Getting it Altogether

bringing_it_all_togetherThen Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. (Act 26:28-29)

We have all heard the expression, “They sure have it all together”.  Maybe you have said about yourself, “I need to get it all together”.  As sure as having it “all together” brings peace and order to our lives in general, if we could have our spiritual lives all together we would be more fruitful, joyful, and able to serve the Lord more effectively and consistently.

So we see this state in the life of the Apostle Paul.  As he stood before the king in chains, he said that he wished all that heard him were  “altogether such as I am, except these bonds.”.

How Paul (and ourselves) can spiritually have it “all together”.

He had it altogether because he could answer for himself (Acts 26:1-2) ...because I shall answer for myself this day…

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1Pe 3:15)

He had it altogether because he could think himself happy (Acts 26:2) …I think myself happy, king Agrippa,…

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. (Pro 23:7)

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Php 4:6-8)

He had it altogether because he was sure of his conversion (Acts 26:12-19)

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2Ti 1:12)

He had it altogether because he knew and was sure of the source of his necessary strength

His strength came from the Son of God

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Php 4:12-13)

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20)

His strength came from the grace of God

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2Co 12:9)

He had it altogether because he was secure in his Soul Winning

And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Act 20:20-21)

He had it altogether because he had his body under subjection

And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1Co 9:25-27)

He had it altogether because he was sure of his reward

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2Ti 4:6-8)

He had it altogether because he was stretching for the finish line

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (Php 3:13)


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Watch the entire service HERE

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The Trouble Obedience to God Brings and its Blessings

_45826090_hands766And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage. (Exo 6:9)

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (Jer 29:11)


Although we know obedience to God is the way to blessings, we know from experience and from the Bible that sometimes, when we are obedient to God, it initially brings trouble. Obey God anyway!

  • Three Hebrew children obeyed God’s command not to worship idols and were cast into the fiery furnace.
  • Daniel praying to God despite king’s commands landed him in the lion’s den.
  • Joseph being obedient to abstaining from fornication was sent to prison falsely accused.

Each of these “troubles” ended as great blessings in the long-term, though at the onset, the obedience brought great troubles.

The obedience of Moses going to Pharaoh to demand he release the children of Israel from Egypt (Exodus 5-6) brought great trouble with the blessings at the end of the story.

After reviewing the following lessons, take the time to reflect on your own experiences where your obedience brought your trouble and how the blessings came.

The Troubles Obedience Can Bring

  1. Being obedient to God often brings more work – vs 9 (Ex 5:7-12)
  2. Being obedient to God often brings more suffering (Ex 5:12)
  3. Being obedient to God often brings more hatred from the world and our enemies (Ex 5:20-21)
  4. Being obedient to God often brings more rejection from our own and the people we are trying to help (Ex 6:9)
  5. Obedience to God often brings more questions for the Lord (Ex 5:22-23)

The Blessings the Trouble from Obedience can Bring

  1. We are blessed to see God work (Ex 6:1)
    • I would not know He could heal unless I was sick
    • I wold not know His protection unless I was in danger
    • I would not know He could comfort unless I was hurting
    • I would not know He could deliver unless I was in distress
    • I would not know He could provide unless I had need I could not meet
  2. We are blessed we can know the God that we see work (Ex 6:3-4) God’s answer to Moses’  why was a resounding WHO!
  3. We are blessed to know the joy of serving the God we see work (Ex 6:6)

Nevertheless, they shall be his servants; that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries. (2Ch 12:8)

If they. had not known the suffering under Egypt’s hand they would not appreciate the rest and peace of serving God.

Trouble may come from obeying God, but obey anyway!


 

Watch the entire service HERE

 

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The Strait, the Narrow, and the Few

crossroads

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Mat 7:13-14)

The title of this article presents us a true picture of the life and manner of a dedicated disciple of Christ.

Entering the right and strait gate is a choice.  Continuing along the narrow path is the daily endeavor. Keeping the conclusion (or destination) of our path should always be before us.

Jesus is teaching some important lessons in this passage.  The “Strait and Narrow” principle applies to salvation as well as the Christin life in general.

Regarding salvation, it is obvious that He is teaching us that salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ is THE strait gate and the narrow way to heaven. Trying to take any other path only leads to destruction and hell.

As far as living the Christin life, He is teaching us that to find real life and find it abundantly, we must also stay on the strait and narrow.

Here are some areas, based on this passage, where we must stick to the strait and narrow way if we are to have a fully rewarding and righteous life.


Stay on the Strait and Narrow in your Creed (Doctrine) – False Prophets (Matt 7:15-20)

Here God follows up the injunction to enter and stay on the strait and narrow way by warning about the presence and purpose of false prophets.

Do not be tossed about in your doctrine

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. (1Ti 4:16)

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (Rom 16:17)

Do not let your doctrine be tainted with error and division

 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, (Tit 2:7)

If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: (2Jn 1:10)

Stay on Strait and Narrow in Your Communion – False professors (Matt 7:21-23)

Jesus then proceeds to warn us about those that work for Him, but He does not know nor do they walk with Him.

Have a walk with Christ  and not just a work for Him

 Stay on Strait and Narrow in Your Conduct – False performers  (Matt 7:24-27)

Jesus completes His thoughts about walking the strait and narrow by reminding us how foolish we are if we try to live our lives without obedience to His Word. Let us always be conscious of His sayings and see we build our lives in obedience to them.

Stay on the strait and narrow in purity

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (1Ti 4:12)

Stay in the strait and narrow in purpose

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Mat 6:33)



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Watch the service HERE

 

Punctuality

_85378500_clockIt has been said that the scourge of the pulpit is laziness. As true as that may be, today, one of the scourges of the pew is tardiness.  In our Christian school, we have gone to great lengths and efforts to reduce tardiness.  We have even imposed a “Class disruption fee” for habitually tardy students.  We call it this because repeated tardiness not only shows and develops poor character, it is a major distraction and problem for the teacher and fellow students. All work stops while”Tardy Tommy” comes in, gets situated, turns in his homework, and makes a general nuisance of himself.

As inappropriate and annoying as this is in a classroom, it is even more detrimental and disrespectful when done in the church and the work of ministry.  Here are a few thoughts to help us all develop better habits as it relates to being punctual.  Can you image Jesus being late to all events and appointments?  I think not!

Purposes for Punctuality

Redeem the time

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Eph 5:15-16)

We are all complaining about how we do not have enough time in a day.  Let’s not be a waster of time by missing those precious moments of instruction, work, and even pleasure by being late.

Respect the time of others

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. (Php 2:3)

When we ar 10 minuets late and 6 people are waiting on us, we have wasted one man-hour of time in total, but six minutes of each persons life.  Let’s not “steal” life and time from others.

Reverence 

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (1Co 10:31)

When we are late to church or our assigned ministry, we are being disrespectful to God.  We are saying to God, “Your time is not important to me, God.  Your place, God, is to wait on me.”  How irreverent?  We say that with our actions every time we are late to a meeting with and for God.

Retain a good testimony

A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth. (Ecc 7:1)

No one likes to always wait on the same person.  What is YOUR reputation as it relates to punctuality?

How to be more punctual12625438_f496

Schedule

You must adjust and apply these thoughts as it relates to your own issues.

Make a time-based agenda for the day or that portion of the day.

  1. Know when you are to be there.  (Include time to park, walk, put up coat etc.)
    • A leader should always be 10-15 minutes early.  On time for a leader is late.
  2. Know and add how long it takes for you to shower and dress.
  3. Know and add how long it takes to load all in the car.
  4. Know and add how long it takes to drive to the appointment.
  5. Know and add typical distractions and delays you experience
  6. Add 15 minutes.

Submit to your schedule. Make your calendar your boss

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1Co 9:27)

 


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How to Deal with Disappointments

Then Davidisappointed-1024x683d the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: As for me, I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and for the footstool of our God, and had made ready for the building: But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood. (1Ch 28:2-3)

David was Disappointed in his Desire to Build a Temple for God.

David’s desire emanated from a good and godly heart.  It was a desire for God to get glory through this house.  But in spite of it being a good desire, God told David no.

How we respond to the great disappoints that God permits in our lives determines if it will make us bitter or better, stronger or weaker, confident or cracked.  Let’s look at David’s heart for some guidance on how to stay right, even when our dreams are dashed.

Do not let your Affection for God be Dampened

Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.(2Sa 7:22) 

Too many times we let disappoints and perceived disasters in our lives quench our love for God. David, however, knew God’s goodness, greatness, and care for him was in no way altered by God’s refusal of David’s proposed plan.

Let your Appreciation to God be Deepened (1Ch 28:4-5)

Howbeit the LORD God of Israel chose me before all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever: for he hath chosen Judah to be the ruler; and of the house of Judah, the house of my father; and among the sons of my father he liked me to make me king over all Israel: And of all my sons, (for the LORD hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel. (1Ch 28:4-5)

 

Recognize, consider, and thank the Lord for His many blessings and the things He HAS given us and allowed us to fulfill in our lives.  In David’s response, he rejoiced and considered that God had allowed him to be king and God had given him many sons.  Always remember, God is good, all the time.

Do not let your Activity for God be Diminished (1Ch 29:2-3)

Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God the gold for things to be made of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and the brass for things of brass, the iron for things of iron, and wood for things of wood; onyx stones, and stones to be set, glistering stones, and of divers colours, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance. (1Ch 29:2)

Although God was not permitting him to build the house, it did not diminish David’s anticipation or love for the work.  If he could not build it, he would help build it by planning and provided the means for its building.

When God says no, let us not quit our service or work for the Lord.

  Do not let your Awe of God Decay 

Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord GOD; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant’s house for a great while to come. And is this the manner of man, O Lord GOD? (2Sa 7:18-19)

He kept his reverence for God (2Sa 7:18)

He kept his rest in the Providence of God  (2Sa 7:19) 

Let God be God and make sure our hearts remain soft, pliable, and right with God when disappointments come into our lives.


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As for Me – I Choose to Serve (part 2)

qwlinkAnd if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.(Jos 24:15)

The Choice of Service 

It is a personal choice – as for me…

We choose to serve individually – as for me…

No one can choose for us.  No one can serve for us.

The fields go un-harvested.  The pews remain mostly empty. Positions of service go unfilled.

If not you, who?

If not now, when?

If not here, where?

Will you choose to serve?  Not to choose to serve is refusing to serve.

We must choose to serve independently – as for me…  

We all know and sing that verse of “I have Decided to Follow Jesus”… Though no one join me, still I will follow…Yet God is still searching for those that will follow and serve, even if they must serve alone.

We should choose to serve influentially – and my house… 

God expects us to exert godly and compelling 1200influence over those for whom we are responsible.  Parents?  Pastors?  Teachers? Are we influencing our charges to serve?

It is a pointed choice – will serve the Lord

We have the liberty to choose – we have a choice who or what we will serve.

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.(Mat 6:24)

We all serve something.  We serve the flesh, the world, or money, etc.  Let’s choose to serve the true and living Lord!  As for me…


See the previous post in this series – As For Me, I Choose to Serve


Visit us online at Lighthouse Baptist Church of the East Bay 

 

 

As For Me, I Choose to Serve

Aqwlinknd if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Jos 24:15)

In this famous challenge that Joshua gave to the children of Israel, Joshua makes a bold, brave, and binding declaration regarding his choice to serve the Lord. In this short series of blogs titled, “As For Me” I am asking us all to consider our own decision about serving the Lord.

Not to decide to serve the Lord is invariably a decision NOT to serve Him.  Service to the Lord does not happen by accident.  So will you join me in consciously and definitely declaring, “as for me, I  will serve the Lord”.

Let’s examine Joshua’s statement.


The Chooser to Serve – Joshua

The choice was by a man of faith. (Numbers 14:6-9)

Joshua, probably at the age of about 20, maybe one of the youngest of the twelve spies sent my Moses to spy out the land, was one of only two to believe that God could fulfill His promise to give them the land.  He stood and spoke for God against all of Israel.  It takes courage to sound off in faith against millions ready to kill you for your faith.

Serving God takes faith.  Even just committing to serve God requires faith in Him to help and strengthen our resolve when the times get hard.

The choice was by a man of fight

And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. (Exo 17:9)

Although Joshua had never been in battle as far as we know, he must have demonstrated his willingness and courage to take on a fight for the Lord.

To make a decision to serve the Lord will require a fighter’s heart.  You will need to fight the flesh, fight the Devil, and fight the world and its temptations and taunts.

The choice was by a man of faithfulness

And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. (Jos 24:29)

From age 20 to this pronouncement, he had already faithful served God as a soldier, Moses’minister, and the general and leader of Israel for nearly 100 years

Ask God to mold us into the kind of Christian that will decide by faith, willing to fight, determine to remain faithful as we serve our Lord?

Look for more in this series.

Visit us online – Lighthouse Baptist Church of the East Bay