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Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The preaching of the word of God certainly does have and effect on people. Sometimes it is a happy and joyous effect, while at other times it makes one sad. There are times when a person becomes severely angry by the preaching of the word of God. Still, there are times when a person cannot move under the awesome conviction of it.
As a preacher, over the last 18 years, I have seen all of these effects take place in the lives of the hearers of God’s word. As a Christian, I have experienced them myself. Still, I, and many others, keep coming back for more. Why is that? I can understand why people keep coming back to feel good about their relationship with Christ, but to hear that they are a sinner, failing on every front, baffles me. When feeling the sharp effects of God’s word, piercing and dividing my life all the way down to my bones, I am amazed as to how much it knows about me. I have come to the point where I am convinced that it knows more about me than I do about myself. It is not fun to be pierced, cut and divided, yet people keep coming back for more and I think it is because of the wonder and amazement that they have for that one book.
Yes, there are those who cannot bear it. They are only interested in feeling good, and if the word of God cuts, pierces or divides in the slightest, they get angry and leave. To me this is the equivalent of putting one’s head in the sand and not learning something about yourself that you need to know. You see, the Bible is not only the way to God, but it is the truth and life as well. It does no good to accept the way and the life without accepting the truth. But there are many people like this. They feel the Bible is true as long as it agrees with them and where it does not, it is not the truth. The devil has been instrumental in getting people to think this. This is why there are so many “truths” in the world today. But I don’t want to talk about that in this article. I want to focus on the way people receive the word of God.
It is funny how one sermon may upset some while at the same time charging up others spiritual batteries. The same sermon may cause some to be compelled to come to the altar, while others stand rigid biting their bottom lip. It has a strange way of having different effects on different people. Now I know that all people are different, but that is not the reason for this strange phenomena. I know that God is dealing differently with different people on His own terms. This is one reason that this book is so wonderful. It knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts. Since we don’t even know our own hearts, it is good for us to hear about ourselves from the word of God.
The Word of God will shape you or the world will shape you. It is your choice as to what will do it. The world is constantly being forced upon you, but God politely does not. While commercials, junk mail, facebook and many other things are intruding upon your life, God sits silently on the shelf awaiting His turn to relate with you. The world is ruthlessly pushing itself into your life, brainwashing you to cater to self and its “truth.” It never lets up. It is violent and hungry to completely consume every part of your life, giving you no choice over the matter, while all the same time deceiving you into thinking you have a choice or vote. God’s Word sits silently and patiently on the side waiting for you to come to your senses and when you finally do, in order to remove the worldliness from your life, the operation it must perform sometimes requires cutting, stabbing or dividing. The only reason that hurts is because you allowed the world to take up residence there in the first place.
Still we can praise God for His glorious mercy in that His holy operation is quick and powerful. It does not take long for it to begin to have its holy effect. So, if the preaching of God’s word seems to anger you; it seems to “step on your toes,” then remember it is because some cancer of the world is being cut out of your life. Joy comes in the morning.
“Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” (Romans 7:13)
Years ago, an unusual experiment was conducted on a prison inmate. He had the option of having brain surgery to remove the evil tendencies he had. In return, he could have his freedom. He eagerly submitted to it. However, a few weeks after surgery he murdered someone. Surgery cannot cure sin! There is only one cure for sin: the BLOOD of the Lord Jesus Christ.
How bad is sin anyway? A little cursing, a little lying, a little lusting? Is it really that bad? Today it is called “situation ethics” in an attempt to “keep up with the changing times. But the Bible says what God hated 2,000 years ago, He still hates today. God has not changed, people have. Their consciences are so seared that they no longer recognize sin for what it is. It is no longer called sin. It is called a mistake.
The book of Genesis introduces the world to the presence of sin. The book of Revelation speaks of a new earth without the presence of sin. But in between are the sad results of sin’s effect on the lives of people: Thorns, disease, and pain in childbirth began after sin entered the world.
Sin means “to miss the mark.” If you have shot archery or guns before, you know that the goal is to hit the bull’s-eye. God has given us a Book of commands called the Bible to aim at. When we miss the mark and fall short, no matter how close we come, it is called sin.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23)
In tennis, if a serve goes into the net or lands out of bounds, it is called a fault. The same holds true with sin. We are to live within the boundaries God has set for us. This is to ensure us a joyful life and make us a more effective servant for God.
No one can ever paint sin too black. But, how does one recognize it? Sin is a weed in the garden of God. Sin is deceitful. Sin is full color on the outside, but only black and white on the inside. Sin always comes disguised. Sin takes but never gives. Sin brings pain and shame. Sin binds. Sin blinds. Sin is venom. Sin is a poison. Sin is a rabid dog at your heels. Sin is a leech that wants to drain every ounce of goodness, potential joy, and fulfillment out of your life.
Sin is like a pit that has no bottom. It never stands still and is like a cancer that destroys the body and soul. Sin caused Cain to murder his brother Abel. Sin caused the city of Sodom to be a homosexual city. Sin caused King Herod to kill all the boys less than two years of age. Sin caused Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery. Sin caused Saul to lose the kingdom. Sin caused Amnon to rape his stepsister. Sin caused Absalom to try to destroy his own father.
Sin may start small but always ends big. Sin always leaves scars. Sin, like a cute puppy, can grow up into a vicious mongrel. Sin will make you stoop to do things you never imagined you would do.
Years ago, a father tried to teach his son how wrong sin was. Every time the boy did wrong, the father nailed a nail into the tree in the backyard. After several months, the boy was broken hearted over all the nails in the tree. He asked if his father would take a nail out of the tree for every time he behaved well. The dad agreed. Finally, the day came when the last nail was removed. The son thought he would be excited. Instead, he was saddened. Though all the nails were out, the scars and holes remained. Though a person becomes a Christian, the scars of sin remain.
A famous painter once searched for a young boy he could paint as a model for “innocence.” He found such a boy and thus completed the painting. About twenty years later he searched for a man to pose for the contrast of the first painting. After much searching, he found just the man who exemplified all that was wicked, wasted, and vile. After the portrait was completed, he asked the man’s name. He said, “You know me. You painted my picture twenty years ago when I was a boy.” How sin destroys!
SIN WILL TAKE YOU FARTHER THAN YOU WANT TO GO:
- Sin leads from a drink to drunkenness.
- Sin leads from dating to adultery.
- Sin leads from cigarettes to cancer.
- Sin leads from a high to an addiction.
- Sin leads from a joke to a perverted mind.
SIN WILL COST YOU MORE THAN YOU WANT TO PAY
Sin’s checkout price is always higher than the advertised price. Thrill now-bill later! Sin costs reputation, peace of mind, and health.
SIN WILL TAKE YOU WHERE YOU DON’T WANT TO GO
- Sin took the prodigal to the pigpen.
- Sin took Absalom and Judas to a tree.
- Sin will take you to a gutter.
- Sin will put extra wrinkles on your face.
- Sin will take you to the unwed mothers’ home, mental institution, or cancer ward.
SIN WILL KEEP YOU LONGER THAN YOU WANT TO STAY.
Lot went to Sodom to sojourn (visit.) He stayed for twenty years and lost his family. Naomi went to Moab to visit and lost her husband and sons. Sin invites you just to visit.
To a Christian, sin is like a bullet in the body. There can be no strength and healing until the bullet is removed. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confession is to admit to God that we have sinned. After we repent, the closeness to God is there again!
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A CHRISTIAN SINS?
- Sickness (1 Corinthians 11:30; James 5:15).
- Death. (Acts 5; Deuteronomy 32:51-52; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 11:28-30; 1 John 5:16).
- Prayers are hindered (Psalms 66:18).
- Robbed of joy (Psalms 51:12).
- Chastening comes (Proverbs 3:11-12).
- Reaping comes (Galatians 6:7-8). When a Christian sins, seeds are planted in the garden of life. A harvest is to be expected. A Christian reaps what he sows; reaps more than he sows, and reaps unexpectedly
- Children are affected (Exodus 20:5).
- Christ is shamed (Hebrews 6:4-6). Sin caused Jesus to die on the Cross. It is not a light thing to God when one of His children sins.
THE STEPS TO SIN
James 1:13-15, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
The steps to sin are L S D: Lust Sin Death. God never tempts Christians to sin to see how good a Christian they are. The Devil tempts to sin. The first step to sin is lust (desire). That is how the Devil tempts. He knows what our desires are and simply “opens the door” so we can fulfill them. If someone is entertaining the idea of adultery, the Devil has available a ready participant. If someone has a desire for liquor, guess who “drops by” and offers them a drink? This is why a Christian needs to carefully guard his thought life and desires. If what we want is wrong, the Devil wants to give it to us.
James 1:14 speaks of a Christian being “enticed.” This is a hunting or fishing term. Enticement is a lure to get the animal or fish away from safety. The Devil uses many lures. He may use music, TV, old friends, money, moving, nature, a new house, a job, fame, a boyfriend or girlfriend, etc. His tackle box is full of proven lures. What has he used on you? Although he cannot read our minds, he does know human nature. GUARD YOUR DESIRES!
THE FIRST SIN
Genesis 3:1-7, “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit Jerusalem the trees of the garden: But of the fruit Jerusalem the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”
The first human sin took place in the garden of Eden. The Devil was present in the form of a serpent. There was a series of steps he took Eve through to get her to sin:
The Devil appeared to the follower first (verse 1). Eve was approached first-not Adam. The devil tries to tempt those under authority first.
The Devil questioned God’s Word (verse 1) “…Yea, hath God said…?” That is why the devil is attacking the authority of God’s Word today. If you begin doubting God’s Word, you will soon discard His commands. The Devil has given us the many “versions” of the Bible so people will doubt if any of them are true.
The Devil majored on what Eve was not allowed to do (verse 1.) “…Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” God told Adam and Eve that they could eat of every tree in the garden but one. You mean if you are a Christian you can’t do this or that? Christianity is a can religion, not just a can’t! Do not let the devil make you feel that you are missing out on something by being a Christian.
Eve talked to the Devil and tried to reason with him. She was to “resist” the Devil. Instead she listened to him. Do not listen to people that entice you to do wrong.
Eve did not know the command of God well enough (verse 2-3.) When she tried to quote what God said, she misquoted the command. Ignorance of God’s commands will always lead to trouble. The disciples of Jesus were discouraged and disillusioned after the resurrection because they did not know the scripture about the resurrection.
The Devil lied (verse 4) “…Ye shall not surely die:” All sin is based on the lie “you can be your own god.” No one can tell you what to do. Be your own boss. Study the Word of God so lies will be recognizable.
The Devil mixed truth with error (verse 5). He said that Eve would see and become as God. Part was true. She would see that she was naked. The other part was a lie. The fruit did not make her more like
God. All false religion is based on some scriptures or truth mixed with error.
Salvation gets you to heaven (true)
Salvation + Baptism gets you to heaven (false)
Truth + Error = Lie
The Devil worked on Eve’s desires (verse 5-6). Perhaps Eve ate the fruit because she believed it would make her wise and more like God. She loved God and wanted to be more like him, so perhaps that is why she ate it. See the importance of reading the Bible daily and being faithful in church? It is to keep you from believing the Devil’s lies.
Her sin affected her husband (verse 6-7). Not only did she break God’s command but also enticed another to sin. Our sin always affects others.
Their sin separated them from God (verse 10). Adam and Eve died spiritually that day. They were afraid, naked, and hiding. What a true picture of sin’s affect on us.
IS THERE ANY HOPE?
Will a Christian ever stop sinning? NO. Not until we receive our new body in heaven will we be free of sin’s power. But do not give up! You may not stop sinning, but you can hate it.
Hebrews 1:9, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”
Jesus was the only sinless One who ever walked on the face of the earth. How did He have such victory? He was totally yielded to the Holy Spirit of God. That caused Him to hate sin. As He hated sin, it caused Him to be totally yielded to the Holy Spirit.
Hate Sin—>Holy Spirit Filled
Holy Spirit Filled—>Hate Sin
We will be filled with the Holy Spirit to the degree we love right and hate sin.
Everybody carries about within themselves their own Judas Iscariot known as: the tongue. It is personal because it is included with all of the inner workings of our heart. It sits at the center of all communications with which we are involved. Even if we do not articulate sounds into words for communication, it is still involved in the process. Our mind is always ready, at a moments notice, to call into service it’s useful talents, and it is always prepared to oblige. And too, it is very patient. It stores the intents of the heart because it has a knack of speaking truth with “technicalities” attached; masking, detouring or deflecting from that which is necessary to maintain a good reputation for it’s host. This is where it’s true power comes into play, for it can often hold us hostage. I am sure that you have had instances in your life where you have said or thought, “Did I just say that? I didn’t really mean to say that.” These instances are clear indications of the power of this little organ which God calls, “…a fire, a world of iniquity:” If it were truly loyal, then there would be no concern for this “little member”, but it is not loyal. Therefore, much effort need be expended to keep this wild mustang in control. It can set “…on fire the course of nature…”, leading us down paths that we would rather not go.
A man working in the produce department was asked by a lady if she could buy half a head of lettuce. He replied, “Half a head? Are you serious? God grows these in whole heads and that’s how we sell them!”
“You mean,” she persisted, “that after all the years I’ve shopped here, you won’t sell me half-a-head of lettuce?”
“Look,” he said, “If you like I’ll ask the manager.”
She indicated that would be appreciated, so the young man marched to the front of the store. “You won’t believe this, but there’s a lame-braided lady back there who wants to know if she can buy half-a-head of lettuce.”
As he said so, the manager was gesturing behind him. When he turned around to see what he was gesturing at, he saw the lady was standing right there behind him. She followed him to the front of the store. Quick witted and embarrassed he said, “And this nice lady was wondering if she could buy the other half.”
Later that same day the manager cornered the young man and said, “That was the finest example of thinking on your feet I’ve ever seen! Where did you learn that?”
“I grew up in Grand Rapids, and if you know anything about Grand Rapids, you know that it’s famous for its great hockey teams and its unattractive women.”
The manager’s face flushed, and he interrupted, “My wife is from Grand Rapids!”
“And which hockey team did she play for?”
The tongue must be bridled if there is any hope of taming this unruly organ. This is very important because Jesus said, “… every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matt. 12:36).
Our tongues get us in trouble by lying – Pro. 6:17; 25:18
A man was being baptized in a remote village, high in the mountains. before his conversion, he had been an outrageous liar, and the villagers were skeptical of this sudden change of heart. The missionary doused him in the freezing waters of a mountain river and the man emerged shivering.
“Is it cold?” the missionary asked anxiously.
“No, it’s fine,” said the man.
“Dunk him again, Pastor,” shouted a villager, “he’s still a liar!”
Even what seems to be innocent “white lies” are bad. A lie is a lie and the Lord does not like a “lying tongue” (Pro. 6:17). The Lord always likes the truth. Perhaps you think, “What about times when I might incriminate myself? Should I tell the truth even if I know it is going to hurt me or someone else?” Do you remember times in the Bible where the Lord Jesus Himself would not answer the inquiries of the Pharisees? What did He do? He said nothing at all. This concept was first exposed in the lives of many people today through the Walt Disney movie: “Bambi.” There was a rabbit (Thumper) who said, “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.” How great this principle works in many circumstances, but not all of them. There are times when you have to say the hard truth, but you can always make it easier to receive if you use a little tact. But, these circumstances are not the norm.
Our tongues gets us into trouble by Flattery – Psa. 5:9; Pro. 6:24
There is a story that centers on a king and the members of his court who were continually full of flattery. “You are the greatest man that ever lived…You are the most powerful king of all…Your highness, there is nothing you cannot do, nothing in this world dares disobey you.”
The king was a wise man and he grew tired such foolish speeches. One day as he was walking by the seashore he decided to teach them a lesson. “So you say I am the greatest man in the world?” he asked them. “O king,” they cried, “there never has been anyone as mighty as you, and there will never be anyone so great, ever again!”
“And you say all things obey me?” he asked.
“Yes sire” they said. “The world bows before you, and gives you honor.”
“I see,” the king answered. “In that case, bring me my chair, and place it down by the water.” The servants scrambled to carry the royal chair over the sands. At his direction they placed it right at the water’s edge. The King sat down and looked out at the ocean. “I notice the tide is coming in. Do you think it will stop if I give the command?”
“Give the order, O great king, and it will obey,” cried his entourage.
“Sea,” cried the king, “I command you to come no further! Do not dare touch my feet!”
He waited a moment, and a wave rushed up the sand and lapped at his feet. “How dare you!” he shouted. “Ocean, turn back now! I have ordered you to retreat before me, and now you must obey! Go back!” In came another wave lapping at the king’s feet. The king remained on his throne throughout the day, screaming at the waves to stop. Yet they came in anyway, until the seat of the throne was covered with water.
Finally the king turned to his servants and said, “It seems I do not have quite so much power as you would have me believe. Perhaps now you will remember there is only one King who is all-powerful, and it is He who rules the sea, and holds the ocean in the hollow of His hand. I suggest you reserve your praises for him.”
Flattery is false leading. When you flatter someone, it is not a compliment. It is building in them a false confidence, which God considers wicked (Psa. 5:9). If you are continually given to flattery, then no one will trust anything you say; your mouth becomes unfaithful to the truth. It is practically impossible for anyone to discern between flattery and truth. So, they pretty much discard everything you say.
Our tongues gets us into trouble by Proud speaking – Psa. 12:3-4; Pro. 10:31; Isa. 54:17
Everybody gives in to pride at different times, but there is a difference in being proud and using proud speech. There is a modern day saying for this kind of speech called: “talking trash.” It means that you are self promoting in your speech. You talk yourself up to others making them feel lowly and inadequate. People engaged in the use of proud speaking have always done more or seen more than you have. No matter what type of story you tell about your life, they have one better than you. You can get an example of this when you consider the verbal sparring of two grade school children. One says, “My daddy is smarter than your daddy.” The other says, “My daddy has been to more schools than your daddy has.” Not wanting to be outdone, the first responds with, “My daddy is stronger than your daddy”, and so forth it goes.
I was fortunate to see much of America before I graduated High school. My dad was a traveler. When I was in the navy, many of the young men who were my peers would tell stories about their hometowns or states. They would ask, “Have you ever seen…?” Almost every time, I would answer, “Yes! I’ve been there.” I was unaware that this was bothering them until one day a shipmate said in frustration, “Isn’t there any place where you haven’t been?” Well, sure there was, but I didn’t realize that my speech sounded like I was being proud; always trying to be better than they were by being more places than they. Of course, that was not my intention, but it was how they were taking it.
The Lord does not like the tongue that speaks proud things (Psa. 12:3-4). In fact, He says that He will “cut off” the tongue that speaks such things. In a practical way, a person that is always speaking like they are better than you are is pretty much excluded from people’s lives. In that sense, they are “cut off” from others. Like a person that uses flattery, everything they say is pretty much discarded.
Our tongues get us into trouble by speaking too much – Ecc. 5:3; Pro. 12:13; 18:6-7
It is foolish to talk to much. You usually find this is predominate in the person whom is a “relater” or is lonely. The relater likes to talk too much because they are trying hard to establish a relationship with someone by telling all about themselves and their lives. They figure, the more I tell about myself, the more they will know about me and have a good chance to like me. The Bible says, “…a fool’s voice is know by multitude of words.” Unfortunately, there are many problems that come from this line of reasoning. The most obvious is that the one listening will be gaining all of the knowledge while the talker is really learning very little. Rosalind Ferguson said, “A flow of words does not mean a flow of wisdom” and she is right.
The lonely person simply has no one to speak with on a regular basis. Therefore, they feel that the opportunity to speak to someone is an opportunity to release all of the stored up conversation residing in them. They speak so much and so fast that you can hardly get a word in. They will even ask you a question and then answer their own question, hardly giving you a chance to reply at all. Or, they will ask you a question without really caring what the answer is because they are happy to just get an opportunity to speak. When trapped talking to a lonely person, all too often people take the Plato approach.
A verbose and extremely boring man said to the philosopher, “I hope I’m not boring you?” Plato smiled ingeniously.
“Oh, no,” he said, “I wasn’t listening.”
In either case, it is foolish to speak too much. Invariably you will say something more than what you should say. Because you are so caught up in the moment of being able to speak to someone, you end up searching for new things to say. This is when you really have to be aware of what you are doing. You can easily recognize these times because you will find yourself starting at the beginning of what you already said and then going through it all again. This is called “circular speaking.” You just keep going round and round again through all of the issues that you have on mind, speaking with no sight to an end.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
Proverbs 18:7 A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.
Our tongues get us into trouble by speaking to swiftly- James 1:19; Pro. 18:13
People who speak too swiftly are those who never completely listen and formulate an idea before they speak out. They hear the first tid-bit or what another is saying and in blinding light-speed their minds go to work thinking of how they want to respond. All the time, the first person is continuing to speak; and hasn’t even finished their sentence yet.
These are the kind of people who don’t hold on to a matter long enough to consider it’s ramifications if passed on too soon. They are not good stewards of the information they gain by communicating with others. The trouble with the person who speaks too quickly is that he often says something he hasn’t completely thought through yet.
Finally, there are those who hear about something happening to someone else and will simply believe what they hear, no matter how absurd it may sound, without validating it’s truth. The Bible tells us this is a “folly and shame” to answer “…a matter before…” hearing it (Pro. 18:13).
Our tongues get us into trouble by Talebearing – Pro. 18:8; Lev. 19:16
Talebearing is simply gossip. Gossip is a very destructive form of communicating. I believe every gossip comes with an oversized nose because they are usually the nosiest people there is. They like to gain information because they get the thrill out of telling what they know. Therefore, the more they know, the more they get to tell and the greater the thrill.
Without consideration for others, the gossip will convey words that are hurtful and destructive to an innocent person who is not present to defend themselves. The talebearer is not the conveyer of things that are happening in lives of their friends. They are conveyers of DESTRUCTIVE things that will hurt someone who is not present (Pro. 18:8). All gossips should be stopped immediately and can be if you use one simple tool: Tell them you are going to repeat to the victim what they are going to say. In fact, you can cut them short by saying to them, “Wait a minute! If you are not willing to tell them to their face, then I don’t want to hear it. But if you insist, be assured, I will be confronting them because, if I am a loving friend, it is my duty to validate anything being said about them in person to their face. After all, wouldn’t you expect the same?”
A family was entertaining some friends for dinner. The hostess, anxious to show that they upheld Christian standards in their own home, asked her five-year-old to say grace. There was an awkward pause, followed by a reassuring word from the boy’s mother, “Well, darling, just say what Daddy said at breakfast this morning.” Obediently the boy repeated, “Oh God, we’ve got those awful people coming for dinner tonight and I wish they weren’t coming. But if they do come, then please give us grace. Amen!” (Oops).
Words can hurt bad and when they are being said behind the victims back, it is called GOSSIP!
Our tongues get us into trouble by Backbiting – Pro. 25:23; 6:19; Rom. 1:30
Similar to gossip, backbiting is destructive. However, there is a slight difference. Backbiting is when a person is intentionally trying to cause damage or harm to another. It is a premeditated form of gossip.
Joey wanted the job and he was certain to get it, but there was one other person who was equally qualified. The boss was thinking it over to see which one he would choose. “Come back tomorrow and I’ll decide. I want to think it over.”
That afternoon, almost completely unable to deal with the indecision, Joey decided he should do something to help his cause. He decided to call the boss. “Hello, Boss? I just wanted to tell you how much I would work hard for you. And…I think you would be making a big mistake hiring Jim.”
“Why would you say something like that?”, asked the boss.
“Well, I grew up with him and he was a always a really lazy person. Our teachers in high school were always frustrated with his poor performance.”
“Well, thank you for telling me that. I’ll keep it in mind while I think about it.”
The next day Joey and Jim showed up at the appointed time. Both were anxious and they really wanted to get this job. Sitting down at the table with them, the boss said, “Well, I’ve made my decision. It was hard at first until I talked with someone last night who made my decision very easy.” Joey kept a straight face, but inside he was beaming with satisfaction. “I’ve decided that Jim should have the job. I would be happy to have someone who is honest working for our company.”
This story illustrated how backbiting is intentionally trying to hurt someone. Joey was intentionally trying to hurt Jim for no other reason than his own self promotion. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t work as well as he planned.
God hates backbiters (Rom. 1:30), and He very clearly makes that known that backbiters are, “…worthy of death…” (Rom. 1:32). It is especially distasteful to Him because He told us that he hates it (Pro. 6:16-19). God hates any form of self promotion; and backbiting is one of the worst that there is.
How do you deal with a person that is a backbiter. What do you do when someone is telling you something and you suspect they are doing nothing more than saying mean, ugly, terrible things about a person behind their back, just because they want to hurt them by manipulating you? Proverbs 25:23 says, “The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.” The cold northern wind turns the rain into snow or makes it so cold that the clouds do not drop their contents upon us. God compares this with an angry countenance. That is to say, a cold angry look, coupled with cold words about the backbiting will cause it to stop. So, you cut it off quickly and decisively. You can tell them in a very strong tone: “I don’t want to hear any of that!” If it continues, then just walk away and break contact with them until it is resolved.
Cursing – Psa. 109:17-18; Rom. 3:13-14
Cursing is when you are wishing a higher power to render evil into the life of another person. Again, the motive behind this is to hurt someone. It is similar to backbiting, but instead of manipulating someone to have an evil opinion of the victim, you are asking some higher power to provide the pain instead.
When we talk about cursing someone today, we naturally think about voodoo or witchcraft or some similar cultish thing. But, God in the Bible has cursed things. He clearly cursed the serpent whom deceived Eve (Gen 3:14). He cursed the earth to make it grow thorns and thistles ( Gen 3:17-18). Of course, God is not cultish, but He is a higher power. In fact, He is the highest power.
God does not like it when His creation whishes to curse another of His creations. He likens it to the poison of asps (Rom. 3:13-14). He would rather have us use our tongues to be a blessing to people instead of cursing them (Psa. 109:17-18).
So we see that cursing is not only the speaking of an occasional bad word. Those words are not empty in their content, because what is carried with them is an attitude of the heart of the person using them. Of course, I will not list them here for example, but if you think about each one, they are not used for any good or well wishes to anyone. Each one that is used is meant to hurt someone or to exclaim a hurt you are undergoing. They are hurtful words and if you use them regularly, they are just as hard to quit using as to quit smoking cigarettes. They can become addictive, but once you realize it is an addiction that is not self-destructive, but is always destructive to others, it is easier to get a handle on their use.
Hurting others – Pro. 12:18; Col. 4:6; Tit. 2:8
Proverbs 12:18 There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.
There are times when we are not cursing, not gossiping and not backbiting, but we still are saying destructive, hurtful words. God speaks about this kind of use of the tongue. In Proverbs 12:18 He speaks about people who use words like a piercing of a sword. These are the words that can hurt all the way down into the heart. They are hurtful, unimaginable words, but they exist in the world today. They are everyday common words, but when coupled by the right attitude, and given at precisely the right time, they can hurt more than anything else.
A mother had raised her daughter all of her life because of a nasty divorce. Young Susan had grown to be quite a rebellious teen and it didn’t seem as if mom was able to connect with her anymore. No matter what she tried, Susan was rebellious in her quest to gain adulthood. One day, as Susan was leaving the house for what appeared to be a date, mom asked, “Where are you going honey?” Susan looked sternly at her mom and with words that were as cold as ice said, “That’s none of your business! Why do you care anyway?”
“I love you…”, then she was cut off. Susan speaking over top of her shouted, “Well, I hate you!” and walked out the door, slamming it as she went.
There was no backbiting. There was no gossip or cursing, but the words hurt mom deep down in the very inner recesses of her heart. Susan was using words designed to hurt mom and she was very effective at doing so. This is why God says to: “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” (Colossians 4:6). There is nothing you can do to defend yourself against such words when they are directed towards you. You can only absorb them and guard your heart by looking on the bright side if you can find one.
Remaining silent about Christ – Acts 1:8
The worst and most despicable use (or should I say misuse) of the tongue is to not use it when you should. Our tongues are so unruly and evil that they resist being involved in spreading the gospel. When it comes time to speak a word of testimony, our tongues miraculously have nothing to say. This is because they are evil by nature and must be controlled. They must be told when to speak and when not to speak. There have been times when I have been around a most talkative person, who when the subject of the gospel came up, they closed up like a great giant clam, almost daring you to pry them open. The tongue should be ready and willing to speak about Christ. Why is it that it does not? People say that they can’t THINK of anything to say, but I don’t believe that to be true. They know what they have learned about getting saved. If they are saved, they know something about Jesus. They know they don’t need to be a Bible Scholar. All God asks of us is to be witnesses. Everybody who is saved can be a witness. Everybody can tell what they have seen and experienced. But it is the deceitful tongue that thinks it is in control, and it is if you don’t keep it in control.
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
There are things that are important to us in life, but nothing is more important than the soul of a person. The soul is the part of man that lives forever. It is the part of man that feels pain or joy; happiness or sorrow. It is the center of the man.
Proverbs 11:30 says, “He that winneth souls is wise.” It is a wise and profitable thing to be a soul winner because it pleases God. He has a high evaluation of the soul winner. It is one of the dearest things to the heart of God. Consequently, it pays enormous eternal dividends. A man who turns people to righteousness is wise because he is laying up treasure in heaven. Conversely, a Christian who is occupied with trivial matters of life is unwise. Majoring on minors is foolish. Therefore, not to win souls is to be guilty of the sin of folly.
If we are to be wise, we should actively be involved in soul winning of some kind. If we don’t know how to win a soul to the Lord, we should learn how to do so.
When is the last time you led someone to the Lord? Have you ever won someone to the Lord? There is no shortage of people that need to hear the gospel. They are wondering aimlessly through life, believing a lie that is leading them to hell.
There is however, a shortage of Christians who are willing to tell the lost about salvation. There should not be, but there is. We need to be not so. Mason County is in great need for the Lord Jesus Christ—and who will tell our neighbors? The Devil will have them hear all of his doctrine, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by every means possible. The Lord left the job of spreading the gospel up to us.
Spreading the gospel is not doing good deeds for others. It is not living a right life or even helping the poor. Spreading the gospel is to actively tell people how they can be saved; how they can know for sure they are going to heaven.
These are the last days that we are living in. We live in a unique time. No other people have had so much at stake as we have. We are like the anchor runner in the relay race of life. Lets not drop the baton. Lets not run out of steam on the last lap. Lets give it all we have Got. Souls lie in the balance.
Judgmental people can be most irritating at times, especially when they won’t let you explain your actions or position. Today’s Timeless Truth is about Matthew 7:1-2 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
The most judgmental people in the world are those who talk about other people being judgmental about them. You see, a person cannot help but be judgmental because everything we do begins with a judgment: (What clothes to wear, what food to eat, what activity to be involved in). Everything we do is a judgment call including telling others they should not be judgmental.
Have you ever run across someone who told you not to be judgmental because you were a Christian, and and what you were doing was not a Christian thing to do? There are plenty of people who know this verse of Scripture but don’t know a thing about the character of God. They just know Matt 7:1-2 because it helps them stifle Christians. The problem is there are plenty of Christians who believe these uninformed “teachers” of God’s Word. These “know it all’s” have taken one word and replaced the definition of it with another word and unsuspecting Christians don’t even notice. What they mean to say is, “Don’t be so ‘critical’ of me because it is not nice,” but they say, “Don’t be so judgmental” instead. The old bamboozle (sigh!).
So, because the swap in meaning of the words, people totally misinterpret the meaning of this verse of Scripture. It does not mean that you should not judge. It does not even mean to judge a person the way you would want to be judged. It means that we should have a little mercy on our brothers because we are all going to be judged some day; Be a little pitiful because someday we are going to be on the “hot seat” too! If Judgmental people would just “judge” the Bible rightly, then they, and we, would be much happier.
“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42).
There are many places where Jesus warned against the danger of false motives. In giving, He reminded us that we must not give our tithes in order to receive glory of people (Matt. 6:1–4). He also warned us against praying to receive applause of people; prayer is for conversing with God rather than a speech to be heard and admired by people (Matt. 6:5 – 6). He warned us against displaying our personal godliness by revealing our private spiritual disciplines so as to win the approval of people (Matt. 6:16–18). Regarding these two things, Jesus was talking to his disciples about proper motivation. He declared that all worship and service should be motivated by the single desire to please God.
A motive is something which “moves.” What the mainspring is to the clock, motives are to the Christian, what the motor is to the automobile. Motives certainly do affect our lives in many ways. Some examples of these are:
- Selfishness — everyone likes to feel important;
- Self-gratification — we like that which pleases us personally, and we like to have our own way;
- Self-interest — it is human nature for each of us to look out for the best interest of self. We find it easy, even if unconsciously, to ask, “What’s in it for me?”
One does not have to be an expert in motivational research to know that the above motives are inadequate for those who would invest their lives in the Service of God and others most effectively.
When examining the early church in the book of Acts, we discover what it was that made the church so effective. Just as well, we see that they did not serve purely out of love. They were human beings like us, and they served out of mingled motives rather than the pure motive of love for God and love for others.
The early church achieved one success after another in what appeared to be an impossible assignment with tremendous handicaps. The book of Acts is a thrilling success story. What were the motives of the early Christians? Can we have the same motives today? Why did the early Christians witness so faithfully?
They discovered the joy of being a bearer of good news (Acts 2:41 – 47; 5:42; 8:8). In obedience to the command of the Lord, by word of mouth, they spread the good news of his resurrection. They proclaimed God’s love for sinners and his desire to forgive sin. They could not conceal the good news that death had been defeated and that the grave had been robbed of its victory. This was such wonderful news that it brought joy to their hearts just to bear it. For them, witnessing about the saving acts of Jesus Christ was natural. Not to have done so would have been unnatural, inhuman, and unchristian for them. They received great inward joy through witnessing.
The early church recognized and responded to the authority of the crucified but risen and living Lord (Matt. 28:18b; Acts 2:36; 5:29). They believed that God had resurrected Jesus Christ from the dead and had bestowed upon him the authority of lordship. They believed that this gave Jesus the right to issue orders and to command their time, talents, testimony, and treasure.
These early Christians believed that it was right for them to obey Christ even if this obedience brought them into disfavor with both religious and civil authorities. At the risk of being imprisoned and beaten, they chose to obey the Lord.
Many of today’s Christians consider obedience as being optional. There seems to be little recognition of the present lordship of Jesus Christ. Consequently, disobedience characterizes the modern Christian more so than does obedience. Perhaps this is why the church is not effective today. Perhaps this is even why the world seems to be changing so drastically towards evil. It certainly has some effect, not only on the Christian, but on the world surrounding him as well. The motives of the Christians of the early church were a strong sense of duty, the desire to be obedient. This is the critical element that helped motivate the early church to be a faithful witness to their generation. They paid dearly for their motives, and their sacrifice made it easier on the church which was to follow. But today, there has been a moving away from what they gained in the world, and it is none more evident as it is in the USA, where everything seems to be “fundamentally changing.”
Yes, the early church suffered the shock of persecution (Acts 8:3–4). It was this persecution that scattered the early Christians, even though they were very nationalistic and felt that Christianity was a Jewish movement. They were prejudiced against Gentiles to the extent that God put forth special efforts to reveal that the Gentiles were also included in his love and purpose of redemption (Acts 10). Had it not been for the persecution that stirred up the church in Jerusalem, it is highly possible that Christianity never would have gained worldwide significance. The early Christians went everywhere preaching the Word, not because of the compulsion of compassion, but because they were scattered by persecution.
They could have given up on Christianity. They could have just quit. But, they were surrendered to the leadership of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:29; 10:19; 11:12; 13:2; 16:6). The Holy Spirit came into the church on the day of Pentecost to equip each believer to be a spokesperson for God (Acts 2:17–18). He came to lead, guide, and teach the disciples as the Lord had taught his apostles (John 14:26). The book of Acts is the dramatic account of divine initiative on the part of the Holy Spirit and human cooperation on the part of our Lord’s disciples. They lived and labored in fellowship with and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is still in the heart of each believer and in the church to carry on the work of the Lord today. We need faith to believe and accept that He is present; we need to surrender and cooperate with Him. We need to pray for His power as one of God’s best gifts (Luke 11:13).
The early church believed that all people separated from Christ were lost from God and did not know the way home (Acts 4:12). Have you ever been lost in a wilderness or desert? Were you ever lost as a child in the park or in a large department store? Can you remember the fright that filled your heart when you realized you were separated from loved ones and that you were in a position of danger? The unbelieving world knows that something is wrong, but many do not know what it is. People have a deep, unsatisfied longing in their hearts that the world, with its treasures and pleasures cannot satisfy. The Bible teaches, and experience verifies, that Jesus Christ provides the answers to the mystery and meaning of life.
The early church believed that people were lost from God and living under the condemnation of sin. They believed that humankind’s only hope of forgiveness was through faith in Jesus Christ. They believed that they had been entrusted with the good news that would make it possible for people to be saved from hell and to heaven where the deepest longings of the heart would find full satisfaction in continuing fellowship with God. Because they wanted all people to be saved, they continued to bear their witness.
It was the natural, normal, and proper thing for a Christian to talk about the joy and satisfaction of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior both in time and for eternity. Consequently, day by day and week by week in the temple, in the synagogues, on the highways and streets — anywhere and everywhere — these early disciples bore their witness. With mingled motives, they loved, they labored, and they lifted men and women toward God. May the same motives command our intellect, our emotions, and our energies in the Service of God and of a needy world.
We have heard of the times of old when people were persecuted for the Lord Jesus Christ. Many in the early centuries even gave their lives because of their love of Him. They would not recant their belief in the Lord and were therefore “purged” from society by death. Their deaths were often gruesome and would take days to complete. Some were starved; some were bled; others were tortured in the most heartless of ways. These brothers and sisters in Christ are an example to us of defiant love for God. Yes, defiance towards the worlds system. They too lived in the world system, but the world system during their time would actively persecute them by hunting them down to put them to death. It was a holocaust beyond belief.
Many know of the “holocaust” of the Jews by Adolf Hitler in the late 30’s and early 40’s. It is claimed that over 6 million Jews were exterminated from the earth. Adolf was a Catholic with Catholic support and this explains why the pope didn’t lift a finger to condemn Hitler’s evil plan. Hitler tried to eradicate the Jews from Europe, but what really was transpiring was a fanatical rebellion against God.
Long before Adolf Hitler and his national socialist’s followers, there was another holocaust. This one was of the followers of Jesus Christ. It was performed primarily by none other than the Catholic Church. At that time, it was legal to kill Christians. In fact, it was viewed that if you caught a Christian and turned them in to the state, you were doing society a favor. Under these difficult conditions, some of our brothers and sisters died gladly for the Lord; they exchanged their life for eternity. Many others exchanged the lives of their loved ones because they would not deny the Lord Jesus Christ. They endured their persecution well.
There was an instance where a woman was hung over the side of a bridge by a rope tied to her feet. With her hands tied behind her back, she was lowered just enough that her head hung submerged in the water below. Struggling, she would bend her head out of the water just to take a breath of air. At first it was not too difficult, but as the hours went by, she became more tired and it was very difficult to lift her head out of the river to catch a breath. During her time of persecution, her husband was forced to watch. Their crimes? They were Christians and were caught. Because her husband would not deny Jesus Christ and bow to kiss the ring of the Catholic bishop, she would die. In between breaths, as his tired wife would lift her head out of the water, she would cry out in encouragement to her husband, “I am more than happy to give my life for Him who gave His life for me. Husband, do not bow to the pope!” After many hours, she died. Then her husband was burned at the stake. As the faggots fed the flames, he cried, “May the Lord Jesus Christ forgive you for doing that which you know not!”
There are instances where the Catholic soldiers would come into a town and take the young Christians children from their mothers. The soldiers would throw the children into the air and then make sport of trying to catch them on the tips of their spears as they came down. Why? The mothers would not deny Christ and replace Him with the pope as the king of their life.
“Well,” you might say, “All of that happened back then. I am glad this doesn’t happen in the world today. We are all much more civilized then they were back then.” Brethren, don’t be deceived. The world and its system has not changed. It still cannot tolerate anything or anyone else being superior to it. It must make Christianity ineffective. It can do this by directly attacking it or it can infiltrate it and dilute it so that it becomes “worldly” in its nature. That way, Christianity will be so watered down, and would be no more of a threat to the world’s claim for the top spot. This has been its main tactic in this century. But, there are places in this world where direct attacks to Christianity still take place. The world has never been void of it. There are still Christians dying for their faith in the Lord. Some such places are: the Philippines, Indonesia, China, Iran, Afghanistan, and others.
Recently, I read of a possible death sentence for an Iranian pastor all because he is refusing to renounce his Christianity. Iran has an “utter disregard” for religious freedom with an extreme and radical hatred of God. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, 32, is being forced by the Iranian authorities to renounce his faith in Christ. Over the past four days he has been in an appeals court and expects a ruling by the end of next week. If found guilty, he faces the death penalty.
When asked to repent, Pastor Nadarkhani stated: “Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?”
“To the religion of your ancestors, Islam,” the judge replied.
“I cannot,” Nadarkhani said.
Nadarkhani, a pastor in the 400-member Church of Iran, has been held in that country’s Gilan Province since October 2009, after he protested to local education authorities that his son was forced to read from the Koran at school. His wife, Fatemeh Pasandideh, was also arrested in June 2010 in an apparent attempt to pressure him to renounce his faith. She was released in October 2010, according to Amnesty International.
Nadarkhani was sentenced to death for apostasy last September based on religious writings by Iranian clerics, including Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, despite the fact that there is no offense of “apostasy” in the nation’s penal code, Amnesty International reports.
There are still Christians that are facing death in exchange for faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We should never get too complacent with the world and its hatred for God. We may be faced with such a persecution. I certainly hope not. Like most of you, I hope I get to go home to be with the Lord long before I would ever be faced with watching a loved one be tortured to death for the Lord. The little things which I call “persecution” that I have experienced in my life seem to be miniscule when compared with facing the death penalty. May God come quickly and may his judgment be swift upon man.
Date Created: 11/22/2013
(Psalm 107:1) O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
(Psalm 118:1) O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
1. He is Good
A) He is good when it is fashionable to be Bad
In order to impress others as being different, each generation degenerates yet a little farther, just to be different. People have such a need to be different from others that they do terribly bat things. I recently saw a photo of a person who had his lower lip pierced, inserting a large window in it so that you could see his teeth and gums.
B) He is good when the world is becoming Evil.
(Psalm 40:12) For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.
C) He is good when we need something good in our life.
Nobody NEEDS bad things. They WANT to do bad, for whatever reason. When troubles and trials come, people want something good to happen for them.
2. He is Merciful
A) He is Merciful when the Devil is NOT!
The Devil has no mercy at all. Even though you get saved, he still keeps working on you.
B) He is Merciful because we need MERCY!
We do wrong things and need forgiveness. When we don’t have the funds to pay our debts, it is nice to know there is a place we can go for mercy.
3. He is Enduring
A) He is Enduring because He is Stable.
B) He is Enduring because there is an Eternity (Isaiah 57:5).
(Revelation 21:6) And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
C) He is Enduring because we will be forever.
(Jude 7) Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
(Jude 21) Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
People who are truly saved have a desire to learn more about God. They are drawn to anything that will teach them about the wonderful savior who died for them. They have a desire to grow as a Christian, but how do they do that when they are surrounded by a world of sin? How do they find light when they are engulfed in a world of darkness?
I have thought about this many times. It doesn’t seem as though any one will grow if they are not related to or surrounded by the Lord Jesus Christ. The light of Christ dwells in every true Christian, but every Christian does not know this. Or, they know it, but do not reckon it to be true. They live like Christ is only present when they are in church, reading their Bible, praying or when they are talking to the preacher. To navigate this world of darkness, we need the light of Christ. Since Christ lives in us, we all possess the light of Christ, but how do we make it work for us?
I know that it is a very big step to take but the short answer is you must surround yourself, you must saturate yourself with God’s people, God’s music, God’s television shows, God’s books, God’s paintings and God’s word. Douse yourself, emerge yourself in God. If you do it will have an effect on you life. You will grow as a Christian. When you go out into the world, you will know how to invoke the light that lives in you.
As a pastor I am often asked, “How do I live as a Christian? I keep failing. I don’t know how to take the things I learned and use them successfully. How do I keep my mind on Christ?” I too had this question when I was just a new Christian.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Learn to surround yourself with Christian things. Get rid of all things you know Christ would not like.[/pullquote]
I learned to surround myself with Christian things. This first involved taking down all NON-Christian things. I got rid of all things that I had that I knew Christ would not like. For me, this involved cleaning out my liquor cabinet, flushing all of the recreational drugs and throwing away all related paraphernalia. I burned all my bad magazines, broke all 300 of my records and threw away all clothing that had disrespectful messages and pictures. it was like a spring cleaning. I rid myself of any worldly distractions. It was like cleaning the slate of my life so there was room to add the new things I so desperately needed.
After this I started reading my Bible every day. I didn’t always understand it, but I read it anyway. Then I began going to church. Here I didn’t understand everything either, but I always asked questions. The pastor was always happy to give me an answer. I bought Christian music, posters and books. I put them all over my apartment. Everywhere you turned you could see God. I hung out with the people I met at church and it didn’t take long to see that they were not prudes like I initially thought them to be. If it had God in it, I was involved.
This filled my mind with thoughts about God which effectively pushed out thoughts of the world. It was “out with the old and in with the new.” If you are going to get rid of the old man, you must replace it with the new man. The Bible refers to this as a purging process (1 Cor. 5:7; 2 Tim. 2:21; 2 Pet. 1:9). People don’t get this though. They think that when they become a Christian, they can just start leading a new life. So, they neglect the old life. As hard as they try to live the new Christian life, the old life keeps showing through. They have neglected to purge out the old ways to make room for the new ways. This is essential if they are going to be successful at leading a victorious Christian life.
Christians can never grow if they do not address getting some of their old ways removed from their life. There will never be room for the new life to take hold if they are not willing to allow the old to be “pushed out” (purged).
In summary, the way to grow as a Christian is to allow the old to be pushed out by the new. Get rid of the things that draw you away, or distract you from God. Then surround yourself with the things that you want in your life. Then the purging process will successfully accomplish what it is intended to do.
The Purpose of the church-EXAMINED.
The purpose of the church is multi-faceted, but it revolves around one—only one—activity. That activity is the winning of souls. In short, it is telling others how to be saved, encouraging them to get saved, and leading them in the process of being saved. We are very plainly told in the Bible that, “…he that winneth souls is wise.” (Pro. 11:30). The activity of winning souls stands over every endeavor a Bible believing church is involved in. It is paramount, un-negotiable and vital. If you do not think so, then you are sadly mistaken.
Today, the church has evolved into some kind of conglomerate, some kind of multi-functional business venture (emphasis on “business venture). Like some Good Samaritan club, people come together to escape the harsh attacks of evil that they withstand throughout their week. It takes the place of some good, wholesome fun that can be found no place else in the world. And, it becomes an educational source where people can go and have their morals sharpened by the word of God. Of course, all of these are not wrong, but they have somehow upset the cart; the scales have become out of balance. Where at one time soul winning was the most important thing, now it has been replaced by all of the rest. Instead of being slightly off, the church has now become grossly out of balance in the area of winning souls.
In what areas do many churches weigh heaviest? In what areas do they invest the bulk of their resources? They are vast and range from small group encouragement sessions to being the vassals of the distributors of Christian books and programs. I have been to churches where they canceled meetings so they could show the super bowl. I have preached in churches that were divided right down the middle. On each side of the aisle sat the two prominent families of the church along with their supporting families. The poor pastor was stuck right in the middle of the feud. I preached at one church where I actually did no preaching at all. The auditorium was exactly like a movie theater auditorium and the “stage” was full of rock band equipment. All they did was play Christian rock music and there was no mention of Jesus, salvation or the Bible anywhere. My preaching was the privileged task of being the guest of honor in the very front row center. This is only a small sample of what some churches now call “preaching the gospel.” It is what they have replaced for winning souls. No one in any of those churches even thinks of winning someone to Christ, let alone actually trying to do it. Yet they are all “busy about the Lord’s work.” In fact, there have been some people who have left churches where I pastored who said, “I can’t grow. In everything you say, you always say something about winning souls. Could you please stop telling me that?”
Now, to have support groups, encouragement and structure for Christian growth is truly important. It is good to have classes to teach how to rear children the Biblical way. Classes of marriage and handling of finances are necessary and the Bible speaks of these subjects and many more like them. It is necessary for Christians to, “Bear one another’s burdens…” (Gal. 6:2). It is good to be glad in the house of the Lord (Acts 2:46) and to be encouraged by the singing and worship (Col. 3:16). Not every moment of the Christians life must be winning a soul. Every soldier needs time to regroup and rearm. He even needs time away from the battle to resort. The problem is, that most churches have remained stuck in the regroup, rearm and resort area and no one is actually in the battle. They have forgotten that you cannot win a war with only the rear echelon. You must have the fighters. And, in the army, every soldier is a soldier first and foremost.
One day Jesus approached Peter and Andrew while they were fishing, He did not ask them to join a fellowship. He did not offer to them a support group. He didn’t even offer them an answer to their personal problems. What He told them was, “…Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19). He wanted to make them into soul winners. He intended to teach them how to tell others about the gospel (good news) of salvation. He wanted them to be equipped to carry that gospel to others throughout their entire life. And, that is exactly what they did, and they did it at the hazard of their own lives. They never lost sight of the main goal. They never got their number one main order out of sight. They always had their “prime directive” before them. The Jews of old would carry God’s word in little boxes strapped to their foreheads called–frontlets (Deu. 11:18). This was in command to God’s directive to have no other Gods but Him (Exo. 20:3). It was their main mission to teach this to their children and this is how they would remember. Too bad the churches of today do not have spiritual “frontlets”. Too bad they keep forgetting their number one mission.
The apostle Paul said, “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22). Though he taught many of God’s principles of help to the church, he still never lost sight of this first command given by Jesus (Acts 1:8). He was committed to even going to the uttermost parts of the earth, and he was pretty successful about it. Even though he had all the cares and concerns of helping the different churches, making a living and dealing with the little concerns of life, he still found time to win souls.
We all know the gravity of the situation; the importance in winning a soul (James 5:20). It is a life and death matter for the one who is won. But in a certain sense, it too is a life and death matter for a church. Where the members of a church are not actively trying to win souls, the church, like a dried up piece of fruit, will die on the vine. It does so because the Christians within dry up and die on the vine. You can always tell those who are drying up because they present reasons why they cannot do it. Listen! People can do anything they want to do if they want to do it bad enough. Churches (dead churches) are filled with people who side-step the command to win souls by replacing it with a little program and then soothe their guilty souls by convincing themselves that they are really serving the Lord. It is really amazing how many churches spend more energy and resources in humanitarian aide rather than Godly aide.
So, let us end on a good note. Let us end on the assumption that you have determined you are going to do something about pleasing God in this area of winning souls. John 4:36 says, “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.” I hope that you will receive wages abundantly for your eternal work. I pray that you both reap and sow. I look forward to that for you personally and for the church as well. It would be fantastic to have a church full of those who can rejoice together—rejoicing that can only come from laboring in the field. The church does not ever need to be a dry, dead place. The only way to keep it alive and vibrant is to win souls. This is our purpose—to win souls. There is no other way around it. Nothing can replace this God given formula for joy.
Matthew 11:6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
People today seem to be offended about everything. Everybody you meet gets offended about something you do or say. There is no getting away from it. It seems like people go out of their way to get offended about something. It seems like it is the new norm. Everybody has a chip on their shoulder just waiting for someone to knock it off so they can get offended and bring attention to themselves.
Jesus preaches not getting offended, especially in Him. The world would be a much kinder and safer place if people just chose to not be offended. There would be much more love and caring for each other if there was less getting offended. There would be less pride and more helping each other.
The first offence that people have tumbling them down a long slope of bitterness is in the Lord Jesus Christ. More than ever, society is anti-Jesus. They are not neutral as they claim to be best for everyone, but they have taken one side against God; they are offended in the Lord Jesus Christ. The more society moves away from Jesus because they are offended in Him, the less blessing they will receive. We need God’s blessing more than ever. If our country is going to return to it’s former glory, then it needs, no, it must have the blessing of God.
One of the reason that we have so many pansy Christians is because people neglect the terror of the Lord. Pansy Christians are those who are too afraid to witness for Him. They are the cowards who give up at the first sign of difficulty and run for cover. In a practical sense, they can always be identified as “church shoppers.” They look for what they want instead of what God wants. God wants us to remember sin. He wants us to always have it on our mind because it is the thought of sin that brings us to God in humility; ready to accept His way, and give up the reigns of our life to Him.
2 Corinthians 5:11 says, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” It is interesting that Paul said, “knowing.” What is it that Paul knew. Well, many things I am sure, but here he is focusing on the TERROR OF THE LORD! The knowledge of that is what drove Paul to witness for God. It is that unabated terrifying side of God that caused Paul to get out of his “comfort shell” and be made “manifest” to the world as a real Christian (one who would die for the Lord Jesus Christ). He was afraid of what God could do, (and would do), when He was addressing man’s sin. Where are the Christians like that today? Are they waving their hands back and forth in a “gathering” of tee-totaling” academics? Are they standing firm? NO! They are too busy “feeling” God instead of “knowing” God. They have conveniently forgot that they will one day have to give account of their Christian life to God (Rom. 14:12). They are too busy having a “great life” while all the time they are surrounded by people who are dying and going to hell. That is no laughing matter my friend. Not at all!
Acts of compassion should be motivated by the terror of the Lord. Knowing what He can and will do if we are not obedient to Him.
Some motivations for not having sex before marriage are wrong. They can be just as wrong as having sex before marriage. One such wrong motivation is fear: fear of being found out, fear of pregnancy, fear of a disease, fear of the opinions of others.
One proper motivation for doing God’s will is love of our neighbor. The neighbor we are to love as ourselves can be our neighbor’s daughter. Also, your neighbor can be one who will be your wife. And your neighbor is your parents or your future wife’s parents, both of whom would be hurt terribly when your sin is discovered.
But the main motivation is the love of God. Love God for the salvation He has so freely given. Love God for all things, including the sexual desires He has given. Submit your sexuality, along with everything else you are and have, to Him. Let your love for Him drive you to strive to please Him in all of your conduct, including your conduct on a date.
Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana.
As soon as he touches the stairs, a mechanism sprays all the other monkeys with cold water.
After a while another monkey makes the attempt with same result, all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon when another Monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it. Now, put the cold water away. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his shock, all of the other monkeys beat the snot out of him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted. Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.
Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs he is attacked.
Most of the monkeys that are beating him up have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs OR even why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. Finally, after replacing all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana.
Because as far as they know, that is the way it has always been done around here. And that, my fellow monkeys, is how Congress operates – And precisely why we need to REPLACE all the original monkeys.
We are told of a time coming when people will “heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” and I believe we are in that time right now. The god of most Darwinian societies is education. People feel if they have enough education, then they will be able to accomplish anything that they want. Their paper badges’ of accomplishment litter the walls as they proudly proclaim their degrees, as if they are what determine a person’s place in society. It is a free-for-all survival of the fittest and the smart person knows how to outmaneuver and outwit their competitors. Education! That great and wonderful liberator of the righteous right; the emancipator of morality sings “glory, glory, halleluiah” all the way through the cap and gown ceremony, condemning the less fortunate to a life of being trampled under foot.
Don’t get me wrong. Education by itself is not wrong, or even evil. The problem lies in what subject people are educated in that is bad. If you are educated to remove the Bible from its position of highest authority and replace it with some other authority, then you are on shaky ground. Why? Because you are submitting yourself to the foray of Darwinian monkey men. Contrariwise, an education in the most superior of all books produces the most superior of all thinking. In it you learn humility and love for your fellow man. This is a stark contrast of that of the teachings of Darwin.
If you really wanted an education, why then would you not turn to the book that defines the morality of man; the book that talks about the beginning and explains the ending? Why would there be time for anything else? Is it because an education is not the true goal after all? Is it because you want to join the stampede to the top of the ladder of success?
The itching ears of people today (2 Tim 4:3) give credence to anything but God. These ears drive a person crazy with an unbelievable desire to scratch–ti make them feel good and content. So, when Mormons, for instance, or Muslims come along and explain their beliefs (?), people find it satisfying because they tell them what they want to hear. The Bible in turn, tells people what they need to hear.
It is amazing how many fables of old have actually become systems of belief; drawing in tens of thousands to their evil ways. look at Harry Potter for example. It doesn’t take long to learn the message is “he who has the greater magical power wins.” It is just the “good” evil vs. the “bad” evil. How can a sane person not see its destructive result?
For the Devil to be successful, there must be a breaking down of barriers so that we can all come together. I know, “If I had just gone to a real school, I would be able to see because then I too would be ‘enlightened.'” Well, I don’t know about that. You can change the terminology, break down the barriers, be enlightened all you want, but trash is still trash no matter if it is clean trash or dirty trash. I would not want to sleep in it if I had a choice.
People today are full of lust. They pant and growl like a needy starved bear, just waking from its winter hibernation. They will do anything to satisfy their selfish desires. And here is the key. the focal point of the entire issue is the promotion of self and the demotion of God. This is what modern day colleges and Universities stand for. Their main task is to bring everyone together, all in the same common heap of slop.
In order for people to turn away from the truth, the “educators” provide an alternate truth. Everyone has them. In following the false truth, unsuspecting students are actually turned away from the real truth (John 14:6). As long as they are told what they want to hear, then it is the “truth.” Have you ever heard someone say that they believe one teacher, over another? This question arises because people are in the process of choosing which “truth” they want to believe or accept.
In stunning contrast to “educators”, preachers are commanded to “Preach the word…” God knows that people must hear the Bible before it is too late. He knows if His preachers are negligent to do their jobs, then people will turn to something else. If they are not being fed in church, they will turn to the world, or the cults; anything that will satisfy that itch in their ears.
I don’t know if it is too late. I do know the reason people do not want to hear sound doctrine is because Christians have not done their jobs. Christians have stopped watching, enduring and doing the work of an evangelist (2 Tim.4:5). Because Christians have become apathetic, the world has swooped in and provided their philosophy.
Where do we go from here? What do we do in light of such a terrible situation? The answer to this is easy. We keep winning souls. We keep training and equipping the saints. We stay strong and vigilant. When other churches around us are giving up to the worldly system of pleasing the masses, we need to stay strong in the LORD and the power of His might.
We are told of a time coming when people will “heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” and I believe we are in that time right now. The god of most Darwinist societies is education. People feel that if they have enough education, then they will be able to accomplish anything that they want. The paper badges’ of accomplishment litter the walls as people proudly proclaim their degrees, as if they are what determine a person’s place in society. It is a free-for-all of survival of the fittest and the smart person will know how to outmaneuver and outwit their competitors. Education! That great and wonderful liberator from the righteous right; the emancipator from morality singing “glory, glory, halleluiah” all the way to and through it’s prestigious cap and gown ceremony, condemning the less fortunate to a life of being trampled under foot.
Don’t get me wrong. Education by itself is not wrong or even evil. The problem lies in what people are educated in that is bad. If you are educated to remove from its position of highest authority, the King James Bible of the Protestant revolution for some other sense of authority, then you are on shaky ground and are submitting yourself to the foray of the Darwinian monkey men. An education in the most superior of all books produces the most superior of all thinking–that of humility and love for your fellow man; a stark contrast of that of the teachings of Darwin. If you really wanted education, why then would you not turn to the book that defines the morality of man; the book that talks about the beginning and explains the ending? Why would there be time for anything else? Is it because education is not the true goal after all? is it because you want to join the stampede to the top of the ladder of success? My friend, I can safely tell you that: “the way up is DOWN!”
The itching ears of people today (2 Tim 4:3) will run to anything but God. They are driving a person crazy with unbelievable desires to scratch; to make them feel good and content. So, when Mormons or Muslims come along and explain their beliefs (?), people find it satisfying because it tells them what they want to hear. the Bible in turn, tells people what they need to hear.
It is amazing how many fables of old have now become entire systems of beliefs; drawing in tens of thousands to their evil message. look at Harry Potter for example. It doesn’t take long to analyze the overall message of “he who has the greater magical power wins.” Evil combating evil is the message. It is just the “good” evil vs. the “bad” evil. How can a sane person not see its destructive result? There must be a breaking down of barriers so that we can all come together. I know, “If I had just gone to a real school, I would be able to see because you too would be ‘enlightened.'” I don’t know about that. You can change the terminology, break down the barriers, be enlightened all you want, but trash is still trash no matter if it is clean trash or dirty trash. I would not want to sleep in it if I had a choice.
People today are full of lust. They pant and growl like a needy starved bear, just waking from its winter hibernation. They will do anything to satisfy their selfish desires. And here is the key. the focal point of the entire issue is the promotion of self in place of God. This is what modern day colleges and Universities stand for. Their main task is to bring everyone together, all in the same common heap of slop. Then, everybody wallowing in it will be down there, while we will be up here. After all, we were the EDUCATORS, were we not?
In order for people to turn away from the truth, the “educators” provide an alternate truth. Everyone has them. In following the false truth, unsuspecting students are actually turned away from the real truth (John 14:6). They are provided a hook, line and sinker which they swallow with the utmost gusto. As long as it tells them what they want to hear, then it is the “truth.” Have you ever heard someone say that they believe one teacher, over another? This question arises because people are in the process of choosing which “truth” they want to believe; which they will accept.
In stunning contrast to this situation, preachers are commanded to “Preach the word…” God knows that people must hear the Bible before it is too late. He knows if His preachers are negligent to do their jobs, then people will turn to something else. If they are not being fed in church, they will turn to the world, or the cults; anything that will satisfy that itch in their ears.
I don’t know if it is too late. I do know that the reason we are in such a terrible situation today, where people do not want to hear sound doctrine is because Christians have not done their jobs. They have stopped watching, enduring and doing the work of an evangelist (2 Tim.4:5). Because Christians became apathetic, the world has swooped in and provided their philosophy in the vacuum.
Where do we go from here? What do we do in light of such a terrible situation? the answer to this is easy. We keep winning souls. We keep training and equipping the saints. We stay strong and vigilant. When other churches around us are giving up to the worldly system of pleasing the masses, we need to stay strong in the power of His might.
It is helpful to consider what happens when we disobey God. If we misuse His good gift of sexuality, what are the consequences? “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).
The girl who violates God’s commands concerning sex feels used and cheated. She realizes, too late, that she has “lost” a most precious possession: her virginity. “Lost,” however, is not really the right word, because she gave it away cheaply. Virginity is a gift God gave her. It is not really hers, but God’s, and she is but the steward of it. She is responsible to God for its care. She can give her virginity away only once. She can never get it back. She will never be able to give this precious gift to her God-given husband at the proper time.
Today’s society says very little about the pricelessness of virginity. To the contrary, television, movies, and romance novels make virginity cheap. They sacrifice it on the altar of “fun.” While I am convinced that most girls do prize it, they face many and great temptations to give it away. Some do not want to be considered “odd.” Others want the feeling now. Many think they can use sex to get love. Many give in to their boyfriend’s pleas because they do not want to lose his “love.” In every case, however, it is selfishness that has made them violate God’s will. And the consequences are irreversible.
The young man also “loses” something when he goes too far before marriage. He also gives away a priceless gift, and he does so cheaply. The loss of innocence, through sexual impurity, is as real for the boy as it is for the girl. He may deceive himself into believing that the gratification of the moment will make that loss worthwhile. But he too will find, to his great grief, that it does not. For God will not be mocked.
All sexual activity before marriage is entering into a holy of holies in a degrading, base, and profane manner, violating the will of God. And the only reason for rushing so boldly into this holy and beautiful mystery is the selfishness of pride.
Some claim the “right” to premarital sex because they are engaged to be married. They believe that their expressions of commitment to each other make it right for them to violate God’s will. But consider the reasons for wanting to go contrary to God’s command! Every one of them is wrong: self-gratification, the desire to be loved, the fear of what the partner will think. Can such motives and such action be defended before an open Bible? It is God’s will that sex be only in marriage. And it is only God who unites two in marriage, using the church and the state to be His means to unite them. A couple is not married merely on the basis of their commitment to each other.
The command of our God is of course sufficient reason to refrain from premarital sex. There is however this added consideration, that not always do an engaged couple end up marrying each other. Should they break off their engagement, after engaging in sexual intercourse, they can be sure that, when they do marry, the pleasure of the marriage bed will not be unaffected by the memory of what went before. Sin may deceive us into thinking we can get away with it, but God is not mocked.
Premarital sex always causes scars! Sin leaves scars. And the scars will have an effect on you years later. In the passion of the moment, you do not think about the implications and consequences which reach far beyond that moment. You do not want to think about the consequences. But this sin makes a searing cut, which always leaves a scar. You cannot violate the command of God concerning something so wonderful, and not be hurt by it. Sexual relationships many years later, with the husband and with the wife you love so dearly, are going to be affected by the illicit and immoral sexual activity which took place before you were married. I might add that many have been the counseling sessions with those whose improper sexual activity before marriage was with the one they did later marry. They judge each other, they blame each other, or they are plagued in conscience. When will we realize that God will not be mocked? We will reap what we sow! Sin leaves scars.
There can be healing from the wound which sin causes, but there will always be a scar. This scar will be removed only when we receive our resurrection bodies. Please consider the scars you will cause, for yourself and for the one you love, before you rush into intimacy before God permits it.
An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.
At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.
“I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.”
The old woman smiled, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”
Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You’ve just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.
So, to all of my crack pot friends, have a great day and remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path!
Many churches love their pastors and show it by taking good care of him. They stand by him and what he is trying to do for the Lord because they know what he is facing. They understand his situation because they think about him, know he is a man and value him as a gift provided to them by God. But if I am to believe some of the survey statistics published on pastors and their view towards the ministry, the vast majority of fellow pastors do not receive such care. Consider these figures compiled by the Schaeffer Institute:
Hours and Pay
- 90% of the pastors work between 55 to 75 hours per week, even though their congregations don’t see it.
- feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
- 70% of pastors are grossly underpaid and with what they do receive, they are usually the biggest giver to their church.
Training and Preparedness
- 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.
- 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered it.
Health and Well-Being
- 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
- 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a sufficient living.
Marriage and Family
- 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
- 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked.
- 80% spouses feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.
- 70% do not have someone they consider as a close friend.
- 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
- #1 reason pastors leave the ministry — Church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor. Pastors believe God wants them to go in one direction but the people are not willing to follow or change and become critical of him.
- 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
- 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
- 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.
- Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
- Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month, many without cause.
- Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year.
That’s a sad and alarming picture, isn’t it? Work long hours in a job with too many demands for too little pay. Many have the wrong skills and the wrong expectations. Families being pressured and battered. Pastors are discouraged and depressed. No friends, serious conflict once a month, and people who will not follow. Is it no wonder so many quit so soon?
According to one survey, only 23% of pastors report being happy and content in their identity in Christ, in their church, and in their home.
I suspect, however, that men in these situations might be crippled all the more were they to faithfully preach a text like 1 Tim. 5:17-20. They would be seen as self-serving and courting with more hostility and dissatisfaction from a people already running afoul of God’s call to churches to honor faithful servants.
So, I’m hopeful at least some of God’s people would consider these statistics, reflect upon their church’s treatment of their pastors, and perhaps lead a conspiracy to make sure faithful elders receive “double honor” from those they teach and lead. Let’s face it: we can’t get survey statistics like these unless it has become an unchecked commonplace among congregations to gossip and gripe rather than to breathe grace toward church leaders. These statistics indicate a pandemic culture of disregard and dishonor aimed at pastors. That’s to the church’s shame.
I’m praying that Hebrews 13:17–rather than rejected as giving too much authority to leaders–might be embraced by individual members and congregations as one means to growth in Christ and deeper joy as the family of God. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”
In a small Texas town, (Mt.Vernon) Drummond’s Bar began construction on a new building to increase their business. Across the street, the local Baptist church started a campaign to block the bar from opening with petitions and prayers. Work progressed right up till the week before opening when lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground.
The church folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, until the bar owner sued the church on the grounds that the church was ultimately responsible for the demise of his building, either through direct or indirect actions or means. The church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection to the building’s demise in its reply to the court.
As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork. At the hearing he commented, ” I don’t know how I’m going to decide this, but as it appears from the paperwork, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer, and an entire church congregation that does not.
There are things that are important to us in life, but nothing is more important than soul winning. The soul is the part of man that lives forever. It is the part of man that feels pain or joy; happiness or sorrow. It is the center of the man.
Proverbs 11:30 says, “He that winneth souls is wise.” It is a wise and profitable thing to be a soul winner because it pleases God. He has a high evaluation of the soul winner. It is one of the dearest things to the heart of God. Consequently, it pays enormous eternal dividends. A man who turns people to righteousness is wise because he is laying up treasure in heaven.
Conversely, a Christian who is occupied with trivial matters of life is unwise. Majoring on minors is foolish. Therefore, not to win souls is to be guilty of the sin of folly.
If we are to be wise, we should actively be involved in soul winning of some kind. If we don’t know how to win a soul to the Lord, we should learn how to do so. I am sure you can ask your Pastor or Christian friend.
When is the last time you led someone to the Lord? Have you ever won someone to the Lord? There is no shortage of people that need to hear the gospel. They are wondering aimlessly through life, believing a lie that is leading them to hell. People want to be saved. They just don’t know what to do. They know there is an emptiness in their life that is not fulfilled. They know they need something, they just don’t know what it is or how to get it.
There is however, a shortage of Christians who are willing to tell the lost about salvation. There should not be, but there is. We need to be not so. The entire world is in need of the Lord Jesus Christ—and who will tell our neighbors? The Devil will have them hear all of his doctrine, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by every means possible. The Lord left the job of spreading the gospel up to us. Not the TV. Not the Internet. Not the radio. He left it up to us.
Spreading the gospel is not doing good deeds for others. It is not living a right life or even helping the poor. Spreading the gospel is to actively tell people how they can be saved; how they can know for sure they an go to heaven.
These are the last days that we are living in. We live in a unique time. No other people the history of mankind has had so much at stake as we havetoday. We are like the anchor runner in the relay race of life. Lets not drop the baton. Lets not run out of steam on the last lap. Lets give it all we have Got. Souls lie in the balance.
Calvary covers it all
Contentment is not something you simply obtain.
You do not wake up one day and find that you are suddenly content. Neither do you just get old enough and that makes you content. Contentment is something that is learned.
Paul said, “…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Phil. 4:11). Paul admits that he had to learn contentment. It was not one of his personality traits, nor was it a special ability that he had. It was something that he had to learn from the time he was very young until the day that he wrote these words to the Philippians.
As a young man, Paul sought his fortune and fame, as do other young men. He thought he found it in the profession of a Pharisee. As a young Pharisee during the time of the first persecution of Christians, he excelled. He was poised for greatness because he was in on the movement from the “ground floor.” He had been recognized for his zeal and was commissioned to root out and destroy Christians wherever he could. But even though he made a name for himself, he still found no contentment.
He found no contentment when he finally met Jesus face to face on the road to Damascus, but this is where his lessons in contentment began. He was blinded after the encounter and did not know if he would ever get his sight back. He needed to learn to accept his blindness. He could either have felt pity on himself, or make use of his life as he could. But God had another plan. And so the trials, troubles, sufferings and persecutions began until one day, in a letter to his friends, he writes, “…I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
Contentment begins with knowing God (Matt. 6:31-34.) A person will never be content living in this world if they do not first learn how to live a Godly life. If you come to the point in your relationship with God that you seek Him first, then you learn how to live Godly. But it doesn’t stop right there. You must learn not only how to seek Him first, but to depend on His love for you; that you will be okay under His leadership, love and care. In short, you must learn not only how to seek God first, but to give Him your problems and stop worrying over them; depend on Him being bigger than any problem you could ever have. These are hard lessons to learn. Oh, it is not so hard to take our troubles to God, but it is difficult for us to leave them with Him. We show this by worrying about our troubles. You can already see how to live a stress free, content life when you have nothing to worry about anymore.
Contentment benefits living in this world (1 Tim. 6:6-9). We must understand that we absolutely own nothing. We must have the higher view of our life; that we brought nothing into this world, and when we go, we will take nothing out. Even our legacy is not in our hands, it is in the hands of those left behind. It is a false understanding to think you have made a difference in the world because any difference you made or not, is in the hands of those you leave it with. It is not under your control. We are on a pilgrimage that is preparing us for heaven. Yes, God can miraculously make us prepared for entrance to heaven when the time comes, but in His infinite wisdom, He has seen fit to teach us about our upcoming life in heaven now. The sooner we see that life does not surround ambitions of the world, the sooner we will live a content life. This way, we can go to our jobs and places of work with joy and not stress. In fact, we can be happy all day long because we realize that the things now trivial, were once big things to us. You can easily see how contentment is learned by just having the proper perspective on life in general.
Contentment comes from seeking first a life with Jesus. (Heb. 13:5-6) It comes by understanding that He means what He says and says what He means. He says, “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” You cannot get any more content in life than to live a life understanding that the one who holds you in His arms is the Lord Jesus Christ, and He won’t drop you or let go. Babies trust their mothers all the way up to the time that mommy makes them do something that they don’t like. They are content in their mothers arms until mommy does something that they don’t like. It may be giving a bath, or changing a diaper, but whatever it is, this is where the trust is lost. When they realize that mommy just did something for their overall good, even though it was uncomfortable for a spell, then the trust is returned. The baby learns how to trust their mommy. Likewise, Christians should learn how to learn contentment by growing up in the Lord; communing with Him and learning how to trust Him. You can easily see that the closer and more often you are with the Lord, the easier it is to be content.
So Paul says that he had to learn contentment. He is no different than any other man. We all must learn how to be content. Is your life troubled? Do you feel so overwhelmed that you think you need to see a counselor to help you get your life back on track? Do you have the tendency to turn to drinking or drugs to give you peace? Then you are seeking an instant, microwave portion of contentment, but it does not exist. You must learn how to be content. God will make sure that, one way or another, you will learn how to be content with Him. The only question is: just how much tribulation, trials or suffering you must go through to learn contentment.
In 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 we are told, “Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” A steward then is somebody that is given something valuable to take care of, and he is supposed to take care of it for his master. Not only that, a steward is to be “faithful” because he has goods delivered to him that don’t belong to him. Such is every one of us who is given stewardship of God’s money. We understand about God giving us money and use it as the Lord would have us to. But here we are talking about a different kind of stewardship. We are talking about the “mysteries of God.” We are talking about stewardship over something that has been given for the purpose of teaching to others.
What are these mysteries? There are seven of them in the Bible and they are committed to preachers to teach to others. I will briefly describe them as follows:
1. The Mystery of Godliness.
1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
This verse is the greatest verse in the Bible on the Deity of Jesus Christ. If you don’t have a King James Bible you won’t be able to find this mystery defined. All other bibles change this verse in order to take away the deity of Christ. They change the phrase “…God was manifest in the flesh…” to something else. God being “manifest in the flesh” means that God showed up as a baby and later grew up to be a man. It cannot be explained how He did this. Why? Because it is a mystery how it happened. He came down to this earth as a baby, and a woman took care of Him, just like every other baby. He experienced every facet of growing up as a human male.
2. The Mystery of the Indwelling Christ
Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Paul says, “This mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” This means the “mystery” is that Jesus Christ is inside the saved man. It can’t be explained how, but if you are saved, then “Christ” is “in you, the hope of glory”. It can’t be explained how a sinless, perfect Saviour would stoop down to come in and dwell inside a wicked, sinful vessel. Not only that, it can’t be explained how Jesus could be in a vast multitude of saved people all at the same time. There aren’t many individual Jesus’. There is one Jesus and he dwells within each believer. This is a mystery and can’t be explained how it happens. It is the mystery of the indwelling Christ.
3. The Mystery of the Body of Christ
Ephesians 5:30-32 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
The Bride of Christ in this age is espoused to one husband so it can be presented a chaste virgin to Christ (2 Cor. 11:2). This means that every one who is a Believer is all espoused to the same person: Christ. All men and women wind up married to Christ as one unit. How can you explain it? It can’t be explained. It’s a mystery. As far as the spirit is concerned, we are joined to Him right now (1 Cor. 6:17). The marriage has already taken place, but as far as the body is concerned the marriage hasn’t taken place. Our physical bodies are down here and His is up there (2 Cor. 5:6-8). It can’t be explained. We are supposed to believe it. Paul said, “This is a great mystery” (Eph. 5:32).
4. The Restoration of Israel
Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
This mystery deals with the restoration of Israel. The mystery is that God is not through with Israel. And even though God may look like He’s through with Israel, He’s not! Someday God is going to take the Jews and bring them back to Palestine (He did that in 1948), and after the Jews have been reduced down to about four or five hundred people, God is going to get them saved in the Tribulation and convert them to Jesus Christ. That’s the mystery of the believing remnant of Israel which is going to turn to God. Romans 11:28-29 says that “as concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” This means that we should love the Jews. Yes, some Jews out in the world are unlovable characters. It doesn’t matter what you think of them, you’ve got to love Israel and take care of it. If you don’t, the Lord will fix you. In Christ “There is neither Jew nor Greek” (Gal. 3:28). When a Jew gets converted, he’s no longer a “Jew.” He’s a Christian.
5. The Mystery of Babylon the Great
Revelation 17:5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
Revelation 17:18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
She is a woman out in the wilderness seated on a beast. The beast has seven heads and ten horns. This is a “mystery.” It is something you’re supposed to believe, but you can’t explain.
The woman is a city that reigns over the kings of the earth. She has a golden cup in her hand full of abominations (Rev. 17:4). And, she is arrayed in purple and scarlet. There is only one city that is built on seven mountains (v. 9), that reigns over the kings of the earth, whose symbol is a golden cup: ROME. The Lord said that that city was a whore (v. 1). She’s a prostitute who sells herself for money. She has such influence that she runs the kings of this earth. She will sell out what she believes and what she professes in order to get along with the world. She’ll let her own priests get killed in Africa if she can get control of Africa. She might even get in a black pope.
6. Mystery of Iniquity
2 Thessalonians 2:3-8 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
The mystery of iniquity is the mystery of the Antichrist. His number is 666. He has a sign: it’s a kiss. He has a salute: its two fingers. He has a letter: it’s an X. And he has a name, a religion , a face, and a mark. There’s more information in the Bible on him than there is on any other man in the Bible outside of Jesus Christ Himself. He’s the Antichrist.
7. The Rapture
1 Corinthians 15:51-55 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The final mystery is the Rapture. It is the disappearance of the Body of Christ in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. There are two kinds of people. Those who are alive when the Lord comes are to be caught up without dying. Those that are dead will be pulled up out of the ground. If you’re mortal, you’ll be caught up without dying and then put on immortality. If you’re dead and buried when the Lord comes back, then you’re down in the ground rotting and you’re corruptible, and you come out of the grave and put on incorruption. The ones that are buried can’t stay in the ground. The live man goes up without dying; and the dead man goes up, and the grave can’t keep him down.