do your part

June 20, 2017

Today as never before, Christians are being called upon to give reasons for the hope that is within them. Often in the evangelistic context seekers raise questions about the validity of the gospel message. Removing intellectual objections will not make one a Christian; a change of heart wrought by the Spirit is also necessary. But though intellectual activity is insufficient to bring another to Christ, it does not follow that it is also unnecessary. In this essay we will examine the place and purpose of apologetics in the sharing of our faith with others.

The word “apologetics” never actually appears in the Bible. But there is a verse which contains its meaning:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man who asketh you the reason for the hope that is within you with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15).

The Greek word apologia means “answer,” or “reasonable defense.” It does not mean to apologize, nor does it mean just to engage in intellectual dialogue. It means to provide reasonable answers to honest questions and to do it with humility, respect, and reverence.

The verse thus suggests that the manner in which one does apologetics is as important as the words expressed. And Peter tells us in this passage that Christians are to be ready always with answers for those who inquire of us concerning our faith. Most Christians have a great deal of study ahead of them before this verse will be a practical reality in their evangelistic efforts.

Another question that often comes up in a discussion about the merits and place of apologetics is, “What is the relationship of the mind to evangelism?” “Does the mind play any part in the process?” “What about the effects of the fall?” “Isn’t man dead in trespasses and sins?” “Doesn’t the Bible say we are to know nothing among men except Jesus Christ and Him crucified?” “Why do we have to get involved at all in apologetics if the Spirit is the One Who actually brings about the New Birth?”

I think you will agree that today there are many Christians who are firmly convinced that answering the intellectual questions of unbelievers is an ineffectual waste of time. They feel that any involvement of the mind in the gospel interchange smacks too much of human effort and really just dilutes the Spirit’s work.

But Christianity thrives on intelligence, not ignorance. If a real Reformation is to accompany the revival for which many of us pray, it must be something of the mind as well as the heart. It was Jesus who said, “Come and see.” He invites our scrutiny and investigation both before and after conversion.

We are to love God with the mind as well as the heart and the soul. In fact, the early church was powerful and successful because it out-thought and out-loved the ancient world. We are not doing either very well today.

People respond to the gospel for various reasons—some out of pain or a crisis, others out of some emotional need such as loneliness, guilt, insecurity, etc. Some do so out of a fear of divine judgment. And coming to know Christ brings a process of healing and hope to the human experience. To know Christ is to find comfort for pain, acceptance for insecurity and low self-esteem, forgiveness for sin and guilt.

And others seem to have intellectual questions which block their openness to accept the credibility of the Christian message. These finally find in Christ the answers to their intellectual doubts and questions.

Those today who are actively involved in evangelism readily recognize the need for this kind of information to witness to certain people, and there are many more doubters and skeptics out there today than there were even twenty years ago.

We can see more clearly where we are as a culture by taking a good look at Paul’s world in the first century. Christianity’s early beginnings flourished in a Graeco-Roman culture more X-rated and brutal than our own. And we find Paul adapting his approach from group to group.

For instance, he expected certain things to be in place when he approached the Jewish communities and synagogues from town to town. He knew he would find a group which already had certain beliefs which were not in contradiction to the gospel he preached. They were monotheists. They believed in one God. They also believed this God had spoken to them in their Scriptures and had given them absolute moral guidelines for behavior (the Ten Commandments).

But when Paul went to the Gentile community, he had no such expectations. There he knew he would be faced with a culture that was polytheistic (many gods), biblically ignorant, and living all kinds of perverted, wicked lifestyles. And on Mars Hill in Athens when he preached the gospel, he did somewhat modify his approach.

He spoke of God more in terms of His presence and power, and he even quoted truth from a Greek poet in order to connect with these “pagans” and get his point across: “We are God’s offspring” (Acts 17:28).

One hundred years ago, the vast majority of Americans pretty much reflected the Jewish mentality, believing in God, having a basic respect for the Bible, and strong convictions about what was right and what was wrong.

That kind of American can still be found today in the 90s, but George Gallup says they aren’t having much of an impact on the pagan, or Gentile community, which today holds few beliefs compatible with historic Christianity.

To evangelize such people, we have our work cut out for us. And we will have to use both our minds and our hearts to “become all things to all men in order to save some.”

As we’re considering how we as Christians can have an impact on our increasingly fragmented society, we need to keep in mind that many do not share our Christian view of the world, and some are openly hostile to it.

In fact, a college professor recently commented that he felt the greatest impediment to social progress right now was what he called the bigoted, dogmatic Christian community. That’s you and me, folks.

If we could just “loosen up a little,” and compromise on some issues, America would be a happier place. What is meant by this is not just a demand for tolerance . . . but wholesale acceptance of any person’s lifestyle and personal choices!

But the Bible calls us to be “salt and light” in our world. How can we be that effectively?I don’t have a total answer, but I’ll tell you after 30+ years of active ministry what isn’t working. And by my observation, far too many Christians are trying to address the horrendous issues of our day with one of three very ineffective approaches.

Defensive Approach Many Christians out there are mainly asking the question, “How strong are our defenses?” “How high are our walls?” This barricade mentality has produced much of the Christian subculture. We have our own language, literature, heroes, music, customs, and educational systems. Of course, we need places of support and fellowship. But when Paul describes spiritual warfare in 2 Corinthians 10, he actually reverses the picture. It is the enemy who is behind walls, inside strongholds of error and evil. And Paul depicts the Christians as those who should be mounting offensives at these walls to tear down the high things which have exalted themselves above the knowledge of God. We are to be taking ground, not just holding it.

Defeatist Approach Other Christians have already given up. Things are so bad, they say, that my puny efforts won’t change anything. “After all, we are living in the last days, and Jesus said that things would just get worse and worse.” This may be true, but it may not be. Jesus said no man knows the day or the hour of His coming. Martin Luther had the right idea when he said, “If Jesus were to come tomorrow, I’d plant a tree today and pay my debts.” The Lord may well be near, He could also tarry awhile. Since we don’t know for sure, we should be seeking to prepare ourselves and our children to live for Him in the microchip world of the 21st century.

Devotional Approach Other Christians are trying to say something about their faith, but sadly, they can only share their personal religious experience. It is true that Paul speaks of us as “epistles known and read” by all men. Our life/experience with Christ is a valid witness. But there are others out there in the culture with “changed” lives . . . and Jesus didn’t do the changing! Evangelism today must be something more than “swapping” experiences. We must learn how to ground our faith in the facts of history and the claims of Christ. We must have others grapple with Jesus Christ, nor just our experience.

We need to:

  1. Go to people. The heart of evangelism is Christians taking the initiative to actually go out and “fish for men.” Acts 17:17 describes for us how Paul was effective in his day and time: “Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the gentile worshippers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.”

  1. Communicate with people. Engage them. Sharing the Gospel involves communication. People must be focused upon and then understand the Gospel to respond to it. It is our responsibility as Christians to make it as clear as possible for all who will listen. “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11).

  1. Relate to people. Effective witness involves not only the transmission of biblical information; it also includes establishing a relationship with the other person. Hearts, as well as heads, must meet. “So, affectionately longing for you,” said Paul to the Thessalonians, “we were well pleased to import to you not only the good news of God, but also our own lives, because you have become dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:8).

  1. Remove barriers. Part of our responsibility involves having the skills to eliminate obstacles, real or imagined, which keep an individual from taking the Christian message seriously. When God sent the prophet Jeremiah forth, He said, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth . . . and I have ordained you to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” Sometimes our task as well is one of “spiritual demolition,” of removing the false so the seeds of truth can take root. Apologetics sometimes serves in that capacity, of preparing a highway for God in someone’s life.

  1. Explain the gospel to others. We need an army of Christians today who can consistently and clearly present the message to as many people as possible. Luke says of Lydia, “The Lord opened her heart so that she heeded the things which were spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14). Four essential elements in sharing the gospel:

someone talking (Paul)

things spoken (gospel)

someone listening (Lydia)

the Lord opening the heart.

  1. Invite others to receive Christ. We can be clear of presentation, but ineffective because we fail to give someone the opportunity and encouragement to take that first major step of faith. “Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we beg you in Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).

  1. Make every effort by every means to establish them in the faith. Stay with them, ground them in the Scripture, help them gain assurance of their salvation, and get them active in a vital fellowship/church.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Scripture makes it clear that our eternal salvation comes by grace through faith; it does not come from ourselves but is wholly a gift of God (see Eph 2:8). So what does James mean when he asks, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” (Jas 2:14).

 James is saying a faith without accompanying works is no saving faith at all: “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (v. 17). Is James contradicting Paul? No.

  Paul is describing true and living faith; James is arguing against a false faith which consists of nothing but spiritually dead intellectual assent (vv. 17, 19, 20, 26)

. . . Faith and good works are both necessary. But one is the root and the other is the fruit.

Not only is holiness the goal of your redemption, it is necessary for your redemption. And as John Piper adds, “All the obedience of believers necessary for final salvation is obedience that comes from faith (1Th 1:3; 2Th 1:11; Gal 5:6; Heb 10:35–36; 11:8). If it does not come from faith it is legalism and gains nothing but deeper condemnation (Ro 9:32).”

 Hundreds of verses in Scripture confirm that growing in holiness is necessary for our salvation. Because holiness is so important to spiritual formation—and for our eternal destiny!—let’s look at some of these verses (emphasis added):

  ➤ The necessity of holiness—“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).

 ➤ The necessity of doing good—“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned” (Jn 5:28–29).

 ➤ The necessity of obedience—“Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person” (1Jn 2:4).

 ➤ The necessity to forgive others—“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Mt 6:15).

 ➤ The necessity of being free from the love of money—“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Mt 6:24).

 ➤ The necessity of love for God—“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them” (1Jn 2:15).

 ➤ The necessity to love others—“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death” (1Jn 3:14).

 ➤ The necessity of being childlike—“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3).

 ➤ The necessity to bridle the tongue—“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless” (Jas 1:26).

 ➤ The necessity of perseverance—“Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory” (Heb 3:6).

 ➤ The necessity of walking in the light—“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1Jn 1:7).

 ➤ The necessity of repentance—“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Ac 3:19).

  While this isn’t an exhaustive list of all relevant verses on the connection between sanctification and salvation, it’s enough to convey the importance Scripture places on the subject.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

the who

June 16, 2017

THE WHO

 

  “Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1).

  We never question how He works, once we know Him for who He is. When I gain the treasure of knowing Him, I can well afford to trust Him.

  “The heart that is captivated by an object could never be at rest until it was with the one who had won it; for satisfaction you must be where He is. Love really does not think of anyone but its Object until it is quite sure of its place with Him, and then when at rest about itself it studies the mind and heart of the Object.

  I find that Christ loved me, and gave Himself for me when I was in a most unattractive state; but He makes me suitable to Himself, and I am so assured of the permanency of His love and of my association with Him that my heart is free to study Him. The more I am in His company, the more I acquire the tastes and characteristics which answer to His mind.

There is an amazing effect of beholding the Lord’s glory. You may be transformed from some old taste without even feeling it; but you are transformed! and you cannot tell how. It is not the process that occupies you, but you are engrossed with the Lord. We are united to the glorified Lord where He is at home, and, blessed by God, that is our home, our life is there.

  “Your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Taking Care of All

June 15, 2017

Taking care of all

God, says James, accepts two evidences of religion: “pure and faultless,” inner purity and acts of compassion toward the most vulnerable members of society (Jas 1:27). Christians are to model Jesus in both his purity and his service to those in need. Just as God comes to the aid of those in need, those who practice true religion “look after” two of the most vulnerable groups, orphans and widows.

 Here are five simple ways to look after widows and orphans:

  1. Recognize them—While we often think of an “orphan” as a child who has lost both parents, the term can also include loss of one parent or abandonment in general. Similarly, while single parents who have not lost a spouse through death are not technically widowed, they often face similar problems and are deserving of our compassion. The church is filled with single parents, foster kids, step kids, blended families, unmarried parents, pregnant teens. We need to make sure our church door and hearts are open to all.

  2. Look after them—Christ used the word for “look after” in Matthew 25:43 to describe the ministry of caring for those in prison. Obeying this appeal calls for more than just donating money or an occasional visit; it requires we devote ourselves to them with personal concern. We need to train our church folks to not come to church with blinders on; to “see” everyone in the church and to love all.

  3. Provide relief for widows—Being a widow or single parent can often be lonely and exhausting because they have to do the work of a couple all by themselves. Providing relief can be as simple as taking them a meal, helping them shop for groceries or babysitting so they can get some rest. Find one way to help them regularly.

  4. Spend time with orphans—Boys need men who can exhibit Biblical masculinity and girls need women to demonstrate Biblical femininity. Be a role model by spending time with a child just being a model of Christ’s love. Make a commitment to spend regular time with them. “Orphaned kids are more needy than most, and that need doesn’t expire. Yes, God is their heavenly Father, but they also need the hands and feet of the church.”

  5. Incorporate them into your life—The most helpful way we can look after widows and orphans is to incorporate them into our own lives and our families. Make an effort to include them in your regular activities.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember Joe R, in your prayers for his shoulder

Paul K for his upcoming cancer surgery.

 

Part two (the final battle)(pssst, this is better than Star Wars)

you will be deceived if you do not have a spiritual anchor. You see this man Nimrod. The first thing you see about him is his arrogance. The second thing you see about him is his ability, and, here’s the third thing I want you to see about him, his ambition. Look, if you will, in verse 10. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel. This is the first man who ever said, “I’m going to be king,” the beginning of his kingdom. He didn’t just want to build a city. He was not just an entrepreneur trying to build a high rise. This was the beginning of his kingdom. He wanted to rule. Now remember what 2 Thessalonians 2:4 says of the coming anti-Christ? He opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God so that he as God is worshiped. So that, or that is worshiped. So that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

Learn this about the devil. Learn this about the devil. The devil is not against religion. He uses religion. The temptation in the Garden was not for Adam and Eve to fall down. It was to fall up. Ha, ha, he said, “You can be like God. You’ll be like God.” Satan has always wanted to be like God. He always puts that into the hearts and minds of people. As a matter of fact, all of New Age religion is based upon the lie there in Genesis 3. You can be like God. You are your own God. And here was a man, Nimrod, who said, “I want to be worshiped like God. I’m going to exalt myself above God. It’s the spirit of Satan. It’s the spirit that’s in this world today that speaks of the so-called divinity in man. Learn this about Satan. Satan does not want casualties. He wants converts. Satan wants worship.

So you see this Babylonian beast, this Babylonian beast, Nimrod. Now people say, the evolutionist said, “We have come from the beast.” They’ve got it backward, friend. We’re headed toward the beast. I mean, there is coming, there is lurking in the shadows of this world, a beast, the anti-Christ, the man of sin, the son of perdition who is Satan’s superman. He may be alive on planet earth right now.

Now move to the second thing. Not only the Babylonian beast, but I want you to notice the Babylonian builders, these people who said, “We’re going to build this city.” Begin in verse 11 and notice some things chapter 11 rather verse 1. First of all, notice what I’m going to call their disobedience. 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 Shinar; and they dwelt there. Now what they did was to say, “We’re going to centralize power. Now God had told them to replenish the earth; if you go back to Genesis 9 after the flood.

Look in Genesis 9:1. And God blessed Noah and his sons and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. God did not tell them to gather up in one place. God’s plan was not for a centralized, one world government. But this is what they wanted to do. They were looking for somehow to centralize and consolidate the governments of this world. A one-world government is what Satan is after. We’re headed toward a one-world government a new world order, it’s being called today, and a new world order, a one-world government will be a disaster. Why?

Because that one world government will be headed up be someone. Power corrupts. Total power totally corrupts. All the liberals today and all of the humanists today, they all have a running romance with big government. Have you noticed that? They all believe in big government. You see. They have failed to understand that freedom is always in direct reverse proportion to the size and the power of government. The more government, the less freedom. There’s coming an enforcer in this world one of these days that’s going to turn this world into a worldwide system, the kingdom of Babylon, the kingdom of anti-Christ.

Now many of today’s liberals are one-worlders first. They are Americans second. Now this is not by chance. This is well thought out. Have you ever heard of the humanists? Do you know who the humanists are? Now don’t get the word humanist and humanitarianism confused. The humanists are a small cadre of highly intellectual and highly motivated persons who are steering this world toward a one-world government. And many of our national and international leaders are avowed card-carrying humanists.

The humanists said back as far as 1966 this, quote, “Internationally what do the humanists purpose? Nationalism rooted, as it is, in arbitrary geographical units must be superseded by a globalism based on the oneness of man. There must be a worldwide organization to which national sovereignty could be relinquished in all international affairs.” That is give up America as a sovereign nation, and be a part of a world nation. Let our boys fight under the banner of the UN, no longer under the command of American commanders. They’re, we’re coming to this one world government and the…

An editorial in the Humanist said this, quote, “If there is one principal upon which all humanists are united, it is the continued commitment to a world order based upon world law.” So what we have to do is lay down our arms set aside our laws, let people go over to Beijing China and other places and tell us how we’re going to raise our children, how we’re going to have families, what we’re going to do, put our troops under the control of somebody or something else, and join up with atheists, bandits, cut throats, and murderers, and all of the rest of it, and have a global village.

Now folks it is coming. It is coming everywhere, monetarily. It is coming organizationally. It is coming militarily. It is coming philosophically. It is coming. It roots back in the same thing that motivated old Nimrod so long ago. I wish I had more time to talk about that, but notice their disobedience, and notice their depravity. Look in verses three and four. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto Heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered upon the face of the whole earth. That’s exactly what God said to do. Be scattered. Replenish the earth, but they said, “We’re not going to do this.”

What you have here is the beginning of all organized forms of false religion and apostasy. They said, “Let us build a tower, whose top may reach unto Heaven.” If you have the King James’ version like I’m reading from, you notice the words whose top the words may reach are italicized. That is, they’re not in the original, only supplied there by the translator to make it read more smoothly. In this case, it doesn’t make it read more smoothly. What it literally says is, “We’re going to build a tower, whose top unto Heaven.” That is, this was, the top of this tower was given to the Heavens. They, it was a place for worship. They would go up on top of these towers to worship their false God. It was dedicated to the worship of the stars. This is the beginning of astrology.

Zodiacs have been found on top of these ancient ziggurats. That’s what these towers were called in Babylon, where they there worshiped the stars. The very name of the place Babel, means gate to God. El is the Hebrew word for God. For example Bethel means the house of God. Israel means prince of God. Emmanuel means God with us. Babel was the gate to God. They said, “This is the Gate to God. We’re going to show people how to get to God.” Of course we know that there’s only one gate to God and his name is Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” But here is new age religion. Learn this about new age religion folks. It ain’t new. It’s one of the mustiest things around. It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, when Satan first came. And we have a world today that is getting ready for the coming kingdom of anti-Christ and the spirit of anti-Christ is already in the world.

Now this was the beginning of astrology. Are you so foolish as to pick up your newspaper and read the astrological comments concerning you, so they say? You, my friend, are practicing witchcraft when you do that. You say, “Pastor, that makes me angry.” Well come up to me after the service, and apologize, and I’ll forgive you. Now listen to me. Listen to me. I say, listen to me. Astrology is idolatry. The word astrologos, which we get, means astrology. Astra is a star. Logos is the word. It’s the word of the stars. That’s why they call it astrology. You have substituted the word of the stars for the word of God. Rather than getting into the Bible, you’ve gotten into new age religion. The purpose of the stars is to declare the glory of God, not the destiny of man.

Put this in your margin, Isaiah 47. God is speaking about Babylon and Babylonian religion. Isaiah 47:12-15. Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries. Now what he’s doing here, let me say this. He’s showing Babylon that all of her new age religion will not save her. This is a challenge that God has given to Babylon. That had it’s inception here at Babel. Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast labored from they youth. That is, way back to the tower of Babel you’ve been doing this. If so be that thou shall if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail. Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.

Now what is God saying? God is saying, “These things are wrong.” Deuteronomy 18, God knew. God knew of the abomination of the Canaanites. God knew of all this new age garbage that was not new way back in that time. And this is what God said in Deuteronomy 18:9 and following. When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abomination of those nations. Now notice God calls it a national abomination. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or daughter to pass through the fire. That is they were murdering their babies, sound familiar?… Or he that useth divination… That is they were going to fortunetellers….Or and observer of times… That friend, is astrology…. Or an enchanter or a witch. That’s a channeler. That’s all new age religion, an enchanter, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits… Shirley McLain or anyone else. Or a wizard, or a necromancer. That is contact with the dead. For, listen in verse 12. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord. Can’t you read my precious friend? Actually the seedbed of all-Satanic, demonic religion, all false religion, is found in Babylon. It’s the seedbed of all it.

Now Babylon from the outside may seem beautiful, but take your Bibles now. Keep your thumb where we are in Genesis 11, and turn with me to Revelation 17. In case you get you get carried away with new age religion and cultism, listen to Revelation 17. John the apostle has a vision. And there came one of the seven angels, which had the seven vials, and talked with me saying unto me, come hither; and I will show thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters. In the Bible an impure woman is a symbol of false religion. The many waters we’re told speak of peoples, nations, and kingdoms…. With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornications.

Now how can the kings of the earth commit fornication? This is the marriage of church and state. This is a world church and a world state. The kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the world have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. This wine has been bottled and fermented for over 6,000 years. It goes all the way back to the tower of Babel. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and there I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of the names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. Seven is the number of perfection. Ten is the number of completeness. The heads speak of wisdom. The horns speak of power.

And the woman… She speaks of false religion…. Was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: and upon here forehead was a name written, (watch it) MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND THE ABOMINATION OF THE EARTH.

Babylon is the mother of all false religion. We heard of the bully of Baghdad, old Sodam Husain, talk about the mother of all Babels. Friend, it’s out of that area comes the all-filthiness of false religion. Mystery, Babylon… MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of saints, and with the blood of martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. It doesn’t mean he thought she was wonderful. He says, “I just stood back, and I could not take it in.” You talk about a classic story of beauty and the beast. Here is the Babylonian mother and the blab, Babylon monster. The Babylonian mother is false religion. The Babylonian monster is the beast, and they come together. Now as she looks outwardly, she’s beautiful, but beneath her smiles is a heart that is wicked, unspeakably wicked. Her hands drip with blood, and her intoxicating wine has been brewing for 6,000 years.

Well go back to Genesis 11. We’ve talked about these people, these that we’ve talked about their disobedience. We’ve talked about their depravity. I want you to see their defiance. Look, if you will, again in verse 3, 4. And they said one to another… Now folks I want to remind you. Listen. We’re not just talking about ancient history. We’re talking about what is happening in our world today. This is history and prophecy at the same time. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top unto Heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered upon the face of the whole earth.

Now I want you to notice the personal pronouns. There are six times they use pronouns like they, us, and we. Six is the number of man. This is religion with man at the center and man in the circumference. That is humanism and new ageism. Rather than saying, “Our Father which art in Heaven hallowed be Thy name,” they’re saying, “Our brothers who are on the earth, hallowed by our name. Let us make for us a name.” Now their in sheer defiance against God.

look again, if you will, in verse 4. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower whose top may reach unto Heaven; let us make us a name. And go back to verse 3. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. Now when God builds his church, does he build it of brick or stone? Builds it of stone. Stone is not hand made. The Bible says we’re built up as living stones, but these people took mud, bricks, with their own hands, and they fashioned brick, and then they put that brick together with slime that oozed out of the ground there, there in the plain of Shinar. And there they began to build this high rise to Hell, fashioned from their own wit, their own wisdom, their own ingenuity. And you notice what it, as verse 3 begins, “And they said one to another.” They don’t consult God. What they do is they pool their wickedness, and they pool their ignorance. They have dethroned God. They have enthroned their own intellect.

Now you say, “Well that’s them.” Well, folks we’re still trying to do it with brick and slime, only our slime and brick today are computers. We are traveling down the information superhighway, getting the idea that somehow we are going to build our utopia. And we’ve substituted our own wit and wisdom for God, and we’re trying to build a golden age with minds, and machinery, and money, and it can’t be done.

Now what were they trying to do? They said let us build us a city and a tower whose top may reach unto Heaven. What they’re saying is this, “We’re going to start here and we’re going to build toward Heaven.” Now that is completely, totally, antithetically contradictory to all that God does. What is the difference between manmade religion, new age religion, humanism, and the true salvation that comes from God? Man tries to build from earth to Heaven. True salvation reaches down from Heaven to man. That’s the difference. You could, you could, you could just sum it all up in that. Whether it begins with man and builds toward Heaven, or whether it begins in Heaven and reaches down to man. You see. God moved in mercy by the pitiful plight of simple man, said, “I will go down,” and God became a man to lift us to Heaven. And the Bible says we must be born again. Literally that says in the Greek language we must be born from above, born from above.

Now the new agers say man needs a boost from beneath. God says man needs a birth from above. Here was the Babylonian blunder. They just took their own wit, their own wisdom, their own words. They pooled their ignorance. They pooled their wickedness. They began to make brick and slime to build a tower, and, folks, the world is full of that today. You would be amazed at how many people are new agers, who don’t even know they’re new agers. As a matter of fact, these are not just stupid people or dumb people in the, in the vernacular.

Nesbitt says this, “95% of the readers of the New Age Journal are college educated with average household incomes of 147,500 dollars. New agers represent the most affluent, well-educated, successful segment of the baby boom.” Did you know that many of the fortune 500 companies when they bring the sales agents in, or their personnel in, or their executives in, to give them a sharpening course, do you know who they bring in to lecture? A new ager. It’s an amazing thing.

David Jeremiah reminds us of this, “Corporations spend an estimated four billion per year on new age consultants.” A California business survey of 500 companies found that more than 50% had used consciousness-raising techniques. He mentioned such companies as TRW, Ford Motor Company, AT&T, IBM, and General Motors who have all signed on new age trainers. It’s an old lie repackaged. It is human wit, human ingenuity. It is finding the God, the power within yourself. And it engenders an independence from almighty God. Folks it is here. It is with us.

Now I have talked to you. I have talked to you about the Babylonian beast, and he pictures the anti-Christ that’s going to come. And he may be alive, and well, and in the world today. I’ve talked to you about the Babylonian builders, how they in defiance against God are trying to build a new world order. And it is coming. One day it will be here, and this will be an amalgamation of the new world order and a one-world church. And everybody’ll say, “Isn’t it wonderful.” I’ve talked to you about the Babylonian blunder against the idea that man can lift himself by his own bootstraps, and by his brick, and slime build his tower to Heaven, and in that he inculcates all false religion.

Now I want you to see what I’m going to call the Babylonian burial. I want you to see what’s going to happen to it. You say, “Pastor, I thought you were talking about the coming kingdom of Christ.” I’m getting there. I’m almost there. I want you to notice now beginning in 11:5. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men built. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. You know in the Bible says in the last days knowledge shall increase, and, friend, we’re seeing it. We are amazed at what is happening, what comes out of the imagination of man. And we’re being told today what man can imagine, man can achieve. And for the first time we’re really believing it. Well, God says in verse 7, “Go to, let us go down.” Now who’s God talking to? This is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit in counsel together, and God says, “Let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

How did this tower of blunders end in Genesis, and what does it prophesy or what’s going to happen in our day? Well, it climaxed, it ended with the coming down of almighty God to earth. The thing that we’re waiting for is the coming of the Savior. The only hope, the only hope for this world is the coming of Jesus Christ. And when Jesus Christ, the true Christ comes, he is coming to destroy the kingdom of anti-Christ. As I’ve told you before 777 is going to deal with 666. And you can put it down, and be certain there’s coming a time when lawlessness comes to it’s climax that in Heaven God is going to say, “It is time. Let us go down.” Now, not only the coming of the Savior, but the confusion of the speech. Notice again in verse 7. Let us go down, and there confound their language. Now these people had one language at this time. They all, spoke the same language. But God always when he judges, sends confusion into the camp of the enemy. When God’s people pray even in this day if we will pray, we don’t have to go to war against the enemies. God goes to war against the enemies. When we pray, God sends confusion into the camp of the enemies. And so God confounds the speech. They can’t understand one another. They’re building this tower and a man says, “Hand me a brick.” He says, “What did you say?” He says, “What did you say?” “Uh, what did you say?” He says, “What did you say?” And the boss says, “Will you two quit babbling?” And they say, “What did he say?” And nobody understands anything. They whole thing begins to get confused, and it really would be comical. And the Bible says in Psalm 2, “He that sitteth in the Heavens shall laugh. The Lord shall have them in derision.” And we’re going to see the false unity of the ecumenical movement, and United Nations, and all of this. It’s going to come apart, and then there’s going to be the collapse of the whole system.

And so the Bible says in verses seven, eight and nine rather, “So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of the earth: and they left off to build the city.” And there they set, in the crumble ruins, in the unfinished tower of their high rise to Hell, their tower of blunders. Well, what does this mean to us? Go to Revelation 18, and I’ve got about three minutes to share this with you. Revelation 18.

There are three things I want to lay on your heart. The first, listen here very carefully. Those of you in the balcony, you teenagers listen to me very carefully. The very first word is the word separation. Begin with me, Revelation 18:1. And after these things I saw another angel come down from Heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. Now here’s God’s Word to you. Are you listening? Folks on television, are you listening to this? And I heard another voice from Heaven saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

If you’re practicing any kind of the occult, any kind of new age religion, any astrology, any dabbling with witchcraft, get out and get out quick. For God says concerning Babylon, “Her sins have reached unto Heaven.” She’s going to be bring a tower to Heaven. God says, “It’s her sins that have reached to Heaven.” And God hath remembered her iniquities. So the first thing I say to you is separation. Get out. Get clean. Repent. Renounce. Get rid of all of that.

The second thing I want you to see is anticipation. Jesus Christ is coming, and He’s coming soon. Look in chapter 19. After these things I heard a great voice of much people in Heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.

What is happening is this, friend, we need to anticipate the time. The time is coming soon when our Lord is going to step down from glory, and God is going to come down, and He’s going to judge Babylon. So there’s separation, anticipation, and here’s the part I love, jubilation.

Look in 19:5. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were (oh I love this) the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

The good news is Jesus has already won the war, we have to do very little, we are not passive believers but faithful soldiers. So rally the troops and rescue the perishing, build up the saints and win the lost.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

you and me

June 11, 2017

Romans 8:10

English Standard Version (ESV)

“10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

Through the ministry of the Spirit, Christ is actually in the believer. It is amazing to think of the Lord of life and glory dwelling in our bodies, especially when we remember that these bodies are subject to death because of sin.

I guess that’s one area I really fail in, I don’t know why I don’t think of it as often as I should, especially during temptation. That Christ is living in me, the hope of all there is future and present.

To much dependence on self, trying to do good works, struggling and losing to often. I’m going to try and be more conscious of the fact and the faith of this principle working more consciously in my life. Hopefully you are doing better at it than myself.

Two good reasons to read the Old Testament frequently; 1, it’s a great list of failures, people being human, honestly just like you and me, prone to wander; and 2, you need to remember that 98% of time when the New Testament makes a reference to Scriptures, it is referring to the Old Testament.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

decreasing to increase

June 9, 2017

  “Rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Col. 2:7).

  At first our concern is to be used, to serve; but it is our concern. Then He begins to impress His concern upon our hearts, that we be like Him. Finally, it is His concern and ours that others may be reached by Him and established in Him.

The Holy Spirit indwells us and thereby accomplishes our sanctification—an adjustment of our personal lives to His own person and character, to the dropping away of sin’s power over us and the implanting of His Christ-imparting attributes in us. But to what purpose is all of this? For the beautifying of our personal lives? To terminate upon us? Not at all. His work in us is that He may have an instrument adjusted to His use, thus to work through us to the blessing of others.

It is not so much a matter of our attainments or full conformity to Christ, but rather our progressive movement towards the final goal. Even if we were perfect in ourselves, that would not make us ministers, for ministry consists in the Spirit’s manifesting in our lives something more of Christ that was not there before, and then making it shine out for the blessing and transformation of others.

  “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men” (1 Thess. 3:12).

Remember Paul K in your prayers, upcoming cancer surgery

Pray for Dean, unsaved and battling alcoholism

Remember Joe R in your prayers for his shoulder

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

if you struggle with frequent depression, you should get a medical checkup, since it can be due to physiological causes. Also, you may need personal counsel from a mature Christian who can help you apply Scripture to your situation. Avoid anyone who mingles the Bible with psychology. The joy Paul is exhorting us to is decidedly not the kind of joy the world offers through psychological insights. Over 50 years ago, Martyn Lloyd-Jones commented on this verse, (Philippians 4:4)“… there is perhaps no greater travesty of the gospel of Jesus Christ than psychological teaching which presents itself in Christian terms” (The Life of Peace [Baker], p. 146). It is joy in the Lord, joy that comes from the very life and power of God operating in the believer, not through some supposed insights into your unconscious mind or how your parents treated you.

Every believer must learn to apply the biblical principles I am going to enumerate.

  1. MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE IN A RIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD THROUGH SAVING FAITH IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.

As we saw in chapter 3, where Paul first exhorts us to rejoice in the Lord (3:1), many who claim to be Christians are not relying only upon Christ and His shed blood for salvation, but rather are trusting in themselves (3:2, 4-6). Paul explains how he had to come to the point of counting everything of himself to be a total loss so that he could be found in Christ, not having a righteousness of his own derived from keeping the Law, but rather that which comes from God through faith in Christ. Martyn Lloyd-Jones observed, “There are many people who never know the joy of the Lord because they have failed to see themselves as miserable sinners. The only way to be happy in Christ is to be desperately unhappy without him” (ibid., p. 148).

  1. WALK IN SUBMISSION TO THE SOVEREIGN SPIRIT OF GOD.

In Galatians 5:16 Paul says, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” He goes on to catalog some sins that characterize the flesh. There is a direct correlation between many of those sins and depression. Then Paul lists the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). To walk by the Spirit means to live in moment-by-moment submission to the indwelling Holy Spirit, saying no to self and yes to the Lord. It means to trust in the sufficiency and power of the Spirit because you distrust your own ability (see Prov. 3:5). As we learn to walk by the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit, including joy, will grow in our lives.

The words “walk” and “fruit” imply a process, not something instantaneous. If you have spent your life walking in the flesh, it may take some time before you experience steady joy in the Lord. Also, walking in the Spirit is a deliberate process that involves putting self to death and submitting to the sovereign God. This means confronting your anger, because anger usually stems from not submitting to God’s sovereign dealings in your life. A crucified self doesn’t shake its fist in God’s face, saying, “I don’t like what You did to me when I was a child (or, what You’re doing to me right now)!” Anger and depression often go together (Gen. 4:6-7; Jonah 4:1-4). So if you want God’s abiding joy, you’ve got to walk in submission to His sovereign Spirit.

  1. VIEW YOUR TRIALS THROUGH THE LENS OF SCRIPTURE.

Paul was going through some pretty intense trials and could easily have become depressed. Instead, he had abundant joy because he viewed his trials in light of God’s Word. He submitted to God’s sovereignty over his imprisonment (1:12-14), over the preachers who were trying to cause him distress in his imprisonment (1:17), and even over his possible impending execution (1:20). He was living for the gospel, to proclaim Christ in every way (Phil. 1:18). He knew that when he died, he would be with Christ for eternity, so he could write, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (1:21).

Many Christians get depressed because they do not understand God’s purpose in trials or they do not mentally deal with their trials in the light of God’s Word. Often it can start with a simple disappointment–something you hoped would happen didn’t happen. Someone you were counting on let you down. A situation you were hoping and praying for did not come about. If you don’t consciously yield your disappointment to the Lord and thank Him by faith, trusting in His sovereign love, you can slip into depression. Satan often comes to you in a moment of disappointment and tempts you to doubt God’s loving care. Peter tells us to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, casting our cares on Him, and to resist the devil, firm in our faith, in such times of trial (1 Pet. 5:5-11).

  1. DEAL PROPERLY WITH RELATIONAL CONFLICTS.

The verses before and after verse 4 deal with proper relationships. If we have wronged others and have not done all we can to make it right, we will not have joy in the Lord. If we humble ourselves and go to our brother or sister and ask their forgiveness, we will be flooded with God’s joy. It’s no accident that love precedes joy in the list of the fruit of the Spirit.

  1. SING PRAISES TO GOD.

I have not validated it, but I’ve heard that the most frequent command in the Bible is, “Sing!” You may be thinking, “Singing is the last thing I feel like doing when I’m depressed.” Well, where did you ever get the idea that the Christian life is living by our feelings? God doesn’t need to command us to do what we already feel like doing. It’s no accident that the longest book in the Bible is a hymn book. When you’ve feeling down, turn to the Psalms and create your own tunes to the words. Put on some praise music, or get out a hymnal and get alone and begin to sing to the Lord. Jesus and the disciples sang a hymn (Ps. 118) as they went out to Gethsemane (Matt. 26:30). Paul and Silas sang in the Philippian jail (Acts 16:25). “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10).

  1. SERVE THE LORD WITH GLADNESS.

(See Ps. 100:2.) Quite often people who lack joy are not involved in serving Christ. As we’ve seen in Philippians, Paul had great joy even in facing execution because he was living for the gospel (1:12-20). Get your focus off yourself and your problems and on to what God wants you to do for the furtherance of the gospel. There is great joy in seeing others trust Christ as Savior (Luke 15:5-7, 9-10, 32; Acts 8:8; 15:3); and, in seeing them stand firm in the Lord (Phil. 2:2; 1 Thess. 2:19-20; 3:9; 3 John 4). A Christian woman once told me that she had been depressed every day of her life. She had been going to psychologists for years, to no avail. I finally asked her, “What’s your ministry? God has gifted you to serve Him. How are you doing that?” She was dumbfounded. She said, “I’ve never thought about that.” She was consumed with self. If you want joy, get your eyes off yourself and on to how God wants you to serve Him.

  1. FOCUS YOUR MIND DAILY ON THE LORD AND THE THINGS HE HAS PROMISED US IN CHRIST.

This joy is in the Lord and we are in Christ! Daily meditate on the cross of Christ and all the riches that are ours through His death. Think on the fact that you are risen with Him, seated in the heavenlies, with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3; Col. 3:1-4). Revel in His abundant grace that is greater than all our sins. Marvel at His sovereign grace that chose you before the foundation of the world in Him, that predestined you to adoption as His son or daughter (Eph. 1:4, 5) and that will “keep you from stumbling” and will “make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 24). The Philippian jailer went from being suicidal to rejoicing greatly because of his salvation (Acts 16:27, 34). How can you be depressed if you are focusing daily on the marvelous grace shown to you in Christ?

  1. LIVE BY FAITH, NOT BY FEELINGS.

The Christian life is a walk of faith, of trusting in things not seen, not of “getting in touch with your feelings.” Peter wrote to Christians going through intense trials, “… though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Pet. 1:8). Or, as Paul wrote, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).

  1. each morning start the day with your grateful list, this is the real appreciation of the basics; “I’m grateful I have a roof over my head,” and “I’m grateful that I can see and hear, taste and touch,” “I’m grateful Lord for my spouse.” You will find this list will grow longer and longer as you change your focus.

  2. get the bible on cd or on your phone, and stop listening to secular music and stop watching tv shows that glorify living in sin.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

zippity do da

June 7, 2017

Everyone wants joy in life. On the surface, Paul’s words, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) are some of the simplest in Scripture to read and understand. But when you scratch beneath the surface, they raise a pile of questions: Is it really possible to rejoice always? What does this mean? Am I supposed to go around with a perpetual smile on my face? Is it a sin to feel depressed or sad? Am I supposed to deny pain or sorrow? How can you command a feeling, anyway? Are these the words of a bubbly, incurable optimist, or what? Just reading the verse might get some people depressed, because they despair of ever being able to do it!

We need to recognize that what Paul commands here is not just a cheerful disposition, which many have by nature, but rather something that requires supernatural power–it is joy in the Lord. And, while we may never perfectly attain such joy in this troubled world, Paul repeats the command for emphasis, as if to say, “It is possible, so don’t shrug off what I am saying.” His emphatic words show us …

Abiding joy in the Lord should be the aim of every Christian.

First, I want to define what Paul means when he commands us to rejoice in the Lord always; and then we’ll look at how we can obey such a command. Scripture must be our authoritative and sufficient source, not human wisdom or psychology.

What does “rejoice in the lord always” mean?

  1. TO REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS DOES NOT MEAN THAT WE WILL NEVER FEEL DEPRESSED OR SAD.

The Bible is realistic and balanced. We must look at the totality of Scripture rather than taking a verse like this as if it were all that is written on the subject. It’s interesting that the shortest verse in the Greek New Testament is, “Rejoice always” (1 Thess. 5:16). The shortest verse in the English New Testament is, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). They are not contradictory! Our Savior could weep and yet have the fullness of joy, even as He faced the cross (John 15:11). Paul commands us to weep with those who weep (Rom. 12;15), and yet to rejoice always. The Bible says that godly people are marked both by mourning (over sin, Matt. 5:4; James 4:9; 5:1) and yet by irrepressible joy. Scripture acknowledges that discipline and trials are not joyful at the moment, but that afterward they yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness if we submit to God (Heb. 12:11; John 16:20-22).

Thus we would misapply Paul’s words if we took him to mean that a Christian should deny or never feel sadness or grief. The Psalms are helpful in this regard. The psalmist often is overwhelmed with despair or sadness, and he readily acknowledges his feelings to God. He never puts on a happy face and denies the intensity of his troubles. But in the process of crying out to God for help and re-focusing his thoughts on the Lord and His great mercies, by the end of the psalm his mood has changed, even though his circumstances are no different. So the psalmist often experiences a flood of God’s joy even in the midst of tremendous pain. Thus to rejoice in the Lord always does not mean that we deny our feelings or that we stoically endure our trials by ignoring how much we hurt.

  1. TO REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS IS NOT PRIMARILY A MATTER OF FEELING, BUT OF OBEDIENCE.

Philippians 4:4 is a commandment, repeated twice for emphasis, so that we will not shrug it off. It is a command that we must deliberately choose to obey, especially when we’re in difficult circumstances. It has to do with our attitude which depends on our mental focus which depends on our choice. The choice to rejoice often must go deliberately against how we feel. When we go through trials, when we’re treated unfairly, when we’re disappointed by people or circumstances, we are faced with a decision: Will we obey this command to rejoice in the Lord or will we allow ourselves to be swept along by our feelings?

I just wish that Paul had been more realistic and had said, “Rejoice most of the time”! But if he had said that, most of us would have justified ourselves by thinking, “I usually do rejoice.” But we wouldn’t have had to confront our grumbling and complaining when things don’t seem to go our way; our lack of trust in God in the midst of trials; our anger when we’re treated unfairly; our disappointment when people let us down or, to be honest, when we feel that God has let us down.

We see this choice to rejoice illustrated in Paul’s life in this very epistle. He has been incarcerated for well over two years and is facing possible execution because the Jews in Jerusalem falsely accused him of bringing Gentiles into the temple and of stirring up rebellion against the Jewish people and their Law (Acts 21:28). Though he should have been released, the Roman governor kept him in custody because he was hoping to receive a bribe from Paul and because he wanted to do the Jews a favor (Acts 24:26, 27). The next governor also should have released him, but he, too, was playing politics with the Jews (Acts 25:9).

Not only that, but on the way to Rome Paul had gone through a shipwreck at sea. Once he arrived, many of the pastors in Rome were not only distancing themselves from Paul the prisoner, but were preaching out of envy, selfish ambition, and strife (Phil. 1:15, 17). Paul had good reason to be angry and depressed at the treatment he had received over the past few years. You would think that he would have been in need of the Philippians writing to cheer him up. But instead, this short letter to them is filled with joy (15 x). As Paul’s words in 1:18 show, his joy was not an automatic feeling, but rather a deliberate choice: “… in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice.”

  1. TO REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS IS AN ATTITUDE OF CONTENTMENT AND HOPE THAT TRANSCENDS CIRCUMSTANCES.

Though our hearts may be heavy with sorrow or grief because of trials, beneath the surface is the abiding confidence that our God is sovereign and that our lives are in His hand, so that not even the hairs of our heads fall to the ground without His knowledge. Paul had learned to be content in every situation (Phil. 4:11-13). “Every situation” for Paul included some severe trials, in some cases where he despaired even of life. But this, he writes was “in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;” then he adds, “He on whom we have set our hope” (2 Cor. 1:8-10).

This joy in the Lord which we must aim for is not a superficial happiness based on circumstances or on the absence of trials, but rather is a solid, abiding contentment and hope that is as steady and certain as our faithful God who has given us His promises in His Word. Our Lord Jesus knew that joy even as He faced the cross (John 15:11; 17:13). The apostles knew that joy when they were flogged for preaching the gospel, and they went on their way “rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). Paul and Silas knew that joy when they were unjustly thrown in the Philippian jail, their backs torn open, their feet in the stocks, as they sang hymns of praise to God (Acts 16:25). Many martyrs, like John Hus, knew that joy. He died singing praises in the flames as his enemies gloated.

God intends for every believer to know this same joy in the Lord, especially in difficult times. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and the Bible is filled with commands, such as our text, to rejoice (Ps. 5:11; 33:1; 64:10). It’s a matter of obedience, not of temperament. If we’re constantly depressed and weighed down with care, we’re not attractive advertisements for our Lord Jesus Christ. We can’t be effective leaders in the church or godly examples to our families if we are dominated by depression. So we must work at developing this abiding joy in the Lord. Stay tuned!

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

I am frequently asked “how;” how do you write something every day, I’m never asked “why”.

Why, is as simple an answer as how, excitement; the great preacher C.H. Spurgeon always talked about not handling the bible casually, but to handle it like a workman, a laborer, mining nuggets of truth. It was said that he would dress in the clothes of a common laborer when he was working on his sermons because he never wanted to take casually the handling of God’s word.

That my friends is reverence and honor and respecting the Bible. And it answers the why, everyday there is new discovery, every day I think “how could I’ve never seen that before, or how did I miss that. And the excitement about the new vista, the new horizon, the higher plain that leads to another new find is the why. I have to share the blessing.

The hard part each day is determining the part that is personal, just for me, something that God is laying on my heart that is private, personal and portends something to hide and consider in my own heart and not share. Compared with the nugget, the truth, the blessing that in study I know God wants me to share and put up for the daily devotion or from the pulpit.

So, I’m very careful about having personal devotions versus sermonizing. It’s an important lesson to learn early in a preacher’s life. It’s the main reason young preachers think their sermon bombed. The excitement, the thrill when God lays something on your heart during your bible time, and you haven’t learned yet the difference between the pearl God has dropped into your heart just for you, it’s private, personal, just for yourself. But because you haven’t learned that yet, you build it into a sermon and bam Sunday morning comes and you lay it all out thus and so, and the thrill, the burning coal God laid in your heart, just for you and you alone, goes out of your pulpit and lays there like a dead bird, it never reaches the first row of pews.

Let me tell you what you will think, first you will doubt your calling; then you’ll doubt your ability, then you blame your congregation. But the truth is you haven’t learned to distinguish between a private blessing and self-revelation from God to help you grow, and the public revelation that God gives for the pulpit. And until you do you will have great discouragement in your life as a preacher.

Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 Amplified Version.)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com