Epitome EGroup

Biblical Discussion Topics

Operating as usual

[06/13/21]   “The wages of sin is death.”
(Rm.6:23)
Wages: the unavoidable, inescapable result and product of an action. Life has unavoidable consequences. We can all easily grasp the concept that, when seeds are planted, inevitably they produce an outcome and yield a product. Sowing always generates reaping.

While we readily accept and understand the “sin” application of this principle, we tend to struggle when applying it to the opposite -- though the outcome is equally certain. Just as there is a consequence for sin, for missing the mark, or a failure to strike the mark, there is also a direct consequence for hitting the mark, for finding the mark -- an inescapable result! God's 'sowing and reaping' principle is a promise, not a threat! He always inevitably and without doubt responds to and rewards those who diligently, passionately seek Him!

Finding Him is unavoidable when you search for Him with all your heart!
Jer 29:13 NKJV And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the LORD.
Deu 4:29 AMP But if from there you will seek (inquire for and require as necessity) the Lord your God, you will find Him if you [truly] seek Him with all your heart [and mind] and soul and life. …Amazing guarantees!

Are we suggesting that the gift of God must be somehow earned or that His grace demands a spiritual “sweat-ethic”? No. However, being filled is unavoidable when you truly hunger and thirst after Him!
Mat 7:7 NKJV …Seek, and you will find!
Mat 5:6 NKJV Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

The Messages translation simply says, “You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God.” Amen!

It is an unavoidable consequence!

Photos from Epitome EGroup's post 06/08/2021

Please pray for these missionaries as they step out in faith to impact the inner city of San Antonio!

[06/08/21]   Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth.
Ephesians 6:14

Is there a most-important piece of our spiritual armor? Theologically, no, since to put on God’s spiritual armor is to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14). And it’s impossible to divide Christ into “parts.” But it is interesting that in Paul’s description of the believer’s spiritual armor the girdle (belt) of truth gets first mention. In reality, a Roman belt was not really considered armor at all; most Roman men wore a belt of some kind to cinch up their robes. It was part of basic Roman dress; no one—civilian or soldier—would dress without a belt. Perhaps that’s why Paul compared the belt to truth. We can’t go anywhere without God’s truth. It is truth that informs us about all the rest of the spiritual armor.

Jesus is the living truth (John 14:6). God’s Word is the written truth (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17). Truth is foundational to victory in the spiritual life.

[06/08/21]   How long has it been since you have found yourself truly lost in the Presence of God? …Utterly oblivious to anything else around?

I’m totally aware that many confessing Christians live their entire Christian lives without ever genuinely encountering the majesty and glory of the depths of Abba’s presence. Truth is, that’s what you and I were born for. That access is what Jesus’ sacrifice freely purchased for every worshiper. …And that is precisely where you and I function/live most effectively!

So many things today seem so scheduled! Services, churches, media – there’s no time, no room, no chance to get truly lost. I understand that some is of necessity. TV production includes unavoidable time constraints; as does offering multiple service times.

This all underscores the vital truth that worship is a 24/7 calling and life experience – and its full growth and development can never be reached with just a Sunday morning diet.

It’s certainly not impossible to be immersed in the Presence in carefully crafted situations … just difficult! Those crafted and carefully shaped situations often naturally include an inherent fear of ‘waiting on the Lord’ – of losing track of time – of finding yourself utterly speechless.

Father reserves His very best for those who wait on Him. I want to be a waiter. Through Solomon’s wisdom, Father says, “Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away with me…in the cleft of the rock, in the secret place.” Truly, the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His majesty and glory!

05/31/2021

[05/24/21]   Mark 6:49 ESV When they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Recently as I read Mark’s account of this amazing event, one aspect grabbed my attention. Vs.51 continues, “And He got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased.”

John’s Gospel includes this vital detail, “Then they were glad to take Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.” (John 6:21)

Jesus Presence changed everything! With His presence, the boat instantly became a sanctuary, and the effect of storm was cancelled. It became a secret place! “And those in the boat worshiped Him…” (Mat 14:33)

As they confidently launched the evening before, everyone in the boat seeming fully prepared and equipped. They had the skill (seasoned fishermen), the proven tools (their boat had weathered many storms), as well as the impressive titles (disciples). Not only that, they were ‘pursuing their calling’ (Jesus told them to go to the other side). Yet they were utterly failing until they encountered the Presence.

There is no substitute for the true majesty of the glorious presence of the Lord! No amount of production, compelling speech, persuasive marketing, engaging attraction or personal skill & talent can replace the pure life-transforming Presence of the Lord! (Because we are truly changed in the Presence!) Selah. \o/ (Jim Burgdorf)

[05/19/21]   Psalms 23:5 NKJV You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

In the presence of my enemies… my cup runs over! We’ve often discussed the “table prepared in the presence of the enemies” aspect of this passage but a great friend of mine, Past. Kurt Owen highlighted another facet and posed a striking question recently that got me thinking regarding “…My cup runs over.”

Did God not know the cup was full? …To the rim? Let's expand the thought. Did God not know the capacity of Peter’s fishing nets as they were breaking and the boat began to sink from the weight of the catch? (Lk.5) Was Father not aware when He oversupplied the feeding of the 5000+ or changing the water to wine?
God is always the God of ‘more-than-enough’ and He never portrays Himself as barely sufficient or adequate -- just enough. Nowhere is this attribute more evident than when He is confronted by a worshiper! Nowhere is God’s passion, His reason for creating man as unmistakable as when expressing and unfolding His presence to a fervently pursuing worshiper. Our God is indeed an "exceedingly, abundantly, above all" God and a “life more abundant” God. He is an “all sufficiency in all things” and an “open the windows of Heaven” God willing to “pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in!" And He is always the “rewarder of those who diligently, passionately seek Him,” – especially “…in the presence of my enemies!” Selah! \o/ (Jim Burgdorf)

[05/17/21]   "But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand." - Matthew 7:26

There were two kinds of people in the days of Jesus. Some heard the words that Jesus spoke and were awed by His wisdom and understanding, but did nothing about what they heard. Others heard those words and acted on them. Jesus said that those who heard the words but failed to put them into practice were foolish and likened them to building a house on sand. How foolish, indeed, it would be to build a house on sand.

The person who followed what Jesus taught was a person who would be sure to weather life's storms.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock (Matthew 7:24-25).

You never know how well your house is built until it is tested by the elements. Torrential rains reveal the quality of your roof. Wind and cold reveal how well your home is insulated. Heat and sun reveal the quality of your paint and siding. All these elements reveal whether a solid foundation has been laid to make your home a secure and lasting place to live.

Many of us find that we have given only lip service to God's commands. We are faced with the reality that our foundations are not strong enough to weather life's storms. How do we react when the trials come? Do we fret and worry? Do we take life into our hands? Do we respond inappropriately when we don't get what we want? The Lord uses these times to help us recognize whether our foundations are sand or rock. Ask the Lord today if you have built on His rock. If so, you can be comforted to know that you can weather any storm that may come your way.

[05/16/21]   1 Corinthians 14:40 (ESV) “But all things should be done decently and in order.”

Our lives sometimes seem to be in total chaos, trying to get so many things done, that we end up getting nothing really accomplished. My dad had taught me two letters "U" and "I." They stood for Urgent and Important. Today's verse speaks of how things should be done. When life is being turned upside down by running here and there, trying to make everything work out perfectly, realize that you may have forgotten those two letters. We needed to slow down and prioritize things based upon what is urgent and what is important. You will find that starting your day in God's Word, then in prayer, then tackling the list of U's and I's makes the day go by more efficiently. Keep things in order! What’s on your list of U's or I's? Praying it's God first, then your list!

[05/16/21]   "Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah." - Judges 11:29a

We've all heard stories of individuals who have overcome extreme hardship during their childhood years. Children of alcoholics, orphans who never have parents, loss of parents to a fatal crash, childhood disease - these are all difficult circumstances to overcome.

Jephthah was a man who overcame his obstacles and refused to allow his circumstances to prevent him from becoming great in God's sight. He was born to Gilead, a result of his father's adulterous encounter with a pr******te. Jephthah's half-brothers decided to reject Jephthah, and drove him away from their home saying, "You are not going to get any inheritance in our family because you are the son of another woman." Imagine the rejection this young man felt as he was cast away from his own family.

This experience taught Jephthah to become a hardened warrior. Today he probably would have been part of a street gang. As he got older, his reputation as a warrior became known to those in his country, so much so that when the Ammonites made war on Israel, the elders of Gilead went to Jephthah and asked him to be their commander. Jephthah had to fight off those feelings of rejection from previous years.

"Didn't you hate me and drive me from my father's house?" he responded. He overcame his hurt and pain, and responded to the call God had on his life.

It is said that if we were to help the butterfly remove itself from the cocoon, the butterfly would not be strong enough to survive. It is the struggle that prepares the butterfly to become strong enough to fly. Without the struggle in the cocoon, it could not survive as a butterfly.

The Lord prepares each of us in similar ways. Some of our childhoods seem to have been harsh and born from a seemingly unloving God. However, the Lord knows our struggle and will make our life an instrument in His hand if we will follow Him with an upright heart. He does make all things beautiful in His time if we are willing to be patient.

[04/28/21]   There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah.
Luke 1:5

The story of the Gospel didn’t start with Mary, Joseph, or Bethlehem. It began with an aged couple in the Judean hills—a priest named Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth. That’s where Luke begins the story of Jesus in the first chapter of his Gospel. We don’t know the exact year of Zacharias’ birth. Perhaps it was 70 B.C. or earlier. But he served quietly and faithfully for decades, not realizing his life was no mere accident on God’s calendar. He and Elizabeth had each been born at the precise time to place them in the historical lineup for the coming of the Messiah. They lived in the days of Herod; and despite their age and humble circumstances the fullness of time had arrived—and they were a part of it.

Luke 1: 5 – 17

God’s ultimate providence over our lives places us where He wants us and when He wants us there. Each of us is born at the exact moment in time that God has ordained. Our times are in His hands. We are here on earth for a reason.

Look around, then, and see how God wants to use you!

Indeed, all things come to us not by chance, but by His fatherly hand.
The Heidelberg Catechism

[04/28/21]   Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith....—1 Peter 5:8-9

If unanswered prayer continues in a congregation over an extended period of time, the chill of discouragement will settle over the praying people. If we continue to ask and ask and ask, like petulant children, never expecting to get what we ask for but continuing to whine for it, we will become chilled within our beings.

If we continue in our prayers and never get answers, the lack of results will tend to confirm the natural unbelief of our hearts. Remember this: the human heart by nature is filled with unbelief....

Perhaps worst of all is the fact that our failures in prayer leave the enemy in possession of the field. The worst part about the failure of a military drive is not the loss of men or the loss of face but the fact that the enemy is left in possession of the field. In the spiritual sense, this is both a tragedy and a disaster. The devil ought to be on the run, always fighting a rear guard action. Instead, this blasphemous enemy smugly and scornfully holds his position, and the people of God let him have it. No wonder the work of the Lord is greatly re****ed. Little wonder the work of God stands still (AW Tozer - Faith Beyond Reason, pp. 36-37)

[04/26/21]   Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer. —Romans 12:12

Think of the kernels of grain, the seed, that the farmer plants in the ground in the fall of the year. How patient the farmer must be! Throughout the long, cold winter the seed is dormant. There is no evidence at all that it is there—covered by the cold earth itself. The snows come and go. The ground freezes and thaws. Does the farmer lie awake at night worrying that those seeds he placed in the ground may be ineffective? He does not. He knows that spring will come!

And in due course, the sunshine of March or April warms the air. Spring rains water the ground. The farmer knows then that it will not be long until green shoots suddenly break out from their covering of earth. And in their own time, great waving fields of grain are ready for the harvest. The farmer's faith in the seed he planted is fully justified.

Likewise, God wants us to be patient with every prayer and petition we sincerely send up to that heavenly altar. Our praying done in the Spirit cannot be ineffective. It is as though God is saying to us: "You have planted the seed. You have prayed for My will to be done and for My kingdom to come on earth.... The effective prayers of my son, Jesus, will join with the effective prayers of righteous men and women. Be patient and put your trust in Me, day by day" (AW Tozer - Jesus Is Victor, 122.)

[04/16/21]   Therefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:18

The new era of social networking has given an old word a new meaning: influencer. Traditionally, an influencer was someone who influenced others. That’s the new use of the word as well, but in a new context: social media platforms. Influencers are mostly young people who can sway lifestyle trends by their endorsements, videos, product placements, brands, and appearances. Influencing is a neutral idea—it all depends on the goal of the influence.

Hebrews 10: 24 – 25

The apostle Paul seems to have thought of Christians as influencers. In his description of the Church as the Body of Christ, he viewed all Christians as being connected, as having influence on others. Indeed, 33 times in his epistles (63 times in all the epistles), the phrase “one another” occurs. The New Testament expects believers to (1) be in proximity with one another and (2) to stimulate and influence one another to become spiritually mature. Hebrews 10:24-25 exhorts Christians to meet together to “stir up love and good works.”

Are you living in close proximity to other Christians? It’s the only way we can influence one another to strive for spiritual maturity and Christlikeness.

The serene beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence in the world next to the power of God.
Blaise Pascal

Location

Address


Fayetteville, NC
28304
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