Warning Sign #2: A Fixation on “Abundance”

April 30, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 6 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

John 10:10

For many preachers the word “abundantly” in the verse above is a good “shoutin’ word.” However, beware the real cause for the shouting. This verse speaks of abundant life, not abundant material possessions. As a child of God, you have an inheritance of eternal life with God the Father through Jesus Christ. You have absolutely no right, however, to a big screen television, the latest high tech gadgets, a trendy motorcycle, or a fancy state-of-the art modernized church auditorium. When a Good Preacher Going Bad starts fixating on “abundance” as the world defines abundance, he is only a short step from telling you that if you want to “live in increase” you had better start giving more money.

The Earthly King and the Heavenly King

April 29, 2010 at 11:46 am | Posted in Esther, Uncategorized | 6 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The book of Esther describes the devil’s attempt to prevent the birth of the Messiah years before it happened. The way he attempted this was horrific. He designed a plan to annihilate the entire Jewish race. To accomplish this evil plan, Satan used (as he would again centuries later in the case of Adolph Hitler) a man who hated the Jews: Haman.

Haman’s scheme was thwarted through the Lord’s providential use of a man named Mordecai, and the Jewish Queen Esther. In order to stop Haman, however, Esther needed to gain an audience with the king. Esther employed a good deal of wisdom in gaining the king’s favor, but in her approach to this earthly king, we may see some contrasts between the inferiority of an earthly king and the superiority of the King of Kings.

Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house. And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre.

Esther 5:1-2

a. The earthly king may refuse to grant an audience to his subject on a whim; the King of Kings openly invites all to come unto Him. (Romans 10:13)

b. The earthly king demands that those who come before his throne come meekly; the King of Kings allows those who truly desire His help to come boldly. (Hebrews 4:16)

c. The earthly king may swing from being in a good mood to being in a bad mood purely without reason; the King of Kings deals justly with all on the basis of His unchanging character. (Malachi 3:6)

d. The earthly king may or may not keep his promises; the King of Kings is never slack concerning His promises. (II Peter 3:9)

e. The earthly king demands that his subjects keep their distance; the King of Kings beckons His followers to draw nigh. (Hebrews 7:19)

f. The earthly king may grant a request, but secretly be motivated by his own selfish desires; the King of Kings has plans for His servants that are always for their own good. (Jeremiah 29:11)

g. The earthly king motivates his servants to obedience through the threat of harm; the King of Kings motivates His servants by His unwavering love for them. (John 15:9-11)

Spiritual Lessons Found in Historical Accounts

April 28, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Posted in Genesis | 6 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Genesis is a book of “firsts.” Genesis 23 contains the first mention of tears in the Bible.

And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

Genesis 23:2

Abraham had grown greatly in faith. His internal faith had been there already, but by this time it had also transformed him on the outside.

I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.

Genesis 23:4

Abraham was a pilgrim. He did not take Sarah’s body back to Ur of the Chaldees because by faith he knew that the land of Canaan was to be the inheritance of his descendants.

That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a buryingplace amongst you.

Genesis 23:9

He didn’t haggle over the exorbitant price, or give offense, or try a scheme.

Genesis 24 gives us the account of the mission to find a bride for Isaac.

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Romans 15:4

The New Testament clarifies that the accounts of the Old Testament patriarchs are given to us for good and bad examples. But even in the bad examples we see the difference between believers and unbelievers – saved and lost. Abraham and Isaac both had an Abimelech to deal with – and they both tried to deceive him by pretending their wives were their sisters. (Genesis 20 and 26) Abimelech showed integrity; Abraham and Isaac didn’t. The Bible does not hide the faults of its heroes. However, Abimelech was lost and Abraham and Isaac were saved. We should remember this when we start reading about Isaac and Jacob and some of their shenanigans, so that we are not tempted to try to find an excuse for everything they did.

Forgetting To Remember – Part 1

April 23, 2010 at 9:28 am | Posted in Biblical Remembering, I Corinthians | 11 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

I Corinthians 11:24

Many times, the Word of God tells us to do things that it seems like we just should not have to be told to do. “Husbands, love your wives.” (Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 3:19); “Wives, submit to your husbands.” (Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18) “Children, obey your parents.” (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20) “Love one another.” (starting in John 13:34 and 18 more times) “Be kind to one another.” (Ephesians 4:32) When we think of all these things that we have to be told to do – often more than once – maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that, even though we owe Him everything, we still have to be told to remember the Lord Jesus Christ.

How could we forget Him, even for a moment? I am afraid it has to do with proximity – with what we are close to.

You might say, “Nothing is closer to me than My Savior! His very blood has washed my soul! He is my Lord, my Master, my Friend, my Constant Companion.” I hope that is your testimony – but you have another one living within you who might argue with you about that: the flesh man. He still desires the pretty things of this world – the pleasurable things of this world. Dare I say, the sinful things of this world? The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – these things are very, very close to him every day. Yes, God’s love, and God’s presence, is far greater and far more powerful than the lure of these things. But the sun’s size and gravitational pull are far greater than the moon’s. In fact, the earth is bigger than the moon. Yet the moon pulls the seas and causes waves. It has a great effect on the earth simply because it is closer to it. That is why, if we are to obey the Lord – and remember Him – we must also be in a constant effort to fortify the spirit man for battle against the flesh man.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:5

According to the Lord, we are a forgetful people. Perhaps we are too forgetful because we don’t pause to truly consider how glorious our Lord is – and what a glorious thing He has done in providing for our salvation. I once heard a story about a missionary in Asia or the Philippines who preached to a group of Christian converts, and then retired to his own tent for the night. In the morning, when he went back to the place of meeting, he was surprised to find that the converts had not gone home and had not slept all night. He tried to explain to them that, when he left for the night, the meeting had been over, and they had been free to go back to their own homes. “What?” was their shocked reply, “You told us last night that the Son of God died to save us from the punishment we deserve because of our sins, and that He then rose again from the dead! How can we sleep after hearing THAT?” Sadly, in our culture, I am afraid that some us fall asleep while hearing it.

For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.

II Corinthians 3:9

The Old Covenant Law was a ministry of condemnation and (in a sense) death.

For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

II Corinthians 3:10-11

The Old Covenant was glorious, but it was a fading glory. When we speak of forgetfulness, we say that the memory is starting to “fade.” But the New Covenant is so much more glorious – it will never fade away – and it must never fade from our memory. We have little trouble remembering the birthdays of so-called “great” men who contributed to our culture, country, or history. We have little trouble remembering the people in our life who have sacrificed for us or done us some great kindness in the past. How much more has Christ done for us!

To be continued…

Warning Sign #1: Demanding What You Deserve

April 22, 2010 at 11:44 am | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 8 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

There he is, preaching away. You’ve known and listened to him preach for years. No one is perfect, and everyone says things by accident from time to time that just didn’t come out the way they intended them to or that could be taken the wrong way out of context. However, as you sit there, and this is blurted out, sirens, flashing lights, and all sorts of warning signals should be exploding in your brain if you know anything at all about the God of Scripture:

You can go around broke and naked if you want to, but I deserve more – I’m a child of God!

Good Preacher Going Bad

Warning. The above quote bears all the ear marks of a preacher who has been listening to too much of what is called the “prosperity gospel,” which is really another gospel, and which is really not the Gospel of God at all. (Galatians 1:6-7)

True Christians are children of God – both by regeneration and adoption. But that by no means can be rightfully taken to mean that we “deserve” good gifts or worldly possessions or special “favor” from God. God blesses His children because of His grace, mercy, and love, none of which are deserved.

Careless Love – Part 3

April 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Posted in Bible Studies | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The heart of Christ races when we show our love for Him – not because we deserve it – but because of His grace.

But look what happens. The king goes to knock on the door, to visit the bride, and she says:

I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?

Song of Solomon 5:2-3

How often does the Lord want to spend time with me? How often does He knock on my door and and find me too “tired” (really, too lazy)? I think, “I’ve done enough for You today, Lord – I’m having ‘me’ time now.”

I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.

Song of Solomon 5:6

If I were this king, and my bride was making me call her down – making me plead with her just to spend time with me – I would say, “Just forget it! I’m the king – I’m the master of the universe. If you want to run around and play your games – apart from me – go ahead… You come to me – I don’t come to you. I’ll find another one – I’ve got every woman in Jerusalem who would love to marry me.”

The sovereign God could be justified in saying that about us: “You think you’re special? You want me to woo you? Try to win you? I made you! There’s a million more just like you – I’ll just say “next” – and you’ll be finished.”

The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love. What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?

Song of Solomon 5:7-9

Are we so careless with God’s love that others will think, “What’s so special about your God? You don’t even spend time with Him. Why should we want to? You claim there’s something special about being His disciple or His bride, but you wouldn’t even get out of bed to come to the door when He knocked!”

There should be some evidence of time spent alone with the Lord – some evidence that you are anxious for Him to notice you, that you desperately want to be in His presence.

A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

Song of Solomon 4:12

We must be a bride who has shut the door to many things. Even things that aren’t necessarily “bad” to us, when evaluated, are things that won’t attract our King.

Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

Song of Solomon 4:16

The greatest wish of this young bride-to-be was that the wind would blow upon the garden she had planted, and that her fiancé would come and find it pleasing. Our garden should be enclosed – not necessarily seen by the outside world. But it should be a place ready to be filled at any moment by the presence of God. It makes me sad to hear people sing: “More love, more power, more of You in my life,” to claim they want to be “filled” with His Spirit, but they are so full already of other things that there’s no room for Him. Remember how “empty” of worldly belongings and passions and attitudes Jesus was on the Cross? Do you have a garden prepared for your King? Does it still seem empty without Him in it?

We have to be careful with our words. When this heresy begins circulating that our relationship with God is completely broken when we, as true Christians, sin, it can be very discouraging. We do the work of the devil when we call conviction “condemnation” and drive people further away from the Lord. He’s saying, “You’re wrong – I love you – come back to Me.” That’s conviction, not condemnation. He will even protect us as we wander, and try to call us back.

Jesus the Great

April 20, 2010 at 10:03 am | Posted in Zechariah | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lord, help us to be focused, to keep our mind on You. Help us not to separate what we learn from what we do. Help us to remember Your ways and Your Person. Help us to remember Your people, Your church, and the lost. Help us to remember that our afflictions are light considering our blessings, and definitely light compared to what You suffered for us.

Zechariah 9:1-8 describes the conquests of Alexander the Great.

Ashkelon shall see it, and fear; Gaza also shall see it, and be very sorrowful, and Ekron; for her expectation shall be ashamed; and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.

Zechariah 9:5

And I will encamp about mine house because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth: and no oppressor shall pass through them any more: for now have I seen with mine eyes.

Zechariah 9:8

Alexander the Great paved the way for Greek civilization and the Roman empire, which in turn brought about a united language, the spread of roads and information, and some stability in government. Due in part to the achievements of Alexander the Great, Christ Jesus was not crucified in private.

Zechariah prophesied that Jerusalem would be spared – and it was. The high priest had a dream, and the priests and the people dressed in white, and opened the city gates. Alexander was impressed, and he even offered sacrifices to God in the temple.

Notice these contrasts between Alexander and Christ:

a. Alexander wept because there were no more lands to conquer. (He couldn’t conquer any more people.) Christ wept because the people rejected Him. (He couldn’t set them free.)

b. Alexander rode a mighty steed. Christ rode a donkey.

c. Alexander received great fanfare. Christ’s chief moment of public acclaim involved peasants, children singing, and palm branches.

d. Alexander brought judgment. Christ brought grace and forgiveness.

e. Alexander threatened death if a city wouldn’t surrender. Christ died for the people who wouldn’t surrender.

In Zechariah Chapter 10 we see images of the flock which is victimized by an evil shepherd.

For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd. Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle.

Zechariah 10:2-3

Just Say (O)No

April 19, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Posted in Nehemiah, Uncategorized | 10 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Lord God had used Nehemiah in a great way. Some of the Jewish exiles had returned from Babylon to Jerusalem under his leadership. They had finished, despite great opposition and hardship, rebuilding the city walls. Now there remained the work of installing the city gates and re-establishing the community within the walls.

Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;)

Nehemiah 6:1

What a day of defeat for Satan and the enemies of God! God was clearly empowering and blessing Nehemiah’s leadership. However, Satan was not finished. Having failed to stop God’s work with overt attacks, he began to use lies, treachery, and subterfuge. These methods were dressed up by Satan as the more friendly-sounding idea of “compromise.”

That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief.

Nehemiah 6:2

Did Nehemiah fall for the trap? Did he heed the invitation to halt the work of the Lord, and “come down” to a meeting with those who wanted to “put aside their differences,” or “get in unity,” or “celebrate the positive?” Christians would do well today to take heed to Nehemiah’s response.

And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?

Nehemiah 6:3

Do not let the work of the Lord cease. Do not “come down” to a place of compromise between the absolute truth of Scripture and the “imaginations” (II Corinthians 10:5) of men. Do not be afraid to say, “Oh no,” to an invitation to come down to the plain of “Ono.” Do not be afraid to claim that the work you are doing in obedience to God’s Word is a “great work,” because you are doing it for the “great God.”

Abraham and Isaac Receiving Christ in a Figure

April 16, 2010 at 8:56 am | Posted in Genesis, Hebrews | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The events in the Book of Genesis are not fables, fairy tales, allegories, or exaggerations. They are true historical events, which actually took place, just as they are recorded in the Bible. Thankfully, though, they also serve as object lessons and types which point to prophetic fulfillments in the New Testament. Therefore, when Genesis Chapter 22 records that God told Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, for a burnt offering, and that Abraham and Isaac fully intended to obey God despite this nearly impossible test of faith, we can rest assured that the account is accurate.

Moreover, we can be just as sure that Abraham and Isaac received a greater spiritual truth, and that the Lord wants us to receive this truth as well.

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

Hebrews 11:17-19

Note the following types or figures which point to the truth of the Crucifixion of Christ in the truth of the account of Abraham and Isaac.

The father and son went up to perform the offering on a mountain in Moriah. (Genesis 22:2) This is probably the same area where Golgotha was. Christ Jesus was crucified on Golgotha.

Abraham the father was willing to sacrifice his son. (Genesis 22:3) God the Father was willing to sacrifice Christ the Son.

For three days Abraham believed that Isaac was to die, as they traveled to Moriah, but Isaac actually lived. (Genesis 22:4; 12) Christ Jesus died on the Cross, and it was not until the third day that He arose from the grave.

Abraham laid the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders to carry. (Genesis 22:6) Christ Jesus carried a wooden Cross on His shoulders as He went to die. Also, God the Father placed upon Christ the Son the iniquities and sins of us all, which He bore in His body upon the Cross.

With Abraham and Isaac, God provided Himself a lamb for the burnt offering. (Genesis 22:8) Christ Jesus was and is God. He gave Himself as the ultimate sacrificial offering to save His people from their sins.

T.K.O. Your Pastor (#2)

April 15, 2010 at 10:45 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

T.K.O. =

T.rust your pastor.
K.now your pastor.
O.bey your pastor.

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Hebrews 13:17

Obedience is important for the health of the body, and for unity – being of one mind – in one accord. If you are a member of a local body of believers, don’t be a Willow-Creek, Purpose-Driven, Transitioning “change agent.” The Bible says to “submit” to authority. Submission is not grudging obedience. It is not a false “show” of obedience until you can change the mind of the authority. The only time for disobedience to your spiritual leader is if he is acting contrary to the Word of God. Do not analyze every move the pastor makes with an eye toward picking him apart. Be forgiving of mistakes. Distinguish between mistakes and intentional harm.

When you can not submit to your pastor because he is being disobedient to the Word, tell him plainly. If he will not hear the truth, it is permissible to leave that church. But, while he is acting with integrity and obedience toward the Bible: trust, know, and obey your pastor.

T.K.O. your pastor with T.L.C.

And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

I Thessalonians 5:13

The flock will honor the pastor by being at peace.

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

James 4:1

That verse is talking about the “members” of your body, but in church we are the “members” of the body of Christ. When my members fight – when my stomach sends food up instead of taking it down – what does that do to my head? It aches.

To be at peace with each other, and to T.K.O. the pastor, we have got to practice T.L.C.:

T.rust each other.
L.ove each other.
C.are for each other.

Trust each other.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Matthew 7:20

This verse is often misused. Fruits should be open and obvious. Too many Christians are professional “fruit-checkers.” If we have a salvation testimony, and we are working together in ministry, I’m going to treat you like you are a “brother” or “sister.” That does not mean I will hesitate to give you the Gospel, but for the sake of our pastor, we need to “trust” each other – until we’ve got a legitimate reason not to trust someone.

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Ephesians 4:12

If you want to please your pastor, show that you are using what he has given you. The sermons preached by the pastor are not toys to play with. They are not weapons to fight each other with. They are tools to build with.

T.rust each other.
L.ove each other.

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Romans 12:10

Don’t insist on “me first” like kids fighting for the best seat in the family van. Love says, “You go first.” There’s freedom in that kind of love. The Bible has much to say about love. Two surprising groups of people are singled out for love in Scripture: your neighbors and your enemies (Matthew 5:43 – 44) – possibly because they’re often the same people!

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

Matthew 5:46

T.rust each other.
L.ove each other.
C.are for each other.

If you want to show your pastor how much he’s loved, and how much he’s appreciated, start caring for others. Who do I care for? Anybody who needs it – especially widows and orphans.

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

James 1:27

Encourage single mothers. Encourage people whose spouses won’t come to church to “not be weary in well-doing.” (Galatians 6:9)

Trust, know, and obey your pastor by trusting, loving, and caring for, each other.

Next Page »


Entries and comments feeds.