Looking at Neighbors Through the Lens of Scripture

March 13, 2018
2 Corinthians 5:16a  Whether we mean those in close proximity or others in our larger city, how do you feel about our neighbors? Does it depend on what they are like? What makes you like them or not like them? What makes you trust them or be suspicious of them?

Given our springboard verse, what does it mean to see others from a worldly point of view? I believe it means to see them with apathy or disregard; to see them with disdain, discrimination, or prejudice; to see them only as hindrances to what you want or as a way to help you get what you want; as a means of gratifying sin and self. So, what are some Scriptures that help us think about neighbors in a more Godly way? Take a look at the       10 Commandments, Exodus 21-22, Leviticus 19, Psalm 15:2-3, Psalm 28:3, Proverbs 3:29, Proverbs 11:12, Proverbs 14:21, Mathew 5:43-48, Matthew 22:38-39, Romans 13:8-10, 1 Corinthians 10:27, 2 Corinthians 6:14, Colossians 4:5-6, and 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. Additionally, think about God’s saving purpose and the Kingdom of God as lenses through which to see “the other.”

Additional Observations

  • Scripture does not claim everyone is good, safe, or wants God.
  • Scripture is honest about sin and judgment
  • Scripture is honest about the difference in how we deal with different people.
  • Scripture insists God values people, and we should also.
  • They are created by God, in His image, so they matter to Him and ought to matter to us.
  • They are people who need Jesus.
  • What God has given us He has offered to “the other” – the pardon, peace, purpose, potential, and power of Jesus.
  • Many of our known and unknown neighbors are our brothers and sisters in Christ.


When it all Seems to be Coming Apart

March 06, 2018
Psalm 11:3 & Jude 20  What are the challenges in your own life and immediate setting, as well as the troubling tends in our nation and world? Here are some practical ways to respond when it all seems to be coming apart.


  • Find Perspective in God’s Truth – who God is, who we are, the ultimate end of wickedness and righteousness, our identity and purpose in Christ


  • Know and Live in God’s Truth – feeding on the Word for more than information and dealing with it as if its truths really do apply to life and are not just for study and for Sunday school and church…what are your life influences and how do you evaluate your thoughts and actions?


  • Find Perspective in Faith – faith as covenant with God, life disposition, reliance on God, and obedience…how will it shape our response to life and challenges to look at them through the lens of faith?


  • Align Life and Action With Who God is and What He Delights in (Righteousness and Justice) – set the standards of what we approve and involve ourselves in by what is righteous, what furthers justice, and what increases the reign of Jesus in our lives, homes, church, and world


  • Live Life in a “but God” Way – realizing that “but God” is the response to what the world values, the false messages we hear, and what seems to be going on
  • Draw Close to the Lord in Worship and Prayer


  • Build Life on the Real Foundation of Christ


  • Ask Better Questions About What Furthers the Kingdom in Life, Home, Church, and World


  • Make Sure we are Not Part of the Foundation Destroying Problem


When the foundations are being destroyed, we are forced to examine our foundations. When the foundations are being destroyed, we have some choices to make. When the foundations are being destroyed, we are called to a faith response and some practical action steps to flesh out that faith response.


When it all Seems to be Coming Apart

February 27, 2018                                            
Psalm 11:1-7  You probably have noticed a trend of increasing antagonism toward Christian faith. Additionally, we cannot escape headlines of tragedy and atrocity. Further, what are the strains and challenges in your own life and immediate setting? This Psalm gives us some direction when it all seems to be coming apart.

In verses 1-2, we are encouraged to have both a default response of faith in God and a considered response of faith.This response of faith answers the temptation to “flee to our mountain” so-to-speak. I think of fleeing as abandoning   faithfulness in some area, yielding to temptation, denying Christ in some way, or yielding ground to the enemy in our lives or homes. Look at verse 3. What are the foundations in our lives and society that are crumbling – a Christian worldview,  a society supportive of our faith or at least tolerant of it, the home and marriage, morality, common decency and regard for God and human life, etc. In a way, the question about what we can do when foundations crumble forces us to seek something better and more permanent. It turns us to the Lord. Verses 4-7 remind us of God’s closeness and transcendence, His awareness and purpose, His promise to deal with evil and bless His children. So, what can we do?

  • Grow in, encourage, and choose faith
  • Choose to look at life in a “but God” way
  • Draw close to the Lord in worship / prayer
  • Build on the real foundation of Christ and faith in / obedience to Him rather than unstable foundations
  • Ask better questions about how to live in and seek the Kingdom in an age of new surroundings, new society, and shattered foundations
  • Choose righteousness and justice and embody Jesus
  • Allow people to make the shift from wickedness to righteousness in Jesus


Exploring Faith – Looking Through the Lens of Faith (Part 2)

February 20, 2018

Like last week, I want us to think about what happens when we look through a good set of lenses and set something next to a standard of measurement. Let’s take some more of what we have said about faith and look at life through those lenses and next to that standard.


Obedience, Disposition, and Teachings Faith – We have seen that obedience to God is a form of faith, as it trusts Him enough to do what He says. We also have said that a general disposition of faith is to characterize the Christian. Additionally, the Bible uses the expression “the faith” to refer to the body of basic Christian teaching.


Looking at Life, Home, Church, and World Through These Lenses – Let’s pose some questions for each area – life, home, church, and relationship to our world.

  • What would our personal lives, homes, church, and relationship to our world look like if it were all done in a disposition of dependence on, worship of, and faithfulness to God?
  • What would our personal lives, homes, church, and relationship to our world look like if we were living in obedience to God’s Word and basic Christian teaching?
  • In what ways does a disposition of faith need to increase in each of these settings, and how has your disposition of faith grown through the years?
  • In what ways have you grown in obedience, and what are the gaps?


Everyone has guiding authority – self, preference, convenience, comfort, culture, tradition, or Scripture. What is yours in life, home, church, and relative to your world? Some can celebrate growth in living by faith disposition and obedience, and we all probably have areas in which we need to make improvements.


Exploring Faith – Looking Through the Lens of Faith (Part 1)

February 13, 2018
Do you remember the first time you looked through a microscope or pair of binoculars? It’s amazing what a different set of lenses can do! Now, think about using a tape measure (setting something next to a standard). Let’s take what we have said about faith and look at life through those lenses and next to that standard.


The Nature of Covenant Faith and Product Faith – Recall covenant faith involves repentance of sin and faith in Jesus to follow Him as Lord and receive His saving work in our lives in exclusive worship and loyalty to God. Recall that faith for God to give and do needs to be in line with God’s Word and God’s Kingdom purpose.


Looking at Life, Home, Church, and World Through These Lenses – What does faith look like in your life as it relates to you personally and to your home, church, and world. Let me give you some questions to use as you think about each of these areas.

  • What would faith and prayer look like if it were guided by our covenant in Jesus?
  • What would faith and prayer look like if it were guided by the teaching of God’s Word?
  • What would faith and prayer look like if it were guided by what would further God’s Kingdom?
  • What would faith and prayer look like if it were guided by how God works and were offered in a way that trusts God to be God (He knows and sees things we don’t)?
  • What would we stop praying for and having faith for because it doesn’t line up with God’s Word and Kingdom?
  • What would we start praying for so that God’s Kingdom is furthered in each area of life?


Exploring Faith – Faith as Life Disposition

February 06, 2018

Sometimes, people will decorate a room around a certain color theme. In movie scores, you will often hear a main theme repeated in minor variations throughout the movie. So, faith is a life disposition that is to flavor everything. Let’s look at this.

A Life Disposition of Faith is Foundational – Just like every building needs a good        foundation, every life needs the foundation of faith in God through Jesus Christ. All of life is to be lived in trust in and dependence on God and obedience to Him – by faith. Faith also is to be build upon as we grow in Christian virtues and Godly character. Faith is an “all the time” thing.

The Disposition of Faith is Crucial for Effective Christian Life – We find faith is tied to peace and spiritual well-being, power for ministry and prayer, guarding against sin, serving the Lord, and the ability to bear up under suffering and persecution.

The Disposition of Faith is Something to Nurture and Guard – First, faith is developed through difficulties as we chose to rely on the Lord and grow in a faith response. Additionally, faith is something our prayer for each other and fellowship with each other is supposed to build and encourage. Finally, Scripture speaks of people abandoning the faith in view of false teaching, worldly distractions, and persecutions, so our faith is to be guarded.

What Might Living by Faith Look Like?

  • Asking how an action or attitude lines up with God’s heart, will, and character?
  • Asking what partnering with God looks like
  • Reliance on, obedience to, trust in, and dependence on God in every area
  • Asking the Lord to redeem missteps and hurtful experiences
  • Obeying what we know and trusting God in the gaps


Exploring Faith – Faith as Obedience

January 30, 2018

Of all that is mysterious about faith, have you ever considered that, to a point, faith can simply look like obedience? Let’s see how that works.

Faith Leads to Obedience – (See Num. 14:11, Num. 20:12, 2 Kings 17:14-15, 2 Kings 18:5, Psalm 26:1-3, John 8:31-32, Titus 3:8, Rom. 1:5) Obedience is an expression of faith, and disobedience an expression of lack of faith because faith means we trust who God is and how He says to do things. However, it seems that sometimes there is a disconnect between saving faith and obedience faith. We trust Christ to save us but do not trust Him enough to live by the Word.

Faith and God’s Word / Message of the Kingdom – (See Psalm 18:30, Psalm 119:66, Matt. 13:1-9) There is a call on us to know and understand God’s Word, to receive and trust God’s Word, and to let it impact us. Sometimes, we try to ignore God’s Word then try to have faith for things, and it doesn’t work.

Faith Demonstrated in Works – (See James 2:14-26) Real faith is going to produce some things, and faith calls for obedience and results in our lives. Thus, the professing Christian who remains unchanged needs to examine his or her faith. If our faith is not changing us, something is wrong.

Living by Faith as Obedience – (See Proverbs 3:5-6, 1 John 5:3-5) There are two ways to live: God’s way and the world’s way. The expectation on the Christian is that we trust that the God who saved us through Jesus may also be trusted to know how we should live to honor Him and that He is worthy of obedience. The covenant in Christ has obligations, and we express our faith by obeying the Lord and obey by exercising faith.


Exploring Faith – Combining Covenant Faith and Product Faith

January 23, 2018

In our study of faith, let’s look at Biblical teachings that combine covenant faith and what might be expected of that faith.

Present Tense Temporal Blessings – Verses pointing to covenant provision of temporal things seem to indicate God’s provision is connected to His Kingdom purposes.

Spiritual Realities – Many verses point to present spiritual blessings and future blessings connected to our covenant with God in Jesus – blessings for which to have faith. Scripture also points to practical outworkings of covenant faith in Jesus, including serving each other, supporting Kingdom work,    power for ministry, and obedience.

Examples of Faith – Hebrews 11:1-12:3 gives us examples of faith and calls us to keep our eyes on Jesus. Here, we see faith producing obedience, forward living, a priority on God things rather than worldly things, deliverance from trouble for some and through it for others.

Broad Themed Observations

  • Faith is dependence on and trust in God based on who He is, what He has done, and what He has said.
  • Faith is relying on God, choosing God, seeking God, obeying God, and being faithful to God.
  • Faith is anchoring self, soul, and all of life in God.
  • Faith is tied to God’s Kingdom realities and agenda.
  • Bad things and difficulties still happen and faith does not mean they won’t.
  • Sometimes God change circumstance and more often He changes us.
  • Faith is trusting God to bring us around it or through it, to empower us to deal with it, and to redeem it         (whatever it is).
  • Faith is surrendering self to the Lord and allowing His agenda to drive life.
  • Faith is simply trusting God and abiding in Jesus.


Exploring Faith – Covenant Faith

January 16, 2018
Last time, I asked how you would picture faith. One of my favorite pictures is sitting in a chair. An illustration of Biblical faith is not simply to say I believe that a chair could hold me if I were to sit in it, but actually to walk over and sit in the chair. As we continue our study, I want us to look at covenant faith, the faith in God that brings us into relationship with Him and helps us live out that relationship.


Old Testament verses concerning covenant faith reveal several themes:

  • Covenant faith is grounded in an understanding of God’s unique place as God, His nature and character, His expectations on humans, and the fact that He knows how life ought to work.
  • Covenant faith is grounded in an understanding that humans have the responsibility to respond to God in worship and obedience, are in need spiritually and in other ways, and are inadequate apart from God.
  • Covenant faith is grounded in an understanding of life and eternity that it is best lived according to God’s will and in a right relationship with God.


New Testament verses reveal three broad themes in addition to the same understandings about God, humans, and life / eternity:

  • Covenant faith must be faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
  • Covenant faith cannot be in works but is only salvation by faith in Jesus.
  • Covenant faith is not a onetime-only transaction but is to be nurtured, grown in, fleshed out in obedience / surrender, and to be guarded and maintained so that we remain in it.


Covenant faith is a big deal. It is not a business arrangement but a joining with God in surrender, trust, reliance, and life-changing and eternal worship, surrender, and loyalty through Jesus Christ.


Exploring Faith – Looking at Product Faith

January 16, 2018

When I say “faith” what comes to mind? If I asked you for some pictures of faith, what would you tell me about? Bible verses about faith fall into several categories, one of which is what we might call “product faith” or faith for God to give us something or do something for us.


I cannot list the verses for you here, but there are observations we can make based on those passages.
  • We see “faith for” in line with what God said through Word and prophets.
  • We see “faith for” being a matter of trusting who God was, what God had revealed about Himself, and what God had said and acting on that.
  • We see “faith for” connected with the covenant realities of being God’s people.
  • We see “faith for” relating to God’s purposes.
  • We see “faith for” connected with extending the Kingdom of God.


So, based on these things, let me make some suggestions for Biblical faith for God to do or give things.
  • Let God be God rather than trying to use faith to make Him your servant.
  • Keep faith and your requests submitted to Scripture.
  • Keep faith submitted to the Kingdom purpose of God.
  • Understand how God works.


It seems  sometimes product faith is faith that He can; sometimes it is faith that He will; and sometimes it is just reliance and trust. If it is faith that He will, it should line up with who He has shown Himself to be and what He has said He wants.