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!