Among God’s characteristics, as he has revealed himself, none is more significant than his holiness (see Lev 11:44–45; 19:2; 20:7). The words holy and holiness occur more than 900 times in Scripture, and both the Old and New Testaments speak more about God’s holiness than any other attribute. Because of this characteristic God is not able to tolerate our sin. As Habakkuk 1:13 says: “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.”

 Christ does not just save us from our sin, though; he saves us so we can become holy (see Eph 1:3–4). And as Peter says, “Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ ” (1Pe 1:15–16).

The Bible could not be any clearer, The reason for your entire salvation, the design behind your deliverance, the purpose for which God chose you in the first place is holiness.

 Holiness is associated with separation from the ordinary or the profane on the one hand and connection with God or the divine on the other. Holiness is not only being separated from sin and worldliness but being set apart for God’s purposes. Sanctification is the process by which we become holy.

  ➤ Make it your purpose—Of all the goals we might have for our lives, the most important is to pursue holiness, for it is God’s goal for us. As Oswald Chambers said,

  God has only one intended destiny for mankind—holiness. His only goal is to produce saints. God is not some eternal blessing-machine for people to use . . . He came to save us because He created us to be holy.

  If we love God, then we will commit to making holiness the primary purpose of our life.

 ➤ Don’t resist the Holy Spirit—Sanctification is by the Holy Spirit and is part of our conversion (see 1Pe 1:2). In this form, known as definitive sanctification, the Spirit sets us apart in Christ so we can be saved. The Spirit also works in us so we can be obedient to Christ, a process referred to as progressive sanctification because we are progressing toward holiness.

 In this latter sanctifying role, the Spirit (1) exposes our sin so we can recognize and turn away from it, (2) illuminates Scripture so we can understand its meaning and (3) helps us to see the glory of Christ. The Spirit is always willing to do this for us, which is why we must not “resist” (Ac 7:51) or “quench” (1Th 5:19) the Spirit.

 ➤ Commit to obedience—There is no holiness without obedience. As Peter hints at in verse 2, the Spirit’s sanctifying work is done so we can be obedient to Christ. As Jerry Bridges notes, “Obedience is the pathway to holiness.”

 ➤ Pursue Jesus, not moralism—As we become holy we will naturally become more moral. But that is not the goal of growing in godliness. Our pursuit is of Jesus, not moralism. “Holiness is not ultimately about living up to a moral standard,” says Kevin DeYoung. “It’s about living in Christ and living out of our real, vital union with him.”

 ➤ Expect improvement, not perfection—Too often Christians don’t strive to be holy because they consider it an impossible standard. But God is not leading us to an unattainable level of perfection, for someday when Christ appears we will be like Jesus (see 1Jn 3:2). Our lack of perfection in the meantime should remind us of our dependence on God and motivate us to continually strive to improve. John Calvin writes,

  As even the most perfect are always very far from coming up to the mark, we ought daily to strive more and more. And we ought to remember that we are not only told what our duty is, but that God also adds, “I am he who sanctifies you.” (Lev 20:8 ESV)

 

Remember Donovan P in your prayers, surgery on Friday

 

Keep Paul K, in prayer his up coming cancer surgery

 

Susie R, grieving widow, it’s been her first week after the death of her spouse of 55 years

 

Susan R, having ear surgery on her cochlear transplant

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

miles from home

June 27, 2017

The apostle Paul said that the entire Christian faith rests on this single foundation, the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Cor. 15:13-19). If that fact of history is true, then our faith has a solid footing in spite of difficult matters that we may never understand fully in this life. But, if Jesus Christ is not risen from the dead, then the strongest faith in the world is useless, because it rests on a faulty foundation. In Paul’s words (1 Cor. 15:17), “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”

If you want to examine a subject, it’s best to go to an expert. The most famous expert on doubt is the man whose name is always linked with it, Doubting Thomas. Perhaps it’s unfair that he has to wear that label, since all the apostles doubted the resurrection of Jesus at first (Mark 16:11; Luke 24:10-11). But, Thomas was the last holdout, so he gets the title. His story shows us that…

To overcome our doubts, we must rest upon the reality of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

Thomas was what I would call a sincere doubter. Not all doubters are sincere. Some use their doubts as a smoke screen to hide behind their sin, which is the real issue. If one area of doubt is cleared up, they will quickly duck behind another, because they don’t want to submit to the Lord. These people do not need more evidence to believe. They need to turn from their sin.

But some doubters are sincere. They truly believe in Christ, but they are plagued by honest questions. They are submissive to God and want to do His will, but they can’t just close their eyes and take a leap of faith. They need evidence to clear up the doubts. Thomas was that kind of sincere doubter. His story reveals that…

  1. Sincere doubt can arise from multiple causes.

There are many causes of doubt. I am going to limit myself to exploring some of the causes of Thomas’ doubts. Perhaps you can relate to these sources of doubt as well.

Some Reasons For Thomas’ Doubts:

  1. PERSONAL FAILURE COUPLED WITH OUR PERSONALITY MAY LEAD TO DOUBT.

All of the disciples had failed Jesus on the night of His arrest and trial. Most notorious was Peter, who denied the Lord three times. All of the eleven had promised Jesus their loyalty, but they all deserted Him when He was arrested.

Thomas, along with Peter, had been outspoken in his loyalty to Jesus before the crucifixion. In John 11:16, when Jesus wanted to go to Bethany, near Jerusalem, to raise Lazarus from the dead, the disciples objected that it was too dangerous. But Thomas said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” He was a pessimist, but at least he was loyal to the point of challenging the others to be committed to the point of death. But then he had joined the others in running away when Jesus was arrested. That failure led Thomas into depression and doubt.

It wasn’t just Thomas’ failure, but failure coupled with his personality, that led him into deep doubts. Peter had failed in a big way, too. But Peter was a buoyant, optimistic sort who felt badly about his mistakes, but who could bounce back more quickly. But Thomas was a conscientious, loyal, but gloomy type who did not commit himself to something lightly. To commit himself to Jesus and then go back on his word affected Thomas deeply.

We’re all wired differently and so it’s important to know yourself so that you can be on guard against your areas of weakness. Usually, by the way, our areas of greatest strength are also our areas of greatest weakness. A man such as Thomas, who is loyal and conscientious, who takes commitments seriously, is also more prone to depression and doubt when he fails.

  1. DISAPPOINTED EXPECTATIONS MAY LEAD TO DOUBT.

A second factor that caused Thomas such deep doubts was the disappointment and shock he felt as he watched Jesus die. Even though Jesus repeatedly told the disciples in advance that He would be crucified, it didn’t sink in. When Thomas saw the badly mangled body of Jesus on the cross, it sent him into shock. His emphasis on the wounds of Jesus (John 20:25) shows how deeply it affected him. The bloody holes in Jesus’ hands and feet, the gory spear wound in His side, and Jesus’ disfigurement from the scourg­ing and the crown of thorns, haunted Thomas in the week after the crucifixion and fed his doubts.

In the same way, whenever we face deep disappointment and shock because of some tragedy or unanswered prayer or something that doesn’t go as we had expected, we’re vulnerable to doubts. You begin to think, “If God is a God of love, then why did this happen? Why didn’t He answer my prayers?” Before long, you’ve joined Thomas in doubting the Lord.

  1. WHEN GOD WORKS IN WAYS THAT WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND, IT CAN LEAD TO DOUBT.

Thomas lacked understanding with regard to the Lord’s departure (see John 14:5). On the night before the crucifixion, Jesus told the disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them and that He would come again to take them to be with Him. He told them that they knew the way where He was going. But Thomas wasn’t the type to keep quiet if he didn’t understand. So he blurted out, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”

I’m glad he asked because Jesus’ reply was, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (14:6). But if you put yourself back into that situation, with all of the confused emotions of that night, and with the disciples’ still limited insight into Jesus’ death and resurrection, you can see how Thomas would still be confused about what Jesus had meant. He lacked understanding, which led to doubt.

John 20:9 states, “For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” In fact, none of them understood why Jesus had to die, let alone rise from the dead. Jesus rebuked the men on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24:25-27), “And He said to them, ‘O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”

Many of our doubts stem from the same cause: we do not understand the Scriptures. Frankly, there are many hard teachings in the Bible, some of which we won’t resolve until we are with the Lord. We have to trust God, even when we don’t understand. In John 6:60, many of those who had followed Jesus turned away when He taught some hard things. Jesus even asked the twelve if they would go away also. Peter gave the great answer (John 6:68-69), “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” I have come back to that answer many times when I have struggled with doubt due to a lack of understanding. If Jesus is who He claimed to be, where else can I go?

  1. SEPARATING OURSELVES FROM FELLOW BELIEVERS, ESPECIALLY WHEN WE ARE DEPRESSED, CAN DEEPEN OUR DOUBTS.

Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus first appeared to them. We don’t know for certain why he was gone, but a likely reason was his depression. The last thing he wanted at a time like that was to be around other people. So he wandered off by himself to brood over the horrible events of the previous few days.

Then to add to his misery, when he finally did see the others, they told him that they had seen the risen Lord! How would you feel if you missed church because you were depressed and doubting and we all told you, “Hey, you really missed a blessing! It was the greatest church service in the history of FCF!” Great! That really encourages you, doesn’t it! But even though other believers may irritate us, the fact is, we need them. Whenever we separate ourselves from the fellowship, we make ourselves vulnerable to doubt.

I’ve not covered all the causes that cause us to doubt. But whatever the source of your doubts, the solution is the same: to come back to the basic fact of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. If that is true, then even though you may not understand everything, with Thomas you still must bow and acknowledge Jesus to be your Lord and God.

God bless you in your trials, your battles, in your darkest hours, hold up your bible in front of your eyes (literally) and tell yourself you really believe.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

the fools among us

June 23, 2017

I had the opportunity to talk to two people this week who said they were atheist’s.

Being my normal blunt self, when they asked me what I thought about that I pulled out my little Bible (a real bible not an app) and read the following to them.

Romans 1:20-32

King James Version (KJV)

20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

They both said they didn’t believe that nonsense, I said; “of course not, you are fools, what else would you believe but your own opinion.”

This is where you stop talking to someone like this because to give them more scripture is actually harmful.

As painful as it is to accept, not all will believe. It is more painful when these are your own family.

We can only pray.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Don B, 68 years old, tore his left bicep, his right ACL, and got a hernia and then just about sliced his forearm off working at my house.

Pray for Dan B, unsaved, 78, and just got out of jail for not paying his attorney, the court costs and bail costs, he’s broke, drunk, and kinda of mean spirited. There’s a warrant out for his arrest and he’s lit out.

Remember Paul K and his upcoming cancer surgery

And Joe R, and his upcoming shoulder surgery

 

the tongue

June 21, 2017

The best devotion I’ve ever read on taming the tongue was in the late 70’s and it was written by Christian song writer Keith Green, if I can find that devotion I will post it for you, until then…..

Taming is a process by which a wild beast is subdued into adapting and submitting to human control. As James notes, “all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind” (Jas 3:7). But despite mankind’s success in taming the animal kingdom, there is one wild thing, James says, that we haven’t been able to subdue and adapt: “No human can tame the tongue” (v.8).

 While we might never fully tame our tongues, with God’s help we can learn to use our words in a manner that is increasingly more edifying and Christlike.

 In what way does your tongue most often get you in trouble? Look over the following list of verses that address how we are to use our words. Choose two or three verses to memorize and reflect on daily:

 Watch what you say and speak only after careful consideration.

  “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin” (Pr 13:3).

   “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity” (Pr 21:23).

  Sometimes the most becoming speech is silence.

  “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues” (Pr 17:28).

  Seek first to understand what someone is saying before attempting to respond.

  “To answer before listening—that is folly and shame” (Pr 18:13).

  Be slow to speak your mind.

  “Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them” (Pr 29:20).

  Be wary of making trivial or casual remarks that reflect ungodly attitudes.

  “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken” (Mt 12:36).

  Avoid obscenities, profanities and blasphemy; instead, speak words that build up others.

  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Eph 4:29).

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

where ever we go

June 19, 2017

Every Where We Go

So, my son and daughter in law take me out to eat for Father’s Day. We go to their favorite restaurant, it’s packed, we have to wait, I decide to go to the men’s bathroom. While I’m standing there do my business, a young father comes in with his 3-4-year-old son.

The dad holds open a door to a stall and tells his son to sit there and go pee. The kid points to me and says; “no, dad, I want to go standing up like that guy.” The father says “you’re not tall enough.” A big frown drops on the kids face and he folds his arms and says very firmly “I’m big enough to stand and pee.”

The dad says “fine I’ll hold you up while you pee.” So the dad waits til his son drops he pants, waddles to the urinal; he picks up his son and the kid is not peeing. His father goes “come on Tommy pee.” And the kid while not looking at his father says in a most serious voice; “tell me you’re not going to drop me.” To which the father says to son as gently and as reassuring as possible; “son I will never let you go or drop you.”

And bingo, there’s our devotion, our Heavenly Fathers promises the same to us.

So where ever we go, we are sustained by the Father, wherever we go.

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

 

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