ASK

ASK: Proverbs 8

Wisdom

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This update is from a recent meeting of ASK Daegu. Each member contributed something to the message that follows. We pray that our group encourages you in the same way that it encouraged all of us.

Read Proverbs 8

Why do good people do bad things?  Why do intelligent people do foolish things?  Why is there a desire in our heart to shun wisdom for the sake of personal pride and ambition?

The truth is, they do and we do.

The heart of man is under a powerful delusion that nothing is more important than the self and the world.  From within this delusion it is not only difficult to pursue wisdom for wisdom’s sake, but we often view wisdom as the antagonist in our own stories.  We don’t like to be told what we need to do.  Even though we might quietly agree that the wise advice is good, for the sake of our pride we will pursue a path of potential destruction just so that we can ultimately discover and validate the advice on our own.

Ironically, even while we shun wisdom we lash out in anger that wisdom seems so far away when we need it.  We cry out, “Where is wisdom?”  We proclaim, “If only I had known.”  In doing this on a regular basis we come to the root of the issue at hand.  The heart.

Until we are willing to investigate thoroughly the shortcomings of our hearts, we will be trapped between self-sabotaging ego one day and hopeless vulnerability the next.  Until we realize that we are not simply lost, but that left to our own desire we will seek division and not peace, hatred not love, and death not life, we will continue down a path of a self-imposed delusion from which God pleads for us to break.

In Jesus Christ we have the embodiment of God’s character, word and wisdom.  We are, inevitably, offended by his words, because they are rooted in the reality that he is King and we are not.  However, only by accepting his authority will we discover that not only do we desperately need his wisdom, but also that his wisdom is for our benefit, personally and collectively.  His words judge, but do not condemn.  The wisdom of God in Jesus Christ identifies the disease in our heart, and offers the cure.  Why do we shun his words?  Why do you?

ASK: 2 Samuel 7

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This update is from a recent meeting of ASK Daegu. Each member contributed something to the message that follows. We pray that our group encourages you in the same way that it encouraged all of us.

READ 2 SAMUEL 7

The glorification of self is so strong within us that arriving at a place where we can simply worship and glorify God without considering ourselves is perceived as the place in which we have finally arrived. The fight against sin is so intense that to finally be at peace and find joy giving to the Lord more than receiving is often celebrated and in many cases should be. But it is possible to find joy in giving without finding joy in God.

With so much focus placed on worship, we often overlook the danger of it. With sin ever present in our hearts, regardless of our transformation, we are all one step away from committing our lives to yet another idol other than God Himself. This idol can often appear in the form of worship. Although it seems contradictory to be giving our everything to God while simultaneously holding back what he truly desires, this is a common trajectory of the human heart if it is not checked, reset and rechecked by the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus.

Becoming transformed in the image of Jesus will naturally produce a more selfless and generous heart toward God, however, we must never forget His deepest desire. We must never forget that glorifying God in this world must not be rooted in the things of this world. What good is a cathedral that radiates the glory of God in its architectural and artistic magnificence, that will ultimately collapse over time, yet lacks the gospel of Jesus in the lives of its congregants, who are designed for eternity?

While God is worthy of all the splendor of this world we must never forget that as His children from the beginning, he simply desires our homecoming, made possible through faith in His son Jesus. Nothing else. A large financial offering might result from a life transformed by Jesus Christ, but a large financial offering is not the sign of a life transformed by Jesus Christ.

Our greatest offering to God is to desire His vision to see beyond this world, and to desire His heart to be undeterred by the temptations of it. The strength of our offering is measured by our understanding of His strength, not our own. Once we understand His role in our lives and begin to fathom the depth of the Gospel of Jesus, daily committing to His will becomes an offering of more worth than gold. We become the offering, and in this way, we become the delight of the Father and the splendor of his eternal glory.

ASK: Ecclesiastes 4

This update is from a recent meeting of ASK Daegu. Each member contributed something to the message that follows. We pray that our group encourages you in the same way that it encouraged all of us.

Read Ecclesiastes 4 here.

“For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”

Why do we do this to ourselves?  Why do we live in a way that isolates us?  Why do we live in a way that causes division?  Why do we live in a way that serves ourselves, all the while fostering the suffering and oppression of others?

From the beginning, the lie of Satan– that we were created not to submit to God but to escape his oppressive presence and in turn be gods unto ourselves– has successfully deprived people of the enjoyment they were created to have, and led them into a life of oppression, toil and friendlessness.  In the position of God we assume the roles of creator and judge.  From this lofty and isolated throne we cast out judgment that only we can meet and create a world grounded in the criticism of what others do and the envy of what they have that we do not.  As God and therefore, Creator, we are left to our own power and will to create for ourselves “joy.”  The lie is that we can.  The truth is that, as a result of sin, our hearts are created to be fulfilled by God alone, and are hopelessly weak and depleted when fed by anything but him.

One goal is achieved and another, slightly higher, appears.  One good day is overshadowed by the new day, which presents the same (or even more) obstacles than the last, poised to thwart yesterday’s satisfaction.  But the persistent, relentless push of this lie convinces us that joy can be be attained, that the problem does not rest in the self but in the distraction of others and that their presence interferes with our attainment of true happiness.

When we take this place of counterfeit deity, the true nature of God is entirely beyond our reach.  The triune God of creation has always known fellowship. He can profess being in His very nature, love.  As creations made in His image, we were created, not only for fellowship with our creator, but also with one another through the love of the Father.  This fellowship is where “joy” is found, the joy that God has always desired for us.  This joy neither feeds the self, nor divides the whole.  This joy does not create toil, oppression or friendlessness, as the lie of Satan ultimately will.  This joy found in the Father and in the gospel of Jesus Christ promises peace, freedom and love.  We, as humans, have never demonstrated that we can hold the place of God.  Why do we do this to ourselves?

ASK: Joshua 3

This update is from a recent meeting of ASK Daegu. Each member contributed something to the message that follows. We pray that our group encourages you in the same way that it encouraged all of us.

Read Joshua 3 here.

Faith in Jesus that requires physical miracles as a condition of belief is neither scriptural nor sustainable.  If we overlook the miracle of a life truly transformed by the word of God, and fix our eyes on whether or not a person’s physical obstacles are either cured or not, we overlook the Gospel of Jesus, and we limit faith in Jesus to the physical world where regardless of a miraculous healing, sin continues to reign and condemn.

However, faith in Jesus that does not take the miraculous promises of the Gospel seriously is just as unscriptural and unsustainable.  Faith in Jesus without experience of a miraculous transformation has not submitted to the authority of Jesus as Lord.  To believe in Jesus is to acknowledge the miraculous.  Belief in Jesus alongside unbelief in miracles is impossible.

While our faith should not be built entirely on miracles, miracles do build our faith.  Blind faith has never seen.  And to see in the Gospel of Jesus is to acknowledge something beyond belief and reasonable explanation yet undoubtedly real.  Faith that has witnessed these things inevitably develops, in a reality where the impossible has in fact become possible through Jesus Christ.

As Christians, how much to we believe that the miraculous is still present in our world?  Do we believe that the supernatural is locked within the pages of the Bible? Do we believe that the supernatural life of the disciples is not one for us to inherit, but exists merely to inspire us?  From such positions of uncertainty and doubt it is no surprise that the Christian Church is often viewed as worldly and weak.  If we doubt the miraculous, we prevent ourselves from asking for the miraculous, andprevent the miraculous from entering this world.

Miracles are not to entertain us but to achieve certain objectives: to increase our faith in Jesus, our awareness of God’s holiness, awareness of our own sin, and ultimately to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth.  While it can be tempting to hear a message about miracles in the present age and immediately pray for a physical miracle, the miraculous cannot exist without the recognition of sin.  The petition for miracles without the confession and consecration of a heart reveals a dangerous misunderstanding of miracles.  The most important miracle was Jesus, and Jesus came to address and pay the debt of our sin.  Therefore, to ask for a miracle without acknowledging the authority and sacrifice of Jesus is a dangerous misunderstanding of miracles.

Miracles do and will occur.  However, a heart that prays for miracles but does not desire the forgiveness of Jesus, does not praise Jesus for his sacrifice, is a heart that does not seek the will of a Holy God, but is still imprisoned by the temptations of a sinful world.

Christians should pray for the miraculous with confident belief in the impossible becoming possible.  However, we must guard our hearts against the temptation to separate Jesus’ death from His miracles, creating a chasm between his will and our own which could ultimately separate us from His presence entirely.

ASK: Galatians 1

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This update is from the February 14th meeting of ASK Daegu. Each member contributed something to the message that follows. We pray that our group encourages you in the same way that it encouraged all of us.

Have you ever heard the gospel of Jesus? Do you know the gospel of Jesus? What did you hear? What do you know? Did it affect you? Did it change you?

These questions emerged as we read Galatians 1. For most Christians, the answers to these questions are all instinctively affirming, but are tragically confined to the past tense. Many Christians began with the gospel but eventually saw it as a step to other future steps. We once found the gospel refreshing, but over time felt we exhausted it of all of its information, interest and power. Many Christians will revisit the gospel via a Sunday sermon or a Bible reading plan, but when asked whether they still personally read and enjoy the gospel of Jesus in the same way they did when they first became a Christian, the answer for many would be “no.”

The truth is, there is no other gospel. Being a Christian is grounded in the foundation of Jesus Christ. While the other books of the Bible help us to understand the ministry and purpose of Jesus, the rest of the Bible is incomplete without Jesus. He is the key. He is the purpose for all other chapters in the Bible. By removing Jesus from the Bible one effectively removes all purpose from the Bible. Without Jesus, aside from being a historical resource or reference for the nation of Israel, the Bible is useless.

When we come to Christianity seeking something other than God through Jesus Christ, we fail to understand his gospel and our Christianity is pointless. When we come to Christianity with preformed ideas, assumptions, conditions and theories of our own that we apply to the text, we will never meet God, we will never understand Jesus and becoming a “Christian” from this place is equivalent to being a disciple of Santa Claus. It’s embarrassingly foolish and idiotic.

Many Christians grow bored with the Gospels. Many Christians actually grow bored of Jesus and His words. We must never stop being overwhelmed by Jesus and what he accomplished in the Gospels for us. If we have stopped being overwhelmed in waves of ecstasy and joy by Jesus and his ministry we must ask ourselves why. What gospel do we now prescribe to? The gospel of our own knowledge? The gospel of our own professional success? The gospel of our bank account? The gospel of our physical appearance? The gospel of control? The gospel of popularity? Nothing should ever challenge what we have been given by Jesus in his salvation work on Calvary. In Christ alone is our joy and the gospel is where we are privileged to reread and revisit that joy. Have you ever had that joy? Have you lost that joy?

ASK: Matthew 7

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This update is from the February 7th meeting of ASK Daegu. Each member contributed something to the message that follows. We pray that our group encourages you in the same way that it encouraged all of us.

All relationships have standards. These standards are either met and produce healthy relationships, or are abandoned, forgotten and produce chaos. When we enter into a relationship, there are things we inherently expect from the other person involved. When our expectations are met we feel fulfilled and satisfied, but when the person fails to meet our unspoken yet implied expectations we feel hurt and betrayed.

If we approach our relationships with people this way, why would our approach to God be any different?

While many people, after reading a chapter like Matthew 7, turn to God and demand an explanation for why His standards are so high, this response highlights the default of the human heart: to resist holiness as a result of sin and to find someone besides ourselves to blame. We are quick to blame God for creating impossibly high standards when the real question is, why are our standards so low? And why are we so intimidated by a challenge to be better than what we think we could ever be? Why are we so quick to write off holiness and so quick to welcome that which provides momentary satisfaction but ultimately destroys and weakens what was meant to be everlasting? Upon reading a commandment not to judge another person, why do we so quickly say, “I can’t do that. That’s impossible,” when, if we view chapter 7 through the lens of how we view our relationships with the people in our lives, we would be lying if we said that we would not impose the same standard on the people around us. We expect the people in our lives not to judge us, to answer us when we call, to bear fruit of love and peace and to be our solid foundation when our condition is less stable.

We are afraid of holiness because holiness wars against the sinfulness in all of us, and the grip of sin is strong. Sin deceives by convincing us all that although neglecting these impossible standards of God does seem to provide “freedom” and “joy,” the truth is that apart from God’s holiness as represented in Matthew 7, we are all harboring a faux sense of righteousness and goodness, that will neither satisfy nor last.

Jesus never hid anything from His disciples and through the Word remains as up front with us as he was with them. Jesus diagnoses our sinful hearts. Because he loves us, he tells us plainly that only by His power, only by following His holiness and making it our own, will we ever find the relationship with Him that will naturally extend into all of our worldly relationships, reproducing the shalom of creation and the kingdom of heaven here on earth.

ASK: Isaiah 56

This update is from this week’s meeting of ASK Daegu, with a reading from Isaiah 56. Each member contributed something to the message that follows. We pray that our group encourages you in the same way that it encouraged all of us. 

Chosen. Blessed. Favored. Children. Called. Saved. These words possess the potential of being a blessing or a curse to the world in the hands of sinful man. While a place in the presence of God is defined by such terms, claiming those terms without understanding their context or purpose makes them a weapon of condemnation both for the speaker and the listener. In the hands of religion and not the Gospel of Jesus, these terms establish boundaries and divisions, separating people between the “ins” and the “outs.” Or in other words, the “citizens of God” and the “foreigners to God,” implying that God’s presence is limited to only those who claim, in word alone, to know Him.

Are Christians chosen? Yes. However, that word chosen must find its way back to Genesis 1:26 when God “chose” to created mankind in His very image. Therefore, to reduce the meaning of “chosen” to Christians in your vicinity, church or part of the world is to completely deny the will and purpose of God to bring ALL people of ALL nations back into his presence.

Are Christians blessed? Yes. However, the nature of being blessed must never be confined to the material world. Blessings from God can certainly take on a material nature, however, the blessedness of a Christian is most powerfully found in the nature of being “chosen.” Being blessed as a Christian is not expressed merely in “Christian” terms. Our blessedness was forged in the dust of Genesis, where without God we had no life. However, our blessedness is made complete in the coming of Jesus Christ and his willingness to offer us life once again where we had none. More than any material gift or physical blessing, the blessed nature of life is the truest and most universal gift of God.

Are Christians favored? Yes. Following God undoubtedly produces an increase of his presence and therefore a “favored” existence. However, being favored has nothing to do with success, status, safety, security or honor in the eyes of the world. The favored nature of a Christian is simply the truth that God’s eye is on you, and is content in your reliance and love for him. Being favored is only true if it first arises from a nature of humility to know that we receive God’s favor and have not earned or deserved it.

Are Christians children? Yes. However, not privileged children. We are his children as much as our neighbor that professes no faith in Jesus. It is our responsibility to shun our sinful desires to offer that person anything but Jesus, who illuminates the fact that they are also loved, blessed, favored and a child of God that is being called back into their father’s presence to live and have life.

Are Christians called? Yes. Christians are most certainly called. However, we are called to follow Jesus. And following Jesus always means having an eye and a heart for those that have not yet understood the love of God. We are called not to control or to impose our will. We are called to sacrifice control of our own lives and release God’s will to heal and save those in this world.

Are Christians saved? Yes. Christians are saved, but only in our willingness to admit that were it not for Christ’s love, life and death, we would be without hope and without life as God designed us to have. Being saved is not that we put ourselves in a place where God could finish our work and ultimately save us. Being saved is knowing that in the moment of certain death, the hand of God intervened and offered life where there was none. Therefore, being saved is the grace given to a foreigner who knows that, in defiance of logic and beyond rational explanation, he is now admitted with complete access to a life and kingdom that he does not deserve and has not earned. Therefore, we must see that all Christians were foreigners at heart in order to understand the saving grace now offered to us through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

ASK: Job 28-29

This update is from last week’s meeting of ASK Daegu. Each member contributed something to the message that follows. We pray that our group encourages you in the same way that it encouraged all of us. We’ll have this week’s ASK recap up tomorrow.

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The metaphor in Job of a man digging deeper and deeper into the recesses of the earth to find something of worth, all the while finding nothing of true value, offers wonderful insight into the heart of mankind. Sure, treasures found as a result of exploration and tiring physical labor are beautiful and impressive. However, as the man reaches the end of his search, dangling dangerously in the dark, alone, with only the cold rock and oppressive darkness to offer him company, he understands that what he is truly searching for, the world itself cannot offer him. He discovers that his hunger for something the world ultimately could not provide him is not a trick or a mistake. He comes to learn that his craving that seems to stretch beyond the limitations of this world is a craving that only something free from the limitations of this world can offer him. God.

As the man turns to God and looks to Him alone for his fulfillment and value, the darkness is suddenly replaced by the all-encompassing light of the creator God. The man realizes that all of his desperation and toil in the darkness was not a result of God’s punishment or absence. His time in the darkness was a result of his own absence from God and his desire to find value in life apart from Him.

Through the encounter with the living God the man discovers wisdom and understands that wisdom is a gift and the truest treasure we have in this life. It is wisdom that not only transforms the man; once a slave to self-validation and worship through works and ability, to a man remade in the image of God, who receives the light of God and then blesses those around him with that same light.

We all are seeking, but few of us are finding. The reason for this is not that there is nothing to find. The truth is that we are burdening ourselves searching where there is no light. God offers us light through Jesus Christ and it is our choice whether or not to be graced with the light of his wisdom and life and be changed.

 

 

 

ASK: 2 Kings 17

After reviewing our session notes from the first meeting of ASK Daegu, what follows is a summary of the teaching that as a group we were given by the Holy Spirit. Each member contributed something to the message that follows. We pray that our group encourages you in the same way that it encouraged all of us. We’ll have a new ASK recap up next Wednesday.

Do we have idols? Are there things that we turn to for relief, satisfaction or joy before we turn to the Lord? Do we try to hide the fact that we have idols? Are we so convinced in our power to confine God to a day, time or place that we become certain that our secrets are in fact ours alone?   Do you know the commands and teaching of Jesus Christ? Do you know them beyond memorization into the place of salvation where they rightfully belong? Do you know why the teaching was given to us? Are you burdened by the commandments, as if they were there to prevent you from reaching the potential that could truly bring you joy? These are not fun questions but they are absolutely necessary for us to ask if we truly profess faith in Jesus Christ. If we don’t ask them, what are we doing? What is the point? Stop wasting your time.

The truth is, we all possess idols. We have all been tempted by them and our relationship with God has suffered as a result of our flippant and childish view toward His love for us. The truth is, God desires us. We were created to receive His love and then return His love with a heart in tune with his own. The pleasures and cravings of the flesh are merely vessels for the nature of sin to prolong and imbed the deception of sin that we don’t actually need God. The truth is, while idols tempt us with grand promises of satisfaction and fulfillment, they will inevitably only achieve two things. They will slowly but effectively destroy us, reducing us to shadows and dust. More importantly, they will exile us into a place where God can reach us but we become so deaf and blind to his presence that we deny the presence of his power and the hope of his salvation.

So, what? What can we do? Admit it! Admit that you have idols. Go to God with this shameful confession trusting in His promise to embrace, forgive and love. Seek his way and his will. Reject the idea outright that you have something to say in the matter of what is or isn’t good for you. You don’t know! We as his children have never known so why would it be different for us today? It isn’t. Invite the Holy Spirit to make his commandments sweet to you. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring you close enough to the cross to touch the blood but then close enough to the tomb to verify that it no longer contains the body.

There is nothing in this world that can ever give you what we have been given in Jesus Christ. Nothing is worth it! God is patient but the promise of his patience does not even compare to his promise to ultimately judge what is right and wrong. We have been warned. Heed the warning and grab ahold of the hand of Christ and choose to live!

A.S.K. (Ask, Seek, Knock)

After five years of Bible studies covering the entire city of Daegu, South Korea, Mobile Word Ministry is excited and proud to share the gift of the “A.S.K”(Ask, Seek, Knock) Program. The first A.S.K. group will take place this coming Saturday, January 17th. A.S.K. is a gift that God has slowly been revealing over the past few years to us as our Bible studies in Daegu have developed to become more effective tools in teaching the Gospel of Jesus to all people. We will post a recap of each A.S.K. meeting here on the blog.

 

If anyone desires to start their own A.S.K. group, please contact us and let us know about your plan so we can pray for you and share our experience with the program. Also, for those interested in starting their own A.S.K. group, the weekly guide and the leader guide are available for download on our A.S.K. link on this site. God bless all of you as we continue to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with one another and with those yet to hear it.