Tag Archives: Self

Why younger people don’t need God

Does your young person feel like they don’t need God?  I didn’t say church.  I said, “GOD!”  If you need God, then you know that you need church and you attend every chance you get.  

Recently I have been asked why young people don’t go to church.  Because churches seem to be filled with older people, the question is, “why are there not more younger people in church, and how do we reach this demographic?”

I have contemplated this question for a long time.  Because I have been posed this question, I have begun thinking of it all over again. However, I don’t think that this question should be posed to this one group.  It seems to me that all groups are affected, and there has been a broad moving away from church attendance.

I know that the mind, being quick to solve problems, will run the gamut of possible answers.  We could site: The last days, The influence of the Devil and the world, the media, Exaltation of fantasy, The impact of socialistic programs, removal of the Bible from schools, etc. etc.  All of these certainly contribute to the problem.  But if you take a closer look back through history, most of these influences have been present for a very long time.  The first century Christians lived in a time when similar things like these were present and they even had to deal with persecution unto death as well.  Can you imagine where American Christianity would be today if present day Christians were killed for their faith?  I dare say that the church would shrink to just a remnant.  Very few American Christians today would be willing to actually die for their faith.  Oh, I know that they might SAY they were willing to die for Jesus, but if it came right down to it, I don’t believe that many would actually do so.  Why?  Because the church today has been diluted with weak anemic Christians who are mostly apathetic regarding church because they don’t need God.  They want to be entertained for their “buck;” or even worse, they want to be entertained for free.  Any pastor that cannot meet this criteria can just be discarded because they can just move on to another church that can entertain.  Christians today are looking for a program instead of God.

I think that the root reason that people in the USA today do not need the church is because they don’t need GOD.  They see no need for God in their life.  They cannot see any benefit for them by coming to God.  If they ever get to the place where they finally do see what God can do for them, only then are they willing to approach Him.  Otherwise, they keep Him at arms distance.  I say this because time and time again, when people are in trouble; when things are not going well in their life, they suddenly need God.  Then they come to church.  Then they want the preacher to give them the magic pill that will make all of their problems go away.  If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you know what I am talking about.  Even those whom we would call “faithful saints” act the same way: They do not see any value to them by coming to, or supporting their church.  They don’t need God, so they don’t need church.  But when they need God, Oh, they are so drawn to church.  Think about it.

So, I believe that the better question to be answered is: “How do we show people the value of having God in their life?”  If people saw that it was valuable to them to have God in their life, then they would be in church, because God values church.  Today, people value other things.  It is not difficult to find something to value because the world has a never ending list of entertainment for people to value.  All of it fun and valuable.  Not many of the young culture value hard work, because they see no importance for it and have too many other distractions, each competing for a little piece of their minds.  But when they suddenly need money to live, then they see the value of hard work and sweat.  So the answer to the question should be associated with what people value and how to show the importance of it (easier said than done).

I believe the answer to this undaunting question lies in the area of relationship.  Everybody recognizes the value of a relationship in some form or another.  Once children see that they have to navigate this world on their own, the see the value of the relationship between the parents and themselves; they see how valuable it was for mom and dad to take care of everything for them.  When there is a loss of a loved one, you immediately see the value of that relationship that you once had.  So, if a person could be introduced to the value of a relationship with God (Gen. 2:18), then they would be interested in God, and therefore, church.  But relationships too, have come under attack.

In the world today, there is a big attack upon relationships.  Everybody can DIY (Do It Yourself).  More and more, people are being deceived into thinking that they don’t need anybody.  There are mom’s taking “momcations,” dads working long hours, and all of the overtime they can get, parents cut out of children’s lives and grandchildren growing up without really knowing their grandparents.  Self-serve, Self-check out, Drive thru, ATM’s, mail order, Texting, cell phones, email, Home shopping network and Social Media (i.e. facebook), all contribute to the relationship problem.  They are all attempts by the Devil to eradicate basic and necessary relationships from our life.  Today we:

  • Have, “friends” whom we have never even met face to face.  These are our cyber friends who only tell us what they want us to know about them.  We know this to be true because we only tell them the things we want them to know about ourselves.  We’re not going to paint a bad picture about ourselves.  We steer away from reality.
  • Say things that we do not mean.  People are much more bold from behind a computer or cell phone keyboard.  We punch in, and send before we really think about it.  We say things that we would not normally say to someone’s face.
  • Do things that we would not normally do.  We take photos of ourselves and only send off the good ones.  At times, there are people who send inappropriate photos of themselves (or others) when they would never have done that in person.

All of these things would not be done if we valued the relationship with that person.

The fundamental relationship that exists on earth is that of the family.  Everybody knows that the attack on the family has been going on for a long time.  It is only successful because it has been relentless.  The result is that not many young people of today see any value in their family relationships.  I believe the way we fight back on this is to: “meet fire with fire.”  Because the attack on the family is relentless, our tactic on preserving the family should be equally relentless.  We do not need to take the role of “closet dwellers” yet.  We are still free to voice our opinions.

The way that this untoward situation has “crept” up on us is because “grass roots” Christians have kept their faith in God under the rug.  When the world demeans Christianity, we too should speak up and say something.  When they promote “homosexuality”, we too should promote family.  The open forum does not belong to them.  When Christians do not speak, and act upon their faith openly, they give the platform to the enemy for the destruction of relationships, and show the younger generation the value we place on it.  They are watching and looking for something real.  If “grass roots” Christians, throughout their daily lives, do not speak up and “live” their relationship with Christ, they ultimately show that they don’t value it very much.  If all they do is speak of Christ in their house or at church or amongst other known believers, they show that they don’t need God very much.

Herein is the answer to the question.  Christians must not be ashamed of Jesus outside of the secure walls of any known Christian environment.  In other words–practice what you believe in; when you value it, others will learn how to value it as well. If you don’t need God, then the younger generation will not need God as well.  If you show a life that is walking with a need for God, then they will need God too!  ~Pastor Coale

Falling from your own Steadfastness

2 Peter 3:16 “…as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”

With the attack of the world (fueled by inspiration of the Devil) upon the church, Christians are showing wobbly backbone when the battle gets rough.  With just a little goading by the devil, the yellow streak shows clear and bright.  How can those who were once “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10) so easily lose their “steadfastness”?  How can they change so suddenly?

In fact, the change in them (and perhaps in YOU) is not a sudden one at all.  It has been happening over a long period of time.  Instead of growing in GRACE, they wrest with the Scriptures and are led away by those who are unstable and unlearned in the ways of truth.  Over time, they join the ranks of those who are of another Christ (1 John 2:18, 22; 2 Thess. 2:7-8; 2 John 1:7) because they were introduced to them by one of the “…many false prophets… gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).  Instead of growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, they grew in knowledge of the world and self.  Then one day–“snap!”  They were gone.

When you belong to one fellowship or church, it is either because the Lord put you there or you put yourself there.  If you are following the Lord and are true servant of the Lord, no matter what, you will obey the Lord’s decision for the rest of your life.  If you are listening to self, or are lusting after the worlds temporary enlightenment, then you will bounce around from place to place looking for fulfillment of self.

In the Lord, there is no variableness (James 1:13).  In fact there is not even a shadow of changing in Him; He does not change His mind.  Any change of mind indicates that He was wrong and is now changing to be right, or He was right and is now changing to be wrong; or He is wrong and is now changing to another wrong.  But you can never be right and change to be right.  Right is right.  Since God never makes any mistakes, everything He calls for is right.  The problem is when people attempt to interpret God’s calling for their life and bring with the interpretation their selfish desires and nuances.  When they do, they try to work it out that God’s calling for their life lines up with what THEY WANT instead of accepting what they know GOD WANTS for them.  This way, self can get what it wants and justify it because they reason (and claim) that God is calling them this way.  They join the ranks of the many “anti-Christ’s” on the scene today.  “Preacher!  Isn’t calling them anti-Christ’s a little harsh?”  Well, when we go against God’s will for our life, we are “anti” to His plan.  Since His plan is Christ: To love Him and obey Him; then to listen to self is to be against Him.

Since God put you in a fellowship of believers, it is not up to you to “feel” like you are a “hand” when everyone else in the fellowship is a “foot.”  This is reasoning your selfish desire to gain acceptance with God and it will not work.  You may rejoice initially, but that is just self being happy that you are listening to and feeding it.  It won’t take long for the Holy Spirit of God to begin working on you or those around you; doing whatever it takes to get your attention so He can, “Reason together” (Isa. 1:8) with you.  God is not unreasonable.  He doesn’t satisfy self–He reasons with truth.

“But this doesn’t adequately explain the sudden change in a person.  I know you said it happens slowly, but how?”

When you are a member of one church, but go outside of your church to other churches or para-churches for fulfillment in so-called “Christian activities” of interest, you are opening yourself up to follow self instead of obey God.  This is a difficult thing for people to do: OBEY!  Especially for the generation of young Christians today; they don’t like being told to obey.  The world has successfully indoctrinated them with the “free willed philosophy” of self.

Little by little, as they learn a little about this church here; a little there; a jot here; a tittle there; the doctrine from the church which God placed them becomes diluted until it becomes totally unimportant.  Oh, they say it is important, but the fact that they leave because they “FEEL” that GOD is moving them, betrays this line of thinking.  Leaving, especially by clandestine means, speaks loudly against supporting what they say God is doing in them, because even the smallest babe in Christ knows God would not do something so foolish. They are led away with the error of the wicked until they fall from their own steadfastness.  They are not steady nor are they fastened.  They become shaky and loose; so much so that they one day are gone.

“How do I keep this from happening to me?”

First, you don’t get involved in activities from other churches or the world.  If your church does not have an activity that you are interested in, then start one.  If you cannot get enough people involved to successfully start one, then perhaps God is saying I have something else for you to do right now; something else that I wish to teach you; something else I want to develop in you at this moment.  In other words, accept what God has for you and pray and ask Him for the other.

Second, Find comfort in growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord (vs. 18).  In everything, God wants you to grow in two things: grace and knowledge.  If these two things don’t “turn you on” then perhaps you don’t understand what they are.  If grace and knowledge sound boring to you, then perhaps you have never delved into the wonderful overwhelming power that is contained in them.  If you try, but get nothing out of it, then perhaps you are not patient enough to let God work on you in His own time, perhaps you are neglecting Christ and growing in self instead.

Third, Start thinking right.  Are you one of those people who live by the saying: “live life to it’s fullest?”  Or do you misunderstand when someone says, “you only have one life to live” or “That’s the life” or “You only go around once in life.”  For the Christian it is true that you only have one life to live, but what we go through on this earth is so miniscule that God is going to burn the whole thing up after He takes us off of it.  You can NEVER, NEVER “live life to its fullest” on this earth.  It is a lie from the Devil to get you to focus on self instead of God.

Finally my friends, I leave you with this thought.  If God has put you someplace, He has done it for a reason.  If you are unhappy there, it is not because God is not working on you.  It is not because the people have changed.  Its because YOU MADE A DECISION FOR YOURSELF INSTEAD OF WAITING ON GOD.  ONLY YOU CAN FALL FROM YOUR OWN STEADFASTNESS!

Can You or Can’t You change your circumstances?

plant tomato gardenAn 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:

Dear Vincent,

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.

Love, Papa

A few days later he received a letter from his son:

Dear Papa,

Don’t dig up that garden. That’s where the bodies are buried.

Love, Vinnie

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.

Dear Papa,

Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That’s the best I could do under the circumstances.

Love you,

Vinnie

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.

circumstancesAll 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?

~Pastor

The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Leviticus 7:13 Besides the cakes, he shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offerings.
  3. Leviticus 22:29 And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.
  4. Psalm 107:22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.
  5. Psalm 116:17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.
  6. 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.

The Selflessness of Uriah the Hittite

2 Samuel 11:3-24Uriah, David and Bathsheeba 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.

I Am Crucified With Christ

Date Created: 11/8/11

Text: Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

 INTRODUCTION:

There are stories upon stories about people who were addicts, got victory over their addiction and then returned to it once again.  Usually, each time when they return to their addiction, they fall deeper and deeper into it, until they feel so hopesly lost, that it is no longer an addiction, but life for them.

Christians too are such addicts, but they are addicted to something else.  They can have victory over it, if they learn one simple principle:  TO BE CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST.  They must crucify the root cause of these addictions.  They are…

1.       The Crucifixion of Death to Self.

Each Christian must come to the point of giving in.  Not just for salvation, but to defeat self and allow Him to lead us through this journey of life.  We must realize the cross is continually calling.  As it took the death of the Lord Jesus Christ to allow us eternal life, so it takes dying to self for us to come alive.  Being alive to Christ can only come by death to the world, self and sin.

A)   Self wants to  Control.[1]

Self is continually struggling to dominate control of our life.  When you get control of one area, self dominates another.  It is like the elephant trying to stomp out the hordes of bothersome ants.

B)    Self wants to Conceal.

(Isa. 29:15;  Rom. 13:12; Eph. 5:11)

The evil works of man are done under the cover of darkness.  Self wants to dominate your night.  It wants to bring you into the dark areas of your life and if it can’t bring you there, it will create them.  The way to combat self is to put on the armour of light–the word of God.  Then to stay away from them, therefore getting a bigger picture and being able to identify what is wrong with them.  Stay in the light.

C)   Self wants to Condemn.

Job 9:20    John 3:18    Titus 3:10-11

Self wants to condemn a person so they will live a defeated life; always feeling like they are good for nothing.  People convince themselves that there is really nothing wrong with them.  But, the greatest condemnation in the world is to not accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your saviour.  The good news is—all you have to do is just DO IT!.  Self can be ignored for a little while.  Once you have the Lord in you, you will begin the long series of battles for domination of self, not self domination.

ILLUSTRATION:

2.       The Crucifixion of Death to this world.

Galatians 6:14 

The saviour calls for daily dying because we live in the world day by day.  If we do not surrender our hands to the piercing nails which hold us to the cross, then we cannot be set free from the world.  We must ignore the world and abide in the suffering eyes of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is possible to live in this world yet abide in the power of his resurrection.  Instead of living in a hopeless death, we do have the power to come alive.

A)   World wants to Influence.

James 4:4 

The world wants us to befriend it.  A little compromise here, a little there, then later a little more; and more and more, until it has completely influenced us to live as an enemy of God.  It’s influence is so subtle, that we don’t even realize it is happening to us.

B)    World wants to Infiltrate.

1 Timothy 6:17

The more the world can infiltrate our life, the more control it has upon us.  Practically speaking, this can be seen in worldly peer pressure: hair cuts, clothes, make up, music, talk, etc.  Why is it that Christians are not as submissive to Christianly peer pressure as they are to worldly pressure?  Because the world is infiltrating our lives in a much greater way.  We can turn that around by seeking more time with Christians and less time with the world.

C)   World wants to Inhabit.

2 Timothy 4:10 

When the Christian finally allows the world to “set up camp” in their lives (to inhabit), there is no desire at all for Christian influence.  THere may be token attempts to go to church once in awhile when times are bad, but their zeal and love seem to be gone.  When the world inhabits the life of a Christian, it is hard to begin living for the Lord again.

ILLUSTRATION:

3.       The Crucifixion of Death to Sin.

Sin’s influence on a Christian is not nearly the same as the world’s or that of self.  Sin is worst of all, yet for the Christian who has read his Bible, is the easiest to identify.  Simply put, sin is the bad things we do that we know God does not like; it is the things we do that make God angry.  We do not need sin in our life.  We must nail our sinful nature to the cross.  This is where it belongs.

A)   Sin wants to Separate.

Isaiah 59:2 

God can abide much, but He cannot abide sin.  Sin is too much for a perfect God to accept.  It is beyond His principles to accept it.  It must all be dealt with harshly. Because of its corrupting nature, sin must all be separated from Him; every single bit of it.  Thank God for the Lord Jesus Christ who paid for our sin.

B)    Sin wants to Shackle.

Hebrews 12:1 

Sin ties us down so we cannot run the race for God that we ought.  It holds us back as we drag it around like so many spiritual anchors, trying to hold us in one place.  We must crucify it to the cross.  We must die to it to unshackel its weighty influence.

C)   Sin wants to Shame.

1 Corinthians 15:34 

The greatest shame that sin causes in the life of the christian is in not telling others how to be saved.  If the blasphmy of the Holy Ghost is not accepting Christ and getting saved, how much are Christians adding to this sin by not telling others how to be saved?

ILLUSTRATION:

4.       The Crucifixion of LIFE to Christ.

Romans 6:4-6 

I Live By God’s Faith

I Live By God’s Love

I Live By God’s Sacrafice.

A)   Life wants to Lighten.

John 1:4 

Living a crucified life allows you to see things like you never did before.  His wisdom shines through the muck and mire of the world, sin and self.  there are new discoveries and revelations of old things known.  all things become new by the light given from a crucified life.

B)    Life wants to Liken.

1 John 3:1-2

We will be called the sons of God.  We are likened to Him by our crucifixion of Sin, self and the world.

C)   Life wants to Live.

Romans 6:23 

Life is eternal and you can have it.  A defeated Christian can have it right now.  An unsaved person can have it right now.  all you have to do is to accept it.

ILLUSTRATION:

 CONCLUSION:

There is no greater sacrifice, than to be crucified with Christ.  Yet it brings life.

INVITATION: