- Point People to Jesus. (The God of heaven, he will prosper us. Neh 2:20)
- Don’t Quit (We his servants will arise and build Neh 2:20)
- Realize Ridicule Never Stops (…they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? Neh 2:19)
- Pray (Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. Neh. 4:9)
- Don’t be Afraid (Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. Neh. 4:14)
- Remember the Importance of the Work. (I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down Neh. 6:3)
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Judgmental people can be most irritating at times, especially when they won’t let you explain your actions or position. Today’s Timeless Truth is about Matthew 7:1-2 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
The most judgmental people in the world are those who talk about other people being judgmental about them. You see, a person cannot help but be judgmental because everything we do begins with a judgment: (What clothes to wear, what food to eat, what activity to be involved in). Everything we do is a judgment call including telling others they should not be judgmental.
Have you ever run across someone who told you not to be judgmental because you were a Christian, and and what you were doing was not a Christian thing to do? There are plenty of people who know this verse of Scripture but don’t know a thing about the character of God. They just know Matt 7:1-2 because it helps them stifle Christians. The problem is there are plenty of Christians who believe these uninformed “teachers” of God’s Word. These “know it all’s” have taken one word and replaced the definition of it with another word and unsuspecting Christians don’t even notice. What they mean to say is, “Don’t be so ‘critical’ of me because it is not nice,” but they say, “Don’t be so judgmental” instead. The old bamboozle (sigh!).
So, because the swap in meaning of the words, people totally misinterpret the meaning of this verse of Scripture. It does not mean that you should not judge. It does not even mean to judge a person the way you would want to be judged. It means that we should have a little mercy on our brothers because we are all going to be judged some day; Be a little pitiful because someday we are going to be on the “hot seat” too! If Judgmental people would just “judge” the Bible rightly, then they, and we, would be much happier.
So many today have been successful at raising brats. Here’s some of the finest advice you’ll ever receive on how to keep from doing so:
1. Don’t pick them up every time they cry. If you run to his aid as soon as he cries, he’ll soon know how to control you, rather than you being in control. You don’t want them to expect to be pampered all of their lives.
2. Don’t let them defiantly tell you “NO!” It’s not cute. It’s rebellion verbalized. Although, he should be allowed to have a mind of his own.
3. Give them responsibilities. Don’t do everything for them. They will grow up thinking this world owes them a living, joining the crowd of grown up babies shouting, “I’ve got my rights,” rather than those who are men and women enough to fulfill their responsibilities.
4. Don’t neglect discipline. Don’t wait until there in trouble and let the penal system discipline them. Don’t go to Dr. Spock (who never raised a child in his life) and the other child psychologists for help and advice. Why not go to the old timers who raised 5 or 10 children successfully! Remember that a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame (Pro 29:15). You can truly develop a true brat if you won’t properly discipline them.
5. Don’t always take the child’s side. Understand that your child can do wrong. If they are wrong, they need to learn to accept responsibility for their actions.
6. Don’t criticize the Preacher or leaders. If you tear down authority in front of your child, they’ll live in insecurity not knowing who to trust. They will be totally prepared for a life of rebellion.
7. Don’t forget to tell them: “I LOVE YOU” They need to hear you say it even if you’ve given them everything they’ve ever wanted.
8. Don’t give them everything they want. There is no need to buy something for them every time you go into a store. You can say “no” to them. You don’t want them to grow up being used to having every appetite of theirs fulfilled immediately.
9. Don’t neglect to teach them the Bible. It makes no sense to them to have to go to school for 5 days a week, but not take them to church for 1 hour on Sunday.
10. Don’t always trust your child. He’s not a little angel. He does do things behind your back. Did you ever ask a young person whom you catch smoking, “Do you smoke at home?” Usually the answer is, “You’ve got to be kidding my parents would kill me.” Your child has the same fears.
11. Don’t scream at your children. This is not the only type of communication that reaches them. Time spent answering their questions and instructing them is not wasted time. Although it may not seem like it, they are listening. Constantly screaming at them will alienate them and the relationship will be devalued. This doesn’t mean that you can never talk loudly to them. There is a time and a place for everything.
12. Don’t let your child come and go as he pleases. It is good to set boundaries. Boundaries can be looked at as types of restriction, but if you look at them another way, they are types of security. Children need security and they are found in guidelines.
13. Don’t make your child the most popular in the crowd. They don’t always need to be “up” with their peers. They can be an oddball at times. If they follow the crowd, then the crowd will become the greatest influence in their lives.
14. Don’t let them constantly watch T.V. It is not good to keep them from reality. They don’t need to live in a fantasy world. They need to learn to entertain themselves. This exercises the brain and teaches creativity.
Children are not born brats. They gravitate that way because of their training and environment. Because we take the easy road in raising our children, they suffer. Putting these principles in place, along with love and fellowship, your child can grow to be a healthy member of society for the Lord Jesus Christ.
If I were the Prince of Darkness, I would of course, want to engulf the whole world in darkness. And I’d have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree—THEE. So I’d set about however necessary to take over the United States.
I’d subvert the churches first. I’d begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.” To the young, I’d whisper that the Bible is a myth. I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would convince that what is bad is good, and what is good is “square”. And the old I would teach to pray after me, “Our father which art in Washington”. And then I’d get organized. I’d educate authors how to make lurid literature exciting, so that anything else would appear dull an uninteresting. I’d threaten T.V. with dirtier movies and vice versa. I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. And I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.
If I were the Devil, I’d soon have families at war with themselves, churches at war with themselves, and nations at war with themselves, until each in it’s turn was consumed. And with promises of higher ratings, I’d have mesmerizing media fanning the flames.
If I were the devil, I would encourage school to refine young intellects, but to neglect to discipline emotions; just let those run wild, until before you knew it, you’d have to have drug sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door.
Within a decade, I’d have prisons overflowing, I’d have judges promoting pornography. Soon I could evict God from the courthouse, and then from the schoolhouse, and then from the houses of congress. And in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and deify science. I would lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls and church money.
If I were the devil, I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg, and the symbol of Christmas, a bottle.
If I were the Devil, I’d take from those who have and give to those who wanted, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And what do you bet I couldn’t get whole states to promote gambling as the way to get rich?
I would caution against extremes, and hard work, and patriotism, and moral conduct. I would convince the young that marriage is old fashion, and swinging is more fun; that what you see on T.V. is the way to be. And thus I could undress you in public, and I could lure you into bed with diseases for which there is no cure.
In other words, if I were the devil, I’d just keep on doing what he’s doing.
Paul Harvey, Good Day.
Matthew 9:13 …for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
The Lord Jesus Christ makes it very clear that He did not come to the earth to call the righteous to repent. The righteous have no need to repent; they are already “right” with God. Their problems with sin are already taken care of. However, God’s opinion is that there are none who are righteous except the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
The person, who feels they are “right” with God, will never come to the Lord. They will make excuse after excuse to avoid a confrontation with God. They justify keeping control of their life by convincing themselves that they are “right” with God.
On the other hand, the person who feels there is something that is not “right” between them and God will come to Jesus. Because the Lord is perfect and they are not, there is a repentant attitude that accompanies them. These are the people that the Lord Jesus came to the world to call.
Do you have a need for Christ? Are you righteous or a sinner? You can be right by agreeing with God and coming to Him as a sinner. Only then can your sin problem be solved and you can be “right” with God.
Linda Burnett, 23, a resident of San Diego, was visiting her in-laws and while there went to a nearby supermarket to pick up some groceries. Later, her husband noticed her sitting in her car in the driveway with the windows rolled up and with her eyes closed, with both hands behind the back of her head. He became concerned and walked over to the car. He noticed that Linda’s eyes were now open and she looked very strange. He asked her if she was okay, and Linda replied that she had been shot in the back of the head and had been holding her brains in for over an hour.
The husband called the paramedics, who broke into the car because the doors were locked and Linda refused to remove her hands from her head.
When they finally got in, they found that Linda had a wad of bread dough on the back of her head. A Pillsbury biscuit canister had exploded from the heat, making a loud noise that sounded like a gunshot, and the wad of dough hit her in the back of her head. When she reached back to find out what it was, she felt the dough and thought it was her brains. She initially passed out, but quickly recovered.
Many people today who are saved and love the Lord still don’t want to join a church. Their reasons are many and often true: most churches are messed up; there are many hypocrites; churches are just after your money; people do not love God like they ought to. Yet, although churches have always had problems (read the New Testament), the idea of staying out of any church is not a New Testament idea. In the first church in Jerusalem, “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” These were the same people who had received God’s word and were baptized. So, from the beginning, the order was to receive God’s word, get baptized and join the church.
We would all like to think that we would always do the right thing even if no one ever knew what we did. Truly, doing the right thing when no one is looking is the test of character. Yet, in reality, we all often do the right thing because we don’t want to let others see us fail. This is the power of accountability. We do right so we will not have to explain to our friends or loved ones why we did wrong. This is a motivation that God Himself uses with us. In the context of the local church, we are “to consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Heb 10:24). Knowing that people at church care should help us to do what is right. It is a blessing to know that if I stray from God, my fellow church member may come and talk to me about my spiritual life.
God takes accountability one step further in His instructions concerning church discipline. Notice this passage (out of many that teach the principle). The people in the church in Thessalonica were to withdraw themselves “from every brother that walketh disorderly.” The purpose was “that he may be ashamed.” Yet, even then, he was not to be counted as an enemy but to be admonished “as a brother.” Consider what is happening. The people of the church were to withdraw from fellowship with the man who had strayed from truth. But the final purpose in his life was not to hurt him but to restore him (see Gal.6:1).
In our modern independence, we have created virtues that God’s word never teaches. One of these virtues is what we call ‘staying out of other people’s business’. Truly, God speaks against gossip of any kind. But He does not teach us to stay out of other people’s lives. Neither does He teach that people should always stay out of your life. God teaches us to confront those who are hurting themselves and to try to turn them in the right direction (Gal.6:1). He also teaches us to accept godly confrontation (Heb.10:24). Why then would people not want to belong to a church where loving people would confront them if they started down the path of immorality, idolatry or heresy? Church membership means that there are people who love you too much to let you destroy yourself without putting up a fight for your good. What should give us a sense of security has simply made us angry and rebellious. Instead of changing God’s plan, we are the ones who should change.
An old proverb says, “When you sup with the devil, use a long spoon.” Presumably, NO genuine Christian would want to sup with the devil at all and yet many may be doing so in ignorance.
The origins of Halloween are Celtic in tradition and have to do with observing the end of summer sacrifices to gods in Druidic tradition. In what is now Britain and France, it was the beginning of the Celtic year, and they believed Samhain, the lord of death, sent evil spirits abroad to attack humans, who could escape only by assuming disguises and looking like evil spirits themselves. The waning of the sun and the approach of dark winter made the evil spirits rejoice and play nasty tricks. Believe it or not, most of our Halloween practices can be traced back to these old pagan rites and superstitions.
In the fourth century, Christians attempted to co-opt the holiday by celebrating the lives of faithful Christian saints the day before Halloween. This was a conscious attempt to provide an alternative and re-focus the day away from ghouls, goblins, ghosts, witches and other “haunted” experiences. Since that time many Christians have decided to allow their children to dress in more “innocent” costumes of pumpkins, princesses, Superman or as a cowboy. Part of this is due to the simple reality that in today’s Western culture it is nearly impossible to “avoid” Halloween.
Halloween is a real, sacred day for those who follow Wicca. In fact, it is one of two high and holy days for them. The Celtic belief of spirits being released is current, along with the worship of Samhain (the lord of death) – both are promoted as something to embrace on that day. Those who believe and follow the practices of witchcraft, Halloween represents an opportunity to embrace the evil, devilish, dark side of the spiritual world.
Halloween is still celebrated as an ancient pagan festival of the dead by witches all over the world. Unfortunately, just giving the date a “holy” name like All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve cannot change its grisly character. Halloween is an occasion when the ancient gods (actually demons) are worshiped with human sacrifice. The apostle Paul warns us: “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils” (1 Cor. 10:20).
During the 8th century in the diocese of Rome, Pope Gregory III moved All Saints Day to November 1, officially making October 31 “All Hallows Eve,” some say, as a way of claiming the celebration for Christians. However, this feast commemorating the martyrdom of the saints had already been celebrated by Christians for many centuries prior to this time. Pope Gregory IV broadened the feast to include the entire Church. Inevitably, some of the pagan practices associated with the season persisted and have been mixed into modern celebrations of Halloween.
It is astonishing just how many Christians let their kids celebrate Halloween. Some churches even sponsor “haunted houses” and similar events on what is the Number One satanic “helliday” of the year. If you are a Christian parent, God has given you a precious responsibility in your children. Remember, their ability to resist spiritual wickedness is much less than yours. If you allow your children to participate in Trick or Treating, costume parties, etc., you are allowing them to play on “the devil’s turf,” and Satan will definitely press his home court advantage. You are opening up doorways into their young lives for evil by bringing them into a kind of “fellowship” with these ancient “gods.”
As Christians you and I are placed in this world to be a light in a world of darkness. There is no lasting benefit to ignore a holiday that exists around us, but it also does harm to celebrate Halloween as it has originated and grown over the centuries. My suggestion? Christians should be teaching their children (age appropriately) that: there is a spiritual world filled with goodness from God and evil from Satan (Eph. 2:1-10); life with Christ has power over darkness (I John 4:4); and those who celebrate Halloween either are unaware of its roots, or are intentionally promoting a world where evil is lauded and viewed as an ultimate power.
To counter the evil influence of Halloween, we need to join together and celebrate the reality of the heroic efforts of Christian saints over the evil in their day. Many leaders in the past — and present — have fulfilled the mandate of destroying the works of the devil through their sacrificial commitment to Christ and His Kingdom.
Too, rather than “hide” in the face of evil, we should unabashedly and boldly create an alternative that is positive and uplifting; that celebrates good over evil and the triumph of God over Satan. We need to provide an environment that also makes room for heaps of fun while using the day as a “teachable moment” to celebrate God’s protection, provision and purpose for our lives.
We are commanded not to become involved with the unfruitful works of darkness (And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Eph. 5:11). There have been far too many examples of how breaking this command works out in lives. Remember, while we have God’s promise of protection for ourselves and our children, that promise may be negated if we allow our children to celebrate this dark holiday. Case after case has been revealed of children in rebellion. In many of these families, the problem can be traced back to the children being exposed to parental compromise with the world at a young age. It is hard enough to raise children these days in a Godly way without exposing them to Satan’s realm.
Are some Christians trying to remove themselves from the world? Ignoring Halloween or celebrating it wth believers only is not exactly an evangelical approach. Aren’t we supposed to “become all things to all men so that by all possible means” we might save some? (1 Corinthians 9:22)
As Christians, why are we here in this world? Are we here to live in a safe and protected environment, guarded against the evils in the world, or are we called to reach out into a world filled with dangers and be the light of Christ? Halloween brings people of the world to our door step. Halloween brings our neighbors out into the streets. I can think of various creative ways to seize this opportunity for developing new relationships and sharing my faith.
Is it possible that our negativity toward Halloween only alienates the people we seek to reach? Can we be in the world, but not of the world?
Ultimately, Christians must decide for themselves and follow their own convictions regarding the observance of Halloween. Christian perspectives on the observance of Halloween are strongly divided. Some believers feel complete freedom to observe the holiday, others run and hide from it, many boycott or ignore it, a number celebrate it through more positive and imaginative observances or Christian alternatives to Halloween, and still others choose to take advantage of Halloween’s evangelistic opportunities. Many Christians believe that participating in Halloween is a form of involvement in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness. However, many consider the modern-day Halloween activities of most to be harmless fun.
Give serious thought to the appropriateness of judging another Christian for observing or not observing Halloween. We do not know why another person participates in the holiday or why they do not. We cannot accurately judge the motivations and intentions of another person’s heart. Study the matter for yourself and follow the convictions of your own heart. Let others do the same without condemnation from you.
A teenage boy had just passed his driving test and inquired of his father as to when they could discuss his use of the car. His father said he’d make a deal: “You bring your grades up from a C to a B average, study your Bible a little, and get your hair cut. Then we’ll talk about the car. The boy thought about that for a moment, decided he’d settle for the offer, and they agreed on it.
After about six weeks his father said, “Son, you’ve brought your grades up and I’ve observed that you have been studying your Bible, but I’m disappointed you haven’t had your hair cut.”
The boy said, “You know, Dad, I’ve been thinking about that, and I’ve noticed in my studies of the Bible that Samson had long hair, John the Baptist had long hair, Moses had long hair…and there’s even strong evidence that Jesus had long hair.”
His father replied, “Did you also notice they all walked everywhere they went?”
It is too bad that there has to be so much emphasis today on MONEY! We all know that the Word of God tells us that “…the LOVE of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10). Of course, no real Christian relishes being immersed in evil, but we must all deal with this potential “time bomb” of spiritual destruction in the world in which we live today. It is almost as if it is one of those “necessary evils” to which we are bound, and can never shake loose from. WE NEED MONEY!
Families need money to live. We need “bucks” to pay for a place to live, put food on the table and clothes on our backs. These are the very basic’s of life. Everything else beyond this can be a luxury when considering the principle of “needs vs. wants.” Without the things that we need, we would be in a very bad way indeed. It is no wonder money becomes so valuable that we have a tendency to hoard it for the time when we may need it in the future. Of course, saving for specific needs is not bad, but we can get dangerously close to crossing over the line and LOVE our money. This is where we become contributor to the evil world system. Until that point, we are living under the evil effects of “love of money” that others may have; we are not actually contributors to that evil.
How does one know when they actually love their money vs. exercising good stewardship with the wealth that God has given them? It all lies in your reaction to money when you lose it. If you are devastated by the loss of it on a personal level, then most likely you are in love with it. However, if you are disappointed, but not smitten to the heart, (in other words: your joy for the Lord is affected), then you are not in love with it. You are just disappointed in your stewardship of it. But, this test is not always an indicator of love for money or not, but it is a good place to start.
God has put some very good and sure fire ways to keep from falling in love with this necessary evil, which we use every day. GIVE! Luke 6:38 tells us that we should “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.” If we have a heart to give, then we can step around ever falling in love with money. Man does not give away that which he is truly in love with. For example: I would never give to you my wife. I love her. She is very dear to my heart. I would never give to you my children, grand children, siblings or parents. I love them very much. However, I can give to you something that I hold highly valuable to me, but I am not in love with it. I value it, I do not love it. I can live without money, but I cannot live without my wife.
Money needs to be this way for us in our life. To keep from loving it, we need to give; not just once, but continually. In other words, we need to develop a giving heart. It is not coincidental that when we give, it is an expression of love towards others, but when we keep to ourselves, it is an expression of love of self.
God is not timid about providing an example in giving. He gave everything He had to redeem man from loving self. He showed the depths of His love in giving. Surely we too can give, and it doesn’t always have to be money. We can give of our time, talents, as well as our treasure. These are the three basic areas of our life which we have stewardship over where we can get tripped up. If we give of these areas of our life, then we are developing a giving and loving heart. Of course, as you examine them, the easiest and most likely to give from is our money. That simple little coin or ink covered piece of paper represents effort; effort that we exerted in which we were compensated for.
God wants us to keep from loving money because it will often times cause us to err “from the faith.” The primary effect of this evil for the Child of God is a falling away from God. When we cease from giving, and the love of money becomes rooted in us, we will certainly begin a downward spiral away from God. We know that God is the greatest giver of all, and if we are to be in fellowship with Him, we will be associated with the giving God. The sacrifices and offerings that we give to His cause is only a miniscule contribution to what He gives to them every day. And here is the reason why many people lose direction and faith in God: They have lost their desire to identify with Him in this area of their life. They may have lost it for a good reason or it may be a fabricated excuse, but they have lost it. It is logical and reasonable to conclude this since God told us this can happen and there are many Biblical examples from which we may take note. Some of the most famous are Ananias and Sapphira; Judas; and Demas, but there are many contemporary examples that each of us have certainly known. So, one sure fire way to keep from falling away from God is:
- Don’t fall in love with money.
- Develop and keep a giving heart.
Falling away from God is always subtle and slow. It doesn’t happen overnight, although one specific event could be the root cause to our beginning this downward trip. The Devil engineers it to be slow and subtle because he wants it to take hold in our life. If it was sudden, it would be too noticeable. We gradually plant, replant and transplant our produce so that it can grow steadily without a growth stunting shock. If we waited until it was too big, the roots would be all torn up when we transplanted it and it would either die or not recover in time enough to bear fruit for the season. Likewise is our giving in to the love of money. It happens slowly so we are not shocked by its effect on us. If we realized it was happening, we would discontinue following its sorrow piercing path.
No Christian wants to fall away from the Lord. No Christian wants to be pierced through with many sorrows. That is why I am writing this article: to give some insight to the process in which these are the results. If we can understand the mechanics of how this happens, then we can be aware of the signs our life projects; we can deal with it before it is too late. It could suffice to just say, “Give so you don’t fall in the condemnation of the Devil.” But there is really much to be said about that one bold statement. I strongly feel if people can understand the process, then they can be better equipped to deal with the product. So, I hope this message gives you a little insight to help you keep a strong and vibrant relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 6:11-17 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
God has a specific manner in which He would have the Christian dress to successfully navigate his earthly pilgrimage. It is not a set of lounging pajamas, nor is it a “dress for success” in the world outfit. It is not a set of rugged work clothes or rain gear. It is called the whole armour of God, and many Christians forget that it is available to them.
Every Christian is to grow up to be a warrior for Christ. As warrior, we must be prepared to defend against the many assaults of the world. Likewise, we should be prepared to attack the influences of evil wherever it reveals itself. When God tells us to “STAND”, He means that we are to “defend the faith once delivered to the saints.” From the very beginning, Christianity has been attacked. False teachers have “crept in unawares” for the purpose of “modernizing” (changing) the way Christ wanted the church to be. There has been a constant bombardment to make the church something appealing to man, taking it farther and farther from the truth. This we must not allow. WE MUST STAND FAST!
Not only are we to stand, but wherever we see one of our enemies: the world, the flesh or the devil, we are to go on the offensive. We must not let them destroy our lives, families, churches, communities or the Bible. We are to do what we can to fight the enemy away. Our Captain, as well as other Christians are in the fight. We too must get prepared and get into it as well. David fought Goliath, Samson with the Philistines, Gideon with the Midianites, and Nehemiah with Sanballat and Tobiah. They didn’t just defend their ground, they took up the offensive against the enemy.
We must be on the watch constantly; watching and praying that we enter not into temptation (Matt. 26:41). Our nature is that we are very willing in mind to do something for the Lord, but our old flesh is not. Self agrees to allow the tongue to say, “I’ll do it” when the brain sends that thought on. But when it comes time, Self always betrays us, turning us into a hypocrite. Then we feel defeated and hesitate to “show our face” again. This is one tactic for getting us out of the battle. To deal with this we must ask the Lord to “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” We can ask Him to guide our steps to avoid the pitfalls of temptations that we would have come into contact with unless He does. And if we do not follow His guidance, and come in contact with a temptation anyway, we can ask Him to warn us and give wisdom so we can run from it as quick as we can (note: When you run from something, you are running to something as well–Run to the Bible).
Now there are special times when many Christians are destroyed by temptations because they let down their guard. Some of these times are: summer vacation, holidays, times of sickness and times of success. During these times Christians are most vulnerable to attack. When we are out of schedule or not feeling well, we tend to let our guard down. I have many times seen Christians in church and at the altar during times of trial or tribulation in their life. But, when the Lord allows them a successful outcome, they start to slip in attendance, tithing and involvement. They become prideful and comfortable and it seems like the don’t need God anymore because they can now handle things on their own. I often wonder if the Lord allows for trouble in our lives because He knows that is what we need to drive us to church to hear His word.
The Lord Jesus Christ was our example. His life was not a life of ease and comfort. He had spiritual battles, too. In fact, He was tempted in all points such as we are and even some that we are not. He was tempted by the Devil in ways that we will never be tempted. When He was on the cross, some of His own people tempted Him to come down and prove Himself, but He continued His fight to pay for the sin of the world. We too need to recognize there is a battle which rages around us and we must fight; defend our ground as well as attack where needed.
Spiritual warfare often surprises many Christians because they are not looking for it. Like the American fleet at Pearl Harbor that fateful day, they know they are in a war, but are relaxed because they don’t think the battle can come to them. We need to be armed, trained and ready for the imminent attack of the enemy. He is a hardened veteran with many years of battle experience. He never relaxes, never takes a day off, never regroups. He is deadly and dangerous to the life of a Christian. So, we must always be prepared to fight him on any ground. We must always be vigilant and the first step is to recognize there is a war, and that we are in it.
Some people try to equip themselves with “enlightenment,” or the “power of positive thinking” or “love.” Whether it is meditation, yoga, or even putting your head in the sand, none of these are God’s appointed formula for equipping yourself for the battle. There is no other armour sufficient to take the place of God’s armour. His armour provides the protection that is needed and we must use every piece of it. No part of our life can be exposed else the armour would not have its designed effect. We must put on the “whole armour of God.” If one part is missing, then we are exposed. If we use all of God’s armour, but decide to exchange one piece of it for something else, then we are exposed and the whole suit is useless. His armour is properly designed to work together as an entire suit for dealing with the battle the Christian is in.
This girdle or belt ties all the other armour together. It keeps the robe from tangling. The meaning of “truth” in this passage is sincerity, transparency, or realness. The Scripture mentions the “unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Realness, sincerity, or transparency sets us free from being a fake. It frees us from the “fear of man” or peer pressure. God hates hypocrisy. The word hypocrite means “actor” or “one who wears a mask.” The first piece of armour is sincerity, realness or transparency. Being real keeps us from many of the attacks of the enemy.
The root word of righteousness is “right,” as in being right with someone. The breastplate guards the most vital organ–the heart. Right living guards our heart from wrong emotions and temptations. The habit of right living is a defense against wrong. We are to be militant—“zealous of good works.” Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
A wise general looks after his soldiers’ shoes. If they wear out, the troops cannot travel. The roads are rough! Footprints of peace are to be left by Christian soldiers everywhere they go. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9). Romans 10:15, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” We are to leave peace wherever we go and bring peace between God and man as we witness. Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Prayer keeps our mind at peace. Prayer keeps our footing firm. God gave us feet so we could spread the gospel. Let’s use them for Him!
The Roman shield was about as big as a door. It protected the entire body. They could even be hooked to other shields to form a wall. Some even poured water on their shields to quench fiery darts. In the Old Testament, God told Abraham that He would be his shield and strength. Our shield of faith comes from Bible reading. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Faith makes us grow. Faith protects us from heresy. Faith entices us to claim God’s promises. Faith is believing God’s word to the point of putting it to the test.
The helmet is the most elaborately designed piece of armour, and it is beautiful. It is a picture of ASSURANCE OF SALVATION. A Christian who has doubts about whether he is saved or not will not win many battles for God. The helmet also guards the mind. We are to guard what thoughts we allow to enter our mind. Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
The word of God is the Holy Spirit weapon in our hand. It is the same weapon Jesus used against the devil in Matthew 4:1-8 where he constantly said, “It is written…” Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” The sword is for close confrontation after arrows had been shot and spears thrown. The sword was double edged. Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Carry it wherever you go! Don’t be caught without your weapon!
Just as a soldier dresses before battle, so should a Christian put on his armour each morning. As you put your belt on in the morning, ask God to make you sincere. Determine in your heart to be truthful with yourself and with others. As you put on your shirt or blouse for the day, determine to live right. Ask God to help you in areas of weakness. Guard your heart for the day. Watch your emotions. Love the Lord with all your heart. Tell Him so! As you put your shoes on, ask God to make you a peacemaker. Ask Him to give you power as you look for opportunities to witness for Christ. Put your Bible in your clothing or purse to have it with you all day. Find Scripture to meditate on all day! As you comb your hair, reminisce about the day you were saved. Praise God for it. Guard your thoughts. Begin your day with a song to keep depression away.
Before you leave the house for the day, remember you are a soldier. There is a warfare to face. Do not be surprised or discouraged over problems during the day! Put on the whole armour of God and be prepared.
(Men Are From Sears, Women Are From Nordstrom)
I believe that, in general, women are saner than men. For example, If you see people who have paid good money to stand in an outdoor stadium on a freezing December day wearing nothing on the upper halves of their bodies except paint, those people will be male.
Without males, there would be no such sport as professional lawn mower racing. Also, there would be a 100 decline in the annual number of deaths related to efforts to shoot beer cans off of heads. Also, if women were in charge of all the world’s nations, there would be, I sincerely believe this, virtually no military conflicts, and if there were a military conflict, everybody involved would feel just awful and there would soon be a high- level exchange of thoughtful notes written on greeting cards with flowers on the front, followed by a Peace Luncheon (which would be salads, with the dressing on the side).
So I sincerely believe that women are wiser than men, with the exception of one key area, and that area is: clothing sizes. In this particular area, women are insane.
When a man shops for clothes, his primary objective is to purchase clothes that fit on his particular body. A man will try on a pair of pants, and if those pants are too small, he’ll try on a larger pair, and when he finds a pair that fits, he buys them. Most men do not spend a lot of time fretting about the size of their pants. Many men wear jeans with the size printed right on the back label, so that if you’re standing behind a man in a supermarket line, you can read his waist and inseam size. A man could have, say, a 52-inch waist and a 30-inch inseam, and his label will proudly display this information, which is basically the same thing as having a sign that says: “Howdy! My butt is the size of a Federal Express truck!” The situation is very different with women.
When a woman shops for clothes, her primary objective is NOT to find clothes that fit her particular body. She would like for that to be the case, but her primary objective is to purchase clothes that are the size she wore when she was 19 years old. This will be some arbitrary number such as “5” or “7.” Don’t ask me “5” or “7” of what; that question has baffled scientists for centuries. All I know is that if a woman was a size 5 at age 19, she wants to be a size 5 now, and if a size 5 outfit does not fit her, she will not move on to a larger size: She can’t! Her size is 5! So she will keep trying on size 5 items, and unless they start fitting her, she will become extremely unhappy.
She may take this unhappiness out on her husband, who is waiting patiently in the mall, perhaps browsing in the Sharper Image store, trying to think of how he could justify purchasing a pair of night-vision binoculars. “Hi!” he’ll say, when his wife finds him. “You know how sometimes the electricity goes out at night and…” “Am I fat?” she’ll ask, cutting him off. This is a very bad situation for the man, because if he answers “yes,” she’ll be angry because he’s saying that she’s fat, and if he answers “no,” she’ll be angry because HE’S OBVIOUSLY LYING BECAUSE NONE OF THE SIZE 5’s FIT HER.
There is no escape for the husband. I think a lot of unexplained disappearances occur because guys in malls see their wives unsuccessfully trying on outfits, and they realize their lives will be easier if, before their wives come out and demand to know whether they’re fat, the guys just run off and join a UFO cult.
The other day my wife, Michelle, was in a terrific mood, and you know why? Because she had successfully put on a size 6 outfit. She said this made her feel wonderful. She said, and this is a direct quote: “I wouldn’t care if these pants were this big (here she held her arms far apart) as long as they have a ‘6’ on them.”
Here’s how you could get rich: Start a women’s clothing store called “SIZE 2,” in which all garments, including those that were originally intended to be restaurant awnings, had labels with the words “SIZE 2.” I bet you’d sell clothes like crazy. You’d probably get rich, and you could retire, maybe take up some philanthropic activity to benefit humanity. I’m thinking here of professional lawn mower racing.
Church Fellowship helps meet man’s need for companionship. God uses fellowship and the church to strengthen the Christian and to accomplish His work in the world. From the time of Adam’s creation, God saw, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen.2:18). God’s initial solution was to establish the institution of marriage. However, man’s need for fellowship goes beyond marriage. He needs others with whom to grow in Christ and to serve. Every Christian needs church and fellowship.
Our fellowship in the church is much more valuable than fellowship for other purposes because God’s presence makes it different. Christ established the principle that where two or three are gathered together in His name, there He would be in the midst of them. This makes our time with God’s people very special. Fellowshipping with the saints around the things of God is actually a way for us to fellowship with God Himself because He also meets with us when we come together.
When Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch to report all that God had done with them, the Bible says that they gathered the church together. This means that the church was not a building or an organization but the people themselves. The people are the church. God established the church so that we could meet together, worship Him together, grow together, fellowship together, work together and pray together. God could have just let us do these things on our own or in our separate families, but He didn’t. He knew that we would need the fellowship of other saints to live healthy spiritual lives.
There are things that are important to us in life, but nothing is more important than the soul of a person. The soul is the part of man that lives forever. It is the part of man that feels pain or joy; happiness or sorrow. It is the center of the man.
Proverbs 11:30 says, “He that winneth souls is wise.” It is a wise and profitable thing to be a soul winner because it pleases God. He has a high evaluation of the soul winner. It is one of the dearest things to the heart of God. Consequently, it pays enormous eternal dividends. A man who turns people to righteousness is wise because he is laying up treasure in heaven. Conversely, a Christian who is occupied with trivial matters of life is unwise. Majoring on minors is foolish. Therefore, not to win souls is to be guilty of the sin of folly.
If we are to be wise, we should actively be involved in soul winning of some kind. If we don’t know how to win a soul to the Lord, we should learn how to do so.
When is the last time you led someone to the Lord? Have you ever won someone to the Lord? There is no shortage of people that need to hear the gospel. They are wondering aimlessly through life, believing a lie that is leading them to hell.
There is however, a shortage of Christians who are willing to tell the lost about salvation. There should not be, but there is. We need to be not so. Mason County is in great need for the Lord Jesus Christ—and who will tell our neighbors? The Devil will have them hear all of his doctrine, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by every means possible. The Lord left the job of spreading the gospel up to us.
Spreading the gospel is not doing good deeds for others. It is not living a right life or even helping the poor. Spreading the gospel is to actively tell people how they can be saved; how they can know for sure they are going to heaven.
These are the last days that we are living in. We live in a unique time. No other people have had so much at stake as we have. We are like the anchor runner in the relay race of life. Lets not drop the baton. Lets not run out of steam on the last lap. Lets give it all we have Got. Souls lie in the balance.
Before Dee and I were married, we took her nephew to the drive in movie with us one night. Willie was quite the young boy. He liked everything that young boys like. I said I was going to go get some popcorn at the concession stand and Willie wanted to go with me. We got to the concession stand where he was eyeballing this very large Hershey’s chocolate bar. It was the kind that my dad would buy when I was a kid and it would last him for a month. Willie asked me if he could have one of those chocolate bars. I said that he could, but he would have to let his Aunt Dee portion it out to him. I thought it best for her to give it to him in pieces and regulate how much chocolate he would eat. I didn’t know that when we got back to the car, he showed her the chocolate bar and said, “Look what Ron got for me. Can I have it?” She looked at him and said, “Okay. I guess its okay.”
We continued to enjoy the movie. It wasn’t until about 15 minutes later when Willie was acting like a buzz saw. He was one big giant ball of energy. He was jittering and shaking and playing the air drums and talking a mile a minute. We looked at each other and wondered why is he acting this way. Then I asked her, “Did you give him that chocolate bar?” She said, “Well he told me that you said it was okay.” I told her I said it was okay if you gave him a piece of it. Willie had eaten a whole giant chocolate bar in about 10 minutes, and we were suffering the consequences. For the rest of the evening he was wild with energy.
Willie and played the technicality game. The technicality game is where you’re technically telling the truth but you say it in a misleading manner. Christians are the same way with God. They ask God to give them something when they know that He doesn’t want them to have it. They just play the technicality game to make Him think they are doing something good for Him.
Friends, God cannot be fooled. He knows what we think before we even think it. That is a thought that needs to be meditated upon. I’ll say it again, “God knows what we think even before we think it.” How do you deal with a God who knows what you think even before you think it? It’s no wonder that God tells us that we need to speak the truth. When Jesus speaks of himself saying that he is the way the truth and the life (John 14:6), He could in fact be giving us a warning; A warning that we should always tell the truth because God knows the truth even before we think it! He knows what we’re going to do even before we formulate the idea in our heads. So we better come clean!
There is no way you can deceive God. There is no way that you can play the technicality game with him. He knows exactly what you’re going to do even before you consider doing it. That is a sobering thought! We’re dealing with the God who knows us even better than we know ourselves. There’s no way to manipulate the truth or play the technicality game with God (Matt. 6:8). There’s nothing we can do to deceive or trick God.
We are such feeble creatures. We are so finite because we live within the constraints of time. We don’t know what the next minute will bring in our lives. But God knows. I don’t mean to say this as a consoling statement. I mean to say it as a warning. It is a statement that should make you think about always speaking truth with God. It’s a statement that should make you well aware that there’s someone who knows what you’re going to do in the next 5 minutes, and you can not deceive Him (Luke 12:27-31). You cannot play a technicality game with Him. You cannot manipulate events to make them work toward your favor. You cannot give an excuse for anything. God knows!
How is it that He knows everything about your life? He does because He is already there. God does not live within the constraints of time. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Rev 22:13). He lives outside the constraints of time. This is how He can live in our past and our future all at once. You and I however are linear creatures. We exist from second to second, minute to minute, hour to an hour.
Not only can this be a sobering thought, but it can be a comforting thought as well. Because God knows what we’re going to do 5 minutes from now, He can arrange events in our lives that will shield, protect, guide and love us. In this way he has the power to make things happen and give us His mercy, grace and goodness.
“(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” (2 Corinthians 10:4)
Someone said, “Christianity is all in your mind.” There is much truth in that statement. The mind is primarily responsible for growth in the Christian life. Let us notice what the Scriptures say about your mind:
GOD KNOWS ALL YOUR THOUGHTS
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.”
God is keenly interested not only in our actions but also in our thoughts. It is estimated that you have 10,000 thoughts a day. To God, your mind is a window without curtains.
YOUR CHRISTIAN BATTLEFIELD IS YOUR MIND
The world, the flesh and the devil fight for your mind.
- Romans 8:7, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
- Colossians 1:21, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled”
- Hebrews 12:3, “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”
Man is a very complex creation. Have you ever seen a suicidal puppy or a depressed canary? You say, “What makes thoughts so difficult to control?” Secrecy and the absence of restraint. A parent can control a child’s actions but not his thoughts. God is very interested in our thoughts because thoughts produce actions. God destroyed the world by flood because man had unrestrained thoughts.
Genesis 6:5, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
In Romans 1:28 God speaks of the reprobate (rejected) mind in the downward progression of a civilization.
In Romans 7:25 Paul says: “…with the mind I myself serve the law of God;…”
The mind is the control room or computer of the Christian life. The control room must be guarded. Lot never guarded his mind.
2 Peter 2:8, “(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)”
SEEING AND HEARING
When the mind is right, the actions are right. YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU THINK YOU ARE, BUT WHAT YOU THINK–YOU ARE! (Read that over until it sinks in.)
Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”
In order for a Christian to alter his behavior, the thinking must be changed! You must plan and guide what enters your mind. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. That is one of the things wrong with hypnosis, drugs, and liquor. They put the mind in neutral so the devil can jump into the driver’s seat. Keep a busy mind! Do you know one reason God destroyed Sodom?
Ezekiel 16:49, “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”
Idleness was a cause.
Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to say: “Behind every human tragedy there is a slow process of evil, wicked thinking.” No one ever falls into sin. They have been falling a long time. We only saw them when they landed. Sin began in their thoughts.
Sir Francis Bacon was asked what he thought the outlook was for the next generation. He declared, “Tell me what the young people are thinking and I’ll tell you.”
THOUGHTS produce ACTIONS
ACTIONS produce HABITS
HABITS produce LIFE-STYLES
What you put into the computer comes out. Put in 48 hours of television a week and you’ll have someone who acts, talks, and thinks like television personalities. Put in 30 hours of rebellious radio music per week and you’ll have someone who has philosophies and rebellion like the groups he hears. What have you been programming into your computer?
True, you can’t help but have some evil thoughts cross your mind from time to time, but do you entertain them? Someone said if you nurse sin on the knees of thought it will grow into a giant. You will never regulate your passions until you regulate your thought life.
TRANSFORMING YOUR THOUGHTS
Romans 12:1-2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
A transformation is an inward change that produces an outward change. A biologist cannot change a caterpillar into a butterfly-it has to come from the inside. So it is in the Christian life. Worry and depression are not solved by psychiatrists, but by thinking what God wants us to.
Isaiah 26:3, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”
In Philippians 4:8, God gives us a list of things to occupy our thoughts: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Sad to say, the average mind is like a toilet. To keep it clean, it needs constant flushing with godly thoughts, much prayer, much Scripture, and much grace.
THE THREE MINDS
There are three types of minds mentioned in Scripture. You have one of them. There is the natural mind, the carnal mind, and the spiritual mind.
NATURAL MIND — UNSAVED
1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
This is a non-Christian. He has no spiritual appetite for the things of God. He cannot comprehend spiritual truth. He is dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1). He may be outwardly religious and morally clean but cannot comprehend the Christian life. His thoughts will be what is right in his own eyes, situation ethics, humanism. The natural mind thinks whatever comes natural to a lost person.
CARNAL MIND — WORLDLY CHRISTIAN
Romans 8:7, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
Carnal means “of the flesh.” The carnal mind is a saved person who lives for the flesh. The church at Corinth was full of carnal Christians. Paul called them babies. He said they could only swallow the milk of the Word. They had to be taught when they should have been teaching. They were cliquish, immature, divisive, and easily offended.
The Christian with a carnal mind is not satisfied in Christ alone. He chases after things, amusements, and delights rather than in the things of God. He is quarrelsome, touchy, and often is the source of chruch problems. He has feeble digestion and cannot get his own food spiritually. Deep Scriptures do not interest him. There is very little difference, if any, between the natural man and the carnal minded man.
The lost see no difference and have no conviction when around a carnally minded Christian. The carnal mind needs to get right with God, be serious, and fill itself with scriptures! (See also 1 Corinthians 3:1-4; Romans 7:14-15; James 4:4.)
SPIRITUAL MIND-SPIRITUAL CHRISTIAN
1 Corinthians 2:15, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.”
This is the Christian who is filled with the Holy Spirit and has a mind full of Scriptures. He is mature, has understanding of spiritual things, has the ability to teach other Bible truths, and is fruitful. He has the mind of Christ.
Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:”
If you think the thoughts Jesus did, you will live the way Jesus did. To do that we must think Scriptures—meditate upon them. Because of that, our minds will be going forward, will not be in neutral and will not have a chance to go backward (backslide). The spiritual minded man needs to make sure he does not get satisfied. (See also Hebrews 5:12, 14; 1 Corinthians 3:3; Galatians 5:22-23.)
LET US NOT BECOME SATISFIED!
SOURCES: Things I’ve Learned by Bob Jones, Sr.; The Battle for the Mind, Catlay
In today’s world, when a person turns to God’s word, it is important that they find it. The Devil is a master deceiver. He can make you feel as though you are absolutely at peace being wrong. He can’t change dirt into ice cream, but he can make you think you are eating the most delicious ice cream when all the time you are eating dirt. Likewise, he can do the same with the Bible. He can make you think, beyond a shadow of doubt, that you have the right words of God when all the time you have a counterfeit. Martin Luther discovered this a long time ago and he was eventually killed for speaking out about it.
Psalm 12:6-7 says, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”
I trust as you look on the Bible Comparison charts included, that you will get some semblance of the deception that Satan has put in place as a policy to cause God’s people to become weak and anemic. I hope these will open your eyes.
The Purpose of the church-EXAMINED.
The purpose of the church is multi-faceted, but it revolves around one—only one—activity. That activity is the winning of souls. In short, it is telling others how to be saved, encouraging them to get saved, and leading them in the process of being saved. We are very plainly told in the Bible that, “…he that winneth souls is wise.” (Pro. 11:30). The activity of winning souls stands over every endeavor a Bible believing church is involved in. It is paramount, un-negotiable and vital. If you do not think so, then you are sadly mistaken.
Today, the church has evolved into some kind of conglomerate, some kind of multi-functional business venture (emphasis on “business venture). Like some Good Samaritan club, people come together to escape the harsh attacks of evil that they withstand throughout their week. It takes the place of some good, wholesome fun that can be found no place else in the world. And, it becomes an educational source where people can go and have their morals sharpened by the word of God. Of course, all of these are not wrong, but they have somehow upset the cart; the scales have become out of balance. Where at one time soul winning was the most important thing, now it has been replaced by all of the rest. Instead of being slightly off, the church has now become grossly out of balance in the area of winning souls.
In what areas do many churches weigh heaviest? In what areas do they invest the bulk of their resources? They are vast and range from small group encouragement sessions to being the vassals of the distributors of Christian books and programs. I have been to churches where they canceled meetings so they could show the super bowl. I have preached in churches that were divided right down the middle. On each side of the aisle sat the two prominent families of the church along with their supporting families. The poor pastor was stuck right in the middle of the feud. I preached at one church where I actually did no preaching at all. The auditorium was exactly like a movie theater auditorium and the “stage” was full of rock band equipment. All they did was play Christian rock music and there was no mention of Jesus, salvation or the Bible anywhere. My preaching was the privileged task of being the guest of honor in the very front row center. This is only a small sample of what some churches now call “preaching the gospel.” It is what they have replaced for winning souls. No one in any of those churches even thinks of winning someone to Christ, let alone actually trying to do it. Yet they are all “busy about the Lord’s work.” In fact, there have been some people who have left churches where I pastored who said, “I can’t grow. In everything you say, you always say something about winning souls. Could you please stop telling me that?”
Now, to have support groups, encouragement and structure for Christian growth is truly important. It is good to have classes to teach how to rear children the Biblical way. Classes of marriage and handling of finances are necessary and the Bible speaks of these subjects and many more like them. It is necessary for Christians to, “Bear one another’s burdens…” (Gal. 6:2). It is good to be glad in the house of the Lord (Acts 2:46) and to be encouraged by the singing and worship (Col. 3:16). Not every moment of the Christians life must be winning a soul. Every soldier needs time to regroup and rearm. He even needs time away from the battle to resort. The problem is, that most churches have remained stuck in the regroup, rearm and resort area and no one is actually in the battle. They have forgotten that you cannot win a war with only the rear echelon. You must have the fighters. And, in the army, every soldier is a soldier first and foremost.
One day Jesus approached Peter and Andrew while they were fishing, He did not ask them to join a fellowship. He did not offer to them a support group. He didn’t even offer them an answer to their personal problems. What He told them was, “…Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19). He wanted to make them into soul winners. He intended to teach them how to tell others about the gospel (good news) of salvation. He wanted them to be equipped to carry that gospel to others throughout their entire life. And, that is exactly what they did, and they did it at the hazard of their own lives. They never lost sight of the main goal. They never got their number one main order out of sight. They always had their “prime directive” before them. The Jews of old would carry God’s word in little boxes strapped to their foreheads called–frontlets (Deu. 11:18). This was in command to God’s directive to have no other Gods but Him (Exo. 20:3). It was their main mission to teach this to their children and this is how they would remember. Too bad the churches of today do not have spiritual “frontlets”. Too bad they keep forgetting their number one mission.
The apostle Paul said, “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22). Though he taught many of God’s principles of help to the church, he still never lost sight of this first command given by Jesus (Acts 1:8). He was committed to even going to the uttermost parts of the earth, and he was pretty successful about it. Even though he had all the cares and concerns of helping the different churches, making a living and dealing with the little concerns of life, he still found time to win souls.
We all know the gravity of the situation; the importance in winning a soul (James 5:20). It is a life and death matter for the one who is won. But in a certain sense, it too is a life and death matter for a church. Where the members of a church are not actively trying to win souls, the church, like a dried up piece of fruit, will die on the vine. It does so because the Christians within dry up and die on the vine. You can always tell those who are drying up because they present reasons why they cannot do it. Listen! People can do anything they want to do if they want to do it bad enough. Churches (dead churches) are filled with people who side-step the command to win souls by replacing it with a little program and then soothe their guilty souls by convincing themselves that they are really serving the Lord. It is really amazing how many churches spend more energy and resources in humanitarian aide rather than Godly aide.
So, let us end on a good note. Let us end on the assumption that you have determined you are going to do something about pleasing God in this area of winning souls. John 4:36 says, “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.” I hope that you will receive wages abundantly for your eternal work. I pray that you both reap and sow. I look forward to that for you personally and for the church as well. It would be fantastic to have a church full of those who can rejoice together—rejoicing that can only come from laboring in the field. The church does not ever need to be a dry, dead place. The only way to keep it alive and vibrant is to win souls. This is our purpose—to win souls. There is no other way around it. Nothing can replace this God given formula for joy.
2 Peter 3:16 “…as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
With the attack of the world (fueled by inspiration of the Devil) upon the church, Christians are showing wobbly backbone when the battle gets rough. With just a little goading by the devil, the yellow streak shows clear and bright. How can those who were once “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10) so easily lose their “steadfastness”? How can they change so suddenly?
In fact, the change in them (and perhaps in YOU) is not a sudden one at all. It has been happening over a long period of time. Instead of growing in GRACE, they wrest with the Scriptures and are led away by those who are unstable and unlearned in the ways of truth. Over time, they join the ranks of those who are of another Christ (1 John 2:18, 22; 2 Thess. 2:7-8; 2 John 1:7) because they were introduced to them by one of the “…many false prophets… gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Instead of growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, they grew in knowledge of the world and self. Then one day–“snap!” They were gone.
When you belong to one fellowship or church, it is either because the Lord put you there or you put yourself there. If you are following the Lord and are true servant of the Lord, no matter what, you will obey the Lord’s decision for the rest of your life. If you are listening to self, or are lusting after the worlds temporary enlightenment, then you will bounce around from place to place looking for fulfillment of self.
In the Lord, there is no variableness (James 1:13). In fact there is not even a shadow of changing in Him; He does not change His mind. Any change of mind indicates that He was wrong and is now changing to be right, or He was right and is now changing to be wrong; or He is wrong and is now changing to another wrong. But you can never be right and change to be right. Right is right. Since God never makes any mistakes, everything He calls for is right. The problem is when people attempt to interpret God’s calling for their life and bring with the interpretation their selfish desires and nuances. When they do, they try to work it out that God’s calling for their life lines up with what THEY WANT instead of accepting what they know GOD WANTS for them. This way, self can get what it wants and justify it because they reason (and claim) that God is calling them this way. They join the ranks of the many “anti-Christ’s” on the scene today. “Preacher! Isn’t calling them anti-Christ’s a little harsh?” Well, when we go against God’s will for our life, we are “anti” to His plan. Since His plan is Christ: To love Him and obey Him; then to listen to self is to be against Him.
Since God put you in a fellowship of believers, it is not up to you to “feel” like you are a “hand” when everyone else in the fellowship is a “foot.” This is reasoning your selfish desire to gain acceptance with God and it will not work. You may rejoice initially, but that is just self being happy that you are listening to and feeding it. It won’t take long for the Holy Spirit of God to begin working on you or those around you; doing whatever it takes to get your attention so He can, “Reason together” (Isa. 1:8) with you. God is not unreasonable. He doesn’t satisfy self–He reasons with truth.
“But this doesn’t adequately explain the sudden change in a person. I know you said it happens slowly, but how?”
When you are a member of one church, but go outside of your church to other churches or para-churches for fulfillment in so-called “Christian activities” of interest, you are opening yourself up to follow self instead of obey God. This is a difficult thing for people to do: OBEY! Especially for the generation of young Christians today; they don’t like being told to obey. The world has successfully indoctrinated them with the “free willed philosophy” of self.
Little by little, as they learn a little about this church here; a little there; a jot here; a tittle there; the doctrine from the church which God placed them becomes diluted until it becomes totally unimportant. Oh, they say it is important, but the fact that they leave because they “FEEL” that GOD is moving them, betrays this line of thinking. Leaving, especially by clandestine means, speaks loudly against supporting what they say God is doing in them, because even the smallest babe in Christ knows God would not do something so foolish. They are led away with the error of the wicked until they fall from their own steadfastness. They are not steady nor are they fastened. They become shaky and loose; so much so that they one day are gone.
“How do I keep this from happening to me?”
First, you don’t get involved in activities from other churches or the world. If your church does not have an activity that you are interested in, then start one. If you cannot get enough people involved to successfully start one, then perhaps God is saying I have something else for you to do right now; something else that I wish to teach you; something else I want to develop in you at this moment. In other words, accept what God has for you and pray and ask Him for the other.
Second, Find comfort in growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord (vs. 18). In everything, God wants you to grow in two things: grace and knowledge. If these two things don’t “turn you on” then perhaps you don’t understand what they are. If grace and knowledge sound boring to you, then perhaps you have never delved into the wonderful overwhelming power that is contained in them. If you try, but get nothing out of it, then perhaps you are not patient enough to let God work on you in His own time, perhaps you are neglecting Christ and growing in self instead.
Third, Start thinking right. Are you one of those people who live by the saying: “live life to it’s fullest?” Or do you misunderstand when someone says, “you only have one life to live” or “That’s the life” or “You only go around once in life.” For the Christian it is true that you only have one life to live, but what we go through on this earth is so miniscule that God is going to burn the whole thing up after He takes us off of it. You can NEVER, NEVER “live life to its fullest” on this earth. It is a lie from the Devil to get you to focus on self instead of God.
Finally my friends, I leave you with this thought. If God has put you someplace, He has done it for a reason. If you are unhappy there, it is not because God is not working on you. It is not because the people have changed. Its because YOU MADE A DECISION FOR YOURSELF INSTEAD OF WAITING ON GOD. ONLY YOU CAN FALL FROM YOUR OWN STEADFASTNESS!
I was once a slave.
I was once a slave. Not in the sense that I was owned by any human master, but in the sense that I was a slave to vices that submitted to. The common masters of the human soul today are sex, drugs and booze. These things all draw you back to them. When we cling to them, they gain control bit by bit. Little by little they own us until we are completely taken in by their powerful draw. Then, the chains of addiction bind us until we cease to have any choice in how we live. We are hooked. We are owned.
In the USA where slavery was once an issue that divided the nation, it is no wonder we are sensitive to the word. Yet, we do not think it slavery to be enslaved by terrible, and deceitful vices? People have sold themselves into bondage for a little good feeling today. In doing so, they disregard any thoughts for the future. They would rather feel good for the moment at the expense of others future. Listen to the story of the present day slave and his liberation…
When I was on the auction block, naked and in chains, my thoughts ran wildly from anger to fear to humility and back again. Angered because selling one human being to another was wrong. But it was really no different than selling myself to a life enslaved to wicked vices. Fear because I was totally exposed to everyone. Being naked, there was nothing to hide behind. Humbled because there was nothing I could do to change anything. I was the lowest of all human beings; being bid on by the various slave owners looking for “new stock” to work their fields and breed their females.
I was poked, prodded and examined. Fingers picked through my hair and my mouth was pried open to expose my teeth for inspection. Finally it came time for the bidding to begin. I dreaded this, but my fears soared when no one bid on me. The auctioneer kept trying to persuade people to bid on me, but no one did. Amidst all of my shame, the worst, and most humiliating thing I had ever experienced was when I came to realize that I was unwanted by anyone. Didn’t I have any worth to anyone? Surely I was valuable for something. If no one bought me, what would be my end? Would I be put out to pasture?
The thoughts were interrupted when, when to the surprise of all present, I heard a voice say, “I’ll take him.” It was crowded, but when I looked in the direction of the sound of the voice, I saw a common man making the only bid for me. Encouraged by the bid for me, the auctioneer was renewed with enthusiasm to increase the bid and get more people involved. It was to no avail. No one else wanted me. The auctioneer had worked himself up into a sweat, but no one would make a bid for me.
“He’s yours,” the auctioneer told the man.
“Take off his chains. You can have them. I won’t need them.”
“He might be wild and attack you. You never can tell with these kind of people.”
I had never remembered a time in my life when I didn’t wear chains. It was strange and liberating. The weight of the chains literally lifted from me. I wondered why I had been treated this way. What was the catch? Surely nothing good was going to come from this. “Come with me,” my new master told me. I got down off the block and followed the customary 3 steps behind him. I didn’t mind being totally naked because it meant the chains I wore all of my life were gratefully gone.
We arrived at the bath house where my master told them he wanted me cleaned proper. That meant he wanted my beard trimmed, hair cut, nails and feet cleaned and scrubbed. I had never been cleaned this way before. As I wondered at the four people working on me, I realized that, in fact, I had never even been clean before. It was fresh and new. I knew then that I wanted to stay clean forever. “Please follow me,” my master asked more than demanded.
Out into the street once again this time brought a tingling of envy on my part. I knew I was naked, but I was clean. The chains were gone and I was clean. Into the clothing store he led me where he told the clerk, “Put on him the best suit of clothes you have in the house. Money is no object. I want him to have the best.”
I was being measured and prodded. Pins and needles and markers were all about me. Finally they brought out the clothes they had made for me. I had never had clothes like this before. The silk ran softly across my clean cool skin. There were no restrictions in movement anywhere. The best thing was—the color was blue.
I appreciated the coincidence of making my first new suit of clothing out of my favorite color–blue. This very thought was overwhelming as I had began the day as a slave, the lowest of low, being sold on an auction block where, nobody wanted me. I was totally worthless. Now I was standing on the street, unshackled, clean with a new suit of clothes made in my very favorite color.
All of this was new to me. I still could not comprehend it. There was a tint of joy mixed with cautious apprehension as my appreciation for my owner grew.
“Have you eaten today?” he asked. I had not, but I hesitated to tell him so. He had already done so much for me and I didn’t deserve any of it. How could I take him for granted? “Come on, you can tell me if you’ve eaten or not.” he coaxed.
As was the custom of slaves, I dare not look him in the eyes. I safely stared at the ground when he addressed me. I stammered, not knowing how to answer him. His rugged hands touched me under the chin and raised my head up. “You can look me in the eyes.”
Looking in his eyes, I could see something that I had not seen since I was a child. I first saw it from my mother. It was the look of deep compassion coupled with sincere concern. It was the look of someone who cared about me as a person and not an object. It enveloped a kind of friendship, but I could not accept that my master could ever be my friend. Those eyes looked deep into my soul in such a way that I knew everything about me was revealed. It was as if my whole life was laid out before Him there on that street.
My life did not have much true joy in it. It was filled with pain and suffering; things that I did not want to share with anyone because I did not want to confront them again. There were things that I put in a hidden compartment of my mind because the only thing I could do to overcome them was to bury them deep into the compartment of distant memory. His gaze seemed to open up all of those hidden compartments of my life and not only see the pain, but experience it himself. I was not really sure, but I think I saw a tear well up in the corners of his eyes as he said, “come on, lets get you a meal.”
Off we went down the street. Because he wanted to walk with me, it was impossible to walk three steps behind him. The slower he went, the slower I went until he beckoned me to walk with him. I was very uncomfortable with this because I knew people were looking at Him with disgust because of the way he treated me. their comments were not nice. They threw at him words that contained a terrible, hateful message. These were the kind of words I was accustomed to hearing, but he did not deserve anything like this. He was being punished for compassion and it made me feel defensive of him. I did not know this new master very well, but at least I knew I was His, and I didn’t like what they were doing to him.
We arrived at the boarding house with a following. The owners were not going to let me eat in the main dining hall because I was a slave. After some deliberation, we went into the back room where slaves could eat. He beckoned me to sit down, which I did. Then the biggest surprise of all was that he sat down at the table with me. The owners were trying to get him to go out into the main dining hall, but he would have none of it. “I eat with my friend”, he said with a tone of finality. “Master, you don’t have to do this,” I said. “You’ve already done too much. There is no need to embarrass yourself so.”
“It’s okay. I want to be here with you.”
“Master, I promise I will wait for you. I won’t run off.”
“I know you won’t. But I want to eat with you. I want to know you better. What’ll you have?”
“Whatever you want for me to eat Master. It’s not proper for me to choose for myself.”
“Waiter! We’ll take two of the finest steaks you have.”
When the steaks came, I looked at it without knowing what to do. He showed me how to use the knife and fork and cut it. I had never been allowed to hold a knife before. It was the first time I had ever held the cool steel in my hand. No one had ever trusted me with a knife, especially one sharp enough to cut a steak. With a little difficulty I cut the meat and put it in my mouth. The sensations were so active I could only think they were going to collapse in a type of fatigue.
Today was a day of firsts. I had never tasted meat like this before. It was the best meal I had ever had. I enjoyed it so much that I almost forgot who I was. When it was time to leave, I quickly remembered my place. As we went outside in the streets, there were people waiting to persecute my master. They didn’t like it that he ate with the slaves. They thought it showed a wrong message. They didn’t want to be held to His standards. They wanted him to digress to their standards, but my master was courageous. He stood up to them all and did the right thing.
Following him to the end of the street, the crowd thinned. this is where it happened. At the end of the street, he turned to me and told me something I will never forget. He said, “I bought you so you will never have to be in bondage again. You are free to do as you please. Here are your papers. I love you and I am sorry that you ever had to be in bondage in the first place.” I was stunned. Was I hearing correctly? Was I being set free? Did he really buy me, clean me, clothe me and feed me to set me free? I had long since lost hope of ever being free. It was so far out of reach that I had even refused to think about it. Now I was being set free by a master who loved me. I didn’t really know him, and now he was setting me free.
I hardly realized he was shaking my hand in a gesture of departure. I was trying to come to grips with my thoughts. By the time I came to myself, he had already turned and was walking away. Again I didn’t know what to do. I had no where to go. If I went back to the world, I would certainly be put in bondage again. I knew I didn’t want that, but what could I do? I had never been faced with making so many choices. I knew I couldn’t stand there forever. “Whatcha gonna do boy?”, a burly man watching with amusement asked. I was being pushed. People were beginning to surround me. It didn’t take long for the world to catch up to me and press in. They were mocking, pushing and demeaning. There was nothing I could do about it. Hands were tearing at my new set of clothing. They wanted it for themselves. They wanted me to return to my hopeless, naked, enslaved position.
It came to mind suddenly. When I had no thought of what to do, I wanted to cry out for my master, but he had gone on. If I really wanted him to be my master, why had I not followed him? I was so infatuated with my freedom, that I forgot Him. Pushing through the crowd, I went after Him. After a short time, I caught up with him. I had never wanted someone to be my master before. I had always despised those who were proud of the title. But this time was different. I knew I wanted him to be my master. “Master,” I cried. He turned to wait for me. “Can I come with you?”, I asked.
“You don’t need to. You’re free now.”
“I know. You gave me my papers.”
“You can go anywhere you want to go.”
“I know, but can I follow you? If it’s okay with you, can I be your slave?”
“I didn’t buy you because I wanted a slave. I bought you because I care.”
“I know that now. But I want to be your slave. I want to follow you. I want you to be my master.”
This is the attitude that a sinner who has been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ should have. There should be a deep desire for devotion to their master. Under grace, He has put no requirements on the sinner. The Lord bought us, cleaned us, fed us and clothed us; then He set us free. We are free to do as we wish. We can run off back to the world; we can follow selfish ambitions; or we can follow the master, not because He demands us to do so, but because we appreciate what He did for us.
Many Christians today have it all wrong. They approach a relationship with Jesus because they are looking for what He can do for them. Like those who demanded food from Jesus were disappointed when He would not give it to them (John 6:34-66), Christians today fall away when God doesn’t do exactly what they want. They are the master of the relationship instead of allowing Jesus to be the master. Yes, they may speak like He is the master, but their actions show a much different thing. They go to certain churches because they are looking for a certain: children’s program, support group, bible study, activities for the family, marriage counseling, etc. They are what is commonly know as “church shoppers.” They are looking for the perfect place where God can give them what they demand of Him. God may not ever give them what they want because it goes contrary to what He wants. He wants them to freely follow HIM!
Confused Christians have their masters. If they are not the vices of the day, they are the programs a church can offer. It is not the Creator. If He was their master, they would be willing to forego the programs and sit under good Godly preaching that would help them. Preaching that would show them where they are right as well as show them where they are wrong. They would not let personalities in the church dictate their attendance. They would not care if someone said something bad about them or not. They would only care about following the Saviour who rightfully bought them, cleaned them up, clothed them, fed them and set them free. They would give up their freedom for a devoted life of following Him no matter how difficult it would be.
I would that every Christian reading this article would be able to say, “I am glad to be His happy slave.” Why? Because He doesn’t demand it.~
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!
- Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
- Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
- Galatians 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
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:
- The Ten Commandments. After all, it was his finger that wrote them the first time!
- Perhaps He wrote their names in fulfillment of Jeremiah 17:13.
- Maybe He wrote out Lev. 20:10 and Deut. 22:22.
- Maybe He simply wrote their girlfriends names in the sand.
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?
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.
God’s Word is exalted
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”—2 Tim. 3:16-17
A healthy church is one that has at its very center: the Word of God. There is no other substitute. The statute of the church is the exaltation of God’s Word, and nothing else. There is no “program” or “social function” that is to eclipse this all important decree. The Bible is the only thing that is “profitable” for the church. Everything else is secondary. A Church that does not “major” on the Bible is one that “minors” on God. Yon cannot have God without His Word, and you cannot have His Word without having God as well—the two are synonyms.
“…Be filled with the Spirit;” —Eph. 5:18-21
“Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.” —Eph. 6:10
Experiencing God and following Him are indications of the health of the ministry. Being “Spiritually minded” will transform you into seeing things God’s way, and this is the goal. The power and closeness of the Holy Spirit allows us to live genuine Christian lives because the Spirit always teaches us to depend on God and not self. The more we yield to the Spirit the less we yield to self. This can be measured in the prayer life of the church as well as the members. Prayer is a reflection of a deep dependence upon God. Any church that has a weak prayer life is not healthy because they are not spiritually passionate.
Envelopment in Evangelism
“The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” —Luke 19:10
The church that is healthy is driven to reach it’s community, nation, and the entire world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The budget of such a church would most likely reflect a high commitment to outreach, both locally and worldwide. Winning souls for Christ produces committed disciples of the Lord. A church waning in it’s evangelism program becomes stagnant and self-centered. True! Not everybody can go out to win souls, but each saint “rubs elbows” with someone. Everybody can give a tract with a stranger or leave it at a strategic place in the community. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Someone told each of us about Christ. We are indebted to them and out debt can be repaid by telling others about Jesus. Not only that, A church that seeks to win souls for Christ is a church that is obedient to the Lord’s command to go into all the world to preach the gospel. Evangelism is essential for the health of a Christian and this is true for the church as well. Nothing sparks revival in the church more than people getting saved.
“Make a joyful noise…come before his presence with singing…Enter into his gates with thanksgiving…” —Psalm 100
Inspiring worship that glorifies God and connects the hearts, minds, and emotions of people with God must be a trait of our group worship. Healthy churches are characterized by a spirit of joy expressed in worship. The downhearted are picked up, the weary are revived, the discouraged are encouraged, the batteries are charged. There is something that happens during a healthy, “Spirit-filled” worship service. It is easy to identify an unhealthy trait of the church when the worship service is not a “worship” service at all, but a laborious endurance of time. Heaven is not filled with the “stuffed” shirt, lemon faced Christian, nor should the church be.
Great Commission Emphasized
“Go ye Therefore…” —Matt. 28:19-20
Our churches must have a clear sense of God’s mission and a compelling vision for the future clearly communicated. It should be with such clarity that it becomes “owned” by the members who should eventually display a commitment to it. It should be so emphasized as to guide all the ministries and decisions of the church. It should be embedded in the church structure and purpose.
“…commit thou to faithful men…” —2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; 1 Pet. 5:1-11; Eph. 4:11-16
Healthy churches should be committed to leadership development of not only women, but most importantly—men. The desire should be to train, godly men who are spiritually mature to lead our congregations. A healthy church desires to see mature leaders positioned in ministry as workers for the harvest. Healthy leaders not only promote the spiritual growth of the members, but also develop others in ministry and in the family unit. Too many men are sitting at home letting their wives do all of the spiritual leading of their family. Men need to take the leadership responsibility for the spiritual development of their family as well as the church.
“…in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost partof the earth” —Acts 1:8
Healthy churches are committed to, and involved in, reproducing themselves. They have a vision for planting or facilitating the planting of churches in nearby communities, as well as the world. There would be no church if some other church was not given to this task because churches are only produced by churches. The cry that churches are slowly dwindling in number is a conviction that churches are not doing what they should be doing—planting other churches.
Rich in Good Works
“Nor trust in undertain riches…do good, that they be rich in good works…Laying up…a good foundation…” —1 Tim. 6:17-19
Healthy churches demonstrate faithful stewardship and investment of all the resources God has entrusted to them. This begins by a church meeting its own needs and overflows to advance God’s work and meet the needs of others. Education of Stewardship is emphasized, and pastors must address the issue of time, money, skills, and possessions in a biblical, relevant, and practical way. There should be no “empire building” for the church. Resources should be “first class” but used in the proper manner for the calling that God places on the church. Involvement in caring for those who are hungry, hopeless, and hurting instills a vivrant aire about the church because it is more blessed to give than to receive, but this ministry should never exceed that of the primary mission of the church: Worship God, win souls to Christ, Disciple saints.
Intentional Disciple making
“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” —Matt. 28:19-20
Disciple making builds mature Christians who can promote spiritual growth of all members. Such disciple making ministries help believers move from a new life in Christ to an alignment of all personal priorities with the Lordship of Christ, whatever the cost. In short, it moves the Saints from being raw Christian recruits to Christian veterans. A healthy church is committed to disciplining the Saints to Spiritual maturity.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one another.” —John 13:35
Recognizing that all people are made in God’s image and are loved by Him, the church must reach across cultural, social, economic, and racial lines with practical acts of love within the church and the community. Ministries should always address people’s spiritual needs. When churches are characterized by believers who are committed to the reconciliation of relationships among people, it is a sign of good health. Within the local church, loving relationships produce unity, accountability, including loving discipline, and a powerful demonstration of God’s presence within our communities. Beyond the local church, they are manifested in cooperation and interdependent relationships with other Christians locally, nationally, and internationally.
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
There are several things that it takes to make a church, but they can be divided into three basic things:
- People who want to form a church.
- A pastor who will lead the church.
- A place to meet.
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.
Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
The Lord Jesus clearly warns that doing good works is not enough to allow a person to go to heaven. Yes they are good things to do, but they will not “earn” passage through heaven’s gates. The first and utmost requirement is to do the will of the Father which is in heaven. If that is not accomplished, everything else has no meaning at all.
What is the will of the Father? It is that we come to him based on the merit of Jesus Christ. That means to understand we are sinners who cannot pay for our sin; to understand that the Father accepted the Lord Jesus Christ’s payment for our sin; and that if we accept that payment for us, then based on Jesus’ faith, God will forgive us and allow us in.
Too many people put emphasis on doing good works to go to heaven. They like to keep control of their destiny. But, my friend, you must put your destiny into the hands of Jesus Christ. He is the Saviour.