Philip and Personal Evangelism

Personal evangelism is expected of every believer of Jesus. It is not just the Pastors, responsibility to seek that which is lost, but everyone who is called by Christ is commissioned to this rewarding task. Jesus commanded us in Mark 16:15, “Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Still even with this great calling, many Christians are afraid to share their faith. They lack confidence in their ability to share the gospel effectively. So we are going to go to the bible to see how one of the early disciples shared his faith. The book of Acts has many examples on how the Apostles and early Christians shared the truth of Jesus. We will concentrate on one example portrayed in a short story about Philip.

”(26)And the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is desert.

(27) And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

(28)Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Isaiah the prophet.

(29)Then the Spirit said to Philip, Go near, and join yourself to this chariot.

(30) And Philip ran there to him, and heard him read the prophet Isaiah, and said, Understand you what you read?

(31) And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

(32)The place in the scripture which he read was this, He was led like a lamb dumb before his shearer’ so opened He not His mouth:

(33)In His humiliation His judgement was taken away: and who shall declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.

(34)And the eunuch answered Phillip, and said, I pray you , of whom speaks the prophet of this? Of himself, or of some other man?

(35)Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached to him Jesus.” (Acts 8:26-35)

 

The easiest way to address this would be to break it down into at least 2 major themes to take from Philip in this story. The first would be that Philip had the proper attitude, and the second would be his approach or technique.

Philip had an attitude of obedience. When the angel of the Lord commanded Philip to go, he went. I mean the angel said “arise and go”, then Philip, “arose and went”. He didn’t make excuses, or check his planner. He immediately responded to the will of God. He obeyed without question.

If we are going to be effective servants of the Lord, we must be submissive servants. We must be willing to obey His Spirit. We must at all times and at all cost, be willing to do what God wants us to do. The will of God must take precedence over all other issues in our lives.

In northern Lebanon there is a Christian by the name of Fadi Sabba, who routinely goes from home church to home church sharing his faith and his story. He had been shot by Syrian Islamic extremists on more than one occasion. He has been run off the road, and been left for dead. He has been run out of the country, and yet still goes back risking his life to bring food, bibles and to encourage the brothers in Syria and Lebanon that cannot escape the brutal Islamic state if ISIS. He was shot seven different times by Syrians, yet God uses his story to bring other Islamic followers to Jesus. He goes out of love and obedience. (Voice of the Martyrs, June 2016)

He like Philip in this story is concerned with spreading the truth of Jesus Christ whether it is to one person at a time, or a whole house hold. Philip was willing to travel the distance, go beyond his comfort zone and ignore his personal safety to achieve God’s mission. This kind of dedication takes real love.

We must understand that one soul is a large enough crowd to be concerned about. Jesus explains is Luke 15, that if a man has a hundred sheep and loses one, would he not leave the 99 to find the one? Luke 15:10 says, “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over ONE sinner that repents.” We need to get excited! Have compassion over those who are lost! We need to love those who need our love the most!

Now something else to consider is that the Ethiopian, although he was devout in his way, was still considered a Gentile to the Jews. Most Jews would not have cared about his soul. Philip, however; went to him without a second thought. Not only that, he joined him in his chariot. We must be colorblind in doing personal evangelism.

I know that people here in America are scared and worried about the influx of Syrian and Middle Eastern refugees coming into the country. We have good reason, because there are allot who would seek us harm. But let us consider this, how many of us would be willing to go to their countries to convert them to Christianity? You see, where we would not obey God and go to them, God has brought them to us. Now you have an opportunity to witness to those who really need to hear of the love of Jesus. Jesus does not show partiality, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believes not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16)

Philip also had a sense of urgency. When he was commanded to join the Eunuch, the scripture says that Philip “ran to him”.(Acts 8:29) He new the man had an urgent need to know Jesus. Philip did not waste time. He had an enthusiasm that quite frankly, is missing in Christians in America. The early church was zealous in winning souls, if it would not have been, we wouldn’t know of Christ today. Unfortunately, there are many today in America who don’t know Jesus, even though they know of Him. That is our fault! It is mine and it is yours!

Ok I think we see the proper attitude. So once we pray and seek God, and get the proper attitude flowing again, what do we do with all that new found excitement for soul winning? Lets look again at Philip in this situation in Acts. Philip came upon the Ethiopian and saw him reading, and seeking God. Then he asked a question. Sometimes it is best to be quiet and listen to what the need is. Identify what the person is really seeking. A question is a great icebreaker to starting deep conversation.

If we were to ask a question and listen to the “need” hidden in the answer, we would go a long way in winning others to Christ, and repairing a few relationships along the way! Amen? The other thing that Philip had in his favor, is something you hear me say over and over again. Know your scripture! Know what you believe and why you believe it. You are an ambassador to the Kingdom of God. Take that responsibility seriously!

In Hebrew 5:11-14, the church is admonished because they have not studied and grown in the scriptures, that they should be teachers in the Word and works of God, but instead are fallen down and week. Don’t be caught off guard when someone asks you about a scripture or a doctrine of your faith. Hello! It’s your beliefs they are asking about! Grow Up! Study!

Then the scripture says, Phillip opened his mouth. When asked, speak! Tell your story of Jesus. Preach Jesus! If you haven’t taken the time to write out and rehearse your own story of salvation, then do it. If you have not taken the time to practice talking to yourself or another believer on how to share Jesus, then do it. I warn you. There is a reason you are either hearing or reading this… You will be called to testify.

Then Phillip went the extra mile. He closed on the situation. He made the Ethiopian make a decision. Hey, this is the whole point of personal evangelism. Win the soul! You can’t be a good fisherman if you don’t sink the hook and real that bad boy in! Bring the conversation to the point. Ask them, do you believe? Are you willing to make a change? Are you willing to be baptized? Seal the deal.

Then go on preaching to others, don’t stop. Don’t pat yourself on the back. Remember who sent Philip? The Lord did. The Lord knew the heart of the Ethiopian. The Lord knew that the eunuch needed a guide. Someone to tell him the truth about Jesus. That is your job, tell someone the TRUTH, the GOSPEL TRUTH! –AMEN!

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Short Exposition of Hebrews 10:1-14

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

The word shadow is from the Greek word Skia, (skee’-ah), meaning shade or adumbration. An adumbration is something that vaguely suggests, or a partial outline. So the law of Moses and its sacrifices was meant to give us a representation, or outline of how sanctification would ultimately be obtained.

Perfect in this text is from the Greek telios, (tel-i-os), bringing things to their final act or state, the uttermost condition. Perfection is the final state of consummating the individual to perfection. This first verse is important because it tells us that the Law was never intended to complete our sanctification, but rather it was to let us know that there is a penalty for sin and that penalty must be paid with blood. But perfection cannot be obtained by an imperfect sacrifice.

For then would they not have ceased to be offered? Because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

If the Law of Moses and the Sacrifices could have cleaned the sin from man, then there would have not been a need to continuously make sacrifices year after year. Under the Levitical system, the Israelites knew that their sin was not removed, but covered by the blood of the sacrifice. They had to, at the end of the year, make sacrifices for sins they had committed, so it was a reminder to them that they were still in sin. Sin is a part of the human condition, it permeates us. Ezekiel 32:27 says, “They are gone down to Sheol… and their iniquities are upon their bones.”

Therefore when he comes into the world, He says, Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body have You prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have had no pleasure, (PS 40:6) Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me,) to do Your will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin You would not, neither had pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;

The Lord God did not take pleasure in the killing of the animals for sacrifice. What the Lord seeks is the voluntary sacrifices offered in obedience. He wants those who serve Him to delight in His will and to keep His Word in their hearts. Jesus said that you have to worship God in spirit and in truth. The sacrifices were to remind the children of Israel that sin had a consequence of death, there was no escaping it, however, God loved them enough to provide a way to cover the sin, so they could enter his peace. This was a foreshadowing of what Christ was to provide for us in His selfless sacrifice that not only covers sin, but removes it from us. The crucifixion of Jesus was prepared for us as a final sin offering. A spotless lamb had to be offered. The only way for this to happen was for God (Jesus) to become flesh (man), and become the sacrifice for us all.

Then said He, Lo, I come to do Your will, O God. He takes away the first that He may establish the second.

Here we see that the “first” (sacrifices) offered according to the Law of Moses had to be removed so that the “second” (Christ’s sacrifice) can be established. The sacrifices under the law are removed and Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient to remove all unrighteousness. So Jesus had to come and be a perfect sacrifice, to do God’s will, in order that the old sacrifices under the Mosaic Laws could be done away with. This perfect blood sacrifice established the method that God foretold of in the scriptures and established a new covenant. William R. Newell wrote, “Note then that this is the devotion to God’s will, abstractly considered, blessed as that is, that is here in view; but that express will of God by which Christ was offered up on the Cross.”

By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all. And every priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From hereafter expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

The result of Christ’s sacrifice is total redemption. There is no need for further sacrifices as made previously, by the Levitical priesthood. We are completely separated to God for His glorification. We are sanctified and bought with a terrible price. The ending that Christ is sat down is a demonstration that all work has been completed by Jesus.

 


 

References

Newell, William R. Hebrews, Verse by Verse. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1987. Print.

Strong, James. The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996. Print.

King James Easy-reading Study Bible. Goodyear, AZ, 2002. Print

Believe Not Every Spirit

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God:  because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)

John the Apostle warned the early church, that there were false teachers out there in their midst.  There were people who, would mislead the teachings that they had already received.  We have so much out there today, that people who call themselves Christians, try to sell us, that which does not come out of the Bible.  In fact they will put a twist on what is actually in the Bible and use our own ignorance of scripture against us. They will try to tell us that God, the Almighty One is at our beck and call.  That He is just a great djinn in the sky that grants our every wish, or if we just claim it, He will give it. God is not at our beck and call!

God told Job “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if you have understanding.” (Job 38:4)  Again God told Moses, I AM who I AM in the book of Exodus. No sir God is not someone who is just conjured up to give us a new car or a new house.  God is not at our beckoning.

“I am the Lord: that is My name: and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images.” (Isaiah 42:8)

This is the same thing the serpent did to Eve in the Garden of Eden when he tempted her.  He twisted her understanding of what God said verses what He meant. This is nothing new, it was even evident in the times in which the Apostles were still living.  The first epistle of John is believed to have been written between 85 and 100 A.D.  This tells you how long these cults have been around.  Many have just changed their names, but they message or twisting of the truth is the same message as it was thousands of years ago.  These false doctrines were, and are still causing problems in the church today.  Many professing Christians are be led astray by these false doctrines.

John tells us to be discerning.  We should scrutinize and examine every claim that is laid to the spirit.  We as followers of Christ are allowed and expected to use discretion on what someone tells us is scripture. There are organizations that call themselves Christian, and even publish bibles and go door to door giving away their bibles and additional materials that in the heart of their religion, deny the deity of Christ.  There are other religions and schools of thought that say that Jesus, did exist and, and that He was a very good man, and that he was even a prophet, but they deny that He is the Son of God.  They deny the need for His sacrifice.

(2) Hereby know you the Spirit of God:  Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: (3) And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4: 2-3)

Christ is a Greek translation for Messiah, the anointed one of God.  Confessing Jesus does not just mean that you acknowledge that He was a good man or just a prophet.  Jesus is the Son of God, thus says the Lord, “This is My beloved Son: hear Him.” (Luke 9:35)  Anyone who comes in the Spirit of God confesses that Jesus is the Son of God.  If they do not, then do not listen to their doctrine.  They are from the antichrist and the Spirit of God is not with them.

Jesus said, “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”(Matthew 24:11)  So as the scriptures says. Don’t be worried, we have been warned that these things would happen.  Instead we should test every spirit.  How do we test every spirit?  Well we already mentioned it earlier when we mentioned the fall of Eve.  We have to study the scriptures. Be in a constant attitude of prayer, and encourage one another in sound doctrine.

Get yourself into a good church that teaches from the Bible.  A good Bible teaching church will use the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments as its source of exposition.  2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 

We are to be diligent with the Word of God and always reprove everything against the Word of God.  Know what the Lord says about things that are in your life, your community, and your relationships.

“Continue you in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing of whom you have learned them; (15) And that from  a child you have known the holy scriptures,  which are able to make you wise to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (16) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

Encouragement

Hebrews 10:19-25

These scriptures focus on some very important principles on what we have in Christ, and our responsibilities as individuals and as a church toward one another. We have (1)Boldness to enter in to the Holiest of Holies by the blood of Jesus Christ. (2) A freshly slain and living way to through the veil. And (3) A great High Priest over the House of God. Because we have such important gifts from God the Father, we have certain responsibilities that we are to focus on as individuals and as a church. They are to:

  • Draw Near
  • Hold Fast Our Confession
  • Consider One Another
  • Assemble Together
  • Exhort One Another

The responsibilities covered in this scripture are the foundation of church life. Church life is not just showing up once or twice a week and being entertained for an hour or so and then going out to eat at a restaurant and never considering the impact of Christ in our lives and in the lives of our brethren.

We are invited into the very presence of God. That way is made possible because of the covering we receive from the blood of Jesus. We are able to enter into the Holy of Holies to do service to God. The Levitical High Priest could only enter the presence of God once a year. The purpose was to offer sacrifices for the House of Israel for sins they had committed throughout the year. In the book of Exodus the process for the priests to enter the Holy of Holies is outlined. The clothes that Aaron and the priests were to wear had to first be washed with water. Then Aaron was to be robed and anointed with a specially made oil. Only after the washing, the robing, and the anointing could Aaron enter the presence of God with confidence that he would not be destroyed. This complete sacrificial system was superseded by the complete sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross. Jesus is our cleansing, sanctification and access to the Father. His living sacrifice is what gives us boldness to enter the presence of God.

Our sins are therefore, not only covered, but removed from us. Psalm 103:12 says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Do you know that no matter how far east you go, you can never find the west? Nor can you find the east from going west. “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12) Jesus became the great High Priest, because of his righteousness toward God. Now that Jesus is risen He is continuously before the Father offering up prayers and interceding for us. This gives us a clean conscience by which we can enter with confidence in to the presence of God.

Draw Near

            The Lord Almighty had extended salvation to us, and an invitation to renew our fellowship with him. We must move on past the basic milk of the gospel. We have to move on to the meat and potatoes of our relationship with God the Father. Genesis 5:24 says that “Enoch walked with God.” Genesis 6:9 says that “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generation, and Noah walked with God.” We have the same ability right now. Jesus had made it possible to walk in the presence of the Creator of the Universe! – Amen! We can draw near to God and into his very presence through prayer, scripture study, and fellowship. “And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” (Hebrews 8:11) We have become priests to God, and there is now no veil between his presence and our priesthood. We need to come to God with a “true heart” and in “full assurance of faith.” A true heart has full faith and acceptance that one can into the presence of God.

Hold Fast Our Confession

These times we live in are hazardous to Christians. Groups like ISIS are torturing and killing Christians by the truck load. Hostility towards Christians and the scriptures is toxic even here in the United States. Christians are losing their jobs, educational opportunities, and freedoms of open worship all across this country. Sharing the Love of Christ is often met with “hater” rhetoric and standing up for your Christian faith can even lead to civil and criminal charges in many states.

Now this should not surprise us, Jesus made more than one warning that we would be mistreated and persecuted for embracing Him. I will not expand on it here, but read Matthew 24: 4-13 to see what Jesus warned we would face in the last days. But remember the importance of taking up his cross. “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or shat shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Sond of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels: and then He shall reward every man according to his works.”(Matthew 16:24-27) (Matthew 24:4-13) (Daniel 7:13-14) Keeping in mind that this is our end game, we should assist one another and keep each other’s sufferings and needs in mind. In case you missed it, Jesus is RETURNING – Amen!

Consider One Another

In the 17th chapter of John it is recorded that Jesus prayed for us. “I pray not that You should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from evil… Sanctify them through Your truth, Your Word is truth.” (John 17:15) Jesus not only prayed for His apostles, but for every believer in the world and anytime. If it is so important for our savior to consider our needs and to pray for us. How much more should we pray for one another in our daily lives. In James 5:16 it says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Assemble Together

Assembling together is not just something to be done on Sundays. The assembling with believers is mandated over and over in the New Testament. Assembling together puts us right in the presence of Jesus. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) Assembling together gives us a support structure through accountability and encouragement.

I am a recovering alcoholic, and as such, I cannot go and hang out with old friends who drink. Instead I have to be around other recovering alcoholic and abusers. My old friends are still living in there destructive lifestyle and would only encourage me to return to my old ways. I would be foolish to put myself in that situation. It is not that my old friends wish me harm. They just miss the guy I use to be.

But those who are striving to leave the old ways behind, and know the consequence of failure, are more likely not to let me return to my old ways. In addition, they can more readily see the signs of when someone is on their way to return to drinking or abusing. Then they can intercede and stop me from making a foolish mistake, in a moment of weakness, which could cost my life. In fact the first signs that someone is recovering is that they stop going to meetings, and stop communicating with their sponsor. It is very simple. “Birds of a feather, flock together”; so this gives us strength in numbers.

Exhort One Another

Living a life for Christ, even in American, can have its hazards. It takes courage and love to go our on a daily basis and talk to people about Christ. Even in environments where your expected to. Ministry takes a lot of overcoming insecurities, and self criticisms. Preaching the gospel, caring for the poor and homeless, the elderly, diseased, and those imprisoned takes personal sacrifices. These sacrifices include time, money, family relationships, employment, and sometimes social status. Wow, just thinking of it can be daunting.

Without encouragement fellow believers would fail. Encouragement is more than just patting on the back and saying hang in there. Encouragement is interceding for one another, supporting one another financially, and reinforcing the heart and mind with scriptures. Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Some other scriptures of encouragement are: Psalm 9:9, Psalm 23:4, Palm 25:22, Matthew 11:28-29

So in closing, I encourage you to pray one for another, do not forsake the gathering together with believers, remember the sacrament of the breaking of bread, and draw close to Jesus. “And let the peace of Christ rule your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body, and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15) – Amen!

 

References

Newell, William R. Hebrews, Verse by Verse. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1987. Print.

Strong, James. The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996. Print.

Carson, D. A., Douglas J. Moo, and Andrew David Naselli. Introducing the New Testament: A Short Guide to Its History and Message. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010. Print.

King James Easy-reading Study Bible. Goodyear, AZ, 2002. Print.

Henry, Matthew, and Leslie F. Church. Matthew Henry’s Commentary: Genesis to Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1961. Print.

Psalm 1:1 Guard Your Company

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, not standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful (Psalms 1:1)

The key words in this text for today’s message are:

  • blessed
  • ungodly
  • sinners
  • scornful

In order to move ahead with this message, we have to make sure we all have the same understanding of these words.  What the intent of the writer is and how the ancient Hebrews would have most likely interpreted the meaning of these and then put them into context.  I will attempt to do this for us.

*References are from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. 

Blessed

The Hebrew root for the word used in blessed is ashar, meaning to go straight, go on, or advance.  Many scholars translate the intent of this word to mean “level”, or “sturdy”.  We could go on to say that this is a good foundation, in order to move ahead.  That you’re on the “right path”, if you follow what is about to be said.  Interestingly enough, this is the same term that Jesus starts his 1st sermon of his public ministry.  In the sermon we have come to know as “The Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus begins with the “Be-attitudes”.  He says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)  This shows the understanding that God has for us.  Jesus’ first sermon and the 1st Psalm start off with an encouragement to us.  Be happy, you’re on the right path!  Be of good cheer, you are right with God.

Ungodly

The Hebrew root for the word use for ungodly is rasha: wicked, criminal.  A criminal or someone who is wicked, is someone who made a choice to be in err.  The Latin term would be “Malum in Se”, this means that something is just wrong in itself.  No one needs to tell you that murder, rape, burglary, robbery are wrong.  Those that commit these crimes are wicked.

Sinners

The Hebrew root for the word used for sinners is chata: to miss, go wrong, sin.  This is to fall short.  Like a basketball player that just cannot make a basket.  There is a standard and it is not being reached.  The term we are probably most familiar with would be “lost”.

Scornful

The Hebrew root for the word used for scornful is luts: have in derision, make a mock, mocker.  These are those who make fun of the righteous.  Who question the authority of scripture.  Those who elevate their own craftiness, who think they are smarter then God.  Those who believe in their own wisdom.  Those who are arrogant.  The saying goes, “He is too smart for his own good”.  The 1st Cor. 3:19 says, “For the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God.”

So from the Hebrew perspective it would read more like:

Steady or Level is the man that;

                Does not walk in the counsel of those who depart from the path;

                Does not stand in the way of those who miss the mark;

                Does not sit in the seat of those who imitate (mock) the truth.

 We can even say, “At peace with God are those who:

                Do not follow those that have strayed from the true path;

                Do not hang out with those who miss the mark;

                Do not believe there is no God.

 

A sinful man is one who misses the mark, stumbles and fails.  A sinful person makes mistakes.  An evil man is one who is bent on hurting someone and who has a life style of injuring others.  No Christian should ever want to just hurt anyone.  Sin is progressive. “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse…” (2nd Timothy 3:13)

Every evil person was once just a sinner. Sin causes separation from God and hardens the heart. If you hang out with people who have no morals, or have gray areas, or do not have a definite truth, then you will eventually adopt this way of thinking.  Somehow we think that we can hang around evil people, people who take the Lord’s name in vain, who lie, steal, and cheat on their spouses, and think that we will not be corrupted.  Have you not read? “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” (Galatians 5:9 NIV)  We are warned of this fact over and over in the scriptures.

(Proverbs 4:14-16) “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.  Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.  For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.”

Eventually this evil will get inside of you, and you will start thinking about the evil desires and it will grow in your heart.  That is why Jesus let us know that if a man even looks on a woman in lust, he has created adultery already.  This is just one example of how impurity corrupts the heart and mind of a man.  Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) It starts with a suggestion, grows into a thought, then a desire.  This desire may manifest itself in words first, then before you know it, you have committed the act.  James 1:15 says, “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

When someone is living a certain lifestyle contrary to what others perceive as right, they will at first hide this lifestyle.  They will lie and deceive the ones they love, to protect this lifestyle.  Then they will seek out others who live this same lifestyle, this gives them a sense of acceptance.

Even though they still know it is wrong inside.  Then they move on to trying to convert others to their lifestyle.  This is a progressive hardening of the heart.  Once the heart has grown callas then they turn and attack the ones that tried to keep them from going down the forbidden path.  They turn vicious and try to destroy the ones who care about them and who try to show them the way that they should have come.

They will try to say there is no God, because if there is no God then there is not absolute truth.  Without truth there is no moral compass.  Without a moral compass there is no judgement.  Without judgement there is no penalty.

In reality God does exists, man knows it, and has turned their back on Him.  Psalms 14:1 “The fool hath said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’  They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”  We have all missed the mark, we have as a whole and individually been corrupted.  “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 KJV)  You will die and be judged.  Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for every, including a time to die. (Ecclesiastes 3:2) After this we will all be judged.  “and as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement:” (Hebrews 9:27 KJV)

What is the judgement?  What is the criteria? Why are you condemned? You have turned your back on Jesus and rejected Him, even allowed yourself to be fooled by the mockers, and you have no excuse.  You are personally responsible to Jesus.  “And this is the judgement, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil.”(John 3:19 KJV)  The consequence of the judgement is that you will be cast out of the presence of God.  Much like those who violate the laws of society, they are thrown into prison and the fellow prisoners do what they will.

“For without are dogs, and sorcerers the sexually immoral, the murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” (Revelation 22:15)

“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men,” (1 Corinthians 6:9 NIV)

If you are on a trip and decide that you no longer want to go to the destination, how do you prevent arriving there?  Your make a decision, and get off the course you’re going and correct your course.  If you hang out with evil men you will become evil.  Paul writes to us, “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler.  Do not even eat with such people.” (1 Corinthians 5:11)

Hiding from your sin will do you no good, “Whosoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)  Jesus is the only way to be forgiven of your sin and have death Passover you.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

“God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood-to be received by faith.  He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.” (Romans 3:25 NIV)  Turn away from your sins, confess to Jesus your sins, and receive him as the atonement for your sins.  Serve him as Lord of your life.  You have a life debt to Him.

If you are a Christian and not doing what you should, forsake your life and confess, take up your cross and follow Him.  The time for salvation is today.

This is the way to blessings.  Being in fellowship with Jesus, who is God.  The blessings of God are peace, joy, love, forgiveness, and fellowship with the One who created everything that is seen and unseen.  He is a marvelous God who sacrificed all to make a way for you to experience His love.  Hold fast to that which you have been told.  Guard your mind and your heart from the ones who seek to destroy your fellowship with Jesus.

 

Get Back to the Basics

Sitting here watching the rains come down by the gallons, I wondered away in thought.  It is kind of scary how far off our thoughts can get.  Well at least mine.  We have been reading in 1st Corinthians and I wondered.  How could the first century church get to far off from what the gospel was about?  I mean, the Apostle Paul is still alive, and writing to them.  They had Apollos, Cephas, and other spirit filled followers, of the Way, right there with them.  Paul even sent Timothy to follow up with them and make sure that they were following the teachings they had received.

Jesus commanded us, as believers, to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe ALL I’ve commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

The word observe has several meanings, but they all come down to follow with the eyes of the mind and stick to correctly, or conform ones actions or practice to.  So another way of putting it could be that Jesus said to teach them to conform to the commandments I gave you.  This is what discipleship is.  With that in mind.  What are the most important commandments of Jesus?

If we took all of his teachings and commandments, and the way he lived his life and put it all together, what would be the result?  What are we to conform our lives to?  Now I’m talking to believers, those who have repented, confessed Jesus as Lord, taken up their cross and are followers of the Way of Christ.

Does anyone remember what kind of house Jesus lived in?  Wasn’t it the biggest one on the block?  Wasn’t his chariot the newest thing out of Rome?  Does anyone recall when he was on the Mount of Olive and he said, those who are rich are welcome in the kingdom and the poor need to wait outside?  Well if you remember all these things you have a very different version of the New Testament then I do.

No he said that the Son of man has not where to lay his head.  He walked almost everywhere he went.  He said it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven then for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.  He said if you give to the poor and the hungry and visit the prisoners, then you did so to him.

So what is the command?  Couldn’t he just come out and say it?  I can be pretty thick headed.  Hmmm… Well, thanks to Jesus thinking of me, and how I would need to have my hand held all the way, he did tell us very plainly.

When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?”  He not only answered, plainly, but went the extra mile.  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all our mind.  This is the first commandment.  And the second is like unto it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39, KJV)

Once again Jesus reiterated, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)  By these two commandment, everything Jesus wanted us to observe is made perfect.

Just to make sure we understood how important these commandments are Jesus tells us in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.”  So… In loving the Lord we keep his commandments to love the Lord your God and to love one another.  But how do we love the Lord?  How do we express the way to love the Lord?  We live in a world where all we are taught is how to love ourselves.

Let us start with something basic.  Most of us being selfish, still know how to show love to our children, a spouse, a sibling, a pet, a close friend, or to parents.  I know, not all at the same time, but we have at least a starting point. You can express love to the Lord in the same way you express love to one of these that you do love.  Now this is only a beginning and meant to get you to find your own ways to express love for the Lord.

  • Give Thanks
  • Do Things For Him
  • Spend Time
  • Shut Up and Listen
  • Give Praise and Brag on Him

Give Thanks

Let’s start with being thankful. Expressing thanks to someone you love just for being there is a great way to show your love.  I love the fact that my wife is there for me, even when she doesn’t realize it, her presence lifts me up.  Sometimes I just reach over and tell her, Thanks for no reason.  When my son cuts the grass for me, I tell him thanks, because he did not have to do that.  When my wife brings me diner, and yes she does bring me diner.  I know in this day and age that is not the norm, so I thank her for it without fail.  She is not my servant, but shows her love for me in this manner. The Lord does things for you all the time, even when you do not know.  Show your love and appreciation by thanking him, as often as you need to. You should thank Him, as soon as you think of it.

Do Things for Him

That brings us to another point.  Do things for the Lord that He enjoys.  I help my wife with cooking, and dishes, and other household chores.  I make her little drawings, I by her flowers for no reason.  So what are some things we can do for the Lord?  Funny you should ask, because he told us in Matthew 25: 34-40,

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

Spend Time

I love to just sit on the bed, or go for a drive with my wife and just enjoy being with her.  I love sitting on a peer with my son and fishing, or just being in the presence of my family without the phone in my hand, or theirs.  Just spending time with them lets them know they are important to me.  Spend time with the Lord.  Get up early and go to sit by the water and just enjoy His presence, or have a cup of coffee and meditate on His goodness.  Spend time with him and let him know you enjoy the time he has to spend with you.  Enjoy his voice.

Shut Up and Listen

Most of the time I spend with family is sitting in the living room or at the dinner table and they just talk about their day.  Most of the time they talk to fast I can hardly keep up with the conversation, much less add my own thoughts.  I often have to stop them and make them start over so I can understand.  They laugh at me a little sometimes, and sometimes they even repeat what they said, to make sure I know what was went on with them.  But just taking the time to listen, and try to understand is another way I show my love.  I care about what they are trying to say, even if I don’t always understand it the first time.  Spending time with the Lord in Prayer and study is a very good way to not only learn more about God, but to show Him that you love Him enough to try to understand Him.  Remember the Lord says to Seek and you shall find.  Ask and it will be given.  Set a specific time of day just to spend in prayer and study His Word.

Give Praise and Brag on Him

When my wife gives me a pat on the back, or brags about me to others, “Boy Howdy!”  I love it because I know she thinks about me, when I’m not there.  I will honestly tell you my wife is the best cook I have ever known.  I mean, I will lay money on it.  She knows it and so does everyone else.  I love to brag at work and tell everyone the latest culinary masterpiece that she developed in the cooking channel that is our kitchen.

The same way is with my son’s playing of the trumpet, everyone in the stadium knows that he is the best trumpet player in the band, and it they didn’t know before I got there, they do when I have left.  Or that my other son is the hardest working, biggest hearted man I know, who will literally give you the shirt off his back. The gentleness in his heart makes me cry every single time I think about him.

This is the way we should brag and praise the Lord.  Hey! Your God is the one who SAVED you from death.  Y our God is the one who formed you in the womb. our God is He who provides everything you have.  Your God is He who parted the Red Sea, and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.  He is the creator or all that is see and unseen.  He is coming back to wipe away the heavens and the earth and create a new heavens and earth, and guess what, your gona have a front row seat!  Praise God! Brag in Him. “ I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart;  I will tell of all your marvelous works.” Psalms 9:1

Knowing that someone loves you is euphoric.  We are created in God’s image.  The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit are one awesome God and deserve our love and our outward expression of love. So rejoice in the Lord and brag about being His beloved.  “For the Lord gives to His beloved even in their sleep.” (Psalms 127:2) Don’t take Him for granted.  Tell others how much He loves you and them.

This is only a short list of ways to love the Lord your God.  I am sure you have already thought of many more.  It is time to move away from the milk of the gospel and onto to cereals of the doctrine of love in Christ Jesus.  There is no division in Christ.  If you are a follower of Jesus there is no Jew, Catholic, or Protestant.  We are one church.  We are all baptized in to one resurrection, and by His love they shall know we are one in Him.

What is Repentance?

Jesus said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32)  What then is repentance? Why is it so important?  What does it look like?

I will tell you first what repentance is not. Repentance is not just being sorry because you got caught.  Although, being caught can be a motivation towards repentance.  Sorrow for being caught and apologizing is not repentance in itself.  In truth, repentance does not require an emotional response either.  Yes emotions can be a factor in bringing someone to repentance.

What is required for repentance?

  • Repentance requires an understanding of a wrong that was committed.
  • Repentance requires an understanding of consequences that have a cause and effect from act committed. Repentance requires ownership of the act committed.
  • Repentance requires a sincere commitment not to re-commit the wrong that was committed.

For Christian repentance it requires acceptance that Jesus paid the consequence for the wrong committed.  Christian repentance requires that we commit our lives to God through Jesus.  Acts 20:21 tell us that it is “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ”.  So then, repentance is a decision, a change of mind, resulting in an inward and outward action of turning from your old way of life to a better life in fellowship with God through Jesus the Savior.

Repentance is a gift that God has given us.  We have all been hurt by someone in our past, by someone we really loved and trusted.  We have all felt so betrayed that we didn’t see how we could ever trust anyone again.  No one could make us love again.  No one would ever be allowed to get that close to use again.  We have all felt that loneliness that comes with the anger and isolation of mistrust.  For those of us who have overcome and have someone in our lives we can trust again, how did we do that?  Better yet for those who still struggle with trust issues, how do you overcome?

How do you trust someone again?  Can anyone EARN your trust?  I think the answer is no.  No one can earn your trust.  So then what?  This is the way… you have to give someone your trust.  You have to take a chance.  You have to give it away.  You have to forgive. This is what I mean by, repentance is a gift from God.  We cannot earn Gods trust any more than someone can earn yours, if you have been hurt.  God chooses to give us a way to come into His graces.  God chose to make the sacrifice of blood that was necessary to bring us in to his fellowship again.  Why?  Because like you, God wants to be close to the ones that He loves.  Because God knows that having a relationship with you as an individual is worth the sacrifice.

Repentance is a part of the foundation of Christianity.  Acts 17:30 states, “…but [God] now commandeth all men [women] everywhere to repent.”, and again in Luke 13:13 we discover that unless we do repent, we will perish.  So then the way to eternal life starts with repentance… a choice to change.  Peter announced in Acts 2:38, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Repentance is necessary for salvation.  How can a husband who has wronged his wife expect to be forgiven and trusted if he is still committing the offences that lead to his separation from his wife?  How can an employee make amends to an employer if they are still stealing from the employer?  How can an addict be trusted if they are still using?  It doesn’t make much sense does it?  It is one thing to be sorry, it’s another to choose to change.  Repentance is yet more than these, you have to put your faith in Jesus.  You have to trust that He has the power and the will to deliver you.

In Alcoholics Anonymous, the first few steps to recovery are to admit you have a problem. Know that you are powerless to stop it. You have to take a moral inventory of yourself. Know that you can be delivered from the behavior by a higher power.  Then commit to that power, and continue in the way you are led.  I can think of no better example of repentance.

When you repent, you have to put your faith in Jesus to deliver you from your moral bankruptcy.  You have to commit to Jesus for life.  The phrase “Let go and let God.” Does not mean to quit trying.  It means to submit to Jesus.

“Know ye not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether to sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness:  But God be thanked, that ye were servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.  Being made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” (Romans 6:16-18)

This is the doctrine of salvation – “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who know no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” (II Corinthians 5:21)

Jesus stepped in and took blame for everything you ever did, or will do against God, and paid the price with His life.  You say I didn’t do anything against God.  Well the truth is you have. Every lie, everything you took that wasn’t yours.  Every vile thought, every time you talked about someone behind their back.  Every time you judged the homeless, or ignored a widows tears, or a child’s hunger.  When you chose to use your pain to hold judgement against someone else, you did those and more against God.  Just because you call yourself a Christian doesn’t mean you don’t need to repent either.

1John 1:8-9 was talking to followers when he said, “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  The church of Pergamos was warned, “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” (Revelation 2:16)  Examine yourself today and confess aloud your sin to Jesus and recommit your way.

The Lord Himself commanded us to take up our crosses daily.  This way you can be in fellowship with God today.  “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.  And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” (1 John 1:3-4)

This is a gift from God toward us, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Romans 5:1)