Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Adversary or the Advocate

Monday night, on my drive back from college class in Russellville, I heard an interesting program. I wanted to share what God lead me to take away from the program.

It is a bit long, but important.

The Adversary or the Advocate 
Scripture commands us, “30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice (Eph 4:30-31).” I want to zero in on the word slander in this passage. Slander is to tell lies, speak ill of, or ruin someone’s reputation. First Peter 2:1 also commands us to “put away [. . .] slander”.  Slander is harmful to whoever it is aimed at, but also to the one doing it. Take a look at the kind of individuals who slander. “18 [. . .] whoever utters slander is a fool (Proverbs 10:18).” I act foolish at times, but I also have no desire to be a fool. Who else makes a habit of slandering? “14 [. . .] give the adversary no occasion for slander (1 Tim 5:14).” Here it is “the adversary” who waits to slander. Who exactly is this adversary? We find the answer in 1 Peter 5:8 “8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” The devil is the adversary who waits to slander and accuse us (Rev 12:10). He seeks any opportunity to ruin our name before other men and before God. We are given another command in Ephesians 4:29 & 32 “29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear [. . .]  32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” We are told to speak words that are good for “building up” other people, more than that we are told to do this so that we “give grace to those who hear”. Who gives grace? Christ! He is the one who gives grace. We are commanded to be like Christ, the advocate. “2 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1).” When we advocate for others, being careful to be truthful, we are being like Christ. 

When you slander or accuse you are acting just like the devil. When you build up and advocate you are acting like Jesus Christ. Take a moment and consider, have you been acting more like the devil lately or more like Christ?

Lord, forgive me for acting more like the devil than you too often. I pray that you would help me to become more like Jesus in my words, thoughts, and actions. 

Who do you want to be more like, the adversary or the advocate?

“5 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us  and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Eph 5:1-2).”

Thursday, December 3, 2015

From the Palace to the Brothel: a Christmas Story?

From the Palace to the Brothel: a Christmas Story?

I have been thinking of how Christ left heaven in all of its splendor and beauty to descend to a stinky dirty stable. Think about it for a moment. The very creator of the universe, the one who spoke everything into existence and holds everything together by the power of his word, chose to become one of the very things he had created and not only become human but a helpless baby. The author of life became mortal and resigned himself to eventual suffering and death. He left heaven, where tens of thousands of angels attended and worshiped him. He left heaven where he shone brighter than the sun. He left heaven and came to live as one of us. He came to be born in a stable filled with dung, urine, and stink. He came from heaven to be lain in a slobbery food trough with prickly pest infested hay for bedding.
That is not the end of the story though. What really gets me is that Christ, after he had been born, lived, suffered, and died, ascended back to heaven, but then he descended to a more dirty and disgusting residence than the stable. Christ has come to live in a place that has been used for evil thinking, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, and slander. What a horrible sounding place to live. Why would he, the holy one, who had already been born in a stable to suffer and die choose to live in such a place? He did it for a new birth, but this time it was not his birth. It was our birth.
Matthew 15:19-20 describes the human heart as this place. The “Brothel” is the human heart. Christ, though in heaven, resides now in everyone who turns to him and trusts him as savior. When we trust him he gives us a new heart, but we are so used to the filth that we try to drag it into us again. Dear Christian, when you drag these things into your life you drag Christ through the filth too. He loves us so much he is willing to come live in such a place to reach out to us. He loves us so much that he is willing to endure living in such a despicable place to give us a new heart and keep it clean. Not only did he go to the nasty stable but he goes to the filthy heart of the one who trusts in him. That is the savior that we have. What amazing love! More than amazing! 

Friday, July 31, 2015

What's wrong with America and the world!

Here is what is wrong with America and the World. 

Here is my Political and National view!

I know this will offend some people, but I am almost offended by it too so if I can take it I am sure that you can as well.

     "Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute? They band together against the life of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death." -Psalm 94:20-21. What a description of what we see all around us today! Injustice it not only allowed but placed in law. But what an encouragement in the next verse... "But the Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge." vs 22. The next verse should be comforting to some but terrifying to others. Talking of the wicked rulers, "He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out." vs 23. This is some pretty strong language. This is not just speaking of the national rulers in our world, but rulers in all areas of life; rulers of organizations, companies, clubs, committees, reading groups, and even those who claim rule of their own lives are all recipients of this promise.
       Now I really dislike what nearly every politician or political leader does, but let me tell you if you have sinned you are in the exact same boat as them and the promise that God gave to wipe them out is the same for you! Don't be so quick to condemn them forgetting what you also have done. Let me tell you, the problem does not lie as much with our leadership as it does in our own selves. Take a look at the bible and you will see that God allows people to have leaders that match them. He will give people the same type of leaders that they already are in their hearts. He gives wicked leaders to wicked people. Each of us needs to take a look at ourselves first before we go pointing the finger.

     Now you are not going to like me saying this, but I am going to anyway. If you want to point a finger at evil you don’t need to look at those around you all you need to do is take an honest look at yourself and you will see it. You will not have to look very hard. I know I don’t have to. Start with yourself! 2 Chronicles 7:14 says “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” It doesn’t say if the leaders are changed or if the leaders start to behave the land will be healed. My word! This passage doesn’t even mention the leaders it mentions the people! God says “if my people”. This lies solely on the shoulders of those who profess to follow God! Dear Christians, shame on you if you look at the world around you and condemn it while ignoring the sin in your own life! You start with your own sin and repent of that first! Dear brothers and sisters, shame on you if you condemn what any leader in this world does if you aren’t spending time on your knees praying for them! See also 1 Timothy 2 which says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.” God doesn’t say first of all “Express your dislike over what they have done, and tell them and everyone else about it.” God says first of all “pray”! Now don’t get mad at me for saying that, because I did not say that. God is the one who says that so you just take it up with him. Now I want you to know that this was aimed at me as much as it is at you!
     People always say that if God is loving, holy, and just he would have wiped out sin and wickedness in the world. God has promised to do that exact thing, but let me tell you it is precisely because he is loving and merciful that he has not done so yet. To wipe out sin and wickedness would be to wipe out all of the human race. So he has postponed the judgement because he “is not willing that any should perish”.  God has said that everyone has sinned and the wages of sin is death. Wages are something you earn. Some people argue that God is mean in condemning and giving out the death sentence unjustly, those are not things that God gives to us, but are things that we have worked for and earned.

     When I was writing before that was aimed at those already professing Christ, but now I come to those who have not accepted Jesus Christ. You see every person has sinned and earned eternal death in Hell, everyone from Obama and Hitler to Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi. The only difference between a true Christian and everyone else is that Christians have accepted the gift offered to all people by God. By saying “true Christian” I am referring to the fact that not everyone claiming to be a Christian is in fact a Christian. Now do not get mad at me for saying that, because again that is what God himself says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven … On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23. God says many people claim to serve him that do not. 

     There are a lot of silly notions out there about what is required to be saved and go to heaven, but God gives us only one way which I will make clear in a moment.  I said before that God does not want anyone to perish, and because of his great love for us he was willing to exchange wages with us. By “exchange wages” I am talking about him taking our earnings from sinning, which is death, and giving us his wages from being pure and holy, which is eternal life. He loves us so much that he offers to take what we have earned, our wages which are much more likened to debt, and offer us what he earned by purity and righteousness. This is his gift. It is a gift because we have not earned it, we never could earn it, and do not deserve it. The only requirement for this gift is acceptance. If you have not already trusted in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation God only asks one thing of you. John 6:29 “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent [Jesus Christ].” That is all that he asks of you. He doesn’t say “live perfectly” nor does he say “just abstain from sinning ever again”. Every Christian sins every day, even the Apostle Paul sinned daily, and I know that I certainly do. That is not an excuse to sin, you see as a Christian you will never be more miserable than when you sin, you will find that you no longer want to live in sin. God said believe in Jesus Christ. That is his only requirement for the gift of salvation and the forgiveness of your debt. Turn from your sin and yourself and give your life to Jesus looking only to him for your salvation. I said before that this is a gift, God has extended this gift out to every person, but let me ask you a question. If I held out a gift to you in my hand, let’s say a thousand dollars or the deed to a new house, would my gift do you a bit of good if you did not reach out and accept it? It is the same with God’s gift of salvation. He does not force you to take it and if you don’t accept his gift the promise in the opening of this post still applies to you because God is holy and he will wipe out evil completely one day. The gift is extended to you but take care because there will come a time when it is too late to accept the gift he has offered to you.

So there is what is wrong with America and the World as a whole: the people of God are unrepentant and don't pray as we are called to, and there is wickedness in the heart of each person that they refuse to see. And there is the solution also: repentance and salvation.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Living Free From Sin: Reckoning part 2


         Let's jump right into the study!

Reckoning and Faith
        The first four and a half chapters of the book of Romans has a repeated refrain of faith, faith, and more faith. In the second section we don't find the same repeated mention of faith, which could lead us to believe that the emphasis is different, but it is not. The words "faith" and "believe" drop out of use as we come to the second section of Romans and "reckon" takes their place. We know that reckoning is to account and inventory, but what is faith? I am going to lay a very simplistic definition of faith before us, that I think gets the point across rather well. Faith is the acceptance of God's facts. What is reckoning but doing the account books of God's fact? They are one and the same as used here. The use of reckon here in Romans 6:11 points us to the past. Hope relates to the future, faith can have its object or goal in the future, but "reckon" relates only to the past. To reckon is to look back on what is settled, not forward to what is yet to be. Reckoning is the kind of faith Jesus is talking about in Mark 11:24 when he says, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask  in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." If you believe you already have then, in Christ of course, you shall have. I may get, I can get, or I will get isn't the sense of faith here in Romans 6:11 nor in Mark 11:24. Faith says, "God has done it."

Temptation and Failure: Challenges to Faith
         Two of the greatest facts in all the universe are that our sins are dealt with by the Blood of Christ and that we ourselves are dealt with by the Cross of Christ. What of temptation then? Does our temptation and failure disprove that we, as believers, are dead to sin in Christ?  One of the Devil's main objectives is to make us doubt divine facts (see Gen. 3:4). After the revelation, by the Spirit of God, of our death in Christ and our reckoning it so he will ask, "What of this stirring inside? Can you call this death?" It comes down to this: are we going to believe the tangible facts  of the natural realm or the intangible facts of the spiritual realm?
         To be able to combat these questions of the Devil we must recall the facts in God's Word that our laid out as a foundation for our faith. We are never told that sin as a principle is rooted out or removed. That my friend is a false position. Sin is not eradicated, and given opportunity it will overpower us again, consciously or unconsciously. The old man has been crucified so the body, previously a vehicle of sin, is unemployed. "Sin, the old master, is still about, but the slave who served him has been put to death and so is out of reach, and his members are unemployed" (Nee To-sheng). These members are now available to be used as "instruments of righteousness unto God" (Rom. 6:13). To put it plainly, we are delivered from a power that is still very present and very real. Sin is still there but we are knowing deliverance from its power in increasing measure day by day.
        We have sin in our history, but the history of something and the nature of something can be quite different. Consider wood as an illustration, though inadequate. Wood does not sink, for that is not its nature to sink; but in history it will sink if a hand has held it under water. The history is a fact, just as the sins in our history; and the nature is a fact, just as the new nature we have in Christ is also a fact. This is why John could boldly proclaim, "No one born of God makes a practice of sinning... and he cannot keep on sinning" (1 John 3:9). The sin principle is still around, but we are no longer employed by it for we have a new nature in Christ. What is in Christ  cannot sin; what is in Adam can sin, and will whenever Satan is given a chance to exert his power.
       Our choice lies here. Are we going to count on, daily tangible facts, or God's facts? We must make real in history what is true in divine fact. It is a matter of faith. Do we count on God or the world?
Substance VS Substantiating
         "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1) Here we find the only outright definition of faith in Scripture. There is a common English translation (KJV) which translates this as, "...the substance of things hoped for". The Greek here has a sense of action with it. A translation by  J. N. Darby renders the verse as, "Faith is the substantiating of things hoped for." It implies the making of them real in experience.
        A substance is an object or the matter making it up. Aluminum is a substance, but to substantiate is quite different. Substantiating means that I have a certain faculty or power that makes that substance to be real to me. Think of music. Music is a very real thing, but what if I am unable to hear? Music is still music, but to me, who am unable to hear it, it is not music. I need my sense of hearing substantiating music to me for it to be real for me in my experience. The same is true of color. Without the since of sight, colors are mere intellectual descriptions and ideas, but with sight substantiating color to me, well that is another matter entirely. Color becomes real in my experience. Nee makes the argument this way: "If I am blind I cannot distinguish color, or if I lack the faculty of hearing I cannot enjoy music. Yet music and color are in fact real things, and their reality is unaffected by whether or not I am able to appreciate them." Now we are talking about things "unseen" which the five senses cannot substantiate for us, but there is a faculty which can substantiate them and that is faith. Faith makes real  things become real in my experience. We must remember that we aren't talking about promises here. These are facts laid out in God's Word. They are divine fact. Facts are facts whether we believe them or not, but faith can substantiate them and make them real to us in our experience.
         "Whatever contradicts the truth of God's Word, we are to regard as the Devil's lie, not because it may not be in itself a very real fact to our senses, but because God has stated a far greater fact before which the other must eventually yield." Nee tells of a time when he was terribly sick. He had had a horrible fever for six days. God then gave him a personal word of healing from Scripture. He naturally expected all the symptoms to dissipate and be fully recovered at once, but he found himself in worse shape. He says, "The enemy asked, 'Where is God's promise? Where is your faith? What about all your prayers?'" Nee says that he was tempted to "thrash" out the whole matter again in prayer with God, but God rebuked him with the Scripture, "Thy word is truth" (John 17:17). He began thinking, "If God's word is truth [...] then what are these symptoms? They must all be lies! So I declared to the enemy..." and he woke the next morning perfectly well. Now I do not mean for us to go around declaring when we are sick that we are not sick, and I do not think that is the point Nee is making. He is saying that we are to trust God's Word with utmost faith. If what God tells you is contradicted by a whole world of experience and evidence, then in faith trust God as truth.
         As Nee put it, " We must believe God, no matter how convincing Satan's arguments appear." Now consider that Satan is the father of lies. He not only lies in words, but in deeds and experiences. He will do his best to demonstrate by experiences day-to-day that we are not dead to sin, but very much alive; God, on the other hand, has declared that we are "dead to sin". Which do we trust Satan's lie or God's truth?
         There is a wonderful illustration of this as Fact, Faith, and Experience are walking along the top of a wall. Fact walked steadily on, turning neither to right nor left and never looking behind. Faith followed and all went well so long as he kept his eyes focused upon Fact; but as soon as he became concerned about Experience and turned to see how he was getting on, he lost his balance and tumbled off the wall, and poor old Experience fell down after him.
        All temptation is primarily to look within, to take our eyes of the Lord and to take account of appearances. Faith is often against a mountain of evidence and eventually one must go. "If we resort to our senses to discover the truth, we shall find Satan's lies are often true to our experience; but if we refuse to accept as binding anything that contradicts God's Word and maintain an attitude of faith in Him alone, we shall find instead that Satan's lies begin to dissolve and that our experience is coming progressively to tally with that Word" (Nee).

         We see that temptations are still here because the sin principle is still around and at work, but we aren't employed by him any longer. We are able, by God's revealing Spirit, to reckon on what he has done in Christ and then live by it, but it depends on our own choice as to what we will believe in. Will we place our faith in Christ and God's Word or will we look to experience and fall pray to Satan's and his Lies? In the same way Abraham was tested. God commanded him to offer up his only son Issac. Abraham had received a promise from God that through his seed he would become the father of many nations. Experience told Abraham that he and his wife were too old to have another son and that if he slayed Issac on the altar as God was commanding him that he would not be able to become the father of many nations. Abraham chose to trust God despite what the mountain of evidence claimed and prepared to offer Issac. Abraham became the father of many nations. What about us? What do we choose?
        I will close us with this quote from J. V. McGee:
"You are saved by faith. You are to live by faith. You are to walk moment by moment boy faith. You cannot life for God by yourself any more than you can save yourself. It requires constant dependence upon Him, looking to the Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Spirit."
        Next time we will look briefly at "Abiding in Christ" and then have a few introductory notes for our next essential step in sanctification. Until next time, Dearly Beloved, may we rest in the truth of God's Word!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Living Free From Sin

Next blog post coming up in a day or so, but as a preview:
"We must believe God, no matter how convincing Satan's arguments appear." - Ni To-sheng