One of our goals here at this devotional sight is to help you form a theology or simply put together a plan to help you understand God and His design. So here are some basic ideas to help with understanding the sovereignty of God. And hopefully a common ground all Christians can believe in. So…..

  1. It is admitted that God reigns; that his providence extends to all events great and small, so that nothing does or can occur contrary to his will, or which He does not either effect by his own power, or permit to be done by other agents. This is a truth of natural religion as well as of revelation. It is (practically) universally recognized. The prayers and thanksgivings which men by a law of their nature address to God, assume that He controls all events. War, pestilence, and famine, are deprecated as manifestations of his displeasure. To Him all men turn for deliverance from these evils. Peace, health, and plenty, are universally recognized as his gifts. This truth lies at the foundation of all religion, and cannot be questioned by any Theist, much less by any Christian.

  1. No less clear and universally admitted is the principle that God can control the free acts of rational creatures without destroying either their liberty or their responsibility. Men universally pray for deliverance from the wrath of their enemies, that their enmity may be turned aside, or that the state of their minds may be changed. All Christians pray that God would change the hearts of men, give them repentance and faith, and so control their acts that his glory and the good of others may be promoted. This again is one of those simple, profound, and far-reaching truths, which men take for granted, and on which they act and cannot avoid acting, whatever may be the doubts of philosophers, or the speculative difficulties with which such truths are attended.

  1. All Christians admit that God has a plan or purpose in the government of the world. There is an end to be accomplished. It is inconceivable that an infinitely wise Being should create, sustain, and control the universe, without contemplating any end to be attained by this wonderful manifestation of his power and resources. The Bible, therefore, teaches us that God works all things after the counsel of his own will. And this truth is incorporated in all the systems of faith adopted among Christians, and is assumed in all religious worship and experience.

  1. It is a necessary corollary from the foregoing principles that the facts of history are the interpretation of the eternal purposes of God. Whatever actually occurs entered into his purpose. We can, therefore, learn the design or intention of God from the evolution or development of his plan in the history of the world, and of every individual man. Whatever occurs, He for wise reasons permits to occur. He can prevent whatever He sees fit to prevent. If, therefore, sin occurs, it was God’s design that it should occur. If misery follows in the train of sin, such was God’s purpose. If some men only are saved, while others perish, such must have entered into the all comprehending purpose of God. It is not possible for any finite mind to comprehend the designs of God, or to see the reasons of his dispensations. But we cannot, on that account, deny that He governs all things, or that He rules according to the counsel of his own will.

I think this is a good starting point. As much as different theologies exist, believers have to have some common agreeable points to show some form of unity both to other believers and to the unsaved. This is especially true when sharing our faith with someone that wants to point out that Christians can’t agree on anything.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Ann says thanks for the prayers, Quintan is much better.

Remember Calvin? Who almost put out his eye while on his tractor. Doctor says his eye is in perfect condition.

Thanks for all those that pray for our folks here, and remember prayer requests, questions or comments just send to our email address.

Tomorrow if I remember we will do another bible give away.

oh yes you are

November 25, 2017

Bring back solid biblical thinking, stop apple picking, you know where you get to ignore the bible truths you want and pick the ones you do. Making all kinds of excuses. It’s either all the bible or none at all.

I argue that one of the most important truths that needs to be re-emphasized in our day is the doctrine of the total depravity of the human heart. If we do not properly understand the Bible on this matter, we cannot fully understand the gospel for ourselves, let alone make it plain to others. Nor will we understand what the Bible teaches about sanctification (growth in holiness) if we are not clear on the evil that lurks within our hearts, even as regenerate people.

That doctrine could hardly be stated more emphatically than it is in Genesis 6:5: “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” We are not basically good, decent folks who will do what is right if we’re only given the chance. The very core of our being–”every intent of the thoughts of our hearts” is “only evil continually.” It’s not just that people have a mean streak or that we occasionally sin. God’s declaration is that “every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” In case we missed it or are inclined to apply it only to the Hitler’s of the world, God repeats the assessment after the flood with reference to the most godly man on earth, Noah, and his descendents, “the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (8:21).

Because the doctrine of total depravity is often misunderstood, I first will define it. Because it is often disbelieved, minimized, or attacked, I then will defend it biblically. Finally, because we live in a day that often despises doctrine as boring and impractical, I will apply it.

Total depravity defined:

  1. WHAT TOTAL DEPRAVITY IS NOT:

Total depravity does not mean that people are as wicked and sinful as they could be. Nor does it mean that people are incapable of doing good deeds. Even those who have never heard of Jesus Christ are able to love their children and even sacrifice their own lives for the sake of family, friends, or sometimes even for strangers. Many people who do not know Christ are honest, even when it costs them.

  1. WHAT TOTAL DEPRAVITY MEANS:

Total depravity refers to the nature of fallen persons, not to their deeds. The word “total” refers to the total person–that every aspect of the person–mind, will, emotions, body–is corrupted by sin; and to the total human race, that every person since Adam and Eve, except for Jesus Christ, has been born with a nature that is alienated from God and in rebellion against God. Also, depravity must be viewed in relation to God, not by comparing men with men. With reference to God, total depravity means that no one is able in and of himself to do anything to choose God, to seek God, to please God, to love God, to glorify God, or to merit His salvation. Left to himself, every person will seek the things of self and sin. We are as unable to seek God as a corpse can choose to get up and walk (Eph. 2:1-3). The Westminster Confession states it clearly. Speaking of Adam and Eve it says (VI:II, III, IV),

By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed; and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.

So total depravity refers to the extent of the damage, not necessarily to the degree. To illustrate, if you put a drop of deadly bacteria in a glass of water, it contaminates the entire glass. You may add a spoonful of bacteria, which makes it more potent, but the little drop is enough to pollute it all. Adam’s transgression was imputed to his posterity, so that all are polluted by sin.

Adam was the representative of the human race, so that his sin was charged to all who followed. Some will protest, “That’s not fair!” But several things must be said. First, there is nothing unfair about the concept of representation. Our entire government is built on it. The decisions our elected officials make affect us. But you may still protest, “I didn’t vote for Adam to represent me.” But, God did! God determined that Adam’s choice would represent the human race. We have no reason to believe that we would have acted any differently had we been there ourselves. When our representative fell into sin, the human race was linked to him, so that all are born in sin. We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because by nature we are sinners. This is what total depravity means.

Total depravity defended:

We can only look at a few of the many verses in both the Old and New Testaments which defend this doctrine:

In Psalm 51:5, David laments, “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” We are born in sin.

Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” The word “sick” is used of an incurable wound; here, the meaning is metaphorical of sin that is beyond human hope of fixing. We’re terminal!

The doctrine is also inherent in Ezekiel 36:25-27, when the Lord promises, “I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from al your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” The sinner cannot follow God unless God performs a heart transplant and gives him His Spirit.

Jesus taught the depravity of our hearts in Mark 7:20-23: “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

In John 8:34, Jesus taught that “everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin,” and that only He could set us free.

Paul, quoting from the Old Testament, spells it out forcefully in Romans 3:10-18 (citing only 10-13 here): “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.”

In Romans 8:7-8, he emphasizes the inability of the sinner to follow God: “… the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

In 1 Corinthians 2:14 Paul states that the natural man not only does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, but cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 he explains that Satan, “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, …”

In Ephesians 2:1-3, he says that we were all dead in our trespasses and sins and that by nature we are children of wrath. In Ephesians 4:18, he states that unbelievers are “darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their hearts.”

While believers are freed from sin’s penalty and from sin’s power, so that we can now live to please God, our sin nature (or, “the flesh”) is not eradicated until we are with the Lord. Romans 7 clearly teaches this, as do many other verses, such as 1 John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

If you compile all these and many other verses, we see that fallen man is incurably wounded; blind; ignorant and unable and unwilling to know; born in sin and with a nature oriented to sin; hard-hearted; enslaved to sin; polluted at the very core of his being; and, dead. The Westminster Confession (IX:III) sums it up: “Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation: so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.”

In spite of the overwhelming biblical evidence of man’s total inability to do anything about his state of alienation from God, man’s proud flesh keeps inventing ways around this doctrine. Many deny it outright and insist that people are basically good at heart. Others deny it by insisting that fallen men have the “free will” to choose God, and thus be saved. But this gives man a part in God’s work of salvation and a ground for boasting, which contradicts many Scriptures:

John 1:13: “Who were born [spiritually] not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Romans 9:16: “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”

Philippians 2:13: “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

1 Corinthians 1:27-31, where three times Paul stresses that salvation rests on the fact that “God has chosen,” so “that no man should boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus…”

Those who argue in favor of so-called “free will” say that it is pointless, absurd, and a sham for God to command men to believe in Christ if they are not able by their own free will to believe. This objection was soundly refuted by Martin Luther in his diatribe against the Roman Catholic scholar, Erasmus, The Bondage of the Will [Revell], where he argues, rather, that by commanding us to do what no fallen sinner can do, God brings us to something we proud sinners deny, namely, the knowledge of our utter impotence, pride, and independence from God. In his words, “by thus breaking him down, and confounding him in his self-knowledge, he may make him ready for grace, and send him to Christ to be saved” (p. 162). Or, in the words of Augustine (1,000 years before Luther), “God bids us do what we cannot, that we may know what we ought to seek from him” (cited by Calvin, Institutes [II:V:7]).

Of course, before Augustine the Apostle Paul dealt with this same objection. In Romans 9, after arguing that man cannot choose God by his free will, but that salvation depends on God’s choosing men according to His sovereign mercy, he states (9:19), “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’” Note carefully Paul’s inspired answer, because it strikes at the very root of human depravity: “On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God?” (9:20). In other words, our very question shows the arrogance of our sinful hearts! If the righteous God chooses to damn the entire race of rebellious sinners, that is His just prerogative. If He chooses to save some who otherwise would helplessly perish in their sin, that is His right. But no one can boast by saying, “I chose God by my own free will.” Scripture is clear that if God had not rescued us by His sovereign grace, we all would have perished in our willful, proud rebellion against Him.

In the same vein, the Lord Jesus Christ stated (Matt. 11:25-27) that God had hidden spiritual truth from the “wise and intelligent,” and that no one knows God except “anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Then He proceeded to command men to do what He just stated they cannot do: “Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

Total depravity applied:

The doctrine of total depravity is at the very heart of the gospel, and thus the applications are many. But I must limit myself to four:

  1. THE DOCTRINE OF TOTAL DEPRAVITY SHOULD CAUSE ME TO DESPAIR COMPLETELY OF MYSELF, MY ABILITY, MY MERIT, AND MY WILL, AND TO CAST MYSELF COMPLETELY UPON CHRIST ALONE FOR SALVATION.

If my salvation depends upon my choosing Christ, it is most shaky, because I may decide to walk away from Christ and go my own way. But, if it depends upon Christ’s choice of me, wretched in my sin, with absolutely no merit of my own, then it is as certain as the promise of God who cannot lie. Scripture is abundantly clear, you can do nothing to save yourself from God’s rightful judgment. Only Christ can save, and He has promised to save all who trust in Him. If you say, “But I cannot even trust in Him,” you are right! Call out to Him for mercy and faith, with the man who said to Jesus, “I do believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Or again, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” (Luke 18:13).

  1. THE DOCTRINE OF TOTAL DEPRAVITY HUMBLES MY PRIDE.

Ever since Eve thought that she could be like God, the human race has been infected with pride. Even many who profess Christ dislike this doctrine, because it removes every ground for boasting. Luther said it well (Bondage of the Will, p. 100, 101),

God has surely promised His grace to the humbled: that is, to those who mourn over and despair of themselves. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled till he realizes that his salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of Another–God alone. As long as he is persuaded that he can make even the smallest contribution to his salvation, he remains self-confident and does not utterly despair of himself, and so is not humbled before God; but plans out for himself (or at least hopes and longs for) a position, an occasion, a work, which shall bring him final salvation. But he who is out of doubt that his destiny depends entirely on the will of God despairs entirely of himself, chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work in him; and such a man is very near to grace for his salvation.

So these truths are published for the sake of the elect, that they may be humbled and brought down to nothing, and so saved. The rest of men resist this humiliation; indeed, they condemn the teaching of self-despair; they want a little something left that they can do for themselves. Secretly they continue proud, and enemies of the grace of God.

  1. THE DOCTRINE OF TOTAL DEPRAVITY CAUSES ME TO FEAR TRUSTING IN MYSELF.

As I grow to know my own heart, and the sin that still indwells me, I realize that if I am to know victory over sin, I must not trust in myself at all, but only in the Savior who said, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The Apostle Paul warned, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). He affirmed from his own experience, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10), because when he was aware of his own weakness, he relied totally upon God’s grace and power, not at all on himself.

  1. THE DOCTRINE OF TOTAL DEPRAVITY MOVES ME TO GREATER LOVE AND DEVOTION TO GOD FOR HIS AMAZING GRACE.

One of the problems of the weak gospel being preached today, the gospel that does not wound and totally disable the proud sinner from thinking that he has anything he can bring to God, is that those who profess faith in Christ have no idea of the awful pit from which He rescued them, and of that fact that He did it in spite of their sin, not because they were “worthy.” The truth is, even the best of us were worthy a million times over of spending eternity in the lake of fire! Forgiven little, such “Christians” love little!

The Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon, said, “Too many think lightly of sin, and therefore think lightly of the Saviour. He who has stood before his God, convicted and condemned, with the rope about his neck, is the man to weep for joy when he is pardoned, to hate the evil which has been forgiven him, and to live to the honour of the Redeemer by whose blood he has been cleansed.” (C. H. Spurgeon Autobiography [Banner of Truth], 1:54). When we see the utter depravity of our sinful hearts, and then realize the abundant grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior, we will be caught up in wonder, love, and praise to Him for His glorious, sovereign grace! I pray that God will impress on each of us the biblical doctrine of total depravity.

Thanks for wading through this long devotional post.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Lydia, she fell and broke her hip, she’s 88

Pray for Robert C, 32, and told he has prostate cancer (and yes that is the correct spelling).

Praise from Jorge, he just finished his 100th bible correspondence class, that’s every single class, Congrats.

TOUCHED

November 20, 2017

THE NEED FOR TOUCH

I’m always amazed by how unloved people in the church feel. In one church we mentioned in the bulletin that on Thursdays you could come to my office from 9am to 9pm and just be hugged. There would be two other people in the room, usually my wife and I.

I was amazed at how many people “snuck” in for a hug and a prayer. Now I’m a big hugger, you gonna know you were hugged. No sissy, barely held you, nope you’re gonna get the works. What amazed is how many people just wept when embraced.

The other comment was “thank you for hugging me like a real man.” That puzzled me at first, but I always ask, “what do you mean?”

The most common answer was from married women who said how their husbands barely touched them any more and if they did they felt like they were being hugged by their sister not their husband.

Well the church all on its own started a hugging revolution. All the services had everyone hugging, before during and after. And then it spread outside of church. How did I know that? People started coming to our church to be hugged. We actually roped off two front pews with a sign that said “need hugs.”

Those two pews began to fill up with the threshold crowd, mentally ill, homeless, broken, and they sat there with a childlike presence waiting for someone to reach out and hug them. We actually had some parolees with warrants and one escaped mental patient call and said they would turn themselves in at the church if they could get a hug first. The police were shocked, but they cooperated, and I’ve lost count of the people that came in to be arrested if they were hugged first. And never a problem.

I try to stop by my son’s business at least once a week, we always hug and he kisses me on the cheek and we say “we love you.” Clients there will ask if we will hug them as well. And then so many ask or say about how loving every one there is. Or that they haven’t seen an adult son and father hug and kiss in forever.

When I leave my son and daughter in law will shout out again; “we love you Pop.” And the whole place goes silent waiting for my heart felt and loud, “we love you too.”

Friends, it might take you a while to get used to invading someone’s space but start hugging. And spouses start hugging.

People are surprised but filled with joy over a hug.

I have a big Aryan ex-con friend, all tatted up and everything pierced, he never wears a shirt just his biker vest. This guy is a muscled bound steroid abuser (ex) we meet every other month at a nice restaurant. He always gets there first so he can sit in their real fancy bar. And when I come in the door he rushes at me like he’s going to kill me. (a few people actually screamed a few times) but we give these huge bear killer hugs and he picks me up off the floor and always says. “I love you man.”

People need the Lord, and everybody needs touched. That was the hallmark of Jesus’s ministry he touched the unwanted. We need to touch everyone.

So spread the love.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

the fortress of solitude

November 14, 2017

I was going through a stack of old bibles that I’ve collected over the years and I’m always interested in the old sermons I find in them or notes scribbled on church bulletins, sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it doesn’t. The same with sermons, I’ll read an old sermon of mine and think “oh my poor congregation” they sat there so feigning interest. This time the bible is one I bought from a collection and this sermon was in it. after reading it several times I thought I would share this gem that I found today.

“Beware that you are not carried away with the error of the lawless and lose your own stability. Instead, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (II Peter 3:17-18)

Is there a path of steady growth in the presence and power of God for the one who has placed their confidence in Jesus? Should we assume that it is God’s intention our lives would be increasingly pervaded by the action of his hand, until “all we do in word or deed” would be done “in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”? (Col. 3:11) Is this something we can arrange for, so that the command to grow in grace makes sense?

We are told repeatedly by Paul to put off the old person and to put on the new. How does one do that?

The answer is actually rather simple. One must intend to do it, and then one must sensibly implement the means. Putting on the new person, growing in grace, is something we must do. Appropriate action is the key. True, as Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) But it is also true that if we do nothing it will be without him.

The path of spiritual growth in the riches of Christ is not a passive one. Grace is not opposed to effort. It is opposed to earning. Effort is action. Earning is attitude. You have never seen people more active than those who have been set on fire by the grace of God. Paul, who perhaps understood grace better than any other mere human being, looked back at what had happened to him and said: “By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” (I Cor. 15:10)

As to “means of grace” placed in our hands, well-directed action is the key. The disciplines of the spiritual life are simply practices that prove to be effectual in enabling us to increase the grace of God in our lives.

That grace is, of course, “unmerited favor.” But the form it takes is the action of God in our lives and with our actions. If we wish to know more of this and see the deliverance it works in and around us, we must do the things that will bring it to pass. These things are spiritual disciplines or the disciplines for the spiritual life.

A discipline in any area is something in my power that I do to enable me to do what I cannot do by direct effort. This is the general nature of discipline, and there is simply no area of human attainment–from playing a musical instrument, to sports, to speaking a language or being friendly–that does not require discipline.

The need for discipline does not change when we come to all that is involved in walking in the holiness and power of Christ. Would we do the things that Jesus himself did and taught? Then there is a way. It is the way of disciplined grace: discipline under grace and grace in the midst of discipline.

What are some of these disciplines? A primary one is solitude, which must go hand in hand with silence to be complete. In solitude I arrange to be alone, out of human contact, for lengthy periods of time. This allows my inner compass to stop whirling in response to the demands of others. The elasticity and wholeness of my soul is restored as I grow “still and know that God is God.” (Ps. 46:10)

Only solitude and silence, extensively practiced at wisely allotted intervals, can take the world off my back and forever release me from both hurry and loneliness. They open the door to productive engagement with other disciplines. I begin to find myself increasingly before God in such a way that he can safely fill me with himself.

Study and worship, fasting and sacrifice (of time, energy, money), journaling and prayer, confession and service are also among the disciplines. Some disciplines may be freely chosen. But often our circumstances will impose activities on us which, if taken as such, can be marvelous disciplines enabling us to receive extraordinary grace. “Tribulation works patience” is only one illustration of this principle.

But there is no such thing as a complete list of spiritual disciplines, chosen or imposed. Many different activities might be entered into with the aim of finding the manifest grace of God which enables us to do what we cannot do–and be what we cannot be–by direct effort. But the ones that emerge as most beneficial in Christian history should all be considered very seriously.

And of course “what we cannot do by direct effort” covers all that Jesus taught us. We cannot keep his teachings on our own. He never intended it. But by whole life training in the well-known disciplines of the spiritual life we can become inwardly the kinds of persons who naturally (supernaturally of course) do what he said and did. That is how the gift of a holy and powerful life comes to us.

Now disciplines are not law, they are wisdom. We have to learn how to do them, and we always fail at the outset. But to fail here is not to sin. The sin would be in not adopting and following up on a wise program of disciplines under grace. For then we are not really intending to do what Jesus said. We are planning to fail.

Also, disciplines are for disciples–apprentices–of Jesus, not for dabblers or mere consumers of religious services. They are for people who intend to learn from Jesus how to live their whole lives in the kingdom of God as he would live their lives if he were they. Such people are serious about this and will not be denied.

Thus they are prepared to experiment and learn from their failures until, under their constant teacher, they find that disciplines truly are full of grace and strength.

Fasting becomes feasting on God, meditation on scripture becomes celebration. Religion is no longer an additional burden to be carried in an already overburdened life, but is replaced by a joyous confidence that God is present and prevailing in every situation of life and death.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Jennifer she has her second eye surgery at 7am Tuesday morning.

Bliss

November 10, 2017

“The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a terrible waste of time.”

It takes some maturity to realize that the Lord delights in breaking into your life and totaling upsetting the apple cart, or if you’re younger, lets say, “really seem to turn your life upside down.”

Christian Growth comes through trials, temptation and trying times. God wants to see how you react, how far off the reservation, how totally nuts you go in your plan to fix things before you surrender to asking for his help.

Older Christians usually get this because they’ve been through the fire enough to have learned this lesson, it’s to our younger brothers and sisters in the Lord who have yet to have learned this.

It is not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials. Through every cloud He brings our way, He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in using the cloud is to simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child— a relationship simply between God and our own souls, and where other people are but shadows. Until other people become shadows to us, clouds and darkness will be ours every once in a while. Is our relationship with God becoming more simple than it has ever been?

There is a connection between the strange providential circumstances allowed by God and what we know of Him, and we have to learn to interpret the mysteries of life in the light of our knowledge of God. Until we can come face to face with the deepest, darkest fact of life without damaging our view of God’s character, we do not yet know Him.

The bible says, “to everything there is a season” times of bounty and then some lean times. Bliss and serenity and then sheer panic and maybe even some doubt and despair.

There is part of a poem I memorized years ago that has served me well.

Sometimes I say, on days like these

I get a sudden gleam of bliss.

Not on some sunny day of ease

He’ll come…but on a day like this.

Panic attacks, quiet desperation, loneliness, depression, debt, trials, failures, faults, sin, asking forgiveness and them 5 minutes later doing the same stupid thing, cutting, risk taking, dark clouds, gloom, incarceration, our Lord God knows how we struggle and the greatest blessing, the most calm you will ever feel is right after you stop struggling and say “God help me” he arrives.

A bible verse I never remember preaching from but that has blessed me today from Nahum 1:3b, …. ‘and the Clouds are the dust of his feet’, weird right, but the thought that God is so big, so great that I can look up and see a cloud (rainbows are rare) and it is God walking by me, always watching, always seeing me.

Psalm 97:2

Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.

Thank you Lord.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Bond Servant

November 7, 2017

shackles

  THE BOND SERVANT

  “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Tim. 2:4).

  God has a unique plan concerning each one of us. The secret of realizing our personal calling is not to look at others, but simply to walk in close fellowship with the Father. “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him” (Ps. 62:5).

  “No one Christian has a right to stop on his way for another; he must go forward himself in individual faithfulness. The effort to drag others along with us is in reality but a device of Satan to keep ourselves back. Note Jehovah’s word to Jeremiah, ‘Let them return unto thee; but return not thou to them’ (Jer. 15:19). Are any desirous of going forward, let them not stop to carry along with them ‘the men of Ephraim.’ Far better is it to go on with but a few to follow, than to get numbers with us who are only halfhearted.”

  “You may say, ‘Show me a pattern man.’ We all like to copy; but there is no gain in copying. You have to learn the Lord for yourself. All you learn for yourself will remain, and nothing else. Every one has his own history.”

It is plain enough that every believer is called of God to something definite. The real difficulty is to ascertain the specialty, and this I do not think can be discovered but in nearness to the Lord, and when you are interested in His interests. We first learn that He is interested in us, and then we gradually become interested in His interests. It is then you apprehend your mission in life.

  “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully” (2 Tim. 2:5).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

BREATHE

November 2, 2017

BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE WE’VE DONE A ROCK TUNE TO START OUT A DEVOTION SO;

FREAK OUT

All that pressure got you down

Has your head spinning all around

Feel the rhythm, check the rhyme

Come on along and have a real good time

Like the days of stopping at the Savoy

Now we freak, oh what a joy

Just come on down, to fifty four

Find a spot out on the floor

PANIC ATTACKS, ANXIETY ATTACKS, JUST BREATHE.

First thing my boxing coach told me, breathe, breathe while your punching, breathe when you get hit. Just breathe. One time while rock climbing I took quite a fall, I remember the EMT saying; ‘come on guy breathe’.

The curious thing to consider is how much waiting seems to be a part of what God asks of his children – both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Biblical waiting has to do with hope, expectation, patience, rest and deep trust and dependence on God and His sovereign path. Waiting as a paradigm is actually designed to help us and give us an alternative way to handle difficulties. Instead of all out panic, God wants us to trust Him, to rest in Him and to wait for Him. He does not disappoint.

WAIT, BREATHE

Seems like the only thing you can do, in the military they teach about breathing and shooting, martial arts, breathing. Snorkeling, breathing. About the only thing you can control. So breathe in, breathe out, don’t freak out.

Lamaze class, birthing class, I can remember to this day the breathing exercises they gave us for natural child birth. I also remember my wife screaming “what the hell were we thinking” in the middle of her delivery. Oh well to late for an epidermal.

BREATHE IN, BREATHE OUT.

Calmly wait on God, the trial you’re going through, it’s about His timing not yours.

It is active, not passive and is part of the calling of a believer to wait for God’s timing and for His instructions. He asks His beloved children to trust Him enough to be willing to quietly wait. And then, for example, in the exact right time –in the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4-5), God delivers what He has Promised. God became man and invaded the very creation He created.

Read in a bible commentary what that phrase means; ‘in the fulness of time’ you will be amazed.

There is a natural waiting period. You cannot rush God. This biblical metaphor of farming illustrates that waiting is necessary in God’s economy to produce what He has designed – the farmer has to be patient for the seed to germinate. Abraham and Sarah had to wait for what God promised, and when it was announced, they still had to wait nine months for the baby inside of Sarah to grow.

There is something important about “waiting on the Lord.”

    Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

    Psalm 62:1 “For God alone I patiently wait; He is the one who delivers me.”

    Psalm 62:5 “Patiently wait for God alone, my soul! For he is the one who gives me confidence.”

    Proverbs 8:34 “Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching at my doors day by day, waiting at  the posts of my doorway.”

    Lamentations 3:26 “It is good to wait patiently for deliverance to come from the Lord.”

The Holy Spirit is the breath of God, breathe in, relax, God really does have it under control. There are very few things you actually have control over. Even your thoughts, think about how erratic they are sometimes, want a good example, pray and watch all the crazy thoughts that come into your mind.

Just breathe, trust God, breathe out, it may be the only thing you’ve done today that was under control.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

SOVEREIGN

November 1, 2017

On July the sixteenth in the year seventy-nine, a madman named Nero burned the city of Rome. He only meant to burn the slums because he wanted to rebuild the slums and he was an ego-manic who wanted to build things for his glory and honor. And, in order to get rid of the slums he set fire to them. The people reacted in ways that he didn’t expect them to react and they turned on Nero the Emperor.

Nero was looking for a scapegoat and so he was looking around for someone to blame and they said, “Why don’t you blame the Christians, after all the Christians are a strange sect. They meet underground. They have a ceremony that they call the Lord’s Supper where they think they’re drinking blood. And, they also are talking about a judgment of fire. It would be easy to say that these people are cannibals who set the city of Rome on fire.” And, so they blamed the burning of Rome on the Christians.

Therefore, it was open season on the Christians and Christians in this day were nailed to crosses. Many of them were set on fire as human candles to light the gardens of Nero and for his wild parties and banquets. Many of them were dressed in animal skins and set loose in the forest to be hunted like wild beasts.

Now here we are over 2000 years later, and I want to ask you a question, could this happen again? Impossible you say, we are more civilized, more advanced, you really think so?

Hebrews 13:3, which instructs us to “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.”

 Persecution has always made the church stronger. It burns impurity out of the church. It drives away the nominal, worldly attenders, and separates the church from the world. It drives the church to prayer. It unites the church in brotherly love. It often causes the church to expand numerically, as seen in China under Communism.

I’m not ready to pray for persecution, because I’m not fond of suffering! I’ll leave it to the sovereignty of God, who knows what we need. But we do need to be ready for persecution in case it comes. Our religious freedom in America is on thin ice. It is not inconceivable that we could face imprisonment or have our children taken from us for insisting on the moral teachings the Bible. So we need to know in advance how to respond to persecution.

(Acts 4:23-35)

I’m speaking here about something that most of us have not experienced firsthand. Sure, I’ve faced opposition as a pastor; but I’ve never been imprisoned or beaten or had my property taken away because I am a Christian. But these principles also apply to the subject of how to respond to trials in general. I’ve encountered many American Christians who do not have an adequate theology of suffering. When trials hit, they rage at God, rather than submit to Him. They think that they have a right to prosperity and good health. So they grow bitter when trials hit.

Our text reveals the response of the early church to persecution. Peter and John had been arrested, put in jail, and then threatened by the Jewish leaders because they had healed a lame man and had preached the resurrection of Jesus Christ to the crowd. This snapshot shows them responding by drawing near to God in prayer. It also shows the care that the church had for its members and their continuing witness to the world. It teaches us to …

Persecution will either drive you away from God and cause you to become bitter, or it will drive you closer to God and cause you to become better. We see four ways that these early Christians affirmed their commitment to God:

The Bible clearly affirms the absolute sovereignty of God. Nothing happens apart from God’s ordaining it to happen. The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 (rewritten in modern English as A Faith to Confess [Carey Publications], p. 20) puts it this way:

From all eternity God decreed all that should happen in time, and this He did freely and unalterably, consulting only His own wise and holy will. Yet in so doing He does not become in any sense the author of sin, nor does He share responsibility for sin with sinners. Neither, by reason of His decree, is the will of any creature whom He has made violated; nor is the free working of second causes put aside; rather is it established. In all these matters the divine wisdom appears, as also does God’s power and faithfulness in effecting that which He has purposed.

“He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them” (Ps. 2:4). It is utterly futile and foolish to fight against the Sovereign Lord! God’s enemies thought that they won when they killed Jesus. But God triumphed by raising Him from the dead. He is coming again to judge the living and the dead and to reign as God’s anointed on David’s throne.

The best prayers always are based on Scripture, applying it directly to our present situation and needs. But we won’t be able to apply God’s Word in a time of crisis unless we are saturating our minds with it on a daily basis. In Proverbs 1:24-33, God’s wisdom warns fools and scoffers that because they had neglected wisdom when she cried out to them, later in a time of crisis when they cry out to her, she will be silent. In other words, the time to seek God’s wisdom through His Word is before the crisis hits. If we know God’s Word through a daily time with Him, we will be able to apply it when we face persecution or trials.

Thus we reaffirm our commitment to God in a time of persecution through corporate prayer, by having a high view of His sovereignty over all, and by knowing and applying His Word.

So what’s my point? First God is sovereign, second fear is not of the Lord.

I once pastored a church where a small percentage of folks got involved in the survival/militia movement, this was in the mid 80’s. they spread fear through that congregation like wild fire. I had to take strong issue with several members and spent many an evening in their homes trying to get them to balance their lives between common sense and practicality. Most of them put themselves into debt buying coins and guns, jeeps and one guy even bought a half track.

By revealing their ever-growing fear and self-dependence they were denying the Sovereignty of God and faith in His ability to provide and protect.

Now don’t get me wrong I have a bug out bag, and all the other high speed, low drag stuff, extra water, but I deal in reality, long droughts, storms, ice storms have kept me locked up for a week. But I’m not getting ready for zombies, and SHTF world ending scenarios or a plague altering the human race. Balance, faith, trust in God is more than a motto.

Special thanks to all those that got up and prayed for Jennifer at 5 this morning and all morning, her surgery went great.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

SHEEPDOGS’

October 31, 2017

Romans (16:17-20)

17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. 19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil. 20 And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

I’m a church planter, for a large part of my ministry it has been my role to start churches from scratch. In hotels, store fronts, street preaching, house churches, fire stations.

After getting a church up and going and mentoring a young man, when there is a core of mature believers and a sound financial base I turn the church over to this young pastor. My final words have always been the same, “preach your way through Romans” make it your life’s work to grasp this book and you will never stray after any false doctrine.

Paul’s intention throughout this epistle has been to carefully expound the truth of the gospel and to explain its practical implications and obligations. Early in the epistle he alluded to those who would encourage others to live in a way that offends the righteousness of God:

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them (Romans 1:28-32).

Our Lord Jesus warned about those who would come as “sheep in wolves’ clothing.” His words apply to those of whom Paul speaks in our text:

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-20).

In order to identify those whom the saints at Rome are to “keep an eye on” Paul indicates three “fruits of falsehood” which characterize those who pose a threat to the saints.

The first fruit of falsehood is strife. Paul says we are to “keep an eye on those who cause dissensions” (verse 17). The old adage, “divide and conquer,” seems to be one of the fundamental tenants of those aligned with falsehood. In Romans and elsewhere in Paul’s teaching, strife is condemned, and Christian unity is upheld. While retaining the distinct identity of the Jews and their future hope, Paul has sought to demonstrate the unity which Jews and Gentiles experience in Christ. In Romans 14 and 15, Paul has forbidden debate and tension which can arise out of differing convictions. But just as communism has sought to expand by fomenting strife, so Satan seeks to further his cause by adding fuel to the flames of friction and discord.

Teachers who depart from sound doctrine engage in speculation and argumentation which results in strife and friction:

If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain (1 Timothy 6:3-5).

But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels (2 Timothy 2:23).

In his Epistle to the Galatians, Paul contrasts the fruit of the Spirit with the fruit of the flesh. He shows that strife and discord are the fruit of the flesh, while unity and harmony are the fruit of the Spirit:

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another (Galatians 5:13-26).

The second fruit of falsehood is stumbling. Our Lord Jesus had severe words for any who would be the cause of the stumbling of another, especially one of His “little ones”:

“And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea” (Mark 9:42).

In Romans, Paul has just taught that we dare not be the cause of a brother’s stumbling:

So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin. Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification (Romans 14:19–15:2).

The strong should help the weak, and they should not cause them to stumble. Those who are promoters of falsehood are a cause of stumbling. The weak are their prey, those not well versed in Scripture or alert to the dangers of false teaching.

The third fruit of falsehood is the attack against biblical teaching. The Scriptures are the standard by which all teaching must be evaluated and to which all teaching must be subordinate:

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you” (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).

“Every cult is either the Bible plus or the Bible minus.” False teaching either seeks to subtract from the Bible or to add to it. Paul warns the Romans that the peddlers of error will always be recognized by their departure from the doctrines the Scriptures teach, which now includes Paul’s epistles.

Bring your bible to church, get copies of the pastor’s sermon, if you have doubts about a sermon call an elder brother or a pastor you’ve known from before and ask. Go to your pastor and ask him to clarify. A mature pastor will not be offended. A young pastor or hypocrite might attack you or belittle you. Don’t be intimidated. Churches that have sound preaching, expository preaching, and sound full gospel messages are in my opinion rare.

Be a sheepdog and help guard the flock, study to show yourself approved isn’t just a bible verse for pastors.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember Jennifer in prayer, Tuesday morning 5:45 am, surgery for her eye, pray she has peace and no fear and the doctor’s hand guided by the Lord.

 

I want to tell you that 1 Peter verse 2 is one of the greatest verses in the Bible; that shows you just how much God loves you. And, what a wonderful salvation that you have. And, this salvation is the work of the triune (trinity)God. For example, God the Father planned it. The Bible says that you are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God…” (1 Peter 1:2)

Now, when did this take place? When did God choose you? When did God set His love upon you? In the counsel halls of eternity, before you knew anything about it, before He’d swung this world into space, before anything was. Before the foundation of the world, God loved you. Ephesians 1:4 says, “… he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4).

 I want to tell you, you are a wanted child. What a great feeling it is for me to know that I was in the heart and the mind of God before the foundation of this world.

Good news, abortion rates are dropping at a whopping percentage, we are at the lowest rate ever since 1970 and Woe vs. Wade.

More good news, Millennials are considered more conservative.

More good news, more people consider a fetus to be a viable human being.

More good news, over half the women having abortions already had an abortion, why is that good news, because the rate of first time abortions is dropping by over 45%. Some women have had up to 15 abortions, the majority of women having abortions are on Medicaid and already had abortions.

Not so good news, in Florida you have to give a reason for the abortion, 93% of women said; “because”. That’s it.

More good news all the statistics that Planned Parenthood give are fake, over inflated and just lies. Just like the lies that 50% of marriages fail. The truth is 25% of failed marriages are already failed. That’s right, the same 25% of marriages are failing over and over again, they are repeat offenders of the sanctity of marriage. Planned Parenthood says 1 in 3 women will have an abortion, the truth is that for 2017 the ratio is really 1 in 9 and the rate of abortions will drop by 2-3% per year if the trend holds.

So dear friend, the sanctity of life as a concept is increasing well.

Not so good, the rate of sexually active people outside of marriage is not dropping. Good news it’s not increasing.

We have to preach and teach not only the sanctity of life but of marriage.

Build a better life, wait for marriage. Build a better marriage by abstaining from premarital sex.

Remember God has chosen you before time, you had a name and a heart beat in the mind of God before the earth was created. There is a sanctity of life.

The reason you are here is because God chose you to have life and to know him. Our chief purpose in life is to worship and glorify Him who planned your existence before time.

Choose life, choose God, choose Jesus.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com