En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

  • Grab My Button!

    BWS tips button
    <a href="http://dadsdevoted.com"><img src="http://i496.photobucket.com/albums/rr323/baileytribe/blog/blckwhite_button.jpg" alt="BWS tips button" width="125" height="125" /></a><div style="border: 1px solid #DDD; margin: auto; padding: 5px 10px; background: #F8F8F8 none repeat scroll 0pt 0pt; overflow: auto; height: 100px; line-height: 1.5em;">***</div>

Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

The Two Churches: God’s and Man’s!

Posted by Scott on March 1, 2009

by Ray C. Stedman

 


The last few weeks in the Middle East have captured the attention of the entire world and there is an unprecedented interest again in what the Bible has to say about human history. As many of you perhaps know, this last week Time magazine featured in its religious section a very interesting discussion of the intentions of Israel in rebuilding the temple on the old temple site in Jerusalem. The outbreak again of sporadic fighting between Egypt and Israel at the Suez Canal this last week has reminded us that these events are far from settled and that the whole of the Near East is a cauldron boiling and apt to boil over again at any moment. Everyone acquainted with biblical prophecy is watching these events with tremendous interest, as I’m sure all of you are.

Now it is against this reawakened interest that we are devoting some evenings through these summer weeks to looking again at the statements of Scripture concerning prophetic events. And tonight we would like to center our attention upon what the word of God has to say about the church and its destiny, and specifically what it has to say about the two churches which actually exist today. Most of us do not think of the church as divided into two categories like this, but the Scriptures make very clear that there are in existence today two churches living side-by-side, intermingled, co-mingled, and the destiny of each is entirely distinct and different. It is only the Word of God that can guide us safely as to the identification of each and to an awareness of what the destiny of each group is.

I would like to begin tonight with a passage that occurs in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew. Our message tonight is going to be very simple. It will be the review of several passages of Scripture, one after the other and an attempt to piece together what the Scriptures have to say about these prophetic themes. This thirteenth chapter of Matthew is a series of parables that Our Lord told as he was standing by the seaside, teaching by the shores of Galilee. In them he encompasses a preview of the entire age that will follow his first coming before his second return; in other words, the age in which we live. And, by means of various parables, he makes clear what will be certain of the features of this age and particularly how the forces of the age will be at work among the people of God during this time. These parables are all connected together – they are not isolated parables, this is one great teaching of Our Lord that is tied together and has unusual significance. That significance is brought out for us if you look first at verse 34 where Matthew says:

“All this Jesus said to the crowds in parables. Indeed he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophets, ‘I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.’” (Matt. 13:34-35 RSV)

Now that marks this verse as an unusually significant passage. Here the Lord Jesus, as the great prophet of God, is fulfilling the Scripture that says he would open his mouth and utter predictions that had been hidden since the very foundation of the world. Earlier in this passage he reminded the disciples, in verse 13: “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (Matt. 13:13 RSV) However, in verse 16 he says: “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear. Truly I say to you many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see and did not see it, and to hear what you hear and did not hear it.” (Matt. 13:16-17 RSV) Here is an unusually important message of Our Lord. Now in the midst of this, among the parables he tells, is the parable familiarly known to us as the wheat and the tares, or as it’s known in the RSV as the wheat and weeds, beginning with verse 24, the thirteenth chapter:

“Another parable he put before them, saying: the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came to him and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” (Matt. 13:24-30 RSV)

Now this parable would be the subject of tremendous controversy if it had not been that Our Lord interpreted the parable for us. That interpretation, at the request of the disciples, begins in verse 36:

“Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ He answered: He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man and the field is the world. And the good seed means the sons of the kingdom, and the weeds are the sons of the evil one. And the enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so it will be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire. There men will weep and gnash their teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear!” (Matt. 13:36-43 RSV)

There are several noteworthy things about that interpretation. One, you will notice the Lord identifies himself as the householder, the sower who sowed the good seed, and he said that the end would come at the end of the age. Therefore, this parable covers the entire age between his first coming and his second coming. If we find any place at all in human history, we find our place here in this parable. This is the age in which we live. Furthermore, he identifies this as the “kingdom of heaven.” The kingdom of heaven, he says, may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. The field is the world, but within that world of human society exists that which is called the kingdom of heaven. Now perhaps it may help if I diagram this a bit. The kingdom of heaven is what we would more likely call Christendom, for it involves as we will see from this parable not only those who are genuinely born again, regenerated individuals, but also those who make any profession of this at all. The kingdom of heaven, therefore, is the realm of profession of Christianity, what we would call Christendom, including all denominations, all cults, all sects, and all churches of every stripe and variety that openly confess and give adherence to the name of Jesus Christ. It is like, he said, “a man who sowed good seed in his field.” That is, there is a true element of belief in the kingdom of heaven, in Christendom.

There are genuine people of God within the realm and scope of the kingdom of heaven. But there are also evil ones, and he says this is the work of the enemy, the devil who came and after the beginning sowed amongst the wheat the seed of evil. Now the Lord Jesus identified the wheat as the children of the kingdom and he, as the Son of Man, scattered them among the field, or out into the world. You can see this as a picture of what took place on the day of Pentecost and following when, as the Son of Man, he poured out the Holy Spirit and, thus indwelling the hearts of those who were his, he flung them out into the world. They were to go out, beginning at Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and unto all the uttermost parts of the earth to carry the good news of the truth of God. But at the same time, secretly, invisibly, at night, as he suggests, an enemy came and planted in the midst of the true people of God those who would openly and overtly claim to be Christian, but inwardly would not be.  The Lord Jesus had predicted this before. You remember he had said that many would come in his name saying, “Lord, Lord,” but would not enter into the kingdom. He would say to them at the end, “Depart from me, I never knew you,” and he speaks of those who come as “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” outwardly appearing to be righteous, but inwardly actually antagonistic to all the things of God. So this is the kingdom of heaven.

Now in the kingdom of heaven, spanning the entire age between the comings of Our Lord, are these two seeds, the good seed and the evil seed. When the seeds began to spring up and become evident that they were good and evil, the servants of the householder said to him, “Did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it these weeds?” And he said, “An enemy has done this.” And then they said to him, “Well, what do you want us to do about it? Don’t you want us to go in there and rip them out and dig them out and get rid of them?” And his answer is very significant: “No,” he says, “Let them alone. Let them grow together until the harvest.” And he identified the harvest as the close of the age.

Now in the divisions of the kingdom of heaven or Christendom we men have made certain distinctions. If we think of the kingdom of heaven as dating here from the first coming of Christ until the second, we have the entire present age in between. Across the course of history there have arisen various divisions within the kingdom of heaven. The most noteworthy ones, of course, are the divisions into Catholics and Protestants. These are the two largest divisions that have taken place. There are others as well. And within these there formed still other divisions such as among the Catholics; there is the Roman Catholic church, the Greek Catholic church, the Russian Catholic church and the Coptic or Egyptian church. Of course, among the Protestants you know some of the divisions. There are the Methodists, the Baptists, the Lutherans – and we’re going to run out of space awfully fast here! – and the Pentecostalists, and all these others that formed divisions within Protestantism. Now that’s the way man makes his divisions, along vertical lines, dividing them all up into little camps.

But the instructive thing is that the Lord Jesus never made a division like that. He recognizes none of these distinctions. Never anywhere in the New Testament does he ever make a division on this level. His division runs horizontally, right across it and says that a part of it is the good seed which runs through all of these – any and all of them – and belongs to him. He identifies himself with it; it is that which he began. Then there are the weeds which also are found among the wheat clear through the whole thing. So the Lord’s division is on quite a different level than ours. These two, he says, will grow together until the harvest and there is no possibility of separating them. Every effort made to try to clarify or purify the situation will come to nothing because Our Lord has determined that the two shall grow together until the time of the harvest. Then he says the reapers will separate them and he identifies them for us – the angels. He says he will send the angels to separate them. The angels do their work invisibly. We seldom, if ever, see angels visibly, but they are working all the time. As Hebrews reminds us, they are ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who shall be the heirs of salvation and they are constantly at work. But at the close of the age they have a specific ministry of separating the wheat from the weeds.

Now I want to look a little more closely at this phrase “the close of the age” because that does not mean simply a termination point, when Our Lord’s coming brings the whole thing to an end. It rather is made clear in Scripture that it is a period time, relatively brief, in which a great number of events take place, occupying at least seven years in length for Daniel’s seventieth week. I don’t have time to identify it any more than that. Bible scholars think of it as at least seven years long and it will fall within this period of time known as the close of the age. It will come at the close before Our Lord’s coming and it will be at least seven years long. I rather think that there is indication, as many Bible scholars have suggested, that it is longer than that. The seventieth week falls within this period called the close of the age. What seems to me to be particularly significant about the present-day events – as brought out in a previous message about prophetic themes – is that when the Jews came into the old city of Jerusalem, recaptured again the temple site and took over the old city, they were fulfilling a prediction that Jesus himself had made when he said: “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”

Now the times of the Gentiles is a very significant period. It began with Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion and capture of the city of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. and, if we accept the termination points that Our Lord gave, it ended when the Jews recaptured the city of Jerusalem on June 7, 1967. This would mean that something extremely significant has occurred and that a time has ended and a season has begun – the season of harvesting. The Lord Jesus said to the disciples (right after his resurrection when they said to him, “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”): “The times and the seasons are not for you to know, but the Father has put them into his own power.” Nevertheless, these times and seasons are significant events. The Lord Jesus has indicated that the times of the Gentiles would end when the old city of Jerusalem is repossessed by the Jewish people. And if that be the case, we may well have slipped over into that close of the age which will encompass in its duration the seven years of Daniel’s seventieth week. I merely throw that out as a suggestion – that is not dogmatic teaching, but it is very significant.

Now, here we have these two lines of belief, the weeds and the wheat. They form, therefore, two churches: God’s church and man’s church, or, more accurately perhaps, God’s church and Satan’s church. The enemy that sowed the weeds is the devil, said Jesus. He himself was the one who sowed the good seed and they shall grow together until the close of the age when he will instruct the angels to do a specific thing. First, he says, I will tell the reapers: “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned.” Now exactly what that means is perhaps a subject of some conjecture, but it indicates, at least to me, that perhaps this is a ministry in which the false church will be gathered into large groups. It is highly significant that this is the day of church mergers when groups of churches are clumping together, driven as by some invisible force, to forget the differences that have separated them for ages and to come together, laying aside their differences and uniting into bundles of people. I am not suggesting that all these bundles are necessarily wrong. I don’t think this is made clear at all, as yet, while the true church remains on the scene. But this would be the first activity of the angels in the close of the age, that they would be gathering the weeds into bundles to be burned. At the same time Jesus said: “Gather the wheat into my barn,” which is the first suggestion we have in this passage that the true church is taken out at the time that the bundles begin to appear.

Now let’s leave this passage for the moment. We do have this suggestion at the close of it that the Son of Man will send his angels. He will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers and throw them into the furnace of fire. There men will weep and gnash their teeth. That could, of course, stand for the lake of fire that is mentioned in Revelation – the eternal doom of the wicked. Perhaps it does. Or, it could speak of a time of great and terrible trouble – the time when the fires of God’s judgments will be poured out upon the earth and during that time men shall weep and gnash their teeth. I rather think that this is the suggestion here – that it occurs during the time of the so-called Great Tribulation, closing with the terrible events of the “great and dreadful day of the Lord,” when the sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give its light. The stars shall fall from the heaven; earthquakes shall shake and rend the earth. Then the false church shall face its time of judgment. But, on the other hand, he says that “the righteous shall shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear!” Now this is the first suggestion in the passages that we have looked at that indicate that the false church is a church which will go through the great tribulation, while the true church will escape it.

It is that theme that I would like to pursue further in other passages of Scripture. Let’s turn to the last book of the New Testament, the book of Revelation and in Chapter 17 we have a vision of an unusual figure who is called the great harlot:

“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who is seated upon many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and with the wine of whose fornication the dwellers on earth have become drunk.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The women was arrayed with purple and scarlet and bedecked with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her fornication. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery, Babylon the Great, Mother of Harlots, and of earth’s abominations. And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” (Rev. 17:1-6 RSV)

What a remarkable sight! In Scripture, whenever a woman is used symbolically it almost invariably stands for something out of place religiously. In the Old Testament the prophet Zechariah saw a woman caught up in a bushel basked and carried away to Babylon. It was a figure of the apostasy of Israel and their subsequent captivity in the land of Babylon. Here is a woman – a woman decked with wealth, with riches, with gold, jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a cup of abominations, of impurities and of fornication. Now fornication is used in Scripture spiritually to signify apostasy or heresy. So here is a religious figure, holding in her hand this golden cup of heresy and adultery; adulterated truth leading people astray into a false intimacy of relationship with a false god. At the same time she is a woman of great wealth and she is seen to be riding the beast which earlier in this letter is identifiable with the political realm of the revived Roman Empire of the last days, the federated states of the western world uniting their forces together. The beast has seven heads and ten horns; seven heads representing the seven various stages of its government and the ten horns representing a ten-kingdom empire which rises in the last times. The woman is riding the beast, that is, she is in control of it. She has dominated it and her name is “Mystery Babylon the Great.”

Now through all the Scriptures the name Babylon has a very significant implication. It is used to identify what might be called the root heresy of all time. Babylonianism, as we understand it from both the Old and the New Testament, is a desire to gain earthly power and prestige by the use of supposed religious authority. That is Babylonianism – it is an attempt to gain earthly power by the use of false religious authority. Wherever that appears, that is Babylonianism. It began back in ancient Babylon, where Babel was begun by the descendents of Cain who went out and erected a city and its name was Babel. There they decided to make a name for themselves. They did it by worshipping a false god and thus gathering the worship of the peoples of the world of that day and utilizing it to gain ascendancy, power and authority over them. Now that is the essence of Babylonianism. In the seventeenth chapter of Revelation we find further on that it is identified with the city of Rome:

“This calls for a mind with wisdom: The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman is seated. They are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must remain only for a little while.” (Rev. 17:9-10 RSV)

Those seven hills are a reference to the famous seven hills upon which the city of Rome is built. In the eighteenth verse of the chapter, the last verse, we are told: “The woman that you saw is the great city which has dominion over the kings of the earth.” (Rev. 17:18 RSV) This could only be Rome in John’s day. Therefore this is identifiable with that religious apostasy which associated with the city of Rome, has spread throughout the earth, and yet is characterized by a desire for earthly power gained by the use of false religious authority. You can understand therefore why many bible students have identified this with the Roman Catholic church and there is a sense in which this is certainly accurate, because this is exactly what Rome has been in much of its history. But it is certainly not restricted to the Roman Catholic church. Babylonianism is as rife in Protestantism as it is in Catholicism. Wherever you find a church, a local church or a denomination or a group of denominations, that are seeking to exercise earthly authority and political power to change governments and influence legislatures and so on by the use of religious authority, you find Babylonianism. This is therefore a mark of the false church and the doom of this church is given to us later on in this letter, in the fifteenth verse of Revelation 17 John says:

“He said to me, ‘The waters that you saw, where the harlot is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues. And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the harlot. They will make her desolate and naked and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire.’” (Rev. 17:15-16 RSV)

Remember what Jesus said? The angels will cause the false church to be bound together into bundles to be burned. Here some strange force drives the nations of the earth, the governments of earth, to revolt against the false religious authority in their midst and to devour her – make her desolate and naked and devour her flesh and burn her with fire. And says John: “God has put it into their hearts.” “I will send my angels,” said the Lord Jesus, “who will do this.” God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and giving over their royal power to the beast until the words of God shall be fulfilled. Thus the end of Satan’s church is destruction by the peoples of earth in a holocaust of hate and revenge that will literally destroy the false church from among men.

Well, what about the true church? What is its destiny? Let us come back now and pick up the theme in the gospels. In the fourteenth chapter of John, his well-known passage when the Lord Jesus gathered with his disciples in the upper room and has announced to them in the closing words of chapter 13:

“Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you shall follow afterward.’ And Peter said to him, ‘Lord, why cannot I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly I say to you, the cock will not crow till you have denied me three times.’” (John 13:36-38 RSV)

Then, evidently seeing the stricken look on the face of this apostle and the terrified looks of the other disciples, he adds these words: “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms (many abiding places).” (John 14:1-2 RSV) It is my personal belief that he was referring to the entire universe when he said “the Father’s house.”  That is where God dwells. “In my Father’s house there are many places to live,” he says. Earth is one of them, but only one. “And if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself.” (John 14:2-3 RSV) That is the key for the destiny of the true church – “Take you to myself.” It is rather interesting that the New Testament never says that the church is going to go to heaven. Did you know that? We talk like that all the time, but it does not. It says that the church is going to be with the Lord – “Take you to myself and that where I am, you may be also.” (John 14:3 RSV) That is to be the church’s destiny.
Now this is the first hint that the Lord has given of how he is going to solve the problem of gathering the wheat into his barn. First, he says, “I will come again and take you to myself.” That is all we have in this passage here. It was given to the disciples, to Peter, James, John and Paul to enlarge upon these words of Our Lord and to give us further inspired details concerning them. In the writings of Paul we find some very helpful further details about this coming to receive the church to himself. This is not in relationship to the world; we will see the difference between those in a moment. But now he is talking to his church and he says, “I am coming again to receive you to myself; where I am, there you will be also.”
Now, in First Corinthians, the fifteenth chapter (the great resurrection chapter), the apostle Paul is speaking about the believer’s hope of resurrection – because Christ lives, we too shall live. Because Christ is risen, we shall rise. In verse 51 he says: “Lo, I tell you a mystery.” Now that does not mean something mysterious; that means something that has been hidden up to now, now to be revealed. Now I tell you a sacred secret. “We shall not all sleep.” That is, we are not all going to die. “But we shall all be changed.” We may not all die, but we will all be changed. We are not going to go into the next life like we are. We won’t carry with us all the aches and pains and scars and all the other things we’ve gathered in this life. Some are going to die, most perhaps, but not all. “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.”

Now most of us think of that as the blinking of an eye. That isn’t what it is at all. The blinking of an eye is much too slow. This is the twinkling of an eye. Ever see an eye twinkle? Just a slight movement of the eyeball and a flash of light comes forth. You can see it; the eye is constantly flashing as it moves and the slightest move makes a twinkling. That is what he is talking about – in the twinkling of an eye (instantaneously, without a word of warning). “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we shall all be changed.” When? “At the last trumpet.” “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we (living) shall be changed. For this perishable (or that is, this corruptible, meaning the dead ones – those who have died, their bodies have already begun to decay or are decayed), these corrupt ones must put on incorruption. And this mortal body (these bodies subject to death, but not yet dead) will put on immortality.” (1 Cor. 52-53 RSV) Like that, in the twinkling of an eye. “And when the perishable (or the corruptible) puts on the incorruptible, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is thy victory? O Death, where is thy sting?’” (1 Cor. 15:54-55 RSV) There is a temptation to dwell on that wonderful passage. That is the hope of the believer as he lays a loved one away in a grave – “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” And it will be, says Paul, at the “last trumpet.”
He gives us further light on this in first Thessalonians when writing to this church of new believers who were troubled by certain pressures, temptations and terrible persecutions that they were going through. He encourages them with certain words. They too were wondering about what had happened to their loved ones who died. They did not know whether they would be with them in heaven. They wrote to the apostle about this and in verse 13 of chapter 4 he said:

“But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” (1 Thes. 4:13 RSV)

In other words, he says, I am going to clarify your doubts and uncertainties. I do not want you to be ignorant like you have been about this.

“But since we believe that Jesus died and rose again [that is the fundamental faith of all Christians], even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Thes. 4:14 RSV)

They knew that Jesus was coming back again to reign in power and glory. Both the Old and the New Testaments spoke very eloquently about this return. Jesus himself had described it. He would come in great power and glory to establish his kingdom. And now, says Paul, he will bring with him these that have fallen asleep that you are so concerned about. Naturally, their question would be: How is this done? How can he bring with him those that have died? Their bodies are in the grave. Their literal bodies are going to come back with him, but how can this be? Well, he said, let me explain: “For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord…” (Here is a revealed mystery; the same mystery that he made reference to in 1 Corinthians 15 – “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” – here it is again),  “That we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord…” – now here he used a very special word for the “coming of the Lord.” It is the word parousia in the Greek, which means not merely a coming, but a presence – the coming of the Lord and his continuing presence afterward. I want you to remember that because we are going to look a little more closely at it in another passage.

“We who are alive” he says, (who are left until the parousia, the presence of the Lord) “shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Thes. 4:15 RSV) (We are not going up first; don’t worry about them, they are not going to be left behind.) “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God (the last trumpet). And the dead in Christ will rise first (don’t worry about them, he says, they’re going to go up first).” They get a head start. As someone has said, it’s because they have six feet further to go! “Then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds (or in clouds, I think it doesn’t mean in the clouds, but in clouds of saints) to meet the Lord in the air. And so we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thes. 4:16-17 RSV) What did Jesus say? “I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there you may be also.” (John 14:3 RSV) “So shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thes. 4:17-18 RSV) He said you don’t have to worry, the dead in Christ are going to rise first. That is how it will be possible for Jesus to bring them back with him when he comes in glory. There is going to be a preceding coming which he calls here a presence that will come first. The Lord Jesus will descend first for his church and bring them all together, the dead and the living both. Then later they shall appear with him in glory, when he appears to reign. So this is how they can come back with Him. It will be, as he declares by the word of the Lord, a previous coming that will make this possible, a coming for his church alone, exactly as the Lord Himself had said.
Now he goes on: “But as to the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need to have anything written to you [about those].” (1 Thes. 5:1 RSV) You have all the Scriptures about those, and that is all you can know about them. Remember Jesus had said, “The times and the seasons are not for you to know. The Father has put them in His own power.” Only what has been revealed about them is all anyone knows. “But you yourselves know well that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” (1 Thes. 5:2 RSV) This has been foretold. The Day of the Lord is this time of tribulation and of judgment identified in both the book of Revelation and the Old Testament as the day of God’s wrath – “The great day of his wrath is come and who shall be able to stand?” – the day when the judgments of God are poured out upon a Christ-rejecting earth. That day, says the apostle, will come like a thief in the night, that is, suddenly, unexpectedly to the people of earth.

“When people say there is peace and security, then sudden destruction will come upon them as travail comes upon a woman with child. And there will be no escape. But you are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief. No, you are the sons of the day. You are the sons of light. We are not of the night nor of the darkness. So then let us not sleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But, since we belong to the day, let us be sober and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” (1 Thes. 5:3-8 RSV)

Now he does not mean salvation from hell. That was already long since theirs. He means salvation from the day of wrath which is to come for he goes right on: “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us, so that whether we wake or sleep, (whether we are dead or alive when He comes, it does not make any difference), we might live together with Him.” (1 Thes. 5:9-10 RSV) That’s quite clear, isn’t it? He comes first for his church and we are not destined for that period of wrath or judgment, but we are to be caught up together with Him in the clouds.
Now let’s move to another passage in connection with this, second Thessalonians, chapter 2, for here again we have a passage that helps us considerably in this matter determining the time of the destiny of the true church. “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Here he uses that special word again – parousia, which means presence. It is not merely a single coming, but the presence of the Lord afterward.) “…and our assembling to meet him.” You see how the two are identified together? When he comes in this quiet, silent, invisible coming only for his church, only his own will see him. And then he remains here on earth in a behind-the-scenes ministry much as he was here during the days of his post-resurrection ministry. Remember how he would appear and disappear? He was there, but he wasn’t there, for forty days and forty nights. Now that is the way he comes again and immediately the church is with him so that wherever he goes during that time, up and down the face of the earth, the church is with him. “So shall we ever be with the Lord,” says the apostle.

“And now,” says Paul, “concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him, we beg you, brethren, not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word or by letter purporting to be from us to the effect that the day of the Lord had come.” (2 Thes. 2:1-2 RSV) Evidently there were some people in Thessalonica that were saying the tribulations they were going through was the Great Tribulation. The day of the Lord had come. They were in it already. And some had even suggested that Paul had said so and perhaps there was even a forged letter bearing his name that said that they were in the day of the Lord. Now he says don’t believe this kind of nonsense. “For remember,” he says, “let no one deceive you in any way.” For that day will not come unless something happens first. The rebellion comes first.
That word rebellion is a word that requires a little more study. It is the Greek word apostasia. You can see how it relates to our word apostasy. We anglicized it to get our word apostasy. It means basically “a departure.” Of course you can see that an apostasy is a departure from the faith and sometimes it is used that way in Scripture. The interesting thing is that when it is used that way, it has those words added to it – “a departure from the faith” – indicating that this word all by itself does not mean necessarily a departure from the faith, just a departure. Suppose you translate it that way, as increasingly I find Greek scholars are translating this word. “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come unless the departure comes first.” (2 Thes. 2:3 RSV) What departure? Why, the departure of the saints – the one he just referred to, our gathering together unto him; our gathering to meet him!

Now, don’t be deceived, he said, and don’t be alarmed; how could you be in the day of the Lord? The church’s departure comes first. And in that day of the Lord “the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship so that he takes his seat in the temple of God proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thes. 2:3-4 RSV) This is the Antichrist, the man of sin, the lawless one. In Verse 8, “And then the lawless one will be revealed,” (during this period of time; in the midst of the week, we are told in Daniel; his true character will be manifest), “and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by his appearing and his coming.” (2 Thes. 2:8 RSV) That is the coming at the end in glory and power.
Now let’s look at that passage where the Lord Jesus himself indicates these two phases or distinctions in his coming. Matthew 24 is the great prophetic passage from the lips of the Lord himself. The disciples had come to him and said, “Tell us when will this be,” (that is, the destruction of the temple) “and what will be the sign of your coming,” (there they use that word parousia) “and of the close of the age?” (Matt. 24:3 RSV) And in answering Jesus set forth truth about the intervening age: he said it would be a time of wars and rumors of wars, a time when there would be persecution, tribulation and the love of many would grow cold. There would come times of pressure, earthquakes and famines; all these things would run their course through the whole time, and the gospel would be preached unto all the nations. And then, he said, the close of the age, the end, will come. This brief period of time, of seven years or more in length, will begin. In the midst of the period, the time will be identified by the desolating sacrilege, (in verse 15) spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place. That is what Paul referred to: the man of sin who exalts himself as though he were God and claims to be God, standing in the temple that must be rebuilt in Jerusalem. He stands in the holy place and identifies himself as God. Then Jesus says, “There will come great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world, no, nor ever shall be.” (Matt. 24:21 RSV) In verse 29 he says:

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matt. 24:29-30 RSV)

Every eye shall see him, we are told in another place; being visible to all the earth at once, coming in power and great glory to reign over the nations. Now that is a visible coming, isn’t it? And one preceded by unmistakable signs: the sun darkening, the moon not giving its light, the stars falling from heaven. All this will be troubling the whole earth, as Luke tells us in Chapter 21. Men’s hearts will fail them for fear of looking after the things coming on the face of the earth, the sea and the waves roaring. Evidently some tremendous cosmic disturbance will create havoc in the natural world, causing volcanoes to erupt, earthquakes to shake the frame of the earth and terrible famines and pestilences and all the things described in the book of Revelation. And after that he will be seen in power and great glory. Now, how can that be like “a thief in the night?” How could his coming be unexpected, if this is the one that is referred to? Everyone will be expecting it, won’t they? Anyone who has a bible or who has ever heard anything about it will know what is going to happen. Even today, let some little fight start between an Israeli and an Arab on the boundary of the Suez Canal and the whole world starts thumbing the Bible. So how is this going to happen unexpectedly? There is no other explanation but that there is another coming that is unexpected and Jesus refers to it in Matthew 24, verse 36. Twice he uses the peculiar phrase, the parousia, the coming with a presence following:


“But of that day and hour no one knows (no signs before it), not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming (the parousia) of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark.” (Matt. 24:36-37 RSV)

You have probably heard many messages that try to indicate that the signs of the repetition of the days of Noah would be the rising divorce rate and the terrible gluttony and so on as though this was something wrong. But this is what Our Lord means: there is nothing wrong here; eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage is normal living. He is just saying that life would be going on without anything different or unusual happening. And suddenly, as in the flood, it will all begin, like a thief in the night. It will come suddenly, unexpectedly. “And they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming (parousia) of the Son of Man. Then two men will in the field: one is suddenly taken and the other left.” (Matt. 24:39-40 RSV) Remember what Paul said: “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye we shall be changed…this corruptible will put on incorruption, this mortal must put on immortality. The Lord shall descend and we shall be caught up together to be with him.” “Two women will be grinding at the mill: one is taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” (Matt 24:42 RSV)
Let me close with this additional word. In Luke 21 there is a parallel passage, Luke’s account of the same message which adds certain details. It is instructive to read the chapter through, but particularly verse 34 in which he records the words of Jesus: “Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the cares of this life.” (Luke 21:34 RSV) There is the problem: getting so wrapped up in business as usual, everything going on as usual, making money and getting married and eating and drinking and never a thought to the future. “Take heed,” he says, that “that day come upon you suddenly like a snare. For it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. But watch at all times, pray that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:35-36 RSV)

Now strength to escape does not mean living a life of good works. It means having the life of Christ in you. That is the only place that strength comes from; it means to be born again. He is telling all the people of the world to be serious about this, take these things soberly, remember that life is not going to go on forever the way it has been. Suddenly it is all going to come to an end. If you have not yet been born again, if you do not have the life of God, if you are not one of the “good seed,” then you will have to go through all these things. Pray that you may have the strength, the life from him to escape all these things and to be with him, to “stand before the Son of Man.” His promise to those is: “I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there you may be also.” This is clear, isn’t it, when we put the scriptures together, and sobering.
Prayer:

Our Lord Jesus, it’s almost as though you have taught this to us here tonight. These words search us and grip us in the face of the amazing events of our day. What a privileged generation we are, that we may be living in these days when the close of the age, foretold so many hundreds of years ago, have begun. What manner of people ought we to be – in soberness and seriousness of life, giving ourselves to that which is of vital and great concern to thee in these days. Help us, young and old alike, to turn from the blandishments and the endearments of the world that is doomed to destruction, and to give ourselves to the ministry of love and concern and devotion.


Title: The two Churches, God’s and Man’s
By: Ray C. Stedman
Scripture: Matthew 13, Revelation 17, John 14, 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thess. 4 & 5, 2 Thess. 5, Matthew 24, Luke 21
Date: July 2, 1967
Series: Tomorrow’s Headlines
Message No: 1
Catalog No: 0271

Posted in Ray Stedman | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Does God Predestine Some to Hell? Great Video by Mark Kielar

Posted by Scott on October 29, 2008

Romans 9:17-18

17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”[a] 18Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

Exodus 7:2-5

2 You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, 4 he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. 5 And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”

Exodus 9:12

12 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said to Moses.


So, God either actively or passively intervenes in peoples lives.  The same opportunities to accept the gospel are present, but the intervention of God is different.  Remember also, God’s common grace that all men enjoy whether deserved or not.  Without the hand of God restraining this vile evil that exist in man, the world would not be tolerable by any human being or beast.  God is Sovereignly at work in the lives of His people for our greater good and ultimately His greater glory.   Praise the Lord He first loved me and sought me out like the hound on the trail of a rabbit…nothing will deter the will of God.


Posted in devotion, Theology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Caveman Living!

Posted by Scott on May 24, 2008

A 15 pound spear zooms by his head with such force it created wind as it landed deep inside the palace wall.  As the young man realized the spear was meant for him, he jumped up and ran out of the palace without saying anything.  Sweat drenching his body, dust swirling up behind him, his heart pumping so fast he could see it pounding through his clothes, the young man continues to run for the mountain area outside of town.  As he begins to slow down, still exhausted from the threat to his life and the vigorous run he just made a young David comes to a cave to hide out for a while until the threat on his life has subsided.

Upon entering the dark cold depths of the cave, David finds a place to fall to his knees.  Still weeping, confused as to why the King was trying to kill him and trying to catch his breath in between his thoughts David cries out,

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.  It is in You my soul take refuge.  It is here I will take my refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster has passed.  I am here crying out to You, my God Most High, to my God who fulfills His purpose in me.  It is You, Lord, who reaches down from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me.  You, my Lord, send Your love and faithfulness.  I am in the midst of lions here.  I am among ravenous beasts.  These men whose teeth are like spears and arrows, whose tongues are like sharp swords telling lies about me.

Be exalted, Elohim, above the heavens, let Your glory be over all the earth.  When these liars spread a net for my feet, I was bent over in distress.  These beast dug a pit in my path for me, but they ended up in the pit themselves.

Jehovah, my heart is steadfast towards You.  I will sing and make beautiful music.  Awake my soul, Awake you harp and lyre!  I will awaken the dawn with my praise in music to my God.  I will praise You, O Lord, among the nations.  I will sing of you among the people.  Great is Your love, reaching to the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Be exalted, Elohim, my Adonai.  Above the heavens, let Your glory be over all the earth.”

At this point, I am sure a young and totally spent David, fell further to the ground to rest.  Men, we find ourselves on run sometimes.  Hopefully not literally as David did, but in our lives we will find ourselves in the middle of being on the run within ourselves.  People accusing us falsely.  Others after us.  Some claiming to be our brothers in Christ not being truthful to us.  Many in the church not coming to our aid at all, but actually causing life to be worse than better.  Bill collectors calling because we have found ourselves in a financial disaster with no vision of a way out.  Possibly you are a commission income person with little to no prospects for income in the future that you can see.  Guys, we can find ourselves in different corners of this life with spears hurling at our heads, but what will we do? 

If we are truthful about our situations, we will understand that God is leading us to a special cave he has designed just for us.  It is there we find refuge and security.  It is in this quiet cave that we are able to gather our thoughts again and the ability to set quietly and hear God speak.  It is in this cave that some decisions are made about our situation.  Will we retreat further into self-pity and allow ourselves to become depressed over it?  Will we become so angry about our enemies attacks or it could even be anger with God for allowing us to be in that situation?  In this case we might even try to get revenge upon our assailant.  This usually only leads further down into a dark hole and sin that crushes all of our hopes and dreams.  However, there is a third approach we can take to our time as a caveman.  Stop and think for a moment who it is who lead us into the cave?  God was the orchestrator of this entire event.  In this cave He has a purpose for us there.  Something we are to learn that we would not learn in posh, easy living, is allowing circumstances to evolve in our lives that pushes us directly towards a downfall and ultimately into a cave for refuge, where we find our God waiting.

This third approach is found in Psalm 57.  As we read the account, which is the crying out to God that David did earlier in this article, although David was in distress and rightly so, he simply would not let himself get angry or depressed…he praised and worshipped God.  David was thankful to God for His deliverance of him.  He thanked God for reaching down out of heaven to save him.  He praised Elohim, our Supreme Faithful Master, for His faithful, loyal love to him.  This kind of reaction to such a dire situation is the healing we men need.  It is the encouragement that springs forth new life to our weary souls.  It is in taking a situation that was so near death and glorifying our God with it that helps us to catch a glimpse of how huge our God really is and little we really are.  Yet, in our tininess, God still stoops down to save His chosen ones. 

Guys, throughout this life, we will find all shapes and sizes of spears hurled at us.  How are we going to react to it?  I have a small tin plaque on my wall in the closet at my home.  On it is a quote from John Wayne “Courage is when you are scared to death and you still saddle up anyway”.  In this cave, gentlemen, we may be scared sometimes.  We may find ourselves trembling a bit from fear.  However, we must force ourselves with the power of the Holy Spirit to turn towards our heavenly Father, cry out to Him for fresh new mercies each morning, and saddle back up to ride another day.  This cave is not our home, guys.  This cave is our university…it is our special place of learning from God Himself through His word.  The cave experience is a place that helps us to bounce back in order to face the enemy that would like to destroy us on a daily basis.  Our families deserve for us to become a caveman for a while.  It is to their benefit we go through these times.  Is it easy?  I should say with a resounding “NO” it is not easy.  I would not pray to go through it again, however, I would not take a million dollars for the education received while in that cave.

As David was in the middle of one of his most life changing, distressing times of his life, he  chose to honor, praise and glorify God.  I want to point out 10 ways David reacted to his disastrous situation.

1. He asked for mercy from God.

2. He took refuge in the shadow of God.

3. He cried out for God to fulfill His purpose in him even in the midst of his trial.

4. He recognized that his salvation comes from God.

5. He praised God for His steadfast and faithful love to him.

6. He puts the attackers and accusers on God’s shoulders.

7. David breaks out in praise and worship to God rather than self-pity or revenge.

8. He sets his mind on the things of God rather than his distressing situation.

9. David stresses the faithfulness and loyal love of God upon him even in this dire event in his life.

10. David trusted in his God-Elohim rather than in his own strengths and ability.

Men, we need to remember something about this entire event…it is not forever.  David did not dwell in this cave forever.  He’s become one of the greatest kings ever.  He was a man after God’s own heart.  He was a fierce warrior in times of war.  He was a great leader for Israel.  However, his caveman experience was necessary so that he would lean hard upon God rather than himself.  We need to learn to do the same.  In our times of horrible distress, we must lean hard upon God, take refuge in the shadow of His wings.  Be eager to grow spiritually in the faith through the word of God.  Be still and know that He is God.  Rather than fighting our situations, whatever they may be, we need to embrace it and seek the light of the glory of God’s face. 

As we are able to see the light at the end of the cave we are in, we will find our lives forever changed.  Hopefully, the change will be a good one.  We are men fighting in the trenches everyday.  We have to fight it seems to provide for our families sometimes at a great sacrifice, but take courage in our Lord, saddle up and face our lives with the assurance that God is with us.  Ride out with praise and honor to our Almighty God and know that no matter the outcome of the situation, God is still great…God is still Almighty…God is still Sovereign…God is still reigning upon His throne.  Nothing we do and nothing we say changes our Adonai.

-Scott Bailey 2008

Posted in devotion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

True Believers Cannot Lose Their Salvation…!

Posted by Scott on May 22, 2008

Kevin Williams presents a great message on the security of the “true” believers.  He expounds on the fact that not all calling themselves believers are not really “true” believers.

Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.  From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”

-John 6:64-66

CLICK THE TITLE BELOW!

Kevin Williams-True Believers…

Posted in Theology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Christian-God Only Has Love and Peace for you!

Posted by Scott on May 22, 2008

A great audio of Kevin Williams preaching God’s love for His elect!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

-Jeremiah 29:11

CLICK TITLE BELOW!

Christians, God Only Has Love & Peace Towards You! Kevin Williams

Posted in Theology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Gospel!

Posted by Scott on May 22, 2008

Jonathon Sims preaches John 3:16 in the simple Gospel!  This video last about 10 minutes.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

-John 3:16 (NIV) 

 

Posted in Theology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Land of Disappearing Children-Japan!

Posted by Scott on May 22, 2008

“The Land of Disappearing Children” — Japan’s Population Crisis

by Al Mohler, Jr.

The nation of Japan faces a devastating population crisis. The crisis, however, is not a problem of too many people living in Japan, but too few. Japan, with several other nations close behind, faces what we might call a population implosion.

Indeed, Japan has experienced 27 consecutive years of declining birth rates. Within just a few short years the nation will experience massive social problems and a complete breakdown of economic activity.

In previous eras, this kind of population loss would be explained by war or some natural catastrophe such as famine or the plague. None of these explanations is relevant to Japan’s experience, however. As a matter of fact, the population of Japan actually grew during World War II, only to start falling in the early 1980s.

As The Washington Post reports:

The number of children has declined for 27 consecutive years, a government report said over the weekend. Japan now has fewer children who are 14 or younger than at any time since 1908.

The proportion of children in the population fell to an all-time low of 13.5 percent. That number has been falling for 34 straight years and is the lowest among 31 major countries, according to the report. In the United States, children account for about 20 percent of the population.

Japan also has a surfeit of the elderly. About 22 percent of the population is 65 or older, the highest proportion in the world. And that number is on the rise. By 2020, the elderly will outnumber children by nearly 3 to 1, the government report predicted. By 2040, they will outnumber them by nearly 4 to 1.

The numbers tell the story. Almost a quarter of Japan’s population is 65 and older; only 13.5 percent are children. The inescapable conclusion is that there will soon not be enough Japanese to keep Japan functioning as a nation, society, and culture.

The paper calls the reality “a slow-motion demographic catastrophe that is without precedent in the developed world.” Looking ahead, the paper assured its readers that it was not overstating the case. Indeed, “The economic and social consequences of these trends are difficult to overstate.”

The Japan Center for Economic Research predicts that Japan will lose 70 percent of its workers by mid-century. Japan may now be the world’s second-largest economy, but it cannot retain that status with a population in severe decline.

A society that stops having children is like a healthy person who simply decides to starve himself.  This is an act of the human will, not a natural calamity.

The population explosion prophets are still warning of a population crisis to come, but they got the story almost perfectly backward when it comes to nations like Japan.  Russia and several other European nations face similar crises.

Babies are a clear sign of cultural confidence and cultural health.  The Washington Post describes this crisis as “Japan’s disappearing children.”  Those words do describe Japan’s predicament — and this crisis will not disappear.

Posted in Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Are Children a Burden or Blessing?

Posted by Scott on May 22, 2008

In a society that is quickly moving towards limiting the family size we must ask why is this?  Have children suddenly become burdens upon society or has this happened gradually?  Maybe the question should be asked “Are they a burden at all?”  God tells us throughout the scriptures of the Holy Bible that children are a blessing from above.  So, the question that pops into my mind, “Who made children a burden?”

I have a long article circling my small brain about this very topic.  Children are very precious to my wife and I.  We are committed to allowing God full reign over every aspect of our lives has been an 18 plus year quest of ours…this includes our family size.  Although it has not been easy to release our lives into the hands of God completely, just out of human nature, it has been the most rewarding.  In these kids of ours we can see God develop a desire in their hearts for Him.  We observe him drawing them to Himself.  We now have 10 beautiful children that reveal to us the characteristics of a loving and sometimes humerous God every day of our lives.

I heard a question raised by a parent who called in to a well know talk show the other day.  The question the fellow made was “shouldn’t Christian parents have fewer children so their children can have a better life economically and socially?”  Wow!  That question raises the hair on my neck as to what may Christian parents are thinking these days.  Does scripture support this kind of thinking anywhere within its pages in true context?  I doubt it!  The problem with the question is that it shows insight into a growing belief among Christian parents that we should spoil our children and give them more than we  had growing up…of course we would like our kids live’s to be easier, but should we really strive to achieve that?  This kind of pie in the sky philosophy is dangerous and in fact this kind of philosophy is producing one of the most spoiled, disrespectful, snobby, unprepared generations of children to ever dawn the face of this earth.  They will not be able to stand in the face of the enemy and defend the family or the Christian faith someday.  Their faith is being built on posh, tender footed, pansism rather than real life hardness with biblical answers. 

What is up with Christian parents thinking we should have fewer children in order to pamper the kids “behinds”?  Is this real?  I would hope this is one parents mistaken question, but I am affraid it is a growing gas that is spreading across our nation and will eventually ignite into a ball of fire that will consume anyone in its path of opposition to detriment of this Christian nation.  This question as it is raised in all of its “rawness” is supposing that large families grow up poor, disadvantaged, uneducated, and down right burdens on society.  Well, I dare you to do the real research on large families and their contribution to society over the past 300 years…I don’t have time to expound on that in this post, but will try to update this post later on. 

Here are few other questions that arise from this regurgitated question:

1. Are we as parents suppose to be able to buy our kids everything they want, send them to the finest schools, provide them with the finest friends, with the finest homes and cars?  At this moment, I know what you might be thinking, so, put aside the thought of this being jealousy or condemnation of wealth, because it is not.  This probes far deeper than anything that shallow.  True wealth is not a sin, but it can lead to much sin like anything else in this life including poverty.

2. Are we as parents to involve these kids in every worldly social activity under the sun like all the sports they can play at one time, all the camps that can be afforded them for the summer, all the birthday parties they can stomach, all the “play dates” you can schedule, all the “Mothers Day Out” programs one can afford?  All of this so that we as parents can be the personal chauffers to our kids and their “loyal” friends, so we can have “Me time”, so we can go to the gym and jogging with our other friends lest we allow one ounce of fat on our bodies and many other vain issues that would take more blog space to address…one disclaimer here, “Staying healthy is a good thing and there is nothing wrong with working out”.  Really parents, think about these questions for a long moment.  Where is this kind of thinking coming from?  Where in all of this does glorifying our heavenly Father come into action?  How much personel time do we spend with these precious God given kids of ours compared to the time they spend under the influence of everyone else in the world that has little interest in the spiritual well being of our kids?  How is any of this activity preparing them for the future in the world?  I know you can make up reasons to justify the action..I hear them all the time, we all can do that including taking biblical verses out of context to support them, but I am talking about taking our live’s and laying it open and bare before God and from His Holy Word scripting out examples from the Bible as to the pros and cons of our life!

3. Are we as parents listening to the Word of God anymore?  Isn’t it in reality that we are listening to our peers put pressure on us to put the kids in everything so they will be “socially well rounded”, “every child should have the opportunity to play a sport”…”this is a right of passage” they will tell us, the peer pressure is we don’t want our kids to be outcast with their “friends”…we teach them by our very actions to be like everyone else instead of being different from the world?  This is tragic that we allow family and friends dictate to us how to raise our family all the while we know in our hearts we are not raising them according to God’s biblical standard for them.   we have not only been living in the world, but we have also become like the world…we have grown into and rooted ourselves in this worldly society.

These are some of the probing questions that pierce deep into the mind of each of us or should.  The issue is really not the size of the families or economic status of the families…that is just the face or front of it all.  The real issue is which worldview we as parents have.  Is our worldview truly a biblical worldview or is it a humanistic philosophical worldview many times disquised or counted as a biblical worldview?  We must be careful…we have the Book that tells us and shows us the difference.

Are we willing to risk the eternal lives of our children by raising them under a humanistic worldview?  Think about that for a moment!  How can raising the kids under a worldview that wars against God, that is against its Creator…how can this be of any benefit to our children in eternity?  We will all have an eternity somewhere…the question is where will our eternity be?  What do our children do each day that is of eternal benefit in heaven to them?  From the education they are getting to the sports they play…what is the eternal benefit?  Does it even matter until they are near adulthood?  I hope that answer is that it matters from their first breath in this world.  Read this creed and see if we can make it our own…it was tweeked with one new word by John Piper:

“The chief end of man is to glorify God

BY

enjoying Him forever!”

Society has produced over the decades a desirable flavor for sin that taste good to most people by saying in a bold way that “children are a burden”.  This is what I hear from people all the time it seems:  Kids cost money, they get dirty, they make your house smelly, you have to take them places all the time, kids have no respect of adults, kids cannot resist temptations, kids are like animals, kids eat too much or all the time, kids are “whiny”, I would not bring a kids into this vile world, you are insane or crazy to have that many kids, and so on.  You know for many kids I find nothing untruthful about those statements…no one has ever said raising kids was an easy thing.  However, was raising children any different 50 years ago from the way it is done now?  Yes, the world is different, the risk are possibly greater, but the end goal is still the same…godly adults that will glorify God with their lives and the way they raise their children “BY enjoying Him forever”.  Did God say along with the fact that children are a blessing that they would be perfect?  Raising children is not easy, but done in the raw-authentic parenting fashion is the most rewarding for us.  To see your kids learn from everyday life how to handle situations that come up in their lives is a great display to watch. 

Proverbs is a great place to find the wisdom into raising children in the ways of the Lord.

-Teach them about social evils Proverbs 22:28; 23:10; 30:14

22:28″Don’t cheat your neighbor by moving the ancient boundary markers
      set up by previous generations.”

23:10″Don’t cheat your neighbor by moving the ancient boundary markers;
      don’t take the land of defenseless orphans.”

-Social Obligations in Proverbs 18:24; 22:24-25; 23:1-2; 25:6-7,17

18:24″There are “friends” who destroy each other,
      but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.”

22:24-25″Don’t befriend angry people
      or associate with hot-tempered people,
      or you will learn to be like them
      and endanger your soul.”

-About Poverty in Proverbs 17:5; 18:23; 19:4,7,17

17:5″Those who mock the poor insult their Maker;
      those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished.”

18:23″The poor plead for mercy;
      the rich answer with insults.”

-Concern for the poor in Proverbs 14:31; 17:5; 18:23

14:31″Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker,
      but helping the poor honors him.”

17:5″Those who mock the poor insult their Maker;
      those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished.”

-Against laziness in Proverbs 12:27; 20:13; 2:14-15

12:27″Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch,
      but the diligent make use of everything they find.”

20:13″If you love sleep, you will end in poverty.
      Keep your eyes open, and there will be plenty to eat!”

2:14-15″The [lazy] take pleasure in doing wrong,
      and they enjoy the twisted ways of evil.
      Their actions are crooked,
      and their ways are wrong.”

-Important passages from Proverbs 10:22; 13:11; 19:4

10:22″The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich,
      and he adds no sorrow with it.”

13:11″Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears;
      wealth from hard work grows over time.”

19:4″Wealth makes many “friends”;
      poverty drives them all away.”

-Relationships in Proverbs 18:24; 22:24-25; 25:17

25:17″Don’t visit your neighbors too often,
      or you will wear out your welcome.”

-Foolish Teachable People in Proverbs 1:4,22; 7:7-8; 21:11

1:4″These proverbs will give insight to the simple,
      knowledge and discernment to the young.”

1:22″How long, you simpletons,
      will you insist on being simpleminded?
   How long will you mockers relish your mocking?
      How long will you fools hate knowledge?”

7:7-8″I saw some naive young men,
      and one in particular who lacked common sense.
     He was crossing the street near the house of an immoral woman,
      strolling down the path by her house.”

21:11″If you punish a mocker, the simpleminded become wise;
      if you instruct the wise, they will be all the wiser.”

-Arrogant unteachable fools in Proverbs 3:34; 21:24; 22:10; 29:8

3:34″The Lord mocks the mockers
      but is gracious to the humble.”

21:24″Mockers are proud and haughty;
      they act with boundless arrogance.”

22:10″Throw out the mocker, and fighting goes, too.
      Quarrels and insults will disappear.”

29:8″Mockers can get a whole town agitated,
      but the wise will calm anger.”

In all simplicity, we need to look no further than what God says about children. 

Psalm 37:26
“The godly always give generously to others and their children are a blessing.”

Isaiah 29:23
“For when they see their many children and all the blessings I have given them, they will recognize the holiness of the Holy One of Israel. They will stand in awe of the God of Jacob.”

Matthew 11:25
[ Rest for the Weary ] “At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”

Matthew 18:3
And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

  1. Matthew 19:13
    [ The Little Children and Jesus ] Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
    Matthew 19:12-14 (in Context) Matthew 19 (Whole Chapter)
  2. Matthew 19:14
    Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Some final thoughts.  Children are looked upon with high regard by God.  He does not ever use them in context with a burden, but uses them numerous times throughout scripture in context with blessings.  In light of this fact, we are to take our job in raising them spiritually very serious.  This includes the activities and worldview we pass down to them.  Parents, this life is not about you and me.  Our life is about glorifying our Lord Jesus Christ as the supreme holy One.  It is all about raising our children in a home with a biblical worldview…a worldview that will contradict nearly everything you think is right in this world and could bring about strong convistions from your peers.  This will be a life that is radically different from the world.  It is parenting that is radically different from the way society tells us to raise our children.  Parents, this authentic life will be met with constant questioning from fellow believers and non-believers alike.  It will be a life that is ridiculed by our neighbors because a life truly lived for Christ and the raising of our children along the same lines is a reflection of Christ that our humanistic society simply cannot tolerate.  If we reflect Christ we will be in constant conflict with the world.  Man cannot stand to look at his own sinfulness and a life lived for Christ will mirror the sin in others lives that are not living for Christ.  If we have no conflict with the world by the life that we live, we need to prayerfully think about how we are living.  We should not measure our success or the success in our kids live’s in this life based on anyone around us, fellow Christians included.  Our measuring stick, our plumb-line is found within the pages of God’s word not in the pages of science, Aristotle, Hercules, Einstein, Carl Marx, and anyone of the like.  Humans have placed such strong faith in science being the truth while the Bible must be false and yet many Christians have fallen into the same trap by buying into and co-mingling this scientific language into the Christian faith.  Science has many unproven theories that are challenged and shown to be false almost daily.  Darwin’s theory of Evolution is a biggy on that list.

I have heard so many Christians bring the “big bang” theory into their Christian beliefs believing that may be the way the Lord created it…concluding that He could not literally have spoken it into existence.  This is a dangerous belief.  You are either on the scientific side of evolution or you are on the literal creationist side of this.  Stop trying to stand on both sides so you can get along with everyone…our kids are watching and listening to us and they hang on our every word.  Many Christians believe that evolution is how God created human beings.  What?  Surely I did not just say that.  This is the result of sending our kids to these fine upstanding public institutions so many Christians defend on a daily basis…if we don’t want our kids for example to live like the Roman’s then don’t send our kids to the Roman (government ruled) institutions for their education and influence.  Think about how the government is run today and corrupt it is…this is the same for the schools.  Our two hours per day with them will not over come the 8 plus hours per day the worldly government sponsored institution has them.  I cannot say this enough concerning the time spent with our children on a daily basis.  Society wants you to believe that the child’s education is most important and his or her social skills come next…and we should let them decide upon faith and religion in their spare time.  Parents, no child will come to faith in Christ on their own…God must draw them to Himself and He wants to use us to help them along the path by giving them biblical truths on a daily basis by word and example…help them to “feast on the word of God”.  The lie goes further to say that you can only accomplish a true kind of education and social ability in a public institution.  The public school system is not a friend of the Christian nor is it at peace with God…it is actually at war with God and has been since its beginning, yet, this is dangerous for even me to say, because so many would defend the public school faster than the word of God, but who ever said “truth” would be acceptable to the majority!

In the end of all this, who is creating burdensome children?  Could it be us as parents are creating little monsters rather than great Christian young people that will contribute to society in a way that brings true peace and true light into the world rather than further darkness?  The conclusion can be yours.  In my opinion, which is worth about a quarter cent, parents better wake-up t-o-d-a-y!  The children are growing up faster than we know and soon they will be adults out in the world.  What kind of adult are you producing?  The numbers do not support the job the Christian parents and church has been doing over the past several decades.  With a high percentage of young people dropping out of church once they leave home for college, the number of young people renouncing their faith are further results that prove the humanistic philosophical worldview is not working and it has not worked for decades…actually it has never worked.

Will we become bold parents that will decide today to refocus on the scriptural, spiritual way of parenting and put far more emphasis on the spiritual aspect of their life rather than the educational aspect..more education will not add one day to their life nor will it get them any closer to our heavenly Father?  Will we as parents decide to reduce our children’s exposure to societies traps?  Will we as parents choose to make some hard decisions to ensure our kids receive the most intense biblical training possible before leaving the nest?  Will we raise the standard higher from the low expectations the world sets for our kids…this is both at home, school, and in the church?  Yes, it is true our actions speak louder than words, but we must remain in the Word in order for our children to put the words with the actions…otherwise it is simply action with no foundation.  Lean hard upon God to make these difficult changes in life, but they are necessary if you really want your children to succeed beyond this life and become great godly adults for the society we must endure.

-Scott Bailey 2008

Posted in Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Where is Your Flag of Joy?

Posted by Scott on May 13, 2008

As Christians we are going to fall from time to time.  You know what I mean…fallen to sin!  We find every person well known to not very well known to fall to sin at some point in their lives.  Yes, we sin everyday if we are honest about it, but the focus here is a sin that goes unconfessed for a while, that has created great stress within you and turmoil for other people.

King David fell to sin as is well known.  He sinned with Bathsheba which lead to further sin and actually a crime of murder.  Seems like this would make a good drama on TV these days, but the sin would be glorified in some way, so hopefully no one will suggest a drama from this story in today’s climate in Hollywood.  This particular sin that David committed went unconfessed for about a year.  So, it festered up inside David.  Although David may have never let it be known to those around him, he was guilt ridden from within.  Sin is like a small sore that left on its own will fester, grow, become bothersome, then downright agitating to us to the point that something has to be done about it.  Thankfully for David’s sake the prophet Nathan was around to bring this sin to an end in David’s conscience.

Psalm 51 is David’s repentance of the sins he had committed, but had not dealt with.  David cried out before God for compassion and forgiveness.  This is a great example of the reaction of a person that is truly pursuing God with their heart.  Repentance is the result of that pursuit.  You want nothing to stand in the way of your relationship with God.  You cannot stand for sin to block your view of God.  David is yearning for God’s fresh new mercies that are available to him…he cries out for this mercy and compassion.  God does not only have compassion, but He offers a “multitude” of compassion for us when we fall on our face before Him in true repentance of the sin(s) we have committed.  As David finally was able to view his sin as a crime against his heavenly Father.  We too should view our sin as a crime against the God who loves us and keeps us daily. 

Almighty God desires our righteousness and faithfulness to Him.  When we have unconfessed sin sweltering inside us and festering into an oozing nasty sore it is infecting our righteousness before God.  This smelly, crusty, ooz of sin creates many losses for us as believers.  This is why an immediate confession before God of our sin no matter how great or small is so important…doctor that sore immediately, so that the stench of sin is not upon your person.  Sin leads to at least seven losses when a Christian sins:

1. The Loss of Light as referenced in 1 John 1:6

“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”

2. The Loss of Joy as referenced in Psalm 51:12, John 15:11, Galatians 5:22, & 1 John 1:4

John 15:11

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

3. The Loss of Righteousness as referenced in 1 John 3:4-10

 “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.”

4. The Loss of Love as referenced in 1 John 2:5; 15:17; 4:12

“But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him…”

5. The Loss of Fellowship as referenced in 1 John 1:3, 6-7

“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”

6. The Loss of Confidence as referenced in 1 John 3:19-22

“This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.”

7. Possible Loss of Health and even Physical Life as referenced in 1 Cor 11:30

“That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.”

 David experienced many of these same problems because of his unconfessed sinfulness.  Tragically we do the same at times causing great loss in our lives.  Healing begins with repentance and recognition of our sinfulness, our crime against God and humanity.  Then the pouring out of our grief about the sin and asking for forgiveness from our most compassionate and merciful Father.  David asked to purified so that he could be clean again.  He was tired of the filthiness that this sin had brought upon him.  He knew that if God purged him, he would be whiter than snow…he would be stainless again.  David used many words for this desire to be clean like “wash away”, “blot out”, “cleanse”, “wash me”, and “create”.  David wanted to be clean again.  He desired the joy he once had in his youth. 

Here we are in the middle of our sinfulness with the filth of this sin covering us.  If we want to experience the true joy and salvation we once had, we need to be on our knees pleading our forgiveness before God.  He is faithful to restore or renew us this very day.  God will create in us a pure heart.  He will renew a right spirit within us that desires to be pleasing to Him in all that we do.  He will not cast us out from His presence, but surround us with His arms in loving kindness.  Ask from Him to restore the newness of your salvation and give you a fresh spirit that is not in bondage to sin anymore.  David yearned for freedom from his sin and we too can have this freedom, but it is only found after an authentic repentant heart has been broken and deeply affected by the torment of sin.  God is delighted by two things in our sacrifice to Him:

1. A broken repentant spirit

2. A broken and grief stricken heart over sin

Don’t let sin wreck your life.  Confess it before Him today.  Ask for forgiveness before Him today.  Break down the pride and ego that keeps you from experiencing a true joy today.  The weightiness of God’s word can penetrate the heart of stone to assist you in this new brokenness.  You have not felt the exhilaration and lightness of your soul until every inch of the soiled soul has been cleansed and purged of its sinfulness.  God does not intend that His people live in guilt.  Guilt produces nothing good and will not end in a successful spiritual life.  This guilt is a giant in our lives and like David we must conquer it through the power of the Holy Spirit within us this giant of the guilt of sin by confessing it, being remorseful over it, asking for restoration from it, and finally begging a new joy that produces a wonderful aroma before the throne of Almighty God.

I finish up with this wonderful illustration:

 Joy Is The Flag

“Principal Rainy, of whom a child once remarked that she believed he went to Heaven every night because he was so happy every day, once used a fine metaphor about a Christian’s joy. “Joy,” he said, “is the flag which is flown from the castle of the heart when the King is in residence there.”
These words have been made into a popular chorus.”
 

Tan, Paul Lee: Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations : A Treasury of Illustrations, Anecdotes, Facts and Quotations for Pastors, Teachers and Christian Workers. Garland TX : Bible Communications, 1996, c1979

We should have our “Flag of Joy” raised everyday, because the King of our heart and soul lives within us.  If you have fallen to sin, don’t let it reside in your heart, get rid of it and let God restore the joy of your life today.
-Scott Bailey 2008

 

Posted in devotion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

How is Your Heart?

Posted by Scott on May 12, 2008

Proudness and arrogance explains most of the hearts that are unrepentent today.  Let me ask a few questions:

What attracts us to go to the church we attend?

What messages bring the throngs of people to our churches today?

Are these messages concerning our self-esteem, anger management, better sex with our spouses, how to overcome depression, creating a better marriage, cooking healthy, and so on?  

Would you be attracted to a church that did not feature all the above attractions, but simply ask that you show to hear God’s word expounded and that God would show up?

A person attending the same church that President Lincoln attended once asked the pastor if the President would be attending the service today?  The pastors reply was, “No, but the Almighty God will.”

In coming to grips with the powerful jagged truth of Psalm 50 and its application to us in the 21st century we need to understand a simple fact:  God still desires to have a relationship with His people.  This Psalm is directed today as it was several thousand years ago to the church going, hand waving, scripture quoting, chorus singing, person with a strong head knowledge of who God is, but none of this activity is from the heart.  God calls these people wicked.  I mean, they look religious…they sound religious…they speak all the religious lingo, however, God calls them wicked.  Because God remains silent many times as we worship Him falsely, we should not think He is like us.  God tells us in Psalm 50:21

“…you thought I was altogether like you.  BUT, I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face.”

God is nothing like us.  He does not come to us with a cold heart, lying tongue, deceitful motives, and a stained sinful heart.  God comes to us desiring our hearts be in total obedience to Him, worshipping Him with truly humble hearts that have pushed aside the pride and ego to know our Almighty God.  Sadly, today we have churches being filled with filthy sin stained people that do not mind entering the church this way and do not mind leaving the church in the same condition.  Nothing they heard or witnessed at this church challenged their sin or called out for repentence before God.  All the worship was a lying, dirty, shameful display of religious philosophy that does not even come close to honoring or glorifying God.  During the time of the writing about Asaph and the Israelites they sacrificed animals to God.  In reality God cared nothing about the sacrifices, but cared deeply about the hearts that brought forth the sacrifices.  The same goes today.  He cares little about the actual event, but care greatly about the heart that is worshipping Him.  Now, do not take this to mean it does not matter how we worship…God is very clear as to how He wants us to conduct worship to Him, but in the end of it all we must come to Him with repentant humble saddened hearts about our sinfulness before Him.  This creates in us a true authentic worshipful heart.

I can find nothing wrong with addressing many of the topics in the questions above, but it should not be the attraction or the focus.  God’s word many times will draw out these themes, but a good pastor who expounds on them will not make this the attracting headline.  Understand, we are called to attend church to hear the word of God regardless of the specific topic or passages.  It is a heart that is attracted to the word of God that understands true worship and comes to God with something to hide, but still begs forgiveness for their uncleanness and sinfulness.  This gets the attention of our Almighty God.

Many of the Israelites of yester-year worshipped from a shameful heart.  They worshipped with empty repetitious rituals.  God desires from us righteousness not empty rituals that you will observe still today in many churches.  Communion is taken with unclean, unrepentant, heartless people that take it as a symbol rather than worship.  Over 50% of the marriages today make a mockery of the wedding ceremony.  This has become a fruitless ritual that neither honors God nor means anything other than a ritualistic gesture to make the consummation of the couple legal.  The wedding was designed to be a ceremony to honor God in light of the marriage, yet, today it is all about the couple and their selfish desires and little to with God at all.  Man looks at the outside and thinks the people involved in these rituals as righteous and true, yet, God looks at the heart and would call most “wicked liars”.  He knows our intentions before we even are close to thinking of them. 

2 Peter 3:9 speaks of the patience of God.  He is long-suffering concerning our sin.  If He was not patient we all would have been vaporized at the first hint of sin within our hearts, and still He waits patiently for us to repent and come to Him seeking forgiveness for the filthiness guilt and sin has placed on us.  He does not desire that we parish, but He will not tolerate our sin stained lives forever.

“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me and He prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”

My encouragement to everyone is to fall in love with God’s instruction.  Welcome His Word in your heart.  Be forever thankful for His patience and long-suffering with us and His forgiveness of our sins.  Become the delight of God’s eye and yearn for a great new relationship with our heavenly Father coming to Him in truth and faith.  God is not like us.  He is holy, righteous, and patient, but He desires for us to be like Him.

 Heart Specialists’ Heart Exam

“Some years ago, during the annual convention of the American Medical Association, a small group of doctors were listening to a lecture on a highly-specialized facet of their task as “heart men.” The lecturer asked how many of them had had a heart examination in the previous twelve months. If Time’s reporter can be relied on, not a man was able to lift his hand!”
 

Tan, Paul Lee: Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations : A Treasury of Illustrations, Anecdotes, Facts and Quotations for Pastors, Teachers and Christian Workers. Garland TX : Bible Communications, 1996, c1979

So, how is your heart?  Have you had it examined spiritually lately?

-Scott Bailey 2008

Posted in devotion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »