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Archive for January, 2011

Day 27: Groaning with a Purpose

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 27, 2011


Scriptural Nuggets Daily DevotionScriptural Nuggets Daily Devotion

Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. – 2 Corinthians 5:2-4

Perhaps no word better expresses the deep, passionate desire to see something happen than to groan.

I watched Sunday as the Chicago Bears came oh, so close to taking the game, but a last minute interception, sucked the air out of Bears fans everywhere.  You could almost hear a collective groan across the fruited plain as people, wearing Cutler jerseys, buried their heads in a mournful silence.

Or can any basketball fan forget the final NCAA game last year as the Butler Bulldogs fired a rim-shot from ¾ court as time expired and sparked a collective gasp and subsequent groan throughout Lucas Oil Stadium.

Groaning in the Spirit

Paul takes that “groaning feeling” up a notch when he says in essence, “We groan in our spirits because we really don’t want to be here; we want to be with Jesus!”

Can you say of yourself that you really groan in your spirit to be with the Lord, or do a lot of things in this world keep your groaning spirit at bay?

I ask that question because Paul was writing this letter in a time of great turmoil.  Rome was oppressing Christians, Jew didn’t like Christians, sin was rampant in Corinth and being fed to lions really wasn’t all that appealing.

It is much easier to want to be with Christ when (a) you are going through some serious persecution or (b) you spend a lot of time with Jesus.

Groaning doesn’t just happen; you have to be truly vested in the thing you are longing for.

A lifetime Bears fan is going to groan a lot more when they lose a championship game than a person that is simply jumping on the band wagon.

If you have spent lots of time with Jesus over the course of your Christian walk (not just prayer at meal time and when your kids are sick, but REAL time just loving on God) you know what I mean.  You crave being in the presence of God, and you really can’t wait to leave this world behind.  You know what it is like to some degree to groan in your spirit.  And unlike Bears fans this season, your groaning will be satisfied.

 

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Day 26: Excelling at Commendability

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 26, 2011


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Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

Peter uses this term for “excellent” to tell us that we have been called to “glory and excellence” 2 Peter 1:3-5.  The word is also translated “virtue”, which echoes the idea that we are to be excellent.  Jesus says that we are to be “perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

In this verse, Paul narrows the focus from the things previously mentioned (e.g. true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable) to two remaining thoughts – excellent and praiseworthy.

The other parts all talked about those things coming into your thoughts.  These final two talk about that which comes as a result of your thoughts.

Is what you are thinking excellent (virtuous)?  Can it be said that the thought is worthy of praise? If not, maybe you just need to dump the thought.

Praise is a term that brings with it the idea of commendation. Is the thought commendable? Would the thought please God? Can you stand up before the congregation and say, “This is my thought”?

If it is not one that would receive praise from God and or people, then maybe you should not be going there.

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Day 25:The Power of Testimony

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 25, 2011


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Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

Admirable – or “good report” (literally) is only used here in Scripture, but the word for report (“fame” in the KJV) was attributed to Jesus when he started his ministry (Luke 4:14).  The idea of a “good report” means that you looking to find things that are positive about people and things and not rumors, gossip or slanderous.

Quite frankly, there are plenty of bad reports out there in the world; as believers, we need to seek out the positive things and exalt them.  We can do this through testimony.

The Power of Testimony

Testimonies are positive reports of what God is doing and the results that come from the events.  They can be miraculous events like healings and deliverance to simple things like provisions and general blessings.

Testimonies don’t just have to be about what God is doing, but can also include what other believers have done.  People are blessed and encouraged when they are told how they bless somebody.  A person that blesses from the heart is not looking for reward or public recognition, but certainly a kind word given to them brings great encouragement to their lives.

When I was growing up, I remember services where people would stand and testify to what God was doing.  These testimonies were powerful moments that had a tendency to replicate in the lives of others.  In fact, the Scriptures tell us that in the end, we will overcome the devil by the Blood of the Lamb (Jesus) and the word of our testimony. (Revelation 12:11)

So look for the good report and testify to it.  By keeping the good reports in the mind, we keep the enemy’s reports at bay, which help us to keep all things in perspective.

 

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Almost to 200…

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 24, 2011


2 Posts to 200 Posts!

I don’t know how many people actually read the stuff I write. To be honest, I like it when people do read my posts, but I really just enjoy writing and would probably write even if nobody read it.

I actually like to hear comments back from people, which I get on Facebook and other places where this blog is simulcast more than I actually do on WordPress.

In two posts, it will be my 200th post in less than two years.  It’s been a blast, and I hope to continue this for a long time.

Thank you to all of you that take a few moments to indulge me by reading the stuff that falls out of my brain.  I know it ain’t easy, but it is appreciated.

You can now check out a Podcast that I put online which will have everything from my Sunday Adult Bible Class to short thoughts. CLICK HERE. It is just more dribble from me, but instead of plowing through my writing, you just have to endure my speaking.

Hopefully you are blessed, challenged and inspired to get into the Word of God and see for yourself the life changing power of the Bible.

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Day 24: How to be Seen as a Christian

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 24, 2011


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Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

The word for “lovely” is only use here in the Scriptures and come from the root “phileo” meaning “friendly love” and it literally means, “unto friendly love”.  Some translations capture the sense well by using the word “pleasing” or “acceptable” because the idea is that a commonly acceptable thing.

The opposite of this would be “hostile”.  We are not to think in hostile terms but in pleasing, acceptable and lovely ways.

Let me be direct: Church splits occur primarily because people are not thinking in a “lovely” manner.

The source of unity is the Holy Spirit, and He uses the bonding agent of Love and a common purpose to adhere people of different gifts, backgrounds, preferences, etc. into a cohesive organism that can act as the Body of Christ on earth doing the ministry He started.

If we think in pleasing and lovely ways, and allow the Holy Spirit to work into us love, then we begin to put other people’s needs ahead of our own.  We think about how the things we do affect others.  We speak more kindly, act more generously, walk more humbly and love more genuinely.

Jesus wasn’t just speaking to the air when He said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love one for another.” (John 13:35) Love for each other is the mantra of the church.

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Day 23: Purity, Your Mind’s Filter

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 23, 2011


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Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

“Pure” follows after things like “true, noble and right”. If something pure has an element of impurity in it, it is no longer pure.

The Greek word for “pure” used here comes from the root word for “Holy”, which means, “to set apart”.  It is used as an adjective when talking about a “chased virgin” (2 Corinthians 11:2), which is somewhat redundant.

Since Paul is describing for us in this verse a framework in which we should think, it is obvious that purity must be the primary ingredient.

Water that comes from the tap looks pure, but in our community, there are over 70 chemicals added to that water.  So with all that, I run my water through a softener and reverse osmosis filter to get it to a level that I feel somewhat comfortable drinking, but even then, it is not pure.

If I want to eliminate all impurity, I would need to take that water, boil it and collect the steam (distillation) and then filter it again.  Eventually, after lots of hard work, I might be able to get the water to a 99.999% pure rating, but even then, there would be specs of impurity, causing my water to still be “impure”.

Purity is like the filter to our thoughts.  We need to keep the pure filter on so that the thoughts that pass through our minds are pure, but if the purity filter is dirty, then impure thoughts can pass right through.

As an example, you can’t watch five minutes of TV without having an impure thought pass through your mind.  Seemingly every commercial, TV show and even the news is full of sexual innuendo, violence and other trash that make your “pure” filter less than pure.

There are times when you need to just get away from all the impure influences in order to hear clearly from God.  The best way may simply be to turn off the TV, computer, video games, and any other distraction and just open your Bible and pray.

Try it for a week and see how your purity filter begins to clear up.  You might find out that you like the new thoughts passing through your mind.

 

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Day 22: Thinking Right

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 22, 2011


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Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

The word “right”, translated as “righteous” in the KJV, comes from a root meaning “judgment”. In a large sense, this word means to “keep the commands of God”, in a more narrow sense, it conveys an idea of “passing judgment”.  Paul may actually be using this word in both ways.

Following God’s commands is paramount to being a follower of Christ. There is no greater act of love you can show God than to be obedient to Him.

At the same time you are positively following the commands of God, you should be judging how you are doing. I guess a better way of saying that today is, “You need to constantly evaluate how you are doing in your obedience and make adjustments accordingly.”

The good thing about the New Testament law is that it is summed up in two commands, “Love God and Love your neighbor”.

The bad thing about the New Testament law is that it is summed up in two commands.

Our dilemma is always going to be, “How do we walk in this?”  It’s one thing to have a rule that says, “Thou shalt…” It’s another thing when the rule is more of a guideline or a framework within which you are to function.  There is a lot of freedom, which can lead to a lot of misinterpretation, so it is critical that we learn how to function within this framework so that we do not violate the command of God.

First, we can draw a lot of insight by reading the Old Testament and seeing the things that made God upset.  Once you find those things, you need to search out the principles behind them and let that redefine your understanding and guide you in applying the understanding to your obedience.

For example, we see several laws built around offerings brought to God and how they should be put together.  Lambs were not to have any blemishes; bread was not to have any yeast, etc.  These tell us that offerings and worship are to be pure.  Jesus tells us that his worshipers will worship in spirit and truth.  The presentation of our worship should be right before we step into worship, meaning that we need to get right before God and others prior to entering into worship.

We should examine our hearts, ask for forgiveness, and repent of sin, before we begin worship.  We need to eliminate the “blemish” and “yeast”, which represents sin, before setting ourselves out for worship.

This is the process of being made righteous.  We allow God to do the work of Christ in us to prepare us for service, worship, prayer, etc.  We are only made righteous in Christ, and to achieve the best possible outcome in our walk, we must allow Him to “keep” us righteous.  It is a daily thing.

 

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Day 21: True Nobility

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 21, 2011


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Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

The word for “noble” here has a root that comes from a word meaning “worship, devout, religious” and means “to be venerated for character, to be reverend”.

I like that last word… “Reverend”.  It’s a word we like to attribute to our pastors, but you will never find it in Scripture attributed to church leaders. It means to be revered as a person of character.

The word in this passage carries with it a since of fear and awe.  What can you say about a person of character?  What is there in a person of noble character that says they are not trustworthy? A person of character is incorruptible.

Think of those people you know that are “revered”… Billy Graham, Mother Theresa… even some non-believers carry a sense of character that tells you that you can trust them because they are noble.

Every believer is commissioned to be a person of honest nobility.  We must be people of character. We must be honorable, trustworthy people, but all too often those that set themselves out in front fall and the character of the Church is tarnished before the world.

It used to be that the church was where people ran to seek refuge because they could trust the church to be honest, trustworthy and full of character, but we have struggled in recent years to keep that banner held high.

We are the Body of Christ on earth.  Everything we do reflects on Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.  It is a huge responsibility, and we will be held accountable for everything done as a believer (Revelation 20:11-13, Romans 14;11-13, Matthew 12:35-37)

Each believer is called to a life of character.  We should not just depend on those in leadership positions to carry that torch alone. The church is the people, not the leaders.

Where do You Start?

This word follows the phrase “whatever things are true”.  We have to live a life of truth in order to begin a life of nobility and honesty.

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Day 20: Do or Do Not, There is no Try.

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 20, 2011


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Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

The Boolean Effect

In computer programming, there is a type called “Boolean”, which is represented by a “1” or “0”.  The value returned is either “true” or “false”.  Computers understand what humans do not; there is no middle ground between true and false.

If you have information in the statement that is not completely true, no matter how small that information might be, the value is “false”.  Anything less than 100% true is not true.

In mathematics, which is not my strong suit, let’s say you are performing a complex calculation and somewhere in that calculation you wrote that 1+1=3.  The resulting answer to the whole calculation will be incorrect even though the error was so small.

In life, there are no “white lies”.  All lies are lies and have no truth in them.  Truth is Boolean – it either is or it isn’t.

The Absence of Truth

Similarly, if you have missing information that does not complete the thought, the value is false.

Taking that same mathematical equation, let’s say that I omit any part of the formula; my end result will be incorrect.

We do this all the time by not including all the information.

Let’s say you are a teenage and are going out with your friends.

You say to your mom, “I’m going to Pete’s house.”

Once you get there, you decide to go to the mall, but you never tell your mom.

The picture you paint for your mom is that you are at Pete’s house, when in reality you are at the mall.  A story missing elements that are critical to drawing a complete picture is a lie.

So Paul tells us first to think on those things that are true.  Keeping truth in the forefront of you mind before everything else is key to keeping everything else in check.

And always remember, if you tell the truth, you have nothing to remember. If you tell lies, you have to remember everything you’ve ever said to keep your story straight.

To apply my favorite Yoda quote to Truth…

Do or Do Not, There is no Try!

 

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Day 19: Complaining and Unbelief

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 19, 2011


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“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” – Philippians 2:14-16

The biggest outward sign of unbelief is complaining.

From the time that Israel left Egypt until they reached the Promised Land, the constant theme was murmuring and complaining.

It got so bad that God burned the people with fire (Numbers 11:1-3) gave Miriam leprosy (Numbers 12), killed Israelites for complaining about food (Numbers 11), condemned all those older than 20 to die in the desert when they wouldn’t go into the promised land (Number 12-13), opened the earth to swallow up Korah’s household when he rebelled (Numbers 16-17).

They complained about food, water, and seemingly just about everything else.  Complaining is an ugly, selfish, sin-filled, arrogant, obnoxious, putrid and disgusting act. When we complain to God, we show our lack of faith and trust in his ability to remedy a situation or lead us through the situation.

Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The word for impossible here is the same word used half the time to speak of “impotence” and represents that fact that it just can’t be done.

If your goal is to please God, stop complaining and just trust Him. If you think your situation is bad, there is always someone else worse off that still has the joy of the Lord.

God has blessed you with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3)… what do you have to complain about?

 

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