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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

ARE YOU IN A SLUMP?

Advice to Those In a Slump




Psalm 55:6, “And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then I would fly away, and be at rest.”

At some point in every baseball player’s life, he experiences what is known as a “hitting slump.”  He swings and swings and swings, but the bat just does not connect with the ball. He practices and practices, but to no avail. This is simply a normal part of every ball player’s career.

Similarly, every Christian hits an emotional and spiritual slump. You wake up one day feeling you are in the middle of a losing streak. The charm of life is missing. You remember the days of being on the mountaintop, but you cannot seem to climb to those heights, again. You realize instead of having a joyous Christian life, you are simply going through the motions. Yet, you desperately want to feel what you once felt and what others are still feeling.

There was a time when your heart would burn as you read the blessed Scriptures; you used to weep over its pages, and you would tingle and rejoice.  Now you no longer feel the same. You once enjoyed your prayer time, your audience with the King of kings and Lord of lords. You realized you were talking with the mighty Creator of the universe. You had a joy and a thrill when you went boldly before the throne of grace to present your petitions and find grace to help you in times of needs. However, something has happened, and that thrill is no longer there.

When the pastor asked you to take a Sunday school class, you were overjoyed with the privilege of teaching the eternal Word of God to the eternal souls of those pupils. Now, however, it is a drudgery to teach that class.  When you brought a bus full of children to Sunday school, you were so excited that they would have the opportunity to hear the message of grace.  Now you wish you could feel that way, again. What is wrong with you?

Maybe you have an overwhelming urge to leave a note on your boss’s door and just disappear. You would like to keep driving into the sunset. You would like to dispose of your spouse, your mother-in-law, and your children. This feeling is not unique to you. It is not unique to preachers or lay people, to men or women, to teenagers or adults. Everyone has similar feelings at one time or another. Some simply have learned to fake it and not let their faces show their feelings.

The great prophet Elijah found himself in a slump.  He stood against 450 prophets of Baal and called down fire on his sacrifice. Afterwards, he directed the people of Israel to slay the false prophets. Then, he called down rain on a parched land.  

Yet, in I Kings 19:4 we read of Elijah, “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.”

In verse 14 he said, “…I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”

Moses, the great leader of Israel, also had a slump.  In Numbers 11:11‑12, we find him talking to God. 11“…Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?  12Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?”

Moses was complaining that God had given him the burden of caring for the Israelites.  He was complaining that he had to babysit them and deal with the troublemakers.  Why was he complaining?  He was suffering a time of depression, or, if you please, a slump.

Notice this statement: “The future appalls me. I dare not think of it.”  Can you imagine who would have written such a depressing statement?  It was made by John Calvin, the reforming preacher.  Martin Luther, the man who spearheaded the Protestant Reformation, once said, “I am sick of this life, if it can be called life at all.”

I am not talking about a period in your life when you are overtaken by sin.  I am not talking about being backslidden. You are not getting drunk or running around on your spouse.  I am talking about times when you are going to church and serving God. You are doing the best you can, but nothing seems to be the same.  

You read your Bible and pray, but your walk with God is not exciting to you. Church attendance is drudgery. The thrill has gone out of choir practice.   You feel like you are running around in circles, and you seem to be going nowhere. You are going through a slump.  Here is some advice about what to do while you are in your slump that will help you through this period of time. 

 Do Not Change a Thing

When you are in a slump, you should not change anything. Keep the same schedule. Keep reading your Bible, praying, and going soul winning. God is testing you to see why you really serve Him. He wants to know if you serve Him out of love or feeling. Do you serve Him because you love Him, or because you want to feel that tingling feeling?

This is what separates mature Christians from immature Christians. If you serve God just because you tingle, then when the battle gets hot, you will run. If you serve God for applause, then you will quit when people want to crucify you.
  
You should not read the Bible for the thrill of learning something new; you should thrill because God tells you to read His Book. When the day arrives that you no longer want to teach your Sunday school class, become a mature Christian and continue to teach and build that class. Teach that class because you love God, not because you want a thrill. When your motivation for serving God is based on love for Him rather than a thrill, you are maturing.

Are you in a slump? Pray as you have always prayed.  Keep having your devotions every day. Keep going to church and tithing. Keep going soul winning. Do not change a thing. God wants to know if you are real. Do you serve Him out of love and obedience, or do you serve Him just for the thrill of having 100 riders on your bus?  Do you serve Him just because you have 10 baptisms on your bus route or you break your Sunday school attendance record?  Do you serve Him for fun, or because you love Him?

The thrill is a by-product of serving God, but it is not the reason to serve God. Not every week can be a big day. We enjoy the thrills of the campaigns, but not every week will be a thrill. There will be weeks when it is 100 degrees, and no one on the bus has taken a bath for a week. There will be times when you do not want to pray. Nevertheless, do not change a thing; just keep doing what you have been doing.

Do Not Make Any Major Decisions 

Most of our decisions are made when we are in a slump, yet that is the worst time to make decisions.  When you are blue, sick, or bereaved, it is not the time to make any major decisions. When church members are in a slump, they often become upset and quit. They never stop to consider that the problem may be their lack of obedience to God in reading the Bible, praying, going to church, and going soul winning. Many lives have been destroyed because someone made a bad decision while in a slump.

Do Not Run to Anything New

When I was in high school, Dick McCullough, a left-handed player, was playing for the Detroit Tigers.  He held his bat high in the air, and did everything just the opposite of the way it was supposed to be done, yet he batted .298 and .300. When he was playing for the Tigers, they were world champions.

During those years, I was playing baseball, and I was the leading hitter on the team. I hit a bit of a slump, and, deciding to try something new, I tried to hit like Dick McCullough. It did not work, and I could not hit anything. It was a mistake for me to try something new.

The world’s solution to a slump is trying something new. However, if you keep running to something new, eventually you will run out of new things to try. If you have to buy a new toy every time you are in a slump, you will quickly find yourself in trouble. There are not enough things in the world to perpetually keep you out of a slump. That is not the answer to your problems.  Keep doing what you have been doing.

Do Not Blame Anything or Anyone 

If you find yourself in a slump, do not blame your spouse, your parents or grandparents, your foreman, your pastor, the church, or anyone else.  God is the Author of these slumps.  When you point your finger at someone else, you are simply admitting you are afraid to point your finger at God.  Grow up and face your slump; realize God is using it to expose the real reason you are serving Him.

Forget Yourself and Help Someone Else 

When Dr. John R. Rice was six years old, he went to his father and told him he wanted to be saved.  His father told him he was too young, that he could not get saved until he was ten years old.  Rather than mope about the fact that he could not get saved yet, the young Dr. Rice said ok then I will look for children who were ten years of age or older.  He told them about Christ and showed them how to be saved.  He was able to lead about 90% of the children in his school, who were ten years or older, to the Lord before he was even saved.

You can do nothing about the slump you are in; help someone else, and make it easier on him.  Take a bus route and keep people out of Hell. If you are in slump with the Bible, you can still teach your children the Bible and to be decent young people. If you are in a slump about your pastor, you can still learn from the sermons he preaches. Look for something in the sermons rather than slumbering through the sermons.
 
When you are wrapped up in someone else, you will forget about your own problems. Your burdens will not seem as heavy. If you are in a slump, you are thinking about yourself too much and not enough about others.

Everyone falls into a slump from time to time.  Forget about yourself and help someone else. Stay in church. Enter your closet and talk to God about it; He is the only One Who can help you. Then, stand up and face your problem and keep going for God.

 

































Thursday, December 7, 2017

HOW TO FIGHT DEPRESSION

The Valley Of Depression


Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

One day I was counseling with a man who made this statement, “I wish I were like you and I never got depressed. After all, preachers never get depressed.”  He did not realize how wrong he was.  All of us have bouts of depression on the roller coaster of life. Never buy a book that tells you how to avoid depression.  It is a waste of money.  There is no way to avoid depression; it is simply a normal part of life.
 
We must all experience the highs and lows in the cycle of life. Life is not a straight ride without valleys and mountains.  In fact, depression is actually good for you. You cannot enjoy the mountaintop without experiencing the valley. Only by experiencing a cloudy day will you appreciate the sunny days. Depression is only bad if it becomes a permanent way of life.

Great Leaders In the Bible Fought depression
 Many great leaders in the Bible have been known for their bouts of depression. Jeremiah became so depressed that he quit preaching. He even refused to speak to anyone in God’s name.  After winning a great victory over the prophets of Baal, Elijah fled from Jezebel.  Later he sat under a juniper tree and desired to die.  David became depressed because he thought God had cast him off and would never use him again.  Jonah became depressed after the great revival in Nineveh because the people were saved and God did not kill them. The disciples became depressed after Jesus was crucified, not knowing He had been raised from the dead.

Even great leaders, in more recent times, have suffered bouts of depression. I have seen Dr. Jack Hyles when he came face to face with depressing things. I have seen Evangelist Lester Roloff, Dr. Lee Roberson, and Dr. Wendell Evans battling depressing things in life.  At one point in Charles Spurgeon’s life, when his health was failing and his wife was an invalid, he went to France for a while and sent his sermons back to his church so they could be read from the pulpit. 

I, also, have experienced problems that have brought on times of depression. One Monday morning I went to the airport to fly to a preaching engagement in Atlanta, Georgia.  My wife had just undergone surgery to install a pump for pain control.  She returned to the doctor to have the staples removed, and the doctor found that she had a staph infection. Several years earlier she had suffered a deadly staph infection that never completely left her system, making her susceptible to recurring staph infections. The doctor said he would have to remove the pump. She would, then, have to wait 3 months to have another surgery for a new pump.  That was a depressing time for us.

When our grandson, R.G., was born, the doctors found he had severe physical problems. That was a valley, not just for my son Bob and his wife, Kelly; it was a valley for us, as his grandparents, too.  

Yet, R.G. has been such a blessing to our family. He is so happy, and he thoroughly enjoys life. A few years after the birth of R.G., our granddaughter was stillborn to Scott and Jenny. That was another time of depression for us.
 
God does not tell us, in the Bible, how we can avoid depression.  However, He does tell us that, when those times of depression come, we should not stay in the valley.  The depression should be a visitor, not a tenant; a renter, not an owner.  It can be a tourist, not a citizen; a vagrant, not a dweller; a wayfarer, not an inhabitant; a sojourner, not a host; a guest, not a family member.  It should be temporary.

Depression is necessary for Joy

Psalm chapter 126, verses 5 and 6 promise,   5“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.  6He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”

Joy comes in the morning, after the nighttime. The valley increases the joy of the mountain peak. Clouds increase the joy of sunlight. Wintertime increases the joy of summer. There can be no peak without a valley, no sunrise without the setting of the sun, no harvest without a time of sowing.  Depression will come.

Do not think depression is a sin or that you are backslidden. It is part of your emotions. We are in a war in this world, and there is no joy in the loss of soldiers’ lives when they fight for freedom. However, we must find a way to keep depression from staying in our lives. We cannot avoid its presence, but we can avoid its permanence. We need to make sure morning will come and the sun will rise.

The 7th and 8th chapters of Romans are contrasts of depression and mountains. In chapter 7, Paul is suffering from depression. In verse 24 he cries, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”  He is in the midnight hour, in the middle of winter.  He is discouraged.
 
Then, in chapter 8, Paul comes out of the depression.  He climbs the mountain and awakes to the sunshine.  He has victory, and it is summertime.  He is now encouraged. He tells us in verse 28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

When depression comes and you are in the valley, start doing what God made you to do. Pick up your rifle and jump back into the battle. Otherwise, you will be finished, and you will be knocked down. If you sit around feeling sorry for yourself, you will never pull yourself out of the depression.

If you do not have any money, go find a job.  If you are having problems with your wife, do what God made you to do and love her. If your grades are bad in school, try studying and doing your homework and if you are in trouble at work, start working harder.

DIVERSION IS NOT AN ANSWER TO DEPRESSION

When you are depressed, diversion does not work because it simply delays the inevitable.  It will not help to go to the amusement park. A wife’s depression is not alleviated when she goes shopping, or when she stays in bed and neglects the housework.  It does not help to watch a video, go fishing, or play ball. The only way you can escape the depression is by doing what God made you to do.  Do not withdraw; attack. Do not go away for a few days; get with it for a few days. Man your post. Do your duty, and carry out your assignment for God.
 
When my wife was in the hospital with the staph infection, the doctor decided to discharge her at noon on a Saturday. I called one of my staff men to take over the Saturday meetings at church so I could pick her up.  The hours went by, but she was not discharged until 5:00 in the afternoon. While I was waiting, I went to Subway to buy a sandwich. I approached a family who was eating there and gave them the Gospel, and several people were saved.
 

Highs and lows are a normal part of life.  When you hit a bout of depression, learn to pull out of it and climb on topside. Do what God made you to do. Go soul winning, tithe, and attend church.  You can pull out of it if you want to.

Friday, December 1, 2017

THE DANGER OF LITTLE THINGS

Trivial Pursuit

Esther 3:5 “And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath.”

Haman is one of the most hated individuals in the history of the Jewish people. When his name is mentioned in the Orthodox synagogues, the men will shout, “Let his name be blotted out!”  Some of the more religious Orthodox Jews will even hiss. If they have canes, they will beat them on the floor at the mention of Haman’s name.

Haman was the prime minister of the mighty, affluent nation of Persia.  He was the favorite of King Ahasuerus.  Mordecai was a Jew who had been taken captive out of the city of Jerusalem. When Haman walked by, everyone was commanded to bow before him. Mordecai, however, refused to bow, or to show reverence to him. While thousands of people bowed before Haman, Mordecai stood alone and refused to bow.
 
Haman was furious at the audacity of this Jew who refused to show reverence to him. He became so infuriated that he went to King Ahasuerus and asked his permission to massacre all of the Jews. Since Haman was the king’s favorite, his request was granted.  King Ahasuerus decreed that every Jew in the kingdom was to be put to death on a date specified by the king. Can you imagine such a terrible thing?  Because one Jew refused to bow, every Jew was to be put to death!

Haman hated Mordecai so much that he wanted to be personally responsible for Mordecai’s death. He began the construction of the gallows to hang Mordecai.
 
One night the king could not sleep, so he commanded his servants to bring him the records of the kingdom.  While he was reading these chronicles, it was brought to his attention that Mordecai had once saved his life by reporting two gatekeepers who had planned an assassination. According to the records, he had never been rewarded or honored for this noble act.
 
While the king was reading this, Haman just happened to be standing outside his chambers, waiting to see him. The king called him in and told him someone in the kingdom had done something great for the king and deserved to be honored. He asked Haman for some suggestions of ways to honor this person.  Since he did not mention Mordecai’s name, Haman assumed the king was talking about him. Haman suggested a parade in this person’s honor.  This person could lead the parade riding on the king’s own horse, wear the king’s own apparel, and the king could tell everyone to bow down before him.

The king told him the person he wished to honor was Mordecai and Haman was mortified! He realized that he would have to honor the man he so greatly despised.  On the day of the parade, Haman gave the king’s clothing to Mordecai and helped in the ceremony held to honor Mordecai. He had to instruct everyone to bow before Mordecai. After the parade was over, he went to his house in mourning, humiliated before the man he hated.  

In the end, Haman’s plot to kill the Jews was exposed, and he was hanged on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai. I am sure, when the king’s men hanged Haman; he realized Mordecai’s insubordination had not been worth his anger. He probably wished he had simply ignored Mordecai.
 
There are several lessons we can learn from this story. We can conclude that God protects His own, that a person’s sin will find him out, and that pride cometh before a fall. However, most people miss the main lesson in this tragic story; Haman’s fall was caused by his obsession with a little thing. He was upset by one little thing, by one Jew who, when thousands of others bowed, stood alone and refused to bow. 

Haman was oblivious to the fact that thousands of other people did bow before him. He could only see the one man who refused to bow. The silence of Mordecai was louder than the cheers of the masses.  Haman’s anger toward one person caused him to lose his honor, and it finally caused his death.

We conquer mountains, and then we stumble over anthills. We are not overcome by boulders, but by tiny pebbles. Most of us become more upset over trivial things than we do over important things. I have seen couples bury a child in the cemetery and then quibble over a towel left on the floor. They receive great answers to prayer, but they tremble at the need of daily bread.

The same is true of churches and nations. I have seen churches that weather satanic storms and then split over the color of the songbooks. They fight the state government, and then they divide from within.

The nation of Israel crossed the Red Sea, and then balked at the tiny Jordan River. The United States of America, the greatest nation of our generation, rose up to conquer Germany and Japan, and then it trembled over the smaller countries of Cuba and Vietnam.
 
Elijah prayed down fire from Heaven and severed the heads of the prophets of Baal, but then he ran from one woman who had threatened him.

Most of us are like the proverbial elephant that is not afraid of the beasts of the jungle, yet flees the tiny mouse.  We must not let a trivial thing destroy us when we have so many things going for us.  We must thank God for the good things in our lives.

In churches everywhere you will find people who have been destroyed by trivial matters.  Someone quits the choir because of a quibble with the choir director over a trivial matter.  Someone gets mad because the usher did not seat him where he thought he should be seated.  A bus driver becomes angry because he did not get the bus he wanted to drive, or a bus captain becomes angry because he was not given the bus route he wanted.  A Sunday school teacher becomes angry because she was not given the class she wanted to teach.  People become angry over things that are not worth “a hill of beans.”

Some college student gets upset over a little rule in the handbook.  He, or she, will be distraught over a scolding by the Dean of Men or the Dean of Women.  If they become so upset over a trivial matter, they will never be successful in the ministry.  College is just an examination to prove a person’s character for real life.

PROTECT YOUR SPIRIT
  
Be careful to protect your spirit, for those trivial matters, those little irritants, are everywhere. They are the everyday problems in your marriage. Sometimes, your spouse will not put the cap on the tube of toothpaste or will not put the lid back on the milk or the peanut butter.  Clothes and towels will be left on the floor. The toast will be burnt. The children will leave out the bicycles and tear up the grass in the front yard. You will lose the joy of marriage and the joy of raising children over trivial matters with little meaning, so stop building the gallows that will hang you.
 
Trivial pursuits will destroy you. Your nerves will be shattered, your life, and the lives of those around you, will be destroyed. You will break friendships of a lifetime over a minor statement or action.  A lifetime of good is destroyed because someone’s feelings are hurt over a trivial matter.

Who is the Mordecai in your life?  What little thing will not bow to you or work the way it is supposed to work? What trivial matter has angered you? What trivial matter has caused your blood pressure to soar? You are angry with God for something insignificant. You are mad at the church, the bus captain, the choir director, or the youth director over some trivial matter. You have fallen in love with your church, but then you walk away from it over a minor problem or issue. It is such a trivial thing, such a little thing, but it will cause your downfall.

For some reason, we cannot associate God with taking care of trivial matters. Somehow, we have the idea that God only carries the big burdens; He only answers the big problems. We look to Him to work miracles, but we never ask Him to take care of the minor things.  Because of that, we pray down millions of dollars, but we cannot pay our rent.  We pray down great miracles, but we starve to death because we do not ask Him for the trivial matter of our daily bread.
 
The same God Who answered Elijah’s prayer and caused fire to fall on Mount Carmel is the same God Who fed Elijah, and He is the same God Who will take care of us. He is willing to take care of every problem, small and large, trivial and life-changing.

It is time to realize that life is not perfect and some things are simply trivial matters. For example, if a baseball player gets one hit out of three times at bat, he is considered Hall of Fame material. If a basketball player makes eight out of ten throws at the free-throw line, he can become All-American. Mickey Mantel did not make a hit every time he came up to bat. Wilt Chamberlain did not make all of his free-throws.

Of course, you want ten things out of ten to be perfect, but it will not happen. Accept that fact and thank God for those things that do go the way they should go! Do not let trivial pursuits take over your life.  Do not let a Mordecai ruin your life.
 
What is the problem that will not bow?  Who is the person who will not bow?  Put away your hammer and nails, tear down the scaffolding and the gallows you are building.  Start thanking God for those things that do go the right way, and stop playing trivial pursuit!










































Sunday, November 19, 2017

OBTAIN MERCY AND FIND GRACE TO HELP

JUSTICE, MERCY AND GRACE


Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Luke 10:20, “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”

 There are three words I would like for you to take note of: justice, mercy, and grace.  We appropriate justice, mercy, and grace and become a Christian. Not only do we become a Christian, but also we become a good Christian the same way. You become a Christian when you receive mercy and grace and in the same vein you become a good Christian when you give mercy and grace.

 Luke 10:20 tells us to not rejoice because the devils are subject to us, but rather rejoice because your names are written down in Heaven. Notice that is a positive thing! God does not say rejoice because your sins are removed from the book, but rejoice because your name is added to the book. It is not wicked to rejoice because your sins are removed from the books in Heaven, but real rejoicing is a positive thing that your name is written in the books of Heaven.



JUSTICE IS THAT WHICH WE DESERVE

 Justice is that which I deserve! If I went to Hell and burned forever that would be justice because I am a sinner. The wages of sins in death and if I received justice I would go to hell and so would you! We all owe a debt for our sin. That is why Jesus came and lived a perfect life and did not at the end of His life owe the debt for sin. He did not deserve to go to Hell because He did not sin!

 The Scriptures said He knew no sin, but He went to Calvary to pay for man’s sins. Jesus paid my penalty for sin and the punishment that all of us who have ever lived and ever will live would suffer if they went to Hell. Jesus, not owing a debt for sin, paid the debt for sin for you and for me! Thus, those who trust Jesus to do so will find their sin debt paid!

 I owe a debt I had not paid and He owed a debt he did not owe! Jesus puts His payment against our account if we will accept Him as payment. That satisfies the justice of almighty God. Joining a church, being baptized, or taking communion does not satisfy the justice of an almighty God. It is He who owes no debt that He paid and I who paid no debt that were brought together by faith. Jesus transferred His account to our account and my account to His account with justice being satisfied.

 The average preacher who stands behind a pulpit in America knows nothing about salvation. God’s salvation is based on God’s justice being satisfied at Calvary. This means that foundationally Christ did not die for me but for God. Christ dies so that God would take me back if I trusted Christ as the only payment for my sins. Jesus died so that God could offer me a way back because Go loved me more than I loved Him. God wants mankind back more than mankind wants to come back! Calvary satisfies the justice of God.

 The fact that God’s justice was satisfied enables God to give to His children two things, mercy and grace! God’s justice being satisfied on Calvary enabled God to be able to give you and me mercy and grace. God could not have given me mercy if His justice had not been satisfied. God could not have given me grace, but when Jesus paid my debt on Calvary that meant God could now invite me back. If I accept Jesus God then can five me mercy and grace.

WHAT IS MERCY?

 Mercy is with holding what I deserve! God knew that I would sin and God knew I deserved to go to Hell, but because of Calvary God withheld that which I deserve! God said no one has to go to Hell if they would accept God’s plan, which is His son.

WHAT IS GRACE?

 Grace is giving me what I don’t deserve. Mercy, that is God withholding what I do deserve! Grace, that is God giving to me what I don’t deserve! It is the second one God says to rejoice about. Remember Luke 10:20 reminds us to know rejoice about the sins being removed. We are to rejoice more about the name being added to the Lamb’s Book of Life. It is ok to rejoice about not getting what you do deserve, but you really ought to have a spell because you are getting what you do not deserve.

 John 3:14-15, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Having eternal life that is grace. If you believe on Christ God gives His mercy and keep you from perishing. Then, God turns around and gives you grace by giving you eternal life.

 John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten on that whosoever believeth in him should not perish…” that is mercy! “But have everlasting life… that is grace! There are two things you have: first, what you won’t have to suffer and second, what you will receive. So, God by his mercy says you don’t have to perish if you will trust Christ as payment for your sins.

 However, God says, “I will go beyond that and give you my grace and everlasting life” Because of Calvary anyone reading this article who is not saved if they realize Jesus paid their sin penalty, not trusting a church, a preacher, communion, baptism, priest, confession, confirmation, or good works can turn to Christ for salvation Your faith in Jesus Christ means that God appropriates His payment for your sin debt and as a result God gives you two things mercy and grace.

 Mercy? You will not receive what you deserve! Grace? You will receive what you do not deserve to receive!

 John 5:24, “Verily, verily, I say unto you he that heareth my words and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation…” and that is mercy “…but is passed from death unto life…” and that is grace.

 Mercy? It means thank God I am not going to Hell! Grace? Wow, that means I am allowed to go to Heaven! Thank God I am not going to get what I deserve and thank God, I am going receive what I don’t deserve. Grace allows me to be a part of His work in proclaiming justice, mercy, and grace to others.

 In the Scriptures mercy brings peace and grace brings rejoicing. The fact that I’m not going to go to Hell is a relief. The fact that I am going to go to Heaven is worth shouting about. Mercy is when the sins are removed and grace is when Jesus righteousness is added to my account.

 Mercy? You deserve to go to Hell, but your not going to go there. You deserve to burn forever, but your not going burn for one second! You deserve to burn with the devil and his angels, but your not going to burn and that is mercy.

 However, God has a bonus! God has grace for us also! You get to go to Heaven, you can live with Jesus forever, you can live with your loved ones forever, and with the angels forever because God’s justice was satisfied on Calvary and God can now give us mercy and grace. You will now be able to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature via God's grace.

 Mercy takes the sins off of the record and that gives me peace! Grace puts the righteousness of Jesus on my record and that gives me rejoicing. Rejoicing means, “to keep on rejoicing.” Here is the difference to many of you, salvation is a “911” number and you are not going to Hell and you sit back with the peace of God, but you never rejoice. You are dwelling on what you not going to receive.

 Mercy took me out of the Book of Death and that gives me peace. Grace put me in the Book of Life and that gives me rejoicing. Mercy keeps me from the punishment of the Great White Throne Judgment and brings peace, but grace gives me rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ and that brings rejoicing. Grace allows me to be in God's vineyard working with Him to reach others who are just as underserving.

 You could go from having just peace to rejoicing; if you will add to your thinking what your going to receive that you do not deserve. When God’s justice was satisfied at Calvary God then gave us two wonderful things: mercy, what you deserve that you are not going to receive along with grace, what you do not deserve that your going to receive.

 Mercy removes me from eternal separation from God and that is peace. Grace leads Him to be with me always and that causes rejoicing. Mercy keeps me from the devil while grace keeps me with God. Mercy saves me from uselessness while grace gives me usefulness. Actually all these things I do not have to have happen to me! AMEN! I am not going to go to Hell, face God with my sins, burn forever in fire, or be separated from God and that is mercy!
  
 God’s mercy saved me from Hell, but there is something far better than that. God said look at bonus number two and this is what I want you to focus on! You are going receive a whole bunch of things you do not deserve to receive. This is graduate school for the Christian! The reason is because you are about to embark on a journey of reaching others because of God's grace.

 That is why some of you just seat there in church and do not feel anything. That is why some of you just seat there and do not give a flip if any one trusts Christ for salvation or not! That is why you slip out during the invitation and baptismal part of the service. That is why some of you reading this article do not enjoy a shouting church. I refuse to go to Heaven by the skin of my teeth or just barely be kept out of Hell because I am going to shout and not sit in the pew like a wooden Indian. Those who take advantage of God's grace by reaching out to help others are the shouters.

 Some one asked me if they were going to Hell because they smoked. I answered, “No, but you’ll smell like you’ve been in Hell.” “Will I go to Heaven if I chew?” Yes, but you’ll have to go to Hell to spit. There is a whole lot more to Christianity than you not getting what you deserve.

 Immature Christians always ask, “What’s wrong with….” That is the average Christian in America! The average church in America is a bunch of dead members going to a dead church and just holding the fort. Thank God He has a bundle of things to give you that you don’t deserve!



WE ARE TO GIVE MERCY AND GRACE

 That is the reason preachers do not built great works, Christians do not do great feats for God, churches do not have great bus ministries, and ministries do not have the breathe of God on them. You cannot just seat there and thank God your not receiving what you deserve. It is time to mature and give mercy and grace.

 You have to grow up, get up, stand up, show up, and speak up. You ought to shout because grace allows you to have innumerable things you do not deserve and that my friend is the difference between mercy and grace. Because you have been given such you are only a good Christian if you give such.

 Romans 12:1-2 says to be not conformed to this world and that is mercy. Then it says to be transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God and that is grace. Thus, God gives us mercy and grace so that we can give mercy and grace to other underserving people.

 Imputation where old sins are removed, that is mercy while Jesus’ righteousness being added
is grace. Justification with sins forgiven is mercy. Justification with sins forgotten is grace. Sanctification with us not going to Hell is mercy and set apart for Heaven is grace. Regeneration with old things being passed away is mercy and all things becoming new is grace. Conversion is not being used for bad, which is mercy and being used for good, which is grace. Predestination is losing the old body and that is mercy while gaining the new body like Jesus is grace.

 Not only am I to receive mercy and grace, but also I am to give mercy and grace. Many of God’s children have received it but have yet to give it!



Thursday, November 16, 2017

BE A SURVIVOR

WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO STOP YOU?


Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

II Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:”


Dr. Lee Roberson said to me one time about my late pastor and friend Dr. Jack Hyles, “Jack’s a survivor.” What a great statement to be made of any person let alone a man of God. I believe Dr. Roberson was a “survivor.” That which stops many men did not stop these men of God. It appears that is the difference in those who succeed and those who fail in life.




What will it take to stop you? College student will it take a little homesickness that makes you desire to be a little child again? Will it take a disease in your body that will conquer you with pain and prevent you from being a survivor? Whoever said disease was supposed to stop any one?

How tough you are and determined you are to go on is based on what it will take to stop you! What will it take? Will it be a lack of character that causes you to financially fail? You and I are as tough as whatever it takes to stop us! Will it be a disloyalty and a critical tongue that will cause you to win the Benedict Arnold of the year award? Will it be a lack of self-discipline, which keeps you from staying and using the gifts God has given you? Will it be your disobedience to the Great Commission that causes you to fail? 

Will it be the lack of discernment an inability to spot liberals like John MacArthur Jr. or C. S. Lewis or Rick Warren? Will it be the desire for popularity that will cause you to interact with the wrong religious crowd? 

Will it be blind followship of a man and disloyalty to the Word of God? Will it be some wacky doctrine like hyper-Calvinism or hyper-dispensationalism or the teaching against a preserved inspiration of the King James Bible to the English speaking peoples?



What will it take to stop you? Will it be pressure to trim your sermons and teaching for the affluent or the so-called educated? Will you sell your pulpit for less than a bowl of chili? Will it be a church split that will cause you to run from a modern day Diotrephes, Korah, or Jezebel? Will it be the temptation to compromise with family members?

Tell me what is it that will stop you and I will tell you how tough you are! Will it take friends of a lifetime turning on you so you will turn on the Friend that sticketh closer than a brother? What will it take to stop you? Will it be a fallen Christian who shakes your faith in God’s servants as you look at the few and not the many? 

Will it be a son or a daughter that broke your heart and caused you to give up and join them in being a fallen parent? Will it be when some denomination, that you should not have been in, blackballs you? Will it be the deacons who threaten to fire you? Will it be  deacon board that threatens you? Will it be the press and TV stations that attack you and your church? Will it be lawsuits?

When an Evangelist and his wife set out to destroy you by spreading filthy lies and innuendoes about you? Will that be the thing that stops you? Will it be the Epstein Barr virus disease? Will it be a heart disease, cancer, fatigue, mono, or hepatitis? Will it be living below the poverty line in order to serve God? Will it be some discontented rule breaking classmate from whom you should separate yourself from long before now? Someone ought to give you the Doctor pantywaist degree!



Show me what it will take to stop you and you will see how tough you really are? Will it be discouragement, depression, discontentment, or disillusionment that will drive you and determine your defeat and demise? 

Will it be you not getting your way and not being able to adapt to adverse situations? Will it be compromise that will cause you to win the pussy footer of the year award? Will it be being hen pecked that will cause you to fail in life?

What will it take to stop you? Will it be a lack of courage and intestinal fortitude to take tough times? Young lady will it be listening to some bum who wants to steal your purity? Will it be a female who tempts you to sell you man-hood to please a gland? 

Will it be being a thief at work and stealing your paycheck without working for it? Will it be ditching church? Will it be enjoying the wrong kind of music? 

Will you be like Judas who was after money? College student will you be like John Mark who goes back home and quits before earning his degree? Will you be like a Jacob who has not character? Will you be like Rehoboam who seeks advice from the young instead of the seasoned veterans? Will you be like Solomon who could not resist a pretty face? Will you be like a Balaam who sells out for a little honor? 

Will you be like Korah who without a basis criticizes leadership? Will you be like a Jezebel who was a self-willed woman? Will you be like Ahab who lets her be that way? Will you be like Jonah who doesn’t want to be a preacher? Will you be like Diotrephes who wants preeminence? Will you be like Demas who went to the world? Will you be like Samson?

The state of Texas could not stop Evangelist Lester Roloff! The Tarrant County Baptist Association of Texas could not stop Dr. John R. Rice! The London Baptist Association could not stop C. H. Spurgeon! Evangelist R. L. Sumner could not stop Dr. Jack Hyles!

Is there a bill you cannot pay? Is it an enemy who is after you? Is it an illness? Is it discouragement? Is it disappointment? Show me what it takes to stop you and I will tell you how tough you are. 

Slander and bad health could not stop David Livingston! TB could not stop David Brainerd. Prison could not stop John Bunyan! Blindness could not stop Fanny Crosby. The Roman Empire and the prison could not stop the Apostle Paul! The Babylonian Empire could not stop Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. King Cyrus and the Media Persia Empire could not stop Daniel.

What will it take to stop you? An 800 ministerial association could not stop Elijah! A giant named Goliath could not stop little David! Hamilton County Baptist Association could not stop Dr. Lee Roberson! The Dallas County Association could not stop Dr. Jack Hyles and Dr. Joe Boyd!

Exile could not stop the Apostle John! Burning at the stake could not stop the influence of John Huss! Why do you stop? What is it that is going to cause you to stop while others go on?

The Red Sea and Pharaoh could not stop Moses, a flood could not stop Noah, Pharaoh’s threats could not stop Jochabed, abandonment and imprisonment could not stop Joseph, an invalid wife could not stop C. H. Spurgeon, and constant threats on his life could not stop Billy Sunday!

Cancer could not stop Marlene Evans, the wife of Dr. Wendell Evans! An iron lung could not stop Evangelist Monty Watts! The Congregationalists could not stop D. L. Moody! Prison could not stop the Apostle Peter!

The question before us is what will it take to stop you? The death of daughter did not stop Kevin and Paula Connor! The death of baby girl did not stop our son Scott and his dear wife Jenny! The birth of a special needs son did not stop our other son Bobby and his dear wife Kelly.

The loss of wife and children and burying them in Burmese soil could not stop Adoniram Judson. The death of his wife could not stop Ezekiel! The kingdom could not stop Esther!

Hey, what will it take to stop you? Will it be a nagging wife, a sluggard husband, a pretty figure, a hard time, a difficult job, hurt feelings, heat, bad climate, not getting your way, a headache, sore throat, little sleep, criticism, or homesickness?

Show me what it will take to stop you and I will tell you how tough you really are. What will they say 50 years from today about you when your name is mentioned?