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Promotion
  • May18

    In Acts 17, when the Apostle Paul addressed the Stoics, Epicureans, and Greek philosophers on Mars Hill, where did he begin?

    With Creation.

    Notice how carefully he builds his argument, step by step. First, he identifies God as the ultimate origin of the world: “The God who made the world and everything in it is the LORD of heaven and earth” (v. 24). He then identifies this God as the source of our own humanity: “He made from one man every nation of mankind” (v. 26). Finally, he draws the logical conclusion: “Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone” (v. 29). That is, God cannot be akin to material things like idols. Since He made us, He must have at least the qualities we have as personal, moral, rational, creative beings. As water cannot rise above its source, so a non-personal objective or force could not have produced personal beings like ourselves. It is logical to conclude that God too is a personal being. This logic is representative in the universal scientific Law of Causality. This law states that no object can be greater than it’s cause.

    Because of this, we stand before a personal God to whom we owe allegiance, just as a child owes honor and allegiance to her parents who brought her into the world. In fact, failure to acknowledge God is a moral fault and calls for repentance: “Now He commands all people everywhere to repent” (v. 30). Notice that it is only after having built a case based on Creation that Paul introduces the concepts of sin and repentance. He called for repentance, appealing to the moral law resident in each person’s conscience: Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. 15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.” – Romans 2:14-15 NLT

    He then concludes by informing them that a sure judgment is coming when Jesus Christ appears, which is the essence of the gospel (Good News).

    “For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” – Act 17:31 NIV

    This is a great model to instruct us in the post-modern world in which we live! Generally speaking, people are biblically illiterate in our American society, and so this line of reasoning can be very effective.

    To summarize the basic ingredients they are:

    1. The external creation

    2. The internal source of our humanity

    3. We are reflecting His image and are accountable to Him

    4. Because of our sin, (moral failure to meet the law of God), we will all be judged.

    5. The source of our hope for forgiveness is Jesus Christ who rose from the dead.

    Of the five above, which is the easiest and which is the hardest for you to talk about with your not-yet-Christian friends?

    In the next month begin conversations with people using some of the five ingredients.

    When you have a conversation with someone, tell your story with other fellow Christians. I have discovered the best way to encourage others is to share your experience. The repetition of doing this will encourage and empower others to initiate conversations!

    Much Joy in Christ,

    Dale

    Dale@DaleEbel.Org

  • May11

    One of the most profound truths that I have learned in the last four years is the fact that the “Law” is far more then a bunch of restrictive, prohibitive, rules and regulations. The Torah (first five books of the Bible) means teaching, instruction or what I like to call, “God’s Instruction Manual for Life.” Most of the time, in the modern institutional church, the 613 laws are regarded as confining, legalistic and punitive for the present day follower of Christ. They are something to run away from because after all, “We are not under Law but under Grace.”

    The reality is God’s law gives individual and societal instructions and answers for how we are to live in the will and ways of Yahweh God. This is so transformative because Torah gives the answer to every need and covers every arena of life for us individually and collectively as a society. Because we have marginalized the “law” in our churches we are not able to explain God’s perspective on most of the issues that face us today. This is sobering because we have taken ourselves out of the game by assuming that the Old Testament is so radically different than the New, which in turn puts us on the sidelines and takes away our confidence to be able to give specific answers to specific issues for our day. Our answer, because we are ignorant of God’s law, is always “J-E-S-U-S!” It is not enough to say JESUS is the answer. He along with the Old Testament which He fulfilled, has the specific answer to our specific need and problems facing us today.

    Even as I write too you today, I’m overwhelmed with earnest desire to know God’s instructions and apply them to what I see America and the world at large facing. We must discover and integrate these life-changing principles into our conversations, families, churches and cultural at large.

    By understanding God’s instruction we are able to address our culture with God’s directives and answers for living life with success.

    Consider the words of Malachi:

    “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge [in other words, the knowledge of Torah], and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.” – Malachi 2:7 KJV

    This is quite an indictment against pastors (like myself for 32 years) of what we ought to know about the Law, and what we teach with regard to God’s redeeming truths to our congregations.

    Almost EVERY time I communicate with not-yet-Christians about some informative instruction from the Law;  about a particular issue, I get the response, “I have never heard that. Is that what the Bible says about,                                  ? That makes a lot of sense!”

    Even if they disagree with what I communicate, they appreciate the perspective that I offer and admit that they have never heard such things. It’s really fun!

    The law of God not only has application for us today, it also has had a profound impact on the forming of this great nation.

    Read what David Barton says in the Founders Bible:

    “Did you know that it is indisputable that the Ten Commandments—the quintessential representation of the Moral Law as given in Exodus 20 and repeated in Deuteronomy 5—formed the basis of American law and society?

    Are you aware of the fact that the Ten Commandments have always been inseparable from the American legal culture?

    And has anyone told you that there are four types of laws in the Bible—Ceremonial, Moral, Judicial, and Social Compact laws—and that it’s vital to know which commands apply to all and which to specific ones?” – Founders Bible, p. 119

    To the last question I can say, NO! I don’t blame anyone else but myself. After all,  I was a teaching pastor for 32+ years and did not know or teach this to the great people of Rolling Hills. Like I was told many, many, times by people who were critical of me, and I agree with them: “Dale, you know teachers will be judged by a much higher standard” (James 3:1).

    “Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly” – James 3:1 NLT

    This is a sobering reality that you and I will stand before Christ someday being responsible, not only our own behavior, but for the content of our teaching and, I believe, to whom we have chosen to listen to.

    “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” – Matthew 12:36 KJV

    And Paul told Timothy:

    “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” – 2 Timothy 4:3-5 ESV

    Wow. So, what do we do with such powerful truth from the Word of God?

    First: “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV

    We must apply ourselves to look at the Scriptures intently. A cursory take on the Bible will not cut it. You cannot figure it out on your own. The Bible is overwhelming! Use the resources of wonderful intelligent men and women of God who have studied before us.

    Three of the best resources I can recommend are these three Bibles:

    • The MacArthur Study Bible with the NKJV, NASB, or the ESV translations. All are excellent. Buy it today if you don’t have it!
    • The Henry Morris Study Bible: You do need a scientific approach to Scripture if you want to help yourself, your kids, grandkids, and people in your church. This Bible is a MUST!
    • The Founders Bible in the NASB translation. This Bible has 202 articles that will give you insight into the word of God as you have never read before. This Bible ought to replace you family Bible, if you have one, and be sitting on your coffee table!

    I know this sounds radical but if you simply read the notes of these great bibles you won’t need any outlines or guides to study for the next two years. Just simply read the notes or the articles of these Bibles and you will have enough solid information that will inform and clarify biblical truth for you as you have never experienced before. The question is will you apply yourself?

    Second: On the basis of what you learn begin immediately to interact with people outside the faith, and with your family and friends about what you have learned. Actually, many men that I mentor are doing this and the stories they tell me are powerful and life-changing. The key is you must act!

    Attempting to be obedient with you,

    Dale

    Dale@DaleEbel.Org

  • May8

    Scripture tells us that even Gentiles who were not raised under the teaching of the Law understand in their hearts and consciences the moral claims of the Law.

    “They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them” – Romans 2:15 NIV

    For the Good News of the Kingdom to become operative in one’s life, one must experience the requirements of the law (God’s instructions) which judge that person before he can receive the good news of grace in Christ, who forgives and frees him.

    Consider the story of Zacchaeus. He was the chief IRS agent of his day; a man who profited by extorting his fellow Jews. One day he climbed a tree to see this Jesus he had heard so much about as the Messiah passed through the streets of Jericho. What happened when this shrewd moneymaker encountered Christ?

    “When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. ‘Zacchaeus!’ he said. ‘Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.’ 6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7 But the people were displeased. ‘He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,’ they grumbled. 8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!’ 9 Jesus responded, ‘Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost’” – Luke 19:5-10 NLT

    What motivated Zacchaeus’s conversion?

    It obviously was more than curiosity. Zaccheus’s decision to restore fourfold shows that he not only knew the law of God but his conscience was pricked by what he had done wrong. He knew from the Law that fourfold was the required penalty for theft. “If someone steals … a sheep… the thief must pay back four sheep for each sheep stolen.” – Exodus 22:1 The law or “instruction,” served as the tool to bring conviction of sin, which led to repentance for his sin and obedience to that law, which then led to his salvation! This is rather profound because not only did he recognize his need for forgiveness but he was also acutely aware of his failure to obey God’s standard. His saving faith was demonstrated by his willingness to obey by making restitution. Jesus said, “SALVATION HAS COME TO THIS HOME TODAY!” Notice he did exactly what James defines as genuine faith:

    “You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone” - James 2:22, 24 NIV

    About 100 years ago certain scholars decreed, and it became accepted in the evangelical movement, that the Law had no relationship to the proclaiming of the Good News (the Gospel). This was a tragic mistake for it deprived the Holy Spirit of His work of convicting the unbeliever of their sin.  John makes it completely clear that one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to convince the “world” (those outside of Christ), that they are sinful.

    “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” – John 16:8 ESV

    So how do we integrate the law while presenting the claims of Christ to those outside of the faith?

    Here are some questions you may consider:

    • Are you familiar with the Ten Commandments?
    • Have you ever stolen something?
    • Have you ever coveted something that was not yours?
    • Have you ever dishonored your parents?
    • Have you ever lusted after another person?
    • In your heart have you ever felt even the smallest amount of guilt or remorse for such actions or thoughts?
    • Why do you feel guilty about such behavior?
    • Have you ever thought that perhaps God is trying to get your attention by allowing you to feel guilt?
    • I know I have felt guilty about plenty of things. How do you deal with your guilt?
    • I am a follower of Christ, and I have discovered that when I admit my guilt, turn away from my sin, and ask Christ to forgive me, I find that I feel clean. I also know from what the Bible says that I AM forgiven which allows me to have a clear conscience and I begin to act the way I know is the right.

    Hey gang, can we give this a try?

    Information without integration leads to stagnation. 

    Integrating Christ with you,

    Dale

  • May4

    “And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” – Romans 8:27 NIV

    Prayer is directed to God, not directing God.

    Pastor David Guzik comments on the above verse saying, “The Holy Spirit’s help in intercession is perfect because He searches the hearts of those whom He helps, and He is able to guide our prayers according to the will of God.” As you pray this week, try one simple thing:

    Spend a minute in silence and ask God what is on His heart today. 

    Perhaps He will impress upon your mind a person or situation that you would not have otherwise prayed for. Allow space to listen and even when you don’t have the words to pray, trust the Holy Spirit to be interceding in the places you need it most!

    In Christ,

    Dale

    Dale@DaleEbel.Org

  • May2

    “Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.” – Hebrews 11:35 NIV

    God continually calls us to believe things that we cannot see, become someone we are not, accomplish feats that are clearly beyond our abilities and then holds us accountable for them.

    Who is God shaping you to become, which, if you saw the final result would surprise even you?

    What is the “impossible” thing, from your perspective, that you most need to trust Him with today? Allow the holiness, transcendence, and omnipotence of God spark your imagination today and remind you that HE IS TRULY ABLE!

    In Jesus,

    Dale

    Dale@DaleEbel.Org