The Post (Week 22: Galatians 6 & Ephesians 1-6)

This week we enter into one of my favorite letters from Paul. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians has been called “The Queen of the Epistles” because of its timeless quality and theological reflections. It seems to capture beautifully the heart of the gospel and the things that are most important to Paul. The famous English Author Samuel Taylor Coleridge called it the “divinest composition of man” (I think that means this letter is a close to being divine as any other written composition authored by a human) It’s almost a poem in prose as some of the sentences are amazingly long in length. (In fact, look at 1:3-14, that’s one sentence in the Greek language).

Ephesians is different from the other 3 letters we have read from Paul in that it is very impersonal and that may seem strange. Actually, Acts 20 tells us that Paul lived in Ephesus for 3 years and as he was leaving he gives an intimate and affectionate farewell to the elders of Ephesus. Therefore, one would expect this letter to be very detailed with personal hellos and reference to specific events, but there are none. This may be the key to why this book is seen as the quintessential theological tract or religious meditation.

Most scholars see this letter as one that was circulated from church to church. If it was Paul’s intention to circulate the letter to the Ephesians to other churches, it would make sense to share the keys to the Christian faith and to leave out the personal touch. One commentator, William Barclays says the theme to the book is found in 1:9-10. Paul speaks of God, “having made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ as a plan, to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ”. In other words, God’s plan is to bring unity everywhere through Christ.

Paul wrote this book from a prison in Rome, so maybe he saw how Rome had unified the region through the use of force. The Romans called this period “Pax Romana”, the peace of Rome. It is ironic to consider that the way Rome had acquired peace was by killing all those in its way. No doubt Paul saw this and realized there was a much higher level of unity, that is, the unity of everything under the love of Christ He heard the calling God had placed on the body of Christ to in love and unity and to proclaim it to their culture.

Paul talks a lot about unity, love and reconciliation in Ephesians . First he describes how God has reconciled individuals to Himself as an act of grace. And now He has reconciled these saved individuals to each other. (Chapter 2) But God has done something beyond this; He has united these reconciled people into one body, the church. This body has spiritual gifts given to work out this unity in practical ways. This “body” is called a mystery not fully known until it was revealed here and in the book of Colossians, which is extremely similar to Ephesians. In fact, 55 of the verses in the two letters are almost verbatim.

Ephesians 5 addresses how husbands and wives should live in this unity in roles. The men are called to love as Christ loved the Church, a love symbolized by giving not getting. The woman is called to believe in the husband. These roles are hard, but I believe when the man loves in this way, as a servant, and the woman encourages in this way, a beautiful cycle of unity begins.

Chapter 6 ends the book with a call to fathers. Fathers are to honor and express understanding of how his child is created by God. It works again to create unity in the family.

An important question to ask ourselves then, if God is gathering all things together in Christ, then how am I being a part of this? Is this truth shown in my house, at work, in relationships with other members of my lifegroup? (Am I in one?) Our world is in chaos and the only hope is Christ. How am I using the gifts God has given me to be His tool in His kingdom work today?

Tips for Reading (Interpretation tip #4)

(Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It has been building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over past weeks to get the whole picture.

In “A Preface to Paradise Lost” C.S. Lewis writes: The first qualification for judging any piece of workmanship from a corkscrew to a cathedral is to know what it is-what it was intended to do and how it is meant to be used. After that has been discovered the temperance reformer may decide that the corkscrew was made for a bad purpose, and the communist may think the same about the cathedral. But such questions come later. The first thing is to understand the object before you: as long as you think the corkscrew was meant for opening tins or the cathedral for entertaining tourists you can say nothing to the purpose about them.” The same can be said of the Bible. As we read the scriptures it is helpful for interpretation to know what type of literature you are reading. For example, we are going thru the expositional writings of Paul now. This style is usually giving a straightforward argument or explanation of an objective truth. It is a form that appeals first to the mind. These books are great for us to study because their meanings are close to the surface. Their purposes are easier to grasp. As you read Ephesians this week try to figure out what you think the purpose of the book is. Then under the topic, you can try to put the two or three things that support the big idea. If this sounds like outlining, it is. It is also a very good way to see what’s really being taught and gets you closer to understanding.

Notes from David's Journal

As you read the book of Ephesians, remember how Paul often writes in these "letters" (this one to the church at Ephesus). The first half of the letter is orthodoxy, great Christian doctrine. The second half is orthopraxy, how to rightly live Christian doctrine. So, in Ephesians, the first half is right doctrine in chapters 1-3. Notice how often we are "in Christ" in chaptert one alone! How we are saved by grace and grace alone by faith in chapter 2. How much we are loved by Christ in chapter 3. If this is true, then Paul gives practical advice on how to live in harmony and unity (chpater 4). How to live with one another in love (chapters 4 and 5). How to live in relationship with our spouses (chapter 5). How to live with our children and bosses (chapter 6). And how to defeat the evil one and his wiley schemes (chapter 6). Ephesians is extremely rich in orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Read it and enjoy! It's one of the most beautiful epistles in all the New Testament. I think Paul really loved the Ephesian church. He spent 18 months there when it was first established. After reading this letter, you can see why.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Jesus said that a greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friend.  It’s a theme that has captured hearts through the ages.  Some of the greatest movies, books, and plays have captured this theme.  It absorbs the heart like no other message.

It’s why Memorial Day provokes the same emotion for many as well.  We remember the ultimate sacrifice American men and women in the military have made through the years.  They desired to safeguard American freedom.  They gave their lives so we could live freely.

This Memorial Day weekend, don’t forget these soldiers’ lives.  Enjoy your parades, picnics, and play.  Appreciate special moments with family.  Get some rest.  We all need times to come apart from life’s normal routines and enjoy life.  If we burn the candle at both ends, we are not as bright as we think we are.

Yes, enjoy the Memorial Day weekend.  But do so while remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for your freedom.  Thank God for their willingness to die so we can live.  Remember their families who still grieve over their loss.  Thank God that they too paid the ultimate sacrifice.

And remember the sacrifice of Jesus as well.  He willingly laid down his life so we can live.  He paid the ultimate price of death on a cross so our sins can be forever forgiven and we can live with him in eternity.

Could there be a greater love than this?

Thank you soldiers, for your sacrifice.  

Thank you Jesus, for yours.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

True courage is not blindly moving ahead, not knowing what awaits us as we do so.  Here is true courage: knowing fully what to expect, what awaits us, and we still choose to move ahead. Listen to this quote from Martin Luther King: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

Evidently, Rev. King told several friends that he expected one day to be killed for his stand on civil rights.  Yet he chose to continue to move ahead.  He knew he would face challenges and controversy.

He had true courage.  Do you?

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

The Post (Week 21: II Corinthians 12-13 & Galatians 1-5)

Several years ago, one of my former students left our church to enter a cult. This cult claimed to be a group of Christians, but they claimed that the traditional church was not diligent enough with the “rules”. The leaders had written additional literature outlining how the member must behave. These rules were not found in scripture. They also claimed that committing certain sins would cost the follower his salvation and he would have to go and get it back again.

Unfortunately, this twist of grace has been going on for centuries in the church. In the book of Galatians, Paul is writing to a church that was infiltrated by such a lie. Paul claims that the Galatians have turned to “another gospel, which is no gospel at all.” It appears that the Christians in Galatia had been persuaded to add a required Jewish-ness to following Christ. This Jewish-ness included things like abstaining from certain meats and being circumcised. Interestingly, Jesus himself never speaks of the need to be circumcised in any of the Gospels. Paul describes these additions as “turning away from Christ.” Anything added to Christ alone for our salvation is a different message. Adding to grace alone was an alarming development because it undercut the core message of the gospel. If salvation could not be attained by embracing Judaism, then the death of Christ was unnecessary.

Adding to the message of grace by faith is subtracting from the power of the gospel, and it feeds our need to be in control of our own destiny. It tempts us to be our own little gods.

Before we start shaking our heads and pointing our fingers at the Galatians, let’s do a little introspection. Unfortunately, there are plenty of examples of this kind of erroneous teaching in our own western Christianity. We add lots of stuff to the gospel, like going to the right church, or baptism, or how much we are involved in serving. There are other things added to a moral category like smoking and drinking, having short hair, playing cards and gambling. We like to measure our worth against other people, so we set the bar slightly below our own behavior and judge others.

Don’t misunderstand, some of these actions can be an expression of the faith, but they are not the occasions for keeping relationship with God a reality. God alone does that. Look at Galatians 3:2; “I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?” In other words, we received salvation by grace. We cannot lose it by doing anything wrong, and we cannot keep it by doing things that are right. It was a free gift. We can lay our heads down at night and rest in the fact that we are loved for Christ’s sake, not for measuring up. Let’s break our rulers.

Tips for Reading (Interpretation tip #3)

(Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It has been building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over past weeks to get the whole picture.

I was reminded as I was reading The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg, that an important part of interpretation is meditation, or inviting the Holy Spirit to help you interpret what’s going on in the text and in your heart. Don’t be afraid of the word meditation. I am not getting new age on you. It’s a process that saints have used for millenniums. As you read the passage for the day, highlight what jumps out to you. At the end of your reading take a few minutes and focus on one of the phrases you have highlighted. For example, this week I stopped at Galatians 4:9 and meditated on what it means to go back and be “enslaved again”. I thought about how I have been delivered, and I was thankful. I thought of my struggles, and I confessed them to God. I renewed my relationship with God, and resolved by His grace not get enslaved to those stupid things of the past. Consider adding a couple minutes to your quiet time reading to help you to slow down and let the Spirit interpret what you have been reading. Give it a try and see if it helps bridge the gap between the ancient world and your heart. Grace and Peace.

Notes from David's Journal

The book of Galatians is often called "Romans in miniature". It's a wonderful, theological treatise that encapsulates the Gospel of grace. You will see the sinfulness of humanity, proved by the existence of the Law. All of us fall short of obeying God's perfect moral standard. But you also see, in Chapter 4, how we are now adopted sons and daughters in God's family by grace, through faith. I especially enjoy Chapter 5. In it, you will see the continuing war that exists between the lusts of the flesh (vss. 19-21) and the gift of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (vss. 22, 23). Interestingly, Paul says the fruit of the Spirit cannot happen by trying to obey the Law, trying to make it happen. The fruit of the Holy Spirit simply happen, by grace, for someone whose life is properly rooted in Christ. You can't force an orange tree to produce oranges. It doesn't happen by yelling at the tree, demanding it try harder. It only happens when the tree is rightly rooted in the soil of grace, mercy and kindness.

God's fruit in our lives is essential. But we can't "make it" happen. It will happen, but only as we grow in deeper intimacy with Christ and his presence deep within. This relationship is the essence of the Christian faith. We are to be "in Christ". And He is to be "in us". Living the Christian life is people who live daily in this intimacy, by grace, through faith.

That's the essence of the book of Galatians...and Romans...and most all the New Testament books.

It's the essence of the Christian life.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Need a little encouragement today? I have been encouraged by this quote and wanted to share it with all of you.  It reads:

I fall, I rise.

I make mistakes, I learn.

I've been hurt but I'm still alive.

I'm not perfect but I'm getting better.

I don't have all I want but I possess all I need.

I refuse to complain.

I'm thankful.

Isn't that a great life statement?  Read it again.  We won't give up.  We will learn from our mistakes.  We've been hurt but we've survived.  We are getting better, smarter every single day.  We will not let our wants drive us but be content that our needs are being met.  We will always choose thanksgiving over complaining.  One brings life.  The other death.

And in making these choices today, my life will be better.  I'll be more of whom I'm supposed to be.

I'll live life to the full.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Most everyone who has ever lived has experienced rejection from someone when you've tried to share your faith.  You want people to believe what you’ve experienced with the Lord.  You pray for the right opportunity.  You take the risk and share your heart.  

The response is crickets.  No response.  No interest. 

What do you do then?  Here are some suggestions that have helped me when this happens.

First, remember your friend is a person, not a scalp on your evangelistic belt.  You didn’t share your faith for brownie points with God.  You did so because you really wanted them to know Jesus.  You desired them to experience the joy of salvation and the freedom from guilt you know.  That unconditional love should continue even if your friend rejects your faith.

Which leads to my second thought.  They are still a person created in the image of God.  They are still someone you dearly care for.  Therefore, keep caring for them!  Keep loving them!  What drew you to them in the first place is still there.  Hopefully, that will never change.  God continues to love you unconditionally.  You need to follow his example with your friends, even if they reject the faith you hold dear.

Also, remember that it’s God’s job to draw someone to himself.  Your job is merely to present the truth.  It’s God’s responsibility to convince people of his reality.  That takes the pressure off, doesn’t it?  You’re in sales, God is in management.

Finally, always remind yourself that your friend didn’t reject you.  They rejected the faith you hold dear.  But you don’t know how to separate the two?  You must.  Though your faith does define much of who you are, you can still love when someone doesn’t love your faith.  God still loves them even though they don’t share his faith.  Emulate him.  That’s always a good place to rest.

Always look for opportunities to open up a faith conversation when a friend who has rejected it previously.  You never know when the door may be cracked open.  Life has a way of doing that.  Unconditionally loving the other will always allow that door to be open in God’s perfect time.

Be patient!  

And remember: It’s never over until it’s over!

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

The Post 9 (Week 20: II Corinthians 5-11) 

 

Ever been misunderstood so badly that it dominated everything you did that week? You were trying to explain yourself to everyone who knew the situation. I am a people pleaser so I am always trying to be understood clearly because I hate hurting folks feelings. Well Paul spent most of the book of 2 Corinthians trying to clear up two issues, the true meaning of the gospel and the fact of his clear calling as an apostle to the people of Corinth.

Now first of all, 2 Corinthians is actually probably 4 Corinthians. It is one part of a chain of correspondence dealing with events surrounding the Christian community at the Greek city of Corinth and it must be looked at in that context. Paul started the church and then left forEphesus. According to I Cor 5:9, Paul probably wrote a letter during this period that was lost. A little later, a group came to Paul and told him of all the problems in the Church atCorinth and he wrote I Corinthians. After this, Timothy told him that his letter was not received well and some of the leaders had questioned his authority as an Apostle and the gospel had been called into question and so he visited the church.This trip he called the painful visit, 2 Cor. 2:1;12:21-13:2, and he wrote another letter sometimes referred to as the severe letter, 2:3-4;7:8-12, calling on the Corinthians to recognize his apostolic authority. Once more, Paul was traveling this time to Macedonia and his friend Titus told him of the response to his letter and he wrote this letter we are studying this week.

I give all that background to give a picture of all that has been going on. Paul is working hard to help this church know Christ and to understand good doctrine. 11:4 -6 says “For if a person comes and preaches another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or you receive a different spirit, which you had not received, or a different gospel, which you had not accepted, you put up with it splendidly. Now I consider myself in no way inferior to the super apostles. Though untrained in public speaking, I am not untrained in knowledge. Indeed, we have always made that clear to you in everything."

It’s a dangerous thing for the faith and growth of a Christian to listen to someone preaching another Jesus, another Spirit, another gospel. What this means is any subtraction from the deity of Christ, any teaching that says He became a god or is less than God is another Jesus, Any teaching that would make the trinity any less God is another Spirit. And anything added to the sacrifice of Christ for our salvation, like certain works we need to do, laws we need to keep, reputations we need to uphold to obtain or to keep our salvation is another gospel.

As far as Paul’s defense of his own ministry, he spends Chapters 6, 10 and 11 showing his own suffering as extensions of Christ’s sufferings and he has received them because of his pleadings with his hearers on account of the One who became sin in their place 5:18-21.

Tips for Reading (Interpretation tip no. 2)

(Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It has been building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over past weeks to get the whole picture.

How did you do with trying to walk in Paul’s shoes last week? It’s hard isn’t it? That’s why I tried to give you more background this week into the reasons Paul wrote 2 Corinthians. Hopefully it will help you understand the intent of his writing.

Remember, the observation process asked what do I see? It’s like the foundation of the building. Interpretation, asks what does it mean? And it is like putting the building up, brick by brick. The first part of the process is always so important because you cannot build a great building without a great foundation. It’s hard to know what a writer means without knowing what the writer has said. To observe well, is to interpret well.

But why, someone might ask, do we need to go to such trouble to understand? Well we have many barriers in our way getting us from Ancient times to modern times. Time and distance between the biblical writer and us block our understanding. We need to appreciate what those roadblocks are and know they are not insurmountable, but they are substantial.

Let’s start with one this week and add a few more in the next couple of weeks. First of all there are language barriers. Have you ever learned a foreign language? If you have you know that learning the words is not enough. You have to learn the mind-set, the culture, and the worldview of those who speak it if you really want to understand what they are saying.

In the same way, when it comes to the Bible, we are a long way from a complete understanding since the bible was not written in English. We can use for example, a Bible Dictionary to help us recover some of the shades of meaning in the original words. It’s amazing to see how many people use a dictionary or wikipedia on the web to understand a book or a magazine article and yet never dream of using a bible dictionary when they run into a strange word in the Bible. Bible dictionaries provide loads of helpful information on subjects in the text and when you read that “we have been given the ministry ofreconciliation” (5:18) you can see all the ramifications a Jew in Ancient times would have thought of with this word.

Notes from David's Journal

As you read 2 Corinthians, you may want to spend some time in chapter 5. It's one of the richest in the entire New Testament. In fact, you may want to spend considerable time just concentrating on verse 17 in chapter five. It's one of the most famous, often-quoted verses in the Bible. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. The new has come." Just ponder these truths:

  • We are "in Christ". Our lives are in His: His baptism, resurrection, ascension and second coming. Where He is, we are there also, even now. A deep mystery, but true nonetheless.
  • We are new creations. We are totally new people in God's eyes, our past is forgiven and forgotten.
  • The old has passed away, gone, buried deep into the heart of the sea.
  • The new has come...now...and forever...I am a new person in God's sight.

Grab the truths of this one verse, much less chapter five, and you'll never be the same. My hope and prayer for you today? You'll never be the same!

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

There is a short phrase from the Jewish Talmud that I love.  It simply reads, "If not now, when?"  It's addressing the never-ending problem of procrastination.  We keep putting off decisions that we know we must make.  We feel a leading or nudging to start chasing a dream, then doubts enter and we put off beginning the chase. For all of you who have a dream to chase, for all of you who have something magnificent you want to do with your life, please read and reread the short maxim from the Talmud: "If not now, when?"  If you aren't going to begin chasing your dream today, when will you? When are you going to begin?  When will you stop procrastinating and start doing what you know you were called to do?

Procrastination is decision-making's version of hardening of the arteries.  The longer you put something off, the more ossified the dream becomes in your soul.  Doubt enters.  You start to believe it can never happen.  Finally, unbelief cripples all your energy.

Begin today!  Take a few, small steps toward your dream!  Don't procrastinate any longer.

If not now, when?

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

The Post (Week 19: 1 Corinthians 11-16 & 11 Corinthians 1-4) 

Say it’s August 30, 1975 and I am mowing my family’s lawn. I finish and walk up to my dad and say, “Aren’t you proud of me? I mowed the lawn because you made me do it.” (Add the unexcited face to go along with the dour words). What do you think he would do? Surely it would not warm his heart. He might be gracious because I am a teenager and give me a break, but he might also say, “With an attitude like that you can go to your room.”

Now that’s a silly illustration, but my point is, why you do something is as important as doing it. Paul states that without love, good deeds are worthless. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal…if I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing,” chapter 13; 1-3. Love seems to be the key to living out the Christian faith. I get this picture of a loud gong going off in heaven every time I say or do things out of habit without thinking or just because “you are supposed to.”


The text does not say love is everything and the other things mentioned; speaking in tongues, the gift of prophecy, an ability to understand mysteries and all knowledge, a faith that can move mountains; are nothing. But instead it says those things are insignificant unless they are accompanied by love. Love does not displace them; its absence makes them pointless and ultimately valueless. Chapter 13 really addresses the whole book and the struggles the Corinthians had with selfish spirituality and pride. This chapter is calculated to abase the arrogant. History offers sad examples of people who have become proud of their gift of tongues, of their prophetic gift, even of their offering gifts and self-sacrifices. But it is a contradiction in terms to be proud of one’s love, in any Christian sense of love. Perhaps that is one of the reasons these other virtues are destroyed if unaccompanied by love.


This is why it’s important to hear in our hearts “We love because He first loved us,” I John 4:10. The ultimate catalyst for loving is in knowing you are loved. We serve God out of love precisely because we know we are unconditionally cherished ourselves. This kind of love then helps us use “grace gifts” mentioned in Chapter 12 with a heart of service. It helps us celebrate the Lord’s table (Chapter 14) and the resurrection (Chapter 15) with a full heart, knowing He has loved us down to the deepest parts of our secret stories and will continue to walk with us day by day.

Tips for Reading (Interpretation tip no. 1)

(Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It has been building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over past weeks to get the whole picture.

We are moving on to the next aspect of bible study called interpretation. We have spent 1/3 of the year working thru observations, i.e., seeing what is there in the text. Now we will see what it means. An example of this is in Acts 8, where the Ethiopian eunuch asks Philip what the passage in Isaiah means. Do you remember this story? He was reading the words, but he didn’t understand who the prophet was speaking of. The same is true for us, we are removed from the context in which the Scriptures were written, and as a result don’t always know what the author meant when he wrote a certain passage.


We believe every book of Scripture has a message, and that message can be understood. Second Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is profitable." That means it has purpose, it has meaning. God is not playing a game of hide and seek with you. He doesn’t invite you into His Word only to puzzle and confound you. He is far more interested that you understand it than you are. But how do we go about getting meaning. First we attempt to stand in the author’s shoes and re-create his experience, to think as he thought, to feel as he felt, and to decide as he decided. We’re asking, What did this mean to him? Before we ever ask, What does this mean to me? Okay, this week just try to start getting that perspective as you read the last part of I Corinthians and the first part of II Corinthians. Try to walk in Paul’s shoes this week and we’ll add some ideas to this next week.

Notes from David's Journal

You have a variety of reading in these two sections. Let me encourage you to focus first on I Corinthians 13. It's the great love chapter. Imagine a world where everyone loved like this! Wouldn't that be extraordinary? It's what Jesus intended. It's what the kingdom of heaven will look like. But it's also how Jesus intended this world to be now, especially in the church. Re-read John 13:34. The way the world will know that people belong to Jesus is how they love each other! You can't manufacture this kind of love. It can only happen as Jesus consumes your heart for His glory. Jesus is perfect love and the more He indwells and consumes us, the more we love as He loved. Second Corinthians 1:4. What a wonderful verse this is! It simply states that as we are comforted by God in our trials, He will often call us to comfort others as we've been comforted by Him. Think about your pain and loss. Now think about God's comfort to you amidst this pain and loss. Very often, it's this experience God has taken you through that He wants you now to give comfort to someone else who is going through this same trial. There's never a wasted tear in God's kingdom. There's purpose in everything. I hope and pray Jesus becomes more real to you today as you read His Word!

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Open with me this morning to Mark 14:5,6: "'For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.'  And they scolded her.  But Jesus said, 'Leave her alone.  Why do you trouble her?  She has done a beautiful thing to me.'" Jesus is with his disciples.  Mary, one of Jesus' closest friends, places an ointment of nard on his head.  The value of this oil is worth around three hundred denarii, approximately 300 days of pay in that day. Obviously, it's very valuable.

Some of Jesus' disciples objected to this apparent waste.  They said it could have been sold for a lot of money and given to the poor.

But Jesus defends her action.  Not only does he defend it, he calls it "beautiful."

I had to pause when I read this again.  Jesus describes the woman's act of sacrifice as "beautiful."  I asked myself the question, "David, would Jesus ever describe any act of sacrifice you've done as 'beautiful.'  If so, what would it have been?"  I found it difficult to find such an action.  What have I sacrificed in my life that Jesus would call "beautiful?"

Would you have the same problem?  The reason the woman sacrificed so much was because her life had been so profoundly touched and changed.  Maybe that's the key to performing an act that is "beautiful" in Jesus' sight.  Maybe if we have difficulty identifying an act of beauty in Jesus' sight is because we've not felt deeply touched by his love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.  Those who have been forgiven much, love much.

Those who have been forgiven much are probably the ones who do "beautiful" acts for Jesus' sake and glory.

Today, let us all remember the price Jesus paid on the cross.  Let's remember the extent to which he went to bring us back to a relationship with our Father in heaven.  It cost him everything.  It was a "beautiful" act on his part.

That's the foundation for a "beautiful" action for God's glory from us.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

One of my main suggestions to raising healthy kids: Speak highly of your spouse in their presence.

Try faithfully to build each other up using words such as these, "You have a great Mom, and I have a great wife" or "Look at the super job your Dad did in the yard for all of us.  I am so thankful he is my husband."  Since children are imitators they will learn to show respect and build others up if they have watched you do the same.  And one more thing, watch your tone of voice.  How you say something is just as important as what you may say.  Make sure the tone shows patience and kindness towards one another.

Your kids are watching and listening.  In their hearts, as they watch and listen to you, they are preparing for their marriages.  Mom's/Dad's, make sure you treat one another the way you want your kids to treat their spouses!

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

The Post (Week 18: Romans 15-16 & 1 Corinthians 1-10) 

I performed a funeral a few years back for one of my former youth group members. It was hard to say goodbye. There is always something bitter sweet about the stories that are shared at weddings and funerals. Even though I was not there in her earliest years, the stories brought a depth to what I knew about my friend. They brought back a real contact with her that I won’t lose.

As we open the book of I Corinthians, I am connected back to the stories I hear at weddings and funerals. The letter to the Corinthians paints an amazing picture of church life in Corinth. Even though the book is 2000 years old, I can see into that world and relate. This letter is about struggles and self-centeredness, but also Paul gives encouragement. It contains real life stuff, like our stories.

Because of the nature of a letter, we only get half of the dialogue, which is like listening in a phone call from one side. Since we don’t possess the letter Paul was answering, and we don’t know fully the circumstances he was dealing with, we must reconstruct the situation from the letter itself and our knowledge of the city and the church from history. Corinth was an important city in Greece and it probably felt like our culture with a multi-facetted mix of backgrounds, religious views and licentious lifestyles. Of course Corinth was the perfect place to plant a church as a light in the darkness. But the Christians were tempted to escape and to shelter themselves from the culture. Sounds too close to home! Problems arose in the church as converts became “super-spiritual” to protect themselves from the world. The church was also being influenced by Gnostic groups that taught everything to do with normal, physical life was evil and only spiritual things were worthwhile. This created a selfish type of spirituality focused inwardly rather than a self-denying Christ-centered attitude; servants of God to the world.

Paul addressed this spiritual selfishness throughout the letter but he sums it up in I Cor 6:19 - 20. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Sprit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” In other words, because we belong to God we willingly lay down our rights. Paul says we lay down our right to retaliate against other believers if the honor of Christ is at stake publicly (6:7-8). We lay down the right to our body, in regards to our spouse, choosing to serve the other (7:4). We lay down our right to personal freedom in the grey areas, so the weaker members in Christ are not offended (8:13). Finally, we lay down our right to a self-centered life and instead we are to give our lives away to others that they might know the love of Christ (9:19-23). In summary, we give up the rights to our bodies, our money, our time and the vision of our lives for the kingdom’s sake.

It is amazing to me that after 2000 years, Paul still has his finger on the pulse of culture. Just like I do not have to have been in Corinth to get this book, it looks like Paul does not need to live in Charlotte to have my number!

Tips for Reading (Interpretation tip)

(Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It has been building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over past weeks to get the whole picture.

So did you take the time to create any charts last week? My comments above about laying down our different rights came from a chart I made for myself on Corinthians. If you want to make a chart for these shorter books, a simple place to start is to write the chapters across the top and the main topics down the side. As Paul repeats a theme, summarize his ideas under the column for the appropriate chapter. A chart is a simple way to compare and contrast ideas as well as to see repeated themes. Some books are more linear and an outline may be the best fit. The point is to get the ideas down on paper.

Notes from David's Journal

Most everyone knows the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is knowing a lot of facts. Wisdom is the application of those facts in our lives. Some have tried to say wisdom is what we should strive for. I think we need to strive for both. We need to know what we believe and why we believe. Most importantly, we need to apply it to our lives, to live it. Where does I Corinthians 1 - 10 fit in this understanding? Read the first three chapters especially. You'll see Paul writing a lot about God's wisdom. But notice one major difference from Paul's perspective and what I previously noted about knowledge and wisdom. From Paul's perspective, wisdom is literally defined as Jesus Himself. He is the wisdom of God. Therefore, perhaps God's key to wisdom is receiving Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Perhaps the key to wisdom from God's perspective is having Christ permeate our souls, our hearts, our very lives. When this happens, we have what Paul calls in other places, "the mind of Christ." We think like He thinks. We assimilate His knowledge. And we do His will because that's the master passion of our lives. In I Samuel 3, Samuel is encouraged by Eli to listen to God's voice and respond, "Here I am. I'm your servant. What do you will?" That's true wisdom. It's rooted in a desire to know and obey God above all else. It's something even a child like Samuel could understand. Therefore, today, know what and why you believe. Seek to apply these truths into your life through obedience. However, above all, seek a personal, living relationship with Jesus Himself. After all, He is the wisdom of God. Once living in us, He must then live through us.

 

 

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Mark 1:45 offers a interesting perspective as we continue to work through The Kingdom series these next few weeks at Forest Hill. Grab a Bible and read through with me: "But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter." A man had just been healed from leprosy.  Jesus had specifically told him not to share this news with anyone.  Jesus was trying to guard his message, knowing that the religious leaders would want him dead as his message and works spread.  However, in direct disobedience to Jesus, and in great joy, he went out and told everyone.

Jesus cannot stay hidden.  Whenever he entered any town the mobs would swarm to him.  Throughout Mark's Gospel, this continues to be a problem.  Excessively, they want Jesus' miracles and miss his true purpose in coming: to proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God.  His mighty miracles only proved his identity and authenticated his message.  What he really wanted people to understand was God's kingdom and rule coming to earth through him.  He wanted total authority over their lives.

We do the same thing to Jesus.  Too many people often miss the point regarding why he came.  We make it all about us.  We want Jesus to do something for us.  We'll flock to him as long as he meets our every need.  But the message of God's kingdom ruling in our hearts, God's desire for holiness in us, God's call for us to be obedient to him in every area of our lives, his call to take the Gospel message through us to all of the world, gets clouded, even lost, in our desire for Jesus to give US something.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about us.  It's all about him.  He came to save us so that we would be his servants, not vice versa.  Is this you?  How often do you go to Jesus asking him to do something for you?  Conversely, how often do you go to him asking him what you can do for him and his kingdom?

May the joy of the healed leper be our joy today.  May his joyous passion to tell others about the One who healed him be our passion today.  May we look to Jesus not to be served, but to serve others and give our lives away to those who need it.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

The Post (Week 17: Romans 8-14) 

Romans Chapter 8 begins with some of the best news I have ever heard. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Christians love to quote this good news so much it has almost become passé. But let’s stop and soak this one in. This phrase doesn’t come out of the blue. It comes in the midst of an honest, even humiliating, confession about the difficulty of living a faithful life. And this confession comes from one of the pillars of our faith- Paul himself. At the end of Chapter 7, Paul was as honest as anyone could be about his struggles. He found himself doing the exact opposite of what he knew he should do. We don’t really know what his specific struggle was, but we know our own struggles, right? If we read Romans 7 a couple of times, we can turn away from wagging our finger at Paul and focus on our own story. Again the great thing about Romans 8 is that God did not leave us there in our awful cycle of failure. At the perfect time, the rescue comes. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” That includes Paul. That includes me. That includes you.

Chapter 8 is one of the best-loved chapters in the entire Bible. Paul’s is preoccupied with the work of the Spirit. As a matter of fact he mentions the Spirit by name 19 times in this one chapter! He tells us that the Spirit is our liberator now from the law and sin. He is the giver of a new identity and He is a guarantee of the resurrection to come. Let’s unpack this a little by looking at how the Holy Spirit helps us deal with our guilt and shame. We feel guilt as a result of a specific sin we have committed that needs to be confessed. It is something we have done. Shame, on the other hand, is a general feeling about who we are. For example, when I lie I need to confess that specific sin of lying. But deep inside I know that the reason I lied was because I was afraid and backed away from telling the truth. I feel shame about who I am- a coward. The Spirit’s work deals with both my guilt and my shame. When the Holy Spirit convicts me of my sin, I can ask for forgiveness and receive a clean slate for what I did. But when the Holy Spirit reminds me that I am a new creation, deeply loved in all my brokenness, I can release my shame and realize who I am – a child of God (not a coward) who has a future that includes being in the presence of God, blameless without condemnation.

This new identity is something that is not always easy to accept. Paul spends the rest of the chapters in Romans talking about how to live with our new identity and how to live within the body of Christ. Let’s conclude with that good news – therefore there is no condemnation (for that lie or my act of cowardice) for those who are in Christ Jesus (that is us- our new identity).

Tips for Reading (Interpretation tip)

(Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It has been building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over past weeks to get the whole picture.

Have you ever wondered what people write in their journals? One popular discipline that many Christians have in their time with God is journaling…but what does that mean. It may mean writing out prayers, or processing emotions through writing, but you can also use your journal to take notes about what you are reading in your Bible Study. I think it is funny how I can believe that somehow I am going to remember what I am learning without writing it down and taking notes. For years I would not take the time to write out my thoughts about the chapters I was reading because I had a notion God would somehow make it stick since it was from Him. Now I call that a shortcut and to be honest laziness on my part. The truth is just like taking notes on your science reading so that you remember what you read, there is an appropriate time for taking notes on the Bible.

One way you can take notes is to spend some time summarizing what you have read. In other words, when you get done with a book of the Bible put it all together.

Here are a few helpful tips from Howard Hendricks in “Living by the Book” While you are studying through the book assign titles to paragraphs or chapters. Be creative and make them your own, not just the one’s already written in the Bible you are using. This will help you retain your insights in neat packages. Create a chart using all these titles you have been writing. The book of Romans is a great place to try this because there are several big sweeping ideas. Focus on Chapter 1-8, Chapter 9-11 and Chapter 12-16. Keep the charts simple. You can always add more detail later when you study the book again. The challenge is to clear away clutter. Just write the big ideas, the key characters to start with. I will give you a couple more tips in this area next week. We are heading into several books that are short and easier to chart to get you started.

Notes from David's Journal

Spend some special time in Romans eight. It is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. Not only does it speak of the Holy Spirit's power through grace to break the power of reigning sin, but it also talks about our position in Christ as His adopted children, how creation and our bodies "groan" for the day of Christ's return and total redemption of this world, God's sovereign control over all for those who love Him and are doing His will, and the enormous love god has for His children, that His is "for us", not against us, loving us, not condemning us, and that this love one day will conquer all. I know this is a lot of Biblical truth to ponder, but that's why we all need to camp out, spend some time in Romans eight! It's a magnificent chapter, rich in theological, Biblical truth.

The bad news is we're lost forever without Christ. The good news He has found us and extended His rich love based on His grace, not our works. As someone once said, most of our problems in life are because we don't believe that the bad news is much worse than we think. The world really is under the bondage of sin and death. But the good news is also much better than we think. God's love is much greater than we could ever realize! Both realities explain much about life. Believe them. It's the foundation of why we should live as we live.

Romans 9 and 11 address the question of where the Jews fit in God’s eternal plan of salvation. Read the chapters closely and you’ll see how much God still loves the Jews. Indeed, we Gentiles are the wild branch. The Jews are still loved by God. He wants them to come to faith in Him. In fact, when you start seeing a fair number of them coming to faith in Jesus, start looking up! It’s an evidence of the completion of time.

Finally, realize that in all the Pauline epistles, there is a section of orthodoxy (proper doctrine) and orthopraxy (application of proper doctrine). Romans follows this model. Proper doctrine is chapters 1-11, what we’ve examined last week and this week. Chapters 12-16 is the practical application of the Gospel of grace. Read these chapters closely. See how we Christians are supposed to live if grace is true. It’s a challenge for us all to see if we’re living according to our identities in Christ.

Enjoy Romans! It’s the Mount Everest of all the Pauline letters!

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Take a minute to read Psalm 107:22-43 today.  These verses have a theme of God's ability to help us when all seems hopeless.  Verse 28 restates the prayer God loves to hear from us all: "Lord, help!", this time referring to sailors on the sea amidst a huge tempest and storm.  "And he saved them from their distress."  God is faithful to his people who cry to him for help. Sometimes, when reading a section of Scripture, one verse stands out.  It's a verse of hope.  It's a verse that builds your faith.  That happens with me as I read verse 35: "But he also turns deserts into pools of water, the dry land into flowing springs."  The Holy Spirit kept whispering to my heart, "David, God is able."  That's the heart of faith and hope, isn't it?  God is able.  God is able to take the deserts and dry places of my heart today and give me fresh, flowing, living water.  He is able to give me streams in my desert places.  There and there alone do I rest my faith and hope.

Yes, I too have desert places in my heart.  I love God in Christ with all that is within me.  Yet there are parched places in my soul.  So I find verses like this one, cling to them, and believe in hope that God will pour his refreshing water into these places.  When so, like water on dry ground, a pool of drinkable water can quickly form.

That's my prayer for all of us today.  May this one, small verse give us all hope today.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Let’s keep the honor conversation going.  Someone asked about why an unbalanced life dishonors God?

You must remember the definition of honor.  It means to value, prize, treasure, and esteem something or someone with inestimable worth.  A synonym is the word worship.  When you honor God, he takes first place in your life.  You seek his kingdom above all else.  You worship him.

When you try to have it all, working furiously all day long to garner more and more possessions, exercising furiously to sculpt the perfect body, and then try to cultivate all the meaningful relationships you can find, where can there possibly be time for God?  And the advancing of his kingdom?  I bet you’re exhausted most of the time.

Plus, if you’re sleeping with whomever you want, whenever you want, you’re looking for love in the wrong place.  It’s just two people temporarily gratifying a momentary desire.  It’s not love.  It’s not covenant commitment.  It’s counterfeit.  It’s a cultural lie.  And you wake up the next morning still looking for what you don’t have.

Moreover, all these things are outward focused.  They are used by you to promote your image.  You want to look good in the world’s eyes, purportedly having it all.

But God is a God of the heart.  He changes people from the inside out.  When his gospel invades a person, there’s the slow, imperceptible change inside.  People start to think and act like Jesus.  Indeed, they are being conformed to his image.

Did you catch that word “image”?  It’s Jesus’ goal for all his followers.  Paul clearly states it in Romans 8:29.  He is primary.  His kingdom’s advancement is the primary motivation for living and breathing.  He is our life.  In him, we live and move and have our being.  Everything, and I mean everything else becomes secondary—especially the tawdry, ever-changing, image-prompting lies of the culture.  His image is the bomb.  It becomes steadily life’s highest virtue and priority.

You may think you can have it all.  You can’t.  No one ever has.  Anyone who tells you they have is lying to you.  I would bet dollars to donuts their inward hearts are caving.  They just to a great job of hiding it.

But if you learn how to honor God and give him first place, the rest of life falls into line.  That’s what Jesus meant in Matthew 6:33 when he said, “Seek first the kingdom of God.  And all these other things will follow.”  The “things” in the verses before this verse are fashion, food, and fellowship.  They aren’t unimportant.  They just aren’t most important.  And they will never deeply satisfy the longings of your heart.

Honor, value, esteem, treasure, and praise God and his kingdom first in your life.  It’s the key to a meaningful life.  Everything else you hunger for will follow.  It’s just not as important.

In fact, it becomes a distant second in importance.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

The Post (Week 16: Romans 1-7) 

If you were going to give the most important news to the most influential people in the world, how would you start? How would you introduce yourself? How would you broach the subject of the Messiah, knowing that the religious community would think they didn’t need it and the irreligious community would think you were crazy? Well, that was Paul’s dilemma as he began the book of Romans.

Paul begins with a pretty shocking description of himself. He calls himself a slave and a God-ordained apostle. These terms put together seem to imply a powerful person who has freely laid down his power to represent someone higher. This would get attention in a hurry. Like the time the Pope wanted to drive and his chauffeur rode in back. As they exited the car someone asked “who was in that limo?” The reply, “I don’t know but it must be someone remarkable because the Pope is his chauffeur!”

Most of Paul’s writings were really letters. Interactions between people he knew, and situations he was somehow involved in- even if at a distance. But the book of Romans is not nearly as personal (at least in the first half) and is more like a theological textbook explaining the truth of the gospel. Some commentators point out the legal terms that Paul uses and equate the book to a legal case. So after giving a detailed description of who he was serving (Jesus Christ our Lord, a descendant of David and the Son of God) and the good news he was proclaiming (salvation for all who believe), Paul goes straight to presenting the case that we are all in need of the grace of God.

He begins with the easier task of the talking about how the outcasts of society, the publicly broken people, need salvation. This would probably make the religious community say “amen”. Even the people he was describing would not have a hard time agreeing with him. (Remember when we talked about the tax collector in the temple who was quick to ask for God’s mercy when the religious man could not?) But Paul continues to build his case that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. He eventually concludes that even the most moral Jews who obey the laws to a great degree are still without righteousness. These first chapters build and build until we are all in a desperate place for some good news. At the end of chapter 3 we find ourselves asking “well who is good enough?”. Basically Paul is telling us all that we need this gospel of grace and then he leads us to where we can get it.

In Chapter 4, Paul takes us all the way back to Abraham and explains that he was not pronounced righteous because of his good works, but on account of his belief in the lavish grace of God. Can you imagine what the moral Jew thought about Paul pulling out Abraham’s name as a believer in grace? In Chapter 5, Paul asserts that although we all have Adam’s sin nature we can be credited as blameless because of Jesus’ obedience. God’s love and grace are more lavish than we could have ever expected and Jesus’ work of salvation even more profound. Chapters 6 and 7 begin the process of unpacking how we are to live in light of this new life. Paul camps on this theme for the rest of the book.

Tips for Reading (Interpretation tip)

(Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It has been building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over past weeks to get the whole picture.

A Simple Question

As we start to study the writings of Paul, we can see a simple pattern Paul uses. Paul likes to ask questions in his letters and then he likes to answer them! The question is one of the most powerful tools of communication. If I ask you a question, doesn’t it more or less force you to think? Paul uses this tactic to engage his readers and to encourage them to discover the answers. In Romans 6:1 Paul, raises the question, “What shall I say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” Then he answers “by no means.” Again in verse 15 he uses the question: “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?” Again the answer is “By no means.” (See the repetition too!!) These important questions lead us to consider how we approach God. Do we take grace for granted? Do we abuse God’s gift and live for ourselves? Or do we stand in awe of the work of Jesus on the cross that gives us the stamp of RIGHTEOUS before God. In that awe we are called to live a life of gratitude devoted to the one who did the work for us.

As you read the book of Romans, pause when Paul asks a question, try to answer it before you move on. You can learn a lot about what you really believe when you let his questions penetrate your soul.

Notes from David's Journal

Romans is the pinnacle of theological truth. In it, you find the Gospel outlined in great depth. For example, in Romans chapters one through three Paul outlines how all have sinned and fall far short of God's glory. In Romans one he says how all are "without excuse," creation and our moral consciences proving the existence of God. Romans two shows how the Jews don't obey the very law they uphold. Romans three shows how the Gentiles also fall short of God's glory. Then Romans four begins the conversation about the importance of faith, not law, being what leads us to God's forgiveness. David and Abraham are used as examples of Old Testament men who lived by faith and received God's blessing and forgiveness by faith.

Romans one through three is the "bad news." We are fallen people, all of us, and cannot earn God's favor by words. Romans four exalts the power of faith to bring us before God's favor. Romans five through eight is the "good news," God's forgiving love through Jesus, given freely, thoroughly. It is the only thing that can free us from the things we don't want want to do, yet do (see Romans seven).

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

I thought I would re-share one of my favorite recipes with you all today. I hope you enjoy this one and put it to use!

RECIPE FOR A HAPPY MARRIAGE

  • 1 cup of consideration
  • 2 cupfuls praise
  • 1 reasonable budget
  • 2 cupfuls of flattery carefully concealed
  • 2 cupfuls milk of human kindness
  • 1 gallon faith in God and each other
  • A generous dash of cooperation
  • 3 teaspoons of pure extract of “I am sorry”
  • Children (more or less, to taste)
  • 1 cup of confidence and encouragement
  • 1 large or several small hobbies
  • 1 cup of blindness to each others faults
  • 1 cup of courtesy
  • 1 small pinch of in-laws
  • 1 cup of contentment

Flavor with frequent portions of recreation and a dash of happy memories. Stir well and remove any specks of jealousy, temper, or criticism. Sweeten well with generous portions of love and keep warm with a steady flame of devotion. Never serve with a cold shoulder or a hot tongue.

– Author Unknow

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

I want to try and keep the honor discussion going.  It’s a lost art in our culture.

What’s the opposite of honor?  One antonym is shame.  As honor desires to esteem, value, and treasure another, shame desires to put down, embarrass, and humiliate the other.

Many people feel shamed today.  They feel like they never measure up to what they think they should be.  From where does this shame come?

1   Sometimes it’s from parents who placed a performance-based lifestyle on us.  We feel we must measure up to their standards, but have always failed.  That sense of shame haunts our insides.

2   Sometimes it’s culture.  We are bombarded daily by advertisements and media that tells us what we should look like, how we should dress, how to be accepted by others, and how to live.  If we just do these things, then we will feel honored.  We try, fail, and then feel ashamed and unworthy.

3   Sometimes it’s that inward sense of shame that occurred in the Fall in Genesis 3.  After Adam and Eve sinned against God, they killed animals and put loincloths around their waists (the first evidence of blood being shed to cover sin).  They knew they’d failed God.  So do we.  God does have a moral law and because we have this inbuilt disease called sin, inherited from Adam and Eve, we feel shame when we fail God.  Our “loincloths” are just anything and everything we can think of and do to cover our shame.  We all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.  Inward shame is something we all experience.

What’s the answer?  Forgive my simplicity, but the answer is Jesus.  How?

In his death and resurrection, he not only forgives us our sin but gives us a new identity.  In accepting his love, we know we now belong to him.  Nothing can ever separate us from his love.  We are adopted children into his family.  He chose us to be in his family—all because of love!  

Therefore:

1   A parental, performance-based mentality is no longer ours.  I have only one parent I want to please: my Father in heaven.  And he loves me today and forever---not based on my performance but his grace given to me through his Son, Jesus.

2   The culture and all its ever-changing fads don’t define me.  I’m honored in Christ.  I play to an audience of one: Jesus.  And He never changes.

3   My inward shame is gone.  It was given to Jesus when I knew his forgiveness.  He absorbed every ounce of it.  I don’t need any of the world’s loincloths to hide my shame.  I am loved in the Beloved.  I’ve been set free.  My God through Jesus has ransomed me and given me a new identity in him.

Shame simply can’t be a part of a Christ-follower’s life.  It’s antithetical to a Christian’s new identity in Jesus.  He has honored, esteemed, valued, and treasured me so much that he died an excruciating death to give me eternal life.  Could there possibly be a greater love given to me?  Could God have possibly given me more honor?

And my natural response is to honor the One who has honored me so much, praising him forever for the absorption of my shame and the gift of eternal life.

Keep the honor discussion going!  Honor is a natural part of the Christian’s life.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

The Post (Week 15: Matthew 15-28) 

The key phrase throughout the book of Matthew is the Kingdom of God (or heaven). Now it's a little bit hard to get a handle on all the components but I would like to set out some ideas to get you started and I am sure you can add a lot more as you go.

First of all, there is an idea of the now and the not yet. We live in the truth of redemption and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit now and future paradise in the physical presence of the King. It's almost like a person who is under the age of 18 and waiting to inherit a fortune. That person is in the now and the not yet. He is planning and living today for what is truly to come in the future.
Matthew 17:1-5 gives us a picture of Jesus himself living in that kind of tension.

"After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.' While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!'"

This story gives a picture of the future glory of the king and yet He was still headed to the cross. It calls out the idea that "one day every knee will bow" and still our redemption had not yet been bought. Peter misunderstands and thinks that Jesus is being elevated to their status of prophets. But God, the Father paints the picture in a terrifying display, "This is my son in whom I am well pleased." Jesus has no rivals. He is the only one person of whom it can be said that he made us, and then became one of us; that he is the Lord of glory, and a human being; that he died in shame on the cross, yet is now seated on the right hand of Majesty, having returned to the glory he shared with the Father before the world began.

Now let's see a passage dealing with how we should live in this world, but in light of our future heritage. Matthew 25:31-40 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." This is an amazing picture of the calling on our lives in the kingdom.

We are actually interfacing with Jesus daily when we are serving the marginalized, the broken, the victimized and the poor. As we do this in this life, we are actually doing it for the Kingdom of the future. Now that melts my brain. Lastly,the resurrection has the same now and not yet component.

Easter shows how dangerous he is. It says, he's out there somewhere risen and you are never sure what he is going to do. "He's not safe, but he's good."

Tips for Reading (Interpretation tip)

(Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It has been building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over past weeks to get the whole picture.

We are getting down to the end of our observation section of bible study. Next stop in 3 weeks will be interpretation. It might be a good time to go back over what you have learned and put them on an index card in bullet form so as you go to the next part you take observation with you.

Okay, here's the next tip. Look for things that are emphasized. I have been leading you to this in the above section because of the kingdom emphasis. Of Matthew's 1062 verses, over one third are in the form of Jesus giving a discourse. Guess what the main topic is? That's right, the Kingdom. The main topic of the book of Matthew is the King and his Kingdom.
So, as you read these 14 chapters this week take note of every story that is an illustration of the Kingdom. Write down what it says about it, for now and for later. How are we called to live in light of these truths? For example, when you see our king dying for his enemies, how does that reflect how we should treat those who have different political views, different values, or are just downright folks we don't get along with so well?

Notes from David's Journal

Re-Read closely Matthew 23. It's a fascinating diatribe from Jesus to the Pharisees! These words flow from the gentlest man who ever lived. He loved in a way no one of us could ever loved. But He really didn't like the Pharisees at all. Why? Because they reduced God's kindness, mercy and love to rules and regulations. They made their faith an outward obedience instead of an inward compassion.

In fact, I've often wondered if there are only two religions in the world: Pharisees and genuine Christians? The former (and you fill in the brand of the different "religious" codes) emphasize doing, outward and pride. They feel they have "it" (God) and anyone who doesn't do what they do is outside His favor. But true Christians know how unworthy they are. They live in constant humility. They bask daily in God's unmerited grace. And they love to give that grace away to all, those who do and don't do alike!

Spend some time this week identifying what I call "the Pharisee in me." Make sure it's eliminated from your faith walk. Or you just may hear Jesus' harsh words of Matthew 23 spoken to you...and me.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick