Jesus Christ, the One Son of God who always conforms to the Father’s will in everything and in every way. Jesus, my lawyer, pleads with God to hold back the punishment and judgment that should come my way. Jesus does this because He is the Propitiation for my sins because He is the atoning sacrifice that satisfies the wrath of God that should be directed at me because of our sinful nature, our worldliness, our lifestyle, our choice to sin rather than to obey.
John doesn’t stop the plea to walk like the Father at this point. Please don’t take this to mean “walk like your Father but you won’t so God provided a payment to take pay for failure. John tells us to walk like our Father and at those time when we fail, don’t give up because God, our Father, took the responsibility to take care of that failure. John encourages us to examine our walk to see if we truly have a relationship with God as our Father. So, how do you know if your relationship with God exists? What is the guiding principle for how you live? John tells us that we keep His commandments which according to the language used means that we habitually focus on God’s standards and obeys them as a habit in life. If I have a relationship with God, I need to walk by His standards and live and conduct myself the way He walked and conducted Himself while on earth. John tells us that we can walk like Jesus walked by doing one simple thing, live like Jesus lived in loving others. Jesus always put the needs of others before His needs. He was God, left the beauty of Heaven to live on sin-cursed earth, walked away from the constant praise of angels into an earth filled with hatred and rejection because He put my need of salvation first. I understand that God was doing what He planned and that the act of redemption demonstrated the amazing God He was, is today, and forever will be. John is telling us that God made living for Him simple. We are enabled the indwelling Holy Spirit to do God’s will and all that we must do is live by two simple standards. Love Jesus so much that you always strive to do what makes Him happy in everything and love others so much that you always put them before you. A true relationship with God will be seen in this attitude. But because I have a sinful heart, I might fail and do something selfish and self-centered. God has a plan to deal with that. Admit the failure, let God deal with it, and go back to loving Him in all you do, and loving others more than you love yourself. John calls a life lived this way a victorious life.