There are so many taxes that the people are reluctant to hear the word again. So, if there is to be any more “raising of taxes”, Big Brother has to do it by convincing people that they are getting something … Continue reading
Keep in touch with GBC
Recently posted articles
potpourri of past articles
It is too bad that there has to be so much emphasis today on MONEY! We all know that the Word of God tells us that “…the LOVE of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10). Of course, no real Christian relishes being immersed in evil, but we must all deal with this potential “time bomb” of spiritual destruction in the world in which we live today. It is almost as if it is one of those “necessary evils” to which we are bound, and can never shake loose from. WE NEED MONEY!
Families need money to live. We need “bucks” to pay for a place to live, put food on the table and clothes on our backs. These are the very basic’s of life. Everything else beyond this can be a luxury when considering the principle of “needs vs. wants.” Without the things that we need, we would be in a very bad way indeed. It is no wonder money becomes so valuable that we have a tendency to hoard it for the time when we may need it in the future. Of course, saving for specific needs is not bad, but we can get dangerously close to crossing over the line and LOVE our money. This is where we become contributor to the evil world system. Until that point, we are living under the evil effects of “love of money” that others may have; we are not actually contributors to that evil.
How does one know when they actually love their money vs. exercising good stewardship with the wealth that God has given them? It all lies in your reaction to money when you lose it. If you are devastated by the loss of it on a personal level, then most likely you are in love with it. However, if you are disappointed, but not smitten to the heart, (in other words: your joy for the Lord is affected), then you are not in love with it. You are just disappointed in your stewardship of it. But, this test is not always an indicator of love for money or not, but it is a good place to start.
God has put some very good and sure fire ways to keep from falling in love with this necessary evil, which we use every day. GIVE! Luke 6:38 tells us that we should “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.” If we have a heart to give, then we can step around ever falling in love with money. Man does not give away that which he is truly in love with. For example: I would never give to you my wife. I love her. She is very dear to my heart. I would never give to you my children, grand children, siblings or parents. I love them very much. However, I can give to you something that I hold highly valuable to me, but I am not in love with it. I value it, I do not love it. I can live without money, but I cannot live without my wife.
Money needs to be this way for us in our life. To keep from loving it, we need to give; not just once, but continually. In other words, we need to develop a giving heart. It is not coincidental that when we give, it is an expression of love towards others, but when we keep to ourselves, it is an expression of love of self.
God is not timid about providing an example in giving. He gave everything He had to redeem man from loving self. He showed the depths of His love in giving. Surely we too can give, and it doesn’t always have to be money. We can give of our time, talents, as well as our treasure. These are the three basic areas of our life which we have stewardship over where we can get tripped up. If we give of these areas of our life, then we are developing a giving and loving heart. Of course, as you examine them, the easiest and most likely to give from is our money. That simple little coin or ink covered piece of paper represents effort; effort that we exerted in which we were compensated for.
God wants us to keep from loving money because it will often times cause us to err “from the faith.” The primary effect of this evil for the Child of God is a falling away from God. When we cease from giving, and the love of money becomes rooted in us, we will certainly begin a downward spiral away from God. We know that God is the greatest giver of all, and if we are to be in fellowship with Him, we will be associated with the giving God. The sacrifices and offerings that we give to His cause is only a miniscule contribution to what He gives to them every day. And here is the reason why many people lose direction and faith in God: They have lost their desire to identify with Him in this area of their life. They may have lost it for a good reason or it may be a fabricated excuse, but they have lost it. It is logical and reasonable to conclude this since God told us this can happen and there are many Biblical examples from which we may take note. Some of the most famous are Ananias and Sapphira; Judas; and Demas, but there are many contemporary examples that each of us have certainly known. So, one sure fire way to keep from falling away from God is:
- Don’t fall in love with money.
- Develop and keep a giving heart.
Falling away from God is always subtle and slow. It doesn’t happen overnight, although one specific event could be the root cause to our beginning this downward trip. The Devil engineers it to be slow and subtle because he wants it to take hold in our life. If it was sudden, it would be too noticeable. We gradually plant, replant and transplant our produce so that it can grow steadily without a growth stunting shock. If we waited until it was too big, the roots would be all torn up when we transplanted it and it would either die or not recover in time enough to bear fruit for the season. Likewise is our giving in to the love of money. It happens slowly so we are not shocked by its effect on us. If we realized it was happening, we would discontinue following its sorrow piercing path.
No Christian wants to fall away from the Lord. No Christian wants to be pierced through with many sorrows. That is why I am writing this article: to give some insight to the process in which these are the results. If we can understand the mechanics of how this happens, then we can be aware of the signs our life projects; we can deal with it before it is too late. It could suffice to just say, “Give so you don’t fall in the condemnation of the Devil.” But there is really much to be said about that one bold statement. I strongly feel if people can understand the process, then they can be better equipped to deal with the product. So, I hope this message gives you a little insight to help you keep a strong and vibrant relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
In today’s world, when a person turns to God’s word, it is important that they find it. The Devil is a master deceiver. He can make you feel as though you are absolutely at peace being wrong. He can’t change dirt into ice cream, but he can make you think you are eating the most delicious ice cream when all the time you are eating dirt. Likewise, he can do the same with the Bible. He can make you think, beyond a shadow of doubt, that you have the right words of God when all the time you have a counterfeit. Martin Luther discovered this a long time ago and he was eventually killed for speaking out about it.
Psalm 12:6-7 says, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”
I trust as you look on the Bible Comparison charts included, that you will get some semblance of the deception that Satan has put in place as a policy to cause God’s people to become weak and anemic. I hope these will open your eyes.
In these times, we need to refocus on our church. One of the primary reasons we’re here is to share and live the Gospel and invite people to join His kingdom. The church that Jesus established is the display of God’s glory on earth, and we believe the church should be central to our lives and faith. So inviting people to our church is part of our core mission. Here’s some great innovative church invitation ideas to help you invite people to your church. You don’t need me to organize it…you and your small group, class or friends can just do it. At every one of these, you can pass out tracts and invite people to church.
- Grill out for the employees of a company or business.
- Set up a party trailer and a grill, at any community events.
- Dress up like a Star Wars character wherever there are people and take pictures with kids and families. Give them a special invite card with the location they can download the picture. You will have a blast and invite a bunch of people to church.
- Tailgate at high school football games. Give away hot dogs and invite people.
- Set up a moonwalk at a local park while events are happening.
- Volunteer at community runs and bike races
- Hand out coffee or hot chocolate at events downtown
- Give out hand warmers at winter events like the Christmas parade
- Provide “full service” at a local gas station – wash windows and leave a car freshener
- Show free family movies on Friday nights
- Help local schools with their fall festivals. Instead of re-creating the wheel, just help a school make their event better.
- Take professional pictures at local school talent shows
- Visit a nursing home
- Take a couple of hours and put out door hangers in your neighborhood or apartment complex.
- Be intentional about coaching a kids sports team.
- You and your kids set up a lemonade stand.
- Have a free garage sale…give away things and invite people to church
- Do a free car wash
- Walk around a neighborhood and collect canned food. Invite people to church while asking for food.
- Hand out helium balloons at special events
- Get a truck, ladder and a bunch of light bulbs and walk around and ask people if they need light bulbs changed.
- Set up a bounce house in front of a store. Managers are often open to anything that draws attention to their store.
- Put out road signs on the weekend (did you know most people who attend our church for the first time do so because they saw a road sign?)
- Put a giant leaf sign in the back of your truck. Politicians do it – our cause is way more important!
- Give away Oak Leaf silly bandz anywhere there are kids.
- Enter a float in one of the parades. Walk along side it and give away candy and invites.
- Take doughnuts to school teachers. Simply email the principal and ask if you can do it, set a day, and make it happen.
- Get a giant backpack sprayer and offer to spray for bugs in people’s homes. It might seem strange, but what a great way to talk to someone and invite them to church.
- Salt driveways when it ices during the winter.
- Help with field days at a local elementary school. What school wouldn’t appreciate volunteers?
- Take food to fire stations. Let them know you appreciate them and that they are always welcome at your church.
- Valet cars when a school has an open house.
- Provide childcare for high school graduations.
- Cook team meals before home games at local sporting events
- Pass out candy and invites at your own house on Halloween, or downtown where hundreds of children come to trick or treat every year.
- Better yet…come up with your own idea, get your friends or group involved, and make it happen. Let us know how we can help.
Date Created: 11/22/2013
(Psalm 107:1) O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
(Psalm 118:1) O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
1. He is Good
A) He is good when it is fashionable to be Bad
In order to impress others as being different, each generation degenerates yet a little farther, just to be different. People have such a need to be different from others that they do terribly bat things. I recently saw a photo of a person who had his lower lip pierced, inserting a large window in it so that you could see his teeth and gums.
B) He is good when the world is becoming Evil.
(Psalm 40:12) For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.
C) He is good when we need something good in our life.
Nobody NEEDS bad things. They WANT to do bad, for whatever reason. When troubles and trials come, people want something good to happen for them.
2. He is Merciful
A) He is Merciful when the Devil is NOT!
The Devil has no mercy at all. Even though you get saved, he still keeps working on you.
B) He is Merciful because we need MERCY!
We do wrong things and need forgiveness. When we don’t have the funds to pay our debts, it is nice to know there is a place we can go for mercy.
3. He is Enduring
A) He is Enduring because He is Stable.
B) He is Enduring because there is an Eternity (Isaiah 57:5).
(Revelation 21:6) And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
C) He is Enduring because we will be forever.
(Jude 7) Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
(Jude 21) Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
There are several things that it takes to make a church, but they can be divided into three basic things:
- People who want to form a church.
- A pastor who will lead the church.
- A place to meet.
The most important of the three are people who have a heart to make a church and a pastor. Otherwise, what you have is not more than a large Bible Study group. There are many “bible study” groups throught the country that are doing little for the Lord Jesus Christ. This happens because it takes special people with extreme dedication to stay in such an arrangement, and there are not many of these type of people. They stay for only so long, but when they are called upon to do something to help, they are looking for the exit. This happens often because “bible study” groups are typically small and unfunded. If you examine this situation objectively, you will find that there is a group of people who are happy to “take” anything they can get, but who resist having to do any “giving.” Anyone who has been a Christian for some time knows that this theology run’s against the grain of Bible Believing Christianity, whose leader and founder did the ultimate in giving. Therefore, it takes dedicated people to stay in a Bible Study group and they cannot remain in such a situation for long before they want to either: form themselves into a church or leave and find an already formed church. If they leave, then the group dissolves rather quickly. If they stay, then a church is born. But to have a church, there needs to be more than an idea or commitment to make it happen. You need a pastor.
Generally speaking a pastor puts a face upon the church. He is a point of contact for all business related to the church. This is in addition to the task of preaching and teaching the families who ask him to come lead them. So, like the school teachers of the early American settlers day, he is given the authority to do so, in exchange for the families of the church supporting him financially. In the early pioneer days, farmers had to work hard to keep sustaining their families. They didn’t have the time or the means whereby to educate their children. But, they knew that an education was valuable and they wanted it for their children. So, they would come together as a community and hire a teacher to teach their children in exchange for some form of compensation. It was like this for the communities and the pastors as well. The difference being that the pastor addressed the spiritual education and well being of not only the children, but the entire family as well. Today’s bible believing churches are not so much different, even though times have well changed and things have become more modern in the way of doing things. All of this to say, usually when a pastor is called, money comes into the picture. Weekly collection of money begin to take place. Therefore, somebody has to manage this as well, and who has time for that? Usually this job is deligated to the pastor.
When money comes into the picture, rules need to be established in order to protect the investment of the church. So, churches form a constitution containing laws and by-laws. They establish all of the belief’s and boundries of the churches charter. All of this comes about because the “bible study” group has brought a pastor now into the picture. The Bible Study group has now become a church. There is no doubt about it; the need for, and calling of a pastor brings the bible study group into the realm of being a church. But, this is not where it ends.
A church also needs a place to meet. True, a church can be a church in “name only” without any place to meet. But, it will not last long as a church on paper. It needs a place for the general public to come and participate in the churches activities. Yes, in the Bible you read of “house churches,” but you have to realize that was a different time and place. They were meeting secretly for fear of the Jews and worshippers of other god’s. When I lived in China, our church was a “secret church.” We met in parks, the woods, the jungle, by the seaside, and in several different houses as well. Seldom did we get the entire church together at one time. On a typical day, I would first go to one house and preach to several there. Then I would go to another house, and so forth until I met with the entire church. This way, everyone was able to be ministered to. It took a lot of work on my part, but was necessary for the safety of the brethren.
It is not that way in the USA. We can still meed openly without fear of reprisal. So, when you read in the Bible about house churches, you would do well to remember the situation the church was in during that time. Churches need a place to meet. If they do not have one, then it becomes difficult to hold the church together, and even grow the church as well. People need to know the church is there.
Still, through all of this, there is always the need for dedicated people who are willing to go through the pain necessary to “birth” a new church. It is not the typical church experience as one would have if they went to an “already established” church. They have to work harder, be nicer, give more, evangelize much, and above all: PRAY.
We are fortunate here at GraceBaptistChurch. We have a dedicated group of Christians who are willing to shoulder the burden to carry the church through the entire delivery process. One day, we will see the fruits of our labor realized. Right now, we have the people; we have the pastor; we have a place to meet, but we do not have our own place where we can invoke typical church activities to help families grow in the Lord. We are ever so thankful for the Grange, but we only rent the hall for Sunday’s. We have no other place to conduct business for any other day of the week. It is difficult to find Grace Baptist, and then, when people do drive up, they think, “is this the church?” The Grange does not look like a church on the outside.
We need to pray for our own place. We need to ask God to provide for us a place to “anchor” GraceBaptistChurch. Not only that, we need to give to the building fund. Surely, people of the church could give ONE DOLLAR over and above their usual tithe for the future of the church. If everyone just gave ONE DOLLAR a week, that would only be FOUR Dollars a month. That can’t be too hard on anyone’s pocket book. Friends, if you added all of that up, together it would be a significant figure. God’s answer to our prayer for help may be, “I already helped you. I gave the people the funds necessary. If they don’t put it in the building fund, then it’s not my fault.” If the church is going to be worth something to us; if it is going to have value, then we need to invest in it. One day, we too can have our own building.
Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son.
Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles, California won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn’t notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor’s hubcaps.
Terrence Dickson, of Bristol, Pennsylvania, was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to open. Worse, he couldn’t re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut. Forced to sit for eight days and survive on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the home owner’s insurance company claiming undue mental anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish.
Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor’s beagle – even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner’s fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.
A jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay $113,500 to Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania because after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.
Kara Walton, of Claymont, Delaware sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000 plus dental expenses.
Mrs. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, purchased new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver’s seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owners manual that she couldn’t actually leave the driver’s seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.
Let me just say it up-front and here: The world is going crazy! There never seems to be a lack of knowledge, but there sure is a lack of common sense right now. There is a great difference between the two. Knowledge is just that—knowledge. Common sense is—knowing how to use that knowledge. For several decades now the people have been bombarded with knowledge. We have knowledge coming out of our ears. This is the problem—we have too much knowledge, but we seriously lack wisdom to know how to use it properly.
The reason that we have this lack in ability to use the knowledge that we have is because there has been a wholesale retreat from the word of God and from God Himself. God is the one who gives common sense. In Nehemiah when the people stood in their place and the words of God were read to them, they obtained knowledge. But, as the words were being read, “God distinctly… gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Neh. 8:8). Because there has been a disdain of God, there has been a lack of common sense.
In the garden of Eden, Adam was told not to eat of the fruit of the tree of KNOWLEGE of good and evil. Why? Because in the very day that he would eat of that fruit, his EYES WOULD BE OPEN. That is what happened—man’s eyes were open but his mind is shut off. Knowledge keeps pouring in, but to no avail, there is no sensible way to use the knowledge unless you turn to God and get a little common sense.
Those who know me, know that I always tell a person before getting saved, they will get “new eyes.” I am telling them, (and you if you are unsaved today while reading this), they will begin seeing the same old things they have seen all of their life, but from a different perspective. That is the perspective of common sense. God will cause them to understand the things that they have KNOWN as they read their Bibles.
This is how an intelligent person, a person with an ability to store huge amounts of knowledge, can come up with such “far out” theories as: evolution, big bangs, black holes, expanding universes and space within space. The have a lot of knowledge, but cannot disseminate it, that is to say, use it in a common sense way. It is not enough for them to know gravity exists, but they must understand it. This is a good example of taking something that they know exists (gravity) and apply common sense to it (how it works).
I know that someone will focus on what they desire and miss the whole purpose of this little article. They will think that I am saying that knowledge is not good, and that like most preachers, will think that we have to have blind faith to be a Christian. That is not so. Knowledge is profitable, but only if it is coupled with common sense, so it can be used wisely.
The world today seems to be getting more stupid as we go along; yet there is more knowledge out there than has ever been before. How is that? There is a lack of common sense; there is a disdain for God.
Living a worry free Christian life by setting your affections on things above.
Christians today struggle with how to make it in this world. Life is hard and there is no respect for the Christian who lives off of “spiritual welfare.” God has given us all of the tools that we need to navigate this life, but we must not become a part of this world system. Christians should live above of this world system, and it should hold nothing that would compete for our affections, but it does.
Christians have a choice to make regarding their affections: we can give them to this present life, or to the life to come; we can give them to this world or to the new world. This present world, and all of the things we are affectionate about is going to be destroyed by God and replaced with a new one. The choice is whether we will set our affections on the things of old or the things anew.
To live a healthy, worry free life, you must set your affections on things above and not on things of the earth. All true lovers of God know that they are dead to this worldly life and the things that it has to offer. There is nothing in the world that can compete with the life that we have hidden in Christ, which will be revealed to us when He appears. Christians who live for the pleasures, satisfaction or rewards of this life, are misguided in their affections. It is not what Christ can do for you, it is what Christ has ALREADY DONE for you. Is this world your home or are you just passing through?
Many churches love their pastors and show it by taking good care of him. They stand by him and what he is trying to do for the Lord because they know what he is facing. They understand his situation because they think about him, know he is a man and value him as a gift provided to them by God. But if I am to believe some of the survey statistics published on pastors and their view towards the ministry, the vast majority of fellow pastors do not receive such care. Consider these figures compiled by the Schaeffer Institute:
Hours and Pay
- 90% of the pastors work between 55 to 75 hours per week, even though their congregations don’t see it.
- feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
- 70% of pastors are grossly underpaid and with what they do receive, they are usually the biggest giver to their church.
Training and Preparedness
- 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.
- 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered it.
Health and Well-Being
- 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
- 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a sufficient living.
Marriage and Family
- 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
- 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked.
- 80% spouses feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.
- 70% do not have someone they consider as a close friend.
- 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
- #1 reason pastors leave the ministry — Church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor. Pastors believe God wants them to go in one direction but the people are not willing to follow or change and become critical of him.
- 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
- 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
- 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.
- Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
- Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month, many without cause.
- Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year.
That’s a sad and alarming picture, isn’t it? Work long hours in a job with too many demands for too little pay. Many have the wrong skills and the wrong expectations. Families being pressured and battered. Pastors are discouraged and depressed. No friends, serious conflict once a month, and people who will not follow. Is it no wonder so many quit so soon?
According to one survey, only 23% of pastors report being happy and content in their identity in Christ, in their church, and in their home.
I suspect, however, that men in these situations might be crippled all the more were they to faithfully preach a text like 1 Tim. 5:17-20. They would be seen as self-serving and courting with more hostility and dissatisfaction from a people already running afoul of God’s call to churches to honor faithful servants.
So, I’m hopeful at least some of God’s people would consider these statistics, reflect upon their church’s treatment of their pastors, and perhaps lead a conspiracy to make sure faithful elders receive “double honor” from those they teach and lead. Let’s face it: we can’t get survey statistics like these unless it has become an unchecked commonplace among congregations to gossip and gripe rather than to breathe grace toward church leaders. These statistics indicate a pandemic culture of disregard and dishonor aimed at pastors. That’s to the church’s shame.
I’m praying that Hebrews 13:17–rather than rejected as giving too much authority to leaders–might be embraced by individual members and congregations as one means to growth in Christ and deeper joy as the family of God. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”
There is a big move in the Christian world to build communities rather than churches. In this they are following the former example of President Barak Obama. They try to organize a community into a viable force to work with, then they can fix themselves up as leaders (or rulers) of that community.
In the roots of the word “community” can be seen the word “common.” From this word also comes the word “communism.” An “ism” is a belief of practice of a religious sort. You can see that community building is done not much differently than communism is done: do things for the people that they deem helpful to themselves in the immediate, so you can control them later down the road. For Biblical example to this, Christian Community Organizers turn to the Book of Acts where it says the believers had, “…all things common.” (Acts 2:44; 4:32). What they had in common was a result of loving God. It was not community of people having a great time together.
If you were to build a community, you could be able to accomplish this task by simply being an investor. You could buy up some land and build some houses on it for people to live in, hence–community. The people would be unified in where they lived, but not necessarily in heart or belief. It is easy to build a community by having a bunch of fun activities for people to do. Therefore, Christian community building is doing anything fun so people will come to your community activity. It is accomplished by not doing or saying anything that may be offensive to another, even at the expense of truth. Christian communities therefore side-step the job of evangelism and go straight to the fellowship aspect of a church; they are a “partial church” heavily stressing fellowship and overlooking obedience and truth. Paul warned of such deceitful activities when he said, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ear from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Tim. 4:2-4) Today, that equates to having Christian communities who have fun getting together, but could care less about enduring sound doctrine. Their ears itch to have some teacher teach them how to have fun, food and fellowship only.
Jesus gave himself for the church as a husband is supposed to do for his wife (Eph. 5:25). He did not give himself for a “common unity.” Jesus plans to present the “common unity of believers”–church; to himself holy and without blemish (Eph 5:27). Not any old community. He will not present a community of non-believers without spot or wrinkle to himself. It is the church that He is working on to perfect. It is the church that makes up the body of Christ.
God called us to start churches. Churches not only encompass a “common unity of believers,” but first and foremost prepare the individual for presentation to the Lord. Churches seek to carry out the great commission first and fellowship second. Herein lies the great problem–People would rather have the fun, but not do the work of the Lord. Or, they call their service to the community “fun stuff”, their work for the Lord when it is not. Before ascending into heaven, He only gave us one job to do–win souls.
Jesus loves the church as a whole, not just when believers get together to “feel good” about themselves as some sort of modern day “AA” support group. The Christian community organizers would have you to think that the word “church” is some sort of archaic word that has negative or bad connotations. That is a lie. How can Jesus ever use a word that would go out of date? He is eternal and therefore His words are eternal, else one could easily believe that the gospel is archaic. The church does not go out of date. It is contemporary. People are easily deceived because the Devil has worked very hard to dilute and discredit the true church with alternatives (like “communities”). What has happened, is God’s people have given up on God because they are selfish. They don’t want to do anything but be entertained, unless it is something THEY want to do and not something GOD wants them to do.
The Book of Romans
The book of Romans is the first doctrinal book of the New Testament. It sets the tone for understanding all of the following books that apply to the church age.
- Hand write the entire book in English. Write it in a notebook and turn it in for credit. This will be 25% of your total score.
- Keep a notebook of content taught in class or from watching the videos and turn it in for credit. This will be 25% of your total score.
- Take exam for the course, (Can use handwritten Romans notebook for reference). This will be 25% of your total score.
- Memorize verses: 3:10; 5:6; 5:7-8; 5:12; 6:10; 6:23; 8:28; 10:9-13; 12:1-2. Verses must be recited in person or over the phone by an authorized instructor. Arrangement for time must accommodate the instructor. This will be 25% of your total score.
- Textbook: King James Bible.
- Assignments are due before credit will be given for the class.
Title WORK SHEET VIDEO 1. Chapter 1 Work Sheet 1 1:1-2; 3-7; 8-15; 16-20; 21-32. 2. Chapter 2 Work Sheet 2 2:1; 2-11; 12-24; 25-29. 3. Chapter 3 Work Sheet 3 3:1-8; 9-18; 19-25; 26-31. 4. Chapter 4 Work Sheet 4 4:1-3; 4-8; 9-13; 14-16; 17-21; 22-25. 5. Chapter 5 Work Sheet 5 5:1-2; 3-5; 6-11; 12-17; 18-21. 6. Chapter 6 Work Sheet 6 6:1-7; 8-11; 12-13; 14-17; 18-23. 7. Chapter 7 Work Sheet 7 7:1-3; 4-6; 7-13; 14-25. 8. Chapter 8 Work Sheet 8 8:1-9; 10-16; 17-25; 26-28; 29-30; 31-39. 9. Chapter 9 Work Sheet 9 9:1-5; 6-13; 14-24; 25-29; 30-33. 10. Chapter 10 Work Sheet 10 10:1-11; 12-21a; 12-21b. 11. Chapter 11 Work Sheet 11 11:1-6; 7-11. 12. Chapter 12 Work Sheet 12 12:1-3. 13. Chapter 13 Work Sheet 13 13.1 14. Chapter 14 Work Sheet 14 14.1 15. Chapter 15 Work Sheet 15 15.1 16. Chapter 16 Work Sheet 16 16.1
Nahum 1:2-8 God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies. 3The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. 4He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth. 5The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. 6Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him. 7The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. 8But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies.
There are people who cannot believe that God would ever do anything as terrible as cause an earthquake, flood, storm, or any natural catastrophe. They can’t believe that God would ever cause people to die in large numbers such a way. “What kind of God would do such a thing?” they demand. “How could a loving God do something like this to us?”
They have failed to see that God is a jealous God. He will not share his position with anyone else. He is appalled by man’s direction of worshipping anything except Him. It makes him angry. It makes him jealous and he calls people who do such: enemies.
“What kind of god would make me his enemy? I never did anything to him?” his critics ask. God did not make you his enemy. The thing that most people don’t see is that THEY made God THEIR enemy. In His Word, He is just acknowledging their position and responding to their treatment of Him. Isn’t it funny how those who refuse to believe in God are the ones who have such a terrible time with this? However, those who accept Him for who He is, and have read the Bible to learn about Him, have little problem with God doing whatever He wants to do.
God does send natural catastrophe’s to judge man. He dies not hide behind that fact. In doing so, He is very fair and merciful at the same time. He has given mankind warning after warning throughout the annals of history. He gave the bible showing what he will do in response to man’s denial of him and pursuit of sin. There are historical examples of his judgment on the world with a flood as well as other famous judgments like the ones on Sodom and Gomorrah. Finally, God has left his people here—Bible Believers—to proclaim His intentions. So, if anyone dies and goes to hell—It’s NOT God’s fault!
We do not live in a perfect world. This is very unfortunate for all of us. It would be wonderful if everything we tried to do was easy. But unfortunately it is not. It is difficult to find the right mate to create a family with. It is difficult to bare and rear children. It is difficult to make ends meet, to struggle in the never ending pursuit of money just so that we can pay our bills, put enough food on the table for our families and to be able to have a little bit to do something fun once in a while. Life certainly is not easy the world presses in on us with all sorts of external pressures that want us to fall not only physically but spiritually and mentally as well. There are pressures in relationships, pressures about finances, pressures about health, and pressures about being able to compete and keep up with the Jones–so to speak. However all of these pursuits are pursuits that are going to one day vanish in the wind and mean absolutely nothing. As a Christian I am sure that you know as well as I do that only the things that we do spiritually for God are what remains. All other endeavors are simply to take care of the immediate needs of our lives, and they will all one day, as a vapor, vanish in the wind floating softly out into nothingness, and they will mean absolutely nothing. They will neither be a repulsive smell unto the Lord or a sweet smelling savor unto him. They will mean nothing.
With that in mind I would like to challenge each and every one of you today to try to remember that we are all in the same boat. We all have the same difficulties, we all have the same problems, and we are all struggling with one thing or another. It doesn’t matter what it is we are struggling with, we are still all struggling. Each and every one of us know how difficult it is. We know it is difficult to deal with life, we know it is difficult to deal with the world, difficult to deal with self, we know it is difficult to deal with the future; especially when we know it is certainly holding for us nothing more promising than pain, distraught and trouble. I mean we know that we call it the uncertain future but it is really not uncertain. Men only perceive that it is uncertain but it is not.
Because we are all in the same boat, we ought to be hand in hand, interlocking arms, intertwined, supporting each other, helping each other, holding each other up in prayer. We ought to be tolerant of each other because we know that the trouble that we have others have as well. Unfortunately this does not always work and it doesn’t work because there is that silly thing that always comes into the picture called pride. Pride is when we are more interested in our self than we are in someone else. At times I might be able to say that there could be great justification for that, because it is wearisome to have someone constantly knit picking you. It is wearisome to have someone constantly comparing themselves to you or to demanding their rights based on their standards and trying to place that upon you. It is wearisome trying to obey the laws of the land and then when you travel into another country for example the laws are much different so you have a whole new set of things to learn. When you travel back you find that in your own country laws have changed. So it is hard to keep up with the times in such a dynamic world and dynamic place where things are changing all the time.
But let me comfort you with this, God’s word never changes despite what the world does to attack it and make it seem like it is constantly in motion, evolving toward temporary situations that are not true. There are the basic elements of man that never change. There is always going to be jealousy, there is always going to be pleasure, there is always going to be sin, there is always going to be envy, there is always going to be strife and so on and so forth. All of these things may take different forms as we deal with different people or different cultures or different times even, but the basic tendon’s of those things never change. As Christians we need to not live on the surface where things are changing and sand is shifting all the time. We need to do what the Bible calls stand on the rock, where we know that these things never change and that envy is envy whether it was for a chariot of old or for a BMW of contemporary times or maybe some space vehicle in the future. Who knows? But envy is still envy. It is a human nature that makes up what we call sin. Love will never change it is always going to be love. We may change our approach toward it but it is still there.
Now why is it that many Christians are wrapped up in the surface issues of life and the changing demands of time? I believe it is because they have not yet learned to be content in whatsoever state they are in as the apostle Paul said. Once you become content then those things don’t really upset you. You don’t need a whole bunch of surface things in your life to make you feel good about yourself or give you something where by you can judge yourself to see how you are doing in life or not. You know it all comes down to this one little statement. The statement that my mother always said as we were growing up, I don’t know if she realized it had such a Godly principle or not, but here it is: “Que sira sira”. Spanish for meaning: whatever will be will be. We are not going to change the avalanche of fate over-running this world. We can either go along with the flow; not meaning go along with the world, but go along with what God brings into our life, and look at it that way or we can allow it to bowl us over. It will either do one or the other. Now what will it be? In China they had a phrase called “Mei guan xi”. It means, “it doesn’t matter”. They would say that about everything, “it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter”. That is because when they’ve lived in such a poor state all of their lives, barely having a shack to live in with dirt floors. They were completely filled with joy just to have more from their harvest than they would need to be able to last them all through the winter. When they did, they were happy to share it with others. When you get to that state, things do not really matter too much. You learn to live within the state that God has you in.
So why don’t we pick up our boot straps and look at the world like this? Mei guan xi. That is not to say stick your head in the sand. It is not to pridefully shrug your shoulders and say it doesn’t matter, as if you don’t care. You should care but you should not let it upset you. Let things just go their course.
I have found out though my life that things just seem to work out. You do not have to get all upset about things. I use to get upset about many things, little things, stupid things, dumb things. Now that I have been thinking about this perhaps it is just that people get some kind of emotional high off of being upset. When they feel that adrenalin set in, it sparks anger or interest in their life and they feed off of it. Have you ever see two people argue and they just won’t let it go? They always have to “one up” the other person. You look at it from a distance and you say, “Why don’t they just give up? What are they going to gain by it?” Many times people argue just to argue. When they are doing that, they win an argument and walk away saying I won! But what does that mean? It means absolutely nothing. Mei guan xi, it doesn’t matter.
God said the principle thing is love. Love is letting the other person be right. Love is not letting your anger boil to the surface. When you feel it coming you just realize it and you side step the pitfall that will waste all of your energy and allow you to end up at the bottom of a big hole somewhere with every body looking down on you, and you feeling ashamed of yourself. Of course you will be able to walk away with pride, holding up your head saying, “I won.” But, what does it mean? It means nothing if the outcome doesn’t have some positive result. What is it worth?
I remember a time when a friend of mine went out to eat with his wife. He didn’t have much money so he took her to Subway. A third man walked in the door. He was all upset and was making a big scene, being angry, yelling at the girl behind the counter about his sandwich. Finally she had served him and he was leaving and as he was leaving my friend with his back to him the whole time didn’t know anything about what was going on but his wife could see it all. She kind of snickered, a slight snicker, slight smile thinking my goodness people sure are terrible. The guy picked up on that and he ran over and grabbed my friend by the shoulder and said you think that is funny? My friend was just shocked; he didn’t know what was going on. The guy turned around and punched him in the face. My friend was sitting there happily eating his sandwich one moment and the next moment laying there in the seat on the bench with a big shiner. Well the guy got all angry and he turned around and went to go out the door and as he went he flung the door open toward himself, and as he went storming out he hit his head on the door and gave himself a shiner. Walked out and got in his car real angry because he beat himself up with the door. Now what did it all accomplish? Not a thing. Probably made him feel better about himself and got down the road a little ways and thought that was a dumb thing to do. Maybe his pride was so strong that it just didn’t allow him to think it was a dumb thing to do. But guess what! It was a dumb thing to do.
We’re all in the same boat concerning love too! People need to love each other. They need to have a little patience, and give things a little time. Now there are those situations where it doesn’t matter how much you love someone, or how patient you are with them, people pick up on your love as a weakness and they begin to dominate you. You feel completely helpless in a situation like that. You think I can either fight back or I can just get out of the situation. My friend that is the best advice. Limit your time, distance and shielding. My mother said time heals all wounds. She was right about that. I have learned that if you keep distance you end up shielding yourself from the effects that cause you to want to fall and stumble for the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes you have to stay away from things. For example, it is not good for a diabetic to go into a candy store. Why tempt yourself on something you know is going to end up making you fall.
So I encourage you all lend a helping hand to each other, be patient to everyone and if you can’t and it ends up dragging you down, don’t go in the candy store. Shield yourself. Things will work out in the end. People have to be people and people have to learn to deal with each other for Jesus Christ. We’re all in the same boat!
Here we go with the Atheist again. Recently they have taken out a huge billboard add proclaiming that Christianity is a myth. In Times Square their add has Santa Claus on the top with the caption “Keep the Merry!” A photo of Jesus on the cross at the bottom with the caption “Dump the myth!” David Silverman, head of the American Atheist said a private donor paid more than $25,000 to post the billboard sign for one month.
They spend huge amounts of money trying to convince people that there is no God. It simply is not enough that they don’t believe in God, they have to convince others to join their cause. Why can they not let people believe as they wish? Why do they attempt to steer people’s minds to their cause?
They are zealots. They are not only non-believers in God, but they are fanatically against God. They are haters of God and will not be satisfied unless others hate God as well. I guess you could say they love their sin (Jer. 14:10; 2 Tim. 3:2). They Love it so much that they don’t want to be accountable to anything that offends their love for it.
With that in mind, I am really quite amazed that their primary tactic in the war against God is to boldly proclaim that he is a fairy tale. It’s amazing they are afraid of a fairy tale. I mean really, if God and the Bible were really just a fairy tale, then why be afraid at all? Why spend tremendous amounts of money just to make that statement. It seems quite foolish to me and I wonder if there is a flaw in their thought process (1 Cor. 8:2). After all, most of the leaders of their fastidious movement were educated in the finest universities our great nation had to offer.
Atheists would not be so bad if they didn’t try to so vehemently attack Biblical Christianity. It doesn’t seem as if they are as much for the promotion of Atheism as they are for the undermining of Christianity. They are negative people; haters of Christ. That seems what they exist for as an organization. I mean, why don’t you see more billboards explaining or promoting their belief as opposed to signs attacking Biblical Christianity? Why do they turn so quickly to “hate speech”? I think we see a patter to their actions.
One of the men who ordained me to the ministry, Dr. Ken Blue, recently wrote, “How come you never see atheist attacking the Muslim religion?” I think this is a very good question indeed. Why is it that you never see signs or T.V. adds attempting to defunct other religions? Of course, as a Christian I know why, and I am sure you do as well. They are filled with hatred for their creator and are in a total and organized rebellion from Him. This explains why they are so quick to use “hate speech.”
Curious, I went to the website of the American Atheist to see what all the hub-bub was about. I found that there was not one thing mentioned about any other religion than Biblical Christianity. There were articles about how an atheist can deal with, and argue apologetically with, a Christian apologetically. Most of their arguments revolved around two things: asking the Christian how he can prove what he believes and the pointing out “supposed” contradictions in the Bible. The premise was: if you can get the Christian cornered to the point of saying “God said it! I believe it! Case closed!” then they could dismiss Christianity as a simple “belief” and nothing of substance. Of course, the first and foremost attack of their argument was the inconsistencies of various bibles. Since there were so many different Bibles, and no one still living has ever seen the original manuscripts, then how could you even know you have God’s word at all? Very tricky! An attack on the word of God itself. If the Christian would defend their position by saying God promised to preserve His word (Ps. 12:6-7), they were to immediately classify that as the “God said it! I believe it! Case closed!” argument and dismiss your reply.
To them, this might seem very good indeed but they neglect to realize that God’s very creation bears witness to the truth of His word, and day and night validate His message. For example: Creation is the only logical explanation for the existence of all things. It is certainly not an illusion, nor is it evolution. Any kind of “big bang” would not produce all of the order that is revealed before us. So, the burden is really on them to explain how they can so confidently prove there is no God. This they cannot do. Any attempt to try requires them to abandon truth and rely upon what they believe, and when they do, it is similar to them stating: “I believe it! Case closed!”
Suffice it to say that there is no logically functioning mind that could deny the existence of God. Therefore, they have a problem with their minds. They don’t think right. They don’t know how to think properly and logically. Most likely because they are blinded by their rebellious hatred for God.
Must Christians struggle against them? Must we fight back? This is an interesting question and I feel that there is no need to strive with an atheist. We are to witness and never be ashamed of our Lord Jesus Christ, but they are truly acting like children throwing a fit to get attention. The more you ignore them, the less they have to throw a fit about. The more they keep getting put on the front page of news papers, the more they are encouraged in their ridiculous cause. If people today could just leave God to His business and get busy doing what they were told to do, there would be less rebellion from God in the world.
God told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He did not tell us to wrestle with atheist over illogical premises. If Christians had been doing, wholeheartedly, what they should have been doing, there would be more people saved and less atheists to deal with in the first place.
Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
While God is a God of love, He is also a God of hate. We know that God loves His Son Jesus, and that He hates sin, but it doesn’t end right there. He loves many more things. As we read the Bible, we can see that He loves mercy, truth, humility and kindness to mention just a very few. But here, in this one passage of Scripture, He gives a concentrated list of some of the more important things that He hates. They are all self-explanatory and even the child can understand what they are. However, when God gets to sowing “discord” among the brethren, He is now dealing with the church only, for we in the church are: brethren.
Discord is any attempt to gender disagreement or difference of opinion. It is attempting to put at variance or opposition to the rest of the body. It win’s it’s evil victory when it produces angry passions of dispute or contest between persons. It’s method of attack is to clash; it does not disagree with a proper attitude of love and therefore seeks it’s own exaltation. This is what the Lord HATES–discord AMONG THE BRETHREN.
You cannot have a group of people where people do not talk about other members within the group. It is common and natural to do so because; well, they all have something in common–the group. Discord therefore, has nothing to do with talking about other members in the group. It has to do with talking about others with the intent to divide and hurt the group. God hates this very much and will not long abide it within the church He is trying to build. It is important to remember that because I will come back to that later.
The greatest example of attempting to sow discord amongst the group (other than the Devil himself) was Judas Iscariot. He thought he could sell out the Lord and divide the group. He was motivated by greed and self. He wanted to be and feel important. He could be up there with the big wigs setting the direction of actions for the nation, but in fact he was used. Yes, the Pharisees used him, but more so, he was used by the Devil to carry out his attack on God’s work. That is what people who sow discord amongst the brethren do today. They are being used by the Devil and they don’t even realize it. They are an instrument of his destruction, yet they cannot see it, and like Judas, the Lord will separate them from the group in His own time. Until that time, they will be continually frustrated that they are not able to gain foothold, because the Lord protects His flock.
Some might say, “Doesn’t the Bible say that we are supposed to divide the word of truth in 2 Timothy 2:15?” Well, not exactly. It says there that we are to “RIGHTLY DIVIDE” the WORD OF TRUTH. This is not for sowing discord, but in being able to interpret it properly. If you continue to verse 16, the next thing it says is that we are to “…shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.” So, when a person is continually trying to sow discord amongst the brethren, God’s answer for this is to “shun”. This is not done in the old Quaker or Mennonite sense, but it means to don’t converse with them. Why? Because even if your guard is up, and even if you are determined to change the subject if you hear something divisive, the problem is that you still hear it. You can’t take it back. You can’t get it out of your mind. It is imbedded there and the Devil knows that. Your mind will ponder it, even if you don’t discuss it with anyone else, the seed is planted and it begins to grow into it’s evil work. So, the best thing to do is tell the person that you will not entertain any part of that subject, and if you persist, then I must leave. If there is no change on their part, and they persist in sowing discord, then it is best to not even fellowship with them. Love them, but don’t listen to someone who is saying things that are dividing up the brethren. Once it is in your mind, it will eat you up.
If you think you are unintentionally sowing discord amongst the brethren, then you need to ask the Lord for forgiveness. Then the best rule of thumb is to hold your tongue (James 3:5, 6, 8). Learn to be a good listener and not a talker. If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.
If you are not sure if you are saying divisive things or not, you need to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to put His finger on that part of your life and identify it. You will know if the peace of God comes upon you. You will know if you are being true to yourself or not.
The vehicle of discord is GOSSIP. Gossip is a truly destructive thing. I am not talking about talking about each other. That is not gossip. Gossip is when you a person speaks idle tales; tattles; or tells destructive things about each other. You can always tell a gossip because they like to talk allot. They talk so much that it is difficult to end a conversation with them. They also like to say the same thing over and over. And, the subject of their conversation does not brag on or build another person up, it tears others down. Their conversations therefore, are usually filled with self exaltation at the expense of others. And this is where the discord comes in. To promote self, you must put down others, hence–discord.
Recently our church has come together with one common cause. The Devil does not like it when we are united. His attack will come in many forms, but all with the intention of sowing discord amongst the brethren. I trust this article will give you some insight on how to recognize it and what to do when you identify it. May God bless you richly as you serve the Lord.
In John 6:1-13 there is the wonderful story of the feeding of the 5000. The story is wonderful for many reasons. One of the biggest is the location. He led those people to a deserted place. A desert place is a place where there is nothing. Deserted places are places where you cannot find food or water. Deserted places are places where you can be alone. Nobody lives there. A wilderness is a quiet place, no computers, there is no watching TV, no radio, and no music, and there is only you and the wilderness. And so, Jesus leads people out there where they don’t have anything.
I remember one time when a friend told me “You need to go out to Blake Island and spend three days with God. Three days!” Blake Island is a small Island in the middle of the Puget Sound and you can only get there by boat. He said to me, “I want you to promise that you will go there and when you get there, I want you to pull the boat up on the shore and you don’t get into that boat to go anywhere until three days are up. You just stay right there.”
“Ok, I’ll just bring my Walkman and some other stuff.
“No! You only bring one thing, your Bible.” I was a little scared agreeing to that but I did.
I smoked a lot of cigarettes in those early days of being saved, but just before I got in the kayak to push off, Jay said, “Hey, give me those” pointing to my pack of smokes. “You’re going to quit. God is going to take them away from you. If you want them when you get back, you can have them. If you don’t I’ll throw them away.” I was shaking a little as I gave them to him, but I was in it all the way for Jesus.
“What am I going to do for three days”, I asked myself as I paddled there. I took three oranges, three cans of food, some coffee, a knife and my Bible. That’s all I took. When I got to that Island, it was early eight o’clock in the morning and I set up my tent. I sat down and read my Bible. I read for what I thought was a long time, but when I looked at my watch, I had only been there for one hour. I decided to have something to eat, so I ate. Then I cleaned everything up, washed it and got everything back together again. Now two hours had gone by. I still had two days and twenty two hours to go. Before that evening was over, I was so bored that I had eaten all my food. The next day all I had was coffee and my Bible.
Wilderness places are lonely places. And when you are in a lonely place, there are no distractions. Its easy for God to talk to you. Its easy to get something from God. Its easy to improve your relationship with Him.
I read the book of Psalms, Proverbs and almost the whole New Testament. For three days, I just read and read and read. All I had to do was read my Bible and talk with God. I soon found myself talking with God out loud. I was asking Him some really unusual things. I asked, “God, that is an incredible beautiful leaf, how did you make that? I mean, look at all the different leaves, all the different kinds of trees in the world, and why did you make this little leaf right here on this tree?” I am not saying anything mysterious happening, but it was just as if God was standing there with me saying, “Why do you think I made that little leaf right there, the one you’re looking at?”
A leaf is insignificant. In this whole wide world there are many insignificant leafs. Now I was looking at one specific leaf and having a conversation with God over it. It was as If God put it there for this specific time in history just for me. He was showing me how beautifully and wonderfully made it. He was saying to me, “I created that little insignificant leaf just for you Ron. I put all of that detail in it so you can see how much I care. I made that leaf very special and I put it here on this tree, on this Island, just for you to see.” The thought was overwhelming. I didn’t know if it was the fasting or not, but my knees began to shake.
“What about colors God? Why don’t I just see black and white like they say animals do? What is black and white anyway?” I was asking and the resounding, repetitive answer was always, “I made it for you. I did it just for you.” God made this world for me. He made the world before He made me, and put me on it. “Why is the water blue and why does it wave the way it does? Why do I see faces in the clouds?”
“I did it for you. I gave you a mind to see it.” “Why did God give me a mind so I can enjoy these wonderful things?”
“I made you in my image, so I want you to see things like I do. I want you to see me.”
This went on for another two days. I was rejoicing in God, His creation and His word. At the end of the three days, I didn’t want to leave. I was with God and God was with me. I experienced a relationship with Him. It was a wonderful experience. It was a wilderness experience, where none of the cares of this life could bring its influence to bear. God would not let them.
At the appointed time, I returned where Jay was waiting to pick me up. He asked if I wanted my cigarettes back (he had a pack in his hand offering it to me). “No, I don’t need them any more.” I had not even remembered them. I was so excited about God. God had taken them from me and I didn’t even realize it. I didn’t know it then, but I would take them up again when I turned my back on God, but right then, I had met God in a special way, in a special place—the wilderness.
Wilderness experiences don’t come without trials. For me, there were the nights of no food; there were the nights of thinking about myself; there were the decisions I had to make. I strove with God asking Him to provide for me by miraculously making oranges fall out of the sky. Finally I reached the point where I had no choice but to just accept whatever God had planned for me. I prayed, “God, you know where I am right now and you know how to provide for me, what I need, I am going to just trust you for.”
You say, “I don’t want to go to the wilderness place. How would I get back? How would I eat? What would I drink? What will I cook? What about money? What about…?” There are a lot of things to worry about.
Becoming a Christian is one thing, but being a disciple of Jesus Christ is a very different thing indeed. Will you cross the line and say, “I will give you my whole life? I want to be your servant.” Will you give yourself to be a servant to Jesus Christ? That is what it comes down to. People do not like to hear that. They don’t like to hear those words–“give myself to be a servant and slave to Jesus Christ.” Are you willing to let the Lord take you to the wilderness place if He pleases? Are you willing to concede ownership of your life to Him? Either you are going to go along, kicking and screaming or you are going to go along willingly to have a wilderness experience.
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.”
“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42).
There are many places where Jesus warned against the danger of false motives. In giving, He reminded us that we must not give our tithes in order to receive glory of people (Matt. 6:1–4). He also warned us against praying to receive applause of people; prayer is for conversing with God rather than a speech to be heard and admired by people (Matt. 6:5 – 6). He warned us against displaying our personal godliness by revealing our private spiritual disciplines so as to win the approval of people (Matt. 6:16–18). Regarding these two things, Jesus was talking to his disciples about proper motivation. He declared that all worship and service should be motivated by the single desire to please God.
A motive is something which “moves.” What the mainspring is to the clock, motives are to the Christian, what the motor is to the automobile. Motives certainly do affect our lives in many ways. Some examples of these are:
- Selfishness — everyone likes to feel important;
- Self-gratification — we like that which pleases us personally, and we like to have our own way;
- Self-interest — it is human nature for each of us to look out for the best interest of self. We find it easy, even if unconsciously, to ask, “What’s in it for me?”
One does not have to be an expert in motivational research to know that the above motives are inadequate for those who would invest their lives in the Service of God and others most effectively.
When examining the early church in the book of Acts, we discover what it was that made the church so effective. Just as well, we see that they did not serve purely out of love. They were human beings like us, and they served out of mingled motives rather than the pure motive of love for God and love for others.
The early church achieved one success after another in what appeared to be an impossible assignment with tremendous handicaps. The book of Acts is a thrilling success story. What were the motives of the early Christians? Can we have the same motives today? Why did the early Christians witness so faithfully?
They discovered the joy of being a bearer of good news (Acts 2:41 – 47; 5:42; 8:8). In obedience to the command of the Lord, by word of mouth, they spread the good news of his resurrection. They proclaimed God’s love for sinners and his desire to forgive sin. They could not conceal the good news that death had been defeated and that the grave had been robbed of its victory. This was such wonderful news that it brought joy to their hearts just to bear it. For them, witnessing about the saving acts of Jesus Christ was natural. Not to have done so would have been unnatural, inhuman, and unchristian for them. They received great inward joy through witnessing.
The early church recognized and responded to the authority of the crucified but risen and living Lord (Matt. 28:18b; Acts 2:36; 5:29). They believed that God had resurrected Jesus Christ from the dead and had bestowed upon him the authority of lordship. They believed that this gave Jesus the right to issue orders and to command their time, talents, testimony, and treasure.
These early Christians believed that it was right for them to obey Christ even if this obedience brought them into disfavor with both religious and civil authorities. At the risk of being imprisoned and beaten, they chose to obey the Lord.
Many of today’s Christians consider obedience as being optional. There seems to be little recognition of the present lordship of Jesus Christ. Consequently, disobedience characterizes the modern Christian more so than does obedience. Perhaps this is why the church is not effective today. Perhaps this is even why the world seems to be changing so drastically towards evil. It certainly has some effect, not only on the Christian, but on the world surrounding him as well. The motives of the Christians of the early church were a strong sense of duty, the desire to be obedient. This is the critical element that helped motivate the early church to be a faithful witness to their generation. They paid dearly for their motives, and their sacrifice made it easier on the church which was to follow. But today, there has been a moving away from what they gained in the world, and it is none more evident as it is in the USA, where everything seems to be “fundamentally changing.”
Yes, the early church suffered the shock of persecution (Acts 8:3–4). It was this persecution that scattered the early Christians, even though they were very nationalistic and felt that Christianity was a Jewish movement. They were prejudiced against Gentiles to the extent that God put forth special efforts to reveal that the Gentiles were also included in his love and purpose of redemption (Acts 10). Had it not been for the persecution that stirred up the church in Jerusalem, it is highly possible that Christianity never would have gained worldwide significance. The early Christians went everywhere preaching the Word, not because of the compulsion of compassion, but because they were scattered by persecution.
They could have given up on Christianity. They could have just quit. But, they were surrendered to the leadership of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:29; 10:19; 11:12; 13:2; 16:6). The Holy Spirit came into the church on the day of Pentecost to equip each believer to be a spokesperson for God (Acts 2:17–18). He came to lead, guide, and teach the disciples as the Lord had taught his apostles (John 14:26). The book of Acts is the dramatic account of divine initiative on the part of the Holy Spirit and human cooperation on the part of our Lord’s disciples. They lived and labored in fellowship with and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is still in the heart of each believer and in the church to carry on the work of the Lord today. We need faith to believe and accept that He is present; we need to surrender and cooperate with Him. We need to pray for His power as one of God’s best gifts (Luke 11:13).
The early church believed that all people separated from Christ were lost from God and did not know the way home (Acts 4:12). Have you ever been lost in a wilderness or desert? Were you ever lost as a child in the park or in a large department store? Can you remember the fright that filled your heart when you realized you were separated from loved ones and that you were in a position of danger? The unbelieving world knows that something is wrong, but many do not know what it is. People have a deep, unsatisfied longing in their hearts that the world, with its treasures and pleasures cannot satisfy. The Bible teaches, and experience verifies, that Jesus Christ provides the answers to the mystery and meaning of life.
The early church believed that people were lost from God and living under the condemnation of sin. They believed that humankind’s only hope of forgiveness was through faith in Jesus Christ. They believed that they had been entrusted with the good news that would make it possible for people to be saved from hell and to heaven where the deepest longings of the heart would find full satisfaction in continuing fellowship with God. Because they wanted all people to be saved, they continued to bear their witness.
It was the natural, normal, and proper thing for a Christian to talk about the joy and satisfaction of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior both in time and for eternity. Consequently, day by day and week by week in the temple, in the synagogues, on the highways and streets — anywhere and everywhere — these early disciples bore their witness. With mingled motives, they loved, they labored, and they lifted men and women toward God. May the same motives command our intellect, our emotions, and our energies in the Service of God and of a needy world.
Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
The Lord Jesus clearly warns that doing good works is not enough to allow a person to go to heaven. Yes they are good things to do, but they will not “earn” passage through heaven’s gates. The first and utmost requirement is to do the will of the Father which is in heaven. If that is not accomplished, everything else has no meaning at all.
What is the will of the Father? It is that we come to him based on the merit of Jesus Christ. That means to understand we are sinners who cannot pay for our sin; to understand that the Father accepted the Lord Jesus Christ’s payment for our sin; and that if we accept that payment for us, then based on Jesus’ faith, God will forgive us and allow us in.
Too many people put emphasis on doing good works to go to heaven. They like to keep control of their destiny. But, my friend, you must put your destiny into the hands of Jesus Christ. He is the Saviour.
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.”
Christians killed for faith nearly doubled in 2013, group finds
By Joshua Rhett MillerPublished January 10, 2014FoxNews.com
Rev. Faye Pama Musa, 52, was one of 2,123 Christians killed last year due to their faith, compared to 1,201 in 2012. More than half of those reported killings (1,213) occurred in Syria, followed by Nigeria (612) and Pakistan (88). (Courtesy: Open Doors)
Rev. Faye Pama Musa knew immediately why suspected Boko Haram militants burst into his home last year as his wife prepared dinner in the family’s northeastern Nigeria home. His stance against Christian persecution in the divided African nation had long made him a target.
Musa, who served as the general overseer of the Rhema Assembly International Church and secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Borno, saw the intruders near the front door of his home in Maiduguri as his wife, Mercy, prepped food. One of the couple’s daughters, Zion, had spotted the armed men just seconds earlier jumping a fence.
“Today you are a dead man,” one of the gunmen reported said on May 14 as he dragged Musa to the porch. “Call your Jesus to help you, Mr. CAN man!”
Zion Musa then begged the attackers to spare her father, a request met with a misfired bullet that caused her to faint. She survived but her 52-year-old father – a man who worked closely with Open Doors, a nondenominational group tracking persecuted Christians worldwide – did not.
Musa, according to the group, was one of 2,123 Christians killed last year due to their faith, compared to 1,201 in 2012. More than half of those reported killings (1,213) occurred in Syria, followed by Nigeria (612) and Pakistan (88).
But North Korea — a country of more than 24 million, with an estimated 300,000 Christians — remained the most dangerous country worldwide for Christians for the 12th consecutive year, followed by Somalia, Syria and Iraq.
“Like others in that country, Christians have to survive under one of the most oppressive regimes in contemporary times,” according to a release on the report issued Wednesday. “They have to deal with corrupt officials, bad policies, natural disasters, diseases and hunger. On top of that, they must hide their decision to follow Christ. Being caught with a Bible is grounds for execution or a life-long political prison sentence. An estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Christians live in concentration camps, prisons and prison-like circumstances under the regime of leader Kim Jong-Un.”
A sub-Saharan African country — Somalia — was ranked second on the organization’s list for the first time. Islamic extremism is the primary source of Christian persecution in the country of more than 10 million and while the capital of Mogadishu is under more moderate Muslim control recently, converts from Islam are threatened with execution, sometimes by the al-Shabaab militant rebels.
“In Somalia, a Christian cannot trust anyone,” one Christian reportedly told an Open Doors researcher. “One false confidence and you literally lose your head.”
Syria, meanwhile, which had not previously cracked the group’s list of top ten most oppressive places for Christians, ranked third last year. Like in Somalia, Islamic extremism powered the prosecution, according to Open Door officials, and many towns that previously had large populations of Christians have become ghost towns.
“The face of persecution in Syria has changed,” the group’s World Watch List reads, adding that nearly half of rebels in Syria have a jihadist background. “The influence of these groups that are linked to Al Qaeda and other extremist factions has risen considerably in the past year.”
More than 80 percent of people worldwide identify with a religious group, according to 2011 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Of those, 2.2 billion, or 32 percent, identified themselves as Christians, followed by 1.6 billion Muslims (23 percent) and 1 billion Hindus (15 percent).
The survey also found that roughly 1.1 billion people, or 16 percent worldwide, have no religious affiliation, making that segment the third-largest religious group globally and roughly equal in size to the world’s Catholic population.
People who are truly saved have a desire to learn more about God. They are drawn to anything that will teach them about the wonderful savior who died for them. They have a desire to grow as a Christian, but how do they do that when they are surrounded by a world of sin? How do they find light when they are engulfed in a world of darkness?
I have thought about this many times. It doesn’t seem as though any one will grow if they are not related to or surrounded by the Lord Jesus Christ. The light of Christ dwells in every true Christian, but every Christian does not know this. Or, they know it, but do not reckon it to be true. They live like Christ is only present when they are in church, reading their Bible, praying or when they are talking to the preacher. To navigate this world of darkness, we need the light of Christ. Since Christ lives in us, we all possess the light of Christ, but how do we make it work for us?
I know that it is a very big step to take but the short answer is you must surround yourself, you must saturate yourself with God’s people, God’s music, God’s television shows, God’s books, God’s paintings and God’s word. Douse yourself, emerge yourself in God. If you do it will have an effect on you life. You will grow as a Christian. When you go out into the world, you will know how to invoke the light that lives in you.
As a pastor I am often asked, “How do I live as a Christian? I keep failing. I don’t know how to take the things I learned and use them successfully. How do I keep my mind on Christ?” I too had this question when I was just a new Christian.
Learn to surround yourself with Christian things. Get rid of all things you know Christ would not like.
I learned to surround myself with Christian things. This first involved taking down all NON-Christian things. I got rid of all things that I had that I knew Christ would not like. For me, this involved cleaning out my liquor cabinet, flushing all of the recreational drugs and throwing away all related paraphernalia. I burned all my bad magazines, broke all 300 of my records and threw away all clothing that had disrespectful messages and pictures. it was like a spring cleaning. I rid myself of any worldly distractions. It was like cleaning the slate of my life so there was room to add the new things I so desperately needed.
After this I started reading my Bible every day. I didn’t always understand it, but I read it anyway. Then I began going to church. Here I didn’t understand everything either, but I always asked questions. The pastor was always happy to give me an answer. I bought Christian music, posters and books. I put them all over my apartment. Everywhere you turned you could see God. I hung out with the people I met at church and it didn’t take long to see that they were not prudes like I initially thought them to be. If it had God in it, I was involved.
This filled my mind with thoughts about God which effectively pushed out thoughts of the world. It was “out with the old and in with the new.” If you are going to get rid of the old man, you must replace it with the new man. The Bible refers to this as a purging process (1 Cor. 5:7; 2 Tim. 2:21; 2 Pet. 1:9). People don’t get this though. They think that when they become a Christian, they can just start leading a new life. So, they neglect the old life. As hard as they try to live the new Christian life, the old life keeps showing through. They have neglected to purge out the old ways to make room for the new ways. This is essential if they are going to be successful at leading a victorious Christian life.
Christians can never grow if they do not address getting some of their old ways removed from their life. There will never be room for the new life to take hold if they are not willing to allow the old to be “pushed out” (purged).
In summary, the way to grow as a Christian is to allow the old to be pushed out by the new. Get rid of the things that draw you away, or distract you from God. Then surround yourself with the things that you want in your life. Then the purging process will successfully accomplish what it is intended to do.
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.
Matthew 9:13 …for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
The Lord Jesus Christ makes it very clear that He did not come to the earth to call the righteous to repent. The righteous have no need to repent; they are already “right” with God. Their problems with sin are already taken care of. However, God’s opinion is that there are none who are righteous except the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
The person, who feels they are “right” with God, will never come to the Lord. They will make excuse after excuse to avoid a confrontation with God. They justify keeping control of their life by convincing themselves that they are “right” with God.
On the other hand, the person who feels there is something that is not “right” between them and God will come to Jesus. Because the Lord is perfect and they are not, there is a repentant attitude that accompanies them. These are the people that the Lord Jesus came to the world to call.
Do you have a need for Christ? Are you righteous or a sinner? You can be right by agreeing with God and coming to Him as a sinner. Only then can your sin problem be solved and you can be “right” with God.
There are so many taxes that the people are reluctant to hear the word again. So, if there is to be any more “raising of taxes”, Big Brother has to do it by convincing people that they are getting something for free. Look at a few of the taxes we presently face and think about the comment at the end…
- Building Permit Tax
- CDL License Tax
- Cigarette Tax
- Corporate Income Tax
- Dog License Tax
- Federal Income Tax (Fed)
- Federal Unemployment Tax (FU TA)
- Fishing License Tax
- Food License Tax
- Fuel Permit Tax
- Gasoline Tax
- Hunting License Tax
- Inheritance Tax
- Inventory Tax
- IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
- IRS Penalties(tax on top of tax)
- Liquor Tax
- Luxury Tax
- Marriage License Tax
- Medicare Tax
- Property Tax
- Real Estate Tax
- Service charge taxes
- Social Security Tax
- Road Usage Tax (Truckers)
- Sales Taxes
- Recreational Vehicle Tax
- School Tax
- State Income Tax
- State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
- Telephone Federal Excise Tax
- Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
- Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax
- Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
- Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
- TelephoneState and Local Tax
- Telephone Usage Charge Tax
- Utility Tax
- Vehicle License Registration Tax
- Vehicle Sales Tax
- Watercraft Registration Tax
- Well Permit Tax
- Workers Compensation Tax
(And to think, we left British Rule to avoid so many taxes)
Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago and our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt. We had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.
The Purpose of the church-EXAMINED.
The purpose of the church is multi-faceted, but it revolves around one—only one—activity. That activity is the winning of souls. In short, it is telling others how to be saved, encouraging them to get saved, and leading them in the process of being saved. We are very plainly told in the Bible that, “…he that winneth souls is wise.” (Pro. 11:30). The activity of winning souls stands over every endeavor a Bible believing church is involved in. It is paramount, un-negotiable and vital. If you do not think so, then you are sadly mistaken.
Today, the church has evolved into some kind of conglomerate, some kind of multi-functional business venture (emphasis on “business venture). Like some Good Samaritan club, people come together to escape the harsh attacks of evil that they withstand throughout their week. It takes the place of some good, wholesome fun that can be found no place else in the world. And, it becomes an educational source where people can go and have their morals sharpened by the word of God. Of course, all of these are not wrong, but they have somehow upset the cart; the scales have become out of balance. Where at one time soul winning was the most important thing, now it has been replaced by all of the rest. Instead of being slightly off, the church has now become grossly out of balance in the area of winning souls.
In what areas do many churches weigh heaviest? In what areas do they invest the bulk of their resources? They are vast and range from small group encouragement sessions to being the vassals of the distributors of Christian books and programs. I have been to churches where they canceled meetings so they could show the super bowl. I have preached in churches that were divided right down the middle. On each side of the aisle sat the two prominent families of the church along with their supporting families. The poor pastor was stuck right in the middle of the feud. I preached at one church where I actually did no preaching at all. The auditorium was exactly like a movie theater auditorium and the “stage” was full of rock band equipment. All they did was play Christian rock music and there was no mention of Jesus, salvation or the Bible anywhere. My preaching was the privileged task of being the guest of honor in the very front row center. This is only a small sample of what some churches now call “preaching the gospel.” It is what they have replaced for winning souls. No one in any of those churches even thinks of winning someone to Christ, let alone actually trying to do it. Yet they are all “busy about the Lord’s work.” In fact, there have been some people who have left churches where I pastored who said, “I can’t grow. In everything you say, you always say something about winning souls. Could you please stop telling me that?”
Now, to have support groups, encouragement and structure for Christian growth is truly important. It is good to have classes to teach how to rear children the Biblical way. Classes of marriage and handling of finances are necessary and the Bible speaks of these subjects and many more like them. It is necessary for Christians to, “Bear one another’s burdens…” (Gal. 6:2). It is good to be glad in the house of the Lord (Acts 2:46) and to be encouraged by the singing and worship (Col. 3:16). Not every moment of the Christians life must be winning a soul. Every soldier needs time to regroup and rearm. He even needs time away from the battle to resort. The problem is, that most churches have remained stuck in the regroup, rearm and resort area and no one is actually in the battle. They have forgotten that you cannot win a war with only the rear echelon. You must have the fighters. And, in the army, every soldier is a soldier first and foremost.
One day Jesus approached Peter and Andrew while they were fishing, He did not ask them to join a fellowship. He did not offer to them a support group. He didn’t even offer them an answer to their personal problems. What He told them was, “…Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19). He wanted to make them into soul winners. He intended to teach them how to tell others about the gospel (good news) of salvation. He wanted them to be equipped to carry that gospel to others throughout their entire life. And, that is exactly what they did, and they did it at the hazard of their own lives. They never lost sight of the main goal. They never got their number one main order out of sight. They always had their “prime directive” before them. The Jews of old would carry God’s word in little boxes strapped to their foreheads called–frontlets (Deu. 11:18). This was in command to God’s directive to have no other Gods but Him (Exo. 20:3). It was their main mission to teach this to their children and this is how they would remember. Too bad the churches of today do not have spiritual “frontlets”. Too bad they keep forgetting their number one mission.
The apostle Paul said, “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22). Though he taught many of God’s principles of help to the church, he still never lost sight of this first command given by Jesus (Acts 1:8). He was committed to even going to the uttermost parts of the earth, and he was pretty successful about it. Even though he had all the cares and concerns of helping the different churches, making a living and dealing with the little concerns of life, he still found time to win souls.
We all know the gravity of the situation; the importance in winning a soul (James 5:20). It is a life and death matter for the one who is won. But in a certain sense, it too is a life and death matter for a church. Where the members of a church are not actively trying to win souls, the church, like a dried up piece of fruit, will die on the vine. It does so because the Christians within dry up and die on the vine. You can always tell those who are drying up because they present reasons why they cannot do it. Listen! People can do anything they want to do if they want to do it bad enough. Churches (dead churches) are filled with people who side-step the command to win souls by replacing it with a little program and then soothe their guilty souls by convincing themselves that they are really serving the Lord. It is really amazing how many churches spend more energy and resources in humanitarian aide rather than Godly aide.
So, let us end on a good note. Let us end on the assumption that you have determined you are going to do something about pleasing God in this area of winning souls. John 4:36 says, “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.” I hope that you will receive wages abundantly for your eternal work. I pray that you both reap and sow. I look forward to that for you personally and for the church as well. It would be fantastic to have a church full of those who can rejoice together—rejoicing that can only come from laboring in the field. The church does not ever need to be a dry, dead place. The only way to keep it alive and vibrant is to win souls. This is our purpose—to win souls. There is no other way around it. Nothing can replace this God given formula for joy.