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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?”
Luke 22:31-34 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. 33And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. 34And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.
A shipwrecked man managed to reach an uninhabited island. There, to protect himself against the elements and to safeguard the few possessions he had salvaged, he painstakingly built a little hut from which he constantly and prayerfully scanned the horizon for the approach of a ship. Returning one evening after a search for food, he was terrified to find the hut completely enveloped in flames. Yet by divine mercy this hard affliction was changed into a mighty advantage. Early the following morning he awoke to find a ship anchored off the island. When the captain stepped ashore, he explained, “We saw your smoke signal and came.” Everything the marooned man owned had to be destroyed before he could be rescued.
The trials and adversities of life are never pleasant, but in them we learn the secrets of His presence. None of us wishes for trials or adversity, but it is through them that God refines the metal of our lives and molds us into His image. Just as metal is placed in a furnace and heated to a white hot state so the dross can be removed, God allows us to enter the furnace of affliction so that He might refine and purify our lives.
In our text, Simon Peter is made to understand the fact that he is about to be tested. He is encouraged in this revelation by the fact that the Lord Himself will take an active part in his trial. I know people who are going through adversity. I know they face battles and trials that cannot be imagined. However, I also know there is hope! This passage lets us know that we do not have to fail in the attacks of life. We do not have to crawl away in defeat, never to be heard from again. Anyone can endure the trials, tests and adversities of life. Even if you have failed, you can still rise from the ashes and salvage what Satan has attempted to destroy. There is Help For Sifted Saints.
“Satan Is Determined To Destroy Your Life with trials!”
Jesus tells Peter that Satan has made a request to have “all” the disciples to test the reality of their faith. The word “desired” means “to demand, to ask for oneself.” The word “you” is plural in nature. It is a request for all the disciples. His demand is that he might “sift” them. This is an agricultural term that refers to the savage process of separating the husk of the wheat from the grain. The wheat was crushed under foot, then it was agitated, or thrown into the air. The chaff, or husk, was blown away by the wind and all that was left behind was the good grain. Satan wanted to tear at the heart of God by proving that there was no reality to the faith of the disciples. Satan believed that he could crush them, sift them and that nothing would be left but a lost heart. He had already done this with Judas! He believed that he could do it to the rest.
We battle a determined enemy. He wants nothing more than to cut the heart of God by sifting our lives. He wants to prove that we are phonies. He wants to show God and the world that there is nothing to our professions of faith. He wants to destroy everything of value in your life. The Bible tells us in 1 Pet. 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” He wants to ruin your testimony. He wants to destroy your home. He wants to wreck your influence. He wants to take away everything of value in your life and leave you with nothing but a devastated shell of what you had!
If he can get you to believe a false profession, he will. If he can get your eyes off Jesus, he will. If he can drive a wedge between you and the members of your family, he will. If he can drive a wedge between you and the members of your church, he will. He will do everything he can to cut the heart of God and ruin your life! He will use whatever tactic he deems necessary to get you to fall, just like he did to Adam and Eve in Gen. 3:1-6. He will never stop until you fall, or you die!
If the devil gets his way in your life and you succumb to his attacks, remember this: Your sin doesn’t just affect you, it affects everyone around you! It is the absolute height of selfishness to live just to please yourself, while having no regard to what your sin is doing to your family, your church and to others in your sphere of influence! Surely you will agree with the Bible where it says in Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”! David’s sin with Bathsheba, (2 Sam. 11), affected him, Bathsheba, their baby, Bathsheba’s husband, and the house of David for years to come! You never walk away clean when you choose to walk away in sin!
“The Saints Have A Powerful Ally In Their Corner during trials!”
While all the disciples were in Satan’s sights, Peter received the promise of intercession. Jesus was praying for them all, but He spoke especially to Peter, because He knew that Peter was about to take the biggest fall, v. 34. Sin isn’t a maybe in our lives, it is a given! The Bible tells us, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10). All the disciples failed the Lord that night, Mark 14:50 “…they all forsook him, and fled.” But Peter went beyond simple failure into the realm of outright denial of any relationship to Jesus when he said in Luke 22:57, “…Woman, I know him not.”
The times of testing and failure will come in our lives, but in the midst of them, let us take courage in the fact that we have Someone pleading our case, taking our part, praying for us in Heaven:
- Hebrews 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
- Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
- 1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
Satan may have his devices and his schemes to tempt us and try us, but he doesn’t have the last word! In the midst of his scheming and planning, Jesus “butts” in to stand by our side until the trial has passed! He will never leave us, regardless of the task or trial. He says, “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”, (Heb. 13:5.)
Just because a temptation is offered to you, that does not mean that you have to fall into sin. Jesus has equipped us with all the resources we will ever need to be able to withstand anything the devil throws at us:
- 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
- Hebrews 2:18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
- James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
“No Failure from trials Should Ever Be Considered Final!”
Jesus makes it clear that Peter will fall, “when thou art converted”, means “when you have repented, or come back to me”, but that his fall will not be the final statement of his life. He was going to be restored and he was going to be used of the Lord in a great way. His preaching at Pentecost, and the great acts of faith of his life are some of those ways.
People may come under this kind of attack someday and fall into sin. Some have fallen and have already come back. Others have fallen and are still in that fallen state. It is comforting to know that your fall does not have to define your life!
God has made provision for the cleansing and the restoration of those who fall into sin. Those provisions include Confession, Repentance and Forgiveness. When we come clean about our sins and turn from them, the Lord will forgive and restore the fallen one to a place of service and blessing. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This truth is illustrated in the life of the Prodigal Son and what happened when he returned to his father, Luke 15:11-24.
When a person walks away from the things of the Lord and goes into sin and stays there, it means that one of two things is true:
They were never really saved. 1 John 2:19 says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would not doubt have continued with us: bur they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”
They are in open rebellion and are subject to the wrath and chastisement of the Lord. Rev. 3:19 says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
Genuine faith will falter, but it will never utterly fail! Peter came back because he was saved. When he was sifted, it was proven that his profession was genuine. There was some chaff, but there was a grain of real faith too!
When a believer falls into sin, those who genuinely love them will seek to restore them, Gal. 6:1-2. They will not condone or support their sinful actions, but they will not abandon them completely either!
“Never Say Never during trials!”
When Peter hears this prediction he, in typical Peter style, boasts of his love and devotion to the Lord. He vows to go to prison or even to death to prove his allegiance to Jesus. Peter forgot a very important principle of life, “Never Say Never!” No one is above falling into the snare of the enemy. Only when you are in his sifter can you know exactly what you will do! It is a dangerous thing to rely upon yourself and your ability to withstand temptation and testing. The Bible says, “…let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12). We’ve all seen someone act in certain ways and we have said, “I would never do that!” Be careful!
You are weakest in the area of your greatest strength! That may sound like a contradiction or a paradox, but it is true nonetheless! When you begin to think you have an area of your life absolutely conquered and that sin cannot possibly occur there, you will tend to let your guard down. When that happens you can be sure that the enemy will target you for sifting! Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 28:26 says, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” If you have the feeling that “It can’t happen to me!”, you are in danger of falling today!
The way an Eskimo kills a wolf is grizzly, yet it offers fresh insight into the consuming, self-destructive nature of sin. First the Eskimo coats his knife blade with animal blood and allows it to freeze. Then he adds another layer of blood, and another, until the blade is completely concealed by frozen blood. Next, the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scent and discovers the bait, he licks it, tasting the fresh frozen blood. He begins to lick faster, more and more vigorously, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare. Feverishly now, harder and harder, the wolf licks the blade in the Arctic night. So great becomes the craving for blood that the wolf does not notice the razor sharp sting of the naked blade on his own tongue nor does he recognize the instant at which his insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his own warm blood. His carnivorous appetite just craves more–until the dawn finds him dead in the snow!
Such is the power sin has to destroy our lives. Thankfully, it does not have to be that way. Jesus has done everything necessary to provide a plan of salvation that will work for all people. He has promised to pray for us and to see us through the times of temptation and sifting. He has promised to receive, forgive and restore us when we do fail. There is no need for anyone to allow sin to devastate their life. If you want help as you face the times of sifting in life, you will find it in Jesus, and in Him alone!
Luke 6:31-33 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
This passage of Scripture describes how we must treat each other during the Millennium if we are to remain in a “right” relationship with the Lord. Even though it is a millennium passage, it is still profitable for us today (2 Tim. 3:16).
There are some very good principles presented by the Lord Jesus Christ for us to use to navigate the pilgrims passage that we have before each of us. Although the keeping of these words does not determine our salvation, as it will in the Millennium, it will help us conform to a more likable image of Christ.
Treat others the way you wish to be treated.
Why is there not more of this happening in the church? Do people treat others the way the wish to be treated? There seems to be a great disparity between the way we are treated and the way we treat others. The two don’t always match. Should they, there would be less conflict.
People are not sensitive enough to observe how others are treating them. It is often overlooked because others are not looking for it. Face it, it is quite embarrassing to tell someone, “Now this is the way I wish to be treated…”. No one is likely to do that. There are self-help, sharing groups that are full of people saying how they wanted to be treated, but others could just not see it. It is expressed in statements like, “They knew I didn’t like that, but they did it anyway.” The answer is: they didn’t know you did not like it because they simply never paid attention to what you liked or not.
On the whole, people have a predetermined idea of how they wish to be treated, but seldom think of how they should treat others. Their focus is on “self” and not others. Once they come to that predetermined conclusion of how they wish to be treated, they do not broadcast it because it would not seem a right thing to do. Others are supposed to perceive it and if they don’t, then watch the sparks fly.
There is the story of Ted and Jane. Jane made herself up real pretty for her birthday so when Ted came home from work, he would notice something different about her and be reminded of her birthday. She didn’t feel right about saying to him, “Ted, you know it’s my birthday tomorrow.” It just felt too selfish of an act to do something like that. She opted for a more subtle way to help him remember.
Ted totally forgot about Jane’s birthday. He was completely oblivious to the matter. Coming home from work, he greeted her as always, with a kiss. They talked about their day and proceeded with their evening as usual. Not only had he completely forgot her birthday, he didn’t even notice that she had made herself up nice and pretty. Jane was deeply hurt inside. She had an expectation; he was supposed to notice and that would remind him of her special day, but that’s not what happened. He was not sensitive enough to observe how she was treating him. The result was pain and hurt. Had he observed how she was treating him, he would have noticed something different. The result would have been joy.
People don’t notice how others are treating them because they are more concerned with self; they are more concerned with the way others are treating “THEM.” This is purely a focus on self. We want others to notice us, but we don’t notice others. The Lord Jesus said, “…as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” That is not: “…as ye do unto men, they should do likewise unto you.” You treat others the way you expect to be treated, but you make the first step, AND have no expectation that they will treat you likewise. After some time, it will wear off on them and have an effect. But, you must take the first step. You must lead by example, treating them the way that you wish to be treated, all the while observing them so you can be sensitive to their expectations. There is no room for: “This is the way I am—take it or leave it!” This command by the Lord is not a goodie box of “what you get,” but rather “what you should give.”
Love those who do not love you.
This is perhaps one of the most difficult things to do as a child of God. It is difficult because when you love someone, you are laying your heart out before them and there is a risk that they will trample on it. Even though there is a risk, any attempt to master this precept will make you a much better person.
There is no doubt that the world is lacking in love. People love themselves (but they don’t know it), their family, and their friends. There is little room for anyone else. We hold back from helping others because we fear an obligation might develop, or they might take advantage of me. But we fall deeper and deeper into a selfish hole until we have no way for mankind to climb himself out.
To turn around this downward spiral we need to take the first step: love our enemies, remembering the weight of the enormous pressure our enemies can bring to bear. We need to adopt, and develop, a loving life to all. Yes, we may get bowled over by the world, but just as worldly living is infectious, so is love. You must not love your enemies looking for immediate results, but for long term solutions. This does not mean that there are no immediate results. Adopting this teaching into your life will help you immensely in your attitude towards others and your outlook on life. If you can do it long enough, it will become habit, and not only will it be easy, but it will make living for the Lord easier on the whole.
To love someone who loves you in return is easy, but to love your enemies is difficult. It is here where lies the true lessons of love. When you give out a good helping of your love and get some love in return, you have, in a sense, exchanged some love for some love. This is similar to purchasing something: you exchange something that is valuable to you so in return you may obtain something that is valuable to you. The Beatles sang, “Can’t buy me love.” The reality of the fact is we do it all the time when we love those who love us in return. We just don’t know we are doing it.
Do good to everyone
Too many people are doing bad things to others. Even Christians get drawn into the oppressive style of living, repaying evil for evil (1 Thess. 5:15). We like to “pay back” others who have wronged us. In fact, we are so good at it, we do it before we even know what we are doing. A wife says something mean to her husband. The husband responds with saying something mean back to his wife. We just react. So spontaneous is this exchange that we don’t even realize it happened. The proof is in the making up process when they say to each other, “I didn’t really mean what I said.” The question remains: “Then why did you say it?” The response is: they don’t know why, but they didn’t mean to do it. It is because we are so conditioned to live by such worldly standards that doing otherwise seems impossible, but it is not.
We must take the first step to do good to others. Although, the world as a whole may not appreciate such living, those whom we do good to will. When they in turn do the same to others, it begins to spread. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a society where everyone loved each other? This is what living in the kingdom will demand, and this is what heaven will be like as well. You won’t have to worry about someone having some kind of ulterior motive when they do something good for you.
The Lord Jesus lived by this guiding principle. Not only was it His nature to love (1 John 4:16), but it was to us—His great example.
Christian rights group China Aid says the faithful are worried that the church demolition could be a sign that the government is tightening its grip over the spread of Christianity in China
I believe there is great Biblical justification for Thursday being the day of the crucifixion. It is the fifth day of the week (a number often associated with death in the Bible). It would satisfy Sunday being called “the third day since these things were done” (as in Luke 24:21). It would also allow for three days and three nights, although not necessarily 72 hours (something not necessarily is required by the statement in Matthew 12:40). The nights would be a partial day on Thursday, then all day Friday and Saturday. The nights would be Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday night. I think Thursday would satisfy the statements of all the scriptures involved.
There are those who argue that Jesus was crucified on Friday by citing that the Jews were determined that Jesus be buried before the Sabbath that followed the day of preparation (Luke 23:53-54; Matthew 27:62; Mark 15:42; John 19:31). Since the Sabbath is on Saturday, then He must have been crucified on Friday. However, two things need to be carefully noted. First, this Sabbath was after the day of preparation. This linked it to the annual feast of the Passover. The fourteenth day of the first month at even was the Lord’s Passover (Leviticus 23:5) and was a day of preparation. The next day, the fifteenth day, was the first day of the feast of unleavened bread. It was an annual Sabbath. It was called an high day–“for that Sabbath day was an high day” (John 19:31). It was not a normal Sabbath; it was one of the annual Sabbaths.
Most Bible teachers make this annual Sabbath also the weekly Sabbath, but this is not necessary. A weekly Sabbath was always on Saturday. However, an annual Sabbath could be on any day of the week. This was because an annual Sabbath was connected to a date of the year. And, just as anyone’s birthday is not always on the same day of the week, so these annual Sabbaths occurred on different days.
Where do we get the concept of annual Sabbaths? We get it from Leviticus 23, the chapter that gives the original feast days for Israel, we see some special days being called Sabbaths. “In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath” (Leviticus 23:24). Leviticus 23:39 says of the first and last days of the feast of tabernacles: “Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a Sabbath.” Therefore, the feast of trumpets and the first and last days of the eight-day feast of tabernacles are all called Sabbaths. However, these days are connected to calendar days of the year. Therefore, they will vary as to what day of the week they occur. So, they are annual and not necessarily weekly Sabbaths.
The requirement for an annual Sabbath seems to be that it is called an holy convocation and no work (“servile work”) is to be done on this days (just like the weekly Sabbath). This brings us back to the day of Passover (the 14th) and the first day of firstfruits (the 15th). The fourteenth day of the first month is not called a holy convocation. Therefore, work can be done on that day (we suppose work like crucifixion). However, though the fifteenth day of the first month is not specifically called a Sabbath, it meets the qualifications and therefore is an annual Sabbath. Of this first day of the feast of unleavened bread, the law says, “In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein” (Leviticus 23:7). No doubt, this is the Sabbath that so troubled the Jews concerning the burial of Jesus. This leaves the door open for the weekly Sabbath and the annual Sabbath to be on different days. And, since there is no possible way to get Jesus in the grave for three days and three nights between Friday and Sunday, that is clearly the correct answer.
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.
Starting a new church in a community is not an easy task at all. It takes time and devotion. There will be joy as well as anguish. As it grows and is able to stand on it’s own two feet, it will take on a mind of it’s own; it will strive for independence, not from God, but from those who helped start it. This is a good sign, for then, and only then, could you say, “It is established.” But until that time, there is much to pay attention to, and much to do.
Babies are funny creatures. They are so innocent and helpless. They need to be taught everything they are going to learn except crying. Boy, do babies know how to cry! The tiniest of human beings can sure make a loud sound when they want or need something. Then we must find out what it is that they need and take care of it. Sometimes it is changing a diaper, other times it is feeding. There are even times when they are sick and we have to figure out what to do. That is the problem—figuring out what the baby needs. This is because they can’t talk to us and say, “Hey Mom, you’re a little tardy with the food this morning. Don’t you know that I am supposed to be fed on my schedule and not yours?” They just say, “WAHAAAHHHHH!” and we jump into action. In fact, the whole house jumps into action, and we quickly learn that the whole house revolves around the baby.
Babies are expensive. They need “baby things.” You can’t just give a baby an old stick from the back yard and expect them to “make believe” they have a doll or something. You have to get them “baby dollies,” and they don’t come cheap. They have to be made for the safety and development of the baby. Not only that, you have to get a whole new assortment of furniture, just for the baby. There are: cribs, changing tables, hampers, high chairs, rockers, and a bunch of other little things. There are doctor visits too. Babies need to keep going to the doctor to check their development. All of this to say, if you love your baby, you will get as many things you can to help the baby grow. Why? Because you love the baby and want it to grow up.
Now you know that you must feed a baby. If you don’t feed the baby, and ignore its cries, things for the baby don’t just stay the same—they get worse. If you don’t feed the baby, the baby doesn’t just stay in that level or growth and development until you resume feeding again. The baby begins to regress. It begins to deteriorate. If you took a 6 month old child and stuck them in a closet somewhere for a few years and then pulled them out, you wouldn’t have a healthy 6 month old baby to resume feeding and care for. That baby would have regressed until it died. This is a frightful thought to say the least. The point is, you must keep maintaining the child for it to develop. It needs a carefully managed diet. It needs lessons in things like walking, holding spoons, sitting up and many more things. If you stop the lessons, the baby begins to lose the things it has learned and does not develop. In fact it doesn’t just stay idle, it regresses. Babies must be cared for if they are to keep developing! If you don’t care for it, then it begins shrinking and getting weak.
Starting a new church is much like having a baby and raising it up. It does not just grow on its own. The first part of its growth is like the womb phase. It must be comforted in the warmth and love of its mommy’s tummy. There it knows it is protected and cared for. It grows in love, nurture and admonition. It hasn’t a care in the world except growing to its birth. It is totally dependent on its mother.
New church starts too are dependent on their mothers—that is their mother churches. The mother church is not to be confused with the Catholic Church which is often referred to as “the mother church.” It is a reference to the church that sends out the preacher or missionary for the purpose of starting a church in another place. The church that sends out the missionary is like: “the Mother Church.” Another reference to it in this day and age is: “the Sending Church.” Without a mother church, there is no “womb phase” for the starting church. There can be no church if there is no “womb phase.” This is the phase where the sending church helps the baby church get started. This usually happens by training up a preacher to this cause. Then sending some people from the mother church to go and help canvass neighborhoods to get a small group to form the church. The sending church typically supports the pastor financially in some way and helps provide necessary equipment like, pews, pulpits, etc. for the church to get started. This is the womb phase. It is a very delicate phase for a new church and it is important for them to know that they are safely snug in their mommy’s tummy; protected and cared for. Without this phase, it is nearly impossible for any new church to be born, for it can be compared with having a premature baby. When babies come pre-mature, it is a very delicate and critical time, because they can easily die. So it is with a new church start.
Once a church is born, it is still not healthy enough to walk on its own. It still needs help learning how to walk, hold its spoons, bottles, etc. It only learns this from watching others, and that is almost always its mommy. Again, this is where the sending church is crucial. As the devil would like for children to remain undeveloped, so would he like new churches to remain that way. Someone needs to gently guide, comfort and encourage the baby in its growth. So is it with a new church.
As the sending church is crucial in this roll, so do the members of the church plant have responsibility. Their responsibility is to respond to and learn the lessons being taught it. That is, if they are to remain safe from the devil’s attacks. The members of the church plant have the difficult job of learning and growing. This cannot be done if they refuse to do the things necessary to grow. If they don’t try to develop, they never will. Just like the baby who begins growing finds it new and difficult to learn crucial lessons like crawling and then walking, the church has the same difficulty. Prior to this, mommy is doing everything for the baby, but now she is beginning to make the baby stand up, or crawl. The mother church begins this long arduous weaning process. As this happens, more and more of the members have to pitch in and work. If they do not, the church will fail. The members cannot go on in their “comfort zone” forever. They must begin working, if they truly want a church.
There are times when babies need their diapers changed and need to be cleaned up. It is the same way with the church. When the baby gets dirty, all it can do at first is to just yell and cry. Amazingly, that seems to be the same way it goes in new churches. People seem to just scream and cry about the dirty condition of the church, but no one does anything about it. All they want is the loving touch of mommy to take away the problem for them, but guess what; they eventually have to learn to use the potty just like the big kids do. If members of a church plant are ever to develop to an established church, they will need to learn how to deal with their own dirty diapers; they will need to learn how to go to the potty. This equates to growing as a Christian. It means that they become proactive in HELPING each other and not tearing each other down. It takes a loving, kind and patient heart to work with a baby until it learns how to use the potty. Church members should be the same way to each other.
In today’s world, when a person turns to God’s word, it is important that they find it. The Devil is a master deceiver. He can make you feel as though you are absolutely at peace being wrong. He can’t change dirt into ice cream, but he can make you think you are eating the most delicious ice cream when all the time you are eating dirt. Likewise, he can do the same with the Bible. He can make you think, beyond a shadow of doubt, that you have the right words of God when all the time you have a counterfeit. Martin Luther discovered this a long time ago and he was eventually killed for speaking out about it.
Psalm 12:6-7 says, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”
I trust as you look on the Bible Comparison charts included, that you will get some semblance of the deception that Satan has put in place as a policy to cause God’s people to become weak and anemic. I hope these will open your eyes.
Rev. 13:16-18 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred three score and six.
Many Bible readers over the centuries have been puzzled, wondering just how such a system could ever be established, but it’s no longer a puzzle. Advanced technology has brought the world closer to the Mark of the Beast than any time in history. We know that the coming Mark of the Beast will somehow be connected with the economy, for the Bible says that no one may buy or sell without it. It may very well be that cash, checks, and credit cards are soon to become a thing of the past, because electronic money is becoming more popular all the time.
One form of electronic money is the use of smart cards. A smart card looks like a credit or debit card, except it contains a small computer chip with all sorts of information about the card holder, including bank account numbers and balances. When a smart card is used, the card holder’s bank account is immediately debited at the point of sale by computer transaction. This means more profits to retailers and banks alike, because bad checks and credit card abuse would be eliminated. Many banks and credit card companies believe that electronic money will eventually usher in a cashless society where everyone will buy and sell electronically. Terry Galanoy, former director of communications for what is now Visa International has made this bold remark: “Protesting too loudly about it isn’t going to help either, because the disturbance you kick up is going to end up in one of your files. And on that come-and-get-it day when we’re all totally and completely dependent upon our card–or whatever security device might replace it–you might be left all alone without one!”
In promotional literature from the Danyl Corporation of Moorestown, New Jersey, Robert J. Merkert, Sr., senior vice president, says: “One day in the near future, we’ll be able to pay for almost everything with just one ‘prepaid stored value’ or ‘smart card.'”
Though many industry leaders are very much in favor of a cashless society where buying and selling is done electronically, there is a problem. How can it be guaranteed that the individual using a Smart Card is the authorized card holder? Some believe that this problem can be solved by combining Smart Card technology with Biometric Technology. After all, a Smart “Card” is only a piece of plastic. It’s the computer chip inside the card that stores the needed information. As unbelievable as it may sound, biometric technology has now made it possible to implant small computer chips under the skin of animals and people. The European Community’s Executive Commission has already passed legislation which REQUIRES farmers in the European Community to have their livestock implanted with microchips! In many cities across the U.S., the Humane Society is selling such implants for pets, as a replacement for dog tags.
You say, “Well, that’s just for animals. No one would ever try this technology on people.” I wouldn’t be too sure about that. According to the Bible, The Mark of the Beast, by Paul and Peter Lalond, a plastic surgeon in Florida has hit upon the idea of implanting microchips in people. This would be helpful in locating missing people, such as run away children, kidnapped children, wandering victims of Alzheimer’s disease, and parolees.
Just for a moment, use your imagination and think about the convenience of implanted microchips. You wouldn’t need any cash or checks for making purchases, for your bank account would be automatically debited every time you went through a check-out stand. You wouldn’t need to keep up with a social security card, a driver’s license, a Medicare card, a credit card, or even a smart card, because all of this information could be stored in the implanted chip. You wouldn’t have to worry about getting mugged on the street, because there would be no demand for cash in a cashless society. Now doesn’t the mark of the beast sound wonderful?
We are not saying that the government is going to make you receive a microchip implant, and we aren’t sure how the number “666” can be integrated into all this. We are simply pointing out the fact that THE TECHNOLOGY IS HERE. We do not know exactly what the Mark of the Beast will be in it’s final form, but it is obvious that the possibilities are greater today than ever before.
Only by receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior can you be saved from the wrath to come (1 Thes. 1:10; 5:9). The Lord Jesus Christ will soon return to call His church out of this world (1 Thess. 4:16-18), and only those who are saved will leave. Everyone else will enter into the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21), and they will be required to take the Mark of the Beast. Those who do will burn in Hell forever (Rev. 14:11).
When you are ready to accept the fact that you are a lost and dying sinner and that your “good works” are unacceptable to God (Rom. 3:10, 23; 4:5; 10:3), then you can begin to see your need for Jesus Christ. He came into this world to lay down His sinless life for YOU–to pay for your sins, because you couldn’t. Jesus is your only hope for salvation. Only by receiving Him as your Savior can you enter the gates of Heaven. There is no other way.
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (John 14:6)
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
The Lord Jesus Christ has come and PAID for your sins by shedding His own Blood on Calvary. By receiving Him as your Savior, you can be WASHED from all your sins in His precious Blood (Rev. 1:5; Col. 1:14; Acts 20:28; I Pet. 1:18-19). Notice these important words from Romans 5:8-9:
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
Jesus PAID your way to Heaven for you! By receiving Him as your Savior, you will be receiving God’s ONLY means of Salvation for you. Are you willing to forsake YOUR righteousness and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, your ONLY HOPE for Salvation? Romans 10:13 says, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:9 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Are you willing to forsake your own righteousness, and trust Jesus Christ alone? He will save you just as He promised. Why not receive Him today? Tomorrow could be too late. Tomorrow you could face being implanted with “the mark of the beast.”
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.”
Ephesians 6:11-17 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
God has a specific manner in which He would have the Christian dress to successfully navigate his earthly pilgrimage. It is not a set of lounging pajamas, nor is it a “dress for success” in the world outfit. It is not a set of rugged work clothes or rain gear. It is called the whole armour of God, and many Christians forget that it is available to them.
Every Christian is to grow up to be a warrior for Christ. As warrior, we must be prepared to defend against the many assaults of the world. Likewise, we should be prepared to attack the influences of evil wherever it reveals itself. When God tells us to “STAND”, He means that we are to “defend the faith once delivered to the saints.” From the very beginning, Christianity has been attacked. False teachers have “crept in unawares” for the purpose of “modernizing” (changing) the way Christ wanted the church to be. There has been a constant bombardment to make the church something appealing to man, taking it farther and farther from the truth. This we must not allow. WE MUST STAND FAST!
Not only are we to stand, but wherever we see one of our enemies: the world, the flesh or the devil, we are to go on the offensive. We must not let them destroy our lives, families, churches, communities or the Bible. We are to do what we can to fight the enemy away. Our Captain, as well as other Christians are in the fight. We too must get prepared and get into it as well. David fought Goliath, Samson with the Philistines, Gideon with the Midianites, and Nehemiah with Sanballat and Tobiah. They didn’t just defend their ground, they took up the offensive against the enemy.
We must be on the watch constantly; watching and praying that we enter not into temptation (Matt. 26:41). Our nature is that we are very willing in mind to do something for the Lord, but our old flesh is not. Self agrees to allow the tongue to say, “I’ll do it” when the brain sends that thought on. But when it comes time, Self always betrays us, turning us into a hypocrite. Then we feel defeated and hesitate to “show our face” again. This is one tactic for getting us out of the battle. To deal with this we must ask the Lord to “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” We can ask Him to guide our steps to avoid the pitfalls of temptations that we would have come into contact with unless He does. And if we do not follow His guidance, and come in contact with a temptation anyway, we can ask Him to warn us and give wisdom so we can run from it as quick as we can (note: When you run from something, you are running to something as well–Run to the Bible).
Now there are special times when many Christians are destroyed by temptations because they let down their guard. Some of these times are: summer vacation, holidays, times of sickness and times of success. During these times Christians are most vulnerable to attack. When we are out of schedule or not feeling well, we tend to let our guard down. I have many times seen Christians in church and at the altar during times of trial or tribulation in their life. But, when the Lord allows them a successful outcome, they start to slip in attendance, tithing and involvement. They become prideful and comfortable and it seems like the don’t need God anymore because they can now handle things on their own. I often wonder if the Lord allows for trouble in our lives because He knows that is what we need to drive us to church to hear His word.
The Lord Jesus Christ was our example. His life was not a life of ease and comfort. He had spiritual battles, too. In fact, He was tempted in all points such as we are and even some that we are not. He was tempted by the Devil in ways that we will never be tempted. When He was on the cross, some of His own people tempted Him to come down and prove Himself, but He continued His fight to pay for the sin of the world. We too need to recognize there is a battle which rages around us and we must fight; defend our ground as well as attack where needed.
Spiritual warfare often surprises many Christians because they are not looking for it. Like the American fleet at Pearl Harbor that fateful day, they know they are in a war, but are relaxed because they don’t think the battle can come to them. We need to be armed, trained and ready for the imminent attack of the enemy. He is a hardened veteran with many years of battle experience. He never relaxes, never takes a day off, never regroups. He is deadly and dangerous to the life of a Christian. So, we must always be prepared to fight him on any ground. We must always be vigilant and the first step is to recognize there is a war, and that we are in it.
Some people try to equip themselves with “enlightenment,” or the “power of positive thinking” or “love.” Whether it is meditation, yoga, or even putting your head in the sand, none of these are God’s appointed formula for equipping yourself for the battle. There is no other armour sufficient to take the place of God’s armour. His armour provides the protection that is needed and we must use every piece of it. No part of our life can be exposed else the armour would not have its designed effect. We must put on the “whole armour of God.” If one part is missing, then we are exposed. If we use all of God’s armour, but decide to exchange one piece of it for something else, then we are exposed and the whole suit is useless. His armour is properly designed to work together as an entire suit for dealing with the battle the Christian is in.
This girdle or belt ties all the other armour together. It keeps the robe from tangling. The meaning of “truth” in this passage is sincerity, transparency, or realness. The Scripture mentions the “unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Realness, sincerity, or transparency sets us free from being a fake. It frees us from the “fear of man” or peer pressure. God hates hypocrisy. The word hypocrite means “actor” or “one who wears a mask.” The first piece of armour is sincerity, realness or transparency. Being real keeps us from many of the attacks of the enemy.
The root word of righteousness is “right,” as in being right with someone. The breastplate guards the most vital organ–the heart. Right living guards our heart from wrong emotions and temptations. The habit of right living is a defense against wrong. We are to be militant—“zealous of good works.” Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
A wise general looks after his soldiers’ shoes. If they wear out, the troops cannot travel. The roads are rough! Footprints of peace are to be left by Christian soldiers everywhere they go. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9). Romans 10:15, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” We are to leave peace wherever we go and bring peace between God and man as we witness. Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Prayer keeps our mind at peace. Prayer keeps our footing firm. God gave us feet so we could spread the gospel. Let’s use them for Him!
The Roman shield was about as big as a door. It protected the entire body. They could even be hooked to other shields to form a wall. Some even poured water on their shields to quench fiery darts. In the Old Testament, God told Abraham that He would be his shield and strength. Our shield of faith comes from Bible reading. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Faith makes us grow. Faith protects us from heresy. Faith entices us to claim God’s promises. Faith is believing God’s word to the point of putting it to the test.
The helmet is the most elaborately designed piece of armour, and it is beautiful. It is a picture of ASSURANCE OF SALVATION. A Christian who has doubts about whether he is saved or not will not win many battles for God. The helmet also guards the mind. We are to guard what thoughts we allow to enter our mind. Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
The word of God is the Holy Spirit weapon in our hand. It is the same weapon Jesus used against the devil in Matthew 4:1-8 where he constantly said, “It is written…” Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” The sword is for close confrontation after arrows had been shot and spears thrown. The sword was double edged. Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Carry it wherever you go! Don’t be caught without your weapon!
Just as a soldier dresses before battle, so should a Christian put on his armour each morning. As you put your belt on in the morning, ask God to make you sincere. Determine in your heart to be truthful with yourself and with others. As you put on your shirt or blouse for the day, determine to live right. Ask God to help you in areas of weakness. Guard your heart for the day. Watch your emotions. Love the Lord with all your heart. Tell Him so! As you put your shoes on, ask God to make you a peacemaker. Ask Him to give you power as you look for opportunities to witness for Christ. Put your Bible in your clothing or purse to have it with you all day. Find Scripture to meditate on all day! As you comb your hair, reminisce about the day you were saved. Praise God for it. Guard your thoughts. Begin your day with a song to keep depression away.
Before you leave the house for the day, remember you are a soldier. There is a warfare to face. Do not be surprised or discouraged over problems during the day! Put on the whole armour of God and be prepared.
1 Thess. 5:11-23 11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. 12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. 15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. 16 Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 19 Quench not the Spirit. 20 Despise not prophesyings. 21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. 23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The SOLE business of the church is SOULS. The church is souls looking upward in praise; inward in penitence; outward in practice; and forward in promise. The church at Thessalonica was church born out of the storms of persecution (1:6; 2:14; 3:3-7). Paul gives this church a check-list for encouraging one another (5:11). How does he do this? By telling them to “Comfort” (vs. 11, 14) and “exhort” (vs. 14).
- Building up one another (5:11).
- Value and Love church leadership (5:12-13).
- Avoid Quarreling (5:13)
- Warn the undisciplined (5:14)
- Comfort the fearful (5:14; cf. Isa. 35:3-4)
- Care for the weak (5:14)
- Practice Patience (5:14)
- Do good to someone who treats you wrongly (5:15)
- Rejoice in everything (5:16; cf. Hab. 3:17-19)
- Stay in an attitude of prayer (5:17)
- Maintain an attitude of thanksgiving (5:18)
- Don’t smother the spirit’s working (5:19)
- Beware of a bad attitude towards preaching (5:20)
- Stay clear of compromising situations (5:22)
How do I know if someone is a Christian or not?
Christians are not strange people. They are not radical fundamentalist, as some would have you believe. Christians are not someone who needs a crutch to stand on. Nor are they mentally insecure. Christians are just like any other people trying to navigate the pitfalls of this world. They are like anyone else, trying to love their families and do right by their friends and neighbors.
The government and their manipulation by “radical lobbyist” have tried to place any Bible believing Christian in the closet of society. To do so, they must show the evils of being a Christian and get the public to agree with them. It doesn’t matter if it is true or not, as long as people believe it.
They do this so they can make themselves look good in the eyes of others. To elevate yourself in the eyes of the world, you can either ascribe to greatness yourself or you can put down all others around you. That way, when you are the last man standing, you can be the king of the mountain.
Adolph Hitler understood this when he victimized the Jews, Gypsies, Communist, Homosexuals and unfit. In putting them down in society, he gave the perception that the individual common German was greater than the others. He effectively changed their class by changing their perceived position in regards to the classes and races he victimized. This is how the world is making themselves great in their own eyes today. They victimize the common Christian, putting him in an imaginary lower class of people so that others wake up one day and imagine that they have risen a few rungs on the ladder of success.
Despite their best efforts to change the class system, people are still people. We all have the same desires, goals and characteristics because we were all made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Yet, there are some very big differences between a Christian and a person of the world. These differences are “big” because they are matters of life and death (Deut. 30:15). Yes, I know that everyone dies, but just keep reading for once. You can learn something.
Christians are saved. I know that this phrase has been tossed around in so many ways, with so many negative connotations that you think you know all about it; But do you really? From the Bible’s point of view, being “saved” means that true Christians are saved from going to hell. Not because they have earned it, but because it is a gift given to them that they don’t deserve. Someone stood in and paid for them so they don’t have to go to hell. That person is Jesus Christ. He paid for everyone so they don’t have to go to hell, but not everyone will be saved from that destiny. Everyone who does not accept what Jesus did for them will go to hell and remain there forever. This is what true Christians mean when they say they are saved.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Christians are sinners. They do not claim to be sinless. They know that everyone has sinned and comes short of God’s glory.[/pullquote]
Christians are sinners. Somehow the world has conditioned its lemming like followers that Christians claim to be sinless. Even Christians are mixed up on this very point. From time to time they will refer to the unsaved person of the world as “sinners”, while at the same time implying that they claim to be sinless. Real Bible believing Christians know that everyone has sinned and come short of God’s glory, including themselves. Christians are sinners.
Christians are the children of God. Yes! Everyone was created in the image of God, but when sin entered the human race, God’s image in man was removed. People get all hung up on this point. They say, “Do you mean that people like Charles Manson was created in the image of God?” Or they go to the other extreme and say, “I can’t believe that God would send that young angel to hell. What kind of God would do that?” I have spent most of my ministry explaining this over and over again to people. It truly must be a pressure point that the Devil can use to get people all tripped up. Here we go again: Man was originally created in the image of God: Body, Spirit and Soul. When man sinned, his spirit lost Gods image. Man retained his body and soul, but his spirit no longer reflected God’s spirit. When you get saved, God returns His spirit to you. You then become complete. You do this by getting born again. Your body and soul doesn’t get born again. You get spiritually born. Anyone who gets born again becomes saved. Anyone! Why? Because of God’s forgiveness. He doesn’t care what you think about it. He is only interested what He thinks about it. Because it is a spiritual thing, you can not determine a person’s sincerity. Only God can do that. Therefore, the greatest and most beautiful do gooder can go straight to hell if they are not spiritually born again. Likewise, the most wicked vile person you have ever seen can go to heaven if they get spiritually born again. God can do this because He is the creator and He has determined that salvation will be contingent upon being born again or not. He can freely forgive anyone who gets born again. Likewise, He can condemn anyone who does not. Regarding how He makes this decision, He only cares about one thing, “Did you get born again or not?”
Anyone who gets born again, He calls them his children. They refer to Him as Father. He rejects all others and He is completely fair in doing so.
Christians go to church. Although many people go to church for many reasons, Christians do so because they desire fellowship with God and His children. Even though God walks with them everywhere they go because of His omnipresence, they like to go to church because He likes to go to church. To a Christian, church is a small taste of what heaven will be like; even with all of it’s flaws, it is the closest thing they have to heaven down here on the earth. Other people go to church to see what they can get out of it. Christians go to church to see what they can put into it. It gives them an opportunity to love others in a loving and safe environment. Christians don’t have to go to church, they get to go to church.
Christians tell people about Jesus. Face it. If it were not for Christians, nobody in the world today would know about Jesus at all. If it weren’t for Christians there would be nothing for Atheist to worry about. Oh, God would still be here, but nobody would know about Him at all. But, is that the reason Christians tell people about Jesus; to make Him famous? No! Christians tell people about Jesus because they are excited about Him. They appreciate what He has done for them; and the love that they have experienced through Him. They want to share that wonderfully liberating experience with their friends, family and others. They so appreciate Him that they can hardly contain themselves from telling others. Look at it like this: If you were to win the lottery, wouldn’t you want to share that news with those closest and dearest to you? Be true to yourself now. Of course you would. Well, Christians have something far better than the lottery. They have eternal life based upon the promise of God.
Christians read the Bible. The rest of the world doesn’t read the Bible, but Christians do. Real Christians want to get their nose into that book and learn what it says. They are curious about God and what He has done. They want to know more about this love that they now have, and the person with whom it originates.
Christians are just common people with all of the same problems and struggles as everyone else. They are not perfect, nor are they sinless. But they do have hope. It is a hope that allows them to take the journey of life with a much different attitude from the rest of the world. The next time you encounter a Christian, don’t be so quick to judge them and label them as hate mongers, for in so doing, you become guilty of that which you accuse them as being.
Learn about Jesus. You just might realize you were missing something you didn’t even know existed.
It is helpful to consider what happens when we disobey God. If we misuse His good gift of sexuality, what are the consequences? “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).
The girl who violates God’s commands concerning sex feels used and cheated. She realizes, too late, that she has “lost” a most precious possession: her virginity. “Lost,” however, is not really the right word, because she gave it away cheaply. Virginity is a gift God gave her. It is not really hers, but God’s, and she is but the steward of it. She is responsible to God for its care. She can give her virginity away only once. She can never get it back. She will never be able to give this precious gift to her God-given husband at the proper time.
Today’s society says very little about the pricelessness of virginity. To the contrary, television, movies, and romance novels make virginity cheap. They sacrifice it on the altar of “fun.” While I am convinced that most girls do prize it, they face many and great temptations to give it away. Some do not want to be considered “odd.” Others want the feeling now. Many think they can use sex to get love. Many give in to their boyfriend’s pleas because they do not want to lose his “love.” In every case, however, it is selfishness that has made them violate God’s will. And the consequences are irreversible.
The young man also “loses” something when he goes too far before marriage. He also gives away a priceless gift, and he does so cheaply. The loss of innocence, through sexual impurity, is as real for the boy as it is for the girl. He may deceive himself into believing that the gratification of the moment will make that loss worthwhile. But he too will find, to his great grief, that it does not. For God will not be mocked.
All sexual activity before marriage is entering into a holy of holies in a degrading, base, and profane manner, violating the will of God. And the only reason for rushing so boldly into this holy and beautiful mystery is the selfishness of pride.
Some claim the “right” to premarital sex because they are engaged to be married. They believe that their expressions of commitment to each other make it right for them to violate God’s will. But consider the reasons for wanting to go contrary to God’s command! Every one of them is wrong: self-gratification, the desire to be loved, the fear of what the partner will think. Can such motives and such action be defended before an open Bible? It is God’s will that sex be only in marriage. And it is only God who unites two in marriage, using the church and the state to be His means to unite them. A couple is not married merely on the basis of their commitment to each other.
The command of our God is of course sufficient reason to refrain from premarital sex. There is however this added consideration, that not always do an engaged couple end up marrying each other. Should they break off their engagement, after engaging in sexual intercourse, they can be sure that, when they do marry, the pleasure of the marriage bed will not be unaffected by the memory of what went before. Sin may deceive us into thinking we can get away with it, but God is not mocked.
Premarital sex always causes scars! Sin leaves scars. And the scars will have an effect on you years later. In the passion of the moment, you do not think about the implications and consequences which reach far beyond that moment. You do not want to think about the consequences. But this sin makes a searing cut, which always leaves a scar. You cannot violate the command of God concerning something so wonderful, and not be hurt by it. Sexual relationships many years later, with the husband and with the wife you love so dearly, are going to be affected by the illicit and immoral sexual activity which took place before you were married. I might add that many have been the counseling sessions with those whose improper sexual activity before marriage was with the one they did later marry. They judge each other, they blame each other, or they are plagued in conscience. When will we realize that God will not be mocked? We will reap what we sow! Sin leaves scars.
There can be healing from the wound which sin causes, but there will always be a scar. This scar will be removed only when we receive our resurrection bodies. Please consider the scars you will cause, for yourself and for the one you love, before you rush into intimacy before God permits it.
(Men Are From Sears, Women Are From Nordstrom)
I believe that, in general, women are saner than men. For example, If you see people who have paid good money to stand in an outdoor stadium on a freezing December day wearing nothing on the upper halves of their bodies except paint, those people will be male.
Without males, there would be no such sport as professional lawn mower racing. Also, there would be a 100 decline in the annual number of deaths related to efforts to shoot beer cans off of heads. Also, if women were in charge of all the world’s nations, there would be, I sincerely believe this, virtually no military conflicts, and if there were a military conflict, everybody involved would feel just awful and there would soon be a high- level exchange of thoughtful notes written on greeting cards with flowers on the front, followed by a Peace Luncheon (which would be salads, with the dressing on the side).
So I sincerely believe that women are wiser than men, with the exception of one key area, and that area is: clothing sizes. In this particular area, women are insane.
When a man shops for clothes, his primary objective is to purchase clothes that fit on his particular body. A man will try on a pair of pants, and if those pants are too small, he’ll try on a larger pair, and when he finds a pair that fits, he buys them. Most men do not spend a lot of time fretting about the size of their pants. Many men wear jeans with the size printed right on the back label, so that if you’re standing behind a man in a supermarket line, you can read his waist and inseam size. A man could have, say, a 52-inch waist and a 30-inch inseam, and his label will proudly display this information, which is basically the same thing as having a sign that says: “Howdy! My butt is the size of a Federal Express truck!” The situation is very different with women.
When a woman shops for clothes, her primary objective is NOT to find clothes that fit her particular body. She would like for that to be the case, but her primary objective is to purchase clothes that are the size she wore when she was 19 years old. This will be some arbitrary number such as “5” or “7.” Don’t ask me “5” or “7” of what; that question has baffled scientists for centuries. All I know is that if a woman was a size 5 at age 19, she wants to be a size 5 now, and if a size 5 outfit does not fit her, she will not move on to a larger size: She can’t! Her size is 5! So she will keep trying on size 5 items, and unless they start fitting her, she will become extremely unhappy.
She may take this unhappiness out on her husband, who is waiting patiently in the mall, perhaps browsing in the Sharper Image store, trying to think of how he could justify purchasing a pair of night-vision binoculars. “Hi!” he’ll say, when his wife finds him. “You know how sometimes the electricity goes out at night and…” “Am I fat?” she’ll ask, cutting him off. This is a very bad situation for the man, because if he answers “yes,” she’ll be angry because he’s saying that she’s fat, and if he answers “no,” she’ll be angry because HE’S OBVIOUSLY LYING BECAUSE NONE OF THE SIZE 5’s FIT HER.
There is no escape for the husband. I think a lot of unexplained disappearances occur because guys in malls see their wives unsuccessfully trying on outfits, and they realize their lives will be easier if, before their wives come out and demand to know whether they’re fat, the guys just run off and join a UFO cult.
The other day my wife, Michelle, was in a terrific mood, and you know why? Because she had successfully put on a size 6 outfit. She said this made her feel wonderful. She said, and this is a direct quote: “I wouldn’t care if these pants were this big (here she held her arms far apart) as long as they have a ‘6’ on them.”
Here’s how you could get rich: Start a women’s clothing store called “SIZE 2,” in which all garments, including those that were originally intended to be restaurant awnings, had labels with the words “SIZE 2.” I bet you’d sell clothes like crazy. You’d probably get rich, and you could retire, maybe take up some philanthropic activity to benefit humanity. I’m thinking here of professional lawn mower racing.
Psalms 8:9 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
Too often people don’t slow down enough to even consider God. They know the Creator exists, but they don’t move Him to the front of their minds for special consideration. The Psalmist did, and when he did, he came away with this wonderful thought recorded in this special verse of Scripture. Do you notice that he is not asking a question? He is not trying to find out how excellent God’s name is. He is making an exclamation. He moved the Lord to the forefront of his mind and it came to Him that the Lords name is excellent in all of the earth.
We too can see the excellence of God. We too can be overwhelmed with the excellence of God in His name. All we have to do is take a moment and move Him to the forefront of our minds.
Ephesians 4:1-3 1I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Every Christian has a vocation; a job given to them from God Himself. In this passage of Scripture God very clearly tells us what it is and gives a Job Description so we will not be confused about anything. It is broken down into three parts:
- Walk with lowliness, meekness and longsuffering.
- Forebear one another in love.
- Keep the unity of the Spirit.
If every Christian were to concentrate on living this way, there would be happy, productive churches for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Since this is a personal vocation, it does not require, nor does it suggest that every Christian should help their brother or sister to fulfill their assigned role. Indeed! These three things are something each Christian must do on their own; they don’t depend on the reaction of the brethren to suggest success.
Each and every Christian must work on these things alone. Therefore, I ask you: Are you walking a lowly, meek and longsuffering life? Are you forbearing one another in love? Are you doing what you can to keep the unity of the Spirit? Perhaps, perhaps not. Possibly, you don’t understand what these three things mean.
Lowliness, meekness and longsuffering.
Walking in lowliness means that you put others first. This is a direct attack on the pride that tries to rule every man’s life. To put others first, you must first swallow you pride and put others first. If you like to talk, then you be quiet and let others talk instead. If you like to be the center of attention, then you give the attention to others instead. If you think in your heart that you can do better than the teacher, then you give that up and reckon the teacher is better than you. If you think about another person, “you just don’t know what I am going through”, then you think, they understand something about what I am going though. It means to put yourself down. I don’t mean to talk bad about yourself in the presence of others (like saying, “I’m so fat.”). I mean–put others first and brag on them. There is nothing like bragging on others to keep your pride in check. You can always tell a lowly church member because they are bragging on their preacher and bragging on their church.
Walking in meekness means to be mild or gentle; to be soft tempered. This speaks directly to submission. Pride thinks, “I’m better”. Meekness says, “I give up.” Not in the sense that you throw up your hands in the air and discontinue trying to do better, but in the sense that you quit striving with others. You cannot have a fight if one person just gives up. It would look silly because one person would just be swinging at the air (1 Cor. 9:26). When trying to have a conversation with someone, and another person keeps butting in overriding everything you say, just give up. Stop competing with them to get your word in. When thinking, “the pastor is just preaching that because he knows I’m…”, just give up and reckon God is working through him. When people are saying something bad about your church, and you feel tempted to say bad things too, just give up and realize that no church is perfect and you are going to do your very best to make things better. Stop waiting for the others to do it–submit to your heart’s complaint.
To walk in a longsuffering manner means to be patient. Here is where many Christians fail the most; they don’t give God a chance to answer their prayers concerning the state of their church, brethren or pastor. They want something to happen now, or at least pretty quickly. They tend to forget about the patience of God. At times they may even be giving God ultimatums without realizing it. When God doesn’t answer the way they want, or when God’s answer is NO, they think there is no answer so they need to make some change on their own–usually leaving the church for something else. Instead of telling God, “If you don’t answer my prayer by next month, then I will know you are saying leave this church,” exercise longsuffering and tell God, “You will have to take me out of this church so I will know it is you doing it instead of self.” Instead of saying, “I am going to spend my summer fishing on Sundays,” say “God, if you want me to miss church and go fishing on Sundays, you’re going to have to stop me. Be longsuffering in your walk and realize that God is doing something in your life because of it.
Forbearing one another in Love
Two things to consider in this one statement: Forebear and Love. The two go hand in hand. It is almost impossible to have one without the other. This speaks directly about how a Christian is to relate to other Christians. They are to love each other and at times that means you have to “hold them up.” Really, to love someone you have to put up with allot, but it doesn’t seem that way because you love them. To get an idea of the concept “forebear” you should think about a soldier carrying a wounded comrade off the battlefield. It is not easy to pick them up and sling them over your shoulder while the bullets are flying all around you. It is not easy to bear his weight along with the weight of your own pack, ammo and weapon. It’s not easy to feel his blood running down your back and arm. But, he rescues his buddy, putting his own life at risk, because he loves him. This is how Christians should treat the brethren of their own church. They should put their own life at risk to do the difficult thing for the brethren because they are wounded and incapable of functioning at the moment. They need to be restored. What we need in the church are “spiritual medic’s” instead of selfish back stabbers. Churches need not be full of “feel good, muckey muck, goody two shoes” Christians. They look and feel good on the surface, but underneath they have no guts. We need the “medics” who can rescue and restore their brothers in Christ. Instead of saying, “That’s a great idea, but don’t ask me to do it”, why not say, “Let me think of some ways that I can help out.” Instead of saying, “Sounds good! I’ll pray for you.” Say, “Let’s pray together about this right now.” Instead of thinking, “He should have done it this way or that way,” think, “I wonder if there is anything I can do to help him improve it. I don’t want him to think is all alone and abandoned on the battlefield. I’ll ask him as soon as he is done speaking.” Bearing the burdens of others doesn’t mean taking them away from them. It means to help them as a team would do.
Keep the Unity of the Spirit
This speaks of a common cause. the USA is full of people from diverse cultures and race. Each have their individuality, yet are united as well. On certain things, a Californian will never be able to understand a New Yorker. Still there are other things that the two will fully understand each other. I don’t like to say these are things of “common ground” as much as I would say that these are the things that make them both the same; the things that they choose to unite them–their nationality.
In the case of a Christian, and more importantly a church, these “things” are one: the Spirit of God. Corporately, all Christians have the Holy Spirit that unites us all, but there is a spirit in each church as well. I am talking about the body of Christ being comprised of individuals, all having the Holy Spirit, congregating in the same location because they are all similar. Eyes being where eyes should be; toes being where toes should be, etc. In this sense they are all of the same body, but in the right location in that broader body and God is the one who places you where He wants you (1 Cor. 12:18-20). To keep the Unity of the Spirit means to stay where God placed you in His body and not attempt to fulfill a role that you were not designed for. When being an eye, and trying to hear like an ear, you become a rogue cell and that is called cancer. The body (or church) does not need cancerous Christians. It needs Christians who are Unifying the body by fulfilling their purpose; doing what they were designed to do.
These are the jobs that God gives to every Christian. Unfortunately, many Christians are not fulfilling their designed purpose. They have either dislodged themselves and are floating around freely in the body, or they have become cancerous (not dislodged, but fulfilling some other purpose not intended for the part of the body where the Lord placed them.) Oh that churches had Christians who would fulfill their job description. We then would have strong, exciting and vibrant churches. Not places where you go to “feel good” about yourselves, but places that were strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
People often try to justify their desire to gamble by saying, “after all, life itself is risky.” Investing in the stock market, crossing the street, riding in an airplane, falling in love, getting married, even doing church work all carry with them an element of risk. People also try to justify gambling by pointing to the element of chance that was involved in the Old Testament use of lots or the Urim and Thummim, and in the New Testament method of choosing Judas’ successor. However, there is no legitimate point of comparison between the type of chance involved in these Scriptural practices and the type of chance involved in gambling. The Old Testament lots were specifically sanctioned and commanded by God (Lev. 1:8, Josh. 14:2, Ex. 28:30, Num. 27:21, Dt. 33:8). Gamblers today cannot produce such commands of God for the lots they cast! Likewise, in the choice of Matthias to succeed Judas no real risk was involved, Both candidates, Justus and Matthias, were fully qualified for the position, so the final choice was entrusted to the Lord in prayer.
The real crux of the problem of gambling is not the element of risk or chance, but the question of motivation. This is the real heart of the problem, for if the motivation involved is wrong, gambling is wrong even when the element of skill predominates over simple chance.
The basic purpose of most gambling is not to help and serve others, but to help ourselves at their expense. Luther observed: No one gambles with another in order to give away to the other what is his own (for he could do that without gambling), nor in order to lose what is his own, nor in order to seek the gain of the other man as though it were his own. This is why gambling is always contrary to love and is motivated by greed because a man seeks, to the harm of another, what does not belong to him.
The basic Christian objection to gambling is that it is an attempt to gain something from our neighbor without giving a fair service in return. If we really love our neighbor, will we wish to win at his expense? In gambling are we heeding the admonition of Scripture, Philippians 2:4 ‘Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.’ Christians must keep two facts in mind when seeking gain or profit from their activities. They must give fair labor in exchange for what they receive. They seek to earn for themselves, not from selfish motivation, but in order to be of service to others. Ephesians 4:28 “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”
A Christian’s life is to be devoted to serving others, not to serving self. In most games of gambling, part of the enjoyment is taking advantage of someone else’s loss. Gambling is nonproductive, and can be justified only by arguing its entertainment value or the good use made of a portion of the revenue. Since the end never justifies the means, gambling cannot be justified on these grounds if greed is involved. The fact that dishonesty and selfish motivation can be practiced in any form of business cannot be used as an excuse to justify gambling, if gain at the expense of another is part of the very nature of gambling. The common consent involved in gambling does not excuse the stealing involved in gambling anymore than common consent excuses the murder involved in dueling.
The Bible does not specifically forbid gambling, but there are several biblical principles that should make Christians hesitate to participate:
- God presents work as the normal way to get the money we need (Eph. 4:28; 2 Thess. 3:12).
- When a person cannot work, the second choice is prayer (Phil. 4:6, 19).
All my income belongs to God, not me (Psalms 24:1), and I am not free to use it as I wish. I am a steward, who should use it for God’s purposes. Christians are called on to meet the needs of their family (1 Tim. 5:8), and share with others, particularly Christians who have needs (2 Cor 8-9; Gal. 6:6-10; 3 John).
Does God want me to use His money to buy a lottery ticket? God uses money to accomplish important purposes in my life:
Meet basic needs (Matt. 6:11; I Tim. 6:8).
Build character (Phil 4:10-13)
Give direction, by providing or withholding resources.
Helping others through me.
Show His power by providing miraculously.
Gambling does not accomplish any of these things. In fact, it hinders these things being accomplished in my life. So, a person must ask themselves, “Am I looking to God or to the lottery for my needs?”
The Bible says that it is required of a steward that a man be found faithful 1 Cor 4:3). Since we are to be stewards of everything we have, (not just our money), and we are to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7), gambling that which we have stewardship over is directly opposite of a life of faith.
Greed and covetousness are sin (Exo. 20:18; I Tim. 6:9; Heb. 13:5), and these are motives in most gambling. The book of Proverbs warns of disaster for people who want to get rich quickly (28:20, 22). Not only that, wealth that comes easily goes just as easily (Pro. 13:11). AND, if it is gained the wrong way it can even break up families (Pro. 15:27).
Micah 3:5 Thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him.
There are false prophets that actually cause people to err from the truth. They are a stumbling block to people, causing them to follow lies. God identifies these prophets as those who declare “peace” but He never gave them that message to give. They are the enemies of God. Jesus said that He did not come to bring peace on the earth, but a sword (Matt. 10:34). On the other hand, on the night He was born, the angels in heaven declared Peace on earth, good will toward men (Luke 2:14).
There is only peace in Jesus Christ. There is no peace in anything outside of Him. If you are in Jesus Christ, even though there is turmoil and destruction all around you, you will be at peace because you know where you are going. However, if you are outside of Jesus Christ, you will never experience peace. You will have to bear the brunt of turmoil and destruction and there is no amount of humanistic help that can soothe you.
BEWARE of those who proclaim PEACE who are not offering Jesus Christ as that peace!
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
God gives certain responsibilities of the marriage to each other. For the husband, God commands that we love our wives. Love is the principle thing that holds a marriage together. Love is the greatest motivator of all. Unfortunately, the world teaches a false definition of the word love. People today think that love is a feeling, especially related to sexual contact, but it is not. Love is the supreme denial of self and exaltation of someone else. In short, it is giving. This is the love that God is talking about when he commands husbands to love their wives.
As a human being it is natural for our love to be directed to others. As a father our love can be directed to our children. But, as a husband there is a special kind of love that is to be directed only to our wife. The world would like to say that there are degrees of love, but there are just different aspects of love. There is a special kind of love that only our wife should enjoy and no others. It is our obligation to make this exclusive to her. This love, we share with none other. We don’t share it with our children, our family and certainly some other woman. It is a special love and it should be proclaimed so that everyone else knows that we love our wives differently than anyone else in the world. If you have waited for God to show you His perfect will, then she is your special gift from Him that completes you as one whole being (Eph. 5:31 …and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.). That makes her special beyond the reaches of all others in the world.
Husbands should follow the example of Christ when loving our wives. Our Lord loves the church and He shows it by the way He provides for it, protects it and leads it. Likewise, it is our jobs to take the leadership roles in our marriages so that our wives have the protection, provision and prowess needed to feel loved.
Protection of our wives does not end with simply not letting someone hurt her physically. There is emotional and spiritual protection that must be provided for as well. Husbands should be vigilant to not allow our wives to be emotionally hurt. Emotions run deep and are difficult to heal. If we do something that we shouldn’t and end up hurting our wives emotionally, the Bible has the only prescription for the healing process in being quick to reconcile (Eph. 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:). Protection of our wives can best be done by keeping the Devil away from our marriages. It is not that Eve wandered away from Adam when she was tempted, but the question must be asked, “Why was Adam not there in the first place? Why was he not protecting her spiritually?”
Providing for our wives, does not end with bringing in the paycheck. Although we like to make jokes about it, wives have many more needs than money. They have other physical needs as well as emotional and spiritual needs. Our wives need to be encouraged. They need to be praised and made to feel good about themselves so they have confidence to make it through yet another evil day. It is our job as husbands to provide this praise and not just be running them down all the time. We need to provide spiritually for our wives by providing the right environment, both at home and outside of the home. This is not just “letting” them go to church; it is BRINGING them to church. Let them know you lead in the spiritual protection of your marriage. Read the Bible with them. Initiate spiritual conversation with them.
The prowess that our wives deserve does nothing other than to help us and the entire family. She should be able to “be all she can be.” In fact she should be encouraged to do so. Let’s be our wives best cheer leader. Help her; let her take the classes she has been wanting. Encourage her. Provide leadership and instruction for her when dealing with emotional issues specific to women. Don’t try to isolate her. Encourage her to develop spiritually on her own as well as with you.
Give of yourself for your wife. This is the action of love. The Lord Jesus Christ gave of Himself to the Church. We don’t learn all of the ramifications of this immediately. It takes some time. Likewise, let your wife have the adventure of exploring how much you love her by examining how much you give of yourself to her. As Christians, when we see the love of Christ, and how it is demonstrated to us, it does not take long for him to become our hero. We can be our wives’ hero as well. It won’t happen overnight. And it won’t happen because we demand it. We become her hero by consistently showing how much we give of ourselves to her.
Husbands, lets take care of our responsibilities of loving our wives. Let’s build them up, for they are our same body. Lets make our marriages better by taking the leadership role and not expecting anything in return.
At first, I saw God as my judge, keeping track of the things that I did wrong so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I died. He was a lot like the President – I recognized His face when I saw it, but I really didn’t know him. But later, when I met Christ, it seemed as though life was rather like a bike ride. But it was a tandem bike. It was like Christ was in the back helping me pedal. I don’t know just when it was that He suggested that we change places, but life has never been the same since. When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but it was predictable. It was the shortest distance between two points. But when He took the lead, He knew delightful “long” cuts. Up mountains and through rocky places at breakneck speeds. It was all that I could do to hang on. And even though it looked like madness, He said, “Pedal.” I was worried and I was anxious and I asked, “Where are you taking me?” He laughed and didn’t answer, and that’s when I learned I was going to have to trust Him.
I forgot my boring life and entered every adventure and when I would say I was scared, He would just lean back and touch my hand. He took me to people who had gifts that I needed – gifts of healing, acceptance, and joy. He gave me gifts to take on my journey and off we were again and he would say, “Give the gifts away, they are extra baggage, too much weight.” And so I did to people we met and I found that through giving, I received and the journey continued. I did not trust Him at first to take control of my life, I thought He’d wreck it. But He knows bike secrets – He knows how to make those sharp corners and how to jump to clear high rocks and do things I could have never done if I were in control. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places. I’m beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful companion, Jesus Christ. And when I’m not sure that I can do it anymore, He smiles and says, “Just pedal.”
Galatians 1:6-7 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
Although God used the instrument of Paul to write these words, they still come from Him. God marvels that people would so quickly abandon the liberty and grace that is provided in a relationship with the Lord Jesus. Why would someone want to take that which is free and throw it away for something which is earned?
It is an issue of control. Man likes to have control of his own destiny. Every endeavor that man has created has been to take control of his destiny from God. Evolution, Big Bang and Relativity are a few. But there are even more dangerous ones. They are the ones that pervert the gospel of Christ.
Man has his definition of “perverts” and God has His. A pervert to God is someone who takes the Word of God and changes it. If you find yourself in a religion that is perverting the Word of God, GET OUT! God connects that with people who are trying to take you away from the grace that He freely offers and try to put you in control of your own destiny.
The only true control of your own destiny is to put your life in the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ.
NewsMax, Thursday, 19 Dec 2013 04:45 PM, By Wanda Carruthers
The controversy over “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson and his views on homosexuality could prove to be a tipping point for people “sick and tired of being pushed around by a very small minority of leftists,” talk show host Rush Limbaugh said Thursday.
“There could be an effervescing tipping point taking place out there, below the surface, right now, that nobody’s aware of, fed up with this,” Limbaugh said on his radio show.
“I think a lot of people are sick and tired of being pushed around by a very small minority of leftists who use weapons, like political correctness and censorship, intimidation, and everything else, in order to shut up the people who say things they don’t want to hear or disagree with,” he added.
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?