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
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One thing which is true of all followers of Christ, eventually you will have your time on the spiritual battlefield. 2 Chronicles 32 covers the actions that King Hezekiah took in order to defend Jerusalem from the Assyrian army, and gives great examples of what we should do in order to win our own spiritual battles:
- Secure Godly support. In verse 3, Hezekiah first consulted with those he trusted. If you don’t have Christian friends who are growing, advancing and deepening their walk with Christ, PRAY for some. Proverbs 15:22 tells us, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”
- Stop the flow of sin. Then, in verse 4, Hezekiah stopped the flow of water which would have given strength to the enemy. There are things which we sometimes allow into our lives which give strength to OUR enemy, the devil. One of the most important strategic moves in spiritual battle is to make sure that the flow of un-Godly, unrighteous, sinful “stuff” in our lives is stopped. It can come in many different forms, including television shows, movies, music, books or websites which contain material which is counter to what God’s word would have us consume.
- Repair, Restore and fortify. In verse 5, Hezekiah began making repairs to the wall around the city. The very nature of this undertaking required first examining the entire lower wall, to find the problem areas. Similarly, it is necessary that Christians examine their own lives often, to make sure there are no areas which make us easy prey for the enemy. Galatians 6:4-5 tells us, each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.
- Weapons for battle. Verse 5 also mentions the weapons King Hezekiah made for his people. You and I are blessed to possess our own “armory”, prepared for us by our King. Read and study Ephesians 6:10-18 to learn more about the spiritual armor. If God’s people go into battle without these resources, we are defeated before we even begin.
The battle belongs to the Lord! Finally, verses 6 through 8 recount Hezekiah’s encouragement of the people for battle, as he reminded them that their enemies were simply fighting in the flesh, but the Israelites had the full power of God with them. He did not simply issue orders and edicts, and tell the people “We’re going to war! Get to your stations!” This king actually took the opportunity in what was a very tense time, to encourage the people, reminding them not of who THEY were, but of who their GOD was.
There are many different verses of encouragement in God’s word which remind us that God doesn’t just go into battle with us, but before us, preparing the way for victory. My wife recently reminded me of one, when she returned from a ministers’ wives retreat months ago. It was part of the short speech David gave to Goliath before he killed him in 1 Samuel 17. He said in verse 47, “the battle belongs to the LORD.”
God’s people will certainly find themselves involved in spiritual battles throughout their lives. However, as the people of God, not only do we need not fear defeat, but we can be assured of victory when we honor our Lord, and use the resources He has given us.
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.
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 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.
Driving along the country road on the way home from work, a man spotted a most unusual sight. He had never seen it before, even though he had traveled the same road many times. On the side of Jim’s barn, there were ten freshly painted targets. It was obvious that someone had been trying to hit the “broadside of the barn” for target practice. But this was not the puzzling thing. What was odd was that all of the targets seemed to be randomly painted all over the side of the barn. Curious about the sight he just saw, he turned around and drove back, this time stopping on the side of the road next to the barn. On closer inspection, he saw that in the center of each target’s “bull’s-eye” someone had shot a hole. Someone had put a round through each target “dead center.” “Wow,” he thought to himself, “that’s pretty good shooting.” Not being able to satisfy his curiousity, he drove up to Jim’s house. “Hi Jim, I noticed your barn back there.”
“Yeah, I’ve been doing some shooting.”
“You did that shooting?”
“Yeah, it’s something isn’t it.” Jim shuffled back and forth nervously.
“Well, that’s pretty good marksmanship. I didn’t know you could shoot so well. How’d you do it?”
“Well, I just got tired of that old barn and started to shootin, and then I got embarrassed when I saw I could barely hit the broad side and stuff. So I took some paint and painted targets around each hole so it would look like I knew what I was a doin.”
This happens all the time to people in life. Oh, it isn’t taking out our gun and trying to hit the broad side of the barn. It is with other things, and just like Jim, we get too embarrassed to live up to our situations. One area of our life that this happens regularly is in the area of: adversity. When we come under adversity, we try to hide it because we get embarrassed for others to see how we reacted to it. We mask it with pride so others won’t see we did some dumb things that we are ashamed of. This usually comes prevalent when we begin to think, “You know, I wish I hadn’t done that.”
I knew a man who thought he was a “big, bad” lumberjack. Unfortunately for him, this image only resided in his own mind. One day he went out to his property to cut down some trees. Other (experienced) men went with him to help. He wouldn’t listen to their advice and proudly went up to the tree and cut some perfect notches in the trunk. The 90 foot fir tree began to come down and they all stepped back. The tree fell directly across his brand new ¾ ton pick up truck. It laid across the smashed cab in proud defiance for being disturbed. The man was running around beside himself. The helpers who advised him to cut the notches in different areas of the trunk just stood there quietly observing. It was easy to see what they were thinking: “If only he had listened to us.” It was at that moment that the adversity began. What were they going to do about getting home?
Adversity is common to all people, but particularly to the Christian. The Christian not only faces common adversity, but he faces spiritual adversity as well. Any Christian that is trying to live right for God will come under the crosshairs of Satan’s wicked sights. Not all Christians become one of his targets. Those who are not living for God, but living a worldly life, are of no concern to him. They are just like other people only they have attached to themselves a name and title. But to him, they are of no danger at all.
It is not easy to deal with adversity, especially when we bring it upon ourselves. But, God allows adversity (Isa. 45:7) in our life for a reason. Ultimately, it is to bring us closer to Him; to perfect us and prepare us for a closer relationship with Him. We cannot relate to God fully without understanding how to deal with adversity. Because we know that all things are easy for God because He is all-powerful, we lose sight of the fact that God has difficulties as well. If you think about it, it was not a “breeze” for God to come to this earth in the form of a man and be whipped, beaten, pummeled and crucified by His own people. That was not easy at all. His sweat was as great drops of blood (Luke 22:44) when He was in agony. That is not the sign of something being easy.
Now we deal with all kind of adversity: some health, some financial, some even trees crushing your own truck because you were full of pride and didn’t listen to wise counsel (Pro. 15:32).
- Adversity helps us to understand what is going on in life—how to understand God and understand others (Pro. 3:4-5).
- Adversity helps us to establish close relationships with others (Pro. 17:17).
- Adversity helps us to be strong, especially in the spirit (Pro. 24:10).
- Adversity helps us to know how to comfort others (2 Cor. 1:4).
- Adversity teaches us how to depend upon God’s grace (2 Cor. 4:8-9; 12:9).
- Adversity teaches us how to use Joy in our life (James 1:2-4).
“But what are some practical ways to deal with adversity? When things come into my life, I get all confused and before I know it, the adversity is in control of my life. I have lost control.”
Count all adversity as if it comes from God. If you understand and know that God has given you the adversity for a reason, then you can rest assured that God is in control of the adversity. This is good because, “…we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” If you know that adversity comes from God, then you will know there is a purpose and you can then look for it.
Pray to see the purpose for the adversity. God has a reason that he wants to perfect us, and He sometimes does it through adversity. Therefore, it is good to simply pray, “God, please allow me to see the purpose for this adversity that you have me going through so I can learn the lesson that you have for me.” Throughout history, whenever Christians have suffered adversity, they have become closer to God. When everything is alright, we tend to not need God as much. But when trouble comes, that is when we need God. You can see this by looking at the prayer list of any church. There are prayer upon prayer requesting God’s help or intervention because of adversity.
Submit your life to God (i.e. let Him be your master). When you throw up your hands and give up controlling your life, you are submitting to God. When you cease to proclaim: “I”, “my”, “mine”, “yours”, and such terms, and not only understand that God owns everything, but live it. That is when you are in submission to God.
Adversity will not last forever. Its purpose will come to an end. There will be no need to try to hide it with painted targets. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. 21:4)
What is an “apostle?” What are the qualifications for “apostleship?” Who are called “apostles” in Scripture? Who are the “twelve apostles” who will sit on twelve thrones and have their names on the twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem? Are there “apostles” today?
The first reference of the word “apostle” gives us a clue to the meaning—Matthew 10:1-5. The key idea here is that an apostle is a “sent one;’ an ambassador delegated to carry a message (“messenger”). Every man who is called an apostle fits this description. Even Jesus Christ is called the Apostle in Hebrews 3:1. That is because He is The Sent One.
The name apostle is different than“disciple” which means “learner; pupil; follower.”
The TWELVE men ordained by the Lord Jesus Christ “to be with Him” (Mark 3:14) differed from others who were called apostles in Scripture. They were UNIQUE, in that Jesus gave them special power and authority for the performance of their office (Matt. 10:1, 8; Luke 10:19).
When Judas Iscariot fell from apostleship a replacement was chosen to fill the “twelfth” spot. The number twelve is significant.
1. Twelve is the number of the earth (4) times the number of the Trinity (3). This shows God’s intervention within the human family.
2. Twelve is Israel’s number. There are TWELVE-TWELVES in Scripture: (1) 12 tribes—Gen. 49:28; (2) 12 stones on the breastplate—Ex. 28:21; (3) 12 gates into the New Jerusalem; (4) 12 foundations of the city—Rev. 21:14 cf. Eph. 2:19-22; (5) 12 manner of fruits on the tree of life; (6) 12 months to a year with twelve constellations (zodiac) which match the twelve months—Job 38:32; (7) twelve apostles; (8) 12 thrones in the Kingdom—Luke 22:30; (9) 12 hours in a day—John 11:9; (10) 12 musical notes (7 white keys + 5 half notes); (11) 12 colors; (12) 12 national boundries (cf. Deut. 32:7-8—North America; Central America; South America; Antarctica; Asia; Africa; Australia; Middle East; Europe; Artic; the Indies; Greenland).
The question arises, who will sit on the twelfth throne and whose name will appear on the twelfth foundation? Several other men are called “apostles” in Scripture: Matthias (Acts 1:26); Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14); Paul (Rom. 1:1; 11:13); James, the Lord’s brother (Gal. 1:19; 2:9). Which of these would be the twelfth man?
Acts 1:21-22 give four qualifications for Judas’ replacement: He would have to be one who—(1) Companied with the original twelve during the earthly ministry of Christ (Luke 8:1); (2) was a witness of the resurrected Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 9:1); (3) baptized by John; (4) ordained by the Lord (Acts 13:2 cf. 14:4, 14). That eliminates all but Matthias. You will notice in 1 Corinthians 15:5, that J
esus was seen “of the twelve.” Judas had already hung himself, so who were “the twelve” that saw the risen Christ prior to Paul? It had to be the eleven with Matthias.
Jesus with the “Twelve” had a special comission to Israel (Matthew 10:5-6; 15:24; cf. Rom. 15:8). That is why the replacement must be one who was with Christ while He offered the Kingdom to Israel (Matt. 10:7). Th
e apostle Paul’s ministry was primarily to Gentiles (Rom. 11:13 cf. 1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11).
The Scripture is clear that Matthias was numbered with the eleven, which would
What about today? Some churches claim “apostolic succession,” i.e. each generation has it’s own elite group of “apostles” to replace those of the previous generation (Mormons; Catholism; etc.) The Apostolic ministry was certified by signs and miracles (2 Cor. 12:12). These “signs” confirmed that the man was really an apostle (“sent one”). If a man didn’t have the signs of an apostle (Mark 16:17-18), he was found to be a liar (Rev. 2:2) and a false apostle (2 Cor. 11:13). make twelve. This is evidenced in Acts 6:2 where “the TWELVE” are mentioned. This is before Paul, Barnabas, or James are called apostles.
With the death of the last Apostle, John the beloved, the Apostolic Age came to an end. Apostles exist today only in the sense of a missionary being one “sent” by the Lord and delegated by the local church to carry the message of the Gospel (Rom. 1:5-6).
There is a big move in the Christian world to build communities rather than churches. In this they are following the former example of President Barak Obama. They try to organize a community into a viable force to work with, then they can fix themselves up as leaders (or rulers) of that community.
In the roots of the word “community” can be seen the word “common.” From this word also comes the word “communism.” An “ism” is a belief of practice of a religious sort. You can see that community building is done not much differently than communism is done: do things for the people that they deem helpful to themselves in the immediate, so you can control them later down the road. For Biblical example to this, Christian Community Organizers turn to the Book of Acts where it says the believers had, “…all things common.” (Acts 2:44; 4:32). What they had in common was a result of loving God. It was not community of people having a great time together.
If you were to build a community, you could be able to accomplish this task by simply being an investor. You could buy up some land and build some houses on it for people to live in, hence–community. The people would be unified in where they lived, but not necessarily in heart or belief. It is easy to build a community by having a bunch of fun activities for people to do. Therefore, Christian community building is doing anything fun so people will come to your community activity. It is accomplished by not doing or saying anything that may be offensive to another, even at the expense of truth. Christian communities therefore side-step the job of evangelism and go straight to the fellowship aspect of a church; they are a “partial church” heavily stressing fellowship and overlooking obedience and truth. Paul warned of such deceitful activities when he said, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ear from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Tim. 4:2-4) Today, that equates to having Christian communities who have fun getting together, but could care less about enduring sound doctrine. Their ears itch to have some teacher teach them how to have fun, food and fellowship only.
Jesus gave himself for the church as a husband is supposed to do for his wife (Eph. 5:25). He did not give himself for a “common unity.” Jesus plans to present the “common unity of believers”–church; to himself holy and without blemish (Eph 5:27). Not any old community. He will not present a community of non-believers without spot or wrinkle to himself. It is the church that He is working on to perfect. It is the church that makes up the body of Christ.
God called us to start churches. Churches not only encompass a “common unity of believers,” but first and foremost prepare the individual for presentation to the Lord. Churches seek to carry out the great commission first and fellowship second. Herein lies the great problem–People would rather have the fun, but not do the work of the Lord. Or, they call their service to the community “fun stuff”, their work for the Lord when it is not. Before ascending into heaven, He only gave us one job to do–win souls.
Jesus loves the church as a whole, not just when believers get together to “feel good” about themselves as some sort of modern day “AA” support group. The Christian community organizers would have you to think that the word “church” is some sort of archaic word that has negative or bad connotations. That is a lie. How can Jesus ever use a word that would go out of date? He is eternal and therefore His words are eternal, else one could easily believe that the gospel is archaic. The church does not go out of date. It is contemporary. People are easily deceived because the Devil has worked very hard to dilute and discredit the true church with alternatives (like “communities”). What has happened, is God’s people have given up on God because they are selfish. They don’t want to do anything but be entertained, unless it is something THEY want to do and not something GOD wants them to do.
The modern “tongues” movement is primarily embraced by the “Charismatic”. This is not an English word. It comes from the Greek word “charisma” which means gifted. Therefore a person who claims to be “charismatic” (by the definition of the Word), claims to be gifted. By insinuation, this indicates that there are some “Christians” who are not “gifted”. This is wrong as the gift of the Christian is the Holy Spirit Himself. Not only does the “Charismatic” claim (by the definition of the word) to be gifted, he (whether he admits it or not) claims to be more gifted than other Christians. The Bible tells us what to think of those who brag on these gifts. Proverbs 25:14 says, “Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain. It also tells us what to think of people who profess to have apostolic gifts who don’t have them. 2 Corinthians 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. Revelation 2:2 says, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:”
The signs of the apostles (Mark 16:14-20)
Cast out devils.
Speak with NEW tongues.
Take up serpents.
Not be hurt by poison.
Heal the sick
Since these are the “signs of an apostle”, only those who believed under the ministry of an apostle received these gifts (signs). Therefore, anyone who wanted to counterfeit the apostolic succession must counterfeit the apostolic signs. The Bible labels anyone who is counterfeiting an apostle as a FALSE APOSTLE (2 Cor. 11:10-14). NOTE: The anti-Christ is also Charismatic.
2 Thessalonians 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
One of the biggest lies that a Charismatic participates in is the perversion of Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14. Acts 2 deals with the baptism of the Holy Ghost and 1 Corinthians 14 deals with the use of unknown tongues. Anyone who can read can readily see that in Acts 2 there is no reference to speaking in an unknown tongue (Acts 2:6 says that “every man heard them speak in his own language”). Likewise, there is no baptism of the Holy Ghost in 1 Corinthians 14.
Baptism of the Holy Ghost
In regards to this, notice Acts 2:
No one is kneeling or praying for any “baptism”.
The “initial evidence” is NOT tongues. It is the sound of a mighty rushing wind.
1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (KJV)
What is it then (1 Cor. 14)?
In chapter 14 we read that the important gift is prophecy. This is because by prophecy, you can teach about something that has already been written in the Scriptures. This is how Jesus taught (Matt. 21:42; Mark 7:6; John 12:14).
Unknown Tongues: From the relationship of mankind in general, there is no such thing as an unknown tongue. Some man on this earth knows the tongue that a person speaks. Here in this passage, tongues is an existing language that was not previously learned. Don’t let some man deceive you into thinking that it is a special heavenly prayer language. This is NOT in the Bible.
Modern day teaching is that tongues is a sign that one is baptized in the Holy Ghost. This is not Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 12:13.
Spiritual gifts are not obtained. They are GIFTS from the Holy Spirit, given as HE sees fit (1 Cor. 12:11).
If speaking in tongues is evidence of being baptized (immersed into) in the Holy Spirit, and therefore being placed into the body of Christ, why then does 1 Corinthians 12:18 teach us that God places us into his body as He sees fit?
Not everybody IN THE BODY OF CHRIST will speak in tongues (1 Cor. 12:30).
There is a more excellent way (1 Cor. 12:31).
God’s emphasis is that we should desire to prophecy as it edifies the church (1 Cor. 14:1-3, 12).
Tongues are for a sign to them that believe not (1 Cor 14:22).
There is a difference between speaking with and in tongues (1 Cor. 14:39).
Why do people go to church? There are many reasons and in this article I would like to explore a few. For some people church has always been a part of their life; for others it is a new experience. Either way, it doesn’t matter. At some point in their life, people begin making their own decision about going to church.
Recently I saw a character on TV who wanted his grandson to be baptized so he would go to heaven. Obviously, he didn’t understand the Bible and that baptism doesn’t save a person. But, he still had a respect for the church. He called it God’s house. Even the most adamant atheist still recognizes that church is related to God, and when they come to a point in their life that they seek spiritual help (and everyone does), they will seek it by coming to a church.
People go to church to feel good about themselves. At some point in their life, people begin to feel the effects of sin. They begin to feel dirty and seek redemption of some kind. So, they go to church seeking forgiveness for their sins. The sad thing is that when they feel comfortable in knowing that forgiveness has been provided, they have no need for church anymore. They fall away like the vapor of wind, never to come back unless they have the same need.
People go to church because they have always gone to church. It is habitual. They have always gone to church and cannot really give an answer for why they go. Oh, they can give the pat answer; the answer that they know is expected of them, but they cannot honestly tell why they go from deep down inside their soul.
People go to church for social connection. They seek relationships with people who are like minded to them and they don’t get that in the world with all of it’s worldliness. Sadly, they have little use for the church other than the pleasure of fellowship with their friends who attend. During the preaching or teaching they are bored to death, but during the singing or performing, they are enthusiast. They are “put out” by the time that the preaching or teaching takes out of their time to fellowship, and you often never see them attend Sunday School or other such learning events.
People go to church because they want to learn something about God. Altogether this is not a bad reason for going to church. One of the reasons that God provided the church to us is to equip the saints. This involves learning about the Bible and learning about God. There is no other designed method of God to learn about Him and His book except the church. God did not provide colleges, TV or radio programs, para-church organizations to teach about Him. He gave us the church!
People go to church because God commanded us to not forsake going to it. They honor God and try their best to do what He said they should do. They do this because they are driven by a love for Him. They trust in the fact that: He knows what is best for them, and since He told them to do it, then they are going to do it. They often reason that God must have His reasons for saying it in the Bible so, understand it or not, they go. Soon their often attendance begins to take root in their life and they begin to grow as a child of God.
I have often wondered why people don’t go to church. I think, “If they could just go long enough, then they would get what God is trying to do in their life.” God wants to develop Christians. That is difficult for the Him to do when His children are bombarded constantly by the world’s message and they are only getting one hour a week of input from Him. The many hours indoctrination of the world overshadows and chokes out almost everything that a person can get in just one hour a week of going to church. For this very reason, I put serious articles in the church bulletin so God’s people have something they can take with them to receive some spiritual refreshment and learning. I hope that you have found them useful. More than that, I trust that you will, no matter what, trust what God says to you about not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, and come to church. It would be good for you and your family. You see, God wants to establish a relationship with you and that is difficult to do when you only spend one hour a week with Him.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
Listen! What do you hear? I mean, what do you hear about Jesus? Is it something YOU don’t agree with? Or, is it something from the Bible that you just don’t like? This is the case with most people. They don’t like the way a preacher preaches or they don’t like the message God has given him. Perhaps it “steps on their toes” a little bit and they think, “He’s preaching at me.” These kind of people do not love truth, and they are greatly mistaken on the power of God. Like Lucifer, they lift themselves up with pride and deny the presence of God by pawning it off on a man. Huh? They think the preacher is preaching instead of God preaching through him. In other words, they have lost faith in the power of God.
So, because they don’t want to humble themselves, they start shopping for another teacher to tell them what they want to hear. They would rather turn their ears away from the truth than search their hearts to see if God is speaking to them? They are so “right with God” they never have a reason to go to the prayer bench.
Listen! What do you hear? Do you hear God, or do you hear your own self?
Rev. Ron Coale, Pastor
“Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” (Romans 7:13)
Years ago, an unusual experiment was conducted on a prison inmate. He had the option of having brain surgery to remove the evil tendencies he had. In return, he could have his freedom. He eagerly submitted to it. However, a few weeks after surgery he murdered someone. Surgery cannot cure sin! There is only one cure for sin: the BLOOD of the Lord Jesus Christ.
How bad is sin anyway? A little cursing, a little lying, a little lusting? Is it really that bad? Today it is called “situation ethics” in an attempt to “keep up with the changing times. But the Bible says what God hated 2,000 years ago, He still hates today. God has not changed, people have. Their consciences are so seared that they no longer recognize sin for what it is. It is no longer called sin. It is called a mistake.
The book of Genesis introduces the world to the presence of sin. The book of Revelation speaks of a new earth without the presence of sin. But in between are the sad results of sin’s effect on the lives of people: Thorns, disease, and pain in childbirth began after sin entered the world.
Sin means “to miss the mark.” If you have shot archery or guns before, you know that the goal is to hit the bull’s-eye. God has given us a Book of commands called the Bible to aim at. When we miss the mark and fall short, no matter how close we come, it is called sin.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23)
In tennis, if a serve goes into the net or lands out of bounds, it is called a fault. The same holds true with sin. We are to live within the boundaries God has set for us. This is to ensure us a joyful life and make us a more effective servant for God.
No one can ever paint sin too black. But, how does one recognize it? Sin is a weed in the garden of God. Sin is deceitful. Sin is full color on the outside, but only black and white on the inside. Sin always comes disguised. Sin takes but never gives. Sin brings pain and shame. Sin binds. Sin blinds. Sin is venom. Sin is a poison. Sin is a rabid dog at your heels. Sin is a leech that wants to drain every ounce of goodness, potential joy, and fulfillment out of your life.
Sin is like a pit that has no bottom. It never stands still and is like a cancer that destroys the body and soul. Sin caused Cain to murder his brother Abel. Sin caused the city of Sodom to be a homosexual city. Sin caused King Herod to kill all the boys less than two years of age. Sin caused Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery. Sin caused Saul to lose the kingdom. Sin caused Amnon to rape his stepsister. Sin caused Absalom to try to destroy his own father.
Sin may start small but always ends big. Sin always leaves scars. Sin, like a cute puppy, can grow up into a vicious mongrel. Sin will make you stoop to do things you never imagined you would do.
Years ago, a father tried to teach his son how wrong sin was. Every time the boy did wrong, the father nailed a nail into the tree in the backyard. After several months, the boy was broken hearted over all the nails in the tree. He asked if his father would take a nail out of the tree for every time he behaved well. The dad agreed. Finally, the day came when the last nail was removed. The son thought he would be excited. Instead, he was saddened. Though all the nails were out, the scars and holes remained. Though a person becomes a Christian, the scars of sin remain.
A famous painter once searched for a young boy he could paint as a model for “innocence.” He found such a boy and thus completed the painting. About twenty years later he searched for a man to pose for the contrast of the first painting. After much searching, he found just the man who exemplified all that was wicked, wasted, and vile. After the portrait was completed, he asked the man’s name. He said, “You know me. You painted my picture twenty years ago when I was a boy.” How sin destroys!
SIN WILL TAKE YOU FARTHER THAN YOU WANT TO GO:
- Sin leads from a drink to drunkenness.
- Sin leads from dating to adultery.
- Sin leads from cigarettes to cancer.
- Sin leads from a high to an addiction.
- Sin leads from a joke to a perverted mind.
SIN WILL COST YOU MORE THAN YOU WANT TO PAY
Sin’s checkout price is always higher than the advertised price. Thrill now-bill later! Sin costs reputation, peace of mind, and health.
SIN WILL TAKE YOU WHERE YOU DON’T WANT TO GO
- Sin took the prodigal to the pigpen.
- Sin took Absalom and Judas to a tree.
- Sin will take you to a gutter.
- Sin will put extra wrinkles on your face.
- Sin will take you to the unwed mothers’ home, mental institution, or cancer ward.
SIN WILL KEEP YOU LONGER THAN YOU WANT TO STAY.
Lot went to Sodom to sojourn (visit.) He stayed for twenty years and lost his family. Naomi went to Moab to visit and lost her husband and sons. Sin invites you just to visit.
To a Christian, sin is like a bullet in the body. There can be no strength and healing until the bullet is removed. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confession is to admit to God that we have sinned. After we repent, the closeness to God is there again!
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A CHRISTIAN SINS?
- Sickness (1 Corinthians 11:30; James 5:15).
- Death. (Acts 5; Deuteronomy 32:51-52; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 11:28-30; 1 John 5:16).
- Prayers are hindered (Psalms 66:18).
- Robbed of joy (Psalms 51:12).
- Chastening comes (Proverbs 3:11-12).
- Reaping comes (Galatians 6:7-8). When a Christian sins, seeds are planted in the garden of life. A harvest is to be expected. A Christian reaps what he sows; reaps more than he sows, and reaps unexpectedly
- Children are affected (Exodus 20:5).
- Christ is shamed (Hebrews 6:4-6). Sin caused Jesus to die on the Cross. It is not a light thing to God when one of His children sins.
THE STEPS TO SIN
James 1:13-15, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
The steps to sin are L S D: Lust Sin Death. God never tempts Christians to sin to see how good a Christian they are. The Devil tempts to sin. The first step to sin is lust (desire). That is how the Devil tempts. He knows what our desires are and simply “opens the door” so we can fulfill them. If someone is entertaining the idea of adultery, the Devil has available a ready participant. If someone has a desire for liquor, guess who “drops by” and offers them a drink? This is why a Christian needs to carefully guard his thought life and desires. If what we want is wrong, the Devil wants to give it to us.
James 1:14 speaks of a Christian being “enticed.” This is a hunting or fishing term. Enticement is a lure to get the animal or fish away from safety. The Devil uses many lures. He may use music, TV, old friends, money, moving, nature, a new house, a job, fame, a boyfriend or girlfriend, etc. His tackle box is full of proven lures. What has he used on you? Although he cannot read our minds, he does know human nature. GUARD YOUR DESIRES!
THE FIRST SIN
Genesis 3:1-7, “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit Jerusalem the trees of the garden: But of the fruit Jerusalem the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”
The first human sin took place in the garden of Eden. The Devil was present in the form of a serpent. There was a series of steps he took Eve through to get her to sin:
The Devil appeared to the follower first (verse 1). Eve was approached first-not Adam. The devil tries to tempt those under authority first.
The Devil questioned God’s Word (verse 1) “…Yea, hath God said…?” That is why the devil is attacking the authority of God’s Word today. If you begin doubting God’s Word, you will soon discard His commands. The Devil has given us the many “versions” of the Bible so people will doubt if any of them are true.
The Devil majored on what Eve was not allowed to do (verse 1.) “…Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” God told Adam and Eve that they could eat of every tree in the garden but one. You mean if you are a Christian you can’t do this or that? Christianity is a can religion, not just a can’t! Do not let the devil make you feel that you are missing out on something by being a Christian.
Eve talked to the Devil and tried to reason with him. She was to “resist” the Devil. Instead she listened to him. Do not listen to people that entice you to do wrong.
Eve did not know the command of God well enough (verse 2-3.) When she tried to quote what God said, she misquoted the command. Ignorance of God’s commands will always lead to trouble. The disciples of Jesus were discouraged and disillusioned after the resurrection because they did not know the scripture about the resurrection.
The Devil lied (verse 4) “…Ye shall not surely die:” All sin is based on the lie “you can be your own god.” No one can tell you what to do. Be your own boss. Study the Word of God so lies will be recognizable.
The Devil mixed truth with error (verse 5). He said that Eve would see and become as God. Part was true. She would see that she was naked. The other part was a lie. The fruit did not make her more like
God. All false religion is based on some scriptures or truth mixed with error.
Salvation gets you to heaven (true)
Salvation + Baptism gets you to heaven (false)
Truth + Error = Lie
The Devil worked on Eve’s desires (verse 5-6). Perhaps Eve ate the fruit because she believed it would make her wise and more like God. She loved God and wanted to be more like him, so perhaps that is why she ate it. See the importance of reading the Bible daily and being faithful in church? It is to keep you from believing the Devil’s lies.
Her sin affected her husband (verse 6-7). Not only did she break God’s command but also enticed another to sin. Our sin always affects others.
Their sin separated them from God (verse 10). Adam and Eve died spiritually that day. They were afraid, naked, and hiding. What a true picture of sin’s affect on us.
IS THERE ANY HOPE?
Will a Christian ever stop sinning? NO. Not until we receive our new body in heaven will we be free of sin’s power. But do not give up! You may not stop sinning, but you can hate it.
Hebrews 1:9, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”
Jesus was the only sinless One who ever walked on the face of the earth. How did He have such victory? He was totally yielded to the Holy Spirit of God. That caused Him to hate sin. As He hated sin, it caused Him to be totally yielded to the Holy Spirit.
Hate Sin—>Holy Spirit Filled
Holy Spirit Filled—>Hate Sin
We will be filled with the Holy Spirit to the degree we love right and hate sin.
Luke 14:25-33 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
The Christian life is pictured in the Bible as a race to run; a course to finish. The Apostle Paul was determined not only finish his course, but to do it with joy (Acts 20:24). This is exactly what he did. Shortly before his death, he gave this testimony: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2Timothy 4:7). He finished his course. Each of us needs to be aware that God has a course for us, and He wants us to carry it out to the end; He wants us to finish our course.
Gods plan for each of us is specific to us. No one else can carry it out for us. It is ours. However, He will help us find and complete that plan. Still, many Christians never even find their plan, let alone finish it. In fact, they hardly even try.
The passage above speaks of one who intends to build a tower. Building this tower is like running a race and finishing a course. Yet, because of many pitfalls, the tower may never get built. By looking at the necessary ingredients for building this tower, we can see how to succeed as well as learn why so many people fail.
God wants us to finish our course
The first requirement of those who would build a tower is that they must be “intending to build” (vs. 28). If they do not at least intend to build, then nothing else can be accomplished. To “intend” means to “have in mind as a purpose.” When we intend to finish our course our vision of the race goes well beyond the starting line. It also allows a view of the finish line, or in this case, the placing of the final brick. Granted, the way to the end may not be understood but a vision of accomplishment is formed. You cannot go someplace if you don’t know where it it.
This intention or vision is also spoken of as our “purpose.” In 2 Timothy 3:10, Paul told Timothy, “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience.” Probably the greatest number of Christians fail to finish their course because they have no purpose in their lives. Or, their purpose has been skewed by the Devil or self. So, we must have the right purpose.
It Must Be For God: We cannot finish our course by living our life for self. We must lose the life we want to live for the sake of Jesus Christ. Luke 9:24 says, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” Jeremiah told the scribe Baruch, “And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not…” (Jer. 45:5). We must seek great things for the Lord. Jesus told His disciples, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.” (Luke 22:25-26)
It Must Be From God: Many Christians try to serve God on their own terms. They choose what they want to do for the Lord and then expect Him to support them in their labors. But this will not work. It is not enough to be doing something for the Lord. The mission has to be the one He has given us. When Saul got saved, he began his Christian life by asking, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). As with Paul, we too must seriously asked the Lord what He would have us to do. Paul, when praying for the Colossians, asked the Lord that they “might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9). In other words, to know and understand the course He had planned for them. Caleb claimed the promise of God when he said, “Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day” (Joshua 14:12). But note that he claimed only what God had already promised him.
To finish our course we must find God’s purpose for us and follow after that purpose. God may not tell us everything at once. He will at least give us a starting direction and will always show we the next step to take. But we need more than a purpose.
We need a plan: Good intentions are cheap. In fact, without some action behind them, they are worthless. But before we can act, we must know where we are going. Our passage in Luke tells about the builder who sits down before he begins to build and “counteth the cost” (vs. 28). That is what we do when we establish a plan and determine if we are willing to give the necessary effort to accomplish our purpose.
Why Do we Need a Plan? We need a plan to discover God’s way of accomplishing the purpose. He must be the source of the purpose and the plan as well. We seek His face through prayer and meditation and wait for Him to give us a plan. Proverbs 3:5-6 teaches us to, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
We need a plan to discover God’s timing. God’s timing is beautiful (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and He will make all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). But our timing may destroy the entire purpose and will certainly cause unnecessary delays and detours. We need God’s timing in order to determine several things:
- When to begin action.
- What steps to take.
- What our priorities are.
- What can be left for later.
How Do We Get This Plan? We seek God’s direction through prayer. Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” If we seek God’s answer and wait for it, He will let us know what He wants us to do.
We develop the plan through meditation. The virtuous woman “considereth a field, and buyeth it” (Proverbs 31:16). God can and will work through our thought processes if we are submitted to Him. This is why Bible reading coupled with meditation upon His word is so important.
We gain wisdom through counsel. Others may counsel us personally or we may find help through published materials that can help us. God uses all of these ways. Proverbs 11:14 – “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”
Planning is crucial to finishing our course. But there are people who have spent their life making one plan after another and yet have accomplished very little. Planning must be coupled with action.
In Luke, the builder of the tower must get to the point where he has “laid the foundation” (14:29). For Christians to accomplish their purpose for the Lord, they must lay a solid foundation. Jesus told a story about two men who built houses (Matthew 7:24-27). He does not mention any difference in floor plan, or size, or exterior covering. He only mentions one difference: the foundation on which the houses were built. One was built on the sand and the other on the rock and when the storms came, only the house with the firm foundation stood. The type of foundations also told us something about the men who built the houses. The man who built on the rock was called a wise man. The one who built on sand was called a fool. What kind of builder are we?
The Baptist preacher and teacher, B. H. Carroll (1843-1914), said, “Only prepared men accomplish great things. And the greater the preparation, the less need for long time to do great things.”
Prepare For the Work: Proverbs 24:27 states, “Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.” Picture someone in early America who is homesteading in a new land. What is most important? Should they build a nice house first? Of course not! To make our work fit in the field would be to prepare for defense against any hostile Indians and to make sure that the crops get planted in time for harvest. A house is no good if we are killed or if we have no food to eat.
Many people want to put the cart before the horse in Christian service. Paul spoke of those who were, “desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm” (Titus 1:7). There are people who want to teach but do not want to do the study or get the training necessary to be a good teacher.
Any significant work for the Lord requires some form of preparation. More and more people want to skip this step. For us, it may mean BibleCollege or some special form of training. It may mean working under someone for several years and learning from them. It may mean getting our financial house in order. But, if we are ever to finish, our course, we must prepare.
Prepare for the Winter: Proverbs tells us that the ants are wise because “they prepare their meat in the summer” (Proverbs 30:25). They use summer as a window of opportunity to gather food so that when the winter comes and there is not food to gather, they can live off that which is in store. Preparation means that we use opportunities and do things at the best time to do them. If our purpose requires some form of learning that is easier to obtain before marriage, then we need to make a choice between the two. Attending school later may be necessary, but timing is important. We often want to skip the dull stuff but the dull stuff is often the key to success.
Okay, so we have discovered God’s purpose for our life. We have made plans and have laid the foundation through preparation. Now what? Now…it is time to push!
We Must Push with All our Might: The main thrust of our passage is that someone wants “to build a tower” (Luke 14:28). To build a tower we must do the work of a builder. We must put forth the effort. We must push. A worthy purpose requires a working servant. Many Christians fail to finish their course because they are lazy; they have no push. Solomon admonishes us, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Paul tells the Colossian servants, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (3:23). Doing a work for the Lord takes all we have…and then some. Are we working as if for the Lord?
We must be Persistant (vs. 29, 30): Yet, to finish the tower, one thing yet is needed. The builder must be “able to finish.” Some men start many things but finish none. Paul finished his course. Will we finish ours? Is so, we must refuse to faint (Proverbs 24:10; Galatians 6:9). We must finish by faith (Hebrews 12:1-3; 1Corinthians 15:58).
We have been looking at the Christian life as one in which we build a tower or finish a course. Another picture used in the Bible is that of sowing and reaping (Psalm 126:5-6). In order to reap, we must work the land, sow the seed, care for the plants and refuse to quit. God promises that those who refuse to faint will eventually, in due season, reap the harvest (Galatians 6:9). What would it take for us to fail? Why not just keep on going on for the sake of the Lord?
Taken from Newsmax, Thursday, 19 Dec 2013 05:56 PM, By Todd Beamon
Conservative political activist Ralph Reed on Thursday called on the 800,000 members of the Faith & Freedom Coalition to boycott the A&E Network until “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson is reinstated to the program.
“Phil Robertson’s suspension is a brazen act of anti-Christian bigotry,” Reed, the coalition’s chairman, said in a statement.
Contemporary motivational speakers are those who give comments that will motivate a person to do something. They don’t motivate a person to do something that person didn’t originally want to do, but something they already felt like doing. In other words, motivational speech doesn’t have any effect on a person unless they were in agreement in the first place. Adolph Hitler was a great motivational speaker, as was Mao Tsi Dong, Joseph Stalin and Barak Obama. They were (and are) masters at finding things that people want and presenting it in a way to motivate and inspire people. On the whole, contemporary motivational speakers are “martial arts encouragers.” They use a persons strengths and weaknesses against them, in order to get them to do what they want them to do–usually to buy a product or financially support a cause. In order to accomplish their unseen agenda, they must be sure to stay away from anything negative, else their victims, like the rabbit who is almost caught in the snare, comes to the sudden realization that they are to be trapped, and hop away breathing a sigh of relief.
The truth is, there are two kinds of motivational speakers: Those who tell you what you want to hear (like cheer leaders) and those who tell you what you don’t want to hear (like preaching about sin and death); Jesus was the latter. In fact, all of the prophets and preachers of God in the Bible were of the latter sort. They had a message of hope that was coupled with a message of doom and destruction. It is the message of doom and destruction, coupled with the anger of God displayed in His wrath that was the motivational injection that lethargic people needed. When Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19), the Pharisees were shocked into doing something. Noah said, “God’s gonna make it rain and flood the earth killing every living thing. That’s why I’m building this here boat.” He was scoffed at until God’s wrath was coupled with the message this preacher of righteousness had (2 Peter 2:5). They were motivated when they were suddenly caught in the snare of the Devil. With their negative message of destruction came a message of hope; they were coupled together.
The negative message first identifies a need in a persons life. It is a message of judgment and sentence. It is meant to be a warning of some bad or sinful action. It is designed to “wake people up” (1 Cor. 15:34; Rom. 13:11) from a dangerous activity, thought or influence. Then there is hope. Until then, a message of hope cannot be given because the people will not take it seriously. There is nothing to motivate them; nothing to move them or provoke them to do something about their evil ways. A fitting example of this is seen in the preaching of the prophet Zephaniah. He brought the message that the Lord was determined to pour His indignation upon the nations. The message further said that God was going to devour all the earth with the fire of His jealousy (Zeph. 3:8). A negative message to be sure. Why? Why such a message from the Lord? Because God wanted to motivate people to call upon Him (Zeph. 3:9). First the negative, then the positive. This is Biblical and true motivational speaking, and it comes with a price.
John the Baptist had a very motivational message that he preached in the wilderness. It so motivated people that King Herod wanted to hear it for himself. But when John came into his presence, Herod did not like what he heard. He did not hear a sickening sweet motivational speech doting on all of Herod’s achievements. He heard John talk to him about his brother Philip’s wife, to whom he was not wed. John said, “…It is not lawful for thee to have her.” (Matt. 14:4). How did this motivate Herod? It certainly didn’t make him leave the encounter feeling good about himself. In fact, Herod wanted to “…put him to death…” (Matt. 14:5). After some time of imprisonment, this is exactly what happened (Matt. 14:9-10).
So it is no secret that people don’t like to hear negative preaching, and sometimes it cost the preacher, but people need it. They need it to motivate them to do right. Without the negative message, coupled with the wrath of God, people are left to their own devices. And what parent would leave their children to their own with no discipline? Only those who don’t love them. Positive reinforcement never did anything for anybody other than to give the parent a way of escape from disciplining their children. It provides a good way to pass the responsibility on to others.
Preachers who are not regularly preaching against sin, are doing their congregations a huge disservice. They are taking the easy way out; trying to be their friends and be hugely popular. It is always easier to let someone else discipline the members of your church, but God will not hold such preachers unaccountable. Weak-kneed preaching on sin equals popularity, but is comes with a price–skin deep Christians who are looking to have a good time on this earth and enjoy it until Jesus gets back. That is a foolish surmise.
We have a job to do. We are to tell people about Jesus and the gospel. Jesus never told us to have a good time of fellowship until he came back. That is the equivalent of taking your talent and burying it in the sand. That will make Jesus mad. Has any preacher ever told you that if you are not doing something to win souls to Jesus, you are inviting trouble into your life? That God will be mad about that? Why not? That wouldn’t be very motivational by today’s standards, but it sure goes a long way with God. Would you hate your preacher for telling you that truth? Would you leave the church? Or, would you try to do something about it? After all, you do know the Lord is coming back, don’t you?
Many Christians know this. But they just want to have a good time and get by until He comes. After all, is it a sin to enjoy life? Of course not, but it will only be enjoyable up until you see the scowl on the face of the Saviour when He turns His eyes upon you and asks, “What did you do about what I asked you to do?”
There are two kinds of motivational speakers: One that tells you what you want to hear, and one that tells you what you need to hear. Both are motivational. The main difference between the two is your attitude in the way you take their message.
People often try to justify their desire to gamble by saying, “after all, life itself is risky.” Investing in the stock market, crossing the street, riding in an airplane, falling in love, getting married, even doing church work all carry with them an element of risk. People also try to justify gambling by pointing to the element of chance that was involved in the Old Testament use of lots or the Urim and Thummim, and in the New Testament method of choosing Judas’ successor. However, there is no legitimate point of comparison between the type of chance involved in these Scriptural practices and the type of chance involved in gambling. The Old Testament lots were specifically sanctioned and commanded by God (Lev. 1:8, Josh. 14:2, Ex. 28:30, Num. 27:21, Dt. 33:8). Gamblers today cannot produce such commands of God for the lots they cast! Likewise, in the choice of Matthias to succeed Judas no real risk was involved, Both candidates, Justus and Matthias, were fully qualified for the position, so the final choice was entrusted to the Lord in prayer.
The real crux of the problem of gambling is not the element of risk or chance, but the question of motivation. This is the real heart of the problem, for if the motivation involved is wrong, gambling is wrong even when the element of skill predominates over simple chance.
The basic purpose of most gambling is not to help and serve others, but to help ourselves at their expense. Luther observed: No one gambles with another in order to give away to the other what is his own (for he could do that without gambling), nor in order to lose what is his own, nor in order to seek the gain of the other man as though it were his own. This is why gambling is always contrary to love and is motivated by greed because a man seeks, to the harm of another, what does not belong to him.
The basic Christian objection to gambling is that it is an attempt to gain something from our neighbor without giving a fair service in return. If we really love our neighbor, will we wish to win at his expense? In gambling are we heeding the admonition of Scripture, Philippians 2:4 ‘Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.’ Christians must keep two facts in mind when seeking gain or profit from their activities. They must give fair labor in exchange for what they receive. They seek to earn for themselves, not from selfish motivation, but in order to be of service to others. Ephesians 4:28 “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”
A Christian’s life is to be devoted to serving others, not to serving self. In most games of gambling, part of the enjoyment is taking advantage of someone else’s loss. Gambling is nonproductive, and can be justified only by arguing its entertainment value or the good use made of a portion of the revenue. Since the end never justifies the means, gambling cannot be justified on these grounds if greed is involved. The fact that dishonesty and selfish motivation can be practiced in any form of business cannot be used as an excuse to justify gambling, if gain at the expense of another is part of the very nature of gambling. The common consent involved in gambling does not excuse the stealing involved in gambling anymore than common consent excuses the murder involved in dueling.
The Bible does not specifically forbid gambling, but there are several biblical principles that should make Christians hesitate to participate:
- God presents work as the normal way to get the money we need (Eph. 4:28; 2 Thess. 3:12).
- When a person cannot work, the second choice is prayer (Phil. 4:6, 19).
All my income belongs to God, not me (Psalms 24:1), and I am not free to use it as I wish. I am a steward, who should use it for God’s purposes. Christians are called on to meet the needs of their family (1 Tim. 5:8), and share with others, particularly Christians who have needs (2 Cor 8-9; Gal. 6:6-10; 3 John).
Does God want me to use His money to buy a lottery ticket? God uses money to accomplish important purposes in my life:
Meet basic needs (Matt. 6:11; I Tim. 6:8).
Build character (Phil 4:10-13)
Give direction, by providing or withholding resources.
Helping others through me.
Show His power by providing miraculously.
Gambling does not accomplish any of these things. In fact, it hinders these things being accomplished in my life. So, a person must ask themselves, “Am I looking to God or to the lottery for my needs?”
The Bible says that it is required of a steward that a man be found faithful 1 Cor 4:3). Since we are to be stewards of everything we have, (not just our money), and we are to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7), gambling that which we have stewardship over is directly opposite of a life of faith.
Greed and covetousness are sin (Exo. 20:18; I Tim. 6:9; Heb. 13:5), and these are motives in most gambling. The book of Proverbs warns of disaster for people who want to get rich quickly (28:20, 22). Not only that, wealth that comes easily goes just as easily (Pro. 13:11). AND, if it is gained the wrong way it can even break up families (Pro. 15:27).
Jim Rigby (a proclaimed preacher) posted on Facebook the Ten Things I wish the church knew about homosexuality. His very questions display his ignorance of the Bible and the subject for which he claims to be an authority. So that his teachings (and the teachings of others like him) do not infect innocent and ignorant minds, I have responded to his teachings below:
1. If Jesus did not mention a subject, it cannot be essential to his teachings. WRONG—You should read your Bible. Jesus as the son of God is the author of the entire Bible and He mentions much about the sin of homosexuality.
2. You are not being persecuted when prevented from persecuting others. YOU are being persecuted when others are NOT PREVENTED from persecuting YOU. SO, it depends on who is on the RIGHT SIDE and God’s side is always right for He is your CREATOR.
3. Truth isn’t like wine that gets better with age. It’s more like manna you must recognize wherever you are and whoever you are with. WRONG—Truth is truth no matter who you are with or wherever you are. It is not relative to your opinion or position.
4. You cannot call it “special rights” when someone asks for the same rights you have. WRONG—It is “special rights” when their rights oppose or conflict the rights of truth.
5. It is no longer your personal religious view if you’re bothering someone else. WRONG—Your personal religious view is your personal religious view no matter who is bothered by it. AND, if it is based on “truth” then it really doesn’t matter what your view is or not. It only matters what the truth is.
6. Marriage is a civil ceremony, which means it’s a civil right. WRONG—marriage is a command given to humans by their Creator who designed humans to fulfill that command. It is not a right whatsoever.
7. If how someone stimulates the pubic nerve has become the needle to your moral compass, you are the one who is lost. WRONG—If your moral compass offends the A-moral, then you are on the right track.
8. To condemn homosexuality, you must use parts of the Bible you don’t yourself obey. Anyone who obeyed every part of Leviticus would rightly be put in prison. WRONG—If man had obeyed the Books of Leviticus all along instead of swaying from it, then it would be the standard of living now. (Note: regarding homosexuality, the book of Leviticus (written to the Levite Priests) is not the only book in the Bible condemning homosexuality. There are the books of Genesis, Exodus, Proverbs, Psalms, Romans, etc.). Also, Jesus does not hate the homosexual, He hates homosexuality. Jesus loves the people of the world and died for them so they could have forgiveness of their sins and a means of overcoming them.
9. If we do not do the right thing in our day, our grandchildren will look at us with same embarrassment we look at racist grandparents. WRONG—It is never permissible to do the wrong thing based on how our grandchildren will look at us. If they were taught right, they would have hero’s instead of villans.
10. When Jesus forbade judging, that included you. WRONG—Jesus did not forbid judging. In fact He command us to judge the righteous judgment (Isa. 1:17; John 7:24) just as He gave us example in doing (John 5:30; 16:11)
Right, wrong, or indifferent, he obviously has no idea about what the Bible says about the subject.
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.
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?
God gave mother a wonderful quality. In the Morning Glory, January 8, 1994, Ilion Jones writes that, “On the great biographer Ida M. Tarbell’s 80th birthday, someone asked her to name the greatest persons she had ever met. She responded, ‘The greatest persons I have ever met are those nobody knows anything about.'” She was referring to her mother.
“Once the New York Times was asked to help a group of club women decide on the twelve greatest women in the United States. After due consideration, the editors replied, ‘The twelve greatest women in the United States are women who have never been heard of outside of their own homes.'” They were talking about someones mother.
Jones concludes, “I ask you, who was greater, Thomas A. Edison or his mother? When he was a young lad his teacher sent him home with a note which said, ‘Your child is dumb. We can’t do anything for him.’ His mother wrote back, ‘You do not understand my boy. I will teach him myself’. And she did, with results that are well known.”
Usually, the greatest people who have had the most influence in our lives are people that other people would not care about one bit. Chief of these people is our mother. Our mother will pour her life into us so that we can stand firm in this cruel world. Our mother loves us like no one else can; who, no matter what we have done, continues to love us.
There is no use denying the fact that we are literally connected to our mother long before we have any other attachment with any other human being. Our mother carries us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 9 months in her warm and comfortable tummy. This “bond of bonds” cannot be cut, broken or torn asunder by any hurt we may give them. Our mother is so important to us that we have wisely set aside a national day to honor her (Eph. 6:2; Exo. 20:12).
Our mother can never be replaced. There are instances where children have to be raised by their fathers or someone else, but if they have been born into this world, they have a mother. God arranged it that we cannot enter this life without first knowing and experiencing the love of our mother. No matter if a child has been raised in a motherless home or not, there is still the beginning influence of this wonderful woman who carried them and bore them into this world (Gal 1:15). But this is not the cased for the vast majority of cases. Most of us are born and then raised too, by our mother.
Mother is the most influential person in our lives. In most cases, she is with us more than anyone else, especially in our younger years. Mother is our companion, as well as our protector and teacher. At times it may seem that mom is not present, but God gave mom’s an amazing ability to use all of her senses toward us. Every mother has had an experience where she has detected something wrong, when no other has been able to. They dropped what they were doing and ran to our side knowing that we have just began choking on something. In fact, their senses are so good that they can even detect when we are about to do something dangerous even BEFORE we are engaged in that certain dangerous activity.
When my mother would instruct me about “laying down the law”, she always had the uncanny ability to read my face. She would tell me, “And wipe that look off of your face young man. I can read your face like a book.” Only someone who loved you very much; could be so “in tune” to you that they could “read your face like a book.”
Have you ever wondered why children have to play “under mothers feet” all the time? It is because they feel safe there. If they are near their mother, then they know that they are being watched over. It may be difficult for the mother as she moves around the house doing her daily chores, but it is great for the children. When push comes to shove, I’ll bet you’ll find out that most mothers would rather know where their children are anyway.
Mothers can provide comfort unlike anything else in the world. If I was outside playing with one of my children and they accidentally got hurt, they would look at me with contempt and go running to their MOTHER! Dad just could not provide the same comfort as their mother could. All it takes is some hugs from their mother, and a “kiss on the boo boo,” and everything would be all right.
Mother is crucial to our development, but moms are often overlooked or taken advantage of. When Jesus was dying on the cross, He told John to take care of His mother (John 19:26-27). Not that Mary was unable to take care of herself, but after Jesus died, there would be a big hole in her heart where her son used to be; a piece of her would be dying too because, after all, He literally was a piece of her.
We should appreciate all that our mothers do for us. We should show them honor. It is sad that at times we need to be reminded to pick up the phone and call our mother and tell her we love her. I call my mother every week because I want her to know I care about her.~ Pastor Coale
All too often I am amazed at the so called “Christian Community” for their lack of understanding God. In fact, it has been perplexing. When I think of what God did in my life; how He saved me from the grip of death, cleansed me and set me in a noble place with Him, I feel like I owe Him my life. I am sure that others feel the same, but their sacrifice to Him seems to be so misguided.
When it came birthday time or Christmas, a time when I would be receiving gifts, I hoped I would get something I liked. In fact, I went a little beyond hoping and dropped hints to Mom and Dad in order to give them good ideas. I always loved it when they asked me, “What do you want for your birthday?” or “What do you want for Christmas?” Sometimes I got it, and sometimes I didn’t. But, I can tell you, when I got the thing that I wanted–the thing I asked for–I was happier than when I got something I didn’t ask for. Now that I am older and can look back on that, I wonder why that is? I think the answer lies in my present relationship with God. You see, as a born again child of God, I know that He has asked me for certain things–there are certain things that He would like from me. When He gets them, He is much happier than when He gets something He didn’t ask for. God greatest request of me; The thing that is on the top of His list of things He would like, is that I love Him more than anything else and that I love others as I love myself (Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27).
So, how do I accomplish this one request which contains two aspects? He told me how I could do that. He told me that I should win souls. This one activity encompasses loving God (Doing what He told me to do.) and loving others (showing them the way of life). It is by no accident that I use the phrase “showing them the way of life” because if I used the phrase “preaching the gospel” people might get confused. The phrase “preaching the gospel” has become so diluted that no one can really interpret it anymore. This is where my perplexity begins.
The gospel that we are to preach; the gospel that pleases God; the one that is at the top of His “wish list,” is the one that results in another soul being saved. If you have any merit as a Christian at all, then you know what I am speaking is true. You know it because you were once unsaved and someone told you how to accept Christ as the atonement for your sins. You know it! You might have been saved for so long that you have forgotten it; or, you might have backslid from it, but you know it. You know it because the Holy Spirit is in you and He is constantly urging you to tell someone about God’s substitute for their sins. You know it! You are either ignoring it or you are evading it, but you know it!
Some people think that “preaching the gospel” is:
- Having a nice social where they all get together and have tea and cookies and bring a guest.
- Sell Amway or other self-marketing items
- Help people with their chores (i.e. wash their car; cut their grass; do their shopping; etc….).
- Joining ecumenical “Christian” activities.
- Letting their kids go to church while they stay home.
- Singing in the choir.
- Talking with the preacher.
- Reading their Bible.
- Supporting para-church groups.
- Helping others in their churches.
- Being friendly to people of other churches.
- Not offending anyone.
- Living a good life.
- Supporting the Red Cross.
- Feeding the poor.
The list is practically endless. If you think about it, many of these things are really good things to do. In fact most of them are good things to do. But, the gospel is not good things–It is good news of a certain kind. It is the good news that Christ came and died and shed His blood so that you can be free from your punishment if you so choose to accept THAT THING HE DID FOR YOU!
There is another grossly misused phrase amongst the so called “Christian community”. It is the phrase “accepted Christ” or “accepted Jesus.” To be saved, a person does not need to accept Christ or Jesus as much as they need to accept what He did for them, and that He alone could do it because HE IS GOD! To be saved, you must accept what He did, and who He is. It is a little incomplete to ask someone, “Have you accepted Jesus?” You must accept who He is, what He did and how He did it.
So, we have an army of so called “Christians” who have taken salvation freely, but after that, they could care less for the rest of the world. They are saved. They are living out their Christian life, getting along with others, being good church members, helping the elderly, etc… but they are not giving to God what He asked for. At the top of His wish list is: souls to be saved. That is what He wants. But what He gets is a bunch of “good stuff”, but it is not what He asked for. Just like I would feel a little rejected by getting clothes, a new lunch pail, shoes, toothpaste, or patches for my old jeans, the Lord God gets from us–GOOD WORKS, and feels a little unloved.
Can you imagine how God would feel if you brought to Him some souls that you worked hard to get saved. Have you ever opened the gift and said, “WOW! Just what I asked for! Thank you so much!”? Wouldn’t that be great if God could say the same thing over your life? Or, do we keep giving to Him a bunch of good junk? He wants us to love Him and love others. How does Christian involvement in ecumenical groups do that? Think about it! You know! You know what He wants First! You know because He told you. If you are not on track with that, then you are either ignoring Him or you don’t care.
“(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
After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said: “Let me see if I’ve got this right. You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning?”
“You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride?”
“You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job?”
“You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and make sure that they all pass the final exams?”
“You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card?”
“You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps?”
“You want me to do all this, and then you tell me……
I CAN’T PRAY?”
Psalm 91:1-6 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surley he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler and the noisome pestilence. He shall cover the with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
Each of us will at some point of out life experience those “dark hours.” These are the times when we feel that no one cares; no one is listening. It is at these times when we feel all alone against the raging storms of life and there is no hope for ever being happy again. We feel like giving up and allowing the destroyer to have his way with us. But, friend, these are also the times when the saints have God protecting and shielding us from the rages of the storms of life. We have a shelter in a time of storm.
God is always our protector, but He does not only do that by soaring in the lofty heavens, looking down like the ever watchful eagle, He also is very near to us. When the “noisome pestilence” of life finally drives us mad with desire to give up, He is there, covering us with the feathers of His wings. In this way He takes the brunt of the storm upon Himself; He is our shelter and warmth until the storm passes over. He holds us steady so we won’t fall to certain destruction. Why then do we not feel His ever presence? This happens all too often and we don’t “feel” Him there because we are too busy looking on the storm instead of snuggling into His loving embrace. Like the young, we too are disappointed that there is a storm so we cannot go out into the radiant sunshine an frolic for a little while. We are looking at our circumstances instead of our situation.
No one likes to go through a trial—a storm of life. They are not fun because we can’t go out and do what we want to do. Instead, we must stay inside under shelter. And here is the key—we cannot do what we want to do! The storms interrupt our plans. They always come at the most inconvenient times. They are never on our schedule of the day; our things-to-do-list. They are most troublesome by nature. But, it is only from the place of protection that we can be delivered from the storm; that we can be shielded from the trial. AND, whether we know it or not, it is in these times that we get closer to God.
Almost always, when a trial comes in our life, do we run to God for our help. Amazingly, the unsaved, unrepentant, atheist will do so as well. They are always willing to accept prayer for them in their time of trial or despair. They want to have the protection and hope that comes from a loving relationship with God, but don’t want to stay under His wing. Like a child on a playground who wants to climb the monkey bars on his own falls off and gets an owey, when the hurt comes, when there is pain, he immediately runs to mommy. Why is that? They want protection, warmth, shelter and security.
So friends, if you are going through a trial today, if you have been going through some despairing times, the very best thing for you to do is to run to God, get under His wing, snuggle up to Him, and wait out the storm.
“Nice words preacher, but can you be a little more practical?”
Yes! Go to the word of God. Open your Bibles and read some comforting words. Passages that will often meet the needs in times of trouble are mostly in the Psalms. There is much healing and relief in these passages. But that is not all. Pray! If you cannot find your way to God, ask Him to find you. If you seek Him, He will find you. And, when He does, He will protect you, love you, warm you and shelter you from all of the storms of life.
“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42).
There are many places where Jesus warned against the danger of false motives. In giving, He reminded us that we must not give our tithes in order to receive glory of people (Matt. 6:1–4). He also warned us against praying to receive applause of people; prayer is for conversing with God rather than a speech to be heard and admired by people (Matt. 6:5 – 6). He warned us against displaying our personal godliness by revealing our private spiritual disciplines so as to win the approval of people (Matt. 6:16–18). Regarding these two things, Jesus was talking to his disciples about proper motivation. He declared that all worship and service should be motivated by the single desire to please God.
A motive is something which “moves.” What the mainspring is to the clock, motives are to the Christian, what the motor is to the automobile. Motives certainly do affect our lives in many ways. Some examples of these are:
- Selfishness — everyone likes to feel important;
- Self-gratification — we like that which pleases us personally, and we like to have our own way;
- Self-interest — it is human nature for each of us to look out for the best interest of self. We find it easy, even if unconsciously, to ask, “What’s in it for me?”
One does not have to be an expert in motivational research to know that the above motives are inadequate for those who would invest their lives in the Service of God and others most effectively.
When examining the early church in the book of Acts, we discover what it was that made the church so effective. Just as well, we see that they did not serve purely out of love. They were human beings like us, and they served out of mingled motives rather than the pure motive of love for God and love for others.
The early church achieved one success after another in what appeared to be an impossible assignment with tremendous handicaps. The book of Acts is a thrilling success story. What were the motives of the early Christians? Can we have the same motives today? Why did the early Christians witness so faithfully?
They discovered the joy of being a bearer of good news (Acts 2:41 – 47; 5:42; 8:8). In obedience to the command of the Lord, by word of mouth, they spread the good news of his resurrection. They proclaimed God’s love for sinners and his desire to forgive sin. They could not conceal the good news that death had been defeated and that the grave had been robbed of its victory. This was such wonderful news that it brought joy to their hearts just to bear it. For them, witnessing about the saving acts of Jesus Christ was natural. Not to have done so would have been unnatural, inhuman, and unchristian for them. They received great inward joy through witnessing.
The early church recognized and responded to the authority of the crucified but risen and living Lord (Matt. 28:18b; Acts 2:36; 5:29). They believed that God had resurrected Jesus Christ from the dead and had bestowed upon him the authority of lordship. They believed that this gave Jesus the right to issue orders and to command their time, talents, testimony, and treasure.
These early Christians believed that it was right for them to obey Christ even if this obedience brought them into disfavor with both religious and civil authorities. At the risk of being imprisoned and beaten, they chose to obey the Lord.
Many of today’s Christians consider obedience as being optional. There seems to be little recognition of the present lordship of Jesus Christ. Consequently, disobedience characterizes the modern Christian more so than does obedience. Perhaps this is why the church is not effective today. Perhaps this is even why the world seems to be changing so drastically towards evil. It certainly has some effect, not only on the Christian, but on the world surrounding him as well. The motives of the Christians of the early church were a strong sense of duty, the desire to be obedient. This is the critical element that helped motivate the early church to be a faithful witness to their generation. They paid dearly for their motives, and their sacrifice made it easier on the church which was to follow. But today, there has been a moving away from what they gained in the world, and it is none more evident as it is in the USA, where everything seems to be “fundamentally changing.”
Yes, the early church suffered the shock of persecution (Acts 8:3–4). It was this persecution that scattered the early Christians, even though they were very nationalistic and felt that Christianity was a Jewish movement. They were prejudiced against Gentiles to the extent that God put forth special efforts to reveal that the Gentiles were also included in his love and purpose of redemption (Acts 10). Had it not been for the persecution that stirred up the church in Jerusalem, it is highly possible that Christianity never would have gained worldwide significance. The early Christians went everywhere preaching the Word, not because of the compulsion of compassion, but because they were scattered by persecution.
They could have given up on Christianity. They could have just quit. But, they were surrendered to the leadership of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:29; 10:19; 11:12; 13:2; 16:6). The Holy Spirit came into the church on the day of Pentecost to equip each believer to be a spokesperson for God (Acts 2:17–18). He came to lead, guide, and teach the disciples as the Lord had taught his apostles (John 14:26). The book of Acts is the dramatic account of divine initiative on the part of the Holy Spirit and human cooperation on the part of our Lord’s disciples. They lived and labored in fellowship with and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is still in the heart of each believer and in the church to carry on the work of the Lord today. We need faith to believe and accept that He is present; we need to surrender and cooperate with Him. We need to pray for His power as one of God’s best gifts (Luke 11:13).
The early church believed that all people separated from Christ were lost from God and did not know the way home (Acts 4:12). Have you ever been lost in a wilderness or desert? Were you ever lost as a child in the park or in a large department store? Can you remember the fright that filled your heart when you realized you were separated from loved ones and that you were in a position of danger? The unbelieving world knows that something is wrong, but many do not know what it is. People have a deep, unsatisfied longing in their hearts that the world, with its treasures and pleasures cannot satisfy. The Bible teaches, and experience verifies, that Jesus Christ provides the answers to the mystery and meaning of life.
The early church believed that people were lost from God and living under the condemnation of sin. They believed that humankind’s only hope of forgiveness was through faith in Jesus Christ. They believed that they had been entrusted with the good news that would make it possible for people to be saved from hell and to heaven where the deepest longings of the heart would find full satisfaction in continuing fellowship with God. Because they wanted all people to be saved, they continued to bear their witness.
It was the natural, normal, and proper thing for a Christian to talk about the joy and satisfaction of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior both in time and for eternity. Consequently, day by day and week by week in the temple, in the synagogues, on the highways and streets — anywhere and everywhere — these early disciples bore their witness. With mingled motives, they loved, they labored, and they lifted men and women toward God. May the same motives command our intellect, our emotions, and our energies in the Service of God and of a needy world.