Winsome Weeding

January 23, 2017 at 5:57 pm | Posted in Biblical farming, parables | 4 Comments
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The agricultural principles of sowing, watering, and reaping are commonly used to illustrate evangelism in the Bible. (See Psalm 126:6, Luke 8:4-15, I Corinthians 3:6-9.)

One aspect that tends to be overlooked, though, is the principle of “weeding.” Sometimes the seed of the Gospel can be planted, but thorny weeds tend to choke out growth before strong and true roots can be established.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

Matthew 13:7

Jesus warned us not to treat professing brothers and sisters in the faith as though they need to be pulled up and thrown out like weeds masquerading as fruitful plants, even if we suspect they may be false professors, although certainly God knows those who are truly His and will sort them out at the proper time.

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Matthew 13:24-30

When it comes to pulling things up by the roots, we need to be mainly focused on our own hearts, because the weed of bitterness can easily spring up before we realize it, and it will serve not only as a an obstacle across our own path, but it will cause others to stumble and fall, as well.

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Hebrews 12:14-15

So, while we need to exercise great care with those who have heard, and may be considering, the Good News about Jesus and His salvation, there might indeed be a need, along with the need for planting, watering, and harvesting, to do a little weed-pulling in our evangelistic efforts. A diligent farmer checks his field regularly for unwanted weeds which steal nutrients, sunlight, and room to grow from the crop he has planted and watered. In our soulwinning ministry, we need preaching planters, wise waterers, and holy harvesters, but we also need winsome weeders. Be a good friend to those who have heard the Gospel but have not yet believed. Invite them to investigate the Truth of the Bible more closely, answer their questions, and do what the Lord allows you to do to eliminate worldly, sinful, and Satanic distractions while the Holy Spirit does His work.

This Is Going to Hurt Me More than It’s Going to Hurt You

June 14, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Posted in Common Expressions, Hebrews | 1 Comment
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Chastening is sometimes referred to as punishment, but since it really has a goal of correction, rehabilitation, and restoration, it would probably be better thought of as discipline rather than punishment. Strictly speaking, a criminal sentenced to prison has not been chastened; he has been punished to pay a price for doing wrong regardless of whether he mends his ways. However, punishment may turn out to be chastening, depending on the response of the person being punished. Punishment has to do with the goal of the punisher, although it may be transformed into chastisement in the mind of the one being punished. Chastisement has to do with the goal of the chastiser and the response of the one being chastised. It is very important to understand this distinction. When I chastise my children, they can respond in one of two ways: (1) with bitterness and a determination not to be broken; or (2) with a contrite heart and willing obedience. Can there be joy in chastening? Not during – it’s grievous for both parties while it’s going on.

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Hebrews 12:11

The oft-parodied parental expression from the parent about to administer a spanking to his child is, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you,” and, although the child would beg to differ, it is is true that it does hurt a loving parent to chastise his child with corporal discipline. But think how much more it must hurt our loving God!

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

Ephesians 4:30

Grief is worse than sadness or mourning. Grief is a painful regret mixed with indignation and sorrow. It’s an amazing thing that I can grieve the Holy Spirit – I ought to strive not to do it – but, when I’m chastened, I must respond to it the right way, and grow and profit from it. If I don’t, I will be guilty of spurning the Word of God and making the chastening a root of bitterness. It’s bad enough to have a root of bitterness springing up between believers, but the devil wants a root of bitterness to spring up between me and God. When I am tending the garden of my heart, it’s not enough to love flowers – to love the spiritual fruit I should be bearing. I must also hate weeds, and be constantly digging up the roots of bitterness.

The Bible calls the tool that you use to discipline your children “the rod of correction.” We sometimes call it a “paddle,” and there is another spiritual (albeit embarrassing) lesson in the Bible about the “paddle.”

And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:

Deuteronomy 23:13

Most translations say “equipment” or “spade” or “implement,” but the King James Version calls it a “paddle.” The paddle in this verse is for burying – outside the camp – that which would defile and make unclean a camp of God’s people. That’s what we need to do with bitterness – deal with it – go outside the camp and bury it – not bring it in among the family of God.

In the Christian race, we are to look diligently.

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Hebrews 12:15

We are to look diligently for a root of bitterness, because such a root will hinder our relationship with God, and because, by it, many will be defiled. If we don’t look where we’re running, we might step in something and track it into the house of another believer, or worse, into the house of the Lord – the local church – and cause a big stink.

A Closer Race with Thee

May 23, 2016 at 1:41 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 2 Comments
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Hebrews Chapter 12 starts of with a “wherefore,” which – similar to a “therefore” – reminds us to take into consideration what we’ve just learned.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Hebrews 12:1

The witnesses are the heroes of the faith from Chapter 11, and they are not “witnesses” in the sense of being spectators. They are witnesses in the sense that their testimonies, and what we know about them from the Bible, witness to us. Their testimonies let us know that, if they did it, we can do it, too.

If the Christian life is a race, we need training for the race – and the training is ongoing as we run at different levels, drawing nearer and nearer to God:

One, we look at those who have finished the race – and won the race – before (the cloud of witnesses, patriarchs of the faith).

Two, we consider what kind of shape we’re in to start. Are we weighted down? Weights are useful for training, but no one would run the actual race with his weights. A batter in the on-deck circle does his practice swings with a weighted donut around the barrel of the bat, but he makes sure to take it off before stepping up to the plate. In the Christian race we lay aside “every weight” – even so-called “harmless” things. Remember, the question for the mature believer who is drawing closer and closer to God is not, “What’s wrong with that?” but “What’s right with that?”

No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

II Timothy 2:4

We lay aside every weight and “sins that easily beset us.” We know we can’t draw nigh while we’re all weighted down – especially with sin.

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

Hebrews 12:14

We are not going to come into the presence of God – as confident believers who know better – without some degree of holiness. We cannot have total and complete holiness, for this is impossible for flesh and blood, but we must have some holiness. God said, “Be ye holy; for I am holy,” and He wouldn’t have told us to do it if it was impossible.

Three, we look at the One Who truly did it.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

Hebrews 12:2-3

We have to draw close to “consider.” Christ is our best example for running the race. He didn’t use His powers to coast through His earthly life. Like Job, he was tempted, but to a far greater extent. He exercised faith – built up in prayer – used with the Word of God as a sharp weapon. Christ is not only our example, He is our enabler. He gives us the patience (really, endurance) and the strength to run the race.

Weeping with the Enemy

June 22, 2015 at 2:38 pm | Posted in Weeping Creeping and Sleeping with the Enemy | 5 Comments
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The Israelites were traveling as a nation. They carried their place of worship – their Tabernacle – with them. They were strangers in a strange land. They were supposed to stay separated from the pagans they encountered because God did not want the false religions and these false gods they worshiped corrupting His people.

So, instead of attacking the Israelites, the Moabites sent women into their camp – women who did not have the same standards of purity and marital fidelity that God had commanded His people to have.

And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.

Numbers 25:1-2

This was so much more effective than attacking with an army of soldiers. It caused their own God and their own earthly leader, Moses, to have to deal with this sin very harshly.

And the Lord said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel.

Numbers 25:4

God told Moses to “take the heads” of the families, which does not mean that He ordered them to be decapitated, but that He wanted the leaders and princes of the tribes – the ones who had failed to restrain their families – to be rounded up. They were to be killed and displayed before sundown – in broad daylight – so that everyone could see, and possibly so that their bodies were left hanging up, and not buried, to show that they were cursed as Covenant-violators. God also sent a plague into the camp, and people were dying by the thousands from what appeared to be disease.

And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor.

Numbers 25:5

Now we see why there was weeping: Israelites killing Israelites; dead bodies everywhere; God angry – fiercely angry – at His own people for their rebellion and sin, after all He had done for them. This is a brutal tableau.

Generally in the Bible there are two types of weeping. There is genuine weeping over genuine sorrow – sometimes caused by the pain of separation and even death – but often caused by sincere repentance over sin. One example is:

And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.

II Samuel 15:30

King David’s son, Absalom, had rebelled against him because of David’s own sin. David wept, though, not out of despair, and not because he thought he was getting an unfair deal. He wept because He knew His Heavenly Father was displeased, but forgiveness was still available.

Another good example is:

Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore.

Ezra 10:1

As Ezra was trying to rebuild the Temple, the people fell into sin, divorcing their wives and marrying pagan women. The result was that people began weeping in confession (agreeing with God) and repentance (determined to try to make things right). God does not turn away those who are truly brokenhearted, if they are brokenhearted because they have betrayed Him.

Weeping selfishly is a sign of immaturity in babies when they do it as a means to get their own way, but it is actually a sign of maturity for Christians who finally see the depths of our sin, and the richness of God’s mercy in forgiving us.

There is also, though, a type of weeping which is useless. One example is:

For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Hebrews 12:17

The weeping of Esau was the weeping of the “I wish I had not done that, because it did not work out well for me” variety. His tears were not the tears that say, “I am sorry for what I did because it was against the God Who loved me.”

Another is example is:

Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.

Luke 13:23-28

This is the weeping of “it’s too late for me now” and the weeping of “I’m sorry I got caught,” not the weeping of “I was wrong and God was right. I humble myself and ask for the mercy I do not deserve.”

There is a weeping before the Lord, and these tears affect Him because they are really about Him and our relationship with Him, but there is a weeping with the enemy, too, whether that enemy is Satan, the world, or our own flesh. This weeping falls under the category of feeling sorry for ourselves, and it results in tears that wash the altar of a false little god called “me.” They are ineffectual and useless tears, and if you and I find ourselves having this kind of pity party, we don’t need a pat on the back or a soothing lullaby. We need a strong dose of Bible truth and a good Holy Spirit-shaking and slap across the face, in order to get the focus off of ourselves, and to get it on the crucified and resurrected Savior Who has the power to wipe away all tears once and for all in eternity.

The Trap of Looking too Low

September 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 2 Comments
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Samson: a man known for his tremendous, albeit supernatural, physical strength. Among his various exploits, the most well-known is probably his tryst with, and betrayal by, the Philistine seductress, Delilah. If pressed to name another Samsonite adventure though, the average church-attender would probably say, “One time, Samson killed a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey!”

And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.

Judges 15:14-15

When Samson had accomplished this mighty task, he found that he was parched, but he still had the energy to pause and compose a little ditty to celebrate his victory:

And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.

Judges 15:16

This verse loses some of its lyrical wit when translated into English, but the idea is that there is a play on the Hebrew words for “ass” or “donkey” (chamowr in Hebrew) and “heap” (chamorah in Hebrew). The theologian James Moffatt tried to capture the flavor of the pun by paraphrasing the verse. In his translation, Samson’s song or poem would go something like this:
With the jawbone of an ass
I have piled them in a mass.
With the jawbone of an ass
I have assailed assailants.
With the jawbone of an ass
I have slain a thousand men.

Catchy, huh? From Samson’s point of view it was just another day in a life filled with whatever came to pass as he pursued his passions and battled his personal demons. We might expect a man with Samson’s calling and endued with such power to use this miraculous feat as the launching point for a concerted effort to unite his countrymen, draw near to God in gratitude and trust, and to throw off the yoke of the Philistine oppressors once and for all. Alas, it was not to be. In the very next chapter Samson goes into Gaza to visit a prostitute.

What was Samson’s problem? It appears to have been a vision problem. Instead of looking up to God, he kept his sights trained on the day-to-day, the mundane, and the instantly gratifying sensations of fleshly adventure. In other words, he looked – and aimed – far too low.

May we not fall into this trap ourselves. We were made and redeemed by God for purposes far greater than the temporal pursuit of pleasure. But we need to fix our eyes in the right direction, or we will quickly forget our holy calling.

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

II Corinthians 4:18 (emphasis added)

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:1-2 (emphasis added)

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2 (emphasis added)

Snakes on a Plain (Part 1)

October 1, 2012 at 10:11 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.

Numbers 21:4

During the wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, there were times when God’s people encountered mountains and valleys, but many times they were on the “plain.” In our lives there are spiritual valleys and mountains. Sometimes life seems like a series of crises. You’re either in a valley, on a mountain, or heading up or down one or the other. But in reality, most of the time, we’re on the “plain.”

The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.

Ecclesiastes 1:5

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9

The plain seems like a safe place, but it can be dangerous. “Plain” has two meanings. It can mean “level ground” or it can mean “vanilla or ordinary.” On a plain you can see in all directions, so you can see trouble coming. Coming, that is, from everywhere but within. Even on a plain, it can be difficult to see trouble coming from within your own group of friends or from within ourselves. That is one of the reasons that the Bible tells us to be:

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Hebrews 12:15

And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.

Numbers 21:4-5

God’s people were complaining about the manna He was sending them even though manna was just what they needed and just what God wanted them to have. You can hear the whining in the description, “light bread.”

And the LORD sent fiery serpents …

Numbers 21:6

Theses fiery serpents are the “Snakes on a Plain” in the title of this lesson, and the first point is:

Snakes on a Plain: Snakes Produce Paranoia

https://i1.wp.com/seedmagazine.com/images/uploads/snakebrain.jpg

If you were to list the most common “phobias,” three of the items on your list would probably be public speaking, going to the dentist, and snakes. “Paranoia” is the feeling that someone – or everyone – is out to get you, whether or not the feeling is justified. And the fact is, just because you are paranoid, it does not mean that someone is not out to get you. As Christians we have three main enemies: the devil, the world, and the flesh. These folks in Numbers chapter 21 were ungrateful, but, more than that, they were complainers. And even more than that, they lacked faith. Their reaction to these snakes on a plain was paranoia.

Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.

Numbers 21:7

Notice, they didn’t come to Moses and say, “Where are all these snakes coming from?” They said, “We have sinned…” I can’t say enough bad things about sin, but if the snakes of sin – the fiery serpents of sin – are loose in your life, one of the results is that you are going to be paranoid.

The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

Proverbs 28:1

The people who came to Moses in Numbers 21 didn’t say, “We’ve been bitten, ask God to heal us.” They said, “Ask God to take them away.” They weren’t exhibiting faith – they were exhibiting paranoia.

Next time we will see that snakes produce poison.

Discipleship Lesson 7: Sin

March 11, 2011 at 10:11 am | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 20 Comments
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If you are a Christian, when you were born again (regenerated by the Holy Spirit), you became a new “man,” (or new woman if you are female.) But the old man did not disappear. The old man – in the image of Adam – has a sinful nature. The new man – in Christ Jesus – has God’s nature. These two men are at war with each other. It is an intense struggle.

I. What is sin?

A. Sin is breaking God’s law.

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

I John 3:4

B. Sin is any unrighteousness.

All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

I John 5:17

C. Sin is anything done apart from faith.

And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Romans 14:23

II. What causes sin?

A. My inherited sinful nature causes me to sin.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 5:12

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

I Corinthians 15:45-49

B. My old nature draws me into sin.

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

James 1:14-15

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Romans 7:14-25

C. We are tempted in three major areas: we like to feel good; we like to look at that which is pleasing to the eyes; we like to feel important in the eyes of others.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

I John 2:16

III. How does God deal with sin in the life of a Christian?

A. God judged at our sin at Calvary.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:21

B. God chastens His children when they continue in sin.

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Hebrews 12:6

C. God allows us to reap what we have sown.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Galatians 6:7-8

IV. How can a Christian get the victory over sin?

A. By accepting responsibility for his own sin.

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Proverbs 28:13

B. By refusing to allow sinful thoughts to control his mind.

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

C. By not giving the flesh an opportunity to achieve its desires.

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Romans 13:14

D. By remembering that he is dead to sin in Jesus Christ.

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:11

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

Colossians 3:1-10

D. By agreeing with God about his sin (judging it).

But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.

I Corinthians 11:31-32

E. By confessing his sins to God.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I John 1:9

F. By recognizing that God has made a way to escape from every temptation.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

I Corinthians 10:13

G. By remembering God’s Word.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

H. By trusting God’s promises and praying.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

II Corinthians 7:1

I. By walking in the Holy Spirit.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16

J. By being led by, and following after, the Holy Spirit.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Romans 8:1

K. By submitting himself to regular examinations by the Holy Ghost.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

V. Memory Verses

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:11

Strange Weapons Lesson 1: The Prod (comparisons and conclusion)

March 9, 2011 at 11:01 am | Posted in Biblical farming, Strange Weapons | 9 Comments
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Last time we looked at the background information on Shamgar and his ox-goad (or cattle prod), which you can read about in Judges 3:31 and 5:6. Here are three comparisons between Shamgar’s prod, which he used as a weapon, and the weapons of our spiritual warfare today:

1. A prod is used in provoking.

And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Acts 9:1-5

Before the Apostle Paul became the Apostle Paul he was the dreaded Saul of Tarsus, the scourge of the early Christian church, and one day he was charging down the road to Damascus like an angry bull. Suddenly, he felt the prodding of the Holy Spirit. Have you ever been prodded by the Holy Spirit?

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25, emphasis added

The Greek word which is translated as “provoke” in Hebrews 10:24 is paroxysmos, from which we get the word “paroxysm,” and which means “a violent fit.” This shows how serious and earnest and even urgent we are to be as we provoke each other to love and to good works. The Holy Spirit prodded Saul as he was traveling to attack Christians, but we, as Christians today, are supposed to prod each other and exhort each other to get into the battle and fight our enemy, Satan.

2. A prod is used in plowing.

For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.

Jeremiah 4:3, emphasis added

If you’ve ever done any farming or gardening, you know that ground must be broken up before seeds can be planted.

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26

In addition to breaking up the ground before planting, there are usually stones which must be removed from the earth before the ground is soft and useful.

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Luke 9:62

Plowing is not a one-time-only event for a farmer. Plowing is continuous work in the life of a farmer. Allowing the Holy Spirit to use us to break up hard hearts, to remove stony obstacles, and to stay busy moving forward in the Christian life are all important parts of our spiritual warfare.

3. A prod is used in purifying.

Remember that part of Shamgar’s prod (ox-goad) was used for cleaning off dirt. There was a sharp point on the front end and a small spade on the back end. This is a picture of the Holy Spirit’s role in cleaning out the sin in our lives so that we can be pure and used of God. The part of the prod that cleans the plow also makes the plow lighter, thereby making it work better and more efficiently. As a Christian I certainly want to be free from sin, but there are many things which may not necessarily be sinful in and of themselves. These things become a problem when they consume my attention and energy, and take me out of the battle that Christ wants me to be fighting.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Hebrews 12:1

The Holy Spirit may be speaking to us right now and telling us to lay aside every weight that would keep us from finishing the work in our assigned field.

CONCLUSION AND REVIEW

A prod is a strange weapon, but Shamgar lived in a time when the Philistines had taken away all the Israelites’ conventional weapons (I Samuel 13:19). I am afraid that the world and the devil are stripping Christians of our weapons today. The world may take away public prayer, Bible study in the schools, the right to speak out at work, but, if and when that happens, will you take your “prod” and use it for the Lord? Our warfare and our weapons are not conventional because we are in a spiritual, not a physical, war. Does your automobile become a strange weapon when you use it to drive to someone’s house to tell them about Jesus or to the hospital to pray for a sick person? Do your shoes become strange weapons when you wear them to walk up and down the streets of your neighborhood, inviting folks to church and sharing the Gospel? Is a pecan pie a spiritual weapon when you bake it and take it to your neighbor who needs a friend in times of trouble? Is your telephone a strange weapon when you use it to call someone who hasn’t been to Sunday School in a while and invite them to come back? Will you take whatever is at hand to provoke, to plough, to purify?

Discipleship Lesson 1: Salvation

October 15, 2010 at 10:38 am | Posted in Discipleship Lessons, Salvation | 26 Comments
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Discipleship Lesson 1 is on salvation.

SALVATION

I. The two spiritual families

A. The devil’s family

The way to get into the devil’s family is simply by being physically born. Every human being comes into the world as a member of the devil’s family, since we have been conceived in sin and born in corruption. Not everyone likes to use the terminology of being a “child of the devil.” I am not implying that the devil creates human beings. He is a created being himself and lacks the power to create a living soul. It is also correct to say that we are born into this world as sons of Adam, and to say that we are born as children of wrath and children of disobedience. But all unsaved people are slaves to sin, and therefore slaves to Satan.

In one sense, the “children of the devil” are those who believe they are religious, but base their attempts at righteousness on a lie.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

John 8:44

You enter the devil’s family by birth through your physical forefather, Adam.

And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:

Genesis 5:3

Adam’s image and likeness after the commission of sin and the “fall” in the Garden of Eden, is that of a fallen sinner.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 5:12

We inherited our sin nature from our “father,” Adam. Therefore, we are sentenced to die. We have to be “born again” because, up until then, we’ve only been born once – physically. We are dead spiritually before salvation.

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

Romans 6:23

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

I Corinthians 15:22

B. God’s family

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

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:3

As a result of your new birth, you have inherited eternal life.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

John 6:47

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

John 3:36

He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

I John 5:12

II. There should be a “family resemblance.”

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:19

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

II Corinthians 6:14-18

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

II Corinthians 5:17-18

III. There is a “Father – son” relationship.

A. Fathers discipline and forgive their children; children love their fathers and desire to be forgiven when they have offended them.

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

I John 2:1

B. Fathers protect their children spiritually.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Matthew 6:18

C. Fathers provide for their children.

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

D. Fathers protect their children physically.

[To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth.] God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1

E. Fathers teach their children.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 14:26

F. Fathers care about their children.

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

I Peter 5:7

G. Fathers love to give gifts to their children.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Matthew 7:11

IV. A saved person will still sin.

A. God commands His children not to sin.

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

Colossians 3:5-10

Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

II Corinthians 4:14-18

B. God has broken sin’s power over His children.

I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Romans 7:25

C. God chastens His children in love.

And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Hebrews 12:5-11

D. God forgives His children when they confess their sins to Him.

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

I John 1:6-10

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Proverbs 28:13

V. Questions

A. How does someone enter God’s family?

By receiving Jesus as his Savior and being born again.

B. Find three verses that promise you eternal life.

John 6:47; John 3:36; I John 5:12

C. After salvation, God deals with you as:
a. a sinner
b. a son
c. a partner

Answer: a son

D. True or false?

1. Everyone must earn his or her way to Heaven. (F)
2. Sin must be confessed to a Christian leader in order to be forgiven. (F)
3. Each person can choose his or her own path to Heaven. (F)

VI. Memory verses

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 5:12

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:3

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I John 1:9

Next time: Discipleship Lesson 2: Everlasting Security

The Last but Not the Least – Part 2

August 20, 2010 at 10:05 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 6 Comments
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Previously, we saw that:

Being content brings generosity, but being covetous brings greed.

Now we will see that:

Being content brings gratitude.

What are you thankful for? “Count your many blessings – name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done,” says an old hymn. Do you ever feel like God has not really done so much for you? Do you ever think that your car isn’t the fanciest car, or maybe parts of it don’t even work that well? Do you ever get depressed because your house isn’t the nicest house? Do you sometimes think your marriage is not all you hoped it would be, and wonder, why did I wind up with this spouse? Are there times when your kids are behaving like heathens, tormenting you to death, and you think, why can’t they be like so-and-so’s kids? When that happens, grab your steering wheel and say, “Thank You, Lord – this is the car You’ve given me – it gets me from work to home and home to work – thank You for it!” Husbands, when your wife isn’t always nice and sweet – or when you wish she looked like she did when you first married her – or when you wish she looked like that Hollywood actress or model – look at your wife and say, “Thank You, Lord – this is the wife You’ve given me!” Wives, when you think, why can’t my husband be more romantic – why can’t he spend more time with me or with the kids, why doesn’t he ask me how my day was, or why is he too tired to talk after working all day – look at your husband and say, “Thank You, Lord – thank You for a husband that works, that supports the family!” Parents, look at your kids and say, “Thank You, Lord, for these kids – these are the kids You’ve given me – I love them – help me to be a help to them!”

When you are not satisfied with your husband, your wife, your job, your home – when your children don’t make good grades like someone else’s children, ask God to change things – but THANK HIM for what He’s given you already. Contentment is when a Christian draws on Jesus Christ for his or her joy. Covetousness is when you blame God because you think deep down He didn’t know what was best – that He gave to somebody else what He should have given to you. Be very careful about thinking you know better than God. He sees things we don’t see – and He knows who can handle what. I once heard an evangelist named John Bishop say, “If we took all our problems and hung them on a line, you’d choose yours, and I’d choose mine.”

Being content brings gratitude, but being covetous brings gall.

What is gall? It’s the Bible word for bitterness. When God brought His people out of Egypt He warned them not to covet after all the things and the possessions and the ways of the Egyptians and the Canaanites.

(For ye know how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which ye passed by; And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:) Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;

Deuteronomy 29:16-18

According to God, the water of covetousness is poisonous water. This poisoned water waters a poisonous little root – a root of bitterness. And bitterness, when it grows into full bloom, doesn’t just defile you – the Bible says beware of a root of bitterness because many therewith will be defiled.

The things and the people in your life that tempt you to covet may be ordained by God to make you like Christ. Don’t spit in God’s face by being covetous – by wanting what He’s given to someone else. The grass is not always greener on the other side – sometimes the grass is Astroturf – and you’ll die trying to digest it.

Next time: Being content brings glory to God, but being covetous brings grief to a generation.

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