Justification and sanctification are two processes that must complete their purposes if we are to be mature servants of the Master. Justification can be seen as the process of salvation. We are made right by the gift of God, freely given on the cross. We cannot earn this and do not merit it. Being justified is a legal status, not a moral status. That is why our neighbors mock Christians. We say we are righteous, thinking that is a moral status, but often our actions are not righteous. That is why Paul reminds us that, “no one is righteous.” Becoming a Christian simply means you are on solid ground to build a good life. If you don’t build right, your building will collapse (1 Corinthians 3:15). Sanctification is the building process. Through prayer, study, application, correction all under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the follower of Jesus goes through this process. If any of those actions are left out, the building will be weak. Being sanctified means I understand my purpose and I work towards those goals. “Press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of you.”
Always keeping an eye on where you came from. Always remembering that you have a place at the table of the King. Always allowing the Spirit to convict you of your areas of weakness.
There is always going to be a battle where justification and sanctification meet. Quoting Jesus, Oswald Chambers says, “There is always a tremendous battle before sanctification is realized— something within us pushing with resentment against the demands of Christ. When the Holy Spirit begins to show us what sanctification means, the struggle starts immediately.” (If anyone comes to Me and does not hate…his own life…he cannot be My disciple, Luke 14:26). This is why we struggle. It is good we struggle. Never give up that struggle.
“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged.” In today’s socio-political climate, this is a favorite text of the religious left. Do not judge the attitudes and actions of others so you won’t be judged about your attitudes and actions. We cannot judge another because we don’t know what they have been through. This is not the point Jesus was trying to make. Notice, I referenced only part of the verse. “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3).
In the sermon on the mount, Jesus draws a bold line between the old life and the new. That means we have a new standard for all we do. This does not mean we have the right to exert authority over those who are not citizens of the kingdom. When we judge others, we usually use our own standard for good and evil. Jesus illustrates His point with a comical reference to a beam in the eye of one trying to remove the speck from another. Disciples are not given the role of judge. We are to focus on our own lives and our own failures. When we make judgments and cut others out, we cut off ourselves with the same sword.
The disciple only has righteousness based on the association of faith in Christ. We come to that association based on our acceptance of the work of Christ on the cross and the incorporation of God’s Word into our thinking. We agree to live in community based on these principles in the fellowship known as the church. There may be times when we have to uphold the standards of the Christian community and cut ties of fellowship. That only takes place after a process of spiritual conflict management (Matthew 18:15-20). Our casual relationships are based on the dynamic of unconditional love. The purpose of this type of relationship is it allows the best of who we are to come to the surface. When the church operates from this perspective, all people will know that we are His disciples.
Truitt Adair is with Lakeview this morning, sharing the next chapter in the story of the Solar Player and bringing the sermon during our morning worship time. Being a missionary at heart, the Solar Player caught Truitt’s attention and he immediately saw the benefit of such a device in the hands of a trained missionary. Here is a little of the back story to how the dream of the Solar Player became a reality.
About four years ago, Adair heard about solar players that were battery operated and the battery was recharged by the sun. These players were pretty large and had on them only the audio recording of the Bible. He thought that having players which could be recharged by the sun fit perfectly the many in Africa who are in areas without reliable electricity and for whom an audio Bible would be great because they cannot read. Yet, these were, he thought, too large and no instruction beyond the Bible could be placed on the players. So he asked the technical experts at Sunset to find a smaller and more versatile version and, after about a year, they did. The new players were solar, but were smaller and could have other materials inserted into the player. Sunset gave some trials of this unit and found that it worked very well, so they made a deal with Review Outreach in Atlanta to provide two-thousand Papyrus Solar Players for their use. On them they put the New King James Version of the Bible, 400 hours of audio covering the forty courses in training preachers which the Sunset Institute uses for their program, World Bible School lessons, two hours of hymns, and some additional resources.
The first 2000 Solar Players went to countries in Africa that have English as their official language. Countries including Zimbabwe, Ghana and Liberia. The next 2000 Solar Players went to Nigeria, Kenya, South Sudan, Zambia and Ethiopia. The Solar Players that were distributed in Ethiopia had materials available in Amharic, the language of that land. SIBI is in the middle of a third campaign to distribute Solar Players to Spanish speaking countries.
The cost of the Solar Player is $500.00 per unit. This covers the cost of the unit, the royalty for using the NKJV, putting additional materials on the player, cost of distribution and training. The investment continues to pay great dividends. The results from those who have received the players has been outstanding because they have brought many to Christ. One person alone baptized 113 in the first six months. Adair said it was like having “a missionary in a box, a library in a box, and preacher training school in a box.” And, of course, many of those who were already Christians were strengthened by having these players with the audio material they contained. (Excerpts adopted from an article by Stafford North)
An opposite to sound doctrine is false teaching. While the phrase is not in the bible, there are many warnings against false teachers. 2 Peter 2:1-3 is but one example. The insight we gain is that these individuals want to exert power over others. They are manipulators of words and deceptive with God’s Word. Peter mentions their unrestrained ways, which suggests an immoral lifestyle is at the center of who they are. Immoral acts and lifestyles are actually used to justify and distort the truth of God and the nature of God. False teachers say, “This is what I think so it must be true.” A desire to control others and unchecked moral failures are the way to identify these false teachers.
Peter also suggests that false teachers are opportunists. People are in need of shepherds. They need guidance and readily listen to whoever seems to have convincing words. Jude says of them; “These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. … These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.” (Jude 12-13, 16).
False teachers often hold legalistic views. They divide words and concepts, creating new ideas that they believe to be true. Jesus confronted this distortion of the truth of God when He exposed the corrupt side of sectarianism: “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God” (Luke 11:42). They often divide their families and the Body of Christ.
The proof of authentic discipleship is love (John 13:34-35). Understanding the message of the cross calls us to change inside. That change inside directs how we treat others…especially those of the household of faith. How can we know if we are authentic followers of Christ, holding the right doctrine and be teachers of truth? One word; love.
We are approaching several deadlines as we get full into the summer months.
DELANO SUMMER CAMPS - First, put on your prayer list all of the different camps that our young people will be attending this summer. The first camp begins this weekend, with STS (Senior Teen Session). Visit the Delano website for future dates. If you are thinking about having your kid(s) attend one of the camps, it is not too late (except for STS and of course, at this point, there may be a late fee for some of the camps). Pray also for our adults who will be supporting the camps as cooks, kitchen staff, counseling staff or leading (Ben, Brandon and Jeff). Several of our young people will also be serving at the camps this summer. Delano is a great place to get involved!
FaithBuilders Northwest – There is still plenty of time to register and attend this Christian growth workshop for churches of Christ in the northwest. It is hosted on the PLU campus and directed by the Puyallup and Springbrook congregations. The dates are July 7-9, 2016. Visit faithbuildersnw.com for registration information and program details.
Just Want Privacy Filing Deadline – This is the last weekend for you to sign the Initiative 1-1515 petition. It deals with common-sense legislation that recognizes the need for gender-segregated public shower and changing room facilities. It also establishes civil liabilities when the current ruling is violated by those who want to hurt woman and children in public shower and changing areas where privacy and safety should be guaranteed. Petitions are in the back of the Auditorium.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" John 3:16
That's a lot of love. God loves us so much. The sins of this world have lead us to places we should not be going, doing things we should not be doing, and encouraging us to say things we should not be saying. God's love is so great that no matter what the sin, He sent His son to die for us so that we can be forgiven and made whole. Someone had to pay the price; blood had to be given as a sacrifice. God sent Jesus, the only sinless one, to be the payment for our sins. He did this by giving His life as a ransom for our sins.
We have seen great fathers in this world. The story of the father who pushed, pulled, and carried his son through a triathlon is a great example. He swam 2.5 miles, cycled 125 miles through hot lava fields, and concluded by running 26.2 miles with his son. He loved his handicapped son so much. His son's dream was to be in this contest. The father's heart was to meet that need for, and with, his son. No, they were not in first place or even second place, but they did finish just under the deadline. The father ran the race with the son.
God runs with us as we take on the challenges of life; we are not alone. He is there to aid and support. He has made a time commitment and demonstrated the concept of keeping our eyes focused on the goal. Paul edifies these actions when he writes, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14)
God's heart is big for us. He wants only what is best for us. He doesn’t just tell us what to do. He runs to us. He runs with us.
Prayer is the ultimate expression of communication with God. If we want to have strong relationships and significant purpose, meaningful prayer has to be the key to our success. Just like any good relationship, clear communication is essential. The following comments from Oswald Chambers lead us to a deeper understanding to prayer.
“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there's nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all. Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don't want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of 'good time' is seldom in sync with ours.”
The idea of perseverance in doing what is right has a lot of application to many aspects of faith, but especially when it comes to communication with God.
I value thoughts by Oswald because they help establish that persistent prayer is a priority for the Christian who is growing. Prayer creates the path. This is different from expecting God to get on your path. Prayer helps you view your life challenges through God’s eyes. This is different from expecting God to see where you are coming from.
Many of our challenges stem from doing things our own way. Prayer puts us on the path of God’s way. When this is our first line of defense, we don’t waste time and emotion wondering what could be going wrong. I observe many believers who have this approach to life. They seem like they are ahead of the curve. They are able to see what is ahead. They walk with confidence because their actions are guided by wisdom. They seem to be able to make good decisions because their knowledge base is sound. They are not surprised by the twists and turns of the journey because they have been informed regarding the ways of the world.
Good communication with family, friends and co-workers can follow a pattern established by your communication with God. All of what faith teaches is duplicatable in all areas of life. This gives meaning to the statement, “Seek first His Kingdom and His Righteous and all these things will be added to you.”
As I mentioned, we received the new 30-Day Bible Reading Challenge material. Last week, we began on the first Old Testament Challenge. Currently we are reading Ezra through Song of Solomon. Esther and Nehemiah have been particularly engaging. The goal with the 30-Day Challenge is to get Lakeview deeply involved in God’s Living Word.
The teacher Paul uses a phrase that instructs us on our relationship to God’s Word. In Colossians 3:16, he says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” This phrase has always tested and enthused and comforted me. “Dwell in you richly.” Of course that’s what God wants! I’m not a computer hard drive whose purpose it is to collect more and more data. I’m not a student hoping against hope to get all the answers right on the final exam. I’m a member of God’s household, and I get to learn with my brothers and sisters what God’s word, through the prophets and the apostles is, and to ask God to make that word go down deeply and effectively, down to a place where it won’t get blown away by the winds of today’s concerns. I can ask God to make it take root there, so it will dwell there, and nobody can take it away. It will not lie dormant. It will, like well-planted seed, sprout and grow, and then put down roots, and finally be ready for harvesting and digesting. We take it in as seed, but it becomes a nourishing feast.
People who have had this faithful pattern of Scripture consumption have, over the years, transformed it into the spiritual muscle tissue of their lives. The word of God actually becomes part of who they are. This is our goal with the Bible reading challenge. Below is the schedule we will follow for the next several months. When we are done, we will have “consumed” the entire Bible.
May - Books of Wisdom (Ezra, Nehemiah, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Songs of Solomon)
June - Champions and Kings (Joshua – 2 Chronicles)
July - The Prophets of God (Isaiah – Malachi)
August - Books of Moses (Genesis – Deuteronomy)
September - Books of New Testaments (Matthew – Revelations)
We will have a Bible Reading Challenge Group meet next Sunday, following morning assembly. (May 15th from Noon to 1:00 pm.) If you want to bring a bag lunch or some snacks to hold you over, feel free. At this gathering we will discuss our progress and share what we have leaned from our study. The information below is the basic outline we will follow:
How to: tools and other aids
Gains: personal gains and experiences
What you learned: fun facts, key moments and events, actions of the people involved, responses, God’s intervention, key people, any applications.
A fellowship of believers is important if we seek to have churches that are healthy. One opportunity for fellowship in the big picture will take place in July. This opportunity is the Faith Builders Workshop. It is a spiritual growth workshop intended to encourage Christians from all over the Pacific Northwest. This year’s workshop will be hosted on the PLU Campus in the Eastvold Auditorium. It will take place on July 7 – 9, 2016 (Thursday to Saturday). The 3-day workshop is presented by the Elders of the Puyallup and Springbrook congregations, as an effort to create unity and equip the Churches of Christ in the Northwest. Several essential topics will be taught by preachers from all over the country. Topics will include building families, reaching today’s world, missions, women’s ministry and how to edify the local congregation. There will also be a childcare program for kids ages 2 to 12, as well as a youth program on the last day of the conference.
There are details on the Faith Builders website. The web address is FaithBuildersnw.com. Go to the Workshops tab and click on Workshop Information. This will bring up a PDF of the schedule.
If you plan to attend, click on the Contact and Register tab. It will open up a registration form that you can submit online. There is no charge for the Workshop but they will accept donations and they will take up a contribution on Friday night. Between the contribution and the funds given by the supporting congregations, the costs of the workshop are covered.
Housing and food are available. See website for rates.
Gentleness Self-Examination Quiz
1. Was I gentle in the situations I faced today? If not, why? Were my rationalizations prideful?
2. Do I exhibit the same gentleness to others that God exhibits to me every day? How?
3. Do people describe me as gentle? Or do they describe me as critical or brash? Why?
4. Do I gently encourage people to “sin no more”? Or do I self-righteously cast the first stone?
30 Day Bible Reading Challenge
Brother Dennis and I have been working together to bring the Lakeview congregation the 30 Day Bible Reading Challenge. Over the next several months, we will make available several of the different 30-Day Challenges that span the whole bible. We have set up a display board by the Training Room that contains the reading schedules. They are free for each member to pick up a copy for their participation. We also have a handout that summarizes the bible. The following is the plan, or path we want to follow in this reading challenge.
April - To end the month of April; The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses highlights key Bible passages that are pivotal in the Bible’s story line—enabling readers to see God’s incredible plan from beginning to end. We have added four verses to emphasize the role of God’s Word in our lives. The idea is to commit these 20 verses to memory.
May - Books of Wisdom
June - Champions and Kings
July - The Prophets of God
August - Books of Moses
September - Books of New Testaments
Goals and Objectives
The word of God is the only offensive weapon in our spiritual arsenal.
* We are in the midst of a tenacious battle and the enemy is advancing to our ranks daily, knowing how to use the only offensive weapon we have could save our lives.
* We cannot hold our defenses if we don’t know the word of God and hence have no offensive readiness.
* Enriching each individual enriches each household, the church, and hopefully our country.
* Enriching our knowledge means we discover our roles and translate that into actions.
* The church benefits because we become alert and engaged making evangelism and other duties in the Lord’s Body become shared responsibilities.
* Build a lifelong habit of daily scripture reading.
* Meet once a month to share our successes and growth.
Please join us in this challenge and let us enrich our familiarity with the Father and strengthen our fellowship with him and our brethren.