Monday, August 20, 2012

Digging Deeper Proverbs 1:1-2

Digging Deeper 29 Proverbs 1:1-2
        Warning! The world is full of temptation and really there is only way to overcome the temptation to follow the world’s plan and that is to be prepared. Wisdom is paramount in our walk with God. As we start this study of Proverbs we are reminded at the very beginning the importance of knowing. The statement “what we don’t know can’t hurt us” is so very wrong. The easy path or maybe I should say the path most taken by Christians is to stay ignorant somehow in the back of our minds thinking that if we don’t know then we are less accountable. Even in church culture today and really for sometime there has been a dumbing down of the Christian walk. Say your prayers, and go to church then all is well. I certainly do not want to take anything away from these things, they are very important to the growth of the believer but there is so much more. How do we know what to do, who to marry, what job to take, how to raise kids, how to be a leader in the church, how should we take care of our physical bodies, what’s important, what is not. How do we react when we have been done wrong, what do we do if we have wronged someone as you can see the list goes on and on. Everything we need to know is found in God’s wisdom, don’t stop learning it! We must keep seeking the wisdom of God. It is a wonderful thing to know that God has saved us from our sin and we have eternal life but there is so much more He has for us that we may enjoy the fullness of His love and live in His peace. Let’s dig a little deeper that we can experience the wisdom that God desperately wants us to have.
        James 1:5 But if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach and it will be given to him.
Proverbs 1:1-2 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding,
        Solomon begins Proverbs with an explanation of the purpose. The purposes of these words are to have wisdom and instruction. Wisdom “chokmah” is a general term meaning intelligence, experience and judgment. Instruction “muwcar” which means correction, discipline and self-control these two words tell us the intent of the Proverbs. The second phrase in verse 2 To discern the sayings of understanding Proverbs 1:2b this phrase reveals the purpose of the wisdom and instruction. God does not only extend to us wisdom and instruction but he does so that we can understand. Without the wisdom that God gives us through His Spirit there can be no understanding. Solomon proclaims that these proverbs, which are inspired by God is that we can receive the wisdom and instruction to understand the precepts of God. In the next few verses Solomon will point out some of the things specifically that we can understand but for now let us simply know that God does intend for us to understand and have direction in our lives. The Bible is not a giant riddle for us to try and figure out. God speaks through His word that we may know His wisdom and it starts when our heart is in position to receive it.
        As we start this journey through Proverbs let’s do it with an open heart of understanding knowing that God does not speak to us in riddles but rather speaks to our heart through His Holy Spirit.
        Which things we also speak, not in the words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 1 Corinthians 2:14
What do we believe about God? 
1.   God wants us to understand
2.   God’s wisdom is the only true wisdom.

What do we believe about ourselves? 

1.   We can understand what God reveals to us.
2.   We have God’s Word so that we can understand who God is and who we are.

Covenant Church 210 Station Rd, Wilmington, NC 28405 (910) 395-5800

Friday, August 3, 2012

Digging Deeper 28 Philippians 3:14
Keep going! At least that is what we keep telling ourselves. When is it time to quit, throw in the towel and simply resign ourselves to enough is enough? Well, the answer lies not in what we are doing but the objective that we are working towards. If something is not working it may be time to quit working at it that way but not time to quit trying to reach the objective.

        The objective of the believer is really simple “Live for God” but the path that we take towards that objective may not always be so simple. But Paul, in God’s letter to the Philippians makes it very clear that for the believer there is no place to quit living out our objective to live in the resurrection of Christ.

        I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 Let me point out three things in particular in this verse:

        First “I press on toward”  there is resistance and there is direction. There is a great deal of difference in moving forward and pressing forward, if you are pressing then you are moving against resistance. This is usually the place where most of us simply quit, but the resistance does not change the direction or the objective. The prize is still the same, live in the glory of God.

        Second “The goal for the prize of the upward call of God” Circumstances change, people change, attitudes change, our geographic location may even change but the goal does not. We have a call of God that calls us to live in the glory of God. It is a goal that we have not fully obtained: Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. The prize of the upward call of God is to live fully in His glory and it is worth pressing towards regardless of the resistance. It is so easy in our culture to get distraction by trends and causes but regardless, our mission does not change we must press towards the objective to live in His glory.

        Thirdly “In Christ Jesus” it is in this little phrase that we find strength to keep going. It is so easy to quit when we see ourselves pressing forward in our own strength the task seems and is impossible. In ourselves we are less than weak but in the power of Christ we can and will overcome. Romans 8:35-39 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. There is no excuse to quit, we are in Christ Jesus!
        Does it seem to you that we live in a time where everything is temporary. If things do not go just right we can always quit. If things get difficult I will just and try something else. Don’t! Press toward the goal meet the resistance head on, greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. There is no place for the believer to quit in the pursuit of experiencing the full glory of God!

What do we believe about God? 
1.   God has called us to His glory.
2.   God is Sovereign!
3.   God is greater than our circumstances.

What do we believe about ourselves? 

1.   God has call us to live in His glory in the power of Christ.
2.   It is impossible to keep going in our own power.
3.   There is no place for the believer to quit in the pursuit of God’s glory.

Covenant Church 210 Station Rd, Wilmington, NC 28405 (910) 395-5800

Friday, July 20, 2012

Digging Deeper 27 James 5:19-20
 Emotions are a powerful thing. There is a part of us that longs for that “feeling” of inspiration; we want to have our heart chords tugged at. That is why we go to sad movies, scary movies, exciting music concerts because somewhere inside of us is a desire to feel something. Excitement, happiness, even danger. We need to simply “feel” something”. I have seen folks that walk away from fellowship with Christ and fellow believers because “I just don’t feel anything”
Emotion is temporary there is nothing wrong with it, it simply does not last. But we have somehow transferred this need for an emotional feeling to worship. Worship certainly can be and I would even venture to say should be an emotional time but when corporate worship is over and the emotion wears off what do you have to get you through the week. When the feeling wears off, if you have not received God’s Word nothing has really changed, besides what could possibly make us more emotional and more excited than to experience God’s incredible instruction given to us through His word that will sustain us when we don’t “feel” so good. Let’s dig a little deeper in God’s Word.
James 5:19 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, James 5:20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sin. In this final statement James refers to the truth, the truth here is the precepts of God’s Word so we could easily interpret this to say if anyone strays off into sinful patterns. But James’ concentration is more on the one that brings them back. The believer that brings the one back from there wondering in sin has saved their life. Notice that it does not say saved the flesh from death but the soul from death. It is a much greater death for the soul to die than the flesh. It is a serious thing when someone ventures off into a regular sinful pattern and it is an equally serious thing for us to go after them and guide them back to the fold.
The last phrase can be easily be misinterpreted “cover a multitude of sin” this statement does not indicate that if we do something good ie. Lead someone back to Christ that it will cover our sin. The statement simply refers to God’s covering sins with His amazing grace and forgiveness. Psalms 32:1 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!
We cannot be the life jacket but can and are called to be the one that throws it.

What do we believe about God? 
1.   God has chosen use His truth to save souls.
2.   God forgives!
3.   In God is all truth and strength.

What do we believe about ourselves? 

1.   It is vital that go after those that have strayed from the truth.

Covenant Church 210 Station Rd, Wilmington, NC 28405 (910) 395-5800

Friday, July 6, 2012

Digging Deeper James 5:13-18

Digging Deeper 26 James 5:13-18
 It has been said "if you do not stand for something you fall for anything" and there is probably a lot of truth in that statement but I would like to change it a little, how about standing on something rather than standing for something. Matthew 7:26-27 "Everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. "And the rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall."  God's Word will anchor us in the harshest conditions; we can trust it to hold regardless of the storm. God's Word is an anchor that holds! Now let's dig a little deeper in God's Word!
James 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises.James makes this statement as if it is just good common sense and it should be to the believer. If you are cheerful, if things are going well for you and you are happy then sing praises. So then if we are suffering then we should pray. James' assumption is that there is faith, that God is in control, and if we are in a good place right now then we should praise because all good things come from God and if we are suffering then God knows about that as well and is able to help us because He is in control of the suffering as well.
James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing with oil in the name of the Lord; In this time of the church the elders were to perform many duties one was that when someone was sick they were called upon to come and do what they could. In this case it was to anoint or rub on oil but any physician of that day or for many years to come would use oil or medicine to help the sick. The thrust of the statement is not in the power of the oil but without God (let them pray over them) there cannot be healing. Healing is much deeper and more personal than the physical body. This verse is not an indictment against using medicine; James just makes it vividly clear that God is to be sought out as the healer, not the oil (medicine).
James 5:15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven. So now we have a prayer of faith, which, believes that God is in control, that God is able to give healing. James says that the sick will now be restored. But what if he is not? What if the elders come anoint with oil and this person who came by faith to be restored does not receive physical healing on the spot, what if the cancer does not go away, what if the diabetes does not end, what if the back pain is not relieved, did God fail, did the elders not believe enough when they prayed? Did they use the wrong kind of oil? Of course not, the focus here is not physical healing but faith. God can and does heal these physical bodies if not now it will come for all believers in glorification through Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable (that which will rot will put on that which will not)
James says that if they have committed sin they will be forgiven, not because of the oil, the sin is forgiven because the sick came by faith, believing God!
Much too often when we struggle with sickness or anything else sadly our faith will struggle because we began to question. But when we are struggling is where our faith can grow, when we realize have no control but believe that God has to do it all or it simply cannot be done that is the kind of faith that brings healing. James' instruction to those that were cheerful and those that were sick is basically the same, pray and sing praises. When we are sick or struggling God is still the same God as when we are cheerful. When we are struggling we should take our medicine whatever that is and believe God, trust Him for ultimate healing!
What do we believe about God? 
    1. God is the great healer.
    2. God knows our struggle.
    3. God does not change based on our circumstances.
What do we believe about ourselves? 
  1. The faith that we receive from God will heal our every need!
Covenant Church 210 Station Rd, Wilmington, NC 28405 (910) 395-5800

Friday, March 16, 2012

Digging Deeper (James 5:12)

I pray that God will change our lives for His glory by the study of His Word!
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Digging Deeper 25 James 5:12
The study of God’s Word is the only real way to understand the character of God, and who He is. But there is another aspect that is revealed our character.  As the Bible shows us the greatness of God it exposes our stature and it is in that humility, in that weakness, we can truly experience the strength of Christ. Now let’s dig a little deeper in God’s Word.
James 5:12 But above all, my brethren do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any oath; but let your yes be yes, and your no, no so that you may not fall under judgment. James leading to this passage has talked about works and controlling the tongue. He has expounded on things the believer should avoid and how to resist the devil. He has given warnings concerning the misuse of riches and much more. Then we come to this phrase “But above all” which gives great weight to what follows. “Do not swear” the command here is not “do not say curse words”. When we swear, by definition we are vowing that we will do something or makes something happen. This goes beyond what we consider making a promise which we understand to mean do everything in our power to make it happen. But to swear by either heaven or by earth would mean somehow we had control over such things. In passing we often say “if the Lord is willing and the creeks don’t rise” well I am not sure about the creeks rising but the first part is certainly truth to live by. Who are we that we can obligate heaven or earth to anything or anyone? The teaching here is we have nothing to swear by! Who are we? Making a vow in itself is not wrong it is even encouraged and shows a commitment to do everything as God enables us to further expose His glory but that is not the thrust of scripture here. Above all be humble!  The notion that we somehow have authority to swear by anything reveals pride and arrogance.
Let your yes be yes and you’re no, no… Just be honest, a believer’s word should always be trustworthy not because of our ability to keep it but because our words are carefully chosen and are founded solely on the strength of Christ and not our own. James is echoing Jesus words in Matthew 5:34 But I say to you make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God. Matthew 5:37 but let your statement be, yes, yes or no, no; and anything beyond these is of evil. We are being taught to be humble and honest in what we say only obligating ourselves to the truth for we have no other power in our lives other than God’s truth.
By seeing that God alone is sovereign we can see the truth about ourselves. We are in no position to make an oath concerning the things of God. And when we come to that place of humility we are changed, we become full of faith and strength because we see Christ as our only hope and strength in our acknowledgment of weakness we have become conquers. Romans 8:37-39 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What do we believe about God? 
1.   In God is all power.
2.   In God is all authority.
3.   In God is all truth and strength.

What do we believe about ourselves? 

1.   In our acknowledgement of our weakness God makes us strong

Covenant Church 210 Station Rd, Wilmington, NC 28405 (910) 395-5800

Friday, March 9, 2012

Digging Deeper (James 5:7-11)

Digging Deeper 24 James 5:7-11
Hurry up! That seems to be the rally call these days. We live at a tremendous pace. Isn’t it something that a few years ago we were amazed at how fast we could get information via the internet on a dial up modem? Now if we have to wait even a few seconds we consider our computer junk and look to move up to something that only takes a half of a second instead of the tiring full second that we have been waiting. Most of us feel like we are living 25/7 lives. There is nothing wrong with a go after it attitude the point is that whether we acknowledge it or not we can only see results on the time table of God. Now let’s dig a little deeper in God’s Word.
James 5:7 Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and the late rains. Let’s jump to the third word of this passage, the word therefore; this passage is directly connected with the passage before where James speaks directly to the rich. Your wealth will not sustain you but can lead to self indulgence and pride causing you to treat others poorly. So we come to verse 7 Be Patient! In verse 2 and 3a Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth eaten Your gold and silver have rusted. These things that are described here are satisfying in the moment. Money and clothes and other material things can be described as a quick fix! But there power to give comfort and peace fades as quickly as it came. If we are trusting in those things, and we are simply in a hurry to get that fix we will find ourselves on a roller coaster ride never finding the true joy and peace of walking with Jesus. So James says “Be patient” know that the Lord is coming. Too often we tie ourselves to the material things in the world as a measurement of who we are and what we do. But good farmers wait! There is going to be rain and there is going to be more rain. We don’t always like when it rains but then when we need it rain we don’t want to wait on it. But it is for sure that without the rain no fruit is produced.
James 5:8 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. We are to be like the farmer trust that the Lord will send the rain. Just as the farmer is inspired, knowing that in due time there will be fruit, the believer can know that regardless of how difficult things are, no matter how long the draught, and regardless of circumstances “The coming of the Lord is at hand” What is our hurry to have our best life now when we can know that Jesus is going to return for us in all His glory. He promised He would prepare a place for us and if He prepared that place He would return and we will be with Him. That is something worth waiting for!
James 5:9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. So what is it that we have to complain about? It is a dangerous thing to judge others in such a way.
James 5:10 As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Those that are suffering and those that are trying to be patient look at the prophets as an example. The prophets looked forward and kept the faith despite their circumstances. The writer of Hebrews describes it this way Hebrews 11:37-40 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy) wandering in the deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
James 5:11 Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. When we look at those that have endured the most we see them as having the strongest faith. We watch those examples and we see that even in their toughest hour God has not left them and He is compassionate and merciful.
We should conclude that maybe we just need to hang in there. There is hope, Jesus is coming. Maybe we should slow down for a minute knowing that God is sovereign and knows our situation. What if in difficult times we become an example of faith patiently waiting on the hand of God. Slow down not in our efforts to serve Him but in understanding that our life is not a sprint but a life of endurance with lots of hurdles and stumbling blocks but with a definite goal.
Hebrews 12:1-2a Therefore since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. Maybe we could slow down and watch for Jesus!
Now that we have dug a little deeper what do we believe?          
What do we believe about God? 
1.   God will supply the seed and the rain.
2.   Jesus will come again in all His glory!
3.   God is full of compassion and mercy.

What do we believe about ourselves? 

1.   We need to be patient God is still working.
2.   Complain will not make us stronger but weaker.
3.   Look to the examples of faith before us.

Covenant Church 210 Station Rd, Wilmington, NC 28405 (910) 395-5800

Friday, March 2, 2012

Digging Deeper (James 5:1-6


Digging Deeper 23 James 5:1-6
There is a tremendous emphasis if not pressure in our culture placed on the acquisition of knowledge. Now with the inception of the internet, vast libraries of books, video and countless media outlets it would seem that we would be getting more knowledgeable and I guess on some level we are gaining more information. But what about the truth how much of the information that we process is actually the truth? Have we reached a point in our society that Google is the answer to all questions? True knowledge is not just information; true knowledge is just that, the truth!  So where can we find the answers how can we acquire true knowledge information that is life changing? Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the life.” True knowledge comes from knowing Jesus! Now let’s dig a little deeper in God’s Word.
James 5:1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. This is not an indictment on the rich. The point is that if you are dependent on your riches, your abilities, your resources difficulty is coming there will be a time when you will they will not sustain you. Verse 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Rotted simply means worthless and when your garments are moth eaten, and moths don’t care if they are designer clothes, you are exposed. Verse 3 Your gold and your silver have rusted; and there rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure. Earthly treasure will not stand the test of time and depending on them will witness to the character of the man.
James 5:4 Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Saboth. When man falls in love and dependence on earthly things he begins to fill with pride and arrogance. Others really do not matter, “I got mine let them get theirs.” Verse 5 You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.  Because you have embraced a lifestyle of I have all I need, your heart is not right. Verse 6 You have condemned and put to death the righteous man, he does not resist you. When attitude is “I have all I need”, which leads to an attitude of “I’ve got mine you get yours”, a false sense of power over those that “have not arrived yet” ensues and then there is no  hesitation to step on anyone or do anything to continue the pursuit of more earthly treasure and literally lives are destroyed.
This narrative of James concerning riches does not condemn the wealthy. It is about the attitude of the rich, it is about being arrogant and full of pride and how that pride will destroy not only the prideful but as it runs its course seeks to destroy the humble. James begins this passage with “come now, you rich weep and howl” it is a call to realize your situation, being wealthy is not a sin. Proverbs 10:22 It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it.
Earthly riches are blessings from God and are to be handled with great stewardship (to whom is given much is required). The blessings of God requires an attitude of humility and must be handled if they are going to bring glory to God.
This passage is much about attitude not the riches themselves when we have a prideful attitude it causes us act differently even cruelly and unfairly towards others placing ourselves in a place a prominence based on false sense of value.

What do we believe about God? 
1.   God is the giver of all blessings
2.   God desires good stewardship of His blessing

What do we believe about ourselves? 
1.   All blessings come from God
2.   Our pride will lead us to destruction and seek to destroy others.
3.   Our dependence should be completely and wholly on God!
Covenant Church 210 Station Rd, Wilmington, NC 28405 (910) 395-5800