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People often try to justify their desire to gamble by saying, “after all, life itself is risky.” Investing in the stock market, crossing the street, riding in an airplane, falling in love, getting married, even doing church work all carry with them an element of risk. People also try to justify gambling by pointing to the element of chance that was involved in the Old Testament use of lots or the Urim and Thummim, and in the New Testament method of choosing Judas’ successor. However, there is no legitimate point of comparison between the type of chance involved in these Scriptural practices and the type of chance involved in gambling. The Old Testament lots were specifically sanctioned and commanded by God (Lev. 1:8, Josh. 14:2, Ex. 28:30, Num. 27:21, Dt. 33:8). Gamblers today cannot produce such commands of God for the lots they cast! Likewise, in the choice of Matthias to succeed Judas no real risk was involved, Both candidates, Justus and Matthias, were fully qualified for the position, so the final choice was entrusted to the Lord in prayer.
The real crux of the problem of gambling is not the element of risk or chance, but the question of motivation. This is the real heart of the problem, for if the motivation involved is wrong, gambling is wrong even when the element of skill predominates over simple chance.
The basic purpose of most gambling is not to help and serve others, but to help ourselves at their expense. Luther observed: No one gambles with another in order to give away to the other what is his own (for he could do that without gambling), nor in order to lose what is his own, nor in order to seek the gain of the other man as though it were his own. This is why gambling is always contrary to love and is motivated by greed because a man seeks, to the harm of another, what does not belong to him.
The basic Christian objection to gambling is that it is an attempt to gain something from our neighbor without giving a fair service in return. If we really love our neighbor, will we wish to win at his expense? In gambling are we heeding the admonition of Scripture, Philippians 2:4 ‘Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.’ Christians must keep two facts in mind when seeking gain or profit from their activities. They must give fair labor in exchange for what they receive. They seek to earn for themselves, not from selfish motivation, but in order to be of service to others. Ephesians 4:28 “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”
A Christian’s life is to be devoted to serving others, not to serving self. In most games of gambling, part of the enjoyment is taking advantage of someone else’s loss. Gambling is nonproductive, and can be justified only by arguing its entertainment value or the good use made of a portion of the revenue. Since the end never justifies the means, gambling cannot be justified on these grounds if greed is involved. The fact that dishonesty and selfish motivation can be practiced in any form of business cannot be used as an excuse to justify gambling, if gain at the expense of another is part of the very nature of gambling. The common consent involved in gambling does not excuse the stealing involved in gambling anymore than common consent excuses the murder involved in dueling.
The Bible does not specifically forbid gambling, but there are several biblical principles that should make Christians hesitate to participate:
- God presents work as the normal way to get the money we need (Eph. 4:28; 2 Thess. 3:12).
- When a person cannot work, the second choice is prayer (Phil. 4:6, 19).
All my income belongs to God, not me (Psalms 24:1), and I am not free to use it as I wish. I am a steward, who should use it for God’s purposes. Christians are called on to meet the needs of their family (1 Tim. 5:8), and share with others, particularly Christians who have needs (2 Cor 8-9; Gal. 6:6-10; 3 John).
Does God want me to use His money to buy a lottery ticket? God uses money to accomplish important purposes in my life:
Meet basic needs (Matt. 6:11; I Tim. 6:8).
Build character (Phil 4:10-13)
Give direction, by providing or withholding resources.
Helping others through me.
Show His power by providing miraculously.
Gambling does not accomplish any of these things. In fact, it hinders these things being accomplished in my life. So, a person must ask themselves, “Am I looking to God or to the lottery for my needs?”
The Bible says that it is required of a steward that a man be found faithful 1 Cor 4:3). Since we are to be stewards of everything we have, (not just our money), and we are to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7), gambling that which we have stewardship over is directly opposite of a life of faith.
Greed and covetousness are sin (Exo. 20:18; I Tim. 6:9; Heb. 13:5), and these are motives in most gambling. The book of Proverbs warns of disaster for people who want to get rich quickly (28:20, 22). Not only that, wealth that comes easily goes just as easily (Pro. 13:11). AND, if it is gained the wrong way it can even break up families (Pro. 15:27).
Text: Psalm 11:3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
The most critical part of any structure is the foundation. It supports the whole thing. It must be built right for everything it supports to be right. Of course, if the structure strays from the foundation, then it will be perverted.
1. What Are Our Foundations?
Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
A) Foundations are Physical
Our society was built on certain principles, morality and ideals. Those being outlined in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights, in which there is an acknowledgement of a Creator (GOD), who is our chief cornerstone. The mindset of the framers of these documents reveal their interpretation in Black and White and can be read by all. It’s in our history which cannot be changed no matter how angry it makes the rebellious progressive liberal feel. IN GOD WE TRUST.
The foundation of our society is not in the government, it is in God. The government does not teach you about God, the church does. That is the whole purpose of not allowing the government to meddle in the business of the church, but to allow the church to influence the government. It is the church (using the Bible) that is supposed to teach the foundational principles of our society such as:
- GOD— You ought to have God in your home, in your conversation and amongst your friends.
- Prayer–We ought to have prayer often in private, as well as public. We should not be ashamed to talk to God.
- Biblical Morality— We should do right before God and our neighbors.
- Marriage— We should love that husband or wife. Nothing should be more important to us other than God. Not any hobby, interest, children or anything.
- How to raise and educate Children
- How to live in a Free yet governed Society
These are the foundations that our society is built on. And, this is the foundation that we must continue to build upon.
B) Foundations are Spiritual
The foundation of a persons life is either in one of two places: God or self. We will either trust in God and His instruction or in our own understanding. If we trust in our own understanding, our life will crumble because our foundation is in self. But, the person who trusts in the Lord and makes Him the foundation, their life will not have need or want. You cannot have a correct foundation of Society without a correct foundation of the individual.
2. How are our Foundations Destroyed?
To destroy society, there must be an attack on individuals first. To bring down a building, you destroy the pillars that are holding it up. There are three very distinct elements that are constantly attacking the foundation of man that have the goal of bringing down the structure.
A) Foundations are Destroyed by Sin
Sin is any transgression of the Law of God. It is an offence against a personal lawgiver. It attacks a persons fundamental belief and subjection to God. It causes a person to rebel against God and therefore move off the true foundation.
B) Foundations are Deceived by Satan
The Enemy of God wants to destroy mans faith in a sure foundation (Isa. 28:16). He does this through deceit and deception. He offers alternatives that are almost the real thing. They look, smell, taste, feel and sound like the real thing and this is how people go astray. They think they are on the sure foundation of Christ when all the time they are following their own way of righteousness. (Examples: false Bibles, false churches, religion, false gods, idols, ism’s, government, etc.) The alternatives he makes available are:
- Advertising (lust)
All of these are forms of promoting self.
C) Foundations are Dieafied by Self
Self is the biggest enemy of all. Naturally, man wants to follow self. He must get control of self and do what is right. Self is the largest of all addictions and is difficult to ignore. Anyone who has given up smoking, drinking or drugs can attest to the difficulty in gaining control over the control of self. Self wants what self wants. It wants to be its own foundation. It wants to be pre-eminent. Anything else requires humility, but self is full of pride. It is often accompanied with phrases that heavily incorporate the word “I”.
3. What can we do about Destroyed Foundations
Psalm 11:7 For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.
When the foundations are destroyed, the righteous can turn to the Lord, for He loves the righteous.
Righteousness always has something to do with relationship. How do we do that?
A) Repent of Sin
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Repent is to change your mind and your way. It requires action. It does not just end with words. It must be acted upon. Our nation cannot experience repentance without the personal repentance of its people.
B) Return to the Lord
Acts 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
Coming to the Lord with a repentant heart is what provides forgiveness. Forgiveness is what is needed to erase the past and allows for the new start. Forgiveness is essential for the foundation to be reconstructed, repaired or reclaimed.
C) Remain in His presence
Repenting is like being sorry for doing something. It is like taking something that is wrong out of your life. But, you must replace it with something good or it is quite likely that some sin will fill the void in it’s wake. You must come to the Lord, but more importantly, you must continue to walk with Him. You must keep on top of the right foundation and not waiver off to the side.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
God gives certain responsibilities of the marriage to each other. For the husband, God commands that we love our wives. Love is the principle thing that holds a marriage together. Love is the greatest motivator of all. Unfortunately, the world teaches a false definition of the word love. People today think that love is a feeling, especially related to sexual contact, but it is not. Love is the supreme denial of self and exaltation of someone else. In short, it is giving. This is the love that God is talking about when he commands husbands to love their wives.
As a human being it is natural for our love to be directed to others. As a father our love can be directed to our children. But, as a husband there is a special kind of love that is to be directed only to our wife. The world would like to say that there are degrees of love, but there are just different aspects of love. There is a special kind of love that only our wife should enjoy and no others. It is our obligation to make this exclusive to her. This love, we share with none other. We don’t share it with our children, our family and certainly some other woman. It is a special love and it should be proclaimed so that everyone else knows that we love our wives differently than anyone else in the world. If you have waited for God to show you His perfect will, then she is your special gift from Him that completes you as one whole being (Eph. 5:31 …and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.). That makes her special beyond the reaches of all others in the world.
Husbands should follow the example of Christ when loving our wives. Our Lord loves the church and He shows it by the way He provides for it, protects it and leads it. Likewise, it is our jobs to take the leadership roles in our marriages so that our wives have the protection, provision and prowess needed to feel loved.
Protection of our wives does not end with simply not letting someone hurt her physically. There is emotional and spiritual protection that must be provided for as well. Husbands should be vigilant to not allow our wives to be emotionally hurt. Emotions run deep and are difficult to heal. If we do something that we shouldn’t and end up hurting our wives emotionally, the Bible has the only prescription for the healing process in being quick to reconcile (Eph. 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:). Protection of our wives can best be done by keeping the Devil away from our marriages. It is not that Eve wandered away from Adam when she was tempted, but the question must be asked, “Why was Adam not there in the first place? Why was he not protecting her spiritually?”
Providing for our wives, does not end with bringing in the paycheck. Although we like to make jokes about it, wives have many more needs than money. They have other physical needs as well as emotional and spiritual needs. Our wives need to be encouraged. They need to be praised and made to feel good about themselves so they have confidence to make it through yet another evil day. It is our job as husbands to provide this praise and not just be running them down all the time. We need to provide spiritually for our wives by providing the right environment, both at home and outside of the home. This is not just “letting” them go to church; it is BRINGING them to church. Let them know you lead in the spiritual protection of your marriage. Read the Bible with them. Initiate spiritual conversation with them.
The prowess that our wives deserve does nothing other than to help us and the entire family. She should be able to “be all she can be.” In fact she should be encouraged to do so. Let’s be our wives best cheer leader. Help her; let her take the classes she has been wanting. Encourage her. Provide leadership and instruction for her when dealing with emotional issues specific to women. Don’t try to isolate her. Encourage her to develop spiritually on her own as well as with you.
Give of yourself for your wife. This is the action of love. The Lord Jesus Christ gave of Himself to the Church. We don’t learn all of the ramifications of this immediately. It takes some time. Likewise, let your wife have the adventure of exploring how much you love her by examining how much you give of yourself to her. As Christians, when we see the love of Christ, and how it is demonstrated to us, it does not take long for him to become our hero. We can be our wives’ hero as well. It won’t happen overnight. And it won’t happen because we demand it. We become her hero by consistently showing how much we give of ourselves to her.
Husbands, lets take care of our responsibilities of loving our wives. Let’s build them up, for they are our same body. Lets make our marriages better by taking the leadership role and not expecting anything in return.
Why do people go to church? There are many reasons and in this article I would like to explore a few. For some people church has always been a part of their life; for others it is a new experience. Either way, it doesn’t matter. At some point in their life, people begin making their own decision about going to church.
Recently I saw a character on TV who wanted his grandson to be baptized so he would go to heaven. Obviously, he didn’t understand the Bible and that baptism doesn’t save a person. But, he still had a respect for the church. He called it God’s house. Even the most adamant atheist still recognizes that church is related to God, and when they come to a point in their life that they seek spiritual help (and everyone does), they will seek it by coming to a church.
People go to church to feel good about themselves. At some point in their life, people begin to feel the effects of sin. They begin to feel dirty and seek redemption of some kind. So, they go to church seeking forgiveness for their sins. The sad thing is that when they feel comfortable in knowing that forgiveness has been provided, they have no need for church anymore. They fall away like the vapor of wind, never to come back unless they have the same need.
People go to church because they have always gone to church. It is habitual. They have always gone to church and cannot really give an answer for why they go. Oh, they can give the pat answer; the answer that they know is expected of them, but they cannot honestly tell why they go from deep down inside their soul.
People go to church for social connection. They seek relationships with people who are like minded to them and they don’t get that in the world with all of it’s worldliness. Sadly, they have little use for the church other than the pleasure of fellowship with their friends who attend. During the preaching or teaching they are bored to death, but during the singing or performing, they are enthusiast. They are “put out” by the time that the preaching or teaching takes out of their time to fellowship, and you often never see them attend Sunday School or other such learning events.
People go to church because they want to learn something about God. Altogether this is not a bad reason for going to church. One of the reasons that God provided the church to us is to equip the saints. This involves learning about the Bible and learning about God. There is no other designed method of God to learn about Him and His book except the church. God did not provide colleges, TV or radio programs, para-church organizations to teach about Him. He gave us the church!
People go to church because God commanded us to not forsake going to it. They honor God and try their best to do what He said they should do. They do this because they are driven by a love for Him. They trust in the fact that: He knows what is best for them, and since He told them to do it, then they are going to do it. They often reason that God must have His reasons for saying it in the Bible so, understand it or not, they go. Soon their often attendance begins to take root in their life and they begin to grow as a child of God.
I have often wondered why people don’t go to church. I think, “If they could just go long enough, then they would get what God is trying to do in their life.” God wants to develop Christians. That is difficult for the Him to do when His children are bombarded constantly by the world’s message and they are only getting one hour a week of input from Him. The many hours indoctrination of the world overshadows and chokes out almost everything that a person can get in just one hour a week of going to church. For this very reason, I put serious articles in the church bulletin so God’s people have something they can take with them to receive some spiritual refreshment and learning. I hope that you have found them useful. More than that, I trust that you will, no matter what, trust what God says to you about not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, and come to church. It would be good for you and your family. You see, God wants to establish a relationship with you and that is difficult to do when you only spend one hour a week with Him.
Matthew 7:1-2 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
This passage has probably been more misused and misunderstood by Liberals and Christians alike than any other passage in the Bible, other than the so-called “Lord’s prayer.” Many Christians misunderstand this passage because they take it completely out of context. They believe that this passage teaches that we should not judge other people. In many cases it is not their fault that they believe so; they have been TAUGHT wrongly. Pastors, teachers, and even friends have explained it erroneously. Or, they have read it in a corrupted bible that has been passed off to be God’s word, when it is not.
They are not alone in their error. If the world doesn’t know anything at all about the Bible, it certainly know this passage. This is testament to the fact that it is one of Satan’s favorite passages, along with Acts 2:38. He has used these passages to “trip up” thousands upon thousands of Christians.
By constant repetition of the passage, False teachers have intimidated Christians into not speaking out against anything or anybody doing wickedly. These same false teachers have even gone so far as to use these verses to teach that you can’t tell whether anyone is saved or not. That way you have no business dealing with them personally about their soul’s salvation. Now that’s pretty bad! That’s not the only result of their false teaching though; they use these verses to teach Christians they must be tolerant of others beliefs and accept all forms of sin, especially if it can fall into any “lifestyle” category. But, nothing could be further from the truth.
Christians are commanded by God to: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment”(John 7:24). Christians are commanded to judge things and people, but when they do, they are commanded to judge “righteous judgment.” I know this may be a shock to you, especially if you have been taught otherwise, but just open the Bible and read it. If you are of the world, then this just goes to show how ignorant you are of Christianity; probably because your only exposure to it has been the news media.
The vital command in Matthew 7:1 to “Judge not” has to be reconciled with:
- “He that is spiritual judgeth all things” (1 Cor. 2:15),
- “Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?” (Luke 12:57),
- “We shall judge angels” (1 Cor. 6:3).
Of course, if you are a Bible reader and believer you know the Liberal overlooks these texts. Every time that someone uses “Judge not that ye be not judged” to try to make you feel “un-Christian” about not tolerating their sin, in your mind you know they are just ignorant. Or, like the Devil, they are using bits and pieces of God’s word to justify themselves.
At times you will hear from the uninformed Christian that this passage in Matthew concerns judging wether someone is going to hell or not. There is no mention of “Hell,” in the passage at all. Think for a moment! If the issue is judging a man to be lost, no one has to judge that, for the man is already judged and condemned. Consider the following verses:
- 1 Corinthians 5:13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
- John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
This “righteous judgment” has something to do with the way we suffer for Christ in this life, and for the rewards we will receive in the Kingdom. 2 Thessalonians 1:5 says: “Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:” It means to judge in a manner that keeps man’s relationship with God right. Therefore, A Christian who is tolerant of sin when exposed to it, is affecting their relationship with Christ.
A Christians motive for judging should never be based on what judgment will be placed on him/her later along life’s pathway. The correct motive for judging should always be based on how to please God and NOT how to please self or how to be tolerant of sin. If a Christians motive and focus is truly on how to please God, then the Christian will naturally be doing right by others as would expected.
Here are some examples of misguided judgment as a result of not interpreting Matthew 7:1-6 properly:
- I should not tell anyone about Jesus because I don’t want them to tell me about their religion.
- I should not condemn sin because I don’t want anyone to condemn my sin.
- What goes around comes around.
- If I do good to others then others will do good to me.
- I’ll give money to the church so that God will give money to me, (maybe I’ll win the lottery).
- I’ll help someone, (be their friend), so that in the future they can help me.
On the other hand, a Christian does not have some special “duty” to seek out people to judge. What other people do is their business. But if the things they are doing somehow affect a Christian so that the Christian has to make a decision or judgment, then the Christian is to judge righteously in a manner that will be pleasing to God, regardless of how it will affect self or others. Some Christians feel that they have a free license to stick their nose into other people’s business because the Bible teaches them that they are to judge the righteous judgment. This is not true and they are confused because they neglect to realize that God told them what kind of judgment they are to judge by; They are to judge a “righteous” judgment. This is the judgment that pleases God. It does not please God when Christians go around looking for something to judge, but when a Christian is faced with a judgment to make and judges righteously so as to please God it does this very thing: pleases God!
Why then does Jesus mention this matter of judgment?
Because He is speaking to them about how things will be in the kingdom of heaven (or, the Millinium). During that dispensation (time period), the judgment that He will impart to a person will be based on how they judged other people. Therefore, He encourages them to make sure that their own relationship and life is right before they make any decisions or judgment upon others. He teaches them to examine themselves first before they make any decisions so that they won’t be hypocrite’s. He encourages them to do right, but their motive for doing right is concerning obedience to their Jewish king, otherwise they will suffer the consequences and be judged in the same manner that they judged others. So, the rule for judgment in Matthew is a general rule concerning rules of conduct between Jewish saints, with a direct reference to the Kingdom-age.
For the Christian, the judgment that God imparts to us is primarily our acceptance of His Son: Jesus Christ. We are encouraged to: judging righteously and consider our relationship with God and what pleases Him. Therefore, our motive for judgment is not so much one of obedience, but of love; a love that expresses thankfulness to God for the grace that we received from Him. The Christian does not judge in order to receive something or to give something. The Christian judges righteously in order to demonstrate his love toward God so that God will be pleased.
Unlike the idea of those who say, “Christians should not to preach against anything or anyone, and be tolerant of everything,” Christians are to judge and discern. The Bible clearly teaches that Christians should:
- Judge things in their own life and the lives of others
- 1 Corinthians 11:13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
- 1 Corinthians 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
- 1 Corinthians 5:3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,
- 1 Corinthians 6:2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
- 1 Corinthians 6:4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
- Not judge a brother as unsaved if that brother disagrees with him on MINOR doctrinal points of practice.
- Romans 14:1-10 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. 2For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. 3Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. 4Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. 5One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 6He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. 7For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. 9For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. 10But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
- Romans 14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
- Not judge anything hastily, when not required, unmercifully or from an unscriptural standpoint.
- Identify and avoid preachers and teachers who do not believe the word of God, or who profess to believe it but, practically, deny it by their preaching and teaching.
- Romans 16:17-18 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
- Philippians 3:18-19 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
- Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
- Judge the “fruit” quickly and accurately by the standard of absolute truth.
- John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
The Liberal teaching that we are not to judge whether or not a doctrine is true is nothing but a Satanic snare for those who are too lazy to “search the scriptures.” The problem is that it works in many cases. Christians buy the world’s teaching over the Bible all too often. This is why they stick with this tactic. This is why apostate “Christians” are given a hearing over Bible believing Christians any day, but when one person crosses a Bible believer and begins to hear the truth’s of God’s word, they are refreshed and curious. The Devil just has to get Bible believers to keep quiet.
There are a lot of practical things however, that we can learn from this passage of Scripture to help us Christians. It is good for us to consider ourselves before making a judgment of righteousness so that we can identify with a person. If we do so we will often see an avenue for dispensing mercy. “Mercy” is when a person does not receive something that they rightly deserve. “Grace” is when a person receives something that they do not rightly deserve. If a Christian considers and examines his own life first he will certainly be reminded that he has received not only mercy from God but grace also. This can only influence the Christian to judge righteously in a manner that God would judge using mercy and grace rightly. Otherwise the Christian runs the danger of judging in a corrupt manner that would please self or some other man. It is also very practical for the Christian to remember that he too is a sinner and that he deserves the harsh judgment of God for his sin, and if he judges the sin of others without remembering this he is a hypocrite. When the Christian acts in a hypocritical manner it does nothing more than to push people away from Jesus Christ.
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?
In 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 we are told, “Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” A then steward is somebody that is given something valuable to take care of, and he is supposed to take care of it for his master. Not only that, a steward is to be “faithful” because he has goods delivered to him that don’t belong to him. Such is every one of us who is given stewardship of God’s money. We understand about God giving us money and us using it as the Lord would have to do. But here we are talking about a different kind of stewardship. We are talking about the “mysteries of God.” We are talking about stewardship over something that has been given for the purpose of teaching to others.
What are these mysteries? There are seven of them in the Bible and they are committed to preachers to teach to others. I will briefly describe them as follows:
1. The Mystery of Godliness.
1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
This verse is the greatest verse in the Bible on the Deity of Jesus Christ. If you don’t have a King James Bible you won’t be able to find this mystery defined. All other bibles change this verse in order to take away the deity of Christ. They change the phrase “…God was manifest in the flesh…” to something else. God being “manifest in the flesh” means that God showed up as a baby and later grew up to be a man. It cannot be explained how He did this. Why? Because it is a mystery how it happened. He came down to this earth as a baby, and a woman took care of Him, just like every other baby. He experienced every facet of growing up as a human male.
2. The Mystery of the Indwelling Christ
Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Paul says, “This mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” This means the “mystery” is that Jesus Christ is inside the saved man. It can’t be explained how: “Christ” is “in you, the hope of glory”. It can’t be explained how a sinless, perfect Saviour would stoop down to come in and dwell inside a wicked, sinful vessel. Not only that, it can’t be explained how Jesus could be in a vast multitude of saved people all at the same time. There isn’t many individual Jesus’. There is one Jesus and he dwells within each believer. This is a mystery and can’t be explained how it happens. It is the mystery of the indwelling Christ.
3. The Mystery of the Body of Christ
Ephesians 5:30-32 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
The Bride of Christ in this age is espoused to one husband so it can be presented a chaste virgin to Christ (2 Cor. 11:2). This means that every one who is a Believer is all espoused to the same person: Christ. All men and women wind up married to Christ as one unit. How can you explain it? It can’t be explained. It’s a mystery. As far as the spirit is concerned, we are joined to Him right now (1 Cor. 6:17). The marriage has already taken place, but as far as the body is concerned the marriage hasn’t taken place. Our physical bodies are down here and His is up there (2 Cor. 5:6-8). It can’t be explained. We are supposed to believe it. Paul said, “This is a great mystery” (Eph. 5:32).
4. The Restoration of Israel
Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
This mystery deals with the restoration of Israel. The mystery is that God is not through with Israel. And even though God may look like He’s through with Israel, He’s not! Someday God is going to take the Jews and bring them back to Palestine (He did that in 1948), and after the Jews have been reduced down to about four or five hundred people, God is going to get them saved in the Tribulation and convert them to Jesus Christ. That’s the mystery of the believing remnant of Israel which is going to turn to God. Romans 11:28-29 says that “as concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” This means that we should love the Jews. Yes, some Jews out in the world are unlovable characters. It doesn’t matter what you think of them, you’ve got to love Israel and take care of it. If you don’t, the Lord will fix you. In Christ “There is neither Jew nor Greek” (Gal. 3:28). When a Jew gets converted, he’s no longer a “Jew.” He’s a Christian.
5. The Mystery of Babylon the Great
Revelation 17:5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
Revelation 17:18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
She is a woman out in the wilderness seated on a beast. The beast has seven heads and ten horns. This is a “mystery.” It is something you’re supposed to believe, but you can’t explain.
The woman is a city that reigns over the kings of the earth. She has a golden cup in her hand full of abominations (Rev. 17:4). And, she is arrayed in purple and scarlet. There is only one city that is built on seven mountains (v. 9), that reigns over the kings of the earth, whose symbol is a golden cup: ROME. The Lord said that that city was a whore (v. 1). She’s a prostitute who sells herself for money. She has such influence that she runs the kings of this earth. She will sell out what she believes and what she professes in order to get along with the world. She’ll let her own priests get killed in Africa if she can get control of Africa. She might even get in a black pope.
6. Mystery of Iniquity
2 Thessalonians 2:3-8 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
The mystery of iniquity is the mystery of the Antichrist. His number is 666. He has a sign: it’s a kiss. He has a salute: its two fingers. He has a letter: it’s an X. And he has a name, a religion , a face, and a mark. There’s more information in the Bible on him than there is on any other man in the Bible outside of Jesus Christ Himself. He’s the Antichrist.
7. The Rapture
1 Corinthians 15:51-55 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The final mystery is the Rapture. It is the disappearance of the Body of Christ in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. There are two kinds of people. Those who are alive when the Lord comes are to be caught up without dying. Those that are dead will be pulled up out of the ground. If you’re mortal, you’ll be caught up without dying and put on immortality. If you’re dead and buried when the Lord comes back, then you’re down in the ground rotting and you’re corruptible, and you come out of the grave and put on incorruption. The ones that are buried can’t stay in the ground. The live man goes up without dying; and the dead man goes up, and the grave can’t keep him down.
Religious freedom is not what it once was. Things have turned upside down in the world today. In Oklahoma, the Satanist are constructing a statue of Satan to be displayed in the capital rotunda because they claim religious freedom. This is their response to Oklahoma allowing the Ten Commandments to be displayed there a year ago. Some may see this as a victory for religious freedom, but it is not. There is a point where “freedom” crosses a line and becomes a state of chaos, even if it is religious freedom. If “religious freedom” is united under one religion, then there can be true freedom, but if it is divided unto multiple religions, then the product will be chaos. This is what we have in the world today.
From where do these multiple causes come? They come from a multitude of people each demanding their own rights for religious freedom in a confrontational way. There is no peaceful acceptance of others. It becomes a competition to see who can be the most right (free). As the competition progresses, each group tramples on the freedoms of others because that is the nature of the competition. There can be no true religious freedom as long as religions differ. This is why the anti-Christ will unite everyone under a “one world religion.”
Christians however, understand they have no rights and therefore claim no religious freedom. They understand that, because of sin, they deserve to endure the calamities of hell for eternity. This is why they are so grateful for the mercy they receive at the hands of Jesus Christ. Therefore, true believers are seldom involved in the zeal of the competitive battle. Each moment of life to a Bible Believer is one more opportunity to serve their King; to show Him how much they appreciate Him. As the world fights for dominance, Christians enjoy being dominated by King Jesus because they know that He loves them. How would it be in the world today if the leaders of countries actually and truly loved those whom they govern? I guess it is not worth contemplating, because this will never happen. They say they love the people; are for the people, but they are not. Nary has one of them ever died for the people like Jesus has. Nor have they ever taken upon themselves all of the sins of their people.
So the Satanist build their statue and claim religious freedom. Likewise, the Atheist display their blasphemous alternative to God’s Ten Commandments. The Muslims build their Mosques. But Jesus builds His temple right inside the deep recesses of the heart of man. In the heart of man is where true religious freedom resides. About this world He says, “My kingdom is not of this world…” (John 18:36).
Merry Christmas! Every year, people all over the world get ready for Christmas by putting up a Tree and decorating it. They buy presents and wrap them in pretty papers and put them under their Christmas Tree. But, do you know why Christmas is celebrated and what the Tree and the presents mean? Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s take a closer look at His story.
A long time ago, an angel appeared to a virgin named Mary in the land Israel. Luke 1:30-32 “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest…” At the birth of the Son of God, a star shone above where He lay for all to see. A star is put on the top of the Tree to represent this majestic star. Some wise men from the East followed this star to where the Son of God lay. Matthew 2:9-11 “…and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was…And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him…” God had a special plan for His Son, who left His royal throne in heaven to become man in order to bring salvation to all men.
The colors on the Tree have special meaning which tell His story:
- White represents Jesus’ purity and sinlessness because only the Son of God was born without a sinful nature.
- Black represents sin which brings death. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death…” Every man is a sinner by nature, so without intervention, everyone will die and go to Hell.
- Orange is the color that represents the torturing fires of Hell.
- Red represents the blood of the Lord Jesus. The shedding of blood is the only payment for sin, and only the pure blood of the Son of God could pay the sin debt for all mankind.
- The brown branches on the Tree represent the tree upon which Jesus was crucified. After His death, His body was placed in a tomb and sealed. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “…that Christ died for our sins …And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day…” On the third day, Jesus Christ rose victorious over sin and death. By rising from the dead, He conquered death that He might give life.
- The green branches of the Tree represent life. Because Jesus now lives, so can we. What is the gift that God offers to man? Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The gift which God offers us is life, which we can receive through Jesus Christ.
- The gifts under the Tree represent the precious GIFT which Jesus extends to all. If we accept the gift of eternal life, we will live with the Lord Jesus in heaven forever.
- Yellow is the color on the Tree that represents heaven.
What about YOU? You and I and every person in the world are sinners by nature. Sin causes death which means that without intervention, you will die and go to Hell. However, the good news is that the Lord Jesus paid the price for your sin and now offers YOU the gift of life, which is known as salvation! You can be saved from your sins! Will you accept the gift? What a great tragedy it would be for you to choose to spend eternity in Hell separated from the Lord Jesus who paid such a high price for you!
If you are serious about receiving God’s gift, then you can tell God directly by praying a prayer like this one to Him and He will save you:
Dear God, I see that Your Son the Lord Jesus Christ has paid a high price for me. I’m a sinner on my way to Hell. I don’t deserve Your gift, but I ask You to save me. Thank You, God, for saving me. Amen.
I was once a slave.
I was once a slave. Not in the sense that I was owned by any human master, but in the sense that I was a slave to vices that submitted to. The common masters of the human soul today are sex, drugs and booze. These things all draw you back to them. When we cling to them, they gain control bit by bit. Little by little they own us until we are completely taken in by their powerful draw. Then, the chains of addiction bind us until we cease to have any choice in how we live. We are hooked. We are owned.
In the USA where slavery was once an issue that divided the nation, it is no wonder we are sensitive to the word. Yet, we do not think it slavery to be enslaved by terrible, and deceitful vices? People have sold themselves into bondage for a little good feeling today. In doing so, they disregard any thoughts for the future. They would rather feel good for the moment at the expense of others future. Listen to the story of the present day slave and his liberation…
When I was on the auction block, naked and in chains, my thoughts ran wildly from anger to fear to humility and back again. Angered because selling one human being to another was wrong. But it was really no different than selling myself to a life enslaved to wicked vices. Fear because I was totally exposed to everyone. Being naked, there was nothing to hide behind. Humbled because there was nothing I could do to change anything. I was the lowest of all human beings; being bid on by the various slave owners looking for “new stock” to work their fields and breed their females.
I was poked, prodded and examined. Fingers picked through my hair and my mouth was pried open to expose my teeth for inspection. Finally it came time for the bidding to begin. I dreaded this, but my fears soared when no one bid on me. The auctioneer kept trying to persuade people to bid on me, but no one did. Amidst all of my shame, the worst, and most humiliating thing I had ever experienced was when I came to realize that I was unwanted by anyone. Didn’t I have any worth to anyone? Surely I was valuable for something. If no one bought me, what would be my end? Would I be put out to pasture?
The thoughts were interrupted when, when to the surprise of all present, I heard a voice say, “I’ll take him.” It was crowded, but when I looked in the direction of the sound of the voice, I saw a common man making the only bid for me. Encouraged by the bid for me, the auctioneer was renewed with enthusiasm to increase the bid and get more people involved. It was to no avail. No one else wanted me. The auctioneer had worked himself up into a sweat, but no one would make a bid for me.
“He’s yours,” the auctioneer told the man.
“Take off his chains. You can have them. I won’t need them.”
“He might be wild and attack you. You never can tell with these kind of people.”
I had never remembered a time in my life when I didn’t wear chains. It was strange and liberating. The weight of the chains literally lifted from me. I wondered why I had been treated this way. What was the catch? Surely nothing good was going to come from this. “Come with me,” my new master told me. I got down off the block and followed the customary 3 steps behind him. I didn’t mind being totally naked because it meant the chains I wore all of my life were gratefully gone.
We arrived at the bath house where my master told them he wanted me cleaned proper. That meant he wanted my beard trimmed, hair cut, nails and feet cleaned and scrubbed. I had never been cleaned this way before. As I wondered at the four people working on me, I realized that, in fact, I had never even been clean before. It was fresh and new. I knew then that I wanted to stay clean forever. “Please follow me,” my master asked more than demanded.
Out into the street once again this time brought a tingling of envy on my part. I knew I was naked, but I was clean. The chains were gone and I was clean. Into the clothing store he led me where he told the clerk, “Put on him the best suit of clothes you have in the house. Money is no object. I want him to have the best.”
I was being measured and prodded. Pins and needles and markers were all about me. Finally they brought out the clothes they had made for me. I had never had clothes like this before. The silk ran softly across my clean cool skin. There were no restrictions in movement anywhere. The best thing was—the color was blue.
I appreciated the coincidence of making my first new suit of clothing out of my favorite color–blue. This very thought was overwhelming as I had began the day as a slave, the lowest of low, being sold on an auction block where, nobody wanted me. I was totally worthless. Now I was standing on the street, unshackled, clean with a new suit of clothes made in my very favorite color.
All of this was new to me. I still could not comprehend it. There was a tint of joy mixed with cautious apprehension as my appreciation for my owner grew.
“Have you eaten today?” he asked. I had not, but I hesitated to tell him so. He had already done so much for me and I didn’t deserve any of it. How could I take him for granted? “Come on, you can tell me if you’ve eaten or not.” he coaxed.
As was the custom of slaves, I dare not look him in the eyes. I safely stared at the ground when he addressed me. I stammered, not knowing how to answer him. His rugged hands touched me under the chin and raised my head up. “You can look me in the eyes.”
Looking in his eyes, I could see something that I had not seen since I was a child. I first saw it from my mother. It was the look of deep compassion coupled with sincere concern. It was the look of someone who cared about me as a person and not an object. It enveloped a kind of friendship, but I could not accept that my master could ever be my friend. Those eyes looked deep into my soul in such a way that I knew everything about me was revealed. It was as if my whole life was laid out before Him there on that street.
My life did not have much true joy in it. It was filled with pain and suffering; things that I did not want to share with anyone because I did not want to confront them again. There were things that I put in a hidden compartment of my mind because the only thing I could do to overcome them was to bury them deep into the compartment of distant memory. His gaze seemed to open up all of those hidden compartments of my life and not only see the pain, but experience it himself. I was not really sure, but I think I saw a tear well up in the corners of his eyes as he said, “come on, lets get you a meal.”
Off we went down the street. Because he wanted to walk with me, it was impossible to walk three steps behind him. The slower he went, the slower I went until he beckoned me to walk with him. I was very uncomfortable with this because I knew people were looking at Him with disgust because of the way he treated me. their comments were not nice. They threw at him words that contained a terrible, hateful message. These were the kind of words I was accustomed to hearing, but he did not deserve anything like this. He was being punished for compassion and it made me feel defensive of him. I did not know this new master very well, but at least I knew I was His, and I didn’t like what they were doing to him.
We arrived at the boarding house with a following. The owners were not going to let me eat in the main dining hall because I was a slave. After some deliberation, we went into the back room where slaves could eat. He beckoned me to sit down, which I did. Then the biggest surprise of all was that he sat down at the table with me. The owners were trying to get him to go out into the main dining hall, but he would have none of it. “I eat with my friend”, he said with a tone of finality. “Master, you don’t have to do this,” I said. “You’ve already done too much. There is no need to embarrass yourself so.”
“It’s okay. I want to be here with you.”
“Master, I promise I will wait for you. I won’t run off.”
“I know you won’t. But I want to eat with you. I want to know you better. What’ll you have?”
“Whatever you want for me to eat Master. It’s not proper for me to choose for myself.”
“Waiter! We’ll take two of the finest steaks you have.”
When the steaks came, I looked at it without knowing what to do. He showed me how to use the knife and fork and cut it. I had never been allowed to hold a knife before. It was the first time I had ever held the cool steel in my hand. No one had ever trusted me with a knife, especially one sharp enough to cut a steak. With a little difficulty I cut the meat and put it in my mouth. The sensations were so active I could only think they were going to collapse in a type of fatigue.
Today was a day of firsts. I had never tasted meat like this before. It was the best meal I had ever had. I enjoyed it so much that I almost forgot who I was. When it was time to leave, I quickly remembered my place. As we went outside in the streets, there were people waiting to persecute my master. They didn’t like it that he ate with the slaves. They thought it showed a wrong message. They didn’t want to be held to His standards. They wanted him to digress to their standards, but my master was courageous. He stood up to them all and did the right thing.
Following him to the end of the street, the crowd thinned. this is where it happened. At the end of the street, he turned to me and told me something I will never forget. He said, “I bought you so you will never have to be in bondage again. You are free to do as you please. Here are your papers. I love you and I am sorry that you ever had to be in bondage in the first place.” I was stunned. Was I hearing correctly? Was I being set free? Did he really buy me, clean me, clothe me and feed me to set me free? I had long since lost hope of ever being free. It was so far out of reach that I had even refused to think about it. Now I was being set free by a master who loved me. I didn’t really know him, and now he was setting me free.
I hardly realized he was shaking my hand in a gesture of departure. I was trying to come to grips with my thoughts. By the time I came to myself, he had already turned and was walking away. Again I didn’t know what to do. I had no where to go. If I went back to the world, I would certainly be put in bondage again. I knew I didn’t want that, but what could I do? I had never been faced with making so many choices. I knew I couldn’t stand there forever. “Whatcha gonna do boy?”, a burly man watching with amusement asked. I was being pushed. People were beginning to surround me. It didn’t take long for the world to catch up to me and press in. They were mocking, pushing and demeaning. There was nothing I could do about it. Hands were tearing at my new set of clothing. They wanted it for themselves. They wanted me to return to my hopeless, naked, enslaved position.
It came to mind suddenly. When I had no thought of what to do, I wanted to cry out for my master, but he had gone on. If I really wanted him to be my master, why had I not followed him? I was so infatuated with my freedom, that I forgot Him. Pushing through the crowd, I went after Him. After a short time, I caught up with him. I had never wanted someone to be my master before. I had always despised those who were proud of the title. But this time was different. I knew I wanted him to be my master. “Master,” I cried. He turned to wait for me. “Can I come with you?”, I asked.
“You don’t need to. You’re free now.”
“I know. You gave me my papers.”
“You can go anywhere you want to go.”
“I know, but can I follow you? If it’s okay with you, can I be your slave?”
“I didn’t buy you because I wanted a slave. I bought you because I care.”
“I know that now. But I want to be your slave. I want to follow you. I want you to be my master.”
This is the attitude that a sinner who has been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ should have. There should be a deep desire for devotion to their master. Under grace, He has put no requirements on the sinner. The Lord bought us, cleaned us, fed us and clothed us; then He set us free. We are free to do as we wish. We can run off back to the world; we can follow selfish ambitions; or we can follow the master, not because He demands us to do so, but because we appreciate what He did for us.
Many Christians today have it all wrong. They approach a relationship with Jesus because they are looking for what He can do for them. Like those who demanded food from Jesus were disappointed when He would not give it to them (John 6:34-66), Christians today fall away when God doesn’t do exactly what they want. They are the master of the relationship instead of allowing Jesus to be the master. Yes, they may speak like He is the master, but their actions show a much different thing. They go to certain churches because they are looking for a certain: children’s program, support group, bible study, activities for the family, marriage counseling, etc. They are what is commonly know as “church shoppers.” They are looking for the perfect place where God can give them what they demand of Him. God may not ever give them what they want because it goes contrary to what He wants. He wants them to freely follow HIM!
Confused Christians have their masters. If they are not the vices of the day, they are the programs a church can offer. It is not the Creator. If He was their master, they would be willing to forego the programs and sit under good Godly preaching that would help them. Preaching that would show them where they are right as well as show them where they are wrong. They would not let personalities in the church dictate their attendance. They would not care if someone said something bad about them or not. They would only care about following the Saviour who rightfully bought them, cleaned them up, clothed them, fed them and set them free. They would give up their freedom for a devoted life of following Him no matter how difficult it would be.
I would that every Christian reading this article would be able to say, “I am glad to be His happy slave.” Why? Because He doesn’t demand it.~
I was pleased and overjoyed when God’s people go out on the streets preaching His Word. I know that this really makes the Devil mad. He would like nothing better than to discourage the entire church from doing anything for the Lord, AND he knows that the best time to do that is now.
It is so easy to just go to church and receive all of the blessings of God, and not really do anything to get people saved. It takes a real love for the Lord to transcend from being a “taker” being a “giver” of the blessings of God. Jesus said, “if ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). It takes a love for Jesus to do what He says and the final thing He told us to do before ascending into heaven was, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:” If we are not actively engaged in trying to get people saved, then we are not following His commandment, and our love for Him should come under evaluation to see if it is appropriate.
I know that it encourages me to see others love the Lord so much so that they are really out there on the front lines doing something for Him. Likewise, I know that it discourages me to see people doing nothing for the Lord. I know one may say, “Well, I teach a Sunday school class. Isn’t that doing something for the Lord?” True, it is doing something for the Lord, but is it doing what He has commanded all Christians to do? Is it what He wrote down in His Word? Another might say, “Well, I have a family so I know that I already have a ministry; my first ministry is to my family and If I don’t take care of them, I am worse than an infidel. Isn’t that doing something for the Lord?” True, it is doing something for the Lord and He has made that clear in His Word that we are to take care of our family, but is that doing what he commanded regarding getting people saved?
I know that it is easy to get distracted with the cares and burdens of life. There is always something to do; some sickness to deal with; some appointment to keep. All of these things are necessary, but we must be careful to not get out of balance and one day find out we have replaced them for the endeavor of getting people saved. Why? Because people are watching.
Everyone is watching our lives to see how a Christian is supposed to act; what they are supposed to be doing. Our children are scrutinizing our life and learning by our actions how they are to approach living for the Lord. For example: are they learning that going to church is something you show up “just on time” for, or even show up late? Do they see you show up late for work? For appointments with the world? This is not to say that such things are not important, but what message are they getting when they compare those things of the world you are involved in with your relationship to God’s things? Do they see you staying up all night to prepare for work, but “throwing together” something to teach in the House of the Living God? What message do we think they might get? Perhaps you are more vocal and straightforward with your attack upon God’s work by gossiping; running down the church or badmouthing the preacher or other Christians with your mouth (James 1:26; 3:5, 6, 8). You are not doing anything to help God’s cause. You are intentionally hurting God’s cause and discouraging your brothers and sisters as well. Jesus said, “He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth” (Luke 11:23). I would certainly not want to find myself in that situation. If I did, I would repent of that quickly.
It has been said that we cannot see the forest for the trees, likewise we cannot really see what message we are portraying by our actions because we are too close to the situation. But, others are seeing the situation of our “life message” from a much greater vantage point. They can “see the forest.”
Doing wrong things certainly preaches a message about how we really feel about something, but there is something more damaging: that is when we don’t do something right. Usually people think that: “if I just don’t do anything to hurt the cause, then I will be okay.” But, this is not true.
Doing something you choose to do can be even more destructive than doing nothing at all, for it may border on the line of hypocritical. That is to say, people may think that you are doing just fine, when all the time you are still not doing what the Lord commanded. You certainly don’t look like you are against the Lord, you look like you are doing what God said when all the time you are doing nothing. The message this preaches is: “How to look like you are doing what you should be doing, but not do it.” The Christian who is not doing anything to witness or get people saved, is undermining the Lord’s work because of his/her inconsistency. If they were actively witnessing (passing out tracts, holding signs, coming to visitation, etc), they would be inspiring and teaching others how a New Testament Saint is supposed to be acting. This is very important, especially in this Laodicean age in which the entire world is void of true gospel witnesses.
Maybe it has been so long since you passed out a tract that you have become frightened. Most people reason this down to one of the most popular lies of the Devil: “I don’t want to offend anyone.” How offended do you think they would feel at the Great White Throne Judgment being dragged away by the angels to be thrown into the Lake of fire as you watch on, knowing that you could have at least done something to give them a chance. I know I would wish you did something for me. In fact, I am glad that someone did do something for me.
Sometimes the Devil convinces us that we just need to wait for the right moment; the right opportunity. This is such a damaging lie that it is not even worth contemplating for the Child of God who loves His father. God said, “…now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2). Today is the day to tell someone about Jesus. Now is the time to say something to your friend.
Instead of offending somebody, we should be thinking about offending the Lord. He certainly would think highly of us if we were at least trying to get someone saved. Inversely, how do you think He feels about us when we are doing nothing? How will we really be able to stand before Him one day and give accounting for why we didn’t do what we were supposed to do? Will it not be a question of love?
I know that most people feel inside that they would like to do something for the Lord. In fact, they know that they should be witnessing, but they just don’t do it. It becomes like so many “ruts” we experience in our lives when we get to that stage. I would like to say I sympathize, but I really cannot, because I don’t want to endorse not doing what we should be doing. Like giving advice to a smoker who is trying to quit; I don’t really want to tell them “its okay” because I don’t want them to give up trying.
So, while the Devil gets mad and tries to keep us in our “rut,” the only way out is to “JUST DO IT!” The only way to change this situation is to just begin witnessing. You can write a letter to a stranger, send them a tract, give a word of testimony outside the church, or hold up a Scripture sign. There are many ways to “get onboard.” Best of all is to come to the visitation time on Saturday mornings, even if it is just for a little bit. You know there is strength in numbers, and if kids can do it, then we can too. I’ll be there, and for your own spiritual health, I pray you will be there too!
There are so many taxes that the people are reluctant to hear the word again. So, if there is to be any more “raising of taxes”, Big Brother has to do it by convincing people that they are getting something for free. Look at a few of the taxes we presently face and think about the comment at the end…
- Building Permit Tax
- CDL License Tax
- Cigarette Tax
- Corporate Income Tax
- Dog License Tax
- Federal Income Tax (Fed)
- Federal Unemployment Tax (FU TA)
- Fishing License Tax
- Food License Tax
- Fuel Permit Tax
- Gasoline Tax
- Hunting License Tax
- Inheritance Tax
- Inventory Tax
- IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
- IRS Penalties(tax on top of tax)
- Liquor Tax
- Luxury Tax
- Marriage License Tax
- Medicare Tax
- Property Tax
- Real Estate Tax
- Service charge taxes
- Social Security Tax
- Road Usage Tax (Truckers)
- Sales Taxes
- Recreational Vehicle Tax
- School Tax
- State Income Tax
- State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
- Telephone Federal Excise Tax
- Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
- Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax
- Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
- Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
- TelephoneState and Local Tax
- Telephone Usage Charge Tax
- Utility Tax
- Vehicle License Registration Tax
- Vehicle Sales Tax
- Watercraft Registration Tax
- Well Permit Tax
- Workers Compensation Tax
(And to think, we left British Rule to avoid so many taxes)
Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago and our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt. We had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.
2 Peter 3:16 “…as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
With the attack of the world (fueled by inspiration of the Devil) upon the church, Christians are showing wobbly backbone when the battle gets rough. With just a little goading by the devil, the yellow streak shows clear and bright. How can those who were once “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10) so easily lose their “steadfastness”? How can they change so suddenly?
In fact, the change in them (and perhaps in YOU) is not a sudden one at all. It has been happening over a long period of time. Instead of growing in GRACE, they wrest with the Scriptures and are led away by those who are unstable and unlearned in the ways of truth. Over time, they join the ranks of those who are of another Christ (1 John 2:18, 22; 2 Thess. 2:7-8; 2 John 1:7) because they were introduced to them by one of the “…many false prophets… gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Instead of growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, they grew in knowledge of the world and self. Then one day–“snap!” They were gone.
When you belong to one fellowship or church, it is either because the Lord put you there or you put yourself there. If you are following the Lord and are true servant of the Lord, no matter what, you will obey the Lord’s decision for the rest of your life. If you are listening to self, or are lusting after the worlds temporary enlightenment, then you will bounce around from place to place looking for fulfillment of self.
In the Lord, there is no variableness (James 1:13). In fact there is not even a shadow of changing in Him; He does not change His mind. Any change of mind indicates that He was wrong and is now changing to be right, or He was right and is now changing to be wrong; or He is wrong and is now changing to another wrong. But you can never be right and change to be right. Right is right. Since God never makes any mistakes, everything He calls for is right. The problem is when people attempt to interpret God’s calling for their life and bring with the interpretation their selfish desires and nuances. When they do, they try to work it out that God’s calling for their life lines up with what THEY WANT instead of accepting what they know GOD WANTS for them. This way, self can get what it wants and justify it because they reason (and claim) that God is calling them this way. They join the ranks of the many “anti-Christ’s” on the scene today. “Preacher! Isn’t calling them anti-Christ’s a little harsh?” Well, when we go against God’s will for our life, we are “anti” to His plan. Since His plan is Christ: To love Him and obey Him; then to listen to self is to be against Him.
Since God put you in a fellowship of believers, it is not up to you to “feel” like you are a “hand” when everyone else in the fellowship is a “foot.” This is reasoning your selfish desire to gain acceptance with God and it will not work. You may rejoice initially, but that is just self being happy that you are listening to and feeding it. It won’t take long for the Holy Spirit of God to begin working on you or those around you; doing whatever it takes to get your attention so He can, “Reason together” (Isa. 1:8) with you. God is not unreasonable. He doesn’t satisfy self–He reasons with truth.
“But this doesn’t adequately explain the sudden change in a person. I know you said it happens slowly, but how?”
When you are a member of one church, but go outside of your church to other churches or para-churches for fulfillment in so-called “Christian activities” of interest, you are opening yourself up to follow self instead of obey God. This is a difficult thing for people to do: OBEY! Especially for the generation of young Christians today; they don’t like being told to obey. The world has successfully indoctrinated them with the “free willed philosophy” of self.
Little by little, as they learn a little about this church here; a little there; a jot here; a tittle there; the doctrine from the church which God placed them becomes diluted until it becomes totally unimportant. Oh, they say it is important, but the fact that they leave because they “FEEL” that GOD is moving them, betrays this line of thinking. Leaving, especially by clandestine means, speaks loudly against supporting what they say God is doing in them, because even the smallest babe in Christ knows God would not do something so foolish. They are led away with the error of the wicked until they fall from their own steadfastness. They are not steady nor are they fastened. They become shaky and loose; so much so that they one day are gone.
“How do I keep this from happening to me?”
First, you don’t get involved in activities from other churches or the world. If your church does not have an activity that you are interested in, then start one. If you cannot get enough people involved to successfully start one, then perhaps God is saying I have something else for you to do right now; something else that I wish to teach you; something else I want to develop in you at this moment. In other words, accept what God has for you and pray and ask Him for the other.
Second, Find comfort in growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord (vs. 18). In everything, God wants you to grow in two things: grace and knowledge. If these two things don’t “turn you on” then perhaps you don’t understand what they are. If grace and knowledge sound boring to you, then perhaps you have never delved into the wonderful overwhelming power that is contained in them. If you try, but get nothing out of it, then perhaps you are not patient enough to let God work on you in His own time, perhaps you are neglecting Christ and growing in self instead.
Third, Start thinking right. Are you one of those people who live by the saying: “live life to it’s fullest?” Or do you misunderstand when someone says, “you only have one life to live” or “That’s the life” or “You only go around once in life.” For the Christian it is true that you only have one life to live, but what we go through on this earth is so miniscule that God is going to burn the whole thing up after He takes us off of it. You can NEVER, NEVER “live life to its fullest” on this earth. It is a lie from the Devil to get you to focus on self instead of God.
Finally my friends, I leave you with this thought. If God has put you someplace, He has done it for a reason. If you are unhappy there, it is not because God is not working on you. It is not because the people have changed. Its because YOU MADE A DECISION FOR YOURSELF INSTEAD OF WAITING ON GOD. ONLY YOU CAN FALL FROM YOUR OWN STEADFASTNESS!
Dearest Brethren, The end of all things is at hand. It has been for some time now. Each generation of Christians have thought the same as we do today: “How can things get much worse?” Each generation has had to deal with a turbulent and spiteful world system, while at the same time loving the souls that are captured by it. How did they do it in the past? How can we deal with this awkward and evil situation ourselves?
Well, it is safe to assume that they took comfort and instruction from the Word of God. In 1 Peter 4:7-10 we are instructed to be “…sober and watch unto prayer.” Most importantly, to “…have fervent charity among…” ourselves because charity covers a “…multitude of sins.” Furthermore, to be hospitable “…one to another without grudging…” and to take care of each other as we “minister “…as good stewards of …” “grace”.
To not get duped by this world system, we need to be sober. This deals directly with the intoxicating influence of alcohol, liquor or spirits. But too, it addresses the influence of any passion of worldly influence. In other words, it addresses keeping one’s “right mind.” You have heard it said that in any stressful situation you should not panic, to keep your wits about you? This admonition speaks to keeping a sober mind. If we do so, then we will be attentive to the sneakiness of the Devil. He is more deceptive than one can ever imagine. How can we combat this deception? How can we keep sober? We must pray. But not just any old praying.
Dealing with the deception of the Devil is like suddenly realizing we are in the middle of a field of land mines. We find ourselves in such precarious situations because we do not pay attention to where we walk. By ourselves, we can never detect the mines; they are so well hidden. So we need a mine detector to sweep the area in front of us so we can find the mines. Only then we can traverse the field safely. Our prayer to God needs to be for a mine detector of spiritual deception of the Devil. We need to ask God to show us were the mines are that can so easily trip us up.
“God please show me where the Devil is working on my life. He wants me to fall, and I cannot see His deception. Please identify them and help me to go around them so I can walk through this day for you without being a casualty.”
Charity (i.e. Love) is our combative weapon for dealing with a love stripped world system.
Love does not beat people down for their problems of failures. Love either exalts someone else or says nothing at all that would be derogatory about them.
People of the world system love too! There is no doubt about that. They were created in the image of God as well, so they too have the attributes and emotions that God has. It is just that they use them for things they are not meant to be used for. Have you ever needed a screwdriver for some household chore and couldn’t find one? I’ll bet you headed for the utensil drawer of the kitchen and picked out a butter knife to use it as a screwdriver. What happened? Did you bend the tip because the screw was too tight? Probably.
The world uses love to love self and not others. They use something God gave them for helping others for themselves. They bent the tip and ruined it.
Christians need not “bend the tip.” Loving one another is the only combative weapon that Christians have to fight back against this world system.
How is it so effective in fighting the world system? It covers the multitude of sins. It looks beyond peoples faults. You say, “But he/she does things wrong.” Yes, you will notice the faults of others. We all do that. But love is when we know someone’s faults, but we choose to ignore it. We choose to not bring it up. We choose to not make a big deal about it. That is love. That is how Christians treat each other, especially during these last days. We have enough enemies. There are enough people in the world telling us to love self, pointing out our faults and directing/establishing blame. With love, we don’t need any of that.
This is where “grudging” or begrudging comes in. There are enough people in our lives that hold grudges. “Grudging” is: being uneasy at another’s possession of something which we have a desire to possess. Somebody else has something and we want it. That is holding a grudge. This can be with a physical object (new car, tv, dress, etc.) as well as prestige, honor or focus. When someone gets special favor and you don’t, that is grudging. Why does he/she get attention and I don’t? Usually, we won’t say it out loud to someone because we are afraid of sounding petty or immature. But we should not even think it for even one second, and if we do, we should shake that thought out of our head immediately. That is called love. That is thinking better of our brother or sister and rejoicing in their blessing. This is how we minister to one another—LOVE.
With this type of living, all of our Christian ancestors have survived under difficult circumstances. In fact, the trials for some was death, torture and degradation. Yet they still loved. Why? They did so to cope with the difficulties they experienced. After all, what kind of life would you have if all you ever did was begrudging and hating your entire life?
So, let us be sober and watch unto prayer. Lets look for ways to love each other and the community in which we live. What can we do in the life of another person that can make their journey along the pathway of this life a little easier? Then, let us turn it into a fervent love so we can cover sin. Sin does not need to be exposed and exalted. It needs to be disdained and covered over with the blood of the Lamb. Lets have a little grace. With grace we can minister to each other. The primary ones to “hold up” are those of our own church first. It is no good to help other Christians while overlooking those of our own family. In this we are “…stewards of the manifold grace of God.” ~Pastor
(Men Are From Sears, Women Are From Nordstrom)
I believe that, in general, women are saner than men. For example, If you see people who have paid good money to stand in an outdoor stadium on a freezing December day wearing nothing on the upper halves of their bodies except paint, those people will be male.
Without males, there would be no such sport as professional lawn mower racing. Also, there would be a 100 decline in the annual number of deaths related to efforts to shoot beer cans off of heads. Also, if women were in charge of all the world’s nations, there would be, I sincerely believe this, virtually no military conflicts, and if there were a military conflict, everybody involved would feel just awful and there would soon be a high- level exchange of thoughtful notes written on greeting cards with flowers on the front, followed by a Peace Luncheon (which would be salads, with the dressing on the side).
So I sincerely believe that women are wiser than men, with the exception of one key area, and that area is: clothing sizes. In this particular area, women are insane.
When a man shops for clothes, his primary objective is to purchase clothes that fit on his particular body. A man will try on a pair of pants, and if those pants are too small, he’ll try on a larger pair, and when he finds a pair that fits, he buys them. Most men do not spend a lot of time fretting about the size of their pants. Many men wear jeans with the size printed right on the back label, so that if you’re standing behind a man in a supermarket line, you can read his waist and inseam size. A man could have, say, a 52-inch waist and a 30-inch inseam, and his label will proudly display this information, which is basically the same thing as having a sign that says: “Howdy! My butt is the size of a Federal Express truck!” The situation is very different with women.
When a woman shops for clothes, her primary objective is NOT to find clothes that fit her particular body. She would like for that to be the case, but her primary objective is to purchase clothes that are the size she wore when she was 19 years old. This will be some arbitrary number such as “5” or “7.” Don’t ask me “5” or “7” of what; that question has baffled scientists for centuries. All I know is that if a woman was a size 5 at age 19, she wants to be a size 5 now, and if a size 5 outfit does not fit her, she will not move on to a larger size: She can’t! Her size is 5! So she will keep trying on size 5 items, and unless they start fitting her, she will become extremely unhappy.
She may take this unhappiness out on her husband, who is waiting patiently in the mall, perhaps browsing in the Sharper Image store, trying to think of how he could justify purchasing a pair of night-vision binoculars. “Hi!” he’ll say, when his wife finds him. “You know how sometimes the electricity goes out at night and…” “Am I fat?” she’ll ask, cutting him off. This is a very bad situation for the man, because if he answers “yes,” she’ll be angry because he’s saying that she’s fat, and if he answers “no,” she’ll be angry because HE’S OBVIOUSLY LYING BECAUSE NONE OF THE SIZE 5’s FIT HER.
There is no escape for the husband. I think a lot of unexplained disappearances occur because guys in malls see their wives unsuccessfully trying on outfits, and they realize their lives will be easier if, before their wives come out and demand to know whether they’re fat, the guys just run off and join a UFO cult.
The other day my wife, Michelle, was in a terrific mood, and you know why? Because she had successfully put on a size 6 outfit. She said this made her feel wonderful. She said, and this is a direct quote: “I wouldn’t care if these pants were this big (here she held her arms far apart) as long as they have a ‘6’ on them.”
Here’s how you could get rich: Start a women’s clothing store called “SIZE 2,” in which all garments, including those that were originally intended to be restaurant awnings, had labels with the words “SIZE 2.” I bet you’d sell clothes like crazy. You’d probably get rich, and you could retire, maybe take up some philanthropic activity to benefit humanity. I’m thinking here of professional lawn mower racing.
We do not live in a perfect world. This is very unfortunate for all of us. It would be wonderful if everything we tried to do was easy. But unfortunately it is not. It is difficult to find the right mate to create a family with. It is difficult to bare and rear children. It is difficult to make ends meet, to struggle in the never ending pursuit of money just so that we can pay our bills, put enough food on the table for our families and to be able to have a little bit to do something fun once in a while. Life certainly is not easy the world presses in on us with all sorts of external pressures that want us to fall not only physically but spiritually and mentally as well. There are pressures in relationships, pressures about finances, pressures about health, and pressures about being able to compete and keep up with the Jones–so to speak. However all of these pursuits are pursuits that are going to one day vanish in the wind and mean absolutely nothing. As a Christian I am sure that you know as well as I do that only the things that we do spiritually for God are what remains. All other endeavors are simply to take care of the immediate needs of our lives, and they will all one day, as a vapor, vanish in the wind floating softly out into nothingness, and they will mean absolutely nothing. They will neither be a repulsive smell unto the Lord or a sweet smelling savor unto him. They will mean nothing.
With that in mind I would like to challenge each and every one of you today to try to remember that we are all in the same boat. We all have the same difficulties, we all have the same problems, and we are all struggling with one thing or another. It doesn’t matter what it is we are struggling with, we are still all struggling. Each and every one of us know how difficult it is. We know it is difficult to deal with life, we know it is difficult to deal with the world, difficult to deal with self, we know it is difficult to deal with the future; especially when we know it is certainly holding for us nothing more promising than pain, distraught and trouble. I mean we know that we call it the uncertain future but it is really not uncertain. Men only perceive that it is uncertain but it is not.
Because we are all in the same boat, we ought to be hand in hand, interlocking arms, intertwined, supporting each other, helping each other, holding each other up in prayer. We ought to be tolerant of each other because we know that the trouble that we have others have as well. Unfortunately this does not always work and it doesn’t work because there is that silly thing that always comes into the picture called pride. Pride is when we are more interested in our self than we are in someone else. At times I might be able to say that there could be great justification for that, because it is wearisome to have someone constantly knit picking you. It is wearisome to have someone constantly comparing themselves to you or to demanding their rights based on their standards and trying to place that upon you. It is wearisome trying to obey the laws of the land and then when you travel into another country for example the laws are much different so you have a whole new set of things to learn. When you travel back you find that in your own country laws have changed. So it is hard to keep up with the times in such a dynamic world and dynamic place where things are changing all the time.
But let me comfort you with this, God’s word never changes despite what the world does to attack it and make it seem like it is constantly in motion, evolving toward temporary situations that are not true. There are the basic elements of man that never change. There is always going to be jealousy, there is always going to be pleasure, there is always going to be sin, there is always going to be envy, there is always going to be strife and so on and so forth. All of these things may take different forms as we deal with different people or different cultures or different times even, but the basic tendon’s of those things never change. As Christians we need to not live on the surface where things are changing and sand is shifting all the time. We need to do what the Bible calls stand on the rock, where we know that these things never change and that envy is envy whether it was for a chariot of old or for a BMW of contemporary times or maybe some space vehicle in the future. Who knows? But envy is still envy. It is a human nature that makes up what we call sin. Love will never change it is always going to be love. We may change our approach toward it but it is still there.
Now why is it that many Christians are wrapped up in the surface issues of life and the changing demands of time? I believe it is because they have not yet learned to be content in whatsoever state they are in as the apostle Paul said. Once you become content then those things don’t really upset you. You don’t need a whole bunch of surface things in your life to make you feel good about yourself or give you something where by you can judge yourself to see how you are doing in life or not. You know it all comes down to this one little statement. The statement that my mother always said as we were growing up, I don’t know if she realized it had such a Godly principle or not, but here it is: “Que sira sira”. Spanish for meaning: whatever will be will be. We are not going to change the avalanche of fate over-running this world. We can either go along with the flow; not meaning go along with the world, but go along with what God brings into our life, and look at it that way or we can allow it to bowl us over. It will either do one or the other. Now what will it be? In China they had a phrase called “Mei guan xi”. It means, “it doesn’t matter”. They would say that about everything, “it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter”. That is because when they’ve lived in such a poor state all of their lives, barely having a shack to live in with dirt floors. They were completely filled with joy just to have more from their harvest than they would need to be able to last them all through the winter. When they did, they were happy to share it with others. When you get to that state, things do not really matter too much. You learn to live within the state that God has you in.
So why don’t we pick up our boot straps and look at the world like this? Mei guan xi. That is not to say stick your head in the sand. It is not to pridefully shrug your shoulders and say it doesn’t matter, as if you don’t care. You should care but you should not let it upset you. Let things just go their course.
I have found out though my life that things just seem to work out. You do not have to get all upset about things. I use to get upset about many things, little things, stupid things, dumb things. Now that I have been thinking about this perhaps it is just that people get some kind of emotional high off of being upset. When they feel that adrenalin set in, it sparks anger or interest in their life and they feed off of it. Have you ever see two people argue and they just won’t let it go? They always have to “one up” the other person. You look at it from a distance and you say, “Why don’t they just give up? What are they going to gain by it?” Many times people argue just to argue. When they are doing that, they win an argument and walk away saying I won! But what does that mean? It means absolutely nothing. Mei guan xi, it doesn’t matter.
God said the principle thing is love. Love is letting the other person be right. Love is not letting your anger boil to the surface. When you feel it coming you just realize it and you side step the pitfall that will waste all of your energy and allow you to end up at the bottom of a big hole somewhere with every body looking down on you, and you feeling ashamed of yourself. Of course you will be able to walk away with pride, holding up your head saying, “I won.” But, what does it mean? It means nothing if the outcome doesn’t have some positive result. What is it worth?
I remember a time when a friend of mine went out to eat with his wife. He didn’t have much money so he took her to Subway. A third man walked in the door. He was all upset and was making a big scene, being angry, yelling at the girl behind the counter about his sandwich. Finally she had served him and he was leaving and as he was leaving my friend with his back to him the whole time didn’t know anything about what was going on but his wife could see it all. She kind of snickered, a slight snicker, slight smile thinking my goodness people sure are terrible. The guy picked up on that and he ran over and grabbed my friend by the shoulder and said you think that is funny? My friend was just shocked; he didn’t know what was going on. The guy turned around and punched him in the face. My friend was sitting there happily eating his sandwich one moment and the next moment laying there in the seat on the bench with a big shiner. Well the guy got all angry and he turned around and went to go out the door and as he went he flung the door open toward himself, and as he went storming out he hit his head on the door and gave himself a shiner. Walked out and got in his car real angry because he beat himself up with the door. Now what did it all accomplish? Not a thing. Probably made him feel better about himself and got down the road a little ways and thought that was a dumb thing to do. Maybe his pride was so strong that it just didn’t allow him to think it was a dumb thing to do. But guess what! It was a dumb thing to do.
We’re all in the same boat concerning love too! People need to love each other. They need to have a little patience, and give things a little time. Now there are those situations where it doesn’t matter how much you love someone, or how patient you are with them, people pick up on your love as a weakness and they begin to dominate you. You feel completely helpless in a situation like that. You think I can either fight back or I can just get out of the situation. My friend that is the best advice. Limit your time, distance and shielding. My mother said time heals all wounds. She was right about that. I have learned that if you keep distance you end up shielding yourself from the effects that cause you to want to fall and stumble for the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes you have to stay away from things. For example, it is not good for a diabetic to go into a candy store. Why tempt yourself on something you know is going to end up making you fall.
So I encourage you all lend a helping hand to each other, be patient to everyone and if you can’t and it ends up dragging you down, don’t go in the candy store. Shield yourself. Things will work out in the end. People have to be people and people have to learn to deal with each other for Jesus Christ. We’re all in the same boat!
Jim Rigby (a proclaimed preacher) posted on Facebook the Ten Things I wish the church knew about homosexuality. His very questions display his ignorance of the Bible and the subject for which he claims to be an authority. So that his teachings (and the teachings of others like him) do not infect innocent and ignorant minds, I have responded to his teachings below:
1. If Jesus did not mention a subject, it cannot be essential to his teachings. WRONG—You should read your Bible. Jesus as the son of God is the author of the entire Bible and He mentions much about the sin of homosexuality.
2. You are not being persecuted when prevented from persecuting others. YOU are being persecuted when others are NOT PREVENTED from persecuting YOU. SO, it depends on who is on the RIGHT SIDE and God’s side is always right for He is your CREATOR.
3. Truth isn’t like wine that gets better with age. It’s more like manna you must recognize wherever you are and whoever you are with. WRONG—Truth is truth no matter who you are with or wherever you are. It is not relative to your opinion or position.
4. You cannot call it “special rights” when someone asks for the same rights you have. WRONG—It is “special rights” when their rights oppose or conflict the rights of truth.
5. It is no longer your personal religious view if you’re bothering someone else. WRONG—Your personal religious view is your personal religious view no matter who is bothered by it. AND, if it is based on “truth” then it really doesn’t matter what your view is or not. It only matters what the truth is.
6. Marriage is a civil ceremony, which means it’s a civil right. WRONG—marriage is a command given to humans by their Creator who designed humans to fulfill that command. It is not a right whatsoever.
7. If how someone stimulates the pubic nerve has become the needle to your moral compass, you are the one who is lost. WRONG—If your moral compass offends the A-moral, then you are on the right track.
8. To condemn homosexuality, you must use parts of the Bible you don’t yourself obey. Anyone who obeyed every part of Leviticus would rightly be put in prison. WRONG—If man had obeyed the Books of Leviticus all along instead of swaying from it, then it would be the standard of living now. (Note: regarding homosexuality, the book of Leviticus (written to the Levite Priests) is not the only book in the Bible condemning homosexuality. There are the books of Genesis, Exodus, Proverbs, Psalms, Romans, etc.). Also, Jesus does not hate the homosexual, He hates homosexuality. Jesus loves the people of the world and died for them so they could have forgiveness of their sins and a means of overcoming them.
9. If we do not do the right thing in our day, our grandchildren will look at us with same embarrassment we look at racist grandparents. WRONG—It is never permissible to do the wrong thing based on how our grandchildren will look at us. If they were taught right, they would have hero’s instead of villans.
10. When Jesus forbade judging, that included you. WRONG—Jesus did not forbid judging. In fact He command us to judge the righteous judgment (Isa. 1:17; John 7:24) just as He gave us example in doing (John 5:30; 16:11)
Right, wrong, or indifferent, he obviously has no idea about what the Bible says about the subject.
Attitude makes the difference. You CAN memorize. You have memorized names, dates, addresses and phone numbers. In learning verses you have the help of the Holy Spirit to “guide you into all truth.” You “can do all things through Christ, which strengthens you” (Phil 4:13). He will empower you to learn as you ask Him
Now begin in this manner. After a verse is selected, read it in the Bible in context. Reading the chapter around the verse is best. It helps you understand the verse meaning. Read the verse thoughtfully several times aloud. Then begin learning the verse in this order: say the topic, then the verse reference, then the first phrase of the verse. Stop at the first punctuation mark if you like; repeat the verse reference again. Then start over; topic, reference, phrase, reference. ALWAYS beginning at the first, then adding a few more words, ending with the reference; “bit by bit” until you have the whole verse learned.
REVIEW it during the day; use spare moments. Say it at meals, when traveling, before you sleep; ask someone to check you. Visualize yourself in the verse. Repeat it daily with reference for 60 days. Use it in the ministry, or review weekly thereafter.
Pray the verse back to God. Then meditate on each verse you learn. Ask God for an experience with the verse in your life. Each verse contains something for you to know, stop doing, begin doing or share with others. The ultimate purpose through the verse is to identify with Christ in His will, know Him better and multiply His glory.
Psalm 116:17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.
Recently, when I read this verse of scripture, the Lord grabbed my attention to the phrase: “the sacrifice of thanksgiving.” I have read the Bible through several times and never noticed this phrase. I guess I assumed that it was a common phrase so there was nothing exceptionable about it. It is amazing however, to read through the Bible continually and find one nugget that you always knew existed, yet you never noticed before. “Thanksgiving of sacrifice.” I wondered what it could mean. I saying “thank you” to the Lord considered a “sacrifice?”
When I teach others how to interpret the Bible, I always emphasize reading the verse in context as well as comparing scripture with scripture (1 Cor. 2:13). Comparing Scripture with Scripture is vital to understanding everything about a given truth. The things of God are best interpreted by the words of God, and the greatest interpreter of the Bible is the Bible itself.
The phrase “sacrifice of thanksgiving” is only mentioned in 6 verses of the entire Bible:
- Leviticus 7:12 If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried.
- Leviticus 7:13 Besides the cakes, he shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offerings.
- Leviticus 22:29 And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.
- Psalm 107:22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.
- Psalm 116:17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.
- Amos 4:5 And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.
Now we know that it is appropriate to be thankful to the Lord for what He has done for us. If your heart has been touched by the Lord at all, then you are truly thankful for you know the value of the gift He has given you freely, as well as knowing the price that He had to pay to purchase it. I mean, in the shadow of such understanding, only a truly touched person could be seriously thankful. The Lord likes such thanks. He does not give us gifts because His ego is tremendous and he relishes and lives for the thanks of our hearts, but He does enjoy knowing that we are thankful, for it demonstrates our complete understanding of what He is doing for us.
Every person of old who brought an offering to God was griping internally at the obligation. It was not easy to bring unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil. It took work to make cakes mingled with oil of fine flour and fry them. You had to put some time in to make unleavened bread in the middle of the wandering in the Sinai desert. It cut into your provisions to make all of that for the sacrifice. Every one of them fretted that he had lost something by giving up their food to the Lord, and for what? It more often than not resulted in every person who put something on the altar being inwardly consumed with anger that he had to give up something he wanted for himself. They all felt needy. They all felt like victims of religious tyranny. Because of their attitudes, God was outraged that they were all so busy worshiping themselves that they cannot find place to worship Him. God wanted one thing from them: he wanted them to stop worshiping themselves.
This is why He implements a “sacrifice of thanksgiving.” This is why he says that “those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me.” They are the people who recognize that “every wild animal of the forest is [God’s].” They are the people who know that they can’t give God anything; it all belongs to him already. They are the people who thank God for all his gifts and for his provision for their every need and for the animal that they put on the altar. The people who give thanks for the sacrificial animal also give thanks for God’s sovereignty. They don’t feel they have lost something when they give God what is his already.
Jesus talked about the same thing. Jesus, God in flesh, said that people who wanted to follow him had to deny self first. In other words, they had to stop worshiping themselves and feeling like victims every time there was some inconvenience or persecution or loss.
We all do it. It comes time to put money in the offering envelope, and it is hard to let go of that money, because the credit card bill is shockingly larger than expected this month. The church asks for volunteers to help serve food to homeless people on Saturday morning, and it seems like a great imposition on the only day you can sleep in. The youth director asks if you are willing to be a chaperon for the summer youth mission project, and you think, “But I only have two weeks of vacation a year. There goes one of them.” We all think we have rights, and we think we have ownership, and we think God asks too much.
God doesn’t ask much at all. All he really asks for is integrity and honesty. He wearies of never hearing a “Thank you” when every good gift we have in life is a gift from him.
The sacrifice of thanksgiving is not a barely audible “Thank you” choked out through clenched lips by a pouting child. We give the sacrifice of thanksgiving when we pray as we are taught by Christ, the one who sacrificed himself for us on the cross, “Thy will be done.”
It seems a bit disproportionate to read the detailed Law of Moses given by God at Sinai, and then to hear God say simply through Asaph, “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me.” But there is also a refreshing, unburdening confidence that washes over my soul when I consider that God is most pleased by simple, humble gratitude.
How quickly do we begin to think that God is most pleased with our rituals, our devotions, our meetings, and our offerings. We become the givers, and He becomes the recipient. We become the benefactors, He the beneficiary. We busy ourselves and run ourselves ragged attempting to please Him through activity and efficiency, sadly forgetting the sweetness of His grace and the simplicity of the gratitude that He desires.
The danger of sacrifices and rituals is that we are increasingly tempted to believe that we have something to offer God, when the sacrifice is actually meant to demonstrate that we are coming to God as His debtors. We start to assume that God needs what we’re presenting to him, an idea as offensive as it is ridiculous. We become like a convicted criminal congratulating himself on his morality as he offers his monetary fine to the judge who gave him a merciful sentence.
With incredible yet subtle audacity, we find ourselves believing that God is actually impressed. Not only is this blasphemous and horrifically backward, it is also binding. Once I believe that I have impressed God, I am bound to have to do it again. Like making a magical first impression that I can never live up to, I am enslaved to endless and exhausting efforts to win Him over.
This is why I am grateful for Asaph’s rich meditation in Psalm 50. Because he tells us that there are two simple ways to glorify God: to ask (v. 15) and to thank (v. 23). Better to come to God with no offering and a heart of gratitude than to come with the riches of a king and a spirit of self-sufficiency. Of course, better still to pour out offerings and sacrifices from a spirit of gratitude. Either way, may we always remember which one the Lord loves first, and loves best.
“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” This a precious admonition to the humble in heart, to those who tremble at God’s holiness and find themselves desperate before His perfect law. He is pleased most of all when we need Him, when we cry out to Him, when we call upon His name. In Psalm 50, God does not want my devotion. He wants my desperation, so that grace can overflow into gratitude.
Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High. (Psalm 50:14). What does God want from us? He does not want mere hymn singing, although that is fine. Nor does He want only prayer, although that too is fine. He does not simply want our attendance, although that is fine. What He wants, first, is a thankful heart. That is what He seeks, a thankful heart. Each one of us is to offer to Him the sacrifice of thanksgiving. A sacrifice is something into which we put effort; it costs us. Have you ever asked yourself why the Scriptures stress thanksgiving so much? Both the Old and New Testaments emphasize that above everything else, God wants thankfulness. Give thanks in all circumstances, says the apostle Paul, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Why is this? It is because thanksgiving only comes as a result of having received something. You do not give thanks until you have received something that comes from someone else. Therefore thanksgiving is the proper expression of Christianity, because Christianity is receiving something constantly from God.
Of course if you have not received anything from God, then you have nothing to thank Him for. Though you come to the service, you really have nothing to say. God is a realist. He does not want fake thanksgiving. I know there are certain people (and they are awfully hard to live with) who think that Christianity consists of pretending to be thankful. They think it means screwing a smile on your face and going around pretending that troubles do not bother you. That is a most painful form of Christianity. God does not want you to go around shouting, Hallelujah! I’ve got cancer! But there is something about having cancer to be thankful for. That is what He wants you to see. There are aspects of it that no one can possibly enjoy, but there are other aspects that reveal purpose, meaning, and reason. God wants you to see this–what He can do with that situation and how you can be thankful. Thanksgiving is the first thing He wants in worship.
The second thing is an obedient will. Fulfill your vows to the Most High. Notice the kind of obedience it is. It is not something forced upon you; it is something you have chosen for yourself. A vow is something you decide to give, a promise you make because of truth you have seen. You say, I never saw it like that before. I really ought to do something about it. God helping me, I’m going to do such and such. That is a vow. God says, I’m not asking you to do things you have not yet learned are important. But when you have vowed something, then do it. Act on it. Obey it.
He who created sexual desires and who redeemed them from being only powerful lusts of the flesh is also gracious in providing us a way of escape from the guilt and tyranny of lust. There is hope for those who have already violated God’s pure gift of virginity. There is hope for those who desire to maintain the gift of purity which God gave them. There is hope for those who feel that the power of sex is out of control in their lives.
This comforting hope of Divine healing is not for all. It is only for those with heartfelt sorrow and for those with an earnest desire to do God’s will.
First, God’s healing is the power of His sovereign grace to remove the guilt of sin. Grace is the power which delivers from the filth of our sinful flesh. We may not be able to get our virginity back (even as we cannot remove a hole after pulling out the nail), but we receive God’s gracious forgiveness. Immorality is not a sin which cannot be forgiven. Sexual sins and temptations are to be treated as all other sins and temptations – they are to be confessed, repented of, and forsaken. The prayer for God’s forgiveness and for God’s grace to walk in holiness must be lifted up to Him. Then there may be the assurance of His gracious forgiveness. And He forgives completely. When He forgives, the sin is gone forever, never again to be brought against the sinner. As ugly as the sin is, forgiveness is more beautiful, and grace makes us beautiful before God.
We cannot retrieve our virginity, but we can retrieve our chastity and our purity before God. When God forgives, then He gives us a perfect righteousness. It is as if we had never sinned. It is as if we only did every thing right. Therefore we hide ourselves under the wings of the righteousness and holiness which Jesus earned for us and which God imputes and imparts to us. Then we may be sure that we stand before God in pure, white robes, and we are called “Holy unto the Lord.” Virginity is a precious gift, but an even more precious gift is forgiveness.
Secondly, the Spirit of Christ brings, with complete forgiveness and perfect righteousness, the healing power of deliverance from sin’s power along with the spiritual gift of self-control (called “temperance” in Galatians 5:23). Sexual energies and desires, no matter how strong, are controllable. As powerful as they may be, they can be controlled, for the power that is for us is greater than the power that is against us. The Bible teaches that we are not helpless before these lusts. It is Christ, to whom is given power over heaven and earth, who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13). It is the divine Spirit whose fruit is self-control. We can therefore break with sinful self-indulgence.
We are called not simply to maintain but also to develop Spirit-filled self-control. Jesus spoke of those who were eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake (Mt. 19:12). He spoke of self-control and self-denial for the sake of God’s glory. And He declared that any man who would follow Him must practice self-denial (Mt. 16:24), just like the Master, whose supreme Self-denial brought about the salvation of sinners.
There are sins against which believers are commanded to stand and fight. But the only way the Bible says we are to fight sexual sin and temptation is to “flee” it (1 Cor. 6:18). Consider how Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife (Gen. 39:7-12). This temptation is the kind that cannot be faced head-on. Will-power and resolutions do not stand a chance before this sin in particular. It is too strong. To think that we can be “brave” and stand up to this sin, is to be the fool. The only way to be faithful to God in regard to this sin is to flee it. The admonition to “flee fornication” has the clear implication that we must not over-estimate our self-control or our spirituality. That is why we are admonished to “make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:14). To control sexual desires, we must realize the importance of avoiding situations where we know we will be tempted by the wiles of the devil. To control sexual desires one needs more wisdom than Solomon, for Solomon fell often to this temptation.
One way not to make provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts while dating is to “be alone with others, never all alone.” Date along with others who are also walking close to the Lord. Also stay away from every form of pornography – it is not “harmless.”
Another way to fight the temptation of this sin is by making a commitment, before we date, to be pure. This means that you must draw the line as to how far you will go. You need to draw a line before you date, because of how powerful the Bible tells us physical attraction is. We cannot have developing romantic love without having increasing desire for consummation. We are fools to deny this. It is abnormal to become more and more intimate mentally and emotionally and not want to become more and more intimate physically and sexually. You are playing with fire if you keep getting closer and closer together when you are not ready to marry. We need to draw the line before we date, because wavering at the beginning often results in our falling in the end.
You can stop what you are doing. If what has been written in this pamphlet pricks your conscience, then realize that you can stop what you are doing by putting the relationship in submission to God. Do not think that God wants to deprive you of something that is good for you. Real love will say, “No! I will not go further!” Real love restrains and controls sexual desires until God says, “Yes.”
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.
An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.
At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.
“I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.”
The old woman smiled, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”
Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You’ve just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.
So, to all of my crack pot friends, have a great day and remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path!
Many people know very little about the Bible. What they do know about the Bible, they did not learn from the Bible itself. They have learned from teachers, books, radio, or other people. But, they never actually opened the Bible and learned from it. They have made their opinion about the Bible from the opinions of other men and not from the Bible itself. Many people have an opinion about the Bible, but they have not even seen a Bible. The Bible is a big book. A person can spend all of his life enjoying it. I want to help you to make an opinion about the Bible from the Bible itself and to understand it. But, mostly, I want to help you to see that it is God’s personal message to each of us.
God gave us the Bible because He wants us to know who He is. In fact, the main subject of the Bible is God. It’s not just a book of teachings about God. It is a story about history as seen from God’s point of view, from the beginning to the end. Because man is a part of history, the Bible also teaches us many things about mankind and man’s relationship with God.
When studying the Bible, you must start in the beginning and work our way it. You should start in the book of Genesis. Genesis is the first book of the Bible; thus, it is a very important book. You cannot completely understand the truths about the Bible unless you understand some things about Genesis first. If your understanding of Genesis is good, much of the rest of the Bible will easily “come into focus.”
2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”
All of the Word of God was given to us by God’s inspiration. God had the inspiration to write down a message and He used men called “prophets.” He gave them the exact message that He wanted written down. Sometimes God spoke to them out loud, sometimes in visions, and sometimes He put the message directly into their heads. Then, God caused them to write down exactly what He had said. This is where critics might just say, “Then the Bible was really written by men. So, it’s man’s ideas and not God’s.” We can know that the Bible is not man’s idea because it tells us so in 2 Peter 1:20-21 which says, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” It is God’s idea and God’s Words. It is not the private idea of any man. It is the only book in the world that is written by God Himself.
God took 1,600 years to write the Bible, and He used 40 different people to write it. But, even though God used so much time and so many people to write it, the Bible has perfect unity from beginning to end. Why? It has this unity because God is the one and true author of the Bible. If many people went to a meeting, they would all see the same meeting, but would they all have the same opinion? If we asked a person what was the most important thing that they saw in the meeting, not everyone would say the same thing. They would each have a different story to tell about the same meeting. Many different people wrote the Bible. They were not all together in one place like the people in a meeting. No! The people that God used came from very different cultures. They even came from different times. Many of them never even knew each other. But, when we read the Bible, it appears to be one story, one book. It has perfect unity. How can one book have perfect unity when so many people wrote it over a 1,600-year period of time? There is only one answer – the Bible has only one author: God!
Isaiah 43:1, 10 says, “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. 10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.”
The author of the Bible is God, that God caused men called “prophets” to write down His Word. But, how did it come to be the book that we see today? God gave us His message through the Jewish people first. In fact, all of the people that God used to write the Bible were Jewish except one. His name was Luke, and he was a Gentile. (A Gentile is anyone who is not Jewish.) God wanted the whole world to receive His message through the Jewish people. At first, God used the prophets to write down His message. These original documents wore out from use and old age. So, new copies were made. These copies were made by hand and were done very carefully. Copies were made and given to other people. They also would copy it and then give the copy to still another. Even though this was all done by hand, there are more ancient manuscripts of the Bible than any other document. These manuscripts have been found through archeology. In fact, there are many that have been found. All of these ancient manuscripts are almost exactly the same. They only differ in very small details.
The original texts of the Bible were written in one of three different languages: Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. In the time that Christ was on the earth, the scrolls (Bible) were kept in the temple. Only a few people were able to have copies of these texts. Most of the time, if the people wanted to hear them, they needed to go to the temple and listen to them being read. As time passed, God caused men to begin translating the manuscripts into other languages. Copies of these were sent from place to place for the people to read. Today, the Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book in the world.
Psalm 119:89 says, “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.”
One study of history is called archaeology. It is when people dig into the earth to find ancient information about ancient cultures. Many discoveries have proved the accuracy of the Bible. The archaeologists have found things that agree with what the Bible says, even to the smallest detail. In fact, there are thousands of discoveries that have been found that ALL support the accuracy of the Bible. There are still new things being discovered today, and each new discovery adds to the support of the Bible. This can only prove that the Bible is not man’s book; it is God’s book. Books that man has written will often change. Even history books are rewritten. But, the Bible has never changed because God, who knows everything, wrote it.
The Bible is not just another “religious” book. Many people have written books trying to tell others about God. God wrote the Bible. In it, He tells us what He is like and who He is. He tells us about Himself and about ourselves, about our relationship with Him. It is a special book that answers the questions:
- Where did I come from?
- Why am I here on this earth?
- Where am I going from here?
It is a book that answers the question about “Absolute Authority,” and who has it. It teaches us what authority is and what our relationship is to it.
Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
It is important for us to read and study the Bible because it is God’s personal message to each one of us. It is like God’s voice speaking to us, teaching us about ourselves. It is the only book in which God Himself teaches us how to live in the world today. It is the only book in which God Himself tells us what He thinks, feels, and wants us to know. God wrote it to give to each one of us: young, old, boy, girl, man, and woman.
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.”
God gave the Law so that mankind would realize they are sinners. The Law is foundational in what we know as the Ten Commandments. No man can keep the Law unless they are perfect, but that is not their purpose. Their purpose is to convince stubborn man that he cannot attain to God’s standard.
Why would there be a great move to remove the Ten Commandments from public facilities? Because man doesn’t want to confront God’s standard. Man doesn’t want to know he is a sinner, but hiding one’s head in the sand does not change the truth.
Let’s do everything we can to keep God’s law before people. It really needs to be written on the hearts of the individual. It’s not weather it’s on a building or in a school. This important thing is that it makes its way to the heart of a person.