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Ephesians 6:11-17 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
God has a specific manner in which He would have the Christian dress to successfully navigate his earthly pilgrimage. It is not a set of lounging pajamas, nor is it a “dress for success” in the world outfit. It is not a set of rugged work clothes or rain gear. It is called the whole armour of God, and many Christians forget that it is available to them.
Every Christian is to grow up to be a warrior for Christ. As warrior, we must be prepared to defend against the many assaults of the world. Likewise, we should be prepared to attack the influences of evil wherever it reveals itself. When God tells us to “STAND”, He means that we are to “defend the faith once delivered to the saints.” From the very beginning, Christianity has been attacked. False teachers have “crept in unawares” for the purpose of “modernizing” (changing) the way Christ wanted the church to be. There has been a constant bombardment to make the church something appealing to man, taking it farther and farther from the truth. This we must not allow. WE MUST STAND FAST!
Not only are we to stand, but wherever we see one of our enemies: the world, the flesh or the devil, we are to go on the offensive. We must not let them destroy our lives, families, churches, communities or the Bible. We are to do what we can to fight the enemy away. Our Captain, as well as other Christians are in the fight. We too must get prepared and get into it as well. David fought Goliath, Samson with the Philistines, Gideon with the Midianites, and Nehemiah with Sanballat and Tobiah. They didn’t just defend their ground, they took up the offensive against the enemy.
We must be on the watch constantly; watching and praying that we enter not into temptation (Matt. 26:41). Our nature is that we are very willing in mind to do something for the Lord, but our old flesh is not. Self agrees to allow the tongue to say, “I’ll do it” when the brain sends that thought on. But when it comes time, Self always betrays us, turning us into a hypocrite. Then we feel defeated and hesitate to “show our face” again. This is one tactic for getting us out of the battle. To deal with this we must ask the Lord to “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” We can ask Him to guide our steps to avoid the pitfalls of temptations that we would have come into contact with unless He does. And if we do not follow His guidance, and come in contact with a temptation anyway, we can ask Him to warn us and give wisdom so we can run from it as quick as we can (note: When you run from something, you are running to something as well–Run to the Bible).
Now there are special times when many Christians are destroyed by temptations because they let down their guard. Some of these times are: summer vacation, holidays, times of sickness and times of success. During these times Christians are most vulnerable to attack. When we are out of schedule or not feeling well, we tend to let our guard down. I have many times seen Christians in church and at the altar during times of trial or tribulation in their life. But, when the Lord allows them a successful outcome, they start to slip in attendance, tithing and involvement. They become prideful and comfortable and it seems like the don’t need God anymore because they can now handle things on their own. I often wonder if the Lord allows for trouble in our lives because He knows that is what we need to drive us to church to hear His word.
The Lord Jesus Christ was our example. His life was not a life of ease and comfort. He had spiritual battles, too. In fact, He was tempted in all points such as we are and even some that we are not. He was tempted by the Devil in ways that we will never be tempted. When He was on the cross, some of His own people tempted Him to come down and prove Himself, but He continued His fight to pay for the sin of the world. We too need to recognize there is a battle which rages around us and we must fight; defend our ground as well as attack where needed.
Spiritual warfare often surprises many Christians because they are not looking for it. Like the American fleet at Pearl Harbor that fateful day, they know they are in a war, but are relaxed because they don’t think the battle can come to them. We need to be armed, trained and ready for the imminent attack of the enemy. He is a hardened veteran with many years of battle experience. He never relaxes, never takes a day off, never regroups. He is deadly and dangerous to the life of a Christian. So, we must always be prepared to fight him on any ground. We must always be vigilant and the first step is to recognize there is a war, and that we are in it.
Some people try to equip themselves with “enlightenment,” or the “power of positive thinking” or “love.” Whether it is meditation, yoga, or even putting your head in the sand, none of these are God’s appointed formula for equipping yourself for the battle. There is no other armour sufficient to take the place of God’s armour. His armour provides the protection that is needed and we must use every piece of it. No part of our life can be exposed else the armour would not have its designed effect. We must put on the “whole armour of God.” If one part is missing, then we are exposed. If we use all of God’s armour, but decide to exchange one piece of it for something else, then we are exposed and the whole suit is useless. His armour is properly designed to work together as an entire suit for dealing with the battle the Christian is in.
This girdle or belt ties all the other armour together. It keeps the robe from tangling. The meaning of “truth” in this passage is sincerity, transparency, or realness. The Scripture mentions the “unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Realness, sincerity, or transparency sets us free from being a fake. It frees us from the “fear of man” or peer pressure. God hates hypocrisy. The word hypocrite means “actor” or “one who wears a mask.” The first piece of armour is sincerity, realness or transparency. Being real keeps us from many of the attacks of the enemy.
The root word of righteousness is “right,” as in being right with someone. The breastplate guards the most vital organ–the heart. Right living guards our heart from wrong emotions and temptations. The habit of right living is a defense against wrong. We are to be militant—“zealous of good works.” Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
A wise general looks after his soldiers’ shoes. If they wear out, the troops cannot travel. The roads are rough! Footprints of peace are to be left by Christian soldiers everywhere they go. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9). Romans 10:15, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” We are to leave peace wherever we go and bring peace between God and man as we witness. Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Prayer keeps our mind at peace. Prayer keeps our footing firm. God gave us feet so we could spread the gospel. Let’s use them for Him!
The Roman shield was about as big as a door. It protected the entire body. They could even be hooked to other shields to form a wall. Some even poured water on their shields to quench fiery darts. In the Old Testament, God told Abraham that He would be his shield and strength. Our shield of faith comes from Bible reading. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Faith makes us grow. Faith protects us from heresy. Faith entices us to claim God’s promises. Faith is believing God’s word to the point of putting it to the test.
The helmet is the most elaborately designed piece of armour, and it is beautiful. It is a picture of ASSURANCE OF SALVATION. A Christian who has doubts about whether he is saved or not will not win many battles for God. The helmet also guards the mind. We are to guard what thoughts we allow to enter our mind. Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
The word of God is the Holy Spirit weapon in our hand. It is the same weapon Jesus used against the devil in Matthew 4:1-8 where he constantly said, “It is written…” Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” The sword is for close confrontation after arrows had been shot and spears thrown. The sword was double edged. Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Carry it wherever you go! Don’t be caught without your weapon!
Just as a soldier dresses before battle, so should a Christian put on his armour each morning. As you put your belt on in the morning, ask God to make you sincere. Determine in your heart to be truthful with yourself and with others. As you put on your shirt or blouse for the day, determine to live right. Ask God to help you in areas of weakness. Guard your heart for the day. Watch your emotions. Love the Lord with all your heart. Tell Him so! As you put your shoes on, ask God to make you a peacemaker. Ask Him to give you power as you look for opportunities to witness for Christ. Put your Bible in your clothing or purse to have it with you all day. Find Scripture to meditate on all day! As you comb your hair, reminisce about the day you were saved. Praise God for it. Guard your thoughts. Begin your day with a song to keep depression away.
Before you leave the house for the day, remember you are a soldier. There is a warfare to face. Do not be surprised or discouraged over problems during the day! Put on the whole armour of God and be prepared.
Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son.
Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles, California won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn’t notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor’s hubcaps.
Terrence Dickson, of Bristol, Pennsylvania, was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to open. Worse, he couldn’t re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut. Forced to sit for eight days and survive on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the home owner’s insurance company claiming undue mental anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish.
Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor’s beagle – even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner’s fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.
A jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay $113,500 to Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania because after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.
Kara Walton, of Claymont, Delaware sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000 plus dental expenses.
Mrs. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, purchased new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver’s seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owners manual that she couldn’t actually leave the driver’s seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.
Let me just say it up-front and here: The world is going crazy! There never seems to be a lack of knowledge, but there sure is a lack of common sense right now. There is a great difference between the two. Knowledge is just that—knowledge. Common sense is—knowing how to use that knowledge. For several decades now the people have been bombarded with knowledge. We have knowledge coming out of our ears. This is the problem—we have too much knowledge, but we seriously lack wisdom to know how to use it properly.
The reason that we have this lack in ability to use the knowledge that we have is because there has been a wholesale retreat from the word of God and from God Himself. God is the one who gives common sense. In Nehemiah when the people stood in their place and the words of God were read to them, they obtained knowledge. But, as the words were being read, “God distinctly… gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Neh. 8:8). Because there has been a disdain of God, there has been a lack of common sense.
In the garden of Eden, Adam was told not to eat of the fruit of the tree of KNOWLEGE of good and evil. Why? Because in the very day that he would eat of that fruit, his EYES WOULD BE OPEN. That is what happened—man’s eyes were open but his mind is shut off. Knowledge keeps pouring in, but to no avail, there is no sensible way to use the knowledge unless you turn to God and get a little common sense.
Those who know me, know that I always tell a person before getting saved, they will get “new eyes.” I am telling them, (and you if you are unsaved today while reading this), they will begin seeing the same old things they have seen all of their life, but from a different perspective. That is the perspective of common sense. God will cause them to understand the things that they have KNOWN as they read their Bibles.
This is how an intelligent person, a person with an ability to store huge amounts of knowledge, can come up with such “far out” theories as: evolution, big bangs, black holes, expanding universes and space within space. The have a lot of knowledge, but cannot disseminate it, that is to say, use it in a common sense way. It is not enough for them to know gravity exists, but they must understand it. This is a good example of taking something that they know exists (gravity) and apply common sense to it (how it works).
I know that someone will focus on what they desire and miss the whole purpose of this little article. They will think that I am saying that knowledge is not good, and that like most preachers, will think that we have to have blind faith to be a Christian. That is not so. Knowledge is profitable, but only if it is coupled with common sense, so it can be used wisely.
The world today seems to be getting more stupid as we go along; yet there is more knowledge out there than has ever been before. How is that? There is a lack of common sense; there is a disdain for God.
Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
The Lord Jesus clearly warns that doing good works is not enough to allow a person to go to heaven. Yes they are good things to do, but they will not “earn” passage through heaven’s gates. The first and utmost requirement is to do the will of the Father which is in heaven. If that is not accomplished, everything else has no meaning at all.
What is the will of the Father? It is that we come to him based on the merit of Jesus Christ. That means to understand we are sinners who cannot pay for our sin; to understand that the Father accepted the Lord Jesus Christ’s payment for our sin; and that if we accept that payment for us, then based on Jesus’ faith, God will forgive us and allow us in.
Too many people put emphasis on doing good works to go to heaven. They like to keep control of their destiny. But, my friend, you must put your destiny into the hands of Jesus Christ. He is the Saviour.
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.
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.
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.
After living what I felt was a “decent” life, my time on earth came to the end. The first thing I remember is sitting on a bench in the waiting room of what I thought to be a court house. The doors opened and I was instructed to come in and have a seat by the defense table. As I looked around I saw the “prosecutor.” He was a villainous looking gent who snarled as he stared at me. He definitely was the most evil person I have ever seen.
I sat down and looked to my left and there sat My Attorney, a kind and gentle looking man whose appearance seemed so familiar to me, I felt I knew Him. The corner door flew open and there appeared the Judge in full flowing robes. He commanded an awesome presence. As He moved across the room I couldn’t take my eyes off of Him. As He took His seat behind the bench, He said, “Let us begin.”
The prosecutor rose and said, “My name is Satan and I am here to show you why this man belongs in hell.” He proceeded to tell of lies that I told, things that I stole, and in the past when I cheated others. Satan told of other horrible perversions that were once in my life and the more he spoke, the further down in my seat I sank. I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t look at anyone, even my own Attorney, as the Devil told of sins that even I had completely forgotten about.
As upset as I was at Satan for telling all these things about me, I was equally upset at My Attorney who sat there silently not offering any form of defense at all. I knew I had been guilty of those things, but I had done some good in my life–couldn’t that at least equal out part of the harm I’d done? Satan finished with a fury and said, “This man belongs in hell, he is guilty of all that I have charged and there is not a person who can prove otherwise.”
When it was His turn, My Attorney first asked if He might approach the bench. The Judge allowed this over the strong objection of Satan, and beckoned Him to come forward. As He got up and started walking, I was able to see Him in His full splendor and majesty. I realized why He seemed so familiar; this was Jesus representing me, my Lord and my Savior. He stopped at the bench and softly said to the Judge, “HI, DAD,” and then He turned to address the court. “Satan was correct in saying that this man had sinned, I won’t deny any of these allegations. And, yes, the wage of sin is death, and this man deserves to be punished.” Jesus took a deep breath and turned to His Father with outstretched arms and proclaimed, “However, I died on the cross so that this person might have eternal life and he has accepted Me as his Savior, so he is Mine.
My Lord continued with, “His name is written in the Book of Life, and no one can snatch him from Me. Satan still does not understand yet. This man is not to be given justice, but rather mercy.”
As Jesus sat down, He quietly paused, looked at His Father and said, “There is nothing else that needs to be done. I’ve done it all.”
The Judge lifted His mighty hand and slammed the gavel down. The following words bellowed from His lips. “This man is free. The penalty for him has already been paid in full. Case dismissed.”
As my Lord led me away, I could hear Satan ranting and raving, “I won’t give up, I will win the next one.”
I asked Jesus as He gave me my instructions where to go next, “Have you ever lost a case?”
Christ lovingly smiled and said, “Everyone that has come to Me and asked Me to represent them has received the same verdict as you, Paid In Full.”
There are things that are important to us in life, but nothing is more important than soul winning. The soul is the part of man that lives forever. It is the part of man that feels pain or joy; happiness or sorrow. It is the center of the man.
Proverbs 11:30 says, “He that winneth souls is wise.” It is a wise and profitable thing to be a soul winner because it pleases God. He has a high evaluation of the soul winner. It is one of the dearest things to the heart of God. Consequently, it pays enormous eternal dividends. A man who turns people to righteousness is wise because he is laying up treasure in heaven.
Conversely, a Christian who is occupied with trivial matters of life is unwise. Majoring on minors is foolish. Therefore, not to win souls is to be guilty of the sin of folly.
If we are to be wise, we should actively be involved in soul winning of some kind. If we don’t know how to win a soul to the Lord, we should learn how to do so. I am sure you can ask your Pastor or Christian friend.
When is the last time you led someone to the Lord? Have you ever won someone to the Lord? There is no shortage of people that need to hear the gospel. They are wondering aimlessly through life, believing a lie that is leading them to hell. People want to be saved. They just don’t know what to do. They know there is an emptiness in their life that is not fulfilled. They know they need something, they just don’t know what it is or how to get it.
There is however, a shortage of Christians who are willing to tell the lost about salvation. There should not be, but there is. We need to be not so. The entire world is in need of the Lord Jesus Christ—and who will tell our neighbors? The Devil will have them hear all of his doctrine, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by every means possible. The Lord left the job of spreading the gospel up to us. Not the TV. Not the Internet. Not the radio. He left it up to us.
Spreading the gospel is not doing good deeds for others. It is not living a right life or even helping the poor. Spreading the gospel is to actively tell people how they can be saved; how they can know for sure they an go to heaven.
These are the last days that we are living in. We live in a unique time. No other people the history of mankind has had so much at stake as we havetoday. We are like the anchor runner in the relay race of life. Lets not drop the baton. Lets not run out of steam on the last lap. Lets give it all we have Got. Souls lie in the balance.
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.~
In a small Texas town, (Mt.Vernon) Drummond’s Bar began construction on a new building to increase their business. Across the street, the local Baptist church started a campaign to block the bar from opening with petitions and prayers. Work progressed right up till the week before opening when lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground.
The church folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, until the bar owner sued the church on the grounds that the church was ultimately responsible for the demise of his building, either through direct or indirect actions or means. The church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection to the building’s demise in its reply to the court.
As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork. At the hearing he commented, ” I don’t know how I’m going to decide this, but as it appears from the paperwork, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer, and an entire church congregation that does not.
The relationship with Christ is the most important relationship any person can enter into. It is more important than the one that you can have with your spouse or your children. It is more important than the one you can have with your parents or grand-parents (Luke 14:26). Lets face it, who can be more important than God?
There are scores upon scores of “Christians” who do not believe this. Most of these instances can be attributed to their ignorance of the person of God. Most people get saved because they want to escape hell. When confronted with the reality of their sin, and their destination, they quickly want to do something about it. When they learn that all they have to do is accept a “free gift”, they quickly scoop it up, being ignorant of everything else. As long as they get saved, that is enough. What they don’t realize, what they are not taught, is they have begun a wonderful journey in their relationship with God: they are now a “son of God” (John 1:12). But, you never see them studying their Bible, learning from some other grounded Christian or growing in the Lord. Not only does Satan like to get them side-lined, but Christians never follow up on them to wisely guide them around the many pitfalls of life that are awaiting them. And, there are many like this.
It is sad to think that there are many “sons of God” wandering around lost in their relationship with Him. If they could just get some direction, then God could do something in their life that would profit them. Some even think they are growing when they are not. The Devil might have them growing in the social activities of the community or even the church, but not in their relationship with the Lord. This is why it burdens my heart to see people so “off” and “on” about church attendance or Group Bible Study. I know that if they could just keep coming long enough, or often enough, then they will begin to see the secrets of the universe revealed within the pages of God’s Word. They will develop a curiosity for the things of God; a hunger and thirst for the WORD. This too, I have seen many times and it has not been without a perplexing of the mind.
In foreign countries (I have visited 16 of them) people seem to have more of a hunger for God’s Word. This seems to be more prevalent in communist countries. It is a pleasure to see them grow in the Lord. It doesn’t take long before the answers of life begin to reveal themself. Then they become most curious. They want to know more and more. Things begin to connect. They are able to answer their own questions from the Bible, because they have a foundation built into their life that cannot be broken up.
It doesn’t seem to be this way in the USA though. I don’t know why. Perhaps it is a familiarity with what people THINK Christianity is supposed to be all about. I am guessing that is where the answer lies. There is no way to change this except getting people into their Bibles and hoping they stay in it long enough to get hooked. If they do, they will learn what the Bible says instead of what man says.
The Bible teaches that we have a relationship with God. He is our Father and we are His children. We belong to a family of believers, and it is difficult for any family when there are prodigals in it. It tears at the heart of a family when one member turns away from God.
What can we do to prevent this? We must emphasis we are all a part of a family, even before someone gets saved, else I fear that we have just put another name in our Bibles; chalked another one up for our self; another notch in our cane. Winning souls is not a competition. It is just as important to disciple someone than it is to lead them to the Lord. God does not hand out winning lottery tickets to the one who leads the most people to Christ. We are showing people the right way of life. What good may a salvation be that does not change a persons life? We are commanded to “teach them ALL THINGS whatsoever I command you.” (Matt. 28:29). One may argue, “Well, at least they are saved.” This may not be good enough to really help a person develop for Christ.
How many families have a baby and put the baby in the crib and never check on them again? I don’t know of even one family that has done such a thing like that. It would certainly be cruel or abusive. What chance does that baby have of growing up to be a strong man or woman? How would they even survive a few days in such a predicament? NO! We take care of babies. We feed them and teach them for many years until they are able to stand on their own, and this they do gradually.
New born “sons of God” are in this same situation. They need nourishment. They need instruction. They need to develop their muscles and learn to walk on their own. I feel that we often don’t see it this way because they look like a mature human being, and this is true, but they are a new born babe in Christ.
How do we teach them? How do we nurture them if we are not confident in ourselves to teach them the things of the Lord? The answer is to bring them to church. This way they can be in an environment centered on learning about God. Encourage them to be at church; taking advantage of every opportunity to learn. It is vital to their growth.
You can’t give a baby a book and say, “Here you are. Grow up.” They need to be in an environment where they can see how to apply the things they learn out of the Book. They need to have fellowship with others in the church to stretch them and strengthen them. Just like you want your growing child to have supervised association with others for their growth’s sake, new born babes in Christ need the same thing. This is why they need to “rub elbows with” others in the church.
Another very important item is for them to be faithful in learning about the Lord, you must be as well. They will take the things they learn, then look at your life to see how to apply them to their life. SO, you must be a good example.
Yes! Souls need to be saved. But they need to be made aware of their family ties. They need to be introduced to the family so the family can take care of its own. The Lord has placed them into a wonderful part of the body of Christ. Their great adventure awaits them. We must hold them and hug them.
“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.
Matthew 11:6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
People today seem to be offended about everything. Everybody you meet gets offended about something you do or say. There is no getting away from it. It seems like people go out of their way to get offended about something. It seems like it is the new norm. Everybody has a chip on their shoulder just waiting for someone to knock it off so they can get offended and bring attention to themselves.
Jesus preaches not getting offended, especially in Him. The world would be a much kinder and safer place if people just chose to not be offended. There would be much more love and caring for each other if there was less getting offended. There would be less pride and more helping each other.
The first offence that people have tumbling them down a long slope of bitterness is in the Lord Jesus Christ. More than ever, society is anti-Jesus. They are not neutral as they claim to be best for everyone, but they have taken one side against God; they are offended in the Lord Jesus Christ. The more society moves away from Jesus because they are offended in Him, the less blessing they will receive. We need God’s blessing more than ever. If our country is going to return to it’s former glory, then it needs, no, it must have the blessing of God.
What is an “apostle?” What are the qualifications for “apostleship?” Who are called “apostles” in Scripture? Who are the “twelve apostles” who will sit on twelve thrones and have their names on the twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem? Are there “apostles” today?
The first reference of the word “apostle” gives us a clue to the meaning—Matthew 10:1-5. The key idea here is that an apostle is a “sent one;’ an ambassador delegated to carry a message (“messenger”). Every man who is called an apostle fits this description. Even Jesus Christ is called the Apostle in Hebrews 3:1. That is because He is The Sent One.
The name apostle is different than“disciple” which means “learner; pupil; follower.”
The TWELVE men ordained by the Lord Jesus Christ “to be with Him” (Mark 3:14) differed from others who were called apostles in Scripture. They were UNIQUE, in that Jesus gave them special power and authority for the performance of their office (Matt. 10:1, 8; Luke 10:19).
When Judas Iscariot fell from apostleship a replacement was chosen to fill the “twelfth” spot. The number twelve is significant.
1. Twelve is the number of the earth (4) times the number of the Trinity (3). This shows God’s intervention within the human family.
2. Twelve is Israel’s number. There are TWELVE-TWELVES in Scripture: (1) 12 tribes—Gen. 49:28; (2) 12 stones on the breastplate—Ex. 28:21; (3) 12 gates into the New Jerusalem; (4) 12 foundations of the city—Rev. 21:14 cf. Eph. 2:19-22; (5) 12 manner of fruits on the tree of life; (6) 12 months to a year with twelve constellations (zodiac) which match the twelve months—Job 38:32; (7) twelve apostles; (8) 12 thrones in the Kingdom—Luke 22:30; (9) 12 hours in a day—John 11:9; (10) 12 musical notes (7 white keys + 5 half notes); (11) 12 colors; (12) 12 national boundries (cf. Deut. 32:7-8—North America; Central America; South America; Antarctica; Asia; Africa; Australia; Middle East; Europe; Artic; the Indies; Greenland).
The question arises, who will sit on the twelfth throne and whose name will appear on the twelfth foundation? Several other men are called “apostles” in Scripture: Matthias (Acts 1:26); Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14); Paul (Rom. 1:1; 11:13); James, the Lord’s brother (Gal. 1:19; 2:9). Which of these would be the twelfth man?
Acts 1:21-22 give four qualifications for Judas’ replacement: He would have to be one who—(1) Companied with the original twelve during the earthly ministry of Christ (Luke 8:1); (2) was a witness of the resurrected Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 9:1); (3) baptized by John; (4) ordained by the Lord (Acts 13:2 cf. 14:4, 14). That eliminates all but Matthias. You will notice in 1 Corinthians 15:5, that J
esus was seen “of the twelve.” Judas had already hung himself, so who were “the twelve” that saw the risen Christ prior to Paul? It had to be the eleven with Matthias.
Jesus with the “Twelve” had a special comission to Israel (Matthew 10:5-6; 15:24; cf. Rom. 15:8). That is why the replacement must be one who was with Christ while He offered the Kingdom to Israel (Matt. 10:7). Th
e apostle Paul’s ministry was primarily to Gentiles (Rom. 11:13 cf. 1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11).
The Scripture is clear that Matthias was numbered with the eleven, which would
What about today? Some churches claim “apostolic succession,” i.e. each generation has it’s own elite group of “apostles” to replace those of the previous generation (Mormons; Catholism; etc.) The Apostolic ministry was certified by signs and miracles (2 Cor. 12:12). These “signs” confirmed that the man was really an apostle (“sent one”). If a man didn’t have the signs of an apostle (Mark 16:17-18), he was found to be a liar (Rev. 2:2) and a false apostle (2 Cor. 11:13). make twelve. This is evidenced in Acts 6:2 where “the TWELVE” are mentioned. This is before Paul, Barnabas, or James are called apostles.
With the death of the last Apostle, John the beloved, the Apostolic Age came to an end. Apostles exist today only in the sense of a missionary being one “sent” by the Lord and delegated by the local church to carry the message of the Gospel (Rom. 1:5-6).
Psalm 91:1-6 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surley he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler and the noisome pestilence. He shall cover the with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
Each of us will at some point of out life experience those “dark hours.” These are the times when we feel that no one cares; no one is listening. It is at these times when we feel all alone against the raging storms of life and there is no hope for ever being happy again. We feel like giving up and allowing the destroyer to have his way with us. But, friend, these are also the times when the saints have God protecting and shielding us from the rages of the storms of life. We have a shelter in a time of storm.
God is always our protector, but He does not only do that by soaring in the lofty heavens, looking down like the ever watchful eagle, He also is very near to us. When the “noisome pestilence” of life finally drives us mad with desire to give up, He is there, covering us with the feathers of His wings. In this way He takes the brunt of the storm upon Himself; He is our shelter and warmth until the storm passes over. He holds us steady so we won’t fall to certain destruction. Why then do we not feel His ever presence? This happens all too often and we don’t “feel” Him there because we are too busy looking on the storm instead of snuggling into His loving embrace. Like the young, we too are disappointed that there is a storm so we cannot go out into the radiant sunshine an frolic for a little while. We are looking at our circumstances instead of our situation.
No one likes to go through a trial—a storm of life. They are not fun because we can’t go out and do what we want to do. Instead, we must stay inside under shelter. And here is the key—we cannot do what we want to do! The storms interrupt our plans. They always come at the most inconvenient times. They are never on our schedule of the day; our things-to-do-list. They are most troublesome by nature. But, it is only from the place of protection that we can be delivered from the storm; that we can be shielded from the trial. AND, whether we know it or not, it is in these times that we get closer to God.
Almost always, when a trial comes in our life, do we run to God for our help. Amazingly, the unsaved, unrepentant, atheist will do so as well. They are always willing to accept prayer for them in their time of trial or despair. They want to have the protection and hope that comes from a loving relationship with God, but don’t want to stay under His wing. Like a child on a playground who wants to climb the monkey bars on his own falls off and gets an owey, when the hurt comes, when there is pain, he immediately runs to mommy. Why is that? They want protection, warmth, shelter and security.
So friends, if you are going through a trial today, if you have been going through some despairing times, the very best thing for you to do is to run to God, get under His wing, snuggle up to Him, and wait out the storm.
“Nice words preacher, but can you be a little more practical?”
Yes! Go to the word of God. Open your Bibles and read some comforting words. Passages that will often meet the needs in times of trouble are mostly in the Psalms. There is much healing and relief in these passages. But that is not all. Pray! If you cannot find your way to God, ask Him to find you. If you seek Him, He will find you. And, when He does, He will protect you, love you, warm you and shelter you from all of the storms of life.
Linda Burnett, 23, a resident of San Diego, was visiting her in-laws and while there went to a nearby supermarket to pick up some groceries. Later, her husband noticed her sitting in her car in the driveway with the windows rolled up and with her eyes closed, with both hands behind the back of her head. He became concerned and walked over to the car. He noticed that Linda’s eyes were now open and she looked very strange. He asked her if she was okay, and Linda replied that she had been shot in the back of the head and had been holding her brains in for over an hour.
The husband called the paramedics, who broke into the car because the doors were locked and Linda refused to remove her hands from her head.
When they finally got in, they found that Linda had a wad of bread dough on the back of her head. A Pillsbury biscuit canister had exploded from the heat, making a loud noise that sounded like a gunshot, and the wad of dough hit her in the back of her head. When she reached back to find out what it was, she felt the dough and thought it was her brains. She initially passed out, but quickly recovered.
People get offended for the silliest reasons.
Psalm 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
A young lady could not visit her father anymore. Years had gone by and this unsightly situation prevailed. Finally, one day it came out why she was unwilling to visit. It seems as if she was offended that her father made her wear dresses when she was young.
People get offended at the silliest things. Of course, it doesn’t seem silly at the time, but that is because they are not looking at the situation clearly. They are looking at the situation from a tainted viewpoint. They are offended because they are thinking about themselves; how it affects them, or how they are embarrassed… There is no need to get offended. In fact, the only way you get offended is because you choose to be offended.
The Bible says that if you love God, His laws and are at peace with others, nothing will get you offended. You can endure much more when you are “right” with God. Very little will offend you if you are “right” with God. When you love the law of God’s teachings, you will put them first in your life. To put God’s law first is to put the giver of God’s law first–God. When you are “right” with God, there is very little that the world can do to you because you will be in control of what you allow to affect you and what you will not allow to affect you.
You can take it to the bank–the person that is easily offended is struggling with their love for God’s teachings, rules or laws. They have either broken them or are having trouble letting them into their life so they can control their actions. In a finer sense I can say, they are having trouble giving up their “rights” to God. These type of people think that they are the standard by which things should be done, or even become vocal about the way others live their life for Christ. Somewhere in Christianity, people have lost sight of God being in control. Oh, they say that He’s in control, believe that He is, proclaim that He is, yet they still live like He is not. They fret and fear and worry and try to arrange things to their own benefit, while all the time they have abandoned the peace they can have by living like God is truly their creator and they are the created.
Christians would do well for themselves if they could just visualize they are nothing more than an “object”; created by God; for God (Rev 4:11), and not get offended about that. Then all of the struggle, worry, fear and fretting will amount to nothing, neither here or in eternity. If you could just close your eyes for a minute and visualize yourself giving your entire life to God, indiscriminately, with nothing held back, and no conditions placed upon the situation, you would be better off. If you could allow that vision to slowly fade into a scenario of total obedience to God, even unto the death, you would live a much more peaceful life. Why? Because total obedience, total commitment, total dedication describes love; a love for God.
King David saw a beautiful woman that he wanted to take for his wife. He took her and she was eventually found to be with child. The trouble was that she was already married to Uriah the Hittite who was off to war. Trying to solve the problem himself, he thought if Uriah would come home, then he would surely sleep with his wife then his sin would be covered. So he wrote orders for the general (Joab) to send Uriah home. He told Uriah to “Go down to thy house…” (2 Sam. 11:8). But, Uriah slept on the floor at the door of the king’s palace and did not go home to his wife. When David discovered this he asked Uriah why he didn’t go home to his wife. Uriah answered, “The ark of the Lord, Israel and Judah all sleep in tents. My fellow soldiers all sleep in open fields. I cannot allow myself these indulgences as long as this situation exists.” To Uriah it was a matter of duty, honor and devotion to God. He loved God. But David gave secret orders for Joab to have Uriah lead the charge at hottest place of battle so Uriah would be killed in battle, and Uriah was killed.
Uriah loved not his life even unto death. His love for God gave him peace. Oh that Christians today could have that kind of dedication and love for God. If they did, they would lead much more peaceful lives because very little would offend them. When you think of God instead of yourself, little there is that you will allow to offend you.
How many Christians today would lead better, lives?
Contemporary motivational speakers are those who give comments that will motivate a person to do something. They don’t motivate a person to do something that person didn’t originally want to do, but something they already felt like doing. In other words, motivational speech doesn’t have any effect on a person unless they were in agreement in the first place. Adolph Hitler was a great motivational speaker, as was Mao Tsi Dong, Joseph Stalin and Barak Obama. They were (and are) masters at finding things that people want and presenting it in a way to motivate and inspire people. On the whole, contemporary motivational speakers are “martial arts encouragers.” They use a persons strengths and weaknesses against them, in order to get them to do what they want them to do–usually to buy a product or financially support a cause. In order to accomplish their unseen agenda, they must be sure to stay away from anything negative, else their victims, like the rabbit who is almost caught in the snare, comes to the sudden realization that they are to be trapped, and hop away breathing a sigh of relief.
The truth is, there are two kinds of motivational speakers: Those who tell you what you want to hear (like cheer leaders) and those who tell you what you don’t want to hear (like preaching about sin and death); Jesus was the latter. In fact, all of the prophets and preachers of God in the Bible were of the latter sort. They had a message of hope that was coupled with a message of doom and destruction. It is the message of doom and destruction, coupled with the anger of God displayed in His wrath that was the motivational injection that lethargic people needed. When Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19), the Pharisees were shocked into doing something. Noah said, “God’s gonna make it rain and flood the earth killing every living thing. That’s why I’m building this here boat.” He was scoffed at until God’s wrath was coupled with the message this preacher of righteousness had (2 Peter 2:5). They were motivated when they were suddenly caught in the snare of the Devil. With their negative message of destruction came a message of hope; they were coupled together.
The negative message first identifies a need in a persons life. It is a message of judgment and sentence. It is meant to be a warning of some bad or sinful action. It is designed to “wake people up” (1 Cor. 15:34; Rom. 13:11) from a dangerous activity, thought or influence. Then there is hope. Until then, a message of hope cannot be given because the people will not take it seriously. There is nothing to motivate them; nothing to move them or provoke them to do something about their evil ways. A fitting example of this is seen in the preaching of the prophet Zephaniah. He brought the message that the Lord was determined to pour His indignation upon the nations. The message further said that God was going to devour all the earth with the fire of His jealousy (Zeph. 3:8). A negative message to be sure. Why? Why such a message from the Lord? Because God wanted to motivate people to call upon Him (Zeph. 3:9). First the negative, then the positive. This is Biblical and true motivational speaking, and it comes with a price.
John the Baptist had a very motivational message that he preached in the wilderness. It so motivated people that King Herod wanted to hear it for himself. But when John came into his presence, Herod did not like what he heard. He did not hear a sickening sweet motivational speech doting on all of Herod’s achievements. He heard John talk to him about his brother Philip’s wife, to whom he was not wed. John said, “…It is not lawful for thee to have her.” (Matt. 14:4). How did this motivate Herod? It certainly didn’t make him leave the encounter feeling good about himself. In fact, Herod wanted to “…put him to death…” (Matt. 14:5). After some time of imprisonment, this is exactly what happened (Matt. 14:9-10).
So it is no secret that people don’t like to hear negative preaching, and sometimes it cost the preacher, but people need it. They need it to motivate them to do right. Without the negative message, coupled with the wrath of God, people are left to their own devices. And what parent would leave their children to their own with no discipline? Only those who don’t love them. Positive reinforcement never did anything for anybody other than to give the parent a way of escape from disciplining their children. It provides a good way to pass the responsibility on to others.
Preachers who are not regularly preaching against sin, are doing their congregations a huge disservice. They are taking the easy way out; trying to be their friends and be hugely popular. It is always easier to let someone else discipline the members of your church, but God will not hold such preachers unaccountable. Weak-kneed preaching on sin equals popularity, but is comes with a price–skin deep Christians who are looking to have a good time on this earth and enjoy it until Jesus gets back. That is a foolish surmise.
We have a job to do. We are to tell people about Jesus and the gospel. Jesus never told us to have a good time of fellowship until he came back. That is the equivalent of taking your talent and burying it in the sand. That will make Jesus mad. Has any preacher ever told you that if you are not doing something to win souls to Jesus, you are inviting trouble into your life? That God will be mad about that? Why not? That wouldn’t be very motivational by today’s standards, but it sure goes a long way with God. Would you hate your preacher for telling you that truth? Would you leave the church? Or, would you try to do something about it? After all, you do know the Lord is coming back, don’t you?
Many Christians know this. But they just want to have a good time and get by until He comes. After all, is it a sin to enjoy life? Of course not, but it will only be enjoyable up until you see the scowl on the face of the Saviour when He turns His eyes upon you and asks, “What did you do about what I asked you to do?”
There are two kinds of motivational speakers: One that tells you what you want to hear, and one that tells you what you need to hear. Both are motivational. The main difference between the two is your attitude in the way you take their message.
The Chinese Character Story booklet that I had written long ago is now available in digital form on amazon.com. This book has inspired readers throughout the world, both in it’s English and Chinese format. It has been used to show that the ancient Chinese forefathers knew emphatically the story of creation, even though China denies creation today. It is an amazing story showing how God embedded the story of creation in the written Chinese language that is still widely used today.
It is in inspiration to see how God works on those who proclaim to be His enemy, using their efforts to deny God, to actually prove God’s existence, all without their knowledge they are being used by Him.
It is a truly good tool to use with the atheist who points to the far eastern religions of China. Once they see that the Chinese ancestors clearly believed in God, they are perplexed about answering how that could be.
This book will open your mind to the “relationship” approach to living that the Shemite people thrive in. I truly hope it will be a blessing to you.
The Chinese translation of this booklet can be obtained here for anyone who has a Chinese friend. This booklet has opened the door to lead many Chinese people to the Lord. Sincerely, Ron Coale
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Christian rights group China Aid says the faithful are worried that the church demolition could be a sign that the government is tightening its grip over the spread of Christianity in China
One of the most tragic things that have ever happened in the world is the gruesome and ruthless death of the Lord Jesus Christ. When you think that he did nothing wrong to deserve such treatment it makes the thought yet more sobering. I don’t think that any one of us can ever relate to what He endured. He had only done well for the nation of Israel and the recorded accounts of His life never reveal any violent actions at all. In fact, they all seem to be peaceful except when dealing with the Pharisees and religious hypocrites. Even then, there is never any account of violence towards them. On the contrary, he loved them enough to tell them where they were wrong in an effort to get them to do right. He was a man who was meek and peaceful yet at the same time hard and steadfast. To add to His treatment, when we read the Bible, it is hard to think that it was His own people who were crying out for His death. It was the very people whom He was a part of that were pummeling Him and spitting on Him with frenzied jeers of contempt. He was treating them in the most honorable way anyone could who loved someone. At the same time, they were treating Him with the most contempt that anyone could be treated. It is a sad picture to say the least, and I am glad I was not there to witness it.
As I think of every punch, slap, shove and strap He received, I become more mixed in feelings inside. When I imagine every stripe of the scourging; every rip in His body, every grimace of agony on His face, I become angry. When I come to the cruel crown of thorns placed upon His already bruised and puffy face, I want to do something about it. At every turn in the punishment where He could have just said something to end it all, I wonder why He didn’t. Why didn’t He speak to end it all? When every drop of blood streamed from His body, leaving a trail of goodness throughout a world of wickedness, I wonder why He did not just call the angels from His heavenly kingdom to end it all and prove to the Jews and Gentiles alike that He was a king to be feared. My hatred grows for the Pharisees, Scribes and Philosophers of the day. I want to fight. I want to do something to stand by Him, but I am frozen in my fear. Something is holding me back. Something deep within is not allowing me to move from my spot. How glad I am that I am not there, but alas I am. I am there in the imagination of my soul, and it is as real as if I were there that fateful day. I am ashamed.
Peter is not the only one who has denied Him. The world is full of people today who deny Him, although their state is much worse than mine. They ignorantly go about their daily activities as if He never existed. They are truly ignorant of every thought of Him, but I cannot be. My anger for the Pharisees who called for His crucifixion, and sought false witnesses, is real and present. When Pilate offered to let one prisoner go, they called for Barabas. When asked what they wanted to do to Jesus, they called out for His crucifixion. And so it began: The sad and bloody journey up to Golgotha.
He is carrying the burden of His very own cross, but it seems as if there is something much more, because He staggers under its very weight. He clings to it for support, barely able to lift the heavy load. He is leaving a trail of blood behind Him. The Roman soldiers are taking every opportunity to strike Him. His own people are jeering with contempt for Him. They are under the Pharisees spell. They sit comfortably upon their mules, their faces stream pride for their, yet another, accomplishment. I loathe them. Surely they could have a little mercy. How can there be no compassion for the beating of any human being beyond the point He is at? His eyes are puffed up and are barely able to open, yet the cruel blows continue to fall. His hands are shaking under the intense pain. He staggers, but still bears the heavy burden, and once again I would like to help Him, but I cannot. How can the Pharisees allow this barbarism? What is it in the heart of the people that drives them to such frenzied acts of violence? How can any human being be so grossly vicious?
My mind cannot process all that is being taken in. Why? How? He stumbles under the burden and I want to help Him, but I am fixed in one place. By chance, (Is it by chance?), our eyes make contact. Through all of the suffering; through all of the pain, through all of His spilled blood, it’s as if He is conveying to me a calm and merciful forgiveness. I feel torn. Why do I receive such a gaze? I have inflicted no blow. I have brought down no whip? I have not spit into His face, nor even jeered at Him. I have felt no contempt for Him at all. It is then that I realize: each blow He receives if because of me. The bruised eyes, crown of thorns, and open wounds are as if I put every single one of them there my very self. It is not the Pharisees, nor is it Pilate or the Roman soldiers. It is not because of Judas (His betrayer). It is not because of any skeptic. It is I who has inflicted this pain upon Him, for I have sinned.
He suffers because of the sin of the whole world, of which I am a part. I cannot even say that each wound that He bears represents a sin that I have committed, for I have sinned much more than the stripes that I see upon Him. My anger is now redirected from the Pharisees and their foolish pride, to me and mine. The thought is sobering and does not remain long in my head, before immediately moving to the deepest regions of my heart. The thought, like a dagger, has pierced me to my very core, and I feel that I must now do something: I must ask for His forgiveness. But, the crowd is too many. The soldiers are too good at their jobs of keeping back the crowd. I push and strain, but there is no gap in the crowd where I can make my way to Him. I am completely cut off. For the first time in my life I know what it is to be: undone. It is my sin that brought this upon Him. Mine and mine alone.
People do not realize that. They blindly go through life as if it belongs to them, but it does not. They are completely oblivious of the Love that the Lord paid for their redemption to Him. Somehow, we are under the impression that it is the Jews who killed their King, but it is not. It is our sin that has brought this sad state of affairs upon the very King of Glory. We ought to ponder this from time to time and never live outside of its sober parameters. Forgive me Lord.
In these times, we need to refocus on our church. One of the primary reasons we’re here is to share and live the Gospel and invite people to join His kingdom. The church that Jesus established is the display of God’s glory on earth, and we believe the church should be central to our lives and faith. So inviting people to our church is part of our core mission. Here’s some great innovative church invitation ideas to help you invite people to your church. You don’t need me to organize it…you and your small group, class or friends can just do it. At every one of these, you can pass out tracts and invite people to church.
- Grill out for the employees of a company or business.
- Set up a party trailer and a grill, at any community events.
- Dress up like a Star Wars character wherever there are people and take pictures with kids and families. Give them a special invite card with the location they can download the picture. You will have a blast and invite a bunch of people to church.
- Tailgate at high school football games. Give away hot dogs and invite people.
- Set up a moonwalk at a local park while events are happening.
- Volunteer at community runs and bike races
- Hand out coffee or hot chocolate at events downtown
- Give out hand warmers at winter events like the Christmas parade
- Provide “full service” at a local gas station – wash windows and leave a car freshener
- Show free family movies on Friday nights
- Help local schools with their fall festivals. Instead of re-creating the wheel, just help a school make their event better.
- Take professional pictures at local school talent shows
- Visit a nursing home
- Take a couple of hours and put out door hangers in your neighborhood or apartment complex.
- Be intentional about coaching a kids sports team.
- You and your kids set up a lemonade stand.
- Have a free garage sale…give away things and invite people to church
- Do a free car wash
- Walk around a neighborhood and collect canned food. Invite people to church while asking for food.
- Hand out helium balloons at special events
- Get a truck, ladder and a bunch of light bulbs and walk around and ask people if they need light bulbs changed.
- Set up a bounce house in front of a store. Managers are often open to anything that draws attention to their store.
- Put out road signs on the weekend (did you know most people who attend our church for the first time do so because they saw a road sign?)
- Put a giant leaf sign in the back of your truck. Politicians do it – our cause is way more important!
- Give away Oak Leaf silly bandz anywhere there are kids.
- Enter a float in one of the parades. Walk along side it and give away candy and invites.
- Take doughnuts to school teachers. Simply email the principal and ask if you can do it, set a day, and make it happen.
- Get a giant backpack sprayer and offer to spray for bugs in people’s homes. It might seem strange, but what a great way to talk to someone and invite them to church.
- Salt driveways when it ices during the winter.
- Help with field days at a local elementary school. What school wouldn’t appreciate volunteers?
- Take food to fire stations. Let them know you appreciate them and that they are always welcome at your church.
- Valet cars when a school has an open house.
- Provide childcare for high school graduations.
- Cook team meals before home games at local sporting events
- Pass out candy and invites at your own house on Halloween, or downtown where hundreds of children come to trick or treat every year.
- Better yet…come up with your own idea, get your friends or group involved, and make it happen. Let us know how we can help.
Calvary covers it all