Rest…

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30, NKJV

The burden borne by mankind is a heavy and a crushing thing. The word Jesus used means a load carried or toil borne to the point of exhaustion. Rest is simply release from that burden. It is not something we do, it is what comes to us when we cease to do.

A. W. Tozer

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Liberty + Legalism = Bondage

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1, KJV

Paul the Apostle was writing to the churches he established in the region of Galatia (modern day Turkey). Certain men came in and told the new Christians that in order to be saved, they needed not only faith in Jesus, but it was necessary for them to keep the Law of Moses. They were mixing law with grace. Paul referred to this as “another gospel, which is not another” (1:6-7, KJV). The “gospel” they were proclaiming sounded the same, but was completely different. It was mixing legalism with liberty, which always leads to bondage.

Here in the South we see this kind of bondage mixed with faith repeatedly. Women are told how to dress; how to wear their hair; that they cannot apply make-up. The men who dictate these legalistic requirements often color their hair. Can you say double standard?

Still other men teach a particular type of bondage that holds one hostage to everyday language. This “freedom” professes the liberty of confession declaring health and wealth. However, one is actually held in bondage, as any “negative confession” can bring sorrow and suffering.

The Bible is specific about how one is saved:

  • Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, Not of works, lest any man should boast.” KJV
  • Romans 4:5: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (KJV)

In both passages faith is contrasted with works. They are diametrically opposed to each other. Paul settled the argument when he wrote to the Christians in Rome:

“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Romans 11:6, KJV).

To add to the Gospel is to pervert the Gospel and make it of no effect. It is no Gospel. It is bondage.

Think about it…

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Pardon me, please…

“Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.” Psalms 82:3, KJV

I don’t like bullies. I mean, I really don’t like bullies. I was bullied as a child growing up. At school and at home. My older brother was just plain mean. He got his way all the time. If you stood up to him, it would result in physical violence. At school, I was bullied for years. In elementary school, I was bullied by a kid that was much larger and stronger than myself. In junior high school, it was pretty much the same. In high school I was attacked by a carload of guys who thought I was someone else. I was beaten severely and it took weeks for the bruising and black eyes to go away. For years there was no place for me to go where I felt safe. As a result, I lived in constant fear.

I sought to spend as much time alone as I could. You see, by myself no one was there to bully me. I went out of my way to avoid contact with people. I went out of my way to avoid conflict. I did not like people very much.

I lived for years as a manpleaser to avoid conflict. Even as a Christian I suffered from the trauma I felt growing up.

This is why I don’t like bullies. So, when I come across someone or something that is wrong, especially where others are being bullied, I come across as harsh.

I have a tendency to be quiet or when I reach a point, I am direct and to the point, which people often interpret as being harsh. And I act, for I am no longer afraid.

Bullies are cowards. They only pick on others weaker than themselves. They use threats and intimidation to bully others into submission. Often they use their position of influence or power as a platform to attack others. It is even worse when the bully is one who parades as a “Christian Minister.”

So, if I sound harsh or rude or even “un-loving” you will have to pardon me. You see, I don’t like bullies.

Think about it…

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Blaming the Gift and the Giver…

 

“And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” Genesis 3:12, KJV

Unfortunately, we live in one of the most selfish societies that has ever existed. No one (well, almost no one) is willing to take responsibility for their actions. It is always someone else’s fault.

A very popular church leader (I wouldn’t call him a “Pastor” as he has no idea what the word means) has made the statement that if a Christian wife “lets herself go,” i.e., gains weight, she is no longer attractive to her husband. So, if he commits adultery with some “sweet young thing” guess what? It is his wife’s fault. Rarely have I heard a more ridiculous statement especially from someone who claims to be a servant of God. One would think that someone who teaches the Word would actually know the Word, you know? Sadly, all too often, it is not so. And this idea is increasingly becoming acceptable among Pastors (so-called).

Lets see what the Bible has to say about whose at fault when a husband commits adultery:

“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” (James 1:13-14, KJV)

James hits us right between the eyes, gentlemen: “…his own lust…” Okay, you can argue with me if you want, but if you argue with God, your stupid (just keep reading). Period. Lust exists within all of us. It is only brought out when we are tempted. Now remember, being tempted is no sin. Sin enters in when we entertain and then act on the temptation. Lust must be guarded against and kept under control by the Holy Spirit whom God has given us.

“But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding.” (Proverbs 6:32, KJV)

The word “understanding,” literally means, “the heart,” and also speaks of the feelings and the will. Committing the act of adultery demonstrates the stupidity of a man – sooner or later, it will be found out, and he knows it! Proverbs 7 speaks of the defense against this sin – Wisdom.

“The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein.” (Proverbs 22:14, KJV)

The word “abhorred” means, “to foam at the mouth,” i.e. to be enraged (Strongs Exhaustive Concordance). So vile is this sin in the eyes of the Lord, that He becomes enraged by such conduct. I believe that it is because this particular sin is such a betrayal of the wife’s trust. And God knows how betrayal feels. And He warns is in Malachi 2:15, “…let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.” (KJV)

Finally, just one more passage from Proverbs 31:30:

“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.” (KJV)

In addition to being selfish, society today is overwhelmed by sex. Everywhere, everyplace, we see signs and advertisements, as well as being bombarded with sex on television and the internet. The perfect body, hair, look, form; its everywhere. Young women especially are starving themselves, worrying themselves, even harming themselves because they don’t look like the photo shopped models in the magazines.

The truth is, sooner or later, beauty will fade. Hair will turn gray (if your lucky); hair will fall our (if your not lucky, like me); wrinkles will form (can you say Botox?); muscles will atrophy, metabolism will slow down, you will gain weight (ah, again, me) and gravity will win! And then, what is left? Only that which was real in the first place.

If your relationship with your wife (or husband) is solely based upon appearance, what a shallow relationship it is indeed. All too often it is true that “beauty is only skin deep.” What really matters, according to God, is “a woman who fears the Lord.”

So, perhaps the next time you think about blaming the Gift God has given you, your wife (if you are so blessed to have one who actually puts up with you) and the Giver, God, whose daughter she is and is enraged at any man who betrays her, you might want to stop. Are you really going to betray your wife by blaming her for your own lust? Really? It is bad enough to betray her trust, but then to go on and blame her for your acting on your own sinful desires is as bad a committing the act all over again. It only proves how stupid you really are.

And any church leader that makes such statements is stupid; he lacks understanding. And certainly does not know what God says on the subject.

Think about it…

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The Only Hope for Mankind…

My friend, Joe Dallas, over at his blog, http://joedallas.com/blog, has written a moving post entitled, “The Cruelest Lie.”  Always challenging, Joe’s post reminded me of a “visit” I took on a business trip several years ago (I have never written about, although I do not know why).  So, here it is…

In 1985, while on a business trip, I visited Bergen-Belsen concentration camp near Celle, Germany. This was the concentration camp where Anne Frank died, along with 50,000 other Dutch Jews. There really isn’t anything, as the Americans who liberated it burned the camp down because typhus was rampant.

Entering the grounds, there is a small “museum” with pictures of the victims, the Nazis, and the Allied liberators.  It was impossible to refrain from crying, even for a grown man.  Once I was thru the museum, I was struck by the silence.  No one spoke.  Most just stood or slowly moved thru the grounds.  What I observed were several rectangle raised flower beds.  The flowers were in bloom and were quite beautiful.  Then I realized that these “flower beds” were the “pits” dug by the Allied bulldozers to bury the dead.  The American commander was so incensed by what he saw, he sent troops into the nearby town of Bergen and forced the citizens at gunpoint to come and place the bodies into the “pits.”

The townspeople wept as, one by one, they placed the bodies into the mass graves.  They most certainly knew what was going on, but chose to ignore it.  Yet the German people were not alone in their complicity.  The United States as well as many other countries knew what was happening to the Jews, yet “chose to ignore it.”  No one was “innocent.”

When I left the concentration camp, profoundly shaken by the horror of what had occurred and by my own ignorance of history, I noticed bus loads of German Military personnel entering the grounds.  It seems that the German government requires that Military personnel see for themselves what was done years earlier so that no one “forget.” For a moment, I thought, perhaps there is hope for mankind after all.

Fast forward some 50 plus years later and my naiveté of that day has been revealed over and over again.  Throughout the world the same horrors are continually being repeated.  From the Sudan, to the Far East, to Russia, to Mexico and Latin and South America and even the United States “horror of abortion,” demonstrate the evil man prosecutes upon his fellow man.  The Bible describes it like this:

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” Genesis 6:5-6, KJV

Man has consistently demonstrated his inhumanity to his fellow man.  Yet man is not without hope, for there is a government coming of righteousness and peace through the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  God has invited all to participate in His Kingdom.  The Apostle Peter, wrote of the Only Hope for Mankind, in 1 Peter 1:3-5:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,  who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (NKJV)

Yet this hope is only for all who believe and receive His Son, Jesus the Messiah, the Savior of the World, the Only Hope for Mankind.  Do you have this hope?  God offers this “Hope” as a free gift.  It can be yours by faith today.

Think about it…

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How to have real strength…

John 15:5: “for without Me you can do nothing.” (NKJV)

Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (NKJV)

These are two verses of Scripture that we must commit to memory. They are fundamental to real strength in the life of the believer.

If we depend upon ourselves, we will forget about Christ; if we depend upon Christ, we will forget about ourselves. Then, and only then, can we have real strength sufficient to live our lives for Him.

Think about it…

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A word from the Prince of Preachers…

“Behold, I am vile.” — Job 40:4

One cheering word, poor lost sinner, for thee! You think you must not come to God because YOU are vile. Now, there is not a saint living on earth but has been made to feel that he is vile. If Job, and Isaiah, and Paul were all obliged to say “I am vile,” oh, poor sinner, wilt thou be ashamed to join in the same confession? If divine grace does not eradicate all sin from the believer, how dost thou hope to do it thyself? and if God loves His people while they are yet vile, dost thou think thy vileness will prevent His loving thee? Believe on Jesus, thou outcast of the world’s society! Jesus calls thee, and such as thou art.

“Not the righteous, not the righteous; Sinners, Jesus came to call.”

Even now say, “Thou hast died for sinners; I am a sinner, Lord Jesus, sprinkle Thy blood on me”; if thou wilt confess thy sin thou shalt find pardon. If, now, with all thy heart, thou wilt say, “I am vile, wash me,” thou shalt be washed now. If the Holy Spirit shall enable thee from thy heart to cry

Just as I am, without one plea But that Thy blood was shed for me, And that thou bidd’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come!”

thou shalt rise from reading this morning’s portion with all thy sins pardoned; and though thou didst wake this morning with every sin that man hath ever committed on thy head, thou shalt rest to-night accepted in the Beloved; though once degraded with the rags of sin, thou shalt be adorned with a robe of righteousness, and appear white as the angels are. For “now,” mark it, “Now is the accepted time.” If thou “believest on Him who justifieth the ungodly thou art saved.” Oh! may the Holy Spirit give thee saving faith in Him who receives the vilest.

Charles Spurgeon

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