Friday, January 23, 2015
WHO DO I LISTEN TOO?
Galatians 3:1, “O FOOLISH Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth crucified among you?
The Apostle Paul had rimmed the Mediterranean Sea three times and in so doing everywhere he went he led people to Christ. He baptized those converts, established a New Testament Church, and helped them call a man of God to be their pastor. There is no greater personal soul winner in the New Testament, outside of our Saviour, than the person Apostle Paul. Yet, it was not just winning folks to Christ that motivated Paul it was the establishment of local churches that also drove him.
Paul won souls in Galatia, baptized them, and established a local New Testament Church in Galatia. As he continued on his missionary journeys he received word that the church at Galatia had drifted back into religious legalism.
It is interesting to note his assessment of what happened to bring about this drift from truth to heresy. God’s Word says in verse one it was the foolishness of peer pressure and a dynamic personality that brought about a turning from the “truth.” The vehicle that the devil used was the vehicle of personality. There is a head on collision between “truth” and a “personality.” Paul said, “…who hath bewitched you…” He said “who” not “what” and this “who” caused them to not obey the “truth!” Paul not only points out the problem but he also provides a solution in the book of Galatians.
People basically do not like themselves and as a result we find ourselves admiring someone else because all we see are the assets that we like and would love to possess ourselves. We act like those we admire. We dress like those we admire. We talk like those we admire. We cut our hair like those we admire. It seems this lack of confidence we have is a dangerous flaw that could lead to a downfall.
The Christians’ confidence is found in the Lord Jesus Christ and not in our flesh. The flesh is corrupted while our Saviour and His Words are incorruptible! It is not a matter of being cocky it is a matter of being Spirit filled and confident!
We all have family members, church members, co-workers, friends, and neighbors who are constantly attempting to convert us to something. To the degree we are grounded is the extent of the potential damage that can occur in our lives. Who do I listen too?
If our children could embrace this truth Paul gives to the church at Galatia it would prevent them from falling in the pit of suave personalities who will bewitch them. I always pushed my children to bury themselves in the Word of God to determine right and wrong.
Leaders are a good; however, the best of men are at best men! I believe in insulation and not isolation! Our children should be able to question things. To rebel is not wrong! It is what we rebel at that makes it wrong! To rebel at liquor is good! To rebel at Hollywood is a good thing! To rebel at the dope crowd is good! To rebel against the Scriptures is a bad thing. To rebel at soul winning is a bad thing! To rebel at tithing is a bad thing!
NEVERTHELESS WHAT SAITH THE SCRIPTURE
Galatians 4:30, “Nevertheless what saith the scripture?” Paul is saying they may be able to articulate their position better than I but what does the Scripture say. Simple faith in the WORD of God alleviates confusion and consternation.
Let us prioritize who we should listen too in order to protect ourselves from falling into a
WALK IN THE SPIRIT
Galatians 5:16, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”
Paul is simply stating precept upon precept in the protection that will keep God’s people from falling prey to heretical teachings and falling back into the weak and beggarly elements of Satan. First what does the Scripture say? We as God’s children must first bury ourselves in the Holy Scriptures to have the mind of Christ! Then second we can allow the Holy Spirit to teach us the Scriptures in order to be strengthened.
I Thessalonians 5:19, “Quench not the Spirit.” God has given us the Holy Spirit to indwell us in order to be taught, strengthened, empowered, and corrected. However, the Scriptures plainly state that it is possible for a child of God to “quench” the Holy Spirit. He can be grieved!
When the Holy Spirit is given freedom in our lives He works in concert with the Holy Scriptures in our lives to build us but when we decide to shut Him out we have then bypassed the Scriptures of God and the Spirit of God. We then are two steps closer to heresy! Bible believing people will always be a free people!
PROTECT YOUR CONSCIENCE
Galatians 6:3, 7, “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.”
“Be not deceived…”
God has given to every man a conscience! The Scriptures refer much and often about the conscience of a man.
· John 8:9, “…convicted by their own conscience…”
· Acts 23:1, “…I have lived in all good conscience…”
· Acts 24:16; “…I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward man.”
· I Corinthians 8:7, “…their conscience being weak…”
· I Timothy 1:5, “…a good conscience…”
· I Timothy 3:9, “…a pure conscience…”
· I Timothy 4:2, “…having their conscience seared…”
When you quit the Scriptures the Holy Spirit can only convict you. When you quench the Holy Spirit then the conscience kicks in! However, it is possible to sear the conscience. It is possible to have a weak conscience.
The Scriptures in concert with the Holy Spirit and a good conscience provide a three-fold protection against heretical teachings via personalities. Remember it is truth verses personality. Paul said, “Who hath bewitched you?” and not “What hath bewitched you?”
· FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE AGAINST HERESY VIA PEOPLE - “NEVERTHELESS WHAT SAITH THE SCRIPTURE”
· SECOND LINE OF DEFENSE AGAINST HERESY VIA PEOPLE - “WALK IN THE SPIRIT”
· THIRD LINE OF DEFENSE AGAINST HERESY VIA PEOPLE – “BE NOT DECEIVED”
· FOURTH LINE OF DEFENSE AGAINST HERESY VIA PEOPLE – “NOW I SAY…”
THE RIGHT AUTHORITY
Galatians 4:1, 11,12,13,14,15,16,18,19,20, and 21! Note Galatians 4:1, “Now I say…” Through out this chapter Paul refers to himself in his pleading with them to quit this folly of heresy that has griped them.
The first line of defense in the Scriptures, the second line of defense is the Spirit of God, the third line of defense is the God given conscience, and the last line of defense is the Authority in their life. As God’s man he is the last one standing between them and the spiritual destruction of heresy.
· The Scriptures always take precedence
· The Spirit of God can work freely when Scriptures are first and foremost
· The conscience is always clear and good when the Scriptures and the Spirit are working together
· The right authority provides leadership within the bounds of the Scripture, Spirit, and conscience!
· When all four are in line the child of God has four levels of protection from being pressured by the wrong “WHO.”
The danger is when the authority steps in front of the Scriptures for he or she becomes the “WHO” Paul warned about!
· FIRST THE SCRIPTURES
· SECOND THE SPIRIT OF GOD
· THIRD THE CONSCIENCE
· FOURTH THE RIGHT AUTHORITY
Monday, January 19, 2015
Ezekiel 18:1-3, 20, “The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying, What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the LORD GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.”
“The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.”
This age in which we are living has evolved into an age of finer pointing. “It’s not my fault. It’s my dad’s fault!” “It’s my mother’s fault!” “It’s my pastor’s fault!” “It’s my teacher’s fault!” On and on it goes.
Let me present to you a little background for this chapter. The Jews are in captivity. They were in Babylon as slaves all because of their sins against their God. They had started a proverb, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” This entire chapter 18 deals with what they were saying and what they were saying was it is our fathers’ fault we are having to suffer. God in this chapter also sets it straight.
In verses 1 and 2 God is saying how dare you blame your mom and dad for your rebellion, crookedness, and worldliness? Verse 3 tells us that God is saying to them to be quiet and do not point your finger at your parents and blame them for your condition or in fact on any one else but yourselves.
In verse 4 we notice God says that the soul that sinneth it shall die. God did not say the soul that causeth the sin, or leads to the sin, or tempts one to sin should die. No! God said THE soul that sinneth IT shall die.
Ezekiel 18:19, “Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.”
Ezekiel 18:30, “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the LORD GOD, Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.”
It is a rare thing in this day and time when someone says, “It’s my fault!” Modern psychiatry and modern psychologists, who ought to be examined themselves, will place you on their couch and ask all about your past. These so-called professionals make a living off of basically “finger pointing.”
Solomon was the wisest man of his day. He wrote most of the Proverbs. Solomon was the wisest king at the time of his reign. No one who sat on the throne of Israel could shine the boots of this man concerning wisdom.
Yet, Solomon had a wicked son named Rehoboam. This son was the one who caused the division of the nation Israel into the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom. Rehoboam was a wicked son who sought advise of the younger men and cast aside the advise of the wise older men.
David was a man after God’s own heart. No one in the Scriptures was loved like God loved David. God had a concern sort of an affinity for David, which He expressed toward any one else. Yet, this good man after God’s own heart had a son named Absalom who rebelled against his father’s kingdom and decided he would take over his father’s throne. Absalom started a revolution against his own dad!
Noah was a preacher of righteousness. He spent 120 years preparing an ark when it had never rained. What a man! Noah had a son who was wicked and his name was Ham. This son became a marked man according to the Scriptures.
Abraham was the father of the faithful. He was the father of faith and one of the great men in all of the Scriptures. Yet, he had a son named Ishmael who led the building of the nations, which would be embroiled in constant war and bloodshed. Likewise Abraham had an adopted son named Lot. This adopted son was reared in the home of Abraham. Lot’s adopted mother was Sarah and in spite of this he went to Sodom. He left Sodom when the fire was going to fall on the city. His wife turned into a pillar of salt when she turned to look back at Sodom. He had two daughters with him and he committed awful sin with his own daughters and daughter bore a child from their own father.
Isaac fathered a boy named Esau. This boy founded a fierce nation called the Edomites. Adam, the first born again man who ever lived, fathered a son named Cain who was the first murderer who ever lived.
WICKED & GODLY KINGS WHO HAD GODLY & WICKED SONS
· Wicked Abijam had a godly son named Asa
· Godly king Jehoshaphat had a wicked son named Jehoram
· Wicked Ahaziah had a godly son names Joash
· Godly Jotham had a wicked son Ahaz
· Godly Hezekiah had a wicked son Manasseh
· Wicked Ammon had a godly son names Josiah
· Godly Josiah had 2 wicked sons named Jehoiakim and Jehoehaz
OTHER MEN OF GOD
· Billy Sunday’ son
· D. L. Moody’s son
· Charles E. Fuller’s son
Some of the finest young people I met in the 42 years of ministry came from the homes of ungodly people while some of the worst young people came from the best homes. If you have a little child please be careful about your criticism of others who have teenagers until all of your results are in. It is mighty easy to preach hot sermons while your children are not reared yet. A lot of aged parents are needlessly going through their last years with guilt that is unnecessary. They are going through their last days feeling it’s their fault because a son or a daughter had gone into sin.
However, God said the soul that sinneth IT shall die! Some of you dear parents reading this chapter have done your best. You did the ultimate you could do and you have some children who have broken your heart. Please quit blaming yourself! Never forget the soul that sinneth IT shall die!
To the children who may I say you have no one to blame but yourself when you turn your back on God? Please understand this God will not accept your finger pointing.
Romans 14:12, “Everyone of us shall give account of himself to God.”
The children cannot blame anyone but themselves. “I have no character because my dad never taught me character!” Sorry! That will not work with God! The soul that sinneth IT shall die! You have no character because you have chosen to have no character. “My parents are the reason I am lazy!” Sorry! “My dad smokes and that is why I smoke!” “My dad was into porn and that is why I am in porn!” “I was molested as a child and that is why I molest!” “My parents never hugged me when I was young!” “I was deprived as a child!” “My dad hollered at me all the time when I was a child!” “My mom screamed at me all the time!” “My dad drank!” “My parents never went to church!” “My parents divorced and it hurt my marriage!” Sorry! The soul that sinneth IT shall die!
It is not your mom’s fault, dad’s fault, or any one else’s fault! It is your fault you are not happily married. The finger pointing toward others must be turned toward ourselves.
My parents ate too much candy and that is why I have bad teeth. Uncle George didn’t wash his ears so I am hard of hearing. Grandpa didn’t use deodorant so I have body odor. Aunt Susie wore tight shoes so I have corns on my feet. The preacher preached past noon so I have insomnia. My daddy rode a horse and so I’m bowlegged. Dad had sinus trouble so I have a big nose. Grandma was ugly so I can’t get a date. How foolish! How silly our view of life is!
My college mistreated me and that is why I am a failure. I’m black and I have no opportunity. I’m a Yankee and I have a speech impediment. George Washington Carver said, “I’d rather be a black man in America than any other man in the entire world!” Everyone and anyone can make it in America!
To say you are not succeeding in life because you were abused, as a child, is idiocy. There is not a command in the Scriptures that a child of God cannot obey. If you are not affectionate to your husband it is not because of something that happened to you.
The sad thing is Christians have fallen prey to this worldly view of accountant ability. Finger pointing is not of God! It was in light of this reasoning that God said to mankind “The soul that sinneth IT shall surely die!” If one fails in college it is that person’s fault and not any one else. If one is expelled from college it is not the college’s fault but the individuals fault. If you do not receive a degree from college it is not the college’s fault. If you fail a course it is not the college’s fault. If a preacher flops as a pastor it is not the church’s fault, college’s fault, your wife’s fault, or the deacon’s fault.
The Jews sat there in Babylon and said that they could not succeed because of their father’s sins. To be sure their being in Babylon was caused by their fathers but their failures in Babylon was their fault and not their father’s fault.
Look at what Daniel did while in captivity? Look at the Hebrew children in their slavery? Look at Esther as a slave in captivity? God is saying you may be in captivity because of your fathers’ sin but if you don’t succeed in Babylon it is your own fault.
The inheritance of poverty and suffering can be used to train a nobler character. The inheritance of wickedness and sin can be used to show the results of sin and cause one to avoid it. The inheritance of a ghetto can be used to challenge one to rise above it all. A bad background can be a great blessing for each generation is its own entity and will pay for its own sins or receive rewards for his own efforts. Each individual is its own entity and will pay for his or her’s own sins.
I’m saying I don’t care what your background is you can succeed! If you fail just look in the mirror and point your finger at yourself. It is your fault if you fail to succeed. It doesn’t matter if it is a broken home, broken life, or a broken heart you can succeed. Others have! If you can’t date, rate, or mate you can succeed. It doesn’t matter if you are short of stature, short of manliness, or short of brains you can succeed. If you had to dig, rake, and scrape to pass in school you can succeed. It doesn’t matter if you are timid, shy and losing your battle with an inferiority complex you can succeed.
If your mother was a prostitute and you are destitute you can succeed. If your 5 foot 1 and weigh 95 pounds and your weight is greater than your IQ you can still succeed. If you past is in the gangland or your name is Mickey and you were born in Disneyland you can succeed. If your face stops a clock and traffic at the same time you can succeed. If your bicep is the size of a grape and your shape like a coke bottle you can succeed. If you have a bowling ball for a head and your eyes stare at each other you can still succeed. If you are tongue-tied, hair lipped, or worse of all have the speech impediment of a Yankee accent you can still succeed. If you have the neck like a giraffe, stomach like an elephant, legs like a kangaroo, and feet like a duck you can still succeed.
If your father is Jerry Rueben and your mother is Jane Fonda you can still succeed. If your father is the Pope and your mother is Mother Theresa you can still succeed. If your father is Dennis Rodman and your mother Liberace you can still succeed. If your father is Bill Clinton and your mother only God knows who she is you can still succeed. If your father’s a priest and your mother’s a nun you can still succeed. If your father is Jerry Springer and your mother is Madeline O’Hare you can still succeed.
If your father wore the earrings and your mother wore the pants you can still succeed. If your father was a wimp and your mother was a pimp you can still succeed. If you are a paraplegic, paranoid, or a paratrooper you can still succeed. If you are hyper, a sniper, or a viper you can still succeed.
If your pastor is John McArthur, assistant pastor is John Piper, youth director is Jessie Jackson, senior saint pastor is Robert Schuler, choir director is Tammy Faye Bakker, the head of the jail ministry is Jim Bakker, bus director is Norman Vincent Peale, college president Arlon Horton, and head of student affairs Jimmy Swaggert you can still succeed.
If you were called to preach in the ABC, licensed to preach in the SBC, ordained by NBC, commissioned by the NAACP, and sent out by the KKK you can still succeed. If you were molested, detested, or arrested you can still succeed. If you were beaten by your parents and hated by your teachers you can still succeed. If your dad was an alcoholic, you were abused, refused, used, unused, misused, diffused, and confused you can still succeed. If your parents were divorced and foster parents raised you, you can still succeed.
If you are bowlegged, knot kneed, pigeon toed, cock eyed, hump backed, hard of hearing, crippled, lame, bald, stooped, drooped, forsaken, forgotten, forlorned, and color blind you can still succeed.
If your mom was destitute, restitute, or a prostitute you can still succeed. If you are epileptic, dyslectic, anorexic, peptic, or septic you can still succeed. If you are freckled, dimpled, or rumpled you can still succeed. If you have amnesia, anesthesia or mild of magnesia you can still succeed. If you have bursitis, neuritis, appendicitis, arthritis, aids, band-aids, or lemonade you can still succeed. If you are white, black, red, yellow, maroon, green, blue, chartreuse, pink, lavender, baize, or gold you can still succeed. If you are Italian, Romanian, Hungarian, or caesarean you can still succeed. If you are Polish, English, childish, German, chink, Mexican, gringo, bingo, or albino you can succeed.
If you are 4 foot 7 or 7 foot 4 you can still succeed. If you have been to Michigan State, Indiana State, Illinois State, Penn State, or the state pen you can still succeed. If you have been to MIT, TCU, SMU, MSU, BYU, or phooey on you, you can still succeed. If you have no MD, BD, LID, PHD, Hum. D, DOT, or BVD’s you can still succeed.
Shame on America for finger pointing! My goal in this is to strip every excuse away from ourselves for being a flop and a failure with the exception of you have not done what is necessary to succeed. Rise above it parents! Rise above it children!
Read Psalm chapter one and you will discover it says nothing about ones background, mother, dad, Sunday school teacher, Christian school, Christian college, Youth Director, or Pastor.
Sunday, January 11, 2015
Ezekiel 18:1-4, 19-20 “The word of the Lord came unto me again, saying,
What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?
As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.
Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth it shall die….
Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statues, and hath done them, he shall surely live.
The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.”
Jeremiah 31:29-30, “In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.
But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.”
“The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” This proverb is in the Bible; however, it is not a true proverb in the sense of a God-given proverb. This proverb is mentioned twice in the Bible, and on both occasions, the person quoting the proverb was rebuked.
From the time of the creation of man, when there is wickedness, man always wants to blame someone else. When the first sin was committed in the Garden of Eden, somebody else was blamed. In every consequent wicked generation, man has always tried to lay blame on someone else. In every nation or civilization that turns from God, this proverb, or one like it, becomes popular.
“The fathers have eaten a sour grape and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” What is being said here? The children are saying, “It is my dad’s fault, it is my mom’s fault, it is my preacher’s fault, it is my youth director’s fault, it is my teacher’s fault, or it is the principal’s fault!” Romans 14:12 says, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”
Jerusalem is about to be destroyed. The armies of Babylon are about to attack. Nebuchadnezzar is about to take over! He is about to take the rich and middle-class Jews into captivity. The Jews say in response, “The fathers have eaten a sour grape and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” God rebukes them!
They say, “This is not our fault; it’s our grandfather’s fault, our grandmother’s fault, our daddy’s fault, our mother’s fault, our man of God’s fault, and our forefathers’ fault. We are being punished for their sin, not ours. Our fathers ate sour grapes and now our teeth are set on edge.” God rebukes them, saying it is their own fault, and no one else is to blame.
The people are in captivity in Babylon. They are hundreds of miles from home, and their houses have been leveled back in Jerusalem and in Palestine. Their beloved Temple has been leveled to the ground. The walls of the Holy City have been destroyed while they live hundreds of miles from home. They begin to use this proverb again, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” They are in bondage! However, they are not in bondage because their fathers sinned, but because they have sinned.
The Bible is very clear about where the burden lies. II Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” If this verse is true, and it is, then these people could have gotten right with God if they had quit blaming their parents and followed the instructions in this verse.
They are not in Babylon because their fathers sinned; they are there because they sinned. They are not there because their mothers sinned; they are there because they sinned. People in sin always blame someone else. Every suffering generation invariably blames the previous generation for their plight. “The fathers have eaten a sour grape and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” They are saying they feel the bitter taste of their father’s appetite. They say, “Our teeth are set on edge because of our fathers.”
The Babylonians have taken two-thirds of the Jews into captivity: the rich, the middle-class, and the craftsman. The remaining one-third in Jerusalem are the poor. Some of the poor elders who have been left in Jerusalem come to Babylon to visit. While in Babylon, they repeat this proverb. Then they complain, “The city is laid waste, the Temple is gone, the houses are gone, and we who have been left behind in this destruction are suffering because of our fathers.”
Ezekiel comes along and says, “What mean ye… The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?”
Ezekiel 18:20 is God’s response, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.”
Before the destruction, they had used this proverb and Jeremiah rebuked them for doing so. Now the people who have gone into captivity use the same proverb, and Ezekiel rebukes them for doing so. The people who are left in the land come to Ezekiel in Babylon and use the same proverb; they are also rebuked for doing so.
Jeremiah prophetically looks to the future and sees another day when the Jews will return to the land. He sees a time when the Temple site will no longer be barren. Another Temple will replace the one that has been destroyed. He looks down and sees the date seventy years later when they will return from captivity. The wall of the city will be rebuilt; righteousness will prevail—although not perfect righteousness—and God shall be honored. Jeremiah looks down the corridor of time and says, “The day will come when you will no longer say ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and our teeth are set on edge.’ The day will come when the people will be right with God again. No longer will they blame their fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, or preachers for their troubles; instead, they will take personal responsibility for their actions, whether good or bad!”
This is happening again in the twenty-first century. We pay a psychologist a hundred dollars an hour to let us lie on a couch and tell him about our childhood woes. He searches and searches until he finds the person to blame for our misery.
This philosophy is not of God! We must take personal responsibility for our actions. In the final analysis, we are accountable for our own actions from birth to death. If you take full responsibility for your actions, then you can accomplish great things during your lifetime.
We do not need a psychologist’s couch; we need a mourner’s bench! We do not need another pill; we need the Gospel! We do not need counseling; we need repentance! We do not need tranquilizers to have peace; we need the Prince of Peace to have peace! We do not need analyzing; we need personal revival!
Rules do not make rebels. They merely expose the rebels. The hair issue in I Corinthians is a symbol God uses to stress a chain of command that is essential to having order in the home. The hair represents submission to a greater authority. Many parents have ruined their children by constantly defending them and running interference for them against the injustices in their lives. My friends, welcome to the real world of injustices. There is no such thing as pure justice. When my children complained about injustices in their lives, I told them, “Welcome to the real world!” Our philosophy was not “innocent until proven guilty”; rather, it was “guilty until proven innocent.” Mrs. Gray and I never tore down the authorities in front of our children.
A young person must come to realize life is composed of ups and downs, victories and defeats. The sooner a young person accepts full responsibility for his or her actions in life, the sooner that young person will mature into adulthood. Very few people who get into serious trouble ever recognize they are fully responsible for their actions.
God comes to a young person who has no character and says, “It is your fault!” God comes to a young person with bad study habits and says, “It is your fault!” God comes to a young man who is bitter and says, “It is your fault! God comes to a young lady who is angry because her parents divorced and tells her, “It is your fault you are angry!” God comes to a young man who blames his drunkenness on his dad’s drinking, and He says to him, “Your drinking is your own fault!”
God comes to an immoral young lady and says, “It is your fault!” God comes to young people who are mad at God because they have stepparents and says, “It is your fault you are mad!” God comes to a bus kid who is bitter because of his lot in life and says, “It is your fault you are bitter!” Gang member, you will answer to God for your sins! Unloving teenagers, you will answer to God, not your parents!
Friday, January 9, 2015
"THE" Man of God
Over the years there has been a progression of a thought that people should do what the pastor says because he is the "Man of God." I have heard it used as though a man has carte blanche power because he has that title. Often the title is self imposed and used as leverage with the people. Allow me to offer a spin on this teaching from my observation of Dr. Jack Hyles.
Dr. Hyles sought to be a man of God, but he did not believe that people should listen to him because he held that "title." In fact to him it was not really a title at all. He believed it ought to be a description. Every Christian man should be the man of God in whatever role God has placed him. The husband ought to be the man of God in his marriage. A father ought to be the man of God in his home. The fact is, every man who claims Christ as Lord ought to seek to be the man of God in the positions he holds.
But, what of the special designation oft given to preachers, in particularly pastors, as being the “Man of God?" I do not buy it. A man in the pulpit ought to be a man of God, but the pulpit does not make him so. Certainly he holds a position of God, but that position does not make him a man of God. Many men who hold the position of God are not men of God.
Saul held the God ordained position of king but he was not a man after God's own heart. David, who replaced him in the position was a man after God's heart. Therefore we can clearly see that the position is not a justification for claiming the title of "man of God." The position gives a man certain positional authority, but being a man of God requires one to seek after the heart of God which, by the way, leads more to servanthood than dictatorship.
Let me share some specific thoughts regarding this designation.
1. A man of God is one who seeks after God not power or position. A man of God is one who seeks after God not after the authority of a title or position. If someone seeks it they will not find it. There may be temporary power, but no permanent power or position.
2. Every man ought to seek to be a man of God. Every husband, every father, every pastor and every man who holds an authoritative position ought to seek to be a man of God. We all are leaders in some area of our lives. So, it behoves us all to seek to be men of God for those areas.
3. Therefore, a preacher, or pastor ought to be a man of God with or without the position. Brother Hyles was a man of God to me long before he had an authoritative position over me and long after as well. He earned that with his life. The thousands who came to hear him teach and preach did so because they trusted him to help them. No one made them come.
4. A church should seek a pastor to fill the position who seeks to be a man of God in the position of God. You do not hire a man to be the man of God. You hire a man to be the pastor who seeks to be a man of God. When one arrives he quits seeking.
5. Pastors should not use the title "man of God" to authorize their activities but to monitor them. Being a man of God means you are the one in subjection to the leading of the Lord. A man of God does not yield a rod of power, but a role of servanthood. We are to minister!
6. A church should follow the man with the position, but we should seek personal guidance from one who has proven with his life to be a man of God. We follow a man who is in authority. We trust a man who walks with God and seeks after Him. People trusted Brother Hyles because his life showed him to be a man of God, not because he dictated that they do so.
7. A pastor who humbly respects his position will more likely be a man of God, than one who wields it like a weapon. The great men of God I have known were all pushed up to the role. They did not seek it nor did they necessarily want it or relish it. It was more troublesome than anything else. In many cases it became a distraction.
8. All men in the position of God make mistakes, so a humble spirit is necessary to prevent them from being like Saul and help them be like David. Tragically, positions of God turn some men into men of pride rather than men of God. A humble man in a position of God will most likely be a man of God.
9. It is good when the people of God call their pastor a man of God because he has proven to be so. There is nothing wrong with me calling Dr. Hyles a man of God, because he proved to be so in his life. However, he did not designate himself as such to me. The leaders of Fundamentalism were placed there by others and not themselves.
10. It is dangerous for the man in the position of God to try and force the people to accept him as the man of God. There are two anointings - one is by God and the other is by the people. David was anointed by God before he was anointed by the people. Many a preacher was led by God to a church and the church rejected them. He would have no right to veto or force himself on that church's rejection.
11. It is dangerous for men to assume that because the pastor they respected and admired was a man of God that they automatically were a man of God as well. I was not a man of God because my mentor was, but I sought to be a man by seeking after the God of my mentor. It is arrogance that says to everyone, "I have the mantle" while it is humility that accepts the mantle. Your words do not merit the mantle, but it is the works that merit the mantle.
12. We need to teach all men to strive to be a man of God in the ordained position where God has placed them. One earns leadership while never demanding leadership. You cannot make your people follow you, but you can make you follow Christ. In so doing the same Holy Spirit will draw men to Christ through you who are drawn to Christ.
13. A man in a position of authority will have a far greater influence for God if he also is or becomes a man of God. A husband and a father who is a man of God will be a far greater influence on his wife and family than one who merely has the position, or title, of husband and father. The same is true of a pastor. More authority does not lead to greater influence. More power from God does.
14. We should not allow the influence of a man of God to be lessened, because those in the same position were nothing more than men of position. Saul did not make David any less of a man of God even though Saul was a man in a position of God, who himself was not a man of God. There are many examples of men God in positions of God who were preceded or succeeded by men who themselves were not truly men of God.
15. There is even a difference between being God's man and being the man of God. I have heard men say when introducing a man to preach, "He is God's man for the hour." There is truth to that statement. When a man stands before a congregation to bring the truth of God, he is God's man for that moment. However, when a man sits before his child and teaches them the word of God he's also the man of God for that moment or the hour. We are God's men as we stand to do Gods work.
There's a difference between being God's man for the moment and being a man of God. When Saul stood before the kingdom he was God's man because he held the position. However Saul did not seek after God so he could not be called a man of God.
For these many years as I have filled the position of God I have sought to be a man of God. However, I have sought to be a man of God for more than just the position of pastor. I sought to be a man of God for the position of father, husband as well as for pastor. Am I a man of God? I cannot answer that question other than to say that for these many years, as I have filled those positions, my greatest desire has been to seek after the heart of my God.
Thursday, January 8, 2015
LEARNING TO LOVE
John 13:34, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”
“I John take thee Mary to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, to love and cherish till death do us part.”
The honest truth is very few people who make those vows really love each other because most people are wrapped up in attraction at youth and it is difficult to love. Please allow me to help you how to fulfill that promise at the altar. You said to love and to cherish now that means you and I must learn how to love. This is a very simple truth and yet profound.
There is very little real love in the world. People make such idiotic statements like, “I just don’t love him any more!” Yet, God said, “Love never faileth.” Most of us have never learned to love. There are more than two words in the Greek for “love” but I would like to focus on two.
· Agape-This is the kind of love that we are supposed to have but most of us do not which is based on the “lover.”
· Phileo-This is the kind of love most of us have which is based on the “object.”
Phileo is where one says, “I love you because you are pretty. I love you because you are sweet. I love you because you are kind.” Basically one loves the object because of what the object does to them. Phileo in essence is an attraction. Agape is where one deeply, unselfishly, and totally without reciprocation says, “I love you.”
It is vital to for our well being that we learn to love. In Deuteronomy 6:5-6 and six other times in the Scriptures you will find the greatest commandment is to love God and the second greatest commandment is to love one another. One commandment says “Thou shalt not kill” while a greater commandment is to love. One commandment says “Thou shalt not steal” while a greater commandment is to love. One commandment says, “Thou shall not commit adultery” while a greater commandment is to love. The greatest of all these commandments is to love! Certainly this deserves our attention as God’s creatures.
I Corinthians 13:13, “Now abideth faith, hope, and charity and the greatest of these is charity.” The English word “charity” in Scripture is not a mistake. It gives emphasis to the meaning of the word “love.” When we think of “charity” we automatically think of “giving.” Thus love in action is the greatest of these!
Romans 13:18, Love is a debt that we owe to each other. I owe you a debt and that debt is to love you. Hold it! I’m talking about real love. I am not talking about “attraction.” I am talking about real honest to goodness, unselfish, and no need for reciprocation “love.” I owe you a debt of real love and you owe me a debt of real love and we owe each other the same debt of love.
In I Corinthians chapter 13 verse one it tells us love is more important than talent. It is more important that you love than to possess a beautiful voice for singing solo’s with, and more important than to be an accomplished pianist. This truth is more important than your daughter’s entire piano lessons put together.
In I Corinthians 13 verse 2 it tells us that love is more important than knowledge. Thus is appears it is more important to teach your child to love than for your child to go to school for an education. Some of you will say “Amen” to that but your life does not reflect it! I can prove it! The average parent does not spent one hour a year teaching their child how to love, but you send them to school for 40 hours a week to learn Geometry, Algebra, English, and History, but my Bible says that love is more important than knowledge. Sit still! Say Amen or O-me! I Corinthians 13:13 it says love is more important than faith! Ouch!
John 15:12 we are commanded by Jesus to love! Do not miss this there is a command from Jesus Himself to us to love. I mean real love or Agape love, which is the real love given to us by our Heavenly Father!
In Romans 13:8 it says that love is the fulfilling of the law. If you love you will have no other gods before Him, not make graven images, not steal, not kill, not commit adultery, and not lie. Thus love is the fulfilling of the law. It sounds to me like love is very important.
In Galatians 5:22 it mentions the fruit of the Spirit. There is a long list of the fruit of the Spirit and the first one mentioned is love! Thus that means that love comes before peace, before joy, before longsuffering, before gentleness, before goodness, and before faith etc.
In I John 4:8 it says God is love! So you cannot know God unless you really love! You cannot have a Phileo love and know God because God is Agape love. God’s love is not based on the object but the “lover.”
That is why most Christians do not understand God, the Scriptures, the preacher, the teacher, the youth pastor, or the sermons, because basically most Christians and God are on different wave links. They are on Channel 2 while God is on Channel 7! Wait a minute! No, don’t run to your TV and turn to Channel 7 to find God!
In I John 3:14 the assurance of our salvation is brought about by love. “We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren.” If you Phileo the brethren that explains why you feel the need to get saved every year when the Evangelist comes to town because there exists no assurance of salvation via Agape love. “If you are good to me I will be good to you and if you are bad to me I’ll be bad to you.” “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch your back.” When this happens you lose your assurance of salvation.
Assurance is built up in the heart of the believer because he Agape’s the brethren. He is the one with the smile on his face! He is the one nodding his head up and down signifying agreement with the preaching and teaching of God’s Word! God is not teaching that you are lost because you lack “love” for the brethren He is saying that you lack Agape love for the brethren. These with the Agape love are the ones who shoot their hands up real high when asked by the preacher, “How many of you are saved?” Why, because you have absolute assurance of your salvation because you Agape the brethren and not Phileo the brethren! When your salvation is a question mark in your own mind you cannot effectively win souls to Christ.
“If you require a certain dress code for the choir and for the schools I’ll take my husband and leave this church and leave this school! I’ll show you! I’ll teach you! I’ll put my child in a public school!” You are a real Einstein!
“I just hate her” and that is why you have doubts about your salvation at times. The Bible does not say we are to love the good brethren. It says we are to love the brethren. It doesn’t say we love the separated brethren it says we are to love the brethren! It doesn’t say we are to love the attractive brethren or the righteous brethren it simply says we are to love the brethren.
The Scripture says in John 13:35 “By this shall all men know you are my disciples because you have love one another.” What is it that the world is supposed to see and thereby say that he is a Christian? “Preacher he must be a Christian because he doesn’t have long hair! Preacher she must be a Christian because she wears modest clothing!” Hold it! Both are true standards of the Scriptures but the distinguishing mark of a Christian is love. Not Phileo but Agape love totally dependent upon the lover and not the object!
“Preacher he must be a good Christian because he doesn’t drink liquor, smoke, cuss, dip, or chew, and goes to church every Sunday!” That is all well and good! Those are correct lifestyles for a Christian but the Bible says that the distinguishing mark of Christianity is love! What is the distinguishing mark or factor for a child of God? AGAPE LOVE!
· I am commanded to love God according to Deuteronomy 10:12
· I am commanded to love my neighbour as myself according to Matthew 19:19
· In Luke 10:30 I am told who my neighbour is in the story of the Good Samaritan
Here is this Good Samaritan who comes down the road and he sees a man and he doesn’t know him. The man has been beaten, robbed, and left for dead. Now who is this man?
· He was a man of another religion
· He was a man of another race
I’m not to love false religion according to the Scriptures but I am to love those duped by false religion. This man was a half-breed, poor, lower class, and a part of a hated race yet he was to be loved!
The first greatest commandment is to love God and the second greatest commandment is to love my neighbour. The poor, destitute, people of other religions, people of other races, and it is not to be Phileo but Agape love.
In Ephesians 5:25 I am commanded to love my wife. In Luke 6:27 I am commanded to love my enemies. So are you by the way! This is not a preference or a request it is a command! In Matthew 5:46 I am to love those that hate me. In Colossians 1:4 I am to love those in the family of God. Wait a minute! I’m talking about real love and not a Phileo love. This is to be Agape love!
I have given y0u the lofty position of love in the Scriptures. Then I have given you a list of the people God commands you to love; your neighbour, your wife, your enemies, and those that hate you! I, like you, want to obey God’s command this greatest commandment second to loving God Himself. I want to obey that commandment: the commandment to really love my neighbour, my wife, my enemies, and my friends.
· Understand that I am commanded to give Agape love
· Understand God never commands me to do anything that I cannot will to do
· Understand I cannot just decide to give Agape love
· Understand I can decide to do what leads to Agape love
God says to us love your enemies but I cannot all of a sudden discover I have an enemy and then say to myself, “Ok, love him!” Hold it! I am commanded to love him! I can will to obey that commandment to Agape but it does not happen in an instant. Not in one day!
I cannot decide to love but I can decide to do what leads to love. I go to the doctor. I’m sick! I go home and I decide to get well! Now, the decision to get well doesn’t bring with it wellness. A man has pneumonia and he says to his wife, “I’ve decided to get well!” He cannot decide to get well but you can decided to take the medicine that will make you well over time.
You cannot decide to Agape love but you can decide to do what will help you to learn to love. I cannot decide to get well and succeed but I can decide to take the medicine that will make me well eventually. The Bible medicine will cause you to Agape love and not Phileo love someone.
90 % of the Christian world has Phileo love. 90 % of the Christian world are Dr. Spock prodigies. They are nothing but left over flower children form the 60’s Woodstock Hippy generation who has never really loved in their entire life.
That is why most of our children in the Christian world look like they have been smoking dope when it comes to the things of God, the preaching, the standards, the songs of God, and the soul winning. They swoon at the worldly teen singers while sleeping during the preaching of God’s word. When they see the punks, the thieves, the drunkards, the dopers, the sex perverts, on their TV they are mesmerized and enthralled by them.
Just in case there is someone reading this chapter that really desires to Agape your wife, your husband, your children, your enemies, and your friends then pay attention. I’m not talking about liking your wife as long as she meets your needs. That attitude just shows you don’t love her anymore than you do a toad frog! I’m talking about real, Bible, godly, and Agape love. All of us have to know the medicine that will lead me to have real Agape love over a period of time.
YOU SERVE TO LOVE
“I Mary take thee John to be my wedded husband, to have to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, to love…” The truth is Mary Phileo’s John but doesn’t Agape love or really love John then! She is IN love but that is dangerous because if you are IN love you can get OUT of love. It is hazardous to your life to FALL IN LOVE! It sounds like an accident. If you FALL you can get back up.
Here is what the wedding vows ought to be! “I Mary take thee John to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, and to learn to love…”
John 21:15-17 the story is told about Jesus speaking to Peter! Watch this! Jesus asked Peter the question, “Lovest thou me?” In the use of the word “love” Jesus was saying, “Agape thou me?” Peter answered, “Thou knowest that I’m FOND of you!” Peter used the word “Phileo.” By the way, this is the type of love we all start out with. It is human nature. I can prove it! You young men who are dating a 110-pound young lady: let her gain 100 pounds and see if you don’t cancel the wedding? Between the time you propose and the time the wedding is to take place let your fiancé go from a 110 pound beauty to a 350 pound beast and see how much really love her. I’d bet you would cancel the wedding!
Jesus said to Peter, “Lovest (Agape) thou me?” Peter in essence said, “You know I’m attracted to you.” Jesus fed the 5,000 who would not be attracted to that! He raised the dead who would not be attracted to that! He healed the sick who would not be attracted to that! He opened blind eyes who would not be attracted to that!
Then Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my sheep!” What was Jesus teaching Peter? He was giving Peter the medicine of serving in order to change his Phileo love into Agape love.
“Peter do you love me deeply? Peter do you have real love for me?” Peter answered, “I’m fond of you!” Then Jesus responded by saying, “Feed my sheep!” What Jesus was saying to Peter if you will serve me by serving my people that Phileo will be changed into Agape.
Just in case you really want to Agape someone I would suggest you serve that someone! Just in case you want to change that outward attraction into a deep abiding Agape love then you must serve! By the way it takes time for the medicine to begin to work. It doesn’t transform from one to the other over night!
Young married lady and young house wife that Phileo will wear off after awhile. His feet will soon stink! His stubbornness will soon show up! His breath will soon smell! His underwear will miss the clothes hamper. Oh, it’s just a matter of time until Phileo loses its glow and warmth. I would suggest to you that you get into the habit of loving to take care of him and love serving before Phileo takes the summer off!
Hey, young married husband! Its just a matter of time before she gets tired of doing the dishes, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, fixing the meals, and changing the diapers. I would suggest that before Phileo flees that you love serving her, helping her, taking care of her, and treating her like a queen. You cannot live off of the Phileo of being the recipient of her serving and expect you to have Agape for her.
That is why Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my sheep!” If you desire to obey God and really love your wife, husband, children, enemies, and friends then serve them. I did not say let them satisfy your needs. I am saying you satisfy their needs. One will only learn to love to the extent that one learns to serve!
A wife said to me in counseling, “I don’t think I love my husband!” Wait a minute! What she was saying was she has quit serving her husband. A husband says to me in counseling, “I don’t think I love my wife anymore!” What he is really saying is, “I’ve quit serving my wife!” No one quits loving you only quit serving!
There are dozens of wives sitting in the average congregation in America who are starving for physical attention from their husbands who are loved deeply by their wives but the reason for the lack of physical attention is because the husband has quit serving His wife.
The answer is to quit being selfish and decide to serve each other so that you can learn to love each other. Other wise it becomes a base relationship and a bickering relationship with each fighting to be served instead of fighting to serve!
Jesus was telling Peter if you will forget your needs, forget yourself, and feed my sheep you would end up really loving me.
The Good Samaritan did not love his neighbour before he poured the oil and wine in or before he took him to an inn. He loved him AFTER he had done those things! Here is a man bleeding, beaten half to death, and you say, “I thing I’ll love him!” No sir! However, when you have invested your time into someone’s life and all of a sudden you find yourself loving that somebody you have learned to love! It has gone from Phileo to Agape.
90 % of you reading this chapter know what attraction is, what Phileo is, what “like” is, and what attractiveness is, but the reason you do not know what real Agape love is because you have never really served any one without expecting any thing in return!
If you desire to obey God’s command to Agape your wife serve her. If you desire to obey God’s command to Agape your husband serve him. If you desire to obey God’s command to Agape your children serve them. If you desire to obey God’s command to Agape your enemies then serve them. If you desire to obey God’s command to Agape your friends then serve them. Serving does not mean giving them what they want rather it means giving them what they need!
Someone says, “We’ve decided to leave our church!” No, what you really mean is your wife and daughter decided to leave your church because you have quit serving your church and are expecting your church to serve you!
· I have given you a list of things the magnitude of Agape love
· I have shown you the importance of Agape love
· I have shown you the position of Agape love
· I have given you a list of people we are supposed to Agape
· I have shown you that we cannot decide to Agape and it happens instantaneously
· I have shown that we can decide to do that which leads to Agape