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.

Come quickly Lord Jesus

November 9, 2017

Content and Complete

Our culture simply does not like to wait. Yet we wait less today than men have ever waited. We travel at high speed waiting less to arrive at a distant place. Communications which formerly took months now are completed in seconds. Meals which used to take hours to cook are now done in minutes in microwave ovens. People used to have to wait until they had cash to purchase a new car or home. Now these things are bought on credit. We do not have to wait. Fewer and fewer people are willing to wait until marriage to enjoy the pleasures of sex. We Americans are not accustomed to waiting.

Men do not enjoy waiting for anything, or anyone, including God. But the trust is men have been waiting on God all through history. Noah waited a good 100 years or so for the flood to come upon the earth (compare Genesis 5:32; 6:10; 7:6). Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for the birth of the son God had promised them (compare Genesis 12:4; 21:5). Abraham did not even possess the promised land in his lifetime, and it was more than 400 years until his descendants took possession of it (compare Genesis 12:1-3; 15:12-16). Asaph felt for a time that he had waited too long for God’s promised blessings (Psalm 73).

From their constant questions about the coming of our Lord’s kingdom, it was evident the disciples were not excited about waiting either. When Jesus tarried three days before going to the place Lazarus had fallen sick and died, both Martha and Mary cautiously chided Jesus for coming too late (see John 11:21, 32).

God’s promises never come too late; in truth, they are never “late” at all. When the Scriptures indicate a time for God’s actions, the fulfillment is always precisely on time (see Exodus 12:40-41). When Jeremiah prophesied that Judah would be expelled from the land and held captive in Babylon for 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12), the fulfillment of this prophecy would take place precisely at the end of 70 years. Knowing this, Daniel prayed accordingly (Daniel 9:1-3ff.). Likewise, the birth of the Lord Jesus came about exactly on schedule (see Daniel 9:24-27; Romans 5:6; Galatians 4:4-5; 1 Timothy 2:5-6).

God is never “late;” He is always “on time.” But there are mockers who seek to convince themselves and others that the promise of our Lord’s second coming is false based upon the passage of much time and compounded by no visible evidences that He will come at all. In the college classroom, students allow an instructor five minutes to arrive for class, and then they leave. A full professor, being more important, is given up to ten minutes to arrive after the bell has rung. Mockers believe they have given God plenty of time to fulfill His promise to return and thus have now concluded that His time is up. “If He hasn’t come by now,” they say, “He simply isn’t coming.”

It should come as no surprise that men would arise who deny the second coming of our Lord. One of the most common falsehoods referred to in the New Testament (see 1 Corinthians 15:32; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2), this false teaching had an adverse affect on some of the saints (2 Timothy 2:18). To deny the second coming is not only to deny the Christian’s future hope but also to deny the judgment of sinners at the return of Christ. No wonder these “mockers” denied the second coming. These were those who were “following after their own lusts” (2 Peter chapter 3 verse 3). How much more comfortable it was to practice sin with the false assurance that they would not give account to God.

Proverbs speaks of those who are simple, naive, and easily led astray due to their youth, thus a lack of knowledge and experience. Some are fools, who are more willfully ignorant and morally stupid. But the scoffer (mocker) is a hard-core fool, a fool who vehemently opposes truth and wisdom.

And that is what we are seeing today, in these the last days, hard core fools.

It’s the last days because the authority of the Bible says so. If you believe the bible to be inerrant, infallible, inspired by God, and now I add one more to that list, still relevant. Than we believe that these are the last days and things are going to get worse, our country is going to fall away from God.

This is just my personal opinion, but it is my answer to a common question; “why isn’t America mentioned in the bible as part of the last days.” I personally believe it is because we will become a nation of hard core fools outnumbering the Godly in our country. We will fall away just as England has fallen. Welcome to the Christian minority. Good news, Jesus IS coming again.

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

 

RINNNNNG! RRRRIINNNNNGGGGG!

November 4, 2017

Okay first thing to remember is that this is not a crash course on demonology or even theology it’s just a story; although it’s a true story and even though my theology has changed (matured), none of that is relevant.

So it’s one of those oh my God I’ve answered the phone again, and a little old lady says, “pastor would you come over to my house I think it’s possessed.”

So what the heck, yes ma’am, I will come over. So this is a lady that does not go to my church, I’ve never heard of her before, oh yeah and she says she talked to the pastor next door and he says; I’m just some crazy old lady”.

So that’s all the information that I had, so I’m  going to visit a possible crazy woman who thinks her home is possessed. So first of all it is a nice neighborhood, and she does have a lovely home And Everything Is well kept.

I knock on the door, and this woman answers the door and she looks perfectly sane and in her right mind. And she is all “you must be the pastor, please come in” (cue creepy music). So I go in the house it is very well kept, very clean, no weird smells everything appears to be normal.

So she says, “well pastor let me tell you there is some kind of ghost living in my basement and at night when I’m asleep he comes up bothers me, then my bottom dresser draw slides open and all these little naked people come out and dance all around me. Would you go down in the basement and do whatever it is you do and get it out of here?”

So I go to the door that leads down to the basement and I flicked the light switch, and just like every good horror movie, the light does not does not come on. I look at her and she says oh he always does that he unscrews the light bulb. You will have to go down the steps and open the door reach out screw in the light bulb and pull on the cord”.

Okay is it just me or is my heart hammering like a 12 air hammer?

I asked her do you have a flashlight, you already know what the answer is, “no the batteries are dead.”

So, here I am walking down the stairs and I am praying, “sweet Jesus do not let there be anybody down here, demonic or otherwise.” (you also have to remember tactical flashlights have not been invented, just the giant cop mag light that I don’t have.)

I push open the door, it is pitch black, I cannot see a thing. I look over my shoulder and see that the lady is standing there at the top of the stairs wringing her hands. And you know what I’m thinking of right now, you just know something is going to happen.

So I’m trying to keep the door open with my right foot, and reach out with my left hand and try to find this light bulb that’s hanging from the ceiling so I can screw it in and pull on the cord and oh sweet Jesus let there really be light down here and nothing else not even a mouse.

Well what I did not know is that it was a swinging door because right then when I found the light bulb the door swings shut. At least I thought it was swinging shut, actually it was swinging towards me, and as I rushed back toward it, it was at the apex of its swing and bam I get slammed in the head like a sledge hammer as whacked me. I thought I was attacked by whatever was down in the basement; and man I am freaking out.

Forget about spiritual warfare, calling the name of Jesus, I’m in fight mode, out comes the Emerson combat knife and I looking for something to cut. I hear the lady at the top of stairs calling out; “are you okay, you have to watch out for the door it swings both ways.”

Foolishly I realize what has happened and I calm down and realize how glad I am she didn’t see the very unspiritual, totally freaked out Holy Roller going all Rambo.

I turn on the light and you guessed it, nothing down there. I’m praying to calm down, relax, take a deep breath and somebody taps me on the shoulder, I can instantly tell you it’s not the lady, its someone taller and bigger than her and I’m thinking you already freaked out once is it time to do it again?

The problem in most fights if you are not the attacker you are behind the power curve and catching up will usually get you cut, shot, or worse. But I think that moment I just felt calm and settled just long enough to not just lash out. Good thing it was the pastor from next door, he was worried because I’d been in the house a long time and remember he thinks his neighbor is crazy.

He sees the goose egg on my forehead and is asking if I’m alright and did she throw me down the stairs, is there somebody really down here. I tell him what happens and we both have a good laugh.

So we go back upstairs and I tell this lady there is nothing down there. Her response “maybe you should go there at night because that’s when they come out.” Guess what I said, “sure thing.” (Maybe I do need to have my head examined.)

Well no suspense, went back at her bedtime, sat in the basement with all the lights on and two flashlights and nothing.

So is she crazy who knows, is her house possessed, not that night. I never heard from her again. Hopefully she’s alright.

Do I still answer the phone and get sucked into crazy situations, yes I do. Moral of the story I don’t go into strange houses by myself. And I always have a flashlight.

Some time I’ll have to you about the time I was asked to do a cult abduction from a vampire cult. See I still answer the phone.

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.

 

ONE WAY IN

October 12, 2017

It’s a real pity that the Word of Faith movement, lying tv evangelists, screwed up Pentecostals, whacked out charismatics, have made talking about faith seem like leprosy. Now for those that don’t know or forgot, I’m eminently qualified to talk about this particular group, as I pastored a Pentecostal church for over 27 years before I had a complete change of mind about how important or should I say less important the “the second blessing” was.

Now don’t get me wrong I still believe in the gifts of the spirit and have seen to many miracles to throw out the baby with the bath water. But I’ve also seen the toxic faith, cult like control and hyper faith movement gone off the track and wreck lives and derail the faith of many folks.

The key word is balance.

The most important thing in the believing Christian’s life isn’t’ speaking in tongues, it’s a biblically centered, sound theological understanding of faith.

The measure of your life’s accomplishment and your victory is your faith. The Bible clearly, concisely, convincingly, and compellingly tells us that, “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29). Now, let me tell you something, the identifying mark of a Christian is his faith. As a matter of fact, Christians were called believers before they were called Christians. Faith is the identifying mark of a Christian. But, not only is it his identifying mark it is his chief duty. You have no greater duty than to just simply believe God. John 6:29: “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe.” Isn’t that something? This is the work of God that ye believe.

Glorifying God, by our faith in Him. That’s your chief and main duty. That’s it, that’s the cake, everything else is just frosting.

Now, if faith is the chief duty, then unbelief is the greatest evil. There is no greater sin than the sin of unbelief. As a matter of fact, that’s the sin that will consign you to Hell for eternity. The Bible says in John 3:18: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Not because he steals, not because he murders or lies, not because of his lust of pride, but because he believes not. Unbelief is the mother sin, the father sin, the parent sin, and the sin out of which all other sins grow.

What determines your eternal home is either faith in Christ, go to heaven or unbelief in Christ, you condemn yourself to hell. It’s that simple.

You can stand on the highest platform and yell to the top of your lungs that there is no God. You can get a PhD in philosophy and sound smart. You can say your prayers were never answered, the list goes on. The fact is unbelief is a sin and the mark of a fool.

The Bible makes one statement four times. In Habakkuk 2:4, in Hebrews 10:38, in Galatians 3:11, and in Romans 1:17 there is one verse that is repeated four times. Do you want me to tell you what it is? “The just shall live by faith.” Do you have it? The just shall live by faith. Four times God says that the just shall live by faith. The just shall live by faith, the just shall live by faith, the just shall live by faith. Do you get the idea God is trying to tell us something? Yes, He is and I’ll tell you what it is. The just shall live by faith. My dear friend, the way that you live the Christian life is by faith.

If you are in the heavenly choir shout amen, if there is a large hole in your heart and you are the most miserable of all people, pray to God that Jesus is real and you’d like to have it, believe it. bend your stubborn neck and look at the mess you’ve made of your life and ask Jesus, the Son of God, THE ONLY WAY TO HEAVEN. Into your heart.

Friend I hope you make that decision, if you have questions or need to talk, email me at scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Just so you know I check my emails late at night so don’t be discouraged if it takes me a day to get back to you.

God bless and have faith.

grow some faith

October 9, 2017

Been a while since we did a list so here we go;

Abraham is considered the “father” of the faithful (see Ro 4:16) and a hero of faith (see Heb 11:8–19). So what made him special? He believed God and acted on that belief.

God said go, and so Abraham went (see Ge 12:1–4). He became our model for faithfulness not because he was a moral exemplar but because he trusted God enough to obey. Like Abraham, our trustful response to God’s self-revelation is a sign of faithfulness. Biblical faith is therefore a kind of limited personal knowledge of God. As we grow in our knowledge about God, we trust him even more, thereby increasing our faith. This increased faith leads us, like Abraham, to be increasingly faithful.

Here are five things to know about faithfulness:

  1. Faith and faithfulness are connected—In both the Old and New Testaments, faith also suggests the concept of faithfulness. Faith is not merely a mental assent that we trust in God; it is the willingness to act on this trust.

  2. Faithfulness is the externalization of faith—Faith describes our internal state of trust in God; faithfulness, the external actions that result from that trust. We do not possess true faith if we are not faithful (see Jas 2:26).

  3. Faithfulness is a lifelong process—Abraham exemplified faithfulness when he left his country for the land promised to him by God. But that was just the beginning. God repeatedly called on him to act on his faith. Like Abraham, we, too, are called to continuously act on our faith. Adherence to God’s truth requires that we obey him.

  4. Faithfulness is tested for our sanctification—As we see in the life of Abraham, God allows the testing of our faith to sanctify us (see Jas 1:2–8; 2:14–26). We can expect to endure such tests as a necessary part of our spiritual growth.

  5. Our model of faithfulness is Jesus—Abraham might be the father of the faithful, but Jesus is our perfect model. Jesus was faithful to his Father (see Heb 3:2), and we learn to obey God by following his example.

Hebrews 11:6 King James Version (KJV)

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Ann, her marriage, her life, her salvation, learning to be under authority.

Pray for McKee, she needs to find the Lord and get help with her rage.

 

hhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmm,

October 5, 2017

PROMPTED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, ARE YOU SURE?

 

OPPORTUNITIES COME TO THOSE WHO ARE ALREADY SERVING, NOT TO THOSE WHO ARE DOING NOTHING.

Sometimes people don’t serve the Lord because they’ve never experienced a dramatic “call” to ministry. You can turn the steering wheel of your car all day long, but if the car isn’t moving, you won’t get anywhere. You can sit around and pray for God’s direction for service, but you won’t get it if you’re not already serving Him. Start doing something to serve Jesus Christ, and He will redirect you if He needs to.

GOD SOMETIMES LEADS US TO THE RIGHT OPPORTUNITIES BY HINDERING US FROM THE WRONG ONES.

We read (Acts 16:6) that these men were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia” (a province in western Turkey). Next, they tried to go north into Bithynia (near the Black Sea), but “the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them” (Acts 16:7). What’s going on here? Didn’t the Lord want those in Asia or Bithynia to hear the gospel? Yes, later He did (Acts 18:19-21, 24-19:41; 1 Pet. 1:1), but not now. All we know is that the Holy Spirit is sovereign over His work, and that He stopped these faithful men from going into these two regions and redirected them into Europe at this time. He did not do it because of anything that He saw in the Europeans that was more worthy than what He saw in the Asians or Bithynians. The gospel does not come to people based on their merit, but rather based on God’s sovereign, unmerited grace.

I’m going to raise a couple of questions that I cannot answer, but you can chew on them with me. First, how did the Holy Spirit forbid these men from going into these areas? It could have been through an audible voice. It may have been through circumstances that blocked the way. It may have been a lack of inner peace. It may have been physical illness on Paul’s part, which was why he linked up with Luke at this point. The bottom line is, we don’t know how the Spirit communicated these prohibitions, since the text does not say. But He uses many different ways of hindering us from heading in the wrong direction. We’re not talking here about doing something that is against God’s Word, but rather about doing good things that simply are not His will for us at this time.

GOD’S LEADING US TO THE RIGHT OPPORTUNITIES IS USUALLY A PROGRESSIVE MATTER, NOT AN INSTANT REVELATION OF THE BIG PICTURE.

Paul was feeling his way along at this point. After these two hindrances, if you had asked him what his plans were, he probably would have said, “I honestly don’t have a clue!”

Usually, knowing God’s will is like driving in the fog. God just gives us enough light to see the next few feet. As we follow, He gives us the light we need to keep moving ahead.

The second question is, how did these men know that the hindrances were from the Holy Spirit and thus to be obeyed; and not from some other source and thus to be overcome? In 1 Thessalonians 2:18, Paul says that Satan had hindered him from visiting the Thessalonians. But here, it was the Spirit of God who hindered them. How did he know the difference? Sometimes God wants us by faith to keep knocking until closed doors are opened. At other times, the closed doors are His way of saying no. All I can say is, we need His wisdom and discernment to know the difference. I don’t have any formulas for figuring it out!

WHEN GOD REVEALS HIS WILL TO US, WE MUST MAKE SURE THAT IT IS FROM THE LORD, AND THEN BE QUICK TO OBEY.

The word “concluding” (16:10) indicates that the missionary team discussed the meaning of Paul’s vision before taking action. The word means to join or knit together, or unite. As they talked, it all came together. As soon as they were sure of what God was saying, immediately they sought to go into Macedonia. They didn’t form a committee and deliberate for months. They figured out what God wanted and went down to the harbor to buy tickets.

Does God direct us through visions in our day? The answer is, He can, but be careful! There are all sorts of crazy visions that people have that are not from the Lord. Benny Hinn (a total nut job) told an audience on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (10/19/99) that the Lord had revealed to him that thousands of people from all over the world would be raised from the dead when people put their caskets in front of their TV sets tuned to that station. I don’t know of any funeral homes that have been lacking for business yet!

On the other hand, Bill Bright tells of how late one night as he was studying with a friend for a Greek exam in seminary, he suddenly sensed God’s presence in a way that he had never known before. He had the overwhelming impression that the Lord had unfolded a scroll of instructions of what he was to do with his life. Specifically, he knew that he was to devote his life to help fulfill the Great Commission by winning and discipling the students of the world for Christ. When he shared it with his Bible professor, Dr. Wilbur Smith, he paced back and forth in his office, saying, “This is of God. This is of God. I want to help you. Let me think and pray about it.” The next day, Dr. Smith handed Bill a piece of paper on which he had scribbled, “CCC.” He explained that God had provided the name for Bill’s vision, Campus Crusade for Christ

The balance we need is on the one hand not to quench the Spirit, but on the other hand to examine everything carefully and hold fast to that which is good (1 Thess. 5:19-21). An obstinate apostle Paul could have plowed ahead into Asia or Bithynia against God’s promptings not to do so. But the obedient apostle obeyed God’s promptings and waited until the Spirit showed him where to go. Then he went immediately. The world has never been the same.

OFTEN, WHEN WE OBEY, THE REALITY DOES NOT MATCH THE VISION.

Paul saw a man of Macedonia calling for help. He got there and found a small group of women gathered by the river, and one of these became the first convert. The second convert was a demon-possessed slave girl. Her conversion landed Paul and Silas in prison with their backs shredded by whips. It wasn’t a glorious beginning, to say the least! But it’s how the gospel began to take root in Europe, and we now know that the history of Europe has been forever different. Often when we obey God’s leading and launch out into His work, the reality doesn’t match the vision. But we must continue to obey what we know He called us to do.

6) THE GREATEST HELP THAT WE CAN GIVE TO PEOPLE IS TO PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL TO THEM.

“Come over to Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:10). Paul went and gave them the best help in the world: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved” (16:31). That is the most helpful message that we can give to anyone. It is the most helpful thing that we can do for anyone.

If you were walking down the street and heard someone cry, “Help me! Help me!” you would be stirred to action. If you could not provide help yourself, you would at least make sure that the proper help got to this needy person. Ask God to burden your heart with the cry of the lost: “Come over and help me!” If you cannot go yourself, at least you will give and pray for missionaries to go. That’s the best help we can give to a desperately lost world.

Do you have a burden for lost souls, if not you need to do some real soul searching (pardon the pun). The Gospel is good news only if we share it.

 

THE PRODIGAL CHILD

September 26, 2017

THE PRODIGAL CHILD

Kids are born naked and no instructional manual. I’m sure as parents we’ve all made mistakes and some of the stuff we’ve done as parents is borderline crazy.

Being a preacher and having you kids labeled PK’s (preacher’s kids) I was always amazed at the stories congregations would tell us about previous pastors and the behavior of their kids.

I had two kids, or I should say my wife had two kids, one was an angel and one was a demon. I kept telling my wife it was ok if she would admit the bad kid wasn’t mine, I’d actually feel better. This kid broke our hearts, I can’t tell you how many times my wife and I would go to bed and just weep over the things our one kid did.

As she got older the behavior got worse, as a pastor and marriage and family counselor I was extremely frustrated. What advice I gave to other parents that seemed to work had no effect on her.

Finally in a fit of desperation we arranged our clothes on the floor, my wife’s in the kitchen and mine in my study as though we’ve been “raptured” up and away. And then went and walked down to some neighbors.

We saw our daughter drive home from school and watched as we saw her pull in and go into the house. We waited 20 minutes and then walked in the house.

Well, like Paul Harvey, there is a rest of the story.

We walked in and she was on the phone, we thought she might be calling church folks to see who else might have got “caught up”. Nope, not our kid, she figured the rapture did happen and was calling her friends to come over for a party.

Tough nut to crack, hard row to hoe, whatever the phrase. In long talks to our daughter as an adult I’ve told her I would not have changed one single thing we did as parents. Now that she has had 3 kids and now has grandchildren the shoe is on the other foot. Grandkids are a great payback.

Let me end with this, you can be a good parent and still have a child wander off the reservation. We will trust the Lord until the day we die that she will invite the Lord into her heart and have a good relation with him, whether that includes us or not isn’t as important as that.

I sleep fine at night knowing that God is more concerned, caring and compassionate than I can be and He can do more to influence her life than I can.

So today I have one prayer request, pray for parents that have adult children that are not living a biblical lifestyle, that God will bring people into their lives that can reach out to them and guide them and trust that the Holy Spirit is very active in their lives.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

steppin out

September 20, 2017

This is a really long devotion, you may want to print it out and read it in parts.

Let me give you seven reasons why faith is so important, and all of this is just by way of introduction, but just to put this in your heart. Listen, folks, faith is the distinguishing mark of the Christian. Did you know that the Christians were called believers before they were ever called Christians? Believers—that is the distinguishing mark of a Christian is that he’s a believer.

Number two, to exercise faith is our chief duty. Who said so? Jesus. Put in your margin John 6:29, “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” This is the work of God that you believe. It’s the, chief duty. Therefore, unbelief is the supreme evil. There is no greater evil than unbelief. To aim the gun of unbelief at Almighty God and to pull the trigger.

You see, how did man get into sin to begin with? Eve did not believe God. She fell into sin because of unbelief and, men don’t go to hell today because they steal or because they lie or because they commit adultery, for those sins have been paid for with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible says to the contrary in John 3:18, “He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed.” Think about it. The reason that men go to hell today and women is they have not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.

And, once you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, how you gonna live the Christian life? By trying? No. By trusting. The Christian life is lived by faith. Four times in the Bible, the Bible says “the just shall live by faith.” You find that in Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38. All of these say the just shall live by faith. One, two, three, four times God says it. Do you think he’s trying to tell us something? I’m telling you, the way to live the Christian life is by faith.

Number five, your success in the Christian life is going to be measured by your faith. Matthew 9:29, “According to your faith be it unto you.” Not according to your feeling, your fame, your fortune, your friends, your fate, but according to your faith be it unto you.

Number six, faith above all things pleases God and if you please God, it doesn’t matter whom you displease, and if you displease God it doesn’t matter whom you please, amen? And, how you gonna please God? Well, the Bible says in Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him.” Doesn’t say hardly possible, but impossible to please him, “for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

Number seven, the only way that you’re gonna overcome this world is by faith. John 5:4, “And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” When we greet one another here in church, rather than saying, How you feeling? We ought to say, How you faithing? Amen? I, we live by faith.

Now there are several things I want you to learn from Abraham in the school of faith, and the very first thing I want us to learn is what I’m going to call the root of biblical faith. Genesis 12:1. Look at it. “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred and from thy father’s house into a land that I will show thee.” Now this is the preamble to his faith. This is the basis to his faith. God had spoken to him. The root of biblical faith is divine revelation—it is to hear from God. Notice how this says, “And the Lord hath said”—just underscore that.

Friend, there are a lot of people who misunderstand faith and the source of faith. Faith is not rooted in human will. Faith is not rooted in human will. Let me show you something interesting. Go back to a Genesis 11. Now you’re in 12, just turn left. Go one page. Look in Genesis 11. You see there the building of the tower of Babel, this colossal high-rise to hell. And notice how, it says, it describes what happened. “And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech and it came to pass as they journeyed from the east that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and they dwelt there,” now watch this and count with me, “and they said one to another, Go to let us,” underscore the word us, that’s one, “make brick and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone and slime had they for mortar and they said, Go to let us,” underscore the word us again, “build us,” underscore the word again, “a city and a tower whose top may reach unto heaven and let us make us a name.” Us, us, us, us. This is man’s will. This is man’s attempt to establish his own kingdom through his own will. As a matter of fact, in that one verse, verse 4, you have four us’s right there. You have four let us, let us, let us.

Now, go back over to where we were in Genesis 12, and notice the difference. Look in these verses here. In 12:1, God says unto Abraham, “unto a land that I will show thee,” underscore I will. Look in verse 2, “And I will make of thee a great nation and I will bless thee and make thy name great and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee.” Man says, I will, I will, I will. God says I will, I will, I will. Man says, Let us, God says, I will. Now faith is not rooted in man’s I will’s but in God’s I will’s. Not in man’s let us, but in God’s sovereign will.

Now why, what were people in Babel trying to do? Well, they were trying to make themselves a name. Look if you will in verse 4, “Let us make us a name.” They’re trying to make themselves a name. They failed miserably. Tell me, anybody here can tell me the name of any of those people who built that tower? We know the name of one whose name was Nimrod who’s a type of the Antichrist—the name is despised. They wanted to make a name—they failed miserably. God said to Abram, I will give you a name, and the name Abraham is revered throughout the entire world.

Now, what I’m trying to say is this—that faith is not rooted in human will. Say human will. That’s very important that you understand this because, we have so many people today who have sort of a tower of Babel mentality, trying to make for themselves a name and they call it name it and claim it. You don’t do that. You have to hear from God. Faith is not rooted in human will.

Secondly, faith is not rooted in human worth, in human worth. Look again if you will in verse 1. “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country.” Now we’re going to learn something right there. He was living, he was a pagan, living in pagan idolatry, in an idolatrous land and, go back to Genesis 11 and look if you will in verse 31 again, in this same chapter. “And Tara took Abram, his son, and Lot, the son of Haran, his son’s daughter and Sarai, his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees to go into the land of Canaan.” Now, they’re coming, they’re coming out of Ur, which was the center of idolatry.

Now, on top of all of that, listen to me now, this pagan was seventy-five years old. When Abram first heard God, he was seventy-five years old. What does that tell us? Nobody’s too bad, nobody’s too old, amen? God chooses a man who is a raw pagan and he became a believer. Faith is not rooted in human will—it is not rooted in human worth. Say human worth. It’s not rooted in your worth.

Now thirdly, it’s not rooted in human wisdom. Look again in 12:1. “And the Lord said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred and from thy father’s house unto a land that I will show thee.” There wasn’t something that Abram figured out. He went under sealed orders. What is faith? Faith is not positive thinking, it’s not following a hunch, it’s not hoping for the best, it’s not figuring out and then trying to make it work, it’s not a feeling of optimism, it’s not believing what you know isn’t so. Abraham, when he went out, did not know why and he did not know where, he only knew whom.

Faith is not rooted in human worth. Faith is not rooted in human will, faith is not rooted in human wisdom. True faith comes from the Word of God. Abraham had a word from God, that’s very important because the Bible tells us clearly and plainly that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Faith therefore does not rest on a road map or any road map, but in a relationship with Almighty God. You think of Abraham now. He’s seventy-five years of age, he’s well established, he’s rich, he has a beautiful wife, he’s living in comfort and God says, Get up, let’s go. And he did not know where he was going, he did not know why he was going at this time. All he knew was that God had spoken. Now that must’ve been very exciting. If your life is dull and insipid, perhaps you ought to do what Abraham does, did, and live by faith and that’ll turn the monotonous to the momentous.

Faith is obeying God’s Word in spite of circumstances or consequences. Now that’s worth saying again and, it’ll be on the test, so listen to it now. All right, faith is not believing in spite of evidence—that is superstition. Faith is obeying God’s Word in spite of circumstances or consequences. We do not live by explanations—we live by promises.

Now what is the root of faith? God said. Abram heard from God. Are you hearing from God? Do you have a quiet time? Are you connected to God? Is God speaking to you? If God is not speaking to you, you’re not living by faith—it’s impossible. You’re going here and there, doing whatever you think you ought to do. Faith is hearing the Word of God and acting on it.

Number two, we talk about the root of faith, let’s talk a little bit about the requirement of faith. Look again in Genesis 12:1. “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred and from thy father’s house into a land that I will show thee.” Now what he said, in shorthand, is get thee out unto. Come out of where you are and go to where you need to be. As I told you this morning, real faith not only brings us out, real faith brings us in.

Now, you cannot really have faith as you continue to live in the land of idolatry. You have to forsake. I’m talking about spiritually, a spiritual application now. You cannot live in your old way of life and think at the same time you can live by faith. It cannot be done. Remember the scripture that I gave you this morning from Deuteronomy 6:23? “And he brought us out from thence that he might bring us in, to give us the land.” God said to Abraham similarly, Come out of Ur that I might bring you in.

Now do you want to have a life of faith? Have you forsaken idolatry? Well, you say, I’m not an idolater. Maybe. You say, You mean I have idols in my life? I don’t know, I hope you don’t, but you may. Anything you love more, serve more, fear more, trust more than God is an idol. And some love money more than God. Some, fear man, more than God. Some trust ability more than God. You see, you can’t have faith unless you are willing to come out. And you have to turn from that idolatry which is sin. Do you know the reason that many people don’t have faith? They’re not willing to leave Ur of the Chaldees. They try to have faith right where they are in their same old lifestyle and they wonder why it doesn’t work. There’s nothing more damning, more stultifying to faith than sin in the heart.

Let me give you some scriptures. I pray God that he will rivet these upon your soul. Hebrews 3:12, “Beware, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief.” Unbelief never comes out of the head—it comes out of the heart. “Beware, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief.” You say, I have intellectual problems. No you don’t, you have dirty, rotten sin. Beware, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief.

Notice Hebrews 12:1, 2, “Wherefore seeing we also compassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” How do you look to Jesus? By laying aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily beset us. There’s no way that you can pray with unconfessed, unrepented of sin in your heart and pray in faith.

the requirement of faith, the root of faith is the Word of God. But the requirement of faith is that you come out of that land of idolatry, you leave it. God brought us out that he might bring us in. I mean, many people say, Well I just doubt my salvation, I’m not sure I’m saved, I have doubt about my salvation, I have doubt, I have doubt and you talk to them about their theology and so forth and they’ll nod their head, but they still have their doubts. If you stay there long enough, you’ll find out that that person has that doubt has sin in his or her life. Idols that they’ve not forsaken, things that they’re doing. What right would you have to have absolute assurance if you’re living with sin in your heart and in your life. And if you’re having trouble with faith, try repentance. If you know, if you’re having trouble with faith.

You ever notice how God puts certain things in order in the Bible? For example, he says, grace and peace be multiplied unto you. He doesn’t say peace and grace, but grace and peace. Why? Grace comes before peace. He says believe and be baptized. He never says be baptized and then believe. That’s never the order. Real baptism follows real belief. I was so grateful tonight, to see a young lady who came for believer’s baptism because she’d gotten it settled and she’d given her heart to the Lord Jesus Christ and she wanted believer’s baptism. To be baptized before you believe would be like having your funeral before you die.

Now, just, listen, just as grace comes before peace, just as belief comes before baptism, repentance comes before faith. The Bible speaks of repentance and faith, not faith and repentance—repentance and faith. Are you listening? Say yes. If you’re having trouble with faith, try repentance. The requirement of faith, when God says, Get thee out, I’m gonna bring you into the land of Canaan, you have to leave that idolatrous relationship and come to the Lord Jesus Christ. If you’re having doubts, it just may be unconfessed sin in your heart and in your life.

Third thing I want you to see, not only the root and the requirement of faith, I want you to see the reward of faith. Look now beginning in verses 2, 3, we’re still in Genesis 12, God says, “And I will make of thee a great nation.” Now watch this. “And I will bless thee and make thy name great and thou shalt be a blessing.” I love it. I’ll bless you, you’ll be a blessing. “And I will bless them that bless thee and curse them that curseth thee and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Now, by faith Abraham received a blessing. God is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him. Remember the verse I gave you in Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him, for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” You see, by faith man gives God pleasure and by faith God give man treasure. We please God when we believe God. And God said, Abraham, I’m going to bless you, I’m going to give you a land, and God gave him the land. God said, I’m gonna make your name great, his name is great.

God’s promises are a sure bet, the school of faith is sometimes hard, and we need to remember if we fail one test, God will make sure you have another test. The length of our faith journey is marked by mile markers. Some are the scene of victories and others are the mark of accidents, crashes and blowouts. But the road is already mapped out for us. The ‘speed’ in which we travel is based on how thorough we are in cleaning ‘idols’ out of our life.

Think long and hard about what is still in your life that is not pleasing to God. We have a choice, tear down the idols ourselves or we have a “wreck” in our life that will need to be cleared up before we go on.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com