Thursday, May 29, 2008
The phone rings, you don't recognize the phone number on the caller ID and you do not answer it. Or, you can see that the call is coming from a collection agency wanting some money that you owe them, so you nervously, wait for the phone to stop ringing. Or how about this one...
you are mad at someone and they keep calling you to talk to you and you don't want to talk to them.
Any of those scenario's sound familiar?
I am guilty as charged as I am sure many of you are too.
In the first instance, you might be missing out on a blessing, or some very important news from a hospital. The second one is just a case of running from your troubles. The third one is a matter of forgiveness and loving your neighbor as God calls us to.
With each time that the phone rings throughout the day, we can expect to be blessed, encouraged, or humiliated and angered. It might be a good friend calling or a person who just wants to "vent" their frustrations. The main thing to remember is that the phone is a tool used to communicate with other people.
Communication is a tool that God has given us to build our relationships with one another and with God Himself. Now, you can ignore this wonderful opportunity to build a relationship with others and with God or you can choose to use this tool to develop your skills and to increase your love for others.
When we are living "in" the world and "for" the world, we are doing things which are not pleasing to God. We use language that is inappropriate. We call people idiots and jerks for doing simple, innocent things that "we" don't like. We take our anger out on the one's we love the most and we refuse to communicate in a loving manner. We accuse, we crucify those we love. When I was living in the world and for the world, it was "all about me!" I was a good guy who was a friend to everyone. And yet, when I was driving in my car if someone "cut me off" then I was quick to call them a name, like idiot or jerk. Never mind the fact that they might not have seen me in their mirror. I could have been in a blind spot. In fact, I could have been the one at fault for not paying attention while I was driving. As a "good guy" I could pass it off as being "I am just as good as the next guy!" or "everyone else does it!" I would try to justify myself for my actions. I didn't like the way things were going so I felt I could justify my position to God.
But God will not allow us to justify ourselves to Him. When God calls you, how do you respond?
Do you wonder who the call is from and just ignore it?
Do you nervously wait for Him to stop calling you to change?
or do you hold some anger towards God for bad things that have happened to you and you refuse to answer His call?
"Follow me and I will make you fish for people." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
As one who used to walk in the world, I ignored God's call many times. I wanted to do things "my" way and not God's way. I wanted to be in charge of my life and was not willing to surrender to Him.
You know, when you try to "mold" yourself, you just end up becoming a clump of clay with no shape, no purpose and no life. You ultimately just sit there and rot. I have heard people say they are "self-made." How sad is that? Where is God in their life?
When you allow God to mold you it might hurt. Why? Because it means we will become a "new" creature. The old things will have passed away. When someone cuts you off while driving you no longer want to cuss at them and call them names, but instead you pray for their safety. When God calls you, you anxiously and immediately answer the call. You drop what you are doing and you follow Him.
Open Doors and Shut Doors
While in college immediately following high school, I played baseball. I was contacted by a scout for the Detroit Tigers. As soon as my dreams of pro ball were beginning to be realized, I hurt my knee and never fully recovered. God shut the door to playing baseball.
I took the postal exam and scored a 100% on it! After a year and a half I still had not been called to start work. So I decided to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering at Bradley University in Peoria, IL. I was set to put my deposit down on Aug 31, 1985. On Aug 30, 1985 I was contacted by the post office saying I had been hired. I had to make a decision. Do I go to school and four years later make good money as an engineer or do I take the comfort and security of a government job? I took the post office. Engineering door was closed!
After a year I was only putting in 20 hours per week. I wanted a transfer to Arizona. I thought I was going to be working in the good part of Phoenix. Instead, God put me in South Phoenix. The worst neighborhood with drive-by shootings on a daily basis! God shut the door to the good neighborhood.
I was going to get married in November of 1991. In October of 1991 I get a call saying she was sleeping with her exboyfriend. God shut the door to marriage.
In 1992, I took an exam for Air Traffic Control. I scored a 94% on the exam. I was all set to be hired and make real good money. I took the eye exam and found out I was color blind. (for some reason they want people who can distinguish between green and red dots on the monitor!) God shut the door to me moving and becoming an ATC.
See, any reasonable person would think that I could focus on all of the shut doors in my life. I praise God for the shut doors.
It is because of all of those shut doors that I met my son whom I adopted in South Phoenix. And because of him I now have two beautiful grandsons!!
Had I played pro ball, I never would have moved to phoenix.
Had I become a mechanical engineer, I never would have moved to phoenix.
Had I moved to a good neighborhood in phoenix, I never would have met my son.
Had I gotten married, I never would have adopted my son.
Had I become an Air Traffic Control agent, I never would have met my son.
I praise God because of those shut doors. Because God opened some wonderful doors. I didn't recognize it at the time. But as I look back on my life, I can see how it all came together for my good! I wouldn't change a thing.
I left the church at age 14.
I joined the mormon church at age 28.
I left the mormon church at age 31.
I went through some pretty difficult times as a mormon. My health was failing and I was dying. Physically and Spiritually dying! But, God brought me through it all.
Jesus calls us to "come, follow Me and I will make you fishers of men."
It is when you answer this call that you will begin to feel Him molding you. Take a long look back on your life right now. Take a look at all of those closed doors in your life. Maybe you are facing closed doors in your life right now.
Rejoice! For God has great plans for you. But it is when you allow Him to lead you, it is when you give up your old self and allow God to create within you a new heart and a new desire that you will find yourself growing in Him.
When you realize that closed doors are not the end to your life, it is truly the beginning of something new and wonderful, that you will truly rejoice. You will no longer desire to cuss out people who wrong you. You will pray for them and thank God for allowing you the blessings of loving your neighbor as He has called you to do.
Can you feel Him molding you?
Come, follow Me! May your life no longer be a clump! But may He create you to be a new vessel used for His glory!
On the second day, God created the monkey and said: 'Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year life span.' The monkey said: 'Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the Dog did?' And God agreed.
On the third day, God created the cow and said: 'You must go into the field wit h the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years.' The cow said: 'That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?' And God agreed again.
On the fourth day, God created man and said: 'Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years.' But man said: 'Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?' 'Okay,' said God, 'You asked for it.' So that is why for our first twenty years we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone. Life has now been explained to you.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
But let's take a look at what Scripture says in the book of James.
James 2:14 says,
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
Again, there are many churches and even many more people who will say the answer is YES. So, before I go into more detail on this verse, I want you to look deeper into Scripture. While Paul teaches we are saved by faith, James is also saying we are saved by faith. He goes on to say what that kind of faith should look like.
What we see here is the test of works, or righteous behavior that obeys God's Word and manifests a godly nature. James' point is not that a person is saved by works (he has already strongly and clearly asserted that salvation is a gracious gift from God; 1:17-18; Ephesians 2:8-9), but that there is a kind of apparent faith that is dead and does not save (vv. 14, 17, 20, 24, 26; Matthew 3:7-8; 5:16; 7:21; 13:18-23; John 8:30-31; 15:6). It is possible James was writing to Jews (1:1) who had jettisoned the works righteousness of Judaism but, instead, had embraced the mistaken notion that since righteous works and obedience to God's will were not efficacious for salvation, they were not necessary at all. Thus, they reduced faith to a mere mental assent to the facts about Christ.
if someone says. This important phrase governs the interpretation of the entire passage. James does not say that this person actually has faith, but that he claims to have it.
faith. This is best understood in a broad sense, speaking of any degree of acceptance of truths of the gospel.
does not have. Again, the verb's form describes someon who continually lacks any external evidence of the faith he routinely claims.
works. This refers to all righteous behavior that conforms to God's revealed Word, but specifically, in the context, to acts of compassion (v.15)
Can faith save him? Better translated, "Can that kind of faith save?" James is not disputing the importance of faith. Rather, he is opposing the notion that saving faith can be a mere intellectual exercise void of a commitment to active obedience (Matt 7:16-18). The grammatical form of the question demands a negative answer.
James 2:15-16 says,
"If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?"
James illustrates his piont by comparing faith without works to words of compassion without acts of compassion (Matt 25:31-46)
James 2:17 says,
"Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."
faith by itself...is dead. Just as professed compassion without action is phony, the kind of faith that is without works is mere empty profession, not genuine saving faith.
Can faith save you? Sure, but it is a faith that is combined with action.
Do you have a living, active faith filled a desire to be obedient to God's Word. If your desire is to have faith and just sit around the house and do nothing for the Lord, then it is time to examine yourself to see if you are in the faith!
What does your faith look like?
Sunday, May 25, 2008
The following is an article found in the May 23rd edition of The Illinois Baptist paper. As you are reading this article, see if you are having the same thoughts that I am about this. What seems to be missing from this article?
Unchurched less likely to come to church
Unchurched adults interested in finding a congregation aren't nearly as likely to visit one in person as a church member who is shopping for a new congregation, according to several recent LifeWay Research studies.
Effective evangelism, the researchers say, must begin in relationships between Christians and unbelievers -- beyond church buildings.
A survey of 1,684 adults who had not "attended a religious service in a church, synagogue or mosque, other than for a religious holiday or for a special event such as a wedding or funeral at any time in the past six months" found that only 49 percent would visit in person if they were looking for a church.
By contrast, 83 percent of church switchers in an earlier survey said they made an in-person visit when they "actively searched for a new church."
More than half of unchurched people would follow a recommendation from family, friends, neighbors or colleagues if they were looking for a church, but 24 percent said they didn't really see themselves using any of the usual ways of finding a church.
"The location of our evangelism needs to shift if we want to reach the unchurched and not just move sheep around," said Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research. "At LifeWay Research we want to encourage churches to grow through conversion. To do that, they must not rely only on the unchurched visiting our churches. Church switchers are primarily the ones who visit churches. The unchurched stay home."
Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Researchm said many churches use visitation effectively, "but all churches must learn to equip individuals to reach those who have never had contact with the church."
The situation is compounded by the fact that more than half the 1,402 respondents in a 2007 study of unchurched adults said they never wonder whether they would go to heaven if they died, McConnell said.
"Our evangelistic efforts must acknowledge that we no longer live in a culture in which people are simply putting off coming to the church to find truth," McConnell said.
"Many people today either don't believe truth exists or that the church is the place to find it."
"That 'how' of evangelism," Stetzer said, "is in many ways determined by the who, when and where of context. And, we have to learn that culture has changed and is changing. Sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ must happen in relationships, not just at church. Each individual believer, not just church staff, must own the responsibility."
Here are the stats that LifeWay Research compiled to the following question...
How often do you wonder, "If I were to die today, would I go to heaven?"
52% said Never
10% said Daily
08% said Weekly
14% said Monthly
13% said Yearly
02% said Not Sure
So herein lies the problem...
If 52% of unchurched people do not even think about heaven, you can be sure they are not thinking about hell either. Why should they take you up on your offer to "invite" them to come to church. They will see it as "Boooorrrrriiiinnngggg!!!!!!!" Telling them your church has great music will not interest them because in their mind, they still have to listen to a boring sermon.
I will agree with one point in this article. The last line that said that "Each individual believer, not just church staff, must own the responsibility." I cringe at the constant point of saying everything has to be in building a "relationship" with people. That sounds too "Rick Warrenish" to me. Too many people thrive on his teachings and think that you must become someone's "friend" before they will listen to you. I'll tell you something...
It is easier to talk to a complete stranger about God than it is to your friends. One of the reasons people do not share their faith with their friends is that they fear "losing" their friends by trying to evangelize them. It only takes a couple of minutes to gain the trust of a stranger.
Let's look at the letter again...
"The unchurched stay home."
Hence, the reason they are called the "unchurched."
"...need to equip..."
Our churches need to do a better job of equipping the saints. Too many people think that all we have to do is invite people to come to church. Instead of inviting them to come to church (which is not biblical evangelism), we should be preaching the gospel to them (Biblical evangelism!). Once they see a need for a Savior, then they will want to come to church. Not because you asked them to come, but because of their own personal desire to worship God and to learn more about Him by getting into the Word of God!
"...more than half..."
more than half the respondents do not even think about heaven or where they will go when they die. Inviting them to church will not give them the information they need. Give them God's Law and let them see how they stand up in God's eyes. When they see that they have offended the living God and that they are destined for hell, then they will be ready to cling to the Savior for eternal life.
Evangelism is something that we should all be doing. Preach the gospel to every person you see. Let God's Word live in all people. Don't pick and choose who "you" think deserves to hear the gospel message. That is not biblical. Go into all the world preaching the gospel to every creature. Now that is biblical!!!
Our churches have become filled with pastors and elders and members who do nothing more to fulfill the great commission than to expect someone else to do the work of evangelism. Isn't it time we got back to biblical evangelism? Let's reach out to the lost. There isn't much time left!
Put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation.
Repent of your sins and be obedient to His Word!
Congratulations to all of the Graduates out there! go make a difference for the sake of the Kingdom!
Please keep all of our dead soldiers families in your prayers today. We don't know who will be the next to die. Isn't it time we gave them God's Word?
Saturday, May 24, 2008
District drops 'John 3:16' ban
Allowed Hindu, satanic symbols in student work but not Christian
Posted: May 21, 2008
5:23 pm Eastern
© 2008 WorldNetDaily
An art policy at a Wisconsin high school that allowed images of Buddha, the Grim Reaper, demons and Medusa but banned the Bible reference John 3:16 is being changed as the result of a student's challenge to the district.
The turnabout came after Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on behalf of a student at Tomah High School who was given a "zero" grade for refusing to remove the words "John 3:16" and "a sign of love" from an art project.
The student, identified as A.P. in the suit, was told by his teacher that the cross and biblical reference on his drawing needed to be covered because they were sparking comments from other students. He was then shown a policy banning depictions of "blood, violence, sexual connotations, [or] religious beliefs," which A.P. had signed to participate in the class.
Under the terms of the settlement reached yesterday, Tomah Area School District officials have removed the ban on religious expression in class assignments. A.P.'s artwork has been graded, and all references to the detentions have been cleared from his record. The school also agreed to pay A.P.'s attorney fees.
A.P. received a B+ for his artwork, ADF said.
Artwork banned because of the inclusion of a biblical reference and the message: "A sign of love"
Censoring A.P.'s work on religious grounds smacked of hypocrisy, the ADF lawyers argued..
"While penalizing A.P.'s religious expression, defendants prominently display[ed] in the school's hallway a large painting of a six-limbed Hindu woman riding a swan figure," the complaint said. "… Elsewhere, on a hallway bulletin board, there hangs a drawing of a robed sorcerer."
The school also houses a sitting Buddha fountain, and a replica of Michelangelo's "The Creation of Man" is displayed at the school's entrance. Other students have their religious artwork on display, including drawings of Medusa and the Grim Reaper and masks of devil-like figures.
"Allowing demonic depictions by some students while prohibiting Christian religious expression in artwork by others is a blatant violation of the Constitution," said David Cortman, senior ADF counsel.
ADF also argued in its suit against the policy prohibiting religious expression that A.P. was compelled to sign.
When A.P. was confronted by his teacher, she showed him the policy and explained that he had "signed away his First Amendment rights."
But A.P. tore the policy in protest, an act for which he received a pair of detentions, denying any such surrender of rights.
“The student was correct," Cortman explained. "A public school cannot require students to sign away their constitutional right to free speech and religious expression. Furthermore, other students created artwork in violation of this illegitimate policy, but no action was taken against them. Only our client was singled out."
Has anyone reading this seen this kind of censorship in their area that they live in? If so, what was the outcome? What is the solution?
We are called to boldly proclaim the gospel to a lost and dark world. Have you been threatened to keep quiet in order to preserve peace? A Day is coming soon when people will have to make a decision (ideally, NOW is the time to decide whether you will follow Christ or not). The Antichrist will try to make all people take "the mark" in order to get food. Have you trained your family about the dangers of doing that? Wouldn't it be much better to be a Christian NOW as opposed to living a lie and following after the ways of the Devil?
If you give up your rights to free speech, you will ultimately be giving up much greater rights. Jesus died on the cross for us because of our sins. We are called to be obedient to His Word and to be followers of Him. Have you put your faith and trust in Jesus to save you? Have you repented of your sins? Are you reaching out to the lost soul out in the street?
You have the RIGHT to speak about Jesus and what He did on the cross. Don't ever lose or take for granted that that "right" will always be there. If the time comes when the world does not allow you to speak about Jesus, I hope you will remain faithful to Him.
Go into all the world preaching the gospel to every creature!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
***** is recognized as a fierce foe of anti-Semitism. An outspoken supporter of the Jewish people, Judaism, and the nation Israel, he has been given the "Humanitarian of the Year" award by the San Antonio B'nai B'rith Council. ***** has also been bestowed the "ZOA Israel Service Award" by the Zionist Organization in Dallas and honored with the "Henrietta Szold Award" by the Texas Southern Region of Hadassah.8
While his bold stance against anti-Semitism is certainly praiseworthy, ***** zealousness for the Jewish people and their cause has led him to commit a most serious doctrinal error — salvation for the Jews without conversion to Christianity. One newspaper account puts it this way:
Trying to convert Jews is a "waste of time," he said. . . .
Everyone else, whether Buddhist or Baha'i, needs to believe in Jesus, he says. But not Jews. Jews already have a covenant with God that has never been replaced with Christianity, he says.
"The Jewish people have a relationship to God through the law of God as given through Moses," ***** said. "I believe that every Gentile person can only come to God through the cross of Christ. I believe that every Jewish person who lives in the light of the Torah, which is the word of God, has a relationship with God and will come to redemption.
"The law of Moses is sufficient enough to bring a person into the knowledge of God until God gives him a greater revelation. And God has not," said *****.
"There are right now Jewish people on this earth who have a powerful and special relationship with God," declares ***** in one of his books. "They have been chosen by the 'election of grace' in which God does what he does without asking man to approve or understand it. Let us put an end to the Christian chatter that "all the Jews are lost" and can't be in the will of God until they convert to Christianity! . . . there are a certain number of Jews in relationship with God right now through divine election."
***** also affirms: "If God blinded the Jewish people to the identity of Jesus as Messiah, how could He send them to hell for not seeing what he had forbidden them to see?" He continues, "All people will gain entrance into heaven through Christ. The question is one of timing."
Such rhetoric raises some thorny questions. When ***** says "all people will gain entrance into heaven through Christ," he is either advocating universalism (literally all people — Jewish and Gentile — will be saved), or he believes that all Jews will be saved. In either case, both positions are in serious error, but the latter is more consistent with his other statements.
The "timing" of the salvation of the entire Jewish nation is actually irrelevant to his argument since he advocates that it is a waste of time attempting to convert them. At best, then, he implies that even if they are not currently saved, God will save all Jewish keepers of the Law — past, present, and future — at some future point.
The Bible paints a different picture. The apostle Paul demonstrates that Israel had a responsibility to respond to the Gospel, but rejected it. In Romans 10:19-21, he asks, "Did they [the Jews] fail to hear?" The rhetorical answer is "no." Paul relates that, as light and darkness are understood by all, so the gospel has been made known to all the Jews (cf. Acts 17:6; 21:28). He continues, "Did they fail to understand?" The answer once again is "no." Since Israel has become disobedient through unbelief (Rom. 11:30), God has delivered the gospel to the Gentiles.
But God has not entirely rejected Israel — Paul (himself a Jew) is living proof of this (Rom. 11:1). God has preserved a remnant, while the others were hardened as a consequence of their unbelief and trusting in works instead of the righteousness of Christ (Rom. 11:5-7; cf. 9:31-32; 11:20-23). Elsewhere the apostle writes, ". . . by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His [God's] sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. . . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:20, 23-24, emphasis added).
To drive the point home, Paul goes on to say, ". . . the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise nullified; . . . it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace" (Rom. 4:13- 14, 16). Scripture draws no distinction between Jews and Gentiles on the issue of salvation, which is attained by grace through faith alone in Christ, "apart from works of the law" (3:28; cf. vv. 21-22).
Paul recognized that the Jews of his day had a misguided zeal that caused them to stumble on this very point (9:31-32; 10:2-4). Why would he suffer great anguish and wish he were accursed for Israel's sake if none of them were truly lost? His anguish comes from the realization that many Israelites are not saved (Rom. 9:3, 6, 27; 10:1, 9-15; cf. Acts 2:14, 21, 37-39; Rom. 11:14, 17-23).
The Law, revealed through the Jews, was meant to be "our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor" (Gal. 3:24-25). As the Bible clearly states: "There is neither Jew nor Greek . . . for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" (vv. 28-29). To be saved, a person — whether Jew or Gentile — must turn to Christ (5:4-6; cf. John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Rom. 10:9-13) who is "the end of the law for righteousness for everyone who believes" (Rom. 10:4). In writing that the "message of the gospel was from Israel, not to Israel," ***** discourages Christians from sharing the Good News with unsaved Jews who, like everyone else, have need of the gospel if they are to spend eternity with God in heaven.
So, have you figured out yet who is teaching this heresy?
I will post comments after I receive a few of them so as not to give the answer away too soon!
It is very important to remember that ALL who gain salvation do so by putting their faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone! There is no other way to gain entrance into heaven but through Jesus. The Law is used to show us how sinful we are. The Law always points us to the cross. Once we are saved, we are no longer under the law but under grace!
We have here an account of the temptation with which Satan assaulted our first parents, to draw them into sin, and which proved fatal to them.
I. The tempter, and that was the devil, in the shape and likeness of a serpent.
1. It is certain it was the devil that beguiled Eve. The devil and Satan is the old serpent (Rev. 12:9), a malignant spirit, by creation an angel of light and an immediate attendant upon God’s throne, but by sin become an apostate from his first state and a rebel against God’s crown and dignity. Multitudes of the angels fell; but this that attacked our first parents was surely the prince of the devils, the ring-leader in the rebellion: no sooner was he a sinner than he was a Satan, no sooner a traitor than a tempter, as one enraged against God and his glory and envious of man and his happiness. He knew he could not destroy man but by debauching him. Balaam could not curse Israel, but he could tempt Israel, Rev. 2:14. The game therefore which Satan had to play was to draw our first parents to sin, and so to separate between them and their God. Thus the devil was, from the beginning, a murderer, and the great mischief-maker. The whole race of mankind had here, as it were, but one neck, and at that Satan struck. The adversary and enemy is that wicked one.
2. It was the devil in the likeness of a serpent. Whether it was only the visible shape and appearance of a serpent (as some think those were of which we read, Ex. 7:12), or whether it was a real living serpent, actuated and possessed by the devil, is not certain: by God’s permission it might be either. The devil chose to act his part in a serpent, (1.) Because it is a specious creature, has a spotted dappled skin, and then went erect. Perhaps it was a flying serpent, which seemed to come from on high as a messenger from the upper world, one of the seraphim; for the fiery serpents were flying, Isa. 14:29. Many a dangerous temptation comes to us in gay fine colours that are but skin-deep, and seems to come from above; for Satan can seem an angel of light. And, (2.) Because it is a subtle creature; this is here taken notice of. Many instances are given of the subtlety of the serpent, both to do mischief and to secure himself in it when it is done. We are directed to be wise as serpents. But this serpent, as actuated by the devil, was no doubt more subtle than any other; for the devil, though he has lost the sanctity, retains the sagacity of an angel, and is wise to do evil. He knew of more advantage by making use of the serpent than we are aware of. Observe, There is not any thing by which the devil serves himself and his own interest more than by unsanctified subtlety. What Eve thought of this serpent speaking to her we are not likely to tell, when I believe she herself did not know what to think of it. At first, perhaps, she supposed it might be a good angel, and yet, afterwards, she might suspect something amiss. It is remarkable that the Gentile idolaters did many of them worship the devil in the shape and form of a serpent, thereby avowing their adherence to that apostate spirit, and wearing his colours.
II. The person tempted was the woman, now alone, and at a distance from her husband, but near the forbidden tree. It was the devil’s subtlety, 1. To assault the weaker vessel with his temptations. Though perfect in her kind, yet we may suppose her inferior to Adam in knowledge, and strength, and presence of mind. Some think Eve received the command, not immediately from God, but at second hand by her husband, and therefore might the more easily be persuaded to discredit it. 2. It was his policy to enter into discourse with her when she was alone. Had she kept close to the side out of which she was lately taken, she would not have been so much exposed. There are many temptations, to which solitude gives great advantage; but the communion of saints contributes much tot heir strength and safety. 3. He took advantage by finding her near the forbidden tree, and probably gazing upon the fruit of it, only to satisfy her curiosity. Those that would not eat the forbidden fruit must not come near the forbidden tree. Avoid it, pass not by it, Prov. 4:15. 4. Satan tempted Eve, that by her he might tempt Adam; so he tempted Job by his wife, and Christ by Peter. It is his policy to send temptations by unsuspected hands, and theirs that have most interest in us and influence upon us.
III. The temptation itself, and the artificial management of it. We are often, in scripture, told of our danger by the temptations of Satan, his devices (2 Co. 2:11), his depths (Rev. 2:24), his wiles, Eph. 6:11. The greatest instances we have of them are in his tempting of the two Adams, here, and Mt. 4. In this he prevailed, but in that he was baffled. What he spoke to them, of whom he had no hold by any corruption in them, he speaks in us by our own deceitful hearts and their carnal reasonings; this makes his assaults on us less discernible, but not less dangerous. That which the devil aimed at was to persuade Eve to cut forbidden fruit; and, to do this, he took the same method that he does still. He questioned whether it was a sin or no, v. 1. He denied that there was any danger in it, v. 4. He suggested much advantage by it, v. 5. And these are his common topics.
1. He questioned whether it was a sin or no to eat of this tree, and whether really the fruit of it was forbidden. Observe,
(1.) He said to the woman, Yea, hath God said, You shall not eat? The first word intimated something said before, introducing this, and with which it is connected, perhaps some discourse Eve had with herself, which Satan took hold of, and grafted this question upon. In the chain of thoughts one thing strangely brings in another, and perhaps something bad at last. Observe here, [1.] He does not discover his design at first, but puts a question which seemed innocent: "I hear a piece of news, pray is it true? has God forbidden you to eat of this tree?’’ Thus he would begin a discourse, and draw her into a parley. Those that would be safe have need to be suspicious, and shy of talking with the tempter. [2.] He quotes the command fallaciously, as if it were a prohibition, not only of that tree, but of all. God had said, Of every tree you may eat, except one. He, by aggravating the exception, endeavours to invalidate the concession: Hath God said, You shall not eat of every tree? The divine law cannot be reproached unless it be first misrepresented. [3.] He seems to speak it tauntingly, upbraiding the woman with her shyness of meddling with that tree; as if he had said, "You are so nice and cautious, and so very precise, because God has said, ’You shall not eat.’’ The devil, as he is a liar, so he is a scoffer, from the beginning: and the scoffers of the last days are his children. [4.] That which he aimed at in the first onset was to take off her sense of the obligation of the command. "Surely you are mistaken, it cannot be that God should tie you out from this tree; he would not do so unreasonable a thing.’’ See here, That it is the subtlety of Satan to blemish the reputation of the divine law as uncertain or unreasonable, and so to draw people to sin; and that it is therefore our wisdom to keep up a a firm belief of, and a high respect for, the command of God. Has God said, "You shall not lie, nor take his name in vain, nor be drunk,’’ etc.? "Yes, I am sure he has, and it is well said, and by his grace I will abide by it, whatever the tempter suggests to the contrary.’’
(2.) In answer to this question the woman gives him a plain and full account of the law they were under, v. 2, 3. Here observe, [1.] It was her weakness to enter into discourse with the serpent. She might have perceived by his question that he had no good design, and should therefore have started back with a Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence to me. But her curiosity, and perhaps her surprise, to hear a serpent speak, led her into further talk with him. Note, It is a dangerous thing to treat with a temptation, which ought at first to be rejected with disdain and abhorrence. The garrison that sounds a parley is not far from being surrendered. Those that would be kept from harm must keep out of harm’s way. See Prov. 14:7; 19:27. [2.] It was her wisdom to take notice of the liberty God had granted them, in answer to his sly insinuation, as if God has put them into paradise only to tantalize them with the sight of fair but forbidden fruits. "Yea,’’ says she, "we may eat of the fruit of the trees, thanks to our Maker, we have plenty and variety enough allowed us.’’ Note, To prevent our being uneasy at the restraints of religion, it is good often to take a view of the liberties and comforts of it. [3.] It was an instance of her resolution that she adhered to the command, and faithfully repeated it, as of unquestionable certainty: "God hath said, I am confident he hath said it, You shall not eat of the fruit of this tree;’’ and that which she adds, Neither shall you touch it, seems to have been with a good intention, not (as some think) tacitly to reflect upon the command as too strict (Touch not, taste not and handle not), but to make a fence about it: "We must not eat, therefore we will not touch. It is forbidden in the highest degree, and the authority of the prohibition is sacred to us.’’ [4.] She seems a little to waver about the threatening, and is not so particular and faithful in the repetition of that as of the precept. God has said, In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die; all she makes of that is, Lest you die. Note, Wavering faith and wavering resolutions give great advantage to the tempter.
2. He denies that there was any danger in it, insisting that, though it might be the transgressing of a precept, yet it would not be the incurring of a penalty: You shall not surely die, v. 4. "You shall not dying die,’’ so the word is, in direct contradiction to what God had said. Either, (1.) "It is not certain that you shall die,’’ so some. "It is not so sure as you are made to believe it is.’’ Thus Satan endeavours to shake that which he cannot overthrow, and invalidates the force of divine threatenings by questioning the certainty of them; and, when once it is supposed possible that there may be falsehood or fallacy in any word of God, a door is then opened to downright infidelity. Satan teaches men first to doubt and then to deny; he makes them sceptics first, and so by degrees makes them atheists. Or, (2.) "It is certain you shall not die,’’ so others. He avers his contradiction with the same phrase of assurance that God had used in ratifying the threatening. He began to call the precept in question (v. 1), but, finding that the woman adhered to that, he quitted that battery, and made his second onset upon the threatening, where he perceived her to waver; for he is quick to spy all advantages, and to attack the wall where it is weakest: You shall not surely die. This was a lie, a downright lie; for, [1.] It was contrary to the word of God, which we are sure is true. See 1 Jn. 2:21, 27. It was such a lie as gave the lie to God himself. [2.] It was contrary to his own knowledge. When he told them there was no danger in disobedience and rebellion he said that which he knew, by woeful experience, to be false. He had broken the law of his creation, and had found, to his cost, that he could not prosper in it; and yet he tells our first parents they shall not die. He concealed his own misery, that he might draw them into the like: thus he still deceives sinners into their own ruin. He tells them that, though they sin, they shall not die; and gains credit rather than God, who tells them, The wages of sin is death. Note, Hope of impunity is a great support to all iniquity, and impenitency in it. I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of my heart, Deu. 29:19.
3. He promises them advantage by it, v. 5. Here he follows his blow, and it was a blow at the root, a fatal blow to the tree we are branches of. He not only would undertake that they should be no losers by it, thus binding himself to save them from harm; but (if they would be such fools as to venture upon the security of one that had himself become a bankrupt) he undertakes they shall be gainers by it, unspeakable gainers. He could not have persuaded them to run the hazard of ruining themselves if he had not suggested to them a great probability of bettering themselves.
(1.) He insinuates to them the great improvements they would make by eating of this fruit. And he suits the temptation to the pure state they were now in, proposing to them, not any carnal pleasures or gratifications, but intellectual delights and satisfactions. These were the baits with which he covered his hook. [1.] "Your eyes shall be opened; you shall have much more of the power and pleasure of contemplation than now you have; you shall fetch a larger compass in your intellectual views, and see further into things than now you do.’’ He speaks as if now they were but dim-sighted, and short-sighted, in comparison of what they would be then. [2.] "You shall be as gods, as Elohim, mighty gods; not only omniscient, but omnipotent too;’’ or, "You shall be as God himself, equal to him, rivals with him; you shall be sovereigns and no longer subjects, self-sufficient and no longer dependent.’’ A most absurd suggestion! As if it were possible for creatures of yesterday to be like their Creator that was from eternity. [3.] "You shall know good and evil, that is, every thing that is desirable to be known.’’ To support this part of the temptation, he abuses the name given to this tree: it was intended to teach the practical knowledge of good and evil, that is, of duty and disobedience; and it would prove the experimental knowledge of good and evil, that is, of happiness and misery. In these senses, the name of the tree was a warning to them not to eat of it; but he perverts the sense of it, and wrests it to their destruction, as if this tree would give them a speculative notional knowledge of the natures, kinds, and originals, of good and evil. And, [4.] All this presently: "In the day you eat thereof you will find a sudden and immediate change for the better.’’ Now in all these insinuations he aims to beget in them, First, Discontent with their present state, as if it were not so good as it might be, and should be. Note, No condition will of itself bring contentment, unless the mind be brought to it. Adam was not easy, no, not in paradise, nor the angels in their first state, Jude 6. Secondly, Ambition of preferment, as if they were fit to be gods. Satan had ruined himself by desiring to be like the Most High (Isa. 14:14), and therefore seeks to infect our first parents with the same desire, that he might ruin them too.
(2.) He insinuates to them that God had no good design upon them, in forbidding them this fruit: "For God doth know how much it will advance you; and therefore, in envy and ill-will to you, he hath forbidden it:’’ as if he durst not let them eat of that tree because then they would know their own strength, and would not continue in an inferior state, but be able to cope with him; or as if he grudged them the honour and happiness to which their eating of that tree would prefer them. Now, [1.] This was a great affront to God, and the highest indignity that could be done him, a reproach to his power, as if he feared his creatures, and much more a reproach to his goodness, as if he hated the work of his own hands and would not have those whom he has made to be made happy. Shall the best of men think it strange to be misrepresented and evil spoken of, when God himself is so? Satan, as he is the accuser of the brethren before God, so he accuses God before the brethren; thus he sows discord, and is the father of those that do so. [2.] It was a most dangerous snare to our first parents, as it tended to alienate their affections from God, and so to withdraw them from their allegiance to him. Thus still the devil draws people into his interest by suggesting to them hard thoughts of God, and false hopes of benefit and advantage by sin. Let us therefore, in opposition to him, always think well of God as the best good, and think ill of sin as the worst of evils: thus let us resist the devil, and he will flee from us.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
1. Evidences that neither prove nor disprove one's faith.
A. Visible Morality: Matt 19:16-21; 23:27
B. Intellectual Knowledge: Rom 1:21; 2:17
C. Religious Involvement: Matt 25:1-10
D. Active Ministry: Matt 7:21-24
E. Conviction of Sin: Acts 24:25
F. Assurance: Matt 23
G. Time of Decision: Luke 8:13-14
2. The Fruit/Proofs of Authentic/True Christianity
A. Love for God:
Ps 42:1; 73:25, Luke 10:27, Rom 8:7
B. Repentance from Sin:
Ps 32:5, Prov 28:13, Rom 7:14, 2 Cor 7:10, 1 John 1:8-10
C. Genuine Humility:
Ps 51:17, Matt 5:1-12, James 4:6,9
D. Devotion to God's Glory:
Ps 105:3, 115:1, Isaiah 43:7, 48:10, Jer 9:23-24, 1 Cor 10:31
E. Continual Prayer:
Luke 18:1; Eph 6:18; Phil 4:6; 1 Tim 2:1-4; James 5:16-18
F. Selfless Love:
1 John 2:9, 3:14, 4:7
G. Separation from the World:
1 Cor 2:12; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17, 5:5
H. Spiritual Growth:
Luke 8:15; John 15:1-6; Eph 4:12-16
I. Obedient Living:
Matt 7:21; John 15:14; Rom 16:26; 1 Pet 1:2,22; 1 John 2:3-5
J. Hunger for God's Word:
1 Peter 2:1-3
K. Transformation of Life:
2 Cor 5:17
If List 1 is true of a person and List 2 is false, there is cause to question the validity of one's profession of faith. Yet, if List 2 is true, then the top list will be also.
3. The Conduct of the Gospel
A. Proclaim it: Matt 4:23
B. Defend it: Jude 3
C. Demonstrate it: Phil 1:27
D. Share it: Phil 1:5
E. Suffer for it: 2 Tim 1:8
F. Don't Hinder it: 1 Cor 9:12
G. Be not ashamed: Rom 1:16
H. Preach it: 1 Cor 9:16
I. Be empowered: 1 Thess 1:5
J. Guard it: Gal 1:6-8
It is possible to find many people who profess to be Christians and who are able to say they have fulfilled both 1 and 2. Now, look at list number 3. The Mormon's who feel they are Christians by virtue of saying they qualify, are unable to accomplish this list. They will not "Guard" the Bible as the ONLY VALID book from God! They will hinder it because they are teaching a false doctrine and a false Christ. Many so-called Christians also do not qualify on list 3 due to the inability to suffer for it. There are many "Christians" who will start childish arguments, they will bait others into an argument just for the sake of arguing. Don't fall for it. The serpent is crafty and if you get caught up into playing "games" of the mind, then you will fall for his tricks.
Stand firm in your faith.
Repent of your sins!
Put your trust and faith in Jesus Christ alone to save you!
And may you display the character of genuine saving faith!
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Disasters hit the U.S. from coast to coast; need for volunteers to aid in recovery continues.
December 31, 2007
All the facts indicate that losses caused by weather-related natural catastrophes will continue to rise...We should not be misled by the absence of megacatastrophes in 2007.
Tornadoes, floods, freak winter ice storms, wildfires, and public violence throughout the U.S. all kept disaster responders busy in 2007. And with recovery still ongoing in many areas, opportunities abound for volunteers to sign on to help.
"We can always use volunteers," said a spokesman with Appalachia Habitat for Humanity, echoing a familiar refrain among community and faith-based disaster response organizations.
While many disasters have faded from the headlines, the need for volunteers continues, according to responding organizations. Volunteers continue to be needed along the Gulf Coast to help in the ongoing recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as well as in response to catastrophes from New York to California (a list of volunteer opportunities can be found at www.disastervolunteers.org).
Few U.S. disasters captured and riveted the nation's attention in 2007, unlike in 2005 when Katrina and Rita decimated the Gulf Coast. Worldwide it was a record year with at least 950 major disasters recorded.
In fact, the U.S. got off relatively easily during the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season, with only one storm, Hurricane Humberto, making landfall in Texas in September. The Category 1 hurricane formed from a tropical depression within 18 hours.
Other countries, including Mexico, Honduras, Jamaica and Nicaragua, didn't fare as well during hurricane season. Mexico and Jamaica were battered by Hurricane Dean; Nicaragua and Honduras were pounded by Hurricane Felix. Both Felix and Dean were top-level Category 5 hurricanes; it was the first time that two Category 5 storms made landfall in the same season.
Despite the lack of hurricane activity in the U.S., there were still numerous disasters from coast to coast, ranging from widespread drought in the Southeast to devastating wildfires in Southern California. The drought was among Time magazine's top 10 natural disaster stories for 2007.
Near the end of 2007, there were 63 major federal disaster declarations issued nationwide, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That number could change as some requests were still coming in – such as for December ice storm damage in the Midwest – and some were pending.
The number of declarations for 2007 was up from 52 one year earlier and from 48 in 2005, FEMA said.
A total of 32 states, stretching from Maine to California, received major federal disaster declarations, freeing up federal assistance for recovery efforts. Some states, hit multiple times by various catastrophes, received more than one disaster declaration during the year.
Among disasters which occurred in the U.S. in 2007:
- Wildfires: Nearly two dozen wildfires raged across Southern California in October, burning more than 500,000 acres from Santa Barbara County to the Mexican border, destroying nearly 2,000 homes and leaving 12 people dead. Insured losses were put at $1.9 billion. Numerous organizations, including those under the umbrella of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster in San Diego were aiding in the recovery.
The Southern California wildfires, fueled by fierce Santa Ana winds, came about four months after the Angora wildfire destroyed more than 250 homes in the Lake Tahoe area.
- Tornadoes: A powerful EF-5 tornado leveled the small town of Greensburg, Kan., on May 4. The twister left a path of destruction 22 miles long, destroying about 90 percent of the rural community. The storm killed 10 people in Greensburg and two others outside the town. Rebuilding is under way and is being spearheaded by the South Central Kansas Tornado Recovery Organization.
Other tornadoes during the year caused extensive damage throughout the U.S. Among them: an EF-4 twister Aug. 26 which damaged about 90 percent of the homes of Northwood, N.D., a swarm of tornadoes on March 1 that ripped through the Southeast, causing widespread damage in both Americus, Ga., and in Enterprise, Ala., where nine people were killed including eight students at the local high school, and an Oct. 20 twister that tore through the Indiana town of Nappanee, damaging or destroying about 250 homes and businesses.
Another twister, this one in the Missouri town of Caruthersville on April 2, destroyed about half of the community. Two months earlier, on Feb. 2, twisters ravaged parts of Lake, Volusia, Sumter and Seminole counties in Florida, leaving 20 people dead and destroying nearly 1,000 homes.
There was also an extraordinary tornado in August that hit, of all places, Brooklyn, N.Y. The EF-2 twister, with winds of 110 mph to 135 mph, affected about 200 families.
– Floods: Back-to-back storms in early December in the Pacific Northwest caused massive flooding in coastal Washington and Oregon. Hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed and the storm was blamed for at least seven deaths in the two states. Damages could run into the billions of dollars, according to Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire.
Flooding earlier in the year affected much of the central U.S., including Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and South Dakota. In some cases, homes were so badly damaged that they had to be torn down. Recovery efforts are taking places in many of the affected areas.
- Bridge collapse: A bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed during the evening rush hour Aug. 1, plunging vehicles and motorists into the water. Thirteen people were killed and about 100 others were injured.
- Public violence: Thirty-two people at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., were shot and killed in an April 16 rampage by a 23-year-old student. The gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, shot and killed himself. It was believed to be the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
- Mine cave-in: A mine collapse Aug. 6 at the Crandall Canyon coal mine in Utah trapped six miners. Three rescuers died 10 days later in another mine collapse in an unsuccessful efforts to reach the trapped men. The bodies of the six miners are entombed in the mine, which has since been closed; the cause of the collapse remains a matter of debate. Investigations are ongoing into the disaster.
As devastating as the events were in America, they paled in comparison to disasters which struck elsewhere in the world during the year.
Top among them was Cyclone Sidr which hit Bangladesh in November, killing at least 3,000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
Flooding from July to September across Southeast Asia, described as the worst in decades, left more than 3,200 people dead and displaced at least 25 million.
A 7.7-magnitude earthquake in Peru in August killed more than 500 people, injured 1,000 and left some 175,000 homeless.
Worldwide, economic losses from natural disasters during the year were at least $75 billion, according to reinsurer Munich Re. That figure was up 50 percent over the previous year but fell far below the $220 billion reported in 2005, a figure driven up by Hurricane Katrina.
The German-based company said 950 natural disasters were recorded worldwide in 2007 - the most since 1974 when it began keeping records - and that the number was expected to increase. There were 850 natural disasters in 2006, Munich Re said.
"All the facts indicate that losses caused by weather-related natural catastrophes will continue to rise," board member Torsten Jeworrek said in a statement. "The trend in respect of weather extremes shows that climate change is already taking effect and that more such extremes are to be expected in the future. We should not be misled by the absence of megacatastrophes in 2007."
The national average for tornadoes for the preceding three years (2005-2007) shows an average of 1159 tornadoes per year. As of May 14, 2008 the USA has already had 910 reported tornadoes. At the current pace it is anticipated that we will have over 1400 tornadoes for the year 2008!
Central and Southern Illinois experienced an earthquake back on April 18, 2008. It seems as though flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, violence, atheism and Cult activities have increased like never before.
And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings [are here]! And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what [shall be] the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled? And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any [man] deceive you:
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am [Christ]; and shall deceive many. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for [such things] must needs be; but the end [shall] not [be] yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these [are] the beginnings of sorrows.
But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations. But when they shall lead [you], and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against [their] parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth undhttp://www.blogger.com/post-edit.g?blogID=6591518369598505341&postID=7068293300377890136erstand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter [therein], to take any thing out of his house: And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. Mark 13:1-16
And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here [is] Christ; or, lo, [he is] there; believe [him] not: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if [it were] possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, [even] at the doors. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. Mark 13:21-31
But of that day and [that] hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. [For the Son of man is] as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. Mark 13:32-37
The 12th Chapter of Mark ends with the story of the widow who gave her last two mites into the treasury. As you can see, Jesus is condemning this action. It is the church that is responsible for taking care of the widows and here she is giving her whole life into the treasury. That is not the way it is supposed to be. Churches today are equally guilty of not taking care of the widows and the orphans and the hungry. Too many pastors spend their time preaching the message of this widow giving sacrificially when that is not the story at all. It is about how the temple was going to be torn down. Chapter 13 goes on to talk about the Last Days.
How is your church doing? You can see by the natural disasters that are occurring all over the world, that we are indeed in, trying times! There are things occurring that have never happened before of this magnitude. Prophecy is being fulfilled and the time of the Return of Jesus is coming soon!
Are you ready to go to sleep?
Knowing full well that "as a thief in the night" Jesus might return?
Are you currently asleep in your walk with Christ?
Are you STILL living in your old sins? The ones you just can't seem to get rid of?
Put your faith and trust in Jesus alone to save you.
Repent of your sins and be obedient to His Commands.
Go, into all the world preaching the gospel to every creature.
How much time do we have?
Only God knows the answer to this question.
Live your life today as though He might return in the next half hour!
What would you do differently?
My prayers are with you all to remain faithful to His Word.
Be ready to preach in season and out of season!
There will be those who will say,
Lord, Lord and Jesus will say to them,
Depart from Me you worker of iniquity, I never knew you!
Please don't let this happen to you!
Repent of your sins and put your faith and trust in Jesus!
By Jack Snyder
The Bible teaches there are heavenly books which contain the names of people, the works they did while on earth (both good and bad), and probably the heavenly rewards they have earned (if they were saved). At the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:12-15) where the dead (the unsaved) are judged, these books are examined. The (Lamb's) Book of Life, which is one of these books, will not contain the names of these unsaved people. They will be judged out of the other books according to their works.
Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead (the unsaved) were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according their works.
Of course they will be found woefully lacking since all the righteousnesses (good works) anyone does apart from Christ are but filthy rags in God's sight. The terrible consequence shall be the Lake of Fire.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf-, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Revelation 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
But how does someone get his or her name entered or removed from this Book of Life? Let's examine other scriptures concerning this very interesting book. First of all, we know the names of all saved people are written in the Book of Life. They are known as the church of the firstborn, laborers in the gospel, and the one’s who will enter into the New Jerusalem.
Hebrews 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
Philippians 4:3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.
Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it (the New Jerusalem) any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Having one's name in the heavenly Book of Life should be cause for great rejoicing; even more important than being able to perform great signs and miracles.
Luke 10:17-20 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. 18 And he (Jesus) said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
The Bible teaches that when we get saved, we are, in a spiritual sense, clothed in the white garments of Christ's righteousness. We have overcome, and are given the promise that our name will not be blotted out of the Book of Life.
Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
Revelation 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
But, what and how have we overcome? We who are saved (born of God) have overcome the world. It is the temptations of the world that we must overcome. In Mark 9:43-48, Jesus graphically portrayed the importance of overcoming the worldly actions (hands), places (feet) and thoughts (eyes) that reflect a belief system destined for hell. But we can overcome the world. How? By putting our faith in Christ. And thereby we gain the victory.
1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Overcoming is by faith, not works of holding out until the end. God promises to not blot out the names of those who overcome (who by faith trust Christ). In fact, the Bible says those of us who have trusted Christ are sealed by the Holy Spirit. This probably refers to our names being sealed in the Book of Life.
Ephesians 1:13,14 In whom (Christ) ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
But what about those who do not have their name written in the book of life? First of all, from Rev 21:27 above we see they are those who work abomination. From the passages below, we see they sin against God and are those who are dwelling on the earth at the end of the Great Tribulation period worshipping the Antichrist. Certainly these are unsaved sinners – those who never had their sin debt paid for by the shed blood of Christ.
Exodus 32:33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of My book.
Revelation 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him (the Antichrist), whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world
Revelation 17:8 …and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
When were their names blotted out? From God’s eternal perspective and foreknowledge, He knew “from the foundation of the world” that the names of the unsaved would not be in the Book of Life. The term blotted out means wiped away completely, obliterated – almost as if it was never there to begin with. There is no contradiction between “blotted out” or “not written.”
From our perspective though, at some point in time, an unsaved person's name is blotted out of the Book of Life – probably at the moment of his death or when he commits the “unpardonable sin” – the sin of willful unbelief and final rejection of Jesus Christ. The important thing is that the names not found there when it counts at judgment time.
The fact that someone's name might have been there and then is blotted out in no way means they lost their salvation. Only when a person’s name is sealed in the Book of Life are they saved. And at that point it cannot be blotted out. No passage in the Bible, including any referring to the Book of Life teaches a person can lose his salvation. In the following verse, “take away his part (piece, portion, or share)” is not the same as “name blotted out.” This phrase likely means a loss of heavenly rewards (see 1 Corinthians 3:13-15).
Revelation 22:18,19 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
In summary, scripture indicates that all people's names are initially written in the Book of Life – when? only God knows, perhaps in eternity past. When someone is saved, the Holy Spirit seals his name in the book. If he dies unsaved, his name is blotted out of the book. From God’s perspective, it was never there.
This is consistent with the doctrine that babies and small children who die prematurely (or are aborted!) before an “age of accountability,” will go to Heaven. They are covered by God's grace, and therefore their names stay in the Book of Life. King David certainly believed this about his baby son, who died shortly after being born from his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba.
2 Samuel 12:23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
Regardless of when one’s name is written in or blotted out of the Book of Life, ultimately, at the time of Judgment, the saved individual's name is there and the unsaved individual's name is not. That will be cause for great rejoicing or great regret. Will you be rejoicing? If not, settle your eternal destiny; receive Jesus Christ as your savior today.
Jack Snyder is an assistant pastor and the administrator of Wade Christian Academy at First Baptist Church of South Brevard, Melbourne, FL.
by John MacArthur
If you've been watching the headlines over the last couple years, you may have noticed the incredible surge of interest in affirming homosexuality. Whether it's at the heart of a religious scandal, political corruption, radical legislation, or the redefinition of marriage, homosexual interests have come to characterize America. That's an indication of the success of the gay agenda. And some Christians, including some national church leaders, have wavered on the issue even recently. But sadly, when people refuse to acknowledge the sinfulness of homosexuality--calling evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20)--they do so at the expense of many souls.
How should you respond to the success of the gay agenda? Should you accept the recent trend toward tolerance? Or should you side with those who exclude homosexuals with hostility and disdain?
In reality, the Bible calls for a balance between what some people think are two opposing reactions--condemnation and compassion. Really, the two together are essential elements of biblical love, and that's something the homosexual sinner desperately needs.
Homosexual advocates have been remarkably effective in selling their warped interpretations of passages in Scripture that address homosexuality. When you ask a homosexual what the Bible says about homosexuality--and many of them know--they have digested an interpretation that is not only warped, but also completely irrational. Pro-homosexual arguments from the Bible are nothing but smokescreens--as you come close, you see right through them.
God's condemnation of homosexuality is abundantly clear--He opposes it in every age.
- In the patriarchs (Genesis 19:1-28)
- In the Law of Moses (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13)
- In the Prophets (Ezekiel 16:46-50)
- In the New Testament (Romans 1:18-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Jude 7-8)
Why does God condemn homosexuality? Because it overturns God's fundamental design for human relationships--a design that pictures the complementary relationship between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:18-25; Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:22-33).
Why, then, have homosexual interpretations of Scripture been so successful at persuading so many? Simple: people want to be convinced. Since the Bible is so clear about the issue, sinners have had to defy reason and embrace error to quiet their accusing consciences (Romans 2:14-16). As Jesus said, "Men loved the darkness rather than the Light, [because] their deeds were evil" (John 3:19-20).
As a Christian, you must not compromise what the Bible says about homosexuality--ever. No matter how much you desire to be compassionate to the homosexual, your first sympathies belong to the Lord and to the exaltation of His righteousness. Homosexuals stand in defiant rebellion against the will of their Creator who from the beginning "made them male and female" (Matthew 19:4).
Don't allow yourself to be intimidated by homosexual advocates and their futile reasoning--their arguments are without substance. Homosexuals, and those who advocate that sin, are fundamentally committed to overturning the lordship of Christ in this world. But their rebellion is useless, for the Holy Spirit says, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; cf. Galatians 5:19-21).
So, what is God's response to the homosexual agenda?
Certain and final judgment. To claim anything else is to compromise the truth of God and deceive those who are perishing.
As you interact with homosexuals and their sympathizers, you must affirm the Bible's condemnation. You are not trying to bring damnation on the head of homosexuals, you are trying to bring conviction so that they can turn from that sin and embrace the only hope of salvation for all of us sinners--and that's through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Homosexuals need salvation. They don't need healing--homosexuality is not a disease. They don't need therapy--homosexuality is not a psychological condition. Homosexuals need forgiveness, because homosexuality is a sin.
I don't know how it happened, but a few decades ago someone branded homosexuals with the worst misnomer--"gay." Gay used to mean happy, but I can assure you, homosexuals are not happy people. They habitually seek happiness by following after destructive pleasures. There is a reason Romans 1:26 calls homosexual desire a "degrading passion." It is a lust that destroys the physical body, ruins relationships, and brings perpetual suffering to the soul--and its ultimate end is death (Romans 7:5). Homosexuals are experiencing the judgment of God (Romans 1:24, 26, 28), and thus they are very, very sad.
First Corinthians 6 is very clear about the eternal consequence for those who practice homosexuality--but there's good news. No matter what the sin is, whether homosexuality or anything else, God has provided forgiveness, salvation, and the hope of eternal life to those who repent and embrace the gospel. Right after identifying homosexuals as those who "will not inherit the kingdom of God," Paul said, "Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11).
God's plan for many homosexuals is that they come to salvation. There were former homosexuals in the Corinthian church back in Paul's day, just as there are many former homosexuals today in my church and in faithful churches around the country. With regenerated hearts, they sit in biblical churches throughout the country praising their Savior, along with former fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, coveters, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers. Remember, such were some of you too.
What should be your response to the homosexual agenda? Make it a biblical response--confront it with the truth of Scripture that condemns homosexuality and promises eternal damnation for all who practice it. What should be your response to the homosexual? Make it a gospel response--confront him with the truth of Scripture that condemns him as a sinner, and point him to the hope of salvation through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Stay faithful to the Lord as you respond to homosexuality by honoring His Word, and leave the results to Him.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Whenever you go to the super market, you see all of those celebrity magazines in the check-out line, filled with celebs who have had some kind of cosmetic surgery.
Why do they do it?
They want to look younger...
They want to look "bigger"...
They want to look sexier...
They want to feel more confident about themselves...
They want to "just change who they are"...
Ultimately, it most likely comes down to one thing...
As a celebrity, when they start to look old, the roles they once landed are no longer offered to them...
As a celebrity, they feel they can get more roles by having larger "fill in the blank"...
As a celebrity, they desire to be "seen" on all of the magazines, it helps them get the big roles...
As a celebrity, many of them base their self-worth on their appearance...
As a celebrity, many want to redefine themselves...
Ultimately, money, more accurately, the love of the money is a great motivator for them.
Yep, we know celebrities do this and it happens every day!
But it is not just the celebrities that are doing this.
Single people do it...
Married people do it...
Divorced people do it...
Worldy people do it...
And even Christians do it!
So much of what we do in our lives is determined by our moral and ethical values that are instilled within us. Some people smoke because they saw their parents do it, others do not because their parents never did it. Some people use offensive language because it was a normal part of growing up while others never do it because it was not an acceptable practice in their homes. The examples are many.
What values do you have?
Is it okay to tell little white lies or little fibs?
Is it okay to take that pen from the bank?
Is it okay to just look at that pretty girl across the hallway and to have lustfilled thoughts about her?
Is it okay to hate someone for the rest of your life?
Is it okay to desire what someone else has?
Is it okay to tell little white lies or little fibs?
The Bible is pretty clear on this one!
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Exodus 20:16
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Rev 21:8
Is it okay to take that pen from the bank? (without permission)
The Bible tells us the answer is NO!
Thou shalt not steal. Exodus 20:15
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Cor 6:10
Is it okay to have lustfilled thoughts?
Look at what Jesus said...
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28
And this is what Holy Scripture tells us...
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 1 Cor 6:9
Is it okay to hate someone?
We've all done it at some point in our lifetime. Whether we want to admit it or not! Look at what Jesus tells us...
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Matthew 5:21-22
Is it okay to covet?
What do you want that your neighbor has? Is there a danger is wanting something that belongs to your neighbor?
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that [is] thy neighbour's. Exodus 20:17
Instead of having cosmetic surgery to improve our "outward" appearance...
What we need to do is have a surgery to improve our "inward" attitude about life...
Jesus said, Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6
It is when we realize that we need Jesus to make it to heaven...
We realize that without Him, we are lost...
None of us are good. No, not one!
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. Matt 19:16-17
None of is good! Your appearance is nothing!
It is not our outward appearance that matters to God. It is what's inside.
But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for [the LORD seeth] not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
1 Sam 16:7
Give up your old way of living and put your faith and trust in Jesus to save you. Repent of your sins and seek out a righteous way of living. Sin has no part in the life of a believer!
Praise God for not looking at our outward appearance but woe to the person who does not have a changed heart with a desire to serve Him and be obedient to His Word!
What kind of surgery do you need? Take care of your inner self, and get right with God!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
The Devil believes in Jesus and trembles...
what's the difference?
If a man says, "I believe in Jesus, therefore, I am saved."
How is that different from the Devil believing in Jesus?
If a man tells God that, "Yes, I am a sinner and I believe in Jesus."
How is that different from Satan who is king of the sinners and also believes in Jesus?
Do you know the difference?
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
You have all heard the Easter story. No doubt you have read it many times, perhaps, each and every Easter your pastor or you have read it aloud to others.
Let's look at what Luke 24:1-10 says...
Now upon the first [day] of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain [others] with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down [their] faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary [the mother] of James, and other [women that were] with them, which told these things unto the apostles.
Let's stop right there for a minute. Look at that last verse again. "It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary (the mother) of James, and other (women that were) with them, which told these things unto the apostles.
You know Mary Magdalene, you know Mary the mother of James and undoubtedly, you know "other" women. But who is Joanna? Who is this lady that received special mention in the Bible? She is only mentioned a couple of times in Luke so I wanted to do some research on her. Here is what I found.
And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve [were] with him, And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance. Luke 8:1-3
1. went--travelled, made a progress. throughout every city and village--through town and village. preaching, &c.--the Prince of itinerant preachers scattering far and wide the seed of the Kingdom.
2. certain women . . . healed, &c.--on whom He had the double claim of having brought healing to their bodies and new life to their souls. Drawn to Him by an attraction more than magnetic, they accompany Him on this tour as His almoners--ministering unto Him of their substance. Blessed Saviour! It melts us to see Thee living upon the love of Thy ransomed people. That they bring Thee their poor offerings we wonder not. Thou hast sown unto them spiritual things, and they think it, as well they might, a small thing that Thou shouldst reap their material things ( 1Cr 9:11 ). But dost Thou take it at their hand, and subsist upon it? "Oh, the depth of the riches" ( Rom 11:33 ) --of this poverty of His!
Mary Magdalene--that is, probably, of Magdala (on which see Mat 15:39 ; see on JF & B for Mr 8:10).
went--rather, "had gone." seven devils-- ( Mar 16:9 ). It is a great wrong to this honored woman to identify her with the once profligate woman of Luk 7:37 , and to call all such penitents Magdalenes. The mistake has arisen from confounding unhappy demoniacal possession with the conscious entertainment of diabolic impurity, or supposing the one to have been afflicted as a punishment for the other--for which there is not the least scriptural ground.
3. Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod's steward--If the steward of such a godless, cruel, and licentious wretch as Herod Antipas (see on JF & B for Mr 6:14, &c.) differed greatly from himself, his post would be no easy or enviable one. That he was a disciple of Christ is very improbable, though he might be favorably disposed towards Him. But what we know not of him, and may fear he lacked, we are sure his wife possessed. Healed either of "evil spirits" or of some one of the "infirmities" here referred to--the ordinary diseases of humanity--she joins in the Saviour's train of grateful, clinging followers.
Of "Susanna," next mentioned, we know nothing but the name, and that here only. But her services on this memorable occasion have immortalized her name. "Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done," in ministering to the Lord of her substance on His Galilean tour, "shall be spoken of as a memorial of her" ( Mar 14:9 ).
many others--that is, many other healed women. What a train! and all ministering unto Him of their substance, and He allowing them to do it and subsisting upon it! "He who was the support of the spiritual life of His people disdained not to be supported by them in the body. He was not ashamed to penetrate so far into the depths of poverty as to live upon the alms of love. He only fed others miraculously; for Himself, He lived upon the love of His people. He gave all things to men, His brethren, and received all things from them, enjoying thereby the pure blessing of love: which is then only perfect when it is at the same time both giving and receiving. Who could invent such things as these? It was necessary to live in this manner that it might be so recorded".
We see that Joanna is the wife of Chuza which so happens to be Herod's steward. I find that amazing! Someone who works for Herod as his steward, has a wife who is following Jesus. We don't really know a whole lot more on this subject but it does raise some interesting questions.
1. Was Chuza a believer in Christ?
2. Was Chuza sharing what he knew about Christ with Herod?
3. Was Chuza a "closet" Christian?
4. Did Joanna have any fear of what might happen to her from King Herod?
5. Do you think Chuza was ever in any danger if Herod found out that it was his wife (Chuza's) that was following Jesus?
it really does raise a lot of questions. But one thing it does for me...
It shows a person who is fully devoted to following Jesus regardless of the cost. Knowing full well that Herod might know what she is doing, she followed Jesus anyway.
How about you?
Are you worried about your boss finding out that you are a Christian?
Do you have a spouse who is a Christian and yet you are not?
At what "cost" is it to you to follow Jesus?
We are to die to self. The old nature should be thrown away and we are to put on the new creature that is found in Christ Jesus.
So the next time you get into your bible to do some reading. Don't just fly through the pages quickly because you "know" the story. Take time to actually STUDY God's Word. You will be amazed at what you will find!
And by the way...
the verses immediately following the story about Joanna in Luke 8:3 tells us about the Parable of the Sower. you know...
it is about those who are True Followers of Christ compared to those who are the False followers of Christ. True Converts vs. False Converts. By the actions of Joanna, we can see she is most likely a True Convert! Do your actions show your true allegiance?
Luk 8:4-18 . PARABLE OF THE SOWER.