As we lead up to our new series, "The Lost Art Of Honor,"  I invited my friend Todd Lesher to share his thoughts on the significance of honor. Todd is not only a student pastor with us here at Forest Hill, but also tackles relevant topics on his blog, French Pressed Fridays. I know you will enjoy his perspective as a base for our dialogue this month. 

Everyone is Honorable by Todd Lesher

What makes someone honorable?

Is it their title--doctor, professor, officer, pastor, or president?

Is it their education--bachelors, masters, or PhD?

Is it their status--popular, successful, or powerful?

Is it their age, or gender, or race, or ethnicity, or heritage?

What makes someone worthy of honor?

Our view of people is often swayed by externals. It can have a powerful ability to influence how we treat those around us. It may even determine whether or not we will honor them. 

We can let external qualities affect our view of people, or we can allow their spiritual substance to influence our outlook. The biblical texts elevate the significance of mankind high above surface level measurements. According to Genesis 1:26-27, men and women were fashioned unlike anything else within God's creation. They were created in the image and likeness of their Creator. They possessed divinity in their humanity. 

This unique feature sets women and men apart from the rest of the universe. That God would leave a divine mark on us makes us honorable. Titles, education, status, and family might alter our social standing, but they don't make people more or less honorable.

We honor those around us when we acknowledge the divine mark in one another. 

I am inspired by the challenge of Romans 12:10, Outdo one another in showing honor. This simple scripture has world-altering potential. If we treated everyone with honor simply because they're made in the image and likeness of God, it would eliminate injustice and bring peace on earth. It all begins with how we view each other.

It was Jesus who was willing to outdo everyone in showing honor by sacrificing his divine life for our dishonorable sins toward God and one another. Not only are we marked by the divine, we're worth dying for. Which makes everyone honorable.

 

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AuthorStacey Martin

This month my bride, Marilynn, and I are going to talk through what it looks like to live a life of honor in relationships. Our hope is that you are encouraged to love your spouse, friends and family with a new level or honor. Here are some initial thoughts from my book, Eight Great Ways To Honor Your Wife

Trusting her gut. 

I wish I'd been smarter in this area. If so, I could have avoided a lot of pain. I stupidly ignored this reality. If I could redo one major part of Marilynn's and my marital life together it would be this one. I'd trust her gut more. I'd honor her intuition. 

It's happened not once, but on multiple occasions. Marilynn sensed something was wrong. Her spiritual antenna was high. It was receiving strong signals. She sensed an unknown something. There was an inward, environmental stimulus without any accompanying reason. It caused extreme tightness and discomfort in her stomach. 

She couldn't explain why she undeniably sensed what she did, but she did. She just knew something wasn't right. Something was out of whack. Something bad was about to happen. Her gut was twisted and nervous. There was a foreboding something on the horizon. And she was saying to me that I just needed to trust her gut.  

Too often I ignored her suggestions and plowed ahead with what I needed to do and thought was best. I'd give a polite nod. Or sometimes I'd argue back, saying she didn't understand the full picture. Or sometimes I was totally dismissive and I'd say she simply needed to trust me. Looking back, I often ignored her instincts to my own eventual chagrin and demise. 

Fortunately, she's seldom poured on guilt by saying, "I told you so." She's been gracious when I've later acknowledged her wisdom and my folly. But on many occasions I've gone to her and simply said, "You were right. I was wrong. I'm sorry. I should have listened to you." If there is one positive thing that's come from these excruciating experiences, it's that I learned great humility. 

Again, I wish I'd been smarter. In this area, hindsight truly is 20/20. Some people call it women's intuition. Others refer to it as a gut instinct. I'm not exactly sure of the appropriate term, but I know it's true. Women have something inwardly that men don't have. They receive insights on situations men tend to ignore.  

What are some ways that your wife's intuition has protected you?

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Week 5: Acts 5-11 Persecution Leading to Expansion

Someone has said if you want to understand the blue collar working man, listen to Bruce Springsteen. If you want to understand the South during the civil war, don’t read a history book, read “Gone with the Wind.” To gain perspective of the early church in the first century, we need look no further than our readings this week, Acts 5-11. This week’s readings give us the best picture of what the early church looked like, complete with its internal strife, its persecutions, and its spread outside of Palestine.

Even though there was plenty of excitement over the revival, there was also sin in the community. In Acts 5 it is lying and hypocrisy, in chapter 6 it is an issue of alleged inequity, injus- tice, and consequent divisiveness. They even struggled with divisions along racial lines between Grecian Jews and Hebraic Jews. The leaders address these issue by creating a group of deacons (literally servers), to make sure needs are met. Like the deacons of today, they were charged with serving the community. The deacons were there to address the internal troubles in the community.

The troubles turn deadly in the next chapters as persecution hits the church. Stephen is martyred while Paul looks on. This tragedy forces the dispersion of the believers. If you don’t obey Acts 1:8 ‘go into all the world,’ then you will get Acts 8:1 ‘on that day severe persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem. In other words, they chose to stay in their comfort zone with people like them, but the persecution forced them out into the world where God had called them to go all along.

Immediately when they go out into the world they start rubbing shoulders with people from different cultures who have never heard of Jesus. The body of Christ grows more colorful and diverse as the rest of Acts unfolds. From an Ethiopian, to a zealous Jew, to a military leader, who was obviously a Gentile, people were being converted to Christianity from all walks of life. Finally in chapter 10 and 11 Peter undergoes a conversion of sorts himself. Peter, a devout Jewish Christian has probably never considered that God was inviting non- Jews into the body of Christ. But through a dramatic vision, Peter understands the Gospel is for everyone. It was God’s idea, not an elaborate church growth strategy, to include us all.

Who Do You See? (Tip #5)

The next couple of weeks we will study the six W’s of Bible study; who, what, where, when, why and wherefore. Now you might be saying-- this is like 7th grade English. True! But let’s think a minute about what makes a great fisherman great (and a terrible fisherman like me so bad!). One difference (outside of the fact I am so impatient) is the tools he uses. With the right bait, a fisherman can increase his chances of catching the big one. It’s the same way with Bible study. If you ask the right questions, like a detective, you can get great answers.

This week let’s look for WHO. Look for the key people in the text. Do you see people from the Gospels who are still in the picture (like Peter). Or are we being introduced to someone who will be really major later (like Paul...he’s called Saul in Chapter 7). Find out what the text is saying about who they are. For example, are they Jewish? Are they a new convert? Have they undergone a major change? Try to imagine their appearance. Are they wealthy? Do they have connections to other important people in the story (for example in chapter

4 James is killed. Who is James? He was the brother of the beloved disciple John. It is no minor thing when he dies.) Ask, “what do they say and how does it show who they are?” If you know of other passages in the scriptures that describe them, look at these. This is especially important when an Old Testament character is brought up in the New Testament. Cross referencing gives a more complete picture. The Bible is one story and God wants to show how He changes people and how we can apply that lesson to our own lives. There is no greater way for us to see the impact of the gospel than when we study the people of the Bible.

Notes from My Journal

One of my favorite characters in the Bible is Barnabas. He is rather wealthy. Indeed, he gives the early church a tract of land at the end of Acts 5 that sets into motion a jealous, duplicitous comparison with Ananias and Sapphira that eventually costs them their lives. I guess God really does hate hypocrisy, doesn’t He?

Anyway, we don’t know much about Barnabas. Some think he could have been the rich, young ruler who eventually saw the light and followed Jesus. All we do know is he’s wealthy, he is a Jesus follower and eventually he goes on Paul’s first missionary trip to Galatia.

Why do I like Barnabas so much? His name means “son of encouragement” and that’s who he is. Every time we experience him in the pages of Scripture, he’s always encouraging someone. And that’s why I like him. We all need encouraging people in our lives. We need people who give us hope, who see the best in us, who believe tomorrow may bring a brighter day. We need to surround ourselves with these kinds of people; people who recharge our hearts, not drain them.

I know I want to be a Barnabas to you. Many of you have been a Barnabas to me by writing notes and praying for me. Thank you!

And here’s the final step: go be a Barnabas to someone today. Give someone an encouraging word. Give hope to someone.

It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give to another. 

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

It was in the early 90’s.  Some missionary friends invited me to speak at a Bible conference in Ethiopia.  Marilynn was invited as well.  She hesitated because the kids were still young.  She went back and forth, struggling whether to go or not.

Finally, one of our missionary friends said to her, “Marilynn, if you don’t go, David will experience something that will change his life.  And you won’t be a part of it.  You need to go.  God is quite able to take care of your children.”

She went with me.

It was indeed life-changing.  We traveled all around the country—witnessing what the Lord had done throughout the nation.  I spoke at the Bible conference with 30,000 thousand plus riveted to my every word—through a translator no less!  Many balanced huge boom boxes on their shoulders recording my teaching.  When it was announced that a section of the Psalms had been translated, hundreds rushed to the place to receive it. Talk about a hunger for God’s Word!  Additionally, the 30,000 had walked dozens of miles just to hear God’s Word.

Marilynn and I came back changed.  Our heart for missions was deepened.  Jesus’ commands to “Go” into all the world became clearer and more real for us.

Today, Marilynn and I have traveled all over the world with different missions opportunities.  With each one, our hearts have been expanded for the Great Commission.  We understand in greater depth what Jesus meant when he said, “Go into all the world."

If you have the opportunity to GoGlobal, you should.  Here’s what will happen:

  1. Your appreciation for the USA will expand.
  2. Your heart for the world will grow.
  3. You’ll understand more ably the Great Commission.
  4. You’ll want to give financial support for different causes.
  5. You’ll want to go again.

If you are able, you should go!  I encourage you to do so.

Guess what?  Our kids were fine when we returned.  So will yours—if you have them.  The Lord will take care of all your needs here—as you are faithful to his commands to “go."

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Week 4: Luke 22-24 & Acts 1-4

This is an exciting week for us. First of all we finish reading our first book of the Bible together. Step back and celebrate for a moment. Whether this is your first time through the Bible or your 50th, God is changing us through studying His Word together. As you start reading Acts this week, remember the book of Acts was also written by Luke. As a matter of fact, many scholars see the Book of Luke and Acts as one work. It has been suggested that it may have been separated because the 2 books would be too large for one scroll. The important point is that Acts is a continuation of Christianity’s history.

As Luke closes, the author recounts the ascension of Christ to heaven. Interestingly, Luke is the only Gospel that speaks of Christ’s ascension. Remember Luke’s self proclaimed purpose in his writings was to tell an orderly account of the story of Christianity. Christ’s ascension to heaven opens the door for the Holy Spirit. As the book of Acts begins, God gives His church a gift; His Holy Spirit. Amazingly this Spirit resides in all believers to give them not only His authority and power, but wisdom, guidance and comfort. Imagine the God of the universe desiring not only to give His followers power but also comfort us like children?

Another transition seen in our reading is the celebration of communion. Jesus shares the Passover with his followersin Luke 22 to mystically connect us to Christ’s death, given for our salvation. In Acts 2 the disciples are seen “breaking bread,” which was seen as the celebration of this very sacrament. Throughout church history, communion served as a very powerful reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice for the atonement of sins. For the Jews, the Passover feast was a celebration of their liberation from slavery. It was a remembrance of a rescue. It serves the same purpose for us today- it reminds us of our rescue.

One of the most pronounced transitions from Luke to Acts is the transition we see in Peter. As Luke closes, Peter is a broken, humiliated man who did the very thing he told Jesus he would die before doing. In Acts 2, Peter is a bold, committed leader. What an amazing transition! Consider both Peter and Judas betraying Jesus, but Peter clung to the forgiveness that led to his healing, where Judas was overwhelmed with despair and eventually killed himself. Peter persisted through the pain and brokenness to become the “Rock” Jesus said he would become in Matthew 16.

What Do You See? (Looking for transitional words - Tip #4)

Since we’re talking about transitions, let’s spend time searching for transitional words in this week’s reading. Words like THEREFORE, BUT, BECAUSE, and SO should look like a bridge to you. They connect the thoughts you are reading together. Take time to connect the thoughts. For example, Acts 1:8 says “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” The first word we see is “but.” The word “but” is important because it indicates a contrast or a change of direction. It refers to the preceding context, which is a crucial Bible study aspect. So we need to look at the two verses before Acts 1:8 to understand the connection.

Acts 1:6-8 6- So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 - He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 - But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The contrast is between the earthly kingdom and power Israel is expecting, and the heavenly Kingdom of God Jesus ushers in through the power of the Holy Spirit. As I relate this verse to my life, I realize the Spirit is in me to be a witness of this kingdom as well, and to be available in my Jerusalem today.

This week, look for transitional words. You can even circle words and connect them with arrows to reinforce the word in your brain and help you remember important facts. Remember, the goal of Bible study goes way beyond a check mark on a “to do” list. The goal is retention and a changed life. Do whatever it takes to achieve this goal.

Notes from David’s Journal

Last week I read a quote by Mother Teresa. She said, “The best way to learn humility is to be humiliated.” Gulp. Sigh. Gulp again. I hate humiliation. Can’t I be humble and put together at the same time? If I look at Peter’s life, I see humility, yet amazingly strong leadership. Just accept my broken- ness and my desperate need for Jesus. Jesus warned Peterat the last supper that Satan had asked to “sift” Peter andhe was praying his faith would not fail. He tells Peter when it’s all over, he needed to strengthen his brothers. When I think about how tiny and broken the pieces of flour have to be to go through a sifter I get a great word picture of just how broken Peter was the night of his denial. The greatest thing about Peter’s denial is he got knocked down, but when he arose, he was a new man. He was now ready to lead the church, not through his own power, but through the power of complete and utter dependence on the Holy Spirit.

How do I react to my sifting? Do I accept my place among the broken and reach for my Savior? I can see the result of such actions so clearly in this reading. Of course, Mother Teresa was right. Ok, I admit it. I pray God will make us all Peters; humbled, with unfaltering faith. 

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

I’ve been following the Oscars controversy.  Some noted African/Americans are boycotting the event.  They think there is racism involved in the selection of the potential winners.

Is there?  Who knows?  Racism is a hideous, pernicious, and hidden disease of the heart.  Only God and the person in whom it dwells know for sure.

But here are two questions that I would ask that might help squelch the controversy.  If rightly and honestly answered by the people in power, we could arrive at the right conclusion.

  1. What are the criteria for selecting potential Oscar winners?
  2. Are these criteria, in any way, shape, or form, prejudiced against African/Americans?

Voters, as you examine this criteria and your hearts, is there any hint of racism? If there is bias in the criteria, change the criteria.  If there is any racism in your heart, confess it.

Let the right change then occur—as it should!

It’s the only way I can see the wrong being righted and change really happening.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

A letter to my grandkids:

Dear Anna Grace, Caleb, Emily and ______________(the many more I hope the Lord gives me through you, Bethany, David, and Michael),

I want you to know how much I love you.  You’ve added a new knowledge of unconditional love to my life.  I look forward to seeing you grow in mind, body, and spirit—all for God’s glory alone.

I’m especially desirous of your spiritual growth.  That will best happen as you read, study, and obey God’s Word.  It is our Lord’s only infallible rule for faith and practice.  The faithful church through the ages has believed it—as the faithful church today must in order to make an impact in the world.

More specifically, as you make God’s Word a priority, I hope and pray:

  1. You will read it daily.  As you discover your need spiritual food every day, I pray there will be something in the verses you read daily that will encourage your heart and feed your soul.  Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by ever word that comes from the mouth of God.”  You will need physical food by which to live.  You will especially need your daily bread from God’s Word by which to live.
  2. You will place yourself under its authority.  You will never sit above God’s Word and try to interpret it.  Rather, you will sit under God’s Word and let it interpret you.  
  3. Because you are under the authority of God’s Word, you will obey its insights and commands—knowing that if you break God’s laws, they will ultimately break you.  The commands in God’s Word are guardrails to protect you in your life’s journey.
  4. You will memorize it to defeat the enemy’s wiles and temptations.  That’s what Jesus did in the wilderness.  As the enemy tempted, he quoted God’s Word to refute his lies. He’d obviously memorized many verses!   Paul calls the Word of God “the sword of the Spirit.”  It’s the only offensive weapon listed in the full armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-20.  But you must have God’s Word memorized in your mind and heart for the occasions when the enemy attacks.  Notice I said “when” he attacks, not “if."  He is constantly on the prowl, looking for anyone he can devour.  God’s Word in you will always defeat his pernicious strategies.
  5. You will share it with others.  It is a powerful tool to convict people’s hearts of their sin and need for a Savior.  It corrects, reproves, and guides (see 2 Timothy 3:15-17).  But please remember: You need to know and memorize the Word to share it with others.  Spiritual skeptics may be able to argue with you.  But they can’t argue with God’s Word.  And if they don’t believe it?  That’s their problem.  You share God’s Word and then leave the results with him.  You are in sales.  God is in management.

My simple prayer is that you will love the Word of God who reveals the God of the Word: Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  I pray you will be a Biblical Christian in every way (is there any other kind?—NO!).

In doing these things, you will find yourself approved by our Lord.  He will smile with delight.

As I will as well.

I love you so much!

Under His Grace,

Pappy

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Week 3: Luke 15-21

This week, we get our first taste of Jesus’ parables. The word parable in the Greek literally means “to throw alongside.” Since Jesus spoke in parables about one-third of the time (there are at least 60 recorded parables), it will serve us well to unpack this form of teaching. A parable is generally simple and brief, yet it conveys a profound message. It is an earthly story with a heavenly message. Many of the parables have lost their simplicity, because their imagery is foreign to us. But for the first-century audience, when Jesus said “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed” Luke 17:6, the people connected easily with this image. It may take us more study to connect to the imagery, but doing so unlocks a treasure.

This week’s parables highlight Jesus’ interest in the outcasts, the poor, and the lost. Luke 19:10 boldly proclaims Jesus’ heart; “For the Son of man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Christ’s heart for those who have not been found is seen in Chapter 15 and the agony for the lost sheep, coin and son.

The parable of the great supper in Chapter 14 gives us a beautiful picture of Christ’s love for the poor. The invited guests offer their excuses and refuse to come, so the outcasts are gathered and brought to the king’s son’s wedding feast! Can you imagine being invited to Price Harry’s wedding? That is what the parable is saying!!

These parables also warn us of judgment. Consider the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16, or the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18. Be careful not to miss the fact that these parables turn the reality of a cultural norm upside down. It is the rich man who ends up in eternal judgment for his self-centered earthly existence. Even in Hell, where he still has not changed his ways, he thinks he can ask the poor man, Lazarus, to serve him. The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector is also quite a jaw dropper. In New Testament times tax collectors were on the same social level as a pimp in our culture. The fact that Jesus declares a humble tax collector more righteous than a proud religious leader had to have been scandalous to the listener and the church.

What Do You See? (Tip #3)

Let’s continue our examination of personal Bible study methods. Last week your assignment was to look for repeated words. Did you find some? Were you able to make some connections? Again, just to remind you, as you read, ask yourself “What do I see?” (Observation).

Here’s another observation tip. As you go through the daily readings, make sure you can visualize what you are reading. If you are reading about a Pharisee, remind yourself what you already know about Pharisees. Ask yourself questions like, “What did Pharisees believe? What did the common folks think about them?” If you are reading about a denarius, the story will make much more sense if you know how much money that today. Was the lost silver coin worth a penny or $300? We’ll give this one to you, it was worth about a day’s wage. The point is, these were real images to the 1st Century listener. For it to make the most sense to us, we need to hear it like they heard it. Understanding the author’s original intent of the words is so important.

If you are wondering how you will figure out the imagery – here are a few suggestions:

  • You can Google these images and get a better picture of what the situations looked like as Jesus described them.
  • Use a study Bible as a reference. Zondervan has published an amazing resource called the Archeo- logical Study Bible. That’s where I found out about the silver coin!
  • A Bible Atlas or the maps at the back of your Bible will tell you things like how far it was for Joseph and Mary to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Okay, we’ll give you this one too. It was 100 miles going south on foot; at least a three-day journey.

We know this sounds like some work. Remember that know- ing God is a day by day effort. Take it at a good pace. Look up one thing a day and see if you become hungry for more!

Notes from David’s Journal

Luke 15 gives us three ways people become lost. In the lost sheep, people become lost because, like sheep, they just make stupid choices. Sheep are purported to be the dumbest of all animals. Like them, we sometimes move from God because of our own stupidity.

In the lost coin, sometimes we become lost because of our interdependence. The woman dropped the coin. It wasn’t the coin’s fault it became lost. Sometimes we become lost because someone else hurts us. By their carelessness, selfishness or thoughtlessness, we are placed in a dark corner of lostness.In the lost son parable, people become lost by willful choices. The son rebelled against his father’s will. He simply didn’t want to obey.

Whether you’re lost because of stupidity, someone else’s selfishness or your own willful decisions, the Good News in these parables is that God is seeking you, wanting you to come home. Don’t wait another minute! Don’t stay lost any more. The Father loves you. He wants you to come home. He wants you to know His forgiving, eternal love.

Let God love you today! 

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

People are going crazy buying tickets for the one billion dollar powerball opportunity.  The press is reporting on it daily.  It’s even been tried to find the ticket holder by narrowing down from where the winning ticket was purchased.

If you possess a biblical worldview, and watch this craze about money, several thoughts must be running through your mind (as they are mine).

First, so many studies have been done regarding lottery winners that show they are unhappier after they’ve won the money.  New friends suddenly show up.  Old friends try to become closer friends.  The winners never know if they are liked because of who they are or the money they’ve won.  What a miserable life.

Second, when has money ever satisfied the deepest longings of the heart? Jesus said specifically that you cannot love God and money.  He didn’t say it was difficult.  Or even almost impossible.  He said it was impossible. If you do love money more than God, it's an idol, taking the place of God. How dangerous is that!

Third, Paul said that the root of all evil is the love of money.  Money in itself is not evil.  It can be used for great good and God’s glory.  But the love/lust for money is.  Why?  It’s insatiable.  It always demands more and more.

The answer to the money monster’s hold on our lives is found in one word: contentment.  How much is ever enough?  If you aren’t satisfied with what you have now, you won’t be satisfied with more of anything——especially money!  Be content with your relationship with the Lord and what he has given to you.  He is sufficient in all things——not just if you win the lottery and have sudden riches.

Finally, Jesus’ way for breaking the back of the money monster is to be generous.  Give as much as possible away.  It’s your way of saying to the monster, “Nope, you don’t control my heart.  My love for my Lord does. And here’s the proof.”  And you write a check.  Or give away cash.

So if you’ve bought a lottery ticket, and especially if you win the jackpot, please heed this biblical advice.

  1. Enjoy being richly blessed by God.
  2. Be thankful for his grace to you.
  3. Give a lot of it away.
  4. When you do, you’ll be more blessed than you can ever imagine.

In fact, this should be the attitude of a biblical Christian with all our money and possessions.

After all, it was Jesus who said it’s more blessed to give than to receive.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Question: What does community look like to me and Marilynn?

The Bible gives multiple “one another” commands.  They include how Christians are to love one another, pray for one another, encourage one another, confess their sins to one another, etc.  The list goes on and on.

Contrast these “one another” commands to the reality that most churches live in rows.  When coming together, we usually pray, sing songs, and listen to a speaker while solely looking at the back of a person’s head.  How can we live out the “one another” commands looking at the back of someone’s head?    

Pause.  Crickets.  Yes, that’s right.  We can’t.  It’s tacitly impossible.

That’s why the Bible instructs the church to live in rows (yes, public worship is important) AND circles—places where we can look another in the eye and practice the “one another” commands.

In Forest Hill, we call our circles, “Life Groups.”  They are the places people gather outside of worship to practice the “one another” passages.  Here they experience Biblical community.  

More specifically, in healthy Life Groups that Marilynn and I’ve been a part of, members of the group:

  1. Pray for one another
  2. Study God’s Word with one another
  3. Share a meal with one another
  4. Share Communion with one another
  5. Love and forgive one another
  6. When needed, confess your  sins to one another
  7. Go serve together with one another.

These components make up a healthy Life Group, in my opinion.  Yours should have these components as well.  Maybe even some more that help your group be closer.  When rightly done, the group becomes healthy.  You become healthier---because you’ve been the recipient of the “one another’s” when you’ve needed them.

Be careful your life isn’t solely being lived out in rows.  You can become very lonely.  Make sure there are circles.

More specifically, join a Life Group!  There you’ll experience life as Jesus intended—in community—with one another.

For God’s glory alone.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Week 2: Luke 8-14

Our reading last week focused on the authority of Jesus revealed through miracles, royal lineage and spiritual warfare. This week, Jesus passes that authority to His followers. In Luke 8 we see Jesus traveling from village to village proclaiming the good news. The twelve disciples are traveling with Him. Luke also notes several women were involved in Jesus’ ministry. Luke acknowledges these women and it may not jump off the page to us in 21st century America, but in ancient mid-eastern culture, women were devalued. Women were not allowed to testify in court or to own property. If a woman was widowed she was literally in a life threatening situation if she did not have family who could take her in. To the Biblical audience, it would have been counter-cultural for a woman to be valued at any level, let alone allowed to minister alongside a famous rabbi.

Luke 9 and 10 depict Jesus passing His authority to His followers and sending them out on an internship of sorts. They are to go out two-by-two. They heal the sick and feed the poor. Jesus guides them to use His authority to help the powerless people. Just like in our culture today, powerful people in Biblical times often used their position for self ambition and self promotion. Jesus and His followers stood out against a background of Roman government determined to use might to conquer the world and a religious institution that used its authority in self-serving ways.

Pastor Tim Keller says, “not once in the Gospels do we see Jesus using His power for selfish gain, even when His life was at stake.” Jesus sends his disciples out to serve the poor and the broken. He asks all His followers to use His authority for God’s honor and humanity’s good. This is as radical today as it was then.

What Do You See? (Tip #2)

How are you doing with observing, interpreting and applying? Remember one of the key questions in Bible study is –What do I see? (Observation). We would like to give you an easy observation tip. As you read, look for repetitive words. For example last week we read Luke 7.

1 - When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 - There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3 - The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 - When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5 - because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6 - So Jesus went with them.

He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 -That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 - For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

9 - When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10 - Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

One observation is, the Jewish elders who came to Jesus on behalf of the Roman Centurion thought he deserved help because of all he had done for them. Ironically, the Roman Centurion uses almost the same language to say he does not deserve to have Jesus under his roof or even be in the presence of Jesus. Hmmmmm. (Application is for another day!)

This Week's Notes

People throughout the world love authority. They love to lord power over others, most often to get what they want. Yet Jesus gives His followers “authority.” But His authority is an authority to serve and heal others. Remember: the greatest in the kingdom of God is the servant. How bizarre! We come to Jesus in brokenness, He lifts us up, even gives us His author- ity, so we can then lower ourselves as servants. That’s the way God’s kingdom works. The first are last, the last first. Or, as the Biblical writer James put it: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.”

Lord Jesus, let us choose humility today and every day. May we claim that all authority given to you has now been passed on to us so we can serve, not be served, and give our lives away to a dying, self-centered, debased world. 

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Fear surrounds  us.  Daily we read about another beheading by ISIS, or North Korea setting off a nuclear weapon, or more saber-rattling by Putin, or another person being shot in our city.  How in the world do people of faith begin to deal with all the negativity and fear in the news?

Here are some very practical suggestions I regularly practice:

  1. I read the newspaper in one hand and the Bible in the other.  The Bible repeatedly tells me to fear nothing.  It reminds me God is in control over everything. 
  2. God is the one who authored history.  It is linear, not cyclical.  God began it (Genesis 1:1: ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”) and he will end it (Revelation 22 and the 2nd Coming of Jesus).  He oversees it.  He controls it.  Nothing surprises him.  He is using everything as a part of his plan.

If these two parapgraphs are true, whom shall I fear?  God goes before me.  He is my rear guard.  He is on my side.  He is for me.  He will safely take me home one day.

It’s really that simple for me.  God controls history.  He controls me.  My faith is in the God who controls all my fears.  Therefore, I can face today…and tomorrow…and the future…because my faith is in the God of all days.

I hope this helps you to calmly face all life’s storms—every day you live.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

We have kicked off the “Unwrapped” series!  I’ve really looked forward to preaching it.  There is a lack of knowledge about the Bible—especially among Christians.  

I just don’t think you can call yourself a follower of Jesus and not be under the Bible’s authority.  In other words, every Christian should be a Biblical Christian.

What would I love to see be your take-aways from this series?

First, you start to learn God’s Word and sound doctrine starts to consume your heart.  When you believe in right and sound doctrine, your faith walk becomes whole and well.  Believe me, there’s a lot of whacky doctrine being taught today by some I’d call false teachers.  It’s crucial for you to become like Bereans in Acts 17.  After Paul taught them about Jesus from the Scriptures, they went to the Scriptures themselves to validate what he taught.  They found that what he said was true and believed.  We should behave in the same way.

Next, we need to obey God’s Word.  We need to be believers and doers of the Word (James 1:22).  Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments” (John 14:15).  When we obey, it proves we believe.  Obedience validates faith.  The world needs to see Christians doing what we say we believe.  It will motivate them to explore our faith.

Finally, I want you to see the power of God’s Word in your life.  There are over 7,000 promises in God’s Word.  You can’t claim God’s promises for your personal needs if you don’t know them. But when you know them---and you know the One who gave them to you---and you have a desire to obey all that he has commanded you to do--- those promises become rich and real.  You can trust them.  You lean on them throughout all your life—no matter how great the trial may be.

That’s my hope for this series.  My prayer is that the Word of God that reveals Christ and gives you life like you’ve never known it before. 

This week we will be looking at another reason we can trust God’s Word: its amazing unity—from Genesis to Revelation—done in 35 minutes.  

Pray for me!

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

 

Join me during throughout 2016 as we take a new method to studying God’s word. We want to walk through reading the New Testament and the Psalms as a community with the same daily reading. Every week we will supplement the Bible reading with entries from this post. We will give you a “Big Picture” summary and our hope is that you take the time to read about 7 chapters during the week, one a day. In your journal you can write down what you are learning and also write prayers for the day, or sort through your feelings and circumstances asking God to help you to see them through his eyes.

Our hope and prayer as we walk this journey together is two- fold. We want to make sure you know how to study the Bible and hear from God yourself. We want you to experience the intimacy of personal Bible study – just you and God. But we also hope we can see in more depth by seeing Him through each other’s eyes. 

 

Check back right here every Monday for the outline and verses each week!  

Week 1: Luke 1-7

Our study together starts by reading the book of Luke, then the book of Acts. You may have thought that was a strange place to start. The reason we’re starting with Luke and Acts is they were both written by the same author, Luke. When you read them end to end, they give you the whole story of the life of Jesus and the roots of the New Testament Church. Unlike the other Gospel writers, Luke is a Gentile. In other words he was not Jewish, he was Greek. The Bible also tells us that Luke was a physician. Luke was not one of the original 12 disciples, so the way he wrote the Gospel of Luke was by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and with a lot of investigative grunt work based on the testimony of eyewitnesses. Imagine Luke traveling around the land of Palestine inter- viewing people like Mary’s cousin Elizabeth or a shepherd who heard the angels announce Christ’s birth.

When we take a closer look specifically at our reading for this week, Luke emphasizes a few important themes. We won’t have time to look at all of them in depth, but you can go back and review the chapters for the big sweeping ideas if you want. Luke’s “Big Idea” focuses on Jesus’ supreme authority.

Jesus’ lineage shows his royal bloodline. His encounter with the devil shows supremacy over the supernatural. His miracles show his power over the created world.

What Do You See? (Tip #1)

Since Luke goes to a lot of trouble to study the life and ministry of Jesus, we should too. Start by asking God to open your heart, to increase your knowledge and change your life through the insights of this Gospel. Let me ask you a couple of investigative questions about what we read. In what city was Jesus born? Why were Mary and Joseph there? Where was Jesus actually born in the town? Who was there at his actual birth? How long was it before the shepherds arrived? How about the wise men – how long did it take them to get there? I hope you see the point of this exercise. Especially when it comes to the Nativity, we have some preconceived notions about what we read in the Bible. Careful observation is required to get to the good stuff. Simply put, observations answer the question, “what do I see?” We will spend the first third of the year together asking this question. Take a minute and write down one thing you learned through observation this week in your journal.

 

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

There is an never-ending debate between Protestants and Catholics over this question: Who wrote the Bible?  Trying not to oversimplify an answer that addresses a chasm that’s lasted for over 400 years, here’s my best attempt:

Catholics believe that the Church oversaw the writing and canonization of Scripture.  Therefore, the Church has the right and responsibility to carefully oversee and interpret the Bible responsibly.  But this responsibility includes looking at extra-Biblical perspectives to decide what the Bible actually teaches about faith, life, and practice.  That may mean the Church concluding tradition trumps clear Biblical teachings—which is what has happened over the centuries.  

Contrarily, Protestants believe the Bible wrote the Church.  In other words, the way the Church is formed, operates, believes, and exists was formed solely by what the Bible teaches.  That word “solely” is key.  The bible alone is authoritative in all areas of faith and practice.  Therefore, it relies on Christians to know, study, learn, and apply God’s Word in their daily lives and in the Church.

Obviously, I’m a Protestant.  I believe the Bible preceded the Church.  Even in the earliest days, when the church met together in homes, Christians devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching—which is basically the New Testament (Acts 2:42-47).  The apostles---Paul, Peter, and John---incessantly wrote about orthodox (proper doctrine)—and orthopraxy (proper living)—in their epistles to the early churches.  The Word then informed the Church in all areas of faith and practice.

If this is true, it’s a necessity for Christians to know God’s Word.

During the first centuries of the Church, Christians were nicknamed (sometimes derisively) “people of the Book.”  They were totally devoted the the truth and practice of God’s Word.

Therefore, this January, I want to help you fall in love with the Bible as early Christians did.  We will spend five weeks together studying these subjects:

  1. The inspiration of the Bible and why it’s authoritative.
  2. The unity of the Bible and how Genesis to Revelation fit together.
  3. Finding your story in God’s story throughout the Bible.
  4. How do we begin to understand those very difficult passages in the Bible?
  5. Some practical ways to help you study the Bible—especially to have a daily quiet time, allowing God’s Word to feed your hungry soul.

Come join us!  Bring spiritually seeking friends who have questions about the Bible.  It’s one of, if not the most often asked question they ask.  You all will find the Word pointing to Jesus—the one who gives us life and gives it to us abundantly.

That alone is the best reason to be present for the series.

I wish you all a blessed and grace-filled 2016.  See you in January!

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

January suggests a fresh start.  The New Year gives most all a chance and desire to start with a clean slate.  Resolutions are made regarding exercise, diet—even church attendance.  There’s a need for forgiveness of sins.  There’s a desire to be a new creation.  

On January first, people look at all that’s wrong in their lives and want to change.  They are especially motivated.

Sadly, by the middle of February, most all the New Year’s resolutions are shattered.  Old habits return.  New promises to self are forgotten.

What gives?  Why does this most always seem to be the case?  Is there another option?

I think there is.  May I offer this insight and option?

For followers of Jesus, the ability to start anew is not yearly but daily—even hourly!  The desire to change a lifestyle is not rooted in a calendar but a creed.  It’s not found in a time of year but in a type of person.

Followers of Jesus know they are in a personal, living, vital relationship with the God of the universe.  They know his love and presence because of what he did on the cross.  They experience regularly, by the moment, his grace and forgiveness.

His presence in our present is what allows abiding change.  The change is caused by a daily relationship, not a yearly resolution.  We are new creations in the moment.  The old has passed away and the new has come right now—every day!

The resolutions to obey him are not rooted in “have to’s” but “want to’s.”  Because we have experienced his love, we want to be the kind of person he approves of.  There’s no fear of punishment.  

And what happens when we disappoint him?  We confess it to him.  We tell him we are sorry.  He is faithful and just to forgive us immediately.  We never use this extraordinary forgiveness to continue sinning.  That only proves we never knew his love to begin with.  It abuses the grace and forgiveness he’s extended to us.  

But Jesus knows we are human.  And, oddly, when we confess our sins to him, this amazing grace motivates us more and more, day by day, to keep all our resolutions we’ve offered to him.

Jesus’ grace makes every day a day of starting over.  Every day is an opportunity for a fresh start.  

This reality maximizes the success of all resolutions—no matter when they are made during a year.

When you fully understand Jesus’s abiding grace, love, forgiveness, mercy and compassion, you will have a glorious and happy New Year!

I pray you’ll have one this year.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Romans 16:27

“—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ.  Amen!”

Paul now concludes his benediction with this doxology.  The God who oversees all salvation history in the way he chose to do so is all wise.  He is perfect is his plans.  History is under his control.  He oversees all.  He deserves all praise and glory forevermore.

This book of Romans could not end with a better conclusion.  The reason Christians live is for the glory of God.  He alone is worthy of all praise.  We are nothing.  He is everything.  To him alone belongs all the glory, honor, and praise forever and ever.

Paul concludes the entire letter with this one word: “Amen!”  It means: “So be it!  Yes!  Absolutely!”

Everything that Paul has written in Romans—especially about the gospel of Jesus and the glory of God—is absolutely true.  Paul declares, “Let it be true!”

It is.

To him alone belongs the glory forever and ever!

Amen!

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Romans 16:26

“…but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—“

The mystery of the gospel, hidden for centuries, has now been made known through Jesus.  The prophetic writings are the Old Testament Scriptures.  Jesus is the fulfillment of them all.

The gospel is not only to be believed, but it’s to be obeyed.  It’s to go to all the nations.  Jesus wants all to hear.

Do you have a heart to take the gospel of grace to all the nations?  Does the church you attend and belong to have this similar heart?

To obey Jesus and his gospel demands an obedience to take the gospel into the entire world.  It’s not an option for anyone choosing to follow Jesus.  It’s a command.  It’s the “obedience of faith.”

Does this describe you?  And your church?

Taking the gospel to all the nations is not an option.  It’s for all Jesus’s followers.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Romans 16:25

“Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages…”

Paul concludes his letter.  It’s a summary of what Paul considered the righteousness of God.  It bookends the way the letter began in Romans 1:1-7.  It is the heart of all Paul lived and to what he gave his life.

Paul desires all Roman Christians and us today:

1   To be strengthened by the gospel and his preaching of Jesus Christ.  No matter what you may be facing, Paul wanted you to know that God’s grace and the presence of Jesus in you will allow you to face it with his strength.

2   The gospel is a mystery that had been kept secret for ages throughout human history.  But now it is revealed to all.  God’s forgiving love through Jesus is now available to all who will believe in Jesus.

If we truly believed these two truths, there is nothing we’d face today larger than the love, mercy, and forgiveness of God revealed to us in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Romans 16:21-24

“Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen.  I Tertius, who wrote his letter, greet you in the Lord.  Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you.  Erastus,, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.”

Paul gives us a glimpse at who is with him as he wrote this letter.  Timothy is his most famous and beloved coworker.  Paul truly cared for him.  He mentored him personally and through different letters (First and Second Timothy).  Lucius, Jason, an Sosipater are mentioned in other places in the Scripture as being with Paul.  Evidently, they were not causal coworkers, but completely devoted to the apostle.

Tertius functioned as Paul’s personal scribe.  He was his secretary who oversaw the writing of all Paul’s letters—something common in that day.  Though he transcribed Paul’s letter, there is no question that the content belongs to Paul alone.

Gaius was probably a man of some means financially.  He provided a place for the church to meet.  Erastus is the city treasurer—perhaps of Corinth, if this is from where Paul wrote this letter.  This elected position shows a man of prominence being a follower of Jesus and caring for Paul.

Every successful leader has a team around him.  They are coworkers who assist the leader accomplish his goal.  Paul had his team.  They are diverse and accomplished in their own way.  They served him well.

And I find it especially interesting that Paul ends his long letter to the Romans thanking the people who were helping him.  Every great leader knows the importance of thanking those with whom he works.  He couldn’t be successful without them.

If you lead people today, have you thanked them for the way they’ve helped you succeed?

Paul would adjure you to do so.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick