En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Posts Tagged ‘matthew’

Quiet Heroes!

Posted by Scott on October 7, 2008

Quiet Heroes by A.W. Tozer

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth…. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. –Matthew 5:5-8

We have but to become acquainted with, or even listen to, the big names of our times to discover how wretchedly inferior most of them are. Many appear to have arrived at their present eminence by pull, brass, nerve, gall and lucky accident. We turn away from them sick to our stomach and wonder for a discouraged moment if this is the best the human race can produce. But we gain our self-possession again by the simple expedient of recalling some of the plain men we know, who live unheralded and unsung, and who are made of stuff infinitely finer than the hoarse-voiced braggarts who occupy too many of the highest offices in the land. . . .

. . . the church also suffers from this evil notion. Christians have fallen into the habit of accepting the noisiest and most notorious among them as the best and the greatest. They too have learned to equate popularity with excellence, and in open defiance of the Sermon on the Mount they have given their approval not to the meek but to the self-assertive; not to the mourner but to the self-assured; not to the pure in heart who see God but to the publicity hunter who seeks headlines. Man: The Dwelling Place of God, 96-97.

“Lord, I thank You this morning for all the unknown but faithful pastors serving churches in quiet places. We do place a lot of emphasis on the ‘personalities’ and big-church leaders. Thank You for the ‘quiet heroes‘ and their faithful service; give them great encouragement today. Amen.”

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Our Father who is in heaven…!

Posted by Scott on April 25, 2008

Over the past few days I have spent some time researching Matthew 6:9-13 to which Jesus shows us how we should pray.  This followed Jesus explaining to us how “not” to pray.  I love the words of my Savior and take great heed to His words telling me how to pray.  He is telling the believers how to pray, not the general public mind you.  Think of it, how could someone pray like this who does not know the heavenly Father…the only way to know the heavenly Father is through the Son…Jesus Christ!  Refer to Matthew 11:27.

Prayer is no doubt something that is to be very personal and this model prayer is only to be used as a guide to enter into a very personal time with your heavenly Father.  Immediately in the beginning we are to make known exactly who it is we are speaking to.  This is not our earthly father.  No matter how frail or how great our earthly fathers where or are, we are still speaking in this moment with our most perfect parent of all…our heavenly Father.  He will never let us down.  He always loves His own.  He will carry us as an earthly father carries his own child.  We can count on our heavenly Father no matter what the circumstance we are in.  Do not think that He will spoil us, but He will give us exactly what we need and when we need it.  He never gives us too much or too little…it is always exact.  He listens to His children when they pray.  He longs to hear from us in this most intimate way…prayer!

After doing my early research on these words of Jesus a very personal and intimate prayer flows out from the text of verses 9-10 something like this:

“My dearest heavenly Father in all eternity, Your name is the holiest of all.  May Your royal kingdom come here, may Your pleasure be fulfilled here in my world as it is where You live in all eternity, the abode of heaven.”

The “abode” of heaven is a place elevated above all other places.  It is a place of dwelling in continuance.  This is where our self-existant heavenly Father lives…our God lives on high.  He has always been and always will be.  He lives in a place that has continued always without beginning or end.  Our heavenly Father right now is longing for the time in the future when He will share all eternity with His chosen people…this will be in the New Heaven…that is another subject by itself.  Think of your heavenly Father like what I have described above.  He is not a tyrant looking for someone to pounce on.  He is not an old judge without grace.  Our God is full of grace, mercy and love.  Our God is a “just” God.  He loves His chosen people and did so to the point He was willing to sacrifice His only Son on the cross for our sins.  Our heavenly Father is longing to be with us forever, but time is not an issue with Him, so He waits for His elect to accept Him.

In the meantime we have this beginning of Jesus’ model prayer.  I will continue later with the latter part of this prayer.  For now, just meditate on Matthew 6:9-10…these two verses alone once you understand and take into your mind the full meaning of Who you are praying to should be enough to leave you in awe of our wonderful heavenly Father.  Pray with great intimacy to our God in heaven.  He is waiting for His children to call upon Him.

In Christ,

Scott 2008

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Hell…is it a real place?

Posted by Scott on March 7, 2008

I got up early this morning looking for a nice positive word from the Lord.  As has been my daily readings for weeks now I was reading this morning from Psalm 8…great passage, but nothing really jumped out at me.  For whatever reason, the Holy Spirit lead me over to read quoting Jesus in Matthew 8:11-12, 13:38,42,50, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30 and Luke 13:28.  This was not the topic I was necessarily looking for, but was drawn in by it as the reality of Hell is still so evident.  God’s word has never changed nor has the relevancy of what He is saying. 

As I read this it reinvigorated the call to teach the word of God with a heart for the lost.  Now, get one thing very clear…we do not draw people to Christ nor do we save anyone.  The call of each Christian is to teach, preach and live out the word of God daily…the regeneration of the soul and saving grace of God is the work of the Holy Spirit not ours nor is it the work of the lost themselves…we must deliver the message and step aside.  We must be ready in season and out of season to teach not only the positive upbeat messages of the scripture, but the messages that teach the realities of a sinful life apart from God and the consequence of rejecting His Son, Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  The reality of dying without Christ is eternity in Hell!  I cannot put it any simpler than this…Hell is a real place prepared for the wicked sinful unrepentant people of this world.  In the remainder of this post I will strive to describe from my studies what this place is like.  This is not to scare anyone into a decision…that is not my purpose.  It is to shake to life the Christian that is asleep in his or her relationship with Christ that is hiding their life in Christ and not sharing it with the world around them.  Wake up all you saints and share your faith and allow the Holy Spirit the opportunity to do His perfect work in those souls set apart before the foundations of the world were set in place.

“And the children of the kingdom shall be cast

into utter darkness:  there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth”.

-Matthew 8:12 (Geneva)

For the Jews, they must enter the narrow gates of heaven just like any Gentile does.  They cannot get into heaven based on what they are called…referencing Matthew 8:11 as the “sons of the kingdom”.  Unless they be born again they will not enter the kingdom of heaven but perish in the dark burning fire that is all consuming, but never consumes the soul away from the torment.  Folks, there is only one way into heaven to be with our heavenly Father and Lord Jesus Christ…it is directly through Christ.  Jesus stated that “no one comes to the Father except by Him…”  The fact that our parents or grandparents were Christians will not enroll us into the book of life.  We each must stand on our own to account for our acceptance or rejection of the Savior without any regard for those aroud us.  We will not be able to say to God that our mother or father was a Christian, so that makes us a Christian….it does not.  We will not be able to tell God that we were baptized with water as an infant and enter into heaven, that is not the way to heaven.  The only way is by accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.  Throughout the rest of your life the Lordship will become more and more real as you show the fruits of your salvation in the good deeds or works presented throughout the remainder of your life.  We will not be able to present good deeds as the reason for our entrance into heaven either…it is only by the surrendering of ones life to Christ.

“The Son of man shall send forth His angels and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity.  And shall cast them into a furnace of fire.  There shall be wailing andgnashing of teeth.”

-Matthew 13:41-42 (Geneva)

I must tell you that I do not like delivering such a narrow message, but this is the biblical truth of the matter.  In my obedience to Christ I cannot deliver a message that would say otherwise.  Jesus mentions “weeping and gnashing of teeth” at least 5 times in Matthew alone.  Consequences of sin is death…consequences of living out your life in that sin without turning away from it and accepting Jesus Christ is eternal damnation in Hell.  Why else would Jesus mention this in so many sections of the scriptures. 

I want to paint a very real picture for you as I have discovered from God’s word and the help of many great theologians of the past and their commentaries.  In Hell there is no light, only absolute utter darkness.  This is at the extremity of darkness.  It is always said the darkest moment of each day is right before the sun comes up or dawn…think of that darkness except that light or dawn will never come…never!  This is an eternity knowing that Christ is just beyond this darkness that He was once the dawn of each persons day with great hope, but now you will NEVER be able to see this light again or have the hope of seeing this light…ever!  You will never experience a dawn again for all eternity.  Folks, this is the highest degree of darkness that will ever exist and that which none of us know or can fathom.  In this darkness there is absolutely no hope..no hope of light or even a mixture of some light not even a glimmer of light…ever!  In this darkness your eyes will not adjust in order to bring about some shadow of light…those in this place will never see again in this darkness….eternally alive with full site, but not the ability to see in that darkness, not blindness, but the inability to adjust ones sight at all.  This will create in the damned soul a panic that cannot be relieved…ever!  You will never be able to take a deep breath to calm your panic in order to allow time to adjust your eyes for it will be without success…there will be no adjustments to see in this darkness.  Darkness that is forever dark without any breech of light…ever!  Think about forever for a moment…can you visualize an end to forever?  I don’t think so…I sure can’t.  Forever is as far as your mind can go and then it still keeps going without end.

“..But he will answer, I don’t know you or where did you come from.  Then you will say, We ate and drank wtih you and you taught in our streets.  But Jesus will reply, I don’t know you or where did you come from.  Away from me, all you evil doers!  There will be weeping there, adn gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.”

-Luke 13:25-28(NIV)

You might be thinking as I was that this darkness is unbearable, however, this is the least worse portion of this place called Hell.  Hell is a place of horrific grief with a flood of tears that results in no purpose or sympathy or salvation or hope.  Grief stricken tears that will never end in joy or happiness.  This grief will have the wailing cry of a hopeless state of being.  Hopelessness with endless tears.  This is a place without sympathy and hope.  The anguish will prey eternally upon the lost soul in Hell…forever!  The emptiness this anguish and grief brings will only get deeper for all eternity, without end. 

You will read in several locations in the New Testament such as Matthew 8:12, 13:42 and Luke 13:28 about the “gnashing of teeth”.  This description alone would be enough for me.  Think about gnashing of teeth….people grinding and snapping their teeth at one another forever.  The indignation before those other lost souls as they gnash their teeth for spite and vexation.  All this as the result of the fury of the Lord Almighty.  For those in Hell, their memory will torment them forever as they remember the happiness of their past even though God was not a part of their life.  They will exist with an eternal memory of the opportunity to accept Christ, but the hardness of their heart would not give in.  Now, all they have is this memory in the darkest darkness with grieving and wailing beyond comprehension and no opportunity ever again to accept Christ.  They will never experience a happy moment ever again….never! 

As the reality goes on, Hell is a furnace of fire that will never burn up.  As the scripture describes in Jesus words that the fire is for the “tares” in the field that exist among the wheat.  Think about people setting around you in church that look like everyone else or may even appear to be believers, but may be the very soul that will keep the fires of this furnace burning hotter.  The fire of Hell is kindled by the wrath of God with the lives of these lost souls.  This fire is all consuming, but never consumes those within the flames.  This is a dark, tearful, grieving, hot place to spend eternity.  Within these flames are those in comfortless sorrow and incurable indignation at God, themselves, and those around them.  People in Hell will not be able to comfort one another….they will not have the ability to do this as there is no comfort for themselves.  This is a horrific never ending torment within the fires of Hell.  Many of the hypocrites of the past, present and future will enter the never ending torments of Hell.  Hypocrites are those that live in a daily routine of sinfulness all the while telling others not to do what they know they are doing is wrong…all in the name of Christ.  They do this without really having Christ in their hearts only on their lips.

One final aspect of Hell I will describe here as I wipe tears from my own eyes to think of the number of people that will spend eternity in this aweful place.  This is another degree of the torment which is the one final moment with those that accepted Christ and His salvation seeing the joy of those called into the sheep fold and see their happiness of the fact that their greatest hopes in Christ are fulfilled, but then suddenly have God turn to you and cast you into eternal darkness in Hell, because you failed to accept that last great hope in Jesus Christ and the final words of God to you is that He never knew you…never!  Do NOT believe the lies that our God cannot do this as He the one who created us all and He will cast those into Hell that are not of His chosen (elect) people, those hypocrites, those wicked vile people who tortured His remnant, the devil and his followers.  This is not to scare someone into heaven, but is a real part of God’s word that is not preached or taught anymore from the pulpits…because it might “offend” someone.  Hell is a real place!

This is not an easy message to write about…nor is one that I really wish to deliver, but at the obedience of the prompting of the Holy Spirit I cannot wish it away.  Many in the church today will tell you that Hell is not a literal place and that the God of the bible would never send anyone to a place like this.  All I can tell you is you had better be absolutely sure they are right before going through life living on that message.  The scriptures are pretty clear to the degree of the wrath of God for those that reject His Son and the work He did on the cross.  God is love…He also has wrath for the sinfulness that exist on this earth.  God hates sin and only Jesus can wash this sin in our lives away for good.  Although this message seems depressing and sorrowful, the great message that survives it all is to accept a life in Jesus Christ…those who belong to Jesus will not see this dark eternity without hope.  Jesus has made it clear throughout His life on earth as to the realities that await those who reject Him…do not be one of those! 

*This is in no way an extensive look at this subject, but to be a quick read, a jolting read to get those of us in Christ back to the reality of sin (not bad choices) and for those without Christ to understand what is at stake if they remain in their sinful life style.  May the Lord use each of us that know Him to reach the many that are lost in need of a savior.  May the Lord use Jesus’ very words from Matthew to Luke to prick the hearts of the lost and bring those lost souls into His kingdom family by His saving grace.  Remember, the Holy Spirit does the regenerating work not His followers.  We are mere servants and messengers of the faith…go and spread the true gospel.

“For many are invited, but few are chosen”.

-Matthew 22:14(NIV)

-Scott Bailey (c) 2008

Enjoy Ravi Zacharia on the reality of Hell!

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-Fierce Warriors in the Hands of God!

Posted by Scott on January 5, 2008

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth”
–Psalm 127:4

You may be thinking right now that I am crazy for using Spartan Warrior within Christianity, but read the entire piece before passing judgment.  Spartan Warriors were fierce fighters.  They would fight to the death for their family, king, and kingdom.  They were ruthless and unconventional in their process and training.  However, my research on Spartan Warriors turned up better qualities for these fighters that many of us as Christian men need to pay attention to. These warriors were trained from the very young age of 7 to be fierce in battle.  The meaning of Spartan is to be “totally devoted to one cause, self-deprived or stripped down to nothing, but the bare essentials, undoubting and courageous”.  They were trained to give their lives without hesitation.  These warriors did not think anything about danger and always expected to win or die trying to win.  These were dreaded men in battle. 

 Gentlemen, I am here to inform you that if you did not know this before now, we are in the battle of our lives and the lives of our families…time to wake-up!  I am afraid that unless we as Christian fathers do not began to train our young men to be like these Spartan Warriors, the future looks very dim.  We need to be training up our boys to be fierce when in battle and this battle takes place daily.  Young men that will not back down from authority that makes rulings in direct conflict with the scriptures.  We need young men that do not mind being ridiculed when they stand up for the under-dog or under-privileged or as they share the gospel to a neighbor or friend.  In some cases this may mean taking up arms to defend our nation and our families from the enemies abroad or even within our midst.  On a daily basis, we need to equip these young fighters with the Truth of God’s Holy Word above all else… God’s Holy Word is not found in the Koran! 

Within the pages of the Bible are many fierce warriors who fought bravely like King David as one example.  The Lord helped him fight with full control of himself and bravely.  David fought mightily with the hand of God on his life…”And David became greater and greater, for the Lord God of hosts was with him.”  2 Samuel 5:10 (NAS)  He as a warrior for the Kingdom of God and Spartan Warriors in ancient Greece were courageous and self-sacrificing.  The crusade I am speaking of today is for the minds and hearts of our young people.  Many Christians have already given up this crusade long ago and have decided to just blend in with the rest of the world in order to have peace.  They may go to church and bible study, but nothing  is different in their lives or the lives of their kids.  We have bought into the society belief that we can be immersed in the life style of the world and still maintain an effective evangelical witness. 

 Titus 2:12(NIV) says, “It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…”  In John 15:9(NIV)  it states, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”   

Just hoping our kids will turn out alright is not the answer.  Our adversary, Satan, would like nothing else than for parents to take this approach.  Of course by the grace of God some do turn out alright and frankly that is how we all turn out alright. However, these kids are placed in our hands for a short time for training and preparation for the future and we do not want to let them down if at all possible.  The battle for the heart and mind of our children today include homosexuality, pornography, drunkenness, illegal drug usage, over eating, moral relativism, unfaithfulness, theft, lying, and so on.  This corruptness is being taught in nearly every public forum and institution in America as being “right”.  Our children are being taught that there is no sin and there is no right or wrong.  Their cry is that we all need to be more tolerant of each other.  They are taught that Adam can marry Robert and Eve can marry Laura and it is “ok”.  The truth is that homosexuality is sin and it is not “ok”.  This sin is as forgivable as over eating, as is drunkenness and so on. Glory to God that they are forgivable, but I do not want this deviant trash taught to my children and grandchildren as being “ok”.  Pornography is down played as just a natural thing that men and women desire and it is “ok”.  Christian men are not immune to this.  Men it is not “ok” even in the privacy of your own home.  What we put in our minds has a direct impact on what comes out of our life each day.  Much of the violence against women today stems from pornography.  If this kind of trash goes into the mind then I can guarantee you that vile trash will come out in some form of your life.  Drunkenness is very accepted these days as well, although it is nothing new to the ages.  Drunkenness is mind altering and you will do and say things that will not honor God in any way and will bring shame upon your family. 

Psalm 23:33 says about too much wine, “Your eyes will see strange things, and your mind will utter perverse things.” 

God has always spoken out against drunkenness in His Word.  I said here, “drunkenness”, not a glass of wine at dinner…I just wanted to clarify that.  A trendy activity nowadays is to go to church on Sunday and raise your hands and sing in what is perceived to be praising and worshipping God.  Then the rest of the week live as you wish and on the weekend get stumbling drunk with your buddies and come to church on Sunday to be holy again.  Is this truly grace in action?  What a mockery to the glory of Jesus Christ!  Does this show a deep love for our Savior?  Does raising our hands to the “bouncy” music in the churches today that stirs up the emotions really make us spiritual and holy?  I am not attacking praise worship music entirely, but in observing the true impact of this movement that has forgotten the testimony of the hymns of old, I have witnessed people actually growing more vile in their lives rather than a closeness to the Lord as the music stirs up emotions rather than a deep seeded devotion to worshipping Christ in the music and message of the pastor. 

Men, take a hard look into your heart….is that burning desire to know Jesus and love Jesus really there?  What is your reason for going to church or reading your Bible?  Another hot trend within the world today is embracing the Muslim or Hindu or Buddhism religion as another way to heaven…that we should be tolerant.  We are told that there are many ways to God. 

 Matthew 7:13-14 speaks of those broad roads and narrow gates, “Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.  For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.” 

We are taught to believe they should have equal access to the minds of our children, our culture, and we should move over for their ways and embrace their teachings.  I will make this statement as clear as I can, men, NO ONE has the right to access the mind and heart of my children other than God Himself.  God gave those children to me and my wife to love, nurture, train and protect.  The liberal left does not have the right to them, the Communist left wingers do not have a right to them, the Muslims, Hindu’s, or Buddhist do not have rights to them, the homosexuals do not have rights to them or the legalist within the church today do not have the rights to them, or any other kind of evil that permeates this dark world we live in today.  If I sound a bit combative in this, I am combative.  This is no powder puff football game we are in, people. 

So, I am declaring today that we must start raising our sons ,as the Spartan Warriors of the 21st century, that will carry on these truths that are in God’s Word and do it unashamedly.  We need a crusade where young men will give their lives so that our future generations can survive without having to bow to the vile images that are so prevalent in our culture today or be subject to the horrific views and taunting by the homosexual leftist agenda.  A desire must exist for young men to train themselves to be satisfied with only the bare essentials as Spartan Warriors were disciplined to be and not raised under pampered lives like so many of the Christian and worldly kids of today.  These young men need training to buffet their bodies and keep their actions under control regarding women, children, money, alcohol, politics, and the things of this world.  Our world is groaning for young men who have a deep seeded desire to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

   Can we train up young men that will carry as their motto, “Give me Christ and Christ alone”?  We long for young men who are willing to die for the cause of Christ.  This does not come naturally…it comes as we battle forward immersing ourselves in God’s word and let Him develop in our hearts and minds a “biblical world view”.  God is sovereign!  He has never moved or changed His mind.  He is not surprised by the darkness that envelops the world we live in today.  He created this universe and every living or non-living being in it.  He is not bashful about war, battle, death or even love.  So, our challenge today as fathers of sons is to bring up a new generation of young men that will fit the image of God, like a warrior for truth, justice and become a loving family man.  Steve Farrar put it very plainly with this quote from his book, “Standing Tall”:

“Gentlemen, we are raising our kids in this sewer of moral relativism.

If your kids buy into this philosophy, it will ruin their lives.

Here’s the deal, guys.  Our kids won’t know anything unless they see it in our lives.  Our kids won’t know that there are moral absolutes unless they absolutely see those truths lived out in our lives.”

-Steve Farrar, “Standing Tall” 1994

 

This is what I am talking about.  The training is about walking and talking God’s truth daily.  It does not mean we are perfect, but that we are able to show our weaknesses as well as our strengths.  We need to show our kids that God creates strength from our weaknesses.  There is a loud voice trying to wake up our countries Christian fathers.  I am afraid though we have ear plugs in or are ignoring this loud call.

“The Christian world is in a deep sleep. 

Nothing but a loud voice can waken them out of it.”

-George Whitefield, 1739

 

Guys, I cannot tell you what to do or how to raise your kids.  I cannot make you do anything you are not entirely willing to do from your heart.  This is not a legalistic set of rules or point of view even though it is my opinion.  I abhor legalism in all of its form when it comes to the scriptures and the life God would have each of us live.  However, I am simply challenging you to rethink how you are training your children, especially the boys and how you are living as an example for them today.  Is it with sacrifice or from a life of pure luxury?  At the age of 7, are you training warriors to do battle for their future wives, children, countrymen, and ancestry or just over educated athletes in hopes of landing that multi-million dollar contract so they can buy more boats, larger houses, more jewelry and filthier women?  What is their view of supporting the ministries that abound in their area today?  Do they have a worldly view or a biblical world view?  Can you see a servant’s heart or a future adult that will be demanding and hard to live with?  Think about what is important in this life that enhances your eternal life and the eternal life of others.  Out of your actions and training which of those give glory to the Lord?  Does baseball, football, basketball, the finest schools, dances, an exotic vacation, or other activities like these have an eternal purpose?  They could have, but just think for a moment how it is coming across to the kids.  Does giving them every single toy they ask for prepare them for the battles ahead in life?  Does saying yes to their every plea really give them a proper outlook on the future?  Does taking their side in every argument truly help them in preparation for debating the liberal left wing of this world?  Do they see you react to a problem with prayer and digging into your Bible or do they observe you speaking harshly of that person or problem and vow your revenge? 

Men, I am not bringing this message from an attitude of having all the answers or that I always do it right, because that would be a bold face lie.  I battle the same sins and problems you do.  I battle the same pride and ego that every man fights.  But the truth is what it is, guys.  I cannot speak totally from example, but simply from God’s truth.  We need fighters, warriors, kids that grow up knowing the Bible and believing that the Bible is completely true as the inspired word of God and fall in love with their Lord Jesus Christ.  Our world can stand young men that will be devoted to their wives, children, and country and see them as a blessing upon their lives rather than a curse. 

 Today, I encourage you to pray sincerely about all that you have read here.  Reach down deep into the pit of your heart to find that which God placed in your heart years ago.  Lift up your family, co-workers, in-laws, and enemies in prayer.  Dress down spiritually and put it all on the table, guys.  Leave it with the Lord…all of it…the hurt, the pain, the tears, the stress, the financial problems, sexual problems, weaknesses, family problems…all of it.  Leave nothing behind to carry on with you.  Then take a long deep breath and set there for a while in silence to listen to hear if God will speak to you.  It may take Him days, weeks, months or years to speak, but He will speak to you.  See if He speaks, not audibly, but spiritually, through His word, through His people, and through the circumstances.  It is better to not move a muscle until you hear God speak then to do anything that would be in direct disobedience to His calling upon your life. 

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.

The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.”    Philippians 4:8-9 (NAS)

 

Guys think on a few questions this very day:

-Would the Lord have you change anything about your life, the treatment of your wife and children and then the training of your children?

-What change can you make today that would be positively noticeable to your family when you got home from work that would inspire them to want to follow you and serve the Lord more? 

What changes would bring glory to Christ today?

-Do you have a servant’s heart like Christ or is pride and ego in the way?

-Why do you go to church, bible studies, and other “religious” functions?

-What kind of men do you hang around with everyday?

-Most importantly, do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ or are you just playing church or religion because it is the cultural thing to do? 

This is serious guys…your life and the lives of our children and grand-children depend on the decisions we make today….tomorrow may be too late.

Scott Bailey 2007 ©  

*Disclaimer:  In no way am I against sports, athletes, vacations, or money.  Joe Lewis, the late great boxer, once said that “no, money isn’t everything, but it sure ranks right up there with air…try to live without for a day.”  Each of us have a God given purpose in life and is according to what God’s desire for our lives are and we should be obedient to Him in that purpose if we want to live a successful life.  That could mean a pro baseball career for example or using your income to provide for families in need that live around you.  So, please reread this with an open heart and mind and look at it from God’s side as to what He might be seeing in us right now.  He wants us to be completely devoted to Him in all things and my heart felt belief is that we have missed this as dads on nearly all accounts…I am as convicted of this in my heart as anyone else. 

May God bless you as you go out each day to provide for your family and as you work hard to make that much needed time to spend with your wife and children.

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Christmas At Uz!

Posted by Scott on December 26, 2007

From the Writings of Ray Stedman

Christmas At Uz

READ: Job 42:10-11

All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him apiece of silver and a gold ring (Job 42:11).

Doesn’t that sound like Christmas? I suppose you are saying, “Wait a minute. Come on, this is not Christmas! Why, this was long before anyone ever celebrated Christmas! This is two thousand years before Christ came. How could there be Christmas in the book of Job?”

The first thing to note about this is that the occasion that is described here is a family gathering. Job’s brothers and sisters and all his friends who had known him before are getting together. The uncles and aunts are there as well as all the cousins, nephews, nieces, and grandchildren. By this time Job is a seventy-year-old man or even older, and though his own children had all perished, he must have had grandchildren and great-grandchildren by now, and all the neighbors and friends had brought their families. So this was a great family occasion as Christmas is for us and always has been.

The second thing you see here is that this was a time of feasting. They gathered to eat together, and we do that today. We start with stuffed turkey, and we end with stuffed people! This has always been the custom at Christmas. Throughout history and in most cultures where Christmas is recognized, feasting has been a part of the Christmas celebration.

Then there is another thing here that we can associate with Christmas. It is what we would call fellowship. Job’s family and friends gathered to comfort him and to express sympathy and understanding for all the pain and suffering he had been going through.

The giving of gifts also brings to mind Christmas. These friends gave to Job gifts of silver and gold. In the Bible these two metals are used symbolically as a picture of redemption. Silver is the sign of redemption, and gold is the picture of deity; God redeeming people. That is why this is Christmas at Job’s house. Job’s witness to his friends evidently had such effect upon them that in gratitude for what they learned from him, they gave him gifts of silver and gold to express their understanding of God’s redemption among people.

Job discovered two thousand years before Jesus’ birth and eventual death on the cross that One was coming into the world, and, as the angel said to Mary, “He will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). This is what brings joy and gladness to believers’ hearts at Christmas time. If you know the Lord Jesus, you have the greatest gift God can give to a person. Out of the richness of your life you will find yourself gladly sharing from all that you have with those who have less, that there may be the ringing out of joy and thanksgiving in a season like this.

Thank You, Lord, for the greatest gift—the gift of Your Son.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “Christmas At Uz” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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How to Fight the Good Fight by Ray Stedman!

Posted by Scott on November 19, 2007

How To Fight

READ: 1 Timothy 6:11-16, 20-21

Fight the good fight of the faith . . . In the sight of God who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession . . . (1 Timothy 6:12a, 13).

Nothing will help to steel you more for the fight than the vision of God. This is what Paul sets before Timothy. Notice the encouraging things here. First, God is the giver of life.

Do you sometimes feel beaten and dejected, buffeted by more things than you can handle, at the end of your strength? What you need is renewed vigor, vitality, and strength, and that is what you get when you turn to your God and see Him there with you to infuse strength and vitality back into you again. This is the part that prayer plays in our lives. We all have experienced the infusion of new strength and courage from God when we have turned to Him in prayer in a moment of pressure. God is given to us that we might not lose heart when the times of discouragement come. Turn to him as the author of life.

Then, as Paul points out, there is the encouragement of the example of Jesus. Do you find it hard to admit your Christian faith at times in certain groups? Then think of Jesus, “who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession.” Pilate examined Jesus and found no fault in Him. Then Pilate asked him a question, and Jesus’ answer determined whether He would live or die. Pilate was anxious to set him free if he could because he recognized Jesus to be a righteous, innocent man whom the chief priests had delivered up for jealousy.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” (Matthew 27:11), Pilate asked Him. Jesus could have said no, but thereby He would have denied that He was the Messiah; He was the king of the Jews. Had Pilate set Jesus free, the Jews would then have charged him with befriending a traitor to Caesar. Answering yes would seal Jesus’ fate. He knew it, but He answered with the strongest affirmative Hebrew idiom: “Yes, it is as you say” (Matthew 27:11b). That cost Him His life.

Paul is reminding Timothy, “There will be times when you will have to say no; you will want to say yes, and everybody around you wants you to say yes. There will be times when it will be embarrassing to admit you are a Christian, but remember Jesus. He set the good example; he was the ‘faithful witness’ (Revelation 1:5) to the truth.”

Lord, teach me to fight, knowing that You are the giver of life. By Your Spirit who lives in me, grant me the same courage to be a faithful witness that Jesus demonstrated.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “O Man of God!” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture. \

-Scott Bailey 2007

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-From A Dad: When God Speaks!

Posted by Scott on November 17, 2007

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-God speaks to His chosen people!  Today so many people are looking for the audible voice of God.  We seem to want God to start burning a bush again and speaking from it.  Although God could do that very easily, He does not speak in that fashion anymore.  So, how does God really speak to us today? 

He speaks through His written word.  God has inspired men thousands of years ago to write down His word.  The word was then put into book form several hundred years ago and is now available to us in many translations today.  Within the scriptures are the wisdom and instruction of God.  Within those pages are direction and encouragement.  The Bible ties in the purpose God has for us from the beginning to the end of the book.  His purposes for us is to bring Christ honor and glory from our lives….I am speaking of His chosen people. 

God can and does speak through providential means.  He can send friends and/or family to tell us things that only God could have placed on their minds.  Many times these people will not know they are being used by God to answer your prayers, but the Lord has placed something on their hearts to share with you and it seems to fit much of what you are looking for.  This is the providence of God at work.  I know that many times I will be praying specifically about something looking for concrete clear direction.  In the course of weeks and months I will seek counsel possibly or just sharing my prayer with someone when they will give their thoughts on it and that same thought will be repeated several times by others.  When that happens I must perk up my ears and listen.  God is using these people to get a message across to me.  In that case we need to take the next logical step that seems to come natural and continue to listen and seek clear answers.

God can speak to us through circumstances as well.  Through our job, family members, church, ministry, health, or whatever situation that comes up.  God will speak to us when He so desires.  We have a grand opportunity to hear from God through this. 

The most used means of speaking to us is through the study and meditation of His holy word, however, He can choose whatever means He deems necessary in order to get our attention and speak clearly His desires and plans for our lives.

Psalm 32:8

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
      I will advise you and watch over you.”  NLT

__________

“Let me give you some good advice;
      I’m looking you in the eye
      and giving it to you straight:”  The Message
 

-God speaks with His chosen people!  It can be hard to distinguish the difference from God speaking to us and speaking with us.  When He is speaking to us it is in an instructional way like a teacher would.  Giving us the direct truth without batting an eye.  When God is speaking with us I would equate this like a father and son setting down to chat about life.  Talking about the direction the son is going.  Not necessarily instructing, but asking questions of the son.  The Father could be having an intimate conversation with us through His promises, situations that nurture and groom us.  I seem to gather the true differences are in instruction because we must have that to grow and the intimacy and closeness of a face to face talk about life.  Both are necessary in our relationship with God. 

It is possible to gather all the instructions we can handle.  Then set about doing the work, but never stopping to be quiet and listen to gentle voice of our loving Father as He wants to speak with us in a way that is not to be resisted, but accepted with both arms open wide as we run into the arm of God.  So, we have one as being more of regimented time in class and the other on a picnic blanket under a huge oak tree eating a lunch together, laughing at our kids, and thinking about life in general.  I enjoy thinking about the intimate moments with my heavenly Father.  It brings tears to my eyes as I write this.  His gentle large hand resting upon my shoulder as He gently tells me “everything will be alright”.  He is here with us today…not in bodily form or in a voice I can hear out-loud, but I can sense the touch in my spirit, I can sense a filling of His sweet breath upon my mind, and sense the uplifting spirit of His strong hand at work within my life.  I enjoy the fellowship with Him daily.  My hope would be that anyone reading this can experience and enjoy the same kind of fellowship and relationship.  It is in this way that makes the difference between God speaking to us and God speaking with us.

1 John 1:3

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

-God speaks through His chosen people!  Some of the greatest preachers of the last 1500 years was God speaking through His chosen people.  Preachers like Augustine, John Owen, Jonathon Edwards, John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, John Knox, Charles Swindoll, John Packer, John MacArthur, Steve Farrar, Dr. D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, John Stott, R.C. Sproul, and list goes on.  God speaks through those of us that are not so well known as well.  We are to instruct our kids as though God Himself was instructing them.  Especially for us dads, it is imperative that we strive to advise, instruct, and discipline as God would.  Why would that be important?  Our kids and children around us develop their view of God the Father based on what they see in us.  This is why it is important for us to be careful how we respond to them and especially in the disciplining of them.  God is never reactionary based on our sins.  He does not immediately swat at us with anger.  God is sure and just in his discipline, but very loving all the way through.  He shows us mercy and grace  as He speaks through us. 

As we are called to address a crowd of people or simply teach our family the ways of God it is of the Holy Spirit that is actually doing the great work of our heavenly Father.  He prompts our hearts when it is time to take action and what to say at each precise moment.  We can take credit for nothing.  We are as empty vessels waiting for the Lord to fill us with His will as it connects with our will. 

Matthew 10:20 

For it is not you who are speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”

May the Lord bless each of our acts of obedience to Him.  Guys, at times this is not going to be easy.  Many times to be obedient is going to go against our instinct at a particular moment, but we must force ourselves to listen to the call of our God.  We must make ourselves take the action the Holy Spirit is prompting us to take.  As the scriptures tell us to buffet our bodies unto  holiness….this takes discipline.  It takes courage that is built within our being by God Himself.  God uses His chosen people in order to create the fellowship and relationship He desires us to have with Him.  His purposes always are to draw people to Himself and ultimately glory and honor to our Lord Jesus Christ. 

-Scott Bailey (c) 2007

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Kindling for Christian Hedonism by John Piper!

Posted by Scott on October 20, 2007


By John Piper October 30, 1983


Psalm 19:7-11

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is thy servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

Christian Hedonism is very much aware that every day with Jesus is not “sweeter than the day before.” Some days with Jesus our disposition is as sour as raw persimmons. Some days with Jesus we are so sad we feel our heart will break open. Some days with Jesus fear turns us into a knot of nerve ends. Some days with Jesus we are so depressed and discouraged that between the garage and the house we just want to sit down on the grass and cry. Every day with Jesus is not sweeter than the day before. We know it from experience and we know it from Scripture. For the text says (Psalm 19:7), “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” If every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before, we wouldn’t need to be revived.

The Bible Kindles Joy

The reason David praised God with the words, “He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul,” is because he had bad days. There were days when his soul needed to be restored. It’s the same phrase used in Psalm 19:7—”the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” Normal Christian life is a repeated process of restoration and renewal. Our joy is not static. It fluctuates with real life. It is as vulnerable to Satan’s attacks as a Lebanese marine compound to a suicide bomber. When Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:24, “Not that we lord it over your faith, but we are workers with you for your joy,” we should emphasize it this way: “We are workers with you for your joy.” The preservation of our joy in God takes work. It is a fight. Our adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, and he has an insatiable appetite to destroy one thing: the joy of faith. But the Holy Spirit has given us a shield called faith and a sword called the Word of God and a power called prayer to defend and extend our joy. Or, to change the image, when Satan huffs and puffs and tries to blow out the flame of your joy, you have an endless supply of kindling in the Word of God. And even though there are days when we feel that every cinder in our soul is cold, yet if we crawl to the Word of God and cry out for ears to hear, the cold ashes will be lifted and the tiny spark of life will be fanned, because, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” The Bible is the kindling of Christian Hedonism.

My aim this morning is to motivate you to wear the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and to wield it for the preservation of your joy in God. There are three steps we need to climb together. First, we need to know why we accept the Bible as the word of God. Almost everybody in the world would agree that if the one and true God has spoken, then there will be no lasting happiness for people who ignore his word. But very few people really believe that the Bible is the word of the living God. Nor should they believe it without sufficient reasons. Second, we need to see some encouraging examples of how the Bible kindles and preserves our joy. Finally, we need to hear a practical challenge to renew our daily meditation in the Word of God, and to bind that sword so close around our waist that we are never without it.

Jesus—The Foundation for Confidence in the Bible

1) In the limitations of time that we have, perhaps the best way to take the first step is for me to commend to you why I accept the Bible as the word of God. The foundation of my confidence is Jesus Christ. You don’t need to believe first that the Bible is infallible in order to know that it presents you with a historical person of incomparable qualities. The possibility that the historical Jesus was a con artist or a lunatic is to me so remote that I am drawn to confess that he is true. His claims are not the propaganda of a deceiver or the presumption of a schizophrenic. He speaks with authority, forgives sin, heals the sick, casts out demons, penetrates the hearts of his opponents, loves his enemies, dies for sinners, and leaves behind an empty grave, not because he pulled the wool over the eyes of the world but because he is the ever-living Son of God who came to save the world. He has won my trust through his words and deeds.

From Jesus I move backward to the Old Testament and forward to the New Testament. All four gospels present different evidence that Jesus considered the Old Testament to be the word of God. In Matthew 5:17 Jesus says he came not to abolish but to fulfill the law and the prophets, and in Matthew 22:29 he says that the Sadducees err because they don’t know the Scriptures. In Mark 7:8–9 Jesus contrasts man-made traditions with the commandment of God in the Old Testament. In Luke 24:44 he tells the disciples that everything written about him in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled. And in John 10:35 he said simply, “Scripture cannot be broken.” Therefore, I read the Old Testament as the word of God because Jesus did.

Six Observations on the New Testament as God’s Word

But Jesus did not stay on earth to endorse the New Testament. My confidence in the New Testament as God’s word rests on a group of observations which taken together provide a reasonable ground of confidence.

1) Jesus chose twelve apostles to be his authoritative representatives in founding the church. He promised them at the end of his life, “The Holy Spirit . . . will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said” (John 14:26; 16:13). 2) Then the apostle Paul, whose stunning conversion from a life of murdering Christians to making Christians demands some special explanation, explains that he (and the other apostles) have been commissioned by the risen Christ to preach “in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:13). Christ’s prediction is being fulfilled through this inspiration. 3) Peter confirms this in 2 Peter 3:16 by putting Paul’s writings in the same category with the inspired (2 Peter 1:21) Old Testament writings. 4) All the New Testament writings come from those earliest days of promised special revelation and were written by the apostles and their close associates. 5) The message of these books has the ring of truth because it makes sense out of so much reality. The message of God’s holiness and our guilt on the one hand, and Christ’s death and resurrection as our only hope on the other hand—that message fits the reality we see and the hope we long for and don’t see. 6) Finally, as the Baptist Catechism says, “The Bible evidences itself to be God’s word by . . . its power to convert sinners and edify saints.”

For these reasons, when I read the Old and New Testaments, I read them as the word of God. God is not silent in my life. He is uncomfortably vocal and precise about all kinds of things. I count it as a singular act of grace on his part that he has appointed for me that my life work is to understand his word and teach his church. When the Bible speaks, God speaks. Which means that the things said about the word of God in the Bible apply to the Bible. And I have been simply overwhelmed in preparing for this message by how much the Bible has to say about the value of the word of God. What a treasure we have in the very words of God! “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10).

The Word of God Is Your Life

2) That leads us to the second step this morning, namely, some examples of how the Bible has so much value for us. Why is a life of meditation on Holy Scripture a life of joy? Most of the specifics I want to give you may soon be forgotten, but I hope the total impact of the Bible’s value will make you want to read it more regularly, more deeply, and more joyfully. Consider these benefits.

In Deuteronomy 32:46–47 Moses says, “Lay to heart all the words which I enjoin upon you this day, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no trifle for you, but it is your life.” The Bible is not a trifle; it is a matter of life and death. If you treat the Word of God as a trifle, you forfeit life. Our physical life depends on God’s Word because by his word we were created (Psalm 33:9; Hebrews 11:3), and “he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3). Our spiritual life begins by the Word of God: James 1:18, “By his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth.” “You have been born anew . . . through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). And not only do we begin to live by God’s Word, we go on living by God’s Word: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3). Our physical life is created and upheld by the word of God, and our personal-spiritual life is born anew and lived by the word of God. Therefore, the Bible is “no trifle for you, it is your life!”

The Word of God Begets Faith and Hope

The Word of Christ begets and sustains life because it begets and sustains faith. “These things are written,” John says, “that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). “Faith comes by hearing,” writes the apostle Paul, “and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). The faith that starts our life in Christ and the faith by which we go on living come from hearing the Word of God. If faith is of eternal importance for your daily life, so is the Bible.

Sometimes faith and hope are virtually synonyms in Scripture. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1). Without this hope for the future we get discouraged and depressed and our joy drains away. Hope is absolutely essential to Christian joy (Romans 15:13). And how do we maintain hope? The psalmist puts it like this (78:5–7), “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children . . . so that they might set their hope in God.” Paul puts it so plainly: “Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by the steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). The whole Bible has this aim and this power: to create hope in the hearts of God’s people.

The Word of God Sets Free and Provides Wisdom

Another essential element of life is freedom. None of us would be happy if we were not free from what we hate and free for what we love. And where do we find true freedom? Psalm 119:45 says, “I shall walk in freedom, for I sought thy precepts.” And Jesus says, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). And lest we miss the point, he says later in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth.” The word of God is divine truth that frees us from deception. It breaks the power of counterfeit pleasures, and keeps us free from stumbling into the stupidity of sin. “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). “I have laid up thy word in my heart that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11; cf. v. 9). The promises of God are the liberating, guiding power of godliness: “Through his precious and very great promises you escape from the corruption that is in the world . . . and become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4; cf. John 15:3). Freedom, guidance, likeness to God—all these come to us as we meditate upon and trust the Word of God, the Bible.

Of course, the Bible does not answer every question about life. Every fork in the road does not have a biblical arrow. We have need of wisdom in ourselves. But that, too, is a gift of Scripture. As the text says, “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple . . . the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalm 19:7–8; cf. 119:98). People whose minds are saturated with God’s Word and submissive to his thoughts have a wisdom that eternity will prove to be superior to all the secular wisdom in the world.

The Word of God Restores and Comforts

Nevertheless, our bent will and imperfect perceptions lead us time and again into foolish acts and harmful situations. That day is not sweeter than the day before, and we need restoration and comfort. Where can we turn for comfort? We can follow the psalmist again: “This is my comfort in my affliction, that thy promise gives me life . . . When I think of thy ordinances from of old, I take comfort, O Lord” (Psalm 119:50, 52). And when our failures and our afflictions threaten our assurance of faith, where do we turn to rebuild our confidence? John invites us to turn to the Word of God: “I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). The Bible is written to give us assurance of eternal life.

Satan’s number one objective is to destroy your joy of faith. You have one offensive weapon: the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). But what many Christians fail to realize is that you can’t draw the sword from someone else’s scabbard. If you don’t wear it, if the Word of God does not abide in you (John 15:7), you will reach for it in vain. If you don’t wear it, you can’t wield it. But if you do, what a mighty warrior you will be! “I write to you, young men, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:14).

Devote Yourselves to the Word of God

3) So the Bible is the Word of God, and the Word of God is no trifle. It is the source of life and faith and hope and freedom and guidance and wisdom and comfort and assurance and victory over our greatest enemy. Is it any wonder, then, that those who knew best said, “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart” (Psalm 19:8)? “I will delight in thy statutes, I will not forget thy word” (Psalm 119:16). “Oh, how I love thy law, it is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97). “Thy testimonies are my heritage for ever, yea, they are the joy of my heart” (Psalm 119:111). “Thy words were found, and I ate them, and thy words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by thy name” (Jeremiah 15:16). But are we to pursue this joy like Christian Hedonists? Are we to throw the kindling of God’s Word on the fire of joy? Are we to pursue our holy pleasure by meditating on the Word of Christ? Indeed, we are. For the Lord himself has said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and your joy may be full” (John 15:11).

On this Reformation Sunday I beseech you not to let the blood of the martyrs be spilled in vain. Don’t let the labors of Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, and Zwingli be spent out in vain. God raised them up to free the Holy Scriptures for us. We despise God and insult his saints if we treat the Bible as a trifle in our lives. Martin Luther knew as well as any man who ever lived that every day with Jesus is not sweeter than the day before. And according to Roland Bainton, he wrote these words in the year of his deepest depression:

And though this world with devils filled
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God has willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim,
We tremble not for him—
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure:
One little word shall fell him.


© Desiring God

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

-Scott Bailey 2007

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-Dealing with Stress!

Posted by Scott on September 24, 2007

Matthew 6:34

 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.   -NLT

 34Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.    -ASV

I believe that either of those versions gives us a good idea of how we are to deal with stress in our lives.  As I look over each day, believe me it does have enough to worry about on its own without stressing over tomorrow.

 Consentrate on Things That Are Calming

Phil 4:8 says “Whatsoever things are lovely….of good report…think on these things.”

 In our world today everyone is caught up in the noise and confusion that surrounds them.  I admit I can easily get caught up in the same things.  For my families sake I have worked hard to try and slow life down as much as possible, but the hussle and bussle of our world keeps dragging us back in.  I mean the music is loud and getting louder, the entertainment explodes right in front of us….especially with the tv’s available now…wow.  This can creae stress in our lives, too.  We sometimes have a hard time separating the movies from real life or get ideas from a movie that sets us on a mission to go buy the latest greatest thing we saw or try to recreate that movie into our own lives.  It just goes on and on.

 As the Phillippians verse states for us to concentrate on the calmer things of life.  Meet with someone that is not bouncing off the walls ever now and then.  Watch a movie that is not full of suspenseful and constant action.  Drive to the country and just get out on a dirt road and walk for a ways.  Go to an old cemetary to read grave markers…now there is a quiet place!  Do anything that can help us to relax and refocus on what really matters…..our relationship with God.  If we will all think for a moment, how can we possibly hear God speaking to us and directing us if we have a constant roar in our ears and the driving force of this world has control of our actions?  It will be hard to hear Him.

 Another way of dealing with stress is to listen to some of the old hymn of our faith.  These can be calming, inspiring and revealing all at the same time.  While listening to these old hymns or slower paced worship music, pray and fellowship with God.  Just close your eyes and listen to what our Lord has to say.  He may be trying to get our attention, but everything around us is so loud we cannot hear Him.  Meditate on His promises.  The bible is full of His promises.

 Meet the Inevitable Condition(s) Head On

Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.”

Many us men suffer with stress because we fight the inevitable.  I know I do this.  I will find myself fighting something with all “my might”.  The key word is “my”.  We should fighting or flowing with God’s might not ours.  The greatest cause of stress I have experienced is working in my own strength.  It will literally wear you out if you make a lifetime of this.  Many suicides by Christians I believe are caused by men and women that were simply living in and fighting this life in their own strength and simply figured life was not worth it.  When we come to this place in our lives we need to let it go.  Run in the direction God is poking you in or drawing you too.  Don’t fight it.  There is something there for you and I when we give ourselves over to His will and direction.  He ultimately recieves tremendous glory from it.

Jesus is a great example of dealing with stressful situations.  He did not fret about these things.  He conquered stress by simply turning impossibilities into opportunities.  Many times we miss out on opportunities to glorify God because we are fighting against that.  I know we encounter problems that seem could have no good end, but remember our ways are not God’s ways.  He has something else greater to accomplish with that issue in our life.  You know something that I have experienced many times in my life is that I had rather be in the middle of a very trying ordeal in my life with God than living like a king without God.  That does not make sense to this world, but it is the truth for the life of an authentic believer in Christ.

Many times we must accept the situations in our lives that we are powerless to change, while doing our best and trusting that God in all of His sovereignty knows best and will take care of everything.

We Should Comfort Others Who Have Complaints

2 Corinthians 1:4 states “Who comforts us….that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble.”

When going through trials in our lives and very stressful moments we can find ourselves not being a comfort or inspiration to anyone.  We become too concerned with our little or big tribulation to care for anyone elses.  I have encountered this with other people that always talk about their issues as though nobody else has any problems.  I am always happy too share what God has done for my family, but many times I cannot get a word in edgewise. 

We are living examples of Christ here on earth.  He cared about the trials other people were having.  If we see someone that has a need and we can fill it, then we should do it immediately…no matter what our problems are.  If we cannot fill that need personally, but have a way to get assistance for this person(s) issues then we should do what all we can with the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  He will guide us on what to do.

In many ways we can become mentors to others that may be in earlier phases of the same types of problems or even other issues and we can help.  Be on the lookout for people God has placed directly into our lives in order for us to minister to them.  Being a comfort for someone else can assist in healing on our issues.

Finally, Trust God with All Concerns

Pslam 62:8 says to “Trust in Him at all times.”

Conquering stress requires that we acknowledge God’s presence at all times.  He is with us, drawing nearer, and working His perfect plan always.  Now, we may not always feel Him as being there, but He promises that He is, so we need to rest in that promise.

God has told us in Hebrews 13:5 that “I will never leave thee, or foresake thee”.  We need to practice the presence of God.

Finally, something that all of us men have a difficult time doing is yielding ourselves to God’s will.  Let Him do His perfect work in, around and through us.  He is responsible for the outcome not us…..we just simply need to be willing to follow Him and obey His word.

-Scott Bailey (c) 2007

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-From A Dad-A Challenge: Raise A Warrior for Christ!

Posted by Scott on August 10, 2007

spartan_warrior_by_akairisu.jpg 

A Challenge:  Raise A Warrior For Christ!

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth”
–Psalm 127:4

You may be thinking right now that I am crazy for using Spartan Warrior within Christianity, but read the entire piece before passing judgment.  Spartan Warriors were fierce fighters.  They would fight to the death for their family, king, and kingdom.  They were ruthless and unconventional in their process and training.  However, my research on Spartan Warriors turned up better qualities for these fighters that many of us as Christian men need to pay attention to. These warriors were trained from the very young age of 7 to be fierce in battle.  The meaning of Spartan is to be “totally devoted to one cause, self-deprived or stripped down to nothing, but the bare essentials, undoubting and courageous”.  They were trained to give their lives without hesitation.  These warriors did not think anything about danger and always expected to win or die trying to win.  These were dreaded men in battle. 

 Gentlemen, I am here to inform you that if you did not know this before now, we are in the battle of our lives and the lives of our families…time to wake-up!  I am afraid that unless we as Christian fathers do not began to train our young men to be like these Spartan Warriors, the future looks very dim.  We need to be training up our boys to be fierce when in battle and this battle takes place daily.  Young men that will not back down from authority that makes rulings in direct conflict with the scriptures.  We need young men that do not mind being ridiculed when they stand up for the under-dog or under-privileged or as they share the gospel to a neighbor or friend.  In some cases this may mean taking up arms to defend our nation and our families from the enemies abroad or even within our midst.  On a daily basis, we need to equip these young fighters with the Truth of God’s Holy Word above all else… God’s Holy Word is not found in the Koran! 

Within the pages of the Bible are many fierce warriors who fought bravely like King David as one example.  The Lord helped him fight with full control of himself and bravely.  David fought mightily with the hand of God on his life…”And David became greater and greater, for the Lord God of hosts was with him.”  2 Samuel 5:10 (NAS)  He as a warrior for the Kingdom of God and Spartan Warriors in ancient Greece were courageous and self-sacrificing.  The crusade I am speaking of today is for the minds and hearts of our young people.  Many Christians have already given up this crusade long ago and have decided to just blend in with the rest of the world in order to have peace.  They may go to church and bible study, but nothing  is different in their lives or the lives of their kids.  We have bought into the society belief that we can be immersed in the life style of the world and still maintain an effective evangelical witness. 

 Titus 2:12(NIV) says, “It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…”  In John 15:9(NIV)  it states, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”   

Just hoping our kids will turn out alright is not the answer.  Our adversary, Satan, would like nothing else than for parents to take this approach.  Of course by the grace of God some do turn out alright and frankly that is how we all turn out alright. However, these kids are placed in our hands for a short time for training and preparation for the future and we do not want to let them down if at all possible.  The battle for the heart and mind of our children today include homosexuality, pornography, drunkenness, illegal drug usage, over eating, moral relativism, unfaithfulness, theft, lying, and so on.  This corruptness is being taught in nearly every public forum and institution in America as being “right”.  Our children are being taught that there is no sin and there is no right or wrong.  Their cry is that we all need to be more tolerant of each other.  They are taught that Adam can marry Robert and Eve can marry Laura and it is “ok”.  The truth is that homosexuality is sin and it is not “ok”.  This sin is as forgivable as over eating, as is drunkenness and so on. Glory to God that they are forgivable, but I do not want this deviant trash taught to my children and grandchildren as being “ok”.  Pornography is down played as just a natural thing that men and women desire and it is “ok”.  Christian men are not immune to this.  Men it is not “ok” even in the privacy of your own home.  What we put in our minds has a direct impact on what comes out of our life each day.  Much of the violence against women today stems from pornography.  If this kind of trash goes into the mind then I can guarantee you that vile trash will come out in some form of your life.  Drunkenness is very accepted these days as well, although it is nothing new to the ages.  Drunkenness is mind altering and you will do and say things that will not honor God in any way and will bring shame upon your family. 

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Psalm 23:33 says about too much wine, “Your eyes will see strange things, and your mind will utter perverse things.” 

God has always spoken out against drunkenness in His Word.  I said here, “drunkenness”, not a glass of wine at dinner…I just wanted to clarify that.  A trendy activity nowadays is to go to church on Sunday and raise your hands and sing in what is perceived to be praising and worshipping God.  Then the rest of the week live as you wish and on the weekend get stumbling drunk with your buddies and come to church on Sunday to be holy again.  Is this truly grace in action?  What a mockery to the glory of Jesus Christ!  Does this show a deep love for our Savior?  Does raising our hands to the “bouncy” music in the churches today that stirs up the emotions really make us spiritual and holy?  I am not attacking praise worship music entirely, but in observing the true impact of this movement that has forgotten the testimony of the hymns of old, I have witnessed people actually growing more vile in their lives rather than a closeness to the Lord as the music stirs up emotions rather than a deep seeded devotion to worshipping Christ in the music and message of the pastor. 

Men, take a hard look into your heart….is that burning desire to know Jesus and love Jesus really there?  What is your reason for going to church or reading your Bible?  Another hot trend within the world today is embracing the Muslim or Hindu or Buddhism religion as another way to heaven…that we should be tolerant.  We are told that there are many ways to God. 

 Matthew 7:13-14 speaks of those broad roads and narrow gates, “Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.  For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.” 

We are taught to believe they should have equal access to the minds of our children, our culture, and we should move over for their ways and embrace their teachings.  I will make this statement as clear as I can, men, NO ONE has the right to access the mind and heart of my children other than God Himself.  God gave those children to me and my wife to love, nurture, train and protect.  The liberal left does not have the right to them, the Communist left wingers do not have a right to them, the Muslims, Hindu’s, or Buddhist do not have rights to them, the homosexuals do not have rights to them or the legalist within the church today do not have the rights to them, or any other kind of evil that permeates this dark world we live in today.  If I sound a bit combative in this, I am combative.  This is no powder puff football game we are in, people. 

So, I am declaring today that we must start raising our sons ,as the Spartan Warriors of the 21st century, that will carry on these truths that are in God’s Word and do it unashamedly.  We need a crusade where young men will give their lives so that our future generations can survive without having to bow to the vile images that are so prevalent in our culture today or be subject to the horrific views and taunting by the homosexual leftist agenda.  A desire must exist for young men to train themselves to be satisfied with only the bare essentials as Spartan Warriors were disciplined to be and not raised under pampered lives like so many of the Christian and worldly kids of today.  These young men need training to buffet their bodies and keep their actions under control regarding women, children, money, alcohol, politics, and the things of this world.  Our world is groaning for young men who have a deep seeded desire to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

   Can we train up young men that will carry as their motto, “Give me Christ and Christ alone”?  We long for young men who are willing to die for the cause of Christ.  This does not come naturally…it comes as we battle forward immersing ourselves in God’s word and let Him develop in our hearts and minds a “biblical world view”.  God is sovereign!  He has never moved or changed His mind.  He is not surprised by the darkness that envelops the world we live in today.  He created this universe and every living or non-living being in it.  He is not bashful about war, battle, death or even love.  So, our challenge today as fathers of sons is to bring up a new generation of young men that will fit the image of God, like a warrior for truth, justice and become a loving family man.  Steve Farrar put it very plainly with this quote from his book, “Standing Tall”:

“Gentlemen, we are raising our kids in this sewer of moral relativism.

If your kids buy into this philosophy, it will ruin their lives.

Here’s the deal, guys.  Our kids won’t know anything unless they see it in our lives.  Our kids won’t know that there are moral absolutes unless they absolutely see those truths lived out in our lives.”

Steve Farrar, “Standing Tall” 1994

 

This is what I am talking about.  The training is about walking and talking God’s truth daily.  It does not mean we are perfect, but that we are able to show our weaknesses as well as our strengths.  We need to show our kids that God creates strength from our weaknesses.  There is a loud voice trying to wake up our countries Christian fathers.  I am afraid though we have ear plugs in or are ignoring this loud call.

“The Christian world is in a deep sleep. 

Nothing but a loud voice can waken them out of it.”

-George Whitefield, 1739

 

Guys, I cannot tell you what to do or how to raise your kids.  I cannot make you do anything you are not entirely willing to do from your heart.  This is not a legalistic set of rules or point of view even though it is my opinion.  I abhor legalism in all of its form when it comes to the scriptures and the life God would have each of us live.  However, I am simply challenging you to rethink how you are training your children, especially the boys and how you are living as an example for them today.  Is it with sacrifice or from a life of pure luxury?  At the age of 7, are you training warriors to do battle for their future wives, children, countrymen, and ancestry or just over educated athletes in hopes of landing that multi-million dollar contract so they can buy more boats, larger houses, more jewelry and filthier women?  What is their view of supporting the ministries that abound in their area today?  Do they have a worldly view or a biblical world view?  Can you see a servant’s heart or a future adult that will be demanding and hard to live with?  Think about what is important in this life that enhances your eternal life and the eternal life of others.  Out of your actions and training which of those give glory to the Lord?  Does baseball, football, basketball, the finest schools, dances, an exotic vacation, or other activities like these have an eternal purpose?  They could have, but just think for a moment how it is coming across to the kids.  Does giving them every single toy they ask for prepare them for the battles ahead in life?  Does saying yes to their every plea really give them a proper outlook on the future?  Does taking their side in every argument truly help them in preparation for debating the liberal left wing of this world?  Do they see you react to a problem with prayer and digging into your Bible or do they observe you speaking harshly of that person or problem and vow your revenge? 

Men, I am not bringing this message from an attitude of having all the answers or that I always do it right, because that would be a bold face lie.  I battle the same sins and problems you do.  I battle the same pride and ego that every man fights.  But the truth is what it is, guys.  I cannot speak totally from example, but simply from God’s truth.  We need fighters, warriors, kids that grow up knowing the Bible and believing that the Bible is completely true as the inspired word of God and fall in love with their Lord Jesus Christ.  Our world can stand young men that will be devoted to their wives, children, and country and see them as a blessing upon their lives rather than a curse. 

 Today, I encourage you to pray sincerely about all that you have read here.  Reach down deep into the pit of your heart to find that which God placed in your heart years ago.  Lift up your family, co-workers, in-laws, and enemies in prayer.  Dress down spiritually and put it all on the table, guys.  Leave it with the Lord…all of it…the hurt, the pain, the tears, the stress, the financial problems, sexual problems, weaknesses, family problems…all of it.  Leave nothing behind to carry on with you.  Then take a long deep breath and set there for a while in silence to listen to hear if God will speak to you.  It may take Him days, weeks, months or years to speak, but He will speak to you.  See if He speaks, not audibly, but spiritually, through His word, through His people, and through the circumstances.  It is better to not move a muscle until you hear God speak then to do anything that would be in direct disobedience to His calling upon your life. 

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.

The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.”    Philippians 4:8-9 (NAS)

 

Guys think on a few questions this very day:

-Would the Lord have you change anything about your life, the treatment of your wife and children and then the training of your children?

-What change can you make today that would be positively noticeable to your family when you got home from work that would inspire them to want to follow you and serve the Lord more? 

What changes would bring glory to Christ today?

-Do you have a servant’s heart like Christ or is pride and ego in the way?

-Why do you go to church, bible studies, and other “religious” functions?

-What kind of men do you hang around with everyday?

-Most importantly, do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ or are you just playing church or religion because it is the cultural thing to do? 

This is serious guys…your life and the lives of our children and grand-children depend on the decisions we make today….tomorrow may be too late.

Scott Bailey 2007 ©  

*Disclaimer:  In no way am I against sports, athletes, vacations, or money.  Joe Lewis, the late great boxer, once said that “no, money isn’t everything, but it sure ranks right up there with air…try to live without for a day.”  Each of us have a God given purpose in life and is according to what God’s desire for our lives are and we should be obedient to Him in that purpose if we want to live a successful life.  That could mean a pro baseball career for example or using your income to provide for families in need that live around you.  So, please reread this with an open heart and mind and look at it from God’s side as to what He might be seeing in us right now.  He wants us to be completely devoted to Him in all things and my heart felt belief is that we have missed this as dads on nearly all accounts…I am as convicted of this in my heart as anyone else. 

May God bless you as you go out each day to provide for your family and as you work hard to make that much needed time to spend with your wife and children.

**It is rumored that young kids about 7 years old that are chosen to be a Spartan Warrior and subjected to homosexuality.  This was not the custom, but I am sure it happened and there was most likely homosexuality in the ranks as at anytime during the years…sin is sin and has been around since the Garden of Eden…God hates sin as much today as He did at this time or any other time.  However, there is no evidence that Spartan Warriors were homosexual as a whole nor has sufficient effidence been provided that concludes these young men were trained to be homosexual.  I conclude this information is a rumor and lie.  However, the main point is that we are to be raising solid warriors that are willing to lay down their lives for others not matter what the task…not raising homosexual men….I am not advicating homosexuality at all.

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