Recently posted articles
potpourri of past articles
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!
Driving along the country road on the way home from work, a man spotted a most unusual sight. He had never seen it before, even though he had traveled the same road many times. On the side of Jim’s barn, there were ten freshly painted targets. It was obvious that someone had been trying to hit the “broadside of the barn” for target practice. But this was not the puzzling thing. What was odd was that all of the targets seemed to be randomly painted all over the side of the barn. Curious about the sight he just saw, he turned around and drove back, this time stopping on the side of the road next to the barn. On closer inspection, he saw that in the center of each target’s “bull’s-eye” someone had shot a hole. Someone had put a round through each target “dead center.” “Wow,” he thought to himself, “that’s pretty good shooting.” Not being able to satisfy his curiousity, he drove up to Jim’s house. “Hi Jim, I noticed your barn back there.”
“Yeah, I’ve been doing some shooting.”
“You did that shooting?”
“Yeah, it’s something isn’t it.” Jim shuffled back and forth nervously.
“Well, that’s pretty good marksmanship. I didn’t know you could shoot so well. How’d you do it?”
“Well, I just got tired of that old barn and started to shootin, and then I got embarrassed when I saw I could barely hit the broad side and stuff. So I took some paint and painted targets around each hole so it would look like I knew what I was a doin.”
This happens all the time to people in life. Oh, it isn’t taking out our gun and trying to hit the broad side of the barn. It is with other things, and just like Jim, we get too embarrassed to live up to our situations. One area of our life that this happens regularly is in the area of: adversity. When we come under adversity, we try to hide it because we get embarrassed for others to see how we reacted to it. We mask it with pride so others won’t see we did some dumb things that we are ashamed of. This usually comes prevalent when we begin to think, “You know, I wish I hadn’t done that.”
I knew a man who thought he was a “big, bad” lumberjack. Unfortunately for him, this image only resided in his own mind. One day he went out to his property to cut down some trees. Other (experienced) men went with him to help. He wouldn’t listen to their advice and proudly went up to the tree and cut some perfect notches in the trunk. The 90 foot fir tree began to come down and they all stepped back. The tree fell directly across his brand new ¾ ton pick up truck. It laid across the smashed cab in proud defiance for being disturbed. The man was running around beside himself. The helpers who advised him to cut the notches in different areas of the trunk just stood there quietly observing. It was easy to see what they were thinking: “If only he had listened to us.” It was at that moment that the adversity began. What were they going to do about getting home?
Adversity is common to all people, but particularly to the Christian. The Christian not only faces common adversity, but he faces spiritual adversity as well. Any Christian that is trying to live right for God will come under the crosshairs of Satan’s wicked sights. Not all Christians become one of his targets. Those who are not living for God, but living a worldly life, are of no concern to him. They are just like other people only they have attached to themselves a name and title. But to him, they are of no danger at all.
It is not easy to deal with adversity, especially when we bring it upon ourselves. But, God allows adversity (Isa. 45:7) in our life for a reason. Ultimately, it is to bring us closer to Him; to perfect us and prepare us for a closer relationship with Him. We cannot relate to God fully without understanding how to deal with adversity. Because we know that all things are easy for God because He is all-powerful, we lose sight of the fact that God has difficulties as well. If you think about it, it was not a “breeze” for God to come to this earth in the form of a man and be whipped, beaten, pummeled and crucified by His own people. That was not easy at all. His sweat was as great drops of blood (Luke 22:44) when He was in agony. That is not the sign of something being easy.
Now we deal with all kind of adversity: some health, some financial, some even trees crushing your own truck because you were full of pride and didn’t listen to wise counsel (Pro. 15:32).
- Adversity helps us to understand what is going on in life—how to understand God and understand others (Pro. 3:4-5).
- Adversity helps us to establish close relationships with others (Pro. 17:17).
- Adversity helps us to be strong, especially in the spirit (Pro. 24:10).
- Adversity helps us to know how to comfort others (2 Cor. 1:4).
- Adversity teaches us how to depend upon God’s grace (2 Cor. 4:8-9; 12:9).
- Adversity teaches us how to use Joy in our life (James 1:2-4).
“But what are some practical ways to deal with adversity? When things come into my life, I get all confused and before I know it, the adversity is in control of my life. I have lost control.”
Count all adversity as if it comes from God. If you understand and know that God has given you the adversity for a reason, then you can rest assured that God is in control of the adversity. This is good because, “…we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” If you know that adversity comes from God, then you will know there is a purpose and you can then look for it.
Pray to see the purpose for the adversity. God has a reason that he wants to perfect us, and He sometimes does it through adversity. Therefore, it is good to simply pray, “God, please allow me to see the purpose for this adversity that you have me going through so I can learn the lesson that you have for me.” Throughout history, whenever Christians have suffered adversity, they have become closer to God. When everything is alright, we tend to not need God as much. But when trouble comes, that is when we need God. You can see this by looking at the prayer list of any church. There are prayer upon prayer requesting God’s help or intervention because of adversity.
Submit your life to God (i.e. let Him be your master). When you throw up your hands and give up controlling your life, you are submitting to God. When you cease to proclaim: “I”, “my”, “mine”, “yours”, and such terms, and not only understand that God owns everything, but live it. That is when you are in submission to God.
Adversity will not last forever. Its purpose will come to an end. There will be no need to try to hide it with painted targets. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. 21:4)
There was a famous American pastor who went to Africa to preach for a summer. He preached in many countries while there. The crowds who came to listen were various, but always large in numbers. After finishing with a crowd of over ten thousand souls, he and his hosts were headed to a town where there was expected to be three thousand. But the country that he was in did not have a very stable government. That particular day, the government ceased the sale of gasoline that morning. On the way to the church, there were cars lined up all over the sides of the road. Some were left abandoned; others had frustrated owners camping out in them. It was a dreary and ominous sight for the American pastor, especially when earlier a tremendous storm blew in. There was lightning and thunder all around the area. On the way to the church that morning, the American pastor thought to himself, “There probably won’t be very many people in church today. In a church of three thousand, if half of the people come, it is going to look pretty skimpy today.”
When they arrived at the building, it was about half full of people milling around preparing for the service. But it didn’t stop there! People continued to trickle in all throughout the morning until the building was “bursting at the seams.”
First they prayed. They prayed for a good hour. He thought it would never end. He had never experienced anything like this before. Then there was singing and praising. It bubbled over into exuberant exaltation of the Lord in dance (proper dance) and joy. There was such an atmosphere of love and praise for the Lord that the pastor was even able to “get his ‘jam’ on.” He then preached for about an hour, but when he finished, as the storm raged outside, the faces of the people looked surprised. The song leader stepped up and the singing began again. Then there was prayer and more testimonies of praise. There was such praise for the Lord that the shouting and elevating of Jesus spilled over once again to jubilant song and dance. Some were standing with outstretched arms; some were kneeling at the altar. Some were smiling and shouting; others were crying and shaking their heads in sorrow and deep conviction. He sheepishly, but willingly joined in praising Jesus right along with everyone else. An announcement was made and the people began sitting, still shouting with joy. Eyes turned to the pastor and he quickly deduced that they expected more from the word of God.
He preached yet another full sermon. At the invitation, the altar was full. Then prayer broke out in the building once again. Five hours had passed. First it seemed like the church would be empty, but it filled. Then it seemed like you couldn’t pry the people away. Amazed by this display, he asked the national pastor, “Why aren’t these people leaving?”
“Things are different between Africa and America. The people here, THEY NEED GOD. You see, the people here have nothing. Some of these people have walked 2 and 3 hours to get here. They don’t even know if they will eat tomorrow, let alone have a job. These people are a devastated people without God. They live one day at a time. There is such a desperate need for God over here, that every time there is an opportunity to come face to face with God, and be in His presence, they take advantage of it. They can’t afford excuses, or compete with television shows or radio. They NEED to be in God’s presence.”
As I listened to this story, I began to wonder about that very simple, yet convicting phrase: “We need God here.” It was a shocking and unexpected answer from that simple African pastor: “WE NEED GOD HERE!” He was not saying that Americans don’t need God as well. Nor was he criticizing American churches. He was stating a simple and plain fact. It was truly how the African pastor saw things from his position. Having been in several third world countries myself, I can relate to that statement. Having lived in third world countries for a big chunk of my life, I can see that statement formulate into a vision. At no fault of the general American, there are just too many choices, especially in the way of “religions” competing over their interest. At no fault of their own, the general citizen of this country has an abundance of food, water, health care and shelter available to him. In short, there are very, very few instances in our great land that cause our citizens to be driven to their knees, yearning for an opportunity to be in the presence of God because they have no food, water, shelter or food, just to make it another day. There is not much real NEED of GOD HERE in our great land.
Friends, because we don’t have that situation here, does not mean that we don’t NEED God. Everyone needs God. We all need God. I need God, and so do you. So far, God has not driven us to this realization. So far, God has granted us a reprieve from such a destitute situation; a situation where there is no other place to turn to but Him. For now, He has left us to ourselves. We can turn to our government, families, and charities for help. The lines at the food banks are not full of starving people so far.
For now, God has given us the “choice” to need Him or not, but it might not be that way for long. I know that this is something that most of my fellow countrymen cannot “relate to” because they have never seen anything like that with their own eyes. They have only heard stories about such situations, or seen it on T.V. I assure you that there is a big difference between seeing it on T.V. and seeing it in person. Let me go even farther than that. There is a big difference between seeing it for your self, and living it in person, but when you do, when you have absolutely no other place to turn to but God, you will crave the presence of God. I don’t mean coming to the end of your rope in such a sense that you can’t figure out any other way to fix your problem except asking someone to pray for you. You know, the kind of problem where you have already solved it, but you just can’t grasp the resolution because it lies just outside of your reach. I am talking about the kind of problem that has no resolution. These are the kind of problem where you absolutely NEED GOD to live another day. These are the real big problems. These are those that drive you to God and keep you there. The kind of problems where you not only welcome an opportunity to be in His presence, but are disappointed if you cannot be there.
So I ask, “Do you need God?” Do you need Him so much that you would not so much as lift up your eyes unto heaven, but smite your breast saying, “God, be merciful to me—a sinner.” (ref. Luke 18:13). How poor are you?
I am not saying you need to be poor. I am asking, How much do you Need God? It shows in your desire to be in His presence.
After living what I felt was a “decent” life, my time on earth came to the end. The first thing I remember is sitting on a bench in the waiting room of what I thought to be a court house. The doors opened and I was instructed to come in and have a seat by the defense table. As I looked around I saw the “prosecutor.” He was a villainous looking gent who snarled as he stared at me. He definitely was the most evil person I have ever seen.
I sat down and looked to my left and there sat My Attorney, a kind and gentle looking man whose appearance seemed so familiar to me, I felt I knew Him. The corner door flew open and there appeared the Judge in full flowing robes. He commanded an awesome presence. As He moved across the room I couldn’t take my eyes off of Him. As He took His seat behind the bench, He said, “Let us begin.”
The prosecutor rose and said, “My name is Satan and I am here to show you why this man belongs in hell.” He proceeded to tell of lies that I told, things that I stole, and in the past when I cheated others. Satan told of other horrible perversions that were once in my life and the more he spoke, the further down in my seat I sank. I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t look at anyone, even my own Attorney, as the Devil told of sins that even I had completely forgotten about.
As upset as I was at Satan for telling all these things about me, I was equally upset at My Attorney who sat there silently not offering any form of defense at all. I knew I had been guilty of those things, but I had done some good in my life–couldn’t that at least equal out part of the harm I’d done? Satan finished with a fury and said, “This man belongs in hell, he is guilty of all that I have charged and there is not a person who can prove otherwise.”
When it was His turn, My Attorney first asked if He might approach the bench. The Judge allowed this over the strong objection of Satan, and beckoned Him to come forward. As He got up and started walking, I was able to see Him in His full splendor and majesty. I realized why He seemed so familiar; this was Jesus representing me, my Lord and my Savior. He stopped at the bench and softly said to the Judge, “HI, DAD,” and then He turned to address the court. “Satan was correct in saying that this man had sinned, I won’t deny any of these allegations. And, yes, the wage of sin is death, and this man deserves to be punished.” Jesus took a deep breath and turned to His Father with outstretched arms and proclaimed, “However, I died on the cross so that this person might have eternal life and he has accepted Me as his Savior, so he is Mine.
My Lord continued with, “His name is written in the Book of Life, and no one can snatch him from Me. Satan still does not understand yet. This man is not to be given justice, but rather mercy.”
As Jesus sat down, He quietly paused, looked at His Father and said, “There is nothing else that needs to be done. I’ve done it all.”
The Judge lifted His mighty hand and slammed the gavel down. The following words bellowed from His lips. “This man is free. The penalty for him has already been paid in full. Case dismissed.”
As my Lord led me away, I could hear Satan ranting and raving, “I won’t give up, I will win the next one.”
I asked Jesus as He gave me my instructions where to go next, “Have you ever lost a case?”
Christ lovingly smiled and said, “Everyone that has come to Me and asked Me to represent them has received the same verdict as you, Paid In Full.”
2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
Listen! What do you hear? I mean, what do you hear about Jesus? Is it something YOU don’t agree with? Or, is it something from the Bible that you just don’t like? This is the case with most people. They don’t like the way a preacher preaches or they don’t like the message God has given him. Perhaps it “steps on their toes” a little bit and they think, “He’s preaching at me.” These kind of people do not love truth, and they are greatly mistaken on the power of God. Like Lucifer, they lift themselves up with pride and deny the presence of God by pawning it off on a man. Huh? They think the preacher is preaching instead of God preaching through him. In other words, they have lost faith in the power of God.
So, because they don’t want to humble themselves, they start shopping for another teacher to tell them what they want to hear. They would rather turn their ears away from the truth than search their hearts to see if God is speaking to them? They are so “right with God” they never have a reason to go to the prayer bench.
Listen! What do you hear? Do you hear God, or do you hear your own self?
Rev. Ron Coale, Pastor
Zechariah 8:17 “And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.”
John Lennon wrote a song saying that it was easy to imagine that there was no heaven. It is easy to imagine things that are not true because we focus on those things. Also, today’s media is very effective in encouraging us to imagine falsehood.
There is enough evil in the world to go around for everyone. There really is no need for us to imagine any more. When we do, we keep spiraling down out of control with little hope of coming to our senses unless we purpose to stop imagining evil against our neighbor.
God hates it. He hates when we imagine evil because He knows that it is our nature to follow after things that we imagine. Why not imagine good? Why not think righteous and pure thoughts?
People get offended for the silliest reasons.
Psalm 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
A young lady could not visit her father anymore. Years had gone by and this unsightly situation prevailed. Finally, one day it came out why she was unwilling to visit. It seems as if she was offended that her father made her wear dresses when she was young.
People get offended at the silliest things. Of course, it doesn’t seem silly at the time, but that is because they are not looking at the situation clearly. They are looking at the situation from a tainted viewpoint. They are offended because they are thinking about themselves; how it affects them, or how they are embarrassed… There is no need to get offended. In fact, the only way you get offended is because you choose to be offended.
The Bible says that if you love God, His laws and are at peace with others, nothing will get you offended. You can endure much more when you are “right” with God. Very little will offend you if you are “right” with God. When you love the law of God’s teachings, you will put them first in your life. To put God’s law first is to put the giver of God’s law first–God. When you are “right” with God, there is very little that the world can do to you because you will be in control of what you allow to affect you and what you will not allow to affect you.
You can take it to the bank–the person that is easily offended is struggling with their love for God’s teachings, rules or laws. They have either broken them or are having trouble letting them into their life so they can control their actions. In a finer sense I can say, they are having trouble giving up their “rights” to God. These type of people think that they are the standard by which things should be done, or even become vocal about the way others live their life for Christ. Somewhere in Christianity, people have lost sight of God being in control. Oh, they say that He’s in control, believe that He is, proclaim that He is, yet they still live like He is not. They fret and fear and worry and try to arrange things to their own benefit, while all the time they have abandoned the peace they can have by living like God is truly their creator and they are the created.
Christians would do well for themselves if they could just visualize they are nothing more than an “object”; created by God; for God (Rev 4:11), and not get offended about that. Then all of the struggle, worry, fear and fretting will amount to nothing, neither here or in eternity. If you could just close your eyes for a minute and visualize yourself giving your entire life to God, indiscriminately, with nothing held back, and no conditions placed upon the situation, you would be better off. If you could allow that vision to slowly fade into a scenario of total obedience to God, even unto the death, you would live a much more peaceful life. Why? Because total obedience, total commitment, total dedication describes love; a love for God.
King David saw a beautiful woman that he wanted to take for his wife. He took her and she was eventually found to be with child. The trouble was that she was already married to Uriah the Hittite who was off to war. Trying to solve the problem himself, he thought if Uriah would come home, then he would surely sleep with his wife then his sin would be covered. So he wrote orders for the general (Joab) to send Uriah home. He told Uriah to “Go down to thy house…” (2 Sam. 11:8). But, Uriah slept on the floor at the door of the king’s palace and did not go home to his wife. When David discovered this he asked Uriah why he didn’t go home to his wife. Uriah answered, “The ark of the Lord, Israel and Judah all sleep in tents. My fellow soldiers all sleep in open fields. I cannot allow myself these indulgences as long as this situation exists.” To Uriah it was a matter of duty, honor and devotion to God. He loved God. But David gave secret orders for Joab to have Uriah lead the charge at hottest place of battle so Uriah would be killed in battle, and Uriah was killed.
Uriah loved not his life even unto death. His love for God gave him peace. Oh that Christians today could have that kind of dedication and love for God. If they did, they would lead much more peaceful lives because very little would offend them. When you think of God instead of yourself, little there is that you will allow to offend you.
How many Christians today would lead better, lives?
It is a dangerous thing to not go to church, especially if you are a parent. First and foremost its obvious it affects your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. When you are not going to church, the less you want to go. The more you go to church the more you want to go. Now we all know that it is certainly not God that is influencing us to keep us away from church attendance. That leaves only two causes; it is either at the direction and influence of Satan that we are not going to church or by the pull and draw of self.
Jesus Christ died for the church, he loves the church. He told us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. A good healthy love for the Lord Jesus Christ should be enough for any individual to continue in and be dedicated to church attendance. If you are not feeding the relationship you have with someone, then it begins to diminish. When you have a relationship with people then you certainly spend time with them. You spend time with them privately and you spend time with them publicly. The private devotion of a Christian is not sufficient for a proper and healthy relationship with God Almighty. You must join together with God’s people because Jesus said where two or three are gathered together in his name that he would be there in the midst of them. So you can either have a private relationship with God or you can have a public relationship with God, or you can have both.
Before becoming a preacher, part of my job as an electrician was to take working trips for the government. This meant that I would have to leave my family behind. I would go off sometimes for thirty days, some times for six weeks and some times for just two weeks. To me it did not matter if it was just the weekend or not, I was apart from my family, my friends and those whom I loved. If you ask my wife you will find out that the largest phone bills we ever had was when I was on trips because I was constantly on the phone with her. Why is that? I desired that relationship. I needed it to be fed. I loved her and you could tell because of the amount to time I wanted to relate with her.
We need time to be with God Almighty. Having a long distance relationship with him is not sufficient just as the phone calls from across the country to my wife were not sufficient. It filled a need but I sure couldn’t wait to get on that airplane and come home. I needed those kisses and those hugs. I needed that surrounding to be whole and complete in my life. Christians unless you have the surroundings of God and God’s people you will not ever be whole or complete in your life. It is dangerous when you are not going to church.
Another danger is how God will react. You see, relationships work both ways. Its is not all dependent upon you, although some people deceive themselves and think that it is. Relationships also depend upon the other person as well. Have you ever tried to talk with someone that didn’t want to talk with you? Have you ever tried to make friends with someone that didn’t want to be friends with you? It is near impossible. Have you ever had a friend that suddenly, for no reason at all just started keeping away from you? Maybe your relationship gradually became a long distance one? What would you do? I venture to say that you would be concerned. At the very least and there would come a point when you would decide that you wanted to figure out what the problem was. You would probably want to know if it was a problem with you or a problem with them. God is the same way. When His people move away from him, and slowly begins not going to church, It is just like the long-distance relationship. He wants to figure out what the problem is. He wants to confront you about it. Then He wants to inspire you to do what is right because he knows the relationship is healthy for you and for Him. When you are not going to church, the danger is that God may act and you are not always exactly sure how He will do that.
The third danger is, people are looking at you and your testimony. Every Christian has what is called a living testimony. It is how you act as compared with what you say. You can say to people all you want that you need to be committed to the Lord, but it will mean absolutely nothing if you are not as committed as you expect them to be. Many Christians subconsciously know this and that is why they stay away from various subjects–Subjects where the Christian might be found a hypocrite. But, my friends, people watch your life and if you are doing one thing but saying another it doesn’t help the cause of Christ. It is not neutral and it hurts the cause of Christ. You are either for Christ or you are against Christ.
When we first get saved we begin learning how to live for Christ. Slowly and gradually as the Holy Spirit begins working on us, from that day forward. All the way until the end of our life we are in the process of learning how to live for Christ and die to self. So the danger is, people are looking to see how they are supposed to live as a Christian. When they see that you are not going to church, then they begin to pick up on your example and do the same.
My friends what do people say about you? When they look at you, do they say that your interests are Jesus, the Bible or the Church? Or do they say your greatest interests are: health or birth or job or family? Anything other than Jesus means they see Jesus is not first in your life. Now let’s take this information, file it in our memories and use it for his glory. God bless you all. Amen.
Ephesians 6:11-17 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
God has a specific manner in which He would have the Christian dress to successfully navigate his earthly pilgrimage. It is not a set of lounging pajamas, nor is it a “dress for success” in the world outfit. It is not a set of rugged work clothes or rain gear. It is called the whole armour of God, and many Christians forget that it is available to them.
Every Christian is to grow up to be a warrior for Christ. As warrior, we must be prepared to defend against the many assaults of the world. Likewise, we should be prepared to attack the influences of evil wherever it reveals itself. When God tells us to “STAND”, He means that we are to “defend the faith once delivered to the saints.” From the very beginning, Christianity has been attacked. False teachers have “crept in unawares” for the purpose of “modernizing” (changing) the way Christ wanted the church to be. There has been a constant bombardment to make the church something appealing to man, taking it farther and farther from the truth. This we must not allow. WE MUST STAND FAST!
Not only are we to stand, but wherever we see one of our enemies: the world, the flesh or the devil, we are to go on the offensive. We must not let them destroy our lives, families, churches, communities or the Bible. We are to do what we can to fight the enemy away. Our Captain, as well as other Christians are in the fight. We too must get prepared and get into it as well. David fought Goliath, Samson with the Philistines, Gideon with the Midianites, and Nehemiah with Sanballat and Tobiah. They didn’t just defend their ground, they took up the offensive against the enemy.
We must be on the watch constantly; watching and praying that we enter not into temptation (Matt. 26:41). Our nature is that we are very willing in mind to do something for the Lord, but our old flesh is not. Self agrees to allow the tongue to say, “I’ll do it” when the brain sends that thought on. But when it comes time, Self always betrays us, turning us into a hypocrite. Then we feel defeated and hesitate to “show our face” again. This is one tactic for getting us out of the battle. To deal with this we must ask the Lord to “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” We can ask Him to guide our steps to avoid the pitfalls of temptations that we would have come into contact with unless He does. And if we do not follow His guidance, and come in contact with a temptation anyway, we can ask Him to warn us and give wisdom so we can run from it as quick as we can (note: When you run from something, you are running to something as well–Run to the Bible).
Now there are special times when many Christians are destroyed by temptations because they let down their guard. Some of these times are: summer vacation, holidays, times of sickness and times of success. During these times Christians are most vulnerable to attack. When we are out of schedule or not feeling well, we tend to let our guard down. I have many times seen Christians in church and at the altar during times of trial or tribulation in their life. But, when the Lord allows them a successful outcome, they start to slip in attendance, tithing and involvement. They become prideful and comfortable and it seems like the don’t need God anymore because they can now handle things on their own. I often wonder if the Lord allows for trouble in our lives because He knows that is what we need to drive us to church to hear His word.
The Lord Jesus Christ was our example. His life was not a life of ease and comfort. He had spiritual battles, too. In fact, He was tempted in all points such as we are and even some that we are not. He was tempted by the Devil in ways that we will never be tempted. When He was on the cross, some of His own people tempted Him to come down and prove Himself, but He continued His fight to pay for the sin of the world. We too need to recognize there is a battle which rages around us and we must fight; defend our ground as well as attack where needed.
Spiritual warfare often surprises many Christians because they are not looking for it. Like the American fleet at Pearl Harbor that fateful day, they know they are in a war, but are relaxed because they don’t think the battle can come to them. We need to be armed, trained and ready for the imminent attack of the enemy. He is a hardened veteran with many years of battle experience. He never relaxes, never takes a day off, never regroups. He is deadly and dangerous to the life of a Christian. So, we must always be prepared to fight him on any ground. We must always be vigilant and the first step is to recognize there is a war, and that we are in it.
Some people try to equip themselves with “enlightenment,” or the “power of positive thinking” or “love.” Whether it is meditation, yoga, or even putting your head in the sand, none of these are God’s appointed formula for equipping yourself for the battle. There is no other armour sufficient to take the place of God’s armour. His armour provides the protection that is needed and we must use every piece of it. No part of our life can be exposed else the armour would not have its designed effect. We must put on the “whole armour of God.” If one part is missing, then we are exposed. If we use all of God’s armour, but decide to exchange one piece of it for something else, then we are exposed and the whole suit is useless. His armour is properly designed to work together as an entire suit for dealing with the battle the Christian is in.
This girdle or belt ties all the other armour together. It keeps the robe from tangling. The meaning of “truth” in this passage is sincerity, transparency, or realness. The Scripture mentions the “unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Realness, sincerity, or transparency sets us free from being a fake. It frees us from the “fear of man” or peer pressure. God hates hypocrisy. The word hypocrite means “actor” or “one who wears a mask.” The first piece of armour is sincerity, realness or transparency. Being real keeps us from many of the attacks of the enemy.
The root word of righteousness is “right,” as in being right with someone. The breastplate guards the most vital organ–the heart. Right living guards our heart from wrong emotions and temptations. The habit of right living is a defense against wrong. We are to be militant—“zealous of good works.” Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
A wise general looks after his soldiers’ shoes. If they wear out, the troops cannot travel. The roads are rough! Footprints of peace are to be left by Christian soldiers everywhere they go. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9). Romans 10:15, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” We are to leave peace wherever we go and bring peace between God and man as we witness. Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Prayer keeps our mind at peace. Prayer keeps our footing firm. God gave us feet so we could spread the gospel. Let’s use them for Him!
The Roman shield was about as big as a door. It protected the entire body. They could even be hooked to other shields to form a wall. Some even poured water on their shields to quench fiery darts. In the Old Testament, God told Abraham that He would be his shield and strength. Our shield of faith comes from Bible reading. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Faith makes us grow. Faith protects us from heresy. Faith entices us to claim God’s promises. Faith is believing God’s word to the point of putting it to the test.
The helmet is the most elaborately designed piece of armour, and it is beautiful. It is a picture of ASSURANCE OF SALVATION. A Christian who has doubts about whether he is saved or not will not win many battles for God. The helmet also guards the mind. We are to guard what thoughts we allow to enter our mind. Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
The word of God is the Holy Spirit weapon in our hand. It is the same weapon Jesus used against the devil in Matthew 4:1-8 where he constantly said, “It is written…” Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” The sword is for close confrontation after arrows had been shot and spears thrown. The sword was double edged. Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Carry it wherever you go! Don’t be caught without your weapon!
Just as a soldier dresses before battle, so should a Christian put on his armour each morning. As you put your belt on in the morning, ask God to make you sincere. Determine in your heart to be truthful with yourself and with others. As you put on your shirt or blouse for the day, determine to live right. Ask God to help you in areas of weakness. Guard your heart for the day. Watch your emotions. Love the Lord with all your heart. Tell Him so! As you put your shoes on, ask God to make you a peacemaker. Ask Him to give you power as you look for opportunities to witness for Christ. Put your Bible in your clothing or purse to have it with you all day. Find Scripture to meditate on all day! As you comb your hair, reminisce about the day you were saved. Praise God for it. Guard your thoughts. Begin your day with a song to keep depression away.
Before you leave the house for the day, remember you are a soldier. There is a warfare to face. Do not be surprised or discouraged over problems during the day! Put on the whole armour of God and be prepared.
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.
The modern “tongues” movement is primarily embraced by the “Charismatic”. This is not an English word. It comes from the Greek word “charisma” which means gifted. Therefore a person who claims to be “charismatic” (by the definition of the Word), claims to be gifted. By insinuation, this indicates that there are some “Christians” who are not “gifted”. This is wrong as the gift of the Christian is the Holy Spirit Himself. Not only does the “Charismatic” claim (by the definition of the word) to be gifted, he (whether he admits it or not) claims to be more gifted than other Christians. The Bible tells us what to think of those who brag on these gifts. Proverbs 25:14 says, “Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain. It also tells us what to think of people who profess to have apostolic gifts who don’t have them. 2 Corinthians 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. Revelation 2:2 says, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:”
The signs of the apostles (Mark 16:14-20)
Cast out devils.
Speak with NEW tongues.
Take up serpents.
Not be hurt by poison.
Heal the sick
Since these are the “signs of an apostle”, only those who believed under the ministry of an apostle received these gifts (signs). Therefore, anyone who wanted to counterfeit the apostolic succession must counterfeit the apostolic signs. The Bible labels anyone who is counterfeiting an apostle as a FALSE APOSTLE (2 Cor. 11:10-14). NOTE: The anti-Christ is also Charismatic.
2 Thessalonians 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
One of the biggest lies that a Charismatic participates in is the perversion of Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14. Acts 2 deals with the baptism of the Holy Ghost and 1 Corinthians 14 deals with the use of unknown tongues. Anyone who can read can readily see that in Acts 2 there is no reference to speaking in an unknown tongue (Acts 2:6 says that “every man heard them speak in his own language”). Likewise, there is no baptism of the Holy Ghost in 1 Corinthians 14.
Baptism of the Holy Ghost
In regards to this, notice Acts 2:
No one is kneeling or praying for any “baptism”.
The “initial evidence” is NOT tongues. It is the sound of a mighty rushing wind.
1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (KJV)
What is it then (1 Cor. 14)?
In chapter 14 we read that the important gift is prophecy. This is because by prophecy, you can teach about something that has already been written in the Scriptures. This is how Jesus taught (Matt. 21:42; Mark 7:6; John 12:14).
Unknown Tongues: From the relationship of mankind in general, there is no such thing as an unknown tongue. Some man on this earth knows the tongue that a person speaks. Here in this passage, tongues is an existing language that was not previously learned. Don’t let some man deceive you into thinking that it is a special heavenly prayer language. This is NOT in the Bible.
Modern day teaching is that tongues is a sign that one is baptized in the Holy Ghost. This is not Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 12:13.
Spiritual gifts are not obtained. They are GIFTS from the Holy Spirit, given as HE sees fit (1 Cor. 12:11).
If speaking in tongues is evidence of being baptized (immersed into) in the Holy Spirit, and therefore being placed into the body of Christ, why then does 1 Corinthians 12:18 teach us that God places us into his body as He sees fit?
Not everybody IN THE BODY OF CHRIST will speak in tongues (1 Cor. 12:30).
There is a more excellent way (1 Cor. 12:31).
God’s emphasis is that we should desire to prophecy as it edifies the church (1 Cor. 14:1-3, 12).
Tongues are for a sign to them that believe not (1 Cor 14:22).
There is a difference between speaking with and in tongues (1 Cor. 14:39).
Starting a new church in a community is not an easy task at all. It takes time and devotion. There will be joy as well as anguish. As it grows and is able to stand on it’s own two feet, it will take on a mind of it’s own; it will strive for independence, not from God, but from those who helped start it. This is a good sign, for then, and only then, could you say, “It is established.” But until that time, there is much to pay attention to, and much to do.
Babies are funny creatures. They are so innocent and helpless. They need to be taught everything they are going to learn except crying. Boy, do babies know how to cry! The tiniest of human beings can sure make a loud sound when they want or need something. Then we must find out what it is that they need and take care of it. Sometimes it is changing a diaper, other times it is feeding. There are even times when they are sick and we have to figure out what to do. That is the problem—figuring out what the baby needs. This is because they can’t talk to us and say, “Hey Mom, you’re a little tardy with the food this morning. Don’t you know that I am supposed to be fed on my schedule and not yours?” They just say, “WAHAAAHHHHH!” and we jump into action. In fact, the whole house jumps into action, and we quickly learn that the whole house revolves around the baby.
Babies are expensive. They need “baby things.” You can’t just give a baby an old stick from the back yard and expect them to “make believe” they have a doll or something. You have to get them “baby dollies,” and they don’t come cheap. They have to be made for the safety and development of the baby. Not only that, you have to get a whole new assortment of furniture, just for the baby. There are: cribs, changing tables, hampers, high chairs, rockers, and a bunch of other little things. There are doctor visits too. Babies need to keep going to the doctor to check their development. All of this to say, if you love your baby, you will get as many things you can to help the baby grow. Why? Because you love the baby and want it to grow up.
Now you know that you must feed a baby. If you don’t feed the baby, and ignore its cries, things for the baby don’t just stay the same—they get worse. If you don’t feed the baby, the baby doesn’t just stay in that level or growth and development until you resume feeding again. The baby begins to regress. It begins to deteriorate. If you took a 6 month old child and stuck them in a closet somewhere for a few years and then pulled them out, you wouldn’t have a healthy 6 month old baby to resume feeding and care for. That baby would have regressed until it died. This is a frightful thought to say the least. The point is, you must keep maintaining the child for it to develop. It needs a carefully managed diet. It needs lessons in things like walking, holding spoons, sitting up and many more things. If you stop the lessons, the baby begins to lose the things it has learned and does not develop. In fact it doesn’t just stay idle, it regresses. Babies must be cared for if they are to keep developing! If you don’t care for it, then it begins shrinking and getting weak.
Starting a new church is much like having a baby and raising it up. It does not just grow on its own. The first part of its growth is like the womb phase. It must be comforted in the warmth and love of its mommy’s tummy. There it knows it is protected and cared for. It grows in love, nurture and admonition. It hasn’t a care in the world except growing to its birth. It is totally dependent on its mother.
New church starts too are dependent on their mothers—that is their mother churches. The mother church is not to be confused with the Catholic Church which is often referred to as “the mother church.” It is a reference to the church that sends out the preacher or missionary for the purpose of starting a church in another place. The church that sends out the missionary is like: “the Mother Church.” Another reference to it in this day and age is: “the Sending Church.” Without a mother church, there is no “womb phase” for the starting church. There can be no church if there is no “womb phase.” This is the phase where the sending church helps the baby church get started. This usually happens by training up a preacher to this cause. Then sending some people from the mother church to go and help canvass neighborhoods to get a small group to form the church. The sending church typically supports the pastor financially in some way and helps provide necessary equipment like, pews, pulpits, etc. for the church to get started. This is the womb phase. It is a very delicate phase for a new church and it is important for them to know that they are safely snug in their mommy’s tummy; protected and cared for. Without this phase, it is nearly impossible for any new church to be born, for it can be compared with having a premature baby. When babies come pre-mature, it is a very delicate and critical time, because they can easily die. So it is with a new church start.
Once a church is born, it is still not healthy enough to walk on its own. It still needs help learning how to walk, hold its spoons, bottles, etc. It only learns this from watching others, and that is almost always its mommy. Again, this is where the sending church is crucial. As the devil would like for children to remain undeveloped, so would he like new churches to remain that way. Someone needs to gently guide, comfort and encourage the baby in its growth. So is it with a new church.
As the sending church is crucial in this roll, so do the members of the church plant have responsibility. Their responsibility is to respond to and learn the lessons being taught it. That is, if they are to remain safe from the devil’s attacks. The members of the church plant have the difficult job of learning and growing. This cannot be done if they refuse to do the things necessary to grow. If they don’t try to develop, they never will. Just like the baby who begins growing finds it new and difficult to learn crucial lessons like crawling and then walking, the church has the same difficulty. Prior to this, mommy is doing everything for the baby, but now she is beginning to make the baby stand up, or crawl. The mother church begins this long arduous weaning process. As this happens, more and more of the members have to pitch in and work. If they do not, the church will fail. The members cannot go on in their “comfort zone” forever. They must begin working, if they truly want a church.
There are times when babies need their diapers changed and need to be cleaned up. It is the same way with the church. When the baby gets dirty, all it can do at first is to just yell and cry. Amazingly, that seems to be the same way it goes in new churches. People seem to just scream and cry about the dirty condition of the church, but no one does anything about it. All they want is the loving touch of mommy to take away the problem for them, but guess what; they eventually have to learn to use the potty just like the big kids do. If members of a church plant are ever to develop to an established church, they will need to learn how to deal with their own dirty diapers; they will need to learn how to go to the potty. This equates to growing as a Christian. It means that they become proactive in HELPING each other and not tearing each other down. It takes a loving, kind and patient heart to work with a baby until it learns how to use the potty. Church members should be the same way to each other.
The Chinese Character Story is an amazing story of how God embedded the gospel and the story of Creation right inside the Chinese language. The Chinese communist do not believe in God, but the language that they use daily, holds the story of God. This booklet by Pastor Coale clearly shows how God could do such a thing as to turn Satan’s work around on himself.
Have you ever thought, “What other gospel addresses this same event?” The Parallel Gospels not only aligns the gospels in parallel with each other, It also organizes them in chronological order. Pastor Coale wrote this book to help him in his own study and he is sure It will be a great help to you as well. This book is a great help in studying the life of the Lord Jesus Christ and will be referred to over and over.
Gifts and Tongues: The Charismatic Catastrophe will help all seekers of truth to know the mind of God concerning speaking in “tongues” and spiritual misuse of “gifts.” It is for this purpose that Pastor Coale brings this work to us. All too often, Christians are approached by super-Charismatics who prey upon them. They seek converts among innocent Christians trying to learn about God. When new Christians are told they are not really saved until they speak in tongues, they become rightfully concerned. Since they want to please their new Lord, they naturally want to speak in tongues, but something holds them back; something tells them things are not right, but they can’t put their finger on it. This booklet is written for those Christian brothers and sisters. If they follow where this booklet leads them in God’s word, they will clearly understand God’s teaching on this subject.
Why is it that the Love of many will become cold? Because iniquity abounds! Our present society has turned to sinful things like no other society in the history of man. Our mass communication system ensures that sin is now a world-wide venture in just a very few moments. The effect of such a bombardment of sin is that it dulls man’s ability to love.
God created us with the ability to love. Sin subtly hinders that ability. It is so subtle that we think we know how to love when in fact we don’t. The measure of true love is to be compared to God’s standard and not to what we think. When exploring God’s standard on love, we can see that He is the standard. None of us love like God expects us to love. He expects us to love the way that He loves. All of us fall way short of that amazing love.
How do we keep our love from waxing cold? How do we love like God expects? We keep clinging to the Lord Jesus Christ. Keep cling to His Word. Surround ourselves with people who are doing the same. We place ourselves in an environment where we are surrounded by God.
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?
THE LAODICEA CHURCH WE LIVE WITH
Revelation 3:14-20 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Today we find ourselves living in the Laodicean Church age. It is the last period of time before the Lord Jesus Christ comes to rapture out His church. Compared to the other periods of church history, the Laodicean is the worst of all and that is because of the apathy of believers in Christ. The word “Laodicean” means the “rights or justices of the people.” Literally the civil rights of the people. It is a time when the church is more interested in their individual rights and have totally forgotten the rights of God—their Creator. Unfortunately, this is the mess that the church is in when God returns to get us. AND, do not fret my friends; there will be no exercising of personal rights at the rapture for God’s rights will overshadow all. When He says, “come up hither,” will it not be with anger in His voice rather than that of the compassionate Jesus Christ Superstar that many envision Him to be? Will He not be angry at the church for lack of interest in winning the lost to Him?
The last church claims a belief in God while at the same time living a dead, skin-deep Christianity. People in this church, profess belief in the “fundamentals of the faith” while embracing ecumenical works. It is a church where you cannot really tell what it stands for or what it stands against. It is a church which conveniently balances itself on both sides of the fence; it is neither hot for God or cold against Him (vs. 15). It is the worst kind of church there can be: LUKEWARM (vs. 16)—close enough to God to be warmed by the Bible, and far enough away to be chilled by the world. It is the epitome of rotten apostate modernism.
God is an extremist. He does not believe in getting along with the world in a kind of “fake Christianity”. He “would thou wert cold or hot.”
The Laodicean church makes God sick (vs. 16)—sick enough for Him to “spue thee out of my mouth.” Why is this? Could it be because of the tremendous material assets this church has that others in history did not? Could it be because it is more interested in bragging about its busses, holdings, how much the property is worth, how much the offerings are or how many missionaries it supports? After all, this church says it is “…increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” But God sees the truth. He gets to the heart of the matter. His response to all of our vast access to resources that we are “… wretched, you’re miserable, you’re poor, you’re blind, and you’re naked.” This is the opposite of how we see our self. People today have too many churches to go to. The pastor does something that they don’t like, or another church member does something that they disagree with, they just “hop on over” to another church that more fits their need. People in this age are more interested in themselves instead of God, and God’s preacher better tell them what they want to hear or else.
The great problem with the church today is that Christians are afraid to stand up for Jesus. Oh, we sing the song, “Stand up, Stand up for Jesus…”, but that is just lip service. Christians have worked out a way to be a Christian on Sundays and just a regular guy the rest of the time. That way they can AVOID CONFRONTATION. This is a joke of a Christian who claims that he has to put on the “armour of God”, when he knows in his heart that he is not really going to use it.
This Laodicean church lives by feelings, just like the rest of the world. Like the Israelites of old, temples to Baal have been erected amongst our ranks and the only thing that can “shake the church” loose from them is some tragedy; else God will never get our attention. If there was one thing that I could make the church see, it would be the reality and magnificence of GOD. Hence, people would see how much they owe to Him. But God does not demand our deaths; He demands our death to self, so that we might be able to live the true life that He intended. It is sad that it takes hard times in our life to bring us to our senses.
God counsels that we buy of Him “…gold tried in the fire…” (vs. 18). That is to say, He counsels that we see things as they truly are; that faith in Him is worth much more than gold or riches or prestige or honor (1 Pet. 1:7). This entire world is going to be burned up and all that is contained therein. There is absolutely nothing that will survive His hot wrath. Any investment in this world is futile. I know that right about here the concept of “stewardship” is usually slipped in, but there is a vast difference in caring for things that perish verses things that do not. The only thing that will not perish will be the souls of men who are right with God. This is “stewardship” in its most correct form: to win souls, develop them and teach them how to win more souls. But this cannot be done without “CARING”.
You say, “I don’t see it that way.” I know. I know there is a problem with how you look at things. That is why God urges to “anoint thine eyes with eyesalve…” (vs. 18). This is why the Devil has so many things to look at in the world today. This is why things like TV, pornography, movies, sports, internet, etc. work so good for him. Man is curious, and his curiosity will never be satisfied. This is a good thing if it is channeled to learning about the personality and character of God. But this is not so. Man is more interested in tickling his sin nature. The “forbidden fruit” only becomes the draw to man when he looks at it (Gen. 3:5-6). We have a problem with our eyes. Therefore, we need the eyesalve of God’s Word that we can see correctly. Can you imagine the fruit of the tree looking rotten, moldy, corrupt and covered in maggots? In other words, can you imagine being able to see sin for what it is? The only way that can be done is to:
- Stay in your Bible. You need the Bible. It is your strength and your sword. Without it, you will only see what the world is showing you. Or, you will only know what the world tells you about the Bible. The cults (Mormons, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, etc.) are experts at offering a candy coated glob of slop.
- Stay in Church. Don’t just “attend” church, come expecting something from God. Expect that God is speaking to you from the Bible via His messenger. Presuppose that God is real and He can do anything even in spite of the preacher or teacher. Expect God to be a blessing to you and discard the thought that you will be a blessing to God.
- Pray faithfully. Tell God how special He is to you. Talk to Him. Tell Him how much of a blessing He is to you. Tell Him what you think of His Book, His church and His preacher. Tell Him what you would request of Him, but resist the urge to give Him your grocery list of problems to solve for you.
- Witness! This cannot be stressed strong enough. You must witness for God. There are many ways in which you can do this. Use your mind and think of a way you CAN do it instead of inventing ways you cannot do it. The fact of the matter is this: if you love something strong enough, you can do things you never thought you would be able to do. Or, if you want to do something bad enough, you will figure out a way to do so.
It is time now to repent of being a lukewarm Christian. Can you truly say you are giving your all to Him? Are you tithing? Are you attending church? Are your words just more empty promises to God? God’s way for dealing with those whom He loves in this Laodicean church age is to rebuke and chasten. REPENT! Change your ways. Be zealous about Him (vs. 19). Be given over to the draw of the Holy Spirit. Be zealous for Him and the things that He loves and forget about the world. Stop comparing yourself to others who are not living for the Lord.
Do you realize that at the end of the Laodicean church age Jesus is outside the door of the church? The door has been slammed shut in His face. He is knocking to come in and who is listening? Are you? Do you hear His humble rap upon the door? Why is He on the outside in the first place? Who came to church and left the Lord outside? I do not want to be a Laodicean even though I happen to live in this age. You don’t have to leave Him outside. You can bring Him in with you. Or, you can answer the door. The problem why many do not is that they don’t even hear His voice anymore (vs. 20). They are too worried about money, satisfaction of self, offending others or becoming accountable to God’s word (they don’t want to hear what He has to say about their sin). But if YOU open the door to Him, He will come in to you and have fellowship with you, even in spite of anyone else. But until you do, until you open the door of your heart, you can not have sweet fellowship with Him. You will be a Laodicean.
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.”
“(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” (2 Corinthians 10:4)
Someone said, “Christianity is all in your mind.” There is much truth in that statement. The mind is primarily responsible for growth in the Christian life. Let us notice what the Scriptures say about your mind:
GOD KNOWS ALL YOUR THOUGHTS
Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
God is keenly interested not only in our actions but also in our thoughts. It is estimated that you have 10,000 thoughts a day. To God, your mind is a window without curtains.
YOUR CHRISTIAN BATTLEFIELD IS YOUR MIND
The world, the flesh and the devil fight for your mind.
- Romans 8:7, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
- Colossians 1:21, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled”
- Hebrews 12:3, “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”
Man is a very complex creation. Have you ever seen a suicidal puppy or a depressed canary? You say, “What makes thoughts so difficult to control?” Secrecy and the absence of restraint. A parent can control a child’s actions but not his thoughts. God is very interested in our thoughts because thoughts produce actions. God destroyed the world by flood because man had unrestrained thoughts.
Genesis 6:5, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
In Romans 1:28 God speaks of the reprobate (rejected) mind in the downward progression of a civilization.
In Romans 7:25 Paul says: “…with the mind I myself serve the law of God;…”
The mind is the control room or computer of the Christian life. The control room must be guarded. Lot never guarded his mind.
2 Peter 2:8, “(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)”
SEEING AND HEARING
When the mind is right, the actions are right. YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU THINK YOU ARE, BUT WHAT YOU THINK–YOU ARE! (Read that over until it sinks in.)
Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”
In order for a Christian to alter his behavior, the thinking must be changed! You must plan and guide what enters your mind. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. That is one of the things wrong with hypnosis, drugs, and liquor. They put the mind in neutral so the devil can jump into the driver’s seat. Keep a busy mind! Do you know one reason God destroyed Sodom?
Ezekiel 16:49, “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”
Idleness was a cause.
Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to say: “Behind every human tragedy there is a slow process of evil, wicked thinking.” No one ever falls into sin. They have been falling a long time. We only saw them when they landed. Sin began in their thoughts.
Sir Francis Bacon was asked what he thought the outlook was for the next generation. He declared, “Tell me what the young people are thinking and I’ll tell you.”
THOUGHTS produce ACTIONS
ACTIONS produce HABITS
HABITS produce LIFE-STYLES
What you put into the computer comes out. Put in 48 hours of television a week and you’ll have someone who acts, talks, and thinks like television personalities. Put in 30 hours of rebellious radio music per week and you’ll have someone who has philosophies and rebellion like the groups he hears. What have you been programming into your computer?
True, you can’t help but have some evil thoughts cross your mind from time to time, but do you entertain them? Someone said if you nurse sin on the knees of thought it will grow into a giant. You will never regulate your passions until you regulate your thought life.
TRANSFORMING YOUR THOUGHTS
Romans 12:1-2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
A transformation is an inward change that produces an outward change. A biologist cannot change a caterpillar into a butterfly-it has to come from the inside. So it is in the Christian life. Worry and depression are not solved by psychiatrists, but by thinking what God wants us to.
Isaiah 26:3, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”
In Philippians 4:8, God gives us a list of things to occupy our thoughts: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Sad to say, the average mind is like a toilet. To keep it clean, it needs constant flushing with godly thoughts, much prayer, much Scripture, and much grace.
THE THREE MINDS
There are three types of minds mentioned in Scripture. You have one of them. There is the natural mind, the carnal mind, and the spiritual mind.
NATURAL MIND — UNSAVED
1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
This is a non-Christian. He has no spiritual appetite for the things of God. He cannot comprehend spiritual truth. He is dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1). He may be outwardly religious and morally clean but cannot comprehend the Christian life. His thoughts will be what is right in his own eyes, situation ethics, humanism. The natural mind thinks whatever comes natural to a lost person.
CARNAL MIND — WORLDLY CHRISTIAN
Romans 8:7, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
Carnal means “of the flesh.” The carnal mind is a saved person who lives for the flesh. The church at Corinth was full of carnal Christians. Paul called them babies. He said they could only swallow the milk of the Word. They had to be taught when they should have been teaching. They were cliquish, immature, divisive, and easily offended.
The Christian with a carnal mind is not satisfied in Christ alone. He chases after things, amusements, and delights rather than in the things of God. He is quarrelsome, touchy, and often is the source of chruch problems. He has feeble digestion and cannot get his own food spiritually. Deep Scriptures do not interest him. There is very little difference, if any, between the natural man and the carnal minded man.
The lost see no difference and have no conviction when around a carnally minded Christian. The carnal mind needs to get right with God, be serious, and fill itself with scriptures! (See also 1 Corinthians 3:1-4; Romans 7:14-15; James 4:4.)
SPIRITUAL MIND-SPIRITUAL CHRISTIAN
1 Corinthians 2:15, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.”
This is the Christian who is filled with the Holy Spirit and has a mind full of Scriptures. He is mature, has understanding of spiritual things, has the ability to teach other Bible truths, and is fruitful. He has the mind of Christ.
Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:”
If you think the thoughts Jesus did, you will live the way Jesus did. To do that we must think Scriptures—meditate upon them. Because of that, our minds will be going forward, will not be in neutral and will not have a chance to go backward (backslide). The spiritual minded man needs to make sure he does not get satisfied. (See also Hebrews 5:12, 14; 1 Corinthians 3:3; Galatians 5:22-23.)
LET US NOT BECOME SATISFIED!
SOURCES: Things I’ve Learned by Bob Jones, Sr.; The Battle for the Mind, Catlay
2 Samuel 11:3-24 Contains the story of how King David conspired to kill Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba. David saw Bathsheba bathing from afar and desired to have her as one of his wives. So, he committed adultery with her while her husband was away with the other men of valor fighting Ammon at Rabbah. David, as well as Bathsheba, was very wrong in their sin. The Bible says that you can be sure your sin will find you out (Num. 32:21), and this is exactly what happened—Bathsheba became pregnant.
To cover his sin, King David planned to bring Uriah home from the battle under the false pretenses of having him carry a report of the battle to the king. His plan was that; Uriah would come home and sleep with his wife. Therefore he would think that the coming baby would be Uriah’s and not someone else’s. What the king did not plan for was the utter dedication of this Hittite to the Lord and to his brothers in arms.
Uriah refused to go home to his wife. He slept on the steps of the palace instead. He reasoned to David, “The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife?” Eventually, the king had him murdered; just to cover up his sin.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]He was a man who put God first and his neighbors second.[/pullquote]
The Lord has dealt with me concerning the selflessness of Uriah. He was truly a righteous man. He would not do for himself what the others in his arena of influence could not do. His service to the Lord was more important to him than the orders of the King or even his own wife. He was truly a man who put God first and his neighbors second. To gain a testimony like Uriah’s takes a degree of dedication that precious few ever reach. For many years, as I read about Uriah, I thought, “didn’t he know that Bathsheba was certainly going to find out he was in town?” And, “What would she think of a husband that came back home for a leave, and didn’t even come to see her?” I was thinking wrong. I had missed the dosage of love that this sinful passage contained. Uriah loved immensely; it is just that he loved God first.
Of course he was wronged. His wife was taken from him; she cheated on him; he was conspired against; and finally he was murdered while fighting in the hottest part of the battle on the very front lines. But, during all of this, Uriah firmly loved God and his comrades even more than his own life. He died alone on the battle field. It would seem that his life was a waste, but it was not. God used the testimony of Uriah to change the King. It was a reminder to him about how to be a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:13-14). Perhaps it was Uriah who showed David how to be truly a “man after God’s own heart.” (Acts 13:22)
Oh that there would be more Uriah’s in the Lord’s work.
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.
Before Dee and I were married, we took her nephew to the drive in movie with us one night. Willie was quite the young boy. He liked everything that young boys like. I said I was going to go get some popcorn at the concession stand and Willie wanted to go with me. We got to the concession stand where he was eyeballing this very large Hershey’s chocolate bar. It was the kind that my dad would buy when I was a kid and it would last him for a month. Willie asked me if he could have one of those chocolate bars. I said that he could, but he would have to let his Aunt Dee portion it out to him. I thought it best for her to give it to him in pieces and regulate how much chocolate he would eat. I didn’t know that when we got back to the car, he showed her the chocolate bar and said, “Look what Ron got for me. Can I have it?” She looked at him and said, “Okay. I guess its okay.”
We continued to enjoy the movie. It wasn’t until about 15 minutes later when Willie was acting like a buzz saw. He was one big giant ball of energy. He was jittering and shaking and playing the air drums and talking a mile a minute. We looked at each other and wondered why is he acting this way. Then I asked her, “Did you give him that chocolate bar?” She said, “Well he told me that you said it was okay.” I told her I said it was okay if you gave him a piece of it. Willie had eaten a whole giant chocolate bar in about 10 minutes, and we were suffering the consequences. For the rest of the evening he was wild with energy.
Willie and played the technicality game. The technicality game is where you’re technically telling the truth but you say it in a misleading manner. Christians are the same way with God. They ask God to give them something when they know that He doesn’t want them to have it. They just play the technicality game to make Him think they are doing something good for Him.
Friends, God cannot be fooled. He knows what we think before we even think it. That is a thought that needs to be meditated upon. I’ll say it again, “God knows what we think even before we think it.” How do you deal with a God who knows what you think even before you think it? It’s no wonder that God tells us that we need to speak the truth. When Jesus speaks of himself saying that he is the way the truth and the life (John 14:6), He could in fact be giving us a warning; A warning that we should always tell the truth because God knows the truth even before we think it! He knows what we’re going to do even before we formulate the idea in our heads. So we better come clean!
There is no way you can deceive God. There is no way that you can play the technicality game with him. He knows exactly what you’re going to do even before you consider doing it. That is a sobering thought! We’re dealing with the God who knows us even better than we know ourselves. There’s no way to manipulate the truth or play the technicality game with God (Matt. 6:8). There’s nothing we can do to deceive or trick God.
We are such feeble creatures. We are so finite because we live within the constraints of time. We don’t know what the next minute will bring in our lives. But God knows. I don’t mean to say this as a consoling statement. I mean to say it as a warning. It is a statement that should make you think about always speaking truth with God. It’s a statement that should make you well aware that there’s someone who knows what you’re going to do in the next 5 minutes, and you can not deceive Him (Luke 12:27-31). You cannot play a technicality game with Him. You cannot manipulate events to make them work toward your favor. You cannot give an excuse for anything. God knows!
How is it that He knows everything about your life? He does because He is already there. God does not live within the constraints of time. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Rev 22:13). He lives outside the constraints of time. This is how He can live in our past and our future all at once. You and I however are linear creatures. We exist from second to second, minute to minute, hour to an hour.
Not only can this be a sobering thought, but it can be a comforting thought as well. Because God knows what we’re going to do 5 minutes from now, He can arrange events in our lives that will shield, protect, guide and love us. In this way he has the power to make things happen and give us His mercy, grace and goodness.
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.
Some motivations for not having sex before marriage are wrong. They can be just as wrong as having sex before marriage. One such wrong motivation is fear: fear of being found out, fear of pregnancy, fear of a disease, fear of the opinions of others.
One proper motivation for doing God’s will is love of our neighbor. The neighbor we are to love as ourselves can be our neighbor’s daughter. Also, your neighbor can be one who will be your wife. And your neighbor is your parents or your future wife’s parents, both of whom would be hurt terribly when your sin is discovered.
But the main motivation is the love of God. Love God for the salvation He has so freely given. Love God for all things, including the sexual desires He has given. Submit your sexuality, along with everything else you are and have, to Him. Let your love for Him drive you to strive to please Him in all of your conduct, including your conduct on a date.