Effective Preaching

1 Thessalonians 2:2 KJV

But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.

 

Sometimes preaching is attached with great liberty:

  • It is obvious that the hearers are connecting with the message
  • There is a spirit among the congregation as a whole that is conducive to preaching
  • The preacher feels at home and senses an agreement among the congregation for his message.

 

Such was, I think, Paul’s experience in writing the book of Philippians.[1] Here we are reminded that, though Paul had a genuine connection with the church at Philippi, it had not been an easy ministry there. He moved then to Thessalonica where Paul’s testimony was that he preached with boldness and much contention.

 

  • Preaching there was a labor, a struggle.
  • Preaching there incited anger among his hearers.
  • Preaching there was not associated with great liberty but
  • Preaching there did produce great results.

 

The greatest opportunities for the gospel are not in those places of the greatest ease and liberty. Paul said of Ephesus that a great and effectual door had been opened to him in there and that there were many adversaries. He did not say “but” there are many adversaries.

 

I believe that the kind preaching that will change the world will most often be of that sort.

[1] I recognize this was a letter and not a sermon.

 

For this and more than 3000 earlier Daily Visits with God visit Marvin McKenzie’s blogger page. There you will find daily visits going back to 2007.

 

effective preaching

The Power of Knowing Our Master

Colossians 4:1 KJV

Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.

 

Knowledge is a powerful thing.

  • It is in knowing Christ that we are saved.
  • It is the knowledge of truth that we have confidence in our faith.
  • It is through the knowledge of the Word of God that we are perfected and matured.

 

It is in the knowledge of our Master in heaven that we learn to treat others justly.[1]

[1] I spent this time with the Lord about 6:30 AM on a jet bound for San Francisco, where I am speaking at a H.O.P.E. Addictions Ministry Conference.

 

For this and more than 3000 earlier Daily Visits with God visit Marvin McKenzie’s blogger page. There you will find daily visits going back to 2007.

 

Treat others justly

Dead Christians

Colossians 3:3 KJV

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

 

What a startling statement!

 

God warned Adam and Eve that the day they ate the fruit they were forbidden to eat that they would surely die.

 

  • The man who is not saved is dead and trespasses and sins[1]
  • The wages of sin is death[2]
  • Sin when it is finished bringeth forth death[3]
  • Death and hell are cast into the Lake of Fire[4]

 

And the Christian is – according to Paul – dead.

 

Death, in this sense then, is a mark of faith. It is a finished work. Through of the death of Jesus Christ, and His resurrection that followed, we who are believers have tasted the judgment of death and await only the resurrection to eternal life.

[1] Ephesians 2:1
[2] Romans 6:23
[3] James 1:15
[4] Revelation 20:14

 

For this and more than 3000 earlier Daily Visits with God visit Marvin McKenzie’s blogger page. There you will find daily visits going back to 2007.

Mark of faith

Nothing Better Than Christ

Colossians 2:8-10 KJV

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

 

There is, it seems, this constant urging in our flesh for something new, better, fresher.

The bondage to sin operates on this urging.

We can never indulge in a sinful practice without the risk of that practice growing into something more sinister than the sin we originally indulged in. Drug addiction, alcoholism, sexual deviation; all tend to increase in intensity over time. They can never level out. They lose their satisfaction unless they increase.

 

The advertising and sales industry rely on this urging to keep moving products

It seems like it is never enough to have a working item; we want a newer one, a faster one, a shinier one, a bigger one, a more luxurious one, one like the one our neighbor has. Cars, computers, smart phones electronic gadgets all have us craving the next one before the new smell wears off the one we have right now.

 

The sin nature tempts us to constantly seek something better than Christ

Paul warned the believers at Colosse, and through them, us, to beware of anything or anyone that would spoil our walk with the Lord Jesus Christ by enticing us to seek something better than Christ. The philosophies and traditions of men; the rudiments of the world are nothing compared to Christ, except that they prey on our sinful nature to seek something else. Paul’s message is that Christ is:

  • The fulness of the Godhead
  • The completion of the believer and
  • The head of all principality and power

There is nothing better than Christ. There is only a better walk with and love for Christ.

For this and more than 3000 earlier Daily Visits with God visit Marvin McKenzie’s blogger page. There you will find daily visits going back to 2007.

sinful nature

Saved But Not Faithful

Colossians 1:2 KJV

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

There are times in the Bible when the conjunction and is meant to weld two terms together as one as in a statement such as “the great God and our Saviour…”[1] Other times it couples two distinct entities.

 

It is difficult to determine which is the case in this verse. Bible students have differing thoughts concerning it. I tend to take the position that, if God hasn’t made something clear, then there is likely something to learn in all of the possibilities. Thus I would observe that:

Faithful brethren are saints.

Not that being faithful makes a person a saint for the term saint denotes one who has been saved and that is entirely the work of Jesus Christ. Faithfulness does not make a saint. However faithfulness can certainly help to distinguish a saint. All saints are brethren for that moment of salvation places each of us into the family of God and in brotherhood with Christ.

 

On the other hand,

Not all saints are faithful brethren[2]

It is a fact sadly observed that some of those who have been saved are not as faithful in their faith as they ought to be.

  • Some forsake the things of Christ for the world
  • Some develop a contention and go their own way
  • Some neglect the salvation that was given them

There is a relationship between the saints and the faithful brethren as they are both saved and, in this case, likely both members of this church. But there is also a sad disconnect that exists between those who are saved and not faithful and those who are saved but fully engaged in that which is Christ’s. Toward the faithful brethren Paul may thankfully pronounce grace and peace. Toward the saints who are not so faithful Paul may be praying that such grace and peace might one day be theirs as they become faithful.

[1] Titus 2:13 KJV

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

[2] A note in Jamison Fawcett and Brown reads, “.. ‘saints’ implies union with God, so ‘the faithful brethren’ union with Christian men [Bengel].” It is possible for a man to be united with God but to not be so united with Christian men.

For this and more than 3000 earlier Daily Visits with God visit Marvin McKenzie’s blogger page. There you will find daily visits going back to 2007.

Christian faithfulness

More Than A Gift

Philippians 4:14 KJV

Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.

 

Sometimes the smallest little phrases can carry a huge amount of instruction.

 

Paul had expressed his contentedness. He was not in any spiritual way distressed over his circumstances. God’s hand upon him, in times of great supply and in times of great want, was all he really sought. However, after expressing this contentedness, he did commend the Philippians for, as he puts it, communicating “with my affliction.” He was not spiritually distressed but there was no question that he was physically suffering. Gill put it, “…he was in prison and penury”.

 

The believers in Philippi had reached out to do something about that affliction:

  • They sympathized and cared
  • They sent Epaphroditus to minister to him and
  • They sent with him things that could be a help in comforting him

Notice how Paul phrases this, “ye did communicate with me affliction.” They did more than just giving to Paul. They became sharers in the affliction. They took it on as their own.

 

This can be illustrated by considering the family of a missionary who is captured on a foreign land.[1] Those who hear of it

  • may become highly interested in the details about it; they
  • may think it is too bad and they
  • may pray for the one who is captured

But the family of that missionary shares in the affliction. Though it is a different sort of suffering than the missionary is experiencing, they suffer nonetheless. They suffer

  • with the missionary
  • at the same time as the missionary and
  • for the same reason as the missionary

 

Paul says of the Philippians that they had well done in not only communicating to him but with him.[2]

[1] Something we frequently hear of, even in our time.

[2] This lesson may be applied not only to communicating with another’s affliction but with their vision, with their calling and with their ministry. Some may give to a ministry; it is so much more helpful when the join with that ministry.

For this and more than 3000 earlier Daily Visits with God visit Marvin McKenzie’s blogger page. There you will find daily visits going back to 2007.

Christian Charity

Pressing Forward to the End

Philippians 3:13-14 KJV

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

 

What a unique outlook is the apostle’s considering that he was in prison facing near certain execution. Under such circumstances a person might have spent his time looking back. Indeed, in Paul’s second letter to he does glance back to recall;

2 Timothy 4:6-8 KJV

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:[1]

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Paul did not view the end of his life on earth as the end of anything. Nor did he, in the shadow of his own gallows as it were, give up. He continued

  • to press forward
  • to think ahead
  • to set a mark and reach for it.

 

Hope in Christ changes how we view the final times of life. It makes every moment of breath matter. There is no time when we view life as invaluable and meaningless because the last moment on earth is one that may still be used toward the eternal moments of heaven. We live in a state of constant progression rather than reaching a point where we begin to decline because we know that, for the believer, there is no end; only a new beginning.

[1] But even in this there is a forward-looking turn as the apostle announces and for the sake of other promises.

For this and more than 3000 earlier Daily Visits with God visit Marvin McKenzie’s blogger page. There you will find daily visits going back to 2007.

Eternal Rewards

Obedience Over Compliance

Philippians 2:12 KJV

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

 

There is a principle concerning obedience here that needs to be more often emphasized; obedience isn’t only what is done in the presence of an authority or of others; obedience is what is also done when no authority is there to make us and no others are there to inspire us. Genuine obedience is summed up in the words, “always obeyed”. Any other form of obedience is not actual obedience.

  • The child who only cleans their room when a parent is watching
  • The employee who only does his job when a supervisor is pushing them
  • The student who only studies the material when the teacher is looking over his shoulder
  • The adolescent who only behaves when a guardian has him on a leash

These are not truly obedient. They are only ever compliant.

 

The word “obeyed” in this verse is one that means “to hear under” or to “subordinate oneself”. It is to place ourselves below another in rank or order. The Apostle Paul would have been the first to insist that he was above or better than no one else. It wasn’t obedience to him, but obedience to Christ he sought.[1] By such obedience as to subordinate ourselves to Christ in all things and at all times we “work out [our] own salvation.” Not that we are not that we are saved by this obedience but that this obedience is an expression of our salvation.

[1] We might view Paul, or any other preacher, similar to how we would view a work foreman. The foreman does not own the business but is hired by the owner to see that other employees do their jobs. By obeying the foreman the employee is actually obeying the owner.

For this and more than 3000 earlier Daily Visits with God visit Marvin McKenzie’s blogger page. There you will find daily visits going back to 2007.

Making Choices

Philippians 1:22 KJV

But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.

 

The apostle was in a prison at this point in his life. Some scholars believe he was subsequently released and continued his ministry for some time before he was again arrested and executed. While I have some strong personal motivations for hoping that is so,[1] the Bible doesn’t give any evidence that it actually happened. Paul may or may not have been released from prison to return one more time to Philippi.

 

The point I want to stress at this time is that, whichever way it went, Paul was perfectly willing to leave that in the hands of the Lord. Not knowing which way to choose, he left this choice in the hands of the Lord.

 

This in no way implies that Paul was wishy-washy or double minded. Just three verses down he speaks of his confidence. But confidence and assurance in no way means that we always know which way is the best way.

  • Sometimes we have no choice
  • Sometimes we have a choice and make the wrong one
  • Sometimes we just do not know what to choose

Only God knows the beginning and the ending therefore those sorts of choices are best left to God alone.

[1] It gives Paul opportunity to travel and preach in the British Isles, supporting my belief that the apostolic gospel was preached there before the end of the first century – and giving credence to an unbroken chain of non-Catholic, non-Protestant churches all the way back to the Apostles.

For this and more than 3000 earlier Daily Visits with God visit Marvin McKenzie’s blogger page. There you will find daily visits going back to 2007.

To God Alone

Deuteronomy 13:4 KJV

Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.

 

I would call this verse the pivot of all of Deuteronomy 13. The chapter offers three possibilities in following after false gods:

  • A prophet might bring a true sign
  • A member of the family might tempt you privately or
  • Certain men (this might be a political party in our day) might lead a whole city away from god

 

The point was that, no matter what, you do not turn from God to idols.

  • Even if the prophet tells a dream that comes true or performs a miracle and it is proven genuine
  • Even if it is you your parents your spouse or your children
  • Even if is the direction your whole country is heading towards

We who are God’s people are to:

  • walk after God
  • fear him and keep His commandments
  • obey His voice
  • serve Him and
  • cleave unto Him

 

If anything tends to draw us away, especially if they are emotionally compelling things, we should view that as a test from God to prove, try and strengthen our faith.

 

Our allegiance is to God alone.

 

For this and more than 3000 earlier Daily Visits with God visit Marvin McKenzie’s blogger page. There you will find daily visits going back to 2007.