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 ‘sin’

Fit To Be Used by Ray C. Stedman

Posted by Scott on November 24, 2009

by Ray C. Stedman

2 Timothy 2:20-26

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22).

Those with pure hearts are not sinless saints; they are not holier-than-thous who have never done anything wrong. They are not the kind of people who look down their noses at everyone else who gets into trouble. No, the word pure would be better translated “cleansed,” past tense–those with a cleansed heart, those who have already known what it is to be where you are. They do not put you down; they encourage you. They say, “I know how you feel. I’ve been there too, but God picked me up. I know what it means to lay hold of His great, forgiving love.” So one of the necessities of being used of God is that you keep company with those who are aiming in the same direction.

I had an occasion to spend a day at Vacaville Penitentiary. I had not been there before. It was a most remarkable experience to see Christian friends working in the prison as salt within a corrupt society. It was a rainy day, and no one was out in the yard. Everyone was in the halls, so it was like going into a high school that had just been let out for lunch. Among the inmates of that overcrowded prison, a Christian group is maintaining a testimony that is keeping that prison away from violence, acting as salt to preserve it in the midst of a very explosive situation.

In the chapel I sat next to a man who had been a murderer–a murderer several times. He had been one of the roughest, fiercest convicts in the prison system. He had stabbed several people while he was in prison, and he was a member of the gang that tried to rule the prison, a vicious loner who would not hesitate to take a human life. Yet God had reached him. Now he is the most gentle-spirited, gracious fellow, a teacher of the other prisoners, instructing them in the truth of God.

I met with others who had been rapists, murderers, and child abusers, men whose lives were changed, who were now listening to and rejoicing in the Scriptures. I asked the leader of the group what it was that most disappointed him in his work. Without hesitating he said, “it is those who are so dramatically changed here but who lose all they have gained when they get out”. I asked why that happened. “Because they go back to the same old crowd,” he said. We are not made to live alone. We are made to live with others; we need the support of others. Those who surround themselves with a non-Christian view of life and non-Christian friends are almost certain to go back at last into that way of thinking and living. So if we want to be used of God, the apostle urges us to seek the companionship of those of like mind.

Lord, grant me the strength to say no to the things I must and yes to the things that I should, that You may find me usable in Your hand, a vessel fit for the Master’s use.

For the complete message by the late Ray C. Stedman go to Ray Stedman.

Scott Bailey 2009

Advertisements

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

Seven Losses When A Christian Lives In Sin!

Posted by Scott on November 11, 2009

As a Believer, we are forced to face certain facts about sin. Whenever we sin we lose something within us which was intended to draw us back to our Lord.

Psalm 51:1-2

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”

Loss #1: LIGHT

1 John 1:6

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

God is light. Not one pixel of darkness resides in Him or around Him.  Fellowship with Him is a deep, loving, communion with our heavenly Father. If we claim this kind of fellowship but are living in sin, we are liars, not being truthful. So, the first thing we lose in our sinfulness is Light.

Loss #2: JOY

1 John 1:3-4

“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. We write this to make our joy complete.”

Having fellowship with our Father and our Savior makes our joy complete. However, we lose this joy when we decide to live in a sinful life style, relationship or any combination of sinfulness. We lose our light and our joy!

Reference John 15:11 & Galatians 5:22

A portion of living by the Spirit of God is Joy. In Psalm 51:12 we find a crying out for this joy to be restored…the joy of his salvation. To choice to live in sin comes at a high price by trading rebellion against God for His light and abundant joy.

Loss #3: RIGHTEOUSNESS

1 John 3:4-10

“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness…No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him….He who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous.”

This is reaching the dangerous category. Because to claim to be a Believer yet make a conscious decision to live in sin makes us  unrighteous. Sin is wrong and is unrighteous behavior. Those who are authentic Christians cannot remain in that sin for long. The guilt of destroying a relationship with our Savior is too deep to allow us to remain in it. The Scripture’s go so far as to tell us the one who does not do what is right is not a child of God. That is pretty point-blank and bold. So, we must be careful in our decisions…sin is hazardous and causes us great loss.

Loss #4: LOVE

1 John 2:5-6

“But if anyone obeys His Word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him. Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.”

Sin is disobedience to the Word of God. Simple enough, but we have a loss of the love of God when we are living in sin. Not saying God does not love us, but that kind of love He has for us, we no longer have for others or even give back to Him. This boils over into a lack of God’s kind of love for others around us. We cannot walk as Jesus did, because the love of the Father is not in us. When the decision to sin is made, whether subtle or slowly, enters the heart of a claiming Believer, and a person remains in that sinfulness day after day without repentance, we have traded this abiding love of our Lord for the lustfulness of sin. This trade-off is not good for any of us. The depths of sin only dig us into a hole that swallows us up, eeks out every hint of light and causes us to feel dirty, filthy, and completely lost to the world of darkness. You do not want to get this far.

Loss #5: FELLOWSHIP

1 John 1:3

“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.”

We touched on fellowship before. It is lost in our sinfulness. Living in sin has nothing in common with the righteous. Living in sin has nothing to profit us and pulls us away from the table of fellowship with other Believers. The one living in sin has no light, no joy, no righteousness, no godly love, and now has lost their fellowship with others. Another high price to pay for consciously being disobedient to God.

On the flip side of this, unholy living places us at the table of an unholy fellowship. Those a person in sin will fellowship with are evil, ungodly to the core and feed each a bowl of lies that will make your stomach turn. Ungodliness attracts to worst of people in your life. Your waywardness will take you down a road which God is not on and render you helpless apart from a miraculous merciful act on God’s part. A sinful life style has only as their hope God’s grace, a merciful action on God’s part, and ultimate true salvation. That is a great hope, but it is the only hope for those choosing to live separated from God.

Loss #6: CONFIDENCE

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. 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.”

Sin is an indictment on our confidence. We will not enter His presence in honorable prayer because our hearts filled with sin condemns us before Him. A proud heart full of ourselves speaking in the presence of a holy God does not go together. We cannot hide our sinful condition because God knows everything.

Also, besides the loss of confidence, it causes us to lose the ability to obey and receive what we come to Him for because of the wall of sin we have built between us and God. Sin is a loosely built wall that tightens up with age if not confessed quickly and repented from immediately.

Loss #7: HEALTH & POSSIBLE PHYSICAL LIFE

1 Cor 11:30

Partaking of the communion services with a sinful heart brings about contrition before a holy and mighty God. If a Christian continues to live in their sin, know ing it is wrong, but refusing to do anything about in total rebellion and disobedience to God, their health can began to fail sometimes even to the point of death. The most dangerous activity we can encounter as Believers is to enter a sinful lifestyle in the face of Almighty God and think we can manipulate God the way we do our friends and family. God detest this and so do other Believers who recognize you are living in sin.

I have seen sinfulness poke its ugly head above the ground in so many ways. Wives and moms leaving their families because they do not want to be in that relationship anymore and live in sin with another woman’s husband. I have seen it rare up with two people shacking up together before getting married, denying the sinfulness of their ways and pushing forward to matrimony which end in a disputed divorce. It shows up in great ugliness as men and women turn to the gay lifestyle and excuse it away. On and on I could go.  Bottom line is this, for a Believer to call themselves a Christian and live as though they are not in blasphemous at the core. You are lying to God and man about your faith. If a person continues in this life style of sin for the rest of their life or jumping for one to another without a moment of repentance and returning to a strong faith in Jesus Christ, I would contend they are not a Believer to start with.

Sin is a destructor of people both Believers and non-Believers alike. However, it is more tragic for the Believer who knows better.

Scott Bailey (c) 2009

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

Don’t stand next to the edge and you won’t fall in!

Posted by Scott on March 18, 2009

Another portion of the model prayer that Jesus used to teach His disciples, is “Lead us not into temptation”. Luke 11:2-4 Jesus used a shorter version of the model prayer to teach them with. The first part of any prayer should deal with God, who He is, His character, His holiness and our relationship with Him. However, in the second part of the prayer we are to deal with our shortcomings, our sin, our forgiveness of sin as well as us forgiving others for their ills against us or even things owed to us, our attitude, our indebtedness, and our selfishness.

What is temptation anyway? I have found from the Greek original text can be an enticement, trial, trouble, an affliction, an adversity, to make stumble into a situation to sin, an examination. The “temptation” is not what the sin is, however, it is what we do with the temptation that can become the sin, the shortcoming, the unlawful act. As it is revealed to us, all Christians, will be tempted…there is no escape from it on a daily basis. It is a necessary part of the Believer’s life in order to become the instruments or vessels God will use. These most difficult and trying situations come in our lives to see how we will react and to build upon. These discouraging events in our lives are there to build us up in Christ, strengthen us in Him, and ultimately deliver us into victory.

Why should we ask God not to lead us into temptation if it is a necessary part of life? That is a very good question. So, let’s jump into that end of the pool for a moment. Remember, Matthew 4:1 it tells that “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil”. So, why should we ask not to be lead into temptation? Well, as one mentor would say he thinks Jesus meant, “we should pray to be kept from unrecognized temptations”. If we know a temptation is coming, then we can prepare for it in prayer and be resistant to it…as we resist it becomes a source of strengthening and growth. However, many places we go and find ourselves at we may not be able to discern a temptation in that moment without asking the Lord to keep us from that temptation in the first place. Many times we fall into temptation and end up sinning, because it has caught us off guard and we had not prayed.

Look at Peter the day Jesus was taken prisoner and crucified. Jesus asked him to pray with Him in the garden. What did Peter do, slept. Peter could not stay awake. Jesus was not asking Peter to pray for Him, but to pray for himself and to use the teachings on prayer that Jesus had taught Peter just days before. Peter was not “prayed up”, as some call it, for the events about to take place in his life and the life of Christ.

What happened that night in the garden…Peter ended up chopping off a soldier’s servant’s ear to which Jesus had to miraculously put back on the servants head. Then near the courts, when Peter was confronted, he failed again and cursed Jesus and denied any involvement with Jesus or that he knew Him at all. Peter should have prayed before all this, but he learned a valuable lesson on why he needed to pray daily and pray that he would not be lead into unforeseen temptations. In Peter’s case, Ray Stedman said “Satan wrung out his courage and hung him up to dry”. We certainly do not want to be caught in this same situation. Jesus has told us how to pray to our God, now, we must simply put that into action.

So, when we pray as we should, we need to think while we pray about what we are praying. Use this prayer a guide to keep us on track and in proper order to be in God’s will. I understand times when we are mumbling to God out of despair, when we cry out in a humble situation, and that takes on a different type of prayer. This is dealing with our daily communication with our heavenly Father. When we come to this part of our prayer time, we are simply recognizing that we are foolishly weak and that we constantly battle to stay out of trouble. We need to admit this and ask God for His assistance in keeping us from the edge of the “well of sin”…show us where the edge is, so that we can stay far away from the edge. If we are not playing at the edge, then it is good to say we will not fall in.

Scott Bailey © 2009

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

Revival and Reform: Where is it? What is it?

Posted by Scott on December 6, 2008

At the time of this writing I have been watching, listening, and studying this very topic on Revivals and Reforms of the past and what is to come.  The great Reformation of Luthers day really changed the direction the Christian church was going and is still in effect today. 

In the past there have been what I believe to be false revivals instituted by such men as Charles Finney and others.  As you can tell, I am no advacate of Finneyism at all…personally believe it has done tremendous damage to the Church as a whole, but that is another topic all together.

Today, across our country and many other countries we are seeing young men being drawn back to the foundations of our Christian faith…Reform Theology (Calvinism as some call it)…true Reformed Theology, not that which has been misrepresented for decades as hyperCalvinsim.  These young men are being drawn to read and study on the likes of Spurgeon, Watson, Buroughs, Ravenhill, Tozer, Whitefield, Edwards, Calvin, Knox, Flavel, Boston, Martin Lloyd Jones, Stott, MacArthur, Piper, Sproul, Packer, Warfield, and many others that fall into this camp.  Stott, MacArthur, Packer, Sproul, and Piper are still alive and well, but the rest have been forgotten by many in the Evangelical movement of the 20th and 21st century.  These great mens lives and testimonies are resurfacing in full power to proclaim the real gospel of Jesus Christ not the watered down version people are flocking to today.

Why are young men returning to this theology, to this biblical doctrinal truth?  It is a deep seated desire to know God in His fullness, to know Christ without mans inhabitions, to serve God with all their being, and a response to God’s call back to holiness and righteousness…they have a deep seated desire of God…the Holy Trinity.  This has been missing in the Evangelical movement or revival movement for the past 60 years or more.   Contrary to belief our life is not all about getting saved and then getting others saved…not as our first response.  Others coming to the saving knowledge of Christ through our testimony is a by product of our own living testimony in Christ and the greater work of the Church as the Holy Spirit moves them…salvation is a total work of God and Him alone.  Our first priority is to know God personally, fulfill His commands, to serve God personally unabashedly, and bring our lives into line with Him.  Striving for a holy life like that of Christ unto righteousness.  We are to work out our salvation…not as salvation by works..that is not what I am saying here, but to show or prove our salvation in how we live, how obdeient we are to the commands of God, how we react to circumstances in our lives, how we respond to our neighbors needs and actions, in how we love others and treat others, how we serve our employer, how we treat our taxes to the government, to serve the Lord with gladness of heart regardless of our life circumstances, to be found in deep study with the Word of God daily, to be found in communication with our God at all times, to share the true authentic gospel of Christ as the Holy Spirit provides that opportunity to whom He provides that opportunity, and so on.  This will be misunderstood by many, but that is ok…to be taught correctly sometimes means to be misunderstood by some.

The Church in America or western civilization has not experienced a real reform or revival in probably 200 years it seems.  Sure there have been little emotionally stirred up events in the past 200 years, but I am talking about a revival of the saints where the Word of God is preached bringing the Believers to their knees in repentance of their sins as the power of the Holy Spirit falls upon them, an engathering of hundreds and thousands of lost people to their knees in total shame of their sinful depraved enemy status with God, calling out to God for His mighty forgiveness and turning to walk in a new direction with God.  These were revivals without invitation systems…these were revivals preached by godly men until the Spirit of God fell upon the people of these communities.  A point to which the Holy Spirit came in such power that the mere prescense of a man of God would cause people to fall to their knees in repentance.  This is revival…this is how reformations get started. “My heart says of You, Seek Your face! Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Psalm 27:8

We are not in need of a new Reformation….we are in need of a return to the old Reformation.  The Church has left the love the early reformers had for God and the delicate caring and exposition of His Word.  We have fallen in love with the thought of being involved in some great revival somewhere.  We have fallen in love with surveying the lost to see how they would do church, to surveying communities to get their opinions of church direction and such.  We have fallen in love with fads, with systems, with trends and all sorts of humanistic hog wash, and have failed to fall deeply in love with our sovereign God.  We have fallen in love with an idea of God that we have created and love, but not what Scripture teaches about the true God.   The Reformation of the past had nothing do with mans “free will” left to man alone…if salvation was left to man to decide none would be saved…we would all perish in hell for all eternity…we are depraved, sinful, evil hearted people.  God has told us we cannot trust our hearts.  The reformation of the past had everything to do with returning to trusting in God’s sovereign will over man’s depraved will.  Understanding that man has a will, but God’s will is always in control of it…not as robots, but as people under the influence of God.  God is our creator and He fully intends to keep in control His creation…the restraining hand of God has been on evil men since the beginning otherwise the world would be unbearable and someday it will be that way.

Today, God is raising up men from all over the world that will return to preaching God’s Word in its entirety.  They will move the church from a wimpy Christ that just wants us all to get along with each other, to “coexist” as all religions leading to one God, a fill good Santa Claus or Geni in a bottle…they are bringing back the preaching with power.  These young men are not bashful to claim how lost a person is, how sinful man is, how totally depraved a man is, how much in need of a savior we are.  These guys will sacrifice their lives in order to advance the kingdom of God.

I encourage anyone reading this to seek the face of God now about sin in your life.  Ask God to renew your heart, to purify your life, to move you in a direction of His choosing not yours.  Get rid of the chains of a false religion that has you captured thinking you have to pursuade people to be saved, that you have to be eliquent in your message, that you must go out and do what the lost do in order to get them saved…all we as Believers must do is live a holy and righteous (not self-righteous) life before God and man, teach and preach the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation not just a few minor sections of the New Testiment, and as the Holy Spirit prompts us to share with someone about our life in Christ do it without hesitation.  Get rid of the notion that we are to go door to door, use a man made system, share a two sentence tract with someone…we are to live and breath our God in all that we are and do.  Salvation is not a matter of a 3 minute conversation, a 30 second prayer, and boom you are in.  Salvation is total transformation of the heart and mind turning from sin, depravity, evilness, worldliness, selfishness…to a life committed to furthering the kingdom of God, to living a holy and sanctified life, to being controlled by the Holy Spirit of God, desiring God above all things, spending our lives in the service of Christ whenever and wherever He leads us.

God’s Stubborn People
48 “Listen to me, O family of Jacob,
you who are called by the name of Israel
and born into the family of Judah.
Listen, you who take oaths in the name of the Lord
and call on the God of Israel.
You don’t keep your promises,
     even though you call yourself the holy city
and talk about depending on the God of Israel,
whose name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
     Long ago I told you what was going to happen.
Then suddenly I took action,
and all my predictions came true.
     For I know how stubborn and obstinate you are.
Your necks are as unbending as iron.
Your heads are as hard as bronze.
     That is why I told you what would happen;
I told you beforehand what I was going to do.
Then you could never say, ‘My idols did it.
My wooden image and metal god commanded it to happen!’
     You have heard my predictions and seen them fulfilled,
but you refuse to admit it.
Now I will tell you new things,
secrets you have not yet heard.
     They are brand new, not things from the past.
So you cannot say, ‘We knew that all the time!’
     “Yes, I will tell you of things that are entirely new,
things you never heard of before.
For I know so well what traitors you are.
You have been rebels from birth.
     Yet for my own sake and for the honor of my name,
I will hold back my anger and not wipe you out.
10      I have refined you, but not as silver is refined.
Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.
11      I will rescue you for my sake—
yes, for my own sake!
I will not let my reputation be tarnished,
and I will not share my glory with idols!

Tyndale House Publishers: Holy Bible : New Living Translation. 2nd ed. Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, 2004, S. Is 48:1-11
God will not be mocked, His name tarnished by the Emergent or Seeker religions.  He is not interested in our philosophy, our eastern mysticism, our best life now, our prosperity on earth…He is intersted in a people that are obedient to His call, to His commands.  He is interested in our obedience regardless of the cost.  As authentic Believers we need to return to loving our neighbors, serving others, feeding others, taking care of others.  Also, we are to speak of God’s Word totally relying on the results from God.  Preach and teach and live out the Word of God, but get out of His way so we may see the mighty results God will bring forth.
Concluding:  Where is the revival or reformation of the 21st century?  It is starting in the mind and hearts of young men and some older men all over the world.  It cannot be prayed into being.  It cannot be stirred up by the words of men.  This revival or reformation will come at the time of God’s own choosing and place of His own choosing, but I can see some sparks starting to flare up in these guys.  We could certainly witness one final great revival in this century.  We simply need to have our minds, hearts, and ears to the Word of God, listening to His calling and returning to preaching and teaching expositionally what He has to say.  His word has always been relivent to every generation and does not need some new system in order for people to get it.  God will plant His Word in the hearts and minds of His chosen peolpe…we are called to deliver it.
I know what you might be thinking…where is the zeal for others to come to know Christ?  It is there, biblically not man made.  My number one priority is obedience to God, service to Christ, and allowing myself to be used in anyway possible by my heavenly Father.  This will result in some evangelism, some mentoring other younger Believers, witnessing to a neighbor, feeding the hungry, clothing the very poor, fixing a flat tire for single mom stranded on the road, watching an older person while their kids do some shopping, and so on.  The zeal for others to accept Christ is always there biblically….not the way the we have been taught from little kids up that all of life revolves around witnessing and evangalising in a concerted effort, all the time which is wrong.  Think about it.  Amen!
(c) Scott Bailey 2008

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

Ten Indictments for the Modern Church-Paul Washer

Posted by Scott on December 1, 2008

Paul Washer delivers a timely message on the plight of the church today.  I have witnessed as Paul has said here younger men all over the world that are digging deep in the Word of God, studying and reading the old theologians like Spurgeon, Tozer, Ravenhill, Lloyd Jones, Whitefield, Edwards, Owens, Boston, Augustine, Campbell, Flavel, and more.  Young men are being drawn back by God to the core foundations of the faith.  Many young men all over the world proclaiming authentic Christianity are not pulled into the humanistic lie of the Emergent and Seeker friendly philosophies.  They are pulled into a God centered biblical theological doctrine sometimes called Reformed Theology or 5 Point Calvinism…either way, it is the truth of God’s Word.  Watch and listen carefully.  Come back to see it over and over.  Personally, I will watch and listen many times as well.  I need the constant reminder of the direction God is taking us and what His Scriptures are telling us.  Search, dig, and act accordingly.

 

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

Americans have gone crazy over Christmas!

Posted by Scott on November 29, 2008

Alright, the title is strong, but after you read the story you will understand.  Of course not all of us are crazy over Christmas, but I would say the majority are.  For Christians, this time of year should hold a very special meaning for us, but does it really for all the right reasons?

I watched and listened to a news report this afternoon about a security guard being trampled to death in a Walmart in America this morning.  A group of about 2000 people rushed the store this morning wanting in and the most popular item was TVs.  I could not believe this actually happened. 

Folks, our materialistic society that has been produced over the past 100 years is now coming full circle.  People so obsessed with “things” killed a 34 year old man storming a Walmart for TVs!  Can you believe this?  People, we must return to our forefathers way of thinking and living.  Money is something you need in order to eat, keep a roof over your head, provide for your kids and grand-kids, and possibly help out a neighbor that has fallen on hard times.  Our grandparents put the money aside…you would have never experienced them storming a store for any item with the exception of food.  Our grandparents saved their money, paid their bills, and did not run up debt.  What is wrong with the TV you have?  What is wrong with going without a TV for a while?  If Christmas gifts was the purpose for the purchases these Walmarters were rushing for, what is wrong with everyone simply enjoying family for Christmas one year rather than buying a bunch useless, depreciating “things”?  I am not saying if you buy a TV you are wrong…you have missed my point if you think that.

Ok, stay with me folks for just a moment more.  Christmas has always been taught as a celebration for Jesus’ birthday, right?  Well, Christmas for the past 50 plus years has been very little about Jesus or His birthday.  Sure, He gets a token prayer here and there, or maybe a nativity scene put up in peoples traditions with little acknowledgment to what it really means.   As Christians we need to stop dead in our tracks today before we move forward in a pagan society acting as they do, going into debt as they do, buying things we really don’t need as they do, serving no one but ourselves and our family.  These thoughts have been floating around in my head for days, but the fact that a fellow human being was killed trying to do his job at Walmart because selfish ignorant people trampled him like sheep running into the slaughter pen, just boiled these comments and thoughts to the forefront this afternoon.

Here are some thoughts from John MacArthur about questioning our typical American Christmas:

“Questioning the typical Christmas celebration isn’t unreasonable.  After all, mistletoe, holly, Yule logs and ivy were all ancient, pagan symbols.  Even the date we celebrate Christmas does not originate from Scripture, but rather is tied to an ancient pagan Roman holiday honoring winter – not the person of Christ.

Then there’s the insane, commerce-driven, marketing machine that gets cranked up earlier and earlier every year.  It’s no secret that secular culture continues to use Christmas as a vehicle to drive a shameful celebration of the worst kinds of self-indulgences and materialism.  Even the more refined aspects of our culture’s Christmas traditions are often little more than sappy sentimentalism.  You’re not alone if you wonder if we’re doing the right thing in our celebrations with our families, friends and churches.

Over the next few months you’ll hear many attempts to justify all the indulgence, wtih much said about the “real meaning of Christmas.”  Unfortunately, almost none of it will focus on the birth of CHrist or the reason for His incarnation.  And what little does focus on Christ, is such a tiny part, that it’s overshadowed by the massive emphasis the rest of the time on decidedly un-Christ like behavior and practices!  At best, the “Christmas” emphasis becomes peace, sharing, family, togetherness, or some other humanistic value.  Those values aren’t wrong, of course, but considered apart from the incarnation of Christ, they have nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas.”

Now, here is the dilema.  We as Believers have an opportunity to show those around us who Christ is and what He is about.  Gorging ourselves on a steady diet of “things” especially at Christmas does not show anyone who Christ is…rather the opposite opinion occurs.  I am as guilty as anyone in years past for over spending on gifts to my kids and other family members….but, in the past few years we have been pulling back the reigns to get Christmas back into focus as Who the “Holy-Day” is suppose to be about.  The world needs to see that we as Believers are more about celebrating Christ coming to earth, dying for our sins, and defeating death to rise again.  We are to prove by our life actions that we serve an almighty sovereign God that is in full control of all that we do.  It is hard to put into words the disgust I have right now with this retail-Christmas.  This borders on blasphemy to the name of Christ in what this holiday has become, but I will not go that far…yet.

I want to share an eye opening short story by an unknown author concerning Christ birth:

Mary’s Dream

author unknown

“I had a dream, Joseph. I don’t understand it, not really, but I think it was about a birthday celebration for our son. I think that was what it was all about. The people had been preparing for it for about six weeks. They had decorated the house and bought new clothes. They’d gone shopping many times and bought elaborate gifts.

It was peculiar, though, because the presents weren’t for our son. They wrapped them in beautiful paper and tied them with lovely bows and stacked them under a tree. Yes, a tree, Joseph, right in their house. They’d decorated the tree also. The branches were full of glowing balls and sparkling ornaments. There was a figure on the top of the tree. It looked like an angel might look. Oh, it was beautiful.

Everyone was laughing and happy. They were all excited about the gifts. They gave the gifts to each other, Joseph, not to our son. I don’t think they even knew him. They never mentioned his name. Doesn’t it seem odd for people to go to all that trouble to celebrate someones birthday if they don’t know him? I had the strangest feeling that if our son had gone to this celebration he would have been intruding.

Everything was so beautiful, Joseph, and everyone so full of cheer, but it made me want to cry. How sad for Jesus – not to be wanted at his own birthday celebration. I’m glad it was only a dream. How terrible, Joseph, if it had been real. “

So, I will leave us with the thought here out of 2 Corinthians 6:14-15,17:

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?  What does a Believer have in common with an unbeliever?  Therefore, come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.  Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”

 

Listen up closely now, I am not saying don’t celebrate Christmas, however, when or if you do this year, keep the focus on Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord…all of it.  Give something to Him first and foremost…take nothing away from Him.  Make each get-to-gether a celebration honoring the Lord above all others.  Keep Christ on every breath you take…in every prayer uttered.  This can be the most memorable Christmas your family has ever experienced if we would all cut down on the spending for ourselves and make a tremendous increase in the honor and celebration of Jesus as Lord.  If you want to spend, help someone that needs your help and cannot help themselves.  Invite someone over this year for a Christmas meal that you would not normally invite over.  Give someone some clothes that really needs clothes.  Serve at a homeless shelter, food line or something of this kind.  This is the real Christmas story if we get right down to it.  Being about the Fathers work has nothing to do with us and especially us getting “things”.  Take time out to explore the Scriptures thoroughly about who Christ is, who our God is, what is it that our heavenly Father really wants from us, what this life is really all about.  We need clothes, food, shelter, possibly medical attention, and transportation…everything else is really wants more than needs.  I encourage you to get out of a small section of the New Testament and explore the entire Bible…this is the only way you will understand just how BIG our God really is this Holy season.

Merry Christmas to all of you…may the Lord richly bless your efforts to know Him better this holiday season.

 

(c) Scott Bailey 2008

 

 

 

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

Thanksgiving!

Posted by Scott on November 27, 2008

In a time to be most thankful it brings me to Psalm 136.  We are to be most thankful to God in all things…why?  “His mercies endure forever.” 

Be thankful for His providence in our lives.

Be thankful for His love for His chosen ones before the foundations of the world.

Be thankful for His Son, Jesus, taking the punishment for His peoples sinfulness once and for all.

Be thankful for God’s love of His creation that He has provided a way unto salvation.

Be thankful for His revelation from Genesis to Revelation.

Be thankful for our God’s mighty hand that is our defense at all times.

Be thankful for each breath you take everyday.

Be thankful for sovereign grace on our life.

Be thankful that He is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him during our most trying storms of life.

Be thankful that our God is good.

Be thankful that our God is above all others.

Be thankful that our God reigns supreme.

Be thankful that by His great wisdom the heavens were created.

Be thankful that He created the splendor of the colors in the Spring and Fall.

Be thankful that He gave us the Sun for both light and warmth.

Be thankful that He gave us the Moon and Stars to gaze upon at night.

Be thankful that our God is the one who sets Kings, Presidents, and other leaders in their positions and not man.

Be thankful that our God is the one who removes the same Kings, Presidents, and other leaders for His greater purposes.

Be thankful that our God gave us this land called America to worship Him freely and without hindrance.

Be thankful that our God rescues His people from their oppressors.

Be thankful that our God provides each and every meal that we will eat from beginning to end.

Be thankful that our God is the one Who brings about our salvation based on His Sovereign Will and not mans.

Be thankful to our God that He is firmly on His throne today and nothing surprises Him or is out of His control.

Be thankful in all things, for all people, at all times…for His mercy endures forever!

May anyone reading have a most blessed Thanksgiving!  May God’s blessings be upon your family this Holy season of the year.

(c) Scott Bailey 2008

Posted in devotion | 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 »

Happy Reformation Day! 499th Anniversary of the Great Reformation Beginning!

Posted by Scott on October 28, 2008

This October 31st, 2008 marks the 499th Anniversary of the day that Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the Catholic Church in Germany. Through his sacrifice and courage to challenge the church at that time he made known that we can go before God without any human “go between”. Jesus Christ is our “go between” now. Please, enjoy the short article below as we celebrate another year this great reformation has survived.

Martin Luther

Luther Brings Faith and Grace to Everyday Life. Martin Luther’s great evangelism tool was the written word. Though Luther was famous as a preacher and teacher, he believed that everyone needed to build his or her own personal relationship with God through God’s word.

He translated the entire Bible into German (his native language), believing that every single person should be able to read well enough to read the Bible on his or her own. He also wrote the explanations in the Small Catechism, so that parents would have an simple way to teach their children the basics of their faith.

Luther had a complex and interesting life. The definitive biography is Here I Stand, by Roland Bainton (New American Library). John Osborne’s Luther (a play published by Criterion Books) was filmed in a version starring Stacey Keach, which is still available. But the important part of Luther’s life is the legacy he left to us of his overwhelming fascination with the study of God and God’s relationship to us. He based his view of God on a thorough rereading of the New Testament, from which come the key Lutheran beliefs of priesthood of believers (Hebrews 7, 9 , and 10) and justification by faith (Romans 3: 23).

The priesthood of believers includes all of us who are believers, and it means that each of us has the right to approach God directly through prayer and study without go-betweens and without wondering which of us is the most important to God: each of us is equally important to God. And in Christian community, we serve as priests to one another.

Justification by faith means that God loves us and saves us not because of who we are or what we do, but because he created us and we are his. Luther wrote, “In baptism, our sinful selves are drowned, and day by day a new self arises.” He encouraged us to remember our baptism every time we take a shower or wash our faces; God’s removal of our sins is that close and that constant. The knowledge of the closeness of God to us in every thing we say and do every day of our lives is Luther’s great gift to Christian life.

During Luther’s lifetime, he was the best-selling writer in Europe. What would our lives be like if Luther’s Small Catechism was at the top of the list of best selling books week-in and week-out?

More resources can be found at SundaySchool Lessons.

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

Serious Holiness in an Unholy World!

Posted by Scott on September 23, 2008

God takes worship towards Him from us very seriously.  The Israelites found this out some 2500 years ago.  In Malachi 3:16-18 God is stating His promise to return to His people if we will return to Him in unabashed holiness before Him.

Malachi 3:6, “I am the Lord, I do not change”.

God does not like to be cheated, lied to, lied about, or talked badly about from anyone.  Today we have many inside and outside the church that think God is an old man with a hearing and seeing problem.  However, I testify to you today that God is no old man with a hearing or seeing problem.  He is seeing and hearing everything we do for Him and against Him.  Rest assured, our heavenly Father will not be mocked.

16 Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.

 17 “They will be mine,” says the LORD Almighty, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession. [a] I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.   Malachi 3:16-18

What is God calling us to do today?  “Repent of wickedness, habitual sinful life styles, filthy minds and mouths, our prideful attitudes, money hungry habits, our spoiled selfishness, and the theft of what is rightfully His.”  His calling is to return to Him in holiness, purity, righteousness, and all godliness.  God will return to us in favor if we will return to Him in holiness.  God is looking for us to honor Him with our very best, not our rags.  He wants us to serve Him with our very best, not what is left over. 

The Lord has promised mercy for those that remain solidly pure and holy before Him as we walk this land today.  This is a time of great defection from the ways of God and towards a philosophy of man centered salvation.  God has always preserved a remnant that will stoke the fires of holiness for His chosen people.  In these final days, we will witness a return from the few to holiness and purity.  As that desire planted long ago is stirred into a raging inferno of godliness in the midst of a vile and crooked land.

Even as the judgement and wrath of God falls down upon our country and people around us, God’s protection will be magnified even more.  Those caught up in desparate turmoil will wonder how and why we come through unscathed.  The testimony of the saints will find greater opportunities to be exposed. 

As Ezekial 18:1-32 tells of the contract between God’s holy people who will live verses the wicked who will die…7 points emerge for the righteous men of God to observe:

The righteous man….

1….does not worship idols!  The righteous man lives each moment of every day to honor and glorify God with his all.  Money, cars, houses, vacations, loose women, Vegas, clothes, retirement plans, jobs, businesses, travelling, sports, etc…..anything that can become an idol, the righteous man forces himself to be focused on God.

2….is not an adulterer!  He does not sleep around with other women other than his wife.  This is that simple.  The righteous man is a one woman man with eyes and heart for his wife only.

3….is merciful in all things.  The righteous man is merciful is the way he extends credit to people.  He does not take advantage of people especially the poor.  He acts with dignity and integrity at all times with people.  He exudes grace upon the people he deals with.

4….does not rob from the poor.  He seeks to feed and cloth the poor if financially capable.  His heart has sympathy or empathy for those with less than him.  He does not seek out to take from them as easy prey.

5….when capable and asked to loan something to someone, he does so without interest.  The righteous man does not loan money to his brother and charge him interest…he extends grace to his brother in need without charging him into the poor house. 

6….is honest and fair when passing judgement on someone.  The righteous man looks at the entire circumstances, listens to the person and renders a judgement based on the truth and wisdom given to him.  The righteous man has a gift called discernment empowered by the Holy Spirit in order to sift through what is being said to see what is really being done.

7….faithfully obeys the commands or decrees of his God.  The righteous man is like a well trained soldier receiving his commands from his General and carrying them out without wavering.

As our times get grossly worse the holy ones of God will become even more obvious to all those around.  As God draws us to Himself the desire in our hearts to be holy will become stronger.  I can sense that in my own life and many of those around me.  God takes His hand and places it upon my head and turns me in the direction He desires….that direction is towards Him.  

In this time of great apostasy us men need to remember a few things:

1. Be careful not to live closely to the world’s ways.  Yes, we live here, but we are to be a strange people.  We are to be looked upon like we are aliens from another planet.  Living too closely to the world will alter our minds to thinking like the world and ultimately killing our zest for Christ and a life of holiness.

2. Commit to serve God and Him alone.  Choose truth over philosophical lies of this worldly system.  This takes commitment like you have never experienced. 

As Thomas Watson has written, “Hypocrites are good only out of worldly designs.  They embrace the gospel for secular advantage and these will in time fall away.” 

This commitment to serving God starts within our family first.  We have a living breathing mission field within our home’s walls, yet, we usually neglect it in order to travel to some foreign land (nothing wrong with foreign missionaries).  When we arrive in heaven before our Lord He will not mention at first the ministry outside our home….He will address our success or failure within our home.  It is important to Him that we nurture, teach, and father our children in the ways of God.  Living out the holiness we are called to live before their young eyes.  They will know us warts and all, but they need to an example of their heavenly Father shining through towards them daily.

3. Be sincere in our faith in Jesus Christ.  Speak the truth, but also live it out before the world.

4. Love the Lord with the same kind of love that held Him on the cross.  This is a love that carries the believer beyond the fear of death and is the deliverer of true life.  The love mentioned here is a love that is not deterred by suffering if it will honor and glorify God.

5. Harden our hearts towards evil and wicked desires.  The devil will throw out “reproaches” in our path.  These are temptations that are to draw us in. 

Thomas Watson puts it this way:  “Reproaches are but assulae crusis, splinters of the cross.”

These failed temptations or reproaches upon the believer are as “crowns around our heads”.  Remember it is far better that men condemn us for holy and righteous than to have God damn us to hell for being wicked and vile like the unbelieving world.

6. Become a solid wall of grace.  This is an exciting grace that is contagious to other believers around us.  This type of grace is firm yet on the truth, but gracious in its delivery to others.

Men, we have only two real choices in this short life on earth:

Godliness or Worldliness

Which one will we choose.  As Joshua stated in 24:15:

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

The calling is clear, but will you choose to serve the Lord?

Great 2 part message on the holiness of God by Pastor Paul Washer (enjoy)!

(c) Scott Bailey 2008

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