More to come
Satan’s Dream Society
I recently listened to a sermon that put forth the question, what would a society look like if Satan were completely in control? The immediate answer that comes to mind would look something like a modern Sodom and Gomorrah. Pornography would be plastered everywhere, homosexuality would be rampant, abortions would be available on every corner, violence and theft would be regular occurrences in every neighborhood, and the Bible would be completely absent. While that’s one possible answer and it’s not necessarily wrong, the preacher offered a much more frightening possibility.
Rather than achieving a society completely absent of morality and anything good, many times Satan operates in another way. He offers comfort and a false feeling of safety. Therefore, this alternate society would be one in which homosexuality, pornography, and abortion aren’t really an issue. The family isn’t under attack. Atheism, secular humanism, and postmodernism have no real influence on society. That sounds pretty good, right? The catch – the Gospel is not truly preached within the church buildings and the transformational power of Jesus’ blood has little to no effect on lukewarm Christians. It doesn’t permeate their lives.
Which one of those would we choose? Undoubtedly the second, but each is equally dangerous. Quite frankly, the second scenario was not unlike what we had here in America in the last century, and it was that comfort that led to the first situation described. That brings up the question – what is our aim? What are we hoping to accomplish as a counter-cultural, Christ-preaching, Bible-living church?
While society continues to deteriorate, many of us who are located in the Bible Belt live in communities not unlike the second one described. Are we content to have “good” people around us who haven’t been reached by the Gospel? In most cases, yes. However, just because they aren’t trying to persecute us for being anti-homosexual or for believing in God doesn’t mean we can continue to operate in an “I’m ok, you’re ok” manner. We must view the world the way God views it – either for Him or against Him. Paul described himself and his readers as former enemies of God (Ephesians 2:3, Colossians 1:2). Those good, nice people who make up our neighborhoods, schools, and work environments have been an excuse for Christian stagnation and silence for far too long, and it’s time that changed.
Where does that change start? In our hearts. We can’t look at ourselves as mostly good people who needed a little forgiveness for small, insignificant sins. We need to view ourselves as wretched, worthless sinners who were bought by blood. Once we have an accurate grasp of the cost of just one sin, we can begin to see our comfortable, upstanding communities as they truly are, desperately in need of God’s healing power. We all come together to cry out against media silencing of Phil Robertson, the Benham Brothers, and other public figures who have been labeled hateful because they teach the Bible. Once that storm blows over, though, we go back to our comfortable silence. Until we view the world as a daily battlefield for hearts and minds the way God does, nothing is going to change.
Are you comfortable living in a “good” community that is yet to submit to Jesus Christ as Lord? As long as the answer to that question is “yes,” Satan may just be doing his best work yet.
No Pain, No Gain
There is an expression among those who exercise regularly, “No Pain, No Gain.” The expression basically means that if you are not willing to work hard and suffer a little for your efforts, then you are not going to accomplish very much. Just doing the easy and simple exercises that don’t challenge one’s body won’t lead to lasting results. The same principle is true in life as well. In order for one to be productive in business, for example, one must be willing to make sacrifices of time and money; one must make an effort in order to do well. In our personal relationships also, we understand this to be true. The more we put into a relationship the better it is going to be. The parent who makes an effort to spend time with his children is going to have a better relationship with his child than the parent that doesn’t. The husband who spends more time with his wife will have a better relationship than one that is always gone.
Should it cause us to wonder, when we come to the spiritual world, that if we don’t make an effort at serving the Lord that we’re not going to get anything out of our relationship with God? The same principle is true here as well. “No pain, no gain.” Sometimes I think that people expect church to be some kind of spiritual playground where we can just relax and have fun in the glow of God’s goodness. While I certainly believe that coming to church can be rewarding, it doesn’t quite work like a playground. Our worship and service requires of us some effort, both mentally and physically. The more effort we put into our worship and service, the greater our relationship with God will become.
Our efforts must start with our attendance. If we don’t attend services or if our attendance is sporadic, then we’re not going to get very much out of it. Attendance to the worship services is where we get our encouragement to continue to live godly lives and be faithful to the Lord (Hebrews 10:25). It is absolutely critical to our relationship with God. It is as important as families having dinner together on a regular basis. To miss such an appointment is to undermine one’s relationships.
We continue our efforts with how we worship. We must engage our minds to worship God (John 4:24, Matthew 22:37). That means we need to listen attentively to the prayers and the sermon (1 Corinthians 14:15). We need to sing with all of our heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16). We need to give with purpose and thanksgiving in our hearts (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). And we need to remember the death of Jesus as we partake of the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19). How many times do we catch ourselves thinking about what is for lunch or what we’re going to do later in the day instead of focusing on the worship. We cheat ourselves out of a relationship with God when we don’t engage our minds in worship.
When we leave the church building our efforts must continue. If we simply leave what we’ve done at the building behind, then we are going to limit our relationship with God. However, if we take what we’ve learned and tell others about it, we will not only help others but ourselves as well. This may mean doing good to those who are in need (Galatians 6:10); it may means being a good example to our children (Ephesians 6:4); it may mean teaching someone about the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20); it may mean setting an example of model behavior for our coworkers (Ephesians 6:6). Regardless who we influence, there must be the effort of influence.
What will happen if we engage ourselves in the work of God? We will grow as individuals. The church will also grow also; others will see the wonderful things working in our lives and they will want to be part of it. Our efforts will not go unnoticed, and we, as individuals Christians, will not be the only ones to benefit from our work. “No pain, no gain” means that if we want more out of our relationship with God we need to work harder at it. Let us all resolve to renew our efforts to serve God in all things.
Does God Keep Score?
Several years ago, I was having a conversation with someone about getting credit for ideas. I mentioned to them that it doesn’t matter to me if I get credit for an idea or not, because God knows who did what and I was content to let God handle such things. This person then wondered whether or not God really credited man with such things. In essence, the question can be framed, “Does God keep score?”
First, we need to understand that God does not keep score in the sense that if we could only get enough points, then we would win salvation. The Bible teaches us that salvation isn’t something that we earn. Jesus said in Luke 17:10, “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” When we do everything that God tells us, we still haven’t earned our salvation. We are still dependent upon Him for eternal life. Salvation is a gift that God gives upon the condition of faith and obedience (see Hebrews 11:6 and Hebrews 5:9). Neither our faith nor our obedience earns our salvation; but God promises to give us salvation when we trust and obey Him. It is the promise of God in which we trust, not in our own faith or obedience. In that regard, God doesn’t keep score because no matter how high a score we get, we’ll never be high enough to earn our salvation.
Second, neither does God keep score as to how long we have been a faithful Christian as if that would make a difference in our salvation. Jesus told the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard in Matthew 20:1-16. In the parable, the vineyard owner agrees with laborers for the same wage though they begin working at different times in the day. At the end of the day, they all get the same pay. The ones who started early complain, saying that they worked longer than the others. The owner asks them whether or not they agreed to that pay. They did, so that is what they got. The lesson from the parable is that salvation is available for all and it doesn’t matter when you started working for God, everyone, whether young or old gets the same pay eternal life and for that we ought to be very thankful. No, God does not keep score in regard to one’s longevity of service in His kingdom.
Third, there is a sense, however, in which God does keep score. In Hebrews 6:10 we read, For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. We learn from this passage that God takes note of those who do good things and He remembers those things. Moreoever, Jesus said, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:20). What are these treasures that we are to be laying up in heaven? He explains in Luke 12:33, “Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.” When we do good things for others, we lay up treasures in heaven. Are they for earning our salvation? No. What then are these treasures for? There is only one explanation. It is because God wants us to appreciate the results of the good things that we did once we are in heaven. That will be our treasure!
Does God keep score? He doesn’t keep score when it comes to good works meriting salvation. Regardless of how high the score, it would never be enough to earn salvation. However, He does keep score when it comes to having treasure in heaven over which we can appreciate the results of our good efforts. And so John can write, Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward (2 John 1:8). God doesn’t keep score to determine who earned what, but to determine who IS what!
I May Be Old Fashioned
Many of you on numerous occasions have heard me say, “I may be old fashion but...” However, being old fashioned in the 21st century is not the most popular choice for sure, but it is not necessarily bad. In fact, my being old fashioned aligns me with those of daring character. For example: “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein” (Jeremiah 6:16). Being old fashioned in Jeremiah’s day did not win friends or influence people. That was true in Jeremiah’s day and is still true today. Let me hasten to say there is a difference in being old fashioned, and being old and “cantankerous”. Cantankerous means “easily angered and difficult to get along with”. Being cantankerous has nothing to do with age. Remember I coach a little girls softball team! Most cantankerous people do not want to “hear the rest of the story”. Their mind is already made up. They are set in their ways. This is not the “old fashioned” I’m speaking of. Let me explain in the information below why I am “old fashioned”, and perhaps why others might consider me “old fashioned” as well. I may be old fashioned but:
1. I Know God’s Word, the Bible, is the Standard for our Lives and That it Never Changes. It is finial and complete (Jude 3; 1 Timothy 3:16-17). Just as its author who is “the same yesterday, and today, and for ever” - so is His word (Hebrews 13:8; 1 Peter 1:23-25). It will judge us in the last day (John 12:48).
2. I Know There is No Such Thing as Same Sex “Marriages.” Marriage and the home was created and ordained by our loving God for the well being of society. God made them “male and female” (Genesis 1:27). Husbands and wives complement each other in the very nature of the case (Genesis 1:24). Homosexual “marriages” are unnatural and described as “vile affections... which is against nature” (Romans 1:26-27). We are told now days that homosexuality is normal; just an alternate lifestyle. Even our President and many lawmakers believe this. But, friends there is nothing normal about such perversion. Are not our lawmakers familiar with past history? History shows that homosexuality reaches epidemic levels when society is in crisis and near a state of collapse. Is anyone out there listing! “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
3. I Know Young People Should be Taught to Respect Authority. I see to many youngsters today that do not know what “NO” means. One does not have to go far to see such rebellion. Take a trip to the local ball park, Wal Mart, or sadly to the assemblies of the church. It’s sad that daddy’s and mama’s, and granddaddy’s and grand mama’s have grown weary in teaching, training, and disciplining kids now days. One thing I was taught by my “old fashioned mother” was the meaning of “NO, STOP, and DON’T!” She used whatever means that was necessary to enforce these lessons upon me. Now as I reflect back upon some of her “classes” I thank God that she loved me enough to MAKE ME MIND! I often wonder where I would be today if mama had tolerated my talking, fighting or hitting back at her. I’ve lived long enough now to see her wisdom. The same “old fashioned wisdom” that I used in rearing Lisa and Keith to the best of my feeble ability. If you were to ask them if at any point in time they ever doubted my love for them, I’m sure they would say, “No never.” Even though some of our “teaching sessions” were less than pleasant. The Bible says, “Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many” (Proverbs 4:10). It’s hard for parents to understand that teaching children respect for authority is actually related to prolonging their days upon this earth. Because “the way of transgressors is hard”, always. Children who are not taught respect for the authority of their parents generally have little or no respect for any authority; teachers, police and especially God!
The Lukewarm Disease
From all sources that I can find, the “lukewarm disease” is by far the most fatal that man can contract, including such diseases as tuberculosis, leukemia, or cancer. All diseases seem to have certain symptoms. The “lukewarm disease” seems to affect most parts of the body. It is also highly contagious. It passes from one person to another and soon there are whole groups that are affected. If the disease is not stopped, its effects are not just external but also eternal.
Listed below are a few of the known symptoms of “lukewarm disease”:
• It affects the mind in that a person stops seeking to learn and teach.
• If affects the ears in that a person only hears what he wants to hear, thus destroying faith.
• It affects the eyes in that a person no longer sees or follows the “strait and narrow.”
• It affects the mouth in that a person no longer speaks the Word of God, or offers up singing and prayer on a regular basis.
• It affects the neck in that a person cannot bow his head in prayer.
• It affects the arms and hands in that a person no longer does the physical labors that are essential in a Christian’s life.
• It affects the heart in that a person’s love for God grows cold.
• It affects the legs and feet in that a person no longer gets to services or visits those needing encouragement.
Do you know of anyone that has the “lukewarm disease”? Not all have every symptom. Not all the symptoms need to be present to affirm that you or someone else has the disease. The “lukewarm” person is a most undependable human being. He faces separation from God. We might hate all earthly diseases, but the “Great Physician” dislikes the “lukewarm disease” most of all. As bad as the “lukewarm disease” is, it can be cured.
The “Great Physician” can cure you of this disease. The prescribed cure would be a big dose of Faith and a shovel-full of Work. If you have the “lukewarm disease,” now is the time to take the cure. Have faith in the Lord and His Word for the day is coming when man shall work no more. See Revelation 3:16 for what will happen to the lukewarm: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of My mouth.”
Think About It!
Enoch’s walking with God was not interrupted by the common experiences of his life. “Enoch walked with God 300 years—and had other sons & daughters.” Some people suppose they could continue to walk with God if they were engaged all the time in ‘religious’ work; but they do not suppose it possible to maintain a life of unbroken communion with Him, when they have to be at work in the shop, in the office, or in the kitchen. But the truth is, we may stay near Christ just as easily when at our daily duties—as when we are at our devotions.
There is a legend of a monk whose great desire was to see Christ and touch the hem of His divinity. At his monastery, he waited in prayer and penance before his crucifix. He had vowed that he would see no human face—until his prayer was granted. One morning he seemed to hear a voice which told him that his wish would be fulfilled that day. With eager joy he watched. There came a gentle tap upon his door, & the plaintive cry of a child was heard, pleading to be taken in and fed. But the voice of the cold and hungry little one, was unheeded. The ‘saint’ was busy with his devotions, watching for the vision of the Master, & must not be disturbed. The candles burned low and the monk grew dismayed. Why did not the vision appear? All he heard was, “Unhappy monk, you may pray on forever. The answer to your prayer was sent today—it lingered, then sobbed, then turned away.”
God is quite as sure to come to walk with us, in the doing of some common task of love & kindness—as when we pray or sit at our Master’s communion table. “For I was hungry—& you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty—& you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger—& you took Me in; I was naked—& you clothed Me; I was sick—& you took care of Me; I was in prison—& you visited Me.” Matthew 25:35-36
Are YOU walking with God?
Columbiana, AL 35051
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