Beware the Furious Fiend

December 17, 2014 at 3:41 pm | Posted in Mark, The Fives | 7 Comments
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As Jesus and His followers entered the country of the Gadarenes, they encountered a man possessed by demons. This man, because of his condition, was both pitiful and terrifying.

And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.

Mark 5:5

A person controlled by Satan is a person who is constantly (“always, night and day”) subject to the oppression of his cruel and terrible master.

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

Ephesians 2:1-3

A demon-controlled person is a person who would exalt himself to a high place of rebellion against God (“in the mountains”).

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

Isaiah 14:12-14

He has a fascination with death (“in the tombs”).

But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.

Proverbs 8:36

The pawn of Satan is subject to bouts of depression and abject sorrow (“crying”) and self-abuse (“cutting himself”).

And they [the prophets of Baal] cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.

I Kings 18:28 (bracketed description added)

We get the idea that this demon-possessed man was unpredictable and violent, a scourge upon his community – for which the Gadarenes had no solution. However, Jesus had no fear at all. The man even recognized Him from afar, running toward Him and worshiping Him. Christ cast out the demons, and set the man free, commissioning him to serve the community he had previously tormented.

We must be like Jesus. Do not fear the fury of those who do not yet know Christ. Often the person who is at the greatest pains to show his hatred for God may be the person who is acting out of desperation in an attempt to convince himself or others that he is too fearsome, depraved, or far-gone to be reached with only thing that can really help: the Good News that Jesus saves.

Pride Is Everywhere

July 2, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 23 Comments
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Pride is ubiquitous in a fallen world inhabited by fallen people. The Bible compares pride to leaven because leaven has a way of secretly working its way into a lump of dough, and affecting the whole thing.

Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

I Corinthians 5:6-7

“Glorying” is another word for bragging. Could there be a simpler way to state it? Bragging is not good. Why not? Well, there are a variety of reasons, but, obviously, because God – our Maker and eternal Judge, the Author of life and truth – says it’s not good!

But bragging is what proud people are compelled to do. This phenomenon is especially prevalent on social media outlets such as Facebook. There is a certain (imagined) level of comfortable anonymity that comes from sitting in front of a keyboard or cell phone screen, which we would not necessarily feel standing face to face with an audience. This gives people the boldness to let everyone know just how pleased with ourselves we are, while at the same time giving us a chance to carefully craft our words before hitting “send” or “post” so that we don’t (at least we think we don’t) sound too obnoxious.

So, you get ridiculous statements like these:

“Y’all, I’m the most nonjudgmental person I know!” This statement mixes boasting with hypocrisy. How can you be the “most nonjudgmental” when you’ve just judged everyone else you know as being more judgmental than you?

“I’m one of the most humble people you’ll ever meet.” Really? Because you just bragged about your humility in front of everyone.

“I can honestly say that I don’t care what anyone thinks about me!” Except for everyone who reads this, right?

Then, there is the whole “role-reversal” of pride, where we have somehow redefined it to be a good thing. So we get folks who are proud of their country, proud of their kids, proud of the U.S. Soccer team, proud of their family or last name. And then we get upset when the blatant God-haters have a “Gay Pride” parade. At least they’re being honest about how their sins are related!

If you claim to be a Christian, try to think like a Christian for a minute. Christians are supposed to think Biblically, remember? God does not just frown upon pride or categorize it as “less than the best.” He actively hates it.

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

Proverbs 8:13

A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

Proverbs 29:23

These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue…

Proverbs 6:16-17

Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden there has been something in our human hearts that wants to take credit away from God in order to give it to ourselves. We invent ways to glorify ourselves, and we disguise our boasting with cunning words, or we just say what we have heard, and we think it’s okay because it’s what everyone else says. God hates this, and we will give an account for idle words one day. The solution is to remember the truth that we have nothing at all to brag about it, if we really think about it.

For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

I Corinthians 4:7

Let’s slaughter our pride on the altar of God’s glory, and stop speaking like fools.

Sacrificially Submitting Surrendered Sanctified Service

July 11, 2011 at 10:59 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Romans | 18 Comments
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I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

“Beseeching” is a passionate appeal. “Brethren” are other believers. “Presenting” is a daily process. Christians are supposed to be “living” sacrifices. We are supposed to be “holy.”

Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

I Peter 1:16

For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

Leviticus 11:45

Being living sacrifices who are holy and acceptable to God is our “reasonable” service. All Christians have the capability of doing it and doing it cheerfully.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2

The world wants you to be “conformed.” It wants you to be molded in the shape of everyone else who does not obey Christ. The world will put the squeeze on you and change your shape, but it does not have the power to make you grow. “Transforming” is from within. The Word of God has the power to renew us and make us grow. We must read it and heed it each day. Christians have the exciting opportunity to “prove” God’s good and perfect will. If you are truly a Christian nothing should stop you from being right in the center of God’s will.

We need to think of our bodies as living sacrifices before we begin each day. Consider your feet, legs, stomach, heart, arms, hands, neck, mouth, tongue – your whole physical body – to be surrendered to the service of Christ.

As an example, our natural tendency is to wake up in the morning and start thinking about what we will eat that day – what we’re going to put into our mouths. What we probably need to think about instead is what is going to come out of our mouths that day.

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

Proverbs 8:17

Have you surrendered your ears and eyes to the Lord today – to hear what He wants you to hear, and to see what He wants you to see? The surrender of my body and the renewal of my mind are daily requirements.

The same principle applies to the “Body” of Christ as a whole.

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

Romans 12:4-5

Our love for one another needs to be open, authentic, submissive, and renewed daily.

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

Romans 12:9

Tips for Teachers

August 18, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Posted in Biblical Teaching, II Corinthians | 6 Comments
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Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

II Corinthians 3:1-3

Christian teachers are to strive for excellence – to be the very best teachers we can be – not necessarily the best there are – but the best we can be. We may not have the most expensive materials or the fanciest facilities. Our students may not have read the lesson. In fact, they are more likely to read the teacher than the lesson. So we must make sure we are good “letters.”

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

“Fervent” is more than “not slothful.” We are to prepare our lessons while being mindful that we are serving the Lord. Don’t prepare just for the students – do it for the Lord.

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

Colossians 3:23

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

Proverbs 8:17

Planning ahead of time makes for smooth-sailing on the day of the lesson. Take some time thinking about and planning your routine.

Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

I Corinthians 4:2

As a teacher, be reliable. This is more than not missing the teaching time. It includes being trustworthy as a person. We want our students to grow in number, in knowledge, in maturity, and in fellowship and closeness.

For the body is not one member, but many.

I Corinthians 12:14

The Body of Christ is alive. A living body is an organism, but a disorganized organism will die. Therefore, teachers need to work together with each other and with those in other ministry positions. We need to work together and meet together. Not only are we valuable to each other, but we are valuable to the Lord.

Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:31

Right after Jesus proclaimed His authority He proceeded to allocate His authority to His disciples. But their enthusiasm must have been somewhat dampened when He told them what this authority meant, and how they were to use it. Our “value” lies in our willingness to serve. God doesn’t “need” me in the sense that He needs my permission to accomplish His will. Teachers have a target on them. We may only influence our students for an hour a week. They may be “taught” by someone else all the rest of the week. That’s going to lead to conflict once in a while between us and their “other teachers.” Just like some parts of the body protect other parts, we need to be loyal to each other. One of the reasons we value each other so much is because we know the Lord values us, and we are under His protection.

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Hebrews 6:10

It’s natural to start off life as a child, and it’s natural for a new believer to start off as a child. But teachers, like good parents, not only love their students, but want to see them grow up, too. Proper growth comes about from feeding (the Word), exercise (getting them involved in service), and instruction (the teaching itself). To encourage others to grow, we need to make sure we’re growing ourselves.

Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?

Romans 2:21

If students outgrow teachers, teachers are going to have trouble teaching them.

S.E.R.V.E. the Lord in Children’s Ministry

June 7, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Posted in Biblical Teaching | 4 Comments
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Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11, emphasis added

S.erving the Lord: Prepare for each week’s service as though you are serving the Lord – not just for your pastor or leader, or even the kids, but like you are doing it for the Lord.

E.arly: Don’t just be on time – be early! (at least 15 minutes)

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

Proverbs 8:17, emphasis added

R.eliable: Try not to miss your turn to help unless you absolutely have to.

Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

I Corinthians 4:2, emphasis added

V.aluable: You are a valuable part of your church family and of the team. Make it a priority to come to meetings.

For the body is not one member, but many.

I Corinthians 12:14

E.ncouraging: Encourage the kids all through the week. Call them, send cards, meet their parents, etc.

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Hebrews 6:10

S.erving
E.arly
R.eliable
V.aluable
E.ncouraging

The Know-It-Alls that Don’t Know Much

September 1, 2009 at 7:22 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting | 16 Comments
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The Book of Proverbs is a good place to find wisdom in all areas of life, including the area of child-rearing. When parents want to know what the Bible says children should grow up to be, they should start by finding out what the Bible says children already are.

Children are simple (Proverbs 7:7), in the sense of being unwise, and – not to put too fine a point on it – simply foolish (Proverbs 8:5). The simple, foolish, and unwise are marked by a list of very fundamental things about which they are ignorant, or, in other words, things about which they do not know.

Children do not know about danger.

A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.

Proverbs 27:12

Children do not know about discernment.

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.

Proverbs 15:17

Children do not know what is truly to be desired.

The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.

Proverbs 21:25

Children do not know what is truly to be despised.

A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.

Proverbs 15:5

Children do not know what is truly to be denied.

Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

Proverbs 30:7-9

Children do not know what is truly to be devised.

He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person.

Proverbs 24:8

Children do not know what is truly to be destroyed.

For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.

Proverbs 1:32

Children do not know what truly brings disgrace.

He that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother, is a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach.

Proverbs 19:26

Children do not know what truly brings despair.

A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.

Proverbs 17:25

Children do not know what causes true disrepair.

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

Proverbs 25:28

Children do not know what is truly disgusting.

A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.

Proverbs 13:5

Children do not know what is truly deadly.

Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.

Proverbs 15:10

Children do not know where to find direction.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:6

Children do not know from what to depart.

Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.

Proverbs 3:7

Foolishness comes naturally to children. It is bound up in their hearts. Parents face a tough task in trying to extricate, from the hearts of the little ones they love so much, ignorance of all these things: danger, discernment, desire, despicability, denial, devices, destruction, disgrace, despair, disrepair, disgust, death, direction, and departing. Thankfully, the Lord has given us clear instruction on one other thing that children do not know, but that will drive the foolishness from their hearts: discipline.

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Proverbs 22:15


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