Teamwork!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:20,21 KJV).

It is a group effort—guarding the principles of grace given us.

Recently, I attended another one of my niece’s softball tournaments. Those young women have greatly matured in the last two years. By trial and error, training and careful thought, they have learned exactly what it takes to be victorious. It does not come easy, as “teamwork” really is about cooperating with others instead of operating alone. There are great frustrations. Situations look grim, maybe hopeless. In the midst of it all is the foreboding feeling of wanting to give up. Much effort is required to achieve anything important. The Christian ministry is quite similar.

Brethren, we have the Bible—God’s “playbook” that also lays out how our Adversary (Satan) works as the opposing team. The Holy Spirit has already outlined therein what Father God is doing today as well as what the Devil is doing to contest it. Grace has given us the privilege of serving with other Christians to gain the advantage with sound Bible doctrine.

If we want to “train up” in the world’s way, learning how lost people think and applying that to life, we most certainly can do it. While not what God originally wanted for us, He is more than willing to give us over to “do our own thing.” We will “swing the bat at nothing”—too high, too low, too fast, too slow (struggling and imprecise). If we do manage to run toward a base, again, we run too slow or too fast—not reaching the base, or passing it and being tagged out. Tripping, we fall, unable to achieve that higher level of maturity and work.

We can do the work of the ministry, and see God’s words and will be conveyed to the masses. Or, we can fall victim to infighting and self-defeat. Unless we give careful thought to what we are doing—what Father God is doing—we will be weak and incompetent. Far better we remain in the “dugout” than go out “on the field” inexperienced and stumbling; more harm than good will result with recklessness!

She Finished Her Course!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

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

Back in early 1980, “Ms. P.” led my parents to Christ. I played at her house as a 5-year-old boy with one of her grandsons. Her (late) husband was a Bible teacher of our family. For the last decade, I had the privilege of being her Bible teacher: she was an asset to our ministry. Physical age 80 years—and 50 years old in Christ—she has finally met her Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ!

At age 30, she left Roman Catholicism, having heard the Gospel of the Grace of God, recognizing her righteousness was but filthy rags. She saw and trusted Jesus Christ’s shed blood as the fully-satisfying payment for her sins. Ten years later, she met my parents and shared the Gospel with them. She was zealous in reaching as many people as she could for our Lord Jesus Christ. Several years ago, she opened her house to host some of my home Bible studies. (These videos are here.) We will surely miss her fellowship and counsel, but she is far better with Christ. He has her, and we have Him. There is great peace and hope in knowing that we will see her again, when we assemble at the Grand Bible Conference!

Only a week ago, she fell at home and broke three ribs. Complications arose—she had a host of other chronic bodily afflictions—and we had been preparing for her departure. Now, she has graduated to glory! Our joy is indescribable in knowing that her suffering has ended, having given way to our Lord’s presence. She is free from the curse of sin. We know she was a genuine warrior for Jesus Christ, we can testify she fought a good fight, we rejoice she finished her course, and we are thankful she kept the faith! With this devotional memorial, we now send her off to her heavenly retirement, grateful to have known her—our strong and dedicated coworker in the Lord’s grace ministry! (Please pray for her family, especially her husband.)

-IN MEMORIAM-
Ms. P. K.
1938–2019

 

 

Striving, Not Striving #5

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:1,2 KJV).

Rather than striving with each other, we saints need to strive together.

Philippians chapter 2 continues: “[5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: [6] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: [8] And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Here is the “mind” all Christians should have. It is a mental attitude of utter selflessness, total humility, and undivided dedication to Father God’s will. Dear brethren, if we would believe and obey these verses, then the inconsequential disagreements and stupid arguments would disappear from our local churches. We would set aside self and look to benefit others. If Euodias and Syntyche followed these Divine instructions, then they would “be of the same mind in the Lord.”

Now, we turn back to Philippians chapter 1: “[27] Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; [28] And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.”

Recall that “the gospel of Christ” focuses on Christ’s finished crosswork. Philippians 2:5-8 reports that a certain mentality drove Christ to Calvary. If we adopt His attitude, then we will “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Our passion will be the defense of sound Bible doctrine as opposed to trifling opinions and self-centeredness. Then, our efforts will make a positive impact in eternity—something well worth our time and effort! 🙂

Striving, Not Striving #4

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:1,2 KJV).

Rather than striving with each other, we saints need to strive together.

As in every city, there were in Philippi “adversaries” or lost people contrary to the preaching of the Gospel (Philippians 1:28). They labored to frighten the Philippian saints into silence. Hence, verse 27 had exhorted these believers: Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel….” All Christians are on the same team, and should (!) be with each other (in mind and action) in the work of the ministry.

However, our sinful flesh gets in the way. The work of the ministry breaks down when one or more Christians adopt an attitude or opinion the Scriptures do not support. Now, lost and saved, those within and without, are united in upsetting God’s work. Philippians chapter 2 corrects this sin of pride of selfishness: “[1] If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, [2] Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. [3] Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. [4] Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

Like team sports, each member should be thinking about how to make the next point or goal. Inner conflicts are counterproductive: they do not compete against teammates. Likewise, we should not be vying against fellow members of the Body of Christ. It is not about us. We do not have to have the attention or recognition (what the flesh craves). For the sake of God’s work, Paul asks Euodias and Syntyche to “be of the same mind in the Lord.” God’s mind should unite all Christians….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “‘Speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt?’

Striving, Not Striving #3

Friday, February 8, 2019

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:1,2 KJV).

Rather than striving with each other, we saints need to strive together.

Of all the tens of thousands of “Christian” assemblies, many are simply specimens of denominationalists as opposed to members of the Church the Body of Christ. They have neither known the clear Grace Gospel nor believed it. Most of all, saved or lost, the vast majority are spiritually immature. To them, drapery colors, upholstery fabrics, flooring, and wallpaper are worth fighting over. They, ignorant of sound Bible doctrine, cannot contend for the more excellent. Envy and gossip, not Bible study and charity, pervade their services. They engage in philanthropy but not spirituality.

In today’s Scripture, two Christian women are striving with each other concerning some unspecified disagreement. Whatever the case, it was a petty issue causing major disruption. There is a running joke, with some basis, that these believers in Christ are “Odious” (as obnoxious or unbearable) and “Soon-touchy” (as grumpy or quarrelsome). Notice Paul—yea, the Holy Spirit—never bothered to say whether Euodias was right or Syntyche was right. Why? Ultimately, they were both wrong! They were reminiscent of the childish, schismatic saints at Corinth from years earlier: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

The undisclosed issue between Euodias and Syntyche was not one of doctrine—for we should always contend for the faith, defend the doctrine—but something insignificant. It was not worth fighting over. Time and energy would continue to be wasted in pursuing this trivial matter that was hindering God’s ministry at Philippi. Rather than striving together for the Gospel, they were full of strife and thus contrary to the Gospel. Essentially, they were doing the Devil’s work for him! Satan does not have to labor, for even Christians, unfortunately, can (and often do) undermine God’s work….

Striving, Not Striving #2

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:1,2 KJV).

Rather than striving with each other, we saints need to strive together.

Back in Genesis chapter 17, the LORD God erected what Ephesians 2:14 calls “the middle wall of partition.” The term “the Circumcision” was synonymous with the nation Israel, Abraham’s seed; everyone else, the Gentile world, was “the Uncircumcision.” Abraham and his seed were to be physically circumcised to show themselves separate from the nations (see Genesis 17:9-14). This is Israel’s rise via the Abrahamic Covenant (cf. Genesis 12:1-3). However, with the introduction of the Dispensation of Grace, Paul’s salvation and ministry, we see Israel’s fall—and “the middle wall of partition” being obliterated.

Ephesians chapter 2 again: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

“[14] For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; [15] Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; [16] And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: [17] And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. [18] For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

Jew and Gentile—once hostile opponents—have been made one in the Church the Body of Christ because of Calvary. If God can join these two rival classes into one creature, then all other antagonism should be aside with respect to the Dispensation of Grace….

Striving, Not Striving #1

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:1,2 KJV).

Rather than striving with each other, we saints need to strive together.

Philippians chapter 1 says, “[27] Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; [28] And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.” Like the Ephesians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, the Philippians are spiritually mature (yet not sinless). The Holy Spirit corrects their thinking: their lifestyle should reflect the Gospel of Christ. What is “the Gospel of Christ?” The Bible defines it for us.

First, Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Now, 1 Corinthians 1:17,18: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” The Gospel of Christ is the Good News that Israel’s rejected Messiah, the Lord Jesus, is now become the fully-satisfying payment for all the sins of the world!

This issue of the world—“the Jew first, and also to the Greek”—is of prime importance. Ephesians chapter 2: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:….” Through Christ’s crosswork, bitter enemies have been united….