Posts Tagged Apostle Paul
Series: Fear vs Faith
This week: The Fear of Poverty
First, an overview of this new series. Our lives are gripped and many times crippled by our fears. Satan uses common fears to undermine our faith in the Lord. Often Jesus would say, “O you of little faith!” It has been said that there are over 365 scriptures that have some form of “fear not” in them – one for every day of the year! This is a battleground between the forces of evil and good, between Satan and God. We must not discount the damage that fear can bring to our minds, bodies and souls. So during this series, we are going to highlight the “Top 7 Fears” that are common to people everywhere. Let it be noted that there is a difference between “phobias” and “fears”. Our phobias are many (fear of snakes, darkness, heights, public speaking, etc.) and are more from the natural man. But fears are from within the soul and are the ones Satan feeds off it to destroy and discourage our faith.
Countdown of the Top 7 Fears begins with #7 – The Fear of Poverty.
On one hand, how can anyone living in the United States be in fear of this when compared to the rest of the world’s economies and lifestyles? So consider this fear as being defined more as the fear of not having enough; the fear of financial hardships; the fear of being deprived of resources both needed and wanted.
This is a REALTIY in our world. Never has a society had so many things to be fearful of. How many of us have not expressed some kind of thought patterns where we see ourselves being affected by homelessness, natural disasters, bankruptcy, foreclosure, loss of job, loss of ability to provide, health care issues, the demise of social security, not enough to take care of us in the retirement years. One author states, “We’re tied in Gordian knots over climate change fears, vaccine fears, bioterrorism, your kid passing his finals, cyberterrorism, grey hairs, the grid going dark, drivers who text, stock market collapse, gluten, debt, that guy eyeing your job, E.coli in packaged salads.”
The RESULT is fear that expands into the sin of WORRY. Yes, a sin. Jesus says in Matthew 6:25, “Do not worry.” And then describes this as a lack of faith! One definition of worry is “to allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.” In verb form, it means to fret, agonize, overthink, brood, panic, stew, get worked up, and to torment oneself. In noun form, it equates to anxiety, distress, uneasiness, restlessness, nervousness, agitation, edginess, tension, and stress. Satan uses these to go far beyond the element of being concerned and taking appropriate actions, to a sin that destroys the mind, body and soul. He elevates it above the faith that is God’s antidote to fear and worry.
Here are three steps to gird yourself with more faith than fear, all taken from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:25-34.
1. Trust God to PROVIDE. Matthew 6:26-30 (“..don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, and do his best for you?” MSG)
2. Trust God’s PRIORITIES. Matthew 6;31-33 (“What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.” MSG)
3. Trust God to PROTECT. Matthew 6:34 (“God will help you deal with whatever hard thingw comes up when the time comes.” MSG) It’s the concept of “We may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.”
Remember the words of Paul in Philippians 4:11-13: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
“As it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.'” 1 Corinthians 1:31
There is a book in my library titled, “The Perfectly Imperfect Church.” You would think it’s written about the church in Corinth. If there ever was a church who took the perfect plan of God and wound up with an imperfect model, it was Corinth.
If you’ve ever thought of the congregation you are a part of as beyond help or woefully short of the first century churches, you might be encouraged to know that this particular body of believers was messed up beyond description: a brother sleeping with his stepmother; members coming home from church drunk; divided into at least four factions (most would have split the church at two!); wild misuse of tongue speaking; settling disputes in the public courts; etc. It’s enough to make you feel rather proud of your church!
But important – as fouled up as they were, they were still God’s church in that city. They were still in the kingdom of God and Christ’s representatives to influence and impact their community. God doesn’t disown them nor give up on them – but rather uses the Apostle Paul to rebuke, correct and guide them in the right path.
One of their issues was one we are still tempted with. We bring too much of the “world” into our churches. Being from Corinth, a city of wealth, wickedness and wisdom, they had substituted the simple gospel for a “wisdom” of man that brought with it sin, immorality, contentious actions, worldly behaviors, Greek philosophies and a “showy” style. Question – what modern “wise” philosophies plaque our churches today? (Some are: materialism; hedonism; relativism; narcissism; authoritarianism; etc.)
The bottom line is – they were a defiled, divided and disgraced church. Paul wanted them to see the simplicity of God versus the wisdom of man. Paul wanted them to get back to the basics of the gospel – “…nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified”. Or, as the Message Bible puts it, “I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did – Jesus crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2)
If we are to boast about anything, let it be about Jesus – who he is and what he did!
Here’s the five-day reading plan for 1 Corinthians:
Day 1 – chapters 1-4 – Divisions in the church
Day 2 – chapters 5-7 – Sex, marriage and lawsuits
Day 3 – chapters 8-11 – Mid-course corrections
Day 4 – chapters 12-14 – The body of Christ, the most excellent way, and spiritual gifts
Day 5 – chapters 15-16 – The gospel and resurrection
“The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)
This theme of Romans is also found in Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38, yet remains elusive for many of us affected by the common tendency to lean on our works for salvation and a right standing with the Lord.
From the first century teachings of the Apostle Paul, he speaks against the trusting of our own righteousness for our salvation. Yet in the centuries following, from the early days of Catholicism to current churches, sects and cults, many still follow a system of securing acceptance through performance. It’s a futile attempt as it breeds frustration, failure and guilt.
The exciting truth of the gospel is that God, with perfect righteousness, offered a perfect Savior to pay the penalty for our sins. All we have to do is to get in on it. The “gift” has already been credited to our account!
Add to that the amazing work of our Father who was both the Just and the Justifier – “he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:26)
5 Day Reading Plan for this week:
Day 1 – Chapters 1-3 – No one is righteous; Jesus Christ is perfectly righteous
Day 2 – Chapters 4-5 – Justification by faith
Day 3 – Chapters 6-8 – How we are freed from the power of sin, given a new life, and live in a right relationship with God
Day 4 – Chapters 9-11 – Israel in God’s plan
Day 5 – Chapters 12-16 – Right living and right relationships
Welcome to my new blog.
For the first several weeks, it will be devoted exclusively to the teaching series for this summer at the Ranchland Church where I serve as Pastor. After that we will broaden out the topics on the general theme of churches and disciples staying spiritually healthy and well-balanced.
The thirteen week summer series is titled “First Century Facebook” centering around the 13 letters of the Apostle Paul and imagining that were Paul writing today, he would utilize most of our communication tools, including social media. Of course, the Word of God does stay alive and relevant to every age and culture!
But how do you cover in one Sunday message or even one week’s time the incredible teachings found in each of Paul’s letters? It will obviously be fast-paced and concise as we seek to do an overview of each book. To do that I am using as a resource the world-renown “Be” series of commentaries authored by the prolific writer, commentator and pastor, Warren Wiersbe. His “Be” series now cover not only the New Testament but the Old Testament as well. One of the unique features of this monumental work is that Wierbe sums up each book of the Bible with just two words: “Be _______________.”
Using his titles and themes, here are the topics we will be following during the summer both in this blog, but also on Facebook, Twitter and the Sunday messages at Ranchland Church (www.ranchlandchurch.com):
- Romans – “Be Right” – June 5
- 1 Corinthians – “Be Wise” – June 12
- 2 Corinthians – “Be Encouraged” – June 19
- Galatians – “Be Free” – June 26
- Ephesians – “Be Rich” – July 3
- Philippians – “Be Joyful” – July 10
- Colossians – “Be Complete” – July 17
- 1 Thessalonians – “Be Ready: For Christ’s Return” – July 24
- 2 Thessalonians – “Be Ready: In Spite of Hardships” – July 31
- 1 Timothy – “Be Faithful: To Your Calling” – August 7
- 2 Timothy – “Be Faithful: In Your Beliefs” – August 14
- Titus – “Be Faithful: In Your Station” – August 21
- Philemon – “Be Faithful: In Your Relationships” – August 28