Hebrews 3:7-14, “Therefore, even as the Holy Spirit says, "Today if you will hear his voice, Don't harden your hearts, as in the provocation, Like as in the day of the trial in the wilderness, Where your fathers tested me by proving me, And saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was displeased with that generation, And said, 'They always err in their heart, But they didn't know my ways;' As I swore in my wrath, 'They will not enter into my rest.'" Beware, brothers, lest perhaps there be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God; but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called "today;" lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm to the end:”
Gary Richmond, a former zoo keeper, had this to say: “Raccoons go through a glandular change at about 24 months. After that they often attack their owners. Since a 30-pound raccoon can be equal to a 100-pound dog in a scrap, I felt compelled to mention the change coming to a pet raccoon owned by a young friend of mine, Julie. She listened politely as I explained the coming danger. I'll never forget her answer. "It will be different for me. . ." And she smiled as she added, "Bandit wouldn't hurt me. He just wouldn't." Three months later Julie underwent plastic surgery for facial lacerations sustained when her adult raccoon attacked her for no apparent reason. Bandit was released into the wild. Sin, too, often comes dressed in an adorable guise, and as we play with it, how easy it is to say, "It will be different for me." The results are predictable.” Sin is not ugly, and the devil is not the red faced demon with a pointy pitch fork. In fact sin has an allure to it, it draws people to it, before it springs its trap. It often times looks like a solution to our problems, helps us fit in to crowds, or offer pleasure. Nevertheless, the end of it is always death. So many times we get drawn in by the pleasure or beauty of sin, and get entangled in it. Then before we know it we can’t get out of it, because it then takes control of our lives. We can look past the deceit of sin if we follow God, and the way He tells us to live.
Deuteronomy 16:18-20, “Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
I am reminded of a story about Theodore Roosevelt. During one of his political campaigns, a delegation called on him at his home in Oyster Bay, Long Island. The President met them with his coat off and his sleeves rolled up.
"Ah, gentlemen," he said, "come down to the barn and we will talk while I do some work."
At the barn, Roosevelt picked up a pitchfork and looked around for the hay. Then he called out, "John, where's all the hay?"
"Sorry, sir," John called down from the hayloft. "I ain't had time to toss it back down again after you pitched it up while the Iowa folks were here."
As the time for voting draws near and we go to the polls. I know whom I am going to vote for: I am going to vote hypocrisy out of office and humility in. I am going to vote greatness out and servant hood in. I am going to vote honor out and duty in. That's whom I am going to vote for and I wish it were that simple. Truth is, leadership, the way Jesus described it, is hard to find, even among the religious. Our choices in election seems to be just trying to pick the lesser of two evils. Still it is our duty to choose who is in the power of controlling our cities, states, and country. As believers, it is our job to vote in the person that will hold God in his or her heart, and show it in their actions. If anyone needs to be voting it’s the Christian population. We can’t afford to sit out while the devil takes over our country. Is the system messed up? Yes. Is there wickedness overflowing? Yes. Nonetheless, that is exactly why we need to be voting. Our motto should be, “If you don’t stand for God, you don’t stand for us.” Now, I can’t tell you who to vote for, but we need to do our homework and place our votes. The Bible talks many times about responsibilities of leaders and what is expected of them: Its our job to do our homework and make sure we are putting our vote in where it needs to be.
Psalms 71:14-19, “But I will always hope, And will add to all of your praise. My mouth will tell about your righteousness, And of your salvation all day, Though I don't know its full measure. I will come with the mighty acts of the Lord Yahweh. I will make mention of your righteousness, even of yours alone. God, you have taught me from my youth. Until now, I have declared your wondrous works. Yes, even when I am old and gray-haired, God, don't forsake me, Until I have declared your strength to the next generation, Your might to everyone who is to come. Your righteousness also, God, reaches to the heavens; You have done great things. God, who is like you?”
I was once eating at a Chinese restaurant, at the end of my meal I received the customary fortune cookie. Upon opening it read, “In life there is no such thing as a dress rehearsal.” Think about that statement, you only get one chance, no rewinds, no do overs, and no extra lives. Every second you spend doing something is gone, and locked in history forever. Then when you die people will look at your life, they will see a testimony or a waste. Every second of every day we choose who we are and how we will be remembered. Now some might think, “I don’t care what people think about me.” For those people remember this, the whole of the Bible is about remembering people lives. It is lesson after lesson, teaching upcoming generations on how to live. So when you die, what lessons are you going to leave behind?
One morning in 1888 Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite, awoke to read his own obituary. The obituary was printed as a result of a simple journalistic error. You see, it was Alfred's brother that had died and the reporter carelessly reported the death of the wrong brother. Any man would be disturbed under the circumstances, but to Alfred the shock was overwhelming because he saw himself as the world saw him. The "Dynamite King," the great industrialist who had made an immense fortune from explosives. This, as far as the general public was concerned, was the entire purpose of Alfred's life. None of his true intentions to break down the barriers that separated men and ideas for peace were recognized or given serious consideration. He was simply a merchant of death. And for that alone he would be remembered. As he read the obituary with horror, he resolved to make clear to the world the true meaning and purpose of his life. This could be done through the final disposition of his fortune. His last will and testament--an endowment of five annual prizes for outstanding contributions in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace (the sixth category of economics was added later)--would be the expression of his life's ideals and ultimately would be why we would remember him. The result was the most valuable of prizes given to those who had done the most for the cause of world peace. It is called today, the "Nobel Peace Prize." Jesus did not slack in his teaching us how to live. He did not just tell us with words, but showed us through his actions. He came to be our example, to say look, here is how you do it. Are we doing that for the next generation? Can they see that living for the Lord is possible, no matter what the odds? Is it easy, no. The hardest time to work is when you have eyes watching your every move. But it is our job and duty, to leave a legacy that shows Christ, and like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1-3, “Be imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brothers, that you remember me in all things, and hold firm the traditions, even as I delivered them to you. But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God.”
We never want people to look to us as a guide, because we don’t want them to fall as we have. But nonetheless people will look and follow you. So be ready to show them what they need to see.
1 Corinthians 10:12-14, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands be careful that he doesn't fall. No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”
What is Idolatry? It is the worship of idols, or extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone. We live in a day and age, which everything is made into Idols. One of these things has become our electronics. We absolutely love our phone, tablets, and computer. Just about anything that allows us to become more social. It is becoming, or rather has become an addition, and anything we are addicted to become an Idol to us. It is so bad that we are forgetting how to interact with each other. For example, have you ever grabbed your phone and pretended to do something on it to avoid and awkward moment. This is what our society is becoming, that we would rather use our phones then deal with real people. There are even members of my family that I don’t like having come over, because all they do is use their phone the entire time they are around me. These things can make you lose focus on life, and everything around you. Ask yourself this question, do you spend more time on your electronics, then you do talking with God every day? In fact it is normally these same people who say they don’t have time to study and pray like they should be. This is the world we are creating.
1 John 2:15-17, “Don't love the world, neither the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the Father's love isn't in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, isn't the Father's, but is the world's. The world is passing away with its lusts, but he who does God's will remains forever.”
There is a story about two paddleboats who left Memphis about the same time, traveling down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. As they traveled side by side, sailors from one vessel made a few remarks about the snail's pace of the other. Words were exchanged. Challenges were made. And the race began. Competition became vicious as the two boats roared through the Deep South. One boat began falling behind because of the lack of fuel. There had been plenty of coal for the trip, but not enough for a race. As the boat dropped back, an enterprising young sailor took some of the ship's cargo and tossed it into the ovens. When the sailors saw that the supplies burned as well as the coal, they fueled their boat with the material they had been assigned to transport. They ended up winning the race, but burned their cargo. God has entrusted cargo to us, too: children, spouses, and friends to name a few. Our job is to do our part in seeing that this cargo reaches its destination. Yet when the unimportant items takes priority over us, people often suffer. How much cargo do we sacrifice in order to achieve the number one slot? How many people never reach the destination because of the lack of priorities? If we allow addictions into our lives, regardless of what they might be. You will push something else out.
Luke 10:25-37, “….A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, 'Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.….”
If I asked you to tell me what Grace means, what would you say? Grace is defined by Webster, in the appropriate usage, “as the free unmerited love and favor of God, the spring and the source of all the benefits men receive from Him.” Anyone can give grace, but grace has to be accepted by the person receiving it. For example, we see someone giving grace in the story of the Good Samaritan. Now that man that was beaten, and then cared for, received grace. It could be said that if the priest or Levite was the one to help, it could be considered there job. However, it was the Samaritan. The Samaritans were the most known for hating the Jews. They had no relations with each other. Nevertheless, this Samaritan stopped and went way above anything that was to be expected. He gave grace to his enemy, even though he did nothing to deserve it. The Jewish man could have rose up, and rejected the help, (as many of the world would do), but he received it in full. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what grace truly means.
The study of grace is extremely important regarding our Christian faith. Unfortunately, the word grace (charis) is not a term that is easily defined by scriptures. Because of this, some have been misled about its meaning. Nonetheless, there are still ways in which we can more specifically learn what grace is and what it isn’t. As with other Biblical topics, we must consider many scriptures to get a more accurate understanding. Let me prove this to you as we begin with the most commonly cited grace passage:
Ephesians 2:8-10, “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them.”
But later in this same epistle, the same grace teacher also wrote:”
Ephesians 5:5-6, “Know this for sure, that no sexually immoral person, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words. For because of these things, the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.”
Because of the way many understand grace today, they would either unconsciously discount Paul’s words in Ephesians chapter five or would tend to label them legalism, bondage, cultic, or some sort of work’s salvation. From this inability to merge the grace of Eph: 2:8-9 with Eph. 5:5-7. It should immediately be obvious that something is seriously wrong with the present-day gospel of grace. Grace is taught today, as far as mass population is concerned. It should be apparent how the version of grace we are being flooded with today is taking what the Bible calls grace and making it into something it is not. Over the next few days we will be looking into the true meaning of Grace.
Today let us continue to talk about the Grace of God. We seen yesterday that the basic misconception is that Grace does not require anything from us. However Peter also wrote about it, in fact his first letter was directed at fully describing grace. 1 Peter 5:12 “Through Silvanus, our faithful brother, as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand.” So if 1 Peter was all written about the true Grace of God, what did he say in the book about our part in accepting and keeping grace in our lives? We know we can’t earn it, or work for it, but there are many ways we receive it and keep it. I do encourage you to read through the whole book, but here are some highlights
“... be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1:13).
“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance” (1:14).
“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1:15-16).
“.... Live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear” (1:17).
“Now that you have puriﬁed yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart” (1:22).
“.... rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind ... crave pure spiritual milk ...” (2:1-2).
“.... abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul” (2:11).
“Live such good lives ... that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God ...” (2:12).
“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority ...” (2:13).
“For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men” (2:15).
“do not use your freedom as a cover up for evil; live as servants of God (2:16).
“Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (2:17).
“.... die to sins and live for righteousness ...” (2:24).
“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be com- passionate and humble” (3:8).
“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult” (3:9).
“For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech” (3:10).
“Turn from evil and do good ... seek peace and pursue it” (3:11).
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer ... with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience …” (3:15-16).
“.... since Christ suffered in his body, arm your- selves with the same attitude” (4:1).
“As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires ...” (4:2).
“.... be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray” (4:7).
“Above all, love each other deeply ...” (4:8).
“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (4:9).
“.... use whatever gift he has received to serve others ...” (4:10).
“But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ …” (4:13).
“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (4:19).
“.... be submissive to those who are older ... clothe yourselves with humility ...” (5:5).
“Humble yourselves ...” (5:6).
“Be self-controlled and alert” (5:8).
“Resist [the devil], standing firm in the faith” (5:9).
We are saved by grace (Eph. 2:8-9). Kept and strengthened by the Lord (Jude 1; 2 Thess. 3:3). We can add nothing to the finished work of Christ (Heb. 10:12). However, according to the Bible, there are some basic Christian responsibilities that do exist under the biblical and true grace of God. It’s our part that we live in accordance with His instruction. Through grace alone He saved us. However, He requires a certain lifestyle; that is walking a narrow road, and that we do not waver from living for Him. If we choose to we can reject His grace, and decide to live for ourselves, even after being saved. So as the bible tells us let us hold fast to all He has given us.
We are all sinners saved by Grace. None of us deserve to go to heaven, and no matter how hard we work at being good, we will never make it on our own merit. From the beginning of time God has made it clear that innocent blood must be shed to cleanse people from sin. Then through that sacrifice we can be cleansed of our debt. In the beginning of the verse of Romans 6:23 it tells us, “For the wages of sin is death.” Once we have taken the bite of sin ourselves, we deserve to die a spiritual death, and spend eternity in hell. However, God does not want us to spend eternity in hell, and so, made a way for us to come back to Him. The last part of Romans 6:23 tells us, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” This was the act of Grace that Jesus did for us, to save us from the death of sin. He loved you and me so much, that he came and suffered and died to be the innocent blood that can cover us, and cleanse us of all sin. This was His Grace He has bestowed onto us.
This Grace comes at different times, and in different ways. First, we have our initial salvation or as most like to call it our conversion. This is the point where we accept Jesus into our lives, acknowledge Him as King and Ruler over us, and start following Him.
2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new.”
John 3:5-16, “Jesus answered, "Most assuredly I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he can't enter into the Kingdom of God! That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Don't marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born anew.' …….For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
This is just the beginning of our journey, we have just became part of a new family, and after this moment we start walking down the path the Lord sets out for us. We live our lives the best we can and work for the Kingdom of God.
Today we finish up our lessons on grace. The Gace of God works in our lives after salvation until we draw our last breath. Then when this life is over, we come to the second part of our salvation. The part of our salvation that we have not yet received.
Rom 13:11, “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”
Matthew 10:22 “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”
Philippians 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.”
1 Pet 4:18, “And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
1 peter 1:9, “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls”
These scriptures talk to the transformed men and women of God, and tell us to look forward to the salvation that is coming. The time that we get to enter into glory and be with our God forever. Our initial salvation takes only faith, and thru God’s Grace and our willingness to yield to Him, He changes us. Then it is a team effort, “working out our own salvation,” hand in hand with the Holy Spirit. Doing His work, learning, growing, and leading a sinful world to Him. After our time is over in this world, through his Grace and our obedience unto him, we have our final salvation and get to hear the glorious words: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matthew 25:21).\
Ecclesiastes 5:4-13, “When you vow a vow to God, don't defer to pay it; for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay that which you vow. It is better that you should not vow, than that you should vow and not pay. Don't allow your mouth to lead you into sin. Don't protest before the messenger that this was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice, and destroy the work of your hands? For in the multitude of dreams there are vanities, as well as in many words: but you must fear God. If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent taking away of justice and righteousness in a district, don't marvel at the matter: for one official is eyed by a higher one; and there are officials over them. Moreover the profit of the earth is for all. The king profits from the field. He who loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase: this also is vanity. When goods increase, those who eat them are increased; and what advantage is there to its owner, except to feast on them with his eyes? The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not allow him to sleep. There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: wealth kept by its owner to his harm.”
Today we talk about our dreams, and not the dreams we have in our beds, but the dreams we have for our future. I was talking to a friend the other day about retirement, he has been working the same Job for many years, and has seen many people go into retirement. He has also noticed that many of these men start to become depressed. He ask them why, and the results were that they no longer had any dreams in life. Nothing to work towards, nothing to look forward to. Without passion for something we lose the ability to have motivation, and lose the will to work. In our passage we see many things. It started out talking about people who make vows, we see this a lot in desperate people, saying “if you will do _____ Then I will ________,” We should avoid such things as the Bible tells us. These acts are normally carried out because of hard times or dreams. Then it goes on to say, “For in the multitude of dreams there are vanities, as well as in many words: but you must fear God.” Maybe the key to always having a satisfied and happy life is to always have one dream. To be the best son or daughter of God as possible. We can never retire from that, and we can never be too old to fulfill it. It is a dream we can continue to have until our final day. Dreams are good, but like everything else if they make us lose focus of our true goal in life they can ruin us. So let’s make our number one dream to love the Lord with all that we are. Then have all of our other dreams work towards making that happen. If we do that we will find joy and happiness all the days of our lives.
1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”
The word resist is used a lot in the Bible, as in James 4:6-7, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” But what does it mean to “Resist.” Sometimes we may think about it as somewhat unyielding, such as being water resistant. That being resistant is something simple. However, the true meaning of the word is more firm and powerful. The word means to be like a barrier. Like the wall of a river, being in state of constantly and passively holding back the water. We are to give no attention to his (the devil’s) tricks and temptations, but almost acting as if they don’t exist. Think about this concept: instead of worry and thinking about the things that the devil is bombarding us with. We instead just look the other way. Ignoring the temptation and following God. Do not give the devil the time or attention he needs to entrap us in sin. My mother once said to me, “the worst thing you can do to someone that is trying to hurt or upset you is to just ignore them.”
Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to him, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him.”
Jack Kuhatschek told a story about his seminary professor. On one of his trips while he was studying in the Holy Lands, he met a man who claimed to have memorized the Old Testament--in Hebrew! Needless to say, the astonished professor asked for a demonstration. A few days later they sat together in the man's home. "Where shall we begin?" asked the man. "Psalm 1," replied my professor, who was an avid student of the psalms. Beginning with Psalm 1:1, the man began to recite from memory, while my professor followed along in his Hebrew Bible. For two hours the man continued word for word without a mistake as the professor sat in stunned silence. When the demonstration was over, my professor discovered something even more astonishing about the man--he was an atheist! Here was someone who knew the Scriptures better than most Christians ever will, and yet he didn't even believe in God.
You can be one of the smartest man or woman in the world, but if you do not summit yourself to God then all that knowledge is useless. Let us always receive our knowledge from the Lord, the Knowledge of Truth. Knowledge that makes us stronger, and not that which puffs us up. True knowledge will not puff us up, but will humble us. Being puffed up, means to be conceded. If we are so full of ourselves there will not be enough room in our heart for the Lord. We also need to apply all this to our own lives. We can never substitute head knowledge for a life that is lived for God. Knowledge is great, and the Lord requires us to learn and grow in Him. However, if we ever get to a place where we call ourselves Christians, but we do not live in love, we are living in falsehood. Our passage tells us “without faith it is impossible to please God.” We need faith for our salvation, but we also have to keep that faith going. Striving each day to always be in truth, and living in a way that pleases God.
Luke 12:1-5, “Meanwhile, when a multitude of many thousands had gathered together, so much so that they trampled on each other, he began to tell his disciples first of all, "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. But there is nothing covered up, that will not be revealed, nor hidden, that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light. What you have spoken in the ear in the inner chambers will be proclaimed on the housetops. "I tell you, my friends, don't be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom you should fear. Fear him, who after he has killed, has power to cast into Gehenna. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”
Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle John and an early church leader whose life ended when he refused to betray his Lord. Asked one last time to disavow his Christ, the old man replied, "Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How can I speak evil of my King who saved me?" This is his martyr's prayer, as recorded by the historian Eusebius. "Father of Your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the knowledge of You, I bless You that You have counted me worthy of this day and hour, that I might be in the number of the martyrs. Among these may I be received before You today in a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as You have beforehand prepared and revealed. Wherefore I also praise You also for everything; I bless You; I glorify You, through the eternal High Priest Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, through whom, with Him, in the Holy Spirit, be glory unto You both now and for the ages to come. Amen." Eusebius adds: "When he had offered up his amen and had finished his prayer, the firemen lighted the fire."
Philippians 1:21-24, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will bring fruit from my work; yet I don't make known what I will choose. But I am in a dilemma between the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Yet, to remain in the flesh is more needful for your sake.”
We know that Paul suffered at death, but he was truly looking forward to it. This may seem gloomy to some, but the truth is death is the only way that we finally will get to go and meet the Lord, face to face. We are on this earth for a short time. The bible calls it a vapor, or a puff of air. After that we get to actually start living. While we are here we have a mission, which is a great thing. We get to try and win souls for the kingdom of God, and help those we can live a better life. Then when that is all over, we get to receive the best gift in the universe. Now there are many ways to die. Some quick, and some not so much. Some painless and other not so lucky. Nonetheless, death for a Christian should never be a sad thing. Yes we mourn, it is a person we love, and we will not get to see them anymore for a while. Although, in reality it is a graduation into true happiness and peace. We will miss them for a short time, but once we are in heaven all those times will seem as nothing. Death is not a scary thing, at least for those whom come to know Christ. I for one am looking forward to those days in glory.
Genesis 3:1-5, “Now the serpent was more subtle than any animal of the field which Yahweh God had made. He said to the woman, "Has God really said, 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?'" The woman said to the serpent, "Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat, but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" The serpent said to the woman, "You won't surely die, for God knows that in the day you eat it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
Every day we deal with persuasion. Every commercial, billboard, and ad we see each day is trying to entice us into something. Lately every single time I click on a YouTube video, there is a beer commercial, trying to show just how much fun drinking their beer can be. Companies are constantly trying to persuade us to buy and do things. These companies that makes these ads would not do so if they did not work. When people get drawn in, by what they see, they are likely to join in on that activity. We are in this same boat as Christians, we defiantly do not use the same tactics as the world. However, we are called to be a light, shining out to the lost. The devil plays on people’s wants and desires, in order for them to reject God and live in a life of sin. Christians are called to be a living billboard, and by living a Godly life show people that living for God is the only thing that can bring out true happiness.
Matthew 5:13-16, "You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its flavor, with what will it be salted? It is then good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men. You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can't be hidden. Neither do you light a lamp, and put it under a measuring basket, but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house. Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
When Benjamin Franklin wished to interest the people of Philadelphia in street lighting, he didn't try to persuade them by just talking about it. He hung a beautiful lantern on a long bracket in front of his home. He kept the glass highly polished. Every evening at the approach of dusk, he carefully lit the wick. People saw the light from a distance and when they walked in its light, found that it helped them to avoid sharp stones on the pavement. Others placed light at their homes, and soon Philadelphia recognized the need for street lighting.
When you smile when there is nothing to smile about, people will want to know why. When you can love and share God to others, even when everything seems to be going wrong, people will want to know why. As people learn of the peace and joy you have in your life in Christ, they will recognize their need for Him. Your witness through personal testimony may be just what someone is waiting for. We may be that first street light that can be hung in front of our house. The people who pass by us will see the good in having the light and testimony. It gives hope that they can do the same and can shine for others as well.
Think about this, did Jesus make ads and billboards about himself, and what benefits would come if people would listen to His words? No, people saw the light that Jesus was shining. Then they rushed by the thousands to find out more. People flocked to His light, the same as what a million bugs do in the dead of night, when only one light shines proud and true. In that same way we are to shine in a dark and cold world, to draw people near to us and then let them know why we shine.
Romans 12:16-21, “Be of the same mind one toward another. Don't set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Don't be wise in your own conceits. Repay no one evil for evil. Respect what is honorable in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men. Don't seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God's wrath. For it is written, "Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord." Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head." Don't be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Sports Illustrated wrote about the Chicago Cubs outfielder Andre Dawson. Andre Was made to pay a $1000 fine for disputing a strike called by umpire Joe West. Andre was not happy about this, but it was something he was forced to do. So, on the memo line of his check Dawson wrote: "Donation for the blind."
We are fascinated by revenge, some of the best grossing movies and TV shows are about people getting revenge on those who have hurt or killed someone they love. Even the whole story line of Batman is based on the thought of retribution. We count it as justice, and that they deserve what they get. The world says do to others as they have done to you. Though if we think about it, if we all got what we deserve then the world would end instantly. Our world is based on a system that loves revenge, but can only exist if there is forgiveness. For example, if I did something to you, you would get back at me, then I would do something big to you. Back and forth we would go until one of us is not standing. A world that is always revengeful would cease to exist. There must be one or both parties to forgive or let go in order for the cycle of revenge to stop. As Christians, we have to put aside vengeance, and replace it with forgiveness and care. In life vengeance is really easy. What God tells us to do, which is to be kind, and to give to those who hate you, that is hard. “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink,” and “Don't be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Through this life you will be hurt, you will feel pain, and you will go through hard times. These things may happen because of many different reasons, but if those reasons happen to be other people. Then we have to make sure we react the way we are supposed to. We cannot have hate and love in our hearts at the same time. We will have to give up one and cling to the other. When we choose vengeance we choose to hold hate in our heart and therefore give up on love.
Romans 8:26-31, “And in like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; and he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren: and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”
A religious women upon waking up each morning would open her front door stand on the porch and scream, “Praise the Lord.” This infuriated her atheist neighbor who would always make sure to counter back, “there is no Lord.” One morning the atheist neighbor overheard his neighbor praying for food, thinking it would be funny, he went and bought her all sorts of groceries and left them on her porch. The next morning the lady screamed, “praise the Lord, who gave me this food.” The neighbor laughing so hard he could barely get the words out screamed “it wasn’t the Lord, it was me.” The lady without missing a beat screamed “praise the Lord for not only giving me food, but making the atheist pay for it!!”
The Devil tries so hard to mess up our lives. He puts hurdle after hurdle to try and trip us up. In the story of Joseph, Joseph kept doing what was right in the sight of God. Just to find himself put back into holes, slavery, chains, and prisons. Joseph could have looked at his life and decided that God must have hated him. He could have quit and said to himself that the visions must have been just his own mind. However, he didn’t, no matter what adversity he came against he keep pushing forward and rising to the top of every bad situation. He may have not understood what or why the things going on in his life were the way they were, but he kept faith in God. When he talked to his brothers in the end, he tells them in Genesis 50:20, “And as for you, ye meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” We may not know why, but that is why we call it faith. Faith to know that in the end of every situation God will be the victor.
Matthew 5:21-30, "You have heard that it was said to the ancient ones, 'You shall not murder;' and 'Whoever shall murder shall be in danger of the judgment.' But I tell you, that everyone who is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment;
and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca ' (thou worthless) shall be in danger of the council; and whoever shall say, 'You fool!' (or stupid, this is to not heed correction) shall be in danger of the fire of Gehenna (hell). If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are with him in the way; lest perhaps the prosecutor deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison. Most assuredly I tell you, you shall by no means get out of there, until you have paid the last penny. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery;' but I tell you that everyone who gazes at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna (hell). If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off, and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna (hell).”
This passage comes from the beginning part of the Sermon on the Mount. If you were ever wondering, how to live as a Christian? What is expected of me? Then this is the perfect place to start. Jesus, during His lesson, set down a firm foundation. How we should act, carry ourselves, what to look forward to, many promises, and so much more. He hits on just about every topic you can think of from Matthew chapter 5 through all of chapter 7. It is probably the best place to start learning about how to live a better life, a life full of Christ. At the end of chapter 7, we read this in Matthew 7:28, “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine.” These are Jesus’ life lessons for us, a true doctrine to live by. It is awesome to say the least.
Judges 16:19-21, “And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and shaved off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. And she said, The Philistines are upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free. But he knew not that Jehovah was departed from him. And the Philistines laid hold on him, and put out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison-house.”
Have you ever been driving down the road and seen a sign that says “Construction work ahead 200ft merge to the right?” Then another “Construction work ahead 100ft Merge to the right?” Then finally you see the orange cones with one final sign that says “Merge to Right?” At this point you are either in the right lane, or avoiding the people that ignored all the signs up to that point in the left lane trying to merge in front of you.
Don’t you wish life was like this, that there were warning signs to tell you when God is about to do some construction work on your life. In some ways there are, when Samson kept waking up and Delilah was always doing the things he said would make him lose his strength, he should have seen the “danger ahead signs,” but he chose to ignore them. We don’t always get warning signs. Sometimes we are the person who gets the deer that run right into the middle of the road, and the only thing that can help us is what? To be a cautious driver and to always be paying attention. Now I’m not really talking about driving, but going down the spiritual road of life.
The Bible tells us that bad things will happen to everyone. In Matthew 5:44-45 it reads, “but I say unto you, love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” For the Christian we are tested by God and tempted by the devil every day, but there are minor construction days and there are major construction sights.
The devil cannot see the future. He can see just as much as you and I, but he can see the Warning signs and the orange cones. He likes to get ahead of us a start kicking them out of the way. So that we run into disaster head on. How do we fight this? What do we do to stay alert and be a safe driver? In 2 Timothy 3:16 we read, “Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness.” Just as our highways and byways have an instruction manual of how to follow the rules and be a safe driver. We too have an instruction manual that does the same, but for our spiritual road. It guides us and helps us protect ourselves from the dangers that may lie ahead. It even tells us how to fix the flats and wrecks that the devil likes to throw our way. If we prepare ourselves with the truth, whether or not we can see the upcoming disasters, we will always have the Lord to pull us through.
1 Corinthians 12:12-26, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; it is not therefore not of the body. And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; it is not therefore not of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members each one of them in the body, even as it pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now they are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee: or again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be more feeble are necessary: and those parts of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness; whereas our comely parts have no need: but God tempered the body together, giving more abundant honor to that part which lacked; that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffereth, all the members suffer with it; or one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”
An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole, which she carried across the back of her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.
After 2 years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream. 'I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.' The old woman smiled, 'Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them.' 'For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table.' Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.' Each of us has our own unique flaw...
But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. Could you imagine a world where everyone is the same? Each of us is unique, everyone has their strong points and their weaknesses. God made you to be you, and there is not another you out there. You are made the exact way God wants you to be, to complete a work He has set out for you to do. Now when you were reading the story it is important that it is not talking about God using our sins to perfect us. Sin is not the cracked pot we are talking about. Our quark and character makes the world exciting and fun, but sometimes it can bring challenges.
Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and railing, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you.”
One of the most devastating human emotions can be the feelings of bitterness. It can creep into our lives. Sometimes we do not even know how much it consumes our thought life and feelings until it is too late. Before we know it, we are captured in the claws of the sin of un-forgiveness. Perhaps it starts with hurt feelings over what was said, another’s actions, or even a lack of response. We ponder it over and over, it festers in our gut until our spirit is consumed, and our hearts get hardened. Before long, hurt feelings can lead to a host of other actions, including slander against them, avoidance of that person, or hurtful actions.
Holding a grudge against another can be so devastating to some that it affects their own health. Anger can be a result of bitterness. When angry, adrenaline and other hormones are released into the bloodstream, causing high blood pressure and a faster beating heart. Depression, ulcers, heart attack, and stroke have also been linked to those that are controlled by the stress of bitterness and un-forgiveness. Not forgiving, and not attempting to forget the offense, can also lead people to do or say things that they would never think of do of not in that state. Bitterness can indeed bind a person’s life. We all have wrong things done to us sometimes in our lives. Some let them roll off their shoulders and go on with their life; others stew and never let go of what another has done to them. The Bible has much to say about bitterness and forgiving one another.
What would you do if a person came up to you on the street, or in the parking lot at Wal-Mart, they were dressed in just regular clothes, and they held out a cookie on a napkin, and said, “I’ll give you 10 dollars to eat this cookie.” Would you take the money and eat the cookie or say no and walk away? Most of us would probably say no, and walk away. Now for all the people on diets out there you can pretend it’s anything you want to, maybe even one of your favorite snacks. Would you still say no? Now that that same person and the same cookie or snack, and put them inside Wal-Mart, this time they are in their uniform and behind the sample booth. They are not going to pay you, but you can take it for free. Still the same Person and cookie that was outside in the parking lot just a different appearance. Now would you take the cookie or snack? Even I would have to say yes. So what is the difference? Well it’s all in the presentation.
We are always reminded of how to present ourselves to God:
Romans 12:1-3, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think as to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to each man a measure of faith.”
John 4:23-24, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for such doth the Father seek to be his worshippers. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Whenever we present ourselves before God, we are to do it in spirit, humbly, and aware that we are speaking to God, the creator of the universe. Our lifestyles and day to day walk is our presentation. God sees all, knows all, and can never be fooled. So no matter what you put on the outside, God sees the truth. However, that is not the topic for today. Today’s question is how we present ourselves to the world. If we are offering them the bread of life, which is Jesus Christ? Are we doing it in a way that draws them in, or makes them want to walk away?
Have you ever been in Church, and the pastor asks, does anyone have a testimony? However, you did not know what to say, or didn’t say anything because of shyness, fear, or laziness. Well, before we go any further, we need to understand what a testimony really is. Webster has it defined as “TEST'IMONY - A solemn declaration or affirmation made for the purpose of establishing or proving some fact. Such affirmation in judicial proceedings, may be verbal or written, but must be under oath. Testimony differs from evidence; testimony is the declaration of a witness, and evidence is the effect of that declaration on the mind, or the degree of light which it affords.” So when we testify we are giving evidence and proof of God moving in our lives. Our testimony also is a form of worship, when we praise the Lord with our mouth, and tell about all the good things He has done for us.
Now here is the question, is it wrong for us to hold back our testimony? Here is also where it gets tricky, if there’s anything that is an absolute then it must be true 100% of the time. Such as God is all powerful, this is true 100% of the time, and therefore an absolute truth. However, when it comes to giving our testimony we have instances where Jesus actually tells people not to testify. For example, in Mark 7:35-36, “And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plain. And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it.” This was just one of the many times something like this occurred, and it only happened because it would hinder Jesus’ mission. Jesus had a goal in mind, just like in all of our lives. By the healed people telling about what He did, it caused Him to at times not even able to go into cities, but having to reside in the outskirts of the towns. So there maybe few, and I mean very few times that this could happen. When are we to keep our peace, and not speak so as to not hinder the move of the Spirit? The answer is simple, just listen to the Holy Spirit’s call. He will always guide you to do His will, if you only listen.
Ecclesiastes 4:8-12, “There is one that is alone, and he hath not a second; yea, he hath neither son nor brother; yet is there no end of all his labor, neither are his eyes satisfied with riches. For whom then, says he, do I labor, and deprive my soul of good? This also is vanity, yea, it is a sore travail. Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falls, and hath not another to lift him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone? And if a man prevail against him that is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
The philosopher Aristotle once said, “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort and aid the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds.” A lot of the world understands the importance of friendship. Whether it be the saved or lost, friendship is understood to be one of the most valuable things in the world. However, it can’t be bought with money. No true friendship cost more than money, real friendship cost time.
The Gallup Organization is a company who does research and polls for the public and private sectors. They did a massive study on the importance of friendship and some of their results were these: “If your best friend eats healthy, you are five times more likely to have a healthy diet yourself. Married people say friendship is more than five times as important as physical intimacy within marriage. Those who say they have no real friends at work have only a one in 12 chance of feeling engaged in their job. Conversely, if you have a ‘best friend at work’, you are seven times more likely to feel engaged in your job.” So looking over this information, how important is it to have Christian friends by your side? People to motivate you to above all follow after God.
There was once a mom name Judy, who understood she had anger issues. She was constantly yelling and fighting with her children and her husband. After going to a woman’s conference she decided to do something about it. She had heard of journaling, in which people write to God every day, this is to help them grow in their relationship with God; because when you write something down on paper it means more than just words. So Judy decided that this same concept should work for anger therapy, and it did. Every time is would get angry she would stop herself and write it down instead. At first, she tried to hide it from her children, but it is kind of hard to do that when you stop yelling mid-sentence, whip out a book at write in it. Her children never got to see in the book, but they did find out what it was.
Now the children seemed to like to push Judy’s buttons. They were good kids, it was just the small things they did that seemed to set her off. One day she was sitting at the computer playing frozen free fall. She is very into the game and not paying attention to the things around her. When all of a sudden she hears a loud voice in her ear, “you are doing it wrong!” This scares her at first, no one likes to be interrupted in the middle of an intense Facebook game. Her shock quickly turned to anger, then she started yelling, she stopped herself from continuing, and wrote in her book. It is these types of things that she wants to get control of, and it really did seem to help. After about six months of writing she is cooking in the kitchen. Her four year old son is sitting at the table and playing a game. Now, this son is the type of person that is not sneaky, if he is not going to do what you tell him he will just tell you to your face. He was on a tablet playing a racing game moving around with the car, and bumps his cup of milk onto the floor. Judy is now upset from him not paying attention and spilling the milk, but she kept her calm and told him to get a towel and clean it up. The next few moments were full of mixed emotions as her son’s reply to her was, “No, you can do it.” Judy after doing so well for so long, hits the point of no return, and as loud as she could, started to yell at him. She stopped after about 10 full seconds of yelling as he had a surprised look on his face. When the room became quite, the boy says, “mom, shouldn’t you be writing this down?” Her husband is in the other room and listening to the whole thing, bust out with laughter. Judy not so entertained, but understanding the moment, also began to laugh. Judy then chases down her son and hugged him.
There are things in life that happen, sometimes these things are terrible. For example, someone killing your family member by drinking and driving. Then sometimes we make them terrible with our attitude. As in being interrupted during a Facebook game. Whatever the case may be, we sometimes get angry. Now anger is in itself not sinful, but a spiritual and mental emotion and state of mind. It takes some a lot to get angry, while others get angry at the smallest things. However, it is important to remember that it is an emotion that God built in us. Not only did He build it into us, He gave us the power to control it. God would not have given us a time limit on our anger if it was not in us to have control. Ephesians 4:26-27 “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.” In today’s English we would say, “It’s ok to be mad, but don’t do anything to hurt anyone, and don’t dwell on it.” If we hold a grudge because of anger the only one that it will hurt is ourselves.
2 Samuel 6:1-23, “And David again gathered together all the chosen men of Israel,.........
And David danced before Jehovah with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of Jehovah with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. And it was so, as the ark of Jehovah came into the city of David, that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out at the window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before Jehovah; and she despised him in her heart. .......
There is a lot of misconceptions that comes from this passage. If you have ever read commentary on it, you may have gotten the picture of David dancing almost naked down the streets in front of the Ark. The words of Michal kind of paint that picture. However, when taking into account the story retold in 1 Chronicles 15:27, we get a different picture. “And David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers: and David had upon him an ephod of linen.” We see this again in 2 Samuel 6:14, “And David danced before Jehovah with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.” So why did Michal make the statement she made? Well for starters she was probably still bitter about David in her dad’s seat. Second, David was so excited and couldn’t contain himself that he probably did end up showing some skin. Like an excited Scotsmen at a bagpipe dance. The word she used was Galah, which is to become nude (especially in a disgraceful sense). Thinking about it in this way, gives me a different picture of David’s dance. I mean, he had to be getting so crazy that a robe that goes to ankles still became revealing. I’m talking summersaults, leaps, flips, who knows, but it had to be crazy!
Now think back to your last church service. We now have a permanent connection to the “Ark,” the mercy seat of God. Can we get the same excitement in our spirit as David did? To let go, and to let God have His way? Do we have the same respect of God, to humble ourselves before the Lord? David’s answer to Michal, was that “I will be yet more vile than this, and will be base in mine own sight.” He was saying, I’ll be more disgraceful than this, to the point that even in my own eyes, I will be worthless. David, while in the presents of God, became humble and considered himself nothing. Then he concluded, those who saw me dance, they realize what’s going on and honor me for that. Even though David was king, he was showing everyone that could see him that there was a greater and more worthy King than him.
This is a twofold calling to us; are we going to let God humble us to a point that we don’t care what people think or say about us? Are we going to let the power of God overtake us, and take us out of our comfort zone, and get crazy? Am I talking about during Church service? Well, if God moves that way yes, but I’m talking about all of life? Are we going to let God move through us at work, or in front of our unsaved friends, to do whatever he is calling us to do, even if it may mean embarrassment? Sometimes the work of God takes removing ourselves out of situations to let God have full control.
Now here is the second fold. We as brothers and sisters in Christ need to realize that God humbles our brothers and sisters to do things in worship and in life. When we see this happening, our reaction should not be judgment, but acceptance and maybe even to join in on the blessing.
December 30th & 31st
A Lesson in Faith
"Let me explain the problem science has with Jesus Christ." The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand. "You're a Christian, aren't you, son?"
"Yes sir," the student says.
"So you believe in God?"
"Is God good?"
"Sure! God's good."
"Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?"
"Are you good or evil?"
"The Bible says I'm evil."
The professor grins knowingly. "Aha! The Bible!" He considers for a moment.
"Here's one for you. Let's say there's a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help them? Would you try?"
"Yes sir, I would."
"So you're good...!"
"I wouldn't say that."
"But why not say that? You'd help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could, but God doesn't."
The student does not answer, so the professor continues. "He doesn't, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?"
The student remains silent.
"No, you can't, can you?" the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax. "Let's start again, young fella. Is God good?"
"Er... Yes," the student says.
"Is Satan good?"
The student doesn't hesitate on this one. "No."
"Then where does Satan come from?"
The student falters. "From... God..."
"That's right. God made Satan, didn't he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?"
"Evil's everywhere, isn't it? And God did make everything, correct?"
"So who created evil?"
Again, the student has no answer.
"Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness. All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?" The student squirms on his feet.
"So who created them?"
The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. "Who created them?"
There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized.
"Tell me," he continues. "Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?"
The student's voice betrays him and cracks. "Yes, professor. I do."
The old man stops pacing. "Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?"
"No sir. I've never seen Him."
"Then tell us if you've ever heard your Jesus?"
"No, sir. I have not."
"Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?”
"No, sir, I'm afraid I haven't."
"Yet you still believe in him?"
"According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son?
"Nothing," the student replies. "I only have my faith."
"Yes, faith," the professor repeats. "And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith."
The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of his own.
"Professor, is there such thing as heat?"
"Yes," the professor replies. "There's heat."
"And is there such a thing as cold?"
"Yes, son, there's cold too."
"No sir, there isn't."
The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain. "You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don't have anything called 'cold'. We can hit 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than -458 degrees. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it."
Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.
"What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?"
"Yes," the professor replies without hesitation. "What is night if it isn't darkness?"
"You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light... but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? That's the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, Darkness isn't. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn't you?"
The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. "So what point are you making, young man?"
"Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with and so your conclusion must also be flawed."
The professor's face cannot hide his surprise this time. "Flawed? Can you explain how?"
"You are working on the premise of duality," the student explains. "You argue that there is life and then there's death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can't even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it. "Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?"
"If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do."
"Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?"
The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester indeed.
"Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?"
The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided. "To continue the point you were making earlier to the other students, let me give you an example of what I mean."
The student looks around the room. "Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor's brain?" The class breaks out into laughter.
"Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain, felt the professor's brain, touched or smelt the professor's brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir. So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?"
Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable. Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers.
"I guess you'll have to take them on faith."
2 Timothy 4:1-5, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
Do you know what Christian Apologetics is? The English word “apology” comes from a Greek word which basically means “to give a defense.” Christian apologetics, then, is the science of giving a defense of the Christian faith. There are many skeptics who doubt the existence of God and/or attack belief in the God of the Bible.
It is our “charge” or duty, to be ready to tell people why we believe what we believe. In Acts 26:1-26, Paul got to meet with King Agrippa. There he had to defend his faith and actions, “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: Especially because ……………….. that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles. And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”
It is not our job to make people believe in God, we are simply the messenger. God is the only one who can truly save anyone. Our ministry is to be the voice of truth, love, and guidance unto Christ. We should never feel discouraged when we speak with someone who shuts the door, mock, or persecutes us, but take it as a blessing. Matthew 5:10, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” In the end the only one who people can truly reject is God. Yes, we are the warning bell, and we should be ringing it as loud as possible. If they head to it, great! If not, then they will be lost, but ring we must.