So in todays blog I wanted to hit on a topic that impacted me heavily when I started my walk with the Lord. And that topic is over Repentance. Now I honestly think that this word is used too much in the sense of just its word, and not so much its definition or more so the application that flows from it. The definition of repentance is to literally turn away from something. So as a Christian this should be something that is not taken so lightly because we know for certain that we are to focus on Christ, nothing else and thats the beautiful picture of repentance! But wait, how can repenting of a sin be a beautiful thing? Because to turn away from a sin is to turn to Christ! That is why its a beautiful thing, because there is nothing more important in our lives than to give glory to God. And there is so much glory given to the Lord when we see our sin and say 'no!' to remember the Gospel and realize that there is a much greater thing to focus on than our own sins. And thats to focus on the one who took those very sins to the cross, giving us the ability to repent and not have to be chained by anything in this world! Starting to see the beauty yet? The Gospel is beautiful and our Lord is beautiful. So lets look at repentance as a beautiful thing, not the sin that we are turning from but the ACT of turning towards the Lord who payed for it.
Todays topic I think is an interesting one because its one of those topics that seem obvious but is equally ignored. And its the topic of controlling our emotions.
James 1:19-21 "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls."
Now the way that James breaks this down paints a picture of control doesn't it? And I think if we are honest its a picture of some serious control. Hearing the person out, not throwing your opinions out as fast as you can, not getting angry at the drop of a button. These are common struggles among Christians, and they are fueled by our emotions. So if we are seeing a pattern in our lives of our decisions and responses being ruled by our emotions, how do we train ourselves to not be? Or better yet, what should be the replacement, the deciding factor of how we react and respond?
The answer is given to us in the passage of James that we already read. The Word of God. Through reading our bibles we can see the correct characteristic that a child of God is supposed to have, we see that through Christ, the apostles and others. We see an attitude that isn't so focused on what they think, but what a Holy and True God would want them to think. Do you see the difference? Its one thing to say 'Well I disagree' compared to 'Gods Word says otherwise'
So the idea is to refocus our driving point that makes us do the things that we do. Emotions are fast acting, reckless and harming if not kept under control and they can keep us from doing what needs to be done, and the only thing that can truly keep them under correct control is the Lord. So I want to encourage you today to evaluate who has more influence on your actions, you... Or the Lord?
I believe that the topic of Gods authority is a seriously dreaded topic to go over. But why? Wouldn't it seem natural to say that God has all authority? I would say so. So why is this such a dreaded topic? Well I've asked the easy question of shouldn't it seem natural? So now lets ask the harder question, what if God wants you to give up something you love? Or to do something that would be the opposite of the plans you've made for your future? Seems harder doesn't it?
So it is indeed easy to say that the Lord has all authority, until He makes you have to live it. And when I think of the authority of God and how great it is I can't help but to think of Job. Now through reading about Job we can clearly see that his authority over his life was so greatly overpowered by the Lords. Job lost it all, his livestock, children, wife and home. Thats huge. Most of us will live our lives not experiencing half of what Job went through, but what was Job's response? Did he take the situation and hate God? despise His authority or chalk it up to dumb luck? Job 42: 2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." Even though it hurt, even though it wasn't what he wanted for his life, Job now knew more than ever that the authority of God will stand.
So I want to encourage you today to remember who is in charge of your life, give credit to Whom it is due, and be ready for your wants to not always be matching up to the Lords, because those are the ones that truly shape us into something better, shaping us into a better image of His Son Jesus Christ.
Chapter 4 verses 1 and 2 start off saying “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.”
Ok so Paul is doing some clarifying here. Paul is saying that ‘This is how you should regard us’ so that tells us that they aren’t regarding them as a servant or a steward. But that’s not news to us right?
We have learned through the last three chapters that the church of Corinth is not holding them to correct titles. And we know that because if they were viewing them correctly, they wouldn’t be giving allegiance to one or the other.
Because think about this simply. By saying that they are servants and stewards he’s saying that he has allegiance to God. So again Paul is pointing out their own ridiculousness by saying that they follow a servant and not the servants King. And that’s a pretty simple concept right? If a servant proclaimed a king and you were wanting to serve the king than logically you would follow who? The servant or the king? So it’s a pretty simple concept but again it is something to be careful about because it can be easy to idolize a person based on their gift and ignore the One who gave the gift.
Now Paul changes topics when we start to move on to verses 3 and 4 and it honestly seems like he is saying to not judge at all, but is not the case. The word judge here in the Greek is anakrino; which means to evaluate.
So Paul is saying ‘you know what it means to me that you evaluate me? Zero.’
Now when I see this, this tells me that Paul has had a great victory over his human self. Because he is a teacher and an extremely good one, and he just said ‘I don’t care what anybody thinks of me’ now thats not to say you shouldn't care about your representation of yourself and of Christ, but its the point of mans evaluation not being what defines you. And thats a huge deal in the church today. And that brings me to a question, What is your identity in? Its a simple question right? simple yes, but very tough. Its a passage like this that we need to evaluate ourselves by asking these kinds of questions, the church of Corinth had their identities in the Greek influences and what people actually thought of themselves but even worse, what they thought of themselves. And thats a scary place to be. We ourselves our not the ones who should be evaluating our own actions. Because sadly, due to us being fallen creatures and having a sin nature, we are all in the business of building up our own egos.
And I think if we really look into this its not hard to see, how many times have you done something that you didn't think was an issue until a brother or sister brought it to your attention? Its because they can see what we cannot. But there is a defining factor here int there? The people evaluating us need to be using something right? A looking through a filter so to speak. And that is the Word of God. Only then can someone evaluation have any ground to stand on. But once again, this requires something. And what I mean by that is, how well are you going to understand the issue if you yourself do not understand what scripture says about it? So its not just having others evaluate you but you yourself being grounded in the Word to understand it.
And that ties into our identity. Just like Paul didn't have his identity in peoples thoughts of him we should not either. Our identity needs to be from one source, and that is Christ.
So I encourage you to think and pray about this idea of your identity and who's evaluation matters, because again, if someone brings forth the Word of God to evaluate you, that's not them evaluating you but the Holy Spirit, and thats the best evaluation we could ever get!
One of the things we need to remember from ch. 3 is that we learned that they were spiritual infants when Paul taught them and we learned that from the time Paul spent with them, that they still are.
And that’s where this church is having so many problems. They are not pursuing a deeper and stronger relationship with God, but other things as in worldly desires and passions.
So what we take from that is a check for ourselves. And by that I mean we need to be checking ourselves in asking questions like ‘Am I fixated on my own desires more than Christ?’
Because we would all agree that when we are fixated on something, that something shapes us. Whether good or bad it effects us.
And that ties into ch. 2 when we read verse 4 when he said “are you not being merely human?”
So that’s the point here. And this is very applicable to us. Because they are focusing on the world and in turn becoming like the world. And that’s the struggle of being a Christian, and that’s why it is so very important to constantly check ourselves to see where our desires are because the more we seek the Lord and His kingdom, we grow closer to that image and THAT is what is supposed shapes us.
And Ill throw this in here because it ties in well… When we are focused on the world and our own desires, it does shape us, and for some reason we think it goes unnoticed but just like Paul is calling out this churches actions, we can also tell by the actions of others where their hearts are… Ive said it before about how you can have a ten minuet conversation with someone and see what gets them going. What excites them… Its noticeable where our hearts are. Again, good reason to have a tight knitted church isn’t it? (Eph 4:16)
And we also talked about how Paul explained how one person plants, another waters but God makes it grow. That gives us confidence in sharing the Gospel because its not on us. And puts the glory in the correct place. Can you imagine if salvation was up to us? The stress would drive people mad! But thanks be to God for starting and finishing our salvation.
And ;lastly, we also talked about having a firm foundation, but that’s not the whole picture, that’s not the whole goal. Christ when He walked this earth and gave the analogy of the strong house, He said that the whole house was strong. And that is so important! We talk about Christ being our foundation, He needs to be our foundation. That is also something that we tell new believers "Go read the Gospels, learns who Jesus is" Its very god to start with Christ. So if that is the foundation of your house (referring to your faith as a house) Our goal is not merely for a strong foundation right? but for the building as a whole to be able to take the storms that come our way.
That leaves a lot of room for studying about God doesn't it? But thats because there is an infinite supply of knowledge of our Lord and Savior! So ask yourself as I ask myself, how am I building my house?
So going into chapter two we need to keep in mind some things. Firstly that the church of Corinth is struggling big time. So far we haven't seen much good in them, other then one thing: Paul calls them brothers and sisters in Christ. And that is a key thing to remember because they are a perfect example of the grace of God. That no matter how much you can mess up and get things wrong, you are never going to be bad enough to overpower the work that christ did on the cross!
Now in the beginning of chapter two Paul makes a statement of the way that he taught them, but why would he do that? It was to prove a point. In this time period in Corinth they were heavily influenced by the Greek culture, they were all about their lofty "speech or wisdom" the two very things Paul says that he didn't use when he taught them.
He was intentional! This is a good indicator that we are given of how good of a teacher that Paul is. He knew the influence that they were under and what styles that they preferred, and he made a point to not teach in a "Look at me" style. But why would he do that? Paul was teaching in a way that said "Don't look to me! Look to who I'm talking about!" Paul was very humble, especially if we take in Paul's past, a style of teaching like them would not have been a stretch, but no, he teaches Christ in a humble way. That is his goal. He will not stoop to their level of "Wisdom" but rely and teach the only true wisdom that we have, the Word of God.
And that brings out a good point, Paul did not care what they thought of him or how much they wanted to be like him. He only cared about the image that he representing, the image of God. And thats a good point of application for us to take out of this, do we have this mindset that Paul has? Or do we care more about what people will think about us? Its a scary thought but its a global struggle. A global sin. We all care incredibly too much about the opinions of man. Or better said the evaluation of man. And Paul is setting the correct standard of a child of God by showing this church 'that the only evaluation that matters to me is my Lord!'
And this will be the point where I stay in this recap. Because where we are in our hearts and minds regarding to how we view ourselves is so very important! Do we find our identity in people? Our friends, family, addictions, passions or desires? Because the Lord God has made it very clear to us that we are apart Him, one with Him. the church is His bride, that is powerful. So what is our identity? What is your identity?
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20
We have started on a new bible study in our Wednesday night studies. teaching these studies is me (Eli Shirar) and Austin Covington and we are now going through the book of 1st Corinthians. This will be the longest book to be taught in our group so far and it is showing us fantastic applications in the growth our church!
So what did we go over in chapter 1 of 1st Corinthians? Well lets talk about it!
We saw many things in the way that Paul addressed the church of Corinth, firstly it needs to be remembered that the church of Corinth was not doing good in this period of time. They had strayed from the teachings that Paul had taught them in his 18 month time period with them. And in that time period we can only imagine the relationships that Paul had made with this church in growing, teaching and long suffering with them on intimate levels. And the reason for needing to know that information goes into the approach that Paul takes when writing them this letter. And what I mean by that is think about if you had spent that time with them and built those relationships; would you be upset with them? I think most of us would and honestly Paul would have good reason to be upset with them by the way they have now turned to what is wrong. But is that that approach that Paul takes? Does he immediately scold them for their sin and tell them how disappointed he is in them? No he actually does the exact opposite. The approach Paul takes is very encouraging to us because he does a few things when starting.
Firstly, Paul takes the stand of the will of God in making him an apostle and in doing so he is establishing authority to them right off the bat. And secondly Paul again doesn't go into telling them of how mad he is with them but instead REMINDS them of who God is and who they are. So what did Paul just do there? He established the whole purpose of this letter: To the will of God because He has made you to be His children. And thats where we as a church can look to this and apply it. What I mean by that is we can take this approach when rebuking other brothers and sisters and better said we should take this approach because in everything we do, it is to the glory of God (1st Corinthians 10:31).
So after Paul establishes the meaning of even writing this letter and then reminding them of who God is and who they are, Paul then takes another approach, and in a sense there is more reminding them, but its also a reestablishing of the fundamentals. And what I mean but that is that when he addresses the fact that they are claiming loyalties to other men and following in incorrect teachings of the Gospel, Paul establishes what he did with them and the importance of it.
Paul goes on to tell them over and over that this wisdom that they are seeking is nothing because it is not wisdom of the Lord but of man (1st Cor 1:20) But they are in the sin of elevating this 'knowledge' above the Gospel and thats where Paul takes a more serious approach in shutting down this 'knowledge' in verse 25 by saying that "the foolishness of the Lord is wiser then man" And think about that statement, its like saying 'even if God had foolishness, which He doesn't, then He would would still be wiser then man. And thats what this whole chapter was about, reminding them that God has done the work, not you and He has established you, not you and God is wiser then all of mens wisdom. And in his ending statement of this chapter Paul says such a powerful statement in verses 30 and 31: "And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
There is nothing in this world that we, as children of God can say is ours or that it because of us that we even have it. God created it and gave it so the glory goes to Him and Him alone. So let us boast in the Lord!
Last year I was blessed with the opportunity to go through a women’s bible study at StoneWater Church over the book Brokenness—the Heart God Revives by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Prior to this study I would say that my view of “brokenness” was pretty skewed. Whenever I thought of being broken, I pictured someone who had experienced emotional pain, loss, or heartbreak. Little did I know that this was not even close to what it means to be truly broken!
One of the first things I learned in the study was that brokenness is synonymous with humility. To be broken meant letting go of all pride, becoming transparent, and surrendering to the will of God. In the beginning, I did not think that I had an issue with pride. I never really considered myself to be a prideful person. Boy was I wrong! The deeper I got into the study, the more the Lord revealed areas of sin in my heart that were all rooted in pride. Worrying about what people thought of me, serving others because I felt obligated, not openly sharing my personal struggles, or even expressing new things that God was revealing to me in my walk…each one of these things boiled down to pride—the desire to seem better, stronger than I really was.
A concept that Nancy Leigh DeMoss really hit hard throughout the study was the idea of “taking the roof off” and “letting the walls down.” Taking the roof off is the first step. This refers to letting go of “secret” struggles, being open and honest with our Creator—no longer hiding from God (which is impossible anyway, considering He is omniscient and omnipresent!). It may seem pretty simple, but until I really examined my heart, I did not realize how hard this actually could be.
The next step is letting the walls down. This has to do with letting down your guard toward others—allowing yourself to be truly transparent with those around you. I thought step one was difficult, but that was nothing in comparison to this! Letting down my walls opened me up to a certain kind of vulnerability that I wasn’t used to—by allowing everyone to see all of me, my strengths and my weaknesses, I opened myself up to be seen in a way contrary to what I had kept hidden before. Although it was uncomfortable at first, I can honestly say that the freedom that came with being transparent was incomparable! I no longer felt trapped in my struggles or worried about being in it alone. I realized that I could lean on my brothers and sisters in Christ for support, accountability, and encouragement.
Along with this newfound freedom, I also received an awe-inspiring sense of peace. The first step toward brokenness is letting go of your own pride, your own will, and submitting to the Lord. Nancy says, “Brokenness is the shattering of my self-will—the absolute surrender of my will to the will of God. It is saying “Yes, Lord!” – no resistance, no chafing, no stubbornness—simply submitting myself to His direction and will in my life.”
I have found this to be overwhelmingly true. The more I let go of my pride and cling to Christ, I see just how beautiful brokenness truly is.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” – Psalm 51:17
Alright people! We have some amazing news! Starting next Thursday the 30th for the first time ever, Stone Water Church is offering a FREE class called Biblical Counseling! Now don't be mislead by the title, it is not a class to teach you how to be able to counsel someone biblically. This class is to teach you how to apply scripture to your everyday life. It deals with subjects of correctly dealing with anger to marriage life and many more topics. It is deep in scripture and practical ways to apply them to your life like you've never seen before. If you are in a place where you desire to learn more about what Gods Word says for you, then this is the place to be.
Single? Doesn't matter. Married? Doesn't matter either. This will teach you how to practically prepare yourself for marriage and if you are married already then this will strengthen it to the glory of God which will in turn, bring you happiness and joy in your marriage. We pray that those who read this decide to come and join us as we offer this class to all. And again it is FREE. the only thing you need to bring is yourself. We hope you join us!
Located at: 120 Plum Street
Linden, IN 47955
More info on it? Feel free to call us at: 765-339-7300
By Eli Shirar.
So to start off, I guess I should say that I have a huge passion for the book of James. So to be given the opportunity to teach it was an amazing blessing.
I went in with a mixture of nervousness and excitement like I've never had, the thrill of teaching a book that I love dearly was so exciting! And even saying this now it just astounds me. If someone would have asked me to teach James two years ago I would have laughed and called them crazy. But now I cant wait to teach the next one! God truly has complete control over us because if it were up to me, then I wouldn't have gone through (let alone want to) the things that I have in this last year to make me into the person I am. God is so good.
So the study I think brought out some fantastic points, I pray I was able to do it justice. The points that really resinated with me were verses two and three of chapter one. verse two says to "Count it all joy when going through trials. And verse three says that it will produce steadfastness in the end (When handled correctly). And thats why we can count it joy because through it, we will grow closer to God! That being said how many times do we complain when we are going through trials? We don't have the correct mindset. And we have 1st Corinthians 10:13 telling us that for one, you're not going through anything that others haven't already gone through. And second, the main focus point here, is where it says "But with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it" Now that is powerful! So were told that we should have joy when going through trials, and going through trials will produce steadfastness, stronger loyalty, increase in faith. And now were told that God always gives an escape! We run out of excuses to be able to complain and say "I cant do this!" because God is here FOR us, not against us.
When we go through trials, we need to run to God, no matter how hard it is. And how do we know if we passed the test? Pay attention. Are you standing when its done? Or did you get knocked down and not even try to get up? Are you being steadfast?
Overall I loved teaching it. The message in the first half of James chapter 1 is so powerful and so in depth that I'm sure that there is even more there. I'm very much looking forward to the rest of this journey in James.