Lessons In Taking Liberties

In Philemon verse 13-14 we can learn a great deal about how to handle other people’s possessions. I would venture to say that more hurt feelings and more broken friendships are caused by taking liberties with out asking than anything else. This can refer borrowing items, using property, or simply assuming it’s ok without ever asking. How we treat the property of others says a lot about who we are.

In out text the Apostle Paul had led Oneisimus (a run away slave) to salvation in Christ while he was imprisoned in Rome. Paul knew his owner Philemon personally, and was sending Oneisimus back the be repent and be forgiven. Paul wrote this letter to encourage Philemon to accept Philemon as his brother in the Lord. Lets look at Paul’s view of taking with out asking.

13 Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel: 14 But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.

Paul’s Destitute Condition v13 Paul’s first thought was to keep Oneisimus in Rome as his servant till he could be released. He also implies that if Philemon were in Rome, he would have providing this service himself, hence “in thy stead.” Paul is “in the bonds of the gospel.” Literally imprisoned for preaching the gospel. In first century Rome many people died in jail because food and clothing were not always provided. So could he have used a servant at this time? Who needed this servant the most? Imprisoned Paul or wealthy Philemon? Surely Philemon wouldn’t care considering the circumstances? We often use our circumstances to justify taking liberties with someone else’s stuff. We think we need it more or since we are friends, they won’t care.

Allow me to give you some guidelines for taking liberties with out asking.

  • 1 Only in an emergency. If it is not an emergency, then ask first and wait on their response. Anything that can be put off, should be, untill permission is granted.
  • 2 Is it a matter of life or death? If it is, don’t ask, just act! Nothing is more precious than saving a life.
  • 3 Look at the value of what you are taking. Risking a $1000 item that doesn’t belong to you to save a $10 item that does, is never a good idea. However, I’m sure any friend wouldn’t care for you risking his $10 to save your $1000, in a pinch.
  • 4 Is this really an emergency? We tend to over exaggerate, so ask yourself again. BTW 4 missed calls to a cell phone in under 5 minutes is NOT waiting patiently. Don’t try to justify not asking first.

Paul’s Duty To Consult v14a “Without thy mind” doesn’t imply that one of them was crazy. Paul is waiting for Philemon’s consent. Paul would not take a liberty that did not belong to him. So he sent Oneisimus on a 1300 mile journey to Colosse rather than keep him in Rome with out Philemon’s approval.

You may say “He’s chained to a Roman soldier! This is a pretty serious situation.” Yes, it’s a bad situation, but not an emergency. According to verses 1, 23 and 24 there were at least six other men with Paul to take care of his needs. “But Paul was on a mission trip. He is doing the work of God.” some will reason. What we are doing and the cause it goes to support does not give us the right to take what is not ours. Many will say “They are such good friends. Surly he wouldn’t care. Why even ask? Just send him back later.” The closeness of your friendship can easily be destroyed by actions like that. However, your friends are sure to grow closer by treating them the way Paul treated Philemon. We should always respect their property.

Philemon’s Decision To Consent v14b When Paul referred to “thy benefit” he was referring to the reward Philemon would receive for his aid in spreading the gospel. Had Paul kept Oneisimus it would have been to Philemon’s benefit. But that was not Paul’s decision to make. That is why he wants Philemon to make his own decision “willingly” and not out of “necessity.” Paul was not seeking acceptance for his actions. He was seeking permission to act.

This is hard for people to take some times. If I have seen it once, I’ve seen it a hundred times. A friend asks a favor and the other friend says no. Just because they are friends does not require the other party to comply with their request. They have a right to say no. We have a responsibility to accept their answer, even if it’s not what we expected to hear. Remember, this is not an emergency or a matter of life and death, it is a favor.

Here are three words to take away from this study:

  1. Condition: If it’s not an emergency, you are in a position to wait.
  2. Consult: Take the time to ask permission. Your relationship with them or the good cause that this will support should not matter.
  3. Consent: Accept their decision and thank them regardless of their answer.

 

 

 

 

Four Reasons For Forgiving

We have been studying the book of Philemon on Wednesday nights and it has been a real joy to read a personal letter from Paul. Before asking Philemon to forgive Onesimus, Paul praises Philemon as an example to others of how a Christian lives in verses 4-7. Then in verses 8-10 he lays out four reasons for him to forgive Onesimus before he makes his request known. I hope we all can learn the importance of forgiving others. My outline for this text is as follows:

#1 Obeying a command of a leader. v8 Paul had the right as an Apostle to require his forgiveness. But he chose not to force this on him.

#2 Obedience to Christ’s love. v9a “for love’s sake” Because we have experienced the love of God, we should share that love with others.

#3 Observing a compassionate life. v9b Paul refers to himself as the “aged” in reference to the miles more than the years of his life. II Cor 11:23-28

#4 Obligation to a changed life. v10 Paul reveals that Onesimus is now a believer and a new creature in Christ. This alone warrants forgiveness, love and encouragement.

Luke 9:57-62 Outline

Three Versions of a Shallow Superficial Faith
Luke 9:57-62

V57 A Charismatic Faith: Built on emotion and a swift decision.
V58 Downfall: The loss of personal comfort.
Example: Lot’s Wife Gen 19:26

V59 A Convenient Faith: When ever it fits into your plans.
V60 Downfall: The pursuit of cash.
Example: Young Ruler Mat 19:16-22

V61 A Confused Faith: Looking to others for approval.
V62 Downfall: The prospect of coming home.
Example: Family and God Luke 14:26-27

This is a simple outline I used in a Bible study to demonstrate that all who claim to believe may not truly believe. True faith is not built on emotion, advantage or what others think. True faith comes from God to convict of sin and causes us to place our only hope in the work of Christ Jesus. True faith is visible in our lives by the choices we make and the lives we live. Regardless of the cost true faith will forever stand.

Election Thoughts

These were my first thoughts at 10:30 last night.

#1 It is not the end of the world.

#2 It might be the end of America as we know it.

#3 I can rejoice that I’m a citizen of Heaven, and this world is not my home.

#4 Now, back to praying for our President and nation.

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Words & Music: Martin Luther, 1529

SO TRUE!

When we treat the unbeliever as our market, and the gospel as our product I’m afraid we remove the offense of the cross. For central to the meaning of the cross is this- You are not in charge; you are in trouble. God has no need to satisfy your demands, but you must satisfy His. – R.C. Sproul, Jr.

Random Quotes #4

The church is not an audience of spectators; we are a fellowship of disciple-makers. David Platt
The Lord Jesus, our Mediator and Savior, possesses all power and authority over all things. That means no one else has any power or any authority over anything. Don Fortner
God is weening us off ourselves with afflictions, suffering, and trials. Akash Sant Singh
God’s unblemished holiness is reflective of His unrelenting hatred of sin. His undeserving mercy is inconceivable in view of His unyielding justice. Yet His unconditional love is grounded in His unmerited grace. Mike Gendron
It is the mark of a hypocrite to be a Christian everywhere but home. Robert McCheyne
The day is coming when hypocrites will be stripped of their fig-leaves. Matthew Henry
How vast the benefits divine which we in Christ possess! We are redeemed from guilt and shame and called to holiness. But not for works which we have done, or shall hereafter do, hath God decreed on sinful men salvation to bestow. Augustus Toplady
Let me beg you, not to rest contented with the common place religion that is now so prevalent. Adoniram Judson
It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. A W Tozer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meaningful Membership Pt 3 Membership Management

This is the final lesson in a series of instruction on biblical church membership. Part one Membership Minimums can be found here: http://leecreekbaptist.org/wp/?p=52 It deals with the basic requirements needed to join a church. Part two Membership Matters can be found here: http://leecreekbaptist.org/wp/?p=99 It shows the biblical teachings of church membership and why it is important.

In our final lesson we will deal with the practical issues of maintaining a healthy church membership. As we have seen in our previous studies the Church was designed by God to show forth his glory in the Earth. How can this be done when most churches have members who hold no resemblance to their heavenly Father. The church must work hard to help cultivate holiness in the lives of it’s members. This is done through discipleship, fellowship, and accountability.

The church has a responsibility to it’s members just as the members have a responsibility to their church. It is common practice in our day to let a person join a church and remain a member there forever, regardless of their current religious beliefs, lifestyle or lack of attendance. This is a recent trend and not a historical pattern. It is a sad commentary on this generation that these principles seem strange of different when they were common in every Baptist church 100 years ago. Many in our generation have never heard of church discipline. (the process outlined in the Bible by where the church tries to correct and restore a wayward member back into the fellowship) While we may be concerned why someone would leave a church and seek their return. Often times they don’t return, and they are left on the roles of the church. Over time a church’s membership can swell to ten times it’s attendance.

Such was the case here at Lee Creek. The church was established in 1994 and by 2012 it had a current membership of almost 300. However only fifty of them attended on a regular basis. Most of the other 250 were unknown to the congregation. Many were added as children and had moved away or had different last names. So what do we do about it? Turn a blind eye and let this continue farther? No, we chose to take action. We contacted all the people we knew and encourage them to return to church. We mailed church newsletters to every address we had with an invitation to come back. We found out that some had passed away, some had joined other churches, others had no intentions of returning to any church, and many were never able to be located.

In order to keep this from happening in the future we took some steps to prevent it. The very requirements given to join the church should be maintained while you are a member of the church. We as a church affirmed these five principles and set up some guidelines to keep us on task and faithful to each other. Here are our resolutions:

#1 Believe: Only believers are allowed to join the church and remain in the church. The only biblical way to know this is by their profession of faith and fruit. We will accept your profession and we will do all we can to help you lead a fruitful Christian life.

#2 Baptism: Only baptized believers can join and remain in the church. Before we baptize anyone we want to here their profession of faith in Christ publicly. If someone can not tell what Christ has done in them, they are not yet a candidate for baptism.

#3 Agree With Our Doctrine: We as a church have affirmed the 1742 Philadelphia Baptist Confession of Faith as a general summary of our  doctrine. This document is not authoritative or binding but it helps us clearly show our beliefs.

#4 Accept The Leadership: A complete list of these expectations can be found in the 1742 Philadelphia Baptist Confession of Faith Ch 27 points 9,10 & 11.

#5 Attend: Those who are able to attend and refuse to do so should be contacted by the church in a loving way to resolve any problems. If this process fails, after one year of absence they will be removed from the church membership.

Some may view these resolutions as harsh or unloving but that is certainly not their design. We want to be upfront and honest about what we believe and where we stand on church membership. It is not a trivial thing in the eyes of God and it should not be trivial in our eyes either. We want every member of LCBC to grow in their knowledge of and service to God. May we never have anyone on our roles whom we do not know and love or anyone with whom we did not try to reconcile with. May God be glorified in His churches.

 

I’LL PRAISE MY MAKER

I’ll praise my maker while I’ve breath,
And when my voice is lost in death,
Praise shall employ my nobler powers;
My days of praise shall ne’er be past,
While life, and thought, and being last,
Or immortality endures.

Why should I make a man my trust?
Princes must die and turn to dust;
Vain is the help of flesh and blood:
Their breath departs, their pomp, and power,
And thoughts, all vanish in an hour,
Nor can they make their promise good.

Happy the man whose hopes rely
On Israel’s God: He made the sky,
And earth, and seas, with all their train:
His truth for ever stands secure;
He saves th’oppressed, He feeds the poor,
And none shall find His promise vain.

The Lord has eyes to give the blind;
The Lord supports the sinking mind;
He sends the laboring conscience peace;
He helps the stranger in distress,
The widow, and the fatherless,
And grants the prisoner sweet release.

He loves His saints, He knows them well,
But turns the wicked down to hell;
Thy God, O Zion! ever reigns:
Let every tongue, let every age,
In this exalted work engage;
Praise Him in everlasting strains.

I*ll praise Him while He lends me breath,
And when my voice is lost in death,
Praise shall employ my nobler powers;
My days of praise shall ne’er be past,
While life, and thought, and being last,
Or immortality endures.

Words: Isaac Watts, The Psalms of David, 1719.
Music: Old 113th, Matth*us Greiter, Strassburger Kirchenamt, 1525

Random Quotes #3

We serve a gracious Master who knows how to overrule even our mistakes to His glory and our own advantage. John Newton
Attempts to minimize God*s sovereignty in suffering deny the testimony of Scripture and destroy the hope of sufferers. David Plat
Shall it be asserted that those who were once dead have spiritually quickened themselves? Can the dead make themselves alive? Spurgeon
In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart. John Bunyan
Every one of us is, even from his mother’s womb, a master craftsman of idols. John Calvin
How can you pull down strongholds of Satan if you don*t even have the strength to turn off your TV? Leonard Ravenhill
It is still idolatry to want God for his benefits but not for himself.
Matt Chandler
Prayer should not be regarded as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed. E.M.Bounds
It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. A W Tozer
In contradistinction to the Gospel of Christ, the gospel of Satan teaches salvation by works. Arthur Pink
There is a very real danger of our putting our faith in our sermon rather than in the Spirit. Our faith should not be in the sermon, it should be in the Holy Spirit Himself. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Repentance needs to be as loud as the sin was. John MacArthur
Our business is to present the Christian faith clothed in modern terms, not to propagate modern thought clothed in Christian terms… Confusion here is fatal. J.I. Packer
I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done. Hudson Taylor
One great power of sin is that it blinds men so that they do not recognize its true character. Andrew Murray