Counseling One Another

Helping you grow in God's all-sufficient truth and grace

Counseling One Another

June 15, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

Here’s some articles I encourage you to read this weekend.

Thoughts on Being a Father – Tedd Tripp reflects on 1 Thessalonians 2, drawing truths about a faithful father’s example and instruction.

5 Marks of a Servant Leader – What traits do we look for in a leader that suggest his fundamental orientation is Christlike servanthood? This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are five fundamental indicators.

Trusting God in the Storms of Life – Shannon Kay McCoy reflects on Mark 4:34-41 and the significant lessons the disciples learned from Jesus.

I Wouldn’t Have Chosen Me – “The simple fact is that it makes no sense for God to use me in ministry. I would not have chosen myself for this task and mission.” My sentiments exactly.

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June 14, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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Sermon Notebook

Listening well to sermons is hard work. Getting lasting benefit from them even harder. But this spiritual discipline usually pays rich spiritual dividends. So, I’m pleased to tell you about a new resource I picked up from Matthias Media, at a recent pastors’ conference.

The Sermon Notebook is a (mostly) blank notebook with a spill resistant cover and elastic band to keep it together (and keep loose inserts from falling out). I say it’s “mostly” blank since it does contain practical advice, including a brief chapter on the challenging art of listening to sermons. This, along with a new routine the author encourages you to adopt, will help you feed more eagerly, deeply, and satisfyingly from the spiritual food that is presented to you each week from God’s word. This journal/notebook also includes reflection questions to help you focus on the key points of the sermon and think through application. Check it out here.

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June 12, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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Jesus Is Our Scapegoat

Last Sunday, as part of our current sermon series From Garden to Garden, we looked at Leviticus 16 together. As we learned of God’s inauguration of the Day of Atonement, we focused most of our attention on the two goats which Aaron, the high priest, cast lots over. Here’s what we learned:

Jesus is the only acceptable Substitute for the penalty of our sin. As the first goat became a sin offering, which was slain for the sins of God’s people, so Jesus took upon Himself our sins. He was punished in our place. He willingly became the propitiation for our sins; that is, He appeased the wrath of God that was meant for us.

Jesus is the only acceptable Savior from the power of our sin. As the second goat became the scapegoat, which was sent into the wilderness after the people’s sins were placed upon it, so Jesus is our scapegoat. Through His sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection, He has taken our sins away, setting us free to now live in consecration to God.

Forgiveness and freedom are now available to every sinner who will cry out to God through faith in Jesus Christ? Do you know Jesus?

NOTE: Our church now has a sermon channel on Sermon Audio. Current and past sermons are being uploaded weekly. If you know anyone in the Cleveland area who is looking for a faithful church, encourage them to visit Cornerstone Community Church in Mayfield Heights (eastern suburb).

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June 11, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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“Discipling the Flock” Is Now Available for Pre-Order

Shepherd Press announced last weekend that Discipling the Flock is now available for pre-order at 25% off. This is a short book to help church leaders bring about heart-based change in the lives of the people they shepherd, through the personal ministry of the Word. It’s perfect for church leadership teams to go through together.

Here is an urgent appeal to return to authentic discipleship; here is a call to shepherds to be tenacious in their preaching of the whole counsel of God, and tender in their application of its truth to the lives of God’s sheep through their personal ministry.

Here is an anchor for authentic ministry that will stimulate real spiritual growth in God’s people. —Dr. Steven J. Lawson

…a biblically faithful, practically helpful guide to find the important balance between the public and private ministry of the Word.” —Brian Croft

I recommend you read this masterful little book twice. —Greg Strand

Pre-order here.

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June 7, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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A Fresh Glance at the Ten Commandments

Those whom God redeems, He also sanctifies. Those whom He sets apart to Himself, He also sets apart from the world. That is a theme throughout Scripture (See, for example, 1 Cor. 6:9-11, 18-20; 1 Pet. 1:14-16). Like these, there are many more calls to holiness. But all of them are rooted in the holiness of God, and a well-known portion of the Old Testament known as the Ten Commandments. Having redeemed His people by His grace alone, God now gives the standards of holiness which reflect His own character.

An Introductory Summary of the Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments define love for God and neighbor, and categorize God’s moral law.

  • They form the core of biblical ethics and holiness which God expects from His redeemed ones.
  • They introduce and cover “families” of sins. They are not limited to a single violation, but serve as the larger blanket under which multitudes of sin exist.
  • Though all but two are stated in the negative, the commands imply opposite virtues.

Two commandments summarize all the moral/ethical teachings in the Bible (Matt. 22:35-40)

  • Love God
  • Love your neighbor

So, it should come as no surprise to find that the Ten Commandments are divided into these two categories: Love God. Love neighbor.

Not only did Jesus group all of God’s laws into two categories, He also made it clear that obedience to God’s law never consisted merely of outward conformity, but included inward reality. In other words, the truest form of obedience flows from the heart. Ultimately, we should long to follow the spirit of the law, not merely the letter.

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART (Commandments 1-4)

  1. Respect for God’s unique position (20:3)

Forbids idolatry in any form, putting anything in place of the one, true God (1 Cor. 10:14)

Requires wholly trusting, loving, and worshiping God (Mk. 12:30; 1 Jn. 5:21)

  1. Respect for God’s spiritual nature (20:4-6)

Forbids using visual representations of God in worship (Jn. 4:24) [God is spirit, and cannot be seen.]

Requires worshiping God in spirit and truth (Jn. 4:24)

  1. Respect for God’s holy name (20:7)

Forbids empty worship, or using God’s name irreverently and carelessly (Matt. 12:36)

Requires reverence for God’s name and person (Matt. 6:9)

  1. Respect for God’s special day (20:8-11)

Requires setting aside one day a week for rest (intermission), and intentional worship (Heb. 10:24-25)

Forbids unnecessary employment and the neglect of worship on the Lord’s Day (Heb. 10:24-25)

LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF (Commandments 5-10)

  1. Respect for neighbor’s authority (20:12)

Requires godly attitudes and responses toward human authorities (1 Pet. 2:17)

Forbids disobedience or disrespect of human authorities (Rom. 13:7)

  1. Respect for neighbor’s life (20:13)

Forbids taking innocent human life [Note, murderers are not innocent and, therefore, worthy of the death penalty, Gen. 9:6. Romans 13:7 – God gave governing authorities “the power of the sword.”]

Requires preserving, protecting, and caring for human life

  1. Respect for neighbor’s sexuality (20:14)

Forbids any sexual activity outside of one man with one woman in marriage (Heb. 13:4)

Requires physical intimacy within marriage, and proper gender roles (1 Cor. 7:3-5)

  1. Respect for neighbor’s property (20:15)

Forbids taking any possessions that do not belong to us, or acquiring or keeping wealth through fraudulent means (Eph. 4:28)

Requires acquiring property through ethical means (Eph. 4:28)

  1. Respect for neighbor’s integrity and reputation (20:16)

Forbids lying about, or to, others (Eph. 4:25; Col. 3:9)

Requires speaking truthfully about, or to, others (Eph. 4:25)

  1. Respect for neighbor’s assets (20:17)

Forbids desiring anything that belongs to someone else (Rom. 13:9)

Requires being content with what God provides for us (1 Tim. 6:6-10)

Works of Grace

This brief look at the Ten Commandments should accomplish three works of grace in our hearts.

  • It should convict us. We are guilty sinners. We are lawbreakers.
  • It should drive us to Jesus who took the guilt of lawbreakers upon Himself.
  • It should make us realize there is no way we can fully obey God from the heart. First, we need God to create within us a new heart. Then we need to learn to walk by faith, in the power of grace. Even then we long for the fullness of redemption.

The holy Son of God did what we could never do for ourselves; He kept the Law on our behalf. By doing so, He removed the Law’s curse from us.

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” … Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Gal. 3:10-13)

And the book of Colossians reminds us that Jesus took the law’s condemnation against us and nailed them to the cross—through His own flesh (Col. 2:14).

What this means is that lawbreakers like you and me may come to God through faith in the One who perfectly fulfilled the law on their behalf. God is holy, and we are not. But in Christ we may be reconciled to God through faith.

[This post is adapted from last Sunday’s last Sunday’s sermon on the Ten Commandments.]

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June 1, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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Discipleship & Disability Conference

How do we minister the Word of God to those affected by disability so that we may fulfill our calling to make disciples? How do we best demonstrate the love of Christ in community so that disability ministry is part of the normal ministry of our churches? That was the focus of a conference I was honored to be part of last weekend in Torrance, CA. The one-day event was hosted by Lighthouse Community Church, in conjunction with Joni & Friends. I was so encouraged by the sound counsel given by every speaker. All the audio files may be listened to, and downloaded, here.

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June 1, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

5 Questions for Choosing Bible Study Material for Women’s Groups – “May God grant you great wisdom and joy as you make these important decisions about Bible study materials, always with an eye toward your principal mission to equip the saints for the work of ministry.”

Why Is Loneliness a Thing? – “According to the Bible, we experience loneliness not because there is something wrong with us, but because there is something right with us. We experience loneliness because we know, deep down, that we were made for more connection, intimacy, and love than we seem to experience. We sense that this is not how it’s supposed to be.”

Gospel Meditations for Fathers – The newest addition to my favorite devotional series.

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May 30, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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5 Keys to Unlocking the Value of the Ten Commandments

This Sunday, I will finish a two-part message on the Ten Commandments (as part of a larger, biblical theology, sermon series). So, I’m rereading a book I have found insightful in the past, God’s Rules for Holiness, by Peter Masters, pastor Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. In the book’s Prologue, the author explains five qualities of the Ten Commandments. When the commandments are studied with these in mind, they will bring the most value to our growth in holiness.

  1. The Commandments Reflect God’s Character – The Ten Commandments “flow directly from the eternal character of the holy God, and reflect Him….It is because they reflect God’s perfect character that they are the standard by which the world will be judged, and also the permanent rule of life for redeemed people.
  2. The Commandments Keep Their Full Authority Today – They are “God’s perpetual rules for worship and holy living.” The ceremonial and sacrificial laws of the Old Testament were fulfilled in the work of Christ. However, since the moral law is rooted in God’s unchanging character, “the Ten Commandments stand above them all as the abiding moral law of God.”
  3. The Commandments Were Designed for Believers – They were given for a two-fold purpose. “They were obviously intended to be binding upon all mankind, yet at the same time they were designed to be particularly helpful to those who truly know the Lord.”
  4. Each Commandment Covers a “Family” of Sins – “Each sin named in the Commandments represents an entire species of sin. Each sin named is the chief offence of a whole family of wrong deeds…when a commandment forbids a major sin, all the ‘lesser’ sins in the same family are to be included in the scope of that commandment.”
  5. The Commandments Include Opposite Positive Virtues – The Commandments “are meant to be handled in a positive, as well as a negative, manner. While couched in negative tones, God means us to strive for the opposite virtue of every sin….If we fail to identify the good behavior implicit in each commandment we miss the point entirely. We must from each one build up a solid appreciation of the kind of people that God wants us to be.”

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May 22, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

Note: Due to travel and writing projects, I will not be blogging very often this week. In the meantime, remember the category list in the right margin which makes it easier to peruse thousands of previous articles to encourage your growth and one-another ministry.

Only 2% of Deaf People have “Heard” the Gospel – The statistics from the Deaf Bible Society blew me away. Take a few minutes to poke around their website.

Humility before God – “In the spiritual life, there exists a fundamental prerequisite for relating to God, and if there is any single key condition for authentic holy living it would be the virtue of humility.”

Love the Lord Your God – Last Sunday’s sermon introduction to the Ten Commandments.

Twelve Tips for Parenting in the Digital Age – “Along with this delayed adulthood and prolonged adolescence, the iGen is marked by a few other things.”

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May 18, 2018
by Paul Tautges
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Bitter Root, Rotten Fruit

Hebrews 12:15-17 warns,

See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

Let’s take a few minutes to counsel one another about the corruption of bitterness and what steps we can take to kill this nasty weed.

What is bitterness and what does it do?

  • Bitterness [harsh, distasteful attitude) springs from a shortage of grace (“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God”). When I am bitter against someone for sinning against me–intentionally or unintentionally–then I am not functioning as a grace-dispensing believer.
  • Bitterness is a “root” attitude of heart. Roots grow downward, getting deeper and more deeply embedded and entangled. If my shortage of grace is prolonged then my heart will become increasingly hardened toward others.
  • Bitterness has fruit that grows upward and outward, touching others (“springing up”). When I am bitter it is impossible for me to be the only one infected. Others around me will also be poisoned.
  • Bitterness “causes trouble.” When I have nurtured the root of bitterness in my heart its rotten fruit will cause further harm, and lead to further sin. It is an entangling sin.
  • Bitterness, if not repented of, can harden the heart to the point of no return (“Esau…found no place for repentance”). A sober warning!

Weed-killer for Bitterness

  • Forgive from your heart those who have hurt you (Matthew 18:35).
  • Bless those who have hurt you; overcome evil with good (Romans 12:19-21).
  • Actively choose not to remember sins committed against you. Actively choosing not to remember is different than forgetting. In Jeremiah 31:34, God says he will “remember no more” the sins of his people. This is not memory failure, or forgetfulness. This is God’s conscious choice to no longer hold our sins against us. We must do the same with the sins of others.
  • Destroy “lists of sins” committed against you, mental lists or actual, written lists (1 Cor. 13:5).
  • Make peace with others, as much as is in your power (Rom. 12:18)
Listen to the related audio sermon here.
TWO HELPFUL MINI-BOOKS

[This article was originally posted July 5, 2011.]

Read the follow-up post “15 Ways to Kill Bitterness

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