Posts Tagged ‘Hell’


Most people are on guard when they spend private face time with their Pastor. Especially if you are a bit older and have been in church a few years. You may have known a pastor who used your or a friends situation as a sermon illustration. You may have experienced the judgmental statements of a pastor. So we normally treat a visit with the pastor as an interrogation at the local police precinct. We watch what we say and what we do. We make sure everything is put up, nothing lying around that shouldn’t be.

Personally I would rather visit people when they are lying on a gurney waiting to be operated on. They tend to be more honest. You can tell if they are anxious. Transparent honesty is such a rare thing anymore. We wonder about our politicians, our church leaders, our teachers. We grow up learning to question people in authority, exactly because we have seen so much dishonesty

I know some of you question the truth of God’s will. To most everyone under the age of 35, the subject of God’s Will is strange, foreign, and for the most part irrelevant. They believe that life (shit as the saying goes) happens. God rarely has anything to do with it.

Let me assure you, whatever your concept about the importance of the will of God, what you think is not truth. We are easily deceived into believing any old lie the world or the devil wants us to believe. What matters is the Word of God!

This Word is Life, not just for after you are dead, but it is Life NOW! It is health, it is forgiveness, it is peace, it is hope, it is safety, it is security, it is the most powerful force this world has ever know. I can say this because this word says that Jesus Christ is the Word. No other person in the Universe ever lived a sinless life, ever faced Satan one on one and defeated Him, ever stared death in its face and defeated it! If you fail to give your life totally to Jesus Christ, you are robbing yourself of real Life. You are robbing yourself of the very presence of God! You are robbing yourself of ever being a part in the will of God. You may think you know God, but you are believing a lie. Your mind is dark, you are confused and stumbling over the falsehoods of your mind. One day instead of waking to an eternal life of joy in the presence of God, you will wake in the agonies of Hell, screaming in torment for all eternity, ever sorrowful because you knew the truth but you rejected it. There will be no second chance.

WHAT IS GOD’S WILL FOR ME?

We are looking at what the will of God for me is. And number one, the will of God for you is to know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. He doesn’t want part of you, even three quarters of you. He doesn’t want to be just one of your beliefs, and share space with Hinduism, Buddhism, humanism, or even you ism. He must be your GOD! Anything less and your mind is fooling you. You are lost in a lie. You will never know God’s Will. This is because you put your will first.

So what is the will of God for me and for you? It is to Put Him First! It is to Trust completely and confidently in Him.

Now I know you are thinking how much easier it would be if you could sit down at Applebee’s and have a nice long lunch with Jesus. I assure you that the football playoffs would not be the topic of conversation. Who is going to win the Super bowl would be the farthest thing from your mind. You would want to know what He thinks of your life, if you are going in the right direction. You would want clarity on His will for your life. You would want to know what you should be doing for Him.

If life was only that simple. So many decisions we must make. We make decisions and then our decisions make us.

  • Should I go to college? Which one? What should I major in?
  • Should I get married? Which one?
  • I can’t stand my job. Should I look for another, or should I just quit and hope something pops up?
  • A friend of mine wants me to share a place with him. Should I? Should I live at home?
  • I’m getting ready to retire? Can I afford to? Where should we live?
  • We have two children. We’re thinking about having a third. Should we have another one? Or should we think about adopting?
  • I feel like God is wanting me to go into the ministry. What does He want me to do? Missions, Youth, Pastor?

Here is how I taught my six children the importance of knowing God’s Will. I told each of my children that in order for them to get married, they had to go to college. I also did not want them to go to state colleges. I also wanted them to live on campus.

No state college because I wanted them to apply to colleges that were a bit more difficult to get into, so it made them work harder on their grades. Live in the dorms because I wanted them to grow up faster, face decisions on their own, what types of friends were best for them, how to manage money, how to do laundry, all the things they need to learn to live on their own.

So our children moved away, Pepperdine in Malibu, University of Denver, Emory in Atlanta, Mid America Nazarene,  Rockhurst, Texas Christian University.

It would have been much easier if I had just told them to go to KU, or if God had just sent a chorus of angels singing Pepperdine, Pepperdine! Instead I went with them to the College Fairs and we tried to see which colleges fit what their plans were. They had to apply and then wait to hear if they were accepted. They had to seek God in their decision. We prayed abouth where they were going to go. We also studied the colleges based upon they wanted to do with their life. They had to ask tough questions. That’s what it takes to have our eyes open to God and His Will.

I wanted my kids to learn something about KNOWING direction in life. I wanted them to learn Four simple things about discovering direction and God’s Will.

1) Honoring Parent’s is Really Important

What your parents desire is one of the greatest indicators of what God’s will is. If you are rebellious toward your parents, you are rebellious toward God. Anything you do in that state, no matter how righteous or well-intentioned, will be without God’s direction.

2) Make Decisions That Require The Lord

Jesus said to walk the narrow path. God always wants us to be in places where we must rely on Him. We are not made to live on easy-street. So put yourselves in places where you MUST rely on God for direction.

3) Finish What You Start

(The two youngest both started at one college and then after the first year transferred. That’s OK, because they still graduated. Four of my kids earned advanced degrees. They learned to finish what they started. I did not accept quitting, or delaying, or figuring out what they wanted to do.)

4) Life Has No Entitlements-No Guarantees

They are the key to becoming anything in this life.  There is no guarantee they will get a job, that Dad will always provide for them when they goof up, that there will be an automatic income, automatic retirement. They are the key to what life gives them. They need to have goals, ambitions, desires for the future. They can’t just sit around and hope the government will provide for them, or their parents, or a rich uncle. They need to look to themselves. Life is about becoming Men and Women of Character. It is by our Character that we accomplish anything in life.

NO MOANING OR GROANING ALLOWED

Sometimes moaning and groaning about not knowing God’s will is just an excuse for laziness, or selfishness, or stubbornness. God has probably been shouting at you through the authorities in your life but you don’t like what they are saying, so you are holding out for a better option.

God doesn’t operate that way. He doesn’t tolerate continual laziness, he doesn’t tolerate selfishness. And he certainly doesn’t tolerate disobedience. God will never drag you or browbeat you into obeying Him. If you chose to do what you want to do, so be it. You will have your chance to explain yourself at either of two judgments- the Great White Throne or the bema seat.

Did my kids make mistakes? Of course they did. I made mistakes when I was in college. I was even kicked out of Bible College. Would we have made those mistakes if we had gone to the college that God wanted us to go to? IT DOESN’T MATTER! THERE ARE NO DO-OVERS, ONLY DO-LEARN!

One More Thing:  Why because of a few failures would I think God had intended me to go to a different college? (or get married to someone else, or work somewhere else or _________?) How do I know that God wanted me to go to a different college? I don’t. I know that at the time I went to the college I thought would be according to His will. Was I 100% sure? NO! I had been accepted at another that would have offered a better education, more freedom. But I believed God wanted me to go to that college. The thing about the college I went to was that God used it to build character in my life because no matter the problem, I responded with humility and a willingness to learn from my mistakes.

We are such quitters in America! As soon as we experience problems we think we made a mistake. It can be our job, our marriage, the college we go to. I looked at going to another college after I was kicked out, but I believed God wanted me to finish what I started, and I did. I am so glad I did. God doesn’t like quitters either. He doesn’t like people who run away from their problems or their marriages or whatever is causing them fits at the time. Blessed are all those who ENDURE!

No matter where you go to school, or don’t go to school, or work, or marry, what defines you is not your education, or your spouse or even your job. What defines you is your character. What kind of man or woman am I becoming. That is God’s will for you-to become a man or woman of character. A man of character will always stand in the gate.

Here is what GOD values:

Psalms 11:7 The Lord is Righteous; He loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold His face.

I don’t care what my kids do in this life, as long as what they are doing develops their character and their righteousness. If that happens, I know they will behold the face of God! The same is true of each of us.

God brings this truth to our hearts through His Word to us:

  • Psalms 36:10 Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart!
  • Psalms 140:13 “The upright shall dwell in your presence!
  • Prov 2:21 For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it!
  • Prov 3:32 The devious person is an abomination to the Lord, but the upright are in His confidence!
  • Prov 11:3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them
  • Eccl 7:29 “I have discovered that God created people to be upright (or virtuous) but they have each turned to follow their own downward path.” NLT (ESV -made people upright, but they pursued many schemes.)

From these verses we discover the first truth of Knowing God’s Specific Will for Your Life:

TRUTH #1.  GOD’s Will for You is to be UPRIGHT!

If this is God’s Will for you, whatever you do will always work toward that end. No matter what happens in your life, you will be given the opportunity to walk uprightly before God. The way you respond to the events, the snubs, the hurts, the heartbreaks, your stupidity, your foolishness, your transgressions, will determine the state of your heart. Everything that happens in your life, good, bad, ugly, beautiful, is either a stepping stone toward an upright heart, or a stumbling block that will keep you from God’s presence and power in your life.

God doesn’t care how you appear to the world. You may think it is all about your profession, your house, your property, your car, but NO God prizes those of Upright Heart. All that stuff will be burnt up. God’s eyes run throughout the entire earth, looking for those whose heart is upright toward Him.

You are never as Upright before God as when your are before Him in humility and prayer. Being Upright does not refer to your physical stature but the condition of your heart!

WHAT ABOUT OUR FAILURES?

Will you make mistakes? Yes! Were they God’s Will? Maybe, maybe not. But as long as you allow God to teach your heart, God will work His will in your life.

God uses earthen vessels, and yes, cracked and broken vessels, so that the Excellency of the Power might be of Him and not us!

So God  uses our mistakes, even our failings to conform us to the uprightness of His Son. Now there is a caution as to the patience of God. If you keep making the same mistakes, watch out! Stubbornness will keep you from God’s Will.

Remember what happened to the Hebrews wandering in the wilderness!

FOUR MORE VERSES TO CONSIDER…

When you read the Proverbs you immediately notice a strong emphasis on the sovereignty of God over our personal decisions. Let’s look at four verses that help us see how God works in, with, through, and sometimes in spite of our decisions to accomplish His will in us.

Proverbs 16:9-“In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” (HCSB)

The word used for determines is “kun, pronounced koon”. It is has a much stronger meaning than the way the KJV translates. The KJV uses “directs” which gives us the idea that God directs our steps along a path, but where we step is up to us.

The word kun is much stronger than that. It speaks of God’s control of every detail of the universe. It pictures the action of setting in place or erecting an object.

God determines and establishes your steps.

You can make your plans, you can have your life mapped out step by step, but in the end, God determines every step you take. You can only tack so far. Pretty soon you have to go with the wind.

Proverbs 16:33-“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” ESV

Casting lots was used in the Old Testament to determine God’s will. God even prescribed ‘casting lots’ to determine which tribe got which parcel of land when they had conquered Canaan. We believe it involved different colored balls or rocks, mixing them together, and then seeing which one fell out of the bag first. In that sense casting lots is like rolling dice. It appears to be a random act of chance. But God is behind those colored stones. He determines which one falls out of the bag first. This means that there are no “accidents” in life, no “random” events, and no such thing as “luck.” Even seemingly meaningless things fit into his plan.

To paraphrase Forest Gump, ’Life is like a roll of the dice, but God is in charge of how the numbers come up.”

Proverbs 19:21-“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

“You can make all the plans you like, but God gets the last word.” His purpose always prevails. Some translations say that God’s purpose shall stand. Most of our plans don’t stand. They are like the leaves that blow away in the autumn wind. But when God determines to do something, He will do it! There is no if ands or buts about it. Abraham knew that God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Why else would he keep lowering the number of righteous. God saw Abraham’s heart, and so He rescued Lot, but His purpose prevailed.

You can make all the 5 and 10 year plans you want, but just remember this. God always gets the last word. Better learn to be flexible. O, and another bit of advice, never tell God NO.

Proverbs 20:24-“A man’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?”

What this verse is really communicating can only be understood by understanding the Hebrew words. The word translated “man’s” comes from the Hebrew word gibbor, which refers to a mighty warrior, or a great leader. Solomon is saying that even the steps of a mighty man are directed by God. The word “anyone” in the second phrase comes from the Hebrew word “adam”, which is the generic word for man. The meaning is, “If God directs the steps of mighty men, how then can an ordinary man understand his own way?” The answer is, he can’t!

That’s the whole point of the verse. We’re like a man stumbling around in the darkness, bumping into things, tripping over ourselves, trying to find our way forward. We can’t say for sure where we’ve come from, where we are right now, or where we’re going to be tomorrow.

Only God sees the big picture of life.

So these four verses lead us to the next rule of knowing God’s Will for your life:

TRUTH #2: GOD IS GOD AND YOU’RE NOT!

Understand this and you’ll be OK. Forget this and you will keep lapping Mt Sinai.

When we forget that rule, we think that we’re in control of our own life and that everything depends on us. So we obsess, we hyperventilate, we try to control everything and everyone around us, we worry over all our decisions, and we spend hours fussing over the minutiae of life.

What a relief to realize that God is God and you’re not. Now you can rip that big “G” off your sweatshirt. You don’t have to play God anymore and you don’t have to try to control everything around you. You can sleep well when you realize that God is God and you are not.

Corrie Ten Boom was having trouble going to sleep one night because she was so worried about the affairs of her life. She tried praying but it didn’t help. Finally, the Lord said to her,

“Go to sleep, Corrie. I’m going to be up all night anyway.”

But I know there are some of you who would confess you need help. You are saying “Pastor Jim, I’m still needing some guidance about God’s Specific Will for my life. Can you give me any help?”

SHOULD I MARRY LYDIA?

When I was asking God if I should ask Lydia to marry me, I said, “God, give me a sign from your Word”. I prayed, and then I dropped my Bible on the desk so it would open to an arbitrary page. I looked down and the first verse my eyes came upon was Acts 16:14. Sure enough, there was her name Lydia. I thought, boy, you are good God.

“One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira (I thought, boy God you are really good, because she had a Chihuahua named Tyra.) a seller of purple goods (her favorite color was purple), who was a worshiper of God. Amen God, she must be the one. But then my heart sunk as I read the rest of the verse. “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul!Oh No! She’s going to marry some Paul guy!

Just kidding. I made this up to demonstrate this: If you wait for circumstances to tell you what to do, you open yourself up to being deceived. Satan can appear as an angel of light. Satan can even arrange circumstances to get you to do what He wants.

There was a woman coming to our church in Edgerton. She seemed very spiritual, very enthusiastic about God. I visited with her and was asking about her salvation experience. She shared with me that she had grown up going to church (not Baptist) but had fallen away through the years. Just a few months prior she was lying in bed when a bright light filled the room and she saw a miniature Jesus standing on her bed by her feet. She felt a warmth come over her and she knew from that vision that she was saved. I thought it was a very interesting story, and she seemed to know all the right answers as we talked more. However, as time went on she stopped coming to church, (she got upset about some piddly thing someone had said about her friend) and we still remained friends, but she fell back into her lackadaisical attitude toward God. Was she saved? All I know is that if she was depending upon that vision to save her, she could be very disappointed come judgment day. We are saved by Faith in the Word of God.

This leads me to some practical principles for knowing the Will of God for your Life. Never depend upon circumstances to guide you, never put your hope in a miniature Jesus standing on your bed.

PRINCIPLE #1:USE THE LIGHT, WISDOM AND INTELLIGENCE THAT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU TO MAKE WISE DECISIONS.

Sometimes people talk as if you shouldn’t use your brain at all but should wait for some mystical sign from God. I know the Bible says, “lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5), but that doesn’t mean to throw your brain away either. It simply means submitting your will and your mind to God and what He wants to do. But you will still have to study the different colleges, etc, do legwork, use your experiences and the wisdom He builds into your life. God will use all of that to show you what to do.

Peter was miraculously rescued from prison hours before he was to be beheaded. Acts says an angel opened his cell, made the chains fall off of him, walked him right past the first and second sentry checkpoints, out the huge iron gate and finally out into the street. But then the Bible says “immediately the angel left him.” The angel didn’t even tell Peter where to go after that. In fact, Peter wondered if it was all a dream. What did he do next? Did he kneel down and say God, what do you want me to do? No, he used the good sense God had already given him and got out of their quick!

I have a friend that told me he was out to dinner with one of these “serious Christians” and when it came time for desert, this “serious Christian” had prayer to ask God what they should get. Do you really want to go before the throne of God for something so insignificant?

If you need to make a major decision, don’t wait for the angels to knock on your door. Use your head, study the situation, gather the facts, talk to your friends, seek godly counsel, and then submit it all to the Lord. Get yourself in a place where you wait for Him, with no personal pressure about what you secretly want.

I know from experience that often we give it to God, but we secretly have a desire to do so and so. So we wait just a bit, and when He doesn’t give us any clear direction, we do what we want to anyway. He knows your heart-and will let you do it anyway.

that’s what happened to the Hebrews in the wilderness. They said they would follow God, but they secretly wanted their old fleshly Egyptian lives. Psalm 106:15 “God gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul” Sometime we get what we want, but God sends leanness to our soul, hoping we realize we don’t need that fast sports car or huge house or Rolex watch. (Believe me, I know of what I speak.)

PRINCIPLE #2: SINCE YOU CAN’T SEE THE FUTURE, DON’T EXPECT 100% CERTAINTY.

I understand that if you are facing a life-changing decision–a potential marriage, a cross-country move, a new career, which college to attend, whether or not to begin chemotherapy–you want to without a shadow of doubt that you are doing what God wants you to do.

But  too often that leaves us paralyzed by an inability to make a decision. My youngest son would always take the longest time to decide what to order at a restaurant. We are not talking about, ‘come back in a couple of minutes’. We’re talking the rest of us are finished eating before he is ready to order. I’m happy to report that with our prayers and working with him, he is much better at making decisions. He can order with the rest of us.

I understand if you have trouble deciding what to do.  Some decisions are so important they can’t be left to chance, or be made in a moment. Some of us have the personal philosophy:

“When in doubt, don’t.” If you aren’t sure about the new job, don’t take it, don’t make the move, don’t say yes, don’t make any decision with less than total certainty.

But is that good advice? Is that the way God works?

LOOK AT THE HEROES OF OUR FAITH

  • Did Noah know all about the flood? No, but he built the ark anyway.
  • Did Moses understand what it meant to lead God’s people out of Egypt? No, but he said yes when the Lord called him.
  • Did Abraham have a road map? No, but he left Ur of the Chaldees anyway.
  • Did Joshua know how the walls were going to come tumbling down? No, but he marched around Jericho anyway.
  • Did Gideon fully grasp God’s plan to defeat the Midianites? No, he doubted it from the beginning, but God delivered his people anyway.
  • Did young David have a clue of what was to come when Samuel said to Jesse, “This is the one”? No, but the Spirit of the Lord came upon him anyway.
  • Did Jehoshaphat know how God was going to defeat the Ammonites? No, but he put the singers at the front of the army and sent them out to battle anyway.
  • Did the three Hebrew children know how they would be delivered?
  • Was Daniel totally sure the lions would welcome him dropping in on them?
  • Did Peter know he could walk on water?
  • Did Paul know what would happen when he finally got to Rome?

We could add a hundred other examples from the Bible!

NONE OF THESE GREAT HEROES OF THE FAITH KNEW THE OUTCOME! THERE WAS AN ELEMENT OF DOUBT, BUT THEY DID IT ANYWAY!

The life of faith means living with uncertainty even in the midst of doing God’s will.

That’s the whole point of Hebrews 11. Those great men and women didn’t know the future, but they trusted God anyway, sometimes in the face of great personal suffering. And because they kept on believing when circumstances turned against them, they received a great reward.

Too many people want what God has never promised–100% certainty before they will act. So they wait and dilly-dally and they stop and start and hesitate and ruminate. They might as well be transformed into a stupid cow or sheep. They refuse to go forward because they are waiting for 100% certainty. That’ why I believe that it is rarely God’s will to give you 100% certainty. That will leave faith out of your life every time.

PRINCIPLE #3: GOD WANTS GUIDABLE PEOPLE WHO WILL TRUST HIM (EVEN WITH THE DETAILS).

Are you GUIDABLE? I didn’t say GULLIBLE. I said G*U*I*D*A*B*L*E.

Guidable People are also teachable. Guidable people look to God and not to themselves. They understand that after they have done all they can, it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

  • Like Young Samuel, they say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant heareth.”
  • Like Isaiah they cry out, “Here am I, Lord, send me.”
  • Like the Lord Jesus they pray, “Not my will but thine be done.”

Guidable people always receive guidance from God! Always. Why? Because God always speaks loud enough for a willing ear to hear. Are you a guidable Christian? Or do you still feel like you have to be in the driver’s seat of life. If you are struggling with this, let me suggest these two simple prayers:

  • “Lord, let your will be done even if it means that my will is not done.”
  • “Lord, right now I’m not sure I want to do your will. But I am willing to be made willing. Do whatever is necessary to change my heart. Amen.”

PRINCIPLE #4: WHEN THE TIME COMES, MAKE THE BEST DECISION YOU CAN AND LEAVE THE RESULTS WITH GOD.

When the time to decide comes, when you’ve thought about it, prayed about it, talked it over, sought godly counsel, researched your options, looked at the circumstances, searched the Scriptures, and waited on the Lord, when you’ve done everything you know how to do and the moment of truth comes, take a deep breath, close your eyes if you need to, and then just go ahead and make the best decision you can make.

When you’ve done that, there’s one other thing to do-leave the results with God. Remember he’s God and you’re not. His purposes will stand.

I’ve already said that he wants you to know his will more than you want to know it. Knowing God’s will is His desire for your life. If you truly want to know and do God’s will, He will show you.

Jerry Sittser, author and professor at Whitworth College writes: “God has enough trouble getting us to do his will, without making it hard to find.

You are probably thinking, well, he lives in an Ivory Palace, has a comfy professorship. What does he know about finding God’s Will? How much faith does it take to be a college professor? A few years back Jerry was confronted with a horrible tragedy that no man wants to experience. He was in a car accident, and there on the side of the road, one by one, he held his Mom, his wife and his four year old daughter as they died in his arms. Following that tragedy he wrote with honesty and candor about the despair that threatened to overwhelm him-but amazingly never did. He survived because he believed in the ancient Christian doctrine of grace. He believed in grace because he lived it. And he named the book he wrote, “A Grace Disguised.”

He writes, “. . . Though I experienced death, I also experienced life in ways that I never thought possible before—not after the darkness, as we might suppose, but in the darkness. I did not go through the pain and come out the other side; instead, I lived in it and found within that pain the grace to survive and eventually grow. I did not get over the loss of my loved ones; rather I absorbed the loss into my life, like soil receives decaying matter, until it became a part of who I am. Sorrow took up permanent residence in my soul and enlarged it.”

If you are willing to be guided by God, you will discover that he will lead you step by step by step. Even through tragedies. His Grace is truly amazing. It not only carries you to the cross and into the loving arms of your Savior, but it carries you every step of your life. All that is required is the same thing that led you to ask Jesus into your heart.

VALLEY OF DECISION

To know the specific will of God for your Life requires you to go to the Valley of Decision.  If you have never gone there now is the time. In this valley you must discover the faith that God wants you to have that is the beginning point of living in the will of God. The beginning point is believing by Faith that there is a Mighty, Eternal God who cares intimately and particularly about you and what happens in your heart and life.

If you can take that step, the battle is over, all that remains is for you to submit your will to His. Every day you pray as Jesus instructed:

May your Kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!

How is God’s will done in heaven? It is done by the angels!

Psalm 103:20 says, “Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!”

When you pray for God’s will to be done on earth, you are telling God you want to obey His Word. It means giving up control of your own life. Oftentimes we’re scared that if we give God control of our lives, He’ll mess it up somehow. We wouldn’t say it that way, but that’s how we really feel.

More than once I have heard people say, “Pray for the opposite of what you want, because God always gives us the opposite of what we ask for.” Or they say “don’t tell God what you won’t do, becasue then that is what He will want you to do” We laugh when we read that because it seems so absurd. But many of us secretly wonder if it isn’t true. We’ve all known the frustration of unanswered prayer. Either God calls the shots or you call the shots. Either He is in control or you are in control. It’s not easy to pray like that because it means giving up control of your own life. But you aren’t really in control anyway. It only seems that way.

Bob Pierce is the founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, Christian relief organizations that helps millions of people around the world. He was probably the most unlikely man to found and lead such large organizations. He didn’t have much education, he butchered the King’s English, and he lacked many social graces. In fact, he called himself a second-rater. When asked the secret of his life, he said that in his early years as a Christian he had prayed like this,

“O God, I give you the right to change my agenda any time you like—and you don’t have to inform me in advance. Amen.”

That’s the kind of prayer God can answer because it’s based on the truth that God is God and He has the absolute right to do whatever He wants. Many of us are unhappy because we’re fighting God at the point of His sovereignty. We’ve never surrendered our agenda to His control. When You Pray “Your will be done” you are trusting God to do what’s Best for You!

Many of us have gone through periods when we doubted that God wanted the best for us. Perhaps you are doubting even as I speak.

GOD HAS PROVEN HE WANTS WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU

God has SHOWED each one of us that He wants what is best for us. He showed us how serious he was when he sacrificed His only Son on the Cross. He showed us how Powerful He is when He raised Him from the Dead. He assures us that that same power can be ours. Power to conquer, power to overcome, power for joy, power for forgiveness, power to become like Jesus Christ.

Do you want that power? You knew what you had to do to receive Jesus as your savior-you had to humble yourself, admit you were a sinner, worthy of death, but rescued from sin, death and satan by the death and resurrection of God’s only begotten son, Jesus Christ.

If you can pray “Jesus, forgive me of my sins, please be my one and only Lord and Savior”, how hard is it to humble yourself again and say “Father, not my will but thy will be done?” Or did you simply ask Jesus into your heart to benefit your supposed eternal life? If you were motivated by selfish concerns and not by the fear of Eternal God, perhaps that is why you are unwilling to seek HIS WILL for your life! Perhaps you should check your heart condition!

WE MUST BE WILLING TO LET GO OF THE CUP

Jesus asked if the cup could be removed, but He never asked not to do the will of His Father. Quite the contrary, Jesus was quite open about ONLY doing His Father’s will. But the fact that He asked if the cup could be removed meant that it might have been possible to do His Father’s Will without the cup. However, God said, “No, you must drink of the cup of My Wrath!”

There is an amzing revelation about the Will of God in these verses. In order to do the Will of God we must be willing to let go our our ‘CUP’. So many times I have heard people say, “I want to do God’s Will as long as it means doing this, or having this, or not moving there.” We always seem to have conditions that we want to hold on to if we consider doing ANYTHING for the Lord.

God will show you, as He has me, that doing the Will of God means being willing to let go of whatever ‘CUP’ we are holding onto. In fact, God will often knock the cup over and even break it in order to get us to let go.

What are you struggling with right now? What are you holding on to so tightly that it almost makes your hands hurt? What is it that you are afraid to give to God? Whatever it is, you’ll be a lot happier when you finally say, “Your will be done” and open your clenched fist. But you’ll never know until you let go.

C. S. Lewis said there are two kinds of people in the world, and only two kinds: those who say to God, “Your will be done” and those to whom God says in the end, “Your will be done.” Which kind are you?

A Simple Prayer

Here’s a simple prayer that may help you loosen your grip on the things with which you are struggling:

O Lord, Your will be done–
nothing more,
nothing less,
nothing else.
Amen.

As always, if you pray that prayer you will be called upon by God to be part of the answer. When we pray, “Your will be done,” God will hold us to our word. The path will be straight if we let Him direct us, or the path will be filled with potholes and dead man’s curves if we stubbornly refuse His direction.

Your will be done …

  • in my life
  • in my family
  • in my finances
  • in my career
  • in my children
  • in my dreams for the future
  • in my words
  • in my friendships
  • in my world.

Are you brave enough to pray that God’s Will be done in your life? Are you brave enough to seek to know His will? Are you brave enough to stand in His presence! If you walk in His Son, Jesus Christ, you will never fear!

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Importance church covenantA mere two months after the Los Angeles Dodgers inked a new, two–year, $45 million guaranteed deal with power hitter Manny Ramirez, the slugger got hit with a 50–game suspension for using a banned performance–enhancing substance. The reason, a “Behavior” clause written into his contract. The 50 game suspension will save the Dodgers 8 million dollars.Manny Rameriz

Earlier this year Kellogg’s backed out of an endorsement deal with Michael Phelps because of a “Behavior Clause” they had written into the contract. You know them as “Morality Clauses”, but because of changing morals, they have become specific “behavior” clauses.

There was once a time when an advertiser could get an agent to agree to the following clause: “If [Celebrity] has committed any act that offends the community or any segment thereof and/or public morals and decency, such behavior shall be considered a material breach of this Agreement incapable of cure, and if in [Advertiser’s] sole judgment such breach is likely to cause a diminution in the value of the [Advertiser’s] commercial association with [Celebrity], then [Advertiser] shall have the right, in addition to any other rights [Advertiser] may have as a result of such breach, to immediately terminate this Agreement on written notice to [Celebrity]. In such event, there shall be no further compensation payable to [Celebrity] and such termination shall not limit or effect any other rights [Advertiser] may have against [Celebrity] under this Agreement on account of such termination.”

Phelps breaks Behavior ClauseHowever, society’s views of morality have changed, so contracts have gotten to be very specific as regards the “behavior” of the celebrities. With Michael Phelps, public drug use was clearly prohibited.

These behavior clauses have even entered the world of Big Banks and Big Business. The latest banking crisis underscored the importance of not appearing greedy in the face of massive government bailouts at taxpayer expense. The government refused to give “Bailout Funds” unless certain behavior standards were met. Corporate executives lost their jobs and had their pay cut because of lavish extravaganza’s and exorbitant bonuses while Americans saw Billions of dollars in savings wiped out. Now the excessive compensation and perks of CEO’s is under scrutiny of enraged shareholders.CEO Behavior Clause

In the sports world, in the corporate world, in the banking world, how we behave and act is very important, so important that people lose millions when they fail to live up to certain standards.

AIG Bailout and BonusesEven in the church, our behavior is important.  George Barna has become well-known because of the extensive research and surveys he conducts. He has noticed some alarming trends in the church, particularly in regards to our “Biblical World view”. A Survey published in March of this year produced these results:

For the purposes of the survey, a “biblical worldview” was defined as believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today. In the research, anyone who held all of those beliefs was said to have a biblical worldview.Biblical Worldview

The same questions were asked of respondents in national surveys by Barna in 1995, 2000 and 2005. The results indicate that the percentage of adults with a biblical worldview, as defined above, has remained unchanged for more than a decade. The numbers show that 7% had such a worldview in 1995, compared to 10% in 2000, 11% in 2005, and 9% now. Even among born again adults, the statistics have remained flat: 18% in 1995, 22% in 2000, 21% in 2005, and 19% today.

Varying numbers of Americans embrace the different aspects of biblical worldview thinking. The survey found that:

  • One-third of all adults (34%) believe that moral truth is absolute and unaffected by the circumstances. Slightly less than half of the born again adults (46%) believe in absolute moral truth.
  • Half of all adults firmly believe that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches. That proportion includes the four-fifths of born again adults (79%) who concur.
  • Just one-quarter of adults (27%) are convinced that Satan is a real force. Even a minority of born again adults (40%) adopt that perspective.
  • Similarly, only one-quarter of adults (28%) believe that it is impossible for someone to earn their way into Heaven through good behavior. Not quite half of all born again Christians (47%) strongly reject the notion of earning salvation through their deeds.
  • A minority of American adults (40%) are persuaded that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life while He was on earth. Slightly less than two-thirds of the born again segment (62%) strongly believes that He was sinless.
  • Seven out of ten adults (70%) say that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe who still rules it today. That includes the 93% of born again adults who hold that conviction.

troubling change in churchesGeorge Barna, who has directed this tracking research since the early Nineties, pointed out, “There are a several troubling patterns to take notice. First, although most Americans consider themselves to be Christian and say they know the content of the Bible, less than one out of ten Americans demonstrate such knowledge through their actions. Second, the generational pattern suggests that parents are not focused on guiding their children to have a biblical worldview. One of the challenges for parents, though, is that you cannot give what you do not have, and most parents do not possess such a perspective on life. That raises a third challenge, which relates to the job that Christian churches, schools and parachurch ministries are doing in Christian education. Finally, even though a central element of being a Christian is to embrace basic biblical principles and incorporate them into one’s worldview, there has been no change in the percentage of adults or even born again adults in the past 13 years regarding the possession of a biblical worldview.”Biblical_Worldview

Now why would any born again, saved child of God be anything less than 100% when it comes to a Biblical Worldview? I would guarantee that even in our church there are some members who would not score very high on Barna’s poll.

Why have Christians become so watered down when it comes to standards and behavior? Today you have more divorces in the church than in the world; you have believer’s living together; you have leaders of the church struggling with pornography and even getting divorced; you have homosexuality as an accepted behavior, even in many churches.

Should the church be held to higher standards of behavior? Should a church have a “behavior” clause for their members? Or should we concentrate only on our beliefs?

My Experience at Prairie Baptist Church.

Prairie Baptist churchI mentioned last week that my parents marriage was probably saved because they got involved and became members of a Bible teaching and preaching church. It was American Baptist and it was the early 1960’s. But by the time I was in ninth grade (1967) we started to have interesting discussions in youth group. Drug use – is it really wrong? The Bible – is it always right? Hell – is it literal or figurative? Sex before marriage – it it OK. But didn’t really try to present the definitive answer from the Word of God.

The one on Hell really was the last straw for my parents, plus the type of behavior our older youth we getting involved in. My parents became very concerned about what I was learning, but even more so for the type of behavior some of our youth were allowed to engage in. Standards were lacking, not even taught. The Bible was watered down and not taught as absolute.

James warns us that “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (Js 1:26).

In other words, if you profess to be a Christian, but you don’t live a changed life, you should take no comfort in your faith. In fact, the reality is that your faith (religion) should influence your behavior. If it does not, it is a sham, it is powerless. The reason the churches must demonstrate the power of Jesus Christ to transform lives is evident in what is really happening in America.

Seven Faith Tribes: Who They Are, What They Believe, and Why They Matter

Seve  Faith TribesIn this new book by George Barna, Mr Barna sees seven different faith groups that are influencing America. The two largest are of the Christian ‘tribe’. He distinguishes the tribes in this way: Casual Christians represent 66% of the adult population of the U.S. (The percentage of the adult population represented by the other half-dozen tribes included 16% who are Captive Christians, 2% Jews, 2% Mormons, 2% Pantheists, one-half of 1% Muslims, and 11% Skeptics.) Here are some of his answers to questions some have posed:

Question: You describe the Casual Christian tribe as spiritually middle-of-the-road, perhaps even ambivalent about their faith. Why, then, are they so important to the nation’s future?

Barna: Each of the seven tribes is important to our nation’s future because they include millions of American citizens. The Casual Christian tribe is especially significant because it represents a huge majority of the nation’s population – two out of every three adults. This particular tribe is comprised of significant proportions of minimally active born again Christians and moderately active but theologically nominal Christians. If a catalyst were added to this mix to deepen this tribe’s integration of faith and lifestyle, or even to simply create a more extensive sense of community and purpose within the tribe, unprecedented changes could occur.

Question: What have you found to be the appeal of Casual Christianity, as opposed to what draws people to the Captive Christian or even the Mormon tribes – that is, other tribes that are much more fervent about their faith?

Barna: Casual Christianity is faith in moderation. It allows them to feel religious without having to prioritize their faith. Christianity is a low-risk, predictable proposition for this tribe, providing a faith perspective that is not demanding. A Casual Christian can be all the things that they esteem: a nice human being, a family person, religious, an exemplary citizen, a reliable employee – and never have to publicly defend or represent difficult moral or social positions or even lose much sleep over their private choices as long as they mean well and generally do their best. From their perspective, their brand of faith practice is genuine, realistic and practical. To them, Casual Christianity is the best of all worlds; it encourages them to be a better person than if they had been irreligious, yet it is not a faith into which they feel compelled to heavily invest themselves.

Causual Christian vs Captive ChristianBarna: The lives of Captive Christians are defined by their faith; their worldview is built around their core spiritual beliefs and resultant values. Casual Christians are defined by the desire to please God, family, and other people while extracting as much enjoyment and comfort from the world as possible. The big difference between these two tribes is how they define a successful life. For Captives, success is obedience to God, as demonstrated by consistently serving Christ and carrying out His commands and principles. For Casuals, success is balancing everything just right so that they are able to maximize their opportunities and joys in life without undermining their perceived relationship with God and others. Stated differently, Casuals are about moderation in all things while Captives are about extreme devotion to their God regardless of the worldly consequences.

Why is it imperative that we reach out to casual Christians and impress upon them to become Captive Christians, (I CALL THEM COVENANT CHRISTIANS)?

Here is the Real World the Church is facing:

Sex Profanity Steal Lie Gossip Moral SinsAmerican society has become more intrigued by moral issues in recent years, as evidenced by the fact that 55% of adults discuss moral issues with others during a typical week. But a nationwide survey by The Barna Group indicates that Americans have also redefined what it means to do the right thing in their own lives.

A 2008 survey by The Barna Group asked adults which, if any, of eight behaviors with moral overtones they had engaged in during the past week. The behaviors included looking at pornography, using profanity, gambling, gossiping, engaging in sexual intercourse with someone to whom they were not married, retaliating against someone, getting drunk, and lying. Of those surveyed:

  • Twenty-eight percent had used profanity.
  • Twenty percent had gambled.
  • Nineteen percent had viewed pornography.
  • Twelve percent had gossiped.
  • Twelve percent had gotten drunk.
  • Eleven percent had lied.
  • Nine percent had engaged in sexual intercourse with someone to whom they were not married.
  • Eight percent had retaliated against someone.

One of the most stunning outcomes from the Barna survey was the moral pattern among adults under 25. The younger generation was more than twice as likely as all other adults to engage in behaviors considered morally inappropriate by traditional standards. Their choices made even the Baby Boomers – never regarded as a paragon of traditional morality – look like moral pillars in comparison.

For instance, two-thirds of the under-25 segment (64%) had used profanity in public, compared to just one out of five Boomers (19%). The younger group – known as Mosaics – was nine times more likely than were Boomers to have engaged in sex outside of marriage (38% vs. 4%), six times more likely to have lied (37% vs. 6%), almost three times more likely to have gotten drunk (25% vs. 9%) and to have gossiped (26% vs. 10%), and twice as likely as Boomers to have observed pornography (33% vs. 16%) and to have engaged in acts of retaliation (12% vs. 5%).

According to George Barna, who directed the survey, the results reflect a significant shift in American life.

“We are witnessing the development and acceptance of a new moral code in America,” said the researcher and author, who has been surveying national trends in faith and morality for more than a quarter-century. “Mosaics have had little exposure to traditional moral teaching and limited accountability for such behavior. The moral code began to disintegrate when the generation before them – the Baby Busters – pushed the limits that had been challenged by their parents – the Baby Boomers. The result is that without much fanfare or visible leadership, the U.S. has created a moral system based on convenience, feelings, and selfishness.

“The consistent deterioration of the Bible as the source of moral truth has led to a nation where people have become independent judges of right and wrong, basing their choices on feelings and circumstances. It is not likely that America will return to a more traditional moral code until the nation experiences significant pain from its moral choices.”

  • Head Belief is no good. Being a Casual Christian is NO GOOD! Only a Heart Belief that changes your heart and produces right behavior does good.
  • This is what Jesus taught was the foundation for building you life, building the church.

Wise man and Foolish ManLook at Luke 6:45-49

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. Luke 6:45-49MATT_7_24C

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7:21-27

Morality Rooted in Heart BeliefsJesus says it doesn’t matter what you believe in your mind. Your belief will only produce change when it comes from a changed heart. But a changed heart will always bring forth a changed life. Belief’s only have power if they change the way you live. The reason there is so little difference between sinners and saints is because the great majority of believers that think they are born again are not!

You can stand up here and confess your belief that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, that he died on the cross for your sins, that he was buried and rose again. You can even go forward and confess Jesus before men, be baptized, but if your heart isn’t changed, and that change starts to show in the way you live and obey the WORD of GOD, you are still in your sins, you are still on your way to Hell.

John says “We know that we have come to know him IF we obey his commands” (1 John 2:3).

In Short, How We Live Matters. How We As A Church Lives Matters.

By  the way, we do have a behavior clause in our Church Constitution.. It is called our “Church Covenant”

WHAT IS A ‘CHURCH COVENANT’?

What is Church CovenantBrethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Galatians 3:15

Purpose of CovenantThe Purpose of a Church Covenant is Five-Fold

  1. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A PROMISE – a promise made to God, to a local church, and to one’s self.
  2. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A SUMMARY OF HOW WE AGREE TO LIVE.  While our statement of faith is a good summary of what we believe, our church covenant is a summary of how we agree to live – more importantly, it is a summary of how God would have us live.  It does not include every explicit command regarding obedience, but it does give a general summary of what it means to live as a disciple of Christ.
  3. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A SIGN OF COMMITMENT – a commitment to God, to His church, and to personal holiness.
  4. A CHURCH COVENANT IS AN ETHICAL STATEMENT.  Historian Charles W. DeWeese writes, “A church covenant is a series of written pledges based on the Bible which church members voluntarily make to God and to one another regarding their basic moral and spiritual commitments and the practice of their faith” (Baptist Church Covenants, p. viii).   One theologian calls church covenants the “ethical counterpart to confessions of faith.”  A church covenant can be an important part of applying a Christian worldview to every aspect of our lives.  Inherent in the purpose of a church covenant is the understanding that church membership involves being held accountable to live in a manner consistent with a common understanding of Scripture.
  5. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A BIBLICAL STANDARD. A church covenant is helpful in a church that is practicing Biblical church discipline.  As members of a church, we exhort one another to live holy lives, and we challenge brothers and sisters persisting in sin.

WHERE DO COVENANTS COME FROM?

Now that we know what church covenants are, where do they come from?  Well, not from the Bible – not, at least, in the sense of being able to turn to the Book of Covenants chapter 3.  But we do see examples of covenants both in the Old and the New Testaments – covenants between God and man, and between man and man.  Moses gives a covenant from God to the people of Israel.  Ezra and Nehemiah do so as well.   And in the NT we find that “Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, which is the new covenant in Christ’s blood”.   Primarily, church covenants come from the understanding that churches are to be composed of people who are truly born again.  This is what we call regenerate church membership.

In the 16th century, men and women of deep conviction broke away from the Roman Catholic Church to form congregations who understood the importance of the doctrine known as justification by faith alone in Christ alone.  No longer did baptism or membership bring supposed new life.  Joining and being part of a church was no longer a civic duty or just part of growing up.  It was becoming what it was always intended to be – a response of faith to the truth of the gospel.  And in this response of faith we gain the most amazing callings: children of the living God, ambassadors of Christ, a royal priesthood; we become the bearers of God’s name in the world.  Listen to God’s word on this issue.  “I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them.  Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes” (Ezek 36:23).  We are called to be living witnesses of God’s holiness!

How Important is Keeping Our Church Covenant?

church-covenantA friend of mine was called to pastor a Baptist church in a small town south of Oklahoma City in 1989. Not long after he was there an acquaintance in the community pulled him aside at a restaurant and asked him if he knew. He said “knew what”. His acquaintance said “Did you know the chairman of the deacons is a homosexual?” He confessed his surprise and then went to the deacon, who confirmed what evidently everyone in town knew. When he then brought it before the deacons, they said they knew, but didn’t see the problem.  He then approached the entire church, and they were OK with it. So, he resigned.

In the last church I pastored, we had developed a nice worship team lead by a couple of talented gals. One day I went and visited with a family that had been there the Sunday before. They enjoyed the church, but they wanted to know why one of these gals was leading the music. The reason was that he confessed going into the local bar (Wally’s) and this gal was a bartender there. He just thought it strange that she could be a bartender and lead church music on Sunday.

I told him that I would check into it. Sure enough, it was the truth. I talked with her and pointed out our church covenant, and said that she would have to chose what she wanted to do, serve liquor or serve on the praise team. She said she considered the bar her mission field, really enjoyed what she was doing, and so she resigned from leading music. Of course her friends resigned as well. They eventually left the church. Did it cause some pain? Yes. Was it necessary? Yes. O, by the way, this same gal had wanted to meet with me to see if I thot it was ok to divorce her husband, simply because he didn’t communicate with her very well.

She no longer works at the bar, and we are still friends, and she is still married. By the way, Dennis Queen a few years later was able to lead that deacon to the Lord. He just this year preached his funeral.

All across the country church denominational leaders are being attacked by people pushing to allow homosexual pastors. Several denominations have split because they decided to allow such as pastors.

Churches must make a choice as to how they will believe and act towards each other and the world. Any church can act like a church, can talk like a church, but in their heart, there is no Power of God to live godly lives in the dark, in the areas where people aren’t looking.

Jesus cares that we live Holy Lives, that we walk in the Power of the HOLY Spirit.

Christianity is about living a different kind of life, not just talking about different kinds of concepts.

The church is called to live and act differently.  In agreeing to a church covenant, one is agreeing to be held accountable by a body of believers.  Likewise, one is agreeing to hold a body of believers accountable.  To hold accountable simply means “to take responsibility for.”

A CHURCH COVENANT, VOID OF THIS RESPONSIBILITY, IS A WORTHLESS DOCUMENT.

Scripture highlights our need for accountability.

  • Read Matt 18:15-17 – We do not have a license to sin.  More than that, if we do keep on sinning, we risk proving that we have not been given new life from God.  Matthew 18 gives us instruction about what to do with a persistently unrepentant sinner.
  • Read 1Cor 5 – If the Corinthian congregation allowed this man to remain a member of the church, he (and others) may get the wrong impression that his sexual immorality is consistent with what it means to be a Christian.  Weaker members of the body will be confused and hurt as well.  And the church will risk losing her reputation in the local community.

There will always be sin in the church because we all sin.  What we are talking about is how to deal with people whose lives are characterized by sin, people who agree with their sin against God and His Word, and who try to rationalize their sin instead of pleading before God for forgiveness.  The purpose of such accountability is not to judge people worthy of hell-fire – that’s never been the church’s role.  It’s to protect them from deceiving themselves about their own spiritual state, to protect the corporate witness of the church from being smeared by the non-Christian behavior of professing believers, and to restore the disobedient person to right relationship with God and warm fellowship with the church.

What then should we expect out of a church covenant?  Expect it to be Biblical – based 100% upon Scripture.  Expect it to be focused on the whole body of believers – it should be corporate not private.  And expect it to be clear and easy to understand by all who desire to join this fellowship.

The church covenant is equal parts promise, summary of expectations, ethical statement, and biblical standard. We summarize how we promise to live together in the covenant. It forms the ethics, or the moral principles, of our worldview and holds out a biblical standard by which we live.Joshua renews covenant

Why is this important? Just as Joshua led his people to affirm their following God’s Word, so I believe church’s should regularly affirm their allegiance to their Church Covenant. I believe a church should periodically have a Covenant Service. I believe it should be read at every communion service. The Covenant should be the binding and empowering force of every church.

Whenever people want to join our church, they should be willing to affirm our Covenant.

By featuring the covenant in our life together, we strive to protect ourselves from individual and corporate sin. Of equal importance, we spur one another on to live in light of a greater covenant, one initiated by love, sealed by sacrifice, and kept for eternity by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

There are just two final points to make about our church covenant.

  • First, our church covenant should be a challenge.
  • Second our church covenant should be a comfort.

1. Our church covenant is a challenge simply because there are times when living a godly life is hard. It is also a challenge because each member of the church now bears responsibility for the lives of other believers – this is that “accountability goes both ways” part.  This is serious responsibility.  Not the kind of responsibility you have just because you are somebody’s friend, but the kind of responsibility that comes from saying, before God, “I care for you and will work to encourage you in your discipleship.”  This challenge is a serious thing.

2. This covenant isn’t just about us challenging each other to be better Christians.  Our church covenant is also a comfort. A comfort to know you’ll be cared for and prayed for, not perfectly, but faithfully.  The comfort is that by joining a church and covenanting with other believers, you now have Christians who are going to build you up when you are down.  You have Christians who are committed, before God, to walk with you, pray with you, serve you.  You have Christians who are so concerned about your spiritual walk, that if they see you break the covenant you have made as a disciple of Christ, they will exhort you to turn back; and if you don’t, they’ll do all they can to make the gravity of your sin clear.  This is our ideal, our vision, what we strive for.

“A new command I give you: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Here is the “Champions Covenant” for our church. The numbers correspond to verses listed at the end:

The Champion’s Covenant

Introductionchampionscovenant_

B elieving that Jesus Christ is the head of the church, and the church is the body of Christ, and that only by the Holy Spirit is one made alive to God and placed “in Christ” and believing further that the local church is the extension of the Body of Christ and can only be joined by those already “in Christ”, I make the following two affirmations:

  • I have been born again by the Holy Spirit, having personally repented of my sin before God, sought and received His forgiveness, believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ—crucified, buried, and resurrected—as my one-and-only Savior and Lord.
  • I have identified myself publicly as a Christian and have followed my Lord in baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The Promises

Having given ourselves to God by our faith in Jesus Christ, and having adopted the Word of God as our rule of faith and practice, and as members of this local Body of Christ, we now give ourselves to one another in this solemn covenant. We hereby promise:

  • To be committed to each other in seeking to love and obey Jesus Christ1,5; and for His sake love2, accept3, and forgive4 each other with affectionate care and watchfulness.
  • To join with fellow members to seek God’s will in our common decision-making; to allow every member the privilege of seeking to influence the church in its pursuit of God’s will6; to accept congregational decisions without grumbling7; and to work to prevent division in the body8.
  • love_one_another_To help one another grow in Jesus Christ by building up one another 9, bearing one another’s burdens10, encouraging one another11, exhorting one another12, praying for one another, confessing our sins to one another, speaking the truth in love to one another, admonishing one another, , teaching one another, comforting one another, submitting to one another, serving one another, patiently bearing with one another, being hospitable to one another,  being kind and tenderhearted to one another.13
  • To work together for the continuance of a faithful evangelical ministry in this church, as we support and sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines. As we are being built up we will reach out to the lost and to the fallen, and through our love and service seek to bring them into fellowship with Jesus Christ. Through self-denial, faith and good works we endeavor to grow together in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.14-21
  • To practice Biblical stewardship22 of our resources, and to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel to all nations.
  • To seek, by God’s grace, to live carefully in the world, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to be an example in our speech and conduct24,25, purposing to lead new and holy lives in the power of the Holy Spirit, especially with regard to the following:
  • To use chemical substances such as alcohol and drugs only as informed by the teachings of the Bible26, wise medical counsel, and the dictates of the law.
  • To flee sexual immorality27; to shun pornography28; to reserve sexual activity solely for one man and one woman united in the covenant of marriage30;  to not initiate a divorce, unless the spouse decisively and physically deserts the relationship, commits repeated, unrepentant adultery, is guilty of protracted, unrepentant life-endangerment, or is guilty of physical and/or sexual abuse of a child or minor.31
  • To protect and defend the lives of our children from the moment of their conception; to bring up those in our home in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and by a pure and loving example seek the salvation of our family, teaching and encouraging them to love, follow and serve God.
  • To practice justice and compassion toward all people, especially the poor, the sick, the disabled, widows, and orphans.
  • To conduct all business in honesty and integrity32, counting it our chief business in life to extend the influence of Christ in society33.
  • To submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and pursue the fruit that He brings forth34and to work and pray for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, that the Kingdom of God may come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The Protection:

We enter into this covenant voluntarily and affirm the ambitions of this covenant as our own. We realize that we can only fulfill this covenant through the power of Jesus Christ living in us. We invite fellow members to pray for us, teach us, correct us and rebuke us, if necessary, in a spirit of gentleness and humility should we stray from the Lord’s commands. We voluntarily submit ourselves to one another and to the biblical authority of this church35. If we fail to live up to this covenant, we commit to yield to correction with meekness, to seek forgiveness and reconciliation, and to turn from our sin, relying on God’s grace to lift us up. Should church discipline ever be required, it will always be undertaken for the purpose of restoration to fellowship with God and with this covenant community – and it will always be done in accordance with Scriptural procedures in Matthew 18:15-22 and Galatians 6:1. We further commit to never refuse forgiveness and reconciliation in the face of Godly repentance.36

If we find ourselves unwilling to try to fulfill this covenant, we commit to remove our self from this congregation. If relocation outside the community prevents us from fulfilling this covenant, we commit to unite with another congregation and to continue to pursue growth as a Christian.

The Blessing

May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit Be With Us All. Amen.37

PPBC-Champions Covenant

1brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2

2and this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 1 john 3:23

3 to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6

4and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as god for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

5if ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the father hath loved me, so have i loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my father’s commandments, and abide in his love. John 15:7-10

6hard waybut now hath god set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but god hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 1 Corinthians 12:18-27

7neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 1 Corinthians 10:10

8that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 1 Corinthians 12:25

9but ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the holy ghost, Jude 1:20

10bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

11not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25

12but exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13

13And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

14 for we are the circumcision, which worship god in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:3

15 and they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42 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. James 5:16 I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 1 Timothy 2:8

16study to shew thyself approved unto god, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 timothy 2:15 till I come; give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 1 Timothy 4:13

17not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

18I speak as to wise men; judge ye what i say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 1 Corinthians 10:15-17

19now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, i would not have you ignorant. 1 Corinthians 12:1

20go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the holy ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19-20

21for, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. Galatians 5:13 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10 But  grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory both now and to the day of  eternity. Amen. 2 Pet 3:18

22moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 1 Corinthians 4:2 as each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of god’s varied grace: 1 peter 4:10 Jesus said to them, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to god the things that are god’s.” And they marveled at him. Mark 12:17

23then came peter to him, and said, lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Matthew 18:21

24when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 1 peter 3:2 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Titus 2:8 let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:6 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:4

25for this is the will of god, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the gentiles which know not god: that no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For god hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but god, who hath also given unto us his holy spirit. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

26not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 1 timothy 3:3 deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 1 timothy 3:8 (no longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) 1 timothy 5:23 older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, Titus 2:3 and be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the spirit; Ephesians 5:18 for a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of god; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; Titus 1:7 who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Proverbs 23:29-33 or do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy spirit within you, whom you have from god? You are not your own, 1 Corinthians 6:19

27flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22

28for out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone. Matthew 15:19-20

Focus on the Family studies that have found that 43% of families say pornography is a problem in their home. And while she acknowledges that the spot has some fun at the porn-consumer’s expense (the last joke in the ad is about the porn-buyer’s mom finding out what he’s purchasing), she says that “many of these people’s experiences with pornography is not funny. Some of their families have been devastated by it.”

29likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 1 Timothy 2:9

30now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “it is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5

31and Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore god has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Matthew 19:3-9 now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from god, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. To the married I give this charge (not I, but the lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? 1 Corinthians 7:6-16 then said he unto the disciples, it is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Luke 17:1-2 husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Colossians 3:19

32in the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

33and as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Luke 6:31

34so then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the spirit of god are sons of god. Romans 8:12-14 but the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Galatians 5:22 if we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit. Galatians 5:25

35obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17 giving thanks always and for everything to god the father in the name of our lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:20-21 watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity. I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) that ye submit yourselves unto such, and to everyone that helpeth with us, and laboureth. 1 Corinthians 16:13-16

“If your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Then peter came up and said to him, “lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. Matthew 18:15-22

36For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 2 Corinthians 7:10-11

37The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. 2 Corinthians 13:14


God-Asks-Hard-QuestionsToday I want to open the Word of God and answer Four Hard Questions that I believe God wants us to ask ourselves.

  1. How Do We Deny Jesus Christ?
  2. How Do We Become Vessels of Honor?
  3. How Do We become Ensnared by the Devil?
  4. How Do We Worship a god of our own making?

The answers that we discover are essential in answering the overall question facing us this morning – Do We Need a Revival?DO We Need a Revival

When asked about which Book of the Bible most Christians would like to know more about, the answer is usually the Book of Revelation. We all have a natural curiosity about what will happen during the last days.

  • “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”
  • For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Matthew 24:7-13

Jesus said this of the last days-many will fall away, there will be betrayal and hatred between brothers. There will be false prophets that lead many supposed brothers astray. Lawlessness will increase, and the love of many will wax cold. Peter described the last days in this way: knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4

In the last days people will scoff at God and His Word, they will cause many to doubt the coming of Jesus Christ. They will present a god that is without power and without the ability to keep his word. In other words, man will fashion a god who is non-threatening and merely to be used as a security blanket for the old and the weak. Before you get all curious about the Last Days, and about God’s Judgment, I want you the heed the Lord’s reaction when some other curious people wanted to know what a recent happening meant.

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Luke 13:1-3

(What Jesus Meant) “These men are not signal examples of divine vengeance, as ye suppose; but every impenitent sinner — ye yourselves, except ye repent — shall be like monuments of the judgment of Heaven, and in a more awful sense.Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

Jesus wants us to realize that each of us is only a heart beat away from being a monument to the judgment of God. Either a Monument to God’s Grace, or a monument that will burn for all eternity in the bowels of hell.

Jesus said no matter what happens, consider your own heart. Make sure you have repented. See if there is a need for repentance. In the fine print Jesus says “Never take your salvation for granted!” I believe in eternal security. But I would never never assume that God owes me anything. I am nothing without Jesus Christ. Any boldness I have is solely because I am hid in Jesus Christ. But one thing Jesus wants us to know-our hearts are evil and so deceptive. We can be fooled so easily into thinking we are OK, even better than most of the folk around us simply because we prayed some prayer 20 or 30 years ago. Well if that prayer of salvation did so much for you why haven’t you told someone about it? If what you did was so life transforming, why are you afraid to tell even your good friend or a sister about what Jesus did for your life?

If President Obama was coming to your house to discuss health care with you and a few select friends, you would not hesitate to start calling so and so. Well, Jesus is coming very soon and you are afraid to tell those you love about it!

I’m afraid that too many of us are trusting in what we once did instead of repenting daily of our cold, careless hearts. There is a judgment coming for ALL mankind and we are just curios lookie Lou’s wanting to figure out who the antichrist is. If you want to know who the antichrist is, try looking around you. John says that there are many antichrists among us, in fact they begin as Christians sitting with you at church:

  • Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 1 John 2:18-19

Who is an Antichrist?

antichrist obamaAnyone who denies Jesus Christ as Lord of their life. Continue with John:

  • But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 1 John 2:20-22

What does it mean to deny? It doesn’t mean to reject, as those who reject the free gift of salvation. It means to refuse, such as Moses in Heb. 11:24 – “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter”. It also means not to know or recognize someone such as in Matt 10:33 “But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.  If you are a born again Christian, and yet continue to hide Jesus from your friends, from your loved ones, you’ve got to do some soul searching – because the Scriptures seem to say that you have the spirit of antichrist.

If we endure, we shall also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself. 2 Timothy 2:12-13

reviveRevive comes from the Latin word revivere – to live again. In order to live again you had to be alive at one point, but now you are comatose or in a drunken stupor of some sort. A verse we will look about in a minute is 2 Timothy 2:26 “and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil” May come to their senses comes from a Greek word meaning “To awake out of a drunken sleep and become sober”CWSD. If we need reviving it means we are not dead, and need to become alive. How can we be dead if we have been born again. But if we need reviving, it is because we have allowed this world or the devil to get us in a spiritual state that our eyes are clouded and our head is foggy because we are in a drunken stupor. We need to come to our senses, we need to awake out of our drunken sleep. Once we wake up and clear our minds and hearts long enough to see, we must look long and hard and Holy God. We must look long and hard at His Holy Word. And then we must look long and hard at our love for Jesus, and then we must be honest before God and weep and mourn.

revelation of JohnI’m not a believer in being slain in the spirit, but would to God that some of us might get slain in the spirit like John did when he saw the real Jesus! We need to see the real Jesus, the one who will judge us for every word we speak. We need to see the real Jesus, the one who one day will reveal that He knew all along what you did to Him – whether you have neglected his bread of life, neglected His water of Life, denied Him before your friends, failed to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, give water to the thirsty.

Revelation of HellMy greatest fear is not being eaten alive by rats or falling headlong into a pit of venomous snakes…my greatest fear is that one day I’ll look through the crystal portal of heaven (Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. Revelation 4:6 ) and look into hell and see some of you screaming in agony for all eternity. Why didn’t you take being a Christian more seriously. Why did you not realize that being born again is a changed life, not just some tears you shed because you prayed an emotional prayer. If you are born again there will be a continual desire for this Word. There will be a continual thirst for Jesus. Just as you can’t go for many days without food and water, you will not be able to go many days with nourishment from Jesus. Even in my most backslidden state I was aware of God pounding, pounding, pounding on my stubborn heart.

Some of you act like Jesus is no big deal. If Jesus is not a big deal to you, how can you even for a moment really think that Jesus lives in you? How can you even for a minute tolerate such a cold hard heart and even believe that the Holy Spirit tolerates it too?

Question #1: How Do We Deny Jesus Christ?

How Do We Deny ChristWhen we neglect him, when we forget him, when we act as if we don’t know him, when we refuse Him to be Lord over our life, our heart, our mind, our soul, our possessions, our marriage, our worship. Ask yourself this morning – How am I denying Jesus Christ in my life?

Continue reading in 2 Timothy 2 at verse 19

2 Tim 2:19 – But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

Understand first of all, Paul is speaking of Christians.

He says that God knows who are His. We can not judge who a Christian is. Only God knows. But Paul does say that those who name the name of the Lord will depart from iniquity. Now iniquity is the adikos, that which ought not to be, that which is wrong. It is the opposite of díkē, that which is right and fit, hence unrighteousness.

One who takes the Name of Jesus upon their heart will stop doing that which ought not to be, that which is wrong!

Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:19-26

From our text we see the following: In any church there are vessels of gold and silver and vessels of wood and clay.

“Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable”

Now from the text you can’t say that only the vessels of gold and silver are born again. But I believe you can say that true Christians can be ensnared by the devil.

QUESTION #2 How Do We Become Vessels of Honor?

How Do We Become Vessels of HonorThere are things a Christian must do in order to become a vessel of Gold and Silver.

  • Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.

1. You must cleanse yourself from that which brings dishonor in your life.

  • DISHONORABLE – Speech – attitudes –  disobedience –  thoughts –  actions

2. You must be ready and willing for good works

  • Whatever you Say Boss!
  • For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 (2 Tim says honorable vessels are prepared for every good work).
  • Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. Matthew 25:31-46

3. Flee Fleshly Desires

  • Run away from, escape from their destruction, – Pride, lust, speech, thoughts

4. Engage in an INTENTIONAL Pursuit of the Character of Jesus Christ.

  • righteousness, faith, love, peace, and do it with others of like pure (undivided) heart. No Two-Faced Christians allowed in your life.

5. Avoid Controversies and Quarrels.

  • And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:20-26

6. Realize You are a Slave of Jesus Christ.

  • You have no will of your own

  • Obey the Commands of Your Master

7. Realize Your Life Can Be Used to Rescue Christian’s From the Snare of the Devil

QUESTION #3 How Do We become Ensnared by the Devil?

How are We Ensnared by the DevilIt begins when we deny Jesus Lordship over some area of our life. It can be music, what we look at, what we read, what we say, but we usually know when we resit Jesus in that area. The Satan starts to work. He loves to capture Christians with wrong thinking, wrong attitudes, wrong beliefs. He loves it when Christians start quarreling over things which get us off course, get us away from our passion for Jesus. If your life is going to be used to rescue people caught up in the snare of the devil, you must:

  1. Not Argue
  2. Be Kind
  3. Be able to explain the Word
  4. Be patient with those who treat you wrong.
  5. Desire such to repent and allow God to show them His truth, that they may sober up and escape the snare of the devil, even after being captured to do his will.

The next few verses reveal what happens to this great house, the church, when we do not cleanse ourselves from that which is dishonorable. Paul is describing what will be apparent not among the unbelievers, (although if this is in the church you can bet it is in the world) but among those in the great house!

2 Timothy 3:1-5 – Dishonorable Christians Who Close Their Eyes to God

This know also, that in the last days

perilousViolent, fierce. Used of demoniacs, wild, difficult (maniac of Gadara), hard to bear, distressing, referring to the times

times – kairos – a period of opportunity

shall comewill set in

2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves phílautosSelf-centered or selfish. The primary concern that things be easy and pleasant for oneself.

Covetous – philargyros: “loving money” in Luke 16:14 (Pharisees were lovers of money)

boasters (James 4:16-you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.)

proud – hyperēphanos: “showing oneself above others”, always used in the evil sense of “arrogant, disdainful, haughty;” Jas. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5; (God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble)

blasphemers – blásphēmos; from bláx stupid, and phémē, rumor. To be abusive, reviling, destroying one’s good name (a slanderer, blasphemer in respect to men)

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: Mark 7:21-22

disobedient to parentsapeithés; Unwilling to be persuaded, unbelieving

unthankfulacháristos; (literally without favor or kindness). Unthankful, ungrateful (Unthankful people are without grace from God)

unholy Ἁνοσιος unholy, synonym is Βέβηλος profane. that which is trodden”. What is permitted to be trodden by people at large is unhallowed, profane. Esau is called βέβηλος in Hebrews 12:16, as one who did not regard his birthright as sacred, but as something to be sold in order to supply a common need.—Vincent’s

3 Without natural affectionWithout family love (see Rom. 1:31).

trucebreakers áspondos; (without offering) The absolutely irreconcilable person who, being at war, refuses to lay aside his enmity or to listen to terms of reconciliation (refusing to enter into treaty, irreconcilable). Implacable, in a state of war.

false accusersdiábolos; from diabállō, to accuse. One who falsely accuses and divides people without any reason. He is an accuser, a slanderer (1 Tim. 3:11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.); (Titus 2:3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things)

incontinentakratés; (literally without strength). Unable to govern one’s appetites.

Fierceanémeros; Not mild, ungentle, fierce, savage. Sometimes merciless.

despisers of those that are good aphilágathos; Unfriendly, hostile, a person who may have pity but does not necessarily do anything to relieve the suffering of another through self-denial. Hostile to good men.

4 Traitors – betrayers – Acts 7:52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered.

Heady – means “falling forwards”; reckless, headstrong in the pursuit of a bad end under the influence of passion. Only here and Acts 19:36 -“Since then these are undeniable facts, you ought to keep calm and to do nothing rash.”(When the silversmiths in Ephesus were wanting to kill Paul)

high-minded tuphóō; To swell or inflate with pride. In the pass. tuphóomai, to be lifted up with pride

  • (he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, 1 Timothy 6:4)

lovers of pleasuresphilēdonos: “loving pleasure” (hēdonē, “pleasure”)

more than lovers of Godphilótheos; from phílos, a friend or loving, and Theós, God.

5 Having a form Here, the mere outward semblance, as distinguished from the essential reality. Outward shape without the reality.

of godlinesseusébeia;—Devotion, piety toward God. Although eusébeia in the NT is translated “godliness” (2 Tim. 3:5; Titus 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:3), the word “God” is not in it. Only in 1 Tim. 2:10 is it theosébeia, where the word Theós, God, occurs as a prefix instead of , good or well.

but denying – to deny, decline, reject, give up (Matt. 10:33; 2 Tim. 2:12, 13)

the powerdúnamis; Power, especially achieving power. All the words derived from the stem dúna– have the meaning of being able, capable.

thereof: from such

turn away – to turn away from, avoid, shun

(These are the dishonorable vessels we are to cleanse our lives of) These verses describe people a whole lot like the people mentioned in Romans 1:

  • And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32

We all know Romans 1 is speaking about infidels and reprobates (haters of God), so doesn’t 1 Tim 3:1-5 speak about the same people? No. In the total context, Paul is speaking of those in the great house who have allowed themselves to be dishonorable.  He is not talking about vicious Gentile unbelievers. These are not the Roman Gladiators who martyred Christians. These are not the Catholics of the Spanish Inquisition who tortured and murdered anyone who practiced any religion or belief outside of Catholic practice. This is not even talking about the Radical Muslims who will murder and burn any Christians whom they even hear make fun of the Qur’an. No, Paul is talking about you and me, Bible toting, church going, tithe paying Christians. But we have allowed ourselves to become dishonorable, and even get captured by the devil to do his bidding. It is possible for Christians to be deceived into thinking they are Christians. It is even possible for people who believe they are Christians to lead others astray.

Let’s read 2 Tim 3:1-5 again, from the Phillips translation:

But you must realize that in the last days the times will be full of danger. Men will become utterly self-centered, greedy for money, full of big words. They will be proud and contemptuous, without any regard for what their parents taught them. They will be utterly lacking in gratitude, purity and normal human affections. They will be men of unscrupulous speech and have no control of themselves. They will be passionate and unprincipled, treacherous, self-willed and conceited, loving all the time what gives them pleasure instead of loving God. They will maintain a facade of “religion”, but their conduct will deny its validity. You must keep clear of people like this. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 Phillips

These people may look like good Southern Baptists on the outside. They have the Bible, they may tithe, they may say God Bless You, They may use all the churchy words, but it is just a disguise. They are wearing a mask, even a full body mask, that is empty and devoid of the true power of Godliness-Jesus Christ!!
Just look closely at how they behave when they get home from church. Look at how they behave when they go to work, go out with friends. Look at how they talk about others, look at how they treat their wife or their husband. Look at how they treat the disadvantaged, the homeless, the poor, the destitute. Look at how tightly they hold on to their possessions, their money. Look at how greedy they really are.

  • I know most of you are going “WHEW”, that doesn’t apply to me. But remember the words of Jesus, “unless you repent”. It is dangerous to think we are alright, that we are OK, that we are safe.

QUESTION #4: How DO We Worship a god (idol) of Our Own Making?

How do we worship gods of our own makingThe truth is that at any point in our life we can get tripped up by the devil. These attitudes that are condemned by Paul in 2 Tim 3 can slowly creep into our lives. The danger is to accept being a common vessel. The danger is thinking that you are OK the way you are. You have made a little god for yourself, one who is not too holy, not too demanding, and not too judging. After all, my little god loves me and fogives me.  When we think this way, we are excusing our sin, we are trampling under foot that which is Holy.  We are not seeing Holy Jehovah God, but a clever looking god of our own making.

The essence of idolatry is to get for your self.

  • Colossians 3:5 “Therefore, put to death (mortify, kill) your members which are here on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Covetousness is idolatry because it puts self-interest and things in the place of God. So a Christian who is covetousness can often be disguised as a servant that serves only for the praise or for what they think they will get from their god. But their religion, their service is all self-based.
  • Col 3:5 says we are to “KILL” our self-centeredness, our selfish wants, our selfish pleasures. A person who is born again is radically transformed, with all your focus shifted away from you and placed squarely upon God! Anytime you excuse or allow sin or selfishness or self-indulgence in your life, you are worshiping an idol god of your own making.When you excuse sin in your life, when you continue to accept wrong behavior and wrong attitudes, not only are you worshiping at the altar of idolatry, but you should check your heart out, for perhaps the devil has captured your thinking and is using you for his will, and perhaps has deceived you into believing you are a Christian.

Anytime you are walking in your own strength, seeking your own interests, you are worshiping at the altar of idolatry.

But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me (FORSAKEN – to NEGLECT to depart, to abandon, and to loose. —TWOT) the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2:4-13

  • The truth is, that if we forsake the Lord, if you neglect or depart from the Lord God, if you refuse God as being the Lord of your life and your possessions, God will refuse, neglect and yes forsake you.
  • In Malachi 3:8, God told his people that they were robbing God because they were neglecting the tithe. Because they were neglecting the tithe, God said they were cursed with a curse. What was that curse, it was the devils access to their goods. If they would God’s rightful place in their lives and show it with tithes, God said He would rebuke the devourer.
  • The application is simple: when you worship at the altar of idolatry, you are forsaking God and are opening yourself up to the snare of the devil. Don’t presume upon God’s Protection and Blessing when you are an idolater.

The Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded, and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The Lord is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. 2 Chronicles 15:1-2

When you make you own little god that pleases the way you want to live your life, you are being like the Laodiceans:

“ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Revelation 3:15-19

Now I don’t know what it means for Jesus to spit me out of is mouth, but I do not want to find out.

Are you lukewarm to the things of God? Do you think your walk with God is OK? What god are you walking with? The little idol god of your own making, or the Holy Righteous Almighty Creator of this universe? Jesus says if you are lukewarm that you are wretched, poor naked and blind. You need to have your eyes anointed so that you can see!

Holy Spirit You Can't Come in HereAre there secret rooms in your life that are shut off from God’s Holy Spirit? Are there rooms where the Holy Spirit has been barricaded? Is there a room cluttered with unclean pictures? Are there any skeletons hanging in your closets? Can you invite the Holy Ghost to walk down the corridors of your thought life? Can you invite him in to see the hatred in your heart toward others. Can you invite Him to listen in as you speak evil of others?

There are three people living in each of us:

  • the one we think we are,

  • the one other people think we are, and

  • the one God knows we are.

Unless we are desperate to enter into the Victory of Christ’s Righteousness, we are so easy on ourselves and so hard on others. Self loves self. Too often we hide ourselves from ourselves lest the sight of ourselves should sicken ourselves.

Let us invite the searching eye of God to locate this corrupted, stinking self in us. Let it be torn from us and be “crucified with Him, that henceforth we should no longer serve sin (Rom 6:6) It does no good to call sin by another name. You can criticize someone for having a devilish temper, but say that yours is only righteous indignation. You can criticize someone for blatant gossip, but excuse you negative comments as “prayer concerns.” You can excuse your not speaking to a brother or sister or father or mother because of their “ungodly influence and lifestyle” yet God sees your Judging heart and says your are guilty of ungodly pride and an unforgiving heart.

The Holy Spirit will neither spare us nor cheat us if we will expose ourselves to His infallible scrutiny.

Restore My SightAnd Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” Mark 10:51 He had once seen, but now he was blind.  Some of us had once seen the Lord, but our eyes are blind. We once walked with the Lord, but now we lie in a ditch on the side of the road moaning in a drunken stupor, too blind to see the devil has captured our minds our hearts, our souls, and he has stolen our heart from loving Jesus, he has stolen our hands from serving Jesus, he has stolen our eyes from looking at Jesus, he has stolen our strength from leading others to Jesus.

woe is meLet us pray that God will revive us from our drunken stupor of selfishness, carnal living and give us SIGHT AGAIN-upward, inward, and outward.

  • Then like Isaiah, as we look upward, we will see the Lord in all His Holiness.
  • As we look inward, we will see ourselves and our need for cleansing and power.
  • As we look outward, we will see a world perishing and in need of a Savior.

Revival will come only when we throw off the drunkenness of Satan and this world or whatever else we have filled our heart with, and then we desire sight to see the Lord! Right now, close your eyes and imagine you are before God Himself. Not God as you hope He is, but God as His Word Reveals. Listen as He searches your heart with these probing questions:

  1. Have you denied Jesus as Lord in any area of your life?
  2. Have you done what Scripture commands to become a vessel of Honor/ Or have you trodden under that which is Holy and made it common, dirty, even profane as Esau did with his birthright?
  3. Have you in any way allowed wrong actions and attitudes to ensnare you in the devil’s plan?
  4. Have you been worshipping a god of your own making, one who accepts your sinful ways, one who excuses your apathy, your hardness, your selfishness?

If Jesus were to ask you what you desire, would it be selfish things or would you say, Lord restore my sight that I might see you as you really are?


Isaiah VisionIn the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. Isaiah 6:1-8

Isaiah did not have a vision until Uzziah died. Uzziah was a man of flesh, of fleshly means, of fleshly confidence. And until the flesh is dead, we cannot see a vision from God! When Isaiah saw his vision, he cried out three simple short words:

  • WOE – a word of confession

  • LO – a word of cleansing

  • GO – a word of commission

woe is meIsaiah’s Vision was Three-Fold

  • It was an upward vision-he saw the Lord
  • It was an inward vision – he saw himself
  • It was an outward vision – he saw the world
  • It was a vision of height – he saw the Lord high and lifted up
  • It was a vision of depth – he saw the recesses of his own heart.
  • It was a vision of breadth – he saw the whole world.
  • A vision of Holiness – Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts:
  • A vision of Hellishness – I am undone
  • A vision of Hopelessness – who will go for us?

Isaiah before throneWhere there is no VISION the people perish, but you can say where there is no PASSION the church perishes, even though it is full of people.

  • A Vision without Passion soon becomes a distant memory..
  • A Passion without a Vision becomes an emotion that fades away.
  • A Vision united with a Passion will produce a Light that fadeth not away.

A Vision of Hell will produce a Passion for the Lost.

Richman in HellJust think of the rich man. He was in Hades, he saw hell, and he wanted someone, anyone to run and tell his brothers about hell. No man lives beyond his vision. Your life will only have as much significance as whatever your focus is on. If you are only focused on yourself, you will be significant only to your self. If because of a VISION from God you focus on the needs of others, you will be significant in ministering to others.

We don’t need to pray for sinners to have a vision of Hell, they simply need a vision of the reality of Calvary as seen by the way we live our lives.

We need to see a Holy God! We need to tremble before Him. We need to let that Vision burn in our souls and ignite a Passion for Righteousness, a Passion for Jesus, a Passion to reach out to those trudging on the road to Hell. Each one of us has an appointment with God. He awaits us in eternity. We had better be at peace with Him here and be in the center of His will NOW!

In chapters 1 through 5 Isaiah has a lot of woes for a lot of people. But in chapter 6 he sees God and sees himself as God sees him and cries WOE is ME! Satan loves to get us looking at other people and all their problems. But God’s Holy Spirit wants us to look at God and realize we are so far from Him!

Its me, its me O Lord, in need of prayer!

Chagall_Bible_Vision_IsaiahIn your soul there are many”rooms“. Are there secret rooms in your life that are shut off from God’s Holy Spirit? Are there rooms where the Holy Spirit is not welcome? Is there a room cluttered with unclean pictures? Are there any skeletons hanging in your closets? Can you invite the Holy Ghost to walk down the corridors of your thought life? Can you invite him in to see the hatred in your heart toward others. Can you invite Him to listen in as you speak evil of others?

isaiah lipsThere are three people living in each of us:

  • the one we think we are,
  • the one other people think we are,
  • and the one God knows we are.

Unless we are desperate to pursue after the Righteousness of Christ, we can be so easy on ourselves and so hard on others. Self loves self. Too often we hide ourselves from ourselves lest the sight of ourselves should sicken ourselves. Let us invite the searching eye of God to locate this corrupted, stinking self in us. Let it be torn from us and be “crucified with Him, that henceforth we should no longer serve sin (Rom 6:6).

It does no good to call sin by another name. You can criticize someone for having a devilish temper, but say that yours is only righteous indignation. You can criticize someone for blatant gossip, but excuse your own negative words about someone as “prayer concerns.” You can excuse your not speaking to a brother or sister or father or mother because of their “ungodly influence and lifestyle” yet God sees your Judging heart and says your are guilty of ungodly pride and un-forgiveness.

The Holy Spirit will neither spare us nor cheat us if we will expose ourselves to His infallible scrutiny.Jesus touches eyes

In Mark 10:51 Jesus asked the blind man “What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?” He replies “Lord, that I might receive sight!”

Let us pray for sight-upward, inward and outward. Then like Isaiah, as we look upward, we will see the Lord in all His Holiness. As we look inward, we will see ourselves and our need for cleansing and power. As we look outward, we will see a world perishing and in need of a Savior.Hell Fire burns for eternity


wholly-consumed-burnt-offering“Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar”. Psalms 118:27

Animals were bound to the four horns of the altar to be wholly consumed unto God. Regardless of the animal, bullock, sheep, dove, it was a WHOLE burnt offering. God accepted nothing less.

The altar does not signify DOING for God. The altar represents BEING for God. He desires not our work, but ourselves.

romans12_1We, however, are not like the Old Testament sacrifices, consumed in one final act. We are to be “living sacrifices” as Paul described in Romans 12:1. The altar is the offering of our lives to God to be ever consumed, yet ever living, ever living, yet ever consumed.

Interesting thought. God desires our sacrifice to Him. He wants to be God of our very being, our very life. Once our earthly life is over, our heavenly “rest” begins. There will be no more being consumed. There will only be feasting with our Lord.

hell-is-a-continual-burnt-offeringThere is another god who desires no sacrifice. His way is easy, natural, even fun. Once your earthly life is over, you will discover the God who reigns, who was calling your heart to follow Him, yet you refused. But God must have His offering. You refused the perfect sacrifice that He provided, and so now you will be the sacrifice. Yet you will not be burnt all at once. You will be consumed, yet ever living, living, yet ever being consumed. Hell will be a horrible place of continual suffering. Why? Because you refused to honor God’s Son with your life.

Prayer: Holy God, take my life and all that I have as a continual offering to you. May nothing in my life keep your Life from living through me.

From pathwayofblessing