Know-it-All’s

“To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend, Even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” Job 6:14, NKJV

Over the years, I have judged by some of the best. You see, it is unfortunate, but Job’s comforters still exist. There are those who just can’t seem to keep from judging everything you say and do.

Now it is important to understand that Job was not guilty of any wrongdoing: “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” Job 1:22, NKJV

Job’s “friends” told him that it was obvious that he had some sin that, while though he had did it from men, he could not hid it from God. And God was judging him for his sin. Now essentially Job told them, “even if I had forsaken the fear of the Almighty, you ‘men of God’ should show me kindness.”

Now, at the end of the book, God speaks and says, “Who are these who don’t know what they are talking about?” If you have been a victim of these know-it-all’s you know how Job feels. Lord knows, I do.

But that is another story.

Think about it…

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Tragedy in the Church

“Ruling out the discernment and leadership of the Holy Spirit is the only possible explanation for the manner in which Christian churches have yielded to the temptation to entertain.”

A.W. Tozer wrote this before his death in 1963, yet it is still applicable. That is because his words were the Holy Spirits words, that which He desired to declare.

There are those who don’t like Tozer, believing him to be harsh, even judgmental. In his day, there were those who disliked him as well.

Harley Howard, a contemporary of Tozer, wrote, “unquestionably (Tozer) one of the greatest men who ever preached the Bible, was a man ridiculed while he lived because he was so ‘out of touch’ with the religious establishment around him. What made him so ‘out of touch’ with those around him was the fact that he was so “in touch” with God.”

Perhaps, man of God, you are discouraged because you are not appearing to have an “impact” (as men measure “impact”). Perhaps men have accused you of being out of touch because you do not join in the “entertainment.” Perhaps you are not the one who is out of touch?

Think about it…

 

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The Goodness of God

“The goodness of God leads you to repentance…” Romans 2:4 (NKJV)

In the midst of warning men about the consequences of their sins, Paul writes the above sentence. He is telling us that the call to repentance is because God is good! When God calls the unbeliever or believer to repentance, it is because of His goodness towards us.

The enemy of our faith is constantly lying to us about God. His lies usually go something like this:

“God is trying to keep you from having fun… He is keeping something good from you… if you give these things up, your life will be a drag…”

The truth is, when God is asking us to turn away from sin, it is for two reasons:

1. He desires to protect us. Paul goes on to tell us in Romans the consequences (wages) of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Following the world and the things of the world has only one consequence – death. So, God in calling us to turn away (repent) from the things of the world, He is protecting us from a life time of pain and sorrow (even though it may seem like fun now) and eventual death.

2. He desires to provide for us. Submitting your life to God is not the drag the enemy of our faith says it is. John the beloved says, “His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3, NKJV). Inspired by the Holy Spirit, these words are true. God cannot lie! He has something significantly better for your life right now! Abundant life now and life eternal with Him.

Now, let me say that the Christian life is difficult. Jesus said it best: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14, NKJV)

It is difficult to be a Christian. Jesus said so. But it is even more difficult to continue in sin. So, when He calls us to repent, it is because of His goodness towards us.

I believe that we are living on the edge of eternity. At any time Jesus could return for His Church. Will we be ready? Will He find us in sin, complacent, absorbed by the things of the world? Or will He find us working, watching and waiting?

Think about it…

 

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Wake Up America?

Today is the National Day of Prayer. The theme is “Wake Up America.” The idea is that Our Nation need to “wake up,” and return to it’s Christian roots. The problem is, its not “America” that needs to wake up.

It may surprise you to realize, that the problem with America is not the problem. Think about it… America is not the problem. The problem is… wait for it… the Church in America.

2 Chronicles 7:14: “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” NKJV

Here you have it. You may not like it, especially if you are a Christian. I mean, where Christians, right? We love God, we go to church, we do our best to obey Him. He loves us. Right? But the Bible lays the problem at the feet of His people, the Church.

God is longsuffering, but His patience is not eternal. Repentance by His People is key to put off or even avoid judgment. Our example? Israel. Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel… they all understood the necessity of repentance. And the result was the blessing of God.

So, who needs to wake up? Think about it…

 

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Church – Option or Obedience, pt. 1

Introduction

We live in a time of great religious confusion, both within and without the church. Even the definition of the word “church” has become one of confusion for many (and will be addressed in later articles in this series).

Our time, though, is not without example. At the end of the Book of Judges we read, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25, NKJV). Israel was a theocracy, i.e., a nation was founded by God, to be governed by God, with it’s leaders appointed by and responsible to, God. We read of the promise He gave to Jacob in Genesis 35:10-12:

“And God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.’ So He called his name Israel. Also God said to him: ‘I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land.’” (NKJV)

The first leader of Israel as a nation was Moses. After his death, God raised up Joshua as a secular governor and Eleazar (son of Aaron) son ministered as high priest.

Joshua was followed by a series of judges who served alongside a series of high priests. In Judges 2:10, the bible explains what follows, “When all that generation (to whom Moses personally ministered) had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.” (NKJV) The nation turned from God to serving idols, which began a cycle of sin, bondage and deliverance as God repeatedly raised up judges through whom He would deliver His people. This cycle continued until, as we read in the end of the book of Judges, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Now, move forward to our day and the religious confusion that is rampant. Since our nation is not a theocracy, we do not have a central religious figure working alongside the government. In fact, our constitution forbids the state from interfering with the church. So, according to the constitution, we are free to worship (or not) as we choose without fear of the state.

The various religious groups, sects, denominations and non-denominations demonstrate that religious confusion is the case in our world.

For the most part, each claims that the other is wrong, if not in word, certainly in practice. Dogma has replaced doctrine and the commandments of men are taught in place of the bible. Inclusion is in, intolerance is out (as long as you agree with those who are “tolerant”; if not, they you are labeled as “intolerant”). People are “saved” because they walk the isle and are baptized in our building. Compliance to the Word of God is seen as legalism and compromise with the edicts of the world is adhered to as truth.

Certainly, the world has influenced the church instead of the church influencing the world. And because we have replace the Word of God with our own version of truth, “everyone does what was right in his own eyes.”

Solution

The solution to the religious confusion in our day is to return to the Lord and to the truth of His word. Simple yes, but painful most certainly. As with Israel, we can return from the bondage we currently suffer from by repenting and seeking Him with our whole heart. And therein is the pain. Too often we are all too willing to want without obedience.

God gives us the prescription we need from His word: “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13, NKJV) Until we are willing to do this, we will continue in our religious confusion.

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Church – Option or Obedience?

I am planning on addressing in a series of blogs a subject that one of my good friends recently addressed in his blog. That problem is, for the lack of a better term, the problem with church, that is, the institution that is currently masquerading as the church and the true church.
I, unlike my friend, am not articulate or gifted writer. I realize my shortcomings and my inefficiencies in writing on this subject. So, I will write from an observational viewpoint, both as a former full time pastor and as one who is on the outside looking within (and looking for a place to call home).
I will probably raise questions which is good; however, my goal is to seek answers from the Word of God and not the opinions of men. I mean no disrespect to any by making this statement. I am just trying to clarify my intentions.
I also realize that we all have our “slant” towards proper interpretation (as we have been taught). But to be honest, the possibility of being wrong is very real for all of us (at least on some things, how ever unlikely …insert note of humor here to break tension…) and convictions regarding interpretations die hard (as well they should). It is important what we believe and why we believe it – it is a question of life and death. But it is also important to be teachable.
As I pray about this subject and outline issues that I believe must be address, I realize that there are a variety of topics that need to be address under this heading. So, while having no set schedule, posts will be up from time to time.
Unfortunately the solution is not as simple as, “because the bible says so.” I hope we can prayerfully examine the issues of our day so that together, we can properly discern by carful examination the truth as God defines it.
Think about it…

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Remembering to Remember

“And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 1:14, NKJV)

Here, in the first chapter of his first epistle to Timothy, Paul recounts his past: “…I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man…” Let’s look at the terms Paul used to describe his former self:

“A blasphemer.”  This word literally means, “abusive, speaking evil.”  It is always used in reference to God, speaking evil of Him, slandering His Name and Character.  Paul was a blasphemer because he denied the deity of Jesus Christ and forced others to deny Him, under threat of death, as well.

“An insolent man.” This word is defined as “a persecutor.”  Paul is referring to his persecuting Christians before his conversion.  To the church in Galatia, he wrote, “…I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.”  (Galatians 1:13, NKJV)

“An insolent man.”  This word means, “a violent, insolent man.”  Paul was a bully. He opposed and sought the torture and death of all who believed on Jesus.

Often, we cannot forget the past even though we have been forgiven.  And because we dwell on it, the enemy of our faith tries to make us feel guilty for that which we have been forgiven.  This is false guilt.  If God has forgiven us, and He will never remember our past sins, why should we feel guilty?  We shouldn’t.  But, alas, we often do.  We all have regrets, but we need not feel guilty about the past.  It’s forgiven, it’s gone.  We need not concern ourselves with it.

However, we should remember our past for one very good reason:  We realize the exceeding, abundant grace God has bestowed upon us.  Paul said it, “And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”

Now the question is, “how could God forgive someone who so publically denied Jesus Christ and murdered Christians?”  The answer is the mercy and grace of God. Paul deserved death. No one who knew his past would deny that.  Yet, God forgave Paul and bestowed His Grace upon him.  His unmerited favor toward one who in no way deserved it.

Now, one last question:  If God so abundantly forgive someone like Paul, why are you, O Christian, struggling with forgiveness?  God has bestowed upon you His mercy and grace, just like Paul.  Your sins are forgiven and He will never remember them.  And regret is just forgiveness unrealized.

Next time your thoughts start to bother you about the past, remember the exceedingly abundant Grace of God that He bestowed upon Paul.  And remember that He has shown us the same exceedingly abundant Grace with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.

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