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Nahum 1:2-8 God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies. 3The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. 4He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth. 5The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. 6Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him. 7The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. 8But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies.
There are people who cannot believe that God would ever do anything as terrible as cause an earthquake, flood, storm, or any natural catastrophe. They can’t believe that God would ever cause people to die in large numbers such a way. “What kind of God would do such a thing?” they demand. “How could a loving God do something like this to us?”
They have failed to see that God is a jealous God. He will not share his position with anyone else. He is appalled by man’s direction of worshipping anything except Him. It makes him angry. It makes him jealous and he calls people who do such: enemies.
“What kind of god would make me his enemy? I never did anything to him?” his critics ask. God did not make you his enemy. The thing that most people don’t see is that THEY made God THEIR enemy. In His Word, He is just acknowledging their position and responding to their treatment of Him. Isn’t it funny how those who refuse to believe in God are the ones who have such a terrible time with this? However, those who accept Him for who He is, and have read the Bible to learn about Him, have little problem with God doing whatever He wants to do.
God does send natural catastrophe’s to judge man. He dies not hide behind that fact. In doing so, He is very fair and merciful at the same time. He has given mankind warning after warning throughout the annals of history. He gave the bible showing what he will do in response to man’s denial of him and pursuit of sin. There are historical examples of his judgment on the world with a flood as well as other famous judgments like the ones on Sodom and Gomorrah. Finally, God has left his people here—Bible Believers—to proclaim His intentions. So, if anyone dies and goes to hell—It’s NOT God’s fault!
God gave mother a wonderful quality. In the Morning Glory, January 8, 1994, Ilion Jones writes that, “On the great biographer Ida M. Tarbell’s 80th birthday, someone asked her to name the greatest persons she had ever met. She responded, ‘The greatest persons I have ever met are those nobody knows anything about.'” She was referring to her mother.
“Once the New York Times was asked to help a group of club women decide on the twelve greatest women in the United States. After due consideration, the editors replied, ‘The twelve greatest women in the United States are women who have never been heard of outside of their own homes.'” They were talking about someones mother.
Jones concludes, “I ask you, who was greater, Thomas A. Edison or his mother? When he was a young lad his teacher sent him home with a note which said, ‘Your child is dumb. We can’t do anything for him.’ His mother wrote back, ‘You do not understand my boy. I will teach him myself’. And she did, with results that are well known.”
Usually, the greatest people who have had the most influence in our lives are people that other people would not care about one bit. Chief of these people is our mother. Our mother will pour her life into us so that we can stand firm in this cruel world. Our mother loves us like no one else can; who, no matter what we have done, continues to love us.
There is no use denying the fact that we are literally connected to our mother long before we have any other attachment with any other human being. Our mother carries us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 9 months in her warm and comfortable tummy. This “bond of bonds” cannot be cut, broken or torn asunder by any hurt we may give them. Our mother is so important to us that we have wisely set aside a national day to honor her (Eph. 6:2; Exo. 20:12).
Our mother can never be replaced. There are instances where children have to be raised by their fathers or someone else, but if they have been born into this world, they have a mother. God arranged it that we cannot enter this life without first knowing and experiencing the love of our mother. No matter if a child has been raised in a motherless home or not, there is still the beginning influence of this wonderful woman who carried them and bore them into this world (Gal 1:15). But this is not the cased for the vast majority of cases. Most of us are born and then raised too, by our mother.
Mother is the most influential person in our lives. In most cases, she is with us more than anyone else, especially in our younger years. Mother is our companion, as well as our protector and teacher. At times it may seem that mom is not present, but God gave mom’s an amazing ability to use all of her senses toward us. Every mother has had an experience where she has detected something wrong, when no other has been able to. They dropped what they were doing and ran to our side knowing that we have just began choking on something. In fact, their senses are so good that they can even detect when we are about to do something dangerous even BEFORE we are engaged in that certain dangerous activity.
When my mother would instruct me about “laying down the law”, she always had the uncanny ability to read my face. She would tell me, “And wipe that look off of your face young man. I can read your face like a book.” Only someone who loved you very much; could be so “in tune” to you that they could “read your face like a book.”
Have you ever wondered why children have to play “under mothers feet” all the time? It is because they feel safe there. If they are near their mother, then they know that they are being watched over. It may be difficult for the mother as she moves around the house doing her daily chores, but it is great for the children. When push comes to shove, I’ll bet you’ll find out that most mothers would rather know where their children are anyway.
Mothers can provide comfort unlike anything else in the world. If I was outside playing with one of my children and they accidentally got hurt, they would look at me with contempt and go running to their MOTHER! Dad just could not provide the same comfort as their mother could. All it takes is some hugs from their mother, and a “kiss on the boo boo,” and everything would be all right.
Mother is crucial to our development, but moms are often overlooked or taken advantage of. When Jesus was dying on the cross, He told John to take care of His mother (John 19:26-27). Not that Mary was unable to take care of herself, but after Jesus died, there would be a big hole in her heart where her son used to be; a piece of her would be dying too because, after all, He literally was a piece of her.
We should appreciate all that our mothers do for us. We should show them honor. It is sad that at times we need to be reminded to pick up the phone and call our mother and tell her we love her. I call my mother every week because I want her to know I care about her.~ Pastor Coale
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The preaching of the word of God certainly does have and effect on people. Sometimes it is a happy and joyous effect, while at other times it makes one sad. There are times when a person becomes severely angry by the preaching of the word of God. Still, there are times when a person cannot move under the awesome conviction of it.
As a preacher, over the last 18 years, I have seen all of these effects take place in the lives of the hearers of God’s word. As a Christian, I have experienced them myself. Still, I, and many others, keep coming back for more. Why is that? I can understand why people keep coming back to feel good about their relationship with Christ, but to hear that they are a sinner, failing on every front, baffles me. When feeling the sharp effects of God’s word, piercing and dividing my life all the way down to my bones, I am amazed as to how much it knows about me. I have come to the point where I am convinced that it knows more about me than I do about myself. It is not fun to be pierced, cut and divided, yet people keep coming back for more and I think it is because of the wonder and amazement that they have for that one book.
Yes, there are those who cannot bear it. They are only interested in feeling good, and if the word of God cuts, pierces or divides in the slightest, they get angry and leave. To me this is the equivalent of putting one’s head in the sand and not learning something about yourself that you need to know. You see, the Bible is not only the way to God, but it is the truth and life as well. It does no good to accept the way and the life without accepting the truth. But there are many people like this. They feel the Bible is true as long as it agrees with them and where it does not, it is not the truth. The devil has been instrumental in getting people to think this. This is why there are so many “truths” in the world today. But I don’t want to talk about that in this article. I want to focus on the way people receive the word of God.
It is funny how one sermon may upset some while at the same time charging up others spiritual batteries. The same sermon may cause some to be compelled to come to the altar, while others stand rigid biting their bottom lip. It has a strange way of having different effects on different people. Now I know that all people are different, but that is not the reason for this strange phenomena. I know that God is dealing differently with different people on His own terms. This is one reason that this book is so wonderful. It knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts. Since we don’t even know our own hearts, it is good for us to hear about ourselves from the word of God.
The Word of God will shape you or the world will shape you. It is your choice as to what will do it. The world is constantly being forced upon you, but God politely does not. While commercials, junk mail, facebook and many other things are intruding upon your life, God sits silently on the shelf awaiting His turn to relate with you. The world is ruthlessly pushing itself into your life, brainwashing you to cater to self and its “truth.” It never lets up. It is violent and hungry to completely consume every part of your life, giving you no choice over the matter, while all the same time deceiving you into thinking you have a choice or vote. God’s Word sits silently and patiently on the side waiting for you to come to your senses and when you finally do, in order to remove the worldliness from your life, the operation it must perform sometimes requires cutting, stabbing or dividing. The only reason that hurts is because you allowed the world to take up residence there in the first place.
Still we can praise God for His glorious mercy in that His holy operation is quick and powerful. It does not take long for it to begin to have its holy effect. So, if the preaching of God’s word seems to anger you; it seems to “step on your toes,” then remember it is because some cancer of the world is being cut out of your life. Joy comes in the morning.
People who are truly saved have a desire to learn more about God. They are drawn to anything that will teach them about the wonderful savior who died for them. They have a desire to grow as a Christian, but how do they do that when they are surrounded by a world of sin? How do they find light when they are engulfed in a world of darkness?
I have thought about this many times. It doesn’t seem as though any one will grow if they are not related to or surrounded by the Lord Jesus Christ. The light of Christ dwells in every true Christian, but every Christian does not know this. Or, they know it, but do not reckon it to be true. They live like Christ is only present when they are in church, reading their Bible, praying or when they are talking to the preacher. To navigate this world of darkness, we need the light of Christ. Since Christ lives in us, we all possess the light of Christ, but how do we make it work for us?
I know that it is a very big step to take but the short answer is you must surround yourself, you must saturate yourself with God’s people, God’s music, God’s television shows, God’s books, God’s paintings and God’s word. Douse yourself, emerge yourself in God. If you do it will have an effect on you life. You will grow as a Christian. When you go out into the world, you will know how to invoke the light that lives in you.
As a pastor I am often asked, “How do I live as a Christian? I keep failing. I don’t know how to take the things I learned and use them successfully. How do I keep my mind on Christ?” I too had this question when I was just a new Christian.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Learn to surround yourself with Christian things. Get rid of all things you know Christ would not like.[/pullquote]
I learned to surround myself with Christian things. This first involved taking down all NON-Christian things. I got rid of all things that I had that I knew Christ would not like. For me, this involved cleaning out my liquor cabinet, flushing all of the recreational drugs and throwing away all related paraphernalia. I burned all my bad magazines, broke all 300 of my records and threw away all clothing that had disrespectful messages and pictures. it was like a spring cleaning. I rid myself of any worldly distractions. It was like cleaning the slate of my life so there was room to add the new things I so desperately needed.
After this I started reading my Bible every day. I didn’t always understand it, but I read it anyway. Then I began going to church. Here I didn’t understand everything either, but I always asked questions. The pastor was always happy to give me an answer. I bought Christian music, posters and books. I put them all over my apartment. Everywhere you turned you could see God. I hung out with the people I met at church and it didn’t take long to see that they were not prudes like I initially thought them to be. If it had God in it, I was involved.
This filled my mind with thoughts about God which effectively pushed out thoughts of the world. It was “out with the old and in with the new.” If you are going to get rid of the old man, you must replace it with the new man. The Bible refers to this as a purging process (1 Cor. 5:7; 2 Tim. 2:21; 2 Pet. 1:9). People don’t get this though. They think that when they become a Christian, they can just start leading a new life. So, they neglect the old life. As hard as they try to live the new Christian life, the old life keeps showing through. They have neglected to purge out the old ways to make room for the new ways. This is essential if they are going to be successful at leading a victorious Christian life.
Christians can never grow if they do not address getting some of their old ways removed from their life. There will never be room for the new life to take hold if they are not willing to allow the old to be “pushed out” (purged).
In summary, the way to grow as a Christian is to allow the old to be pushed out by the new. Get rid of the things that draw you away, or distract you from God. Then surround yourself with the things that you want in your life. Then the purging process will successfully accomplish what it is intended to do.
A. J. Gordon was the great Baptist pastor of the Clarendon Church in Boston, Massachusetts. One day he met a young boy in front of the sanctuary carrying a rusty cage in which several birds fluttered nervously. Gordon inquired, “Son, where did you get those birds?”
“I trapped them out in the field.”
“What are you going to do with them?”
“I’m going to play with them, and then I guess I’ll just feed them to an old cat we have at home.”
When Gordon offered to buy them, the lad exclaimed, “Mister, you don’t want them, they’re just little old wild birds and can’t sing very well.”
“I’ll give you $2 for the cage and the birds.”
“Okay, it’s a deal, but you’re making a bad bargain.” The exchange was made and the boy went away whistling, happy with his shiny coins. Gordon walked around to the back of the church property, opened the door of the small wire coop, and let the struggling creatures soar into the blue. The next Sunday he took the empty cage into the pulpit and used it to illustrate his sermon about Christ’s coming to seek and to save the lost — paying for them with His own precious blood. “That boy told me the birds were not songsters,” said Gordon, “but when I released them and they winged their way heavenward, it seemed to me they were singing, ‘Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!'”
This is what Jesus did for each saved saint of God. He set us free from the cage of sin in which we are trapped. It is only by His precious blood that the door of sin is open and freedom is at hand. Jesus paid for our sin. He is the only one who could ever pay for it, because His blood is pure and sinless. Ours is not. No matter how much we may cry out that we don’t belong in the cage of sin, our blood is still sinful. What binds us, what holds us is the sinful blood contained within our veins. As it bleeds out, more is produced in it’s place, and it is just as sinful as that which it replaces.
Our problem is a blood problem. Let me simply say it like this, “we have bad blood.” Yes, there is bad blood between us and God, and it can never be purified. We can only have an advocate who will accept us, and then present us to the Father based on the pure blood coursing His veins—That is what Jesus Christ did.
The door is now open. The way is made clear. There is nothing standing in the way that would hinder us from leaving the cage of death. But, sadly, there are many who will not venture into the open air of the heavens. With fear or pride they huddle in the back of the cage, making excuse after excuse about why it cannot be real. At the same time, they witness (over and over again), another one step to the edge and soar with open wings, into the open free air. How terrible life must be for those who live in fear. How hopeless life must seem for those who will do anything but stretch their wings and fly.
If you are not saved today, I hope you will come to your senses and get right with God now. ~Pastor Coale
We do not live in a perfect world. This is very unfortunate for all of us. It would be wonderful if everything we tried to do was easy. But unfortunately it is not. It is difficult to find the right mate to create a family with. It is difficult to bare and rear children. It is difficult to make ends meet, to struggle in the never ending pursuit of money just so that we can pay our bills, put enough food on the table for our families and to be able to have a little bit to do something fun once in a while. Life certainly is not easy the world presses in on us with all sorts of external pressures that want us to fall not only physically but spiritually and mentally as well. There are pressures in relationships, pressures about finances, pressures about health, and pressures about being able to compete and keep up with the Jones–so to speak. However all of these pursuits are pursuits that are going to one day vanish in the wind and mean absolutely nothing. As a Christian I am sure that you know as well as I do that only the things that we do spiritually for God are what remains. All other endeavors are simply to take care of the immediate needs of our lives, and they will all one day, as a vapor, vanish in the wind floating softly out into nothingness, and they will mean absolutely nothing. They will neither be a repulsive smell unto the Lord or a sweet smelling savor unto him. They will mean nothing.
With that in mind I would like to challenge each and every one of you today to try to remember that we are all in the same boat. We all have the same difficulties, we all have the same problems, and we are all struggling with one thing or another. It doesn’t matter what it is we are struggling with, we are still all struggling. Each and every one of us know how difficult it is. We know it is difficult to deal with life, we know it is difficult to deal with the world, difficult to deal with self, we know it is difficult to deal with the future; especially when we know it is certainly holding for us nothing more promising than pain, distraught and trouble. I mean we know that we call it the uncertain future but it is really not uncertain. Men only perceive that it is uncertain but it is not.
Because we are all in the same boat, we ought to be hand in hand, interlocking arms, intertwined, supporting each other, helping each other, holding each other up in prayer. We ought to be tolerant of each other because we know that the trouble that we have others have as well. Unfortunately this does not always work and it doesn’t work because there is that silly thing that always comes into the picture called pride. Pride is when we are more interested in our self than we are in someone else. At times I might be able to say that there could be great justification for that, because it is wearisome to have someone constantly knit picking you. It is wearisome to have someone constantly comparing themselves to you or to demanding their rights based on their standards and trying to place that upon you. It is wearisome trying to obey the laws of the land and then when you travel into another country for example the laws are much different so you have a whole new set of things to learn. When you travel back you find that in your own country laws have changed. So it is hard to keep up with the times in such a dynamic world and dynamic place where things are changing all the time.
But let me comfort you with this, God’s word never changes despite what the world does to attack it and make it seem like it is constantly in motion, evolving toward temporary situations that are not true. There are the basic elements of man that never change. There is always going to be jealousy, there is always going to be pleasure, there is always going to be sin, there is always going to be envy, there is always going to be strife and so on and so forth. All of these things may take different forms as we deal with different people or different cultures or different times even, but the basic tendon’s of those things never change. As Christians we need to not live on the surface where things are changing and sand is shifting all the time. We need to do what the Bible calls stand on the rock, where we know that these things never change and that envy is envy whether it was for a chariot of old or for a BMW of contemporary times or maybe some space vehicle in the future. Who knows? But envy is still envy. It is a human nature that makes up what we call sin. Love will never change it is always going to be love. We may change our approach toward it but it is still there.
Now why is it that many Christians are wrapped up in the surface issues of life and the changing demands of time? I believe it is because they have not yet learned to be content in whatsoever state they are in as the apostle Paul said. Once you become content then those things don’t really upset you. You don’t need a whole bunch of surface things in your life to make you feel good about yourself or give you something where by you can judge yourself to see how you are doing in life or not. You know it all comes down to this one little statement. The statement that my mother always said as we were growing up, I don’t know if she realized it had such a Godly principle or not, but here it is: “Que sira sira”. Spanish for meaning: whatever will be will be. We are not going to change the avalanche of fate over-running this world. We can either go along with the flow; not meaning go along with the world, but go along with what God brings into our life, and look at it that way or we can allow it to bowl us over. It will either do one or the other. Now what will it be? In China they had a phrase called “Mei guan xi”. It means, “it doesn’t matter”. They would say that about everything, “it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter”. That is because when they’ve lived in such a poor state all of their lives, barely having a shack to live in with dirt floors. They were completely filled with joy just to have more from their harvest than they would need to be able to last them all through the winter. When they did, they were happy to share it with others. When you get to that state, things do not really matter too much. You learn to live within the state that God has you in.
So why don’t we pick up our boot straps and look at the world like this? Mei guan xi. That is not to say stick your head in the sand. It is not to pridefully shrug your shoulders and say it doesn’t matter, as if you don’t care. You should care but you should not let it upset you. Let things just go their course.
I have found out though my life that things just seem to work out. You do not have to get all upset about things. I use to get upset about many things, little things, stupid things, dumb things. Now that I have been thinking about this perhaps it is just that people get some kind of emotional high off of being upset. When they feel that adrenalin set in, it sparks anger or interest in their life and they feed off of it. Have you ever see two people argue and they just won’t let it go? They always have to “one up” the other person. You look at it from a distance and you say, “Why don’t they just give up? What are they going to gain by it?” Many times people argue just to argue. When they are doing that, they win an argument and walk away saying I won! But what does that mean? It means absolutely nothing. Mei guan xi, it doesn’t matter.
God said the principle thing is love. Love is letting the other person be right. Love is not letting your anger boil to the surface. When you feel it coming you just realize it and you side step the pitfall that will waste all of your energy and allow you to end up at the bottom of a big hole somewhere with every body looking down on you, and you feeling ashamed of yourself. Of course you will be able to walk away with pride, holding up your head saying, “I won.” But, what does it mean? It means nothing if the outcome doesn’t have some positive result. What is it worth?
I remember a time when a friend of mine went out to eat with his wife. He didn’t have much money so he took her to Subway. A third man walked in the door. He was all upset and was making a big scene, being angry, yelling at the girl behind the counter about his sandwich. Finally she had served him and he was leaving and as he was leaving my friend with his back to him the whole time didn’t know anything about what was going on but his wife could see it all. She kind of snickered, a slight snicker, slight smile thinking my goodness people sure are terrible. The guy picked up on that and he ran over and grabbed my friend by the shoulder and said you think that is funny? My friend was just shocked; he didn’t know what was going on. The guy turned around and punched him in the face. My friend was sitting there happily eating his sandwich one moment and the next moment laying there in the seat on the bench with a big shiner. Well the guy got all angry and he turned around and went to go out the door and as he went he flung the door open toward himself, and as he went storming out he hit his head on the door and gave himself a shiner. Walked out and got in his car real angry because he beat himself up with the door. Now what did it all accomplish? Not a thing. Probably made him feel better about himself and got down the road a little ways and thought that was a dumb thing to do. Maybe his pride was so strong that it just didn’t allow him to think it was a dumb thing to do. But guess what! It was a dumb thing to do.
We’re all in the same boat concerning love too! People need to love each other. They need to have a little patience, and give things a little time. Now there are those situations where it doesn’t matter how much you love someone, or how patient you are with them, people pick up on your love as a weakness and they begin to dominate you. You feel completely helpless in a situation like that. You think I can either fight back or I can just get out of the situation. My friend that is the best advice. Limit your time, distance and shielding. My mother said time heals all wounds. She was right about that. I have learned that if you keep distance you end up shielding yourself from the effects that cause you to want to fall and stumble for the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes you have to stay away from things. For example, it is not good for a diabetic to go into a candy store. Why tempt yourself on something you know is going to end up making you fall.
So I encourage you all lend a helping hand to each other, be patient to everyone and if you can’t and it ends up dragging you down, don’t go in the candy store. Shield yourself. Things will work out in the end. People have to be people and people have to learn to deal with each other for Jesus Christ. We’re all in the same boat!
There was a famous American pastor who went to Africa to preach for a summer. He preached in many countries while there. The crowds who came to listen were various, but always large in numbers. After finishing with a crowd of over ten thousand souls, he and his hosts were headed to a town where there was expected to be three thousand. But the country that he was in did not have a very stable government. That particular day, the government ceased the sale of gasoline that morning. On the way to the church, there were cars lined up all over the sides of the road. Some were left abandoned; others had frustrated owners camping out in them. It was a dreary and ominous sight for the American pastor, especially when earlier a tremendous storm blew in. There was lightning and thunder all around the area. On the way to the church that morning, the American pastor thought to himself, “There probably won’t be very many people in church today. In a church of three thousand, if half of the people come, it is going to look pretty skimpy today.”
When they arrived at the building, it was about half full of people milling around preparing for the service. But it didn’t stop there! People continued to trickle in all throughout the morning until the building was “bursting at the seams.”
First they prayed. They prayed for a good hour. He thought it would never end. He had never experienced anything like this before. Then there was singing and praising. It bubbled over into exuberant exaltation of the Lord in dance (proper dance) and joy. There was such an atmosphere of love and praise for the Lord that the pastor was even able to “get his ‘jam’ on.” He then preached for about an hour, but when he finished, as the storm raged outside, the faces of the people looked surprised. The song leader stepped up and the singing began again. Then there was prayer and more testimonies of praise. There was such praise for the Lord that the shouting and elevating of Jesus spilled over once again to jubilant song and dance. Some were standing with outstretched arms; some were kneeling at the altar. Some were smiling and shouting; others were crying and shaking their heads in sorrow and deep conviction. He sheepishly, but willingly joined in praising Jesus right along with everyone else. An announcement was made and the people began sitting, still shouting with joy. Eyes turned to the pastor and he quickly deduced that they expected more from the word of God.
He preached yet another full sermon. At the invitation, the altar was full. Then prayer broke out in the building once again. Five hours had passed. First it seemed like the church would be empty, but it filled. Then it seemed like you couldn’t pry the people away. Amazed by this display, he asked the national pastor, “Why aren’t these people leaving?”
“Things are different between Africa and America. The people here, THEY NEED GOD. You see, the people here have nothing. Some of these people have walked 2 and 3 hours to get here. They don’t even know if they will eat tomorrow, let alone have a job. These people are a devastated people without God. They live one day at a time. There is such a desperate need for God over here, that every time there is an opportunity to come face to face with God, and be in His presence, they take advantage of it. They can’t afford excuses, or compete with television shows or radio. They NEED to be in God’s presence.”
As I listened to this story, I began to wonder about that very simple, yet convicting phrase: “We need God here.” It was a shocking and unexpected answer from that simple African pastor: “WE NEED GOD HERE!” He was not saying that Americans don’t need God as well. Nor was he criticizing American churches. He was stating a simple and plain fact. It was truly how the African pastor saw things from his position. Having been in several third world countries myself, I can relate to that statement. Having lived in third world countries for a big chunk of my life, I can see that statement formulate into a vision. At no fault of the general American, there are just too many choices, especially in the way of “religions” competing over their interest. At no fault of their own, the general citizen of this country has an abundance of food, water, health care and shelter available to him. In short, there are very, very few instances in our great land that cause our citizens to be driven to their knees, yearning for an opportunity to be in the presence of God because they have no food, water, shelter or food, just to make it another day. There is not much real NEED of GOD HERE in our great land.
Friends, because we don’t have that situation here, does not mean that we don’t NEED God. Everyone needs God. We all need God. I need God, and so do you. So far, God has not driven us to this realization. So far, God has granted us a reprieve from such a destitute situation; a situation where there is no other place to turn to but Him. For now, He has left us to ourselves. We can turn to our government, families, and charities for help. The lines at the food banks are not full of starving people so far.
For now, God has given us the “choice” to need Him or not, but it might not be that way for long. I know that this is something that most of my fellow countrymen cannot “relate to” because they have never seen anything like that with their own eyes. They have only heard stories about such situations, or seen it on T.V. I assure you that there is a big difference between seeing it on T.V. and seeing it in person. Let me go even farther than that. There is a big difference between seeing it for your self, and living it in person, but when you do, when you have absolutely no other place to turn to but God, you will crave the presence of God. I don’t mean coming to the end of your rope in such a sense that you can’t figure out any other way to fix your problem except asking someone to pray for you. You know, the kind of problem where you have already solved it, but you just can’t grasp the resolution because it lies just outside of your reach. I am talking about the kind of problem that has no resolution. These are the kind of problem where you absolutely NEED GOD to live another day. These are the real big problems. These are those that drive you to God and keep you there. The kind of problems where you not only welcome an opportunity to be in His presence, but are disappointed if you cannot be there.
So I ask, “Do you need God?” Do you need Him so much that you would not so much as lift up your eyes unto heaven, but smite your breast saying, “God, be merciful to me—a sinner.” (ref. Luke 18:13). How poor are you?
I am not saying you need to be poor. I am asking, How much do you Need God? It shows in your desire to be in His presence.
Jim Rigby (a proclaimed preacher) posted on Facebook the Ten Things I wish the church knew about homosexuality. His very questions display his ignorance of the Bible and the subject for which he claims to be an authority. So that his teachings (and the teachings of others like him) do not infect innocent and ignorant minds, I have responded to his teachings below:
1. If Jesus did not mention a subject, it cannot be essential to his teachings. WRONG—You should read your Bible. Jesus as the son of God is the author of the entire Bible and He mentions much about the sin of homosexuality.
2. You are not being persecuted when prevented from persecuting others. YOU are being persecuted when others are NOT PREVENTED from persecuting YOU. SO, it depends on who is on the RIGHT SIDE and God’s side is always right for He is your CREATOR.
3. Truth isn’t like wine that gets better with age. It’s more like manna you must recognize wherever you are and whoever you are with. WRONG—Truth is truth no matter who you are with or wherever you are. It is not relative to your opinion or position.
4. You cannot call it “special rights” when someone asks for the same rights you have. WRONG—It is “special rights” when their rights oppose or conflict the rights of truth.
5. It is no longer your personal religious view if you’re bothering someone else. WRONG—Your personal religious view is your personal religious view no matter who is bothered by it. AND, if it is based on “truth” then it really doesn’t matter what your view is or not. It only matters what the truth is.
6. Marriage is a civil ceremony, which means it’s a civil right. WRONG—marriage is a command given to humans by their Creator who designed humans to fulfill that command. It is not a right whatsoever.
7. If how someone stimulates the pubic nerve has become the needle to your moral compass, you are the one who is lost. WRONG—If your moral compass offends the A-moral, then you are on the right track.
8. To condemn homosexuality, you must use parts of the Bible you don’t yourself obey. Anyone who obeyed every part of Leviticus would rightly be put in prison. WRONG—If man had obeyed the Books of Leviticus all along instead of swaying from it, then it would be the standard of living now. (Note: regarding homosexuality, the book of Leviticus (written to the Levite Priests) is not the only book in the Bible condemning homosexuality. There are the books of Genesis, Exodus, Proverbs, Psalms, Romans, etc.). Also, Jesus does not hate the homosexual, He hates homosexuality. Jesus loves the people of the world and died for them so they could have forgiveness of their sins and a means of overcoming them.
9. If we do not do the right thing in our day, our grandchildren will look at us with same embarrassment we look at racist grandparents. WRONG—It is never permissible to do the wrong thing based on how our grandchildren will look at us. If they were taught right, they would have hero’s instead of villans.
10. When Jesus forbade judging, that included you. WRONG—Jesus did not forbid judging. In fact He command us to judge the righteous judgment (Isa. 1:17; John 7:24) just as He gave us example in doing (John 5:30; 16:11)
Right, wrong, or indifferent, he obviously has no idea about what the Bible says about the subject.
If I were the Prince of Darkness, I would of course, want to engulf the whole world in darkness. And I’d have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree—THEE. So I’d set about however necessary to take over the United States.
I’d subvert the churches first. I’d begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.” To the young, I’d whisper that the Bible is a myth. I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would convince that what is bad is good, and what is good is “square”. And the old I would teach to pray after me, “Our father which art in Washington”. And then I’d get organized. I’d educate authors how to make lurid literature exciting, so that anything else would appear dull an uninteresting. I’d threaten T.V. with dirtier movies and vice versa. I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. And I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.
If I were the Devil, I’d soon have families at war with themselves, churches at war with themselves, and nations at war with themselves, until each in it’s turn was consumed. And with promises of higher ratings, I’d have mesmerizing media fanning the flames.
If I were the devil, I would encourage school to refine young intellects, but to neglect to discipline emotions; just let those run wild, until before you knew it, you’d have to have drug sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door.
Within a decade, I’d have prisons overflowing, I’d have judges promoting pornography. Soon I could evict God from the courthouse, and then from the schoolhouse, and then from the houses of congress. And in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and deify science. I would lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls and church money.
If I were the devil, I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg, and the symbol of Christmas, a bottle.
If I were the Devil, I’d take from those who have and give to those who wanted, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And what do you bet I couldn’t get whole states to promote gambling as the way to get rich?
I would caution against extremes, and hard work, and patriotism, and moral conduct. I would convince the young that marriage is old fashion, and swinging is more fun; that what you see on T.V. is the way to be. And thus I could undress you in public, and I could lure you into bed with diseases for which there is no cure.
In other words, if I were the devil, I’d just keep on doing what he’s doing.
Paul Harvey, Good Day.
I was out walking with my grandson. He picked up something off of the ground and started to put it in his mouth. I took the item away from him and I asked him not to do that.
“Why?” my grandson asked.
“Because it’s been on the ground; you don’t know where it’s been, it’s dirty, and probably has germs. Sometimes germs make little boys sick and not feel good” I replied.
At this point, my grandson looked at me with total admiration and asked, “Grandma, how do you know all this stuff? You are so smart.”
I was thinking quickly and said to him, “All Grandmas know stuff. It’s on the Grandma Test. You have to know it, or they don’t let you be a Grandma.” We walked along in silence for 2 or 3 minutes, but he was evidently pondering this new information.
“Oh…I get it! He beamed, so if you don’t pass the test you have to be the Grandpa.”
“Exactly,” I replied with a big smile on my face.
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.
In John 6:1-13 there is the wonderful story of the feeding of the 5000. The story is wonderful for many reasons. One of the biggest is the location. He led those people to a deserted place. A desert place is a place where there is nothing. Deserted places are places where you cannot find food or water. Deserted places are places where you can be alone. Nobody lives there. A wilderness is a quiet place, no computers, there is no watching TV, no radio, and no music, and there is only you and the wilderness. And so, Jesus leads people out there where they don’t have anything.
I remember one time when a friend told me “You need to go out to Blake Island and spend three days with God. Three days!” Blake Island is a small Island in the middle of the Puget Sound and you can only get there by boat. He said to me, “I want you to promise that you will go there and when you get there, I want you to pull the boat up on the shore and you don’t get into that boat to go anywhere until three days are up. You just stay right there.”
“Ok, I’ll just bring my Walkman and some other stuff.
“No! You only bring one thing, your Bible.” I was a little scared agreeing to that but I did.
I smoked a lot of cigarettes in those early days of being saved, but just before I got in the kayak to push off, Jay said, “Hey, give me those” pointing to my pack of smokes. “You’re going to quit. God is going to take them away from you. If you want them when you get back, you can have them. If you don’t I’ll throw them away.” I was shaking a little as I gave them to him, but I was in it all the way for Jesus.
“What am I going to do for three days”, I asked myself as I paddled there. I took three oranges, three cans of food, some coffee, a knife and my Bible. That’s all I took. When I got to that Island, it was early eight o’clock in the morning and I set up my tent. I sat down and read my Bible. I read for what I thought was a long time, but when I looked at my watch, I had only been there for one hour. I decided to have something to eat, so I ate. Then I cleaned everything up, washed it and got everything back together again. Now two hours had gone by. I still had two days and twenty two hours to go. Before that evening was over, I was so bored that I had eaten all my food. The next day all I had was coffee and my Bible.
Wilderness places are lonely places. And when you are in a lonely place, there are no distractions. Its easy for God to talk to you. Its easy to get something from God. Its easy to improve your relationship with Him.
I read the book of Psalms, Proverbs and almost the whole New Testament. For three days, I just read and read and read. All I had to do was read my Bible and talk with God. I soon found myself talking with God out loud. I was asking Him some really unusual things. I asked, “God, that is an incredible beautiful leaf, how did you make that? I mean, look at all the different leaves, all the different kinds of trees in the world, and why did you make this little leaf right here on this tree?” I am not saying anything mysterious happening, but it was just as if God was standing there with me saying, “Why do you think I made that little leaf right there, the one you’re looking at?”
A leaf is insignificant. In this whole wide world there are many insignificant leafs. Now I was looking at one specific leaf and having a conversation with God over it. It was as If God put it there for this specific time in history just for me. He was showing me how beautifully and wonderfully made it. He was saying to me, “I created that little insignificant leaf just for you Ron. I put all of that detail in it so you can see how much I care. I made that leaf very special and I put it here on this tree, on this Island, just for you to see.” The thought was overwhelming. I didn’t know if it was the fasting or not, but my knees began to shake.
“What about colors God? Why don’t I just see black and white like they say animals do? What is black and white anyway?” I was asking and the resounding, repetitive answer was always, “I made it for you. I did it just for you.” God made this world for me. He made the world before He made me, and put me on it. “Why is the water blue and why does it wave the way it does? Why do I see faces in the clouds?”
“I did it for you. I gave you a mind to see it.” “Why did God give me a mind so I can enjoy these wonderful things?”
“I made you in my image, so I want you to see things like I do. I want you to see me.”
This went on for another two days. I was rejoicing in God, His creation and His word. At the end of the three days, I didn’t want to leave. I was with God and God was with me. I experienced a relationship with Him. It was a wonderful experience. It was a wilderness experience, where none of the cares of this life could bring its influence to bear. God would not let them.
At the appointed time, I returned where Jay was waiting to pick me up. He asked if I wanted my cigarettes back (he had a pack in his hand offering it to me). “No, I don’t need them any more.” I had not even remembered them. I was so excited about God. God had taken them from me and I didn’t even realize it. I didn’t know it then, but I would take them up again when I turned my back on God, but right then, I had met God in a special way, in a special place—the wilderness.
Wilderness experiences don’t come without trials. For me, there were the nights of no food; there were the nights of thinking about myself; there were the decisions I had to make. I strove with God asking Him to provide for me by miraculously making oranges fall out of the sky. Finally I reached the point where I had no choice but to just accept whatever God had planned for me. I prayed, “God, you know where I am right now and you know how to provide for me, what I need, I am going to just trust you for.”
You say, “I don’t want to go to the wilderness place. How would I get back? How would I eat? What would I drink? What will I cook? What about money? What about…?” There are a lot of things to worry about.
Becoming a Christian is one thing, but being a disciple of Jesus Christ is a very different thing indeed. Will you cross the line and say, “I will give you my whole life? I want to be your servant.” Will you give yourself to be a servant to Jesus Christ? That is what it comes down to. People do not like to hear that. They don’t like to hear those words–“give myself to be a servant and slave to Jesus Christ.” Are you willing to let the Lord take you to the wilderness place if He pleases? Are you willing to concede ownership of your life to Him? Either you are going to go along, kicking and screaming or you are going to go along willingly to have a wilderness experience.
Many churches love their pastors and show it by taking good care of him. They stand by him and what he is trying to do for the Lord because they know what he is facing. They understand his situation because they think about him, know he is a man and value him as a gift provided to them by God. But if I am to believe some of the survey statistics published on pastors and their view towards the ministry, the vast majority of fellow pastors do not receive such care. Consider these figures compiled by the Schaeffer Institute:
Hours and Pay
- 90% of the pastors work between 55 to 75 hours per week, even though their congregations don’t see it.
- feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
- 70% of pastors are grossly underpaid and with what they do receive, they are usually the biggest giver to their church.
Training and Preparedness
- 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.
- 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered it.
Health and Well-Being
- 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
- 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a sufficient living.
Marriage and Family
- 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
- 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked.
- 80% spouses feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.
- 70% do not have someone they consider as a close friend.
- 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
- #1 reason pastors leave the ministry — Church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor. Pastors believe God wants them to go in one direction but the people are not willing to follow or change and become critical of him.
- 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
- 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
- 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.
- Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
- Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month, many without cause.
- Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year.
That’s a sad and alarming picture, isn’t it? Work long hours in a job with too many demands for too little pay. Many have the wrong skills and the wrong expectations. Families being pressured and battered. Pastors are discouraged and depressed. No friends, serious conflict once a month, and people who will not follow. Is it no wonder so many quit so soon?
According to one survey, only 23% of pastors report being happy and content in their identity in Christ, in their church, and in their home.
I suspect, however, that men in these situations might be crippled all the more were they to faithfully preach a text like 1 Tim. 5:17-20. They would be seen as self-serving and courting with more hostility and dissatisfaction from a people already running afoul of God’s call to churches to honor faithful servants.
So, I’m hopeful at least some of God’s people would consider these statistics, reflect upon their church’s treatment of their pastors, and perhaps lead a conspiracy to make sure faithful elders receive “double honor” from those they teach and lead. Let’s face it: we can’t get survey statistics like these unless it has become an unchecked commonplace among congregations to gossip and gripe rather than to breathe grace toward church leaders. These statistics indicate a pandemic culture of disregard and dishonor aimed at pastors. That’s to the church’s shame.
I’m praying that Hebrews 13:17–rather than rejected as giving too much authority to leaders–might be embraced by individual members and congregations as one means to growth in Christ and deeper joy as the family of God. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”
“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.
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.
The Parallel Gospels gives a four sided view of the Lord Jesus Christ’s life. Each view is revealed in the writings of the four different gospel authors. Each contains subtle nuances when recording the same accounts.
- Matthew sees Jesus as the King.
- Mark sees Jesus as the servant.
- Luke sees Jesus as a man.
- John sees Jesus as God.
Anything can be better understood when looked at it from different perspectives. So can the life of Jesus Christ. God knows this. That is why He commissioned four different accounts of Jesus’ life.
In addition showing the accounts in parallel, all gospels are arranged in chronological order as well.
I assembled a book years ago showing the gospels in parallel as well as chronological order. I called it The Parallel Gospels. It has been a great study tool for me. I refer to it whenever I need to see what the other gospels writers said about a subject. It helps me to get a more rounded view of what really happened.
Because I have all too often been asked, “Where can I get a copy of this book?”, I have finally published it on Kindle. You can now purchase it there.
As it is for me, I am sure The Parallel Gospels will be a valuable tool for you in your study of the Life of Jesus Christ. I hope that it gives you many years of help in your study. I know it will be a blessing to you.
(Men Are From Sears, Women Are From Nordstrom)
I believe that, in general, women are saner than men. For example, If you see people who have paid good money to stand in an outdoor stadium on a freezing December day wearing nothing on the upper halves of their bodies except paint, those people will be male.
Without males, there would be no such sport as professional lawn mower racing. Also, there would be a 100 decline in the annual number of deaths related to efforts to shoot beer cans off of heads. Also, if women were in charge of all the world’s nations, there would be, I sincerely believe this, virtually no military conflicts, and if there were a military conflict, everybody involved would feel just awful and there would soon be a high- level exchange of thoughtful notes written on greeting cards with flowers on the front, followed by a Peace Luncheon (which would be salads, with the dressing on the side).
So I sincerely believe that women are wiser than men, with the exception of one key area, and that area is: clothing sizes. In this particular area, women are insane.
When a man shops for clothes, his primary objective is to purchase clothes that fit on his particular body. A man will try on a pair of pants, and if those pants are too small, he’ll try on a larger pair, and when he finds a pair that fits, he buys them. Most men do not spend a lot of time fretting about the size of their pants. Many men wear jeans with the size printed right on the back label, so that if you’re standing behind a man in a supermarket line, you can read his waist and inseam size. A man could have, say, a 52-inch waist and a 30-inch inseam, and his label will proudly display this information, which is basically the same thing as having a sign that says: “Howdy! My butt is the size of a Federal Express truck!” The situation is very different with women.
When a woman shops for clothes, her primary objective is NOT to find clothes that fit her particular body. She would like for that to be the case, but her primary objective is to purchase clothes that are the size she wore when she was 19 years old. This will be some arbitrary number such as “5” or “7.” Don’t ask me “5” or “7” of what; that question has baffled scientists for centuries. All I know is that if a woman was a size 5 at age 19, she wants to be a size 5 now, and if a size 5 outfit does not fit her, she will not move on to a larger size: She can’t! Her size is 5! So she will keep trying on size 5 items, and unless they start fitting her, she will become extremely unhappy.
She may take this unhappiness out on her husband, who is waiting patiently in the mall, perhaps browsing in the Sharper Image store, trying to think of how he could justify purchasing a pair of night-vision binoculars. “Hi!” he’ll say, when his wife finds him. “You know how sometimes the electricity goes out at night and…” “Am I fat?” she’ll ask, cutting him off. This is a very bad situation for the man, because if he answers “yes,” she’ll be angry because he’s saying that she’s fat, and if he answers “no,” she’ll be angry because HE’S OBVIOUSLY LYING BECAUSE NONE OF THE SIZE 5’s FIT HER.
There is no escape for the husband. I think a lot of unexplained disappearances occur because guys in malls see their wives unsuccessfully trying on outfits, and they realize their lives will be easier if, before their wives come out and demand to know whether they’re fat, the guys just run off and join a UFO cult.
The other day my wife, Michelle, was in a terrific mood, and you know why? Because she had successfully put on a size 6 outfit. She said this made her feel wonderful. She said, and this is a direct quote: “I wouldn’t care if these pants were this big (here she held her arms far apart) as long as they have a ‘6’ on them.”
Here’s how you could get rich: Start a women’s clothing store called “SIZE 2,” in which all garments, including those that were originally intended to be restaurant awnings, had labels with the words “SIZE 2.” I bet you’d sell clothes like crazy. You’d probably get rich, and you could retire, maybe take up some philanthropic activity to benefit humanity. I’m thinking here of professional lawn mower racing.
Zechariah 8:17 “And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.”
John Lennon wrote a song saying that it was easy to imagine that there was no heaven. It is easy to imagine things that are not true because we focus on those things. Also, today’s media is very effective in encouraging us to imagine falsehood.
There is enough evil in the world to go around for everyone. There really is no need for us to imagine any more. When we do, we keep spiraling down out of control with little hope of coming to our senses unless we purpose to stop imagining evil against our neighbor.
God hates it. He hates when we imagine evil because He knows that it is our nature to follow after things that we imagine. Why not imagine good? Why not think righteous and pure thoughts?
A college student challenged a senior citizen, saying it was impossible for their generation to understand his. “You grew up in a different world,” the student said. “Today we have television, jet planes, space travel, nuclear energy, computers…”
Taking advantage of a pause in the student’s litany, the geezer said, “You’re right. We didn’t have those things when we were young; so we invented them! What are you doing for the next generation?”
It is a dangerous thing to not go to church, especially if you are a parent. First and foremost its obvious it affects your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. When you are not going to church, the less you want to go. The more you go to church the more you want to go. Now we all know that it is certainly not God that is influencing us to keep us away from church attendance. That leaves only two causes; it is either at the direction and influence of Satan that we are not going to church or by the pull and draw of self.
Jesus Christ died for the church, he loves the church. He told us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. A good healthy love for the Lord Jesus Christ should be enough for any individual to continue in and be dedicated to church attendance. If you are not feeding the relationship you have with someone, then it begins to diminish. When you have a relationship with people then you certainly spend time with them. You spend time with them privately and you spend time with them publicly. The private devotion of a Christian is not sufficient for a proper and healthy relationship with God Almighty. You must join together with God’s people because Jesus said where two or three are gathered together in his name that he would be there in the midst of them. So you can either have a private relationship with God or you can have a public relationship with God, or you can have both.
Before becoming a preacher, part of my job as an electrician was to take working trips for the government. This meant that I would have to leave my family behind. I would go off sometimes for thirty days, some times for six weeks and some times for just two weeks. To me it did not matter if it was just the weekend or not, I was apart from my family, my friends and those whom I loved. If you ask my wife you will find out that the largest phone bills we ever had was when I was on trips because I was constantly on the phone with her. Why is that? I desired that relationship. I needed it to be fed. I loved her and you could tell because of the amount to time I wanted to relate with her.
We need time to be with God Almighty. Having a long distance relationship with him is not sufficient just as the phone calls from across the country to my wife were not sufficient. It filled a need but I sure couldn’t wait to get on that airplane and come home. I needed those kisses and those hugs. I needed that surrounding to be whole and complete in my life. Christians unless you have the surroundings of God and God’s people you will not ever be whole or complete in your life. It is dangerous when you are not going to church.
Another danger is how God will react. You see, relationships work both ways. Its is not all dependent upon you, although some people deceive themselves and think that it is. Relationships also depend upon the other person as well. Have you ever tried to talk with someone that didn’t want to talk with you? Have you ever tried to make friends with someone that didn’t want to be friends with you? It is near impossible. Have you ever had a friend that suddenly, for no reason at all just started keeping away from you? Maybe your relationship gradually became a long distance one? What would you do? I venture to say that you would be concerned. At the very least and there would come a point when you would decide that you wanted to figure out what the problem was. You would probably want to know if it was a problem with you or a problem with them. God is the same way. When His people move away from him, and slowly begins not going to church, It is just like the long-distance relationship. He wants to figure out what the problem is. He wants to confront you about it. Then He wants to inspire you to do what is right because he knows the relationship is healthy for you and for Him. When you are not going to church, the danger is that God may act and you are not always exactly sure how He will do that.
The third danger is, people are looking at you and your testimony. Every Christian has what is called a living testimony. It is how you act as compared with what you say. You can say to people all you want that you need to be committed to the Lord, but it will mean absolutely nothing if you are not as committed as you expect them to be. Many Christians subconsciously know this and that is why they stay away from various subjects–Subjects where the Christian might be found a hypocrite. But, my friends, people watch your life and if you are doing one thing but saying another it doesn’t help the cause of Christ. It is not neutral and it hurts the cause of Christ. You are either for Christ or you are against Christ.
When we first get saved we begin learning how to live for Christ. Slowly and gradually as the Holy Spirit begins working on us, from that day forward. All the way until the end of our life we are in the process of learning how to live for Christ and die to self. So the danger is, people are looking to see how they are supposed to live as a Christian. When they see that you are not going to church, then they begin to pick up on your example and do the same.
My friends what do people say about you? When they look at you, do they say that your interests are Jesus, the Bible or the Church? Or do they say your greatest interests are: health or birth or job or family? Anything other than Jesus means they see Jesus is not first in your life. Now let’s take this information, file it in our memories and use it for his glory. God bless you all. Amen.
How do I know if someone is a Christian or not?
Christians are not strange people. They are not radical fundamentalist, as some would have you believe. Christians are not someone who needs a crutch to stand on. Nor are they mentally insecure. Christians are just like any other people trying to navigate the pitfalls of this world. They are like anyone else, trying to love their families and do right by their friends and neighbors.
The government and their manipulation by “radical lobbyist” have tried to place any Bible believing Christian in the closet of society. To do so, they must show the evils of being a Christian and get the public to agree with them. It doesn’t matter if it is true or not, as long as people believe it.
They do this so they can make themselves look good in the eyes of others. To elevate yourself in the eyes of the world, you can either ascribe to greatness yourself or you can put down all others around you. That way, when you are the last man standing, you can be the king of the mountain.
Adolph Hitler understood this when he victimized the Jews, Gypsies, Communist, Homosexuals and unfit. In putting them down in society, he gave the perception that the individual common German was greater than the others. He effectively changed their class by changing their perceived position in regards to the classes and races he victimized. This is how the world is making themselves great in their own eyes today. They victimize the common Christian, putting him in an imaginary lower class of people so that others wake up one day and imagine that they have risen a few rungs on the ladder of success.
Despite their best efforts to change the class system, people are still people. We all have the same desires, goals and characteristics because we were all made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Yet, there are some very big differences between a Christian and a person of the world. These differences are “big” because they are matters of life and death (Deut. 30:15). Yes, I know that everyone dies, but just keep reading for once. You can learn something.
Christians are saved. I know that this phrase has been tossed around in so many ways, with so many negative connotations that you think you know all about it; But do you really? From the Bible’s point of view, being “saved” means that true Christians are saved from going to hell. Not because they have earned it, but because it is a gift given to them that they don’t deserve. Someone stood in and paid for them so they don’t have to go to hell. That person is Jesus Christ. He paid for everyone so they don’t have to go to hell, but not everyone will be saved from that destiny. Everyone who does not accept what Jesus did for them will go to hell and remain there forever. This is what true Christians mean when they say they are saved.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Christians are sinners. They do not claim to be sinless. They know that everyone has sinned and comes short of God’s glory.[/pullquote]
Christians are sinners. Somehow the world has conditioned its lemming like followers that Christians claim to be sinless. Even Christians are mixed up on this very point. From time to time they will refer to the unsaved person of the world as “sinners”, while at the same time implying that they claim to be sinless. Real Bible believing Christians know that everyone has sinned and come short of God’s glory, including themselves. Christians are sinners.
Christians are the children of God. Yes! Everyone was created in the image of God, but when sin entered the human race, God’s image in man was removed. People get all hung up on this point. They say, “Do you mean that people like Charles Manson was created in the image of God?” Or they go to the other extreme and say, “I can’t believe that God would send that young angel to hell. What kind of God would do that?” I have spent most of my ministry explaining this over and over again to people. It truly must be a pressure point that the Devil can use to get people all tripped up. Here we go again: Man was originally created in the image of God: Body, Spirit and Soul. When man sinned, his spirit lost Gods image. Man retained his body and soul, but his spirit no longer reflected God’s spirit. When you get saved, God returns His spirit to you. You then become complete. You do this by getting born again. Your body and soul doesn’t get born again. You get spiritually born. Anyone who gets born again becomes saved. Anyone! Why? Because of God’s forgiveness. He doesn’t care what you think about it. He is only interested what He thinks about it. Because it is a spiritual thing, you can not determine a person’s sincerity. Only God can do that. Therefore, the greatest and most beautiful do gooder can go straight to hell if they are not spiritually born again. Likewise, the most wicked vile person you have ever seen can go to heaven if they get spiritually born again. God can do this because He is the creator and He has determined that salvation will be contingent upon being born again or not. He can freely forgive anyone who gets born again. Likewise, He can condemn anyone who does not. Regarding how He makes this decision, He only cares about one thing, “Did you get born again or not?”
Anyone who gets born again, He calls them his children. They refer to Him as Father. He rejects all others and He is completely fair in doing so.
Christians go to church. Although many people go to church for many reasons, Christians do so because they desire fellowship with God and His children. Even though God walks with them everywhere they go because of His omnipresence, they like to go to church because He likes to go to church. To a Christian, church is a small taste of what heaven will be like; even with all of it’s flaws, it is the closest thing they have to heaven down here on the earth. Other people go to church to see what they can get out of it. Christians go to church to see what they can put into it. It gives them an opportunity to love others in a loving and safe environment. Christians don’t have to go to church, they get to go to church.
Christians tell people about Jesus. Face it. If it were not for Christians, nobody in the world today would know about Jesus at all. If it weren’t for Christians there would be nothing for Atheist to worry about. Oh, God would still be here, but nobody would know about Him at all. But, is that the reason Christians tell people about Jesus; to make Him famous? No! Christians tell people about Jesus because they are excited about Him. They appreciate what He has done for them; and the love that they have experienced through Him. They want to share that wonderfully liberating experience with their friends, family and others. They so appreciate Him that they can hardly contain themselves from telling others. Look at it like this: If you were to win the lottery, wouldn’t you want to share that news with those closest and dearest to you? Be true to yourself now. Of course you would. Well, Christians have something far better than the lottery. They have eternal life based upon the promise of God.
Christians read the Bible. The rest of the world doesn’t read the Bible, but Christians do. Real Christians want to get their nose into that book and learn what it says. They are curious about God and what He has done. They want to know more about this love that they now have, and the person with whom it originates.
Christians are just common people with all of the same problems and struggles as everyone else. They are not perfect, nor are they sinless. But they do have hope. It is a hope that allows them to take the journey of life with a much different attitude from the rest of the world. The next time you encounter a Christian, don’t be so quick to judge them and label them as hate mongers, for in so doing, you become guilty of that which you accuse them as being.
Learn about Jesus. You just might realize you were missing something you didn’t even know existed.
We have heard of the times of old when people were persecuted for the Lord Jesus Christ. Many in the early centuries even gave their lives because of their love of Him. They would not recant their belief in the Lord and were therefore “purged” from society by death. Their deaths were often gruesome and would take days to complete. Some were starved; some were bled; others were tortured in the most heartless of ways. These brothers and sisters in Christ are an example to us of defiant love for God. Yes, defiance towards the worlds system. They too lived in the world system, but the world system during their time would actively persecute them by hunting them down to put them to death. It was a holocaust beyond belief.
Many know of the “holocaust” of the Jews by Adolf Hitler in the late 30’s and early 40’s. It is claimed that over 6 million Jews were exterminated from the earth. Adolf was a Catholic with Catholic support and this explains why the pope didn’t lift a finger to condemn Hitler’s evil plan. Hitler tried to eradicate the Jews from Europe, but what really was transpiring was a fanatical rebellion against God.
Long before Adolf Hitler and his national socialist’s followers, there was another holocaust. This one was of the followers of Jesus Christ. It was performed primarily by none other than the Catholic Church. At that time, it was legal to kill Christians. In fact, it was viewed that if you caught a Christian and turned them in to the state, you were doing society a favor. Under these difficult conditions, some of our brothers and sisters died gladly for the Lord; they exchanged their life for eternity. Many others exchanged the lives of their loved ones because they would not deny the Lord Jesus Christ. They endured their persecution well.
There was an instance where a woman was hung over the side of a bridge by a rope tied to her feet. With her hands tied behind her back, she was lowered just enough that her head hung submerged in the water below. Struggling, she would bend her head out of the water just to take a breath of air. At first it was not too difficult, but as the hours went by, she became more tired and it was very difficult to lift her head out of the river to catch a breath. During her time of persecution, her husband was forced to watch. Their crimes? They were Christians and were caught. Because her husband would not deny Jesus Christ and bow to kiss the ring of the Catholic bishop, she would die. In between breaths, as his tired wife would lift her head out of the water, she would cry out in encouragement to her husband, “I am more than happy to give my life for Him who gave His life for me. Husband, do not bow to the pope!” After many hours, she died. Then her husband was burned at the stake. As the faggots fed the flames, he cried, “May the Lord Jesus Christ forgive you for doing that which you know not!”
There are instances where the Catholic soldiers would come into a town and take the young Christians children from their mothers. The soldiers would throw the children into the air and then make sport of trying to catch them on the tips of their spears as they came down. Why? The mothers would not deny Christ and replace Him with the pope as the king of their life.
“Well,” you might say, “All of that happened back then. I am glad this doesn’t happen in the world today. We are all much more civilized then they were back then.” Brethren, don’t be deceived. The world and its system has not changed. It still cannot tolerate anything or anyone else being superior to it. It must make Christianity ineffective. It can do this by directly attacking it or it can infiltrate it and dilute it so that it becomes “worldly” in its nature. That way, Christianity will be so watered down, and would be no more of a threat to the world’s claim for the top spot. This has been its main tactic in this century. But, there are places in this world where direct attacks to Christianity still take place. The world has never been void of it. There are still Christians dying for their faith in the Lord. Some such places are: the Philippines, Indonesia, China, Iran, Afghanistan, and others.
Recently, I read of a possible death sentence for an Iranian pastor all because he is refusing to renounce his Christianity. Iran has an “utter disregard” for religious freedom with an extreme and radical hatred of God. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, 32, is being forced by the Iranian authorities to renounce his faith in Christ. Over the past four days he has been in an appeals court and expects a ruling by the end of next week. If found guilty, he faces the death penalty.
When asked to repent, Pastor Nadarkhani stated: “Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?”
“To the religion of your ancestors, Islam,” the judge replied.
“I cannot,” Nadarkhani said.
Nadarkhani, a pastor in the 400-member Church of Iran, has been held in that country’s Gilan Province since October 2009, after he protested to local education authorities that his son was forced to read from the Koran at school. His wife, Fatemeh Pasandideh, was also arrested in June 2010 in an apparent attempt to pressure him to renounce his faith. She was released in October 2010, according to Amnesty International.
Nadarkhani was sentenced to death for apostasy last September based on religious writings by Iranian clerics, including Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, despite the fact that there is no offense of “apostasy” in the nation’s penal code, Amnesty International reports.
There are still Christians that are facing death in exchange for faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We should never get too complacent with the world and its hatred for God. We may be faced with such a persecution. I certainly hope not. Like most of you, I hope I get to go home to be with the Lord long before I would ever be faced with watching a loved one be tortured to death for the Lord. The little things which I call “persecution” that I have experienced in my life seem to be miniscule when compared with facing the death penalty. May God come quickly and may his judgment be swift upon man.
Date Created: 11/22/2013
(Psalm 107:1) O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
(Psalm 118:1) O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
1. He is Good
A) He is good when it is fashionable to be Bad
In order to impress others as being different, each generation degenerates yet a little farther, just to be different. People have such a need to be different from others that they do terribly bat things. I recently saw a photo of a person who had his lower lip pierced, inserting a large window in it so that you could see his teeth and gums.
B) He is good when the world is becoming Evil.
(Psalm 40:12) For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.
C) He is good when we need something good in our life.
Nobody NEEDS bad things. They WANT to do bad, for whatever reason. When troubles and trials come, people want something good to happen for them.
2. He is Merciful
A) He is Merciful when the Devil is NOT!
The Devil has no mercy at all. Even though you get saved, he still keeps working on you.
B) He is Merciful because we need MERCY!
We do wrong things and need forgiveness. When we don’t have the funds to pay our debts, it is nice to know there is a place we can go for mercy.
3. He is Enduring
A) He is Enduring because He is Stable.
B) He is Enduring because there is an Eternity (Isaiah 57:5).
(Revelation 21:6) And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
C) He is Enduring because we will be forever.
(Jude 7) Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
(Jude 21) Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
One of the most tragic things that have ever happened in the world is the gruesome and ruthless death of the Lord Jesus Christ. When you think that he did nothing wrong to deserve such treatment it makes the thought yet more sobering. I don’t think that any one of us can ever relate to what He endured. He had only done well for the nation of Israel and the recorded accounts of His life never reveal any violent actions at all. In fact, they all seem to be peaceful except when dealing with the Pharisees and religious hypocrites. Even then, there is never any account of violence towards them. On the contrary, he loved them enough to tell them where they were wrong in an effort to get them to do right. He was a man who was meek and peaceful yet at the same time hard and steadfast. To add to His treatment, when we read the Bible, it is hard to think that it was His own people who were crying out for His death. It was the very people whom He was a part of that were pummeling Him and spitting on Him with frenzied jeers of contempt. He was treating them in the most honorable way anyone could who loved someone. At the same time, they were treating Him with the most contempt that anyone could be treated. It is a sad picture to say the least, and I am glad I was not there to witness it.
As I think of every punch, slap, shove and strap He received, I become more mixed in feelings inside. When I imagine every stripe of the scourging; every rip in His body, every grimace of agony on His face, I become angry. When I come to the cruel crown of thorns placed upon His already bruised and puffy face, I want to do something about it. At every turn in the punishment where He could have just said something to end it all, I wonder why He didn’t. Why didn’t He speak to end it all? When every drop of blood streamed from His body, leaving a trail of goodness throughout a world of wickedness, I wonder why He did not just call the angels from His heavenly kingdom to end it all and prove to the Jews and Gentiles alike that He was a king to be feared. My hatred grows for the Pharisees, Scribes and Philosophers of the day. I want to fight. I want to do something to stand by Him, but I am frozen in my fear. Something is holding me back. Something deep within is not allowing me to move from my spot. How glad I am that I am not there, but alas I am. I am there in the imagination of my soul, and it is as real as if I were there that fateful day. I am ashamed.
Peter is not the only one who has denied Him. The world is full of people today who deny Him, although their state is much worse than mine. They ignorantly go about their daily activities as if He never existed. They are truly ignorant of every thought of Him, but I cannot be. My anger for the Pharisees who called for His crucifixion, and sought false witnesses, is real and present. When Pilate offered to let one prisoner go, they called for Barabas. When asked what they wanted to do to Jesus, they called out for His crucifixion. And so it began: The sad and bloody journey up to Golgotha.
He is carrying the burden of His very own cross, but it seems as if there is something much more, because He staggers under its very weight. He clings to it for support, barely able to lift the heavy load. He is leaving a trail of blood behind Him. The Roman soldiers are taking every opportunity to strike Him. His own people are jeering with contempt for Him. They are under the Pharisees spell. They sit comfortably upon their mules, their faces stream pride for their, yet another, accomplishment. I loathe them. Surely they could have a little mercy. How can there be no compassion for the beating of any human being beyond the point He is at? His eyes are puffed up and are barely able to open, yet the cruel blows continue to fall. His hands are shaking under the intense pain. He staggers, but still bears the heavy burden, and once again I would like to help Him, but I cannot. How can the Pharisees allow this barbarism? What is it in the heart of the people that drives them to such frenzied acts of violence? How can any human being be so grossly vicious?
My mind cannot process all that is being taken in. Why? How? He stumbles under the burden and I want to help Him, but I am fixed in one place. By chance, (Is it by chance?), our eyes make contact. Through all of the suffering; through all of the pain, through all of His spilled blood, it’s as if He is conveying to me a calm and merciful forgiveness. I feel torn. Why do I receive such a gaze? I have inflicted no blow. I have brought down no whip? I have not spit into His face, nor even jeered at Him. I have felt no contempt for Him at all. It is then that I realize: each blow He receives if because of me. The bruised eyes, crown of thorns, and open wounds are as if I put every single one of them there my very self. It is not the Pharisees, nor is it Pilate or the Roman soldiers. It is not because of Judas (His betrayer). It is not because of any skeptic. It is I who has inflicted this pain upon Him, for I have sinned.
He suffers because of the sin of the whole world, of which I am a part. I cannot even say that each wound that He bears represents a sin that I have committed, for I have sinned much more than the stripes that I see upon Him. My anger is now redirected from the Pharisees and their foolish pride, to me and mine. The thought is sobering and does not remain long in my head, before immediately moving to the deepest regions of my heart. The thought, like a dagger, has pierced me to my very core, and I feel that I must now do something: I must ask for His forgiveness. But, the crowd is too many. The soldiers are too good at their jobs of keeping back the crowd. I push and strain, but there is no gap in the crowd where I can make my way to Him. I am completely cut off. For the first time in my life I know what it is to be: undone. It is my sin that brought this upon Him. Mine and mine alone.
People do not realize that. They blindly go through life as if it belongs to them, but it does not. They are completely oblivious of the Love that the Lord paid for their redemption to Him. Somehow, we are under the impression that it is the Jews who killed their King, but it is not. It is our sin that has brought this sad state of affairs upon the very King of Glory. We ought to ponder this from time to time and never live outside of its sober parameters. Forgive me Lord.
Attitude makes the difference. You CAN memorize. You have memorized names, dates, addresses and phone numbers. In learning verses you have the help of the Holy Spirit to “guide you into all truth.” You “can do all things through Christ, which strengthens you” (Phil 4:13). He will empower you to learn as you ask Him
Now begin in this manner. After a verse is selected, read it in the Bible in context. Reading the chapter around the verse is best. It helps you understand the verse meaning. Read the verse thoughtfully several times aloud. Then begin learning the verse in this order: say the topic, then the verse reference, then the first phrase of the verse. Stop at the first punctuation mark if you like; repeat the verse reference again. Then start over; topic, reference, phrase, reference. ALWAYS beginning at the first, then adding a few more words, ending with the reference; “bit by bit” until you have the whole verse learned.
REVIEW it during the day; use spare moments. Say it at meals, when traveling, before you sleep; ask someone to check you. Visualize yourself in the verse. Repeat it daily with reference for 60 days. Use it in the ministry, or review weekly thereafter.
Pray the verse back to God. Then meditate on each verse you learn. Ask God for an experience with the verse in your life. Each verse contains something for you to know, stop doing, begin doing or share with others. The ultimate purpose through the verse is to identify with Christ in His will, know Him better and multiply His glory.