April 22, 2017
Let’s see, you trusted in your emotions and that roller coaster collapsed. You trusted in your mind and it is distracted, confused and just not at its peak. You trusted in your goodness and good works, but the Holy Spirit has shown you your depravity and the devil has beaten you down with it. You trusted in people and they let you down. You trusted in your health, but it is failing. You trusted in your wealth and the markets crashed. You trusted in your job and works skills, but you are unemployed. You trusted in your denomination, but your soul is hungry and dry. You trusted in your country, but it is divided and torn. You have trusted in your common sense in a senseless world. In fact, everything you trusted in has flaws and failings and you are at rock bottom! Alleluia!
2 Cor 1:8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:
You are blessed far more than you know because now you have nothing to trust in but God! Oh, has it come to that? YES, and it is about time! You say you trusted God. No, you trusted in religion and in the god you made and wanted him to be, but now you have to find and trust the God who is! Throw everything down at His feet. Ask Christ to forgive and save you or if you are His ask Him to forgive you for your misplaced trust and misunderstanding of who He is and receive all you need. Not all you want, necessarily, but all you need in His time and method, not yours! He is there and He wants to bless you, but He wants your trust.
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
It has always been about trust or faith. Adam, don’t eat that fruit. Moses, have the people look a brass snake on a pole to be healed. Believe that Jesus is God in the flesh and died on a cross for your sins and raised again to prove it. It is all about trust. Trust to be forgiven and trust as you go through life even when you cannot sense His presence. When all looks like Hell instead of Heaven. In the face of death even though you want to live.
Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him
Job had a wrong view of God and yet he trusted Him to death. Let us do the sane except let us seek to know Him as He really is, not in our imaginations or traditions. He wants a relationship, but no relationship does well without trust. He can be trusted and you cannot. You cannot match Him in faithfulness. You have already seen how much you fail by yourself. Let Him come in and mold you into His image and you will see a change. You will become more faithful and He will be faithful when you fail during your training.
1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
You’re a wreck? Congratulations! You are ready to be saved and trust in the only trustworthy Being in existence. He has been waiting for you to get where you are so you will turn to Him. His arms are open, now open your heart to Him! Has it come down to that? YES, and thank God that it has, for now, your life can change! Maranatha!
April 20, 2017
Mat 13:24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
There is far too much confusion and dissension in the Church. With so many different voices saying so many divergent things, I have no problem understanding why unbelievers have problems coming to Christ. How in the world can they know which sect of Christianity is the true sect, or if unlike the Highlander series there can be more than one?
Indeed, even among people using the same sect name, there can be various opinions. One need only to look at the Baptists and Pentecostals and you can find several variations of both. Having been a Baptist for forty years I know at times you can get six Baptists in a discussion and have thirteen opinions. Baptist range from ultra-Conservative to ultra-Liberal with many points between the two extremes. Southern Baptists are divided into at least two camps with Independent Baptists having many variations or camps. Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans and Episcopalians are divided between Liberal and Conservative/Orthodox. Even those groups that appear to be united have differing voices within them such as Catholics and Church of Christ. They may just not be as loud as some but they are there.
Dr. R. G. Lee was an old Southern Baptist preacher that once reported to the Convention, “Gentlemen. I have been through the churches in our Convention and I am convinced that only 10% of our members are saved!” There was a great commotion which he interrupted with, “Forgive me! I mean 5%” I wonder what percentage he would give now? The SBC had gotten more Liberal than what he knew in his lifetime so he might come up with 1%. I fear that the Independent Fundamental Baptists may average 1% between the camps. Some may be higher and some lower.
The Baptists are not the only group in such a predicament. We are, after all, in an age of apostasy clearly shown by how wicked our society is in a nation where most of the 300+ million people claim to be Christians. Indeed, the founders of most denominations would not be welcome in those groups who bear their names or claim them as their spiritual ancestor.
Part of the division has come from truth causing separation from lies. John said those who departed from them were not of them. People starting new groups out of old do so because they do not walk in agreement. In John’s scenario, those leaving were the heretics. In many cases, it is the wheat separating from the chaff because the old groups have apostatized. Many other divisions just come from fleshly pride or other anger issues because someone’s feeling got hurt or the vote did not go their way so they went down the street and started another church. Baptists are notorious for this. In some cases, there are churches that were started when three or four miles was all you wanted to walk on Sunday, but with the advent of automobiles their purpose for being is erased but power, building worship, and tradition prohibits good stewardship and mergers.
What causes most problems in many good churches is that there are tares among the wheat. Many folks are not saved. There are many carnal Carnal and immature Christians, but like Dr. Lee said, many are just lost. Religious, but not converted. They were born into a particular sect growing up knowing creeds and rituals. Accepting these as signs of true conversion they never make it truly personal in coming to Christ for salvation. Ask them if they are Christian and they respond with their sect name, that they were baptized as an infant and made it through some form of catechism/confirmation class. Their daddy or granddaddy was a preacher. Momma sang in the choir. They are a deacon or Sunday school teacher. All sorts of things, but not a clear affirmation that they came to Christ as a sinner and asked to be saved because He died and rose again for them.
My wife thought that her infant baptism covered her though she had no real clue about her sect’s beliefs or much at all about Christianity. I could quote some creeds, sing the Doxology and the Gloria Patria, but had no idea why I was in my church saying I believed in the Holy Catholic church when my buddy, Steve Reanock, was down at the Catholic church. Jesus died for the world and I was part of the world so I guess I figured I was good to go. In a sense, my sect brought me to the door but never made sure I got through the door. My wife and I would have gone to Hell thinking we were fine.
Many are pushed to say the “Sinner’s Prayer” before they fully understand or are really ready in their heart to do so. Pushy, well-intentioned “soul-winners” pressure people into saying the prayer as if the words in the prayer are magical changing the heart even if the message is not fully understood or the people just want the person out of their house. They would have sung a mantra if it meant the Christian would get off their porch. The next soul winner will be told that the prayer had already been said thus sending them happily on their way while the person is still lost, but inoculated or anesthetized thinking they are saved. They never come to church, get baptized, read their bible or have any change in their life, but according to the prayer they are saved and someone gets to report one more notch on their Gospel gun that is shooting blanks.
Some will be curious and will come to church and be baptized. They enjoy the music, the new found friends and the pastor so they become regular attenders and at some point a teacher or deacon. but they are still lost. These folks may be really good workers and in that sense. great assets to the local body until a controversy comes up. Then they will not be able to deal with it in a spiritual manner because they do not have the Spirit to guide them. They will more than likely take a stand against the truth unless their good friend is on that side and then they will stand with their friend even if they do not fully understand the issue or why their friend holds his position. In the end, the church splits and if enough people leave keeping the doors open becomes a challenge. Sometimes the split is called a backdoor revival because the troublemakers leave and God then blesses the church. Other times, it is the religious but lost that stay and eventually, the church just becomes a social club waning away until the last member dies unless God brings in people who cause a revival and the tares get saved.
Sometimes good churches are taken over by bad pastors because either the church has too many tares or the saved are not wise enough to prevent it. I have been in some churches thatI know a man with less than biblical theology, but with charm and charisma could take the church and mold it into his image. I have interviewed with many that had convoluted doctrinal statements and glaring procedural loopholes that could allow a smooth talking heretic of the highest order to be voted in.
One church was really confused about their identity. I am not sure how they got my name. but I went and preached for them. Church was first and then Sunday School. Men and women sat on opposite sides of the auditorium. They had broken off from the UMC because they were Conservative and the UMC was not. In their order of worship, they had some prayers and things that seemed to come from Episcopalians and some other things I was not sure of their origin. In my message, I had alluded to eternal security. The Sunday School teacher had come from the Methodist Church, which may be why Sunday School was second so he could be there. He taught against eternal security. It was a confusing morning.
When I spoke with deacons, I asked them why they had a Baptist come when it appeared they were not in alignment with that doctrine. They had sent their vacancy to quite a few places. Some of the other things I asked them about came from a previous pastor who was somewhat eclectic. I explained how having Church first was going to turn some people off as people are used to Church being second and do not visit Sunday School until they develop an interest in the church. I also said that very few people will not like the men and women separated, especially the women. who like to jab their husbands in the ribs with an elbow to emphasize a point the pastor made. Finally, I said you really need to discuss who you are and seek someone that identifies the same way. They did not really seem to know who they were, but they needed a pastor and that was what they were going to get. I often wondered if they went back to the UMC out of sheer desperation. I am afraid they were in a similar boat as the folks in Acts 19 as well as many people in church business meetings.
Act 19:32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.
There are times when situations like this happen when the people have not been discipled thus do not know doctrine. This opens them up to all sorts of things. Most pastors do not teach their people how to find a new pastor unless they are planning to retire or are moving on for fear they will empower the people to replace them. If he dies or moves quickly they are in trouble. They may turn it into a CEO search instead of a pastor search since business protocols are all they know. Add a couple of religious but lost men on the committee and it gets more tedious and dangerous.
Today, we have too many people who have never been in church and their parents were not believers. They are more like the Greeks on Mars Hill where Paul had to start from scratch telling them about the unknown God. Those at Mars Hill were constantly seeking some new thing and most today are seekers, but they are unsure of what they are seeking so they grab onto many philosophies and fads. Many believe in science and the false science of evolution. Using the same bait that worked from 1776 until the 60’s is like fishing for rainbow trout in the ocean or using fly fishing tackle for Blue Marlin. You catch nothing or you get a nibble and lose it because the string is too lightweight.
We need to stop the door-step conversions as most are not true conversions. Many people have prayed that prayer and are going to Hell because their heart was not in it and the Holy Spirit was not involved. It was more like a Madison Avenue sales pitch and many returned the “product” before the three-day period was up. Often as soon as they close their door. We are not helping them or the church. Yes, we may get some religious, but lost people and I have heard many testimonies over the years of people getting saved after being good church members for years. Some were pastors, pastor’s wives, organists, deacons and Sunday School teachers. Some had been in church and ministry for over thirty years. We need to stop tareing up the church so they will not be tearing up the church.
Which brings me to my last thoughts. We need to pray for a mighty revival within the Church. Because we have so many religious but lost in our midst we need them to be saved or gone. We are not to try to throw them out because we are usually not discerning enough to do the job right. The Lord said the tares would be with us until the end just like the weeds in the yard that you have to continually treat. We may not get them all, but we can ask God for some weed control to limit the amount of them.
Our first prayer is for our own revival and to return to our first love. Then we pray for the salvation of those who may have been inoculated but not converted. Finally, God knows those will be saved and those who will not so we can ask God to move a troublesome tare or potential ones out of our local bodies and even into a different religion so they do not confuse the unbelievers. We ask God to do this because He is omnipotent and omniscient. If we do it, we may be deceived into keeping a few of our favorite tares and kicking out some wheat.
When revival comes and the Holy Spirit is moving the Body will be led into all truth and unity. We may see many small churches close and merge rather than just exist to maintain a building. We may see large churches crumble that were built by man’s programs or fads and were predominantly a barn full of tares not leaving enough believers to pay the mortgage. While tares tear down the Church. Christ tears up the Church and rebuilds it to be like Him and about His Father’s business. When that happens the approved will stand out and unbelievers will no longer have any excuses. The light will either blind them or they will come to Christ and bask in the Light. May it happen today! Maranatha!!
April 13, 2017
Mat 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Before there were bible colleges and PhDs or pulpits, padded pews and fancy buildings there was just ministry. We have become so trapped in the trappings of Christianity that we cannot function outside of the confines of those things. We need to take it to the streets! The lost sheep Christ died for are outside of the walls of our churches. True, there are some lost souls inside, but the bulk of them are outside. They will not come in unless we leave the comfort of our pews and go outside to show them the love of Christ and through the Holy Spirit compel them to come in.
Our nation is full of people dying without Christ. We worry so much about the ballot box, but unbelievers will vote for unrighteous things. Yea, even some who name His name support unrighteous issues so why are we so stunned? When there is a revival among God’s people and they fall in love with Him again they will know His heart and will return to the streets to win people to Christ for that is our mission.
After they are saved, we are to love and disciple them so that they know right from wrong and to hear His voice. When people are changed, families change and when families change communities change and communities change governments change and finally nations change. We have done it all backward.
We have all the power from Him and we have the personnel. The problem is that we are not working as we should. There is no retirement from ministry for the child of God. Indeed, when we retire from “secular” work we should be working full time for the Lord albeit that has always been our full-time job while the paycheck from our careers provided funds our ministry. Too many have retired from the Lord’s work content to have the youngin’s take over. That is not biblical. We are all priests in the Kingdom and the priests became managers and trainers when they hit fifty, but they served until they died. We have also failed in training our young people so they are not taking over. If all over fifty were to quit the work many churches would die. For some churches, that would be a good thing.
During ministry in the church is a great thing, but you are not at the church 24/7. Your ministry is really outside of those four to six hours a week that you might be within the walls. All of God’s people are on call 24/7, not just the paid staff. Your community needs volunteers in many, many areas. The Body of Christ should be filling those needs for the Body of Community. How better to be salt and light? When Christians are everywhere, the unbelievers will start to believe they actually care about more than going to Heaven. When they see love all around the community, they will be affected by that and hopefully thirst for it. When our children see their parents and grandparents living out their faith, not just warming a pew, singing a few songs and writing a check they will see more of what Christ meant for their lives.
Why do we pray for power and the gifts of the Spirit, if we are not going to use that power out in the streets? Do we want them just to put on our heart’s mantle like a trophy or to wear them on our chests like medals for all to see and brag on us?
Act 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
They did not just speak it in the place where they were gathered. They took it to the streets. They practiced the Great Commission. Indeed, in the early days of this country people disliked Baptists because they “always had a Scripture to cast into your teeth.” I do not know if that complaint was because it brought conviction or because the truth was not presented in love. Since we are to be speaking the truth in love all Christians, especially Pentecostal folks should be known for bringing Scripture to bear when the opportunity arises and the more we speak with our acts of love the more they will hear the words of truth spoken in love.
Church is a gathering of the family to receive training to do the work of the ministry. We are there to be recharged and rejuvenated for the coming week by the worship, word. and fellowship to go out and minister. We are to sit and soak in the power, not sit, soak and sour. Get the power and take it to the Street! You sit at His feet so you can take Him to the street. If we are the Body, then we should be in the streets where He ministered more than He did in the temple. Maranatha!
April 1, 2017
“Bend me, shape me any way you want me long as you love me it’s all right
Bend me, shape me any way you want me you got the power to turn on the light” = The American Breed, 1967
Those words to that old song that I sang many times as a teenager brought something else to mind. Is it not odd how that we will allow a friend, spouse, co-worker or boss bend us to their will?
You may feel like you have little choice when it comes to a co-worker or boss because you need the job. A close friend is hard to find so you bend a lot to keep that friendship. A spouse or in the case of the song, a lover, can literally bend and shape you to their will because you are in love.
One who loves you back may do some bending and shaping for your good because they love you however they could as easily just be playing you and manipulating you because they love themselves far more than they love you. The fellow says that she “makes this beggar a king” and later in the song, “I’ll give you all that I own.” That is a lot of power over a person.
Isa 64:8 But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.
While we often become putty or clay in the hands of some person, we forget the only one that has such a right to that power is God. When He seeks to shape us we often rebel yet He wants to make us holy because He loves us. He does not do any bending or shaping for our hurt. People will use and abuse us. He will not.
Too many people marry the perfect person and then spend the rest of their life trying to bend and shape that person into their image. That never really works. Instead of doing that pray that God will bend and shape both of you into His image. That will make both of you better. It will give you a marriage you cannot even imagine at this point if you will allow Him to do that.
John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
There is no light without Him. If you are not saved, you are walking in darkness no matter how much a person may seem to have the power to turn on the light for you. Light comes into your life when He comes into your life. It is amazing how the light comes on when you ask Him to save you or if you are saved to truly let Him bend and shape you.
When we are not saved, we are beggars ruined and impoverished by sin. When we are saved, He does take us beggars and makes us Princes and Princesses in His Kingdom because we are children of God through Christ. You give all you have to someone, God or the devil. There is no middle ground. Why give it all to the devil or yourself when that never satisfies and only ends in disaster and Hell? Give it all to the One who gave it to you anyway! Let Him have it and turn you into a masterpiece instead of falling to pieces by serving the taskmasters of the lust of the eye, lust of the flesh and the pride of life that are controlled by the devil?
Ready to turn it over? Then pray something like this. Lord Jesus, I have been bent and shaped by sin and I want to turn from my own ways and allow you to mold my life. I believe you are the Son of God who came to die for me on the Cross to pay for my sins. Please forgive me and take over my life moving me from darkness to light. Make me a child of God and make me like You. I want the Holy Spirit to guide my life into what is true and to enable me to live a holy life pleasing to You. Thank You for saving me. Amen.
If you said it a bit differently, it is alright. What is important is the truth. Jesus sees the heart. If you sincerely asked Christ to save you then He did and the Holy Spirit has moved in. He will give you gifts and abilities to serve God and teach you what you need to know. He speaks through the Bible, but as you develop a relationship with Jesus you will also hear a still small voice and sometimes a loud one if you are not listening to Him.
Read the Bible. I strongly urge you to find a word for word translation, not an easy read one.
Pray! You do not have to be fancy. Talk to Him as a Father in loving respect. Did not have a good earthly father relationship? Then speak with Him like a best friend, because He is the best friend you will ever have.
Find a good church that still believes in the Bible. Some do not. Ask the Holy Spirit to tell you as soon as you walk in the door whether you should stay or not. I would recommend an Assembly of God church. There are many that I cannot recommend at all. You can email me for further recommendations based on what is available in your location, but no matter what the name is on the building still ask God for discernment. Some with a name are good and some with the same name are not. May God lead you to the one where you can grow in Him the best! Maranatha!
March 28, 2017
When you have lived a long time in a negative environment one of the most difficult things, after you are removed from it, is to accept praise.
Often you mistrust it because when people praised you in the past they usually wanted something from you so you doubt the sincerity of the current praise.
Sometimes you find it so refreshing that you act like an excited puppy wetting himself while being petted and begging for it not to end. You feel like a starving man given a plate at a buffet and overeat on that praise making yourself and the giver sick to the stomach.
Sometimes you may allow it to go to your head and then do something unwise bringing on the criticism. After all, in the workplace, one aww nuts wipes out ten attaboys. You may even purposely sabotage yourself because you are more comfortable with criticism.
Usually, you feel uncomfortable and unworthy of it so you downplay it discouraging people from praising you because they feel it is unappreciated.
If any of this is you, rejoice that you escaped the environment that made you this way. Thank God for the freedom. Ask Him to help you discern what is real praise and what is manipulating flattery.
When presented with sincere praise, receive it graciously and with true humility knowing that it is God who has given you whatever talent you have as well as the opportunity to use it. You have nothing of yourself, but God loves you enough to give you what you need to become what He created you to be so walk in gratitude for that love giving Him the praise.
1Cor 4:7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
Those who criticize you falsely have not read this verse and think they are special and you are not. Do not listen to them. You are special. God loves you and made you different and gifted you differently.
Learn the difference between constructive and destructive criticism. Reject the destructive and heed the constructive. It will also help you deal with praise.
Live with what God says about you not what the people in your past said or what people may be saying now that is destructive. They may have come from the same background and only know criticism so that is all they can give.
Don’t listen to the devil. He criticized the perfect God so all he knows how to do is be critical and make unwise choices.
Listen to God for He will do all things for the good of those who are His children. That may include some constructive criticism, but it will be done in love and peace and righteousness will come from it. He is also full of praise for those in His Son as they seek Him and obey.
Be blessed and encouraged today. Jesus died for you because He loved you sees great potential in you as a child, warrior, and co-heir of the Kingdom. Receive His love and praise. Maranatha
March 28, 2017
Php 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
Php 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
There must come a time when we quit thinking about what if and ask God what now or we will never be fulfilled or fruitful.
The what ifs from the past will never happen. Forget about them. Most of the what ifs we worry about in the future will not happen, but they will cripple you with fear and doubt so kick them to the side. The future is in His hands and He has a fruitful one for you if you will seek Him and pray for the what now.
Father, my what ifs have only brought me sorrow, guilt, regret and fruitless days. Redeem and restore them in the what nows. Show me what you have for me now and as I walk in that allow my faith to grow and squelch the what ifs.
Allow me to anticipate with joy and faith that what You have for me in the next what now will bring glory to You and reveal more of You and our relationship to me. That will mean at the end of my days the walking in the what nows will wash away the what ifs that were hurtful with the glory of the what nows that were wonderful. Amen and Amen!
March 19, 2017
February 25, 2017
Ever since the Fall, we have been trying to overcome the death sentence that was given. We will fail at that and I think most people realize it so the alternative is to try and delay it as long as possible. At one point, long life was really long with 969 years being the greatest age ever achieved. Then God lowered the possibility to 120 years or as some think there were 120 years before the flood and then ages started decreasing. (Genesis 6:3) Jacob lived to be 130, but 120 may have been an average just as we see in Psalms 90. Even in David’s time, the average was 70 though by reason of strength you might make it to 80. Obviously, not everyone made it to 70 because of war, disease, murder and such. Some lived longer, but in the end, the average was 70-80.
Medical science was not very advanced until many centuries after David and even then many died of various epidemics and numerous wars. The 2oth Century saw marvelous achievements in medical science. We have a vast array of labor-saving devices to the point of we once were paid to exercise by working to be paid and now most of us work to pay for our exercise at the club. In fact, the mental stress we put on ourselves and the massive debt we accrue puts us in constant fear of losing it all and killing us by MIs caused by that fear. We were meant to earn our bread by the sweat of our brow, not the furrow of the brow causing us to enter the furrow we call a grave at much earlier ages than 70.
So with all the advancement of medical science and science in general have we extended the average age of man? Not really, if you look at the stats in the link below. The world average is actually barely over 67. True some countries squeak a tad past 80, but so many are far less that the world average for men is 65 and women 69.5.
Before ladies started entering the workforce and developing the bad habits of men they used to average living 7 years longer than men and now 4.5. I suspect as we go on that may shrink some more. Ironically, the US with its medical marvels is 38 on the list, but we are right in the 70-80 range. Guess we are not getting the bang for the buck we wished we would have gotten.
So, while we have some centenarians and centenarian-plus folks around the globe, we are still stuck on a 70-80 cycle. Someday, with much surgery and replacement parts, we may get a VIP to live to 150 or so, but that rarity will still not get us over the hump.
Indeed, some of that age decrease has most likely come from tampering with our foods to try and make farming more productive and overcome the pests and thorns that hamper production. Again, technology had removed the sweat of the brow for most of farming and animal husbandry, but that furrow of the brow thing is still more deadly.
Maybe we should have shunned technology for many things so we still could exercise and earn at the same time rather than having to work to pay for it and take more of our time to do it. We will one day escape the curse in the new Heaven and new earth with a bit of reprieve in the Millennium where someone dying at 100 will be considered a child. (Isa 65:20) Until then make your 70-80 count and be sure you receive Christ and are saved early because you may leave long before 80. Maranatha!
February 18, 2017
February 5, 2017
A Warning With A Promise
We all have had warnings given to us. Some were meant to help us as “Look out for that car!” “Don’t touch that! It’s hot!” They had implied promises because that car will hurt you will get burned. Other warnings were threats with negative promises. “Don’t make me pull this car over!” The implied promise was that something very negative would happen to you and often you knew what unless your parents liked to change things up so you might get a surprise.
I once asked my son if he wanted me to blister him. He said no quite emphatically! I asked if he knew what that meant and he said no just as emphatically. He had no clue, but it did not bode well or sound good and he wanted no part of it. Sometimes we do not know the promise, but the tone in which it is given is enough to change our course of action or attitude.
Most did come out with the promise being very clear. “If you do not quit crying I will give you something to cry about.” “Don’t make me say it again or you’re grounded.” “That phone pings one more time during supper and I am taking it away for a month!’ A co-worker and I once threatened to break a co-worker’s phone if it pinged one more time with an annoying sound.
Jesus gave a stern warning to Peter at the Last Supper. Fortunately, there wee actually two positive promises along with the warning.
31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
Early in my Christian walk, I aspired to be like Peter and Paul. The problem was I was only looking at their good days and not their bad days as well. I do seem to have many of their weaknesses, but I was hoping for their strengths. After Jesus, I want to meet my soul brother, Peter, and then Paul, my mentor.
This is a serious warning Peter is being given, but I imagine Jesus giving it in a very loving tone. When someone said your name twice in that day it was almost like when your parents called you a couple of times and you did not respond. That is when they broke out all three names. Repeating Simon twice was to make sure he was listening.
To tell him that Satan desired to have him would make you think Peter was really going to pay attention. The desire was in the intensity of a demand! Satan was saying something like, “Let me have him! I’ll show you what your lead man is like!” It wasn’t a small request. Satan wanted to have at him much like he wanted God to remove the hedge from around Job. Picture the meanest junkyard dog snarling and straining at his chain to come for you and you may have a nearly accurate picture of satan desiring Peter.
Sift like wheat is not a small thing. Many of us remember Mom or MeMaw making homemade pie crusts or dumplings. She would roll out her dough after having placed the flour in a sifter to get out the clumps. The sifting satan wanted to do was more like threshing wheat where you thrashed and thrashed it to separate the chaff from the wheat. He had a real beating in mind for Peter, not just a soft sifting like Mom’s flour. It was a knock down drag out desire. He had that desire, but as we shall see, I think Jesus put limits on satan just like God did for Job, but the sifting was still painful.
The wonderful promise with this warning is that Jesus said that He had prayed for Peter. That mitigated some of the devil’s plans right there because Jesus has never had a prayer denied. He had not left Peter alone at the mercy of the devil. He had covered Peter with a bulletproof vest with that prayer.
I think it is really important to see what that prayer was for Peter. It was that his faith failed not. It was not that Peter’s works would fail not because his works were going to fail. His works were going to crash and burn. Jesus prayed for faith to remain in the sifting and after the failure of his works. It is all about faith as it has been from the Garden.
Pete needed to be converted, not in the salvation sense, but from trusting in himself. When he was changed from self-dependence tChrist-dependent, he was to strengthen the brethren. Not only does this mean strengthen their faith, but also to turn them in the right direction and confirm them. Peter was a leader, but to properly lead his brethren and strengthen them he needed to be submitted to Christ and dependent on Him so Peter could lead his brethren to do the same and confirm or strengthen them in their faith and walk.
A Wild Vow
33 And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.
How did Peter respond to this warning and promise? It was almost like he did not hear most of it. He responds with a wild vow that just gave the devil more ammunition to go after him. Was he sincere? I am sure. Was he prideful? Oh yes. Matthew tells us that Peter said that though all men would be offended, he would not be offended.
Be careful about making vows especially if you are a new believer or under some sort of stress. Your zeal or situation can make you give a foolish vow. Jephthah made a vow that left him without heirs because he said he would offer up the first thing to greet him after his military victory as a burnt offering. His only daughter was the first to greet him and he should have figured she would the first. She lived the rest of her life unmarried and he had no grandchildren. He meant well and it was it was made in gratitude for victory, but not thought out and very unwise.
I also made a very foolish vow many years back and satan used it to sift me like wheat. That is why Luke 22:31,32 became my life verses and call to ministry. I was only a couple of months in the Lord when in a moment of sheer joy I said, “Lord, even if satan convinced I was going to Hell I would still preach for you because You are the truth.” That was insanely or inanely unwise because what happened shortly thereafter was an incident that made me think that I committed the unpardonable sin and my life cratered into a place where I did not want to live because I lost His love and did not want to die and go to Hell.
I look back and I can see how the Lord tried to comfort me the night I did that, but satan knew that the fear of abandonment was my Achilles heel. I was so distraught that I could not be comforted. Pastors and friends tried to comfort me and often I quoted the verses they wanted to use, but could not quite remember the verse or they would start it and I would finish it.
I was not a believer in visions at the time as I was a good Baptist. However, in a moment of tears and regret, I saw myself behind a pulpit preaching. I told the Lord I had to talk to someone who could help and a name popped into my head. I called that person and when I was telling him what happened and what I was going through he said. “God must have something really great for you to do.” I thought he was nuts as I was doomed, not ordained, appointed or anointed!
Yet, through many changes and struggles I have been in ministry for many years. Just as I thought my change or conversion process was fairly complete, I ended up in an Assembly of God church when I would have told you I would never join just five or so years ago. The process is obviously not complete.
Still, I do not recommend making any kind of vow without much prayer. The heat of a moment, joyful or sorrowful, is not the time to make a vow. Better to never vow than to vow and not keep it.
A Wavering Faith
55 And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.
56 But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him.
57 And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not.
58 And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not.
59 And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean.
60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.
61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
The story of Peter’s denial of Christ is well known. The one who would never be offended and would go to jail and death for Christ failed miserably and wept miserably. He may not have thought that he had committed the unpardonable sin, but he was certainly no longer a disciple and if he had any spot in the Kingdom, it would be a rather lowly position. He allowed fear of men to rob him of his joy because he did not know himself as well as he thought he did. We are often in that position and can let fear control us. That is why we must be Christ and Spirit dependent and not self-reliant. His faith in Christ may have wavered, but the only faith that failed was his faith in himself and it was about time and to his gain.
Mar 16:6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.
Praise God, Jesus knew Peter’s place in the Kingdom and exactly how he was feeling. Had the angel just said to go tell his disciples Peter would not have thought that he was included and would have waved goodbye to the others as they went off to Galilee. But to hear it said His disciples and Peter made no mistake that Jesus was expecting to see Peter and all was forgiven. Yet, it is quite possible that he still did not get it. He may have figured it was a mistake that he was mentioned. He may have thought it tell his disciples and not Peter.
2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee.
They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
When we are out of fellowship with the Lord or think we are out for the count. Because of the devil’s lies we often go back to something that we are comfortable with doing or going to a place that gives us some sense of peace. For Peter, it was fishing. Note that we have here nine out of the eleven disciples. We don’t know where the other two are at this time.
Note, that while Peter may have felt like he was out of the group because of his failure, the group did not feel the same. He was still a leader to them. After all, they ran from the start. Only John was with Christ through it all. There are only nine and we are not told where the other two were. They were possibly still hiding in fear.
Like stepping out of boat on to the raging sea, Peter at least tried to make good on his vow. He went to the courtyard and the others did not so how could they judge him when their fleeing was just as bad as his verbal denial. So when Peter said I need some time fishing, they were all for going with him. Little did they know Jesus was going to be waiting for them when they came back empty handed and still heavy hearted. Peter definitely did not know that a wonderful thing was waiting for him in the morning.
A Wonderful Assignment
15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (AGAPAO) thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (PHILEO) thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (AGAPAO) thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (PHILEO) thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (PHILEO) thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest (PHILEO) thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love (PHILEO) thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
Jesus did not discuss this until they had eaten a hearty breakfast. Sometimes hunger can deter from learning, but this was an act of love and care before full restoration of a beloved disciple. They had often fellowshipped around a meal and Jesus wanted them to be at ease with Him and to feel that same love and fellowship with Him.
He also needed a good place to have this discussion with Peter. He made his great profession and vow in front of the rest of the disciples at a meal. It was only fitting that he confess before them and as he was already given the role of the one who would strengthen his brethren they needed to see his restoration.
Paul said he was the least of the Apostles because he was born out of due time as he was not one of the original twelve or even the one they replaced Judas with on the day of Pentecost. Of the original twelve, Judas made the worst decisions in that he betrayed Christ. After that, Peter was next with his verbal denial. The others ran in fear, but Peter denied him. Peter had the highest heights of the twelve and also some of the worst lows. Paul called himself the Chief of Sinners because he persecuted the church, but Peter may have considered himself the Chief because of his rash vow and denial of Christ. Because of my rash vow and the aftermath, I have often thought that I was the Assistant Chief of Sinners.
That was going to end here with Peter. Jesus asked if he really did love him more than the other disciples as he indicated in his vow. He had to humble himself and change that view. In fact, many think that Jesus was being harsh to Peter and making him recant three times because of his three denials. That may be a part of the reason, but there is more to it if we leave the English and go back to the Greek.
We are limited in our language in that our word love covers everything. We love God, family, country, cars, dogs, steak, red and so on. The Greek has a few more words. They have one for sexual love, playful love, love of self, longstanding love, friendship love and selfless love.
When Peter made his vow, he was talking agape love that never fails and loves because it loves and really only God has that kind of love in perfect form. He found out that he did not have that, but more of a phileo type of love, which is where we get Philadelphia or city of brotherly love albeit many in Philadelphia are not seeing that city live up to its name. It is a friendship love in most uses of the word.
It was really the same love the other disciples had for Jesus. Peter was just the uber-extrovert full of energy and passion, but the love was the same. Once Peter realized that restoration could begin.
We see Jesus asking Peter if he had agape love for Him and Peter replied with the lesser term. Peter was told to feed Christ’s lambs. You do not entrust your weakest of your flock to just anybody. This is an expression of trust in Peter. He is asked again and he gives the same answer. Peter is told to care for Christ’s sheep or the more mature ones. The third time Peter is very humbled and tells Christ that He knows that Peter loves Him that much. He again says to feed his sheep. As we see the progression from lambs to sheep, it would be logical to assume that this time indicated to care for the whole flock.
We see Peter stepping up to his role given to him by Jesus at the Last Supper and affirmed here manifested on Pentecost after he was really changed or converted when the Holy Spirit indwelled him. Yet, we also read that Paul caught him in hypocrisy at Antioch because of the fear of men. He ate with Gentiles until some men sent from James came then he did not eat with them. He was still used until he died even with this chronic flaw.
So we see that after the warning, a wild vow and wavering faith Peter still received a wonderful assignment in ministry. We can be comforted and challenged in this because a less than agape faith is accepted by Christ to serve Him. Failure does not mean rejection or a recall because the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. Add to the fact that it only takes faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains that no Apostle ever did we can see Christ accepts less faith than that for salvation and service.
Unsaved friend, rejoice that small faith can get you to Heaven if the faith is in Christ and not yourself. He is willing to save you. He often said His disciples had little faith and look what He did for them. Bring your little faith and allow Him to grow it.
Brothers and Sisters. Have you blown it? Has your faith wavered? Have you failed to live up to your vows or promises to Him? Those may have been what you thought you could do in your strength and that He required. In reality, He may not have even required those vows and if it was something He required He wanted your faith so He could accomplish His will in you. As Pastor Mike Mizell has said, “Don’t use muscle where God wants to do a miracle.” Sit down and dine with Him. Let Him feed you, humble you, commission you and then indwell you completely. Let Him convert/change you and then you can strengthen others in the path they need to take. Rejoice, little is accepted. Give it to Him and He shall multiply it. Maranatha!