The Need of God-fearing Men

The Need of God-Fearing Men

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In Pasadena Texas there used to be a huge Baptist Church on Vista Blvd.  This is the church that I made my public confession of faith in.  The attendance there was probably close to 200 on a Sunday morning, and at least half of that on Sunday evening and Wednesday evening services.  Later I moved to the state of Washington and attended a Baptist church in Roy.  This little country church was packed every service, and even had a radio tower that they used to broadcast their services our over the radio station.  A few year later I moved back to Texas and wound up briefly attending several churches that also had high attendance and great outreaches and ties into the surrounding communities.  In between these churches, I attended several other churches, as I tended to move quite a bit.  I have also had the opportunity to preach at several different churches of various sizes.  In looking back over these churches I could see something that seems insignificant to most, but stands out to me.  There was a difference in the churches that were growing and involved in the community and those who were dying, or at least in peaceful slumber.  The churches that had a fervent men’s ministry were the ones that were growing.

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When we look at what makes a church not only survive, but to thrive in an area, we can look at a lot of different factors.  Many studies go into looking at the local demographics of the area.  What is the income level?  What is the major ethnic population?  What is the major health or poverty driven issue?  What is the current and projected economic climate? Are jobs on the increase or the decrease?  How many children per home?  How many single mother homes are in the populace?   All of these are good questions, and can help to develop outreach opportunities and meet the needs of the people surrounding the church.  However; this information does little to spur the motivation of the church to do anything. We often look at aging churches and try to find ways to get youth programs off the ground.  The idea is that without youth in the church, the church will silently die of old age.  This is true in more than one way.  But what I am speaking of is something more fundamental.  We need men in the church to have a heart for, and to be, active in sharing the Gospel of Christ.

I heard a story one time concerning Charles Spurgeon and his boiler room.  The story goes that some college students came to see Charles Spurgeon preach.  They had arrived early and as they waited, a man from the church offered to give them a tour.  The guide took them into one room, referred to as the “heating plant”.  In this room were an estimated 700 saints praying.  The guide, who turned out to be Charles Spurgeon himself, explained that the secret to his success is not him at all.  Mr. Spurgeon explained that the power of the Holy Spirit was at work in answering the prayers of these saints that desire another soul would be saved.  The secret to these successful churches was the presence of an active, praying Men’s Ministry.

I want to make something clear.  Men’s Ministry is not an event driven service.  It is great to have the Men’s Ministry around to do all of the heavy lifting at an events like VBS or at a Kid’s Festival or a Fall Festival, however; that is not the only way the men should be of value in the church ministry.  They should be intimately involved in every aspect of the ministry of the local church and their families.

Each of these churches I attended that were growing had an active men’s ministry that prayed before, during, and after every service.  They arrived hours ahead of time, and remained as long as needed.  They painted, moved furniture, worked the plumbing, cut the grass and did many other things.  In fact, in the church in Roy, Washington we all met one Saturday morning and worked all day spreading truckloads of rocks around to make a new parking lot and did other landscaping items.  We were there from before the sun came up, until the sun went down.  The ladies brought us food and water as we worked. In all of these churched, men were subject to the Spirit of God and had a desire to see one more soul saved.  Men are the leaders in the church.  When I was in the Army, I learned that Leaders lead by example, and from the front, not the rear.  A leader does not sit in an office and dictate to others what needs to be done.  A leader teaches, demonstrates, and then supervises what needs to be accomplished.  A leader takes personal responsibility in the accomplishment of the mission. This is what an effective Men’s Ministry does.

These men, of the Men’s Ministry, lead by active service.  John 13:12-15 says, “So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for [so] I am. If I then, [your] Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”   This shows us how important this principle of leadership in the church is to Christ.  He himself made a point to ensure the disciples understood that in order to be a leader in the kingdom they must lead in service of the kingdom.  We forget that Jesus actively disciple all of these men.  I know what you’re saying, “Of course he did, that’s why we call them ’the disciples’”.  However, when we get a young man in the church we do not grow them into elders.  Instead we just hope that they will eventually figure it out, stay long enough, or the Lord will instruct them himself.  We forget that we, as men have been given a ministry towards other men. Men need to be disciple in the church.  Men need to be held to a standard and accountability.  These effective Men’s Ministries that I witness did not wait for some young or new male church member to approach them.  These men actively recruited all men in attendance at the church.  To be honest, most did not even care if you were a member of the church, they just wanted to get you active in spiritual growth.

I showed up at one of these churches early one morning.  While waiting for the rest of my family to arrive, an elder from the church came up and asked me my name.  I told him, and he smiled and said, “Well, Mr. Harvey, you’re just in time for the prayer meeting.”  Then he conducted me to an upstairs room where 12 other men were already praying.  The Pastor ducked his head in right before the door closed and told them some names to add to the list and disappeared.  Just like that I was in the Men’s Ministry.  I joined the church that service.  That was all it took.

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Men’s ministry assists the church, as the men in the church are disciple to mature faith and understanding of the scriptures, their roles in the family, local church, the Kingdom of God, and community. The Men’s Ministry is the place where this close discipleship can occur through fellowship, study, accountability, counsel.  Most of all the Men’s Ministry servers through men fervently praying for their families, the church, community, and one another in the unity of group prayer meetings.  There is nothing the devil can defeat a church with that has a group of righteous men praying in earnest for the spreading of the gospel.

Men, the apostle James tell us in his epistle that we should confess our sins to one another.  We should also pray for one another.  Then James tell us that the powerful passionate prayer of a righteous man is very advantageous to the plea being made. (James 5:16)  Wow!  Now imagine how powerful a whole group of such men praying together in agreement before the Almighty God would be, especially with the Spirit of God praying right along beside them, in perfect communion with the God, the Creator of the universe.  Prayer then is the foundation of the men’s ministry.  However, it also includes mentorship in Christ.  Group study of the Word, and proper fellowship.

Fellowship in scripture is not just having coffee before services, or having a lunch after Sunday morning services.  I includes, but is not limited to Men’s Breakfasts, prayer groups, and bible studies.  The word for fellowship in the Greek has a deeper meaning.  It means to share on one’s self.  This means that we should be living in fellowship.  We should be involved in one another’s lives.  We should be giving towards one another.  We should be living with one another on a daily basis.  Giving time, money, food, encouragement, advice, and emotional and spiritual support to one another.  This is what happened in the early church, they gave sacrificially to one another, even to other churches.  Another thing to consider is spiritual leadership.

The man is to be a spiritual leader in the church and in the home.  1 Corinthians 16:13 says, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong”.  This means that we should be like men of wisdom who have understanding.  We should act like mature men, not like children.  We should be strong in doctrine, not carried away by every spirit.  We should search the scriptures to test what we have been told and what we interpret concerning scripture.  We should be proficient and able to identify truth from error.  We, men, should be able to instruct others on the meaning of the scriptures.  We should have the backbone to stand up for what is good and right before God.  In this age of effeminized men we need men who can show themselves as men.  Men who set the example of righteousness, no matter what the cost.  Men who lead.  If a woman goes to church, she will undoubtable drag her children with her.  The husband may not go.  She has no authority to make him.  The children, especially the boys will have a divided desire.

The boys will develop a resentment with one parent or the other, and the church.  This is because, boys want to be like their fathers.  The hidden message in their heart will be on of, “If dad doesn’t have to go, why should I?”  In all honesty, that is a very good question. If the father does not put any emphasis on church attendance then their children will fail to realize the importance of the church, Sunday school, or even Christ himself.  However; if the father goes to church then everyone goes to church.   He has that authority.  The wife who wishes to please her husband will go.  The children who see that both parents are in attendance will desire to go, because the importance of the church is recognized by both parents.  More so if the father is actively involved in the church.  Then the children see that a relationship with Christ is of most importance.   The child who understands the importance of a relationship with Christ will tell their friends, and invite them to church to meet Christ.  A family who worships Christ together, grows in love towards one another, the church, and in Christ Jesus.

The Church does not need to change its culture to make themselves more attractive to society.  To much of that nonsense has already happened.  We don’t need men that are effeminate, unsure of scripture, afraid to confront evil, or not daring enough to step on a few toes for Christ. What the church needs is a culture where men are righteous, caring, and active in their families, the church and community.  Men that are bold in their profession of faith.  Men that stand up for what is right.  Men who confront evil no matter what the personal cost. Men who would rather step on a toe or two in love, rather than see someone waist their life and die and go to hell.

When God made mankind, he first made a male and put him to have dominion over all of his creation. When Jesus selected his apostles, out of thousands of men, women, and children; he chose men.  When the disciples gathered together to replace Judas Iscariot, out of over a hundred men and women gathered together, the Holy Spirit chose a man. When the first deacons for the church were chosen, the Holy Spirit of God chose men.  The first recorded martyr was also a man.  The Holy Spirit moves through righteous men.  I am not saying that the Holy Spirit does not use women also, however; there seems to be no shortage of active women in the church today.  That being said, this is why scripture encourages men saying, “if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” (1 Timothy 3:1) You see the Lord wants men to desire to be of service.  He says that it is a good thing to have a desire to be of service; teaching, preaching, caring for the flock.  Then he gives some criteria.

I know what you are most likely thinking.  This is the criteria that he gives for pastors and deacons, however; shouldn’t all Christian men strive for these?  He says that a man of God should be blameless.  There should be no cause for accusation in his life.  He should have a clean witness both in and out of the church.  He should be the husband of one wife.  This man should have no eyes for any other woman than his wife.  He should have no mistresses, or practice polygamy.  He should be vigilant.  This means he should be aware of his surroundings. Attentive to the needs of others.  Aware of the dangers of the enemy about him.  He should be sober.  He should be of a good nature and not into mischief.  He is temperate, not into brawling, or striking others.  He does not boast or throw his weight around trying to impress himself.  The list goes on, and then includes some very specific things for the bishop. (1 Timothy 3:1-13; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Titus 1:5-9)

These are the things that we should be shepherding and disciplining young men in the way. This is the culture that we should seek to have in the men of our churches.  Real men who stand up for God and that do not let anything stop them from seeking the will of the Lord.  Men like this who pray together have a great effect on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in a church.  In Ezekiel 34 we can read that there are dire consequences for Israel because the shepherds of Israel failed their duties.  Israel became scattered having no leadership.  The people became the victims of wolves and beasts of prey.  They were weak and sickly.  This sounds like some churches you may know, does it not?

Something else to be aware of in Ezekiel 34:1-10, the Lord says, “I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock”.  Now let us move to Revelation chapter 3.  “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” (Revelation 3:15-17) Remember the Lord is talking to the members of the church.  He says that they have become self-sufficient and think that they have everything and that they have lost their zeal.  They are not doing the things of the Lord.  Because of this they are worthless to him, and he will spew them out.  Ever wonder if a church closed because God wished them to close?  They had become slipshod and non-responsive to the Spirit and the Lord simply pulled their charter.

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Men of God you must understand that you are important to the ministry of your local Church.  In fact, you are an invaluable asset to your church.  Your skills and craftsmanship are a great asset to the church, but your leadership and compassion for others has a far more reaching effect.  You have knowledge and understanding that some young man needs to tap into to see the working of Christ in his life.  We need men of God engaged in the fight for what is good, and right, and virtuous. (Philippians 4:8) These are the things that we should be doing.  We should learn to do well, seek judgement, relieve the oppressed, and protect the orphans and widows.  (Isaiah 1:17) This is the work that God has for men.

The 7 Beatitudes of The Book of Revelation

When you speak with people about the Book of the Revelation they almost always have a dark, mystic view. They see the events described in the text as worrisome events that haunt their minds and cause dread and fear to lurk in their hearts. Revelation however is meant as an encouragement to the believer.

How many times have we sat and asked the Lord. “Why do the bad guys always seem to win?”, or “Do you even care what is going on down here?” Even David wrote. “Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph? How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves? They break in pieces thy people, O Lord, and afflict thine heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless. Yet they say, The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.” (Psalm 94:3-7)

Revelation is an answer to these questions, you see God is not mocked (Galatians 6:7). The Lord has had a plan of redemption from the very beginning of time. You see when man fell, God was not surprised by the Adam’s choice to rebel against him. He instituted his plan of salvation (Genesis 3:15). Revelation is God’s message of love to those who have been faithful. Those who have suffered for Christ. Those who have been obedient. In fact throughout Revelation you find seven blessings that are given to the faithful. They are referred to as the Seven Beatitudes of Revelation.

The Seven Beatitudes of Revelation

  • Revelation 1:3 – Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
  • Revelation 14:13 – And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
  • Revelation 16:15 – Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
  • Revelation 19:9 – And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
  • Revelation 20:6 – Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
  • Revelation 22:7 – Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
  • Revelation 22:14 – Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates in to the city.

You see my fellow believer you have nothing to fear in the Revelation of Jesus Christ. This is the Lord revealing the end game. He is giving this as a means of encouragement to the persecuted. Yes there are warnings to the unfaithful, and to the enemies of Christ. However, to the believer there are strong words of encouragement. We get to see how the Lord, does in fact, have a plan to conquer the enemy. So then read Revelation with joy and thanksgiving in your hearts!

Wake Up Christians in America

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The Christian Post reported on a study that was released by Gordon-Conwell’s Center for the Study of Global Christianity; which said,that over 900,000 Christians were Martyred for their faith in the last 10 years. This plays out to an average of one Christian being martyred every 4-6 minutes. In America we would like to think that the martyrdom of the saints is a thing of ancient past.

We have books in our bookshelf that give descriptions of the early church and other time periods where Christians were martyred, sometimes by other christian sects. We pull the book down and haphazardly read an account and say, wow, I would have stood up just like that Christian. We then pat ourselves on the back, because we are such a good christian and then put the book back on the shelf, and sit into our lazy chair to watch some comedian on TV made fun of Christians or God. In truth, persecution of Christians world wide is higher than it has ever been.

In the 20th and 21st Centuries, more Christians were martyred than any other time in history. That means that more Christians have died, for their faith, in the last 118 years than in the preceding 19 Centuries. The numbers are growing, while we sit and grow fat.  We bury our heads in the sand and tell ourselves it does not concern us.  Yet this relentless murder of Christians is pandemic of the entire world, including in America, where violent and legal attacks are carried out on a routine basis against Christians.  NE News Now reported that across the globe there are more than 200 million Christians that are threatened because of their faith. This is a consensus revealed in 105 of the 190 nations in the world.

All of this goes on while,in American church, we have watered down gospel. A gospel that actually is not the gospel is preached instead.  We have become a nation of Christians who have ears that itch to have pleasing self-centered, even devilish doctrines entreated to us. World know preachers of mega churches go on interview after interview and openly proclaim that they do not teach the gospel, because there is no money in it. Instead, the church in America had been inundated with a “name it and claim it” gospel. Sin and consequences are not discussed in the pulpit. American churches have desecrated themselves before God and man, and no longer stand for the truth.  Instead of confronting sexual immortality, and infant murder, they welcome it into their churches and in some- even ordain that which should be expelled.

Self-help and the way to financial happiness have become the mantra of the mainstream American church. We are so absorbed and praying for that new house, or new car, or other ways of pleasing our own covetous desires that we have left God out or our churches, schools, business, legislation, families, and our own hearts. We no longer care to reach the lost, instead we try not to offend them and try to act like them, to show how accepting we are.  We have lost the love that gives us the need to be objective and warn the lost that they will die in their sin without accepting the truth of Jesus.  We have become the ones that the Lord said, “In that day, I will say, depart from me for I never knew you.”

You know how I know this? Take a look at John 15:18-27.
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.He that hateth me hateth my Father also.If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

Here Jesus says that the world will hate you. We can expect this because it hates Jesus. A young Pakistani Christian invited some friends and family to his home after he was converted from Islam to Christianity. He showed them the Jesus movie. They told him that if he didn’t stop showing that movie he would be killed. He continued his mission, and invited another small group to his home and showed them the Jesus movie. Two nights later, a group of men stole into his home and cut him to pieces. Stabbing this young Christian to death because of his love for Jesus.

Jesus said that if you were of the world the would would love it’s own. But because you are of the Kingdom of Heaven, the world doesn’t know you. Because they do not know you, they hate you. You are reminder to them of sin that they are guilty of. You are a reminder that there is a just and righteous God who will judge sin, and who will destroy all who live in sin. They hate you because you have spoken to them and revealed sin. This is the same reason they hated Jesus.

But Jesus said that he has sent us a comforter, the Holy Spirit. Who indwells all who believe. The Spirit of God in Christ is who gives us the ability and courage to speak the truth. We, who believe, are not concerned with these worldly issues. Who cares who said what? Who cares about that new car, or new house? We are not of this world. We are just passing through while on mission. We are missionaries of Jesus, each one of us. We are here to do exactly what Jesus did, bear witness to the truth. We are here to tell the whole truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are here to expose the lie of the false teachers and false prophets who teach that God will give you a new boat if you just pray hard enough or give enough money to their false religion.  We are here to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.  People are dying for Christ.  However, allot more are dying without Christ.  “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).  Maybe we need to stand up, before there are none of us left to bring the message.

Ref:

https://www.christianpost.com/news/over-900000-christians-martyred-for-their-faith-in-last-10-years-report.html

https://onenewsnow.com/persecution/2015/09/20/every-5-minutes-a-christian-is-martyred

https://www.christianpost.com/voice/christians-massacred-call-to-grieve.html

https://www.christianpost.com/news/nigeria-christians-slaughtered-by-fulani-militants-at-baby-dedication-children-among-the-dead.html

Fascination with Isaiah

Isaiah

The Book of Isaiah has always fascinated me.  There is so much to discover in these pages.  Isaiah among other things discusses the future tribulation and the millennial kingdom; the salvation of the Servant-Messiah and God’s plan for peace.  There has been allot of debate over who authored the Isaiah scrolls and when they were made.  The debate is very important because it either validates or lays to naught the prophetic aspects of the book of Isaiah.  The prophetic nature of Isaiah is extremely important to Judaism and Christianity alike.

For Christianity the importance of Isaiah can be revealed in the number of times it is references.  The prophet Isaiah is referred to approximately eighty-five times in the New Testament.   While some of these are repeated references there are still at least sixty-one passages in Isaiah that are used as a single reference. 

Jesus launched his ministry by reading from the school of Isaiah.  This shows the necessity of the accuracy of the book of Isaiah.  Jesus could not have said that he is fulfilling this scripture if it was not already accepted as scripture by the Jews of his time. Here is the portrayal recorded by Luke.  

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.  (Luke 10:416-21).

The New Testament the Book of Acts chapter 8 refers to a Eunuch that was converted to Christianity by the use of the scriptures recorded in Isaiah and how they related to prophecy fulfilled by Jesus Christ.  The Lord sent Phillip to meet with this man to teach him from Isaiah all the things concerning Jesus. The man believe and was subsequently baptized. 

How great a find was discovered in 1947 among the Dead Sea Scrolls.  In this archeological find was located an intact and in “perfect” condition, 2nd Century BC scroll of the text of Isaiah.  It has been compared to the oldest know text, about 980 AD and is astonishingly accurate.  In fact, scholars have concluded that it is an exact copy. This lays waist to claims that the prophecies of Isaiah concerning the Servant-Messiah, the Millennial Kingdom, and God’s Plan of Peace were added later in time by editors of the text.   You see if you believe in divine inspiration then you must also believe in divine preservation.  If God cared enough to inspire the writers of the Bible then surely he would preserve that message also.

If he preserved it then we can trust what is written.  We can trust the prophecies.  We can trust the fulfillment of the prophecy.  We can look forward to the restoration of Israel.  We know that Jerusalem will be the capital of the world because we know the prophecy of our Lord establishing his kingdom here on earth in Jerusalem for 1000 years.  Through the seed of Abraham the whole world, every nation, all of creation will be blessed.  We know this because the scripture has been preserved by God himself. 

We also know this.  That Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53.  When it says, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).   That means that Jesus did actually take our burdens of sin and he carried our sorrows and despairs to the cross.  It also means that we witnessed the chastisement of God that he took for us.  He was beaten, and mocked, and died for his love of mankind.  Jesus took our punishment like a loving older brother takes the blame for his siblings.  He died for us.  We know this because scripture prophesied this.  We know this because the New Testament recorded it for us.  We can trust it because God himself preserved the witness in the accuracy of the text.  This is the truth that sets you free.  Jesus was sacrificed to pay the debt of sin for you and for me.  We are indebted to Jesus for our very lives. By accepting this truth he promises to give us a life that we cannot comprehend.  He said a more abundant life!  More life than we know of.  That is amazing love.    

Look at James and Hebrews

James talked about enduring trials, but what kinds of trials was James talking about?  I found this in Hebrews and thought that it was applicable to what we are discussing.  It is important for us to understand that faith results in actions.  Sometimes these actions are quite sever.  However, going through these trials build us up in Christ and gives us the endurance needed to run our race well.  Below is a table that shows some people in the Old Testament who were tested.


Two things of note.  First, in Hebrews 11:29 the author briefly mentions when Israel crossed the Red Sea. Now something that may be overlooked in the casual reading of this little verse… each individual had to make a decision to trust God and pass through the waters.  Any one who would have stayed behind, even though they would be “elect” of God would have died at the hands of Egypt (the World system). Those who truly believed God and used that faith to move forward were spared death.  Without faith in God they would have never moved. 

  
Second is the entirety of Hebrews 11:35-40 shows the trials that others before us have had to go through.  These things they endured not only demonstrated their faith, but; gave a benefit for us. Without these martyrs we would not have examples of what faith looks like in action.  We would not have the benefit of being able to trust in the Lord without seeing the faithfulness of God in their sufferings.  We could even go so far as to say that without the trials of the faithful who have gone before us, we would not know God.  Why then do we go through trials.   

Hebrews 11:17-33

FaithWhoAction
By
Faith
AbrahamOffered Isaac in obedience of faith and trust in God
By
Faith
IsaacBlessed Jacob and Esau’s future trusting the promise of God
By
Faith
Jacob When dying Blessed his sons future trusting the promise of God
By
Faith
JosephCommanded his bones be brought out of Egypt; believing God
By
Faith
Moses’ ParentsHid him 3 months without fear
By
Faith
MosesRefused to be a son of the Pharaoh’s daughter
By
Faith
MosesForsook Egypt
Through
Faith
MosesKept the Passover in obedience through faith
By
Faith
Moses and IsraelPassed through the Red Sea in obedience through faith
By
Faith
Joshua and IsraelFell the Walls of Jericho by obedience to the Lord
By
Faith
RehabReceived mercy salvation
Through FaithVarious JudgesSubdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, etc… all through obedience in faith

Take some time this week to search out these examples and see what these saints did because of their faith.  If we believe that Jesus is the Lord and stand in that faith, then we will receive trials.  Trials are a good thing. Trials help us to grow and mature in our faith.  Trials help us to trust more on the Lord and his promises.  Trials help others to trust in the Lord and give an opportunity for others to learn how to respond in trials, and to encourage their own faith and endurance.

Luke 15:11-32 – What About My Child?

Ref: Luke 15:11-32

I spoke with a friend a day or two ago.  She was concerned because her son was getting old enough to leave the fold now.  She was concerned with the usual things that we as parents get concerned about.  If you have lived through this, or are currently going through this situation, then you know what I am talking about.  This is a heart wrenching time for a parent.  It has been 18 years where the mom and dad have been caring for the needs of their child.  They have tried hard to prepare them for this inevitable day.  All their hopes and aspirations are tied up in the fruition of the life of labor and love they have poured into their little baby, who is now a young adult.  Have they been good parents?

What if their young one fails?  How will they be able to help?  Will their child ask for help?  Did I prepare them enough for them to be successful? But probably the most heart wrenching question for a Christian parent is, “Will they continue in their faith?” Will they walk away from God and never return?

In a study done by Lifeway Research, author Ed Stetzer, relays that 70 percent of high school students who attended church on a regular basis, for at least one year, will stop going to church during their years of higher education.  There are allot of reasons for this, but most do not intentionally stop going to church.  That is, it is not that they could not wait to get away from their oppressive Christian parents so that they could leave their archaic religion.  Most just get caught up in their new busy life.  Juggling of study, school, work, and the development of new friendships distract them from their previous priorities.  Some will get distracted for a while, maybe some for several years, but most will eventually return.  Probably when they start their own families.  There are a few who will get distracted far beyond measure.  Some will forsake their childhood upbringing in favor of some college professor’s views, or do the world views on life, sex, and politics that permeate the college campuses. We can find throughout scripture examples to prove that the Lord does not abandon his children.

In Luke chapter 15 we find the story of the prodigal son.  In this story the youngest son makes a plea for his half of the inheritance and leaves home.  This rebellious son then squanders his fortunes in a foreign land and winds up being homeless and penniless.  After much soul searching he decides to return home and beg forgiveness in hopes that he can work on the family estate as a hired hand.  When he returns his father is overjoyed.  The father’s love overflows from deep in his heart and he rejoices over the return of his son with a great feast and a party.  The oldest son, who remained obedient is put off with this forgiveness his younger sibling received.  He is caught up in his own selfish interests to see the miracle that has happened.

This story has many different points at which we can tear it apart and find some universal truth or a great life application.  I have many times used this parable as a part of my testimony, because I was also a wayward son who had returned.  If you are not familiar with this story it can be found in Luke 15:11-32.

Here in this passage we see a man that did everything right.  He raised his kids in a God-fearing home.  He taught them the value of good hard work. He taught them about the Lord.  He taught him the customs of their people, and how to be good men.  He instructed them in the way of their faith.  Yet one of his children fell away.  This is the case for many of us parents. 

We can teach, and discipline, and hold our breath till we are blue in the face, but some of our children will go away form their faith.  We can do everything right.  Still our loved one abandons the truth and rebels against God.  I should also mention that we can do everything wrong, and yet our child finds God.  The point here is that faith is a personal decision.  Our job is to pray for them, teach them, and reinforce the instructions of life and hope in Christ.  Teach them the wisdom of knowing God and the advantages of living a godly lifestyle.  We are to give them an understanding of God that they can use in life’s decisions.  But the decision is up to them.  Each man (woman) is responsible to God for themselves.  This is why the father rejoiced. 

The father in Luke 15 knew when his son asked for his share of the inheritance and left that he was already lost before his feet his the road.  He also knew that he could not stop him.  He knew that while his son was in rebellion that he was already dead spiritually.  I am sure that his heart was broken.  Something that we cannot miss though.  The father knew his son had to make the decisions. 

When his youngest son asked for the money his father did not argue with him.  His father could have told him, that money is not yours yet, you do not have a right to it.  His father could have drilled him with all kinds of questions, he could told him how foolish he was, and what a bad son he is.  He could have struck out in anger.  The father had all of the authority and right to do any or all of these things.  Instead he listened.  He gave his son an opportunity to learn a life lesson that his son needed. 

This father also trusted God to return his son to his faith. The father knew that the son in his heart did believe in God and that this little light of faith would be used by God to steer him home.  I am sure he held onto Proverbs 22:6.  The father had hope.  He knew that God loved his son also, just as much as he did.  He knew that God would not abandon his son.

This hope is evident in verse 20 of Luke 15.  It says, “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him.” This father was looking for the return of his son.  He expected the Lord to deliver his son.  He rose up and looked for him every day!  We don’t know how long the timeframe is of the story, but it was long enough for the son to lose his inheritance, take a slum job, deal with starvation, and finally repent.  The son swallowed his pride and came with full intention of making things write with his father no matter what the consequences. 

This story can tell us so much about the love of God.  When the son returned the father did not care where he had been, or what he had done.  He only say his son.  His baby was coming home.  I think about this and I think about my own son.  He is a grown man, but every time I look at him, I still see the little infant that I held for the first time at his birth.  I know the heart of God by this memory.  With all that I love my son and no matter what he has done or where he has been, I still see this little baby in my hands.  That I like to think is the way that God sees each of us.  This father in our story just saw his baby, crying and beaten up by life, returning home.  This father who loved his son, put his arms around him.  Nothing else mattered. 

This is what Jesus made possible.  No matter how far we go.  No matter what we have done. No matter how rebellious we have been.  Jesus made a path home for us, for our children.  Have hope in the Lord.  Your heavenly Father has not abandoned you, and will not abandon your son or daughter.  Yes there are some hard lessons in life to learn.  No we cannot shelter our children from consequences of their own decisions.  However; we can have confidence that the Lord will never leave or forsake them.

Exodus 20: What do the 10 Commandments Mean for the Christian?

Exodus 20: What do the 10 Commandments Mean for the Christian?


              It is true the Law cannot make one righteous.  Neither does the keeping of the Law sustain our salvation.  However, Paul on several occasions states that we should not let Grace be an occasion for sin.  In other words we should not let our freedoms be taken to far, and thus make the reason for our Grace be lost.  Turning to Exodus 20 we can get a good understanding of the 10 Commandments and how we can apply them in our Christian lives, not for salvation or works of justification, but because scripture says that we should do works of righteousness. James 4:17 “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”  How we choose to live out this freedom that has been given us in Jesus Christ is a direct reflection of the heart.  These are just short paragraphs to get you thinking.

The first commandment “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”(.3) is a pretty straight forward translation.  The Hebrew words used here are quite easily put to the English text of the King James Version.  The word “gods” is the plural form of Elohim.  This word indicates that there will be no other rulers, judges, divine ones, angels, works or special possessions of God. The word “before” is the Hebrew word paniym, which means face and is used here to indicate “before my face”, or “in from of” or “in presence of”.  So the command is quite clear, Thou (you) shalt (will not) have anything that has authority over you before me.  A Christian should not let anything interfere with the sovereignty of God over their lives.  No other authority is to reign supreme over the Word of God.  No government, carrier, relationship, or other aspect of our lives should be allowed to stop us from obeying the Word of the Lord.  We should live outward lives that indicate who has supreme authority over our lives.  That supreme authority is God Himself.

The second commandment “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image (v.4) When looking at this commandment we can see that the meaning “to cut or engrave”. Specifically it comes from the Hebrew pecel (peh’-sel) meaning idol or image. So the understanding is that we are not to make any image as an idol.  The command goes on to include any likeness of anything that is in heaven, or in the earth, or in the sea, in fact it goes so far to say not even under the earth.  Nothing should be made that is to appear to represent God, or any other idol.  One should note that an idol is something that is obsessed over. We cannot use anything made by hands or in creation to represent God for worship of any kind.  Our affections should be solely placed on God, nothing should be used to represent God, because we run the risk of worshiping what is created rather than the creator.  We do not bow to crosses, the Eucharist, or to anything other than God himself. God will not share his worship with anything else.

The third commandment “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (v.7)  This commandment is a warning that we should not take (bear), or lift up either literally or figuratively the name of the Lord.  The meaning is that we should revere the name of the Lord, and should not take it lightly.  We are not to frivolously use the name of the Lord to seal an oath, or to in effect evoke the Lord on our behalf.  God is not a djinn to be uses as we will or conjured up for our purposes. With this comes a sense of respect and personal accountability.  If we cannot use the Lord for an oath, then we must be honest and trustworthy in our speech and actions.  We are to have a name that brings respect to the Lord.  We are to honor the name of the Lord.  The end of this commandment is frightening.  The Lord says that He will defend His own name.  Anyone who disrespects Him will be held accountable to Him.  We should then live in truth and in Spirit giving honor and respect to the name of the Lord in our speech and our actions. 

The forth commandment “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” (v.8)  The Hebrew word for remember is zakar (za-kar’), and is used to cause to remember or as a memorial.  The later verses further explain that there were seven days that God used to create the earth, and on the last day, God rested.  This is a day to be kept in memorial of the provisions of God.  In six days he created everything that was needed to sustain his creation.  Then he rested.  God took a break for his labors because they were completed. The Sabbath is referred to in the Jewish culture as a

Holly day which means basically an intermission.  Much like where we get the word sabbatical. This is a time to get away from everything, to make a complete break to clear the mind, and spirit.  This is a time of renewal.  Even batteries need to be re-charged or replaced from time to time.  Jesus said that the Sabbath was created for man, not man for the Sabbath.  God knows we need a time to recharge and get away from all or our labors and worried.  We need a time to clear our minds and to “just be still”.  We need time to relax and remember why we are working so hard.  Spend some downtime with the family.  Take time off from all work and all work related items.  Relax and enjoy the blessings the Lord has brought.  If not you will weary yourself and suffer burn out.  You will lose productivity.  You will lose your joy, and you relationship with Christ will suffer, along with your relationship with your church, family, and friends.  Your ministry will suffer if you do not take time away, and push the reset button.

The fifth commandment “Honor they father and thy mother.” (v.12). The word honour in is from the Hebrew kabad (kaw-bad’) and can be used in a positive or negative manner as most root words can.  Given the context of the verse, mainly, that it will add longevity to your life or a better quality of life, it can be understood that it is to be used in a positive manner.  So then it can be meaning to abound with, or to promote, be rich in, or to be honorable.  So then we are to treat our father and mother with abundant honor.  How then do we do this?  The showing of respect is the primary way that a king is honored.  Shows of respect mean; proper use of language in their presence, bringing of gifts, sharing of blessings from God (resources, food, income, health benefits, lodgings, etc…), spending time with them (sharing special moments, letters, birthdays, celebrations), showing affections towards them, respecting and supporting their decisions, understanding that without their guidance and provisions you would not be where you are today.  Showing honor is a lifestyle of respect and gratitude.

The sixth commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” (v.13)  The sixth commandment seems like such a simple statement.  Yet often times it is added to in order to say that capital punishment is not biblical.  However, this commandment says that you shall not “kill”.  The Hebrew word is ratach (rä·tsakh’) meaning to slay, or murder. To murder is to deprive of life according to the Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language 1828.  1 John 3:15 does specify that the application of this is more than just a physical act.  The writer tells us that “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer:” This is because God looks into the intentions of the heart.  Not only do I need to refrain from murdering someone in a physical sense, but I need to rebuke hatred in my own heart for others that may or may not have offended me. If I have allowed prejudice to establish a beachfront of sin in my heart, to hate, thus to be guilty of murder.  This commandment has nothing to do with the power or authority of the government or of law enforcement, but everything to do with love of others; instead of selfish hatreds.  

The seventh commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” (v.14) This command is actually pretty straight forward. The word for adultery here is the primitive root na’aph (nä·af’) in Hebrew.  This word is “to commit adultery” it is usually meant from a man and always refers to the wife of another man.  It is a strong word and is associated with idolatry.  You will not worship (love, adore) another man’s wife.  Wow this is so beyond the physical act of sex with another man’s wife.  Now we can see why Jesus said that to look after another man’s wife in lust is to commit adultery.  That is because the original command actually says the same thing.  No looking at another man’s wife to worship her in your heart, to love her in an ungodly manner.  No actual sexual contact either. To do so you actually break not only this commandment, but the first, second, and tenth commandments as well.  How dangerous the lusts eyes and the desires of our hearts can be.

The eight commandment “Thou shalt not steal.” (v.15) Now here is one that we always try to shorten, however; when we look at the Hebrew word use here we can see that there is no short order to this command.  Ganab (gä·nav’), the Hebrew root, means to thieve (literally or figuratively) by implication, to deceive, or carry away; to get by stealth or deception.  What then do we say to this? You will not practice theft either literally or figuratively by obtain by stealth or deception.  You cannot take what is not yours literally you cannot.  Neither can you take what is not yours through con, or ruse.  You cannot take what is not yours through deceptive trade practices.  You cannot be dishonest in your dealings would not be too far of a stretch.  I think it could be summed up as this, if you want it, work for it.  If you agree someone can earn a wage, then give them a fair wage.  If you work for a fair wage then give the work that is do.

The ninth commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” (v.16)  To bear here means to answer (respond, testify, speak, sing, cry, give).  The word for false is pretty simple and it means to lie (false, falsehood, falsely, vain, wrongfully, deceitful).  Finally we can see the word witness which in the Hebrew means to evidence either abstractly (conceptually), specifically (explicitly, practically) or in record (as a source).  This means you cannot lie about anyone, or any event either as a matter of oath, or as a matter of speculation.  Jesus put it this way, let your yes be yes and your no be no.  When you start to talk about things or people that you do not know you put yourself in danger of being judged in the same manner that you judged them.  If you have to give witness as a matter of record for a court or an incident at work then you should speak plainly, never speculate and only relay the facts.  You should avoid answering open ended questions, as these questions are designed to make you speculate.  Being a witness is to present the details as you saw them, not others.  Keep your conversation clean, no gossip.  Be honest in word and in deed.  Never lie and never listen to rumor, so you do not spread a lie and become a false witness.  Remember loose lips sink ships.  More than one church has been destroyed form the inside out because of rumors and innuendo.

The tenth commandment “Thou shalt not covet.” (v.17)  To covet is to from the root chamad (khä·mad) in Hebrew and means to desire (take pleasure in).  It is meant in a form that means to delight greatly or find desirable of precious. It can be used to mean delight, desire, or to lust after.  I think we all know what this means.  We can enjoy our neighbor’s good fortune, and celebrate with him in his blessings.  We are not to desire to have the blessings that he has though.  We should be content with what the Lord has blessed us with.  We do serve the same God and we can never be happy for others if we are always comparing what they have to what we do not. The verse gets pretty explanatory, you will not desire your neighbor’s wife, servants, his means of living, any of his possessions, or his lifestyle.  Ok that’s my neighbor’s stuff, what about the guy in TV?  What about the guy done the block?  Well lucky for us the definition of neighbor has already been litigated before the Messiah.  Take a look at Luke 10:25-37.  In there a lawyer sought to define what a neighbor was with Jesus.  Jesus put is simple, everyone is our neighbor and we are to show mercy to our neighbors.  We are then to be content with what we have.  We are not to look to anyone else but God. 

In summation I quote Romans 13:9. “For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” We are to treat everyone as we want to be treated.  We are to love everyone as God loves us.  You see if I love someone, then I want the best for them.  I don’t desire to take what they have, because it makes them happy, and I love them and want to see their happiness. This is indeed to true sign of a believer, that we should love one another because God is love and everyone that loves is born again from God and knows God (1 John 4:7). 

Covetous Conversation: A Thought While Shopping

I was walking through Walmart about 2 days after Christmas, we needed some small food items, so I thought I would just kill some time while Dana Smith shopped. As I was walking I noticed a child and his mother, he was leading her by the hand and pointed to a toy that he wanted.

I thought how strange that this soon after Christmas they should be buying him a toy. Considering this I had to stop and evaluate my own reasons for looking around, when I really did not need anything. Was I too, just looking to consume something else that I did not need?

Then something else hit me. How often do I talk with others about things that I wish I had? How often do I look at someones car, or some other item for sell and say, wow I wish I had that? Maybe I don’t say it out loud, but I still say it in my heart. If so, then am I really believing that I have everything I could possibly need in Christ?

Covetousness can lead us into a form of idolatry. Idolatry is putting making a graven image (man-made) and making it more important than God. I know we all know the pitfall this can be. But let us consider the scripture on our words. 

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Hebrews 13:5 KJV

You see our conversation reveals our hearts. Everyone knows this simple truth. If you have conversations with unbelievers or other believers and all you talk about is what you do not have, this is a tell-tale sign that you are not walking in the Spirit. It also tells others that either you are a hypocrite or that the Jesus thing is not all it’s cracked up to be.

We should guard our conversations. Lucky for us this verse shows us how to change our motivations in our heart. It says that we should be content because we know that Jesus said that HE will never leave us, or forsake us. This means that he is always looking out for our best interests. We can have confidence in him that we lack nothing that is needed. 

Let our conversations so reflect the satisfaction we have in Christ. Let our mouths speak of the great and wondrous things he has done in creation, and in our very lives. Delivering us through storms, trial, and temptations. He keeps us from evil, sparing our hearts and minds of guilt and anguish. He was the one who sought us out, to deliver us from death, and restore a loving relationship with him. Life and I mean all of life is ours in him.

Live for Today!?

Live for Today!

I remember when I was young, there was a movie out called Highlander.  One of the characters at one point yelled out, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away!”  When we look at the way life seems to work out, it’s not hard to understand what the character was meaning.  If I am going to die, I am going out with a bang!  I mean why not?  When we consider the wisdom in this phrase we must agree.  I have even spoke with some who quote the Bible where it says, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34)

I know of some who use this verse as an excuse to just give up on life. They have been diagnosed with a fatal illness, or have simply just given up.  Their hearts are defeated and so injured that they don’t care what tomorrow may bring, mainly because they have no hope in tomorrow.  Why should they take care of the things they need to, why pay bills, or seek out new relationships, or repair old ones, they are just going to die anyway.  I might as well as have a good time while I can, because the ride is going to end soon anyway.  Don’t bother slowing down or stopping the car, I will just jump from here and enjoy the breeze till I hit the pavement.  Adrian Rogers put it like this, “It is like a man who jumps form the top of a skyscraper and as he passes each floor he says, ‘Well so far, so good.’”

We are a worldwide society who is driven to possess more, covet what we cannot have, and to never be content with what we possess in our own two hands.  This attitude combined with the desperation of the sense that time is quickly running out drives us to desperate measures.  This builds up pressures from perceived failures and feeds the hunger to be remembered for something, even if it is bad.   So why not escape?  Especially if the Bible tells us that we don’t need to worry about tomorrow.  Why not go out in a bang?  Why not just drink all the alcohol I can?  Why not take all the drugs I can and party until I finally drop dead?  Then everyone will know… wow that guy really knew how to live! But really, no one wants to be that guy.

Deep inside we know that the “live for today” slogan is a lie.  Alcoholism does not hide the shame.  Drugs to not remove the hopelessness.  Buying everything we see does not fill the emptiness inside of us.  We cannot please ourselves or others enough to convince our hearts that we are “good” inside.  We know what we are like inside.  Jeremiah explains it like this, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9). In truth, it does not take the Bible to tell us how wicked our hearts really are. We know who we really are.  There are only two people in the whole world that know what the very intentions of our heart is.  One is ourselves, the other is Jesus Christ.

In the book of Hebrews we read, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12).  John describes Jesus as the Word of God who became flesh and dwelt among us.  This same Jesus, knows the very intentions of your heart.  He knows the selfish desires you have, how every “good” thing you have ever done in your life, was really another way to appease your own selfishness.

So then let’s take another look at this verse. , “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34).  We can agree on some things in looking at this verse.  It does talk about a person’s needs.  It also does say not to worry about tomorrow.  It also says that we have enough to worry about today.  There is enough to deal with today.

We can agree on those things.  However; we must be sure to never take one verse and use it to support our own materialist view of our situation.  We cannot use this verse especially to do evil and point the finger at God and say, “Hey, I just did what you told me to do!”  Pulling scripture out of context is dangerous to us.  You see if we look a few verses back, Jesus is talking to a specific audience.  Jesus is talking to his followers.  He is speaking to those who are seeking a real relationship with God.  He tells them first to seek God with the right intentions.  Don’t seek God for your own vanity.  Don’t seek God just for what you can get out of Him.  Be sincere when you seek God.

God already knows that things that you need.  You need, air to breath, food to eat, water to drink, and a place of refuge for rest and recuperation.  God knows these things and he provides those things already, as a gift.  It does not matter if you deserve it or not.  God in his mercy provides.  So when we go to God we don’t need to ask for what he is already providing.  We need to recognize that he has provided already and thank him for his provisions.  We also know that since he provided those things before we knew him, then we know that he will provide greater things know that we know him.

In this we are set free of worry for the things that we need to survive, because God is our provider.  We can have confidence in him.  Now that we are set free we can concentrate on what God needs us to do.  We can take full advantage of what we need to accomplish for the kingdom of Heaven, today.  Are we still suffering from diseases and poor decisions we made earlier in life… yes.  There are consequences to what we do.  Are we still suffering from the shame, regret, and hopelessness that when we die we are condemned to an eternity away from God and our loved ones, to suffer in hell?  No!

I mentioned earlier that John referred to Jesus as the Word of God that was made flesh and dwelt among us.  This means that God himself put on flesh and blood, and lived as one of us.  He knows what it is like to be hungry, and thirsty, and to be tired.  He knows what it is like to not have a place to lay his head at night.  He knows what it feels like when the cold wind blows, and you don’t have a jacket.  He knows what it is like to not have one red cent in your pocket.

He endured all the things we endured.  He wept when his friend Lazarus died.  He knows what if feels like to be betrayed by his closest friend.  He knows what if feels like to be abandoned by his family.  Jesus felt the injustice of being brought before a judge and being found guilty for a crime he did not commit.  He was even executed for things he did not do.  He was executed for things we did.  He gave the ultimate sacrifice for you and for me.

Because of this sacrifice we have been set free of the curse of sin.  We no longer are stuck on the outside trying to appease God.  Jesus took care of that for us.  Now, we can not only speak to God, but we have been forgiven of everything we did.  All of those selfish things we did that hurt others, that hurt God have been forgiven and removed from us.  We can never be held accountable for those again.

Knowing this we are now set free.  Not only from the material, but in a very real spiritual side also.  We don’t need to worry if we are going to go to Heaven.  We don’t need to worry if we are good enough to pass the test.  You know why?  We don’t have to even take the test.  God provided all of that in Jesus Christ. So now we are set free to live life to the max!  Today we can take advantage of the gift that God has given us today!  We can lift up our heads, we can give thanks to Christ.  We now have a hope in not only this life, but in the life to come.  Because of this hope in Christ, for the life to come, we can take full advantage of today to honor God, like there is not tomorrow.  We need to live our lives like this is the only day we have to give thanks to God for what he has done.  There is an old country song by Garth Brooks that says If tomorrow never comes… Well, If tomorrow never comes, would you have done everything today that you could have to share the truth about Jesus with someone you love?

You see we don’t need to be anxious about food or clothing because life is more than just the material things in this world.  This present evil age would keep us distracted from that.  There are more pressing things that go on in this world, that are more important than our material needs.  There are allot of hurting people out there who need to hear about Jesus.

Luke 11 Teach Us to Pray – Part 4

Luke 11 Teach Us to Pray – Part 4

And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. (Luke 11:4) 

Forgive as we forgive.  We must realize that we are broken from our own sin.  It is a natural condition.  Romans 5:12 explains to us that sin came into the world and was passed down to every single man, woman, and child through the sin of one man.  This sin separated God from man and produced death in man.  In this manner, death has moved through all the generations of man, through one common ancestor.  Our sinfulness is more than that.

Not only do we have inherent sin, but; we also commit sin of our own.  You can try to say, “The Devil made me do it”, however; it was your own sinful nature.  This sin nature is driven out of selfishness.  Just as Adam chose to disobey God, so do we choose to disobey God.  This sin makes a separation between you and God (Isaiah 59.2).  WE forgive in recognition that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23).

We must recognize that just as we needed forgiveness, so do others around us.  We cannot hold ourselves to one standard, and hold all others to another.  We are all in the same boat, as it were.  If we have been forgiven, of all that we have done. Forgiveness that includes the sin that was on us from generations past, and those of our own seeking.  In recognizing then, we are truly and completely clean of sin, and that we could not have cleansed ourselves no more than a pig can clean itself in the pen.  Knowing that we did not earn this cleansing by our own merit, because we cannot be good enough.  We cannot be good enough because even at our best, we are still in sin from Adam.  We have come to the understanding that without this forgiveness our sin is punishable by death. (Romans 5:12).

Even though we deserve the death penalty, we have been forgiven of all sin in Jesus Christ our Lord.  This was a gift from the Father, and is witnesses in the sealing of the Holy Spirit.  Through this grace, we have been justified by God, in the faith we have in Jesus.  (Galatians 3:11). In having a true understanding of this in our hearts, we cannot approach the Lord with our petitions if we are holding something against another.

To be unforgiving, especially after we received such a gift ourselves, is hypocrisy. This attitude is contrary to the heart of God, who wishes that all should come to repentance and not die (2 Peter 3:8-10).  Jesus himself said that you come to the altar and remember that someone has something against you, or it you have something against someone else; leave the altar.  Jesus said, leave your gift where it is and make things right between you and them.  Once you have addressed the issue with whom you have offended or who has offended you, then come back to the altar.  With a clean heart, offer your gift.  Do not offer a vain gift to the Lord.

We must come to the Lord with the right heart, motivated by love and gratitude.  We cannot hold animosity.  To hold animosity means that we have judges ourselves to be more important than someone else.  We think too highly of ourselves in thinking that we deserve forgiveness but someone else does not.  In truth, no one DESERVES forgiveness, not you, not I.  Hypocrisy is as it’s heights in an unforgiving Christian. In fear and understanding, we humble ourselves before God.  We recognize that we needed his forgiveness, and so do others.  How can we who have been forgiven, not forgive other?  You may say, but I have not done the terrible things that they did to me, or to so and so.  That is not true.  Your sin had someone else tortured.  Your sin caused a mother to lose her child.  In fact she watched him being tortured, and beaten, and mocked.  She watched him shamed in public, and stung up to die.  Your sin caused a man to die.  How much worse can someone else do, then to kill someone either by malice of forethought or even by happenstance?

Forgiveness also does some other things.  Forgiveness sets the one who was wronged free from anger and resentment.  Forgiveness relieves victimization.  Forgiveness gives one the chance to renew their life.  Forgiveness causes a person to be stuck in the offence.  Forgiveness also reveals the nature of our own heart.  In order to love God with our whole heart, we must be able to love one another.  We are incapable of loving one another without being able to forgive one another.

And lead us not into temptation…

Part of this salvation provided by the Lord is Justification, which we covered already.  Now we move into the next portion, that of Sanctification.  Justification happened when we first believed on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Justification is passed to us through faith in the gospel message concerning the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  God sees our faith in Jesus and is pleased with this faith.  We are then given a legal righteousness imputed to us for all time, which delivers us from the penalty of sin.

Sanctification is a present experiential or progressive work performed in us by the Holy Spirit, keeping us holy until the final phase of salvation.  Sanctification is then a process of spiritual growth in the Christian life where we are delivered from the power of sin in daily life through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Looking again at this portion of the prayer recorded in Luke 11 where is says, “and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”, in this context, we see a great hope in living for Christ in our daily lives.  This is not some vain wish or aspiration, but; a real living hope!  This is voicing and expectation in dependency.  This statement gives recognition that we are dependent upon the very Spirit of God not only as a provider, but as a protector.

This is pleas has specific connotations. I am sure that you recall, if you have had a child, or know someone who has a toddler.  When the child gets old enough to walk, but not old enough to know better, which for some of us can last until the 40s. (LOL) The very safe environment of the family home can become a living hazard to the exploring babe.  A parent must safeguard the environment with outlet covers, door latches, and the sort.  Even then with all of those precautions, a parent must be ever vigilant for where the child is and what they are doing, especially if they are to quiet.  The attentive parent must from time to time, correct or avert the attention of the young one from things that may cause them harm.

This is the plea made here.  God keep a watch out for me God!  Keep me from the things that would harm me.  Even if I really think I want them.  Protect me not only from the temptation out there that is in this sinful age, but also from the lure to sin that I create in myself.  Don’t let me sin against you, safeguard me!  We must also realize that we are in a real spiritual battle.

There is a war going on in the spiritual realm.  In that realm, just as there are angels that are aligned with the Heavenly Father, there are fallen angels who fight against his will.  These fallen angels, known as demons, have a leader we know by the name of Satan, the devil, the Evil One. They make war against the lamb of God, Jesus. Since you are in the will of God and in the family of God the enemy will make war against you.

This evil is real and is powerful. Alone we cannot stand against such power.  However, our God is all-powerful, and in Him, we can stand against the Devil and his demons.  You see God is our salvation, and our protector from this present age and all the evil that it contains.  There is no enemy that can stand against us, because we can call on the name of Jesus.  This prayer is a seeking of the will of God in our lives.  Jesus then says in his model of prayer, that we should seek first the kingdom of heaven.

We should seek to do what is the will of God the Father in recognition of who He is, and what he had provided for us.  We must never forget that He did these things because of His great love for us as mankind and as individuals. We glorify Him, but in actuality we do this because He has glorified us first.  Not only that there is a future glorification to come that we cannot understand.

The final stage of salvation is glorification.  For a lot of us this happens when we die.  But there are some of us who may yet see the rapture of the church.  I say this because we are in the last days, and he is standing at the door ready to open it wide.  In this final glorification we will put on immortality.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. (1 Corinthians 15:53-55 KJV).

Death shall be finally defeated.  We will have moral perfection and a resurrected body.  This is a promise made by God and this promise will be deliverance from the presence of sin.  You see we will be in the presence of God himself, and sin cannot enter into His presence.  There are allot more things that can be written, concerning this prayer.  I think to answer the question, is there more to this prayer than just being a model for prayer can be answered with a loud, resounding “YES!”  Thanks God! YES!