Posts Tagged With: Word of God

Embracing Change With the Unchanging Gospel

“Times have changed, the culture has changed, rules have changed, and expectations of leaders have changed. Metathesiophobia is the impossible-to-pronounce word for ‘fear of change.’ Fearing, resisting, or balking at the need to change, grow, and adapt can be your undoing as a leader. It can start a downward spiral for your organization or group. The only thing that seems to remain the same is change. Change is more prolific, rapid, and complex than ever before. The only place you can’t be sure of change is from a vending machine. Everything else is up for grabs.” (Dave Kraft, Leaders Who Last).

I like this quote by Dave Kraft a lot!  I’m only 41, and oftentimes I find myself relying on how things were executed from when I first entered into the ministry and had some semblance of ‘results.’  But times have changed even when I entered into the ministry in 1992.  But in fact, I’ve been chewing on this notion for a number of years (having blogged about this back in 2010). 

Being in a multigenerational church is a beautiful thing for me, but must be approached with a prayerful vision.  Some of the younger generation is ready to embrace change yesterday.  A change is seen, and must be implemented now if not sooner!  While some who may be in the more seasoned chapter of their lives may not embrace change too readily. 

Praise God for both! 

The enthusiasm of the younger generation and the wisdom of moving cautiously can sharpen each generation for the betterment of the entire church body.  But when there is a clear understanding that change needs to take place, we must be willing to “change, grow, and adapt.” 

What must never change is the unchanging Word of God in the life and breath of the church.  Psalm 119:89 says:

Forever, O Lord, your word
is firmly fixed in the heavens.

We also read from 1 Peter 1:23-25:

22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for

“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.”

And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

The preached Word is what saves and sanctifies—regardless of the culture or time or situation.  While we may apply the Word in these various areas, the Word must not be compromised!

So we must keep in mind: the culture is not infallible or inspired, it’s fallen.  Yet, we risk grasping that more dearly to our hearts than the unchanging Word of God from God!  Methodologies change, the Word does not!  Let’s make sure we get that principle firmly fixed in our minds.

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Taking Care Of What You Hear, Part II (Producing the Fruit)

Go back to Luke 8:18: “Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” Again, back to the Parable of the Soils. The seed of the Word of God has been planted in your hearts. The good soil which holds on, bears fruit with patience. Thirtyfold, sixtyfold, a hundredfold.

Now what? “Take care then how you here, for to the one who has, more will be given.” The fruit borne with patience (or perseverance) may take time, but we hold on knowing the full effect of the Word on our hearts. It’s by the Word of Truth, the gospel, that we are saved and maintained. We hear the Word so more seed may be planted, more fruit borne in the gospel, and the abundance helps us persevere and be nourished.

Christians who have the Word of God must put it into practice as that fruit is being borne and growing. John 15:8 says, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” If we seek to spread God’s glory from our neighbors to the nations, then we must bear fruit. How? John 15:8 says to bring glory to God. Meaning we should do nothing that is contrary to His nature, work, will, and plan.

I was reading an article about how some plant owners grow easily frustrated when their fruit trees fail to grow any fruit early on. Some then begin to give up on their growth, but this article brought in some important factors.

Size and age. Standard apple, peach, and apricot trees take 3-5 years to grow fruit. Why? They need time to mature and develop. So too with the young Christian. Psalm 1 says the righteous one is planted by streams, yielding great fruit and growth in Christ.

Sun Exposure: A tree in full to partial shade is fighting an uphill battle. Fruit trees can survive in partial shade, but they will take longer to begin bearing fruit. We do not want to get by on partial sunlight, but on the full light of the gospel of Christ and His glory. We just read from the Word that it’s a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. But the Son also feeds us the nutrients we need.

Soil Fertility: Fruit trees, like all plants, require some nutrients to survive. But excessively rich soil or heavy fertilization may encourage branch and leaf growth at the expense of fruit production. Did we not find out from Jesus that we need the proper soil to be ready to receive His word?

Pruning: All fruit trees benefit from annual pruning, if done in moderation. Pruning rejuvenates fruit trees and encourages the growth of fruiting spurs. Removing more than a third of the tree could have just the opposite effect you were going for and stimulate more branches, as the tree repairs itself, and no fruit. Lack of regular, moderate pruning is one of the most common causes of no fruit production. The Christian needs to prune as well. We need to prune away areas of sin of the pleasures, cares, and interests of the world so they don’t choke out the Word (Luke 8:14).

So not only does Jesus tell us to take care of how we hear, we need to take care of the Word that is heard, so that fruit may bear. Why? “…and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” What we must understand is that this is not simply talking about in this life, but also in reference to the Day of Judgment. You have the Word?  Persevere, then more will be given.  Reject the Word?  Then what you claim to have will be taken away.

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Taking Care of How You Hear, Part I

(This sermon was preached on January 25, 2009 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.  You may listen to the mp3 , then go to listen to other sermons in the archive.  Take time to read Luke 8:16-21.)

Would it not be wonderful if large crowds gathered at a  house of worship automatically meant that God’s work was being done? In Luke 8:4, the Word says, “And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him.” Yet, great crowds at Christian churches, even the crowds that followed Jesus, did not mean that they would become followers. John 2:23-25 says,

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many
believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. [24] But Jesus on his part did not entrust
himself to them, because he knew all people
[25] and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew
what was in man.

People saw what Jesus did, heard what Jesus said, and even followed Jesus’ lead. Did this show saving faith?

In Luke 8, Jesus demonstrates the Spirit power of the Word. From the calming of the storm to the healing of a demoniac, to even raising someone from the day, Jesus showed the authoritative power of the Word because it bears the seal of God. God sends His ambassadors from His heavenly country with His message of deliverance and mercy from his wrath against our sin and into His mercy through Jesus’ work on the cross.

As we look at this passage this morning, Jesus gives us a phrase that we must take to heart. “Take care then how you hear. . . .” Mark 4 in the parallel passage says, “Pay attention to what you hear.” Jesus seems to be making a distinction on how one hears. Apparently, one can hear without hearing. You can have the sound waves hit your eardrum, pass through the small bones in the ear which resonate, sending a signal to your brain so you can hear the words which are spoken. How you hear the word and what you do with the Word you have heard reveals much about the condition of your heart before God.

1.   Hear the Word as a light for your path.

In verses 16-17, Jesus says, ““No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. [17] For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”

Understand where this passage falls. The Sunday before I went to Trinidad, we examined Luke 8:4-15 in looking at the Parable of the Soils. The sower went to plant seed, which Jesus tells us served as the Word of God. The parables served to proclaim the Word, but the message of that Word was hidden to those who not only refused to hear, but from those whose hearts did not have the proper soil for the Word to take hold.

Jesus though goes further. He says basically, “If you have good soil and have received the message, don’t cover the message up! You are
lamps because of the Word that is in you. Now shine!” You see, we as the people of God cannot be lights in the world unless the Word of Christ is dwelling in us richly (Colossians 3:15). In fact, do you recall that Psalm 119:105 tells us, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

What are lamps good for? Lamps light up rooms so people can see where they are and what is located in those rooms. Lamps also
light the way we are going. And His Word moving in us shows the way. While in Trinidad, they had this Christian radio station on the
majority of the time. During one of the breaks in music, the deejay came on and said, “Dear Christian, you just need to dream those big dreams that you have, and when you have faith to believe it will come to pass, God will give you what you want.” I had just read about where Joel Osteen said that you need a life of generosity, and because of your generosity, God will bless you abundantly.

In America and in Trinidad, so many preach the message, “Do this, dream this, smile more, pray more, read more, give more, and God will
bless.” Messages like this are not lamps, but are caution lights blinking for us to move away and detour to the actual gospel. The lamp of God’s Word always shines upon Jesus Christ and Him crucified, who says, “I am extending my grace and mercy to you based upon what I’ve done. You are like sheep who have gone astray, each turning to your own way. What you need is not to chase after dreams by drumming up more faith and doing more so my Father will bless. He has already blessed you with the cross and empty tomb. You can dream and do and act, but you do not have the spiritual furniture arranged in your mind to handle, because even our best dreams drift
away from God.”

James 1:16-18 says:,

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. [17] Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. [18] Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creation.”

Notice: every blessing we have does not begin with a “dream within,” but from the Father above. Notice that our “dreams” may change with our inner emotions or our outward circumstances, but the Father has “no variation or shadow due to change.” He is steadfast, our rock and refuge. Notice that we become believers not by our own will and decision but “of his own will … by the word of truth.” Notice it is all of him. And once we get away from the Word of God, we stray from the path of God until the Spirit of God convicts us of the truth of God so we will repent and ask forgiveness of God so we will be restored by God.

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Countdown to the ESV Study Bible Release

Evidently, numerous requests were made to the ESV publishers to put out a widget giving us a countdown. I’m thankful so many people are so excited about the Word of God.

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