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Category Archives: CHRISTIAN LIVING

Keys to Living Out the Christian Life! (A Study of Galatians 2:19-21) Part 2

Like many of you I am somewhat skeptical of “keys to victory in the Christian life” or some such programs.  On the other hand, I’m extremely grateful for good directions that help me — step by step — to get something important accomplished.

For example, I was glad to have the SEVENTY-TWO PAGE booklet showing me how to put together the play set for my grandchildren!  True, none of the boards were marked and each had to be measured to make sure I was using the correct one for the next step, but I got it put together AFTER THREE WEEKS  of following the directions!

In some ways the Christian life is a bit easier!  We are looking at several well-known verses in Galatians 2 and asking, what truths are here that will help me live out the Christian life?  Here is our text:

We have already seen the first key in verse 19 that I must have a proper relationship to the law.  Paul says, “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.”  We die to the law as a way of salvation.  It was never intended to be so.  We die to our self-efforts at redemption.

The second key that I see this morning is that the old me is dead!  We read in verse 20- “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live.”  I am to so identify myself with Christ that it is as if I were on the cross with Him, not as some kind of co-redeemer, but as a criminal who couldn’t live up to the law and deserved to die!  That’s what the law did for me.  It showed me my sin and my need of a Savior.

Have you ever been embarrassed at a Christian funeral? I have.  The believers there were rejoicing and laughing and, well, being very unfuneral-like in their celebration of their saved loved one’s homegoing!  Funerals are no laughing matter.  But if the funeral is a mere step to eternal life, then . . .

Today’s challenge: Are you ready to count yourself DEAD today?  The old me is gone.  Crucified with Jesus.  Now there’s a new me ready to . . .  (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2018 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

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Keys to Living Out the Christian Life! (A Study of Galatians 2:19-21) Part 1

I’ve always been a bit leery of “steps” or “keys” to anything important. Some of those approaches sound too much like a timeshare salesperson who wants to sell you a week’s vacation for $20,000.

However, I’m learning that a lot of issues do boil down to several specific decisions or choices that one makes. And breaking down a major topic into doable, incremental steps can be helpful.

So it is in the Christian life. I don’t pretend to have found THE KEYS to living the victorious Christian life, but God’s Word deals with this massive issue directly. And so should we.

The text I want to focus on for a couple of posts is that of Galatians 2:19-21 where we read:

Let’s focus this morning (and in subsequent posts) on several keys to living out the Christian life. I don’t pretend that these are exhaustive, just practical and helpful! The first key I see in this text is that I must have a proper relationship to the law (v. 19). Paul writes, “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.”

Here we learn that the law brings death, not life! Paul “died to the law” in the sense that he died to the law as a way of salvation by obedience. The law was never given for that purpose and we can never perfectly obey the law.

Notice also that this death must occur before life can become real! Paul writes, “through the law I died to the law.” A knowledge of the law brings conviction of sin and the reality that one cannot buy salvation by one’s own goodness.

Today’s challenge:  Are you trying to live out the Christian life by keeping the law?  Christians should be obedient, but the law was never given to make us righteous.  It was given to make us aware of our need of grace.  (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2018 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

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Living for Jesus in an Un-Christian World (Part 1)

Friends:
Please remember me in prayer for my conference in Detroit, Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 9.03.37 AMNov. 6-8. The theme we have chosen is “Living for Jesus in an Un-Christian World.” We’ll be working our way through the little epistle of Jude.

In this series of posts I would like to touch on several of the issues we will be discussing during our weekend together.  I’m working on a booklet with the title of the conference that I hope can be done by the November weekend.

Introduction:

Before we look at the little letter from Jude to a group of Jesus-followers, let’s think about the issue of life in this world.  How is the Christian to conduct himself or herself in this God-forsaking, Bible-rejecting, Jesus-ignoring culture?

Although we could multiply such negative descriptors of our world, we must first acknowledge that there is much good in the universe that God has made, and we are commanded to enjoy His physical blessings with thanksgiving (I Tim. 6).  However, we find ourselves in a progressively unchristian or post-christian or even anti-Christian environment.   The Supreme Court decision on June 26, 2015, legitimated same-sex marriages, forbidding all states from banning such unions.

The 1973 Roe v. Wade SCOTUS decision, one which has cost the lives of an estimated fifty-five million children made in the image of God, rocked the Christian world — and we have been unable to do anything to have that ruling overturned.  The third most populous country in the world with 321 million people, the United States, one might argue, has systematically executed almost 1/6 of its citizens.

What are the believer’s options in living for Jesus in such an un-Christian world?  There appear to be only four possible choices that a Christian can make.  The first option is:

CONFORMITY:  The believer in Jesus can choose to not rock the boat, to Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 9.09.04 AMbecome exactly like the world around him, holding the same ethical values as his culture, and live a relatively conflict-free life in comfort.  The world will then see no discernible differences between believers and unbelievers, but will also have no reason to persecute those who claim to be Jesus-followers.  They will be seen as people who have nothing better to do on Sundays than attend half-empty churches, sing ancient songs to each other, and occasionally enjoy a pot-luck meal together.  The Christian can choose to conform.  (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2015 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

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Anti-Woe Cologne? (compassion)

 

The Bible says that we are to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).

Questions:
1. Do we sometimes suffer from compassion-fatigue and lose our interest in really listening to each other’s burdens?

2. What steps can we take in the local church to become a place where people are free to share their woes?

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2015 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

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Time for a Great Cartoon! Religious Principles!

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We’ve spent a number of posts on the issue of SPIRITUAL EXERCISE.  When one asks the question, “What are my religious principles?”, does spiritual growth show up at the top of the list?

We can use “religious principles” as an excuse for not doing anything that we ought to do.

Questions:

1.  What do you do when you find yourself drifting as a believer in Jesus?

2.  What role does the local church play in helping you get back on track?

3.  What friends do you have who will hold you accountable for not moving on as a believer?

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

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Messin’ with God? (time for a great commercial)

Do we “mess” with God? Have we lost the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom? These questions came to me as I watched a recent commercial . . .

Questions:

1.  Where are you “messing” with God, not appropriately fearful of His holiness?

2.  How does a fear of God relate to His love?  (please note:  Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 6.32.25 AMWe are not thinking of a terror of God here).

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2014 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

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What about your WILD SIDE? Part 1 (time for a great commercial)


G.K. Chesterton put it this way:  “. . . the more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.”

Questions:

1.  Something can be wild without being evil.  What wildness in your life has been domesticated, muted, tamed?

2.  What good things in your life are allowed to “run wild” if you are a believer in Jesus?

 

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2014 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

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Ten Steps to Spirituality! (Part 2)

In our course, “The Integration of Theology and Psychology,” Dr. AllanKeynoteScreenSnapz002 McKechnie andI have been discussing the doctrine of salvation and its implications for counselors who are Christians.  One aspect of salvation is the continuing work of God the Holy Spirit in making us like Christ.  This doctrine is called SANCTIFICATION.  The word means “being set apart” or “being made holy.”

I believe I Timothy 4 presents us with ten very specific steps we may take to advance in our becoming like Christ.  Let’s look at that passage and continue investigating those ten steps.

I Timothy 4 says,

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

The FIRST STEP we saw in this text was simply:  PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU AVOID (v. 7)

The SECOND STEP we notice is:  TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN SPIRITUAL LIFE (v. 7)

Verse 7 reads: “rather, train yourself to be godly.”  Self-training is lacking these days in the lives of many followers of Jesus.  Some expect spiritual growth to happen, uh, magically.  Others look for a perfect church or an omni-competent pastor to meet their every spiritual need.  Paul puts the burden of sanctification, of becoming more like Jesus Christ, squarely on the shoulders of the individual believer.

Years ago I read a controversial, but helpful, book entitled The Gospel of Coincidence by John Boykin.  He basically said that most of what happens to us in life is a result of choices we make, choices which come out of the priorities which we set for ourselves.  Are you taking responsibility for your own spiritual life?  How’s the training going?

Questions:

1.  In physical training, there are exercises which must be practiced.  What would be some of those exercises in “spiritual” training?

2.  How do we even know what “godly” looks like?  Why is studying the earthly life of the Lord Jesus so critical here?

 

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Ten Steps to Spirituality!

In our course, “The Integration of Theology and Psychology,”KeynoteScreenSnapz001 Dr. Allan McKechnie andI have been discussing the doctrine of salvation and its implications for counselors who are Christians.  One aspect of salvation is the continuing work of God the Holy Spirit in making us like Christ.  This doctrine is called SANCTIFICATION.  The word means “being set apart” or “being made holy.”

I believe I Timothy 4 presents us with ten very specific steps we may take to advance in our becoming like Christ.  Let’s look at that passage and begin investigating those ten steps.

I Timothy 4 says,

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

The FIRST STEP I see in this text is simply:  PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU AVOID (v. 7)

Verse 7 reads: “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales . . .”  Growing in grace and holiness involves choosing what we won’t give our attention to!  Paul challenges TImothy not to give his attention to “godless myths” and “old wives’ tales.”

Now, the few women who might read my blog should not be upset by the 2nd expression.  It is not meant in a misogynistic way.   Paul is not anti-women.  He is simply giving two examples of material that should not dominate the believer’s thinking, concentration, time.  (to be continued)

Questions:

1.  What “godless myths” are you aware of which should be avoided?

2.  Why should we avoid such myths and old wives’ tales?

 

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BEEN DRAGGED RECENTLY?

Been dragged recently? Thank God for His patience in carrying us along in the Christian life.

We read in 2 Peter 1:21 that “. . . prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” That was a special work of the Holy Spirit, protecting the biblical writers from error as they penned Holy Scripture.

But isn’t it true that He carries us along? In what area of your life has God been carrying you recently?

Questions:
1. How do we co-operate with God the Holy Spirit and help to “carry along” other believers?
2. Do you allow other believers to carry you along when life gets tough and you are tempted to live like a practical atheist?

 
 

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