Calvary covers it all
Keep in touch with GBC
Recently posted articles
potpourri of past articles
Dearest Brethren, The end of all things is at hand. It has been for some time now. Each generation of Christians have thought the same as we do today: “How can things get much worse?” Each generation has had to deal with a turbulent and spiteful world system, while at the same time loving the souls that are captured by it. How did they do it in the past? How can we deal with this awkward and evil situation ourselves?
Well, it is safe to assume that they took comfort and instruction from the Word of God. In 1 Peter 4:7-10 we are instructed to be “…sober and watch unto prayer.” Most importantly, to “…have fervent charity among…” ourselves because charity covers a “…multitude of sins.” Furthermore, to be hospitable “…one to another without grudging…” and to take care of each other as we “minister “…as good stewards of …” “grace”.
To not get duped by this world system, we need to be sober. This deals directly with the intoxicating influence of alcohol, liquor or spirits. But too, it addresses the influence of any passion of worldly influence. In other words, it addresses keeping one’s “right mind.” You have heard it said that in any stressful situation you should not panic, to keep your wits about you? This admonition speaks to keeping a sober mind. If we do so, then we will be attentive to the sneakiness of the Devil. He is more deceptive than one can ever imagine. How can we combat this deception? How can we keep sober? We must pray. But not just any old praying.
Dealing with the deception of the Devil is like suddenly realizing we are in the middle of a field of land mines. We find ourselves in such precarious situations because we do not pay attention to where we walk. By ourselves, we can never detect the mines; they are so well hidden. So we need a mine detector to sweep the area in front of us so we can find the mines. Only then we can traverse the field safely. Our prayer to God needs to be for a mine detector of spiritual deception of the Devil. We need to ask God to show us were the mines are that can so easily trip us up.
“God please show me where the Devil is working on my life. He wants me to fall, and I cannot see His deception. Please identify them and help me to go around them so I can walk through this day for you without being a casualty.”
Charity (i.e. Love) is our combative weapon for dealing with a love stripped world system.
Love does not beat people down for their problems of failures. Love either exalts someone else or says nothing at all that would be derogatory about them.
People of the world system love too! There is no doubt about that. They were created in the image of God as well, so they too have the attributes and emotions that God has. It is just that they use them for things they are not meant to be used for. Have you ever needed a screwdriver for some household chore and couldn’t find one? I’ll bet you headed for the utensil drawer of the kitchen and picked out a butter knife to use it as a screwdriver. What happened? Did you bend the tip because the screw was too tight? Probably.
The world uses love to love self and not others. They use something God gave them for helping others for themselves. They bent the tip and ruined it.
Christians need not “bend the tip.” Loving one another is the only combative weapon that Christians have to fight back against this world system.
How is it so effective in fighting the world system? It covers the multitude of sins. It looks beyond peoples faults. You say, “But he/she does things wrong.” Yes, you will notice the faults of others. We all do that. But love is when we know someone’s faults, but we choose to ignore it. We choose to not bring it up. We choose to not make a big deal about it. That is love. That is how Christians treat each other, especially during these last days. We have enough enemies. There are enough people in the world telling us to love self, pointing out our faults and directing/establishing blame. With love, we don’t need any of that.
This is where “grudging” or begrudging comes in. There are enough people in our lives that hold grudges. “Grudging” is: being uneasy at another’s possession of something which we have a desire to possess. Somebody else has something and we want it. That is holding a grudge. This can be with a physical object (new car, tv, dress, etc.) as well as prestige, honor or focus. When someone gets special favor and you don’t, that is grudging. Why does he/she get attention and I don’t? Usually, we won’t say it out loud to someone because we are afraid of sounding petty or immature. But we should not even think it for even one second, and if we do, we should shake that thought out of our head immediately. That is called love. That is thinking better of our brother or sister and rejoicing in their blessing. This is how we minister to one another—LOVE.
With this type of living, all of our Christian ancestors have survived under difficult circumstances. In fact, the trials for some was death, torture and degradation. Yet they still loved. Why? They did so to cope with the difficulties they experienced. After all, what kind of life would you have if all you ever did was begrudging and hating your entire life?
So, let us be sober and watch unto prayer. Lets look for ways to love each other and the community in which we live. What can we do in the life of another person that can make their journey along the pathway of this life a little easier? Then, let us turn it into a fervent love so we can cover sin. Sin does not need to be exposed and exalted. It needs to be disdained and covered over with the blood of the Lamb. Lets have a little grace. With grace we can minister to each other. The primary ones to “hold up” are those of our own church first. It is no good to help other Christians while overlooking those of our own family. In this we are “…stewards of the manifold grace of God.” ~Pastor
It is too bad that there has to be so much emphasis today on MONEY! We all know that the Word of God tells us that “…the LOVE of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10). Of course, no real Christian relishes being immersed in evil, but we must all deal with this potential “time bomb” of spiritual destruction in the world in which we live today. It is almost as if it is one of those “necessary evils” to which we are bound, and can never shake loose from. WE NEED MONEY!
Families need money to live. We need “bucks” to pay for a place to live, put food on the table and clothes on our backs. These are the very basic’s of life. Everything else beyond this can be a luxury when considering the principle of “needs vs. wants.” Without the things that we need, we would be in a very bad way indeed. It is no wonder money becomes so valuable that we have a tendency to hoard it for the time when we may need it in the future. Of course, saving for specific needs is not bad, but we can get dangerously close to crossing over the line and LOVE our money. This is where we become contributor to the evil world system. Until that point, we are living under the evil effects of “love of money” that others may have; we are not actually contributors to that evil.
How does one know when they actually love their money vs. exercising good stewardship with the wealth that God has given them? It all lies in your reaction to money when you lose it. If you are devastated by the loss of it on a personal level, then most likely you are in love with it. However, if you are disappointed, but not smitten to the heart, (in other words: your joy for the Lord is affected), then you are not in love with it. You are just disappointed in your stewardship of it. But, this test is not always an indicator of love for money or not, but it is a good place to start.
God has put some very good and sure fire ways to keep from falling in love with this necessary evil, which we use every day. GIVE! Luke 6:38 tells us that we should “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.” If we have a heart to give, then we can step around ever falling in love with money. Man does not give away that which he is truly in love with. For example: I would never give to you my wife. I love her. She is very dear to my heart. I would never give to you my children, grand children, siblings or parents. I love them very much. However, I can give to you something that I hold highly valuable to me, but I am not in love with it. I value it, I do not love it. I can live without money, but I cannot live without my wife.
Money needs to be this way for us in our life. To keep from loving it, we need to give; not just once, but continually. In other words, we need to develop a giving heart. It is not coincidental that when we give, it is an expression of love towards others, but when we keep to ourselves, it is an expression of love of self.
God is not timid about providing an example in giving. He gave everything He had to redeem man from loving self. He showed the depths of His love in giving. Surely we too can give, and it doesn’t always have to be money. We can give of our time, talents, as well as our treasure. These are the three basic areas of our life which we have stewardship over where we can get tripped up. If we give of these areas of our life, then we are developing a giving and loving heart. Of course, as you examine them, the easiest and most likely to give from is our money. That simple little coin or ink covered piece of paper represents effort; effort that we exerted in which we were compensated for.
God wants us to keep from loving money because it will often times cause us to err “from the faith.” The primary effect of this evil for the Child of God is a falling away from God. When we cease from giving, and the love of money becomes rooted in us, we will certainly begin a downward spiral away from God. We know that God is the greatest giver of all, and if we are to be in fellowship with Him, we will be associated with the giving God. The sacrifices and offerings that we give to His cause is only a miniscule contribution to what He gives to them every day. And here is the reason why many people lose direction and faith in God: They have lost their desire to identify with Him in this area of their life. They may have lost it for a good reason or it may be a fabricated excuse, but they have lost it. It is logical and reasonable to conclude this since God told us this can happen and there are many Biblical examples from which we may take note. Some of the most famous are Ananias and Sapphira; Judas; and Demas, but there are many contemporary examples that each of us have certainly known. So, one sure fire way to keep from falling away from God is:
- Don’t fall in love with money.
- Develop and keep a giving heart.
Falling away from God is always subtle and slow. It doesn’t happen overnight, although one specific event could be the root cause to our beginning this downward trip. The Devil engineers it to be slow and subtle because he wants it to take hold in our life. If it was sudden, it would be too noticeable. We gradually plant, replant and transplant our produce so that it can grow steadily without a growth stunting shock. If we waited until it was too big, the roots would be all torn up when we transplanted it and it would either die or not recover in time enough to bear fruit for the season. Likewise is our giving in to the love of money. It happens slowly so we are not shocked by its effect on us. If we realized it was happening, we would discontinue following its sorrow piercing path.
No Christian wants to fall away from the Lord. No Christian wants to be pierced through with many sorrows. That is why I am writing this article: to give some insight to the process in which these are the results. If we can understand the mechanics of how this happens, then we can be aware of the signs our life projects; we can deal with it before it is too late. It could suffice to just say, “Give so you don’t fall in the condemnation of the Devil.” But there is really much to be said about that one bold statement. I strongly feel if people can understand the process, then they can be better equipped to deal with the product. So, I hope this message gives you a little insight to help you keep a strong and vibrant relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
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!
I was out walking with my grandson. He picked up something off of the ground and started to put it in his mouth. I took the item away from him and I asked him not to do that.
“Why?” my grandson asked.
“Because it’s been on the ground; you don’t know where it’s been, it’s dirty, and probably has germs. Sometimes germs make little boys sick and not feel good” I replied.
At this point, my grandson looked at me with total admiration and asked, “Grandma, how do you know all this stuff? You are so smart.”
I was thinking quickly and said to him, “All Grandmas know stuff. It’s on the Grandma Test. You have to know it, or they don’t let you be a Grandma.” We walked along in silence for 2 or 3 minutes, but he was evidently pondering this new information.
“Oh…I get it! He beamed, so if you don’t pass the test you have to be the Grandpa.”
“Exactly,” I replied with a big smile on my face.
Matthew 9:13 …for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
The Lord Jesus Christ makes it very clear that He did not come to the earth to call the righteous to repent. The righteous have no need to repent; they are already “right” with God. Their problems with sin are already taken care of. However, God’s opinion is that there are none who are righteous except the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
The person, who feels they are “right” with God, will never come to the Lord. They will make excuse after excuse to avoid a confrontation with God. They justify keeping control of their life by convincing themselves that they are “right” with God.
On the other hand, the person who feels there is something that is not “right” between them and God will come to Jesus. Because the Lord is perfect and they are not, there is a repentant attitude that accompanies them. These are the people that the Lord Jesus came to the world to call.
Do you have a need for Christ? Are you righteous or a sinner? You can be right by agreeing with God and coming to Him as a sinner. Only then can your sin problem be solved and you can be “right” with God.
“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.
THE LAODICEA CHURCH WE LIVE WITH
Revelation 3:14-20 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Today we find ourselves living in the Laodicean Church age. It is the last period of time before the Lord Jesus Christ comes to rapture out His church. Compared to the other periods of church history, the Laodicean is the worst of all and that is because of the apathy of believers in Christ. The word “Laodicean” means the “rights or justices of the people.” Literally the civil rights of the people. It is a time when the church is more interested in their individual rights and have totally forgotten the rights of God—their Creator. Unfortunately, this is the mess that the church is in when God returns to get us. AND, do not fret my friends; there will be no exercising of personal rights at the rapture for God’s rights will overshadow all. When He says, “come up hither,” will it not be with anger in His voice rather than that of the compassionate Jesus Christ Superstar that many envision Him to be? Will He not be angry at the church for lack of interest in winning the lost to Him?
The last church claims a belief in God while at the same time living a dead, skin-deep Christianity. People in this church, profess belief in the “fundamentals of the faith” while embracing ecumenical works. It is a church where you cannot really tell what it stands for or what it stands against. It is a church which conveniently balances itself on both sides of the fence; it is neither hot for God or cold against Him (vs. 15). It is the worst kind of church there can be: LUKEWARM (vs. 16)—close enough to God to be warmed by the Bible, and far enough away to be chilled by the world. It is the epitome of rotten apostate modernism.
God is an extremist. He does not believe in getting along with the world in a kind of “fake Christianity”. He “would thou wert cold or hot.”
The Laodicean church makes God sick (vs. 16)—sick enough for Him to “spue thee out of my mouth.” Why is this? Could it be because of the tremendous material assets this church has that others in history did not? Could it be because it is more interested in bragging about its busses, holdings, how much the property is worth, how much the offerings are or how many missionaries it supports? After all, this church says it is “…increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” But God sees the truth. He gets to the heart of the matter. His response to all of our vast access to resources that we are “… wretched, you’re miserable, you’re poor, you’re blind, and you’re naked.” This is the opposite of how we see our self. People today have too many churches to go to. The pastor does something that they don’t like, or another church member does something that they disagree with, they just “hop on over” to another church that more fits their need. People in this age are more interested in themselves instead of God, and God’s preacher better tell them what they want to hear or else.
The great problem with the church today is that Christians are afraid to stand up for Jesus. Oh, we sing the song, “Stand up, Stand up for Jesus…”, but that is just lip service. Christians have worked out a way to be a Christian on Sundays and just a regular guy the rest of the time. That way they can AVOID CONFRONTATION. This is a joke of a Christian who claims that he has to put on the “armour of God”, when he knows in his heart that he is not really going to use it.
This Laodicean church lives by feelings, just like the rest of the world. Like the Israelites of old, temples to Baal have been erected amongst our ranks and the only thing that can “shake the church” loose from them is some tragedy; else God will never get our attention. If there was one thing that I could make the church see, it would be the reality and magnificence of GOD. Hence, people would see how much they owe to Him. But God does not demand our deaths; He demands our death to self, so that we might be able to live the true life that He intended. It is sad that it takes hard times in our life to bring us to our senses.
God counsels that we buy of Him “…gold tried in the fire…” (vs. 18). That is to say, He counsels that we see things as they truly are; that faith in Him is worth much more than gold or riches or prestige or honor (1 Pet. 1:7). This entire world is going to be burned up and all that is contained therein. There is absolutely nothing that will survive His hot wrath. Any investment in this world is futile. I know that right about here the concept of “stewardship” is usually slipped in, but there is a vast difference in caring for things that perish verses things that do not. The only thing that will not perish will be the souls of men who are right with God. This is “stewardship” in its most correct form: to win souls, develop them and teach them how to win more souls. But this cannot be done without “CARING”.
You say, “I don’t see it that way.” I know. I know there is a problem with how you look at things. That is why God urges to “anoint thine eyes with eyesalve…” (vs. 18). This is why the Devil has so many things to look at in the world today. This is why things like TV, pornography, movies, sports, internet, etc. work so good for him. Man is curious, and his curiosity will never be satisfied. This is a good thing if it is channeled to learning about the personality and character of God. But this is not so. Man is more interested in tickling his sin nature. The “forbidden fruit” only becomes the draw to man when he looks at it (Gen. 3:5-6). We have a problem with our eyes. Therefore, we need the eyesalve of God’s Word that we can see correctly. Can you imagine the fruit of the tree looking rotten, moldy, corrupt and covered in maggots? In other words, can you imagine being able to see sin for what it is? The only way that can be done is to:
- Stay in your Bible. You need the Bible. It is your strength and your sword. Without it, you will only see what the world is showing you. Or, you will only know what the world tells you about the Bible. The cults (Mormons, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, etc.) are experts at offering a candy coated glob of slop.
- Stay in Church. Don’t just “attend” church, come expecting something from God. Expect that God is speaking to you from the Bible via His messenger. Presuppose that God is real and He can do anything even in spite of the preacher or teacher. Expect God to be a blessing to you and discard the thought that you will be a blessing to God.
- Pray faithfully. Tell God how special He is to you. Talk to Him. Tell Him how much of a blessing He is to you. Tell Him what you think of His Book, His church and His preacher. Tell Him what you would request of Him, but resist the urge to give Him your grocery list of problems to solve for you.
- Witness! This cannot be stressed strong enough. You must witness for God. There are many ways in which you can do this. Use your mind and think of a way you CAN do it instead of inventing ways you cannot do it. The fact of the matter is this: if you love something strong enough, you can do things you never thought you would be able to do. Or, if you want to do something bad enough, you will figure out a way to do so.
It is time now to repent of being a lukewarm Christian. Can you truly say you are giving your all to Him? Are you tithing? Are you attending church? Are your words just more empty promises to God? God’s way for dealing with those whom He loves in this Laodicean church age is to rebuke and chasten. REPENT! Change your ways. Be zealous about Him (vs. 19). Be given over to the draw of the Holy Spirit. Be zealous for Him and the things that He loves and forget about the world. Stop comparing yourself to others who are not living for the Lord.
Do you realize that at the end of the Laodicean church age Jesus is outside the door of the church? The door has been slammed shut in His face. He is knocking to come in and who is listening? Are you? Do you hear His humble rap upon the door? Why is He on the outside in the first place? Who came to church and left the Lord outside? I do not want to be a Laodicean even though I happen to live in this age. You don’t have to leave Him outside. You can bring Him in with you. Or, you can answer the door. The problem why many do not is that they don’t even hear His voice anymore (vs. 20). They are too worried about money, satisfaction of self, offending others or becoming accountable to God’s word (they don’t want to hear what He has to say about their sin). But if YOU open the door to Him, He will come in to you and have fellowship with you, even in spite of anyone else. But until you do, until you open the door of your heart, you can not have sweet fellowship with Him. You will be a Laodicean.
Church Fellowship helps meet man’s need for companionship. God uses fellowship and the church to strengthen the Christian and to accomplish His work in the world. From the time of Adam’s creation, God saw, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen.2:18). God’s initial solution was to establish the institution of marriage. However, man’s need for fellowship goes beyond marriage. He needs others with whom to grow in Christ and to serve. Every Christian needs church and fellowship.
Our fellowship in the church is much more valuable than fellowship for other purposes because God’s presence makes it different. Christ established the principle that where two or three are gathered together in His name, there He would be in the midst of them. This makes our time with God’s people very special. Fellowshipping with the saints around the things of God is actually a way for us to fellowship with God Himself because He also meets with us when we come together.
When Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch to report all that God had done with them, the Bible says that they gathered the church together. This means that the church was not a building or an organization but the people themselves. The people are the church. God established the church so that we could meet together, worship Him together, grow together, fellowship together, work together and pray together. God could have just let us do these things on our own or in our separate families, but He didn’t. He knew that we would need the fellowship of other saints to live healthy spiritual lives.
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.
Today, there are more preachers than ever who are selling out on the Lord Jesus Christ. In order to accommodate worldly Christians, they begin to compromise on their convictions. In order to entice the world to come to their churches, they compromise on God. Instead of giving people what they need, they give them what they want; a dangerous thing to do indeed! Like the parent who always gives in to their child and gives them everything they want, instead of what they need, they raise up spoiled, rebellious, selfish church members, who “shop” for churches instead of letting God lead them.
When preachers sell out for what is convenient instead of that which cost, they are not acting like men. They are most probably being run by their wives. Every Christian is commanded to (1 Cor. 16:13) “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” This goes especially for preachers. Why would God have to exhort Christians to be a man about things? Because some men take the timid way out. They are too afraid of the tough road of watching, standing and being strong. They capitulate into the Devil’s hands. Preachers wives are not innocent in this either. If they were standing behind their men, satisfied to be their wives instead of needing self-gratification somewhere else, then preachers would have encouragement at home. In fact, Preachers wives can be key to the success of the ministry of pastors.
I cannot think of one pastor who has been successful in the ministry who did not have his wife satisfied to be his supporter. Notice I didn’t say that she “claims” to support her husband. I mean she is a keeper at home first. A lady who takes care of the burden of the home life in a large way so he is free to give his time to the ministry. I do not mean an anchor who actually holds him back. This takes sacrifice on her part so most pastor’s wives take this on as their purpose in life and are satisfied completely in it. No man will be able to “be strong” “like men” should be when he has to be mama at the same time, but their are few exceptions to this rule.
When things get out of whack, and God has to remind us to be strong like men should be, He says it for a reason. Not only is there a “selling out” on the home front, but their is a selling out on manhood as well. This is mainly accomplished by worldly influence. This is usually seen in trying to be “all things to all men” while at the same time, NOT trying to get people saved.
The devil would like to replace soul winning with anything appealing, (or even logical), except soul winning. Charts and status and figures, all meant to be helpful, are in fact hurtful because they lead a preacher away from soul winning. I have sat in on evangelism meetings that did not mention one peep about soul winning at all. Oh, there was talk about development and planning in a logical and methodical way, but winning a soul was no where in sight. Weak, worldly, feminine Preachers allow planning and organizing to replace soul winning. As I said before, it is not bad to plan and organize, but to stop there, and not win souls, is the great demise.
It is sad that God has to remind men to “get a backbone.” If preachers did, then they would be certainly less miserable in the ministry. In this area they are actually putting themselves, their families and their churches in bondage. So God has to remind us to not only get a backbone, but to, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Gal. 5:1).
I guess God knows our nature is to return to the worldly way of doing things. Of course, the worldly way is a way of bondage that is hard to break free of once we are weighted down with it’s burden. He knows that the temptation to return to doing things like everyone else would be so strong that He had to tell us to “Stand Fast!” Is there anyone reading this article who needs to know what that means? Is the inference not clear? Does anyone who has been truly saved not know the liberty that comes with Christ? Why then do Christians, (and even preachers), feel that the ministry is a burden? Why do they feel in bondage? It is because they have moved away from Christ. They have entangled themselves with the worldly way of doing things. For preachers, this may mean trying to do things “like all of the other churches do” so they can build a congregation of hapless drones. They want to please all of the Christian prima donna’s (def: a vain or undisciplined person who finds it difficult to work under direction or as part of a team.). They become a compromiser in the name of “being called”, but they are no more called than Jack-the-Ripper. Instead of carrying the burden the Lord has placed on them, they would rather have the burden of worldly entanglement. Preachers who are thus, are not called at all. In fact they are not even preachers. All Biblical preachers suffered persecution and loss. Some were turned on even by their own families. Some died stranded and alone. Others were tortured and killed. They certainly didn’t achieve such wonderful fates by tickling the public’s fancy.
Real preachers strive. They strive for the faith of the gospel. They strive for unity of the mind and spirit. Philippians 1:27 tells us to “…stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” God must have known that the ministry would not be a “bed of roses.” He must have known that it would take some fighting; a little bit of blood, sweat and tears. He must have known that the Devil would try to get preachers to “cash it in” for an easier, more elaborate and fulfilling “ministry” than the one He assigned them to. Preachers sell out easily because the going gets tough. They are constantly surrounded by negative news; people always tell the preachers the bad things that are happening in their life. Preachers are constantly being criticized and talked about behind their backs. In so doing, the “brethren” are actually tearing down everything that they worked for while at the same time “talking it up” to their faces. It is not a job for the weak man; and there are many of them who “think” they are called because all they see is the wonderful aspects of the job without ever delving into the inner workings. But, when they do, they throw up their hands and surrender.
They surrender first on doctrine. This is because doctrine divides, and it needs to be divided correctly (2 Tim. 2:15). Compromising of doctrine is the first step to a long and lonely downhill fall away from God. Most preachers give up on this first because it takes work; it takes a lot of time in the study to make sure you know what is correct and what is not. So, the preacher with a wet noodle for a backbone will depend on what someone else wrote in a book and teach it before they will put in the effort to study for themselves. It would be wonderful if they would take a pop quiz every once in awhile. I do so by asking if the congregation has any questions. That is when I am on the “hot seat”, and I have learned much about doctrine by my study for the answers to those questions.
After doctrine goes out the door, then everything else follows suit: (dress, music, interests, books, denominations, salvation, baptism, communion, etc.) they become weak, sickly “sharers” of the word; and I am not sure you can even call it that. It is ungodly (2 Tim. 2:16)! It is manly! It eats up the body of Christ all in the name of “being fair to everyone.” It is in error and it overthrows the faith of some (2 Tim. 2:18), starting with their own families especially.
When all is said and done, preachers, like everyone else, are commanded to, “…stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (2 Thess. 2:15). There is a tradition (Def: The handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another.) to uphold. If preachers would just hold fast to that which they have been taught instead of constantly trying to improve on the plan, then the Christian world of today wouldn’t have near the problems that it does. It is good to improve on one’s understanding of self, but the plan was given by God Himself and needs no improvement. In fact, it is a perfect plan: go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Win souls. Show people how to be saved. Train up the Saints so they can win souls as well. This is God’s plan and there is no improvement upon it. What it lacks is preachers with a backbone who are truly called to stand up and stand fast. It needs preachers who won’t SELL OUT for that which is convenient.
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.
Galatians 1:6-7 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
Although God used the instrument of Paul to write these words, they still come from Him. God marvels that people would so quickly abandon the liberty and grace that is provided in a relationship with the Lord Jesus. Why would someone want to take that which is free and throw it away for something which is earned?
It is an issue of control. Man likes to have control of his own destiny. Every endeavor that man has created has been to take control of his destiny from God. Evolution, Big Bang and Relativity are a few. But there are even more dangerous ones. They are the ones that pervert the gospel of Christ.
Man has his definition of “perverts” and God has His. A pervert to God is someone who takes the Word of God and changes it. If you find yourself in a religion that is perverting the Word of God, GET OUT! God connects that with people who are trying to take you away from the grace that He freely offers and try to put you in control of your own destiny.
The only true control of your own destiny is to put your life in the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;” Acts 15:38-39
There are many instances in the Bible where people could not be at peace with each other. Lot could not get along with Abraham. His brothers could not agree with Joseph. The people could not get along with Moses. Saul could not get along with David. The church at Corinth was filled with contention and discord.
The Christian life involves working with people. The more you know how to get along with people, the further your influence will go. God puts us with a family up to 18 years before we leave. That is longer than any animal stays with its parents! Then comes college dormitory life—more people. Then comes marriage—a person for life. Children—more people. Then comes a career—more people. During all this is church involvement—more people. People who do not know how to get along with others have problems all of their lives.
How do Christians become at peace with each other? What is it that we are to do to accomplish this monumental task? Here are some basic things that we can do to live a peaceful life:
- Remove Pride From Your Life. Proverbs 13:10 says, “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” When someone is proud and backslidden they argue and have a hard time getting along with anyone.
- Read Your Bible Daily. The Bible says, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word” (Psa. 119:9). If you read God’s word daily, you will eventually fall in love with it and it will provide peace in you life (Psa. 119:165). The Word of God gives you the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5). If you are thinking like Jesus, you will treat people the way He would.
- Involve yourself in prayer for others. It is amazing how well we can get along with someone when we pray for them. The Bible tells us: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21; Luke 12:34). So, if we put the treasure of our time into praying for someone, then our heart will follow.
- Be filled with the Holy Spirit. We are told in the Bible to be “filled with the Spirit;” (Eph 5:18). If we let the Holy Spirit have control of our life, then we will love others and be at peace with them.
- Learn to listen. People like to talk! It is the easiest and most common way for us to communicate to others. It is how we inter-relate. Talking is at the center of every social activity. Who could imagine a birthday party where no one spoke a word or made a sound? God equipped us with this little tool so we could express our heart-felt feelings as well as our intellectual discoveries. Therefore, when we speak we are revealing our very soul (Matt. 15:18). We must be very cautious when we speak because we can actually destroy relationships by what we say (Pro 13:3). Much trouble can result in opening our mouth and unbridling our tongue (Jas. 1:26; 3:8). Words can actually inflict: “soul damage.” Talking about other people is not bad at all, but to do it in a destructive manner is not good. This is called: gossip. Gossip is sharing information with someone who is neither part of the problem nor the solution. It is much better to listen than it is to speak
- Don’t be a fool. Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.” A fool is someone who is not serious about practicing God’s principles. They cannot take reproof (Pro. 9:8). It is foolish to speak everything on your mind. There are some things which you should keep to yourself.
- Don’t give your opinion unless asked. Unsought advice is seldom followed and usually resented.
- Do Not Wear Out Your Welcome. Proverbs 25:17 says, “Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour’s house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee.” Familiarity does breed contempt. So, it is wise not to spend too much time with any one person or family.
- Guard Your First Words. Be careful how you begin conversations (Pro. 15:28). The first words we speak usually set the tone, pace or direction of the conversation. Many are the times when we say, “You didn’t let me finish what I was saying.”
- Do begin any conversation negatively. People will turn you off and although their ears many be hearing what you say, their brain will not be listening. Make the conversation upbeat and interesting and people will want you to: “go on.”
- Treat People As You Would Jesus. Matthew 25:40, “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
- Give People Breathing Room. Do not insist everyone believe as you do on every subject.
- Do Not Joke with People You Do Not Know very Well.
- Do Not Take The Dog By The Ears. Proverbs 26:17 says, “He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.” Do not get involved in disputes that do not concern you.
- Do Not Insist On Your Way All The Time. Romans 12:10 says, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;”
- Do Not Give Your Opinion If The Person In Authority Has Given Their Advice In The Matter
- Never Argue
- Choose Your Friends Slowly And Wisely.
- Get with a group of people who already are what you want to be. Spend the majority of your time with those who are stronger than you. This will challenge you and grow you in the Lord.
- Treat Friends with Dignity.
- Do not just drop in.
Let us strive to have peace with each other.
In John 6:1-13 there is the wonderful story of the feeding of the 5000. The story is wonderful for many reasons. One of the biggest is the location. He led those people to a deserted place. A desert place is a place where there is nothing. Deserted places are places where you cannot find food or water. Deserted places are places where you can be alone. Nobody lives there. A wilderness is a quiet place, no computers, there is no watching TV, no radio, and no music, and there is only you and the wilderness. And so, Jesus leads people out there where they don’t have anything.
I remember one time when a friend told me “You need to go out to Blake Island and spend three days with God. Three days!” Blake Island is a small Island in the middle of the Puget Sound and you can only get there by boat. He said to me, “I want you to promise that you will go there and when you get there, I want you to pull the boat up on the shore and you don’t get into that boat to go anywhere until three days are up. You just stay right there.”
“Ok, I’ll just bring my Walkman and some other stuff.
“No! You only bring one thing, your Bible.” I was a little scared agreeing to that but I did.
I smoked a lot of cigarettes in those early days of being saved, but just before I got in the kayak to push off, Jay said, “Hey, give me those” pointing to my pack of smokes. “You’re going to quit. God is going to take them away from you. If you want them when you get back, you can have them. If you don’t I’ll throw them away.” I was shaking a little as I gave them to him, but I was in it all the way for Jesus.
“What am I going to do for three days”, I asked myself as I paddled there. I took three oranges, three cans of food, some coffee, a knife and my Bible. That’s all I took. When I got to that Island, it was early eight o’clock in the morning and I set up my tent. I sat down and read my Bible. I read for what I thought was a long time, but when I looked at my watch, I had only been there for one hour. I decided to have something to eat, so I ate. Then I cleaned everything up, washed it and got everything back together again. Now two hours had gone by. I still had two days and twenty two hours to go. Before that evening was over, I was so bored that I had eaten all my food. The next day all I had was coffee and my Bible.
Wilderness places are lonely places. And when you are in a lonely place, there are no distractions. Its easy for God to talk to you. Its easy to get something from God. Its easy to improve your relationship with Him.
I read the book of Psalms, Proverbs and almost the whole New Testament. For three days, I just read and read and read. All I had to do was read my Bible and talk with God. I soon found myself talking with God out loud. I was asking Him some really unusual things. I asked, “God, that is an incredible beautiful leaf, how did you make that? I mean, look at all the different leaves, all the different kinds of trees in the world, and why did you make this little leaf right here on this tree?” I am not saying anything mysterious happening, but it was just as if God was standing there with me saying, “Why do you think I made that little leaf right there, the one you’re looking at?”
A leaf is insignificant. In this whole wide world there are many insignificant leafs. Now I was looking at one specific leaf and having a conversation with God over it. It was as If God put it there for this specific time in history just for me. He was showing me how beautifully and wonderfully made it. He was saying to me, “I created that little insignificant leaf just for you Ron. I put all of that detail in it so you can see how much I care. I made that leaf very special and I put it here on this tree, on this Island, just for you to see.” The thought was overwhelming. I didn’t know if it was the fasting or not, but my knees began to shake.
“What about colors God? Why don’t I just see black and white like they say animals do? What is black and white anyway?” I was asking and the resounding, repetitive answer was always, “I made it for you. I did it just for you.” God made this world for me. He made the world before He made me, and put me on it. “Why is the water blue and why does it wave the way it does? Why do I see faces in the clouds?”
“I did it for you. I gave you a mind to see it.” “Why did God give me a mind so I can enjoy these wonderful things?”
“I made you in my image, so I want you to see things like I do. I want you to see me.”
This went on for another two days. I was rejoicing in God, His creation and His word. At the end of the three days, I didn’t want to leave. I was with God and God was with me. I experienced a relationship with Him. It was a wonderful experience. It was a wilderness experience, where none of the cares of this life could bring its influence to bear. God would not let them.
At the appointed time, I returned where Jay was waiting to pick me up. He asked if I wanted my cigarettes back (he had a pack in his hand offering it to me). “No, I don’t need them any more.” I had not even remembered them. I was so excited about God. God had taken them from me and I didn’t even realize it. I didn’t know it then, but I would take them up again when I turned my back on God, but right then, I had met God in a special way, in a special place—the wilderness.
Wilderness experiences don’t come without trials. For me, there were the nights of no food; there were the nights of thinking about myself; there were the decisions I had to make. I strove with God asking Him to provide for me by miraculously making oranges fall out of the sky. Finally I reached the point where I had no choice but to just accept whatever God had planned for me. I prayed, “God, you know where I am right now and you know how to provide for me, what I need, I am going to just trust you for.”
You say, “I don’t want to go to the wilderness place. How would I get back? How would I eat? What would I drink? What will I cook? What about money? What about…?” There are a lot of things to worry about.
Becoming a Christian is one thing, but being a disciple of Jesus Christ is a very different thing indeed. Will you cross the line and say, “I will give you my whole life? I want to be your servant.” Will you give yourself to be a servant to Jesus Christ? That is what it comes down to. People do not like to hear that. They don’t like to hear those words–“give myself to be a servant and slave to Jesus Christ.” Are you willing to let the Lord take you to the wilderness place if He pleases? Are you willing to concede ownership of your life to Him? Either you are going to go along, kicking and screaming or you are going to go along willingly to have a wilderness experience.
Merry Christmas! Every year, people all over the world get ready for Christmas by putting up a Tree and decorating it. They buy presents and wrap them in pretty papers and put them under their Christmas Tree. But, do you know why Christmas is celebrated and what the Tree and the presents mean? Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s take a closer look at His story.
A long time ago, an angel appeared to a virgin named Mary in the land Israel. Luke 1:30-32 “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest…” At the birth of the Son of God, a star shone above where He lay for all to see. A star is put on the top of the Tree to represent this majestic star. Some wise men from the East followed this star to where the Son of God lay. Matthew 2:9-11 “…and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was…And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him…” God had a special plan for His Son, who left His royal throne in heaven to become man in order to bring salvation to all men.
The colors on the Tree have special meaning which tell His story:
- White represents Jesus’ purity and sinlessness because only the Son of God was born without a sinful nature.
- Black represents sin which brings death. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death…” Every man is a sinner by nature, so without intervention, everyone will die and go to Hell.
- Orange is the color that represents the torturing fires of Hell.
- Red represents the blood of the Lord Jesus. The shedding of blood is the only payment for sin, and only the pure blood of the Son of God could pay the sin debt for all mankind.
- The brown branches on the Tree represent the tree upon which Jesus was crucified. After His death, His body was placed in a tomb and sealed. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “…that Christ died for our sins …And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day…” On the third day, Jesus Christ rose victorious over sin and death. By rising from the dead, He conquered death that He might give life.
- The green branches of the Tree represent life. Because Jesus now lives, so can we. What is the gift that God offers to man? Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The gift which God offers us is life, which we can receive through Jesus Christ.
- The gifts under the Tree represent the precious GIFT which Jesus extends to all. If we accept the gift of eternal life, we will live with the Lord Jesus in heaven forever.
- Yellow is the color on the Tree that represents heaven.
What about YOU? You and I and every person in the world are sinners by nature. Sin causes death which means that without intervention, you will die and go to Hell. However, the good news is that the Lord Jesus paid the price for your sin and now offers YOU the gift of life, which is known as salvation! You can be saved from your sins! Will you accept the gift? What a great tragedy it would be for you to choose to spend eternity in Hell separated from the Lord Jesus who paid such a high price for you!
If you are serious about receiving God’s gift, then you can tell God directly by praying a prayer like this one to Him and He will save you:
Dear God, I see that Your Son the Lord Jesus Christ has paid a high price for me. I’m a sinner on my way to Hell. I don’t deserve Your gift, but I ask You to save me. Thank You, God, for saving me. Amen.
So many today have been successful at raising brats. Here’s some of the finest advice you’ll ever receive on how to keep from doing so:
1. Don’t pick them up every time they cry. If you run to his aid as soon as he cries, he’ll soon know how to control you, rather than you being in control. You don’t want them to expect to be pampered all of their lives.
2. Don’t let them defiantly tell you “NO!” It’s not cute. It’s rebellion verbalized. Although, he should be allowed to have a mind of his own.
3. Give them responsibilities. Don’t do everything for them. They will grow up thinking this world owes them a living, joining the crowd of grown up babies shouting, “I’ve got my rights,” rather than those who are men and women enough to fulfill their responsibilities.
4. Don’t neglect discipline. Don’t wait until there in trouble and let the penal system discipline them. Don’t go to Dr. Spock (who never raised a child in his life) and the other child psychologists for help and advice. Why not go to the old timers who raised 5 or 10 children successfully! Remember that a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame (Pro 29:15). You can truly develop a true brat if you won’t properly discipline them.
5. Don’t always take the child’s side. Understand that your child can do wrong. If they are wrong, they need to learn to accept responsibility for their actions.
6. Don’t criticize the Preacher or leaders. If you tear down authority in front of your child, they’ll live in insecurity not knowing who to trust. They will be totally prepared for a life of rebellion.
7. Don’t forget to tell them: “I LOVE YOU” They need to hear you say it even if you’ve given them everything they’ve ever wanted.
8. Don’t give them everything they want. There is no need to buy something for them every time you go into a store. You can say “no” to them. You don’t want them to grow up being used to having every appetite of theirs fulfilled immediately.
9. Don’t neglect to teach them the Bible. It makes no sense to them to have to go to school for 5 days a week, but not take them to church for 1 hour on Sunday.
10. Don’t always trust your child. He’s not a little angel. He does do things behind your back. Did you ever ask a young person whom you catch smoking, “Do you smoke at home?” Usually the answer is, “You’ve got to be kidding my parents would kill me.” Your child has the same fears.
11. Don’t scream at your children. This is not the only type of communication that reaches them. Time spent answering their questions and instructing them is not wasted time. Although it may not seem like it, they are listening. Constantly screaming at them will alienate them and the relationship will be devalued. This doesn’t mean that you can never talk loudly to them. There is a time and a place for everything.
12. Don’t let your child come and go as he pleases. It is good to set boundaries. Boundaries can be looked at as types of restriction, but if you look at them another way, they are types of security. Children need security and they are found in guidelines.
13. Don’t make your child the most popular in the crowd. They don’t always need to be “up” with their peers. They can be an oddball at times. If they follow the crowd, then the crowd will become the greatest influence in their lives.
14. Don’t let them constantly watch T.V. It is not good to keep them from reality. They don’t need to live in a fantasy world. They need to learn to entertain themselves. This exercises the brain and teaches creativity.
Children are not born brats. They gravitate that way because of their training and environment. Because we take the easy road in raising our children, they suffer. Putting these principles in place, along with love and fellowship, your child can grow to be a healthy member of society for the Lord Jesus Christ.
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. (2 Cor. 10:12)
I recently read an article where the basic premise was: “If you don’t agree with gay marriage, then don’t marry a gay—problem solved.” Something struck me as quite odd with that statement and after thinking about it for a few minutes I realized what it was. It settled upon the word: “agree.” You see, they were saying, “If you don’t agree, and then don’t do it and your problem will be solved.” The solution to your problem depended upon your agreement to the problem or not, and what you did with that agreement (i.e. do it or don’t do it.).
Now, I have never known a problem to go away just because I did or did not agree with it. I can disagree with a police officer that I was not speeding and therefore I will not pay the fine to the judge; and my problem will be solved. I cannot leave my wallet at home and agree that I don’t need it; and my problem will be solved. In fact, my problem will be compounded because, this type of reasoning does nothing more than attempt to pass your problem on to someone else. Okay, I don’t bring my wallet. I reason that I disagree with needing it. I go to the clothing store and do some shopping, saunter up to the checkout stand, receive the news of the total payment required, and tell the cashier, “I don’t agree with needing to pay for my purchase.” I have effectively tried to place the burden of my problem on the cashier. She gets her manager where, in turn, the problem is attempted to be placed on him. He refuses receipt of goods and therefore rejects the problem becoming his, or the cashier’s or the stores. So now a clash of wills occurs. Somebody will have to back down and I do not think it will be the stores, for they are the ones who are presently in possession of the goods. You see, right or wrong is not determined upon how someone accepts or does not accept a certain thing, idea or lifestyle. For those who insist that it does, it reminds me of the Bible where it says, “…every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” (Jud. 21:25).
Since our state of agreement does not solve any problem, then what is it? It must be something deeper that we are missing in the statement. Right! It is the determination of what is right and what is wrong. For all of the USA’s history, it is the principles and morals of the Bible that set the standard for us to determine right or wrong. The Bible has been the backbone of our value system and it is now under attack. I see this in a three fold attack by the Devil:
Dilute the Word of God.
Obfuscate the Word of God.
Eliminate the Word of God.
Diluting the Word of God will be subtle and will cause people to see the grand love and the harsh judgment of God in a much “lighter” atmosphere. People will then begin to pick and choose what they want to believe or not. This great maneuver has been accomplished by the production of so many different Bible versions that it is impossible to keep count; with more coming out every year. It used to be one word of God, one holy Bible. But now, you can actually choose which Bible you want to have based upon your desire for what God says that appeals to you or not. In other words, what you agree with or not. No matter how many different versions (perversions?) of God’s word there are, it will not change what God’s opinion is of a thing. He stands by His word and as far as He is concerned, it is settled (Psa. 119:89). Whether you agree with Him of not is irrelevant.
The obfuscation (or, confusion) of God’s word is once again accomplished by the multitude of perverse Bibles floating around the world today. When people read them, and they teach something totally different than what God’s true word says, they confuse themselves about God. I have been told that I hate gay people because I am a Christian. I do not hate gay people, I hate homosexuality. I hate the practice, not the person. Neither does God hate the person. He came into the world to die for the people of the world that they might be saved. He did not come into the world to die for mans sinful ways so that man might retain his sin for eternity. There is a big difference between the two. Where does this grand obfuscation come from? Well, of course it comes upon the back of the success of the Devils second maneuver.
The elimination of God’s word is what we see happening in full scale today. These are the troubling times that the “Age of Grace” church finds itself. During these last few hundred years; the church has not faced much persecution at all. But now, on a grand scale, persecution will come because persecution of God’s word is directly related to persecution of God’s people. Therefore, the attempted elimination of the Bible from society is an attempt to eliminate God’s people. The word itself is of little threat without the people who live by its instruction.
Overnight there seems to be a reversal of roles in society. The gays have come out of the closet while the Christians are being shoved into it. Again, this has only happened because God’s people have fallen for the Devil’s dilution, obfuscation and elimination of God’s word. So they defend, half heartedly, an institution (Christianity) that is watered down and confusing without even knowing it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. They can do right. They can cling to God’s word. They can learn about being truly free in Christ. They do not, because they do not want to.
Now, since there has been an effective assault upon God’s people through attacking His word, I submit that any response to this situation be likewise returned: tit for tat! I am not talking about fighting! Oh no! I am not talking about defending God’s word! I am talking about throwing off the shackles of shame that the Devil wants to place upon us to turn us into walking wounded. In other words: use their same argument against them in the antithesis. So, “If you don’t accept gay marriage just don’t marry a gay—problem solved,” respond with, “If you don’t accept Christians, don’t marry one—problem solved!” Another one, “Bible thumpers are the rudest people in the world,” respond with, “Heathens are the rudest haters of God in the world!” Another: “Why do Christians always try to go to the Bible to shove their ideas down my throat?” Respond with, “Why do heathens never go to the Bible to shove their ideas down my throat?”
I see the big mistake that Christians of today make is trying to defend God and His word. There is no need to be on the defense when we were commanded to be on the offense. Again, I remind you, I am not talking about anything violent in any way whatsoever. I am simply talking about not being ashamed of God. Or, in other words, refuse to be put into the closet. Maybe, just maybe we can even get the heathens to pray to God for our rapture. Wouldn’t that be a sight.
Attitude makes the difference. You CAN memorize. You have memorized names, dates, addresses and phone numbers. In learning verses you have the help of the Holy Spirit to “guide you into all truth.” You “can do all things through Christ, which strengthens you” (Phil 4:13). He will empower you to learn as you ask Him
Now begin in this manner. After a verse is selected, read it in the Bible in context. Reading the chapter around the verse is best. It helps you understand the verse meaning. Read the verse thoughtfully several times aloud. Then begin learning the verse in this order: say the topic, then the verse reference, then the first phrase of the verse. Stop at the first punctuation mark if you like; repeat the verse reference again. Then start over; topic, reference, phrase, reference. ALWAYS beginning at the first, then adding a few more words, ending with the reference; “bit by bit” until you have the whole verse learned.
REVIEW it during the day; use spare moments. Say it at meals, when traveling, before you sleep; ask someone to check you. Visualize yourself in the verse. Repeat it daily with reference for 60 days. Use it in the ministry, or review weekly thereafter.
Pray the verse back to God. Then meditate on each verse you learn. Ask God for an experience with the verse in your life. Each verse contains something for you to know, stop doing, begin doing or share with others. The ultimate purpose through the verse is to identify with Christ in His will, know Him better and multiply His glory.
Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
While God is a God of love, He is also a God of hate. We know that God loves His Son Jesus, and that He hates sin, but it doesn’t end right there. He loves many more things. As we read the Bible, we can see that He loves mercy, truth, humility and kindness to mention just a very few. But here, in this one passage of Scripture, He gives a concentrated list of some of the more important things that He hates. They are all self-explanatory and even the child can understand what they are. However, when God gets to sowing “discord” among the brethren, He is now dealing with the church only, for we in the church are: brethren.
Discord is any attempt to gender disagreement or difference of opinion. It is attempting to put at variance or opposition to the rest of the body. It win’s it’s evil victory when it produces angry passions of dispute or contest between persons. It’s method of attack is to clash; it does not disagree with a proper attitude of love and therefore seeks it’s own exaltation. This is what the Lord HATES–discord AMONG THE BRETHREN.
You cannot have a group of people where people do not talk about other members within the group. It is common and natural to do so because; well, they all have something in common–the group. Discord therefore, has nothing to do with talking about other members in the group. It has to do with talking about others with the intent to divide and hurt the group. God hates this very much and will not long abide it within the church He is trying to build. It is important to remember that because I will come back to that later.
The greatest example of attempting to sow discord amongst the group (other than the Devil himself) was Judas Iscariot. He thought he could sell out the Lord and divide the group. He was motivated by greed and self. He wanted to be and feel important. He could be up there with the big wigs setting the direction of actions for the nation, but in fact he was used. Yes, the Pharisees used him, but more so, he was used by the Devil to carry out his attack on God’s work. That is what people who sow discord amongst the brethren do today. They are being used by the Devil and they don’t even realize it. They are an instrument of his destruction, yet they cannot see it, and like Judas, the Lord will separate them from the group in His own time. Until that time, they will be continually frustrated that they are not able to gain foothold, because the Lord protects His flock.
Some might say, “Doesn’t the Bible say that we are supposed to divide the word of truth in 2 Timothy 2:15?” Well, not exactly. It says there that we are to “RIGHTLY DIVIDE” the WORD OF TRUTH. This is not for sowing discord, but in being able to interpret it properly. If you continue to verse 16, the next thing it says is that we are to “…shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.” So, when a person is continually trying to sow discord amongst the brethren, God’s answer for this is to “shun”. This is not done in the old Quaker or Mennonite sense, but it means to don’t converse with them. Why? Because even if your guard is up, and even if you are determined to change the subject if you hear something divisive, the problem is that you still hear it. You can’t take it back. You can’t get it out of your mind. It is imbedded there and the Devil knows that. Your mind will ponder it, even if you don’t discuss it with anyone else, the seed is planted and it begins to grow into it’s evil work. So, the best thing to do is tell the person that you will not entertain any part of that subject, and if you persist, then I must leave. If there is no change on their part, and they persist in sowing discord, then it is best to not even fellowship with them. Love them, but don’t listen to someone who is saying things that are dividing up the brethren. Once it is in your mind, it will eat you up.
If you think you are unintentionally sowing discord amongst the brethren, then you need to ask the Lord for forgiveness. Then the best rule of thumb is to hold your tongue (James 3:5, 6, 8). Learn to be a good listener and not a talker. If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.
If you are not sure if you are saying divisive things or not, you need to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to put His finger on that part of your life and identify it. You will know if the peace of God comes upon you. You will know if you are being true to yourself or not.
The vehicle of discord is GOSSIP. Gossip is a truly destructive thing. I am not talking about talking about each other. That is not gossip. Gossip is when you a person speaks idle tales; tattles; or tells destructive things about each other. You can always tell a gossip because they like to talk allot. They talk so much that it is difficult to end a conversation with them. They also like to say the same thing over and over. And, the subject of their conversation does not brag on or build another person up, it tears others down. Their conversations therefore, are usually filled with self exaltation at the expense of others. And this is where the discord comes in. To promote self, you must put down others, hence–discord.
Recently our church has come together with one common cause. The Devil does not like it when we are united. His attack will come in many forms, but all with the intention of sowing discord amongst the brethren. I trust this article will give you some insight on how to recognize it and what to do when you identify it. May God bless you richly as you serve the Lord.
Micah 3:5 Thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him.
There are false prophets that actually cause people to err from the truth. They are a stumbling block to people, causing them to follow lies. God identifies these prophets as those who declare “peace” but He never gave them that message to give. They are the enemies of God. Jesus said that He did not come to bring peace on the earth, but a sword (Matt. 10:34). On the other hand, on the night He was born, the angels in heaven declared Peace on earth, good will toward men (Luke 2:14).
There is only peace in Jesus Christ. There is no peace in anything outside of Him. If you are in Jesus Christ, even though there is turmoil and destruction all around you, you will be at peace because you know where you are going. However, if you are outside of Jesus Christ, you will never experience peace. You will have to bear the brunt of turmoil and destruction and there is no amount of humanistic help that can soothe you.
BEWARE of those who proclaim PEACE who are not offering Jesus Christ as that peace!
An old proverb says, “When you sup with the devil, use a long spoon.” Presumably, NO genuine Christian would want to sup with the devil at all and yet many may be doing so in ignorance.
The origins of Halloween are Celtic in tradition and have to do with observing the end of summer sacrifices to gods in Druidic tradition. In what is now Britain and France, it was the beginning of the Celtic year, and they believed Samhain, the lord of death, sent evil spirits abroad to attack humans, who could escape only by assuming disguises and looking like evil spirits themselves. The waning of the sun and the approach of dark winter made the evil spirits rejoice and play nasty tricks. Believe it or not, most of our Halloween practices can be traced back to these old pagan rites and superstitions.
In the fourth century, Christians attempted to co-opt the holiday by celebrating the lives of faithful Christian saints the day before Halloween. This was a conscious attempt to provide an alternative and re-focus the day away from ghouls, goblins, ghosts, witches and other “haunted” experiences. Since that time many Christians have decided to allow their children to dress in more “innocent” costumes of pumpkins, princesses, Superman or as a cowboy. Part of this is due to the simple reality that in today’s Western culture it is nearly impossible to “avoid” Halloween.
Halloween is a real, sacred day for those who follow Wicca. In fact, it is one of two high and holy days for them. The Celtic belief of spirits being released is current, along with the worship of Samhain (the lord of death) – both are promoted as something to embrace on that day. Those who believe and follow the practices of witchcraft, Halloween represents an opportunity to embrace the evil, devilish, dark side of the spiritual world.
Halloween is still celebrated as an ancient pagan festival of the dead by witches all over the world. Unfortunately, just giving the date a “holy” name like All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve cannot change its grisly character. Halloween is an occasion when the ancient gods (actually demons) are worshiped with human sacrifice. The apostle Paul warns us: “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils” (1 Cor. 10:20).
During the 8th century in the diocese of Rome, Pope Gregory III moved All Saints Day to November 1, officially making October 31 “All Hallows Eve,” some say, as a way of claiming the celebration for Christians. However, this feast commemorating the martyrdom of the saints had already been celebrated by Christians for many centuries prior to this time. Pope Gregory IV broadened the feast to include the entire Church. Inevitably, some of the pagan practices associated with the season persisted and have been mixed into modern celebrations of Halloween.
It is astonishing just how many Christians let their kids celebrate Halloween. Some churches even sponsor “haunted houses” and similar events on what is the Number One satanic “helliday” of the year. If you are a Christian parent, God has given you a precious responsibility in your children. Remember, their ability to resist spiritual wickedness is much less than yours. If you allow your children to participate in Trick or Treating, costume parties, etc., you are allowing them to play on “the devil’s turf,” and Satan will definitely press his home court advantage. You are opening up doorways into their young lives for evil by bringing them into a kind of “fellowship” with these ancient “gods.”
As Christians you and I are placed in this world to be a light in a world of darkness. There is no lasting benefit to ignore a holiday that exists around us, but it also does harm to celebrate Halloween as it has originated and grown over the centuries. My suggestion? Christians should be teaching their children (age appropriately) that: there is a spiritual world filled with goodness from God and evil from Satan (Eph. 2:1-10); life with Christ has power over darkness (I John 4:4); and those who celebrate Halloween either are unaware of its roots, or are intentionally promoting a world where evil is lauded and viewed as an ultimate power.
To counter the evil influence of Halloween, we need to join together and celebrate the reality of the heroic efforts of Christian saints over the evil in their day. Many leaders in the past — and present — have fulfilled the mandate of destroying the works of the devil through their sacrificial commitment to Christ and His Kingdom.
Too, rather than “hide” in the face of evil, we should unabashedly and boldly create an alternative that is positive and uplifting; that celebrates good over evil and the triumph of God over Satan. We need to provide an environment that also makes room for heaps of fun while using the day as a “teachable moment” to celebrate God’s protection, provision and purpose for our lives.
We are commanded not to become involved with the unfruitful works of darkness (And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Eph. 5:11). There have been far too many examples of how breaking this command works out in lives. Remember, while we have God’s promise of protection for ourselves and our children, that promise may be negated if we allow our children to celebrate this dark holiday. Case after case has been revealed of children in rebellion. In many of these families, the problem can be traced back to the children being exposed to parental compromise with the world at a young age. It is hard enough to raise children these days in a Godly way without exposing them to Satan’s realm.
Are some Christians trying to remove themselves from the world? Ignoring Halloween or celebrating it wth believers only is not exactly an evangelical approach. Aren’t we supposed to “become all things to all men so that by all possible means” we might save some? (1 Corinthians 9:22)
As Christians, why are we here in this world? Are we here to live in a safe and protected environment, guarded against the evils in the world, or are we called to reach out into a world filled with dangers and be the light of Christ? Halloween brings people of the world to our door step. Halloween brings our neighbors out into the streets. I can think of various creative ways to seize this opportunity for developing new relationships and sharing my faith.
Is it possible that our negativity toward Halloween only alienates the people we seek to reach? Can we be in the world, but not of the world?
Ultimately, Christians must decide for themselves and follow their own convictions regarding the observance of Halloween. Christian perspectives on the observance of Halloween are strongly divided. Some believers feel complete freedom to observe the holiday, others run and hide from it, many boycott or ignore it, a number celebrate it through more positive and imaginative observances or Christian alternatives to Halloween, and still others choose to take advantage of Halloween’s evangelistic opportunities. Many Christians believe that participating in Halloween is a form of involvement in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness. However, many consider the modern-day Halloween activities of most to be harmless fun.
Give serious thought to the appropriateness of judging another Christian for observing or not observing Halloween. We do not know why another person participates in the holiday or why they do not. We cannot accurately judge the motivations and intentions of another person’s heart. Study the matter for yourself and follow the convictions of your own heart. Let others do the same without condemnation from you.
I was once a slave.
I was once a slave. Not in the sense that I was owned by any human master, but in the sense that I was a slave to vices that submitted to. The common masters of the human soul today are sex, drugs and booze. These things all draw you back to them. When we cling to them, they gain control bit by bit. Little by little they own us until we are completely taken in by their powerful draw. Then, the chains of addiction bind us until we cease to have any choice in how we live. We are hooked. We are owned.
In the USA where slavery was once an issue that divided the nation, it is no wonder we are sensitive to the word. Yet, we do not think it slavery to be enslaved by terrible, and deceitful vices? People have sold themselves into bondage for a little good feeling today. In doing so, they disregard any thoughts for the future. They would rather feel good for the moment at the expense of others future. Listen to the story of the present day slave and his liberation…
When I was on the auction block, naked and in chains, my thoughts ran wildly from anger to fear to humility and back again. Angered because selling one human being to another was wrong. But it was really no different than selling myself to a life enslaved to wicked vices. Fear because I was totally exposed to everyone. Being naked, there was nothing to hide behind. Humbled because there was nothing I could do to change anything. I was the lowest of all human beings; being bid on by the various slave owners looking for “new stock” to work their fields and breed their females.
I was poked, prodded and examined. Fingers picked through my hair and my mouth was pried open to expose my teeth for inspection. Finally it came time for the bidding to begin. I dreaded this, but my fears soared when no one bid on me. The auctioneer kept trying to persuade people to bid on me, but no one did. Amidst all of my shame, the worst, and most humiliating thing I had ever experienced was when I came to realize that I was unwanted by anyone. Didn’t I have any worth to anyone? Surely I was valuable for something. If no one bought me, what would be my end? Would I be put out to pasture?
The thoughts were interrupted when, when to the surprise of all present, I heard a voice say, “I’ll take him.” It was crowded, but when I looked in the direction of the sound of the voice, I saw a common man making the only bid for me. Encouraged by the bid for me, the auctioneer was renewed with enthusiasm to increase the bid and get more people involved. It was to no avail. No one else wanted me. The auctioneer had worked himself up into a sweat, but no one would make a bid for me.
“He’s yours,” the auctioneer told the man.
“Take off his chains. You can have them. I won’t need them.”
“He might be wild and attack you. You never can tell with these kind of people.”
I had never remembered a time in my life when I didn’t wear chains. It was strange and liberating. The weight of the chains literally lifted from me. I wondered why I had been treated this way. What was the catch? Surely nothing good was going to come from this. “Come with me,” my new master told me. I got down off the block and followed the customary 3 steps behind him. I didn’t mind being totally naked because it meant the chains I wore all of my life were gratefully gone.
We arrived at the bath house where my master told them he wanted me cleaned proper. That meant he wanted my beard trimmed, hair cut, nails and feet cleaned and scrubbed. I had never been cleaned this way before. As I wondered at the four people working on me, I realized that, in fact, I had never even been clean before. It was fresh and new. I knew then that I wanted to stay clean forever. “Please follow me,” my master asked more than demanded.
Out into the street once again this time brought a tingling of envy on my part. I knew I was naked, but I was clean. The chains were gone and I was clean. Into the clothing store he led me where he told the clerk, “Put on him the best suit of clothes you have in the house. Money is no object. I want him to have the best.”
I was being measured and prodded. Pins and needles and markers were all about me. Finally they brought out the clothes they had made for me. I had never had clothes like this before. The silk ran softly across my clean cool skin. There were no restrictions in movement anywhere. The best thing was—the color was blue.
I appreciated the coincidence of making my first new suit of clothing out of my favorite color–blue. This very thought was overwhelming as I had began the day as a slave, the lowest of low, being sold on an auction block where, nobody wanted me. I was totally worthless. Now I was standing on the street, unshackled, clean with a new suit of clothes made in my very favorite color.
All of this was new to me. I still could not comprehend it. There was a tint of joy mixed with cautious apprehension as my appreciation for my owner grew.
“Have you eaten today?” he asked. I had not, but I hesitated to tell him so. He had already done so much for me and I didn’t deserve any of it. How could I take him for granted? “Come on, you can tell me if you’ve eaten or not.” he coaxed.
As was the custom of slaves, I dare not look him in the eyes. I safely stared at the ground when he addressed me. I stammered, not knowing how to answer him. His rugged hands touched me under the chin and raised my head up. “You can look me in the eyes.”
Looking in his eyes, I could see something that I had not seen since I was a child. I first saw it from my mother. It was the look of deep compassion coupled with sincere concern. It was the look of someone who cared about me as a person and not an object. It enveloped a kind of friendship, but I could not accept that my master could ever be my friend. Those eyes looked deep into my soul in such a way that I knew everything about me was revealed. It was as if my whole life was laid out before Him there on that street.
My life did not have much true joy in it. It was filled with pain and suffering; things that I did not want to share with anyone because I did not want to confront them again. There were things that I put in a hidden compartment of my mind because the only thing I could do to overcome them was to bury them deep into the compartment of distant memory. His gaze seemed to open up all of those hidden compartments of my life and not only see the pain, but experience it himself. I was not really sure, but I think I saw a tear well up in the corners of his eyes as he said, “come on, lets get you a meal.”
Off we went down the street. Because he wanted to walk with me, it was impossible to walk three steps behind him. The slower he went, the slower I went until he beckoned me to walk with him. I was very uncomfortable with this because I knew people were looking at Him with disgust because of the way he treated me. their comments were not nice. They threw at him words that contained a terrible, hateful message. These were the kind of words I was accustomed to hearing, but he did not deserve anything like this. He was being punished for compassion and it made me feel defensive of him. I did not know this new master very well, but at least I knew I was His, and I didn’t like what they were doing to him.
We arrived at the boarding house with a following. The owners were not going to let me eat in the main dining hall because I was a slave. After some deliberation, we went into the back room where slaves could eat. He beckoned me to sit down, which I did. Then the biggest surprise of all was that he sat down at the table with me. The owners were trying to get him to go out into the main dining hall, but he would have none of it. “I eat with my friend”, he said with a tone of finality. “Master, you don’t have to do this,” I said. “You’ve already done too much. There is no need to embarrass yourself so.”
“It’s okay. I want to be here with you.”
“Master, I promise I will wait for you. I won’t run off.”
“I know you won’t. But I want to eat with you. I want to know you better. What’ll you have?”
“Whatever you want for me to eat Master. It’s not proper for me to choose for myself.”
“Waiter! We’ll take two of the finest steaks you have.”
When the steaks came, I looked at it without knowing what to do. He showed me how to use the knife and fork and cut it. I had never been allowed to hold a knife before. It was the first time I had ever held the cool steel in my hand. No one had ever trusted me with a knife, especially one sharp enough to cut a steak. With a little difficulty I cut the meat and put it in my mouth. The sensations were so active I could only think they were going to collapse in a type of fatigue.
Today was a day of firsts. I had never tasted meat like this before. It was the best meal I had ever had. I enjoyed it so much that I almost forgot who I was. When it was time to leave, I quickly remembered my place. As we went outside in the streets, there were people waiting to persecute my master. They didn’t like it that he ate with the slaves. They thought it showed a wrong message. They didn’t want to be held to His standards. They wanted him to digress to their standards, but my master was courageous. He stood up to them all and did the right thing.
Following him to the end of the street, the crowd thinned. this is where it happened. At the end of the street, he turned to me and told me something I will never forget. He said, “I bought you so you will never have to be in bondage again. You are free to do as you please. Here are your papers. I love you and I am sorry that you ever had to be in bondage in the first place.” I was stunned. Was I hearing correctly? Was I being set free? Did he really buy me, clean me, clothe me and feed me to set me free? I had long since lost hope of ever being free. It was so far out of reach that I had even refused to think about it. Now I was being set free by a master who loved me. I didn’t really know him, and now he was setting me free.
I hardly realized he was shaking my hand in a gesture of departure. I was trying to come to grips with my thoughts. By the time I came to myself, he had already turned and was walking away. Again I didn’t know what to do. I had no where to go. If I went back to the world, I would certainly be put in bondage again. I knew I didn’t want that, but what could I do? I had never been faced with making so many choices. I knew I couldn’t stand there forever. “Whatcha gonna do boy?”, a burly man watching with amusement asked. I was being pushed. People were beginning to surround me. It didn’t take long for the world to catch up to me and press in. They were mocking, pushing and demeaning. There was nothing I could do about it. Hands were tearing at my new set of clothing. They wanted it for themselves. They wanted me to return to my hopeless, naked, enslaved position.
It came to mind suddenly. When I had no thought of what to do, I wanted to cry out for my master, but he had gone on. If I really wanted him to be my master, why had I not followed him? I was so infatuated with my freedom, that I forgot Him. Pushing through the crowd, I went after Him. After a short time, I caught up with him. I had never wanted someone to be my master before. I had always despised those who were proud of the title. But this time was different. I knew I wanted him to be my master. “Master,” I cried. He turned to wait for me. “Can I come with you?”, I asked.
“You don’t need to. You’re free now.”
“I know. You gave me my papers.”
“You can go anywhere you want to go.”
“I know, but can I follow you? If it’s okay with you, can I be your slave?”
“I didn’t buy you because I wanted a slave. I bought you because I care.”
“I know that now. But I want to be your slave. I want to follow you. I want you to be my master.”
This is the attitude that a sinner who has been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ should have. There should be a deep desire for devotion to their master. Under grace, He has put no requirements on the sinner. The Lord bought us, cleaned us, fed us and clothed us; then He set us free. We are free to do as we wish. We can run off back to the world; we can follow selfish ambitions; or we can follow the master, not because He demands us to do so, but because we appreciate what He did for us.
Many Christians today have it all wrong. They approach a relationship with Jesus because they are looking for what He can do for them. Like those who demanded food from Jesus were disappointed when He would not give it to them (John 6:34-66), Christians today fall away when God doesn’t do exactly what they want. They are the master of the relationship instead of allowing Jesus to be the master. Yes, they may speak like He is the master, but their actions show a much different thing. They go to certain churches because they are looking for a certain: children’s program, support group, bible study, activities for the family, marriage counseling, etc. They are what is commonly know as “church shoppers.” They are looking for the perfect place where God can give them what they demand of Him. God may not ever give them what they want because it goes contrary to what He wants. He wants them to freely follow HIM!
Confused Christians have their masters. If they are not the vices of the day, they are the programs a church can offer. It is not the Creator. If He was their master, they would be willing to forego the programs and sit under good Godly preaching that would help them. Preaching that would show them where they are right as well as show them where they are wrong. They would not let personalities in the church dictate their attendance. They would not care if someone said something bad about them or not. They would only care about following the Saviour who rightfully bought them, cleaned them up, clothed them, fed them and set them free. They would give up their freedom for a devoted life of following Him no matter how difficult it would be.
I would that every Christian reading this article would be able to say, “I am glad to be His happy slave.” Why? Because He doesn’t demand it.~
What is a friend? The world has its idea of what a friend is. They usually count a friend as being a resource; someone who can help you or give you things when you have needs. This kind of approach usually goes like this: “Oh good, they have a tractor. That will be good for me when I need one.” Some people, like the Chinese, take this one step farther with their principle called Guang Xi. This means that you keep trying to expand your “friend” base so you have access to as much resources as possible. Even though you may not like the person at all, if they have something you might need in the future, you call them friend so you can get access to it. In the world of politics, we call this corruption.
Even though Christians are in the world but not of the world, they still make friends; it is just that their basis for friendship has changed. For the Christian, a friend is a trusted confidant to whom you are drawn, or who is drawn to you. They are a companion and an ally, whose love for you is not dependent on your performance or what you can provide for them. Finally, and most importantly, a friend to the Christian is someone whose influence draws you closer to God.
Philippians 3:18-19 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
Paul experienced people who called him a friend but they were not. His sorrow over this was they were the enemies of Jesus Christ. This left no or little basis upon which to build a friendship. These “friends” were those who served fleshly appetites. They found humor in their shame and they had no concern for eternity. They were interested in the three greatest foes to the Christian: the World, the Flesh and the Devil.
Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
If you develop friendships where you don’t have the fundamental basic foundation in common, you are doing a disservice to that person and to yourself. That friendship is doomed to failure. If you find yourself in this situation, you should ask yourself, “Why am I even interest in this friendship? Is my motive so that it will benefit me? Or, is God putting us together?”
Developing the right kind of friendships can be difficult. It takes understanding of how friendships are established. The Child of God should approach making friends with the determination of “if you reject Christ then you must also reject me, for He is my greatest friend.” When asked to compromise or violate the Scriptures: smile and say, “No thank you. I’ve committed my life to Jesus and I don’t want to displease Him by doing that.” It is important to let God choose your friends, based on their needs and desire for God’s help and not worldly ambitions or desires.
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
Everyone has a limited capacity for friendship; you can’t be friends with everyone. Still, some people have more friends than others. This does not mean that some people don’t have any friends at all; each person has a different capacity for numbers of friendships and everyone has the capacity to develop intimate friends.
There are four levels of friendships:
- Acquaintances: With acquaintances, there is occasional contact and general conversation. Information is shared, but it is that which would be public anyway. For acquaintances, you are determining the spiritual basis for a friendship. People might have from 100-1500 acquaintances in their life. They are not friends—they are acquaintances.
- Casual Friends: Unsaved friends can only be casual friends. Some specific information is shared usually regarding goals, plans, etc., For casual friends you are usually trying to identify any positive qualities for the basis of a closer friendship (i.e. Is there a basis for fellowship?). People might have from 25-100 casual friends in their life.
- Close Friends: Close friends are those whom there is a basis for fellowship. This means they share with you common beliefs, standards and goals. Close friends can become mentors or mentored. They are those whom you become involved with projects together. People might have from 7-25 close friends in their life.
- Intimate Friends: These are those who are commonly called: “Best friends.” They are always available. Not only do they provide encouragement, but they are close enough to be able to tell you of blind spots in your life. It is the sharing of Godly standards and common goals that allows this deep level of friendship. People might have from 4-6 intimate friends in their life.
There is the Biblical basis for making friends. Now that there is a little more understanding of how friendships are established, lets make friends the right way: God’s way.
(Men Are From Sears, Women Are From Nordstrom)
I believe that, in general, women are saner than men. For example, If you see people who have paid good money to stand in an outdoor stadium on a freezing December day wearing nothing on the upper halves of their bodies except paint, those people will be male.
Without males, there would be no such sport as professional lawn mower racing. Also, there would be a 100 decline in the annual number of deaths related to efforts to shoot beer cans off of heads. Also, if women were in charge of all the world’s nations, there would be, I sincerely believe this, virtually no military conflicts, and if there were a military conflict, everybody involved would feel just awful and there would soon be a high- level exchange of thoughtful notes written on greeting cards with flowers on the front, followed by a Peace Luncheon (which would be salads, with the dressing on the side).
So I sincerely believe that women are wiser than men, with the exception of one key area, and that area is: clothing sizes. In this particular area, women are insane.
When a man shops for clothes, his primary objective is to purchase clothes that fit on his particular body. A man will try on a pair of pants, and if those pants are too small, he’ll try on a larger pair, and when he finds a pair that fits, he buys them. Most men do not spend a lot of time fretting about the size of their pants. Many men wear jeans with the size printed right on the back label, so that if you’re standing behind a man in a supermarket line, you can read his waist and inseam size. A man could have, say, a 52-inch waist and a 30-inch inseam, and his label will proudly display this information, which is basically the same thing as having a sign that says: “Howdy! My butt is the size of a Federal Express truck!” The situation is very different with women.
When a woman shops for clothes, her primary objective is NOT to find clothes that fit her particular body. She would like for that to be the case, but her primary objective is to purchase clothes that are the size she wore when she was 19 years old. This will be some arbitrary number such as “5” or “7.” Don’t ask me “5” or “7” of what; that question has baffled scientists for centuries. All I know is that if a woman was a size 5 at age 19, she wants to be a size 5 now, and if a size 5 outfit does not fit her, she will not move on to a larger size: She can’t! Her size is 5! So she will keep trying on size 5 items, and unless they start fitting her, she will become extremely unhappy.
She may take this unhappiness out on her husband, who is waiting patiently in the mall, perhaps browsing in the Sharper Image store, trying to think of how he could justify purchasing a pair of night-vision binoculars. “Hi!” he’ll say, when his wife finds him. “You know how sometimes the electricity goes out at night and…” “Am I fat?” she’ll ask, cutting him off. This is a very bad situation for the man, because if he answers “yes,” she’ll be angry because he’s saying that she’s fat, and if he answers “no,” she’ll be angry because HE’S OBVIOUSLY LYING BECAUSE NONE OF THE SIZE 5’s FIT HER.
There is no escape for the husband. I think a lot of unexplained disappearances occur because guys in malls see their wives unsuccessfully trying on outfits, and they realize their lives will be easier if, before their wives come out and demand to know whether they’re fat, the guys just run off and join a UFO cult.
The other day my wife, Michelle, was in a terrific mood, and you know why? Because she had successfully put on a size 6 outfit. She said this made her feel wonderful. She said, and this is a direct quote: “I wouldn’t care if these pants were this big (here she held her arms far apart) as long as they have a ‘6’ on them.”
Here’s how you could get rich: Start a women’s clothing store called “SIZE 2,” in which all garments, including those that were originally intended to be restaurant awnings, had labels with the words “SIZE 2.” I bet you’d sell clothes like crazy. You’d probably get rich, and you could retire, maybe take up some philanthropic activity to benefit humanity. I’m thinking here of professional lawn mower racing.