Warning Sign #1: Demanding What You Deserve

April 22, 2010 at 11:44 am | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 8 Comments
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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
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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I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.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.

Perfect Unbreakable Love

November 20, 2009 at 10:52 am | Posted in Eternity | 5 Comments
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True Christianity is so difficult for the unregenerate person to comprehend. People are born with an innate understanding that there is a God, and that, because of the hidden wickedness of their own hearts, they are not righteous before this God. So far, so good. But here is where the problem appears. Unregenerate sinners are blind to spiritual truth. Therefore, they grope about in the dark, and come up with this plan: “I will do enough good things to make up for my bad things, and God will be pleased.”

This flies right in the face of God’s revealed truth, which is found in the pages of the Holy Bible (Ephesians 2:9), but it makes a certain type of worldly, humanistic sense. After all, are not people supposed to do good things? The answer is that people are supposed to do good things, but not as a way to make God our debtor. Instead, God, in His grace and mercy, and for Christ’s sake (Ephesians 4:32), forgives us our sins when we trust in Him, and that motivates and empowers us to do good things.

Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

Colossians 3:13

Notice what comes first in that verse. Christ forgives me first, then I am able to forgive others. Not the other way around: I do not earn Christ’s forgiveness by first forgiving others. The following verses shed even more light:

And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

Colossians 3:14

Charity (self-sacrificing, giving, Christian love) is first the act of God. And it is the bond of perfectness. We are to love others because Christ loved us first, and gave Himself for us (Ephesians 5:2). Christ’s love is so perfect and its bond is so unbreakable that the natural result is for me to want to emulate it after I have experienced it. However, even when my love fails, Christ’s love is still effectual. For Christ to reject the regenerate would make His love less than perfect, and His bond weak and breakable. These things simply cannot be.

The Work that Won’t Work

October 6, 2009 at 9:05 am | Posted in Romans, Salvation | 17 Comments
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Do you hope to one day start working your way to Heaven? Or have you already made a decision to start working your way there? The Bible tells us that there is no hope in either one of these plans.

And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Romans 11:6

The only way to Heaven is God’s way, and God brings people to Heaven by His grace. Grace is a free gift. If you work for something or pay for something, it is not a gift. A gift must be received, but it can not be paid for or earned.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:23

If you will not receive God’s grace in this life, you will receive His wrath in eternity.

Varied Results

September 24, 2009 at 9:29 am | Posted in Acts | 5 Comments
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From Thessalonica the Apostle Paul and his missionary team went to Berea.

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Acts 17:10-11

These were people who met daily to study the Scriptures. They must have almost been an easy “slam-dunk” for the Apostle Paul in terms of making converts, since his practice was to always use the Bible to witness in the synagogues.

In the meantime, Satan was using Jews from Thessalonica to continue to hound Paul in Berea.

But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.

Acts 17:13

Satan must have thought he was accomplishing something by at least keeping Paul constantly on the move – but that was exactly what God wanted.

In Athens Paul encountered a city of idolatry, novelty, and philosophy. The Athenians were so open-minded that it was as if their brains had fallen out.

Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.

Acts 17:16

Paul had another “paroxysm” – a fit. He seemed to be caught between Epicureans, whose theme was “enjoy life,” and Stoics, whose theme was “endure life.” He went to the synagogues and the marketplace. He was mocked and ridiculed.

Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

Acts 17:22

When Paul was invited to speak on Mars Hill he proclaimed that God is great.

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

Acts 17:24

Then he proclaimed that God is good.

Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

Acts 17:25

Then he proclaimed that God governs.

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

Acts 17:26

Then he proclaimed the grace of God.

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Acts 17:30-31

Some rejected the message, some wanted to hear more, and a small group was saved.

The Grace of Running Water

September 18, 2009 at 8:25 am | Posted in BiblicalSwimming, Ezekiel | 7 Comments
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When Ezekiel was given the vision of God’s healing waters, he noticed that some of the waters were running out from the “right” side of the altar.

Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar. Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side.

Ezekiel 47:1-2

This meant that some of the waters were flowing on the right hand, as opposed to the left hand, side, from Ezekiel’s point of view. However, we also use the word “right” to refer to something that is “correct” or “proper.” Therefore, we may take these verses as reminders that God’s grace, like running water, if not impeded by some barrier, will naturally go where it needs to go. In fact, water will seek the lowest level. The place where people are at their lowest, where they are most in need of help, and often where they are most desperate, is when they realize they are mired in sin. A person’s “lowest place” is the place where he is most in need of God’s grace, and, like the waters in Ezekiel’s vision, God’s grace always goes to the “right” place.

God’s Plan for Water Pollution

August 12, 2009 at 7:09 am | Posted in BiblicalSwimming, Ezekiel | 4 Comments
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Sometimes I wonder if water may be one of the greatest things God created. It has many uses, and so much potential. Few and far between are the days that I don’t try to get it all over me in an attempt to get clean, or at least cool off.

When God showed Ezekiel the vision of God’s grace, flowing like water and glorifying God, a key function of these waters were that they healed the other waters which had become polluted and contaminated.

Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.

Ezekiel 47:8

This passage is a prophecy of the future, but it also contains a wonderful principle for our lives today. Are there areas of your life which started out pure, devoted to God, but which have become contaminated by worldly interests, fleshly laziness, or secret pride? The parts of your life which once proclaimed Christ’s victory and your deliverance do not have to be allowed to dry up and die. The medicinal waters of God’s grace can bring new passion and life.

And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.

Ezekiel 47:9

Imagine – living water healing dying water! The water of God’s Word, and the water of God’s Spirit, and the water of God’s grace can cleanse the filthiest pool, stream, river, or sea, if we will seek it.

R.C. Sproul “S.W.I.M.s” with Thanksgiving

May 15, 2009 at 9:12 am | Posted in Quotes | 5 Comments
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We live in a world of grace, swimming in it like fish, by God’s grace, swim in water. Which means in turn that we ought to be swimming in a world of thanksgiving.

R.C. Sproul

God the Father; Grace the Mother

February 9, 2009 at 12:59 pm | Posted in Quotes | 3 Comments
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Grace is the mother and nurse of holiness, and not the apologist of sin.

-Charles H. Spurgeon

We must be thankful that God loves His children enough to chasten them. A father who indulges his children, even in the things that harm them, cannot be said to truly love them. The love of God for His children, however, is a perfect love. The evidence of that love is both kindness and chastening.

-Ministry Addict


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