Christians today struggle with how to make it in this world. Life is hard and there is no respect for the Christian who lives off of “spiritual welfare.” God has given us all of the tools that we need to navigate this life, but we must not become a part of this world system. Christians should live above of this world system, and it should hold nothing that would compete for our affections, but it does.
Christians have a choice to make regarding their affections: we can give them to this present life, or to the life to come; we can give them to this world or to the new world. This present world, and all of the things we are affectionate about is going to be destroyed by God and replaced with a new one. The choice is whether we will set our affections on the things of old or the things anew.
To live a healthy, worry free life, you must set your affections on things above and not on things of the earth. All true lovers of God know that they are dead to this worldly life and the things that it has to offer. There is nothing in the world that can compete with the life that we have hidden in Christ, which will be revealed to us when He appears. Christians who live for the pleasures, satisfaction or rewards of this life, are misguided in their affections. It is not what Christ can do for you, it is what Christ has ALREADY DONE for you. Is this world your home or are you just passing through?
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.”
Religious freedom is not what it once was. Things have turned upside down in the world today. In Oklahoma, the Satanist are constructing a statue of Satan to be displayed in the capital rotunda because they claim religious freedom. This is their response to Oklahoma allowing the Ten Commandments to be displayed there a year ago. Some may see this as a victory for religious freedom, but it is not. There is a point where “freedom” crosses a line and becomes a state of chaos, even if it is religious freedom. If “religious freedom” is united under one religion, then there can be true freedom, but if it is divided unto multiple religions, then the product will be chaos. This is what we have in the world today.
From where do these multiple causes come? They come from a multitude of people each demanding their own rights for religious freedom in a confrontational way. There is no peaceful acceptance of others. It becomes a competition to see who can be the most right (free). As the competition progresses, each group tramples on the freedoms of others because that is the nature of the competition. There can be no true religious freedom as long as religions differ. This is why the anti-Christ will unite everyone under a “one world religion.”
Christians however, understand they have no rights and therefore claim no religious freedom. They understand that, because of sin, they deserve to endure the calamities of hell for eternity. This is why they are so grateful for the mercy they receive at the hands of Jesus Christ. Therefore, true believers are seldom involved in the zeal of the competitive battle. Each moment of life to a Bible Believer is one more opportunity to serve their King; to show Him how much they appreciate Him. As the world fights for dominance, Christians enjoy being dominated by King Jesus because they know that He loves them. How would it be in the world today if the leaders of countries actually and truly loved those whom they govern? I guess it is not worth contemplating, because this will never happen. They say they love the people; are for the people, but they are not. Nary has one of them ever died for the people like Jesus has. Nor have they ever taken upon themselves all of the sins of their people.
So the Satanist build their statue and claim religious freedom. Likewise, the Atheist display their blasphemous alternative to God’s Ten Commandments. The Muslims build their Mosques. But Jesus builds His temple right inside the deep recesses of the heart of man. In the heart of man is where true religious freedom resides. About this world He says, “My kingdom is not of this world…” (John 18:36).
“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42).
There are many places where Jesus warned against the danger of false motives. In giving, He reminded us that we must not give our tithes in order to receive glory of people (Matt. 6:1–4). He also warned us against praying to receive applause of people; prayer is for conversing with God rather than a speech to be heard and admired by people (Matt. 6:5 – 6). He warned us against displaying our personal godliness by revealing our private spiritual disciplines so as to win the approval of people (Matt. 6:16–18). Regarding these two things, Jesus was talking to his disciples about proper motivation. He declared that all worship and service should be motivated by the single desire to please God.
A motive is something which “moves.” What the mainspring is to the clock, motives are to the Christian, what the motor is to the automobile. Motives certainly do affect our lives in many ways. Some examples of these are:
One does not have to be an expert in motivational research to know that the above motives are inadequate for those who would invest their lives in the Service of God and others most effectively.
When examining the early church in the book of Acts, we discover what it was that made the church so effective. Just as well, we see that they did not serve purely out of love. They were human beings like us, and they served out of mingled motives rather than the pure motive of love for God and love for others.
The early church achieved one success after another in what appeared to be an impossible assignment with tremendous handicaps. The book of Acts is a thrilling success story. What were the motives of the early Christians? Can we have the same motives today? Why did the early Christians witness so faithfully?
They discovered the joy of being a bearer of good news (Acts 2:41 – 47; 5:42; 8:8). In obedience to the command of the Lord, by word of mouth, they spread the good news of his resurrection. They proclaimed God’s love for sinners and his desire to forgive sin. They could not conceal the good news that death had been defeated and that the grave had been robbed of its victory. This was such wonderful news that it brought joy to their hearts just to bear it. For them, witnessing about the saving acts of Jesus Christ was natural. Not to have done so would have been unnatural, inhuman, and unchristian for them. They received great inward joy through witnessing.
The early church recognized and responded to the authority of the crucified but risen and living Lord (Matt. 28:18b; Acts 2:36; 5:29). They believed that God had resurrected Jesus Christ from the dead and had bestowed upon him the authority of lordship. They believed that this gave Jesus the right to issue orders and to command their time, talents, testimony, and treasure.
These early Christians believed that it was right for them to obey Christ even if this obedience brought them into disfavor with both religious and civil authorities. At the risk of being imprisoned and beaten, they chose to obey the Lord.
Many of today’s Christians consider obedience as being optional. There seems to be little recognition of the present lordship of Jesus Christ. Consequently, disobedience characterizes the modern Christian more so than does obedience. Perhaps this is why the church is not effective today. Perhaps this is even why the world seems to be changing so drastically towards evil. It certainly has some effect, not only on the Christian, but on the world surrounding him as well. The motives of the Christians of the early church were a strong sense of duty, the desire to be obedient. This is the critical element that helped motivate the early church to be a faithful witness to their generation. They paid dearly for their motives, and their sacrifice made it easier on the church which was to follow. But today, there has been a moving away from what they gained in the world, and it is none more evident as it is in the USA, where everything seems to be “fundamentally changing.”
Yes, the early church suffered the shock of persecution (Acts 8:3–4). It was this persecution that scattered the early Christians, even though they were very nationalistic and felt that Christianity was a Jewish movement. They were prejudiced against Gentiles to the extent that God put forth special efforts to reveal that the Gentiles were also included in his love and purpose of redemption (Acts 10). Had it not been for the persecution that stirred up the church in Jerusalem, it is highly possible that Christianity never would have gained worldwide significance. The early Christians went everywhere preaching the Word, not because of the compulsion of compassion, but because they were scattered by persecution.
They could have given up on Christianity. They could have just quit. But, they were surrendered to the leadership of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:29; 10:19; 11:12; 13:2; 16:6). The Holy Spirit came into the church on the day of Pentecost to equip each believer to be a spokesperson for God (Acts 2:17–18). He came to lead, guide, and teach the disciples as the Lord had taught his apostles (John 14:26). The book of Acts is the dramatic account of divine initiative on the part of the Holy Spirit and human cooperation on the part of our Lord’s disciples. They lived and labored in fellowship with and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is still in the heart of each believer and in the church to carry on the work of the Lord today. We need faith to believe and accept that He is present; we need to surrender and cooperate with Him. We need to pray for His power as one of God’s best gifts (Luke 11:13).
The early church believed that all people separated from Christ were lost from God and did not know the way home (Acts 4:12). Have you ever been lost in a wilderness or desert? Were you ever lost as a child in the park or in a large department store? Can you remember the fright that filled your heart when you realized you were separated from loved ones and that you were in a position of danger? The unbelieving world knows that something is wrong, but many do not know what it is. People have a deep, unsatisfied longing in their hearts that the world, with its treasures and pleasures cannot satisfy. The Bible teaches, and experience verifies, that Jesus Christ provides the answers to the mystery and meaning of life.
The early church believed that people were lost from God and living under the condemnation of sin. They believed that humankind’s only hope of forgiveness was through faith in Jesus Christ. They believed that they had been entrusted with the good news that would make it possible for people to be saved from hell and to heaven where the deepest longings of the heart would find full satisfaction in continuing fellowship with God. Because they wanted all people to be saved, they continued to bear their witness.
It was the natural, normal, and proper thing for a Christian to talk about the joy and satisfaction of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior both in time and for eternity. Consequently, day by day and week by week in the temple, in the synagogues, on the highways and streets — anywhere and everywhere — these early disciples bore their witness. With mingled motives, they loved, they labored, and they lifted men and women toward God. May the same motives command our intellect, our emotions, and our energies in the Service of God and of a needy world.
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:
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?
Some motivations for not having sex before marriage are wrong. They can be just as wrong as having sex before marriage. One such wrong motivation is fear: fear of being found out, fear of pregnancy, fear of a disease, fear of the opinions of others.
One proper motivation for doing God’s will is love of our neighbor. The neighbor we are to love as ourselves can be our neighbor’s daughter. Also, your neighbor can be one who will be your wife. And your neighbor is your parents or your future wife’s parents, both of whom would be hurt terribly when your sin is discovered.
But the main motivation is the love of God. Love God for the salvation He has so freely given. Love God for all things, including the sexual desires He has given. Submit your sexuality, along with everything else you are and have, to Him. Let your love for Him drive you to strive to please Him in all of your conduct, including your conduct on a date.
Jim Rigby (a proclaimed preacher) posted on Facebook the Ten Things I wish the church knew about homosexuality. His very questions display his ignorance of the Bible and the subject for which he claims to be an authority. So that his teachings (and the teachings of others like him) do not infect innocent and ignorant minds, I have responded to his teachings below:
1. If Jesus did not mention a subject, it cannot be essential to his teachings. WRONG—You should read your Bible. Jesus as the son of God is the author of the entire Bible and He mentions much about the sin of homosexuality.
2. You are not being persecuted when prevented from persecuting others. YOU are being persecuted when others are NOT PREVENTED from persecuting YOU. SO, it depends on who is on the RIGHT SIDE and God’s side is always right for He is your CREATOR.
3. Truth isn’t like wine that gets better with age. It’s more like manna you must recognize wherever you are and whoever you are with. WRONG—Truth is truth no matter who you are with or wherever you are. It is not relative to your opinion or position.
4. You cannot call it “special rights” when someone asks for the same rights you have. WRONG—It is “special rights” when their rights oppose or conflict the rights of truth.
5. It is no longer your personal religious view if you’re bothering someone else. WRONG—Your personal religious view is your personal religious view no matter who is bothered by it. AND, if it is based on “truth” then it really doesn’t matter what your view is or not. It only matters what the truth is.
6. Marriage is a civil ceremony, which means it’s a civil right. WRONG—marriage is a command given to humans by their Creator who designed humans to fulfill that command. It is not a right whatsoever.
7. If how someone stimulates the pubic nerve has become the needle to your moral compass, you are the one who is lost. WRONG—If your moral compass offends the A-moral, then you are on the right track.
8. To condemn homosexuality, you must use parts of the Bible you don’t yourself obey. Anyone who obeyed every part of Leviticus would rightly be put in prison. WRONG—If man had obeyed the Books of Leviticus all along instead of swaying from it, then it would be the standard of living now. (Note: regarding homosexuality, the book of Leviticus (written to the Levite Priests) is not the only book in the Bible condemning homosexuality. There are the books of Genesis, Exodus, Proverbs, Psalms, Romans, etc.). Also, Jesus does not hate the homosexual, He hates homosexuality. Jesus loves the people of the world and died for them so they could have forgiveness of their sins and a means of overcoming them.
9. If we do not do the right thing in our day, our grandchildren will look at us with same embarrassment we look at racist grandparents. WRONG—It is never permissible to do the wrong thing based on how our grandchildren will look at us. If they were taught right, they would have hero’s instead of villans.
10. When Jesus forbade judging, that included you. WRONG—Jesus did not forbid judging. In fact He command us to judge the righteous judgment (Isa. 1:17; John 7:24) just as He gave us example in doing (John 5:30; 16:11)
Right, wrong, or indifferent, he obviously has no idea about what the Bible says about the subject.
Psalm 116:17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.
Recently, when I read this verse of scripture, the Lord grabbed my attention to the phrase: “the sacrifice of thanksgiving.” I have read the Bible through several times and never noticed this phrase. I guess I assumed that it was a common phrase so there was nothing exceptionable about it. It is amazing however, to read through the Bible continually and find one nugget that you always knew existed, yet you never noticed before. “Thanksgiving of sacrifice.” I wondered what it could mean. I saying “thank you” to the Lord considered a “sacrifice?”
When I teach others how to interpret the Bible, I always emphasize reading the verse in context as well as comparing scripture with scripture (1 Cor. 2:13). Comparing Scripture with Scripture is vital to understanding everything about a given truth. The things of God are best interpreted by the words of God, and the greatest interpreter of the Bible is the Bible itself.
The phrase “sacrifice of thanksgiving” is only mentioned in 6 verses of the entire Bible:
Now we know that it is appropriate to be thankful to the Lord for what He has done for us. If your heart has been touched by the Lord at all, then you are truly thankful for you know the value of the gift He has given you freely, as well as knowing the price that He had to pay to purchase it. I mean, in the shadow of such understanding, only a truly touched person could be seriously thankful. The Lord likes such thanks. He does not give us gifts because His ego is tremendous and he relishes and lives for the thanks of our hearts, but He does enjoy knowing that we are thankful, for it demonstrates our complete understanding of what He is doing for us.
Every person of old who brought an offering to God was griping internally at the obligation. It was not easy to bring unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil. It took work to make cakes mingled with oil of fine flour and fry them. You had to put some time in to make unleavened bread in the middle of the wandering in the Sinai desert. It cut into your provisions to make all of that for the sacrifice. Every one of them fretted that he had lost something by giving up their food to the Lord, and for what? It more often than not resulted in every person who put something on the altar being inwardly consumed with anger that he had to give up something he wanted for himself. They all felt needy. They all felt like victims of religious tyranny. Because of their attitudes, God was outraged that they were all so busy worshiping themselves that they cannot find place to worship Him. God wanted one thing from them: he wanted them to stop worshiping themselves.
This is why He implements a “sacrifice of thanksgiving.” This is why he says that “those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me.” They are the people who recognize that “every wild animal of the forest is [God’s].” They are the people who know that they can’t give God anything; it all belongs to him already. They are the people who thank God for all his gifts and for his provision for their every need and for the animal that they put on the altar. The people who give thanks for the sacrificial animal also give thanks for God’s sovereignty. They don’t feel they have lost something when they give God what is his already.
Jesus talked about the same thing. Jesus, God in flesh, said that people who wanted to follow him had to deny self first. In other words, they had to stop worshiping themselves and feeling like victims every time there was some inconvenience or persecution or loss.
We all do it. It comes time to put money in the offering envelope, and it is hard to let go of that money, because the credit card bill is shockingly larger than expected this month. The church asks for volunteers to help serve food to homeless people on Saturday morning, and it seems like a great imposition on the only day you can sleep in. The youth director asks if you are willing to be a chaperon for the summer youth mission project, and you think, “But I only have two weeks of vacation a year. There goes one of them.” We all think we have rights, and we think we have ownership, and we think God asks too much.
God doesn’t ask much at all. All he really asks for is integrity and honesty. He wearies of never hearing a “Thank you” when every good gift we have in life is a gift from him.
The sacrifice of thanksgiving is not a barely audible “Thank you” choked out through clenched lips by a pouting child. We give the sacrifice of thanksgiving when we pray as we are taught by Christ, the one who sacrificed himself for us on the cross, “Thy will be done.”
It seems a bit disproportionate to read the detailed Law of Moses given by God at Sinai, and then to hear God say simply through Asaph, “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me.” But there is also a refreshing, unburdening confidence that washes over my soul when I consider that God is most pleased by simple, humble gratitude.
How quickly do we begin to think that God is most pleased with our rituals, our devotions, our meetings, and our offerings. We become the givers, and He becomes the recipient. We become the benefactors, He the beneficiary. We busy ourselves and run ourselves ragged attempting to please Him through activity and efficiency, sadly forgetting the sweetness of His grace and the simplicity of the gratitude that He desires.
The danger of sacrifices and rituals is that we are increasingly tempted to believe that we have something to offer God, when the sacrifice is actually meant to demonstrate that we are coming to God as His debtors. We start to assume that God needs what we’re presenting to him, an idea as offensive as it is ridiculous. We become like a convicted criminal congratulating himself on his morality as he offers his monetary fine to the judge who gave him a merciful sentence.
With incredible yet subtle audacity, we find ourselves believing that God is actually impressed. Not only is this blasphemous and horrifically backward, it is also binding. Once I believe that I have impressed God, I am bound to have to do it again. Like making a magical first impression that I can never live up to, I am enslaved to endless and exhausting efforts to win Him over.
This is why I am grateful for Asaph’s rich meditation in Psalm 50. Because he tells us that there are two simple ways to glorify God: to ask (v. 15) and to thank (v. 23). Better to come to God with no offering and a heart of gratitude than to come with the riches of a king and a spirit of self-sufficiency. Of course, better still to pour out offerings and sacrifices from a spirit of gratitude. Either way, may we always remember which one the Lord loves first, and loves best.
“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” This a precious admonition to the humble in heart, to those who tremble at God’s holiness and find themselves desperate before His perfect law. He is pleased most of all when we need Him, when we cry out to Him, when we call upon His name. In Psalm 50, God does not want my devotion. He wants my desperation, so that grace can overflow into gratitude.
Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High. (Psalm 50:14). What does God want from us? He does not want mere hymn singing, although that is fine. Nor does He want only prayer, although that too is fine. He does not simply want our attendance, although that is fine. What He wants, first, is a thankful heart. That is what He seeks, a thankful heart. Each one of us is to offer to Him the sacrifice of thanksgiving. A sacrifice is something into which we put effort; it costs us. Have you ever asked yourself why the Scriptures stress thanksgiving so much? Both the Old and New Testaments emphasize that above everything else, God wants thankfulness. Give thanks in all circumstances, says the apostle Paul, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Why is this? It is because thanksgiving only comes as a result of having received something. You do not give thanks until you have received something that comes from someone else. Therefore thanksgiving is the proper expression of Christianity, because Christianity is receiving something constantly from God.
Of course if you have not received anything from God, then you have nothing to thank Him for. Though you come to the service, you really have nothing to say. God is a realist. He does not want fake thanksgiving. I know there are certain people (and they are awfully hard to live with) who think that Christianity consists of pretending to be thankful. They think it means screwing a smile on your face and going around pretending that troubles do not bother you. That is a most painful form of Christianity. God does not want you to go around shouting, Hallelujah! I’ve got cancer! But there is something about having cancer to be thankful for. That is what He wants you to see. There are aspects of it that no one can possibly enjoy, but there are other aspects that reveal purpose, meaning, and reason. God wants you to see this–what He can do with that situation and how you can be thankful. Thanksgiving is the first thing He wants in worship.
The second thing is an obedient will. Fulfill your vows to the Most High. Notice the kind of obedience it is. It is not something forced upon you; it is something you have chosen for yourself. A vow is something you decide to give, a promise you make because of truth you have seen. You say, I never saw it like that before. I really ought to do something about it. God helping me, I’m going to do such and such. That is a vow. God says, I’m not asking you to do things you have not yet learned are important. But when you have vowed something, then do it. Act on it. Obey it.
He painted a sign advertising the pups and set about nailing it to a post on the edge of his yard. As he was driving the last nail into the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down into the eyes of a little boy.
“Mister,” he said. “I want to buy one of your puppies.”
“Well,” said the farmer, as he wiped the sweat off the back of his neck, “these puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money.”
The boy dropped his head for a moment. Then reaching deep into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of change and held it up to the farmer. “I’ve got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?”
“Sure,” said the farmer. And with that he let out a whistle. “Here, Dolly!” he called. Out from the doghouse ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur. The little boy pressed his face against the chain-link fence. His eyes danced with delight.
As the dogs made their way to the fence, the little boy noticed something else stirring in the doghouse. Slowly another little ball appeared; this one noticeably smaller. In a somewhat awkward manner the little puppy began hobbling toward the others, doing its best to catch up. This was clearly the runt of the litter.
“I want that one,” said the boy pointing to the runt.
The farmer knelt down at the boy’s side and said, “Son, you don’t want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would.”
With that the little boy stepped back from the fence, reached down, and began rolling up the leg of his trousers. In doing so, he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg and attaching itself to a specially made shoe. Looking back up at the farmer, he said, “I don’t run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands.”
Sinners need that same sort of understanding! Praise the Lord there is a Savior who loves sinners and understands us like we are. At the same time He never condones our sin. He is holy and He hates sin. However, He knows what we are made of and He knows what we face in our lives day by day. “…he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”, Psa. 103:14. How does He have this kind of information about humans? He lived as one for 33 years. “…and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”, Phil. 2:7-8!
As we look at the portrait John paints of Jesus in John 8:1-11, a picture develops of a Sympathetic Savior. He doesn’t show One who is soft on sin, but of One who loves sinners and reaches out to them in grace, forgiveness and love. That is the Savior I want to address in this article: Jesus, The Sympathetic Savior.
According to the account, there was a woman who was caught in the very act of adultery. She was guilty before the face of the Lord and before the world. Adultery is a vile sin, but it is no worse than any other. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”, James 2:10. Even if we never committed any sin with our bodies or our minds, we would still be guilty before the Lord!
We are all as guilty as this woman, our problem is that we simply won’t admit to it. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”, Pro. 28:13.
In their haste to bring this woman to Jesus, her accusers probably didn’t give her sufficient time to get properly dressed before they brought her into public. However that may have been, she was certainly humiliated by the public accusation and disclosure of her sin.
Sin is a shameful thing! No matter how skillfully it is hidden from the eyes of others, Jesus knows all about it and one day it will be revealed before all. “Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon housetops.”, Luke 12:3. Saddest of all, the truth about your profession will also be made public one day. In Matthew 7:22-23 we are told, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Wouldn’t it be far better to get everything right with the Lord and have nothing to fear then? There will come a day of judgment and of full disclosure. We are clearly told about this in Rev. 20:11-15 which tells about the Great White Throne Judgment.
Her accusers were absolutely correct! According to the Law, she deserved to die (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22). There was one small problem here: Where was her partner? Both were supposed to die for this sin! The man may have been part of this scheme to attack Jesus. He may have been allowed to slip away. Nevertheless, this woman was guilty and she deserved to die.
Nobody gets away with sin! The penalty of it will always come due “…the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”, Eze. 18:4. There will come a payday someday! The only hope any sinner has is to run to Jesus. He offers the only hope anyone has in this world or the one to come. He is the only way. “…no man comethi unto the GFather, but by me.”, John 14:6. In there effort to humiliate this woman and to discredit the Lord, they brought her to the best possible place. They brought her to the very man who could deal with her past and her problems and who could make it all right. Never think that Jesus doesn’t care for you. He is the sinner’s Friend! Even in His day, He was known to hang out with notorious sinners, (Luke 7:34; Luke 15:2; Luke 19:7). Jesus isn’t concerned about His reputation, He is only concerned with your eternal soul!
These men had it in their heads to pin Jesus on the horns of a dilemma. If Jesus simply let the woman go, then He would be seen as being easy on sin and could have been arrested for being in violation of the Law. If, however, He gave permission for the woman to be killed, He could then be accused before Rome as an upstart and a seditionist, and He would have destroyed His reputation as being the “friend of publicans and sinners”. They felt that no matter what Jesus said, He had no wiggle room.
These religious men are just like legalists in our day. They couldn’t have cared less about this woman, her sin, her soul, or her eternal destiny. All they cared about was pressing their agenda, and their brand of righteousness. Things haven’t changed! All Pharisees are the same!
Their plan might have succeeded with any ordinary man, but they were dealing with Jesus Christ, and He simply refused to play by their rules! When they tried to stump Jesus, They discovered that they had met their match. While they were talking to the Lord, He just knelt down and began to write on the ground. He had no use for their pettiness and lack of love for sinners.
What did Jesus write? Well, for 2,000 years, men have tried to solve that little mystery. The deep theological answer is that: We don’t know! However, maybe He wrote:
Whatever the Lord wrote on the ground, it surely got their attention. He knows how to speak to hearts! How much better would it have been for them to come to Him by faith and miss all that exposure and punishment!
But they didn’t and they were exposed. When Jesus did speak, He said, “He that is without sin among, let him first cast a stone at her.” Jesus wasn’t requiring that any judge be sinless. If that were the case then no human would ever be able to render judgment in any matter, even in a court of law. Jesus was saying to these hypocrites, “He that is free from this particular sin, let him first cast a stone at her.” Adultery can be committed with the head and the heart just as surely as it may be committed with the body!
At this point, all the shouting came to a stop and all that could be heard was the dropping of their rocks and the shuffle of their sandles as they stole quietly away. These men had been exposed before their fellow man, the accused lady and most importantly before the Lord. Giving them the benefit of the doubt that when they saw themselves as they really were, (Perhaps the most painful realization of all), they stopped calling for the death of this woman. One of the hardest things you can face is yourself as you really are! However, when you see yourself as being sinful, then you can do something about it. Paul would have went to Hell had he not been brought face to face with himself on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). When we are convicted of our sins, then is the time to come to Jesus. He is the only One who can deal with Man’s sin problem!
Only Jesus could have cleared the Temple after that fashion and when the last rock had hit the Temple floor, Jesus stood up and faced this sinful woman. As He stood before her, He was the only One the world has ever known who was qualified to take up the first stone, as well as the rest, and stone her to death. When she faced Jesus, she was facing the ultimate judge! She had reached a place in her life where it was just her and Jesus. It always comes down to that! Eventually, somewhere, someday you are going to have to face Jesus. Probably He has given you opportunities in this life to come to Him. What have you done with them? You will either receive Jesus at one of life’s encounters, or you will face Him on judgment day. Which would you rather it be? In the end, it always comes down to just you and Jesus. And, what you do with Him will determine where and how you spend eternity!
The only One qualified to throw a stone refused to do so! Jesus dealt with her on the basis of compassion. The religious men had condemned and considered her as good as dead, Jesus however, saw someone worthy of His love and worth salvaging. When she came to Jesus, she received 2 great blessings that forever changed her life. These same 2 blessings are the gift of God to all who receive Jesus as their Savior.
1. By her simple confession of Christ as Lord, salvation became her’s. That is all there is to being saved! Rom. 10:9 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved!” It doesn’t get any easier than that! Even small children can comprehend that truth and make it real in their lives. What about you? Have you taken this step of faith? Anyone who wants to be saved can be saved through faith in the shed Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ! (Rev. 22:17; John 3:16; John 6:37.)
2. All of her life, she had been subject to the God of this world, Satan. She had been a prisoner of her own lusts and desires, (Eph. 2:1-3). Jesus, however, came and unlocked the shackles that held her bound in sin and He set her free! Imagine for a minute what happened the next time she saw her lover! Jesus specializes in taking wasted, ruined lives and saving them by His grace and restoring them to usefulness. Every person who comes to Jesus for salvation receives this new lease on life. The Bible says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17). We get a chance to begin again, and this time, we actually have a chance of making something out of our lives.
Maybe. Like this woman, your life has been wrecked and ruined by sin. Maybe you have been hurt by religious people. Maybe you are looking for a compassionate Savior, One who will make everything right. Why don’t you come to Jesus? He cares about you just like you are. He loves you and wants to save you. He wants to deliver you from your bondage. He wants to set you free. Therefore, He invites you to come to Him today. If there are issues in your life that need to be settled, Jesus is the place where they be taken care of forever. Will you bring your life to Jesus and let Him make it over?
The blind man had been healed. The Pharisees were skeptical as usual. They would not accept that he had been blind from birth, so they called in his parents to testify. “How did he get healed?” they demanded.
“We don’t know,” said his parents. “We do know that he was born blind though. He’s a full grown man. He is of age. Ask him yourself.”
Turning to the accused blind man the Pharisees said, “How did he do this thing? He is a sinner. If you are healed, give God the glory and not this man.”
“I don’t know if he is a sinner or not. But there is one thing I know for sure; I was blind, but now I see.”
“What did he do to you?”
“I already told you. Weren’t you listening? How many times do you want me to tell you? I was blind but now I see.”
This is what happens to the Bible believing, born again child of God. It is hard to explain what it is like to be saved to the unsaved. Where they once walked in the darkness of sin, they now walk in the glorious light of the Lord God.
The unsaved think when a person gets saved, it is because they are weak and need a crutch to get by in life. Or they think you just went crazy and began looking for anything that will help you with your problems. They are just like the Pharisees in this story. They keep demanding an answer of how you got saved or they ask others without talking to you at all. This is because they simply don’t understand. And, they never will unless they try it themselves.
Now I don’t like to emphasis this too much because the cults make much ado of getting a feeling that no one can understand: The Mormons have “a burning of the bosom.” Charismatic’s have “speaking in tongues” or “the baptism of the holy spirit. Berean’s have the “knowing in their heart.” These are all perversions of what this blind man said: “One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” For the cults, this can mean that they are superior because they have something that you don’t, and it is subjective so they can keep you from attaining their Pharisaical level of holiness.
Not this blind man however. His eyes were physically open. No one could deny that this wonderful thing had happened for him. This is where the so called “faith healers” fall short of the holiness of God. Every thing they “heal” is subjective and there is no way to prove it other than the person telling how he “feels.” But the physical is something much different. This is why true conversion, true salvation is accompanied by outward physical change.
When I got saved, I started reading my Bible. I wanted to read my Bible. I craved reading my Bible. When I read it, I began finding answers. As I began applying what I learned in the Bible to what I saw in the world around me, in a subjective sense, my eyes were opened. But, in the physical sense, I changed as well. I wanted to hear things about God. I began the wonderful transformation to a new life in Christ. I quit drinking; not because I thought I had a drinking problem, but because I had no craving for it anymore. I quit smoking. Not because I felt as though I needed to, but because I had no desire to smoke anymore. My whole personage changed: my attire, interests, music, appetites and demeanor. And, I was not the one who noticed it. It was my friends. They were the ones who sought me out and said, “What happened to you?”
“I got born again.”
“I don’t really know, but I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and accepted His free gift of eternal life. And you can accept it too. He has a gift just for you. All you have to do is take it.”
“Are you serious?” I was at a pot party and everyone was passing around the booze and drugs, intently listening to me. I had only been saved about one week.
“Sure. God has it and it is just for you. In fact, He has one for each one of you. All you have to do is just take it. That’s what I did. What’s stopping you?”
“My family goes to church.”
“I went to church when I was a kid.”
“I was confirmed.”
I didn’t know much about religion at all. I had not even been to church by that time. I replied to them, “I don’t know much about that. All I know is that I got saved and I am born again and I see things differently.”
“What church do you go to?”
“I don’t go to church, but I’d like to.”
It was confusing to them. But it wasn’t confusing to me. The Lord had changed my life. He had changed me so much so that even my secular friends had seen it. And, when He changes your life; when you are allowed to see where once you were blind, others will see the change in your life as well. It is not just that you see things differently; others who know you and observe you will know that something has happened. They too will be able to see the wonderful work of God in you.
Driving along the country road on the way home from work, a man spotted a most unusual sight. He had never seen it before, even though he had traveled the same road many times. On the side of Jim’s barn, there were ten freshly painted targets. It was obvious that someone had been trying to hit the “broadside of the barn” for target practice. But this was not the puzzling thing. What was odd was that all of the targets seemed to be randomly painted all over the side of the barn. Curious about the sight he just saw, he turned around and drove back, this time stopping on the side of the road next to the barn. On closer inspection, he saw that in the center of each target’s “bull’s-eye” someone had shot a hole. Someone had put a round through each target “dead center.” “Wow,” he thought to himself, “that’s pretty good shooting.” Not being able to satisfy his curiousity, he drove up to Jim’s house. “Hi Jim, I noticed your barn back there.”
“Yeah, I’ve been doing some shooting.”
“You did that shooting?”
“Yeah, it’s something isn’t it.” Jim shuffled back and forth nervously.
“Well, that’s pretty good marksmanship. I didn’t know you could shoot so well. How’d you do it?”
“Well, I just got tired of that old barn and started to shootin, and then I got embarrassed when I saw I could barely hit the broad side and stuff. So I took some paint and painted targets around each hole so it would look like I knew what I was a doin.”
This happens all the time to people in life. Oh, it isn’t taking out our gun and trying to hit the broad side of the barn. It is with other things, and just like Jim, we get too embarrassed to live up to our situations. One area of our life that this happens regularly is in the area of: adversity. When we come under adversity, we try to hide it because we get embarrassed for others to see how we reacted to it. We mask it with pride so others won’t see we did some dumb things that we are ashamed of. This usually comes prevalent when we begin to think, “You know, I wish I hadn’t done that.”
I knew a man who thought he was a “big, bad” lumberjack. Unfortunately for him, this image only resided in his own mind. One day he went out to his property to cut down some trees. Other (experienced) men went with him to help. He wouldn’t listen to their advice and proudly went up to the tree and cut some perfect notches in the trunk. The 90 foot fir tree began to come down and they all stepped back. The tree fell directly across his brand new ¾ ton pick up truck. It laid across the smashed cab in proud defiance for being disturbed. The man was running around beside himself. The helpers who advised him to cut the notches in different areas of the trunk just stood there quietly observing. It was easy to see what they were thinking: “If only he had listened to us.” It was at that moment that the adversity began. What were they going to do about getting home?
Adversity is common to all people, but particularly to the Christian. The Christian not only faces common adversity, but he faces spiritual adversity as well. Any Christian that is trying to live right for God will come under the crosshairs of Satan’s wicked sights. Not all Christians become one of his targets. Those who are not living for God, but living a worldly life, are of no concern to him. They are just like other people only they have attached to themselves a name and title. But to him, they are of no danger at all.
It is not easy to deal with adversity, especially when we bring it upon ourselves. But, God allows adversity (Isa. 45:7) in our life for a reason. Ultimately, it is to bring us closer to Him; to perfect us and prepare us for a closer relationship with Him. We cannot relate to God fully without understanding how to deal with adversity. Because we know that all things are easy for God because He is all-powerful, we lose sight of the fact that God has difficulties as well. If you think about it, it was not a “breeze” for God to come to this earth in the form of a man and be whipped, beaten, pummeled and crucified by His own people. That was not easy at all. His sweat was as great drops of blood (Luke 22:44) when He was in agony. That is not the sign of something being easy.
Now we deal with all kind of adversity: some health, some financial, some even trees crushing your own truck because you were full of pride and didn’t listen to wise counsel (Pro. 15:32).
“But what are some practical ways to deal with adversity? When things come into my life, I get all confused and before I know it, the adversity is in control of my life. I have lost control.”
Count all adversity as if it comes from God. If you understand and know that God has given you the adversity for a reason, then you can rest assured that God is in control of the adversity. This is good because, “…we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” If you know that adversity comes from God, then you will know there is a purpose and you can then look for it.
Pray to see the purpose for the adversity. God has a reason that he wants to perfect us, and He sometimes does it through adversity. Therefore, it is good to simply pray, “God, please allow me to see the purpose for this adversity that you have me going through so I can learn the lesson that you have for me.” Throughout history, whenever Christians have suffered adversity, they have become closer to God. When everything is alright, we tend to not need God as much. But when trouble comes, that is when we need God. You can see this by looking at the prayer list of any church. There are prayer upon prayer requesting God’s help or intervention because of adversity.
Submit your life to God (i.e. let Him be your master). When you throw up your hands and give up controlling your life, you are submitting to God. When you cease to proclaim: “I”, “my”, “mine”, “yours”, and such terms, and not only understand that God owns everything, but live it. That is when you are in submission to God.
Adversity will not last forever. Its purpose will come to an end. There will be no need to try to hide it with painted targets. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. 21:4)
Matthew 7:1-2 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
This passage has probably been more misused and misunderstood by Liberals and Christians alike than any other passage in the Bible, other than the so-called “Lord’s prayer.” Many Christians misunderstand this passage because they take it completely out of context. They believe that this passage teaches that we should not judge other people. In many cases it is not their fault that they believe so; they have been TAUGHT wrongly. Pastors, teachers, and even friends have explained it erroneously. Or, they have read it in a corrupted bible that has been passed off to be God’s word, when it is not.
They are not alone in their error. If the world doesn’t know anything at all about the Bible, it certainly know this passage. This is testament to the fact that it is one of Satan’s favorite passages, along with Acts 2:38. He has used these passages to “trip up” thousands upon thousands of Christians.
By constant repetition of the passage, False teachers have intimidated Christians into not speaking out against anything or anybody doing wickedly. These same false teachers have even gone so far as to use these verses to teach that you can’t tell whether anyone is saved or not. That way you have no business dealing with them personally about their soul’s salvation. Now that’s pretty bad! That’s not the only result of their false teaching though; they use these verses to teach Christians they must be tolerant of others beliefs and accept all forms of sin, especially if it can fall into any “lifestyle” category. But, nothing could be further from the truth.
Christians are commanded by God to: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment”(John 7:24). Christians are commanded to judge things and people, but when they do, they are commanded to judge “righteous judgment.” I know this may be a shock to you, especially if you have been taught otherwise, but just open the Bible and read it. If you are of the world, then this just goes to show how ignorant you are of Christianity; probably because your only exposure to it has been the news media.
The vital command in Matthew 7:1 to “Judge not” has to be reconciled with:
Of course, if you are a Bible reader and believer you know the Liberal overlooks these texts. Every time that someone uses “Judge not that ye be not judged” to try to make you feel “un-Christian” about not tolerating their sin, in your mind you know they are just ignorant. Or, like the Devil, they are using bits and pieces of God’s word to justify themselves.
At times you will hear from the uninformed Christian that this passage in Matthew concerns judging wether someone is going to hell or not. There is no mention of “Hell,” in the passage at all. Think for a moment! If the issue is judging a man to be lost, no one has to judge that, for the man is already judged and condemned. Consider the following verses:
This “righteous judgment” has something to do with the way we suffer for Christ in this life, and for the rewards we will receive in the Kingdom. 2 Thessalonians 1:5 says: “Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:” It means to judge in a manner that keeps man’s relationship with God right. Therefore, A Christian who is tolerant of sin when exposed to it, is affecting their relationship with Christ.
A Christians motive for judging should never be based on what judgment will be placed on him/her later along life’s pathway. The correct motive for judging should always be based on how to please God and NOT how to please self or how to be tolerant of sin. If a Christians motive and focus is truly on how to please God, then the Christian will naturally be doing right by others as would expected.
On the other hand, a Christian does not have some special “duty” to seek out people to judge. What other people do is their business. But if the things they are doing somehow affect a Christian so that the Christian has to make a decision or judgment, then the Christian is to judge righteously in a manner that will be pleasing to God, regardless of how it will affect self or others. Some Christians feel that they have a free license to stick their nose into other people’s business because the Bible teaches them that they are to judge the righteous judgment. This is not true and they are confused because they neglect to realize that God told them what kind of judgment they are to judge by; They are to judge a “righteous” judgment. This is the judgment that pleases God. It does not please God when Christians go around looking for something to judge, but when a Christian is faced with a judgment to make and judges righteously so as to please God it does this very thing: pleases God!
Because He is speaking to them about how things will be in the kingdom of heaven (or, the Millinium). During that dispensation (time period), the judgment that He will impart to a person will be based on how they judged other people. Therefore, He encourages them to make sure that their own relationship and life is right before they make any decisions or judgment upon others. He teaches them to examine themselves first before they make any decisions so that they won’t be hypocrite’s. He encourages them to do right, but their motive for doing right is concerning obedience to their Jewish king, otherwise they will suffer the consequences and be judged in the same manner that they judged others. So, the rule for judgment in Matthew is a general rule concerning rules of conduct between Jewish saints, with a direct reference to the Kingdom-age.
For the Christian, the judgment that God imparts to us is primarily our acceptance of His Son: Jesus Christ. We are encouraged to: judging righteously and consider our relationship with God and what pleases Him. Therefore, our motive for judgment is not so much one of obedience, but of love; a love that expresses thankfulness to God for the grace that we received from Him. The Christian does not judge in order to receive something or to give something. The Christian judges righteously in order to demonstrate his love toward God so that God will be pleased.
Unlike the idea of those who say, “Christians should not to preach against anything or anyone, and be tolerant of everything,” Christians are to judge and discern. The Bible clearly teaches that Christians should:
The Liberal teaching that we are not to judge whether or not a doctrine is true is nothing but a Satanic snare for those who are too lazy to “search the scriptures.” The problem is that it works in many cases. Christians buy the world’s teaching over the Bible all too often. This is why they stick with this tactic. This is why apostate “Christians” are given a hearing over Bible believing Christians any day, but when one person crosses a Bible believer and begins to hear the truth’s of God’s word, they are refreshed and curious. The Devil just has to get Bible believers to keep quiet.
There are a lot of practical things however, that we can learn from this passage of Scripture to help us Christians. It is good for us to consider ourselves before making a judgment of righteousness so that we can identify with a person. If we do so we will often see an avenue for dispensing mercy. “Mercy” is when a person does not receive something that they rightly deserve. “Grace” is when a person receives something that they do not rightly deserve. If a Christian considers and examines his own life first he will certainly be reminded that he has received not only mercy from God but grace also. This can only influence the Christian to judge righteously in a manner that God would judge using mercy and grace rightly. Otherwise the Christian runs the danger of judging in a corrupt manner that would please self or some other man. It is also very practical for the Christian to remember that he too is a sinner and that he deserves the harsh judgment of God for his sin, and if he judges the sin of others without remembering this he is a hypocrite. When the Christian acts in a hypocritical manner it does nothing more than to push people away from Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The preaching of the word of God certainly does have and effect on people. Sometimes it is a happy and joyous effect, while at other times it makes one sad. There are times when a person becomes severely angry by the preaching of the word of God. Still, there are times when a person cannot move under the awesome conviction of it.
As a preacher, over the last 18 years, I have seen all of these effects take place in the lives of the hearers of God’s word. As a Christian, I have experienced them myself. Still, I, and many others, keep coming back for more. Why is that? I can understand why people keep coming back to feel good about their relationship with Christ, but to hear that they are a sinner, failing on every front, baffles me. When feeling the sharp effects of God’s word, piercing and dividing my life all the way down to my bones, I am amazed as to how much it knows about me. I have come to the point where I am convinced that it knows more about me than I do about myself. It is not fun to be pierced, cut and divided, yet people keep coming back for more and I think it is because of the wonder and amazement that they have for that one book.
Yes, there are those who cannot bear it. They are only interested in feeling good, and if the word of God cuts, pierces or divides in the slightest, they get angry and leave. To me this is the equivalent of putting one’s head in the sand and not learning something about yourself that you need to know. You see, the Bible is not only the way to God, but it is the truth and life as well. It does no good to accept the way and the life without accepting the truth. But there are many people like this. They feel the Bible is true as long as it agrees with them and where it does not, it is not the truth. The devil has been instrumental in getting people to think this. This is why there are so many “truths” in the world today. But I don’t want to talk about that in this article. I want to focus on the way people receive the word of God.
It is funny how one sermon may upset some while at the same time charging up others spiritual batteries. The same sermon may cause some to be compelled to come to the altar, while others stand rigid biting their bottom lip. It has a strange way of having different effects on different people. Now I know that all people are different, but that is not the reason for this strange phenomena. I know that God is dealing differently with different people on His own terms. This is one reason that this book is so wonderful. It knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts. Since we don’t even know our own hearts, it is good for us to hear about ourselves from the word of God.
The Word of God will shape you or the world will shape you. It is your choice as to what will do it. The world is constantly being forced upon you, but God politely does not. While commercials, junk mail, facebook and many other things are intruding upon your life, God sits silently on the shelf awaiting His turn to relate with you. The world is ruthlessly pushing itself into your life, brainwashing you to cater to self and its “truth.” It never lets up. It is violent and hungry to completely consume every part of your life, giving you no choice over the matter, while all the same time deceiving you into thinking you have a choice or vote. God’s Word sits silently and patiently on the side waiting for you to come to your senses and when you finally do, in order to remove the worldliness from your life, the operation it must perform sometimes requires cutting, stabbing or dividing. The only reason that hurts is because you allowed the world to take up residence there in the first place.
Still we can praise God for His glorious mercy in that His holy operation is quick and powerful. It does not take long for it to begin to have its holy effect. So, if the preaching of God’s word seems to anger you; it seems to “step on your toes,” then remember it is because some cancer of the world is being cut out of your life. Joy comes in the morning.
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.
A. J. Gordon was the great Baptist pastor of the Clarendon Church in Boston, Massachusetts. One day he met a young boy in front of the sanctuary carrying a rusty cage in which several birds fluttered nervously. Gordon inquired, “Son, where did you get those birds?”
“I trapped them out in the field.”
“What are you going to do with them?”
“I’m going to play with them, and then I guess I’ll just feed them to an old cat we have at home.”
When Gordon offered to buy them, the lad exclaimed, “Mister, you don’t want them, they’re just little old wild birds and can’t sing very well.”
“I’ll give you $2 for the cage and the birds.”
“Okay, it’s a deal, but you’re making a bad bargain.” The exchange was made and the boy went away whistling, happy with his shiny coins. Gordon walked around to the back of the church property, opened the door of the small wire coop, and let the struggling creatures soar into the blue. The next Sunday he took the empty cage into the pulpit and used it to illustrate his sermon about Christ’s coming to seek and to save the lost — paying for them with His own precious blood. “That boy told me the birds were not songsters,” said Gordon, “but when I released them and they winged their way heavenward, it seemed to me they were singing, ‘Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!'”
This is what Jesus did for each saved saint of God. He set us free from the cage of sin in which we are trapped. It is only by His precious blood that the door of sin is open and freedom is at hand. Jesus paid for our sin. He is the only one who could ever pay for it, because His blood is pure and sinless. Ours is not. No matter how much we may cry out that we don’t belong in the cage of sin, our blood is still sinful. What binds us, what holds us is the sinful blood contained within our veins. As it bleeds out, more is produced in it’s place, and it is just as sinful as that which it replaces.
Our problem is a blood problem. Let me simply say it like this, “we have bad blood.” Yes, there is bad blood between us and God, and it can never be purified. We can only have an advocate who will accept us, and then present us to the Father based on the pure blood coursing His veins—That is what Jesus Christ did.
The door is now open. The way is made clear. There is nothing standing in the way that would hinder us from leaving the cage of death. But, sadly, there are many who will not venture into the open air of the heavens. With fear or pride they huddle in the back of the cage, making excuse after excuse about why it cannot be real. At the same time, they witness (over and over again), another one step to the edge and soar with open wings, into the open free air. How terrible life must be for those who live in fear. How hopeless life must seem for those who will do anything but stretch their wings and fly.
If you are not saved today, I hope you will come to your senses and get right with God now. ~Pastor Coale
Here we go with the Atheist again. Recently they have taken out a huge billboard add proclaiming that Christianity is a myth. In Times Square their add has Santa Claus on the top with the caption “Keep the Merry!” A photo of Jesus on the cross at the bottom with the caption “Dump the myth!” David Silverman, head of the American Atheist said a private donor paid more than $25,000 to post the billboard sign for one month.
They spend huge amounts of money trying to convince people that there is no God. It simply is not enough that they don’t believe in God, they have to convince others to join their cause. Why can they not let people believe as they wish? Why do they attempt to steer people’s minds to their cause?
They are zealots. They are not only non-believers in God, but they are fanatically against God. They are haters of God and will not be satisfied unless others hate God as well. I guess you could say they love their sin (Jer. 14:10; 2 Tim. 3:2). They Love it so much that they don’t want to be accountable to anything that offends their love for it.
With that in mind, I am really quite amazed that their primary tactic in the war against God is to boldly proclaim that he is a fairy tale. It’s amazing they are afraid of a fairy tale. I mean really, if God and the Bible were really just a fairy tale, then why be afraid at all? Why spend tremendous amounts of money just to make that statement. It seems quite foolish to me and I wonder if there is a flaw in their thought process (1 Cor. 8:2). After all, most of the leaders of their fastidious movement were educated in the finest universities our great nation had to offer.
Atheists would not be so bad if they didn’t try to so vehemently attack Biblical Christianity. It doesn’t seem as if they are as much for the promotion of Atheism as they are for the undermining of Christianity. They are negative people; haters of Christ. That seems what they exist for as an organization. I mean, why don’t you see more billboards explaining or promoting their belief as opposed to signs attacking Biblical Christianity? Why do they turn so quickly to “hate speech”? I think we see a patter to their actions.
One of the men who ordained me to the ministry, Dr. Ken Blue, recently wrote, “How come you never see atheist attacking the Muslim religion?” I think this is a very good question indeed. Why is it that you never see signs or T.V. adds attempting to defunct other religions? Of course, as a Christian I know why, and I am sure you do as well. They are filled with hatred for their creator and are in a total and organized rebellion from Him. This explains why they are so quick to use “hate speech.”
Curious, I went to the website of the American Atheist to see what all the hub-bub was about. I found that there was not one thing mentioned about any other religion than Biblical Christianity. There were articles about how an atheist can deal with, and argue apologetically with, a Christian apologetically. Most of their arguments revolved around two things: asking the Christian how he can prove what he believes and the pointing out “supposed” contradictions in the Bible. The premise was: if you can get the Christian cornered to the point of saying “God said it! I believe it! Case closed!” then they could dismiss Christianity as a simple “belief” and nothing of substance. Of course, the first and foremost attack of their argument was the inconsistencies of various bibles. Since there were so many different Bibles, and no one still living has ever seen the original manuscripts, then how could you even know you have God’s word at all? Very tricky! An attack on the word of God itself. If the Christian would defend their position by saying God promised to preserve His word (Ps. 12:6-7), they were to immediately classify that as the “God said it! I believe it! Case closed!” argument and dismiss your reply.
To them, this might seem very good indeed but they neglect to realize that God’s very creation bears witness to the truth of His word, and day and night validate His message. For example: Creation is the only logical explanation for the existence of all things. It is certainly not an illusion, nor is it evolution. Any kind of “big bang” would not produce all of the order that is revealed before us. So, the burden is really on them to explain how they can so confidently prove there is no God. This they cannot do. Any attempt to try requires them to abandon truth and rely upon what they believe, and when they do, it is similar to them stating: “I believe it! Case closed!”
Suffice it to say that there is no logically functioning mind that could deny the existence of God. Therefore, they have a problem with their minds. They don’t think right. They don’t know how to think properly and logically. Most likely because they are blinded by their rebellious hatred for God.
Must Christians struggle against them? Must we fight back? This is an interesting question and I feel that there is no need to strive with an atheist. We are to witness and never be ashamed of our Lord Jesus Christ, but they are truly acting like children throwing a fit to get attention. The more you ignore them, the less they have to throw a fit about. The more they keep getting put on the front page of news papers, the more they are encouraged in their ridiculous cause. If people today could just leave God to His business and get busy doing what they were told to do, there would be less rebellion from God in the world.
God told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He did not tell us to wrestle with atheist over illogical premises. If Christians had been doing, wholeheartedly, what they should have been doing, there would be more people saved and less atheists to deal with in the first place.
Attitude makes the difference. You CAN memorize. You have memorized names, dates, addresses and phone numbers. In learning verses you have the help of the Holy Spirit to “guide you into all truth.” You “can do all things through Christ, which strengthens you” (Phil 4:13). He will empower you to learn as you ask Him
Now begin in this manner. After a verse is selected, read it in the Bible in context. Reading the chapter around the verse is best. It helps you understand the verse meaning. Read the verse thoughtfully several times aloud. Then begin learning the verse in this order: say the topic, then the verse reference, then the first phrase of the verse. Stop at the first punctuation mark if you like; repeat the verse reference again. Then start over; topic, reference, phrase, reference. ALWAYS beginning at the first, then adding a few more words, ending with the reference; “bit by bit” until you have the whole verse learned.
REVIEW it during the day; use spare moments. Say it at meals, when traveling, before you sleep; ask someone to check you. Visualize yourself in the verse. Repeat it daily with reference for 60 days. Use it in the ministry, or review weekly thereafter.
Pray the verse back to God. Then meditate on each verse you learn. Ask God for an experience with the verse in your life. Each verse contains something for you to know, stop doing, begin doing or share with others. The ultimate purpose through the verse is to identify with Christ in His will, know Him better and multiply His glory.
Contemporary motivational speakers are those who give comments that will motivate a person to do something. They don’t motivate a person to do something that person didn’t originally want to do, but something they already felt like doing. In other words, motivational speech doesn’t have any effect on a person unless they were in agreement in the first place. Adolph Hitler was a great motivational speaker, as was Mao Tsi Dong, Joseph Stalin and Barak Obama. They were (and are) masters at finding things that people want and presenting it in a way to motivate and inspire people. On the whole, contemporary motivational speakers are “martial arts encouragers.” They use a persons strengths and weaknesses against them, in order to get them to do what they want them to do–usually to buy a product or financially support a cause. In order to accomplish their unseen agenda, they must be sure to stay away from anything negative, else their victims, like the rabbit who is almost caught in the snare, comes to the sudden realization that they are to be trapped, and hop away breathing a sigh of relief.
The truth is, there are two kinds of motivational speakers: Those who tell you what you want to hear (like cheer leaders) and those who tell you what you don’t want to hear (like preaching about sin and death); Jesus was the latter. In fact, all of the prophets and preachers of God in the Bible were of the latter sort. They had a message of hope that was coupled with a message of doom and destruction. It is the message of doom and destruction, coupled with the anger of God displayed in His wrath that was the motivational injection that lethargic people needed. When Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19), the Pharisees were shocked into doing something. Noah said, “God’s gonna make it rain and flood the earth killing every living thing. That’s why I’m building this here boat.” He was scoffed at until God’s wrath was coupled with the message this preacher of righteousness had (2 Peter 2:5). They were motivated when they were suddenly caught in the snare of the Devil. With their negative message of destruction came a message of hope; they were coupled together.
The negative message first identifies a need in a persons life. It is a message of judgment and sentence. It is meant to be a warning of some bad or sinful action. It is designed to “wake people up” (1 Cor. 15:34; Rom. 13:11) from a dangerous activity, thought or influence. Then there is hope. Until then, a message of hope cannot be given because the people will not take it seriously. There is nothing to motivate them; nothing to move them or provoke them to do something about their evil ways. A fitting example of this is seen in the preaching of the prophet Zephaniah. He brought the message that the Lord was determined to pour His indignation upon the nations. The message further said that God was going to devour all the earth with the fire of His jealousy (Zeph. 3:8). A negative message to be sure. Why? Why such a message from the Lord? Because God wanted to motivate people to call upon Him (Zeph. 3:9). First the negative, then the positive. This is Biblical and true motivational speaking, and it comes with a price.
John the Baptist had a very motivational message that he preached in the wilderness. It so motivated people that King Herod wanted to hear it for himself. But when John came into his presence, Herod did not like what he heard. He did not hear a sickening sweet motivational speech doting on all of Herod’s achievements. He heard John talk to him about his brother Philip’s wife, to whom he was not wed. John said, “…It is not lawful for thee to have her.” (Matt. 14:4). How did this motivate Herod? It certainly didn’t make him leave the encounter feeling good about himself. In fact, Herod wanted to “…put him to death…” (Matt. 14:5). After some time of imprisonment, this is exactly what happened (Matt. 14:9-10).
So it is no secret that people don’t like to hear negative preaching, and sometimes it cost the preacher, but people need it. They need it to motivate them to do right. Without the negative message, coupled with the wrath of God, people are left to their own devices. And what parent would leave their children to their own with no discipline? Only those who don’t love them. Positive reinforcement never did anything for anybody other than to give the parent a way of escape from disciplining their children. It provides a good way to pass the responsibility on to others.
Preachers who are not regularly preaching against sin, are doing their congregations a huge disservice. They are taking the easy way out; trying to be their friends and be hugely popular. It is always easier to let someone else discipline the members of your church, but God will not hold such preachers unaccountable. Weak-kneed preaching on sin equals popularity, but is comes with a price–skin deep Christians who are looking to have a good time on this earth and enjoy it until Jesus gets back. That is a foolish surmise.
We have a job to do. We are to tell people about Jesus and the gospel. Jesus never told us to have a good time of fellowship until he came back. That is the equivalent of taking your talent and burying it in the sand. That will make Jesus mad. Has any preacher ever told you that if you are not doing something to win souls to Jesus, you are inviting trouble into your life? That God will be mad about that? Why not? That wouldn’t be very motivational by today’s standards, but it sure goes a long way with God. Would you hate your preacher for telling you that truth? Would you leave the church? Or, would you try to do something about it? After all, you do know the Lord is coming back, don’t you?
Many Christians know this. But they just want to have a good time and get by until He comes. After all, is it a sin to enjoy life? Of course not, but it will only be enjoyable up until you see the scowl on the face of the Saviour when He turns His eyes upon you and asks, “What did you do about what I asked you to do?”
There are two kinds of motivational speakers: One that tells you what you want to hear, and one that tells you what you need to hear. Both are motivational. The main difference between the two is your attitude in the way you take their message.
THE LAODICEA CHURCH WE LIVE WITH
Revelation 3:14-20 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Today we find ourselves living in the Laodicean Church age. It is the last period of time before the Lord Jesus Christ comes to rapture out His church. Compared to the other periods of church history, the Laodicean is the worst of all and that is because of the apathy of believers in Christ. The word “Laodicean” means the “rights or justices of the people.” Literally the civil rights of the people. It is a time when the church is more interested in their individual rights and have totally forgotten the rights of God—their Creator. Unfortunately, this is the mess that the church is in when God returns to get us. AND, do not fret my friends; there will be no exercising of personal rights at the rapture for God’s rights will overshadow all. When He says, “come up hither,” will it not be with anger in His voice rather than that of the compassionate Jesus Christ Superstar that many envision Him to be? Will He not be angry at the church for lack of interest in winning the lost to Him?
The last church claims a belief in God while at the same time living a dead, skin-deep Christianity. People in this church, profess belief in the “fundamentals of the faith” while embracing ecumenical works. It is a church where you cannot really tell what it stands for or what it stands against. It is a church which conveniently balances itself on both sides of the fence; it is neither hot for God or cold against Him (vs. 15). It is the worst kind of church there can be: LUKEWARM (vs. 16)—close enough to God to be warmed by the Bible, and far enough away to be chilled by the world. It is the epitome of rotten apostate modernism.
God is an extremist. He does not believe in getting along with the world in a kind of “fake Christianity”. He “would thou wert cold or hot.”
The Laodicean church makes God sick (vs. 16)—sick enough for Him to “spue thee out of my mouth.” Why is this? Could it be because of the tremendous material assets this church has that others in history did not? Could it be because it is more interested in bragging about its busses, holdings, how much the property is worth, how much the offerings are or how many missionaries it supports? After all, this church says it is “…increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” But God sees the truth. He gets to the heart of the matter. His response to all of our vast access to resources that we are “… wretched, you’re miserable, you’re poor, you’re blind, and you’re naked.” This is the opposite of how we see our self. People today have too many churches to go to. The pastor does something that they don’t like, or another church member does something that they disagree with, they just “hop on over” to another church that more fits their need. People in this age are more interested in themselves instead of God, and God’s preacher better tell them what they want to hear or else.
The great problem with the church today is that Christians are afraid to stand up for Jesus. Oh, we sing the song, “Stand up, Stand up for Jesus…”, but that is just lip service. Christians have worked out a way to be a Christian on Sundays and just a regular guy the rest of the time. That way they can AVOID CONFRONTATION. This is a joke of a Christian who claims that he has to put on the “armour of God”, when he knows in his heart that he is not really going to use it.
This Laodicean church lives by feelings, just like the rest of the world. Like the Israelites of old, temples to Baal have been erected amongst our ranks and the only thing that can “shake the church” loose from them is some tragedy; else God will never get our attention. If there was one thing that I could make the church see, it would be the reality and magnificence of GOD. Hence, people would see how much they owe to Him. But God does not demand our deaths; He demands our death to self, so that we might be able to live the true life that He intended. It is sad that it takes hard times in our life to bring us to our senses.
God counsels that we buy of Him “…gold tried in the fire…” (vs. 18). That is to say, He counsels that we see things as they truly are; that faith in Him is worth much more than gold or riches or prestige or honor (1 Pet. 1:7). This entire world is going to be burned up and all that is contained therein. There is absolutely nothing that will survive His hot wrath. Any investment in this world is futile. I know that right about here the concept of “stewardship” is usually slipped in, but there is a vast difference in caring for things that perish verses things that do not. The only thing that will not perish will be the souls of men who are right with God. This is “stewardship” in its most correct form: to win souls, develop them and teach them how to win more souls. But this cannot be done without “CARING”.
You say, “I don’t see it that way.” I know. I know there is a problem with how you look at things. That is why God urges to “anoint thine eyes with eyesalve…” (vs. 18). This is why the Devil has so many things to look at in the world today. This is why things like TV, pornography, movies, sports, internet, etc. work so good for him. Man is curious, and his curiosity will never be satisfied. This is a good thing if it is channeled to learning about the personality and character of God. But this is not so. Man is more interested in tickling his sin nature. The “forbidden fruit” only becomes the draw to man when he looks at it (Gen. 3:5-6). We have a problem with our eyes. Therefore, we need the eyesalve of God’s Word that we can see correctly. Can you imagine the fruit of the tree looking rotten, moldy, corrupt and covered in maggots? In other words, can you imagine being able to see sin for what it is? The only way that can be done is to:
It is time now to repent of being a lukewarm Christian. Can you truly say you are giving your all to Him? Are you tithing? Are you attending church? Are your words just more empty promises to God? God’s way for dealing with those whom He loves in this Laodicean church age is to rebuke and chasten. REPENT! Change your ways. Be zealous about Him (vs. 19). Be given over to the draw of the Holy Spirit. Be zealous for Him and the things that He loves and forget about the world. Stop comparing yourself to others who are not living for the Lord.
Do you realize that at the end of the Laodicean church age Jesus is outside the door of the church? The door has been slammed shut in His face. He is knocking to come in and who is listening? Are you? Do you hear His humble rap upon the door? Why is He on the outside in the first place? Who came to church and left the Lord outside? I do not want to be a Laodicean even though I happen to live in this age. You don’t have to leave Him outside. You can bring Him in with you. Or, you can answer the door. The problem why many do not is that they don’t even hear His voice anymore (vs. 20). They are too worried about money, satisfaction of self, offending others or becoming accountable to God’s word (they don’t want to hear what He has to say about their sin). But if YOU open the door to Him, He will come in to you and have fellowship with you, even in spite of anyone else. But until you do, until you open the door of your heart, you can not have sweet fellowship with Him. You will be a Laodicean.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
It doesn’t matter to us which Bible you use, but we teach King James Bible doctrine. There is a big difference between the King James Bible teachings and the teachings of other bibles. The Psalmist says: “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Ps. 119:160). In Jeremiah 23:36, the Bible says, “For ye have perverted the words of the living God.” So, God’s word will last forever, but there will be people who make perversions. This is the case that we have in the Christian world today. Someone is taking living words from the living God and perverting it.
This all has to deal with the subject of final authority. This the most crucial thing going on in the world today. Why? Because the issue of final authority determines—absolute truth.
Today, people are being taught that all truth is relative. Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity digests down to this destructive premise. It subtly teaches that everyone can have their own truth. Of course this lends to chaos as everyone becomes their own authority and god. A christian however, places himself in subjection to the Bible. However, Jeremiah said somebody took those words and perverted them. Therefore, it is crucial for the Christian to find the right words of God so he can live by them, and reject the perversions.
The King James Bible is the word of God for several reasons. These reasons should be looked at and analyzed very carefully. No true lover of God would want to follow a perversion, or become his own authority for that matter. The King James Bible is the word of God because:
Let’s not accept the idea that the Authorized King James is outdated and needs to be replaced for a new translation. Satan knows that newborn babes in Christ will not have the real milk that they need in order to grow because they’ll have a watered down version of the truth. He figures that if he can’t kill the babes, he’ll do the next best thing-stunt their growth. At the same time the world will point to “Christianity” and say, “They don’t even have the same Bible.”
There are several things that it takes to make a church, but they can be divided into three basic things:
The most important of the three are people who have a heart to make a church and a pastor. Otherwise, what you have is not more than a large Bible Study group. There are many “bible study” groups throught the country that are doing little for the Lord Jesus Christ. This happens because it takes special people with extreme dedication to stay in such an arrangement, and there are not many of these type of people. They stay for only so long, but when they are called upon to do something to help, they are looking for the exit. This happens often because “bible study” groups are typically small and unfunded. If you examine this situation objectively, you will find that there is a group of people who are happy to “take” anything they can get, but who resist having to do any “giving.” Anyone who has been a Christian for some time knows that this theology run’s against the grain of Bible Believing Christianity, whose leader and founder did the ultimate in giving. Therefore, it takes dedicated people to stay in a Bible Study group and they cannot remain in such a situation for long before they want to either: form themselves into a church or leave and find an already formed church. If they leave, then the group dissolves rather quickly. If they stay, then a church is born. But to have a church, there needs to be more than an idea or commitment to make it happen. You need a pastor.
Generally speaking a pastor puts a face upon the church. He is a point of contact for all business related to the church. This is in addition to the task of preaching and teaching the families who ask him to come lead them. So, like the school teachers of the early American settlers day, he is given the authority to do so, in exchange for the families of the church supporting him financially. In the early pioneer days, farmers had to work hard to keep sustaining their families. They didn’t have the time or the means whereby to educate their children. But, they knew that an education was valuable and they wanted it for their children. So, they would come together as a community and hire a teacher to teach their children in exchange for some form of compensation. It was like this for the communities and the pastors as well. The difference being that the pastor addressed the spiritual education and well being of not only the children, but the entire family as well. Today’s bible believing churches are not so much different, even though times have well changed and things have become more modern in the way of doing things. All of this to say, usually when a pastor is called, money comes into the picture. Weekly collection of money begin to take place. Therefore, somebody has to manage this as well, and who has time for that? Usually this job is deligated to the pastor.
When money comes into the picture, rules need to be established in order to protect the investment of the church. So, churches form a constitution containing laws and by-laws. They establish all of the belief’s and boundries of the churches charter. All of this comes about because the “bible study” group has brought a pastor now into the picture. The Bible Study group has now become a church. There is no doubt about it; the need for, and calling of a pastor brings the bible study group into the realm of being a church. But, this is not where it ends.
A church also needs a place to meet. True, a church can be a church in “name only” without any place to meet. But, it will not last long as a church on paper. It needs a place for the general public to come and participate in the churches activities. Yes, in the Bible you read of “house churches,” but you have to realize that was a different time and place. They were meeting secretly for fear of the Jews and worshippers of other god’s. When I lived in China, our church was a “secret church.” We met in parks, the woods, the jungle, by the seaside, and in several different houses as well. Seldom did we get the entire church together at one time. On a typical day, I would first go to one house and preach to several there. Then I would go to another house, and so forth until I met with the entire church. This way, everyone was able to be ministered to. It took a lot of work on my part, but was necessary for the safety of the brethren.
It is not that way in the USA. We can still meed openly without fear of reprisal. So, when you read in the Bible about house churches, you would do well to remember the situation the church was in during that time. Churches need a place to meet. If they do not have one, then it becomes difficult to hold the church together, and even grow the church as well. People need to know the church is there.
Still, through all of this, there is always the need for dedicated people who are willing to go through the pain necessary to “birth” a new church. It is not the typical church experience as one would have if they went to an “already established” church. They have to work harder, be nicer, give more, evangelize much, and above all: PRAY.
We are fortunate here at GraceBaptistChurch. We have a dedicated group of Christians who are willing to shoulder the burden to carry the church through the entire delivery process. One day, we will see the fruits of our labor realized. Right now, we have the people; we have the pastor; we have a place to meet, but we do not have our own place where we can invoke typical church activities to help families grow in the Lord. We are ever so thankful for the Grange, but we only rent the hall for Sunday’s. We have no other place to conduct business for any other day of the week. It is difficult to find Grace Baptist, and then, when people do drive up, they think, “is this the church?” The Grange does not look like a church on the outside.
We need to pray for our own place. We need to ask God to provide for us a place to “anchor” GraceBaptistChurch. Not only that, we need to give to the building fund. Surely, people of the church could give ONE DOLLAR over and above their usual tithe for the future of the church. If everyone just gave ONE DOLLAR a week, that would only be FOUR Dollars a month. That can’t be too hard on anyone’s pocket book. Friends, if you added all of that up, together it would be a significant figure. God’s answer to our prayer for help may be, “I already helped you. I gave the people the funds necessary. If they don’t put it in the building fund, then it’s not my fault.” If the church is going to be worth something to us; if it is going to have value, then we need to invest in it. One day, we too can have our own building.
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
What is a friend? The world has its idea of what a friend is. They usually count a friend as being a resource; someone who can help you or give you things when you have needs. This kind of approach usually goes like this: “Oh good, they have a tractor. That will be good for me when I need one.” Some people, like the Chinese, take this one step farther with their principle called Guang Xi. This means that you keep trying to expand your “friend” base so you have access to as much resources as possible. Even though you may not like the person at all, if they have something you might need in the future, you call them friend so you can get access to it. In the world of politics, we call this corruption.
Even though Christians are in the world but not of the world, they still make friends; it is just that their basis for friendship has changed. For the Christian, a friend is a trusted confidant to whom you are drawn, or who is drawn to you. They are a companion and an ally, whose love for you is not dependent on your performance or what you can provide for them. Finally, and most importantly, a friend to the Christian is someone whose influence draws you closer to God.
Philippians 3:18-19 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
Paul experienced people who called him a friend but they were not. His sorrow over this was they were the enemies of Jesus Christ. This left no or little basis upon which to build a friendship. These “friends” were those who served fleshly appetites. They found humor in their shame and they had no concern for eternity. They were interested in the three greatest foes to the Christian: the World, the Flesh and the Devil.
Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
If you develop friendships where you don’t have the fundamental basic foundation in common, you are doing a disservice to that person and to yourself. That friendship is doomed to failure. If you find yourself in this situation, you should ask yourself, “Why am I even interest in this friendship? Is my motive so that it will benefit me? Or, is God putting us together?”
Developing the right kind of friendships can be difficult. It takes understanding of how friendships are established. The Child of God should approach making friends with the determination of “if you reject Christ then you must also reject me, for He is my greatest friend.” When asked to compromise or violate the Scriptures: smile and say, “No thank you. I’ve committed my life to Jesus and I don’t want to displease Him by doing that.” It is important to let God choose your friends, based on their needs and desire for God’s help and not worldly ambitions or desires.
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
Everyone has a limited capacity for friendship; you can’t be friends with everyone. Still, some people have more friends than others. This does not mean that some people don’t have any friends at all; each person has a different capacity for numbers of friendships and everyone has the capacity to develop intimate friends.
There are four levels of friendships:
There is the Biblical basis for making friends. Now that there is a little more understanding of how friendships are established, lets make friends the right way: God’s way.
Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son.
Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles, California won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn’t notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor’s hubcaps.
Terrence Dickson, of Bristol, Pennsylvania, was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to open. Worse, he couldn’t re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut. Forced to sit for eight days and survive on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the home owner’s insurance company claiming undue mental anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish.
Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor’s beagle – even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner’s fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.
A jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay $113,500 to Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania because after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.
Kara Walton, of Claymont, Delaware sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000 plus dental expenses.
Mrs. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, purchased new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver’s seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owners manual that she couldn’t actually leave the driver’s seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.
Let me just say it up-front and here: The world is going crazy! There never seems to be a lack of knowledge, but there sure is a lack of common sense right now. There is a great difference between the two. Knowledge is just that—knowledge. Common sense is—knowing how to use that knowledge. For several decades now the people have been bombarded with knowledge. We have knowledge coming out of our ears. This is the problem—we have too much knowledge, but we seriously lack wisdom to know how to use it properly.
The reason that we have this lack in ability to use the knowledge that we have is because there has been a wholesale retreat from the word of God and from God Himself. God is the one who gives common sense. In Nehemiah when the people stood in their place and the words of God were read to them, they obtained knowledge. But, as the words were being read, “God distinctly… gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Neh. 8:8). Because there has been a disdain of God, there has been a lack of common sense.
In the garden of Eden, Adam was told not to eat of the fruit of the tree of KNOWLEGE of good and evil. Why? Because in the very day that he would eat of that fruit, his EYES WOULD BE OPEN. That is what happened—man’s eyes were open but his mind is shut off. Knowledge keeps pouring in, but to no avail, there is no sensible way to use the knowledge unless you turn to God and get a little common sense.
Those who know me, know that I always tell a person before getting saved, they will get “new eyes.” I am telling them, (and you if you are unsaved today while reading this), they will begin seeing the same old things they have seen all of their life, but from a different perspective. That is the perspective of common sense. God will cause them to understand the things that they have KNOWN as they read their Bibles.
This is how an intelligent person, a person with an ability to store huge amounts of knowledge, can come up with such “far out” theories as: evolution, big bangs, black holes, expanding universes and space within space. The have a lot of knowledge, but cannot disseminate it, that is to say, use it in a common sense way. It is not enough for them to know gravity exists, but they must understand it. This is a good example of taking something that they know exists (gravity) and apply common sense to it (how it works).
I know that someone will focus on what they desire and miss the whole purpose of this little article. They will think that I am saying that knowledge is not good, and that like most preachers, will think that we have to have blind faith to be a Christian. That is not so. Knowledge is profitable, but only if it is coupled with common sense, so it can be used wisely.
The world today seems to be getting more stupid as we go along; yet there is more knowledge out there than has ever been before. How is that? There is a lack of common sense; there is a disdain for God.