18 September 2009

Patience – 9.26.09

Hebrews 10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

That verse is for me. I don't know about you, but I have need of patience.

Patience is one of those things that people want – but don't want to go through the necessary process in order to get it…because the Bible says that acquiring patience involves the trying of one's faith (James 1:2-3). The recipe for patience includes the bitter ingredient of tribulation (Romans 5:3-5).

Here's how it often works. We get saved, or we get on fire for God. We start to read the Bible. We dig even deeper and start to study the Bible. We listen to preaching and hang on every word. We memorize scriptures. We go out and witness. We surrender our lives to the will of God.

It's at this point that many then begin to search for "God's will for their life." That's admirable – but there's a better way. You see, God's will is clearly revealed in God's word (see Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 5:17), and those who spend their time SEARCHING for the will of God would be much better off busying themselves in DOING the will of God. Because when you do the will of God, you'll find IN TIME that He always comes through on His promise.

If you trust in Him with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding and acknowledge Him in all His ways and fear the Lord and depart from evil, He WILL direct your path (Proverbs 3:5-7)! He'll use you, He'll bless you, He'll guide you, He'll provide for you.

If you need a spouse, He'll give you a spouse (Matthew 6:33). If you're ready for a ministry, He'll put you in the ministry (2 Timothy 1:12). Just do everything you know to do and WAIT on God to do what He said He would.

And there's the problem. We want God to work on our timetable. But God's timetable is better, and He wants to teach us to work on His (the trying of your FAITH – James 1:2). And the only way for us to obtain patience is to wade through this river called "TIME" that separates doing the will of God from receiving His promise.

So when you find yourself in one of those necessary waiting periods of life (of which there are many), don't be discouraged. Just do God's will. Believe His word. Trust His plan (2 Samuel 22:31). And wait to reap the desired result.

You can't get spiritual maturity and fruitfulness without patience (James 1:4; 2 Peter 1:5-8; Luke 8:15), and you can't get patience without trying and testing (James 1:2-3; Romans 5:3-5). So count it all joy, and keep your eyes fixed on the prize (Hebrews 10:35; Philippians 3:13-14).

17 September 2009

Are You A Good Person – 9.17.09

Why I Use the Law in Witnessing:

  • Because the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul (Psalm 19:7)
  • Because it is given to stop EVERY mouth and make ALL THE WORLD guilty before God (Romans 3:19)
  • Because by the law is the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20)
  • Because the law entered that the offence might abound (Romans 5:20)
  • Because I had not known sin, but by the law (Romans 7:7)
  • Because it is holy, just, and good (Romans 7:12)
  • Because it makes my sin exceeding sinful (Romans 7:13)
  • Because it is our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ (Galatians 3:24)
  • Because it puts men under a curse (Galatians 3:10)
  • Because it is good when used lawfully (1 Timothy 1:8-10)
  • Because it defines sin (1 John 3:4) and makes men guilty (James 2:10)
  • Because on judgment day the books will be opened and the dead will be judged according to their works (Revelation 20:13)
  • Because Gentiles who are not under the law are condemned by the law written in their hearts (Romans 2:1-16) and by this law is sin imputed to them (Romans 5:13)
  • Because certain commandments contained in the law are not exclusive to the Hebrew law (it's not a sin for a Gentile or Christian to eat pork, but it is a sin for either to lie)
  • Because it explains the reason for Christ's death (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
  • Because Ray Comfort is funny

15 September 2009

The Sin of Unbelief – 9.15.09

Hebrews 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

The sin of unbelief. It's the only sin that will damn a man to hell – the truly unpardonable sin. When Jesus gave His life on the cross, was buried, and rose again, He paid the price for the sin of all mankind. "The blood of Jesus Christ…cleanseth us from ALL sin" (1 John 1:7), and there is no sin outside the bounds of God's forgiveness. A man can commit any sin in the book – and be forgiven – when he repents and turns to the Savior (be careful not to pervert the amazing extent of God's grace as a license to go commit any of those sins). But a man who does not believe on Jesus Christ finds no such forgiveness – no matter what his sin, no matter what his level of religious devotion, etc.

The sin of unbelief, like pride, is also a root sin. Hebrews 3:12 says that ANY departure from God ultimately stems from an evil heart of unbelief. Why is it that we as Christians – saved and on our way to heaven by the grace of God – fail to do what we should? In some way, at some point, it's a failure to believe the word of God. Why is that we as Christians – cleansed and forgiven and eternally secure – do what we shouldn't? It's because we fail to believe the Bible.

"Lord, increase our faith" (Luke 17:5). We know what God's word says to do. We know what God's word says not to do. And the Bible is very clear about the consequences we can expect either way.

Hebrews 3:13
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

But sin steps in and deceives us. Somehow it convinces us that God didn't mean what He said; that the consequences won't be all that bad; that we've got this under control and can stop whenever we want; that it'll be worth it. LIES!

Let's make up our minds that God means what He says in His book; that things will really turn out the way He said they would; and we'd be best off simply following Him.

Galatians 6:7-8
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.

13 September 2009

Maniac of Gadara – 9.13.09

Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-40 both record one of my favorite accounts in all the gospels of the miracles Jesus performed during His earthly ministry. The wonderful, life-changing power of Jesus Christ is seen in this man, who in a single day went from running around naked like a crazy man to sitting at Jesus' feet, clothed and in his right mind.

What was this man's problem? What caused him to lose his right mind? Well, in some way, he had put himself under the control and influence of an unclean spirit (see Ephesians 4:27). The above-referenced passages shed some interesting light on some of the marks of satanic influence.


Luke 8:27 says that he ware no clothes. In every Biblical case since the man and woman were alone in the garden (Genesis 2:25), any type of open nakedness is a shameful thing to those who recognize the presence of God (Adam & Eve, Genesis 3; Noah, Genesis 9; Peter, John 21; et al).

God says cover yourself. And His word doesn't change with the temperature or the location or your activity. It's not OK to be naked (by the biblical definition) just because it's 95 in Florida or you're at the beach. It's not OK to uncover your flesh because you're working out or cutting the grass or taking a swim or going somewhere where everyone else is doing it.


This man could not be bound. He could not be controlled. No man could tame him (Luke 8:29; Mark 5:3-4). In 1 Samuel 15:22-23 God equates rebellion with witchcraft. In other words, according to the Bible it is just as satanic to be a rebel as it is to be a witch.


This man ran among the tombs, cutting himself with stones (Mark 5:5). Reminds me of the prophets of Baal in the showdown with Elijah atop Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18. In their attempts to get their false god to answer by fire, the Bible says they cut themselves with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.

Somebody who is interested in hurting himself/herself needs help (Ephesians 5:29). And the root of their problem is not depress or self-esteem or any of that, it's that somehow in some way, they have allowed themselves to come under the influence of some type of unclean spirit.

Seems to me this country is full of people who have lost their right mind and allowed their lives to be influenced by the god of this world, and it's all because they have refused to submit their lives to the will of God and resist the enemy that seeks to destroy their lives and devour their souls (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8).

The devil cannot overpower us, but He'd sure love to deceive us and ensnare us (2 Timothy 2:26). Let's not be ignorant of His devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). And let's be strong in the power of our mighty God (Ephesians 6:10-11).

09 September 2009

Help – 9.9.09

Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Psalm 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

Coming across that first verse in my Bible reading this morning took my mind back to an experience I had this past Sunday night (and many other times prior to that). My wife and I stopped to do a little grocery shopping on the way home from church Sunday night. As we loaded my car, a man approached us with this story:

He just moved to the area from KY for his job, which is going very well. He doesn't have a place yet, but the VA is helping him move into an apartment this Tuesday (as he points to the letters "USMC" tattooed on his arm). He's not asking for any money. He has some money. But when he went to his church and asked for help all they gave him was some bread and some peanut butter (that's all), and his wife is pregnant and about to have a baby, and he's just asking for some help with some food for them.

There was more to it, but I can't remember all of it. May I point out a couple of loopholes?

1. The alcohol on his breath told me that he had enough money for food and that he really was asking for money.

2. I might not have noticed the alcohol on his breath as quickly had he not been clutching breath mints when he approached us.

3. What's wrong with peanut butter and bread (OK, maybe he was just asking for some jelly)?

4. If he has money, why not go in the store and buy some food.

5. A "USMC" tattoo on one's arm is not sufficient proof of military service and/or VA benefits.

6. So the VA can give you a place to stay but can't come up with anything to eat?

7. Not everybody is dumb enough to believe everything they hear from every bum that approaches them in the parking lot.

There are more, but I can't remember them all.

So, at the end of his speech, he asks, sheepishly, "Can you help?" I reply with a simple "No," and proceed to return my grocery cart (or buggy, depending on where you're from) when he comes out with, "Sir, are you a Christian?" No I wear a tie on Sunday nights just for fun and have scripture on my vehicle because it makes people think I'm cool. (I realize that doesn't make you a Christian, but you understand what he's asking.) His next brilliant question, "What does the Bible say?"

OK, the right answer would have been Romans 3:23 or 1 Timothy 1:15 or Amos 4:12 or Acts 16:31 or Acts 17:30 or John 3:16 or something. But instead I came back with a VERY gracious, "You tell me," and he gave me one of the 3 references he had memorized for such occasions – Matthew 22:36-37 – which I quoted as if to say, "And…" So he got in his truck and left, and I got in my car and left.

I used to feel really bad after these kind of conversations. In fact, I've been suckered 3 times into giving people gas (never given anybody money). I'm convinced one might have been legitimate; one was definitely a fraud; and the other was highly doubtful. But I'm a soft-hearted guy. OK, I was a soft-hearted guy. Now I just get mad. I think there are 2 main reasons I get mad. One, I get mad at myself for still kind of feeling bad about not helping the guy out. And two, I get mad because I think of all the things I should have said after the fact – as if one intelligent statement is going to cure a bum of his stupidity.

So why write all of this? One, I'm venting. Two, I need a good answer to give people. When people come to the church looking for handouts (sob-story in tow), I usually ask them what their church said when they went there and explain from 1 John 3:17 how we help those in our congregation who have needs from time to time but are not scripturally commanded to extend those privileges to those outside our fellowship. (Either that, or refer them to one of the larger churches in town.)

But I need to be ready (1 Peter 3:15) for these parking lot encounters. I'm purposing to somehow use the Bible in each situation. (When I did help with gas, at least I was able to give the gospel and invitations to church.) The verses at the top are a couple thoughts, but I'm also looking for your ideas. What I really ought to do/want to do is find a good way of turning these encounters into witnessing opportunities. Also, I'd like to figure out a good way to try to reason with these people without sounding smart or sarcastic. Help! And thanks.

The Goal of Spiritual Leaders – 9.9.09

Colossians 1:28-29 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

Another semester of Bible school is upon us, and I'm excited about the opportunity to teach the first class in the course on "The Fundamentals of the Faith" (from Genesis 3). Fitting that I should come across this verse in my Bible reading this morning.

What is (or should be) the ultimate goal of spiritual leadership? What is the supreme object of the Christian minister? What is the purpose of the Bible preacher? It is the "perfecting of the saints" (Colossians 1:28; Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Thessalonians 3:10). It is to bring other believers into full and complete Christian maturity so that they can stand unashamed at the judgment seat of Christ.

How is that task to be carried out?

1. Through preaching ALL the counsel of God (Acts 20:27-32; 2 Timothy 3:16-4:2; 1 Timothy 4:6). This includes the positive parts and the negative parts; the popular topics as well as those many would rather do without; the simple basics and the deeper truths; encouragement as well as rebuke; instruction as well as controversy, etc. CH Spurgeon said, "Controversy for the truth against the errors of the age is, we feel more than ever convinced, the peculiar duty of the preacher."

2. Through setting the example of Christian maturity (Acts 20:18-21; Philippians 3:10-17; Hebrews 13:7). This doesn't mean you're sinless, but it means your personal walk with the Lord is complete, it's well-rounded, and you're constantly growing. This means you're doing the things you preach about. You're reading your Bible; you're spending time in prayer; you're consistent in your study; you're witnessing; you're ministering to others; you're a blessing to your wife; you set the proper order in your home; you're balanced in how you spend your time; you're giving; you're handling your finances properly, etc.

3. Through constant, fervent prayer (Colossians 4:12; Ephesians 1:15-23; Ephesians 3:14-21; Philippians 1:4, 9-11; Colossians 1:3, 9-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:23). James Hudson Taylor once said, "When I get to China, I will have no claim on any one for anything. My claim will be alone in God and I must learn before I leave England to move men through God by prayer alone."

4. Through hard work; through diligent, steady, zealous commitment to the task (Colossians 1:28-29; 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Corinthians 12:15). It's not easy, and the work will never be completed until we enter into our final rest (Hebrews 4:11). But the God we serve is worth it, and it's definitely worth the while (Colossians 3:23-24).

01 September 2009

Paul’s Last Words – 9.1.09

The epistle of 2 Timothy was written by the apostle Paul from a jail cell not long before he took his departure (4:8) and appeared in the presence of his Savior (Philippians 1:21-23; 2 Corinthians 5:8).

As you read the final chapter of the final book that he wrote, it is interesting and instructive to note the things that he requested as he awaited his coming fate.

He desired a visit from Timothy (v. 9), and when you and I get to the end of our lives it will be easy to see that's what's really important is not the things we've acquired but rather the relationships we've enjoyed. Somebody who's getting ready to leave this world generally doesn't ask for someone to bring them all their possessions so they can enjoy them. What they want is the people they love and care about. If that's what's important then, surely we ought to devote more of our time and attention to the people around us and less of it to the things that don't last and won't matter.

He asked Timothy to bring Mark with him when he came (v. 11). What's great about that is the fact that Paul and Barnabas had parted ways back in Acts 15 because Mark had departed from them on the previous journey and Paul didn't think it was wise to include him this time around (see Acts 12:12, 24-25; 13:5, 13; 15:36-41). This lets you know (1) that Mark had grown, matured, and proven himself and (2) that Paul was humble and gracious enough to recognize this, maybe even admit to a former mistake, and give this brother a commendation (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24).

He also asked Timothy to bring the cloke he left at Troas (v. 13) – he probably didn't have a heater in his jail cell – and the books, BUT ESPECIALLY THE PARCHMENTS. In the final days of his life, Paul still considered himself a student. He never lost his appetite for truth or his desire for study. And what an example for us. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

In order for ANY Christian to be approved of God and without shame on the day of judgment, he must be diligent in his study of the scripture. I'm afraid we often relegate this verse to the pastor or the Sunday school teacher, but according to the Bible, it's the duty of every Christian. Yes, the pastor should feed you when you go to church, but you've got to eat the rest of the week as well. None of us would dare think of surviving physically on 2 or 3 meals a week so what makes us think we can survive spiritually for 6 or 7 days on a Sunday morning feast?

1 Timothy 4:13 says, Till I come, give attendance to reading… Young men, you'd do well to give less attendance to video games and TV shows and big trucks and fast cars and powerful guns and goofing off and use that time to get your nose in THE BOOK. Young ladies, you'd do well to give less attendance to facebook and makeup and shopping malls and shoe collecting and celebrity watching and movie going and beach combing and use that time to get your nose in THE BOOK. Have you ever read God's word from Genesis to Revelation? Are you working on it every day? Do you really want to stand before God and try to explain why you didn't think the words He recorded and preserved were worthy of your time?

Isaiah 34:16 says, Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read… I believe we'd all be better off if we took less time to seek out the newspaper or the magazine or the catalog or the website and more time to seek out God's book.

Let's learn from Paul's example, and let's not allow what doesn't matter to stand in the way of what does matter, and let's be sure to spend our time doing those things that'll be important when the time comes to make our departure and stand before our God.