Monday, August 24, 2015

THE KEY TO SUCCESS

NEVER ARRIVE ALWAYS BE ARRIVING



Philippians 3:10-13, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before,”


Paul is not saying here that he wants to rise from the dead someday. Paul is saying I’m going to live the resurrected life now. In other words he is admonishing the redeemed to never arrive always be arriving! This man is the greatest Christian who has ever lived and he said I have not yet apprehended. He is telling us that he has a lot to learn yet.

I am pressing on the upward way
New heights I’m gaining everyday
Still praying as I onward bound
Lord plant my feet on higher ground
Lord lift me up and let me stand
By faith on heavens table land
A higher plain than I have found
Lord plant my feet on higher ground

Our church, Longview Baptist Temple of Longview, Texas, hosted a NATIONAL SOUL WINNING CLINIC for 29 years and every year we would ask ourselves how in world could we top last years’ CLINIC, yet God would come through every time. I do not understand folks who do not desire to do more.

This thought is not for those who have arrived, those who know it all, those who are grown in grace, or those who are experts, but this thought is for us mortals to whom the finish line keeps moving back! This thought is for those of us who the more we try the more we seem to shrink in our growth. This thought is for those who the more you do the more you see that you have not done. This thought is for those that the more you learn the more you see that you do not know. This thought is for those that the more you grow the smaller you seem to be to yourself. This thought is for those who the more righteous you become the more you see your own sins.

The Apostle Paul said he was the chief of sinners. He said, “Oh, wretched man that I am…” He did not say, “Oh, accomplished man that I am” or “Oh, arrived man that I am” or “Oh, perfect man that I am.” This man was the greatest Christian who ever lived probably and said, “Oh, wretched man that I am!”

An artist one day finished his painting and began to weep. As he was standing there weeping look at his painting somebody asked him why he was crying. He said, “Because I’m satisfied with my painting and I should not be so!” When you become satisfied with your Christian life it is time to cry! When you have learned all of the Bible you plan to learn it is time to cry. When you have prayed all you are going to pray it is time to cry. When you have won all the souls you are going to win it is time to cry. When you have walked with God all you intend too it is time to cry.

Alexander the Great conquered India and wept. He had filled in the out line for which he had made for himself. He said, “I have no more worlds to conquer.”

The Apostle Paul said, “I have not yet apprehended!” Ladies and gentlemen this is not some freshman in college saying, “I have not yet apprehended!” This is not a new pastor of a church who is just starting out in the pastorate saying, “I have not yet apprehended!” This is the greatest Christian that ever walked the face of the earth who said, “I have not yet apprehended.”

The word “apprehend” may be defined as “arrive.” Paul is saying I have not yet arrived. The word may be defined as “overtake.’ Paul is saying I have not yet overtaken that which I want to be. It could mean to catch or to catch up. He could be saying, “I have not yet caught up with the plans I have for myself” or the “goals I have for myself.” It could be defined as to take “possession of.” 

Paul is saying I have not yet arrived. I count not myself to have overtaken. I count not myself to have caught up. I count not myself to have taken possession of all the territory I want to take. Paul said, “I have not yet apprehended!”


LOOK AT WHERE PAUL WAS

Look at where Paul was when he penned these words? He was in jail and never to leave jail again! Get the picture please? Paul was in jail and said, “I still have something’s I am supposed to do and I have to do them.” Paul was in jail and said, “I count not myself to have apprehended.” He is saying he had some growing in grace he had to do yet.

Some of you reading this will be as good a Christian as you will ever be and that is tragic! You read your Bible as much as you ever will read your Bible. You pray as much as you ever will pray. You have reached the pinnacle! You have arrived! You have apprehended and you sit there at ease in Zion. 

The purpose of this article is to cause you to become dissatisfied with yourself. You must realize there is a lot of territory between what you are and what you should be. You and I must become dissatisfied with where we are in life.

Look at where Paul was? He was in prison but Paul could still write books of the Bible in jail. Paul could still grow in grace in jail. Paul could still win Onesimus to Christ while in jail. Paul in jail could still praise God. Paul in jail said I am an ambassador in bonds.

He was still a witness in jail. Paul still could win the jailor to Christ while in jail. Paul in jail could still preach to his guards the Gospel. Paul is saying I can preach to those who guard me. I can preach to those who visit me. I can preach to those who are in jail with me.

Paul is in jail but he is saying "I’ve got more to do!" He is about to say, “I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course and I have kept the faith” but here he says, “I have not yet apprehended.”


LOOK AT WHAT PAUL HAD DONE

Not only look at where he was, but look at what he had done. Paul had preached in Jerusalem, Antioch, Cyprus, Pyrga, Pamphylia, Antioch of Pysida, Derbe, Iconium, Lystra, Galatia, Mysia, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Colosse, Troas, Rome, and carried the Gospel to the Western world and yet Paul said, “I have not yet apprehended.” Amazing!

Think about yourself for a second? Have you grown in the last ten years? Oh, yes you love your pastor, enjoy your church, love your church, but you are not involved! You never bring a visitor, never bring a convert, never build a Sunday school class, never work a bus route, and you just sit and soak it all in! The truth is your pastor is glad you are there, but it is time for you to get up off of your blessed assurance and do something big for God.

It is a shame that God’s people are no more today for God than they were last year. It is a shame for God’s people to become complacent and satisfied with where they are in their Christian life.

Look at where Paul was and what Paul had done yet he still said, “I count not myself to have apprehended.”


LOOK AT PAUL’S AGE

He wrote to Philemon in from the same place he is writing this and says, “Paul the aged.” I do not know how old Paul was? Was he 70? I know he was at least 70! Paul was a senior citizen. I hate it when they hand me a Senior Citizen Menu at a restaurant.

Paul was a Senior Citizen but in spite of that fact he said, “I count not myself to have apprehended.” I am 69 as of the writing of this and I count not myself to have apprehended. I am still pressing on the upward way. I have still some higher ground I want to reach. I still have some battles I want to win and goals I want to reach.

I feel sorry for those who have folded their tent. I feel sorry for those who have arrived and these youthful and young college students always wanting a day off: how about a day on? “We’re tired!” I would be ashamed of myself if I were 18, 19, 20, or 21 and worn out! I would hate to think that 69-year-old man could out work a 20 year old. This is no time to quit going forward. Get off of you duff and do something big for God!

Dr. Ford Porter was in his 80’s and still planning to build some more buildings. Dr. Jack Hyles was 74 and still planning big building projects. My heart goes out to Christian people who are satisfied. God said, “Woe unto you who are at ease in Zion.”

·      Look where Paul was
·      Look what Paul had done
·      Look at Paul’s age


LOOK A WHAT PAUL HAD ENDURED

Five times he was beaten with a cat of nine tails. A whip that had one hand and nine whips on that handle with hunks of metal all up and down each one of those whips. Five times he was beaten 39 times with the cat of nine tails.

Three times he was beaten with rods. Once he was stoned. Three times he suffered shipwrecks. He was left for dead in Lystra. He was often robbed. He said his own countryman set him in peril. The heathen imperiled him. He said he was in peril it the city, in the wilderness, and on the sea. The Bible says he was in weariness, painfulness, hungry, thirsty, cold, and naked. 

Paul, I ask, haven’t you suffered enough? I hear his reply, “No sir” I can hear him say, “I count not myself to have apprehended.” These beatings will not stop him. These stonings will not stop him. These prison chains will not stop him. The perils will not stop him for he says, “I count not myself to have apprehended.”

Paul is saying I have not arrived, not overcome, not over taken, and not reached my goal. I have ground to conquer, goals to hit, battles to fight, wars to win, and souls to win to Christ! I have churches I want to start and God’s work I want to do.

I would love to use this article to shake us all up again out of our complacency. We have an awesome responsibility as Christians. Whether we like it or not a nation is at stake as well as the cause of Christ. This liberal nation of ours is about to spend us into bankruptcy not only monetarily but also morally. We dare not remain complacent.

·      Look at where Paul was
·      Look at what Paul had done
·      Look at Paul’s age
·      Look at what Paul had to endure


LOOK AT WHAT PAUL DESIRED

The greatest Christian in the entire world said, “I have not yet arrived. I have more worlds to conquer.” Do not miss this! The greatest missionary who ever lived who had already started more churches than any man in history said, “I’ve got more churches to start. I’ve got more ground to cover.” The greatest soul winner who had ever lived in history said, “I have not yet apprehended.”

His mind was a depository of truth! His life was the biography of the New Testament Church. His feet were the transportation of the Gospel. His heart was the furnace of warmth. His tongue was the sinner’s declaration of independence. His message was the hope of the world. His zeal was the speed of the truth. His body was the world’s temple of hope. His hands were the strength of the saints. His eyes were sight to the blind. His ears were the hearing of the deaf. His presence was a clinic of hope.

He did all of this with no plane, no bus, no car, no motorcycle, and no bicycle. His love transported him the Gospel close enough where it over flowed on you and on me in the United States of America.

If Paul were like most of us the Western world would be on their way to Hell. If Paul were like most of us we would all be lost without hope. Paul said, “I have not yet apprehended.” Paul was saying I have some ground to conquer and America is enjoying the benefits of Paul’s tenacity this very day.

I wonder how many will go to Hell because God’s people have arrived? I wonder how many will be screaming in Hell because God’s people cannot muster enough character to go soul winning.

Paul was a squeaky voice that was heard around the world. His were near blinded eyes that could see the needs of a dying world. His was a weak body strong enough to carry the burden of a lost world. His was a broken heart to mend the hearts of a troubled world. Paul said I have more to do!

The joy of the human soul is inseparably connected with the effort to reach that, which is above it. You are as happy as your dreams are. You are as happy as your goals are. You are as happy as the brightness of your future.

The Christian need not be like the artist who says, “I’m satisfied with my painting thus I weep!” The Christian need not be like Alexander the Great and say, “I have no more worlds to conquer.”

Jesus is our model, our goal, our hero, our example, and He is the one we are to be like. Since you cannot ever attain that you must always be arriving and never arrive. As long as you respond to the challenges of life you can be happy. Our goal is to be like Jesus so why have any of us become complacent. I do not care who you are for you are miserable if you do not have more ground to conquer.

Our goal ought to be, “As he is so are we in this world.” Our goal ought to be to forgive like He forgave and since we will never be like Jesus there is always more ground to gain in forgiveness. Our goal is to pray like He prayed in Gethsemane, forgive like He forgave on Calvary, to love like He loved Lazarus, and to have His mind in us. Please do not miss this thought for we will never arrive but we will always be arriving!

Even our Saviour was not satisfied until He reached the purpose of His life. Isaiah 53:11, “He shall see the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied.” Isaiah 50:7, “He set his face like a flint…” The arrow was launched before the foundation of the world. It flew straight toward Calvary through all of the 39 books of the Old Testament. It sped through the Old Testament with wavering. The arrow was in Bethlehem but Jesus was not satisfied in Bethlehem. The arrow sped on as He went about doing good for 33 years but Jesus was not satisfied. 

The arrow passed by a well in Sychar and won a fallen woman. It passed by and affected a ruler named Nicodemus, a tax collector named Matthew, a fisherman named Peter, a blind man, a fallen Magdalene, a Publican named Zacchaeus, and it sped its way to Gethsemane, but Jesus was not satisfied yet for there was more ground to cover.

The arrow came to Caiaphas’ court; Anna’s judgment, Pilate’s Hall, Herod’s seat, and it sped its way through the air of eternity till it came to the trial of Jesus: then the indictment, the trail, the conviction, and on to a cross with a crown of thorns. Then, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Jesus was to pay the penalty for our sins and He cried, “It is finished!” He saw the travail of His soul and was satisfied.

Do not be satisfied until you fulfill the purpose for your life! Unfortunately there are Christians who have arrived. Paul did not but some Christians have! Amazing isn’t it!




Thursday, August 13, 2015

FAMILIARITY CAN BREED CONTEMPT

TOO CLOSE?




Leviticus 10:1-3, “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.”

“And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.”

“Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come night me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.”


Nadab was the oldest of Aaron’s four sons. Aaron was the first High Priest of Israel and Moses was the leader of God’s people. Abihu was the second oldest of Aaron’s sons. Nadab the oldest and Abihu the second oldest did something that was very unusual for they offered strange fire on the altar.

The Brazen Altar was in the Courtyard of the Tabernacle and that is where the lamb was slain. The fire on the Brazen Altar was supposed to be burning all of the time. It was never supposed to go out. Then from the Brazen Altar one would find the Laver inside the Tabernacle, then on the left side as one entered in the Holy Place itself was the Golden Candlestick while on the right side was the Table of Shewbread. As one became closer to the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant was, there was a veil that separated the Holy of Holies from where the Mercy Seat was placed.

Just outside of the veil was a little piece of furniture called the Altar of Incense. On that Altar was burnt sweet smelly savor, incense, or a perfume kind of savor. The fire on that Altar had to come from the Brazen Altar out in the Courtyard.

The Brazen Altar was the place where the fire never went out but the fire at the Altar of Incense, God said, had to come from the fire of the Brazen Altar. There was a reason for that because the lambs had been slain and the coals were bloody coals on the Brazen Altar and God said only the blood on the coals will work! Thus, the bloody coals were on the Altar of Incense had to come from the Brazen Altar.

CONSIDER NADAD AND ABIHU

Nadab and Abihu were the two oldest sons of Aaron the High Priest and they decided to take a censor and put in the censer their own fire. They did not take the fire from the Brazen Altar. They put their own fire in that censer. They went to the Altar of Incense and burned the incense with their own fire.

“Preacher what in the world is the big deal?” I’ll tell you why it was such a big deal because God said He wanted the fire on the Altar of Incense to come from the fire of the Brazen Altar. There is a lot of religious fire today but it doesn’t originate at Calvary. It is not blood fire!

A lot of religious people today have much zeal but the zeal is no good unless it originates at the Brazen Altar, which is the cross of Calvary. The main reason to do it this way is because God said so!

What was the problem? Nadab and Abihu, the sons of the High Priest, had become so accustomed to all of this and this became old hat to them. The church house was their second home. So, one day they just casually used their own fire. Others would have never dared to do what these sons did. Those outside would have realized how sacred this whole process was but to Nadab and Abihu, being the sons of the High Priest, it was old stuff for them to see the Tabernacle. 

It was an old thing for them to see the animal sacrifice. It was old stuff for them to see the fire being taken from the bloody Brazen Altar to the Altar of Incense.

Maybe, much like the altar, the Baptist church is old hat now to their members or maybe like soul winning is now old stuff to the average member. Maybe much like Sunday school, Sunday morning preaching, Sunday night preaching, Wednesday night Bible study, baptisms, standards, or the Christian school has become so routine that it is taken for granted. 

Maybe much like the King James Bible has become old hat to the average Christian. Instead of being the Holy Words of an almighty God given to us it has now become a textbook.

Thus, these sons took their censors and took their own fire to light the fire on the Altar of Incense but as soon as they did fire came down out of Heaven and destroyed them and killed them on the spot.

Why, because they thought nothing about it. They never gave it another thought that it made any difference because it had become old and trite. They had become accustomed to the house of God and their activity. They had become so familiar with the house of God. They had mentally brought the Brazen Altar, Laver, Golden Candlestick, Table of Shewbread, Veil, and the Altar of Incense down to their level of thought. They just casually took it for granted and probably said to someone who questioned them, “Oh, this is no big deal. Our dad is the High Priest and we have been here longer than you” and the result was that God killed them.

You who take lightly the preserved inspiration of the King James Bible for the English speaking peoples have become so accustomed to it that you now take steps to intellectually critique the Holy Words of an almighty God are walking in dangerous territory. Those who support such heresy will also suffer like Uzzah who innocently touched the Ark thinking he was doing the right thing but he died too. That is why those who are not sons of the High Priest look at these so-called men of God and shake their heads in unbelief that such things would occur especially in fundamental Baptist circles.

I was thinking this morning that such statements that put a question mark on the King James Bible could only occur in a college atmosphere where a large college dominates the local church. If I were to say something like that when I pastored the Longview Baptist Temple of Longview, Texas, I would have had 33 deacons knocking on my door. 

CONSIDER UZZAH

There is another story in the Bible to be considered and that is about Uzzah. He was the son of a man named Abinadab. His dad was known for one thing in the Bible. The Ark of the Covenant after being captured by the Philistines was brought back to the city of David. On the was to the city of David the Ark of the Covenant had to be kept somewhere when they would stop to rest. Abinadab allowed the Ark of the Covenant to stay in his house.

This man, Abinadab, had a son whose name was Uzzah. This boy lived in the same house with the Ark. No doubt he became use to its presence. He couldn’t touch it but he knew it was there. No one else had this privilege until then. The actual Ark of the Covenant that holy powerful little piece of furniture, over which rested the Shekinah glory of God, rested in Uzzah’s house.

When it came time to take the Ark of the Covenant out of the house of Abinadab to be taken to the City of David Uzzah followed along as they transported the Ark of the Covenant to the city of David.

However, they did something they should not have done. God had said they should have the Ark of the Covenant transported by the hands of men known as Kohathites. These folks were one of the families of Levi. It was their job to transport the Ark of the Covenant and the other furniture of the Tabernacle.

God said He wanted it carried by the hands of men. However, they decided to put it on a cart. So, they placed the Ark of the Covenant on a new cart and they put some oxen out in front of it. The oxen pulled the Ark of the Covenant on this new cart. “Preacher that sounds much better to me to place it on a cart.” However, it doesn’t matter how it sounds to you. God said He wanted men to carry it by their hands.


This inspired King James Bible not only tells us of a divine message but it also tells us of a divine method of doing things. This Bible not only tells us the message but it also tells how to spread the message. This Bible not only tells us what to preach but how to preach. “But preacher soul winning doesn’t build a church.” Ok, and then don’t build a church but go soul winning! I’d rather do it God’s way and not build a church than not do it God’s way and build a church! God said by the “foolishness of preaching” not by the foolishness of “dramas.” America needs old-fashioned preaching, soul winning, and standards of holiness again!

God doesn’t need a new cart! Throw away your new cart! We find this Ark of the Covenant on this new cart being pulled by some oxen. “But preacher is looks so much better on the cart! The cart has wheels on it! After all this is a new day and we must keep up with the latest methods. It seems to me like this is much more efficient and the best way to do it.” The trouble is it doesn’t matter what you and I think, or like. It only matters what God likes and God thinks!

Observe what happens! As these oxen pulled the cart they stumbled and the cart began to shake.  Uzzah instinctively reached out his hand and touched the Ark. No man was supposed to do that! Nobody was to touch the Ark and as soon as Uzzah touched it he was stricken by death. His life was snuffed out immediately.

Wait a minute! Why did God give us the story of Nadab and Abihu? Why did God give us the story of Uzzah?  Why the story of Nadab and Abihu offering strange fire? It is simple because they were so familiar. Remember their dad was the boss man! They drew strength from that authority to challenge God’s Word!

What is the deal with Uzzah reaching and touching the Ark because he had become too familiar? It is so easy for those of us who are redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and do God’s work to become too familiar with that which is sanctified.


I believe that the lives of God’s people ought to be centered on their local church. I believe it is God’s will that the young people and children build their lives around their local church. No child of God has to prostitute to the devil’s crowd to have fun. You can have fun with God’s people.

Church is not something that takes place an hour on Sunday morning and then you go out and live like the devil all week long until you come back to church. Church is a place to come for 2 hours on Sunday morning, 2 hours on Sunday night, 2 hours on Wednesday night, 2 hours for soul winning night, 2 hours for sports, time for fellowship, time for your education, and for your fun. However, when that is true it can become very easy for God’s children to become too familiar with that which is sanctified.

FAMILIARITY CAN BREED CONTEMPT

Just like what happened to Uzzah. He happened to possess a privilege others did not have and because he had a privilege he thought it gave him privileges! He happened to have the Ark of the Covenant in his house. Give thought to this for in that the Ark dwelt the actual Ten Commandments on the Tablets with God’s own handwriting on those Tablets. In that Ark dwelt the Golden Pot of manna that fell every morning from Heaven in the wilderness. In that Ark dwelt Aaron’s rod that budded! All that was in Uzzah’s house. He became too familiar with it and when the Ark on the cart shifted a little he reached out to steady the Ark but God had said, “Don’t touch it!”

Likewise, Nadab and Abihu said, “We’ll just take some of our own fire and put it into our own censers and stick it into the Altar of Incense because this is so much easier! However, they had become too familiar with the work of God.

The church building is not a sanctuary and it is not the place where God lives but on the other hand it is a place sanctified for the service of God almighty. That’s one reason we built at Longview Baptist Temple the beautiful school building for Longview Christian Academy. Why, because it is easy for the LBT Auditorium and building to become a little too familiar for our children. I believe if that which is not sacred but is sanctified can lose its sanctification if God’s people are too familiar. That is why, in my opinion, gym-auditoriums are dangerous.

The church auditorium is sanctified not sacred but it is set aside for the preaching, teaching, singing, and praising God. That is why Texas Baptist Seminary has it’s own buildings. There ought to be something about the church building that is not too familiar to God’s people. When I pastored LBT I did not come into the auditorium one or two times more than our church services. Why, because I wanted it to be a special place or a sanctified place if you please. The children should not be allowed to run around in the church auditorium. The truth is your children should be with you are some other responsible adult when on church property. The church auditorium is not sacred but it is sanctified1

God’s house is not in the sense that He lives there but it is God’s house because He owns it and it is set apart for His service. There is nothing wrong with the laughter or fellowshipping that occurs but there is something wrong with having a Ben Hur chariot race in there. This is not the place to eat or to drink. God’s house is a sanctified place!

I do not believe in formal church services, liturgy, or high church worship services but I do believe in dignity and propriety for God’s house. Too many parents bring their children to the house of God and turn them loose not knowing where they are and what they are doing. Although we should not revere the house of God we should respect the house of God. It is sanctified!

I Timothy 3:15, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

The chairs, pews, songbooks, piano, organ, pulpit, microphones, etc., were paid for with God’s money thus they belong to God are sanctified for His service. The house of God ought to be respected.

Uzza became too familiar with the Ark of the Covenant and he felt he had liberty because of familiarity to disobey God. Be careful familiarity gives no one the right to disobey God!

Nadab an Abihu were familiar with the Altar of Incense, the Brazen Altar, the Temple, the Tabernacle, and they felt liberty because of familiarity. After all their daddy was the High Priest. So, they offered the fire they wanted to offer and in so doing all three of them were killed. 



THE BODY OF THE BELIEVER IS THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND IS SANCTIFIED

May we look at today’s Temple? It is not a building made with hands.

I Corinthians 6:18-20, “What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.”

“But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.”

“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.”

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

“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

God dwells in my body just like He dwelt in the Holy of Holies over the Ark of the Covenant in the early days. My body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit! It is not sacred but it is sanctified!

When I trusted Christ at age 11 God sanctified my spirit and set aside my spirit for Heaven. My salvation was settled and I’m set aside for a home in Heaven! When Jesus comes again this body of flesh I possess will be changed and then I will be totally set aside. I will have a body like Jesus and I will be totally sanctified. In the interval I’m being sanctified as I grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Every redeemed person’s body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit just as much as Solomon’s Temple. Thus, the body should be treated with the same care that the Temple of the Old Testament was treated.

Supposed someone brought some tobacco into the Old Testament Temple and poured it all over the altar. Suppose the High Priest had come in puffing on a cigar or suppose he is sipping on a cocktail, or has acid rock blasting over a boom box what would have happened?

If Nadab and Abihu were stricken dead because of strange fire and Uzzah was stricken dead because he attempted to steady the Ark of the Covenant can you imagine what would have happened to someone entering smoking a cigarette or come in there drinking liquor?

Go to the airport and see how much little respect people have for themselves by the way they wear their clothes or don’t’ wear clothes? Look at some of the old news clips of the ballparks in Babe Ruth’s day? You will see men dressed up and the ladies dressed up too! You will see the men in suits, white shirts, ties, and they look like businessmen! Boy have things changed in America!

·      The house of God is sanctified
·      The body of the believer is sanctified
·      The leader is sanctified

It is important to understand that no follower should become too close to his or her leader. God has given to all of us what Dr. John Rice used to call “God’s Deputies” for leadership in every area of life. I am not Father Gray but I am sanctified Gray!

No church member ought to call his or her pastor by their first name. Whatever role of leadership God has given you make sure that there is a respect for the position.

It is a shame when children call their dad “the old man” or call their mother “the old lady.” God is not pleased with that and when parents allow it to be said they are hurting their children more than they are themselves.

·      The house of God is sanctified
·      The body of the believer is sanctified
·      The leader is sanctified
·      The Scriptures are sanctified
·      The Gospel is sanctified
·      The nation Israel is sanctified


It is imperative that God’s people do not become too familiar with that which is sanctified or it could be a deadly thing. There should and must be a respect for the house of God, the body of the believer, the leader, the Scriptures, the Gospel, and the nation Israel. 


Monday, August 10, 2015

AMERICA'S BIGGEST ENEMY IS HERSELF!

SELF DESTRUCTION



Hosea 13:9, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.”

 Israel was destroyed! The same thing that happened to Israel is occurring in America today. The people of Israel observed in their day what we are observing in our day. They watched the deterioration of their nation as we likewise are seeing. The destruction unfortunately is a self-inflicted thing for Israel as well as the America we call home. They loved their nation as we love our nation. However, their love for them selves was greater than their love for their God.

 Liberalism, or so-called Progressivism, is not the answer for any nation, society, family, school, college, and especially for the house of God and the man of God. It appears that appeasing is the appeal of the day. Why can’t we all just get along seems to be the cry of the day without any consideration of the outcome. As long as we get along we could care less about the future of our children and grandchildren. 

 Liberals always want you to get along with them while they refuse to get along with Conservatism. Crossing the aisle to a Liberal means coming over to their way. Their way is called "The Blame Game." Without the ability to blame they always lose in the arena of ideas.


 Truth trumps any relationship in life because it sustains a relationship with God, which in turn is reflected in human relationships bathed in truth. Human relationships are not the means to an end. A divine relationship is the relationship that allows us to be a conduit for God to live through us and develop proper and productive relationships with other humans for Christ’s sake and not our sake.

 Israel was destroyed and she blamed her enemies. She blamed Samaria, Assyria, Egypt, Judah, Tyre, Sidon, and her northern neighbor Syria. She was destroyed and God said Egypt, Samaria, Syria, Assyria, Tyre, Sidon, and Judah did not destroy you. God said, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself…” God is saying to them you have no one to blame but yourselves. Without God there can be no victory or safety. The question is not "Is God on our side?" but rather are "We on God's side?"




 Many folks in our churches are saying the same thing. “I would have succeeded if I had a good wife, but my wife was the reason for my destruction.” No, she was not the reason! Husband, thou hast destroyed thyself! If you ever fail in a marriage you cannot justifiably point to your wife. Now, she may have not been everything she should have been, but in the final analysis the Scriptures say, “…every man will give account of himself to God…” 

“I could have succeeded if my parents had reared my properly.” Please pay attention, son thou has destroyed thyself! Daughter, thou hast destroyed thyself. If you fail you cannot blame a drunkard father. If you fail you will not blame a careless mother or an unhappy home. If you are destroyed God will say to you, “Thou hast destroyed thyself…” It is a personal decision not a parental decision that brings about success in life.

 God pity the soul of every young person who comes from a good home that does not turn out right. However, “But, my daddy never took me fishing! Son, thou hast destroyed thyself. “But, my mother never showed any affection!” Daughter, thou hast destroyed thyself. “But, my daddy never took me to a Texas Rangers baseball game.” Son, thou hast destroyed thyself. “But, my mother never taught me how to be a good wife.” Daughter, thou hast destroyed thyself. “But, the pastor mistreated me and my family.” Sir, thou hast destroyed thyself. “But, the principal mistreated my son.” Parent thou has destroyed thyself. “But, the teacher flunked my son.” Parent, thou hast destroyed thyself.



 Israel said we have neighbors that are always bothering us and it is Samaria’s fault we are destroyed. However, God said, “Thou hast destroyed thyself…” Israel said to God our perennial enemy Syria has caused our trouble and God replied, “Thou hast destroyed thyself…” God let them know that they have no one to blame but themselves.

 A wife says, “I could have succeeded if I had a better husband!” No, if you do not succeed or succeed it will not be the badness of your husband. It will be the badness or the goodness of your character. At her homegoing to Heaven, my dear 98 year-old mother did not have it made, but my mother was a success as a wife and mother. If Mary Elizabeth Gray had failed she would have had no one to blame but Mary Elizabeth Gray.

 I am feed up with this “blame it” generation. These idiotic academic head shrinks who explore into the past in order to find someone or some thing to blame are destroying our people. They remind me of those who blame devils for every thing. No one wants to take personal responsibility for their actions and as a result we not only fail we take others down with us.

 Sorry Israel, “Thou hast destroyed thyself…” I do not care what you background is. I do not care who hurt you, who your mother is, what your daddy did, what kind of a wife you have, what kind of a husband you have, and what kind of a poverty stricken life you lived in you will self destruct if you do not take the challenges of life head on! 

Every life that is destroyed is a suicide! “I would have succeeded but I have lost confidence in my pastor.” Your pastor did not destroy you! You destroyed your self with self-destruction! You have no one to blame but yourself. You committed suicide because you do it to yourself.

 “My church ruined my life because it was not what it should have been.” It may not have been, but you have a copy of God’s Word and you could have read it, if you had wanted too! Jesus is what He ought to be. The Holy Spirit is what He ought to be. God the Father is what He ought to be. You have no one to blame but yourself.

 “I would have succeeded but I had an awful boss and everyone knows what he is life. That is the reason I did not succeed.” No, the reason you failed is because you self-destructed! “I would have made it if I had not been born in the slums.” No, the reason you may not make it because you have not taken personal responsibility for your life and not your birth.

 “I would have made it if it had not been for bad luck.” It is amazing to me that the ones who make it in life are lucky and the ones who fail are unlucky. Isn’t it interesting that those who work hard always have good luck and lazy devils have bad luck? It is amazing to me how those who rise early and stay up late are always so lucky and succeed. If you fail it is your fault and the words on you tombstone ought to be “Thou hast destroyed thyself…”

 Others can wound you but they cannot destroy you. Others can hinder you and knock you down but they cannot knock you out. Others can lead you to self-destruct, but they cannot destroy you. Others can discourage you, but they cannot destroy you. Others can depress and tempt you, but they cannot destroy you.



 God is saying to Israel, “I know your neighbors! I know Assyria, Syria, Tyre, Sidon, and Egypt, but thou hast destroyed thyself!”

 If you destroy yourself it will be you who pulls the trigger or flip the switch on your life. Students who wash out, quit, go home, become Benedict Arnolds, turn yellow, become spiritual cowards, spiritual weaklings, tuck tail and go home from Bible College give reasons that are not the real reasons. The truth is they destroyed themselves. Oh, they blame the teachers, Dean of Men, Dean of Women, Registrar, Vice-President, President, Chancellor, or Pastor; but the truth is they self-destructed.

 Life is not fair! Read that again! Life is not fair! It makes no difference where you are, who you are with, or who is over you. You either succeed or fail in life because you either refuse to self-destruct or choose to self-destruct!

 When you decide to quit your Sunday school class, bus route, choir, orchestra, ushering, staff position, or being a deacon you will give every reason in the world except the real reason. You self-destructed! I can prove it! Others made it while you failed!

 Here is Israel, she is defeated and destroyed! She blames everybody around her, but God said, “Thou hast destroyed thyself…”

 If you get knocked down you don’t have to stay down. If you can’t get through you can certainly try again. If life pens you to the mat you can still lift that shoulder one more time. If your way is blocked today go at again tomorrow. Quit blaming every one else. REFUSE to self-destruct!

 If people have discouraged you, depressed you, tempted you, made it hard for you; you can still make if you refuse to self-destruct. The same is true for a nation!

 Deuteronomy 33:25, “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.” God gave the tribe of Asher a mountainous terrain when the land was divided. God said to Asher, “I am giving you ‘iron shoes.’” Why, you have got some rocky days ahead of you! God never said to anybody else that he would give them shoes of iron! They did not get their shoes after the trip or when they got into the trip. He said before you get started I am going to give you shoes of iron. God is saying He will give to His children what they need to make it through the rough days. He always has!

 We can on stand and deal with the world from a standpoint of strength not weakness. That strength is found in obeying God's Word and not blaming others for our struggles.


OBSERVATIONS


·      NEVER CONTEMPLATE BLAMING ANY ONE FOR YOUR SETBACKS IN LIFE
·      NEVER THINK THAT IT IS OVER BECAUSE OF THE SETBACKS

·      NEVER GO THROUGH SETBACKS WITHOUT LEARNING A LESSON



Thursday, July 30, 2015

LABOUR OR HEAVY LADEN?

IT DOES NOT MATTER WHOSE FAULT IT IS!



Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”


One of the great passages in the entire Bible is this passage. However, verse 28 is one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible in my opinion. Let me give you a little word study first. The word “rest” does not mean “rest” from your burden but “rest” in your burden. God never promises He will take any ones’ burden away. The truth is He said, “Let every man bear his own burden.”

Sometimes people would ask me, “Oh, preacher pray that God will lift this burden?” If I did it would not do any good! The reason is that God is not going to take your burden away.

The word “rest” means not rest from your burden but rest in your burden. The difference between the unsaved world and those Christians who walk with God is not the fact of no burdens rather the difference is God’s people have rest in their burdens. God does not deliver from heartache but He does give strength in ones heartache. He helps His children bear the burden that exists.

God does not take away our burdens. We sing about it in our Hymn Books of God taking away our burdens but the truth is there is a difference between songs and Scriptures. God gave us a song to sing as we bear our burdens. God never said in these Scriptures that we would get rest from our burdens but rather He did say we would get rest in our burdens.

It does not say here that God will lift our burdens. It does not say He would lighten our burdens for God simply gives us a yoke. God is saying come to me and we will change not the burden but the harness will be given to carry the burden. God is saying we will have the same burden but He will add a yoke to help us bear the burden that will not go away.

Note verse 30! This verse is not two statements for it is one statement. He is saying, “My yoke is easy so my burden is light.” An example would be, “I ate lunch and I am full” or “I am full because I ate lunch.” Another example would be, “I have my coat on and I am warm” or “I am warm because I have my coat on.” Thus Jesus is saying, “My yoke is easy so my burden is light” or “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Every single person reading this chapter needs a burden or heartache. Jesus said, “I will not lift your heartache. I will not take it away but you come to me. I will give you a harness that will make the same load you had easier for you to bear.”

The word “yoke” means there are two in it! It is defined as “a frame that harnesses a pair.” Jesus is saying, “I am not going to touch your burden but if you will yoke up with me I will be in there with you helping you. I will help pull. I will not take away your burden. I will not make the burden lighter but I will help you pull.”

So we are to come to Jesus with our burden, get into a harness, yoke up with Jesus, carrying the same burden, and then add Jesus’ burden to ours. When we do that two things will happen; one is we will learn of Him and two is He will give us rest in the burden not from the burden.

We all need burdens and a load to carry. That is one of the problems with this nation of ours: no responsibility, no character, and no integrity. The book of Lamentations says, “it is good for one to bear his yoke in his youth.” That is why college students ought to work their way through college in my opinion.

We pay grown men millions of dollars to bounce a ball on a hardwood floor like a little boy. They run up an down that hardwood floor in their underwear and put the little round ball in a metal hoop and are paid millions to do it! These are the ones our young people look up to as “heroes.” No the truth is the real “heroes” are those dying on foreign soil so that our nation will have freedom!


TWO GROUPS IN THESE SCRIPTURES

There is not just one group here in our Scripture. There are two groups in our Scripture. First those that labor and second those that are heavy laden. The ones that labor cause their own burden. The ones that are heavy laden are those that did not cause their burden. It all came about because of someone else.

Jesus is saying if you get yourself into trouble come unto me and I will give you rest or if someone else caused you to be in this trouble come unto me! WOW! That means God is just as interested in giving you rest if you caused your own trouble and are a scoundrel who hurts. He is saying come to Jesus!

God is interested in those that hurt not how you became hurt! God is interested in those that have burdens not in how you came to have those burdens. If you labor He is saying come unto me and I will give you rest. If someone thrust this burden on you come unto me and I will give you rest.

A young lady gets herself in trouble. She is pregnant and not married. Please read this carefully! Though that girl got herself into trouble God still loves her! God still says come unto me and I will give you rest. You put the burden on yourself!

Follow my thought! There are also two sets of parents involved. These parents did not have anything to do with this. There hearts are heavy and they are heavy laden. Jesus said you parents who have this heartache, you never dreamed it would happen to you, you have a heavy heart, and are crushed. Jesus is saying to them come unto me and I will give you rest! This same Jesus goes to the little girl who is pregnant out of wedlock who in essence did this to herself and says to her you come to me too and I will also give you rest!

I had the godliest mother that ever walked on planet earth. I had a dad who drank and caroused before he got right with God. Wait a minute! Everything that happened to my dad he caused it himself. However, my mother did not do anything wrong yet she suffered. She was heavy laden. Some of the family suffered. Some of the family was heavy laden.

Jesus said to my dad who labored and caused his troubles come unto me and I will give you rest. Thank God my dad did return to Jesus and he was given rest. Hold it! Mama who was heavy laden, did not cause the heartaches, the burdens, and the suffering was also told my Jesus come unto me and I will give you rest.

My mother was a praying mother and my daddy gave her plenty to pray about in the early days. My dad labored and my mother was heavy laden. Jesus came to Mary Gray and said you have been loaded down with burdens, which were not of your making. Jesus came to my dad and said you have loaded yourself down with burdens of your own making. Jesus offers a harness to my mother because she is heavy laden. Jesus offers a harness to my dad because he is laboring under burdens of his own making. Jesus is saying to both if you come to me and take my harness I will give you rest for I will be the difference.

The Saviour is not interested in how you got there for He is just interested in the fact you are there. It simply means there are two types of people here reading this chapter who are burdened the one who is heavy laden and the other who is burdened.

The one who is heavy laden would be like a wayward child who was taught, taken to church, loved, and disciplined but someone else has loaded you up with burdens. You did not put one single burden on your back but you are heaven laden. Some have been deserted by a husband or a wife and the truth is these people did not labor they were heavy laden. These godless wives and godless husbands placed a load on the backs of their mates.  Jesus says to you forsaken wives come unto me and to the forsaken husbands come unto me. Jesus is saying your mate is still gone but come unto me and I will give you an easier harness and I will help you.

You may have a serious illness. You did not on purpose cause this sickness and you do not even know what caused it. You find yourself heavy laden. Some of you may have a loved one who has passed away and you did not ask for this! It is not your fault! You have been heavy laden! You did not load your own truck somebody else loaded the bricks on you truck and you are heavy laden. Maybe someone has betrayed you, or you have been unjustly criticized, or maybe even god caused it by deciding it was best of you to have a burden. You did not choose to do anything to cause your burden. Yet, Jesus says come unto me and I will give you rest!

To those of you who caused your own heartaches, burdens, and heartbreaks by selling your birthright through picking up a bottle of liquor causing you to have to bear a yoke caused by sin Jesus says come unto me and I will give you rest! You chose to lie, to steal, to drink, to gamble, sell your future, and sell your joy for a few moments of pleasure for you placed the load on your own shoulders and the burden on yourself. Yet, Jesus says I have some good news for the same Jesus that comes to the one who has the load placed upon him also comes to you who placed your own load upon yourself and says come unto me and I’ll give you rest.


GOD GIVES THE SAME INVITATION TO BOTH

The one who did load his or her own burden and the one who had nothing to do with the burden that he or she bears are both given the same invitation by Christ.

Come unto me disheartened wife, dad, mom, and lonely one diseased with a sickness unto death, one with ill health, young widow, or senior saint. Come unto me mission man who caused his own troubles.

The same invitation is to you as well as the little widow, forsaken wife, or sick one. The same invitation that is to the sinned against is to the sinner! The same invitation is to the stricken and the striker, the smitten and the smiter, the hurting and the hurter, as well as the forsaken and the forsaker. It is not what caused you to hurt that moves God it is that you hurt that moves God.

May I address you Pharisees for a moment? God does not look down and check to see how the people arrive where they are in life. God looks and sees where they are in life. He then offers both an invitation to come unto Him. However, man is not that way. We will have compassion on a widow but if we would be like Jesus we would welcome every one the opportunity to come back to Jesus.

It does not matter to Jesus whether you are heavy laden or if you labored to cause you to be where you are. It does not make any difference whether you pick up a 100 pounds or a 100 pounds is pout on you. It is still 100 pounds! Jesus said come unto me all that are heavy laden and you who labor. Jesus promises “rest” to both.


THE SAME COMPASSION TO BOTH

Jesus hurts, as much for those of you that caused your hurt as for those of you that did not cause your hurt. Jesus is saying I love those of you that caused your trouble just as much as those that did not cause your trouble. The fact is Jesus sees your hurt and he does not want you hurt! So those of you who have heartache not of your own doing and those of you who have heartache caused by your along He pleads for both to come to Him and He offers rest to both!


THE SAME LOVE TO BOTH

Jesus looked upon the multitudes and was moved with compassion. Jesus did not care what kind of multitudes they were. He did not check to see why they were in the mess they were in. He just said to them ALL come unto me and I will give you rest! He said the same to both those who chose it and those who did not choose it!



THE SAME REWARD TO BOTH

Some of you are so burdened and have such heartache you do not know how you can take it. Then some of you reading this chapter have been a scoundrel. You played the fool! You listened to the devil like Eve did! You made your own bed! Jesus comes to you and says I will give you the same reward as the one whose bed someone else made. 

Every one reading this article has, has had, or will have been heavy laden or laboring at one time or another. I am speaking of people who have had things done to them that they wish had never happened. I do not care how you arrived where you are for there is a loving Heavenly Father who says come unto me and I will give you rest.

That is why we sing, “Come every soul by sin oppressed. There’s mercy with the Lord!” Whether you caused it or did not cause it! It is not how you arrived where you are that garners God’s attention. It is you being where you are that attracts God’s attention.