csibiblestudy


What Love Looks Like
May 28, 2017, 5:18 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10. Love’s definition and example is found in God sending His Son to become the atoning sacrifice for all our sins.

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The Value of Grace!
May 22, 2017, 5:32 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

In the final verse of Colossians 4, Paul writes “The salutation by the hand of me, Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.” To Paul, grace was a serious issue, not to be ignored by Christians. As a former Pharisee, Paul knew what a life built on a graceless foundation looked like. His judgmental attitude led to a crusade on Christians. His pharisaical worldview didn’t contain the word “grace” and so he interpreted the acts of grace as signs of weakness, rebellion, and denial of the truth of God’s Word. Paul, in his desire to do the right thing for God, ordered Christians imprisoned or put to death because it was what the Pharisee version of justice demanded.
As we begin to read verse 7 to verse 18, names of individuals and groups of believers at specific cities and regions are mentioned. Each has a special story and a unique journey to and in the Lord. But I want to focus on two. Although vastly different in many ways, these two men shared a common bond; they both had failed. First is Onesimus, a slave returning home after running away. From what we learn, Onesimus was a slave belonging to a wealthy Christian named Philemon. Some think Onesimus may have stolen from Philemon, but one thing is certain: Onesimus ran away to Rome. While in Rome, he was placed into the same prison as Paul and evidently when hearing the Gospel, Onesimus became a changed man. He changed from a worthless slave to a man of whom Paul praised for his value.
The second man is Marcus, or John Mark. Known more today for the second gospel, Mark had originally been introduced as a member of Pau’s first missionary trip. Likely Mark had been included more as a favor to Barnabas on the first trip than for the value he added to the missionary team. Something went wrong, and Mark quit during the trip. While no reason is given for Mark’s departure, Paul’s reaction when Barnabas suggested Mark for the second journey indicates that Paul though Mark was a quitter who had abandoned them. So, whereas Onesimus was a lost slave who was transformed by salvation, most likely John Mark was a believer who failed.
Yet we read both names here included along the list of Paul’s choice helpers. While we know that God transformed the two failures, we also see how God had changed Paul. So many times, when others fail, we’re done with them! No second chance, not an ounce of grace can be found. This is especially true if we have been affected by the failure.
But look at what was true. Paul rejoiced to see the change that had occurred in Onesimus as well as what had happened to Mark. But maybe the biggest celebration was over the change that had occurred in Paul’s heart.
The penalty for a runaway slave was death, let when we read Philemon, we see Paul putting himself as the “spiritual dad” of Philemon. He even took the responsibility for the money owed by Onesimus to Philemon. Let you never read of a lecture Paul gave to Onesimus and a list of what would happen if he blew this.
Mark was not limited by restrictions on how he could serve God. Paul isn’t in judgmental court, passing sentences on Mark. He welcomed Mark as a servant of God and used him.
That’s because of GRACE. Believers are being in Christ and because of that, the failures had been removed as far as the east is from the west- an act of grace. John Mark and Onesimus were involved in serving God in ministry- an act of grace. There is therefore NOW NO CONDEMNATION to them that are in Christ Jesus- an act of grace. So, Paul could forgive Mark- an act of grace, and then have the freedom to ask Philemon to forgive Onesimus- an act of grace. Philemon is thought to have hosted the Colossian church, so the entire body of believers knew of Onesimus’ failure, and yet Paul was sending him back and seeking the church to forgive and forget- an act of grace. Remember how Paul ends this letter? “Grace be with you. Amen”
Is grace with you? Doesn’t it make sense that if it is, then grace is shown? The showing of grace to those who honestly don’t deserve it is exactly what grace is. If it is deserved, then it is not grace. Showing grace is one way to love others. Today, what one person in your life is the most undeserving of forgiveness? – is grace with you? Show that person grace, God’s grace. Remember the Lord’s discussion with the woman at the well. Jesus has the conversation with her at the sixth hour, or about noon. The woman would have to descend about 100 feet in the well to get water and then carry it back up, with the large jug balancing on her head. Why was she there, in a hot part of the day, alone? Many think she an outcast, rejected by the women of the city because of her relationships with five men or husbands. No wonder she is startled that a Jewish “religious” person would talk to her. Yet Jesus shows grace! He wasn’t assuming what she was or what was true,



A Psalm That Doesn’t Give Hope (Psalm 88)
May 20, 2017, 4:13 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

The fear that I had made a horrible life changing mistake gripped my heart, leaving a sense of hopelessness. The panic grew more intense and the failure seemed more final. My comfort zone had evaporated and my friends vanished like an early morning fog. I blew it and I would live with the consequences for the rest of my life in loneliness and utter despair.
Most of us probably have experienced this feeling. A new job with so much promise turns into a bust when the company is bought out. A friend or someone like family turned on us, throwing us under the bus as an act of self-promotion. A relationship that falls apart, a loved one who dies or maybe we experience a time in life were we doubt everything. A new friend turns all my friends against me. So, as a child of God, where do we turn for encouragement. If you’re like me, we turn to God. We open our Bible, seeking for comfort and support from the Almighty. His revelation is our strength. Many of us turn to the Psalms. In some of the Psalms, we can read of someone who in the midst of a difficult and trying situation turns their attention to God who delivers from the “pit of despair”. Except for Psalm 88. The Psalm starts and ends the same way, with the writer in despair. Most scholars place this lament as a single example of a Psalm that doesn’t end on a happy note. There seems to be no rescue. So what can we learn from this passage.
First, why is the writer in this place? Considering that the writer was a “holy man” inspired by the Holy Spirit, we are reading the writings of a believer.
Second, what led to this depth of gloom and loneliness? For a person who trusts in the Lord, the answers can be an attack by our enemy, a life lived as if God doesn’t exist so we are trying to live by our own strength, or a life of open rebellion and sin.. The author places the blame on God so Satan is not the cause, and trying to live in our strength is also eliminated. When we sin as a habitually thing, our despair and loneliness comes from being out of fellowship with God. Sin separates. We also see the author lists cause and effect brought about by a life filled with sin. The writer has lost everything, so where can he or she turn?
That brings us to the third point, the focus. Notice what the writer knows about God. He is my salvation, He hears my prayer, He works miracles or wonders, He shows lovingkindness and faithfulness, and God is righteous.
But the Psalmist also reveals that God is just. Sin’s consequence separates us from God. If and when God is separated from us, joy departs. If God is away, hope is gone. If embracing sin replaces embracing God, then loneliness and despair grows as the void left by God separating from being near us is filled with everything that God isn’t. We have no reason to rejoice at the end because nothing has changed.
I believe that his chapter is a picture of what happens when we refuse to repent and continue on in our rebellion. Joy vanishes, comfort flees, peace disappears.  But remember, this is the view of the psalmist, the rebel.  But what is the TRUTH?
God never leaves!  He is like the prodigal son’s father, waiting for the sinning son to come home. He rushes to protect the son from those who will destroy the wounded child, near destruction by sin’s consequences. But our Father also waits with GRACE. Wrapping GRACE around us, God doesn’t make us earn our place back, He restores back to where we were. Everything the son lost by sin, the father gave back. There is no lasting prohibition placed by the father, no conditions that have to be met. There is only GRACE. The son was altered by the experience. More humble, more thankful, and more loving of the father. Rebel, come home to the Father. Staying where you are deepens the scars of the experience. God is really for you to come home.