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What is a friend? The world has its idea of what a friend is. They usually count a friend as being a resource; someone who can help you or give you things when you have needs. This kind of approach usually goes like this: “Oh good, they have a tractor. That will be good for me when I need one.” Some people, like the Chinese, take this one step farther with their principle called Guang Xi. This means that you keep trying to expand your “friend” base so you have access to as much resources as possible. Even though you may not like the person at all, if they have something you might need in the future, you call them friend so you can get access to it. In the world of politics, we call this corruption.
Even though Christians are in the world but not of the world, they still make friends; it is just that their basis for friendship has changed. For the Christian, a friend is a trusted confidant to whom you are drawn, or who is drawn to you. They are a companion and an ally, whose love for you is not dependent on your performance or what you can provide for them. Finally, and most importantly, a friend to the Christian is someone whose influence draws you closer to God.
Philippians 3:18-19 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
Paul experienced people who called him a friend but they were not. His sorrow over this was they were the enemies of Jesus Christ. This left no or little basis upon which to build a friendship. These “friends” were those who served fleshly appetites. They found humor in their shame and they had no concern for eternity. They were interested in the three greatest foes to the Christian: the World, the Flesh and the Devil.
Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
If you develop friendships where you don’t have the fundamental basic foundation in common, you are doing a disservice to that person and to yourself. That friendship is doomed to failure. If you find yourself in this situation, you should ask yourself, “Why am I even interest in this friendship? Is my motive so that it will benefit me? Or, is God putting us together?”
Developing the right kind of friendships can be difficult. It takes understanding of how friendships are established. The Child of God should approach making friends with the determination of “if you reject Christ then you must also reject me, for He is my greatest friend.” When asked to compromise or violate the Scriptures: smile and say, “No thank you. I’ve committed my life to Jesus and I don’t want to displease Him by doing that.” It is important to let God choose your friends, based on their needs and desire for God’s help and not worldly ambitions or desires.
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
Everyone has a limited capacity for friendship; you can’t be friends with everyone. Still, some people have more friends than others. This does not mean that some people don’t have any friends at all; each person has a different capacity for numbers of friendships and everyone has the capacity to develop intimate friends.
There are four levels of friendships:
- Acquaintances: With acquaintances, there is occasional contact and general conversation. Information is shared, but it is that which would be public anyway. For acquaintances, you are determining the spiritual basis for a friendship. People might have from 100-1500 acquaintances in their life. They are not friends—they are acquaintances.
- Casual Friends: Unsaved friends can only be casual friends. Some specific information is shared usually regarding goals, plans, etc., For casual friends you are usually trying to identify any positive qualities for the basis of a closer friendship (i.e. Is there a basis for fellowship?). People might have from 25-100 casual friends in their life.
- Close Friends: Close friends are those whom there is a basis for fellowship. This means they share with you common beliefs, standards and goals. Close friends can become mentors or mentored. They are those whom you become involved with projects together. People might have from 7-25 close friends in their life.
- Intimate Friends: These are those who are commonly called: “Best friends.” They are always available. Not only do they provide encouragement, but they are close enough to be able to tell you of blind spots in your life. It is the sharing of Godly standards and common goals that allows this deep level of friendship. People might have from 4-6 intimate friends in their life.
There is the Biblical basis for making friends. Now that there is a little more understanding of how friendships are established, lets make friends the right way: God’s way.
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.
SPANKING IS A PART OF PARENTING
Researchers say there is never a good reason for spanking your child. This is because social scientists decided many years ago to stamp out the evil of spanking. Unfortunately, their zealousness to remove God from society and the family will continue until spanking is outlawed or until it completely goes out of style. For them, truth does not matter when you have an agenda.
Man has been convinced of things that simply are not true. He has serious misconceptions about spanking children for disobedience. Unfortunately, most Christian parents today do not get their understanding of discipline from the Bible. They get it from the world. Here, we will show the scriptures that correct these parenting misconceptions.
Nothing God says in His Word and nothing said in this article makes allowance for true child abuse. Jesus was a protector of little children and we should be as well. Anyone who truly abuses a child deserves everything the law can throw at them. To permanently injure a child for any reason is a wicked act and it deserves swift and exact punishment.
Spanking can be misused in many ways. Love must still be the primary factor in parenting any child. Spanking can be too harsh, too inconsistent, too late, too hasty and too much. The fact that you spank your children does not make you a godly or righteous parent. You must use God’s wisdom and always deal with the child for his own good. There will be no lawsuits where the pastor or GBC will be used as an excuse for abusing or mistreating your children.
The only absolute authority for how to raise children is to be found in God’s word—the Bible. Preachers and teachers may make mistakes and teach things incorrectly. They are not the final authority. However, God’s word is always true. Raise your children according to the Bible and God will honor His word.
What are the misconceptions people have about spanking. You may be surprised to see them, one by one, dealt with in the book of Proverbs. We must all be ready to obey the Lord in these matters of parenting.
Spanking is an Act of Hatred:
There are parents who would not spank their children until they were so mad that they felt like spanking them. This is wrong and dangerous. You do not spank your children because you are mad at them. Spanking is not an act of hatred. God says that it is an act of love.
Proverbs 3:11 – “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”
Notice that God corrects (spanks) those He loves. His chastening hand is proof that He loves us. If he hated us, He would let us go our own way and head for destruction.
In fact, the Bible teaches that you show hatred toward your children by not correcting them. Proverbs 13:24 – “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” To withhold the rod of correction is to demonstrate hatred for your child. In a sense, if you do not correct your children, you are saying, “Go on; head for ruin and destruction; I don’t care.”
Of course you really love your children. That is why you must show it by correcting them when they disobey. Correct them by spanking them. Show them how much you love them.
In love, there will probably be times when you actually cry with your children before you spank them. This is where it is said, “this will hurt me more than it will hurt you.” Then you explain that statement by telling them that you must punish them because you love them too much to let them go the way they were going.
When you spank your children for the right reasons, it is an act of love. Do you see it as an act of love? Do you express your love in your time of correction?
In these times, we need to refocus on our church. One of the primary reasons we’re here is to share and live the Gospel and invite people to join His kingdom. The church that Jesus established is the display of God’s glory on earth, and we believe the church should be central to our lives and faith. So inviting people to our church is part of our core mission. Here’s some great innovative church invitation ideas to help you invite people to your church. You don’t need me to organize it…you and your small group, class or friends can just do it. At every one of these, you can pass out tracts and invite people to church.
- Grill out for the employees of a company or business.
- Set up a party trailer and a grill, at any community events.
- Dress up like a Star Wars character wherever there are people and take pictures with kids and families. Give them a special invite card with the location they can download the picture. You will have a blast and invite a bunch of people to church.
- Tailgate at high school football games. Give away hot dogs and invite people.
- Set up a moonwalk at a local park while events are happening.
- Volunteer at community runs and bike races
- Hand out coffee or hot chocolate at events downtown
- Give out hand warmers at winter events like the Christmas parade
- Provide “full service” at a local gas station – wash windows and leave a car freshener
- Show free family movies on Friday nights
- Help local schools with their fall festivals. Instead of re-creating the wheel, just help a school make their event better.
- Take professional pictures at local school talent shows
- Visit a nursing home
- Take a couple of hours and put out door hangers in your neighborhood or apartment complex.
- Be intentional about coaching a kids sports team.
- You and your kids set up a lemonade stand.
- Have a free garage sale…give away things and invite people to church
- Do a free car wash
- Walk around a neighborhood and collect canned food. Invite people to church while asking for food.
- Hand out helium balloons at special events
- Get a truck, ladder and a bunch of light bulbs and walk around and ask people if they need light bulbs changed.
- Set up a bounce house in front of a store. Managers are often open to anything that draws attention to their store.
- Put out road signs on the weekend (did you know most people who attend our church for the first time do so because they saw a road sign?)
- Put a giant leaf sign in the back of your truck. Politicians do it – our cause is way more important!
- Give away Oak Leaf silly bandz anywhere there are kids.
- Enter a float in one of the parades. Walk along side it and give away candy and invites.
- Take doughnuts to school teachers. Simply email the principal and ask if you can do it, set a day, and make it happen.
- Get a giant backpack sprayer and offer to spray for bugs in people’s homes. It might seem strange, but what a great way to talk to someone and invite them to church.
- Salt driveways when it ices during the winter.
- Help with field days at a local elementary school. What school wouldn’t appreciate volunteers?
- Take food to fire stations. Let them know you appreciate them and that they are always welcome at your church.
- Valet cars when a school has an open house.
- Provide childcare for high school graduations.
- Cook team meals before home games at local sporting events
- Pass out candy and invites at your own house on Halloween, or downtown where hundreds of children come to trick or treat every year.
- Better yet…come up with your own idea, get your friends or group involved, and make it happen. Let us know how we can help.
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.
Motives for “getting people in.”
The modern, progressive church has failed on many fronts because they have failed to think of GOD. While they are busy changing to keep up with the times, God still remains the same. When the church changes their approach on worship they’re doing so to accommodate themselves not God. There are actually thinking about themselves. This is wrong! Since He is the creator, and man is the created, it is up to man to conform to His image, not the other way around.
God is not a god of the gimmicks. He does not need to appeal to the flesh in order to try to get some people to like Him. Man needs to satisfy the flesh, but God does not. God’s plan for the flesh is to burn it up when He burns the entire world (2 Peter 3). He loathes the flesh of unrighteousness and will give new bodies to all of His saints.
When the church continually tries new things just to “get people in,” you have to question their motives: Do they want to actually reach more people for Christ? Or do they want to build their congregations so they can be thought of as “successful” according to the world’s standards?
The only thing that God needs for people to fall in love with Him is His word: the Bible. The flesh doesn’t want to read it, and no wonder why; guess who else would not want you to read it?
Micah 3:5 Thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him.
There are false prophets that actually cause people to err from the truth. They are a stumbling block to people, causing them to follow lies. God identifies these prophets as those who declare “peace” but He never gave them that message to give. They are the enemies of God. Jesus said that He did not come to bring peace on the earth, but a sword (Matt. 10:34). On the other hand, on the night He was born, the angels in heaven declared Peace on earth, good will toward men (Luke 2:14).
There is only peace in Jesus Christ. There is no peace in anything outside of Him. If you are in Jesus Christ, even though there is turmoil and destruction all around you, you will be at peace because you know where you are going. However, if you are outside of Jesus Christ, you will never experience peace. You will have to bear the brunt of turmoil and destruction and there is no amount of humanistic help that can soothe you.
BEWARE of those who proclaim PEACE who are not offering Jesus Christ as that peace!
“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.
Starting a new church in a community is not an easy task at all. It takes time and devotion. There will be joy as well as anguish. As it grows and is able to stand on it’s own two feet, it will take on a mind of it’s own; it will strive for independence, not from God, but from those who helped start it. This is a good sign, for then, and only then, could you say, “It is established.” But until that time, there is much to pay attention to, and much to do.
Babies are funny creatures. They are so innocent and helpless. They need to be taught everything they are going to learn except crying. Boy, do babies know how to cry! The tiniest of human beings can sure make a loud sound when they want or need something. Then we must find out what it is that they need and take care of it. Sometimes it is changing a diaper, other times it is feeding. There are even times when they are sick and we have to figure out what to do. That is the problem—figuring out what the baby needs. This is because they can’t talk to us and say, “Hey Mom, you’re a little tardy with the food this morning. Don’t you know that I am supposed to be fed on my schedule and not yours?” They just say, “WAHAAAHHHHH!” and we jump into action. In fact, the whole house jumps into action, and we quickly learn that the whole house revolves around the baby.
Babies are expensive. They need “baby things.” You can’t just give a baby an old stick from the back yard and expect them to “make believe” they have a doll or something. You have to get them “baby dollies,” and they don’t come cheap. They have to be made for the safety and development of the baby. Not only that, you have to get a whole new assortment of furniture, just for the baby. There are: cribs, changing tables, hampers, high chairs, rockers, and a bunch of other little things. There are doctor visits too. Babies need to keep going to the doctor to check their development. All of this to say, if you love your baby, you will get as many things you can to help the baby grow. Why? Because you love the baby and want it to grow up.
Now you know that you must feed a baby. If you don’t feed the baby, and ignore its cries, things for the baby don’t just stay the same—they get worse. If you don’t feed the baby, the baby doesn’t just stay in that level or growth and development until you resume feeding again. The baby begins to regress. It begins to deteriorate. If you took a 6 month old child and stuck them in a closet somewhere for a few years and then pulled them out, you wouldn’t have a healthy 6 month old baby to resume feeding and care for. That baby would have regressed until it died. This is a frightful thought to say the least. The point is, you must keep maintaining the child for it to develop. It needs a carefully managed diet. It needs lessons in things like walking, holding spoons, sitting up and many more things. If you stop the lessons, the baby begins to lose the things it has learned and does not develop. In fact it doesn’t just stay idle, it regresses. Babies must be cared for if they are to keep developing! If you don’t care for it, then it begins shrinking and getting weak.
Starting a new church is much like having a baby and raising it up. It does not just grow on its own. The first part of its growth is like the womb phase. It must be comforted in the warmth and love of its mommy’s tummy. There it knows it is protected and cared for. It grows in love, nurture and admonition. It hasn’t a care in the world except growing to its birth. It is totally dependent on its mother.
New church starts too are dependent on their mothers—that is their mother churches. The mother church is not to be confused with the Catholic Church which is often referred to as “the mother church.” It is a reference to the church that sends out the preacher or missionary for the purpose of starting a church in another place. The church that sends out the missionary is like: “the Mother Church.” Another reference to it in this day and age is: “the Sending Church.” Without a mother church, there is no “womb phase” for the starting church. There can be no church if there is no “womb phase.” This is the phase where the sending church helps the baby church get started. This usually happens by training up a preacher to this cause. Then sending some people from the mother church to go and help canvass neighborhoods to get a small group to form the church. The sending church typically supports the pastor financially in some way and helps provide necessary equipment like, pews, pulpits, etc. for the church to get started. This is the womb phase. It is a very delicate phase for a new church and it is important for them to know that they are safely snug in their mommy’s tummy; protected and cared for. Without this phase, it is nearly impossible for any new church to be born, for it can be compared with having a premature baby. When babies come pre-mature, it is a very delicate and critical time, because they can easily die. So it is with a new church start.
Once a church is born, it is still not healthy enough to walk on its own. It still needs help learning how to walk, hold its spoons, bottles, etc. It only learns this from watching others, and that is almost always its mommy. Again, this is where the sending church is crucial. As the devil would like for children to remain undeveloped, so would he like new churches to remain that way. Someone needs to gently guide, comfort and encourage the baby in its growth. So is it with a new church.
As the sending church is crucial in this roll, so do the members of the church plant have responsibility. Their responsibility is to respond to and learn the lessons being taught it. That is, if they are to remain safe from the devil’s attacks. The members of the church plant have the difficult job of learning and growing. This cannot be done if they refuse to do the things necessary to grow. If they don’t try to develop, they never will. Just like the baby who begins growing finds it new and difficult to learn crucial lessons like crawling and then walking, the church has the same difficulty. Prior to this, mommy is doing everything for the baby, but now she is beginning to make the baby stand up, or crawl. The mother church begins this long arduous weaning process. As this happens, more and more of the members have to pitch in and work. If they do not, the church will fail. The members cannot go on in their “comfort zone” forever. They must begin working, if they truly want a church.
There are times when babies need their diapers changed and need to be cleaned up. It is the same way with the church. When the baby gets dirty, all it can do at first is to just yell and cry. Amazingly, that seems to be the same way it goes in new churches. People seem to just scream and cry about the dirty condition of the church, but no one does anything about it. All they want is the loving touch of mommy to take away the problem for them, but guess what; they eventually have to learn to use the potty just like the big kids do. If members of a church plant are ever to develop to an established church, they will need to learn how to deal with their own dirty diapers; they will need to learn how to go to the potty. This equates to growing as a Christian. It means that they become proactive in HELPING each other and not tearing each other down. It takes a loving, kind and patient heart to work with a baby until it learns how to use the potty. Church members should be the same way to each other.
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).
Some motivations for not having sex before marriage are wrong. They can be just as wrong as having sex before marriage. One such wrong motivation is fear: fear of being found out, fear of pregnancy, fear of a disease, fear of the opinions of others.
One proper motivation for doing God’s will is love of our neighbor. The neighbor we are to love as ourselves can be our neighbor’s daughter. Also, your neighbor can be one who will be your wife. And your neighbor is your parents or your future wife’s parents, both of whom would be hurt terribly when your sin is discovered.
But the main motivation is the love of God. Love God for the salvation He has so freely given. Love God for all things, including the sexual desires He has given. Submit your sexuality, along with everything else you are and have, to Him. Let your love for Him drive you to strive to please Him in all of your conduct, including your conduct on a date.
1 John 4:1-3 says, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
The world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket. As we talk to those who are older than us and they tell us how the world used to be, it seems that things really couldn’t get much worse. In the last year it seems that things have been accelerating, like the gas pedal for progress has been stuck and we can’t get the transmission back in neutral. It seems like we are bound head long for disaster.
As the economoy falls down around us with prices rising, hours being cut back, jobs being lost, despair takes over and hope waines. The proud steps of advancement are turning into so many stumbles. How did this come about? It is a wholesale turning away from the Creator. It has been a change that has slowly crept up upon society which seems to have suddenly sprung wide open, but this is not so, it has been steadly changing all along.
Change is a good thing if it is in the right direction, but no change that moves away from the Lord Jesus Christ is good. Any change in that direction is doomed to failure. Now, more than ever, the world needs change, but that change is not a political change; it is not a social change; it is not an economic change: it is a spiritual change. It is a change of direction beginning at the personal level and then growing through the family level to the associates level which will affect the community and sift up to affect the nation.
The Nation needs change! The World needs Change! And it needs change now—change in the right direction! Change that no man can promise us. It is a subtle lie to think that change lies within us if we pool our collective talents together. It is a lie to think that shareing our wealth can bring about the change that we need. My friends—NO WE CAN’T do it, but THE LORD JESUS CHRIST CAN! And, any change outside of Him is just man trying to elevate Himself to the point of godhood, when mans record over the annals of time shows that he can do nothing for himself. Now, more than ever, the world needs change; change in three parts:
First we need physical change. We need to go back to where we used to be when we were receiving the great blessings of God. If we stayed with God in the first place, we would have been better off. The Bible says that we should “…meddle not with them that are given to change:” (Pro 24:21). If its good and you change it, it can only get better or worse. These are the only direction change can take. Where are we now as a nation? Better off or worse off? What are some physical things we can do to affect the positive change that we really need?
I believe that we, as a nation, need more Churches. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 3:15 “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” Churches are folding up at an alarming rate. More men are quitting the ministry than there are who are getting into it. Without churches, there is no place for people to go to get instruction and training in the Lord. Not only that, the church provides a place of fellowship with like minded believers. Without churches, there is no training up the next generation for the Lord; there is an absence of morality being taught to our posteriety. There is no use worring about them having money to spend if there is no morality governing their actions.
Churches are the only place that people can go to learn about right and wrong, truth and lies, morality and immorality, hope and disparity, life and death, from the right perspective and without interference from the government and political cronies. Without churches, our society would quickly fall into anarchy and that’s why the Devil would like to close all churches.
We also need more Bibles. Hebrews 4:12 says, “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.” We don’t need more different versions of the Bible, we need more access and availability of the Pure word of God—The King James Bible (Psalm 12:6-7). Even though the text is not copywritten, so-called “Christian Book Stores” have very few King James Bibles available. They push the NIV or the ASV or any other version except the Bible version that pioneered this country; the one that is promised to be preserved by God; the one that is named after a King with a Jewish name; the only one that boldly proclaims the word: “AUTHORIZED;” the one that clearly proclaims a trinity; the one that preaches the blood sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ; the one that was not translated from Catholic manuscripts; the one that the martyrs died for. Should I go on? We need more doctrince being preached from this monarch of Books—the King James Bible.
We need more Displays of the Ten Commandments in our schools and public fascilities. Deuteronomy 6:9 commands us: “And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” Taking the Ten Commandments out of our schools and public buildings is the beginning of forgetting about God. It is like putting your head in the sand regarding the presence of God in our society. It shows the world that this nation is not serious about their thankfulness to God for it’s birth.
The atheist may think they are cool for all of their innovative ways of getting attention, but there is a reckoning coming. God’s standard does not change. If you take them out of society, that does not get rid of God; it only deprives the younger generation of the knowledge that you were privileged to have. Taking a speeding ticket that you received and tearing it up and putting it in the fire does not negate your responsibility for paying the fine.
We need more Witnesses. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The more witnesses we have, the easier it is to run the race. The easier it is to live for the Lord. When there are few witnesses to how you are living your life, there is little accountability and it is easier to sin. That is why social networking is so popular; you can say things to people that you would otherwise not say face to face.
We need more witnesses for the Lord. Society wants us to think that they have the upper hand; they want us to think that we are outnumbered, but the battle is already won. Our captian has won the victory and has been a burr in their saddle ever since He proved it with His resurrection. They can’t stand it. It just makes them so mad they could spit. We need the saints to realize that there is a great message to proclaim. Pull out all of the stops. Go on the offensive. Put Jesus in every aspect of society. Call people randomly and tell them about Jesus. Mail them a letter, hold up a sign, hand out a tract, go door to door, give a word of encouragement. Tell them the good news. Excersize our rights as Christians.
We need more dedication to family. Try as they may, the family unit is not dead. Those who pervert it would have us to believe that it has changed and no longer exists, but it is thriving. There are not as many perverts as they would have us to believe. We need to stick together as families. That is a father, mother and children. It is not a father-father or mother-mother. The definition of family can never change no matter what is done to the dictionary. Family was established by GOD and that history can never be erased. That makes them mad. It makes them so angry they lose their minds. That is why they are so violent, aggressive and looney. They don’t think right; they don’t think straight. They even proclaim themselves to be crooked/perverted every time they call us “straight”. Well the Bible says to “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt 7:13-14). Martin Luther King Jr. said that, “the church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.”
As long as we have freedom, we need to take advantage of it. More Christians need to take advantage of their liberty in Christ. John 8:36 says, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” The Devil would have us believe that being a Child of God means living under the crushing weight of the thumb of God. Oh, on the contrary, to come to the Lord Jesus Christ is to have freedom like none other. It is freedom from the claws of the Devil and His crowd and it was purchased for us by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary. He bought you with a price (1 Cor. 6:20) and then set you free. You are owned by Him but not enslaved by Him. You are set free!
Of their free will and volition, Christians happily serve Him out of love and a deep sense of gratitude. The world cannot understand that. They are kicking and scratching, lying and deceiving, maneuvering and influencing each other to get higher and higher in society when Christians have already arrived. They are the happy children of the King—the creator of all things.
We need more application of God’s word. James 1:25 tells us, “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” Its not enough to just hear God’s word preached; its not enough to read God’s word, it must be put into practice. God wants us to love the world in spite of all of its wickedness; in spite of all of it’s stupidity; in spite of all of it’s ignorance, we were once there. Now, we have an education that answers all of the questions of life; answers that the world just does not have.
The first application of God’s word is to get saved. Then to grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The reason that the world thinks that Christians are supposed to be these “lovey-dovey,” “tip-toe through the tulip” kind of “sickening sweet” Christians is because they have never read the Book. They are just ignorant and foolish, prejudice and biased. Apply God’s word. Tell them how to get saved and then read the Book and live by it. Love your God in Heaven first and then your neighbor as you love yourself and don’t ever get it out of order.
“We teach what we know; we reproduce what we are.” Robert Schmidgall. Romans 8:6 tells us, “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
We need more growth in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 3:2-3 says, “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisionsa, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” Spiritual change can only be affected by growing up in the Lord. There are too many spiritual babies in society today. They are full of fluff. They live off of the milk of God’s word while ignoring the meat. They have not developed or grown and when they are fed meat of God’s word, they choke on it. They are critical and selfish. If there is going to be any spiritual change or maybe even revival, we need to have more spiritual soldiers for the Lord. That can only be done by feeding them a stronger and stronger diet of spiritual food and get away from the milk of God’s word. What the world needs now is more growth in the Lord.
We need more people saved. In 1 Timothy 2:4 we read, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” God wants everybody to be saved. Saved from a life of eternal separation from Him. He created man to have fellowship with Him. It is not just: “Your God” or “My God,” He is everyone’s God and just because people don’t accept Him, does not change that fact. If there is going to be any real change in this world, we need more people saved.
There needs to be more exalting of the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, “And I, if I be lifted up, from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). The world is bent on lifting itself up. They lift up their intelligence, beauty, position, health, and anything else they can to make themselves powerful. But the Lord Jesus Christ has all of the power that there is. He is already above all people but they just don’t reckon it. We need national leadership who is not afraid to pray. Someone with a lilttle guts; a little grit. Someone with a little experience. Someone who is not ashamed to reckognize that this country was founded out of a deep commitment for the Lord Jesus Christ and His word.
We need preachers and churches who are not afraid to stand for the principles of God’s word and not keep searching for a Bible what appeases the masses so they can build their spiritual empire. We need Christians who are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ and know that it is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16). What the world needs now is a healthy exhaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Winston Churchill said, “a fanatic is someone who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”
What the world needs now is more prayer to God. We don’t need to get all lined up and bow down in a “line-dancing” specticale. We need true praying to the true God. Not “whatever you perceive God to be.” He is a true God. A real God. There should be NO restrictions to who can pray to Him or where they can pray to Him or when they can pray to Him. He is real and we have access to Him anytime we want if we sincerely seek Him and not the admiration of any man. If there is to be any real change in the world, we need to be able to pray to God. Don’t speak to us hypocritically about “open and transparency” or “freedom of speech” while trying to stifle open and free communication with the Creator of the Universe and all things contained therein. It just doesn’t make sense unless, “open and transparent” or “freedom of speech” means, “I get to say what I want and the rest of you SHUT UP!”
We certainly need more of Christ in the nation! 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 says, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”
What the world needs now is not love, it is Jesus. The world has had it’s chance and it is not going to change. It needs the Lord Jesus Christ to come back. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Hebrews 13:8) There is no change that this world needs other than to go back to living under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. If this change is not made, then there is no hope. ~Pastor Coale
a divisions: or, factions
Psalm 116:17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.
Recently, when I read this verse of scripture, the Lord grabbed my attention to the phrase: “the sacrifice of thanksgiving.” I have read the Bible through several times and never noticed this phrase. I guess I assumed that it was a common phrase so there was nothing exceptionable about it. It is amazing however, to read through the Bible continually and find one nugget that you always knew existed, yet you never noticed before. “Thanksgiving of sacrifice.” I wondered what it could mean. I saying “thank you” to the Lord considered a “sacrifice?”
When I teach others how to interpret the Bible, I always emphasize reading the verse in context as well as comparing scripture with scripture (1 Cor. 2:13). Comparing Scripture with Scripture is vital to understanding everything about a given truth. The things of God are best interpreted by the words of God, and the greatest interpreter of the Bible is the Bible itself.
The phrase “sacrifice of thanksgiving” is only mentioned in 6 verses of the entire Bible:
- Leviticus 7:12 If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried.
- Leviticus 7:13 Besides the cakes, he shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offerings.
- Leviticus 22:29 And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.
- Psalm 107:22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.
- Psalm 116:17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.
- Amos 4:5 And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.
Now we know that it is appropriate to be thankful to the Lord for what He has done for us. If your heart has been touched by the Lord at all, then you are truly thankful for you know the value of the gift He has given you freely, as well as knowing the price that He had to pay to purchase it. I mean, in the shadow of such understanding, only a truly touched person could be seriously thankful. The Lord likes such thanks. He does not give us gifts because His ego is tremendous and he relishes and lives for the thanks of our hearts, but He does enjoy knowing that we are thankful, for it demonstrates our complete understanding of what He is doing for us.
Every person of old who brought an offering to God was griping internally at the obligation. It was not easy to bring unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil. It took work to make cakes mingled with oil of fine flour and fry them. You had to put some time in to make unleavened bread in the middle of the wandering in the Sinai desert. It cut into your provisions to make all of that for the sacrifice. Every one of them fretted that he had lost something by giving up their food to the Lord, and for what? It more often than not resulted in every person who put something on the altar being inwardly consumed with anger that he had to give up something he wanted for himself. They all felt needy. They all felt like victims of religious tyranny. Because of their attitudes, God was outraged that they were all so busy worshiping themselves that they cannot find place to worship Him. God wanted one thing from them: he wanted them to stop worshiping themselves.
This is why He implements a “sacrifice of thanksgiving.” This is why he says that “those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me.” They are the people who recognize that “every wild animal of the forest is [God’s].” They are the people who know that they can’t give God anything; it all belongs to him already. They are the people who thank God for all his gifts and for his provision for their every need and for the animal that they put on the altar. The people who give thanks for the sacrificial animal also give thanks for God’s sovereignty. They don’t feel they have lost something when they give God what is his already.
Jesus talked about the same thing. Jesus, God in flesh, said that people who wanted to follow him had to deny self first. In other words, they had to stop worshiping themselves and feeling like victims every time there was some inconvenience or persecution or loss.
We all do it. It comes time to put money in the offering envelope, and it is hard to let go of that money, because the credit card bill is shockingly larger than expected this month. The church asks for volunteers to help serve food to homeless people on Saturday morning, and it seems like a great imposition on the only day you can sleep in. The youth director asks if you are willing to be a chaperon for the summer youth mission project, and you think, “But I only have two weeks of vacation a year. There goes one of them.” We all think we have rights, and we think we have ownership, and we think God asks too much.
God doesn’t ask much at all. All he really asks for is integrity and honesty. He wearies of never hearing a “Thank you” when every good gift we have in life is a gift from him.
The sacrifice of thanksgiving is not a barely audible “Thank you” choked out through clenched lips by a pouting child. We give the sacrifice of thanksgiving when we pray as we are taught by Christ, the one who sacrificed himself for us on the cross, “Thy will be done.”
It seems a bit disproportionate to read the detailed Law of Moses given by God at Sinai, and then to hear God say simply through Asaph, “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me.” But there is also a refreshing, unburdening confidence that washes over my soul when I consider that God is most pleased by simple, humble gratitude.
How quickly do we begin to think that God is most pleased with our rituals, our devotions, our meetings, and our offerings. We become the givers, and He becomes the recipient. We become the benefactors, He the beneficiary. We busy ourselves and run ourselves ragged attempting to please Him through activity and efficiency, sadly forgetting the sweetness of His grace and the simplicity of the gratitude that He desires.
The danger of sacrifices and rituals is that we are increasingly tempted to believe that we have something to offer God, when the sacrifice is actually meant to demonstrate that we are coming to God as His debtors. We start to assume that God needs what we’re presenting to him, an idea as offensive as it is ridiculous. We become like a convicted criminal congratulating himself on his morality as he offers his monetary fine to the judge who gave him a merciful sentence.
With incredible yet subtle audacity, we find ourselves believing that God is actually impressed. Not only is this blasphemous and horrifically backward, it is also binding. Once I believe that I have impressed God, I am bound to have to do it again. Like making a magical first impression that I can never live up to, I am enslaved to endless and exhausting efforts to win Him over.
This is why I am grateful for Asaph’s rich meditation in Psalm 50. Because he tells us that there are two simple ways to glorify God: to ask (v. 15) and to thank (v. 23). Better to come to God with no offering and a heart of gratitude than to come with the riches of a king and a spirit of self-sufficiency. Of course, better still to pour out offerings and sacrifices from a spirit of gratitude. Either way, may we always remember which one the Lord loves first, and loves best.
“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” This a precious admonition to the humble in heart, to those who tremble at God’s holiness and find themselves desperate before His perfect law. He is pleased most of all when we need Him, when we cry out to Him, when we call upon His name. In Psalm 50, God does not want my devotion. He wants my desperation, so that grace can overflow into gratitude.
Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High. (Psalm 50:14). What does God want from us? He does not want mere hymn singing, although that is fine. Nor does He want only prayer, although that too is fine. He does not simply want our attendance, although that is fine. What He wants, first, is a thankful heart. That is what He seeks, a thankful heart. Each one of us is to offer to Him the sacrifice of thanksgiving. A sacrifice is something into which we put effort; it costs us. Have you ever asked yourself why the Scriptures stress thanksgiving so much? Both the Old and New Testaments emphasize that above everything else, God wants thankfulness. Give thanks in all circumstances, says the apostle Paul, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Why is this? It is because thanksgiving only comes as a result of having received something. You do not give thanks until you have received something that comes from someone else. Therefore thanksgiving is the proper expression of Christianity, because Christianity is receiving something constantly from God.
Of course if you have not received anything from God, then you have nothing to thank Him for. Though you come to the service, you really have nothing to say. God is a realist. He does not want fake thanksgiving. I know there are certain people (and they are awfully hard to live with) who think that Christianity consists of pretending to be thankful. They think it means screwing a smile on your face and going around pretending that troubles do not bother you. That is a most painful form of Christianity. God does not want you to go around shouting, Hallelujah! I’ve got cancer! But there is something about having cancer to be thankful for. That is what He wants you to see. There are aspects of it that no one can possibly enjoy, but there are other aspects that reveal purpose, meaning, and reason. God wants you to see this–what He can do with that situation and how you can be thankful. Thanksgiving is the first thing He wants in worship.
The second thing is an obedient will. Fulfill your vows to the Most High. Notice the kind of obedience it is. It is not something forced upon you; it is something you have chosen for yourself. A vow is something you decide to give, a promise you make because of truth you have seen. You say, I never saw it like that before. I really ought to do something about it. God helping me, I’m going to do such and such. That is a vow. God says, I’m not asking you to do things you have not yet learned are important. But when you have vowed something, then do it. Act on it. Obey it.
Contentment is not something you simply obtain.
You do not wake up one day and find that you are suddenly content. Neither do you just get old enough and that makes you content. Contentment is something that is learned.
Paul said, “…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Phil. 4:11). Paul admits that he had to learn contentment. It was not one of his personality traits, nor was it a special ability that he had. It was something that he had to learn from the time he was very young until the day that he wrote these words to the Philippians.
As a young man, Paul sought his fortune and fame, as do other young men. He thought he found it in the profession of a Pharisee. As a young Pharisee during the time of the first persecution of Christians, he excelled. He was poised for greatness because he was in on the movement from the “ground floor.” He had been recognized for his zeal and was commissioned to root out and destroy Christians wherever he could. But even though he made a name for himself, he still found no contentment.
He found no contentment when he finally met Jesus face to face on the road to Damascus, but this is where his lessons in contentment began. He was blinded after the encounter and did not know if he would ever get his sight back. He needed to learn to accept his blindness. He could either have felt pity on himself, or make use of his life as he could. But God had another plan. And so the trials, troubles, sufferings and persecutions began until one day, in a letter to his friends, he writes, “…I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
Contentment begins with knowing God (Matt. 6:31-34.) A person will never be content living in this world if they do not first learn how to live a Godly life. If you come to the point in your relationship with God that you seek Him first, then you learn how to live Godly. But it doesn’t stop right there. You must learn not only how to seek Him first, but to depend on His love for you; that you will be okay under His leadership, love and care. In short, you must learn not only how to seek God first, but to give Him your problems and stop worrying over them; depend on Him being bigger than any problem you could ever have. These are hard lessons to learn. Oh, it is not so hard to take our troubles to God, but it is difficult for us to leave them with Him. We show this by worrying about our troubles. You can already see how to live a stress free, content life when you have nothing to worry about anymore.
Contentment benefits living in this world (1 Tim. 6:6-9). We must understand that we absolutely own nothing. We must have the higher view of our life; that we brought nothing into this world, and when we go, we will take nothing out. Even our legacy is not in our hands, it is in the hands of those left behind. It is a false understanding to think you have made a difference in the world because any difference you made or not, is in the hands of those you leave it with. It is not under your control. We are on a pilgrimage that is preparing us for heaven. Yes, God can miraculously make us prepared for entrance to heaven when the time comes, but in His infinite wisdom, He has seen fit to teach us about our upcoming life in heaven now. The sooner we see that life does not surround ambitions of the world, the sooner we will live a content life. This way, we can go to our jobs and places of work with joy and not stress. In fact, we can be happy all day long because we realize that the things now trivial, were once big things to us. You can easily see how contentment is learned by just having the proper perspective on life in general.
Contentment comes from seeking first a life with Jesus. (Heb. 13:5-6) It comes by understanding that He means what He says and says what He means. He says, “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” You cannot get any more content in life than to live a life understanding that the one who holds you in His arms is the Lord Jesus Christ, and He won’t drop you or let go. Babies trust their mothers all the way up to the time that mommy makes them do something that they don’t like. They are content in their mothers arms until mommy does something that they don’t like. It may be giving a bath, or changing a diaper, but whatever it is, this is where the trust is lost. When they realize that mommy just did something for their overall good, even though it was uncomfortable for a spell, then the trust is returned. The baby learns how to trust their mommy. Likewise, Christians should learn how to learn contentment by growing up in the Lord; communing with Him and learning how to trust Him. You can easily see that the closer and more often you are with the Lord, the easier it is to be content.
So Paul says that he had to learn contentment. He is no different than any other man. We all must learn how to be content. Is your life troubled? Do you feel so overwhelmed that you think you need to see a counselor to help you get your life back on track? Do you have the tendency to turn to drinking or drugs to give you peace? Then you are seeking an instant, microwave portion of contentment, but it does not exist. You must learn how to be content. God will make sure that, one way or another, you will learn how to be content with Him. The only question is: just how much tribulation, trials or suffering you must go through to learn contentment.
Matthew 9:13 …for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
The Lord Jesus Christ makes it very clear that He did not come to the earth to call the righteous to repent. The righteous have no need to repent; they are already “right” with God. Their problems with sin are already taken care of. However, God’s opinion is that there are none who are righteous except the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
The person, who feels they are “right” with God, will never come to the Lord. They will make excuse after excuse to avoid a confrontation with God. They justify keeping control of their life by convincing themselves that they are “right” with God.
On the other hand, the person who feels there is something that is not “right” between them and God will come to Jesus. Because the Lord is perfect and they are not, there is a repentant attitude that accompanies them. These are the people that the Lord Jesus came to the world to call.
Do you have a need for Christ? Are you righteous or a sinner? You can be right by agreeing with God and coming to Him as a sinner. Only then can your sin problem be solved and you can be “right” with God.
Ephesians 6:11-17 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
God has a specific manner in which He would have the Christian dress to successfully navigate his earthly pilgrimage. It is not a set of lounging pajamas, nor is it a “dress for success” in the world outfit. It is not a set of rugged work clothes or rain gear. It is called the whole armour of God, and many Christians forget that it is available to them.
Every Christian is to grow up to be a warrior for Christ. As warrior, we must be prepared to defend against the many assaults of the world. Likewise, we should be prepared to attack the influences of evil wherever it reveals itself. When God tells us to “STAND”, He means that we are to “defend the faith once delivered to the saints.” From the very beginning, Christianity has been attacked. False teachers have “crept in unawares” for the purpose of “modernizing” (changing) the way Christ wanted the church to be. There has been a constant bombardment to make the church something appealing to man, taking it farther and farther from the truth. This we must not allow. WE MUST STAND FAST!
Not only are we to stand, but wherever we see one of our enemies: the world, the flesh or the devil, we are to go on the offensive. We must not let them destroy our lives, families, churches, communities or the Bible. We are to do what we can to fight the enemy away. Our Captain, as well as other Christians are in the fight. We too must get prepared and get into it as well. David fought Goliath, Samson with the Philistines, Gideon with the Midianites, and Nehemiah with Sanballat and Tobiah. They didn’t just defend their ground, they took up the offensive against the enemy.
We must be on the watch constantly; watching and praying that we enter not into temptation (Matt. 26:41). Our nature is that we are very willing in mind to do something for the Lord, but our old flesh is not. Self agrees to allow the tongue to say, “I’ll do it” when the brain sends that thought on. But when it comes time, Self always betrays us, turning us into a hypocrite. Then we feel defeated and hesitate to “show our face” again. This is one tactic for getting us out of the battle. To deal with this we must ask the Lord to “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” We can ask Him to guide our steps to avoid the pitfalls of temptations that we would have come into contact with unless He does. And if we do not follow His guidance, and come in contact with a temptation anyway, we can ask Him to warn us and give wisdom so we can run from it as quick as we can (note: When you run from something, you are running to something as well–Run to the Bible).
Now there are special times when many Christians are destroyed by temptations because they let down their guard. Some of these times are: summer vacation, holidays, times of sickness and times of success. During these times Christians are most vulnerable to attack. When we are out of schedule or not feeling well, we tend to let our guard down. I have many times seen Christians in church and at the altar during times of trial or tribulation in their life. But, when the Lord allows them a successful outcome, they start to slip in attendance, tithing and involvement. They become prideful and comfortable and it seems like the don’t need God anymore because they can now handle things on their own. I often wonder if the Lord allows for trouble in our lives because He knows that is what we need to drive us to church to hear His word.
The Lord Jesus Christ was our example. His life was not a life of ease and comfort. He had spiritual battles, too. In fact, He was tempted in all points such as we are and even some that we are not. He was tempted by the Devil in ways that we will never be tempted. When He was on the cross, some of His own people tempted Him to come down and prove Himself, but He continued His fight to pay for the sin of the world. We too need to recognize there is a battle which rages around us and we must fight; defend our ground as well as attack where needed.
Spiritual warfare often surprises many Christians because they are not looking for it. Like the American fleet at Pearl Harbor that fateful day, they know they are in a war, but are relaxed because they don’t think the battle can come to them. We need to be armed, trained and ready for the imminent attack of the enemy. He is a hardened veteran with many years of battle experience. He never relaxes, never takes a day off, never regroups. He is deadly and dangerous to the life of a Christian. So, we must always be prepared to fight him on any ground. We must always be vigilant and the first step is to recognize there is a war, and that we are in it.
Some people try to equip themselves with “enlightenment,” or the “power of positive thinking” or “love.” Whether it is meditation, yoga, or even putting your head in the sand, none of these are God’s appointed formula for equipping yourself for the battle. There is no other armour sufficient to take the place of God’s armour. His armour provides the protection that is needed and we must use every piece of it. No part of our life can be exposed else the armour would not have its designed effect. We must put on the “whole armour of God.” If one part is missing, then we are exposed. If we use all of God’s armour, but decide to exchange one piece of it for something else, then we are exposed and the whole suit is useless. His armour is properly designed to work together as an entire suit for dealing with the battle the Christian is in.
This girdle or belt ties all the other armour together. It keeps the robe from tangling. The meaning of “truth” in this passage is sincerity, transparency, or realness. The Scripture mentions the “unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Realness, sincerity, or transparency sets us free from being a fake. It frees us from the “fear of man” or peer pressure. God hates hypocrisy. The word hypocrite means “actor” or “one who wears a mask.” The first piece of armour is sincerity, realness or transparency. Being real keeps us from many of the attacks of the enemy.
The root word of righteousness is “right,” as in being right with someone. The breastplate guards the most vital organ–the heart. Right living guards our heart from wrong emotions and temptations. The habit of right living is a defense against wrong. We are to be militant—“zealous of good works.” Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
A wise general looks after his soldiers’ shoes. If they wear out, the troops cannot travel. The roads are rough! Footprints of peace are to be left by Christian soldiers everywhere they go. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9). Romans 10:15, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” We are to leave peace wherever we go and bring peace between God and man as we witness. Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Prayer keeps our mind at peace. Prayer keeps our footing firm. God gave us feet so we could spread the gospel. Let’s use them for Him!
The Roman shield was about as big as a door. It protected the entire body. They could even be hooked to other shields to form a wall. Some even poured water on their shields to quench fiery darts. In the Old Testament, God told Abraham that He would be his shield and strength. Our shield of faith comes from Bible reading. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Faith makes us grow. Faith protects us from heresy. Faith entices us to claim God’s promises. Faith is believing God’s word to the point of putting it to the test.
The helmet is the most elaborately designed piece of armour, and it is beautiful. It is a picture of ASSURANCE OF SALVATION. A Christian who has doubts about whether he is saved or not will not win many battles for God. The helmet also guards the mind. We are to guard what thoughts we allow to enter our mind. Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
The word of God is the Holy Spirit weapon in our hand. It is the same weapon Jesus used against the devil in Matthew 4:1-8 where he constantly said, “It is written…” Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” The sword is for close confrontation after arrows had been shot and spears thrown. The sword was double edged. Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Carry it wherever you go! Don’t be caught without your weapon!
Just as a soldier dresses before battle, so should a Christian put on his armour each morning. As you put your belt on in the morning, ask God to make you sincere. Determine in your heart to be truthful with yourself and with others. As you put on your shirt or blouse for the day, determine to live right. Ask God to help you in areas of weakness. Guard your heart for the day. Watch your emotions. Love the Lord with all your heart. Tell Him so! As you put your shoes on, ask God to make you a peacemaker. Ask Him to give you power as you look for opportunities to witness for Christ. Put your Bible in your clothing or purse to have it with you all day. Find Scripture to meditate on all day! As you comb your hair, reminisce about the day you were saved. Praise God for it. Guard your thoughts. Begin your day with a song to keep depression away.
Before you leave the house for the day, remember you are a soldier. There is a warfare to face. Do not be surprised or discouraged over problems during the day! Put on the whole armour of God and be prepared.
Text: Psalm 11:3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
The most critical part of any structure is the foundation. It supports the whole thing. It must be built right for everything it supports to be right. Of course, if the structure strays from the foundation, then it will be perverted.
1. What Are Our Foundations?
Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
A) Foundations are Physical
Our society was built on certain principles, morality and ideals. Those being outlined in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights, in which there is an acknowledgement of a Creator (GOD), who is our chief cornerstone. The mindset of the framers of these documents reveal their interpretation in Black and White and can be read by all. It’s in our history which cannot be changed no matter how angry it makes the rebellious progressive liberal feel. IN GOD WE TRUST.
The foundation of our society is not in the government, it is in God. The government does not teach you about God, the church does. That is the whole purpose of not allowing the government to meddle in the business of the church, but to allow the church to influence the government. It is the church (using the Bible) that is supposed to teach the foundational principles of our society such as:
- GOD— You ought to have God in your home, in your conversation and amongst your friends.
- Prayer–We ought to have prayer often in private, as well as public. We should not be ashamed to talk to God.
- Biblical Morality— We should do right before God and our neighbors.
- Marriage— We should love that husband or wife. Nothing should be more important to us other than God. Not any hobby, interest, children or anything.
- How to raise and educate Children
- How to live in a Free yet governed Society
These are the foundations that our society is built on. And, this is the foundation that we must continue to build upon.
B) Foundations are Spiritual
The foundation of a persons life is either in one of two places: God or self. We will either trust in God and His instruction or in our own understanding. If we trust in our own understanding, our life will crumble because our foundation is in self. But, the person who trusts in the Lord and makes Him the foundation, their life will not have need or want. You cannot have a correct foundation of Society without a correct foundation of the individual.
2. How are our Foundations Destroyed?
To destroy society, there must be an attack on individuals first. To bring down a building, you destroy the pillars that are holding it up. There are three very distinct elements that are constantly attacking the foundation of man that have the goal of bringing down the structure.
A) Foundations are Destroyed by Sin
Sin is any transgression of the Law of God. It is an offence against a personal lawgiver. It attacks a persons fundamental belief and subjection to God. It causes a person to rebel against God and therefore move off the true foundation.
B) Foundations are Deceived by Satan
The Enemy of God wants to destroy mans faith in a sure foundation (Isa. 28:16). He does this through deceit and deception. He offers alternatives that are almost the real thing. They look, smell, taste, feel and sound like the real thing and this is how people go astray. They think they are on the sure foundation of Christ when all the time they are following their own way of righteousness. (Examples: false Bibles, false churches, religion, false gods, idols, ism’s, government, etc.) The alternatives he makes available are:
- Advertising (lust)
All of these are forms of promoting self.
C) Foundations are Dieafied by Self
Self is the biggest enemy of all. Naturally, man wants to follow self. He must get control of self and do what is right. Self is the largest of all addictions and is difficult to ignore. Anyone who has given up smoking, drinking or drugs can attest to the difficulty in gaining control over the control of self. Self wants what self wants. It wants to be its own foundation. It wants to be pre-eminent. Anything else requires humility, but self is full of pride. It is often accompanied with phrases that heavily incorporate the word “I”.
3. What can we do about Destroyed Foundations
Psalm 11:7 For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.
When the foundations are destroyed, the righteous can turn to the Lord, for He loves the righteous.
Righteousness always has something to do with relationship. How do we do that?
A) Repent of Sin
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Repent is to change your mind and your way. It requires action. It does not just end with words. It must be acted upon. Our nation cannot experience repentance without the personal repentance of its people.
B) Return to the Lord
Acts 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
Coming to the Lord with a repentant heart is what provides forgiveness. Forgiveness is what is needed to erase the past and allows for the new start. Forgiveness is essential for the foundation to be reconstructed, repaired or reclaimed.
C) Remain in His presence
Repenting is like being sorry for doing something. It is like taking something that is wrong out of your life. But, you must replace it with something good or it is quite likely that some sin will fill the void in it’s wake. You must come to the Lord, but more importantly, you must continue to walk with Him. You must keep on top of the right foundation and not waiver off to the side.
“(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” (2 Corinthians 10:4)
Someone said, “Christianity is all in your mind.” There is much truth in that statement. The mind is primarily responsible for growth in the Christian life. Let us notice what the Scriptures say about your mind:
GOD KNOWS ALL YOUR THOUGHTS
Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
God is keenly interested not only in our actions but also in our thoughts. It is estimated that you have 10,000 thoughts a day. To God, your mind is a window without curtains.
YOUR CHRISTIAN BATTLEFIELD IS YOUR MIND
The world, the flesh and the devil fight for your mind.
- Romans 8:7, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
- Colossians 1:21, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled”
- Hebrews 12:3, “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”
Man is a very complex creation. Have you ever seen a suicidal puppy or a depressed canary? You say, “What makes thoughts so difficult to control?” Secrecy and the absence of restraint. A parent can control a child’s actions but not his thoughts. God is very interested in our thoughts because thoughts produce actions. God destroyed the world by flood because man had unrestrained thoughts.
Genesis 6:5, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
In Romans 1:28 God speaks of the reprobate (rejected) mind in the downward progression of a civilization.
In Romans 7:25 Paul says: “…with the mind I myself serve the law of God;…”
The mind is the control room or computer of the Christian life. The control room must be guarded. Lot never guarded his mind.
2 Peter 2:8, “(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)”
SEEING AND HEARING
When the mind is right, the actions are right. YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU THINK YOU ARE, BUT WHAT YOU THINK–YOU ARE! (Read that over until it sinks in.)
Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”
In order for a Christian to alter his behavior, the thinking must be changed! You must plan and guide what enters your mind. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. That is one of the things wrong with hypnosis, drugs, and liquor. They put the mind in neutral so the devil can jump into the driver’s seat. Keep a busy mind! Do you know one reason God destroyed Sodom?
Ezekiel 16:49, “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”
Idleness was a cause.
Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to say: “Behind every human tragedy there is a slow process of evil, wicked thinking.” No one ever falls into sin. They have been falling a long time. We only saw them when they landed. Sin began in their thoughts.
Sir Francis Bacon was asked what he thought the outlook was for the next generation. He declared, “Tell me what the young people are thinking and I’ll tell you.”
THOUGHTS produce ACTIONS
ACTIONS produce HABITS
HABITS produce LIFE-STYLES
What you put into the computer comes out. Put in 48 hours of television a week and you’ll have someone who acts, talks, and thinks like television personalities. Put in 30 hours of rebellious radio music per week and you’ll have someone who has philosophies and rebellion like the groups he hears. What have you been programming into your computer?
True, you can’t help but have some evil thoughts cross your mind from time to time, but do you entertain them? Someone said if you nurse sin on the knees of thought it will grow into a giant. You will never regulate your passions until you regulate your thought life.
TRANSFORMING YOUR THOUGHTS
Romans 12:1-2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
A transformation is an inward change that produces an outward change. A biologist cannot change a caterpillar into a butterfly-it has to come from the inside. So it is in the Christian life. Worry and depression are not solved by psychiatrists, but by thinking what God wants us to.
Isaiah 26:3, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”
In Philippians 4:8, God gives us a list of things to occupy our thoughts: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Sad to say, the average mind is like a toilet. To keep it clean, it needs constant flushing with godly thoughts, much prayer, much Scripture, and much grace.
THE THREE MINDS
There are three types of minds mentioned in Scripture. You have one of them. There is the natural mind, the carnal mind, and the spiritual mind.
NATURAL MIND — UNSAVED
1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
This is a non-Christian. He has no spiritual appetite for the things of God. He cannot comprehend spiritual truth. He is dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1). He may be outwardly religious and morally clean but cannot comprehend the Christian life. His thoughts will be what is right in his own eyes, situation ethics, humanism. The natural mind thinks whatever comes natural to a lost person.
CARNAL MIND — WORLDLY CHRISTIAN
Romans 8:7, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
Carnal means “of the flesh.” The carnal mind is a saved person who lives for the flesh. The church at Corinth was full of carnal Christians. Paul called them babies. He said they could only swallow the milk of the Word. They had to be taught when they should have been teaching. They were cliquish, immature, divisive, and easily offended.
The Christian with a carnal mind is not satisfied in Christ alone. He chases after things, amusements, and delights rather than in the things of God. He is quarrelsome, touchy, and often is the source of chruch problems. He has feeble digestion and cannot get his own food spiritually. Deep Scriptures do not interest him. There is very little difference, if any, between the natural man and the carnal minded man.
The lost see no difference and have no conviction when around a carnally minded Christian. The carnal mind needs to get right with God, be serious, and fill itself with scriptures! (See also 1 Corinthians 3:1-4; Romans 7:14-15; James 4:4.)
SPIRITUAL MIND-SPIRITUAL CHRISTIAN
1 Corinthians 2:15, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.”
This is the Christian who is filled with the Holy Spirit and has a mind full of Scriptures. He is mature, has understanding of spiritual things, has the ability to teach other Bible truths, and is fruitful. He has the mind of Christ.
Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:”
If you think the thoughts Jesus did, you will live the way Jesus did. To do that we must think Scriptures—meditate upon them. Because of that, our minds will be going forward, will not be in neutral and will not have a chance to go backward (backslide). The spiritual minded man needs to make sure he does not get satisfied. (See also Hebrews 5:12, 14; 1 Corinthians 3:3; Galatians 5:22-23.)
LET US NOT BECOME SATISFIED!
SOURCES: Things I’ve Learned by Bob Jones, Sr.; The Battle for the Mind, Catlay
In 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 we are told, “Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” A then steward is somebody that is given something valuable to take care of, and he is supposed to take care of it for his master. Not only that, a steward is to be “faithful” because he has goods delivered to him that don’t belong to him. Such is every one of us who is given stewardship of God’s money. We understand about God giving us money and us using it as the Lord would have to do. But here we are talking about a different kind of stewardship. We are talking about the “mysteries of God.” We are talking about stewardship over something that has been given for the purpose of teaching to others.
What are these mysteries? There are seven of them in the Bible and they are committed to preachers to teach to others. I will briefly describe them as follows:
1. The Mystery of Godliness.
1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
This verse is the greatest verse in the Bible on the Deity of Jesus Christ. If you don’t have a King James Bible you won’t be able to find this mystery defined. All other bibles change this verse in order to take away the deity of Christ. They change the phrase “…God was manifest in the flesh…” to something else. God being “manifest in the flesh” means that God showed up as a baby and later grew up to be a man. It cannot be explained how He did this. Why? Because it is a mystery how it happened. He came down to this earth as a baby, and a woman took care of Him, just like every other baby. He experienced every facet of growing up as a human male.
2. The Mystery of the Indwelling Christ
Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Paul says, “This mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” This means the “mystery” is that Jesus Christ is inside the saved man. It can’t be explained how: “Christ” is “in you, the hope of glory”. It can’t be explained how a sinless, perfect Saviour would stoop down to come in and dwell inside a wicked, sinful vessel. Not only that, it can’t be explained how Jesus could be in a vast multitude of saved people all at the same time. There isn’t many individual Jesus’. There is one Jesus and he dwells within each believer. This is a mystery and can’t be explained how it happens. It is the mystery of the indwelling Christ.
3. The Mystery of the Body of Christ
Ephesians 5:30-32 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
The Bride of Christ in this age is espoused to one husband so it can be presented a chaste virgin to Christ (2 Cor. 11:2). This means that every one who is a Believer is all espoused to the same person: Christ. All men and women wind up married to Christ as one unit. How can you explain it? It can’t be explained. It’s a mystery. As far as the spirit is concerned, we are joined to Him right now (1 Cor. 6:17). The marriage has already taken place, but as far as the body is concerned the marriage hasn’t taken place. Our physical bodies are down here and His is up there (2 Cor. 5:6-8). It can’t be explained. We are supposed to believe it. Paul said, “This is a great mystery” (Eph. 5:32).
4. The Restoration of Israel
Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
This mystery deals with the restoration of Israel. The mystery is that God is not through with Israel. And even though God may look like He’s through with Israel, He’s not! Someday God is going to take the Jews and bring them back to Palestine (He did that in 1948), and after the Jews have been reduced down to about four or five hundred people, God is going to get them saved in the Tribulation and convert them to Jesus Christ. That’s the mystery of the believing remnant of Israel which is going to turn to God. Romans 11:28-29 says that “as concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” This means that we should love the Jews. Yes, some Jews out in the world are unlovable characters. It doesn’t matter what you think of them, you’ve got to love Israel and take care of it. If you don’t, the Lord will fix you. In Christ “There is neither Jew nor Greek” (Gal. 3:28). When a Jew gets converted, he’s no longer a “Jew.” He’s a Christian.
5. The Mystery of Babylon the Great
Revelation 17:5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
Revelation 17:18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
She is a woman out in the wilderness seated on a beast. The beast has seven heads and ten horns. This is a “mystery.” It is something you’re supposed to believe, but you can’t explain.
The woman is a city that reigns over the kings of the earth. She has a golden cup in her hand full of abominations (Rev. 17:4). And, she is arrayed in purple and scarlet. There is only one city that is built on seven mountains (v. 9), that reigns over the kings of the earth, whose symbol is a golden cup: ROME. The Lord said that that city was a whore (v. 1). She’s a prostitute who sells herself for money. She has such influence that she runs the kings of this earth. She will sell out what she believes and what she professes in order to get along with the world. She’ll let her own priests get killed in Africa if she can get control of Africa. She might even get in a black pope.
6. Mystery of Iniquity
2 Thessalonians 2:3-8 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
The mystery of iniquity is the mystery of the Antichrist. His number is 666. He has a sign: it’s a kiss. He has a salute: its two fingers. He has a letter: it’s an X. And he has a name, a religion , a face, and a mark. There’s more information in the Bible on him than there is on any other man in the Bible outside of Jesus Christ Himself. He’s the Antichrist.
7. The Rapture
1 Corinthians 15:51-55 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The final mystery is the Rapture. It is the disappearance of the Body of Christ in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. There are two kinds of people. Those who are alive when the Lord comes are to be caught up without dying. Those that are dead will be pulled up out of the ground. If you’re mortal, you’ll be caught up without dying and put on immortality. If you’re dead and buried when the Lord comes back, then you’re down in the ground rotting and you’re corruptible, and you come out of the grave and put on incorruption. The ones that are buried can’t stay in the ground. The live man goes up without dying; and the dead man goes up, and the grave can’t keep him down.
What creates church growth? Are members responsible for growth of the body of Christ? Jesus used an analogy from farming to explain the manner in which the kingdom of God grows (Mark 4:26-29). Once the farmer plants the seed, it grows by itself. Although fruit comes through the miracle created within the seed, the farmer has to work hard to prepare the ground for productivity.
So it is with church growth. The apostle Paul explained that he had planted churches, Apollos had watered, but it was God who gave the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). So how do Christians plant and water so God’s church can grow?
Empowering members to grow.
I more prefer to call this, “Allowing members to have ownership in their church.” Every member of a local church needs to feel that it is his/her church. This is a vital area in which a member can use their talents for the Lord; an area in which they can serve God, and thereby be an active part in the Body of Christ. Otherwise they become like a cancerous or foreign object. If they a member has no ownership in their church, then they will not consider it to be “their church.” These are those who fall away because they are not really connected to anything. Find something to do in your church and be a part of the body.
Using your God-given gifts to serve God and your neighbor.
God has given each member in the church certain talents that no one else has. When He leads you to a particular church it’s that He has a purpose for those talents to be used for that church’s growth. Most obviously, it would be impossible to have piano in the song service if there were no piano players willing to use the talent that God gave them. Other talents are more subtle; like fixing things, electrical work, greeting, or cleaning, just to name a few. Find out what you can do and do it in the church.
Use your passion, fire, and enthusiasm for the church.
Everyone is passionate about something. When Jesus gave sight to the young man who had never seen, He told him to tell no one. But the bible says he, “…went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter…” (Mark 1:45). He was passionate about telling others what happened to him. Some things which people are passionate about are such things as: sports, music, babies, family, health, cars, work, etc. You can tell what people are passionate about by listening to what they are continually talking about, especially after the service is ended.
Support the structure and function of the church.
When you support the structure of the church, you are building the church. Supporting the structure of the church shows respect, honor and love for it. Many churches die simply because they are filled with members who say they love the church but, do not support it. It is not supportive to tell people you love your church when you talk bad about its members behind their back. Taking an unsaved, potential member aside and warning them off about some member you don’t like is actually tearing down the church. It doesn’t matter how much you say you love the church, your actions are destructive. Paul faced this exact situation among some of the churches he planted (1 Cor. 1:10-13).
It is not necessary to agree with all of the structure of the church, but it is necessary to support it. And where you disagree, use prudence in not voicing it inappropriately.
Pray for and acknowledge inspiration in the worship services.
Prayer is necessary on all fronts. It improves the Believer’s relationship with God. However, it is vital to pray for God to inspire all aspects of the worship service. We did not come to church to hear a man give a speech or lesson. We came to hear what God has to tell us. It is vital to ask God to talk to us and give us exactly what we need in our life. Unfortunately, it hurts to get our “toes stepped on” by the message being preached. And we often blame the preacher for “preaching at me” and forget that God can use the preacher to deliver HIS message. We need preaching from God to shake us deep down in our souls so we can grow as believers. When the members of the church grow, so does the church. Pray that God will not only inspire the message, but the music, giving, specials, fellowship and our own hearts as well.
Form friendships with other members and do things together outside the church.
Everyone knows that a family cannot grow when each member of it only comes together for one or two hours a week. It is impossible! Likewise, the church cannot grow when its members only interact with each other one hour a week. It is crucial for church growth that the members develop friendships with each other and have fellowship outside the church. I know the main complaint about this is: “I don’t have anything in common with anyone else.” Unfortunately, you neglect to see the folly in such a statement—you have church in common. If you are a family with children, your kids may be friends. Why not get together and do something. How about invite someone over to eat? This is a basic and common thing for people to do so they can get to know each other.
When members have their friendships outside the church (with non church members), their hearts are slowly and subtly drawn away from the church. Therefore, the church not only doesn’t grow, it begins to shrink. It is important that Believers hold each other up. This principle is illustrated when the Israelites were battling Amalek. They prevailed over Amalek when Moses’ hands are raised up, and they lost when he gets tired and lowers his hands. So, Aaron and Hur helped him hold up his hands until the battle was over, and Israel won (Exo. 17:10-13). So must we support members when they are in time of need. This is easier when we become friends and we know what each other is going through.
Sharing your Christian life by example and story.
For the church to grow, it is essential that Believers share their faith with others. They must do everything they can to compel people to come in and hear the message of the Bible. Everyone knows the old saying: “talk is cheap.” This is very true and it indicates that talk is worthless. If then it is worthless, what then is of such value that it can make a life change in someone else? Of course, it is the life story of the Christian. The example of a believer living for God is the most powerful way to witness. When people see the life of a truly dedicated believer, and how it is lived, they are affected to their core. Your life story always supersedes what you say. Even children know this at a very young age. They will listen to mommy tell them to not get started in some bad habit, but if their mommy does it, they will eventually do it as well.
The best way to grow the church through witnessing is to tell the proper life story.
Possess sincere love for the other members.
Love accomplishes much good in growing the church. When members have loved one for another, they tend to be more tolerant and willing to accept anyone. Not only that, everyone wants to be loved; they want to experience true sincere love. The world is severely lacking in sincere love. It exists in many families, but in few other places. Since God is love and you cannot truly say you know God if you don’t have sincere love (1 John 4:8, 16), a church can never grow because you cannot grow a church without God. People know that you truly love God when you have love for each other.
It takes effort to love. You have to work at repressing your ugly thoughts about those whom you don’t like too much. But then you have to go the extra mile and set yourself aside and love the person in spite of what your feel. Love, among many other things, is the giving of self.
When a church is first formed, it is little more than a fledgling. It takes time and effort on the part of everyone for it to become established and for a root to go down into the fertile ground. Without the patient diligence of adhering to these outlined principles, it will never take hold and be able to support itself; it will always need a support to be tied to. It cannot be done by just the pastor alone. It cannot be done by just the faithful few. Everyone has to chip in and help. All hands must be involved. So, we must each ask ourselves, “which of the eight characteristics is my weakest?” Ask God for strength and allow Jesus to lead you to grow.
Which are your strengths? Use them to serve Jesus and his church.
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.
THE LAODICEA CHURCH WE LIVE WITH
Revelation 3:14-20 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Today we find ourselves living in the Laodicean Church age. It is the last period of time before the Lord Jesus Christ comes to rapture out His church. Compared to the other periods of church history, the Laodicean is the worst of all and that is because of the apathy of believers in Christ. The word “Laodicean” means the “rights or justices of the people.” Literally the civil rights of the people. It is a time when the church is more interested in their individual rights and have totally forgotten the rights of God—their Creator. Unfortunately, this is the mess that the church is in when God returns to get us. AND, do not fret my friends; there will be no exercising of personal rights at the rapture for God’s rights will overshadow all. When He says, “come up hither,” will it not be with anger in His voice rather than that of the compassionate Jesus Christ Superstar that many envision Him to be? Will He not be angry at the church for lack of interest in winning the lost to Him?
The last church claims a belief in God while at the same time living a dead, skin-deep Christianity. People in this church, profess belief in the “fundamentals of the faith” while embracing ecumenical works. It is a church where you cannot really tell what it stands for or what it stands against. It is a church which conveniently balances itself on both sides of the fence; it is neither hot for God or cold against Him (vs. 15). It is the worst kind of church there can be: LUKEWARM (vs. 16)—close enough to God to be warmed by the Bible, and far enough away to be chilled by the world. It is the epitome of rotten apostate modernism.
God is an extremist. He does not believe in getting along with the world in a kind of “fake Christianity”. He “would thou wert cold or hot.”
The Laodicean church makes God sick (vs. 16)—sick enough for Him to “spue thee out of my mouth.” Why is this? Could it be because of the tremendous material assets this church has that others in history did not? Could it be because it is more interested in bragging about its busses, holdings, how much the property is worth, how much the offerings are or how many missionaries it supports? After all, this church says it is “…increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” But God sees the truth. He gets to the heart of the matter. His response to all of our vast access to resources that we are “… wretched, you’re miserable, you’re poor, you’re blind, and you’re naked.” This is the opposite of how we see our self. People today have too many churches to go to. The pastor does something that they don’t like, or another church member does something that they disagree with, they just “hop on over” to another church that more fits their need. People in this age are more interested in themselves instead of God, and God’s preacher better tell them what they want to hear or else.
The great problem with the church today is that Christians are afraid to stand up for Jesus. Oh, we sing the song, “Stand up, Stand up for Jesus…”, but that is just lip service. Christians have worked out a way to be a Christian on Sundays and just a regular guy the rest of the time. That way they can AVOID CONFRONTATION. This is a joke of a Christian who claims that he has to put on the “armour of God”, when he knows in his heart that he is not really going to use it.
This Laodicean church lives by feelings, just like the rest of the world. Like the Israelites of old, temples to Baal have been erected amongst our ranks and the only thing that can “shake the church” loose from them is some tragedy; else God will never get our attention. If there was one thing that I could make the church see, it would be the reality and magnificence of GOD. Hence, people would see how much they owe to Him. But God does not demand our deaths; He demands our death to self, so that we might be able to live the true life that He intended. It is sad that it takes hard times in our life to bring us to our senses.
God counsels that we buy of Him “…gold tried in the fire…” (vs. 18). That is to say, He counsels that we see things as they truly are; that faith in Him is worth much more than gold or riches or prestige or honor (1 Pet. 1:7). This entire world is going to be burned up and all that is contained therein. There is absolutely nothing that will survive His hot wrath. Any investment in this world is futile. I know that right about here the concept of “stewardship” is usually slipped in, but there is a vast difference in caring for things that perish verses things that do not. The only thing that will not perish will be the souls of men who are right with God. This is “stewardship” in its most correct form: to win souls, develop them and teach them how to win more souls. But this cannot be done without “CARING”.
You say, “I don’t see it that way.” I know. I know there is a problem with how you look at things. That is why God urges to “anoint thine eyes with eyesalve…” (vs. 18). This is why the Devil has so many things to look at in the world today. This is why things like TV, pornography, movies, sports, internet, etc. work so good for him. Man is curious, and his curiosity will never be satisfied. This is a good thing if it is channeled to learning about the personality and character of God. But this is not so. Man is more interested in tickling his sin nature. The “forbidden fruit” only becomes the draw to man when he looks at it (Gen. 3:5-6). We have a problem with our eyes. Therefore, we need the eyesalve of God’s Word that we can see correctly. Can you imagine the fruit of the tree looking rotten, moldy, corrupt and covered in maggots? In other words, can you imagine being able to see sin for what it is? The only way that can be done is to:
- Stay in your Bible. You need the Bible. It is your strength and your sword. Without it, you will only see what the world is showing you. Or, you will only know what the world tells you about the Bible. The cults (Mormons, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, etc.) are experts at offering a candy coated glob of slop.
- Stay in Church. Don’t just “attend” church, come expecting something from God. Expect that God is speaking to you from the Bible via His messenger. Presuppose that God is real and He can do anything even in spite of the preacher or teacher. Expect God to be a blessing to you and discard the thought that you will be a blessing to God.
- Pray faithfully. Tell God how special He is to you. Talk to Him. Tell Him how much of a blessing He is to you. Tell Him what you think of His Book, His church and His preacher. Tell Him what you would request of Him, but resist the urge to give Him your grocery list of problems to solve for you.
- Witness! This cannot be stressed strong enough. You must witness for God. There are many ways in which you can do this. Use your mind and think of a way you CAN do it instead of inventing ways you cannot do it. The fact of the matter is this: if you love something strong enough, you can do things you never thought you would be able to do. Or, if you want to do something bad enough, you will figure out a way to do so.
It is time now to repent of being a lukewarm Christian. Can you truly say you are giving your all to Him? Are you tithing? Are you attending church? Are your words just more empty promises to God? God’s way for dealing with those whom He loves in this Laodicean church age is to rebuke and chasten. REPENT! Change your ways. Be zealous about Him (vs. 19). Be given over to the draw of the Holy Spirit. Be zealous for Him and the things that He loves and forget about the world. Stop comparing yourself to others who are not living for the Lord.
Do you realize that at the end of the Laodicean church age Jesus is outside the door of the church? The door has been slammed shut in His face. He is knocking to come in and who is listening? Are you? Do you hear His humble rap upon the door? Why is He on the outside in the first place? Who came to church and left the Lord outside? I do not want to be a Laodicean even though I happen to live in this age. You don’t have to leave Him outside. You can bring Him in with you. Or, you can answer the door. The problem why many do not is that they don’t even hear His voice anymore (vs. 20). They are too worried about money, satisfaction of self, offending others or becoming accountable to God’s word (they don’t want to hear what He has to say about their sin). But if YOU open the door to Him, He will come in to you and have fellowship with you, even in spite of anyone else. But until you do, until you open the door of your heart, you can not have sweet fellowship with Him. You will be a Laodicean.
The Chinese Character Story is an amazing story of how God embedded the gospel and the story of Creation right inside the Chinese language. The Chinese communist do not believe in God, but the language that they use daily, holds the story of God. This booklet by Pastor Coale clearly shows how God could do such a thing as to turn Satan’s work around on himself.
Have you ever thought, “What other gospel addresses this same event?” The Parallel Gospels not only aligns the gospels in parallel with each other, It also organizes them in chronological order. Pastor Coale wrote this book to help him in his own study and he is sure It will be a great help to you as well. This book is a great help in studying the life of the Lord Jesus Christ and will be referred to over and over.
Gifts and Tongues: The Charismatic Catastrophe will help all seekers of truth to know the mind of God concerning speaking in “tongues” and spiritual misuse of “gifts.” It is for this purpose that Pastor Coale brings this work to us. All too often, Christians are approached by super-Charismatics who prey upon them. They seek converts among innocent Christians trying to learn about God. When new Christians are told they are not really saved until they speak in tongues, they become rightfully concerned. Since they want to please their new Lord, they naturally want to speak in tongues, but something holds them back; something tells them things are not right, but they can’t put their finger on it. This booklet is written for those Christian brothers and sisters. If they follow where this booklet leads them in God’s word, they will clearly understand God’s teaching on this subject.
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.
We are told of a time coming when people will “heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” and I believe we are in that time right now. The god of most Darwinian societies is education. People feel if they have enough education, then they will be able to accomplish anything that they want. Their paper badges’ of accomplishment litter the walls as they proudly proclaim their degrees, as if they are what determine a person’s place in society. It is a free-for-all survival of the fittest and the smart person knows how to outmaneuver and outwit their competitors. Education! That great and wonderful liberator of the righteous right; the emancipator of morality sings “glory, glory, halleluiah” all the way through the cap and gown ceremony, condemning the less fortunate to a life of being trampled under foot.
Don’t get me wrong. Education by itself is not wrong, or even evil. The problem lies in what subject people are educated in that is bad. If you are educated to remove the Bible from its position of highest authority and replace it with some other authority, then you are on shaky ground. Why? Because you are submitting yourself to the foray of Darwinian monkey men. Contrariwise, an education in the most superior of all books produces the most superior of all thinking. In it you learn humility and love for your fellow man. This is a stark contrast of that of the teachings of Darwin.
If you really wanted an education, why then would you not turn to the book that defines the morality of man; the book that talks about the beginning and explains the ending? Why would there be time for anything else? Is it because an education is not the true goal after all? Is it because you want to join the stampede to the top of the ladder of success?
The itching ears of people today (2 Tim 4:3) give credence to anything but God. These ears drive a person crazy with an unbelievable desire to scratch–ti make them feel good and content. So, when Mormons, for instance, or Muslims come along and explain their beliefs (?), people find it satisfying because they tell them what they want to hear. The Bible in turn, tells people what they need to hear.
It is amazing how many fables of old have actually become systems of belief; drawing in tens of thousands to their evil ways. look at Harry Potter for example. It doesn’t take long to learn the message is “he who has the greater magical power wins.” It is just the “good” evil vs. the “bad” evil. How can a sane person not see its destructive result?
For the Devil to be successful, there must be a breaking down of barriers so that we can all come together. I know, “If I had just gone to a real school, I would be able to see because then I too would be ‘enlightened.'” Well, I don’t know about that. You can change the terminology, break down the barriers, be enlightened all you want, but trash is still trash no matter if it is clean trash or dirty trash. I would not want to sleep in it if I had a choice.
People today are full of lust. They pant and growl like a needy starved bear, just waking from its winter hibernation. They will do anything to satisfy their selfish desires. And here is the key. the focal point of the entire issue is the promotion of self and the demotion of God. This is what modern day colleges and Universities stand for. Their main task is to bring everyone together, all in the same common heap of slop.
In order for people to turn away from the truth, the “educators” provide an alternate truth. Everyone has them. In following the false truth, unsuspecting students are actually turned away from the real truth (John 14:6). As long as they are told what they want to hear, then it is the “truth.” Have you ever heard someone say that they believe one teacher, over another? This question arises because people are in the process of choosing which “truth” they want to believe or accept.
In stunning contrast to “educators”, preachers are commanded to “Preach the word…” God knows that people must hear the Bible before it is too late. He knows if His preachers are negligent to do their jobs, then people will turn to something else. If they are not being fed in church, they will turn to the world, or the cults; anything that will satisfy that itch in their ears.
I don’t know if it is too late. I do know the reason people do not want to hear sound doctrine is because Christians have not done their jobs. Christians have stopped watching, enduring and doing the work of an evangelist (2 Tim.4:5). Because Christians have become apathetic, the world has swooped in and provided their philosophy.
Where do we go from here? What do we do in light of such a terrible situation? The answer to this is easy. We keep winning souls. We keep training and equipping the saints. We stay strong and vigilant. When other churches around us are giving up to the worldly system of pleasing the masses, we need to stay strong in the LORD and the power of His might.