Saturday, February 17, 2007


You may have heard of the following phrase referred to as the 7 most deadly words for the church:

“We have always done it that way.”

Here’s the New Testament version of the same thought from the mouths of the Pharisees:

Mark 2:18-22 (NKJV) 18The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” 19And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. 20But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days. 21No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. 22And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”

According to “Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament”, the ONLY day that the Jews were required to fast was the Day of Atonement (Lev 16). This means that the Pharisees had added a few more days of their own. The fasting that they were referring to was not from God, it was a “man” thing, a “religious” thing.

Jesus wasn’t against fasting, just against people trying to fit God into their ideas and designs rather than conforming to God’s plan, intents and purposes.

4And we have such trust through Christ toward God. 5Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:4 - 6 (NKJV)

The illustrations of the cloth and the wine were used to the same end. Jesus fulfilled the Law (though the Jews couldn’t see it) and ushered in the New Covenant. He condensed all the Mosaic law into two commands….

Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39)

Not putting new cloth on an old garment was clear to his listeners. For us to understand, we have to keep in mind that they didn’t have pre-shrunk new cloth, polyester or any of the modern blends that don’t shrink. If you put a piece of cotton cut to fit on an old shirt it would look great until you washed it. Then, the new piece of cotton would shrink thereby pulling away from the old, rendering the repair useless.

It was the same with the wineskins that were used to hold wine. If you filled an old one that was already stretched out with new wine, it would burst when the wine fermented. The point is that the new teaching of the grace of Christ cannot be contained within the old forms of the law

For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

I wonder if we have any man-made, religious ideas and practices in the church today, to which we cannot conform God’s grace and intent of His Word and Spirit. Maybe we too, as the Pharisees, have some “house cleaning” to do!


Friday, February 16, 2007


I remember seeing a skit one time that was very effective. You may have seen it as well. It takes place in the apartment of a young man that has accepted Jesus as his Savior. Based on the verse that says “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20), the second Character is Jesus.

The scene opens with Jesus sitting on the couch with the young man when the phone rings. The young man answers the phone and learns that he has been invited to a wild party. As he gets up to go to the party, Jesus gets up and starts to follow him. The young man informs Jesus that it isn’t necessary for him to come with him to the party (he knows there will be things there of which Jesus would not approve). Jesus doesn’t say a word but attempts to follow the young man a couple of times until the young man finally gets angry, pushes the character playing Jesus up against the wall and proceeds to nail his hands to the wall saying “I…told…you…to…stay…here.” When the young man steps back we see Jesus standing there with his hands straight out from his shoulders in the form of a cross. Very powerful.

The Psalmist put it like this:

Where can I go from Your Spirit?

Or where can I flee from Your presence?

8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;

If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

9 If I take the wings of the morning,

And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,

And Your right hand shall hold me.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”

Even the night shall be light about me;

12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,

But the night shines as the day;

The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

Psalms 139:7-12 (NKJV)

It tells us that God is everywhere, all the time. The fancy term for that is omnipresence. I’ll close with just a simple question for you to ponder.

Do you live every day, every moment, as if you were in the presence of God?

(Hint: If you don’t, you should!)


Thursday, February 15, 2007


There was a Klingon saying on Star Trek, “Today is a good day to die.” Well that may be true for a Klingon, but for you and me, I think we’d rather say, “I’d rather be alive today.” Sure we have problems and all, but really!

I found this great passage today that tells us what to do if we DESIRE LIFE:

Who is the man who desires life

And loves length of days that he may see good?

13 Keep your tongue from evil

And your lips from speaking deceit.

14 Depart from evil and do good;

Seek peace and pursue it.

Sounds simple enough. And, there are REWARDS!!!

15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous

And His ears are open to their cry.

16 The face of the LORD is against evildoers,

To cut off the memory of them from the earth.

17 The righteous cry, and the LORD hears

And delivers them out of all their troubles.

18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted

And saves those who are £crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,

But the LORD delivers him out of them all.

Psalms 34:12 - 19 (NASB)

He sees us

Hears us

Delivers us from ALL troubles

That doesn’t mean we don’t have any, only that He takes care of us when we do and come out on top. What a great God!! Choose LIFE…


Wednesday, February 14, 2007


If we are living our lives for Christ and telling others about Him, some people will be happy because we point them to eternal life and others will be UPSET with us. Paul explains that in 2 Corinthians 2:15 - 16 (NLT),

Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 16. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?

So maybe those people being upset with us ARE the sufferings for Christ that Paul talked about earlier in chapter one. Remember that he tells us if we suffer for Christ in this way, God promises to “shower” us with comfort:

For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:5 (NASB)

He finishes out verse 16 with the question who is adequate for this task, the task being dealing with those who are not saved and think we’re “doom and gloom preachers” whenever we mention Jesus’ name. You know, the ones who claim you’re a “bible thumper” or a “goodie two-shoes” (I have no idea where that phrase about shoes came from!).

So, should we stop telling them about Christ because they think badly of us? OR, should we continue, in love, to tell them about Jesus, especially by the way that we live our lives? The question really is do you trust God to “shower you” with His comfort? Do you believe Jesus when He said

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b

Who is adequate for the task? Jesus is!! Trust Him to take care of you, especially when you are taking care of His business.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Have you ever been angry or upset with someone because they hurt someone you knew? They didn’t hurt you directly, but you were hurt all the same. Later, the person they hurt makes up with them, forgives them. Are you still upset?

Sometimes, it is almost harder to forgive that person because you weren’t directly involved in the first place. You still harbor resentment toward them.

Read what the Apostle Paul has to say about that kind of a situation:

Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. 2 Corinthians 2:10 - 11 (NKJV)

The implication is that if we do not forgive that person that our friend has forgiven, Satan may take advantage of us. How can he do that? Anytime we disobey something that God desires, we create an opportunity for Satan to come in and say, like he did to Eve in the garden, “God didn’t really mean that.” Then doubt creeps in and we start to question God’s Word.

In the case of the Corinthians, Paul had told them to forgive the man that had sinned, invite him back into the fellowship and demonstrate to him that they still loved him. Paul forgave him too.

Why does he say “for your sakes in the presence of Christ?” Think of it like this, If you knew that Jesus Christ was in the room, you would be on your best behavior and couldn’t possibly lie. You would tell the absolute truth in the presence of Christ. Paul’s forgiveness was real, not faked.

We too, if we have accepted Christ as our Savior, are constantly in the presence of Christ because His Spirit lives in us. We need to act in that same manner of truthfulness and sincerity, forgiving those whom our brothers and sisters in Christ have forgiven. After all there’s only One Body of Christ. We are called to unity, not just in some things, but in all things. We are One in Jesus our Savior.


Monday, February 12, 2007


In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he instructed them to discipline a man that was having an incestuous relationship with his stepmother.

Deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 1 Corinthians 5:5 (NKJV)

In simple terms, the man was excommunicated from their fellowship. Whenever you are ousted from the “in” group, it hurts. It gives you time to think about what you did wrong and you are apt to change your ways. However, if after changing your ways you are still snubbed by that group, you tend to lose heart and question why you were part of them in the first place. That may be ok for a fraternity or a click but not Christianity!

Paul tells the church at Corinth here in his second letter, enough is enough. Bring this man back into fellowship with you…

But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree—in order not to say too much—to all of you. 6 Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, 7 so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. 2 Corinthians 2:5 - 8 (NASB)

Forgiveness is to be part of our makeup as it is of Christ’s. He forgave our sins when we confessed them to him and we are to forgive others for their sins against us.

Paul goes beyond forgiveness and tells the Corinthians to comfort the man. In chapter one of second Corinthians Paul had relayed to them that God comforts them so that they could comfort others. Here he shows them a specific situation in which to apply that comfort.

Finally, Paul tells them to reaffirm their love for this man. It is not always easy to love somebody that has wronged you, but it is the godly thing to do. We were made in the image of God. One of the goals of Christianity is to become more like Christ. He loved us when we were still sinners. How much more should we love someone who has repented of their sin in order to draw them back into fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ?


Sunday, February 11, 2007


The Encarta Dictionary defines discretion as:

1. ability to avoid offense…

the good judgment and sensitivity needed to avoid embarrassing or upsetting others

Paul used discretion in deciding to write the Church at Corinth rather than visiting them in person.

So I decided that I would not bring you grief with another painful visit. 2 For if I cause you grief, who will make me glad? Certainly not someone I have grieved. 3 That is why I wrote to you as I did, so that when I do come, I won’t be grieved by the very ones who ought to give me the greatest joy. Surely you all know that my joy comes from your being joyful. 4 I wrote that letter in great anguish, with a troubled heart and many tears. I didn’t want to grieve you, but I wanted to let you know how much love I have for you. 2 Corinthians 2:1 - 4 (NLT)

You and I could learn a lot from how Paul handled this difficult situation. Over and over he proclaimed his love for the people in the church at Corinth and also for the man in their church who had sinned (1 Cor. 5:1; 2 Cor. 2:5).

  • Out of love, Paul used an approach that wouldn’t lead to an angry situation.
  • Out of love, Paul tells the people in 2 Corinthians 2:5 to start loving on the man who had sinned again, so he wouldn’t get too discouraged.

Notice, that in Paul’s approach, he directed some of the “blame” for not coming to himself by saying, “who will make me glad.” He was very gentle in dealing with this situation and yet, did not ignore it or water down the scriptures demand to be holy.

Paul was following his own advice that we find in his letter to the church at Philippi:

Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Phil. 2:3b

Paul, by exercising discretion, kept the door open for further ministry with the Corinthians, and kept their ministry to others free from the chains of anger and mistrust.