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In John 6:1-13 there is the wonderful story of the feeding of the 5000. The story is wonderful for many reasons. One of the biggest is the location. He led those people to a deserted place. A desert place is a place where there is nothing. Deserted places are places where you cannot find food or water. Deserted places are places where you can be alone. Nobody lives there. A wilderness is a quiet place, no computers, there is no watching TV, no radio, and no music, and there is only you and the wilderness. And so, Jesus leads people out there where they don’t have anything.
I remember one time when a friend told me “You need to go out to Blake Island and spend three days with God. Three days!” Blake Island is a small Island in the middle of the Puget Sound and you can only get there by boat. He said to me, “I want you to promise that you will go there and when you get there, I want you to pull the boat up on the shore and you don’t get into that boat to go anywhere until three days are up. You just stay right there.”
“Ok, I’ll just bring my Walkman and some other stuff.
“No! You only bring one thing, your Bible.” I was a little scared agreeing to that but I did.
I smoked a lot of cigarettes in those early days of being saved, but just before I got in the kayak to push off, Jay said, “Hey, give me those” pointing to my pack of smokes. “You’re going to quit. God is going to take them away from you. If you want them when you get back, you can have them. If you don’t I’ll throw them away.” I was shaking a little as I gave them to him, but I was in it all the way for Jesus.
“What am I going to do for three days”, I asked myself as I paddled there. I took three oranges, three cans of food, some coffee, a knife and my Bible. That’s all I took. When I got to that Island, it was early eight o’clock in the morning and I set up my tent. I sat down and read my Bible. I read for what I thought was a long time, but when I looked at my watch, I had only been there for one hour. I decided to have something to eat, so I ate. Then I cleaned everything up, washed it and got everything back together again. Now two hours had gone by. I still had two days and twenty two hours to go. Before that evening was over, I was so bored that I had eaten all my food. The next day all I had was coffee and my Bible.
Wilderness places are lonely places. And when you are in a lonely place, there are no distractions. Its easy for God to talk to you. Its easy to get something from God. Its easy to improve your relationship with Him.
I read the book of Psalms, Proverbs and almost the whole New Testament. For three days, I just read and read and read. All I had to do was read my Bible and talk with God. I soon found myself talking with God out loud. I was asking Him some really unusual things. I asked, “God, that is an incredible beautiful leaf, how did you make that? I mean, look at all the different leaves, all the different kinds of trees in the world, and why did you make this little leaf right here on this tree?” I am not saying anything mysterious happening, but it was just as if God was standing there with me saying, “Why do you think I made that little leaf right there, the one you’re looking at?”
A leaf is insignificant. In this whole wide world there are many insignificant leafs. Now I was looking at one specific leaf and having a conversation with God over it. It was as If God put it there for this specific time in history just for me. He was showing me how beautifully and wonderfully made it. He was saying to me, “I created that little insignificant leaf just for you Ron. I put all of that detail in it so you can see how much I care. I made that leaf very special and I put it here on this tree, on this Island, just for you to see.” The thought was overwhelming. I didn’t know if it was the fasting or not, but my knees began to shake.
“What about colors God? Why don’t I just see black and white like they say animals do? What is black and white anyway?” I was asking and the resounding, repetitive answer was always, “I made it for you. I did it just for you.” God made this world for me. He made the world before He made me, and put me on it. “Why is the water blue and why does it wave the way it does? Why do I see faces in the clouds?”
“I did it for you. I gave you a mind to see it.” “Why did God give me a mind so I can enjoy these wonderful things?”
“I made you in my image, so I want you to see things like I do. I want you to see me.”
This went on for another two days. I was rejoicing in God, His creation and His word. At the end of the three days, I didn’t want to leave. I was with God and God was with me. I experienced a relationship with Him. It was a wonderful experience. It was a wilderness experience, where none of the cares of this life could bring its influence to bear. God would not let them.
At the appointed time, I returned where Jay was waiting to pick me up. He asked if I wanted my cigarettes back (he had a pack in his hand offering it to me). “No, I don’t need them any more.” I had not even remembered them. I was so excited about God. God had taken them from me and I didn’t even realize it. I didn’t know it then, but I would take them up again when I turned my back on God, but right then, I had met God in a special way, in a special place—the wilderness.
Wilderness experiences don’t come without trials. For me, there were the nights of no food; there were the nights of thinking about myself; there were the decisions I had to make. I strove with God asking Him to provide for me by miraculously making oranges fall out of the sky. Finally I reached the point where I had no choice but to just accept whatever God had planned for me. I prayed, “God, you know where I am right now and you know how to provide for me, what I need, I am going to just trust you for.”
You say, “I don’t want to go to the wilderness place. How would I get back? How would I eat? What would I drink? What will I cook? What about money? What about…?” There are a lot of things to worry about.
Becoming a Christian is one thing, but being a disciple of Jesus Christ is a very different thing indeed. Will you cross the line and say, “I will give you my whole life? I want to be your servant.” Will you give yourself to be a servant to Jesus Christ? That is what it comes down to. People do not like to hear that. They don’t like to hear those words–“give myself to be a servant and slave to Jesus Christ.” Are you willing to let the Lord take you to the wilderness place if He pleases? Are you willing to concede ownership of your life to Him? Either you are going to go along, kicking and screaming or you are going to go along willingly to have a wilderness experience.
An old gentleman lived alone in New Jersey. He wanted to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very difficult work, as the ground was hard. His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:
I am feeling pretty sad because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I’m just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here my troubles would be over. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me, like in the old days.
A few days later he received a letter from his son:
Don’t dig up that garden. That’s where the bodies are buried.
At 4 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left.. That same day the old man received another letter from his son.
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That’s the best I could do under the circumstances.
Vincent was able to help his aging father even though his circumstances were not so good. Because he loved his father, he was able to do something for him that he could not physically do himself. He was able to do so because he didn’t allow himself to be discouraged by his circumstance. He looked for a way to help. He looked for something he COULD DO instead of focusing on what he COULD NOT DO.
Life is full of such similar circumstances. Oh, we are not always going to plant a tomato garden, but there are things that are going to cross out path of life that we are just not able to do; there are times when we want to help someone, but we see that we cannot do what we would like to. These are the times for innovation and application. Oh, I am not saying that we should be devious and get others to do our work for us. Vincent was that way. He lied to get the FBI to dig up his dad’s yard for him. That is wrong of course, because lying is always wrong. But, if we think positively, pray and give God enough time to show us a way, we can do amazing things.
Paul wanted to get Christ preached to the world. He had much opposition to that noble goal. There were people going around preaching Christ in a mocking manner, trying to put a stop to Paul’s ministry (Phil. 1:14-18). Instead of getting discouraged by this big problem, Paul saw something positive. He saw it as Christ being preached. He rejoiced that Christ was being preached. He didn’t get upset, angry; of even try to get even. He rejoiced.
Too often, Christians are leading a discouraged life because their sights are set upon their circumstances. All they see is the evil, bad things. They choose not to see how God is working in their life. The classic Biblical illustration of this is Peter. The disciples were in a boat in the middle of a raging storm when Jesus came walking to them on the water. The Lord beckoned Peter to come to Him, which he did. He was walking on the water just fine until he took His eyes off Jesus and began focusing on his negative circumstances. When he did, he began to sink.
You can identify Christians who are consumed with their circumstances because:
- They always say “can’t.” They talk about what they “can’t” do rather than what then can do. When presented with a challenge, they immediately begin analyzing why they won’t be able to accomplish it instead of putting their energy into thinking how they can do it. In fact, it is amazing how quickly they discard any challenging idea. In fact, they are thinking of themselves: what it will cost them, how difficult it will be for them to do it. The Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Phil. 4:13).
- They always make excuses. This goes back to not really wanting to do something in the first place. If a person really wants to do something, and they are interested in it, they will not need any excuses because they will find a way to do it. People do what they are interest in. If they are not interested in something, they look for excuses why they can’t do it. Excuses are different from reasons. Excuses are what we fabricate when we can find no good reason for getting out of doing something we don’t want to do. The Bible says, “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea: and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” (Jas. 5:12).
- They are undependable. They say they are going to do something, then they don’t come through. If they really cared, they would be dependable, but they are not. Unlike a reason or excuse, undependability is when we flat out lie; saying we will do something when we have no intention of doing it at all. They just tell them what they want to hear so we can get them off of our back and have no guilt. They make a commitment, but they begin looking at the circumstance and back out, leaving the one to whom a commitment was made, hanging out in the wind. The Bible says, “Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.” (Ecc. 5:5).
- They are “money minded.” They are constantly talking about money; of their lack thereof. They think that without money, they can do nothing, but Jesus said, “…without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5). The problem is a misplaced faith. Their faith is not in the Lord God, but in the “almighty dollar,” but as we know, the dollar can fail. It has done it before, it will do it again. People are constantly bombarded with the idea that wealth is money, but there are more important things than money: happiness, contentment, joy, relationships and love for a few.
- They are gamblers. They depend on luck. People who place their faith on luck, are the most unlucky people in the world. Any true Christian knows that “luck” does not exist. Everything is a design. There is a designer and He has a plan. When you begin looking at what you cannot do because of your circumstances, you are tempted to return to the vomit of “luck” (Pro. 26:11; Job 20:15). The Bible says, “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; not he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.” (Ecc. 5:10). You tend to hear them talk about what they will do if they win “the big one.”
- They talk about their past. People who focus on their circumstance and look at the negative will often bring up memories of their past; memories of how they used to be able to do things. But, now, with their circumstance changed, they can’t do anything. The Bible says, “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.” (Isa. 43:18). It does no good to dwell in the past. Old accomplishments were for old times. New times demand, and require, new accomplishments. The Bible says, “…if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:18). Because you are a new creature, and old things are passed away, any new thing you do, becomes old right after you do it. Seconds after you accomplish it, it becomes an old thing and is part of your past. When you come across people who live in the past (there is a difference between living in the past and reflecting on old memories), it is because the person is of an negative mind set. They are looking at what they cannot do, instead of what they can do. Yes, they cannot do the things that they once could do, but there is a whole set of new things that they can now do that they couldn’t do before.
- They are easily discouraged. When people convince themselves that they cannot do something, they become discouraged. This discouragement is out of frustration only because they feel that they can’t do what they want to do. Instead of looking for a way to accomplish something, they do nothing and get discouraged about it. It is more healthy for the mind to focus on what you can do instead of what you cannot do.
- They live a false Christian life. In other words, they give up on Christ, but instead of going completely back into the world, they put on aires of being a Christian so that they can hide their embarrassment. The Bible calls this: backsliding and has much to say about it. Proverbs 14:14 says, “The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.” The implication is that they begin craving and living the life that they used to live, even though they are a Christian and can never change that. They act like they are spiritual when they are only concerned with themselves.
All of these reasons focus on self. Self is extremely negative because that is the way it feels when it is being deprived. It comes up with the message: “What happened to me? No one cares about me!” We commonly call these: “pity parties.” Contrariwise, the positive outlook pleases others. A positive focus does whatever it can to help others. In short, this is called: LOVE. So, do you seek to do that which you can do? Or do you complain about what you can’t do?
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2 Peter 3:16 “…as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
With the attack of the world (fueled by inspiration of the Devil) upon the church, Christians are showing wobbly backbone when the battle gets rough. With just a little goading by the devil, the yellow streak shows clear and bright. How can those who were once “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10) so easily lose their “steadfastness”? How can they change so suddenly?
In fact, the change in them (and perhaps in YOU) is not a sudden one at all. It has been happening over a long period of time. Instead of growing in GRACE, they wrest with the Scriptures and are led away by those who are unstable and unlearned in the ways of truth. Over time, they join the ranks of those who are of another Christ (1 John 2:18, 22; 2 Thess. 2:7-8; 2 John 1:7) because they were introduced to them by one of the “…many false prophets… gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Instead of growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, they grew in knowledge of the world and self. Then one day–“snap!” They were gone.
When you belong to one fellowship or church, it is either because the Lord put you there or you put yourself there. If you are following the Lord and are true servant of the Lord, no matter what, you will obey the Lord’s decision for the rest of your life. If you are listening to self, or are lusting after the worlds temporary enlightenment, then you will bounce around from place to place looking for fulfillment of self.
In the Lord, there is no variableness (James 1:13). In fact there is not even a shadow of changing in Him; He does not change His mind. Any change of mind indicates that He was wrong and is now changing to be right, or He was right and is now changing to be wrong; or He is wrong and is now changing to another wrong. But you can never be right and change to be right. Right is right. Since God never makes any mistakes, everything He calls for is right. The problem is when people attempt to interpret God’s calling for their life and bring with the interpretation their selfish desires and nuances. When they do, they try to work it out that God’s calling for their life lines up with what THEY WANT instead of accepting what they know GOD WANTS for them. This way, self can get what it wants and justify it because they reason (and claim) that God is calling them this way. They join the ranks of the many “anti-Christ’s” on the scene today. “Preacher! Isn’t calling them anti-Christ’s a little harsh?” Well, when we go against God’s will for our life, we are “anti” to His plan. Since His plan is Christ: To love Him and obey Him; then to listen to self is to be against Him.
Since God put you in a fellowship of believers, it is not up to you to “feel” like you are a “hand” when everyone else in the fellowship is a “foot.” This is reasoning your selfish desire to gain acceptance with God and it will not work. You may rejoice initially, but that is just self being happy that you are listening to and feeding it. It won’t take long for the Holy Spirit of God to begin working on you or those around you; doing whatever it takes to get your attention so He can, “Reason together” (Isa. 1:8) with you. God is not unreasonable. He doesn’t satisfy self–He reasons with truth.
“But this doesn’t adequately explain the sudden change in a person. I know you said it happens slowly, but how?”
When you are a member of one church, but go outside of your church to other churches or para-churches for fulfillment in so-called “Christian activities” of interest, you are opening yourself up to follow self instead of obey God. This is a difficult thing for people to do: OBEY! Especially for the generation of young Christians today; they don’t like being told to obey. The world has successfully indoctrinated them with the “free willed philosophy” of self.
Little by little, as they learn a little about this church here; a little there; a jot here; a tittle there; the doctrine from the church which God placed them becomes diluted until it becomes totally unimportant. Oh, they say it is important, but the fact that they leave because they “FEEL” that GOD is moving them, betrays this line of thinking. Leaving, especially by clandestine means, speaks loudly against supporting what they say God is doing in them, because even the smallest babe in Christ knows God would not do something so foolish. They are led away with the error of the wicked until they fall from their own steadfastness. They are not steady nor are they fastened. They become shaky and loose; so much so that they one day are gone.
“How do I keep this from happening to me?”
First, you don’t get involved in activities from other churches or the world. If your church does not have an activity that you are interested in, then start one. If you cannot get enough people involved to successfully start one, then perhaps God is saying I have something else for you to do right now; something else that I wish to teach you; something else I want to develop in you at this moment. In other words, accept what God has for you and pray and ask Him for the other.
Second, Find comfort in growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord (vs. 18). In everything, God wants you to grow in two things: grace and knowledge. If these two things don’t “turn you on” then perhaps you don’t understand what they are. If grace and knowledge sound boring to you, then perhaps you have never delved into the wonderful overwhelming power that is contained in them. If you try, but get nothing out of it, then perhaps you are not patient enough to let God work on you in His own time, perhaps you are neglecting Christ and growing in self instead.
Third, Start thinking right. Are you one of those people who live by the saying: “live life to it’s fullest?” Or do you misunderstand when someone says, “you only have one life to live” or “That’s the life” or “You only go around once in life.” For the Christian it is true that you only have one life to live, but what we go through on this earth is so miniscule that God is going to burn the whole thing up after He takes us off of it. You can NEVER, NEVER “live life to its fullest” on this earth. It is a lie from the Devil to get you to focus on self instead of God.
Finally my friends, I leave you with this thought. If God has put you someplace, He has done it for a reason. If you are unhappy there, it is not because God is not working on you. It is not because the people have changed. Its because YOU MADE A DECISION FOR YOURSELF INSTEAD OF WAITING ON GOD. ONLY YOU CAN FALL FROM YOUR OWN STEADFASTNESS!
Everyone knows that this great country of which we live won it’s war for independence from England. Independence is the nature of the USA. If a country had blood coursing through it’s veins, then ours would run hot with independence. In many of the countries of Asia or Europe, when asked of it’s people, “In one word, how would you describe Americans?”, they would say, “Independent! Americans are very independent.” We pride ourselves on our independence. We know nothing else than to think that independence is something that everyone should enjoy, so much so, that we send our youth to rally it’s cause on their behalf.
It is a wonderful thing to be independent because it speaks of freedom, but it is not good to be independent from everything. There are two things from which we can never be independent: God and people! As much as a person might want to think they are independent from these two, they can never be. We are all created beings of the true and only God, and we are all conceived from, birthed, and raised by people.
The is a fine line between being independent and being rebellious. To be independent is to be free from an unrighteous cause, whereas to be rebellious is to be free from something that is good. When you are in an overbearing situation from which you are not morally or legally bound; to through off that overbearing situation and seek another more righteous is when you are gaining independence. But, rebellion is when you are already in a righteous situation and you pridefully and arbitrarily decide you are going to be independent from that situation, then you are rebellious. Think of it this way: to be independent is to rebel; to rebel from something good, or to rebel from something bad. You are rebellious when you rebel from something good, but independent when rebelling from something bad. AND, it depends on if you are the rebel or the rebelled from on how you will look at it.
There is no one more righteous and just than God. He is so righteous that He is called–HOLY. Any move for independence from Him is not only a rebellious act, but originates from a rebellious spirit as well. Because of His holiness, and our being created in His image, it is pure rebellion to desire to live independent of Him. As far as God is concerned, the whole world is full of rebellious people (“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” Isa. 1:2). Any person living independent of God has become a god to himself, because he rejects God’s position of authority over him. This is the sad state of the world that we see around us today. Man submits himself to things, this is true, but he will not submit to God. This is rebellion.
The anointed Cherub–Lucifer–was lifted up in pride and eventually rebelled from God (Eze. 28:14-16). So, rebellion begins with pride–pride in thinking that you are better than others; pride in thinking you can do better if you could do it your own way. This is how Satan deceives people into rebelling from the righteous and holy God. He begins by whispering little hints of prideful things into the conscience of man. Soon, man begins to see himself as being smarter and better than God. From there, rebellion takes its course. Rebellion in turn leads to independence of God. God’s created being, made in His very own image, is independent from Him and refuses to submit to what is right. All because Satan has worked to make man think prideful things. Anytime we realize we are thinking prideful things, we should take note that we are on the path of rebellion from God.
Of course, total rebellion from God does not happen all at once. It happens in increments until we are overcome with a rebellious spirit. Satan’s legions work on one thing at a time. The most common are an independence from Bible reading, church attendance, prayer, tithing, etc. Each of these is a chink in the armor of submission to God. We may think that we don’t need these things, but we do. We may think that we can do without one of these things “just this once”, but once leads to another. Soon, we are overcome and then the Devil concentrates on the next. It is all influenced by pride, which leads to rebellion, which leads to independence. Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, tithing and witnessing are all pillars which hold up our Christian life. When one crumbles, the others are soon to follow. You can tell if you are subject to these if you ever find yourself saying, “I used to read my Bible, pray, tithe, etc.” Or, “I remember when I…” Or, “I need to get back to …”. These are all signs of living a life of independence from God; the process has taken place and snuck up on you: Pride–Rebellion–Independence!
On this Independence day, as we celebrate our independence from a wicked heavy handed rule, which led to the establishment of this great country, let us reflect on this one thought: “Am I living independent from God? Am I a rebel from righteousness?”
Religious freedom is not what it once was. Things have turned upside down in the world today. In Oklahoma, the Satanist are constructing a statue of Satan to be displayed in the capital rotunda because they claim religious freedom. This is their response to Oklahoma allowing the Ten Commandments to be displayed there a year ago. Some may see this as a victory for religious freedom, but it is not. There is a point where “freedom” crosses a line and becomes a state of chaos, even if it is religious freedom. If “religious freedom” is united under one religion, then there can be true freedom, but if it is divided unto multiple religions, then the product will be chaos. This is what we have in the world today.
From where do these multiple causes come? They come from a multitude of people each demanding their own rights for religious freedom in a confrontational way. There is no peaceful acceptance of others. It becomes a competition to see who can be the most right (free). As the competition progresses, each group tramples on the freedoms of others because that is the nature of the competition. There can be no true religious freedom as long as religions differ. This is why the anti-Christ will unite everyone under a “one world religion.”
Christians however, understand they have no rights and therefore claim no religious freedom. They understand that, because of sin, they deserve to endure the calamities of hell for eternity. This is why they are so grateful for the mercy they receive at the hands of Jesus Christ. Therefore, true believers are seldom involved in the zeal of the competitive battle. Each moment of life to a Bible Believer is one more opportunity to serve their King; to show Him how much they appreciate Him. As the world fights for dominance, Christians enjoy being dominated by King Jesus because they know that He loves them. How would it be in the world today if the leaders of countries actually and truly loved those whom they govern? I guess it is not worth contemplating, because this will never happen. They say they love the people; are for the people, but they are not. Nary has one of them ever died for the people like Jesus has. Nor have they ever taken upon themselves all of the sins of their people.
So the Satanist build their statue and claim religious freedom. Likewise, the Atheist display their blasphemous alternative to God’s Ten Commandments. The Muslims build their Mosques. But Jesus builds His temple right inside the deep recesses of the heart of man. In the heart of man is where true religious freedom resides. About this world He says, “My kingdom is not of this world…” (John 18:36).
How we admire the obedience a dog shows to its master! Archibald Rutledge wrote that one day he met a man whose dog had just been killed in a forest fire. Heartbroken, the man explained to Rutledge how it happened. Because he worked out-of-doors, he often took his dog with him. That morning, he left the animal in a clearing and gave him a command to stay and watch his lunch bucket while he went into the forest. His faithful friend understood, for that’s exactly what he did. Then a fire started in the woods, and soon the blaze spread to the spot where the dog had been left. But he didn’t move. He stayed right where he was, in perfect obedience to his master’s word. With tearful eyes, the dog’s owner said, “I always had to be careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it.”
Every conscientious parent recognizes how difficult it is to exercise his God-given authority over his children. The delicate balance of being tough yet tender is not easy to maintain. Many parents intensify a rebellious spirit by being dictatorial and harsh. Others yield when their authority is tested. When a strong-willed child resists, the pressure to give in for the sake of peace and harmony can become overpowering.
I am reminded of the mother who wanted to have the last word but couldn’t handle the hassle that resulted whenever she said no to her young son. After an especially trying day, she finally flung up her hands and shouted, “All right, Billy, do whatever you want! Now let me see you disobey THAT!”
Where our Captain bids us go,
‘Tis not ours to murmur no;
He that gives the sword and shield
Chooses too the battlefield
Where we are to fight the foe.
One step forward in obedience is worth years of study about it.
A teenage boy had just passed his driving test and inquired of his father as to when they could discuss his use of the car. His father said he’d make a deal: “You bring your grades up from a C to a B average, study your Bible a little, and get your hair cut. Then we’ll talk about the car. The boy thought about that for a moment, decided he’d settle for the offer, and they agreed on it.
After about six weeks his father said, “Son, you’ve brought your grades up and I’ve observed that you have been studying your Bible, but I’m disappointed you haven’t had your hair cut.”
The boy said, “You know, Dad, I’ve been thinking about that, and I’ve noticed in my studies of the Bible that Samson had long hair, John the Baptist had long hair, Moses had long hair…and there’s even strong evidence that Jesus had long hair.”
His father replied, “Did you also notice they all walked everywhere they went?”
The Seattle Seahawks football team is renowned for its fans which have earned the title: “the Twelfth Man”. This is because there are normally eleven men on the playing field at any one time, but because of the “heart” of the fans, the team considers them to be with them in spirit as well. Therefore, they are “the Twelfth Man.”
The Seattle fans are extremely enthusiastic and supportive of their team. They are wild and even border on the edge of becoming lunatic in their support of the Seahawks. Before each home game in Seattle, there is the ceremonial raising of the blue flag sporting the large white numbers: “12”. One of the largest selling items of team clothing is the jersey sporting the large numbers “12” with the name displayed proudly on the back: “Fan”. Seattle fans fanatically love their Seahawks.
Jesus too had twelve men on His team. Of all of the disciples following Him, He only chose 12 men to be on His team. Of course, I am talking about the 12 who later became apostles. They were the only twelve who were on the field of play during His battle for victory over death.
In addition to them, there were huge crowds of others who followed Jesus as well. They were His fans. Although they were not in play as starters, they were very dedicated fans. Recognizing this is what drove the Pharisees crazy with jealousy and envy. Like the “Twelfth” man with the Seahawks, these extra followers of Jesus could be called His “thirteenth man.” They were not on the actual field of play, but they were such fans that they were there in heart.
It is funny though that Seattle fans can be called “the twelfth man” where we can call Jesus’ fans “the thirteenth man.” This is because numbers have meaning in the Bible and the number 13 indicates rebellion. There were 13 American colonies that “rebelled” from their king to form the United States of America. The first time the number appears in the Bible is in Genesis 14:4 telling us, “in the thirteenth year they rebelled…” We read about Judas Iscariot in John 13:13 whose name consists of thirteen letters. John 13:13 also has thirteen words in it and thirty nine letters, which is three times thirteen. The word “dragon” appears thirteen times in the book of Revelation. Nimrod, who is the thirteenth from Adam, is a type of Antichrist. The Book of Mark mentions Satan in the first chapter verse 13. And so on… Jesus’ fans were, and still are a rebellious lot.
The thirteenth man of the followers of Jesus are those who love Him for what He can do for them, but never take a thought for what they can do for Him. In other words, they are selfish. The worst type of these are pointed out in Acts 4:33 to 5:11. There we have the story of unity in the church. The “team” is on the field and they are winning. The “thirteenth man” is supporting the team. They are fanatically cheering them on. That is all except two rebellious fans. They are Ananias and Sapphira. They are cleaver. They are sneaky. They have observed the others and patiently learned what is to be expected of them. They have not responded from their heart. With their heads, they have formulated a very elaborate plan. They would bring in some of their support of the team, but would “ACT LIKE” they were a true, blue, 100% lover of the team. They would pretend to be a fanatic supporter of the battle being waged, when all the time, deep down in their hearts, they were laying back, pretending to support the team, but waiting to see just what the team could do for them. They were evil and wicked, and for their wickedness, they were relieved from their position of being a “thirteenth man”. They were kicked out of the Jesus fan club. God KILLED THEM!
Later on, more and more of these rebels began to pop up. Everywhere that Paul went to start a church work, we see problems of people feigning a good Christian life, but their hearts are not in it as a real “fan of Jesus.” They in fact are “fans of self”, but are pretending to be Christians so they can receive the benefits of Christian life. They are like those who talk about Christ inside the church, or in the presence of other known Christians, but rarely, if ever, talk about their “team” with others. It is not that way with the Seahawks fans. They don’t care if they know you or not when they lift their fist in the air and convincingly say, “GO HAWKS!” Strangers coming away from that type of encounter know one thing if nothing else, that person loves the Hawks. But not so with the rebellious “thirteenth man” on Jesus’ team. They are watching, conniving, waiting for a way to incorporate Jesus into their life, when all the time they are supposed to be incorporating themselves into His life.
There are many fake thirteenth man “fans” that have ruined peoples chances for ever accepting Christ. These so-called fans of Jesus are the most dangerous of all people as far as spreading the gospel. They are dangerous because; on the outside they look like the right thing. They sound like the right thing. They act like the right thing. But, all the while, they are like rebellious Judas Iscariot. They are waiting to see how being a Christian can help them instead of how they can help the team. They have taught people how to “get by” as a Christian instead of “get into” supporting the team. They are proudly wearing the jersey, but the lack of fanaticism is apparently lacking. They are content to observe instead of get involved and their actions have taught others to do so as well. Like Judas, they sit on the fence because they don’t want to ruin their chances of getting the Pharisees mad at them and they don’t want Jesus or the team to get mad at them as well. Their balancing act has been intricately conceived and expertly managed, but what they don’t realize is that, like Judas, it will come to an end when they don’t realize it. All of their “playing” church; their “playing” at being a true fan will come to a crashing halt. Unfortunately for that hypocrite, they will always fall on the side of self, pleasing the Pharisees, and engulfed by the world. And with them, will follow all of those who were influenced by them and their lessons on how to be a thirteenth man. This is why they are so very dangerous.
Fans of Jesus should be like the fans of the Seahawks—They should dress up, get ready, stand in lines to see the team play, buy season tickets as soon as they come available, get their jersey, scream to the top of their lungs, and make such an impression that the entire nation knows that, coming to play our team at home is going to be tough because our team has—“the thirteenth man.”
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.
The modern “tongues” movement is primarily embraced by the “Charismatic”. This is not an English word. It comes from the Greek word “charisma” which means gifted. Therefore a person who claims to be “charismatic” (by the definition of the Word), claims to be gifted. By insinuation, this indicates that there are some “Christians” who are not “gifted”. This is wrong as the gift of the Christian is the Holy Spirit Himself. Not only does the “Charismatic” claim (by the definition of the word) to be gifted, he (whether he admits it or not) claims to be more gifted than other Christians. The Bible tells us what to think of those who brag on these gifts. Proverbs 25:14 says, “Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain. It also tells us what to think of people who profess to have apostolic gifts who don’t have them. 2 Corinthians 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. Revelation 2:2 says, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:”
The signs of the apostles (Mark 16:14-20)
Cast out devils.
Speak with NEW tongues.
Take up serpents.
Not be hurt by poison.
Heal the sick
Since these are the “signs of an apostle”, only those who believed under the ministry of an apostle received these gifts (signs). Therefore, anyone who wanted to counterfeit the apostolic succession must counterfeit the apostolic signs. The Bible labels anyone who is counterfeiting an apostle as a FALSE APOSTLE (2 Cor. 11:10-14). NOTE: The anti-Christ is also Charismatic.
2 Thessalonians 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
One of the biggest lies that a Charismatic participates in is the perversion of Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14. Acts 2 deals with the baptism of the Holy Ghost and 1 Corinthians 14 deals with the use of unknown tongues. Anyone who can read can readily see that in Acts 2 there is no reference to speaking in an unknown tongue (Acts 2:6 says that “every man heard them speak in his own language”). Likewise, there is no baptism of the Holy Ghost in 1 Corinthians 14.
Baptism of the Holy Ghost
In regards to this, notice Acts 2:
No one is kneeling or praying for any “baptism”.
The “initial evidence” is NOT tongues. It is the sound of a mighty rushing wind.
1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (KJV)
What is it then (1 Cor. 14)?
In chapter 14 we read that the important gift is prophecy. This is because by prophecy, you can teach about something that has already been written in the Scriptures. This is how Jesus taught (Matt. 21:42; Mark 7:6; John 12:14).
Unknown Tongues: From the relationship of mankind in general, there is no such thing as an unknown tongue. Some man on this earth knows the tongue that a person speaks. Here in this passage, tongues is an existing language that was not previously learned. Don’t let some man deceive you into thinking that it is a special heavenly prayer language. This is NOT in the Bible.
Modern day teaching is that tongues is a sign that one is baptized in the Holy Ghost. This is not Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 12:13.
Spiritual gifts are not obtained. They are GIFTS from the Holy Spirit, given as HE sees fit (1 Cor. 12:11).
If speaking in tongues is evidence of being baptized (immersed into) in the Holy Spirit, and therefore being placed into the body of Christ, why then does 1 Corinthians 12:18 teach us that God places us into his body as He sees fit?
Not everybody IN THE BODY OF CHRIST will speak in tongues (1 Cor. 12:30).
There is a more excellent way (1 Cor. 12:31).
God’s emphasis is that we should desire to prophecy as it edifies the church (1 Cor. 14:1-3, 12).
Tongues are for a sign to them that believe not (1 Cor 14:22).
There is a difference between speaking with and in tongues (1 Cor. 14:39).
Church Fellowship helps meet man’s need for companionship. God uses fellowship and the church to strengthen the Christian and to accomplish His work in the world. From the time of Adam’s creation, God saw, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen.2:18). God’s initial solution was to establish the institution of marriage. However, man’s need for fellowship goes beyond marriage. He needs others with whom to grow in Christ and to serve. Every Christian needs church and fellowship.
Our fellowship in the church is much more valuable than fellowship for other purposes because God’s presence makes it different. Christ established the principle that where two or three are gathered together in His name, there He would be in the midst of them. This makes our time with God’s people very special. Fellowshipping with the saints around the things of God is actually a way for us to fellowship with God Himself because He also meets with us when we come together.
When Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch to report all that God had done with them, the Bible says that they gathered the church together. This means that the church was not a building or an organization but the people themselves. The people are the church. God established the church so that we could meet together, worship Him together, grow together, fellowship together, work together and pray together. God could have just let us do these things on our own or in our separate families, but He didn’t. He knew that we would need the fellowship of other saints to live healthy spiritual lives.
Merry Christmas! Every year, people all over the world get ready for Christmas by putting up a Tree and decorating it. They buy presents and wrap them in pretty papers and put them under their Christmas Tree. But, do you know why Christmas is celebrated and what the Tree and the presents mean? Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s take a closer look at His story.
A long time ago, an angel appeared to a virgin named Mary in the land Israel. Luke 1:30-32 “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest…” At the birth of the Son of God, a star shone above where He lay for all to see. A star is put on the top of the Tree to represent this majestic star. Some wise men from the East followed this star to where the Son of God lay. Matthew 2:9-11 “…and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was…And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him…” God had a special plan for His Son, who left His royal throne in heaven to become man in order to bring salvation to all men.
The colors on the Tree have special meaning which tell His story:
- White represents Jesus’ purity and sinlessness because only the Son of God was born without a sinful nature.
- Black represents sin which brings death. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death…” Every man is a sinner by nature, so without intervention, everyone will die and go to Hell.
- Orange is the color that represents the torturing fires of Hell.
- Red represents the blood of the Lord Jesus. The shedding of blood is the only payment for sin, and only the pure blood of the Son of God could pay the sin debt for all mankind.
- The brown branches on the Tree represent the tree upon which Jesus was crucified. After His death, His body was placed in a tomb and sealed. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “…that Christ died for our sins …And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day…” On the third day, Jesus Christ rose victorious over sin and death. By rising from the dead, He conquered death that He might give life.
- The green branches of the Tree represent life. Because Jesus now lives, so can we. What is the gift that God offers to man? Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The gift which God offers us is life, which we can receive through Jesus Christ.
- The gifts under the Tree represent the precious GIFT which Jesus extends to all. If we accept the gift of eternal life, we will live with the Lord Jesus in heaven forever.
- Yellow is the color on the Tree that represents heaven.
What about YOU? You and I and every person in the world are sinners by nature. Sin causes death which means that without intervention, you will die and go to Hell. However, the good news is that the Lord Jesus paid the price for your sin and now offers YOU the gift of life, which is known as salvation! You can be saved from your sins! Will you accept the gift? What a great tragedy it would be for you to choose to spend eternity in Hell separated from the Lord Jesus who paid such a high price for you!
If you are serious about receiving God’s gift, then you can tell God directly by praying a prayer like this one to Him and He will save you:
Dear God, I see that Your Son the Lord Jesus Christ has paid a high price for me. I’m a sinner on my way to Hell. I don’t deserve Your gift, but I ask You to save me. Thank You, God, for saving me. Amen.
Everybody carries about within themselves their own Judas Iscariot known as: the tongue. It is personal because it is included with all of the inner workings of our heart. It sits at the center of all communications with which we are involved. Even if we do not articulate sounds into words for communication, it is still involved in the process. Our mind is always ready, at a moments notice, to call into service it’s useful talents, and it is always prepared to oblige. And too, it is very patient. It stores the intents of the heart because it has a knack of speaking truth with “technicalities” attached; masking, detouring or deflecting from that which is necessary to maintain a good reputation for it’s host. This is where it’s true power comes into play, for it can often hold us hostage. I am sure that you have had instances in your life where you have said or thought, “Did I just say that? I didn’t really mean to say that.” These instances are clear indications of the power of this little organ which God calls, “…a fire, a world of iniquity:” If it were truly loyal, then there would be no concern for this “little member”, but it is not loyal. Therefore, much effort need be expended to keep this wild mustang in control. It can set “…on fire the course of nature…”, leading us down paths that we would rather not go.
A man working in the produce department was asked by a lady if she could buy half a head of lettuce. He replied, “Half a head? Are you serious? God grows these in whole heads and that’s how we sell them!”
“You mean,” she persisted, “that after all the years I’ve shopped here, you won’t sell me half-a-head of lettuce?”
“Look,” he said, “If you like I’ll ask the manager.”
She indicated that would be appreciated, so the young man marched to the front of the store. “You won’t believe this, but there’s a lame-braided lady back there who wants to know if she can buy half-a-head of lettuce.”
As he said so, the manager was gesturing behind him. When he turned around to see what he was gesturing at, he saw the lady was standing right there behind him. She followed him to the front of the store. Quick witted and embarrassed he said, “And this nice lady was wondering if she could buy the other half.”
Later that same day the manager cornered the young man and said, “That was the finest example of thinking on your feet I’ve ever seen! Where did you learn that?”
“I grew up in Grand Rapids, and if you know anything about Grand Rapids, you know that it’s famous for its great hockey teams and its unattractive women.”
The manager’s face flushed, and he interrupted, “My wife is from Grand Rapids!”
“And which hockey team did she play for?”
The tongue must be bridled if there is any hope of taming this unruly organ. This is very important because Jesus said, “… every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matt. 12:36).
Our tongues get us in trouble by lying – Pro. 6:17; 25:18
A man was being baptized in a remote village, high in the mountains. before his conversion, he had been an outrageous liar, and the villagers were skeptical of this sudden change of heart. The missionary doused him in the freezing waters of a mountain river and the man emerged shivering.
“Is it cold?” the missionary asked anxiously.
“No, it’s fine,” said the man.
“Dunk him again, Pastor,” shouted a villager, “he’s still a liar!”
Even what seems to be innocent “white lies” are bad. A lie is a lie and the Lord does not like a “lying tongue” (Pro. 6:17). The Lord always likes the truth. Perhaps you think, “What about times when I might incriminate myself? Should I tell the truth even if I know it is going to hurt me or someone else?” Do you remember times in the Bible where the Lord Jesus Himself would not answer the inquiries of the Pharisees? What did He do? He said nothing at all. This concept was first exposed in the lives of many people today through the Walt Disney movie: “Bambi.” There was a rabbit (Thumper) who said, “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.” How great this principle works in many circumstances, but not all of them. There are times when you have to say the hard truth, but you can always make it easier to receive if you use a little tact. But, these circumstances are not the norm.
Our tongues gets us into trouble by Flattery – Psa. 5:9; Pro. 6:24
There is a story that centers on a king and the members of his court who were continually full of flattery. “You are the greatest man that ever lived…You are the most powerful king of all…Your highness, there is nothing you cannot do, nothing in this world dares disobey you.”
The king was a wise man and he grew tired such foolish speeches. One day as he was walking by the seashore he decided to teach them a lesson. “So you say I am the greatest man in the world?” he asked them. “O king,” they cried, “there never has been anyone as mighty as you, and there will never be anyone so great, ever again!”
“And you say all things obey me?” he asked.
“Yes sire” they said. “The world bows before you, and gives you honor.”
“I see,” the king answered. “In that case, bring me my chair, and place it down by the water.” The servants scrambled to carry the royal chair over the sands. At his direction they placed it right at the water’s edge. The King sat down and looked out at the ocean. “I notice the tide is coming in. Do you think it will stop if I give the command?”
“Give the order, O great king, and it will obey,” cried his entourage.
“Sea,” cried the king, “I command you to come no further! Do not dare touch my feet!”
He waited a moment, and a wave rushed up the sand and lapped at his feet. “How dare you!” he shouted. “Ocean, turn back now! I have ordered you to retreat before me, and now you must obey! Go back!” In came another wave lapping at the king’s feet. The king remained on his throne throughout the day, screaming at the waves to stop. Yet they came in anyway, until the seat of the throne was covered with water.
Finally the king turned to his servants and said, “It seems I do not have quite so much power as you would have me believe. Perhaps now you will remember there is only one King who is all-powerful, and it is He who rules the sea, and holds the ocean in the hollow of His hand. I suggest you reserve your praises for him.”
Flattery is false leading. When you flatter someone, it is not a compliment. It is building in them a false confidence, which God considers wicked (Psa. 5:9). If you are continually given to flattery, then no one will trust anything you say; your mouth becomes unfaithful to the truth. It is practically impossible for anyone to discern between flattery and truth. So, they pretty much discard everything you say.
Our tongues gets us into trouble by Proud speaking – Psa. 12:3-4; Pro. 10:31; Isa. 54:17
Everybody gives in to pride at different times, but there is a difference in being proud and using proud speech. There is a modern day saying for this kind of speech called: “talking trash.” It means that you are self promoting in your speech. You talk yourself up to others making them feel lowly and inadequate. People engaged in the use of proud speaking have always done more or seen more than you have. No matter what type of story you tell about your life, they have one better than you. You can get an example of this when you consider the verbal sparring of two grade school children. One says, “My daddy is smarter than your daddy.” The other says, “My daddy has been to more schools than your daddy has.” Not wanting to be outdone, the first responds with, “My daddy is stronger than your daddy”, and so forth it goes.
I was fortunate to see much of America before I graduated High school. My dad was a traveler. When I was in the navy, many of the young men who were my peers would tell stories about their hometowns or states. They would ask, “Have you ever seen…?” Almost every time, I would answer, “Yes! I’ve been there.” I was unaware that this was bothering them until one day a shipmate said in frustration, “Isn’t there any place where you haven’t been?” Well, sure there was, but I didn’t realize that my speech sounded like I was being proud; always trying to be better than they were by being more places than they. Of course, that was not my intention, but it was how they were taking it.
The Lord does not like the tongue that speaks proud things (Psa. 12:3-4). In fact, He says that He will “cut off” the tongue that speaks such things. In a practical way, a person that is always speaking like they are better than you are is pretty much excluded from people’s lives. In that sense, they are “cut off” from others. Like a person that uses flattery, everything they say is pretty much discarded.
Our tongues get us into trouble by speaking too much – Ecc. 5:3; Pro. 12:13; 18:6-7
It is foolish to talk to much. You usually find this is predominate in the person whom is a “relater” or is lonely. The relater likes to talk too much because they are trying hard to establish a relationship with someone by telling all about themselves and their lives. They figure, the more I tell about myself, the more they will know about me and have a good chance to like me. The Bible says, “…a fool’s voice is know by multitude of words.” Unfortunately, there are many problems that come from this line of reasoning. The most obvious is that the one listening will be gaining all of the knowledge while the talker is really learning very little. Rosalind Ferguson said, “A flow of words does not mean a flow of wisdom” and she is right.
The lonely person simply has no one to speak with on a regular basis. Therefore, they feel that the opportunity to speak to someone is an opportunity to release all of the stored up conversation residing in them. They speak so much and so fast that you can hardly get a word in. They will even ask you a question and then answer their own question, hardly giving you a chance to reply at all. Or, they will ask you a question without really caring what the answer is because they are happy to just get an opportunity to speak. When trapped talking to a lonely person, all too often people take the Plato approach.
A verbose and extremely boring man said to the philosopher, “I hope I’m not boring you?” Plato smiled ingeniously.
“Oh, no,” he said, “I wasn’t listening.”
In either case, it is foolish to speak too much. Invariably you will say something more than what you should say. Because you are so caught up in the moment of being able to speak to someone, you end up searching for new things to say. This is when you really have to be aware of what you are doing. You can easily recognize these times because you will find yourself starting at the beginning of what you already said and then going through it all again. This is called “circular speaking.” You just keep going round and round again through all of the issues that you have on mind, speaking with no sight to an end.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
Proverbs 18:7 A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.
Our tongues get us into trouble by speaking to swiftly- James 1:19; Pro. 18:13
People who speak too swiftly are those who never completely listen and formulate an idea before they speak out. They hear the first tid-bit or what another is saying and in blinding light-speed their minds go to work thinking of how they want to respond. All the time, the first person is continuing to speak; and hasn’t even finished their sentence yet.
These are the kind of people who don’t hold on to a matter long enough to consider it’s ramifications if passed on too soon. They are not good stewards of the information they gain by communicating with others. The trouble with the person who speaks too quickly is that he often says something he hasn’t completely thought through yet.
Finally, there are those who hear about something happening to someone else and will simply believe what they hear, no matter how absurd it may sound, without validating it’s truth. The Bible tells us this is a “folly and shame” to answer “…a matter before…” hearing it (Pro. 18:13).
Our tongues get us into trouble by Talebearing – Pro. 18:8; Lev. 19:16
Talebearing is simply gossip. Gossip is a very destructive form of communicating. I believe every gossip comes with an oversized nose because they are usually the nosiest people there is. They like to gain information because they get the thrill out of telling what they know. Therefore, the more they know, the more they get to tell and the greater the thrill.
Without consideration for others, the gossip will convey words that are hurtful and destructive to an innocent person who is not present to defend themselves. The talebearer is not the conveyer of things that are happening in lives of their friends. They are conveyers of DESTRUCTIVE things that will hurt someone who is not present (Pro. 18:8). All gossips should be stopped immediately and can be if you use one simple tool: Tell them you are going to repeat to the victim what they are going to say. In fact, you can cut them short by saying to them, “Wait a minute! If you are not willing to tell them to their face, then I don’t want to hear it. But if you insist, be assured, I will be confronting them because, if I am a loving friend, it is my duty to validate anything being said about them in person to their face. After all, wouldn’t you expect the same?”
A family was entertaining some friends for dinner. The hostess, anxious to show that they upheld Christian standards in their own home, asked her five-year-old to say grace. There was an awkward pause, followed by a reassuring word from the boy’s mother, “Well, darling, just say what Daddy said at breakfast this morning.” Obediently the boy repeated, “Oh God, we’ve got those awful people coming for dinner tonight and I wish they weren’t coming. But if they do come, then please give us grace. Amen!” (Oops).
Words can hurt bad and when they are being said behind the victims back, it is called GOSSIP!
Our tongues get us into trouble by Backbiting – Pro. 25:23; 6:19; Rom. 1:30
Similar to gossip, backbiting is destructive. However, there is a slight difference. Backbiting is when a person is intentionally trying to cause damage or harm to another. It is a premeditated form of gossip.
Joey wanted the job and he was certain to get it, but there was one other person who was equally qualified. The boss was thinking it over to see which one he would choose. “Come back tomorrow and I’ll decide. I want to think it over.”
That afternoon, almost completely unable to deal with the indecision, Joey decided he should do something to help his cause. He decided to call the boss. “Hello, Boss? I just wanted to tell you how much I would work hard for you. And…I think you would be making a big mistake hiring Jim.”
“Why would you say something like that?”, asked the boss.
“Well, I grew up with him and he was a always a really lazy person. Our teachers in high school were always frustrated with his poor performance.”
“Well, thank you for telling me that. I’ll keep it in mind while I think about it.”
The next day Joey and Jim showed up at the appointed time. Both were anxious and they really wanted to get this job. Sitting down at the table with them, the boss said, “Well, I’ve made my decision. It was hard at first until I talked with someone last night who made my decision very easy.” Joey kept a straight face, but inside he was beaming with satisfaction. “I’ve decided that Jim should have the job. I would be happy to have someone who is honest working for our company.”
This story illustrated how backbiting is intentionally trying to hurt someone. Joey was intentionally trying to hurt Jim for no other reason than his own self promotion. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t work as well as he planned.
God hates backbiters (Rom. 1:30), and He very clearly makes that known that backbiters are, “…worthy of death…” (Rom. 1:32). It is especially distasteful to Him because He told us that he hates it (Pro. 6:16-19). God hates any form of self promotion; and backbiting is one of the worst that there is.
How do you deal with a person that is a backbiter. What do you do when someone is telling you something and you suspect they are doing nothing more than saying mean, ugly, terrible things about a person behind their back, just because they want to hurt them by manipulating you? Proverbs 25:23 says, “The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.” The cold northern wind turns the rain into snow or makes it so cold that the clouds do not drop their contents upon us. God compares this with an angry countenance. That is to say, a cold angry look, coupled with cold words about the backbiting will cause it to stop. So, you cut it off quickly and decisively. You can tell them in a very strong tone: “I don’t want to hear any of that!” If it continues, then just walk away and break contact with them until it is resolved.
Cursing – Psa. 109:17-18; Rom. 3:13-14
Cursing is when you are wishing a higher power to render evil into the life of another person. Again, the motive behind this is to hurt someone. It is similar to backbiting, but instead of manipulating someone to have an evil opinion of the victim, you are asking some higher power to provide the pain instead.
When we talk about cursing someone today, we naturally think about voodoo or witchcraft or some similar cultish thing. But, God in the Bible has cursed things. He clearly cursed the serpent whom deceived Eve (Gen 3:14). He cursed the earth to make it grow thorns and thistles ( Gen 3:17-18). Of course, God is not cultish, but He is a higher power. In fact, He is the highest power.
God does not like it when His creation whishes to curse another of His creations. He likens it to the poison of asps (Rom. 3:13-14). He would rather have us use our tongues to be a blessing to people instead of cursing them (Psa. 109:17-18).
So we see that cursing is not only the speaking of an occasional bad word. Those words are not empty in their content, because what is carried with them is an attitude of the heart of the person using them. Of course, I will not list them here for example, but if you think about each one, they are not used for any good or well wishes to anyone. Each one that is used is meant to hurt someone or to exclaim a hurt you are undergoing. They are hurtful words and if you use them regularly, they are just as hard to quit using as to quit smoking cigarettes. They can become addictive, but once you realize it is an addiction that is not self-destructive, but is always destructive to others, it is easier to get a handle on their use.
Hurting others – Pro. 12:18; Col. 4:6; Tit. 2:8
Proverbs 12:18 There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.
There are times when we are not cursing, not gossiping and not backbiting, but we still are saying destructive, hurtful words. God speaks about this kind of use of the tongue. In Proverbs 12:18 He speaks about people who use words like a piercing of a sword. These are the words that can hurt all the way down into the heart. They are hurtful, unimaginable words, but they exist in the world today. They are everyday common words, but when coupled by the right attitude, and given at precisely the right time, they can hurt more than anything else.
A mother had raised her daughter all of her life because of a nasty divorce. Young Susan had grown to be quite a rebellious teen and it didn’t seem as if mom was able to connect with her anymore. No matter what she tried, Susan was rebellious in her quest to gain adulthood. One day, as Susan was leaving the house for what appeared to be a date, mom asked, “Where are you going honey?” Susan looked sternly at her mom and with words that were as cold as ice said, “That’s none of your business! Why do you care anyway?”
“I love you…”, then she was cut off. Susan speaking over top of her shouted, “Well, I hate you!” and walked out the door, slamming it as she went.
There was no backbiting. There was no gossip or cursing, but the words hurt mom deep down in the very inner recesses of her heart. Susan was using words designed to hurt mom and she was very effective at doing so. This is why God says to: “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” (Colossians 4:6). There is nothing you can do to defend yourself against such words when they are directed towards you. You can only absorb them and guard your heart by looking on the bright side if you can find one.
Remaining silent about Christ – Acts 1:8
The worst and most despicable use (or should I say misuse) of the tongue is to not use it when you should. Our tongues are so unruly and evil that they resist being involved in spreading the gospel. When it comes time to speak a word of testimony, our tongues miraculously have nothing to say. This is because they are evil by nature and must be controlled. They must be told when to speak and when not to speak. There have been times when I have been around a most talkative person, who when the subject of the gospel came up, they closed up like a great giant clam, almost daring you to pry them open. The tongue should be ready and willing to speak about Christ. Why is it that it does not? People say that they can’t THINK of anything to say, but I don’t believe that to be true. They know what they have learned about getting saved. If they are saved, they know something about Jesus. They know they don’t need to be a Bible Scholar. All God asks of us is to be witnesses. Everybody who is saved can be a witness. Everybody can tell what they have seen and experienced. But it is the deceitful tongue that thinks it is in control, and it is if you don’t keep it in control.
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
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.”
Living a worry free Christian life by setting your affections on things above.
Christians today struggle with how to make it in this world. Life is hard and there is no respect for the Christian who lives off of “spiritual welfare.” God has given us all of the tools that we need to navigate this life, but we must not become a part of this world system. Christians should live above of this world system, and it should hold nothing that would compete for our affections, but it does.
Christians have a choice to make regarding their affections: we can give them to this present life, or to the life to come; we can give them to this world or to the new world. This present world, and all of the things we are affectionate about is going to be destroyed by God and replaced with a new one. The choice is whether we will set our affections on the things of old or the things anew.
To live a healthy, worry free life, you must set your affections on things above and not on things of the earth. All true lovers of God know that they are dead to this worldly life and the things that it has to offer. There is nothing in the world that can compete with the life that we have hidden in Christ, which will be revealed to us when He appears. Christians who live for the pleasures, satisfaction or rewards of this life, are misguided in their affections. It is not what Christ can do for you, it is what Christ has ALREADY DONE for you. Is this world your home or are you just passing through?
Taken from Newsmax, Thursday, 19 Dec 2013 05:56 PM, By Todd Beamon
Conservative political activist Ralph Reed on Thursday called on the 800,000 members of the Faith & Freedom Coalition to boycott the A&E Network until “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson is reinstated to the program.
“Phil Robertson’s suspension is a brazen act of anti-Christian bigotry,” Reed, the coalition’s chairman, said in a statement.
Matthew 9:13 …for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
The Lord Jesus Christ makes it very clear that He did not come to the earth to call the righteous to repent. The righteous have no need to repent; they are already “right” with God. Their problems with sin are already taken care of. However, God’s opinion is that there are none who are righteous except the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
The person, who feels they are “right” with God, will never come to the Lord. They will make excuse after excuse to avoid a confrontation with God. They justify keeping control of their life by convincing themselves that they are “right” with God.
On the other hand, the person who feels there is something that is not “right” between them and God will come to Jesus. Because the Lord is perfect and they are not, there is a repentant attitude that accompanies them. These are the people that the Lord Jesus came to the world to call.
Do you have a need for Christ? Are you righteous or a sinner? You can be right by agreeing with God and coming to Him as a sinner. Only then can your sin problem be solved and you can be “right” with God.
All too often I am amazed at the so called “Christian Community” for their lack of understanding God. In fact, it has been perplexing. When I think of what God did in my life; how He saved me from the grip of death, cleansed me and set me in a noble place with Him, I feel like I owe Him my life. I am sure that others feel the same, but their sacrifice to Him seems to be so misguided.
When it came birthday time or Christmas, a time when I would be receiving gifts, I hoped I would get something I liked. In fact, I went a little beyond hoping and dropped hints to Mom and Dad in order to give them good ideas. I always loved it when they asked me, “What do you want for your birthday?” or “What do you want for Christmas?” Sometimes I got it, and sometimes I didn’t. But, I can tell you, when I got the thing that I wanted–the thing I asked for–I was happier than when I got something I didn’t ask for. Now that I am older and can look back on that, I wonder why that is? I think the answer lies in my present relationship with God. You see, as a born again child of God, I know that He has asked me for certain things–there are certain things that He would like from me. When He gets them, He is much happier than when He gets something He didn’t ask for. God greatest request of me; The thing that is on the top of His list of things He would like, is that I love Him more than anything else and that I love others as I love myself (Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27).
So, how do I accomplish this one request which contains two aspects? He told me how I could do that. He told me that I should win souls. This one activity encompasses loving God (Doing what He told me to do.) and loving others (showing them the way of life). It is by no accident that I use the phrase “showing them the way of life” because if I used the phrase “preaching the gospel” people might get confused. The phrase “preaching the gospel” has become so diluted that no one can really interpret it anymore. This is where my perplexity begins.
The gospel that we are to preach; the gospel that pleases God; the one that is at the top of His “wish list,” is the one that results in another soul being saved. If you have any merit as a Christian at all, then you know what I am speaking is true. You know it because you were once unsaved and someone told you how to accept Christ as the atonement for your sins. You know it! You might have been saved for so long that you have forgotten it; or, you might have backslid from it, but you know it. You know it because the Holy Spirit is in you and He is constantly urging you to tell someone about God’s substitute for their sins. You know it! You are either ignoring it or you are evading it, but you know it!
Some people think that “preaching the gospel” is:
- Having a nice social where they all get together and have tea and cookies and bring a guest.
- Sell Amway or other self-marketing items
- Help people with their chores (i.e. wash their car; cut their grass; do their shopping; etc….).
- Joining ecumenical “Christian” activities.
- Letting their kids go to church while they stay home.
- Singing in the choir.
- Talking with the preacher.
- Reading their Bible.
- Supporting para-church groups.
- Helping others in their churches.
- Being friendly to people of other churches.
- Not offending anyone.
- Living a good life.
- Supporting the Red Cross.
- Feeding the poor.
The list is practically endless. If you think about it, many of these things are really good things to do. In fact most of them are good things to do. But, the gospel is not good things–It is good news of a certain kind. It is the good news that Christ came and died and shed His blood so that you can be free from your punishment if you so choose to accept THAT THING HE DID FOR YOU!
There is another grossly misused phrase amongst the so called “Christian community”. It is the phrase “accepted Christ” or “accepted Jesus.” To be saved, a person does not need to accept Christ or Jesus as much as they need to accept what He did for them, and that He alone could do it because HE IS GOD! To be saved, you must accept what He did, and who He is. It is a little incomplete to ask someone, “Have you accepted Jesus?” You must accept who He is, what He did and how He did it.
So, we have an army of so called “Christians” who have taken salvation freely, but after that, they could care less for the rest of the world. They are saved. They are living out their Christian life, getting along with others, being good church members, helping the elderly, etc… but they are not giving to God what He asked for. At the top of His wish list is: souls to be saved. That is what He wants. But what He gets is a bunch of “good stuff”, but it is not what He asked for. Just like I would feel a little rejected by getting clothes, a new lunch pail, shoes, toothpaste, or patches for my old jeans, the Lord God gets from us–GOOD WORKS, and feels a little unloved.
Can you imagine how God would feel if you brought to Him some souls that you worked hard to get saved. Have you ever opened the gift and said, “WOW! Just what I asked for! Thank you so much!”? Wouldn’t that be great if God could say the same thing over your life? Or, do we keep giving to Him a bunch of good junk? He wants us to love Him and love others. How does Christian involvement in ecumenical groups do that? Think about it! You know! You know what He wants First! You know because He told you. If you are not on track with that, then you are either ignoring Him or you don’t care.
God’s Word is exalted
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”—2 Tim. 3:16-17
A healthy church is one that has at its very center: the Word of God. There is no other substitute. The statute of the church is the exaltation of God’s Word, and nothing else. There is no “program” or “social function” that is to eclipse this all important decree. The Bible is the only thing that is “profitable” for the church. Everything else is secondary. A Church that does not “major” on the Bible is one that “minors” on God. Yon cannot have God without His Word, and you cannot have His Word without having God as well—the two are synonyms.
“…Be filled with the Spirit;” —Eph. 5:18-21
“Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.” —Eph. 6:10
Experiencing God and following Him are indications of the health of the ministry. Being “Spiritually minded” will transform you into seeing things God’s way, and this is the goal. The power and closeness of the Holy Spirit allows us to live genuine Christian lives because the Spirit always teaches us to depend on God and not self. The more we yield to the Spirit the less we yield to self. This can be measured in the prayer life of the church as well as the members. Prayer is a reflection of a deep dependence upon God. Any church that has a weak prayer life is not healthy because they are not spiritually passionate.
Envelopment in Evangelism
“The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” —Luke 19:10
The church that is healthy is driven to reach it’s community, nation, and the entire world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The budget of such a church would most likely reflect a high commitment to outreach, both locally and worldwide. Winning souls for Christ produces committed disciples of the Lord. A church waning in it’s evangelism program becomes stagnant and self-centered. True! Not everybody can go out to win souls, but each saint “rubs elbows” with someone. Everybody can give a tract with a stranger or leave it at a strategic place in the community. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Someone told each of us about Christ. We are indebted to them and out debt can be repaid by telling others about Jesus. Not only that, A church that seeks to win souls for Christ is a church that is obedient to the Lord’s command to go into all the world to preach the gospel. Evangelism is essential for the health of a Christian and this is true for the church as well. Nothing sparks revival in the church more than people getting saved.
“Make a joyful noise…come before his presence with singing…Enter into his gates with thanksgiving…” —Psalm 100
Inspiring worship that glorifies God and connects the hearts, minds, and emotions of people with God must be a trait of our group worship. Healthy churches are characterized by a spirit of joy expressed in worship. The downhearted are picked up, the weary are revived, the discouraged are encouraged, the batteries are charged. There is something that happens during a healthy, “Spirit-filled” worship service. It is easy to identify an unhealthy trait of the church when the worship service is not a “worship” service at all, but a laborious endurance of time. Heaven is not filled with the “stuffed” shirt, lemon faced Christian, nor should the church be.
Great Commission Emphasized
“Go ye Therefore…” —Matt. 28:19-20
Our churches must have a clear sense of God’s mission and a compelling vision for the future clearly communicated. It should be with such clarity that it becomes “owned” by the members who should eventually display a commitment to it. It should be so emphasized as to guide all the ministries and decisions of the church. It should be embedded in the church structure and purpose.
“…commit thou to faithful men…” —2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; 1 Pet. 5:1-11; Eph. 4:11-16
Healthy churches should be committed to leadership development of not only women, but most importantly—men. The desire should be to train, godly men who are spiritually mature to lead our congregations. A healthy church desires to see mature leaders positioned in ministry as workers for the harvest. Healthy leaders not only promote the spiritual growth of the members, but also develop others in ministry and in the family unit. Too many men are sitting at home letting their wives do all of the spiritual leading of their family. Men need to take the leadership responsibility for the spiritual development of their family as well as the church.
“…in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost partof the earth” —Acts 1:8
Healthy churches are committed to, and involved in, reproducing themselves. They have a vision for planting or facilitating the planting of churches in nearby communities, as well as the world. There would be no church if some other church was not given to this task because churches are only produced by churches. The cry that churches are slowly dwindling in number is a conviction that churches are not doing what they should be doing—planting other churches.
Rich in Good Works
“Nor trust in undertain riches…do good, that they be rich in good works…Laying up…a good foundation…” —1 Tim. 6:17-19
Healthy churches demonstrate faithful stewardship and investment of all the resources God has entrusted to them. This begins by a church meeting its own needs and overflows to advance God’s work and meet the needs of others. Education of Stewardship is emphasized, and pastors must address the issue of time, money, skills, and possessions in a biblical, relevant, and practical way. There should be no “empire building” for the church. Resources should be “first class” but used in the proper manner for the calling that God places on the church. Involvement in caring for those who are hungry, hopeless, and hurting instills a vivrant aire about the church because it is more blessed to give than to receive, but this ministry should never exceed that of the primary mission of the church: Worship God, win souls to Christ, Disciple saints.
Intentional Disciple making
“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” —Matt. 28:19-20
Disciple making builds mature Christians who can promote spiritual growth of all members. Such disciple making ministries help believers move from a new life in Christ to an alignment of all personal priorities with the Lordship of Christ, whatever the cost. In short, it moves the Saints from being raw Christian recruits to Christian veterans. A healthy church is committed to disciplining the Saints to Spiritual maturity.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one another.” —John 13:35
Recognizing that all people are made in God’s image and are loved by Him, the church must reach across cultural, social, economic, and racial lines with practical acts of love within the church and the community. Ministries should always address people’s spiritual needs. When churches are characterized by believers who are committed to the reconciliation of relationships among people, it is a sign of good health. Within the local church, loving relationships produce unity, accountability, including loving discipline, and a powerful demonstration of God’s presence within our communities. Beyond the local church, they are manifested in cooperation and interdependent relationships with other Christians locally, nationally, and internationally.
It is God’s character to be a forgiver of sin. Most of the time, when we hear this statement, we think about the forgiveness that WE GET and not about God’s character–THE FORGIVER. God’s character is to think about others. Man’s character is to think about Himself (Eph. 5:29). We know all about ourselves, but how much do we really know about God? It is difficult to find Bible teaching that teaches with this very premise as it’s core. You don’t very often find teachers who try to teach about God’s character and how He feels about things. Most teaching falls into the trap of human need for satisfaction. Man likes to know that he gets what he needs to make himself feel better about being a Christian. However, teaching about the Bible, from God’s point of view, is out there; although it is difficult to find. Most teaching is motivated by the need for money or popularity. The teachers know this and that is why most extremely popular, media induced, Bible teaching is popular–because people hear what they want to hear to nourish and cherish his own self. There is nothing wrong with feeling good. After all, it is an emotion that God put in us. But He didn’t put it inside of us to be abused. He put it in us so we can understand how He can feel, just as He put: hate, fear, remorse and sadness. We are made in all of the image of God, not just the ones that we want to claim. Man has abused the emotions that make us feel good by popularizing “feel good” churches. So, he says, “if I feel good, and everything is positive, then I am identifying with God, but if it is negative and I feel conviction for my sin, then I am not identifying with God.” This kind of thinking comes about from not grasping the truth that man is just a created being and God is the Creator. Man is nothing without God. There is not even a thought that man can have without the awesome guiding, and direction of God. Man is totally subject to God in everything. There is not a breath our body takes without God moving the lungs. There is not a beat of our heart that does not receive it’s power from God. We are unabatedly subject to God. Why then did God give us the Bible? We thought it was because He was giving us instruction on how to live. True, but it is much more than that. The Bible reveals God’s character. New Tribes Missions author Trevor Mcllwain described it best when he said, “it is God’s love letter to us, telling us about Himself.” Yes, He is instructing us about Himself, but all we see is how much we are not like Him. He is showing us how He originally intended the relationship of Creator–creation to be. It was supposed to be a wonderful relationship of God with man (the image of God) who could completely understand and identify with Him. But man does not see it that way. Man sees God as some kind of magic Genie who comes out to grant his wishes when he calls for him, then goes back into his bottle until he is needed again. God’s forgiveness of sin, especially this sin, speaks loudly about His character. If we just consider ourselves as nothing, and God as everything, we can see God’s character. If we can put ourselves out of the way long enough to learn something about God’s character, we will be much better off. Then, we can begin living the Christian life. Not the “Christian life” as the world supposes it to be. The Christian life as God indented it to be.
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.
There are things that are important to us in life, but nothing is more important than the soul of a person. The soul is the part of man that lives forever. It is the part of man that feels pain or joy; happiness or sorrow. It is the center of the man.
Proverbs 11:30 says, “He that winneth souls is wise.” It is a wise and profitable thing to be a soul winner because it pleases God. He has a high evaluation of the soul winner. It is one of the dearest things to the heart of God. Consequently, it pays enormous eternal dividends. A man who turns people to righteousness is wise because he is laying up treasure in heaven. Conversely, a Christian who is occupied with trivial matters of life is unwise. Majoring on minors is foolish. Therefore, not to win souls is to be guilty of the sin of folly.
If we are to be wise, we should actively be involved in soul winning of some kind. If we don’t know how to win a soul to the Lord, we should learn how to do so.
When is the last time you led someone to the Lord? Have you ever won someone to the Lord? There is no shortage of people that need to hear the gospel. They are wondering aimlessly through life, believing a lie that is leading them to hell.
There is however, a shortage of Christians who are willing to tell the lost about salvation. There should not be, but there is. We need to be not so. Mason County is in great need for the Lord Jesus Christ—and who will tell our neighbors? The Devil will have them hear all of his doctrine, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by every means possible. The Lord left the job of spreading the gospel up to us.
Spreading the gospel is not doing good deeds for others. It is not living a right life or even helping the poor. Spreading the gospel is to actively tell people how they can be saved; how they can know for sure they are going to heaven.
These are the last days that we are living in. We live in a unique time. No other people have had so much at stake as we have. We are like the anchor runner in the relay race of life. Lets not drop the baton. Lets not run out of steam on the last lap. Lets give it all we have Got. Souls lie in the balance.
Jim Rigby (a proclaimed preacher) posted on Facebook the Ten Things I wish the church knew about homosexuality. His very questions display his ignorance of the Bible and the subject for which he claims to be an authority. So that his teachings (and the teachings of others like him) do not infect innocent and ignorant minds, I have responded to his teachings below:
1. If Jesus did not mention a subject, it cannot be essential to his teachings. WRONG—You should read your Bible. Jesus as the son of God is the author of the entire Bible and He mentions much about the sin of homosexuality.
2. You are not being persecuted when prevented from persecuting others. YOU are being persecuted when others are NOT PREVENTED from persecuting YOU. SO, it depends on who is on the RIGHT SIDE and God’s side is always right for He is your CREATOR.
3. Truth isn’t like wine that gets better with age. It’s more like manna you must recognize wherever you are and whoever you are with. WRONG—Truth is truth no matter who you are with or wherever you are. It is not relative to your opinion or position.
4. You cannot call it “special rights” when someone asks for the same rights you have. WRONG—It is “special rights” when their rights oppose or conflict the rights of truth.
5. It is no longer your personal religious view if you’re bothering someone else. WRONG—Your personal religious view is your personal religious view no matter who is bothered by it. AND, if it is based on “truth” then it really doesn’t matter what your view is or not. It only matters what the truth is.
6. Marriage is a civil ceremony, which means it’s a civil right. WRONG—marriage is a command given to humans by their Creator who designed humans to fulfill that command. It is not a right whatsoever.
7. If how someone stimulates the pubic nerve has become the needle to your moral compass, you are the one who is lost. WRONG—If your moral compass offends the A-moral, then you are on the right track.
8. To condemn homosexuality, you must use parts of the Bible you don’t yourself obey. Anyone who obeyed every part of Leviticus would rightly be put in prison. WRONG—If man had obeyed the Books of Leviticus all along instead of swaying from it, then it would be the standard of living now. (Note: regarding homosexuality, the book of Leviticus (written to the Levite Priests) is not the only book in the Bible condemning homosexuality. There are the books of Genesis, Exodus, Proverbs, Psalms, Romans, etc.). Also, Jesus does not hate the homosexual, He hates homosexuality. Jesus loves the people of the world and died for them so they could have forgiveness of their sins and a means of overcoming them.
9. If we do not do the right thing in our day, our grandchildren will look at us with same embarrassment we look at racist grandparents. WRONG—It is never permissible to do the wrong thing based on how our grandchildren will look at us. If they were taught right, they would have hero’s instead of villans.
10. When Jesus forbade judging, that included you. WRONG—Jesus did not forbid judging. In fact He command us to judge the righteous judgment (Isa. 1:17; John 7:24) just as He gave us example in doing (John 5:30; 16:11)
Right, wrong, or indifferent, he obviously has no idea about what the Bible says about the subject.
Dearest Brethren, The end of all things is at hand. It has been for some time now. Each generation of Christians have thought the same as we do today: “How can things get much worse?” Each generation has had to deal with a turbulent and spiteful world system, while at the same time loving the souls that are captured by it. How did they do it in the past? How can we deal with this awkward and evil situation ourselves?
Well, it is safe to assume that they took comfort and instruction from the Word of God. In 1 Peter 4:7-10 we are instructed to be “…sober and watch unto prayer.” Most importantly, to “…have fervent charity among…” ourselves because charity covers a “…multitude of sins.” Furthermore, to be hospitable “…one to another without grudging…” and to take care of each other as we “minister “…as good stewards of …” “grace”.
To not get duped by this world system, we need to be sober. This deals directly with the intoxicating influence of alcohol, liquor or spirits. But too, it addresses the influence of any passion of worldly influence. In other words, it addresses keeping one’s “right mind.” You have heard it said that in any stressful situation you should not panic, to keep your wits about you? This admonition speaks to keeping a sober mind. If we do so, then we will be attentive to the sneakiness of the Devil. He is more deceptive than one can ever imagine. How can we combat this deception? How can we keep sober? We must pray. But not just any old praying.
Dealing with the deception of the Devil is like suddenly realizing we are in the middle of a field of land mines. We find ourselves in such precarious situations because we do not pay attention to where we walk. By ourselves, we can never detect the mines; they are so well hidden. So we need a mine detector to sweep the area in front of us so we can find the mines. Only then we can traverse the field safely. Our prayer to God needs to be for a mine detector of spiritual deception of the Devil. We need to ask God to show us were the mines are that can so easily trip us up.
“God please show me where the Devil is working on my life. He wants me to fall, and I cannot see His deception. Please identify them and help me to go around them so I can walk through this day for you without being a casualty.”
Charity (i.e. Love) is our combative weapon for dealing with a love stripped world system.
Love does not beat people down for their problems of failures. Love either exalts someone else or says nothing at all that would be derogatory about them.
People of the world system love too! There is no doubt about that. They were created in the image of God as well, so they too have the attributes and emotions that God has. It is just that they use them for things they are not meant to be used for. Have you ever needed a screwdriver for some household chore and couldn’t find one? I’ll bet you headed for the utensil drawer of the kitchen and picked out a butter knife to use it as a screwdriver. What happened? Did you bend the tip because the screw was too tight? Probably.
The world uses love to love self and not others. They use something God gave them for helping others for themselves. They bent the tip and ruined it.
Christians need not “bend the tip.” Loving one another is the only combative weapon that Christians have to fight back against this world system.
How is it so effective in fighting the world system? It covers the multitude of sins. It looks beyond peoples faults. You say, “But he/she does things wrong.” Yes, you will notice the faults of others. We all do that. But love is when we know someone’s faults, but we choose to ignore it. We choose to not bring it up. We choose to not make a big deal about it. That is love. That is how Christians treat each other, especially during these last days. We have enough enemies. There are enough people in the world telling us to love self, pointing out our faults and directing/establishing blame. With love, we don’t need any of that.
This is where “grudging” or begrudging comes in. There are enough people in our lives that hold grudges. “Grudging” is: being uneasy at another’s possession of something which we have a desire to possess. Somebody else has something and we want it. That is holding a grudge. This can be with a physical object (new car, tv, dress, etc.) as well as prestige, honor or focus. When someone gets special favor and you don’t, that is grudging. Why does he/she get attention and I don’t? Usually, we won’t say it out loud to someone because we are afraid of sounding petty or immature. But we should not even think it for even one second, and if we do, we should shake that thought out of our head immediately. That is called love. That is thinking better of our brother or sister and rejoicing in their blessing. This is how we minister to one another—LOVE.
With this type of living, all of our Christian ancestors have survived under difficult circumstances. In fact, the trials for some was death, torture and degradation. Yet they still loved. Why? They did so to cope with the difficulties they experienced. After all, what kind of life would you have if all you ever did was begrudging and hating your entire life?
So, let us be sober and watch unto prayer. Lets look for ways to love each other and the community in which we live. What can we do in the life of another person that can make their journey along the pathway of this life a little easier? Then, let us turn it into a fervent love so we can cover sin. Sin does not need to be exposed and exalted. It needs to be disdained and covered over with the blood of the Lamb. Lets have a little grace. With grace we can minister to each other. The primary ones to “hold up” are those of our own church first. It is no good to help other Christians while overlooking those of our own family. In this we are “…stewards of the manifold grace of God.” ~Pastor