Calvary covers it all
Recently posted articles
potpourri of past articles
Some motivations for not having sex before marriage are wrong. They can be just as wrong as having sex before marriage. One such wrong motivation is fear: fear of being found out, fear of pregnancy, fear of a disease, fear of the opinions of others.
One proper motivation for doing God’s will is love of our neighbor. The neighbor we are to love as ourselves can be our neighbor’s daughter. Also, your neighbor can be one who will be your wife. And your neighbor is your parents or your future wife’s parents, both of whom would be hurt terribly when your sin is discovered.
But the main motivation is the love of God. Love God for the salvation He has so freely given. Love God for all things, including the sexual desires He has given. Submit your sexuality, along with everything else you are and have, to Him. Let your love for Him drive you to strive to please Him in all of your conduct, including your conduct on a date.
In today’s world, when a person turns to God’s word, it is important that they find it. The Devil is a master deceiver. He can make you feel as though you are absolutely at peace being wrong. He can’t change dirt into ice cream, but he can make you think you are eating the most delicious ice cream when all the time you are eating dirt. Likewise, he can do the same with the Bible. He can make you think, beyond a shadow of doubt, that you have the right words of God when all the time you have a counterfeit. Martin Luther discovered this a long time ago and he was eventually killed for speaking out about it.
Psalm 12:6-7 says, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”
I trust as you look on the Bible Comparison charts included, that you will get some semblance of the deception that Satan has put in place as a policy to cause God’s people to become weak and anemic. I hope these will open your eyes.
There are several things that it takes to make a church, but they can be divided into three basic things:
- People who want to form a church.
- A pastor who will lead the church.
- A place to meet.
The most important of the three are people who have a heart to make a church and a pastor. Otherwise, what you have is not more than a large Bible Study group. There are many “bible study” groups throught the country that are doing little for the Lord Jesus Christ. This happens because it takes special people with extreme dedication to stay in such an arrangement, and there are not many of these type of people. They stay for only so long, but when they are called upon to do something to help, they are looking for the exit. This happens often because “bible study” groups are typically small and unfunded. If you examine this situation objectively, you will find that there is a group of people who are happy to “take” anything they can get, but who resist having to do any “giving.” Anyone who has been a Christian for some time knows that this theology run’s against the grain of Bible Believing Christianity, whose leader and founder did the ultimate in giving. Therefore, it takes dedicated people to stay in a Bible Study group and they cannot remain in such a situation for long before they want to either: form themselves into a church or leave and find an already formed church. If they leave, then the group dissolves rather quickly. If they stay, then a church is born. But to have a church, there needs to be more than an idea or commitment to make it happen. You need a pastor.
Generally speaking a pastor puts a face upon the church. He is a point of contact for all business related to the church. This is in addition to the task of preaching and teaching the families who ask him to come lead them. So, like the school teachers of the early American settlers day, he is given the authority to do so, in exchange for the families of the church supporting him financially. In the early pioneer days, farmers had to work hard to keep sustaining their families. They didn’t have the time or the means whereby to educate their children. But, they knew that an education was valuable and they wanted it for their children. So, they would come together as a community and hire a teacher to teach their children in exchange for some form of compensation. It was like this for the communities and the pastors as well. The difference being that the pastor addressed the spiritual education and well being of not only the children, but the entire family as well. Today’s bible believing churches are not so much different, even though times have well changed and things have become more modern in the way of doing things. All of this to say, usually when a pastor is called, money comes into the picture. Weekly collection of money begin to take place. Therefore, somebody has to manage this as well, and who has time for that? Usually this job is deligated to the pastor.
When money comes into the picture, rules need to be established in order to protect the investment of the church. So, churches form a constitution containing laws and by-laws. They establish all of the belief’s and boundries of the churches charter. All of this comes about because the “bible study” group has brought a pastor now into the picture. The Bible Study group has now become a church. There is no doubt about it; the need for, and calling of a pastor brings the bible study group into the realm of being a church. But, this is not where it ends.
A church also needs a place to meet. True, a church can be a church in “name only” without any place to meet. But, it will not last long as a church on paper. It needs a place for the general public to come and participate in the churches activities. Yes, in the Bible you read of “house churches,” but you have to realize that was a different time and place. They were meeting secretly for fear of the Jews and worshippers of other god’s. When I lived in China, our church was a “secret church.” We met in parks, the woods, the jungle, by the seaside, and in several different houses as well. Seldom did we get the entire church together at one time. On a typical day, I would first go to one house and preach to several there. Then I would go to another house, and so forth until I met with the entire church. This way, everyone was able to be ministered to. It took a lot of work on my part, but was necessary for the safety of the brethren.
It is not that way in the USA. We can still meed openly without fear of reprisal. So, when you read in the Bible about house churches, you would do well to remember the situation the church was in during that time. Churches need a place to meet. If they do not have one, then it becomes difficult to hold the church together, and even grow the church as well. People need to know the church is there.
Still, through all of this, there is always the need for dedicated people who are willing to go through the pain necessary to “birth” a new church. It is not the typical church experience as one would have if they went to an “already established” church. They have to work harder, be nicer, give more, evangelize much, and above all: PRAY.
We are fortunate here at GraceBaptistChurch. We have a dedicated group of Christians who are willing to shoulder the burden to carry the church through the entire delivery process. One day, we will see the fruits of our labor realized. Right now, we have the people; we have the pastor; we have a place to meet, but we do not have our own place where we can invoke typical church activities to help families grow in the Lord. We are ever so thankful for the Grange, but we only rent the hall for Sunday’s. We have no other place to conduct business for any other day of the week. It is difficult to find Grace Baptist, and then, when people do drive up, they think, “is this the church?” The Grange does not look like a church on the outside.
We need to pray for our own place. We need to ask God to provide for us a place to “anchor” GraceBaptistChurch. Not only that, we need to give to the building fund. Surely, people of the church could give ONE DOLLAR over and above their usual tithe for the future of the church. If everyone just gave ONE DOLLAR a week, that would only be FOUR Dollars a month. That can’t be too hard on anyone’s pocket book. Friends, if you added all of that up, together it would be a significant figure. God’s answer to our prayer for help may be, “I already helped you. I gave the people the funds necessary. If they don’t put it in the building fund, then it’s not my fault.” If the church is going to be worth something to us; if it is going to have value, then we need to invest in it. One day, we too can have our own building.
An old proverb says, “When you sup with the devil, use a long spoon.” Presumably, NO genuine Christian would want to sup with the devil at all and yet many may be doing so in ignorance.
The origins of Halloween are Celtic in tradition and have to do with observing the end of summer sacrifices to gods in Druidic tradition. In what is now Britain and France, it was the beginning of the Celtic year, and they believed Samhain, the lord of death, sent evil spirits abroad to attack humans, who could escape only by assuming disguises and looking like evil spirits themselves. The waning of the sun and the approach of dark winter made the evil spirits rejoice and play nasty tricks. Believe it or not, most of our Halloween practices can be traced back to these old pagan rites and superstitions.
In the fourth century, Christians attempted to co-opt the holiday by celebrating the lives of faithful Christian saints the day before Halloween. This was a conscious attempt to provide an alternative and re-focus the day away from ghouls, goblins, ghosts, witches and other “haunted” experiences. Since that time many Christians have decided to allow their children to dress in more “innocent” costumes of pumpkins, princesses, Superman or as a cowboy. Part of this is due to the simple reality that in today’s Western culture it is nearly impossible to “avoid” Halloween.
Halloween is a real, sacred day for those who follow Wicca. In fact, it is one of two high and holy days for them. The Celtic belief of spirits being released is current, along with the worship of Samhain (the lord of death) – both are promoted as something to embrace on that day. Those who believe and follow the practices of witchcraft, Halloween represents an opportunity to embrace the evil, devilish, dark side of the spiritual world.
Halloween is still celebrated as an ancient pagan festival of the dead by witches all over the world. Unfortunately, just giving the date a “holy” name like All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve cannot change its grisly character. Halloween is an occasion when the ancient gods (actually demons) are worshiped with human sacrifice. The apostle Paul warns us: “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils” (1 Cor. 10:20).
During the 8th century in the diocese of Rome, Pope Gregory III moved All Saints Day to November 1, officially making October 31 “All Hallows Eve,” some say, as a way of claiming the celebration for Christians. However, this feast commemorating the martyrdom of the saints had already been celebrated by Christians for many centuries prior to this time. Pope Gregory IV broadened the feast to include the entire Church. Inevitably, some of the pagan practices associated with the season persisted and have been mixed into modern celebrations of Halloween.
It is astonishing just how many Christians let their kids celebrate Halloween. Some churches even sponsor “haunted houses” and similar events on what is the Number One satanic “helliday” of the year. If you are a Christian parent, God has given you a precious responsibility in your children. Remember, their ability to resist spiritual wickedness is much less than yours. If you allow your children to participate in Trick or Treating, costume parties, etc., you are allowing them to play on “the devil’s turf,” and Satan will definitely press his home court advantage. You are opening up doorways into their young lives for evil by bringing them into a kind of “fellowship” with these ancient “gods.”
As Christians you and I are placed in this world to be a light in a world of darkness. There is no lasting benefit to ignore a holiday that exists around us, but it also does harm to celebrate Halloween as it has originated and grown over the centuries. My suggestion? Christians should be teaching their children (age appropriately) that: there is a spiritual world filled with goodness from God and evil from Satan (Eph. 2:1-10); life with Christ has power over darkness (I John 4:4); and those who celebrate Halloween either are unaware of its roots, or are intentionally promoting a world where evil is lauded and viewed as an ultimate power.
To counter the evil influence of Halloween, we need to join together and celebrate the reality of the heroic efforts of Christian saints over the evil in their day. Many leaders in the past — and present — have fulfilled the mandate of destroying the works of the devil through their sacrificial commitment to Christ and His Kingdom.
Too, rather than “hide” in the face of evil, we should unabashedly and boldly create an alternative that is positive and uplifting; that celebrates good over evil and the triumph of God over Satan. We need to provide an environment that also makes room for heaps of fun while using the day as a “teachable moment” to celebrate God’s protection, provision and purpose for our lives.
We are commanded not to become involved with the unfruitful works of darkness (And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Eph. 5:11). There have been far too many examples of how breaking this command works out in lives. Remember, while we have God’s promise of protection for ourselves and our children, that promise may be negated if we allow our children to celebrate this dark holiday. Case after case has been revealed of children in rebellion. In many of these families, the problem can be traced back to the children being exposed to parental compromise with the world at a young age. It is hard enough to raise children these days in a Godly way without exposing them to Satan’s realm.
Are some Christians trying to remove themselves from the world? Ignoring Halloween or celebrating it wth believers only is not exactly an evangelical approach. Aren’t we supposed to “become all things to all men so that by all possible means” we might save some? (1 Corinthians 9:22)
As Christians, why are we here in this world? Are we here to live in a safe and protected environment, guarded against the evils in the world, or are we called to reach out into a world filled with dangers and be the light of Christ? Halloween brings people of the world to our door step. Halloween brings our neighbors out into the streets. I can think of various creative ways to seize this opportunity for developing new relationships and sharing my faith.
Is it possible that our negativity toward Halloween only alienates the people we seek to reach? Can we be in the world, but not of the world?
Ultimately, Christians must decide for themselves and follow their own convictions regarding the observance of Halloween. Christian perspectives on the observance of Halloween are strongly divided. Some believers feel complete freedom to observe the holiday, others run and hide from it, many boycott or ignore it, a number celebrate it through more positive and imaginative observances or Christian alternatives to Halloween, and still others choose to take advantage of Halloween’s evangelistic opportunities. Many Christians believe that participating in Halloween is a form of involvement in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness. However, many consider the modern-day Halloween activities of most to be harmless fun.
Give serious thought to the appropriateness of judging another Christian for observing or not observing Halloween. We do not know why another person participates in the holiday or why they do not. We cannot accurately judge the motivations and intentions of another person’s heart. Study the matter for yourself and follow the convictions of your own heart. Let others do the same without condemnation from you.
I am so glad to see that the people of our church are in their Bible’s. I know that the Bible can change things in your life. It is not that it is magical, or mystical. It is miraculous. It is the words of the all mighty Creator; the God of the universe. How do I know that people are reading? When I teach the Bible studies, from time to time, I solicit questions; I like soliciting questions from the class. When I ask a question and the class is shooting back the answers, it indicates to me that they are paying attention and are interested in the subject. They are in their Bibles and are absorbing God’s word. I know when this happens two things will result:
1. God will be pleased. His word is forever settled in Heaven (Psa. 119:89) and no man can ever change one single word of it (Mat. 5:18; 24:35). They have tried, but the original copy is in Heaven and it is in the form of a person (John 1:1-3; Rev. 19:13). That person is the Lord Jesus Christ. God likes it when people study about His Son. He likes it when we learn how Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev. 17:14; 19:16). He has exalted His Son (Eph. 1:18) and likes us to know it.
2. People will find all of the answers of life (Rom. 1:16-20). These answers will excite them about their Creator and they will begin to see the greatness of who He is. Nothing can charge up a person; can excite a person like seeing the Bible come alive right before their face. Suddenly, life is not the life of a drone, fulfilling some purpose for the greater ones. It has meaning and definition and character. What the world has attacked as being a “fairy tale for the week minded” is revealed to be far superior in message and meaning than anything the world can offer as a substitute. Not only that, it proves itself to be truth: something that the world holds is low esteem.
I have seen many people during my life as a Christian have “the lights come on” in their Christian walk, and it is always related in some way to an insatiable desire to be in God’s Word. The read and the answers flow through their minds and they wonder, “Why didn’t someone tell me about this a long time ago?” This excites me: to see them grow in the Lord! But, I am saddened when I hear, “Why didn’t my other church even tell me about these things?” Of course, I have no answer for this. I cannot fathom a church that does not major on the Bible and minor on the programs of social assistance. And, this is what has happened in many cases. So, when God sees people getting into their Bible, He too is excited and more than willing to reveal Himself to those people.
I love talking about the Bible with people. I relish the doctrinal discourse with others. I like to see how the Lord has revealed things to them. Of the same story in the Bible, God almost always allows His creation to get a slightly different vision of how it happened. It is fun to explore the way others see it. No! I am not talking about changing the doctrine. I am talking about the slightly different vantage point from which people see the same thing. A good Biblical example of this is the gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all walked with Jesus. They lived with Him and they all had the same experiences, but they each saw it a little different. This is prevail ant in the slight differences in their writings of Christ’s life. This is what I am talking about. I like it because I can learn from others for “Iron sharpeneth Iron” (Pro. 27:17).
If I could encourage in one thing only during this brief moment where the paths of our life intersect, it would be to read your Bible. It will make a difference in your life like nothing else can. Nothing can be more important for the child of God than to learn about Him who saved you. Nothing is more necessary to walk a Christian walk, than to read it. This is why I think the Devil has put so much effort into altering it. If he can flood the world with alternate Bibles (Politically correct statement?), then he can discourage people from reading the Real, preserved, bible. Or, he can mislead them into reading a corrupt bible. I have never noticed the zeal of which I speak, mentioned over a false Bible. People duped by this corruption are more zealous over the feelings of, what they call: “worship” rather than the Word of the Living God. Now, worship is not bad, but it is important to know what you worship. To worship Jesus is to worship the Bible (John 1:1-3). To worship a false Bible is to worship a false Jesus. All of this to say: “Be sure you have the right Bible: The King James, 1611 Bible”. It can do mighty things. Or should I rather say, “He can do mighty things.
Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana.
As soon as he touches the stairs, a mechanism sprays all the other monkeys with cold water.
After a while another monkey makes the attempt with same result, all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon when another Monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it. Now, put the cold water away. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his shock, all of the other monkeys beat the snot out of him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted. Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.
Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs he is attacked.
Most of the monkeys that are beating him up have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs OR even why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. Finally, after replacing all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana.
Because as far as they know, that is the way it has always been done around here. And that, my fellow monkeys, is how Congress operates – And precisely why we need to REPLACE all the original monkeys.
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.
Contemporary motivational speakers are those who give comments that will motivate a person to do something. They don’t motivate a person to do something that person didn’t originally want to do, but something they already felt like doing. In other words, motivational speech doesn’t have any effect on a person unless they were in agreement in the first place. Adolph Hitler was a great motivational speaker, as was Mao Tsi Dong, Joseph Stalin and Barak Obama. They were (and are) masters at finding things that people want and presenting it in a way to motivate and inspire people. On the whole, contemporary motivational speakers are “martial arts encouragers.” They use a persons strengths and weaknesses against them, in order to get them to do what they want them to do–usually to buy a product or financially support a cause. In order to accomplish their unseen agenda, they must be sure to stay away from anything negative, else their victims, like the rabbit who is almost caught in the snare, comes to the sudden realization that they are to be trapped, and hop away breathing a sigh of relief.
The truth is, there are two kinds of motivational speakers: Those who tell you what you want to hear (like cheer leaders) and those who tell you what you don’t want to hear (like preaching about sin and death); Jesus was the latter. In fact, all of the prophets and preachers of God in the Bible were of the latter sort. They had a message of hope that was coupled with a message of doom and destruction. It is the message of doom and destruction, coupled with the anger of God displayed in His wrath that was the motivational injection that lethargic people needed. When Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19), the Pharisees were shocked into doing something. Noah said, “God’s gonna make it rain and flood the earth killing every living thing. That’s why I’m building this here boat.” He was scoffed at until God’s wrath was coupled with the message this preacher of righteousness had (2 Peter 2:5). They were motivated when they were suddenly caught in the snare of the Devil. With their negative message of destruction came a message of hope; they were coupled together.
The negative message first identifies a need in a persons life. It is a message of judgment and sentence. It is meant to be a warning of some bad or sinful action. It is designed to “wake people up” (1 Cor. 15:34; Rom. 13:11) from a dangerous activity, thought or influence. Then there is hope. Until then, a message of hope cannot be given because the people will not take it seriously. There is nothing to motivate them; nothing to move them or provoke them to do something about their evil ways. A fitting example of this is seen in the preaching of the prophet Zephaniah. He brought the message that the Lord was determined to pour His indignation upon the nations. The message further said that God was going to devour all the earth with the fire of His jealousy (Zeph. 3:8). A negative message to be sure. Why? Why such a message from the Lord? Because God wanted to motivate people to call upon Him (Zeph. 3:9). First the negative, then the positive. This is Biblical and true motivational speaking, and it comes with a price.
John the Baptist had a very motivational message that he preached in the wilderness. It so motivated people that King Herod wanted to hear it for himself. But when John came into his presence, Herod did not like what he heard. He did not hear a sickening sweet motivational speech doting on all of Herod’s achievements. He heard John talk to him about his brother Philip’s wife, to whom he was not wed. John said, “…It is not lawful for thee to have her.” (Matt. 14:4). How did this motivate Herod? It certainly didn’t make him leave the encounter feeling good about himself. In fact, Herod wanted to “…put him to death…” (Matt. 14:5). After some time of imprisonment, this is exactly what happened (Matt. 14:9-10).
So it is no secret that people don’t like to hear negative preaching, and sometimes it cost the preacher, but people need it. They need it to motivate them to do right. Without the negative message, coupled with the wrath of God, people are left to their own devices. And what parent would leave their children to their own with no discipline? Only those who don’t love them. Positive reinforcement never did anything for anybody other than to give the parent a way of escape from disciplining their children. It provides a good way to pass the responsibility on to others.
Preachers who are not regularly preaching against sin, are doing their congregations a huge disservice. They are taking the easy way out; trying to be their friends and be hugely popular. It is always easier to let someone else discipline the members of your church, but God will not hold such preachers unaccountable. Weak-kneed preaching on sin equals popularity, but is comes with a price–skin deep Christians who are looking to have a good time on this earth and enjoy it until Jesus gets back. That is a foolish surmise.
We have a job to do. We are to tell people about Jesus and the gospel. Jesus never told us to have a good time of fellowship until he came back. That is the equivalent of taking your talent and burying it in the sand. That will make Jesus mad. Has any preacher ever told you that if you are not doing something to win souls to Jesus, you are inviting trouble into your life? That God will be mad about that? Why not? That wouldn’t be very motivational by today’s standards, but it sure goes a long way with God. Would you hate your preacher for telling you that truth? Would you leave the church? Or, would you try to do something about it? After all, you do know the Lord is coming back, don’t you?
Many Christians know this. But they just want to have a good time and get by until He comes. After all, is it a sin to enjoy life? Of course not, but it will only be enjoyable up until you see the scowl on the face of the Saviour when He turns His eyes upon you and asks, “What did you do about what I asked you to do?”
There are two kinds of motivational speakers: One that tells you what you want to hear, and one that tells you what you need to hear. Both are motivational. The main difference between the two is your attitude in the way you take their message.
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.
At first, I saw God as my judge, keeping track of the things that I did wrong so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I died. He was a lot like the President – I recognized His face when I saw it, but I really didn’t know him. But later, when I met Christ, it seemed as though life was rather like a bike ride. But it was a tandem bike. It was like Christ was in the back helping me pedal. I don’t know just when it was that He suggested that we change places, but life has never been the same since. When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but it was predictable. It was the shortest distance between two points. But when He took the lead, He knew delightful “long” cuts. Up mountains and through rocky places at breakneck speeds. It was all that I could do to hang on. And even though it looked like madness, He said, “Pedal.” I was worried and I was anxious and I asked, “Where are you taking me?” He laughed and didn’t answer, and that’s when I learned I was going to have to trust Him.
I forgot my boring life and entered every adventure and when I would say I was scared, He would just lean back and touch my hand. He took me to people who had gifts that I needed – gifts of healing, acceptance, and joy. He gave me gifts to take on my journey and off we were again and he would say, “Give the gifts away, they are extra baggage, too much weight.” And so I did to people we met and I found that through giving, I received and the journey continued. I did not trust Him at first to take control of my life, I thought He’d wreck it. But He knows bike secrets – He knows how to make those sharp corners and how to jump to clear high rocks and do things I could have never done if I were in control. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places. I’m beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful companion, Jesus Christ. And when I’m not sure that I can do it anymore, He smiles and says, “Just pedal.”
“(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” (2 Corinthians 10:4)
Someone said, “Christianity is all in your mind.” There is much truth in that statement. The mind is primarily responsible for growth in the Christian life. Let us notice what the Scriptures say about your mind:
GOD KNOWS ALL YOUR THOUGHTS
Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
God is keenly interested not only in our actions but also in our thoughts. It is estimated that you have 10,000 thoughts a day. To God, your mind is a window without curtains.
YOUR CHRISTIAN BATTLEFIELD IS YOUR MIND
The world, the flesh and the devil fight for your mind.
- Romans 8:7, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
- Colossians 1:21, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled”
- Hebrews 12:3, “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”
Man is a very complex creation. Have you ever seen a suicidal puppy or a depressed canary? You say, “What makes thoughts so difficult to control?” Secrecy and the absence of restraint. A parent can control a child’s actions but not his thoughts. God is very interested in our thoughts because thoughts produce actions. God destroyed the world by flood because man had unrestrained thoughts.
Genesis 6:5, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
In Romans 1:28 God speaks of the reprobate (rejected) mind in the downward progression of a civilization.
In Romans 7:25 Paul says: “…with the mind I myself serve the law of God;…”
The mind is the control room or computer of the Christian life. The control room must be guarded. Lot never guarded his mind.
2 Peter 2:8, “(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)”
SEEING AND HEARING
When the mind is right, the actions are right. YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU THINK YOU ARE, BUT WHAT YOU THINK–YOU ARE! (Read that over until it sinks in.)
Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”
In order for a Christian to alter his behavior, the thinking must be changed! You must plan and guide what enters your mind. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. That is one of the things wrong with hypnosis, drugs, and liquor. They put the mind in neutral so the devil can jump into the driver’s seat. Keep a busy mind! Do you know one reason God destroyed Sodom?
Ezekiel 16:49, “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”
Idleness was a cause.
Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to say: “Behind every human tragedy there is a slow process of evil, wicked thinking.” No one ever falls into sin. They have been falling a long time. We only saw them when they landed. Sin began in their thoughts.
Sir Francis Bacon was asked what he thought the outlook was for the next generation. He declared, “Tell me what the young people are thinking and I’ll tell you.”
THOUGHTS produce ACTIONS
ACTIONS produce HABITS
HABITS produce LIFE-STYLES
What you put into the computer comes out. Put in 48 hours of television a week and you’ll have someone who acts, talks, and thinks like television personalities. Put in 30 hours of rebellious radio music per week and you’ll have someone who has philosophies and rebellion like the groups he hears. What have you been programming into your computer?
True, you can’t help but have some evil thoughts cross your mind from time to time, but do you entertain them? Someone said if you nurse sin on the knees of thought it will grow into a giant. You will never regulate your passions until you regulate your thought life.
TRANSFORMING YOUR THOUGHTS
Romans 12:1-2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
A transformation is an inward change that produces an outward change. A biologist cannot change a caterpillar into a butterfly-it has to come from the inside. So it is in the Christian life. Worry and depression are not solved by psychiatrists, but by thinking what God wants us to.
Isaiah 26:3, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”
In Philippians 4:8, God gives us a list of things to occupy our thoughts: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Sad to say, the average mind is like a toilet. To keep it clean, it needs constant flushing with godly thoughts, much prayer, much Scripture, and much grace.
THE THREE MINDS
There are three types of minds mentioned in Scripture. You have one of them. There is the natural mind, the carnal mind, and the spiritual mind.
NATURAL MIND — UNSAVED
1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
This is a non-Christian. He has no spiritual appetite for the things of God. He cannot comprehend spiritual truth. He is dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1). He may be outwardly religious and morally clean but cannot comprehend the Christian life. His thoughts will be what is right in his own eyes, situation ethics, humanism. The natural mind thinks whatever comes natural to a lost person.
CARNAL MIND — WORLDLY CHRISTIAN
Romans 8:7, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
Carnal means “of the flesh.” The carnal mind is a saved person who lives for the flesh. The church at Corinth was full of carnal Christians. Paul called them babies. He said they could only swallow the milk of the Word. They had to be taught when they should have been teaching. They were cliquish, immature, divisive, and easily offended.
The Christian with a carnal mind is not satisfied in Christ alone. He chases after things, amusements, and delights rather than in the things of God. He is quarrelsome, touchy, and often is the source of chruch problems. He has feeble digestion and cannot get his own food spiritually. Deep Scriptures do not interest him. There is very little difference, if any, between the natural man and the carnal minded man.
The lost see no difference and have no conviction when around a carnally minded Christian. The carnal mind needs to get right with God, be serious, and fill itself with scriptures! (See also 1 Corinthians 3:1-4; Romans 7:14-15; James 4:4.)
SPIRITUAL MIND-SPIRITUAL CHRISTIAN
1 Corinthians 2:15, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.”
This is the Christian who is filled with the Holy Spirit and has a mind full of Scriptures. He is mature, has understanding of spiritual things, has the ability to teach other Bible truths, and is fruitful. He has the mind of Christ.
Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:”
If you think the thoughts Jesus did, you will live the way Jesus did. To do that we must think Scriptures—meditate upon them. Because of that, our minds will be going forward, will not be in neutral and will not have a chance to go backward (backslide). The spiritual minded man needs to make sure he does not get satisfied. (See also Hebrews 5:12, 14; 1 Corinthians 3:3; Galatians 5:22-23.)
LET US NOT BECOME SATISFIED!
SOURCES: Things I’ve Learned by Bob Jones, Sr.; The Battle for the Mind, Catlay
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.
Everybody carries about within themselves their own Judas Iscariot known as: the tongue. It is personal because it is included with all of the inner workings of our heart. It sits at the center of all communications with which we are involved. Even if we do not articulate sounds into words for communication, it is still involved in the process. Our mind is always ready, at a moments notice, to call into service it’s useful talents, and it is always prepared to oblige. And too, it is very patient. It stores the intents of the heart because it has a knack of speaking truth with “technicalities” attached; masking, detouring or deflecting from that which is necessary to maintain a good reputation for it’s host. This is where it’s true power comes into play, for it can often hold us hostage. I am sure that you have had instances in your life where you have said or thought, “Did I just say that? I didn’t really mean to say that.” These instances are clear indications of the power of this little organ which God calls, “…a fire, a world of iniquity:” If it were truly loyal, then there would be no concern for this “little member”, but it is not loyal. Therefore, much effort need be expended to keep this wild mustang in control. It can set “…on fire the course of nature…”, leading us down paths that we would rather not go.
A man working in the produce department was asked by a lady if she could buy half a head of lettuce. He replied, “Half a head? Are you serious? God grows these in whole heads and that’s how we sell them!”
“You mean,” she persisted, “that after all the years I’ve shopped here, you won’t sell me half-a-head of lettuce?”
“Look,” he said, “If you like I’ll ask the manager.”
She indicated that would be appreciated, so the young man marched to the front of the store. “You won’t believe this, but there’s a lame-braided lady back there who wants to know if she can buy half-a-head of lettuce.”
As he said so, the manager was gesturing behind him. When he turned around to see what he was gesturing at, he saw the lady was standing right there behind him. She followed him to the front of the store. Quick witted and embarrassed he said, “And this nice lady was wondering if she could buy the other half.”
Later that same day the manager cornered the young man and said, “That was the finest example of thinking on your feet I’ve ever seen! Where did you learn that?”
“I grew up in Grand Rapids, and if you know anything about Grand Rapids, you know that it’s famous for its great hockey teams and its unattractive women.”
The manager’s face flushed, and he interrupted, “My wife is from Grand Rapids!”
“And which hockey team did she play for?”
The tongue must be bridled if there is any hope of taming this unruly organ. This is very important because Jesus said, “… every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matt. 12:36).
Our tongues get us in trouble by lying – Pro. 6:17; 25:18
A man was being baptized in a remote village, high in the mountains. before his conversion, he had been an outrageous liar, and the villagers were skeptical of this sudden change of heart. The missionary doused him in the freezing waters of a mountain river and the man emerged shivering.
“Is it cold?” the missionary asked anxiously.
“No, it’s fine,” said the man.
“Dunk him again, Pastor,” shouted a villager, “he’s still a liar!”
Even what seems to be innocent “white lies” are bad. A lie is a lie and the Lord does not like a “lying tongue” (Pro. 6:17). The Lord always likes the truth. Perhaps you think, “What about times when I might incriminate myself? Should I tell the truth even if I know it is going to hurt me or someone else?” Do you remember times in the Bible where the Lord Jesus Himself would not answer the inquiries of the Pharisees? What did He do? He said nothing at all. This concept was first exposed in the lives of many people today through the Walt Disney movie: “Bambi.” There was a rabbit (Thumper) who said, “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.” How great this principle works in many circumstances, but not all of them. There are times when you have to say the hard truth, but you can always make it easier to receive if you use a little tact. But, these circumstances are not the norm.
Our tongues gets us into trouble by Flattery – Psa. 5:9; Pro. 6:24
There is a story that centers on a king and the members of his court who were continually full of flattery. “You are the greatest man that ever lived…You are the most powerful king of all…Your highness, there is nothing you cannot do, nothing in this world dares disobey you.”
The king was a wise man and he grew tired such foolish speeches. One day as he was walking by the seashore he decided to teach them a lesson. “So you say I am the greatest man in the world?” he asked them. “O king,” they cried, “there never has been anyone as mighty as you, and there will never be anyone so great, ever again!”
“And you say all things obey me?” he asked.
“Yes sire” they said. “The world bows before you, and gives you honor.”
“I see,” the king answered. “In that case, bring me my chair, and place it down by the water.” The servants scrambled to carry the royal chair over the sands. At his direction they placed it right at the water’s edge. The King sat down and looked out at the ocean. “I notice the tide is coming in. Do you think it will stop if I give the command?”
“Give the order, O great king, and it will obey,” cried his entourage.
“Sea,” cried the king, “I command you to come no further! Do not dare touch my feet!”
He waited a moment, and a wave rushed up the sand and lapped at his feet. “How dare you!” he shouted. “Ocean, turn back now! I have ordered you to retreat before me, and now you must obey! Go back!” In came another wave lapping at the king’s feet. The king remained on his throne throughout the day, screaming at the waves to stop. Yet they came in anyway, until the seat of the throne was covered with water.
Finally the king turned to his servants and said, “It seems I do not have quite so much power as you would have me believe. Perhaps now you will remember there is only one King who is all-powerful, and it is He who rules the sea, and holds the ocean in the hollow of His hand. I suggest you reserve your praises for him.”
Flattery is false leading. When you flatter someone, it is not a compliment. It is building in them a false confidence, which God considers wicked (Psa. 5:9). If you are continually given to flattery, then no one will trust anything you say; your mouth becomes unfaithful to the truth. It is practically impossible for anyone to discern between flattery and truth. So, they pretty much discard everything you say.
Our tongues gets us into trouble by Proud speaking – Psa. 12:3-4; Pro. 10:31; Isa. 54:17
Everybody gives in to pride at different times, but there is a difference in being proud and using proud speech. There is a modern day saying for this kind of speech called: “talking trash.” It means that you are self promoting in your speech. You talk yourself up to others making them feel lowly and inadequate. People engaged in the use of proud speaking have always done more or seen more than you have. No matter what type of story you tell about your life, they have one better than you. You can get an example of this when you consider the verbal sparring of two grade school children. One says, “My daddy is smarter than your daddy.” The other says, “My daddy has been to more schools than your daddy has.” Not wanting to be outdone, the first responds with, “My daddy is stronger than your daddy”, and so forth it goes.
I was fortunate to see much of America before I graduated High school. My dad was a traveler. When I was in the navy, many of the young men who were my peers would tell stories about their hometowns or states. They would ask, “Have you ever seen…?” Almost every time, I would answer, “Yes! I’ve been there.” I was unaware that this was bothering them until one day a shipmate said in frustration, “Isn’t there any place where you haven’t been?” Well, sure there was, but I didn’t realize that my speech sounded like I was being proud; always trying to be better than they were by being more places than they. Of course, that was not my intention, but it was how they were taking it.
The Lord does not like the tongue that speaks proud things (Psa. 12:3-4). In fact, He says that He will “cut off” the tongue that speaks such things. In a practical way, a person that is always speaking like they are better than you are is pretty much excluded from people’s lives. In that sense, they are “cut off” from others. Like a person that uses flattery, everything they say is pretty much discarded.
Our tongues get us into trouble by speaking too much – Ecc. 5:3; Pro. 12:13; 18:6-7
It is foolish to talk to much. You usually find this is predominate in the person whom is a “relater” or is lonely. The relater likes to talk too much because they are trying hard to establish a relationship with someone by telling all about themselves and their lives. They figure, the more I tell about myself, the more they will know about me and have a good chance to like me. The Bible says, “…a fool’s voice is know by multitude of words.” Unfortunately, there are many problems that come from this line of reasoning. The most obvious is that the one listening will be gaining all of the knowledge while the talker is really learning very little. Rosalind Ferguson said, “A flow of words does not mean a flow of wisdom” and she is right.
The lonely person simply has no one to speak with on a regular basis. Therefore, they feel that the opportunity to speak to someone is an opportunity to release all of the stored up conversation residing in them. They speak so much and so fast that you can hardly get a word in. They will even ask you a question and then answer their own question, hardly giving you a chance to reply at all. Or, they will ask you a question without really caring what the answer is because they are happy to just get an opportunity to speak. When trapped talking to a lonely person, all too often people take the Plato approach.
A verbose and extremely boring man said to the philosopher, “I hope I’m not boring you?” Plato smiled ingeniously.
“Oh, no,” he said, “I wasn’t listening.”
In either case, it is foolish to speak too much. Invariably you will say something more than what you should say. Because you are so caught up in the moment of being able to speak to someone, you end up searching for new things to say. This is when you really have to be aware of what you are doing. You can easily recognize these times because you will find yourself starting at the beginning of what you already said and then going through it all again. This is called “circular speaking.” You just keep going round and round again through all of the issues that you have on mind, speaking with no sight to an end.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
Proverbs 18:7 A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.
Our tongues get us into trouble by speaking to swiftly- James 1:19; Pro. 18:13
People who speak too swiftly are those who never completely listen and formulate an idea before they speak out. They hear the first tid-bit or what another is saying and in blinding light-speed their minds go to work thinking of how they want to respond. All the time, the first person is continuing to speak; and hasn’t even finished their sentence yet.
These are the kind of people who don’t hold on to a matter long enough to consider it’s ramifications if passed on too soon. They are not good stewards of the information they gain by communicating with others. The trouble with the person who speaks too quickly is that he often says something he hasn’t completely thought through yet.
Finally, there are those who hear about something happening to someone else and will simply believe what they hear, no matter how absurd it may sound, without validating it’s truth. The Bible tells us this is a “folly and shame” to answer “…a matter before…” hearing it (Pro. 18:13).
Our tongues get us into trouble by Talebearing – Pro. 18:8; Lev. 19:16
Talebearing is simply gossip. Gossip is a very destructive form of communicating. I believe every gossip comes with an oversized nose because they are usually the nosiest people there is. They like to gain information because they get the thrill out of telling what they know. Therefore, the more they know, the more they get to tell and the greater the thrill.
Without consideration for others, the gossip will convey words that are hurtful and destructive to an innocent person who is not present to defend themselves. The talebearer is not the conveyer of things that are happening in lives of their friends. They are conveyers of DESTRUCTIVE things that will hurt someone who is not present (Pro. 18:8). All gossips should be stopped immediately and can be if you use one simple tool: Tell them you are going to repeat to the victim what they are going to say. In fact, you can cut them short by saying to them, “Wait a minute! If you are not willing to tell them to their face, then I don’t want to hear it. But if you insist, be assured, I will be confronting them because, if I am a loving friend, it is my duty to validate anything being said about them in person to their face. After all, wouldn’t you expect the same?”
A family was entertaining some friends for dinner. The hostess, anxious to show that they upheld Christian standards in their own home, asked her five-year-old to say grace. There was an awkward pause, followed by a reassuring word from the boy’s mother, “Well, darling, just say what Daddy said at breakfast this morning.” Obediently the boy repeated, “Oh God, we’ve got those awful people coming for dinner tonight and I wish they weren’t coming. But if they do come, then please give us grace. Amen!” (Oops).
Words can hurt bad and when they are being said behind the victims back, it is called GOSSIP!
Our tongues get us into trouble by Backbiting – Pro. 25:23; 6:19; Rom. 1:30
Similar to gossip, backbiting is destructive. However, there is a slight difference. Backbiting is when a person is intentionally trying to cause damage or harm to another. It is a premeditated form of gossip.
Joey wanted the job and he was certain to get it, but there was one other person who was equally qualified. The boss was thinking it over to see which one he would choose. “Come back tomorrow and I’ll decide. I want to think it over.”
That afternoon, almost completely unable to deal with the indecision, Joey decided he should do something to help his cause. He decided to call the boss. “Hello, Boss? I just wanted to tell you how much I would work hard for you. And…I think you would be making a big mistake hiring Jim.”
“Why would you say something like that?”, asked the boss.
“Well, I grew up with him and he was a always a really lazy person. Our teachers in high school were always frustrated with his poor performance.”
“Well, thank you for telling me that. I’ll keep it in mind while I think about it.”
The next day Joey and Jim showed up at the appointed time. Both were anxious and they really wanted to get this job. Sitting down at the table with them, the boss said, “Well, I’ve made my decision. It was hard at first until I talked with someone last night who made my decision very easy.” Joey kept a straight face, but inside he was beaming with satisfaction. “I’ve decided that Jim should have the job. I would be happy to have someone who is honest working for our company.”
This story illustrated how backbiting is intentionally trying to hurt someone. Joey was intentionally trying to hurt Jim for no other reason than his own self promotion. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t work as well as he planned.
God hates backbiters (Rom. 1:30), and He very clearly makes that known that backbiters are, “…worthy of death…” (Rom. 1:32). It is especially distasteful to Him because He told us that he hates it (Pro. 6:16-19). God hates any form of self promotion; and backbiting is one of the worst that there is.
How do you deal with a person that is a backbiter. What do you do when someone is telling you something and you suspect they are doing nothing more than saying mean, ugly, terrible things about a person behind their back, just because they want to hurt them by manipulating you? Proverbs 25:23 says, “The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.” The cold northern wind turns the rain into snow or makes it so cold that the clouds do not drop their contents upon us. God compares this with an angry countenance. That is to say, a cold angry look, coupled with cold words about the backbiting will cause it to stop. So, you cut it off quickly and decisively. You can tell them in a very strong tone: “I don’t want to hear any of that!” If it continues, then just walk away and break contact with them until it is resolved.
Cursing – Psa. 109:17-18; Rom. 3:13-14
Cursing is when you are wishing a higher power to render evil into the life of another person. Again, the motive behind this is to hurt someone. It is similar to backbiting, but instead of manipulating someone to have an evil opinion of the victim, you are asking some higher power to provide the pain instead.
When we talk about cursing someone today, we naturally think about voodoo or witchcraft or some similar cultish thing. But, God in the Bible has cursed things. He clearly cursed the serpent whom deceived Eve (Gen 3:14). He cursed the earth to make it grow thorns and thistles ( Gen 3:17-18). Of course, God is not cultish, but He is a higher power. In fact, He is the highest power.
God does not like it when His creation whishes to curse another of His creations. He likens it to the poison of asps (Rom. 3:13-14). He would rather have us use our tongues to be a blessing to people instead of cursing them (Psa. 109:17-18).
So we see that cursing is not only the speaking of an occasional bad word. Those words are not empty in their content, because what is carried with them is an attitude of the heart of the person using them. Of course, I will not list them here for example, but if you think about each one, they are not used for any good or well wishes to anyone. Each one that is used is meant to hurt someone or to exclaim a hurt you are undergoing. They are hurtful words and if you use them regularly, they are just as hard to quit using as to quit smoking cigarettes. They can become addictive, but once you realize it is an addiction that is not self-destructive, but is always destructive to others, it is easier to get a handle on their use.
Hurting others – Pro. 12:18; Col. 4:6; Tit. 2:8
Proverbs 12:18 There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.
There are times when we are not cursing, not gossiping and not backbiting, but we still are saying destructive, hurtful words. God speaks about this kind of use of the tongue. In Proverbs 12:18 He speaks about people who use words like a piercing of a sword. These are the words that can hurt all the way down into the heart. They are hurtful, unimaginable words, but they exist in the world today. They are everyday common words, but when coupled by the right attitude, and given at precisely the right time, they can hurt more than anything else.
A mother had raised her daughter all of her life because of a nasty divorce. Young Susan had grown to be quite a rebellious teen and it didn’t seem as if mom was able to connect with her anymore. No matter what she tried, Susan was rebellious in her quest to gain adulthood. One day, as Susan was leaving the house for what appeared to be a date, mom asked, “Where are you going honey?” Susan looked sternly at her mom and with words that were as cold as ice said, “That’s none of your business! Why do you care anyway?”
“I love you…”, then she was cut off. Susan speaking over top of her shouted, “Well, I hate you!” and walked out the door, slamming it as she went.
There was no backbiting. There was no gossip or cursing, but the words hurt mom deep down in the very inner recesses of her heart. Susan was using words designed to hurt mom and she was very effective at doing so. This is why God says to: “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” (Colossians 4:6). There is nothing you can do to defend yourself against such words when they are directed towards you. You can only absorb them and guard your heart by looking on the bright side if you can find one.
Remaining silent about Christ – Acts 1:8
The worst and most despicable use (or should I say misuse) of the tongue is to not use it when you should. Our tongues are so unruly and evil that they resist being involved in spreading the gospel. When it comes time to speak a word of testimony, our tongues miraculously have nothing to say. This is because they are evil by nature and must be controlled. They must be told when to speak and when not to speak. There have been times when I have been around a most talkative person, who when the subject of the gospel came up, they closed up like a great giant clam, almost daring you to pry them open. The tongue should be ready and willing to speak about Christ. Why is it that it does not? People say that they can’t THINK of anything to say, but I don’t believe that to be true. They know what they have learned about getting saved. If they are saved, they know something about Jesus. They know they don’t need to be a Bible Scholar. All God asks of us is to be witnesses. Everybody who is saved can be a witness. Everybody can tell what they have seen and experienced. But it is the deceitful tongue that thinks it is in control, and it is if you don’t keep it in control.
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
“Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” (Romans 7:13)
Years ago, an unusual experiment was conducted on a prison inmate. He had the option of having brain surgery to remove the evil tendencies he had. In return, he could have his freedom. He eagerly submitted to it. However, a few weeks after surgery he murdered someone. Surgery cannot cure sin! There is only one cure for sin: the BLOOD of the Lord Jesus Christ.
How bad is sin anyway? A little cursing, a little lying, a little lusting? Is it really that bad? Today it is called “situation ethics” in an attempt to “keep up with the changing times. But the Bible says what God hated 2,000 years ago, He still hates today. God has not changed, people have. Their consciences are so seared that they no longer recognize sin for what it is. It is no longer called sin. It is called a mistake.
The book of Genesis introduces the world to the presence of sin. The book of Revelation speaks of a new earth without the presence of sin. But in between are the sad results of sin’s effect on the lives of people: Thorns, disease, and pain in childbirth began after sin entered the world.
Sin means “to miss the mark.” If you have shot archery or guns before, you know that the goal is to hit the bull’s-eye. God has given us a Book of commands called the Bible to aim at. When we miss the mark and fall short, no matter how close we come, it is called sin.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23)
In tennis, if a serve goes into the net or lands out of bounds, it is called a fault. The same holds true with sin. We are to live within the boundaries God has set for us. This is to ensure us a joyful life and make us a more effective servant for God.
No one can ever paint sin too black. But, how does one recognize it? Sin is a weed in the garden of God. Sin is deceitful. Sin is full color on the outside, but only black and white on the inside. Sin always comes disguised. Sin takes but never gives. Sin brings pain and shame. Sin binds. Sin blinds. Sin is venom. Sin is a poison. Sin is a rabid dog at your heels. Sin is a leech that wants to drain every ounce of goodness, potential joy, and fulfillment out of your life.
Sin is like a pit that has no bottom. It never stands still and is like a cancer that destroys the body and soul. Sin caused Cain to murder his brother Abel. Sin caused the city of Sodom to be a homosexual city. Sin caused King Herod to kill all the boys less than two years of age. Sin caused Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery. Sin caused Saul to lose the kingdom. Sin caused Amnon to rape his stepsister. Sin caused Absalom to try to destroy his own father.
Sin may start small but always ends big. Sin always leaves scars. Sin, like a cute puppy, can grow up into a vicious mongrel. Sin will make you stoop to do things you never imagined you would do.
Years ago, a father tried to teach his son how wrong sin was. Every time the boy did wrong, the father nailed a nail into the tree in the backyard. After several months, the boy was broken hearted over all the nails in the tree. He asked if his father would take a nail out of the tree for every time he behaved well. The dad agreed. Finally, the day came when the last nail was removed. The son thought he would be excited. Instead, he was saddened. Though all the nails were out, the scars and holes remained. Though a person becomes a Christian, the scars of sin remain.
A famous painter once searched for a young boy he could paint as a model for “innocence.” He found such a boy and thus completed the painting. About twenty years later he searched for a man to pose for the contrast of the first painting. After much searching, he found just the man who exemplified all that was wicked, wasted, and vile. After the portrait was completed, he asked the man’s name. He said, “You know me. You painted my picture twenty years ago when I was a boy.” How sin destroys!
SIN WILL TAKE YOU FARTHER THAN YOU WANT TO GO:
- Sin leads from a drink to drunkenness.
- Sin leads from dating to adultery.
- Sin leads from cigarettes to cancer.
- Sin leads from a high to an addiction.
- Sin leads from a joke to a perverted mind.
SIN WILL COST YOU MORE THAN YOU WANT TO PAY
Sin’s checkout price is always higher than the advertised price. Thrill now-bill later! Sin costs reputation, peace of mind, and health.
SIN WILL TAKE YOU WHERE YOU DON’T WANT TO GO
- Sin took the prodigal to the pigpen.
- Sin took Absalom and Judas to a tree.
- Sin will take you to a gutter.
- Sin will put extra wrinkles on your face.
- Sin will take you to the unwed mothers’ home, mental institution, or cancer ward.
SIN WILL KEEP YOU LONGER THAN YOU WANT TO STAY.
Lot went to Sodom to sojourn (visit.) He stayed for twenty years and lost his family. Naomi went to Moab to visit and lost her husband and sons. Sin invites you just to visit.
To a Christian, sin is like a bullet in the body. There can be no strength and healing until the bullet is removed. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confession is to admit to God that we have sinned. After we repent, the closeness to God is there again!
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A CHRISTIAN SINS?
- Sickness (1 Corinthians 11:30; James 5:15).
- Death. (Acts 5; Deuteronomy 32:51-52; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 11:28-30; 1 John 5:16).
- Prayers are hindered (Psalms 66:18).
- Robbed of joy (Psalms 51:12).
- Chastening comes (Proverbs 3:11-12).
- Reaping comes (Galatians 6:7-8). When a Christian sins, seeds are planted in the garden of life. A harvest is to be expected. A Christian reaps what he sows; reaps more than he sows, and reaps unexpectedly
- Children are affected (Exodus 20:5).
- Christ is shamed (Hebrews 6:4-6). Sin caused Jesus to die on the Cross. It is not a light thing to God when one of His children sins.
THE STEPS TO SIN
James 1:13-15, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
The steps to sin are L S D: Lust Sin Death. God never tempts Christians to sin to see how good a Christian they are. The Devil tempts to sin. The first step to sin is lust (desire). That is how the Devil tempts. He knows what our desires are and simply “opens the door” so we can fulfill them. If someone is entertaining the idea of adultery, the Devil has available a ready participant. If someone has a desire for liquor, guess who “drops by” and offers them a drink? This is why a Christian needs to carefully guard his thought life and desires. If what we want is wrong, the Devil wants to give it to us.
James 1:14 speaks of a Christian being “enticed.” This is a hunting or fishing term. Enticement is a lure to get the animal or fish away from safety. The Devil uses many lures. He may use music, TV, old friends, money, moving, nature, a new house, a job, fame, a boyfriend or girlfriend, etc. His tackle box is full of proven lures. What has he used on you? Although he cannot read our minds, he does know human nature. GUARD YOUR DESIRES!
THE FIRST SIN
Genesis 3:1-7, “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit Jerusalem the trees of the garden: But of the fruit Jerusalem the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”
The first human sin took place in the garden of Eden. The Devil was present in the form of a serpent. There was a series of steps he took Eve through to get her to sin:
The Devil appeared to the follower first (verse 1). Eve was approached first-not Adam. The devil tries to tempt those under authority first.
The Devil questioned God’s Word (verse 1) “…Yea, hath God said…?” That is why the devil is attacking the authority of God’s Word today. If you begin doubting God’s Word, you will soon discard His commands. The Devil has given us the many “versions” of the Bible so people will doubt if any of them are true.
The Devil majored on what Eve was not allowed to do (verse 1.) “…Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” God told Adam and Eve that they could eat of every tree in the garden but one. You mean if you are a Christian you can’t do this or that? Christianity is a can religion, not just a can’t! Do not let the devil make you feel that you are missing out on something by being a Christian.
Eve talked to the Devil and tried to reason with him. She was to “resist” the Devil. Instead she listened to him. Do not listen to people that entice you to do wrong.
Eve did not know the command of God well enough (verse 2-3.) When she tried to quote what God said, she misquoted the command. Ignorance of God’s commands will always lead to trouble. The disciples of Jesus were discouraged and disillusioned after the resurrection because they did not know the scripture about the resurrection.
The Devil lied (verse 4) “…Ye shall not surely die:” All sin is based on the lie “you can be your own god.” No one can tell you what to do. Be your own boss. Study the Word of God so lies will be recognizable.
The Devil mixed truth with error (verse 5). He said that Eve would see and become as God. Part was true. She would see that she was naked. The other part was a lie. The fruit did not make her more like
God. All false religion is based on some scriptures or truth mixed with error.
Salvation gets you to heaven (true)
Salvation + Baptism gets you to heaven (false)
Truth + Error = Lie
The Devil worked on Eve’s desires (verse 5-6). Perhaps Eve ate the fruit because she believed it would make her wise and more like God. She loved God and wanted to be more like him, so perhaps that is why she ate it. See the importance of reading the Bible daily and being faithful in church? It is to keep you from believing the Devil’s lies.
Her sin affected her husband (verse 6-7). Not only did she break God’s command but also enticed another to sin. Our sin always affects others.
Their sin separated them from God (verse 10). Adam and Eve died spiritually that day. They were afraid, naked, and hiding. What a true picture of sin’s affect on us.
IS THERE ANY HOPE?
Will a Christian ever stop sinning? NO. Not until we receive our new body in heaven will we be free of sin’s power. But do not give up! You may not stop sinning, but you can hate it.
Hebrews 1:9, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”
Jesus was the only sinless One who ever walked on the face of the earth. How did He have such victory? He was totally yielded to the Holy Spirit of God. That caused Him to hate sin. As He hated sin, it caused Him to be totally yielded to the Holy Spirit.
Hate Sin—>Holy Spirit Filled
Holy Spirit Filled—>Hate Sin
We will be filled with the Holy Spirit to the degree we love right and hate sin.
How we admire the obedience a dog shows to its master! Archibald Rutledge wrote that one day he met a man whose dog had just been killed in a forest fire. Heartbroken, the man explained to Rutledge how it happened. Because he worked out-of-doors, he often took his dog with him. That morning, he left the animal in a clearing and gave him a command to stay and watch his lunch bucket while he went into the forest. His faithful friend understood, for that’s exactly what he did. Then a fire started in the woods, and soon the blaze spread to the spot where the dog had been left. But he didn’t move. He stayed right where he was, in perfect obedience to his master’s word. With tearful eyes, the dog’s owner said, “I always had to be careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it.”
Every conscientious parent recognizes how difficult it is to exercise his God-given authority over his children. The delicate balance of being tough yet tender is not easy to maintain. Many parents intensify a rebellious spirit by being dictatorial and harsh. Others yield when their authority is tested. When a strong-willed child resists, the pressure to give in for the sake of peace and harmony can become overpowering.
I am reminded of the mother who wanted to have the last word but couldn’t handle the hassle that resulted whenever she said no to her young son. After an especially trying day, she finally flung up her hands and shouted, “All right, Billy, do whatever you want! Now let me see you disobey THAT!”
Where our Captain bids us go,
‘Tis not ours to murmur no;
He that gives the sword and shield
Chooses too the battlefield
Where we are to fight the foe.
One step forward in obedience is worth years of study about it.
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.
- Point People to Jesus. (The God of heaven, he will prosper us. Neh 2:20)
- Don’t Quit (We his servants will arise and build Neh 2:20)
- Realize Ridicule Never Stops (…they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? Neh 2:19)
- Pray (Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. Neh. 4:9)
- Don’t be Afraid (Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. Neh. 4:14)
- Remember the Importance of the Work. (I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down Neh. 6:3)
Calvary covers it all
Many people today who are saved and love the Lord still don’t want to join a church. Their reasons are many and often true: most churches are messed up; there are many hypocrites; churches are just after your money; people do not love God like they ought to. Yet, although churches have always had problems (read the New Testament), the idea of staying out of any church is not a New Testament idea. In the first church in Jerusalem, “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” These were the same people who had received God’s word and were baptized. So, from the beginning, the order was to receive God’s word, get baptized and join the church.
We would all like to think that we would always do the right thing even if no one ever knew what we did. Truly, doing the right thing when no one is looking is the test of character. Yet, in reality, we all often do the right thing because we don’t want to let others see us fail. This is the power of accountability. We do right so we will not have to explain to our friends or loved ones why we did wrong. This is a motivation that God Himself uses with us. In the context of the local church, we are “to consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Heb 10:24). Knowing that people at church care should help us to do what is right. It is a blessing to know that if I stray from God, my fellow church member may come and talk to me about my spiritual life.
God takes accountability one step further in His instructions concerning church discipline. Notice this passage (out of many that teach the principle). The people in the church in Thessalonica were to withdraw themselves “from every brother that walketh disorderly.” The purpose was “that he may be ashamed.” Yet, even then, he was not to be counted as an enemy but to be admonished “as a brother.” Consider what is happening. The people of the church were to withdraw from fellowship with the man who had strayed from truth. But the final purpose in his life was not to hurt him but to restore him (see Gal.6:1).
In our modern independence, we have created virtues that God’s word never teaches. One of these virtues is what we call ‘staying out of other people’s business’. Truly, God speaks against gossip of any kind. But He does not teach us to stay out of other people’s lives. Neither does He teach that people should always stay out of your life. God teaches us to confront those who are hurting themselves and to try to turn them in the right direction (Gal.6:1). He also teaches us to accept godly confrontation (Heb.10:24). Why then would people not want to belong to a church where loving people would confront them if they started down the path of immorality, idolatry or heresy? Church membership means that there are people who love you too much to let you destroy yourself without putting up a fight for your good. What should give us a sense of security has simply made us angry and rebellious. Instead of changing God’s plan, we are the ones who should change.
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.
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.
Christian rights group China Aid says the faithful are worried that the church demolition could be a sign that the government is tightening its grip over the spread of Christianity in China
An old gentleman lived alone in New Jersey. He wanted to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very difficult work, as the ground was hard. His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:
I am feeling pretty sad because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I’m just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here my troubles would be over. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me, like in the old days.
A few days later he received a letter from his son:
Don’t dig up that garden. That’s where the bodies are buried.
At 4 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left.. That same day the old man received another letter from his son.
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That’s the best I could do under the circumstances.
Vincent was able to help his aging father even though his circumstances were not so good. Because he loved his father, he was able to do something for him that he could not physically do himself. He was able to do so because he didn’t allow himself to be discouraged by his circumstance. He looked for a way to help. He looked for something he COULD DO instead of focusing on what he COULD NOT DO.
Life is full of such similar circumstances. Oh, we are not always going to plant a tomato garden, but there are things that are going to cross out path of life that we are just not able to do; there are times when we want to help someone, but we see that we cannot do what we would like to. These are the times for innovation and application. Oh, I am not saying that we should be devious and get others to do our work for us. Vincent was that way. He lied to get the FBI to dig up his dad’s yard for him. That is wrong of course, because lying is always wrong. But, if we think positively, pray and give God enough time to show us a way, we can do amazing things.
Paul wanted to get Christ preached to the world. He had much opposition to that noble goal. There were people going around preaching Christ in a mocking manner, trying to put a stop to Paul’s ministry (Phil. 1:14-18). Instead of getting discouraged by this big problem, Paul saw something positive. He saw it as Christ being preached. He rejoiced that Christ was being preached. He didn’t get upset, angry; of even try to get even. He rejoiced.
Too often, Christians are leading a discouraged life because their sights are set upon their circumstances. All they see is the evil, bad things. They choose not to see how God is working in their life. The classic Biblical illustration of this is Peter. The disciples were in a boat in the middle of a raging storm when Jesus came walking to them on the water. The Lord beckoned Peter to come to Him, which he did. He was walking on the water just fine until he took His eyes off Jesus and began focusing on his negative circumstances. When he did, he began to sink.
You can identify Christians who are consumed with their circumstances because:
- They always say “can’t.” They talk about what they “can’t” do rather than what then can do. When presented with a challenge, they immediately begin analyzing why they won’t be able to accomplish it instead of putting their energy into thinking how they can do it. In fact, it is amazing how quickly they discard any challenging idea. In fact, they are thinking of themselves: what it will cost them, how difficult it will be for them to do it. The Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Phil. 4:13).
- They always make excuses. This goes back to not really wanting to do something in the first place. If a person really wants to do something, and they are interested in it, they will not need any excuses because they will find a way to do it. People do what they are interest in. If they are not interested in something, they look for excuses why they can’t do it. Excuses are different from reasons. Excuses are what we fabricate when we can find no good reason for getting out of doing something we don’t want to do. The Bible says, “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea: and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” (Jas. 5:12).
- They are undependable. They say they are going to do something, then they don’t come through. If they really cared, they would be dependable, but they are not. Unlike a reason or excuse, undependability is when we flat out lie; saying we will do something when we have no intention of doing it at all. They just tell them what they want to hear so we can get them off of our back and have no guilt. They make a commitment, but they begin looking at the circumstance and back out, leaving the one to whom a commitment was made, hanging out in the wind. The Bible says, “Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.” (Ecc. 5:5).
- They are “money minded.” They are constantly talking about money; of their lack thereof. They think that without money, they can do nothing, but Jesus said, “…without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5). The problem is a misplaced faith. Their faith is not in the Lord God, but in the “almighty dollar,” but as we know, the dollar can fail. It has done it before, it will do it again. People are constantly bombarded with the idea that wealth is money, but there are more important things than money: happiness, contentment, joy, relationships and love for a few.
- They are gamblers. They depend on luck. People who place their faith on luck, are the most unlucky people in the world. Any true Christian knows that “luck” does not exist. Everything is a design. There is a designer and He has a plan. When you begin looking at what you cannot do because of your circumstances, you are tempted to return to the vomit of “luck” (Pro. 26:11; Job 20:15). The Bible says, “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; not he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.” (Ecc. 5:10). You tend to hear them talk about what they will do if they win “the big one.”
- They talk about their past. People who focus on their circumstance and look at the negative will often bring up memories of their past; memories of how they used to be able to do things. But, now, with their circumstance changed, they can’t do anything. The Bible says, “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.” (Isa. 43:18). It does no good to dwell in the past. Old accomplishments were for old times. New times demand, and require, new accomplishments. The Bible says, “…if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:18). Because you are a new creature, and old things are passed away, any new thing you do, becomes old right after you do it. Seconds after you accomplish it, it becomes an old thing and is part of your past. When you come across people who live in the past (there is a difference between living in the past and reflecting on old memories), it is because the person is of an negative mind set. They are looking at what they cannot do, instead of what they can do. Yes, they cannot do the things that they once could do, but there is a whole set of new things that they can now do that they couldn’t do before.
- They are easily discouraged. When people convince themselves that they cannot do something, they become discouraged. This discouragement is out of frustration only because they feel that they can’t do what they want to do. Instead of looking for a way to accomplish something, they do nothing and get discouraged about it. It is more healthy for the mind to focus on what you can do instead of what you cannot do.
- They live a false Christian life. In other words, they give up on Christ, but instead of going completely back into the world, they put on aires of being a Christian so that they can hide their embarrassment. The Bible calls this: backsliding and has much to say about it. Proverbs 14:14 says, “The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.” The implication is that they begin craving and living the life that they used to live, even though they are a Christian and can never change that. They act like they are spiritual when they are only concerned with themselves.
All of these reasons focus on self. Self is extremely negative because that is the way it feels when it is being deprived. It comes up with the message: “What happened to me? No one cares about me!” We commonly call these: “pity parties.” Contrariwise, the positive outlook pleases others. A positive focus does whatever it can to help others. In short, this is called: LOVE. So, do you seek to do that which you can do? Or do you complain about what you can’t do?
Psalms 8:9 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
Too often people don’t slow down enough to even consider God. They know the Creator exists, but they don’t move Him to the front of their minds for special consideration. The Psalmist did, and when he did, he came away with this wonderful thought recorded in this special verse of Scripture. Do you notice that he is not asking a question? He is not trying to find out how excellent God’s name is. He is making an exclamation. He moved the Lord to the forefront of his mind and it came to Him that the Lords name is excellent in all of the earth.
We too can see the excellence of God. We too can be overwhelmed with the excellence of God in His name. All we have to do is take a moment and move Him to the forefront of our minds.
Luke 14:25-33 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
The Christian life is pictured in the Bible as a race to run; a course to finish. The Apostle Paul was determined not only finish his course, but to do it with joy (Acts 20:24). This is exactly what he did. Shortly before his death, he gave this testimony: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2Timothy 4:7). He finished his course. Each of us needs to be aware that God has a course for us, and He wants us to carry it out to the end; He wants us to finish our course.
Gods plan for each of us is specific to us. No one else can carry it out for us. It is ours. However, He will help us find and complete that plan. Still, many Christians never even find their plan, let alone finish it. In fact, they hardly even try.
The passage above speaks of one who intends to build a tower. Building this tower is like running a race and finishing a course. Yet, because of many pitfalls, the tower may never get built. By looking at the necessary ingredients for building this tower, we can see how to succeed as well as learn why so many people fail.
God wants us to finish our course
The first requirement of those who would build a tower is that they must be “intending to build” (vs. 28). If they do not at least intend to build, then nothing else can be accomplished. To “intend” means to “have in mind as a purpose.” When we intend to finish our course our vision of the race goes well beyond the starting line. It also allows a view of the finish line, or in this case, the placing of the final brick. Granted, the way to the end may not be understood but a vision of accomplishment is formed. You cannot go someplace if you don’t know where it it.
This intention or vision is also spoken of as our “purpose.” In 2 Timothy 3:10, Paul told Timothy, “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience.” Probably the greatest number of Christians fail to finish their course because they have no purpose in their lives. Or, their purpose has been skewed by the Devil or self. So, we must have the right purpose.
It Must Be For God: We cannot finish our course by living our life for self. We must lose the life we want to live for the sake of Jesus Christ. Luke 9:24 says, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” Jeremiah told the scribe Baruch, “And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not…” (Jer. 45:5). We must seek great things for the Lord. Jesus told His disciples, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.” (Luke 22:25-26)
It Must Be From God: Many Christians try to serve God on their own terms. They choose what they want to do for the Lord and then expect Him to support them in their labors. But this will not work. It is not enough to be doing something for the Lord. The mission has to be the one He has given us. When Saul got saved, he began his Christian life by asking, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). As with Paul, we too must seriously asked the Lord what He would have us to do. Paul, when praying for the Colossians, asked the Lord that they “might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9). In other words, to know and understand the course He had planned for them. Caleb claimed the promise of God when he said, “Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day” (Joshua 14:12). But note that he claimed only what God had already promised him.
To finish our course we must find God’s purpose for us and follow after that purpose. God may not tell us everything at once. He will at least give us a starting direction and will always show we the next step to take. But we need more than a purpose.
We need a plan: Good intentions are cheap. In fact, without some action behind them, they are worthless. But before we can act, we must know where we are going. Our passage in Luke tells about the builder who sits down before he begins to build and “counteth the cost” (vs. 28). That is what we do when we establish a plan and determine if we are willing to give the necessary effort to accomplish our purpose.
Why Do we Need a Plan? We need a plan to discover God’s way of accomplishing the purpose. He must be the source of the purpose and the plan as well. We seek His face through prayer and meditation and wait for Him to give us a plan. Proverbs 3:5-6 teaches us to, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
We need a plan to discover God’s timing. God’s timing is beautiful (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and He will make all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). But our timing may destroy the entire purpose and will certainly cause unnecessary delays and detours. We need God’s timing in order to determine several things:
- When to begin action.
- What steps to take.
- What our priorities are.
- What can be left for later.
How Do We Get This Plan? We seek God’s direction through prayer. Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” If we seek God’s answer and wait for it, He will let us know what He wants us to do.
We develop the plan through meditation. The virtuous woman “considereth a field, and buyeth it” (Proverbs 31:16). God can and will work through our thought processes if we are submitted to Him. This is why Bible reading coupled with meditation upon His word is so important.
We gain wisdom through counsel. Others may counsel us personally or we may find help through published materials that can help us. God uses all of these ways. Proverbs 11:14 – “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”
Planning is crucial to finishing our course. But there are people who have spent their life making one plan after another and yet have accomplished very little. Planning must be coupled with action.
In Luke, the builder of the tower must get to the point where he has “laid the foundation” (14:29). For Christians to accomplish their purpose for the Lord, they must lay a solid foundation. Jesus told a story about two men who built houses (Matthew 7:24-27). He does not mention any difference in floor plan, or size, or exterior covering. He only mentions one difference: the foundation on which the houses were built. One was built on the sand and the other on the rock and when the storms came, only the house with the firm foundation stood. The type of foundations also told us something about the men who built the houses. The man who built on the rock was called a wise man. The one who built on sand was called a fool. What kind of builder are we?
The Baptist preacher and teacher, B. H. Carroll (1843-1914), said, “Only prepared men accomplish great things. And the greater the preparation, the less need for long time to do great things.”
Prepare For the Work: Proverbs 24:27 states, “Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.” Picture someone in early America who is homesteading in a new land. What is most important? Should they build a nice house first? Of course not! To make our work fit in the field would be to prepare for defense against any hostile Indians and to make sure that the crops get planted in time for harvest. A house is no good if we are killed or if we have no food to eat.
Many people want to put the cart before the horse in Christian service. Paul spoke of those who were, “desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm” (Titus 1:7). There are people who want to teach but do not want to do the study or get the training necessary to be a good teacher.
Any significant work for the Lord requires some form of preparation. More and more people want to skip this step. For us, it may mean BibleCollege or some special form of training. It may mean working under someone for several years and learning from them. It may mean getting our financial house in order. But, if we are ever to finish, our course, we must prepare.
Prepare for the Winter: Proverbs tells us that the ants are wise because “they prepare their meat in the summer” (Proverbs 30:25). They use summer as a window of opportunity to gather food so that when the winter comes and there is not food to gather, they can live off that which is in store. Preparation means that we use opportunities and do things at the best time to do them. If our purpose requires some form of learning that is easier to obtain before marriage, then we need to make a choice between the two. Attending school later may be necessary, but timing is important. We often want to skip the dull stuff but the dull stuff is often the key to success.
Okay, so we have discovered God’s purpose for our life. We have made plans and have laid the foundation through preparation. Now what? Now…it is time to push!
We Must Push with All our Might: The main thrust of our passage is that someone wants “to build a tower” (Luke 14:28). To build a tower we must do the work of a builder. We must put forth the effort. We must push. A worthy purpose requires a working servant. Many Christians fail to finish their course because they are lazy; they have no push. Solomon admonishes us, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Paul tells the Colossian servants, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (3:23). Doing a work for the Lord takes all we have…and then some. Are we working as if for the Lord?
We must be Persistant (vs. 29, 30): Yet, to finish the tower, one thing yet is needed. The builder must be “able to finish.” Some men start many things but finish none. Paul finished his course. Will we finish ours? Is so, we must refuse to faint (Proverbs 24:10; Galatians 6:9). We must finish by faith (Hebrews 12:1-3; 1Corinthians 15:58).
We have been looking at the Christian life as one in which we build a tower or finish a course. Another picture used in the Bible is that of sowing and reaping (Psalm 126:5-6). In order to reap, we must work the land, sow the seed, care for the plants and refuse to quit. God promises that those who refuse to faint will eventually, in due season, reap the harvest (Galatians 6:9). What would it take for us to fail? Why not just keep on going on for the sake of the Lord?