Your Vocation

June 2, 2014 at 1:43 pm | Posted in Isaiah, Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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If you work at a “secular” job (as opposed to a paid ministry position), let me offer you a suggestion: Consider thinking about your job as not just a job, not just an occupation, not just a position, or a career, or even a profession. Consider thinking of it as your “vocation.”

What do I mean by that? I mean that “vocation” is a word derived from the Latin word vocare, which means “to call,” and from which we get words like “vocal” and “vocabulary” and even “voice.” The idea is that, in a spiritual sense, as a Christian, you are to do what God has “called” you to do.

1. Your vocation is real.

The Holy Spirit spoke through the Apostle in Ephesians 4:1 and wrote: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called…” It is very important that you do not compartmentalize your spiritual convictions away from the rest of your life, including your job.

Most secular jobs are difficult. They involve situations where problems are encountered on a regular basis, and if they were problems with easy solutions, chances are, you and your job would not be necessary to deal with them. A recognition that your calling is from God will give you determination and purpose in dealing with problems. It will also remind you to seek God’s help in dealing with these problems.

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

II Timothy 1:8-9 (emphasis added)

The first calling you ever received as a Christian was the calling to become a Christian, and it is no surprise to God that you are on the career path where you now find yourself. He has a gracious purpose in mind, just as much as if you had been called to some official religious office. In the Kingdom of God that you are a part of if you are truly a Christian, there is no “sacred” and “secular” for you! Your briefcase, your hardhat, your pens and calendar, your suit, coat, tie, or coveralls are sacred because they are used in your vocation.

2. Your vocation is relevant.

There is a great need for Christians in whatever field you are employed, but that need does not exist because the problems of this world have become too big for God, nor does he need your help sorting them out. However, He chooses to glorify Himself by expressing His attributes in a fallen world.

None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.

Isaiah 59:4

The types of problems which Isaiah is describing are right in there with things like shedding innocent blood and oppression of the weak and poor, and all sorts of lying and deceitfulness – the things which God abhors and which provoke His wrath. Prophetically, Isaiah 59 speaks to the days in which we live just as much as it did to the people of Israel during Old Testament times. The entanglements and problems that you will see among your co-workers, customers, or clients are not the products of innocent happenstance. When you go to work, you are going into a dark, hostile environment, like it or not.

Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.

Isaiah 59:9

This is possibly what Jesus had in mind when He said that His followers were to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). Our world does not need any more darkness. It needs salt and light, and I’m asking you to consider the possibility that God Himself has called you with a real divine calling to be that salt and that light in a place and at a time where it is very relevant and needed: on your job.

Innocent Bystanders

August 20, 2012 at 11:48 am | Posted in Common Expressions | 6 Comments
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And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.

Acts 22:17-21

The Apostle Paul was almost killed in a riot, but he was rescued by Roman centurions and allowed to address the crowd. Not only did Paul see Jesus alive, but Jesus spoke to him and told him what to do. Paul wanted to go back there very badly, and he even tried to talk Jesus out of sending him somewhere else, stating that when Stephen, the martyr, was killed, Paul had been a bystander. Paul called himself a bystander, but he did not consider himself to be an innocent bystander.

By doing nothing – just safeguarding the coats of those who stoned Stephen – Paul had consented to his death. The Apostle Paul knew that he was guilty, and he did not pretend that just standing by and watching absolves one from sin or guilt. Now that he had been born again, and had been appointed as God’s missionary to the gentiles, he was saying, in effect, “I can’t go where You want me to go, Lord, and I can’t do the things You want me to do, because I have to go back and make amends for my sins. I have to make up for what I did in the past.” Paul never wanted to go back to the role of a “bystander.”

Are you a bystanding Christian? Do you believe you can’t do anything for the Lord because of what you’ve done in the past? Jesus told Paul to “depart,” to stop being on “stand-by.” Jesus reminded Paul of exactly Who it was Who was sending him. Do you think God doesn’t know about your past? Your sins? Your failures? Do you think He’s making a mistake by calling you to get involved in ministry? To do His work?

Among Christians, there are no “innocent” bystanders. We’re all guilty before the sinless Savior, but our sins are forgiven. Our past is (not “will be“) forgiven. It’s time to stop being a “bystander” and to start departing.

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

II Timothy 1:9

We weren’t called because of what we did or didn’t do before we were saved – or because of any works God thought we might be able to impress Him with afterward. We were called according to His purpose and grace – before the world began.

Discipleship Lesson 2: Everlasting Security

October 29, 2010 at 9:25 am | Posted in Discipleship Lessons, Eternity, John | 16 Comments
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I. Will God or someone else take away the salvation He has given me?

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:12-13

We must never base our beliefs on this subject on our experience or the experience of another person. We must let the Bible speak for itself. Consider the testimony of Jesus Himself:

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

John 6:37 (Emphasis added.)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

John 10:27-29 (Emphasis added.)

II. Can I lose it on my own?

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

If we had to do anything to keep it, we would lose it easily.

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

Galatians 3:10

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

James 2:10

But we do not “keep” the salvation that God gives us. Christ keeps it.

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

II Timothy 1:12 (Emphasis added.)

If we could get it – or keep it – ourselves, then Christ died in vain.

I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Galatians 2:21

III. Can some other power or condition take away from me the salvation given by the Lord?

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

According to John 1:12-13, when God saved you, He became your Father, and you became His child. Your biological father can never not be your biological father. Likewise, once you are made a child of God, your Heavenly Father can never not be your Father.

There is almost always a record made of physical birth, but there is always a record made of Spiritual birth.

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

I John 5:11-13 (Emphasis added.)

In whom 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,

Ephesians 1:13 (Emphasis added.)

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30 (Emphasis added.)

Ephesians 4:30 would have been a perfect place to say that if you grieve the Holy Spirit, He will leave you, but instead it says right there that He seals you unto the day of redemption.

We are not saved by feelings, and feelings do not affect the objective truth of the Word of God.

For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

I John 3:20

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

Titus 1:2

And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

I John 2:25

IV. Questions

A. Does I John 5:13 teach us that God wants us to be secure or insecure about salvation? Secure.

B. Does I John 3:20 teach that we can trust our own hearts and feelings about whether we are saved? No.

C. Find three Bible Verses that promise that God cannot lie.

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

Titus 1:2

That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

Hebrews 6:18

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Numbers 23:19

V. Memory Verses

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

I John 2:25

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

I John 5:13

Next time: Discipleship Lesson Three – Baptism

Warning Sign #5: Naming Pet Demons

June 18, 2010 at 10:24 am | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 10 Comments
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The idea that our loving Lord could allow something “bad” like poverty or sickness or persecution into the life a Christian is especially abhorrent to a prosperity preacher. But railing against politicians, doctors, and “dead religious Pharisees” can only get you so far. When you really want to drive your congregation into a frenzy and get them hyped up into a display of emotionalism, you’ve got to portray yourself as a big bad demon-fighter. And what “spiritual warrior” worth his salt isn’t even on a first name basis with his enemies?

Therefore, beware of this kind of blustering and showmanship:

I call you out, Spirit of Jezebel! I’m gonna send you back to the pit, Spirit of Leviathan! We hate you, Spirit of Wormwood!

Good Preacher Going Bad

Now, I know what you’re thinking: These names – Jezebel, Leviathan, and Wormwood – are in the Bible (Revelation 2:20; Isaiah 27:1; Deuteronomy 29:18, Revelation 8:11). However, nowhere does Scripture explicitly state that these are the names of specific demons that today attack our finances, our relationships, our physical bodies, or our desire for exuberant worship. That type of preaching is fanciful at best and misleading at worst.

However, don’t try to tell this to the demon-fighting prosperity preacher! He’s already on to your type. You are one of those who has a “spirit of fear” or a “spirit of intimidation.” After all, God hasn’t given us the “spirit of fear,” according to II Timothy 1:7. This is the “you-are-just-scared-of-a-move-of-the-Holy-Ghost” card that the prosperity preacher loves to play when questioned about Biblical accuracy. Please note however that the rest of II Timothy 1:7 reads, “but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,” so the “spirit of fear” is not the name of some devilish imp lurking around underneath the discarded hymn books. It is simply the carnal default position of our flesh nature when we are not being led by – and bearing the fruit of – the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, when Michal got huffy about David’s public display of dancing (II Samuel 6), there is no Bible verse that says she was possessed by the “Spirit of Intimidation.”

Beware of the preacher who is more comfortable railing against principalities and powers than he is dealing with sin in the camp and in his own life.

Arise: Naboth’s Vineyard, Ahab’s Vice, and God’s Vengeance – Part 1

October 29, 2009 at 12:30 pm | Posted in Arise | 24 Comments
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To “arise” means to get up – to get moving – to stir, and to get busy.

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria…

Matthew 4:18-24

And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

Matthew 8:21-22

When Jesus got ready to recruit disciples, He had been preaching repentance and the Kingdom of God, but when He called disciples, He didn’t give much of a sales pitch. “Follow me,” He said. Have you ever wondered why they did it?

The answer, I think, lies not in the command “follow.” There’s no shortage of people who want to tell you what to do – to give you a command. The answer lies in the “Me” – that short little two-letter Word is more than just the direct object of the sentence. The ME is the King of Glory – the Son of God – the Prince of Peace – the God over all gods – the King over all kings – the Maker of Heaven and of Earth – the Alpha and Omega – the Author of Salvation.

They really didn’t need the “follow” to be convinced. All we really need is the “ME.” When you begin to understand the greatness of Jesus – His infinite worth – you want to – no, you have to – be with Him. And you put the Person – “Me” – together with the “follow,” and you’ve got a Person and a Path.

He says, “Arise. If you want the ‘ME,’ you’re going to have to go places. But it’s okay – because you’ll be going with ME.”

The disciples followed, and it seemed great at first. Matthew 4 says Jesus did miracles. He healed the sick and fed the hungry, and gave sight and the ability to walk. And they became famous, and crowds followed, and people loved them – as if someone said, “Here, free candy – just for coming to church.” Most everybody likes candy. Why? Because it’s sweet. It doesn’t require much effort. It sort of melts in your mouth. But once in a while you get a surprise – a different kind of candy – the kind of candy that, when you say, “Hey, you’re giving me candy, I’ll follow you” – suddenly things turn sour.

Jesus says, If you’re going to follow Me, sometimes things are going to get sour. Sometimes you’re not going to have a bed or pillow or shelter. Sometimes you’re not going to be able to be loved by your family. Sometimes you’re not going to be able to do all the things you want, because you are a follower – and a follower follows a leader – and a leader is in charge – in command.

When a leader says, “Let’s go, you don’t have time to bury your father – let the dead bury the dead – we’re following hard after my Father now…” Do you spit it out? Give up? Too sour? Not what you bargained for? Or do you just keep sucking it up – knowing that one day things will be sweet again – sweeter than ever?

I hope – when things in your life seem too hard – too hard deal with the way a Christian is supposed to deal with them – the way the Bible says to deal with them – that you’ll remember this simple little lesson – you’ll remember Who you are following. Don’t shy away from doing the hard thing. Jesus – if you are really His – loves you even when you taste bad. He is worthy to be loved and followed through any circumstances, trials, troubles, and hardships.

I. The Pious Patriarch

Naboth was the owner of a vineyard in the little town of Jezreel. (A vineyard is a piece of land used for growing grapes.)

So shall not the inheritance of the children of Israel remove from tribe to tribe: for every one of the children of Israel shall keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. And every daughter, that possesseth an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father, that the children of Israel may enjoy every man the inheritance of his fathers.

Numbers 36:7-8

Naboth, years later, was the patriarch of one these families in one of these tribes. A patriarch is the male leader of a tribe. Naboth’s vineyard had come to him, through his forefathers, directly from God. It was really God’s vineyard. Naboth was a steward over it for God, and for the good of those that God had placed into his care. Every one of us are stewards over the gifts God has given us, and we are to use these gifts to help others, so that God is glorified. Naboth had a command from God: Keep this land in your family. He had a blessing from God: You may enjoy this land.

We have every reason to believe that he did enjoy it. Perhaps in his own childhood, he had played there. Perhaps his wife’s family had worked and played in this vineyard. Perhaps Naboth and his fathers and sons had driven out lions and foxes from this vineyard. Perhaps Naboth enjoyed watching his own children frolic in the rows of grapes, and play in the soft fertile dirt. I call Naboth the Pious Patriarch because when there was a strong temptation to do what was easy, Naboth, instead of doing what was easy, did what was right. But he did so because of a devotion to God.

And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.

I Kings 21:1-3

Saying no to a king is a dangerous thing. Saying no to certain people today – saying no to certain things – can seem very dangerous to us. It can be very difficult. Someone might tell you the same thing Naboth was told: “Give up what God gave you, and you’ll get a fair price for it.” Or, “You’ll get something better in return.” How much more popular could you be with your friends if you would sell your purity – your devotion to God? How much more money could you make if not for having to attend, and serve in, church? How much more rest could you get? How many fun and entertaining things could you see and do?

Naboth said no. He didn’t say, “In my childhood I played here. My wife’s family worked and played in this vineyard. My father and sons have driven out lions and foxes from this vineyard. I love to see my own children frolic in the rows of grapes, and play in the soft fertile dirt.” He didn’t say all those things, but he could have. Instead, he let it be known that he feared God more than the king. He loved God more than men.

Do you love God more than men? That’s the question you’re going to have to ask yourself every time someone tells you to give up what God gave you, and you’ll get something better, or you’ll get a fair price. Will you sink down into the muddy pit of conformity? Or will you arise and say, “The Lord forbid it me.”

II. The Pouting Potentate

A “potentate” is someone with “power” – someone who is “potent:” a king, a ruler, an emperor. King Ahab is the “Pouting Potentate” in this account.

And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him.

I Kings 16:30

… Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.

I Kings 16:33

Ahab married the wicked Jezebel – from Sidon – and, at her prompting, instituted and encouraged the wicked worship of Baal among the groves. The worship of Baal involved sexual debauchery, child sacrifice, and worship of “nature” instead of God. It happened long ago, but it sounds very familiar today. It’s just that we don’t call it “sexual debauchery, child sacrifice, and worship of nature instead of God.” We call it “hooking up, abortion, and environmentalism.” R.G. Lee called Ahab “the vile toad who squatted on the throne of a nation.”

And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread. But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread? And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard.

I Kings 21:4-6

Ahab, the King of Israel, who had lands beyond number, who had livestock, gold, jewels, money, orchards, palaces, servants, maybe 100 vineyards, was pouting like a spoiled little baby – or an over-indulged teenaged child – because he couldn’t have one little garden of herbs right where he wanted it!

Are we much better? Are we always wanting more? Do we worship things, or do we worship God? What is our energy devoted to obtaining? Clothes? Electronics? Cars? Nicer, more expensive luxuries? Or righteousness?

What could make the king of God’s Own people so depressed? As Christians we have access to the eternal riches of glory in Christ Jesus. And the wonderful thing is that God has made us stewards over everything He has given us, but He remains the Owner! The devil comes to you, and whispers in your ear – the way we will see Jezebel do it in Part 2 of this message – and he says, “Disobey God – just a little – and you can have this – you can enjoy that.”

But you say, “Devil, you can’t give me anything – because I have everything I could ever need or want in Christ Jesus!

He says, “Fine, you can’t be tempted with the promise of gaining something you don’t have – but I’ll take something away from you!”

And you say, “Go right ahead, I don’t own anything for you to take from me – this all belongs to God, not me.”

Vance Havner used to say, “What are you gonna do with a man like that?” You can’t give him anything because he has everything – and you can’t take anything away from him because he doesn’t have anything. You can’t head him off if you cut off his head!

I know the world laughs at this, but “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Timothy 6:6) I know whom I have believed – though He slay me, yet will I trust Him! (II Timothy 1:12; Job 13:15)

Ahab should have been arising. Rising up to praise God. But instead he was sinking down into a bed of sorrows – discontent, grumpy, pouting.

In Part 2, we will see Jezebel enter the scene.

Character and Integrity Part 2

August 5, 2009 at 11:43 am | Posted in character and integrity | 5 Comments
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Let’s pretend that I offer you a sandwich, but you are not going to be able to eat it right now; you are going to have to save it for later. I offer you two options for preserving the quality of the sandwich before you stick it in the fridge. In one hand I have a beautifully ornate wrought-iron bird cage.

bird cage

It looks both sturdy and beautiful. In the other hand I have an ugly old Zip-lock bag.

https://img1.etsystatic.com/000/0/6867105/il_570xN.334496059.jpg

It looks flimsy and plain. Which are you going to choose?

Obviously, you are going to choose the Zip-lock. Why? Because it has both integrity and character. A properly sealed Zip-lock bag stops both air and water from getting inside. There is a “soundness” and a “wholeness” to a Zip-lock bag. It has integrity. Furthermore, you’ve had experience with bird cages (or a least containers made up of metal sections with gaps in between). You’ve also had experience with Zip-lock bags. Zip-locks have kept a many of your sandwiches fresh before. Zip-lock bags have character.

God wants His people to have both integrity and character. He wants us to be sound, and to be known for being sound.

Who does not want you to be be “sound?” Who wants you to look strong and sturdy at a glance, but to prove unfit upon further inspection? Who wants you to try to act like something you are not, to be a fake? Your enemies, that’s who: the devil, the world, and your flesh.

The Bible doesn’t have much good to say about “the world” once you get past the part where God made it and saw that it was good. It’s been pretty much negative since then (Romans 12:2; I Corinthians 2:12; II Corinthians 4:4).

The “world” is the Bible word for the point of view of those who don’t love God. They don’t necessarily admit that they hate God. They will claim that they would rather just stay on their side and let the Lord stay on His. But there’s one thing that really motivates the world to get proactive – to start campaigning against God: greed, the love of money (I Timothy 6:10).

Here’s a good example. After World War II (1945) there were lots of young people getting to do things they’d never done before. This engendered a certain fear – the fear of “juvenile delinquents.” This kind of fear is not good (II Timothy 1:7). Adults would see something broken or defaced in public, and would start defaulting to, “It must have been those kids…” meaning teenaged kids.

This kind of thinking led to polls. The polls led to an identifiable market. Manufacturers starting producing things like “teen” toys, “teen” dolls, “teen” magazines, “teen” movies, “teen” TV shows, and “teen” clothes. Most of these products were focused on the idea of making kids think ahead to when they would be “older,” and subtly sending the message that it was a good thing to strive to act like they were older than they really were. You can witness this phenomenon going on today with pre-teens (the media calls them “tweens”).

The suspicion of adults and the influence of marketing led to teenaged kids becoming experts at duplicity. Duplicity is the opposite of integrity (James 1:8).

Remember Eddie Haskell from the old show, “Leave It To Beaver?”

https://i2.wp.com/www.litb.com/amazoneddie.jpg

Eddie was duplicitous, even though he never really fooled Mrs. Cleaver when he gushed over her “beautiful dress.” Today, teenaged kids are smarter than Eddie. Most parents would faint if they really knew what CDs their kids listen to, what movies they watch at sleepovers, what’s really posted, but set to private, on their social networking sites.

But God knows. He knows that their integrity is damaged. And other people know, even if the parents don’t – and that has damaged their character.

David (pre-Bathsheba) is a good example of character and integrity. I Samuel 16 is mainly about David being anointed king and playing his harp or lyre for Saul. Chapter 17 is mainly the account of David and Goliath. David was probably about 15 or 16 when he was anointed, and probably close to 20 when he killed Goliath. David was not slothful in business (Romans 12:11; I Samuel 16:10-11). He was keeping his father’s sheep. He was fervent in spirit (Romans 12:11; I Samuel 17:34-35). He risked his life to protect what God had given him. He was serving the Lord (Romans 12:11).

Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him.

I Samuel 16:8

Let’s look at David’s character in this verse. These are the things David, even as a teenaged child, was known for – what Proverbs 22:1 calls his “good name.” He was cunning at playing (musical talent). He was mighty and valiant (known for overcoming problems). He was a man of war (a good fighter, someone who stands up for what is right). He was prudent in matters (smart). He was a comely person (good-looking).

It’s really not that uncommon to find someone about whom we can say all or most of those things. But, with David, in addition to those things, they could say, “The LORD is with him.”

Is the Lord with you? (Integrity) Do other people recognize that the Lord is with you? (Character) Both are important to God.

For the Ladies…

May 12, 2009 at 9:38 am | Posted in Acts | 10 Comments
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Previously, we looked at the power that the very first Christian Church experienced through the ministry of the Holy Ghost!

It is fun to note God’s plan for all the different types of people that would make up the Church. Not only would the early Church be comprised of believing Jews in Jerusalem, but the Gospel would also bring in some people from “all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). And it would not be limited by gender, either. The Holy Spirit used Luke, in writing the Book of Acts, to point out in numerous places the inclusion of women in the foundational days of the Church.

There were women praying with the disciples and Mary in Acts 1:14. These same women were filled with the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4). Multitudes of women were saved after the fear of the Lord motivated the Church (Acts 5:14). It was the needs of the widows that the Lord used to bring about the ordination of the first deacons (Acts 6:1-3). There were women who were courageous in the face of persecution (Acts 8:3). Samaritan women started being saved and baptized (Acts 8:12). God used Peter to raise a lady disciple named Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9:40). Mary the mother of John, surnamed Mark, graciously opened her home for a prayer meeting (Acts 12:12). A girl named Rhoda was there, and answered the door when Peter knocked (Acts 12:13-14). Timothy, the Apostle Paul’s right-hand man, had the advantage of a Godly mother and grandmother (Acts 16:1; II Timothy 1:5). A woman named Lydia was the first convert in Macedonia, and also generously opened her house to the Lord (Acts 16:14-15). The Apostle Paul commanded a demon to come out of a young girl in Acts 16:18. Many notable women were saved in Thessalonica and Berea (Acts 17:4; 12). This is only to mention a few. Thank the Lord for His grace toward men and women, boys and girls – all skin colors and nationalities.

Professing Atheists Are Incapable of Being “Good”

February 24, 2009 at 12:31 pm | Posted in ProfessingAtheists | 2 Comments
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Professing Atheist: Of course intelligent atheists read scripture, just like intelligent believers do. How else are atheists to debate with believers if not from a position of knowledge? I was a fundamentalist once, so I know how things look from where you are.

Christian: I am always encouraged when people read the Bible, so I appreciate your comment. I’m not sure if I’m a “fundamentalist.” We might disagree on what that term means. If it means trying to obey the fundamental principles of the Bible, and agreeing with many of the traditional fundamental tenets of the Christian faith, then I suppose you could call me a “fundamentalist.”

But it seems unlikely that you know what things look like to me, because I am holding fast to the Bible as the inspired Word of God (Hebrews 4:14; 10:23; II Timothy 1:13). I do not mean this to be insulting, but it appears that you did not “hold fast” to the fundamentals of the Christian faith, and they have slipped from your hands.

Professing Atheist: You challenge me to continue reading scripture. I will. Similarly, I challenge you to read the books written by Dawkins, Hitchens and others, so that you can understand for yourself where atheism is coming from. When I hear Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, the music invariably moves me to tears, even though it’s now about 629 times that I have heard it, and even though I reject the Holy Spirit (yes, you read that right).

Christian: You might profess to having rejected the Holy Spirit, but whether the Holy Spirit is still dealing with you is up to God, not you (Genesis 6:3; Romans 9:18).

Professing Atheist: Atheists do not have horns. We help old ladies across the road. We have loving and happy families. We do good because it is simply better for us all.

Christian: I am also glad you help elderly ladies cross the street. Many Christians do likewise, and then afterward offer to share the Gospel message with them. If they refuse to hear it, they help them cross again next time, anyway. Perhaps you give them a copy of a Hitchens or Dawkins book, perhaps not – I have no way of knowing. But there will come a day when many of the works which “seemed” good to men will be tried by fire, only to be burned up as hay, wood, and stubble. Some of the works of Christians, which were thought to be nothing more than debating techniques, will have eternal value, and will last (I Corinthians 3:11-14).


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