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“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
“Be still, and know that I am God:
Every saint should realize that God is God. God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. We need to sit back, be still, and just meditate on the attributes and character of God. We need to understand that the very essence of God is eternal and beyond our human comprehension. “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” Exodus 3:14
So often, we ask unnecessary questions and seek un-attainable answers. It is not within us to understand all of the plan, actions, methods, and work of God due to our finite understanding. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29
So, God told us, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
“I will be exalted among the heathen,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
God has a plan to exalt Himself on the face of this earth. His plan was prophesied in the Old Testament by the prophets and revealed to us in the New Testament. This plan unfolds in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus and the exaltation of Christ as the Saviour of the world. “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” John 17:4
The plan of God to exalt Himself continues through the church Age, the 7 Year Tribulation Period, and 1000 Year Reign of Christ on the earth as, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
The plan of God to exalt Himself on the face of this earth will culminate in eternity. “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away. And I john saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” Revelation 21:1-3
God knows exactly what He is doing and His plan will come to pass exactly as He has planned it.
“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen,
I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
God never commanded anyone in His Word to tithe money to Tabernacle, Temple, Synagogue or Church. Yet, so many In churches around the world today are lied to every time the offering plate is passed. “God requires you to tithe your money” is spoken from the pulpit. “If you don’t tithe, you are a God-robber! You are cursed!” Is often shouted to put the laity in a state of guilt and condemnation. Relax Saints of God… Fear not. God never authorized that pastor to speak those deceitful and unkind words to your ears.
Let’s examine the Scriptures and see what they say concerning
God’s commanded tithe, shall we? But first, let us visit two sons of Aaron at the Tabernacle…
Leviticus 10:1-2 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.
In the above text, two of Aaron’s sons were struck dead because they offered “strange fire” to God upon the altar of the Lord. What exactly was this “strange fire” that they offered that so displeased the Lord? We are not told. But we are given a special insight as to how precise God wants our offerings to Him be. Nadab and Abihu had offered something that God had not commanded.
Now, one would think, “Hey, at least they were offering something to God. What wrong can be in that?” But God said they offered something that was not commanded.
A lesson should be learned by all from the reading of the account of Nadab and Abihu. That lesson is, “Do It By The Book”.
God has given us His Word as an instruction manual. This “manual” tells us what God expects of us as His dear children. If we are disobedient, God’s chastening hand will be upon us. It surely was upon Nadab and Abihu when they offered strange fire upon the altar. The manner in which we are to live is laid out for us in the New Testament section of the Holy Bible.
Now, please don’t go off on a tangent, saying I don’t like the Old Testament. I do. I cherish both the Old and the New. I read them both and learn from them both.
But the fact is, the New contains the pattern by which God wants us to live today. Hebrews 8, written in AD 66, reveals to us that the Old Covenant was ready to pass away and that God was bringing us into a New Covenant. We cannot live in the Old Covenant promises, curses, edicts, laws, statutes, and ordinances. God doesn’t expect us to.
In AD 51, the Apostles met in Jerusalem with the religious leaders of the day. Their order of meeting was to discuss Gentiles who had been recently converted to faith in Christ. The religious leaders of Jerusalem were insisting that the Gentiles had to keep the Law of Moses or they could not be saved.
The Apostle Peter spoke before them all, rebuking them for placing a yoke upon the Gentile Brethren that neither the Jews of that day, nor their ancestors could keep themselves. Peter told them they were tempting God in their demands. The Apostle James said the religious leaders were overthrowing the souls of the Gentiles.
At the close of the meeting, James wrote a letter to the Gentile Believers and sent it to them by the hands of Paul and Barnabas, telling the Gentiles that the Apostles had given no such command that they keep the Law. He also sent Judas and Silas with the same words, but not written… they were to speak to the Gentiles, telling them that they were not commanded to keep the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law was part of an Old Covenant that was soon to pass away.
In many Churches around the world today, there is a doctrine being taught that could be called “strange fire”. That doctrine is the monetary tithe requirement doctrine.
Pastors will stand in their pulpits and preach from the Old Covenant the command to tithe that was given to Israel. But, they preach it by their own opinions. They replace the tithe God commanded, an agricultural tithe, with a tithe consisting of money. It no longer is the tithe that God required of Israel,... it has become “strange fire.”
No longer the agricultural tithe that was commanded by God for the children of Israel in Mount Sinai, (Leviticus 27:30-34) it is now a monetary tithe.
No longer a tithe that was to be given to Levites, to widows, to orphans, to strangers in Israel, (Numbers18:21,24,26,28; Deuteronomy 14:22-29; Nehemiah 10:37-38) it is now given to pastors of Churches around the world.
The “tithes” were good when God had control of them, but modern-day Nadab’s, modern-day Abihu’s have turned them into a “strange fire” which God never commanded. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His Word is forever settled in Heaven, but rejected in the hearts of these preachers.
Many pastors today are tempting God and putting a yoke upon their congregations that God never authorized them to do.
Search the Scriptures. When you do, you will find that God’s holy tithe was never commanded for the New Testament Church, never carried to the New Testament Church, never collected in the New Testament Church, and never controlled by the New Testament Church.
Pastors would do well to set aside this sin of preaching a strange fire and offering it to God in the Sunday prayers. Seek out what the New Covenant says concerning the saved and their giving. They are not to be coerced into giving, they are not to be made to fear a curse from God. Rather, they should be taught to give simply because “they love Jesus.”
Teach them as the Apostle Paul taught the saints and brethren at the Church in Corinth… as they purpose in their hearts to give, give cheerfully and willingly God will be honored more by a loving offering than by “strange fire”
Do it by the Book
People, If you insist that God requires you to tithe, that you are being obedient to God and His Holy Word, at least have the decency and respect for God and His Holy Word to do it in accordance to what He has written in His Holy Word.
When you tithe, don’t take it to a Church in a Gentile land. God never commanded such. Instead, do it by the book, as God commanded, and take it to the Promised Land. ( Deut. 12:1,10-11)
When you tithe, don’t give it to a Gentile preacher. God never commanded that. Instead, do it by the book, as God commanded, and take it to the Levite, the widow, the orphan and the foreigner (which would include yourself) in the Promised Land. ( Deut 14:22-29 )
When you tithe, don’t tithe money. God never commanded such a tithe. Instead, do it by the book, as God commanded, and tithe agricultural products that are grown in the Promised Land. (Leviticus 27:30-33)
If you insist on tithing, don’t tithe that which comes from Gentile hands on Gentile soil. God never commanded it. Instead, do it by the book, as God commanded, and move to the Promised land Israel so you can cultivate the land and have the tithe that God required in the Mosaic Law.
.Galatians 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
If you are not going to “Do It By The Book”, don’t try to convince me that you are being obedient to God in tithing. It is just the opposite… you are being rebellious to what He decreed concerning how His holy tithe was to be observed and kept.
The Apostle James wrote in his epistle that if you keep the whole Law, yet offend in one point, you are guilty of all. Maybe it’s best you stop offending in that point of the Law and just submit to God’s will concerning your giving today.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 But this [I say], He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
God does not require tithe of your money. Instead, He wants you to give simply out of your love for Him.
Not as others dictate, but as you choose in your heart. Give with a willing heart; not because you have to, but because you want to… and He will be pleased.
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There is a balance to life. Everything we do is, or should be, by balance. However, balance does not necessarily mean in even proportion. For instance, if I want a good balance of flour and yeast in my bread, I will surely not use the same amount of yeast as I do of flour! Life is the same. Different situations call for different proportions, and sometimes the balance is somewhat hard to find.
This morning, I was looking in the back of my Bible and I saw a thought that I had written down a few years ago. "The difficulty I find in my Christian life is that, when I should be a man, I am a child, and yet when I should be a child, I am a man." Let us consider what the Scriptures say. I Corinthians 13:11 says, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man , I put away childish things." And yet, when you look at Mark 10:15, we see Jesus say, "Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." So where is the balance? When do we be "as a little child" and when do we "put away childish things"? The difference, I believe, is the difference between childish and childlike.
The word childish is defined as, "Belonging to a child; trifling; puerile (boyish, immature). However, the word childlike is defined as, "Resembling a child or that which belongs to children; becoming a child; meek; submissive; dutiful; as childlike obedience."* Notice the difference in the following: one is to belong to a child and one is to resemble a child. Let me give you an example. I am, and always have been, a bit of a cut-up. Now I have often been accused of being immature because of this; however, if I was childish, I would have no sense of when to cut up and when not to. Hence, we see that the difference between being childlike and childish is that being childish applies to all the aspects of children, whereas being childlike applies to the excellency of children. Spurgeon put this way, "It would be a good thing for us all if we had never stopped being boys and girls, but had added to all the excellencies of a child the virtues of a man. Surely, it is not necessary to kill the child to make the saint?"**
So, in my Christian life, there comes a time when I should be more like a child. Children tend to be more forgiving. How often have we seen two children squabble one minute, and be best of friends the next, as if the incident had never happened. How blessed it would be if we could find this in our own life. Unfortunately, adults tend to be much too full of pride to do this. Children tend to be trusting. We as Christians do not trust God. Whatever our reason is, we lack trust. Children are quick to love. However, adults tend to look for a reason not to love people. Why? Simply because we like to feel sorry for ourselves.
And yet, in my Christian life, there comes a time for me to be a man. A child, by nature, is fearful. A man (or adult) should not be. Isn't it funny that a child's fear is far less damaging than an adult's, simply because a child knows how to trust. Adults when they fear, also refuse to trust. A child tends to be dramatic. Unfortunately most people do not grow out of this. A child is mostly selfish; they have to be taught to think otherwise. The problem is, many of the adults instructing them to not be selfish are often selfish themselves.
I finish with a very sobering thought from Spurgeon. "Do not others expect from children more perfect conduct than they themselves exhibit? If a gracious child should lose his temper, or act wrongly in some trifling thing through forgetfulness, straight way he is condemned as little hypocrite by those who are a long way from being perfect themselves."*** Let's stop being so childish, and start being childlike.
*All definitions are taken from the Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary. **Spiritual Parenting pg. 17 ***Spiritual Parenting pg. 18
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The Great Deception
Text: 2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
1. There is a great deception that has spread throughout the whole world. Exposing this deception is not going to make me, or anyone else that preaches it very popular with the world and sad to say, we will not be very popular with some of God’s people either. The reason is simplicity itself, for this particular deception has come about through so called Christianity. Although it did not originally start with Christianity, it has been adopted and perpetuated by so called Christians and even by our beloved Baptist churches in the last century.
This particular deception is so insidious that virtually no one even thinks to question its teaching. PrOBably the most insidious aspect of this deception is that it is so ingrained in our culture and even our churches, that we see no reason to question it. It comes to us in the form of truth, is believed by pastors, teachers and even the Bible colleges that have trained them. To the un-churched masses it is unquestionably “religious”. While it needs to be pointed out that this deception is religious at its roots, it must also be pointed out that it is false religion, not Bible truth, nor is it Bible based.
It is deeply rooted in Pagan religion and can be directly traced back to the worship of Baal, which is vehemently spoken against by God and His prophets. At this point you might be thinking that you have never heard anything Pagan in your church services; but you would be wrong. You have been deceived just like so many others. This Paganism wears a veneer of Christianity. Remember that a veneer makes one material look like something quite different, many times it covers something quite ugly. This is a very apt description of my subject today, which, if you have not guessed it yet, is Christmas.
It may come as a surprise to most, but the original OBservance of this holiday has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. It does, however, have everything to do with the Pagan Roman god Sol Invictus, the Sun god, and with the false “Christ” of apostate Christendom and the Roman Catholic Mass.
As far as churches OBserving this holiday, it has come down to us through time, first through the Catholic Church and then through her daughters the Protestants. This should not be a surprise because God shows us the true identity and character of this supposed church: Rev 17:5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
a. We have supposed Christmas to be the chief of the Christian holidays. Without asking questions, we have blindly assumed that Christmas must be one of the principal teachings and commands of the New Testament. Nothing could be further from the truth. Christmas is not as much as MENTIONED anywhere in the New Testament. It was never OBserved by Paul, the apostles, or the early true Christian Church! We are never told to OBserve the birth of Christ as a holiday, or even a religious day. As a matter of fact, by contrast we are commanded to OBserve His death as a continual memorial.
1Cor 11:26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
b. Few realize and would be shocked to know, that Christmas was not officially celebrated by the first church at Jerusalem, Baptists, or Pilgrims, Puritans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and other Protestant denominations until the second half of the 19th Century.
Until the recent era you would not be able to find a Baptist who would have anything to do with this pagan feast. It has now become a “sacred cow” in many “Baptist” churches, and woe be to the one who speaks a word against any of them.
The Puritans, Baptists, Quakers, Presbyterians, Calvinists and other denominations brought the opposition to Christmas to early New England and strong opposition to the holiday lasted in America until the middle of the 18th century.
2. In many of our churches today, those who preach what they call a Christmas message will readily admit that Dec. 25th. is not the birthday of Jesus. They will rightly tell the church that no one actually knows the date of His birth because the Bible does not tell us. This alone should give pause to the celebration of Christmas. Why OBserve unscriptural fables, or worse something that has its roots in the worship of the Babylonian god Baal? We teach of the birth of Christ, for it is Scriptural, but nowhere are we told to celebrate it.
a. How is it then, that up until 150 years ago the truth of Christmas was known among Baptists, but now, 150 years later we accept it like it was Gospel? The answer is that Satan has instituted a master piece of deception. He has succeeded in convincing Christians that Christmas is a holy day. Every successive generation has grown up with this thinking. The church no longer condemns it; the world has even bought into this great deception, so it is all around us on every side.
Jesus said that the church is the pillar and ground of the truth, and so it is. But if the truth is not preached or reinforced Scripturally, then how are the generations that follow to recognize truth from error? God told us how to deal with this sort of heresy. But in these last days before Jesus returns we have become complacent. 2Pe 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
b. The Bible tells us in no uncertain terms how men of God are to deal with things of this nature: Isa 58:1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of JacOB their sins.
If we couple this verse with our original verse in the beginning of this lesson, we will be a long way down the road to being the pillar and ground of the truth. 2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
We cannot possibly cry aloud and show God’s people their sins until we first see them as sins. In order to do this our eyes must be opened and we must not be a part of those very sins. We cannot be a part of this present evil world and also condemn it at the some time, this is hypocrisy. The Scripture commands us to “come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” 2Cor 6:17
I would like to show you the real historical facts concerning Christmas, like where it came from, how it came to be and how it became entrenched in our churches. You can find lots of information regarding Christmas and its origin in any encyclopedia.
c. Of course we can trace this custom back even further than the Pagans. We can trace it all the way back to Babylon. In ancient Babylon, the feast of the Son of Isis (Goddess of Nature) was celebrated on December 25. Raucous partying, gluttonous eating and drinking, and gift-giving were traditions of this feast. This is where the modern OBservance of Christmas on the 25th. of December comes from originally.
The word "Christmas" literally means "Mass of Christ" or, as it later became shortened, "Christ-Mass." Ironically, in the Roman Catholic Church the word, “Mass” means “death”. It came to us as a Roman Catholic mass. And where did they get it? From the HEATHEN celebration of December 25th, as the birthday of Sol Invictus the SUN GOD! It is, actually, an ancient rite of BAALISM, which the Bible condemns as the most abominable of all idolatrous worship!
There are many other things that go along with Christmas that are unquestionably Pagan in origin and can be traced back to Babylon and the worship of the Sun God Sol Invictus. We don’t have the time in one lesson to deal with all of them, but to simply name a few they are; The Christmas Tree, Holly, The Yule Log, Mistle Toe and even Santa Clause.
Jer 10:2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
3. Someone may say, “but we are not really worshiping Pagan Gods and their customs, we are just following the customs we have been brought up with from childhood.” But Scripture is very clear regarding God’s people following the ways of the heathen.
Deut. 12:30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? Even so will I do likewise.
31 Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.
When God’s people went into the lands that God gave them, they were instructed to utterly destroy anything to do with the worship of the people of those lands.
This is why God told Israel to cut down the groves, destroy the idols and altars of the heathen and not take their daughters to wife. It is all too easy to fall into the ways of the heathen if everything was left in place just because it was expedient. We see this time and time again in the history of Israel; The Bible tells us that the people did evil in the sight of the Lord again. They were continually drawing away from God and toward false gods simply because the false gods and false religion was starkly “in their face”, so to speak.
a. The plain truth is that Christmas is NOT Christ's birthday at all! And this festival, important as it seems to so many, is not Christian. Even secular history records this holiday as Pagan.
There is not one word in the New Testament, or anywhere in the Bible, telling us to OBserve Christmas. The Christians of the first century, under the inspired teachings of Peter and Paul and the other apostles, never OBserved it. There is NO BIBLE AUTHORITY for its OBservance, strange as it may seem. Christmas was not among the earliest teaching of the church. It was not instituted by Christ or the apostles, or by Bible authority — it was picked up by the Roman Catholic Church afterward from Paganism.
This is what the bible calls another gospel: Gal 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
b. Recognized historic authorities show Christmas was NOT OBserved by Christians for the first two or three hundred years — a period longer than the entire history of the United States as a nation! It got into the Western, or Roman Church, by the FOURTH century A.D. It was not until the FIFTH century that the Roman Church ordered it to be celebrated as an official "Christian" festival! But if Christmas is really a Christian holiday, then why isn't it even mentioned ONCE in the entire Bible, especially the New Testament? Why are the apostles totally silent about OBservance of this day? Where did it really come from, and how and when did it enter the professing Church?
c. The answer to this question is much the same as for many of the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. In their quest to convert the pagans and bring them into the church, they found it convenient to allow the Pagans to bring in their customs and festivals. Consequently the Roman church officially sanctioned these and made them their own.
And that is how "Christmas" got into our so-called Christianity! We may call it by another NAME, but it's the same old pagan sun-worshipping festival still! The only CHANGE is in what we CALL IT! You can call a rabbit a "LION," but it's a RABBIT, just the same.
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
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.
d. Now it is true that most Christians have bought into this lie through ignorance, there is another great Bible truth to be realized in this respect. There are sins of ignorance and there are also presumptuous sins. A person sins through ignorance when he simply doesn’t know that what he is doing is a sin. But a presumptuous sin comes about once a person knows the truth and chooses to continue on in what God has revealed as sin.
Here are two examples of this truth.
Num 15:27 And if any soul sin through ignorance, then he shall bring a she goat of the first year for a sin offering.
28 And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the LORD, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him.
Num 15:30 But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
31 Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.
God is serious about sin among His people. But He is also loving, just and righteous. We see in these two verses both a provision for sins of ignorance, as well as righteous condemnation for sins committed when a person knows better.
Although many churches and pastors may be ignorant of the origins of Christmas, they may be guilty of a presumptuous sin if they continue in it once they have known the truth. Some continue to OBserve this holiday out of expedience and a sense of not wanting to make people uncomfortable.
Some even justify OBserving Christmas by saying that this is one of only a couple of days that unbelievers flock to churches to hear a Christmas message. God does not compromise His Word in this manner and a church that will give in to this compromise is in danger of losing its place as a church. Jesus said this to the church at Ephesus:
Rev 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
When God removes the candlestick from a church it has lost its power. The candlestick is symbolic of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. In Revelation we see seven candlesticks that represent the seven churches of Asia. To remove one of the candlesticks is to remove that church.
e. There is nothing wrong with preaching the Gospel on this pagan holiday, just don’t call it a Christmas message. After all, the Gospel includes the birth of the Savior as well as His substitutionary death for our sins. But make it clear that we are not preaching this on this day because it is the birthday of Christ, we are preaching it because it is the Gospel. Do away with all the trappings of Christmas; wreaths, ribbons, bows, Christmas trees, ornaments, manger scenes and all the things that go to make up a traditional Christmas scene. They are all idols and the Bible speaks expressly about making idols, or images of anything in heaven or earth. The manger scenes set up at Christmas time are not only an abomination as idols; they are also inaccurate. The wise men pictured did not find Jesus in a manger; they found him three years later in a house. Mat 2:11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
Exo 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
These things have no place in the church of The Living God. To incorporate elements of Pagan idolatry into the worship of our God “is to change the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”
Source: What Ever Happened To Christmas?
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The Foolishness of Preaching
In todays society, all understanding, education, knowledge, and mankinds advancement is based on science, with the omission of God. The idea of God is seen as foolishness, and as an outdated close-minded mindset. Let alone the idea that there is something wrong with society, that their lives are filled with sin and they are in danger of perishing and going to Hell. These in societies eyes are the rantings of a lunatic, not understanding the seriousness of its fact. But Christ suffered first, He started the work and showed us the path that we must walk, and the cross of scoffing, mockery, ridicule, persecution, and in the end the wonderful words "Well done my good and faithful servant".
The Bible says -
1Co 1:18-21 - For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
The Lord teaches that the understanding of the Word of God is more important and more powerful than any knowledge that the world could offer. The understanding of the Cross of Christ is more critical to a persons soul than anything you could attain in this life. The world offers all kinds of pleasures, in entertainment, wealth, and luxuries. But how they pale in comparison to the mighty power of a loving God who offers eternal life through the repentance of sin, and belief and acceptance of the Gospel of Christ.
The world would rather pursue and preach the pursuit of happiness. In their mind and in their understanding that is nothing more than physical gain. But try and tell them that their understanding is wrong, that it is more than that, then they will hate you.
John 15:18-19 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
The Bible is seen as foolish and outdated, but that is only because they do not have the Spirit of the Lord to give them the understanding (1Cor 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.). The Lord said many times throughout the Bible that one must only ask and He will hear. Because If you believe the Word of God, then you have nothing to fear - 2Tim 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Christ said Mat 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to OBserve all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
This is not only just a commandment, but a promise. Christ promised that He would be with us, but we also have the Holy Spirit indwelling us. What have we to fear. If Christ commanded that we preach the Word of God, then He will make sure to give you the words with which to speak - Eze 3:27 But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house.
The Lord promised to give you the wisdom and knowledge you need if you but ask. The fear of man is nothing, the persecution you may have is nothing, if you fully trust in the Lord He promised that He would help, He promised that He would give you the words, and He promised that he would never leave us nor forsake us.
It comes down to faith, do you have faith in the Lord? Do you actually believe that He will help you? You trusted the Lord to save you, and you believe that you will spend eternity in Heaven. So why would a Christian doubt or fear that they would be on their own in preaching to the lost?
Trust in the Lord and the power of His might, the world cannot touch you if the Lord is protecting you. The Lord said countless times throughout the Bible, that He will give you utterance. The Word of God is just that, the Words of God, not ours. We do not speak, the Lord speaks through us.
The message of the Gospel is hated by this world, it is seen as nonsense, but that does not negate its importance. The greatest reason that the Gospel is not preached to the lost is because of the fear of man. Fear can be crippling, it can freeze your thoughts and your body. The fear of man and the wild imagination that follows can be the worst, but God said that He would help you if you only ask Him. Paul the Apostle faced many an opposition, whippings, being stoned to death, beaten, and in the end he was killed for the faith. The trust that one has in God in that no matter what the outcome, no matter how foolish the world may see you, God will always give you the ability to stand.
God said that if any man lack wisdom, let Him ask of God. He also taught that it is not of us that the Gospel is given, but that the Holy Spirit is speaking through us, that is convicting of sin. We are a voice for the Holy Spirit, an instrument of His grace, to provide a message of hope to the lost. When you understand that it is nothing of ourselves, that it is in OBedience to His word when we witness, we have nothing to fear.
Like Peter before the Jews, he trusted in God and opened his mouth, and God spoke through him and many were saved. These were the men that not to long before had sentenced and killed Christ. And now Peter is and the other disciples are standing in front of over 5000 of them and is preaching Christ.
Fear of not knowing what to say, of how someone might react, of _____ you fill in the blanks. Fear is the manifestation of an imagined undesirable outcome, it is your imagination, not a reality. But it is not up to us to make people like us, that's just our own ego and pride taking over. God cannot use you if you are always trying to change the outcome to better suit yourself and your own fears. Besides, in this world you would have to not preach Christ and avoid any Biblical topics to ensure that you would not be disliked. You must give yourself wholly and completely, with no thought to your own desires. (the servant of the Lord must not strive) you must not fight the will of God with your own wants and desires. You must not worry or care for anything, the Lord said to take no thought of tomorrow. That He would supply your every need, this includes safety and the words with which to speak. You must not fear or doubt what the people think.
This is what the world calls foolishness, the absolute trust in the living God. A God that came to this earth and died for our sins, and rose to life again. A God that loves us and promises that He would never leave us. A God that promises that if we would just take the time to spread this Word, that He would do the speaking, He just needs us to be willing.
Doing or saying anything that would make us appear foolish to others, or have others look at us with disgust, contempt, or even pity, goes against everything we strive for. We don't want to appear different naturally, but to appear like everyone else we would have to put Christ on the shelf and avoid Him. To do that would be knowingly sentencing them to Hell, you have the key to salvation in your own hand and are refusing to show them because some may see you as acting and speaking foolishness.
Preach the word, and nevermind what people think, spread the Gospel whether they want to hear it or not. The word of the Lord is unto them which perish foolishness.
But as Romans 1:6 says – For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
We have received salvation of God, we have been washed in the blood of Christ. Our eternity is secured, we have nothing to loose. Sticks and stones may brake my bones, but the Gospel of Christ compels me.
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Repent Part 1: A SERIES OF MEDITATIONS ON THE WORD
June 26, 2014 at 9:50am
Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
People generally don't read really long articles so we will explore and discuss what it means to repent together, in parts.
In the days after creation the number of people grew. Mankind was wicked and God was "angry" that the internal thoughts of man were constantly about doing hurt to other people. So the Bible says that "it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart."
We see that the word repent in Genesis 6:6 has a primary feeling of REGRET and God has redecided, essentially changed his mind, about creating man.
Now move the picture to Exodus. Moses and the Israelites are heading to the promised land. Moses is in the mountain in the presence of God. The people get impatient and make a golden calf and they begin to treat the golden calf as their deliverer from Egypt. God led them out of Egypt strongly and they are crediting a statue! They had a pagan style party and a celebration with the calf overlooking the festivities. In Exo 32:10 God says he is ready to "consume them." Moses intercedes and verse :14 "And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people." The "evil" was not a sin but God was ready to kill those people.Then God changed his mind. In this case there is no regret (he is ready to consume them) but he decided not to do it.
We now see in one verse repent is regret with a change in another it is strongly a change of mind. In none of these cases is it turning away from sin. Repent has a range of meanings. The semantic range will grow as you read all 109 verses the word appears in. I will link all the verses using repent at the end.
The Israelites are in the promised land. The people start doing what they think is right instead of what God says is right. The Israelites also failed to drive out all the inhabitants of the land. So God stirs up the inhabitants against the disOBedient Israelites. We will recall the Philistines were one of the peoples that gave the Israelites trouble in the book of Judges. The Israelites groaned and complained about all the inhabitants of the land giving them trouble. God's response is, in Judges 2:18, to give the people leaders called judges, to lead and help them and "delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them" In this case we see there is a temporary change of mind about allowing the oppression of the Israelites (the judges weren't permanent) and there was only some regret (the oppressors were not fully dealt with).
We now see here that repent is some change of mind and some regret. In another repent was mostly to regret. In another repent was strongly a change of mind.
Now, one day a man (Levite) and his "wife" are traveling. It is late and they arrive at a city in the tribe of Benjamin's territory. There is no place to stay but an old man is kind and helps the travelers out. Soon a loud banging is heard where the Levite is staying with his "concubine." The Benjamites forced the stranger to give his "wife" and they abused her all the night long. The nation of Israel is angered and gathers an army and asks for the wicked men that abused the woman. Benjamin refused to turn the men over and Israel goes to war with Benjamin. Nearly the entire tribe of Benjamin is wiped out in the war. When the israelites finally realize the degree of the slaughter they exclaim in Judges 21:6 "And the children of Israel repented them for Benjamin their brother, and said, There is one tribe cut off from Israel this day." Primarily this is regret a "what did I do! I can't believe we wiped them out!." They certainly did not change their mind about the war but they regretted the degree to which they defeated the Benjamites. You can say they reconsidered wiping out the Benjamites. But again we see the degree of "change of mind" and "regret" implied by the word "repent" is different.
One more illustration. The Judges situation isn't working and the Israelites want someone more permanent. People like Samson were just a temporary solution. God gives them a king instead of judges like Samson. God chooses Saul to be king. Saul messes up and the Bible says (1 Sam 15:35) "the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel" Now, the primary meaning here is regret but includes a change of mind.
NOW, BASED ON WHAT WE READ FAST FORWARD TO A VOICE CRYING "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand"
Interpreting the above words in light of what the word repent means in our study so far:
In this case "for" is a way of saying "because." Also, KINGdom indicates the system and rules and regulations coming under the just and good rule of Jesus Christ. So that verse currently interprets as "change your mind about the system and regulations of this world, possibly regret you even live under the world system, and point yourself to the kingdom under the Lord Jesus Christ". Based on what we studied so far the is no way to get repent of your sins out of that word. Stay tuned as I plan to develop the definition of the word repent with further installments of this meditation on the word repent.
“When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick.”
(Matthew 8:16 KJV)
This verse emphatically states Jesus healed ALL individuals who were brought unto Him. This verse clearly tells me God can absolutely heal any physical, mental, spiritual sickness on this earth today if it be in His will to do so by prayer. We do serve the same God today who walked upon the ground in fleshly form, among many spiritually ill individuals, during His earthly ministry. A number of individuals Jesus came into contact with in His earthly ministry suffered from a putrid spiritual virus darkening the inside chambers of their hardened hearts and clearly affecting their outward demeanor and actions.
This Bible verse does not say He healed some of these individuals who were ill but rather He healed all that were sick. This verse tells us His “holy prescription” for their mental ailment; was His word. Today we have the complete Bible, His Word, which contains all the spiritual “antibiotic” necessary to eradicate evil and dark spirits dwelling in the minds and hearts of many who are in great spiritual need.
Jesus healed many individuals, while He sojourned here on earths which were physically, spiritually and mentally ill. Crowds of people thronged to His side bringing Him family members and close friends in need of healing. People were so desperate to come in contact with Jesus a man of short stature named Zacchaeus even climbed a sycamore tree to fight the throng of the crowd catching a glimpse of Jesus and His ministry.
We serve the same powerful and holy God today. He has not changed. He has not moved. He has not had a power failure or loss of ability to destroy any spiritual maladies and demons as He did in Biblical times.
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 KJV)
What has changed; people have. Many do not seek Him. Many do not want to hear the message of His truth. Many choose to suppress the truth of His Word. He is the only lasting cure for their spiritually based mental ailments.
Today families and close friends do not bring their loved ones unto the feet of Jesus Christ; laying their burdens at the foot of the cross. Many individuals battling mental illness choose to be shuffled off to psychologists, counselors, treatment centers, hospitals, psychologists and the like. They are treated with high potent prescriptions, counseled for their behavioral condition, and treated “culturally appropriate;” never discriminated against for their out of control mental disorder and underlying psychotic behaviors.
But I ask you to consider:
What about the man whom Jesus met in the Gadarenes?
"And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea." (Mark 5:1-13 KJV)
This evil spirit instantly knew and acknowledged who Jesus was. This spirit never considered denying or suppressing innate knowledge that Jesus was in authority over him, understanding the authority and power came from the highest authority, God, ruling the Heavens. Jesus spoke and the unclean spirits verbally recognized Jesus as the Son of the most high God. That is much more than many will dare to acknowledge today.
Jesus showed His power by verbally commanding the many spirits to come out from this man. The spirits begged Jesus to allow them to go into a herd of swine nearby, knowing He was their authority, and that He could send them straight to Hell. This knowledge caused fear to swell and rise to ultimate levels among these dark spirits. The unclean spirits entered into the herd of swine sending the herd instantly reeling over the side of a cliff and into the sea. The Bible tells us there were many unclean spirits; thousands, as in a legion of soldiers, were removed this man. This scripture proves an individual can become infected with numerous unclean spirits. Demon spirits can only take up residence in individuals who are unsaved and living amid spiritual darkness and death today as well.
This man from the Bible spoke of was from the Gadarenes and was actually living in and around the tombs; possibly having an attraction or affinity of some sort with the dead. It is possible he had some sort of occultist activity or nature that led him to live among the tombs but the Bible does not expand on the reason he was found living there. Today occult activity and demons often go hand in hand because it is the very essence and nature of darkness and evil.
Take note that the spirit within him affected everything about this man’s behavior. Scripture tells us he was wild and uncontrollable; no man could bind him or tame his behavior. He was uncontrollable all the time. Day and night he was roaming about through both the valleys and peaks of life without self-control. The outer circumstances had no effect upon the behavior of this demon possessed man. He went about crying and cutting himself without regard for himself or others. Jesus healing him of this devil possession was his only hope for a normal existence. There are individuals today who are living in an out of control fashion just like this demon possessed man.
“And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.” (Mark 5:14-15 KJV)
Those who witnessed this biblical scene play out; the owners of the swine and the crowd that had gathered, clearly understood the power Jesus had used in conveying the unclean spirits be removed from this man into the herd. What was powerful, even more than the spirits being removed, was the countenance and nature of this man after this eradication had taken place.
“And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” (Mark 5:18-19 KJV)
The man was so overwhelmed with what Jesus had done for him. He begged Jesus to allow him to accompany him on His earthly journey of spreading the gospel message. Jesus sent him instead back to where he had come, his former lifestyle, to witness to those who were familiar with his disOBedient and unhindered lifestyle before the legion of unclean spirits was removed. Jesus knew this would be a powerful testimony all on its own and many people would clearly understand the power and compassion Jesus conveyed when he spiritually healed this desperately lost man.
The Bible records others who were spiritually healed from demons as well:
“And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.”
(Luke 8:2-3 KJV)
“And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”
(Acts 16:16-18 KJV)
“And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.”
(Mark 9:17-20 KJV)
“And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.” (Mark 1:23-25 KJV)
“Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.”
(Jude 1:8-9 KJV)
There are many instances in scripture of demon possession, depression, and mental illness among Bible believing Christians. There are several examples of spiritual deliverance from a variety of mental illnesses and demon possession in the Word of God through faith, fasting, and prayer. There are examples of depression in the Psalms and the book of JOB. Christians do get depressed and there are many scriptural examples of this. David lost the joy of his salvation and asked for God to restore it in Psalm 51. Clearly God’s power is necessary and powerful in the treatment and eradication of depression and many varieties of mental illnesses.
Often a stigma is attached to Christians who have depression or mental illness of some sort and many are often not forthcoming in admitting they suffer from mental illness. Churches and Christians vary in their approach and understanding of mental disorders. Even different church denominations will vary in their approach to combating mental illness. There are many approaches used today. It boils down to separating man’s attempts at throwing various secular resources towards the many mental illnesses versus the record the Bible contains about biblical precepts Jesus and His disciples employed when dealing with mental maladies.
Unfortunately there are many who suffer the effects of some form of mental illness without seeking any form of treatment, secular or biblical. It is okay for any individual to admit they have a mental issue or prOBlem of some sort that needs to be further dealt with. The first step in finding a solution is admitting there is a prOBlem. Secondly it is a prOBlem which needs to be dealt with in a fashion that line up with the precepts of the Bible because the Bible is the foundation everything about life is built upon. The spiritual condition of the heart is of utmost importance in any circumstance of life.
The first step should be to search the Bible for examples of mental disorders plaguing God’s people and solutions employed in those situations. One important facet of mental illnesses is trying to discover the root of the situation. The Bible tells us foremost:
"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."
(Proverbs 4:23 KJV)
It is important to keep this precept at the front of the line when considering biblical solutions for mental illness. The heart is the very center of our will and emotion. If the heart is not in a right relationship with God, then nothing in one’s life will stack up in decent order accordingly. A proper spiritual heart condition is the most important aspect to consider when evaluating a mentally challenging illness. A heart darkened by unbelief, or by unconfessed sin in a saved individual can greatly hamper or hinder mental processing and condition of the heart and mental facilities as well.
Never under-estimate the immense power love of Christ and the unequaled power of quoting Bible verses to a person who is hampered by mental illness by a pastor or a person who is widely versed and knowledgeable about scriptures and the power contained therein:
"May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us."
(Ephesians 3:18-20 KJV)
Christ has the power, if it be His will, to successfully weave a person into the power and control of His spirit whether it is from oppression or possession of an evil spirit(s) upon or within a person.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
(2 Timothy 1:7 KJV)
God has given us all the possibility of the power of a sound mind which has the full potential of operating clearly, concisely and within the realms of the standards set forth of godly discipline and order. A mind that operates outside of those precepts or boundaries is not a sound mind but rather one that is tossed to and fro by outward stimuli including one’s emotions and circumstances of the world, rather than being under sound spiritual control from God.
Sin raging within the heart creates chaos and confusion. In the fifty-first Psalm David confesses his sin before a holy and knowing God. David’s contrite and has a heartfelt intention seeking to be made right with God. A heart that is full of sin and/or evil spirits can make one miserable, bitter and full of anger to himself and others around him. David prays for relief of attitudes and desires not befitting a child of God.
“Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”
(Psalms 51:12 KJV)
A great question for those who are in wretched and miserable disorder is about the spiritual condition of their heart including the degree or temperature of their faith in God. A cold heart does not know or understand about faith or the love of God. A lukewarm heart is neither heated up for the purposes of God or cold nor withdrawn and suppressing the truth. A heart that is in fire for the Lord is all about advancing the principles and godly lifestyle; becoming more Christ-like as they march onward towards eternity.
Often individuals suffer in this world. There are different or varying reactions or responses to suffering. Some people suffer loudly, always complaining, to anyone that will listen about the condition and quality of their life. The glass is never half full but always almost empty. Others take suffering on with a quiet and humble spirit. It is very interesting to note that the Holy Spirit sent from God, enters into a saved person’s life, is a spirit of peace and has a calming effect upon us as we choose to live in OBedience to Him and His will for our lives.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
(John 14:27 KJV)
This may not cancel all prOBlem situations, doubts and fears from your life but it will considerably alleviate fears and concerns grounded in viewing life through a worldly viewpoint. The Bible does tell us:
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."
(1 John 4:18 KJV)
If fear hath torment than a person who is living buried amid many fears and concerns about things of this world would be tormenting themselves spiritually; causing a fearful storm to erupt forth. While some fear may be validated as worthwhile in planning and evaluating. The only fear that is constructive in the spiritual life is fear of the God; all other fear is destructive in nature and serves to tear apart a person’s life. Fear causes anxiety, depression, low energy level, and anxiety attacks. Fear causes an overwhelming feeling of impending doom, distorted thoughts, or inadequacy in some way. There are many individuals who are suffering from one or more of these common ailments not based upon reality as viewed through the “holy lenses” of Christ. These fearfully based mindsets are based upon experiences but not necessarily spiritual truth. Feelings and emotions will mislead you into believing something that you feel but is not necessarily true. Often the “enemy” inside a person comes from within. The solution requires taking responsibility for their actions and attitude. The solution begins with repairing a “spiritually shattered” heart condition.
Many today are caught up in the dependency syndrome; dependent on cigarettes, liquor, caffeine, highly caffeinated drinks, drugs, prescription medications, and leaning on anything that will “prop” them up. The prOBlem is all these crutches will fall because they are temporary fixes in nature; often leaving the individual in worse condition than before the dependency began.
A reality check for this world: many churches are ill-equipped to handle mentally challenged or ill persons. Many, often even pastors, do not understand biblical precepts concerning mental health. The influence of man’s concept of dealing with and treating mental illness has crept within the church house and perverted the truths of scripture. Few understand how to apply scriptural truth and prayer to situations involving mentally ill individuals.
The bottom line is that each man has been made in the image of God and each woman in the image of man . God does not make junk. God was very meticulous and creative in making each individual.
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."
(Genesis 1:27-28 KJV)
God gave each us life, precious life in the blood. He gave us the breath of life, the word nepesh, into our lungs. Without the blood and breath of fresh air we would not survive on earth. He also gave us responsibilities, commandments, precepts, and work. Yes work. He gave us all these things; but gave us all we need to successfully live life for Him. If there is something wrong in your life it is with YOU not His creation, not with the people who are around you, not the preacher, not your family, not your jOB, not your financial situation. This list can go on and on with excuse after excuse, however no devastating circumstances or people surrounding you are solely responsible for where you have found yourself in life. Certain situations such as abuse, ill physical health, death of a close relative or friends can temporarily cause a situation that is not productive and beneficial to one’s life, however, like JOB, Joseph, and David looming situations can prove you, try you, instead of knocking you to your knees and being found “down for the count.”
“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
(JOB 23:10 KJV)
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
(2 Corinthians 4:17 KJV)
For the believer, spiritual absence from the Lord leads to depression as the joy of the Lord is our strength. This absence leaves a huge gaping hole between us and God, and a great leaking of spiritual power and spiritual soundness of mind. God can choose to turn His ear away from hearing prayers of His children who are disOBedient and living spiritually apart from His commandments and precepts of life. We choose to turn away from God and walk away; He never chooses to move away from us.
For those individuals who are not saved and are living in spiritual darkness according to their sin nature; He views their life through His “holy lenses,” as well as those persons who are saved. He hears their cries and prayers, and patiently waits, for a time, for whosoever is spiritually lost to call out to Him in faith.
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
(Romans 10:13 KJV)
However, God also says He can and will turn people over to their sinful nature and reprOBate mind if they persist in their sinful lifestyle and continually, reject by their choice, the holiness and truths of God. God can and will turn people over the Gadarenes. He will allow them to live in this world with a spiritually unfit mind.
"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprOBate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;"
(Romans 1:28 KJV)
Noah is a prime example. God spoke to Noah and he heard and took heed to God’s divine instructions. Noah was faithful OBedient to God, building the ark according to God’s “holy blueprints.” Those living in sin scoffed and ridiculed Noah’s OBedience to building the ark and his belief in a holy God.
Often people living in spiritual darkness today live according to their sin nature choose to scoff and ridicule today as well. Noah was OBedient, and as the rain began to fall and erupt forth from the earth, he was invited to come inside the ark for divine protection and comfort as the rains and flood came.
God invites all persons to come through the door of His ark and take refuge as well today. Those who refuse today find themselves afloat in the torrential rain and flood of the world and the door to His “spiritual ark” closed. Just like in the days of Noah and just like the spiritual darkness of the man living in the Gadarene’s.
There are many who are operating in wicked darkness and outside the parameter of a spiritual relationship with God today.
God has turned some individuals over to living with a reprOBate mind and spiritual darkness. They are fumbling, bumbling, and crawling along the wide path which leads to eternal spiritual destruction and living with spiritual and mental unsoundness being tossed to and fro by the waves of life.
For Further Contemplation:
God promises spiritual soundness of the mind and heart within the parameters and precepts He set forth for us to follow in OBedience to Him in a spiritual relationship with Him now and for eternity.
All of us have a sentence of death and a promise of a spiritual presence; now and forever in eternity.
A spiritual presence alive in Christ and in Heaven for eternity, or amid spiritual chaos and utter destruction while living in spiritual separation from God in this world and in Hell for eternity.
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A sure key to successful Christian life lay here in these 7 verses. I had a man once tell me, “Those books are for Pastors” I think over the years as many try to systematically teach doctrine they have inadvertently caused a separation of Church leadership and layperson, something the Bible was truly never meant to do. In every instance of Christ's teaching he tried to show the leaders were no better than the followers, as a matter of fact Paul taught that they were of a higher accountability because they were teaching the word.
So I am going to give you a little hint here. These books are written to INDIVIDUALS and each person of the body of Christ is an individual and yet we are all one in Christ. These books are books for individuals and as such we should pay closer attention to them. Not just for leadership but personal spiritual growth. Remember that each person in Christ teaches with their words, actions and life style. The first step we see here in these verses is we are to be strong in the Grace.
1) You Must Be strong in the Grace
Vv 1 ¶ Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
A major prOBlem in the church today is a misconception of what grace is. Grace is not freedom to sin without any repercussions. That was a prOBlem in the early church as well when Paul wrote, Romans 6:1, 2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? While Paul taught by his very life style how to live in this grace, many Christians today have not been taught by the example of others or their leaders how to be strong in the Grace. And like all of our life it is by faith.
So many have taken on a “oh Well I am a sinner saved by grace” instead of “I am strong in the Grace that is in Christ Jesus.” While that first statement is true it is of our past condition but in our present condition we are no longer alive to sin but alive to righteousness. This is where the true understanding of Grace lay.
Grace is the Power no longer to sin. Before I was saved I could do nothing but sin and even my good deeds were sinful. But once I was saved by grace through faith I was empowered by the Holy Ghost no longer to sin.
2) You Must Commit This Grace to Others
Vs 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
This is not about teaching doctrines or denominational creeds this is about committing the teachings of a Life Style to others that they may do the same. This is where the weakness in the church lay as the wrong idea of grace is taught and no one living it out for others to see and learn from as living ensamples.
3) You Must Endure Hardness by Grace
Vs 3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
A Christian must learn to endure hardness. I know it is real easy for me to go to the Greek and try and change the English word to another to make it understandable. But if I can’t understand this word in English how will I ever know it in the dead language of Koine Greek? While hardness could imply hardship it would have broader meaning when we learn it as hardness.
Hardness is a unique word used only 7 times in the Bible and this reference being the 7th. To establish the meaning we must look at all the verse especially the first one and in all the other 6 uses it has to do with mans heart and I see no reason for that meaning to change here.
In the past soldiers were the local police. There is one thing I have OBserved in police and that is that the people they are employed to protect often are very hard toward their actions and duties. When the police or military are called forth to take action during a disaster, the police and soldiers have to put up with a lot of opposition and hardness from the people.
Understanding that men hearts are hard against those in leadership over them or in authority it is in like manner today many men of God when trying to minister the gospel of Grace find themselves in a world that in opposition or hardness of heart to the message of the Gospel. This we, both the layperson and the leader, must endure this hardness toward the gospel and the teaching of Grace, keep at our walk and the message until we have finished our own course and calling in Christ. We must learn to endure this hardness just as soldier/police has been trained to endure hardness.
4) Vs You Must have singleness of Heart of Grace
Vs 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
Another truth we see in these verse is if you are serving Christ with a double minded heart you can’t fully serve him. I have a friend who has been saying for years he wants to serve the Lord in the mission field but yet he always has one more thing he must do before he can go. And as of yet he still is not in the mission field. No, if God calls you to go, you go. If he calls you to do a work, you do that work, but don’t serve God with a double minded heart, serve him with singleness so you can please him who called you.
5) You Must Strive to Master Yourself in the Grace
Vs 5And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
Sin comes easy in our life and if we truly want to live in the grace of God we must reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to righteousness. You must strive or work hard at your sanctification. That is to separate yourself from the sin that so easily besets us. As you do this you are working out your own salvation just as Paul encouraged us in Php 2:12 ¶ Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always OBeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. When striving correctly with The holy Ghost and the word of God as our guide we will be working out our salvation.
6) You Must be First Partaker of the Fruits of Grace.
2Ti 2:6 The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.
A Husbandman is what we call a farmer or one that grows plants. Whether flowering or fruiting plants grow in a certain way and must be cared for in order to bring forth abundant fruit. But if a husband has no fruit to partake of then he also has no fruit to share with others.
Your Christian walk/life is like a plant and you are to care for your walk as you would a plant in order to bring forth fruit. Now you can let it grow wild and un-manicured and the result will be less fruit. But if you manicure or prune it properly then you will cause it to produce more fruit. Jesus taught this in John 15:1-8 ¶ I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. Through the strength of the Grace that is in Christ Jesus we should all be bearing more and more fruit.
So if you are a branch and you have had fruit in your life, God will allow you to be purged meaning he will remove parts of the branch in order that more fruit will come. We call this pruning. Notice that the branch first brought forth fruit to begin with. A branch first has to show it is capable of bearing fruit. Once it does then it is pruned so the branch will thicken and this will allow it to be able to handle the weight of more fruit. Example that pulls all these points together.
7) You Must understand It is the Grace of God
Vs 7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
This Grace is of God and he first gives it in Salvation which only comes through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Then you must continue to grow in that grace through faith as well. Col 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Peter also teaches 2Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
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(13 references in the Bible)
Gen 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
Gen 14:19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
Gen 14:20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
I suppose, when it comes to discussing the tithe, that we must start at the beginning. In Gen 14, we see two things that should be of interest to us:
1. That Melchizedek initiated the “bread and wine” of communion in honor of Abraham.
2. That Abraham gave a tithe of all that he had taken, lest some claim to have favored Abraham, and made him rich through the tithe.
The “tithe” in Gen. 14 was given in response to the communion of victory that Melchizedek initiated. It was also in response to the blessing that Melchizedek bestowed upon him. The picture here is that the Lord blesses us, and we give to him that which we know He has given to us! It seems, to the human mind, a bit redundant to give from what He gives us, but the beauty of the whole scene is the communion that we have with Christ. The Lord shows, in many ways, that a little bit can do a lot when it is given with a pure heart. So, here one might see the establishment of the tithe, and the “why” behind it. Everything the Lord does has reason, and that includes the tithe.
Sometimes the reason is for teaching; sometimes it is for celebration (as here); and sometimes it for reasons perhaps unknown to us, but not without merit. The tithe was for Israel, God’s chosen people. It was an important part of their worship, showing that God is greater than man, and is worthy of all our attentions. This is the first reference to the tithe in the Bible. It foreshadowed things to come in the structure of the church.
The next reference is in Leviticus 27:30:
Lev 27:30 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD'S: it is holy unto the LORD.
Here we find that God has sanctified the tithe, and “It is holy”. Abraham seems to have impressed God greatly with the tithe, and the Lord adapted it into His law; it remains a tribute to the righteousness of God, and the subjection of man to His will. Verse 32 carries it a little further:
Lev 27:32 And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.
The tithe covered everything that is important to man, the fruit of the land, and the wealth of the livestock. It becomes a sacrifice.
Mans sustenance, all that he has, (Gen. 14:20) was what the Lord has allowed him, and the tithe the Lord kept for Himself. Some refute the tithe because our God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He has no need of a tithe, but in so doing, they question the veracity of the Lord, and His Word, and dishonor Him by holding back that which is holy unto Him. Though they tithed of crops and livestock, our culture today tithes of monetary gain, as well as the proper stewardship of all we have.
In Numbers 18:26 we have another reference to the tithe:
“Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe.”
First, we have here an explanation of what the tithe was for. God had given it to the Levites instead of an inheritance in Israel. He demanded a tithe from the people, and passed it on to the Levites, much of what we do today in the church. Remember the Old Testament was a shadow of things to come, it was a picture of God dealing with His people, and today, if we are born from above, we are His people. In Numbers 18:23, we have the duty of the Levites, and the expression that they shall have no inheritance among the children of Israel. Several verses in that text reiterate the purpose of the tithe.
Here is a reference that deserves consideration in Deut. 12:11 :
Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD:
Doesn’t this sound as if it could also refer to the church? Is not the church a “place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there”? He is providing a place for us today also called “the church“ and is specific in what we are to bring there. Now that is not “smoking gun” proof, I realize, but let us continue our study:
“And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.”
An interesting verse indeed; here, the Lord is again very specific as to what the tithe is, and more so He offers the real and best reason behind the tithe--“That thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always” (Note the word “always”) The tithe is to glorify the Lord always.
“Always” means forever, every generation, till the end of time; it was given to the Jew, because the Gentiles were heathen and had no part in the things of God, but it was for all of God’s children everywhere, and in every age. If this were not true, we make God a liar in saying that it is “forever”, do we not? We must all ask ourselves why we don’t want to tithe, or rather why we don’t believe the tithe is God’s forever. Giving back 10% is not easy for any of us, but the investment is well worth the sacrifice. In the text of Deut. 14, we see more about the blessing of the tithe (v. 29), and verse 28 speaks of a special tithe of the land to be brought every third year. If the tithe is too much to be easily transported, the Levites were to exchange it for money, but money was only conditional concerning the tithe. Most of the “average” people were poor, and lived off the land and the livestock that the Lord had supplied them, so money was not as prominent in their societies as it is in our culture today, but a tithe is still a tithe.
In 2 Chronicles 31:5 we read as follows:
“And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly.”
The command here spoken of referred to the portion of the tithe that was to be given to the priests and Levites. The abundance of the peoples first-fruits was given insomuch as they had far more than was needed. God had blessed them abundantly, and they in turn were to be a blessing to the priests and Levites so that they might be encouraged in the law of the Lord. “Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the LORD” (v. 4). So, the tithe was also given for encouraging the full time workers of the Lord.
Nehemiah dealt with the tithe also:
Neh 10:35 And to bring the firstfruits of our ground, and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, unto the house of the LORD:
Neh 10:36 Also the firstborn of our sons, and of our cattle, as it is written in the law, and the firstlings of our herds and of our flocks, to bring to the house of our God, unto the priests that minister in the house of our God:
Neh 10:37 And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.
Neh 10:38 And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house.
The Levites were not exempt from tithing, they were to tithe from the tithe they received from the people of God. The church follows this same pattern today, that the tithe would not be ignored, but remain in perpetuity as the Lord commanded Israel. The dispensationalists of today have a prOBlem with this, and separate the nation of Israel from the children of God today, but we are all spiritual Jews in the eyes of the Lord (read Galatians 3). The Levites did not tithe to themselves, but to the Lord that His work might continue without interruption.
New Testament Tithing
As already mentioned several times, the tithe was perpetual, an everlasting honor, if you will, to the Lord as well as a token of thanksgiving and an encouragement to those who live off the tithes and offerings of the congregations. They continue to supply the needs that otherwise would overwhelm the church, and the gates of hell then could prevail against it. Thirteen times in the Old Testament we have seen the tithe mentioned, and only two mentions in the Gospels, but they are not without significance until you throw out the instruction and principle of the Old Testament, which is what the dispensationalist seems to want to do.
In Matt. 23:23 we have one of two references to tithing in the New Testament.
Here and Luke 11:42 say virtually the same thing:
Mat 23:23 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”
Luk 11:42 “But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”
The last line says it all, “…And not left the other undone.” Our Lord is admonishing them to keep on tithing of the things mentioned, and not to leave them undone. The Pharisee’s still paid tithes, and they were not rebuked for doing so, the fact is, they were encouraged to keep doing it! I know that to some, the New Testament grace has not yet been ushered in, but again, the dispensationalist must interpret this in a way to make it fit because many do not want to tithe!
The lack of any mention other than this is not a valid argument. Since the church is different than the tabernacle, and functions differently in some areas, the lack of the word “tithe” becomes questionable to many. In 1 Cor. 8 we find some interesting evidences of giving by percentage.
2Co 8:13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:
2Co 8:14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:
So that one brother is not overburdened, the Lord does not ask them to give excessively, but equally. The only way they can give equally is to give a percentage. Ten percent is ten percent for everyone, and is no more of a burden for a rich man than for a poorer man. Verse 15, the next verse, shows us that the Old testament principles are applicable in the New Testament too. Here is what v. 15 says:
2Co 8:15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.
You may recall that this statement was made concerning the Israelites and the gathering of manna, as the Lord provided. (Exodus 16, read entire text) Note that the last verse qualifies the matter with “an omer is the tenth part of an ephah” (That which they used to dole it out). The tenth part, this is the meaning of “tithe” it means “tenth”. They measured out a tenth of an ephah for each man, and double on the day before the Sabbath. If any of us would have applied this verse the way that Paul did, we would hear from a dozen people that we took it out of context! Again, let me say, the Old testament supports the New.
Though the eighth chapter of 2 Corinthians is speaking of charitable giving and not tithing specifically, we can glean some information from these instances. They gave out of love; love should be the reason we give also. They gave in faith; faith must apply to tithing as well. If we cannot trust God to keep His promises to us, we are of all men most miserable. We should see the need of the church, and understand that it takes money to make things happen as they should, and out of love for the work, we ought to tithe. I believe that those who do not tithe are too self-centered to exercise faith in giving, and do not fully trust their Lord as they might think they do.
Most of us know that you will not find a “chapter and verse” for New Testament tithing, but there are very strong implications, for instance:
Paul said he could take pay as a full time worker, but chose not to (1 Cor. 9:6). How could he have been paid if the church did not tithe?
1Co 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
I find it strange that Paul would apply this Old testament verse to New Testament support, don’t you?
We finish this passage with the following:
1Co 9:10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
1Co 9:11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?
1Co 9:12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.
1Co 9:13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?
1Co 9:14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
1Co 9:15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.
If the church was not expected to tithe, Paul’s words would be meaningless. This idea of giving according to your own whim would not work because most of us do not easily part with our “hard earned” money. Most non-tithers do not give enough to support the ministry in any fashion. His heart is not on tithing:
Psa. 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
The non-tither is doing things his way, and not God’s way:
Pro 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Though the verses immediately above have little, or nothing to do with tithing, they do show human nature, which often dictates what we want, and not necessarily what we should do. I think you get my point.
Take a look at this verse:
2Co 8:12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
Our giving is not according to whether we have the money or not, but to equal giving, which, as stated before, demands a percentage giving. Ten percent it what the Lord has commanded in the past, and it is carried over into the church age, or present. (reference given earlier)
The command and promise of Luke 6:38 still applies today:
Luk 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
What would a discourse on tithing be without quoting that time-tested verse, MalachI 3:10?
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
The promise is for tithers, and is just as valid as any promise that the Lord gives unto man. Many refute this verse, and say it does not apply to the church, but as we have seen, the church is the “storehouse” where the tithe is brought and distributed from, it is the direct image of things to come. Prove God, and see if it isn’t so. He has opened the windows of heaven, and poured out many blessings in my life, and I am convinced that He will do the same in yours.
The New Testament reference in 2 Corinthians 9, though it has more to do with charitable giving, proves the accuracy of this verse.
2Co 9:6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
2Co 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
2Co 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
Some take issue with the phrase “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart. So let him give”, they allow this to be the standard for giving of tithes, and any other means of giving. Don’t we know that the “heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9) and none can really know how much? The purpose if their heart in this verse means having the right attitude for giving, as the last part of the verse clarifies. We are to give out of a good motive, a motive of love, and not necessarily out of command or any other rule or emotion. It does not mean let him give whatever he wants to give for that week or month, else he would always find excuse not to tithe. We need to quit looking for “loopholes” in the law, and in the commands of God; a loophole is merely unbelief in disguise, and affords many excuses to go contrary to the Lord’s will and the Word of God. Finally, cultures change; methods change, but Principle does not change, it stands firm, as the rock of Gibraltar, because it is founded on The Rock, Christ. Though our culture is different, and our tithe different, the principle remains the same; ten percent (at least) belongs to God, and we ought to be glad that we have it to give.
I want us to study the whole prophecy of Habakkuk to understand his message to the people of his time, AND to see how his message speaks to us in our day.
We will also look at how Paul took up Hab's message of living by faith in his letter to the Galatians.
In order to understand the prophetic books we must first consider the context – the time when they were written, & the condition of the people of Israel & Judah that the prophet is addressing.
H prophesied around 620-600 BC, in the years before the destruction of Jerusalem & the temple by the Babylonians. He prophesied at about the same time that Jeremiah began his ministry. Josiah had been a godly king who tried to bring the people back to God. It was too little, too late. The priests & people continued in their wicked ways.
H doesn’t seem to have been given a message to the people of Israel, instead we read of his private prayer arguments with God about the state of the land of Judah.
Zephaniah prophesied at the same time as Hab – it's the next book after Hab. He warned the people of Judah:
1:4 "I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all who live in Jerusalem... to v.14
That is very similar to Stephen's defence in Acts 7, when he was accused by the elders of Israel.
Now we will stay in Habakkuk.
1:2-4 is his prayer that God will look at the wickedness of the people and do something about it – to correct & save them.
2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save? 3 Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. 4 Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.
God’s reply is that he has had enough of the people who have constantly rejected him & his laws. He has protected & blessed them for 700 years. Now the nation has become utterly corrupt. Judgement has to come.
It will come through an invasion by the Babylonians (or Chaldeans). Jerusalem will be captured & the temple destroyed, & many of its treasures were taken to Babylon.
That reply horrifies Habakkuk. He argues with God. The Jews were Abraham’s descendants. They had the promises of God. The temple was the evidence of God’s blessing. How could God act against his own people? How could God break his own faithful promises & organise the destruction of the people he has promised to bless?
It is as if we prayed: “Britain has been blessed as a Christian country for hundreds of years. We have sent the Bible & the Gospel around the world. Now wickedness is increasing & churches are closing. Our Parliament is passing laws that violate the commandments of God. Please take action & bless us again, Lord.”
And God replied: “Britain has rejected the Gospel, so I am bringing in people of other religions to take over. They will take over your empty churches; they will influence the laws your Parliament enacts; they will get rich from the taxes you pay. You believers will suffer with the ungodly when I bring judgment on the whole land.
50 years ago, the Christian West Indians were shocked that England was not the Christian country they expected.
In Southall, 40 years ago, we hoped & prayed that the non-Christians coming into England would hear the Gospel, & take the Christian faith back to their own lands. But no – when we look around, we see they bring their pagan religions & gods, & build their own temples & mosques.
We live in a country that has rejected it's Christian heritage. We see the rise of godlessness all around us – TV, newspapers, magazines & the internet show the wickedness of our nation. We read the newspapers, & the angry reports about people breaking the law, but do they, do we actually honour & OBey God’s holy laws?
As a nation we are OBsessed with sport. The London Olympics were a great success for the nation. We wear the clothing; we wave the flags; but we do not play the sport. We sit back & watch on TV while others run about. Our national Christianity is like that. We claim to be Christians, but we do not live as Christians.
Hab prays about the national situation. He hears God’s answer & prays again. He knows he is living in a dangerous situation, where he now expects God’s judgement on the nation, not a revival & blessings. He still argues that God should be more concerned with the wickedness of the Babylonians than of Israel.
2:1 I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.
He watches & waits for God’s answer. As a prophet, he is God’s watchman for the nation of Israel. We as believers should pray for our nation. We are our nation's watchmen. If we want peace, we should pray for our national leaders.
What was Jesus’ command to his disciples about watching?
Luke 21:36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.
Habakkuk gets his answer:2:2 Then the LORD replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. 3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will notprove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will notdelay. 4 "See, he is puffed up; his desires are notupright-- but the righteous will live by his faith--
God is working to a plan – he knows the end & how he will achieve his purposes. The trouble coming on the nation through the Babylonian invasion is discipline for a few years, & that discipline will pass. God has a greater plan in view. Hebrews quotes v. 4 in a way that shows Christ is the one who is coming!Heb. 10:37 For in just a very little while, He who is coming will come and will notdelay.38 But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will notbe pleased with him.
Heb. 11 gives a great list of OT believers who lived by faith.
God in Hab. 2 declares a great promise that will be realised by the coming of Jesus Christ & his saving work; his cross & resurrection: 2:14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
He goes on to ridicule the worship of idols, & declare his sovereign greatness:
2:20 But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.
The OT has many prophecies of the coming Messiah.
H sees trouble – the Jews he lives with, & the coming destruction.
God tells him, “your hope must be in the coming Messiah – I will keep my promises to Abraham. You can trust me.”
I want to look closely at 2:4 — but the righteous will live by his faith—
The last part of this verse is of tremendous importance. Paul builds his teaching on “justification by faith” on that Scripture in Romans & Galatians.
How do we live by faith? What does it mean?
There are two aspects to living by faith:
(i) Justification by faith, wherby we come as sinners to Jesus, & seek forgiveness because of his saving work on the cross. That faith saves.(ii) A life of faith, trusting God day by day.
Through the 70 years of exile, God's care & protection of his people would continue. His saving purposes could not be frustrated. That message of living by faith was believed by Daniel & his friends in Babylonia, and by Esther & Mordecai & others in exile.
God further revealed to Daniel that Messiah would complete his saving work in in 70x7 years. After the exile those who returned rebuilt the temple & re-established worship. We read their stories in Ezra, Nehemiah, Zechariah & Haggai,
Nehemiah serving the king in the palace, prayed for the city, pleading in prayer for many months, and was given the privilege of rebuilding the city walls & establishing law & order again.
These men of God lived by faith in very troubled times.
We have better promises – we know the Lord Jesus Christ as our Messiah, and we have promises of a glorious new heaven & new earth, not of an earthly heritage.
We too, in our troubled times, need to learn the same lessons.
In the course of Hab's prophecy, there is the assurance that God is working to his plan for blessing mankind. Note 2:14
14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
That is a wonderful Gospel promise for all nations in all the world, fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ by the Gospel.
What was the first promise to Abraham? Gen. 12:3 “... all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
What is the “great commission?” Mat. 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to OBey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
We are living in the Gospel age and we have the message for all nations.
H has been complaining to God & arguing with him. God's last verse of Hab 2 ends his complaints & inspires a song of confident prayer.
20 But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. Our opening hymn took up that great statement.
Habakkuk shows us how to pray & how to live in that situation. God is still God. We must trust him. We must live in our troubled land by faith in our Saviour God.
Ch 3 The prophecy concludes with a song of praise & faith.
3:2 H remembers past blessings, & prays that God will renew them is his day. He prays that God will revive his work.
The prayer continues with the remembrance of the great works of God in the past. It is very poetic, but alludes to God bringing his people into the promised land.
16-19 H concludes with an expression of praise – he knows his God, & he will rejoice in him, even though he faces a time of suffering.
We will sing a version of that song when we conclude the service.
We need to look closely at that tremendous statement of faith in 2:4, which Paul develops in Galatians 3:1-14.
Paul builds a tremendous building on those 6 words of Habakkuk: The righteous will live by faith.
He shows that Christ must be the OBject of our faith, and that faith is by the Holy Spirit of God living & working within us. This is no vague belief that gives salvation without changing our life.
The Jews of Hab's time believed they were God's people, & that the temple protected them against the enemy. Within 20 years, the temple was destroyed, & the people taken captive to Babylon. 600 years later, the Jewish leaders of Jesus' time believed the same & rejected their Messiah. Within 40 years, the Romans destroyed the temple & Jerusalem. If you go to Jerusalem today, the stones still cry out in witness of that destruction.
I believe that if we are truly saved, we cannot lose our salvation. After all, Jesus saves completely those who come to God through him. But, I believe also that if we are saved, we will not continue in sin. We will live by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Hebrews gives very solemn warnings against those who turn away from Jesus – they live under the condemnation & wrath of a holy God.
Only in Christ are we righteous. His righteousness is imputed - credited to us when we trust in Jesus for salvation. I preached on that in my last sermon.
The prOBlem with the Galatians was that teachers had come among them who taught that they had to become Jews & keep all aspects of the Law, including circumcision to be saved.
That was no Gospel at all. If we have to keep all the Law, we are hopelessly lost. We are under the curse of God if we fail to keep the Law in every detail.
Under the Law we have the hopeless task of perfect OBedience. The Jewish teachers were still in the Old Cov, still clinging to Moses & his Laws, & all the rituals that no longer had any value now Jesus had finished his saving work.
Come to Jesus as repentant sinners; your Christian life begins as you put your faith in him; then live faithfully as his servants & followers whatever trouble we may face in this life. We live with the promise of glory.
I’ve written a hymn based on Hab. 3.
Blessing - 3:2 LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. -
"Behold, I was shapen in iniquity: and in sin did my mother conceive me." - Psalms 51:5
There has of late been some discussion as to the destination of those who die in their infancy, before they are old enough to understand Jesus. Of course, the feel-good, tree-hugging, whale-loving liberals assert that God couldn't possibly send babies to hell as this would be "unfair" or "cruel", and that by some mysterious loophole in the rules for Salvation God allows those who are too young to be "accountable" into Heaven, no questions asked.
As usual, the position of the lieberals in this debate finds no support whatsoever in the Scriptures. The Bible is clear - EVERYONE who has not accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour by the time they die goes straight to the fiery bowels of hell, no exceptions and NO EXCUSES.
Relative to the argument that babies do not go to hell is the false belief that babies and infants are innocent, because they are not old enough to sin. This is utter nonsense. Central to the teachings of Christianity is the proposition that the guilt of Adam derived from the original sin is passed down through the blood through each generation (Genesis 5:3). Our ancestor was Adam - He rebelled against God. That's enough. Since the fall, we are guilty for even existing. You don't know much about Christian theology if you don't know that.
It is not a matter of choosing to rebel against God when we are old enough to drink and drive. If it was a choice entirely dependent on free will, then chances are some people would choose not to rebel. It would prOBably work out about 50/50. But the Bible says that the whole human race, every individual who has ever lived and ever will live deserves to go to hell (and that even includes you, my esteemed fellow true Christians). As the theologian John Calvin demonstrated, there is nothing whatsoever that we can do by our own free will to get saved. Nothing! The only way to get saved is to get Grace, and you can only get Grace if God decides to give it to you. The sign of having Grace is a compulsion within your heart to accept Jesus and a miraculous ability to believe in every word of the Bible (have you ever tried to FORCE yourself to believe in something? Hold a gun to someone's head and demand they believe that the earth is flat, or that unicorns exist. It is impossible - no matter how hard the person tries. Belief is NOT subject to will power).
We are ALL tainted with sin from the moment of conception (Psalms 24:4) and we need the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ to wash away our sins in the eyes of the Lord. So until the born again experience happens, Salvation is not possible. Therefore, babies and unborn babies who die go straight to hell.
You might think that this is "unfair", but it's not unfair at all. Those who do not have the opportunity to receive salvation, who never in their lifetimes hear the gospel preached (eg babies and savages living in jungles), OBviously were Predestined by God to go to hell. God makes sure that His elect are able to hear the gospel preached to them during their lifetimes, in order to give them an opportunity which He knows they will take advantage of. But with a lot of the reprOBate, He decided not to bother letting them hear the gospel because He had already decided to send them to Hell anyway. God knows everything, so if a baby dies, God OBviously allowed that baby to die because He knew that if it had lived it would have grown up to be a sinner.
A liberal so called "Christian" I once conversed with, recounted the Old Testament story of a father who was promised that he would be reunited with his dead son, who died in infancy. But the important point to remember here is that this occured in the OLD Testamant. Before Jesus, the requirements for Salvation were very different. OBviously Moses did not go to hell eventhough He never accepted Jesus as his Saviour - he could not have done, as Jesus had not been born at that stage. In Old Testament times, to belong to the Jewish race (God's chosen people) was sufficient qualification to ensure a place in Heaven, so long as you did not break the laws of the Prophets. But since the New Testament, it is imperative to believe in Jesus to get to Heaven.
Furthermore, one of my associates presented a very simple tongue-in-cheek argument that if death in infancy ensures salvation then it is a very good idea to kill babies. The vast majority of the human race at present is NOT made up of true Christians (Bible-believing fundamentalists), so for a new born, odds are that he or she will grow up to become part of the hellbound majority. Death in infancy, therefore, would guard against that risk, and would be a small price to pay to ensure eternal bliss as opposed to eternal misery and torture.
To suggest that God makes exceptions to the rule that you must believe in Jesus to get into heaven, based on age or any other reason is to make a mockery of the whole notion of Salvation. It is either necessary to believe in Jesus, or it isn't. If God is going to make exceptions then it OBviously isn't necessary. If God is going to allow unsaved babies to go to heaven by default then He is just playing games with us and Jesus isn't necessary at all. It would be better, in that case, to go and live in some remote community in some OBsure, primitive country and have a great time sinning all you like. At death, you will end up in heaven anyway if God can see that you have never been told about Jesus and the Bible.
Babies, and young children who die before they are old enough to understand the gospels and worship Jesus, unfortunately go straight to Hell. This is a Bible fact, and anybody who disagrees is guilty of heresy.
I trust that I have sucessfully refuted the heresies of the lieberal element that have been smearing the internet with their new-age, pluralist (aka satanic) lies.
On a final note, I would like to add that the thought of all those screaming infants in hell is enough to make you want to avoid the place at all costs, if you needed any more encouragement!
1. Create in me a clean heart. Our old heart is evil from our youth (Genesis 8:21) and is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:5-10), and must be purged of the sin that indwells our affections and passions. For this to happen, our heart, which is the seat of the affections and passions of a human, must be created as clean. Create is defined as, "to form or make by investing with a new character." Our heart, filled with evil, was opened by the Lord. He took hyssop and dipped it in his blood, and then not just washed, but purged our heart. That was when we were saved. But as new Christians we still have much to learn, and at times we stumble, and we sin. So we come to God with a contrite heart and ask for forgiveness (Psalm 51:17), and He takes his hyssop and washes and purges our heart once more. After it has been purged again, He is willing to create a clean heart by filling it with a new character, so that the wicked heart that was once filled with evil is replaced with a clean heart that is filled with righteousness. Not our righteousness, but God's righteousness. How is that done? by searching His Word and meditating on it. By filling our heart with His Word so that, when temptation does arrive, it is His Word that is our thought and not our own fleshly desire (Psalm 119:9-16). I'm afraid that too many times Christians seek the Lord to purge them with hyssop and make them white as snow but then don't ask for Him to create a clean heart and so the evil that was once in this white heart soon returns. Ask the Lord to not only take the hate and bitterness but to also fill you with love. To take the deceit and fill you with truth. To take the selfishness and fill you with compassion. To take the fret and fill you with peace. Ask Him to create in you a clean heart.
2. Renew a right spirit within me. This is a result of you clean heart, because your spirit is your temper and disposition of mind, whether habitual or temporary. Don't be fooled into thinking that this will be an easy task, because it is a right spirit that will help you not yield to temptation. It is one thing to think instantly of Scripture when you are tempted, but thinking on Scripture is not doing what the Scripture says. It is your right spirit that will keep your heart clean. Your disposition is what you make it and unless you make it a right spirit, you can think about all the Scripture you want to but that isn't going to keep you from yielding to the temptation. Your heart will decide how you feel but your spirit will determine how you react. It will also determine how other people look at you. A right spirit is one that is "fit, suitable, proper, becoming, or straight." How properly do we portray Christ? How straight is our life? Romans 12:11 tells us that we are to be fervent in spirit serving the Lord, and Proverbs 29:23 tells us that we are to have a humble spirit. How is your spirit? Is it haughty? The Bible says that he that hath no rule over his spirit is like a city broken down and without wall. Let the Lord renew a right spirit within you so that you can keep that clean heart you asked Him to create.
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Proverbs 1:20-33 is the first occasion in the book of the Proverbs wherein we encounter the personification of Wisdom as a virtuous woman who calls for us to come unto her and learn her ways of righteousness. (Proverbs 8:6-8) This activity of personified Wisdom is also encountered in Proverbs 8:1-36 and in Proverbs 9:1-12. Through these passages we find a progression to the call of personified Wisdom, and thereby we find five responsibilities that we are to maintain toward the wisdom of God’s Holy Word. (Contextual note: I myself believe that the personified Wisdom of Proverbs represents the wisdom of God*s Word.)
First, we must repent of (turn from) our selfish, sinful ways at the reproof of God’s Holy Word. This we must do in order that we might be able to learn the wisdom of God’s Holy Word. In Proverbs 1:22-23 the personified Wisdom of God’s Word proclaims, “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? And the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.” Indeed, this is where our growth in the wisdom of God’s Word must begin – with repentance. If we will not turn at the reproof of God’s Word, then we cannot learn the spiritual wisdom of God’s Word.
Second, we must receive (hear) the truth of God’s Holy Word with all readiness of mind and all meekness of heart. This we must do in order that we might be transformed through the wisdom of God’s Holy Word. In Proverbs 8:5-6 the personified Wisdom of God’s Word proclaims, “O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.” Again in Proverbs 8:10 she proclaims, “Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.” Indeed, we should be more motivated to acquire the treasures of God’s wisdom through His Word, than to acquire the treasures of material wealth in this world. (See also Proverbs 3:13-15)
Third, we must revere (love) the truth of God’s Holy Word, seeking after its wisdom each day with great priority. This we must do in order that we might walk in the blessings of our Lord’s daily fellowship and of the abundant spiritual life. In Proverbs 8:17 the personified Wisdom of God’s Word proclaims, “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.” Again in Proverbs 8:34-35 she proclaims, “Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall OBtain favour of the LORD.” Indeed, there is no greater blessing in this life than our Lord’s fellowship and the abundant spiritual life. Yet in Proverbs 8:36 the personified Wisdom of God’s Word delivers the warning, “But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.”
Fourth, we must reject (forsake) the foolish, that is – all those who rebel against the truth of God’s Holy Word. This we must do in order that we might not be influence by their close companionship to turn back from the righteous ways of God’s Holy Word. In the opening portion of Proverbs 9:6, the personified Wisdom of God’s Word proclaims, “Forsake the foolish, and live.” Indeed, we must not walk in the way with the spiritually foolish, but must turn away from their companionship, counsel, and course. (See Proverbs 1:15; 4:14-15) “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” (Proverbs 13:20)
Finally, we must respond to the instruction of God’s Holy Word with committed, consistent OBedience. This we must do in order that we might be prosperous in our spiritual growth, and might not be self-deceived in our negligence. In Proverbs 8:32-33 the personified Wisdom of God’s Word proclaims, “Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.” Again in the closing portion of Proverbs 9:6, she proclaims, “And go in the way of understanding.” Indeed, we must hearken unto, follow after, and go in the righteous ways that God’s Word instructs. We must be “doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving [our] own selves.” (James 1:22)
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Jeremiah 2:13'For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.'
God had shown His blessings to Israel unlike any other nation at that time. He had called them out of bondage from Egypt. God had parted the Red Sea, led them across dry land, and destroyed the Egyptian army behind them. God then led them through the wilderness for forty years providing their every need as they went. At the end of the forty years God once again parted the waters, this time of the Jordan River, and led them into Canaan land. God gave them the land and drove their enemies from them as they went through the land to possess it.
While God had blessed them time and time again they had not remained faithful to God. While traveling through the wilderness they had murmured against God numerous times. They had turned from God and refused to put their trust in Him at times. Because of that, an entire generation of Israelites was forced to die in the wilderness due to the judgment of God. After God gave them the land of Canaan the children of Israel time and time again would turn from serving and worshiping God to serve and worship idols and false gods. In doing so they had despised the Word of the Lord and made themselves an abomination in the sight of God. They had traded the living waters of God for the broken cisterns of the world.
This is something which is still going on with Christians today. God has blessed us beyond measure. While we, in our sins, deserve to spend an eternity in Hell; God chose, in His great love, to provide a way of salvation for us. God did not leave us to find our own way to Him but He has given us His written Word. God has blessed us in so many ways that we could not pen all the things He has done for us.
While God has blessed His people today more ways than we can count there are still those who stray from God. There are Christians out of church and some in church who refuse to trust God, who refuse to remain faithful to Him, who refuse to follow the Word of God and the will of God. Many of these started out right, they started out on fire for God; yet, something happened along the way to cause them to stumble and stray from God. They have traded the living water of God for the broken cisterns of the world and as a result they are inviting the judgment of God upon their lives.
1. Traded the living waters of the King James Bible for the broken cisterns of modern versions.
How sad it is that people within our Independent Baptist churches are turning from the King James Bible. Many of them have sat under good preaching at some time which exposed the dangers of the modern version of the Bible. At one time they themselves stood unashamedly on the King James Bible but somewhere along the way they have let their guard down and now they embrace the modern versions and the liberal theology which accompanies it. No longer do they embrace the infallible, inerrant, preserved Word of God; but, rather, they have fallen for the same lie which the devil gave Eve in Genesis 3:1, “…Yea, hath God said.” The devil has been casting doubt on the true Word of God since the Garden of Eden. All of the modern versions (RSV, ESV, NIV, The Message, and everything else in-between) are just a continuation of the attack of the devil on God’s inspired Word. All of the modern versions are translated from corrupt manuscripts and no Christian, especially those in Independent Fundamental Baptist churches, have any business reading these false bibles.
Many times those who turn from the King James Bible to follow other version of the Bible do so because they have been listening to those who teach out of these false bibles. They have let down their guard and allowed these hirelings and false teachers to corrupt their way of thinking. They have given the devil an in-road into their life and allowed him to influence their theology. No Christian is strong enough to listen to false teaching from a false bible continually and it not affect them. These so-called preachers may preach some truth and they may have some catchy quotes but we should not be going to the dumpster just to get a couple of bites to chew on. Not when there are plenty of good preachers out there who preach from the King James Bible and are straight down the line in all their theology.
Let us get back to the living waters of the King James Bible and away from the broken cisterns of the modern versions.
2. Traded living waters of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for the broken cisterns of contemporary Christian music.
Some people seem to think that music is neutral or a matter of preference. However, those who study music will tell you that it is not neutral. Even in the Bible we can see that music was not considered neutral. Certain types of music and certain sounds meant and represented certain things. People knew what the music meant by the notes and sounds they heard regardless of the words being said. You can take Biblical words and ideas and put them into song all you want but if you are using the devil’s beat, rhythm, and music with those words then all it does it take something holy and make it unholy. Many of these contemporary Christian musicians are so yoked up with the world that one has to wonder whether they have truly been born again. Many of them have stated publicly that the inspiration for their music comes from wicked, ungodly rock groups (Third Day, Delirious, Casting Crowns, Jars of Clay, MercyMe, P.O.D., Sanctus Real, et. al.). The Bible teaches that you cannot take something as vile and wicked as rock music, throw some watered down Christian lyrics in with it, and expect it to be glorifying to God.
When people begin to lower the standard of God’s Word, then they will also lower the standard of their music. When they begin to lower the standard of music, then their standard of dress will also be lowered. Eventually, you will reach a point where there are no real standards and everyone is simply doing that which is right in their own eyes. We have seen it happen in the world with the introduction of rock music in the 1950’s and 60’s and we’re seeing it happen more and more in our churches today with the contemporary music that is becoming so prevalent. Music should drive us to become more holy, to become more like Christ; not more and more like the world. It should cause us to become sensitive to the Spirit and not sensualized in our flesh. Sadly, many Christians would rather fulfill the lusts of their flesh then to walk in the Spirit.
We need to get back to the living waters of Christ-honoring music and away from the broken cisterns of contemporary Christian music.
Paul warned Timothy that in the last days there would be a growing apostasy and falling away from the faith. We are seeing this happen every day before our very eyes. Christians and even entire churches are trading the living waters of God for the broken cisterns of the world. They are trading the King James Bible and good, Christian music for modern versions and contemporary music. As they turn from God to the world they are throwing standards and personal holiness out the window as well. We need a group of Christians who will stay true to God and will not forsake Him. We need some Christians who will refuse to compromise in their personal walk with God and we definitely need some preachers who will refuse to compromise in their preaching and their stand for the Word of God.
Sons of God
In a depressed economy some people look for ways to turn their life around and become successful. The internet is filled with motivational stories of a path to success. In one internet search I found over 65 Million 3-step-processes for success. Most present a process for gaining a strength or ability and achieving a goal. The steps are similar (1) Believe in yourself (2) Gain ability through a process (3) Benefit from the change. Many plans are sincere but some are from crooks looking for a quick dollar. Both have you sending money to receive their book and or process materials.
However, I want to tell you about an author with a no cost plan. This plan has your best interests at heart and only desires for you to achieve permanent security.
Text John 1:12 (10-14)
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”
1. Transaction – “received him”
Like the first step in success, believing is the key to receiving Jesus, meaning by faith. For the Christian faith is demonstrated through loving and OBeying Christ. People will receive a plan to achieve temporary financial success; however, they reject Christ and fail to achieve eternal security for their soul.BasisHebrews 11:6 “But without faith…”HowRomans 10:17 “So then faith...”WhatJohn 14:15 “If ye love me...”WhenLuke 18:30 “Who shall notreceive manifold more...”
2. Transmission – “gave he power”
Similar to the second step in success, that is, an ability through process; God gives you knowledge and ability “power” to receive his plan and purpose for you.A Gift-It’s Free!Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace…”An Ability (Power)Romans 1:16 “For I am notashamed…”
3. Transformation – “to become the sons of God”
The final step is the change brought about by following the method. Those who receive Christ through his free gift will be changed or transformed for eternity.ImmediateRomans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call...”Result1 John 3:2 “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth notyet appear…”Promise1 Thessalonians 4:17 “Then we which are alive and remain...”
The author of our salvation doesn’t want our money or need anything from us. Jesus Christ came to bring salvation to man and reconcile us to God through his sacrifice on the cross.
Salvation is free to us, if you don’t have it, receive it; if you do have it then, share it.
Most, if not all of us here, are most likely already trusting Christ for our salvation. So what do we do with this lesson of transaction, transmission, and transformation? We take it to our family, friends, and community. If you’re saved I challenge you to share the Gospel of Christ with one person this coming week.
Today I wish to talk about forgiveness. I think this is important as we approach Easter the time of which Jesus Christ died for our Sins. The subject of forgiveness is often not an easy one, there is often a cloud floating over us and it can be a very emotional time. There can be times of great sadness and anger towards others that have done wrong by you and this can often lead to a harsh judgement of them.
With that in mind, I would like to start with a verse from Romans 2:1 which says “So you have no reason, whoever you are, for judging: for in judging another you are judging yourself, for you do the same things. This certainly speaks for itself, but I do not wish to talk about judgement today it is about the forgiveness of others.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgiveness as being the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven. This can be seen as being intertwined with our own free will which again does not leave us when we are baptised. Through this we can still Sin and we can still stray from the Lord but our faith and love for him helps us stay on our path.
In talking about our own sins and moving forward towards baptism, a quote comes to mind. It comes from Colossians 3:13 and it says bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. I think that this is quite powerful because it shows that the Lord has forgiven us for our past sins and welcomed us into his Kingdom and if he can do that then how can we not forgive others?
Philippians 1:6 also portrays a powerful message through saying “and I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. It is also considered that forgiving is not an easy task for us but we must continue forgiving until the matter is settled in our heart and this is important to the Lord. This can be seen in Matthew 18:21-22 “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times”
In Luke 6:37 we are given another message about forgiveness “Do not judge, and you will not be judged, Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. forgive and you shall be forgiven. This tells us that we shall continue to be forgiven for our sins as long as we are able to forgive others
The most well known prayer also shares this message of us forgiving others for ourselves to be forgiven. The Lord’s prayer says “and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Now we know the law [is] holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. It can lead us in grateful OBedience showing us a picture of righteousness. Which righteousness we have been given freely by Christ's work. But the law cannot make us right with God. Because we fail even when we do our best to serve God. The Law condemns us: the law tells us (Rom 13:9)... Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Digging within ourselves we find not this righteousness. We may have an outward form of each but as it says in (Jas 2:10) ..whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all. So what the prophet Isaiah rings true (Isa 64:6) we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Yet too often we looking to the law and not to Christ wallow in our own sin. Grieving over our unrighteousness we think God rejects us. We feel that we are no longer accepted. Then we think, Oh!! But! if I can just pray, repent and do good then God will accept me! As if God's favor or love was dependent upon ourselves. So we order our lives more rightly and then we look at all that we are doing and too often we think; I believe in God and the gospel. I am doing so much good! I don't wear this or that. I don't listen to this or that. I was nice to my neighbor! I OBeyed the law! (All of which may be good things!) and we say within ourselves. I am so glad I don't do those bad things! And if only this or that person would be more like me then they would be right with God too! And so we end up showing our inner Pharisee. Being ignorant of the unrighteousness in our best works we end up glorying in ourselves and not in Jesus. In all this we try to make God's grace a vending machine. Thinking that if I put this work into the slot and turn then God will be pleased with me and his love, favor and blessings will come out! In all this we turn God into a debtor! But in all this we do not please God.
(Rom 4:3-5) For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
(Ps 147:10-11) He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.
But our show of "righteousness" will not last long. We are bound to fail because sin dwells in us. Much more if we are being fueled by guilt and or fear and not by Jesus! And so with our failure the whole process repeats over and over if we look not to Jesus..!
(Rom 7:24) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
(Gal 3:10-14) For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, [it is] evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
There is only one way to be accepted and loved by God: Jesus Christ. Though we may believe this. We too often think God's love for us relies on our own loveliness. (Rom 5:8-9) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
(Isa 53:5-6) But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Oh let everyone here now listen; if you hear nothing else hear this! Since Jesus (Who is God: The LORD himself manifest in the flesh) [was] wounded for our transgressions, so our transgressions are no longer upon us! If they are still upon us then he wasn't wounded for us! Oh doubt not he was wounded for you! It says for he was wounded for OUR transgressions! And not only so! We see that Jesus was bruised for our iniquities, so our iniquities are no longer upon us! If they are upon us he wasn't bruised for us! Doubt not that he was bruised for you! it says he was bruised for OUR iniquities! Even the chastisement of our peace [was] upon Jesus! He took upon himself the wrath we deserve for our sin; so that we have peace with God! Not by our works but by God the Father's grace through Christ! And we see that with Jesus's stripes we are healed. Because all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the God The Father hath laid on his only begotten son Jesus Christ the iniquity of us all!
We see in the gospel that Jesus purchased for us perfect righteousness which he has given to us freely through faith. So that because of Jesus's work alone we are fully accepted, perfect, and complete in Jesus! So that now matter how much the law tells us that we are failures, that everything we do is imperfect and full of sin it cannot hurt us! Looking to Jesus we can rejoice, resting in him! Now free to serve and worship God not out of fear, guilt or necessity; but just because he loves us no matter what!
But, Perhaps one here has never believed in Jesus Christ alone! Please believe the Gospel! Because by any deed or works we cannot be saved; But God the Father sent his son Jesus (who is God manifest in the flesh) to die for our sins. And he raised him again for our justification that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life! (2Cor 5:21) For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
No one is so bad a sinner that their sin cannot be covered by the perfect righteousness of Jesus! Please repent and believe the Gospel! If you have any questions or would like to know how you can be saved any one of us would be willing to help you to the best of our ability please feel free to ask!
Take the Word of God and turn with me to Philippians 4:10-13
Years ago I heard a message on sin, hell, and salvation. That Easter Sunday I realized I was a sinner bound for hell, unless I repented and started a personal relationship with God’s only begotten son Jesus Christ. When I did, I received forgiveness for my past, present, and future sins, but most importantly I would enter heaven when I died. My life has never been the same. God led me and my family to Rough River Baptist Church where we joined and started learning about the Lord. After awhile my Pastor was preaching a message on being doers not just hearers of the word and what it really meant to have a fulfilled Christian life serving the Lord. Well, something clicked that Sunday and I went to the altar and told the Lord that I was his to do with as he saw fit and would serve Him faithfully. From that moment on I made a commitment to be faithful to our church and to the Lord. My life changed from I have to go to church, giving and reading my bible, to I want to go to church, give as the Lord has given to me and having a desire to read and study my bible. 2 Timothy 2:15 says “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” God also says in Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” God’s word will help you grow, build your faith and give you strength as you study. I also had a desire to give as God commanded in his word. It was a little scary in the beginning because my faith was weak, but when I committed to tithing our 10%, by faith I knew God would provide and boy has He ever. I would never go back to using 100% of my money when we live so much better on 90%. I can’t explain it but God says He will bless you and by faith I believe it.
My church means so much to me to me and my family. As I have grown in the Lord, I have a desire to be in church. There is nothing better than getting together with all of my brothers and sisters in Christ fellowshipping, singing hymns to the Lord, and hearing our Pastor preach the word of God. As a result of this, I have seen both of my children saved at this church. What a blessing that was from God.
All of this is the very least that I could do after all, Jesus Christ gave everything for me. I thank the Lord every day for what he did on that cross. Amen!
The Lord is not done with me yet, as He continues to humble me so that I may serve Him better. He continues to surprise and bless me each and every day. I am thankful that he has given me an opportunity to serve Him as a Deacon of His church. I pray as He leads me in this next step in my Christian walk, I will be receptive to His will in my life and the needs of my Pastor and church family.
Finally, I would like to say that I, as a man, am weak and could not ever do any of these things on my own, so I like to read my life verse in Philippians to remind me of where my strength comes from. Philippians 4:13 has been my life verse for many years. (Read the verse). You see with Christ I am ready for anything. He fills us with the Holy Spirit so we can overcome the things of this world and also to do the things that God has commanded us to do, such as sharing the Gospel with everyone that we meet.
Brother Larry asked me to pick a favorite hymn (now that is pretty hard most times as I have a lot of favorites), but as I was thinking about what to say today, one of my favorites came to mind. It is “Little Is Much When God Is In It”. The song reminds me that the little bit we usually put into the things we do is so much more when we put God into it. It is such an honor to serve the Lord, and I know through my faith that He will give me the tools that I need to be a good servant for Him and His ministry here at this church. I am truly blessed to have such a great family, as well as a great church family.
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And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto
him, Art not thou also one of His disciples? He denied it and said, I
am not.(John 18:25)
For our own sakes we should mark the steps which led to Peter’s fall. One was
l. His self-confidence
When forewarned, he resented the Mater’s foretelling, and declared
that though others might deny Christ he never would. When we grow
boastful we are in great peril. Safety lies in a consciousness of our
own weakness, and in implicit trust in God.
ll. The next step toward Peter’s fall was his sleeping in the garden
when he should have been watching and praying. That hour was given for
preparation for temptation but was not improved.
lll. Another step was his rashness in drawing his sword in the garden.
This act made him liable to arrest, and this fact made him nervous and
afraid of recognition. He tried to hide his connection with Jesus,
lest he should be arrested for his assault in the garden. Rash acts
are sure to make trouble for us afterward.
lV. Another step toward denial was Peter’s following Christ afar off.
This show timidity and failing faith. His courage was leaving him.
Following Christ was leaving him. Following Christ at a distance is
always perilous. It showed a weakening attachment and trembling
loyalty. It is in itself partial denial. The only worthy and the only
safe discipleship is thorough, unwavering devotion and wholehearted
V. This apostle took another step toward his fall when he sat down
among the servants of the high priest. He went among them to hide his
relation to Jesus. The only safe thing for a Christian is
unequivocally to declare his discipleship wherever he goes.
When Peter had taken these steps he could scarcely do otherwise than
openly deny his Lord. The time for us to guard ourselves is at the
beginnings of defection.
In His Matchless grace,
Bro. Thaung and family
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If we will admit it, sometime during life, we will feel abandoned by a loved one. What I am saying to you that most people feel abandonment during their lifetime, and there are certain normal feelings that go with feeling abandoned or deserted. Those feelings are often sadness, disappointment, anger, and even rage. These feelings are all normal and human. These feelings are not necessarily rational or intelligent. Such feelings are often directed at the person who abandoned you. Sometime during life, we all feel abandoned by God. This happens in life, especially when tragedies happen to you personally. Let me give you some examples.
From the Old Testament, King David wrote the famous words in Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Words from King David. His words continue: “why are you so far from saving me Lord? Why are you so far from my groaning? Why do I cry out to you, but you do not answer?” King David had these feelings in his heart that God had forsaken him, abandoned him, and deserted him. Why? Because of the personal tragedies of his life. King David felt this way because King Saul was trying to kill him, his enemies were trying to kill him and his oldest son was trying to kill him. David was feeling down in the dumps and he wrote: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Take a look at JOB in the Old Testament. JOB experienced many personal tragedies. He lost his farms, lost the animals, lost his children, lost his wife. JOB lost everything. He also felt that God had abandoned him, deserted him, and he was angry with God and even raged at God. Those feelings were all normal.
King David and JOB felt that God had deserted them.
Knowing that people experience feelings that they are abandoned by their loved ones and that they are abandoned by God, it is with these feelings that we approach My Thoughts for today.
The setting was Golgotha, the place of execution right outside the walls of Jerusalem. It was Friday, the day after Passover. The text tells us that Jesus on the cross for three hours, from twelve noon to three o’clock. The sky turned dark and black, the darkest day of human history, and so did Jesus’ heart. It was three o’clock on that Friday afternoon and Jesus was coming closer to his death. The Bible tells us that Jesus cried out with a shrieking shout. His voice wasn’t quiet and soft like the first three words. You could barely hear him pray, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus spoke gently to the thief on the cross,” Today you will be with me in paradise”. Jesus spoke in subdued tones to his mother and his best friend beneath the cross. Then, Jesus shouted to the heavens at the top of his lungs, in almost a scream, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me, why have you deserted me, why have you forsaken me?”
What can we learn from Jesus’ cry to God? The first thing we learn is this: it is okay to have feelings and vent those feelings of abandonment, as Jesus did on the cross. To feel the pain and sadness of being abandoned by God is normal. That is the way God made us, to feel such feelings and to vent such feelings. It is okay to feel depressed and abandoned by God. King David certainly did, when people wanted to kill him. He wrote those classic words in Psalm 22:1, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? King David was a devout believer in God and clung to God and was loyal to God, but he also felt depressed and abandoned by God and he vented his feelings to God. If it was normal and acceptable for God’s King David to feel his feelings and to vent his feelings, and he was the best king in the whole Old Testament, it is certainly normal and acceptable for you and me to feel the same way.
JOB certainly did. JOB who is known for his suffering. JOB suffered more than any other person in the Old Testament, and he, too, felt abandoned by God, deserted by God, forsaken by God, and he shouted his laments and anger towards God. That was part of humanness, to feel that way, and it is part of our humanness to feel that way as well. It is OK to feel like JOB.
Jesus certainly did. Jesus was the very Son of God, the heart and mind of God in the flesh, and in the moment of the deepest darkness of the land and the deepest darkness of his heart, Jesus felt that God had abandoned him and he shouted his feelings to the heavens. This reveals that Jesus was fully human, and when we have those similar feelings and vent those feelings that reveal that we are fully human as well. It is okay to feel like Jesus.
So when you have such feelings that God has abandoned you, and you vent those feelings, remember that you are in the good company of King David, JOB, and Jesus the Son of God. When you personally lose a loved one due to death, divorce or just going through bad times and you feel sadness, anger disappointment and down in the dumps about your situation and you cry out to God with your feelings, remember that this is okay. King David did it. JOB did it. Jesus, the Son of God, did it.
We learn from Jesus’ word that even in the worst situations of life, we are to cling to God with both hands as Jesus did. With pain and abuse with darkness all around him and within him, Jesus still clung to God with both hands. In the midst of this horrific situation Jesus clung to God with all his might during the darkest hour of his life.
It is easy to believe in God when life smiles on you, but it is much more difficult to believe in God when life frowns on you. It is easy to believe in God when the path is smooth and easy; but it is much more difficult to believe in God when the path is rocky.
Sometimes, life can be incredibly hard. In the worst and darkest day of human history, Jesus still clung to God with both hands and held onto God, we to should cling to God in our darkest days.
We should do what Jesus did in that darkest hour: Jesus clung to God with both hands, crying out to the heavens, shouting his despair, “My God, My God, both hands grabbing God, where are you? Why aren’t you here to protect us?” So while being nailed on two timbers, you find Jesus clinging to God with all his power, with both hands, and at the same time, shouting his inner feelings up to God. We should with both hands and shout our inner feelings to God in the highest. By hiding our feeling within we only hurt ourselves, God already knows what’s in your heart. You can only come to understanding when you are honest with yourself. You can only go down the path after you start the journey.
We learn from Jesus’ word on the cross is that these are not his last words. The drama does not end with his depression and emotional exhaustion. “Why have you forsaken me?” These are not his last words, not his final words, not the end of the story.
King David wrote the 22nd psalm, “My God my God, why have you forsaken me.” But he also wrote, the 23rd psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.” The 22nd psalm was not his last word.
JOB complained to God when he lost all his possessions, his family, everything. He railed against God in his anger, but those were not his last words. He also wrote at the end of his book, “I know that my redeemer lives.” JOB’s feelings of abandonment were not his last words. So also with Jesus. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” These were not his last words. His last words were “It is accomplished. It is finished. It is done.” He said, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”
One of my friends has experienced untold heartache in their life. I can only pray that their eyes will finally have life and happiness in them again. I want nothing more in life than to see their eyes smiling again after all that they has been through. I pray that one day they come to terms with their inner feelings and find that in the years thinking God had abandoned them, that He was always there. He didn’t get abandoned them because of their feelings, He understands, He knows, He loves. I pray for my friend and to all of us to come to grips with our feelings, be not afraid of asking why, be not afraid of wondering or questioning God’s plan. He can only heal when we admit the pain, He can only make right when we are honest with ourselves and ask what is wrong.
God’s healing always triumphs over tragedy. God can and will heal you of every disaster that befalls you. It may not be in the time frame we want, may not be the winning lottery ticket we prayed for, but it will triumph.
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Christians who still hold the Jewish people accountable in the role of Jesus' death are being transparently un-Christian and I don't mean merely in the sense that Jesus taught forgiveness, or that it's not nice to promote genocide, no matter how angry you might be. The point or at least one of the main points, of our religion is that Jesus died for humanity's sins. I recognize that just because the story had a theological happy ending doesn't mean that the Crucifixion was anything other than horrific. The symbol of our religion is the cross, not a Good Samaritan icon, because the Crucifixion and subsequent resurrection were what proved his divinity and redeemed humankind. It is clear that the Crucifixion and Resurrection are central to the Christian faith. While the Crucifixion in itself wasn't a good thing, it was, according to our Christian doctrine, an entirely necessary and pre-ordained thing. Without it, Christianity as we know it wouldn't exist.
We all wear and look at Crucifixes and I think maybe we have forgot just exactly why it’s our symbol, to give you a way to look at it, just think if Jesus had been hung instead of nailed to a cross, we would then have our jewelry in the shape of a hangman’s noose, doesn’t seem the same does it? I hope that the next time you put a Crucifix on or see a cross anywhere you remember just exactly the sacrifice that God gave for us, think about what the symbol means.
So, the answer to the question "Why did the Jews kill Jesus?" should be: No, and we shouldn’t hold The Jewish people accountable. I mean you can’t say any race or group of people did something that a few did, just as Americas can’t be grouped because some serial killer was American, nor can we say all Muslin’s & German’s are bad because of Homein & Hitler’s actions. Holding a race or group of people for the actions of a few is exactly what we are taught as Christians not to do. Theologically, the question is irrelevant, which means Christians can stop blaming Jews and people of both faiths can get back to disagreeing about things like whether you get more presents at Hanukkah or Christmas.
My meaning to this discussion is that when we critize one for their beliefs to the point that it is prestigious or hurtful we are being un-Christian. Jesus’ teachings does not instruct us to hate or be hurtful to others. So why do some think it is ok to do so.. There are no commandments or teachings that say we can’t befriend someone who has other beliefs than we do; in fact we are taught to do just the opposite. Do we ask to who and what faith are they when we drop our change into one of Salvation Army buckets at Christmas? When we see someone in need should we ask what faith they are before helping? Should we turn our backs on someone who is in need because they are homeless, owe us money, have done us wrong in the past or don’t go to the same Church or have the same beliefs as ourselves? Respect and do for others as you think Jesus would, it’s a simple concept so why is it so hard for some to do?
True Christians will someday, I hope, understand that our beliefs are rooted from childhood by our parents and the people around us and just because others were brought up in a different way, with different beliefs doesn’t mean all are wrong or not going to Heaven. There are thousands of different reglions and denomations based on The Bible and the only thing that all can really agree, other than there is a creator in God, is that all of us can’t be right. There is and will always be disagreement and different interpretations of the meanings and translations of the writings of the Bible; maybe it was God’s hand in the compilation of these books and text that keeps it interesting and discussed for over a 2000yrs now. If these text were written in such a simple way that there was no way for it to be interpreted except one way, it prOBably would have been read once as a youngster and then put on the bookshelf or in the storage box in the attic along with our 1st grade Dick & Jane book. I have to think in His ultimate wisdom ,God knows that by discussion and debate over the interpretations we keep His word alive and fresh to those who wish to believe in Him. I won’t go in to discussing other books and beliefs not based on The Bible at this time, a topic for another time, but know this , I do believe we are taught to love and understand ALL, not just those of us who were raised with the teachings from The Bible.
As we celebrate the resurrection of Christ we should maybe take a look within ourselves to resurrect our faith and love every one, no matter of race or reglion. Help those who are in need help and do as if The Lord is right there with you, for He is. Some are good at showing their beliefs, faith and religion by quoting or posting Bible verses on social networking sites, others do the things that make others aware of their faith by making sure they go to church service or work at events to assure everyone knows they were there. Then they live another way, causing turmoil, hurting the ones they are supposed to love, turning their backs on those in need, judging people on their looks, what they drive or what they do for a living or being prestigious towards people of different races or beliefs. It’s like putting your clothes in the dryer before you wash them, one is no good without the other, to be the whole Christian not only do we need to show our beliefs and faith but live by them too. The things we do that don’t get the recgonigation in the paper or church bulletin are the things we may be judged on the most.
In this Easter season we will all hear “Jesus died for you”, we also need to remember why Jesus lived for us.
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A CALL TO PRAYER
Joash,Jehoiada, Revival. Jehoiada dies. Joash allows idols. War. Locust. God’s wrath. Joel the prophet calls nation torepentance. We, too, are living in anemergency hour.
I. There is a Weakening of theConsciousness of Sin
a. In our personal lives.
b. In our homes.
c. In society.
d. In business.
e. In politics.
f. In the Church
II. Many Church Members Manifest aTerrible Indifference to the Claims of Jesus Christ and His Cause
a. We take all He has to give us, butgive little or nothing in return.
b. We claim the blood regeneration andact as though we had never even heard of the blood.
III. There is a Lowering of MoralStandards
a. The Church is conforming to theworld. Lax standards of morality – ofmarriage vows. Filthy movies, music,literature, video games, etc.
b. The Ten Commandments have not beenrepealed. The Sermon on the Mount isstill the law of the King.
IV. There is a Blighting lack of Passionand Compassion for Lost Souls
a. No weeping mothers, no burdenedfathers, no praying deacons or elders, no agonizing Sunday school teachers, noanxious church members, no all night prayer meetings.
b. No intense driving, longingcompulsion to see souls saved. It is outof style to weep, and shout in the church.
V. Sinners are Coldly Indifferent toTheir Desperate Condition
a. The Gospel has become a mockery, abyword, because of us.
b. Our lack of compassion fails to warnsinners.
VI. Here is God’s Appeal to Us(Vs.15-19): A Call to Prayer
a. It is a universal call – topreachers, to deacons and elders, to men, to women, to children, to babes inarms.
b. It is a call to repentance.
c. It is a call to confession (Ps. 32:1-3).
d. It is a call to dedication: “Sanctify the congregation.”
e. It is a call to prayer.
f. It is universal.
g. Supplication and intercession areinvolved.
VII. Promised Results
a. A return of the Lord.
b. Overcoming OBstacles.
c. Showering of blessings.
d. Visitation of the Holy Spirit.
Adapted fromHyman Appleman, Preached By Pastor Jim Nicholson 1/30/2011
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preach by brother matt at king of grace baptist church
this message preaches with a spirit of sticking to the old time way, geared to the young men coming up in the ministry...
for more preaching click here
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I Peter 3:18-22
18 “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
20 Which sometime were disOBedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.”
There has been a sizeable amount of false teaching concerning this passage of Scripture. With God’s help, I plan to put the false teaching to rest, and to fill your hearts and minds with sound doctrinal truth.
3 Goings On while the Ark was being built
I. CHRIST PREACHED TO THE PEOPLE, IN NOAH, BY THE HOLY SPIRIT (Intro text vss. 18-20)
A.) Noah was a preacherII Peter 2:5 “And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly…”
B.) Comparison with Jonah and the Ninevites (in comparison the Ninevites believed Jonah)
Jonah 2:1 “And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,
2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.
4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his rOBe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nOBles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:
8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.”
II. THE LONGSUFFERING OF GOD WAITED (Intro text vs. 20)
A.) God is longsufferingI Timothy 1:12 “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I OBtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
Howbeit for this cause I OBtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”
Psalm 86:15 “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”
Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
III. A VISUAL AID WAS CREATED (Intro text vss. 19-21)
A.) The Ark pictured Christ
1.) The word “baptism” means “to place into.”
Romans 6:1 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
I Peter 3:20 “Which sometime were disOBedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by [Gk. “dia” = through, by, among, at] water."
B.) We are saved by being placed into Christ (not the water; those who were in the water outside the ark were destroyed - drowned!)
Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Ephesians 2:13 “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 1:1 “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons…”
A New Creature
Galatians 6:15 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”
II Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Galatians 3:26 “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
I Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
By faith Noah and his family got into the ark.
By faith we enter into Jesus Christ.
Water baptism is a symbolic act which refers back to our being placed in Christ. It is a testimony to that fact.
Acts 8;36 “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.”
Romans 10:10a “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness…”
Note: You may listen to this sermon in audio by going to the Harvest Baptist Church Website listed here on Online Baptist.