Sunday, July 27, 2014
Proverbs 27:1 says “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”
The biggest mistake made by mankind is dreaming what tomorrow will be like. We say, “This is the way tomorrow is going to be,” and we picture tomorrow. However, dreams and fantasies never include negatives. Nobody ever says, “I know what will happen tomorrow; my mother-in-law is going to come and live with me.” Nobody ever says, “Tomorrow the commode is going to get plugged up.” Nobody ever says, “Tomorrow the sewer line is going to be stopped up.”
Dreams and fantasies do not include negatives, but the reality always brings negatives; that is what makes it reality. A young lady says, “I’m looking for the man of my dreams.” He just does not exist. The reality your dreamboat will bring with him includes bad breath in the morning and stinking feet in the evening. Young man, the woman of your dreams does not exist. In those dreams and in those fantasies, there are no negatives; that is what makes them dreams or fantasies.
We place our dream of tomorrow on one side and the reality of tomorrow with its negatives on the other side; then we compare them. The dreams without the negatives overshadow reality, and we become unhappy, depressed, and melancholy. The fantasy without its negatives compared to the reality with its negatives discourages us.
A young lady planning for her marriage says, “This is the way it will be.” She cannot wait to get married to that big bruiser. She fantasizes about the way her marriage will be. When marriage comes, she puts the reality on one side and the fantasy on the other side, and they do not match. Thus, she becomes disenchanted with her husband and with her marriage. She does not blame her fantasy; she blames her husband for not fulfilling her fantasy. She says, “This is the way it will be!” However, fantasies do not include bad breath, stinking feet, bouncing checks, a mother-in-law, car payments, and a temper.
Fantasies do not include being pregnant every nine months for four years. Fantasies do not include ten sick babies, a lost job, a Ford car, cut-off notices from the electric company, eviction notices, and layoff notices. Reality has no chance to measure up to fantasy.
Someone said, “All of my dreams have crumbled.” It is time to quit dreaming and go to work. Listen carefully, you cannot see tomorrow; but you can see today. Today can never compare to tomorrow because tomorrow never reveals her negatives, while today shouts out her negatives.
You cannot see tomorrow. You can visualize tomorrow. A young preacher goes to pastor his first church, and he dreams of the way it will be; but his dreams do not include deacons. Deacons are a reality. So he puts reality on one side and his dreams on the other side, and they do not match. Why? Because tomorrow forgot to announce her negatives, and so tomorrow did not match today. His dreams had no negatives, but reality brought negatives, and so the young preacher is unhappy.
A church lists all the things they want in a new preacher. Then they call a preacher and compare him to what they thought they would get, and they are disappointed. Why? The church becomes disenchanted with the new pastor because dreams never can be matched by realities.
The little lady looks forward to marriage, and she says, “This is the way it is going to be.” “I cannot wait,” she says. She puts her dream on one side, and then she is married and finds out that her husband cannot measure up to her dreams. However, there is a fellow at work that does, or so she thinks. The man at work always measures up to fantasies because she does not smell his breath in the morning and his feet in the evening. She says “Wow, now I have found the man that can match my dreams.” So she divorces man number one and marries man number two. She brings number two home. After awhile, she finds out that his breath smells in the morning and his feet stink at night. She measures him at home to her dream, and he also fails the test, just like man number one did.
“Oh, but there’s a fellow in the bowling league that measures up to my dreams,” she says, and the process starts all over again. They always measure up at a distance. So here comes candidate number three, and his breath stinks in the morning and his feet stink in the evening, and he likewise does not measure up to her dream.
It is the same process for a preacher who goes to church number one, and reality does not measure up to his dream. So he goes to another church. What happens? The new church says, “This is what we want in a pastor. We think we have found the right man.” The young pastor says, “This is what I want, and I think I’ve found it.” So they both get together, and neither of their dreams matches their realities. Now you have an all-out war.
A preacher who stays two years and then moves will do it again. A church that fires a pastor in two years will do it again. What is the problem? The dream has no negatives. The reality has negatives. When the two are compared, disenchantment occurs. They are trying to find the elusive fulfillment of their dreams. There is no way that reality can equal a dream. Too many contrast the greenness of the grass on the other side of the fence to the brownness of the grass on this side of the fence. So, you say, “There must be something better out there, because it is so bad here.”
When a preacher never becomes comfortable anywhere, he is creating an appetite that will ruin him. He never becomes comfortable in a church, a job, or a house. He always feels that there is something he is supposed to be doing that he is not doing now. You cannot see tomorrow. You are making the mistake of your life by attempting to figure out what tomorrow will be like. You let God take care of tomorrow and today. There is no way to compare fantasy with reality; you cannot compare the unknown with the known.
Your happiness is in direct proportion to your satisfaction of yesterday’s hope. Whatever you hoped yesterday, the fulfillment or non-fulfillment of that hope today will make you happy or unhappy. What are your hopes for tomorrow? I would give a simplistic answer of “I plan to serve God.”
My happiness is not based on what I believe, but on what I believed. My salvation, marriage, call to the ministry, church I pastored, children I have, grandchildren great grandchildren I have, converts I have, etc. All give me happiness because they are reality, not fantasy. My hope is to see Jesus coming back for us at the rapture, the hope of Heaven, the hope of a glorified body, and the hope of eternity.
Every day is an adventure in your service for God. Every year provides its own built-in challenges. God has given us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to help us and guide us through these uncharted waters. I dare not compare today to yesterday.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
WHAT IS THAT TO THEE?
John 21:21-22, “Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.”
Jesus responded to Peter by saying that is none of your business when Peter was inquisitive about another man. Take note of Acts 1:6-7, “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” Jesus simply responded by saying that this is none of your business! Peter had come and asked about the future. Peter came to Jesus and said to Him what is going to happen to the beloved John and Jesus responded by saying, “…what is that to thee?”
Jesus was saying to Peter it is none of your business what happens to him then Jesus said to Peter, “…follow thou me.” Jesus is saying. “Peter your hands are already full just keep on following me! Peter you have enough trouble doing what I’ve asked you to do. Peter you have a full time job just in doing my will. Quit prying and quit trying to find out what is going to happen to John! You be concerned about what is happening to Peter and not what is going to happen to John.
In Acts chapter one the disciples came to Jesus and said, “…wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom…” If you will recall Jesus had said in John chapter 14, “I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place I will come again.” Jesus had promised to come again and they thought He would come back right away. Remember Paul even said regarding Jesus’ return, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord.” Paul said I expect to be here at the rapture. John said the day is at hand. In Acts chapter one this is our Lord in his resurrected body, His glorified body and He is about to go back to Heaven. The disciples asked Lord at this time will you restore the kingdom? Jesus said, “It is not for you to know” or “It is none of your business.” The truth is most of our problems are caused by things that are none of our business.
DO NOT PRY INTO THE FUTURE
“What is going to happen to me? What is going to happen to mine?” My friend that is none of your business and that is none of my business for it is God’s business! I refuse to pry into the future because I have no control over the future. The future is not mine! The future belongs to God! The present belongs to me!
They were asking Jesus are you going to restore the kingdom? Jesus said that is none of your business! I believe I would be correct in stating that 90 % of all of our problems, our anxieties, our fears, and our worries exist because we are trying to pry into the future.
All of us would have a better future if we would concentrate on doing right today and let that make our tomorrow! The reason most of us have a lousy present is because we failed to do yesterday what would have built us a great future.
My future belongs to God while my present belongs to me. What ever I give God today He will use to make my tomorrow. The present must occupy my entire attention. Jesus is saying Peter you forget what is going to happen to John and follow thou me! Forget about John’s future and concentrate on your present.
I use to play a little golf! It was generally bogy golf but I still loved to play the game. Golfers who play 18 holes of golf are not very good. Golfers who play one hole at a time are above average golfers. Vince Lombardi made world champions out of the Green Bay Packers because of his emphasis on the fundamentals of football. He worked on making the most first downs. Casey Stengel made world champions out of the New York Mets because of the emphasis on the fundamentals of baseball. Tom Landry made world champions out of the Dallas Cowboys by stressing the fundamentals of football.
Jesus is saying your future is My business and not your business. Peter asked, “How about John’s future?” Jesus quickly replied, “That is none of your business!” Jesus is saying, “I am interested in your present and what you are doing now so simply follow me!”
My future and your future belong to God and my present belongs to me! I give to God my today’s and the quality of that gift is translated into a quality future. God can only make a future as bright as you make your present bright!
“Jesus how about the kingdom will you restore it now?” Jesus replies, “That is none of your business so quit prying! I just gave you the great commission, I just told you to go into all the world to preach the Gospel to every creature, I told you to baptize those converts, and I told you to train them to go win others to Christ! The future kingdom is my business and the present winning of souls is your business.”
Jesus is saying I am not concerned about the future for I am concerned about your present. What good does it do to restore the kingdom if there is no one there to enjoy it with you? Jesus said succinctly and simply, “Follow thou me” or don’t pry into the future.
Someone said one time about public speaking that there were three things he did. First, before he spoke he would worry about what he is going to say. Second, while he was speaking he would worry about what he was saying. Third, when he finished he would worry about what he said. NOT ME! I work hard to prepare, but I do not and refuse to worry about it when I’m preaching. I absolutely lose myself! I am not worried about next Sunday’s sermon while I am preaching today’s sermon. I am not worried about last Sunday’s sermon but I can do something about the sermon I am currently preaching!
Stay inside your business and today is your business not tomorrow. It is best that all of us keep our nose out of the future. When I pastored I did not have a lot of appointments for I only had one appointment and it is the one I had at that particular moment. I do not have a lot of things to do. I have one thing to do and it is the thing I am doing now! I did not have a lot of weddings for I only had one wedding the one I was doing at the moment! I did not have a lot of funerals for I only had one funeral and it was the one I was conducting at the moment! I did not have a lot of staff for I only had one staff member and it was the one I was dealing with at the moment! I had only one staff meeting and that was the one being conducted at the moment!
To me the sermon that was the most important sermon I will preach or ever preach is the one I am preaching at the moment! All of us should close the door and quit prying into the future. God said He would lead His children through the wilderness. Your future and my future belong to God while the present belongs to us. If we have a quality present we will have a quality future! God will only use what you give Him today to make up your future tomorrow. I refuse to sit in a wheel chair and say, “I didn’t realize what I had!” Stay busy now and allow God to take care of the future. There is one thing all of us have in common and that is the present.
I am still in somewhat of a shock that Dr. Jack Hyles is in Heaven. I honestly thought he would live as long as his mother did. She went to Heaven at the age of 96! His sister Earlyne Stevens is still alive as of the writing of this chapter is in her 90's. I am so glad that I loved and enjoyed every minute with Dr. Hyles. I did not take him for granted! None of us know if we will have a tomorrow but we do know we have a today.
God told Moses to tell Pharaoh that the "I AM" hath sent thee! Quit prying into the future! “What is going to happen to John?” Jesus said IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! “When will the kingdom be restored?” Jesus replied IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! Jesus did say, “Follow thou me!”
Build your Sunday school class now, your bus route now, win souls now, baptize converts now, enjoy your marriage now, enjoy your children now, enjoy your church now, enjoy your school now, and enjoy all God has placed into your world now!
DO NOT PRY INTO PROBLEMS YOU CANNOT SOLVE
Peter said to Jesus, “I’m worried about John.” Jesus replied, “…and what is that to thee. Peter John’s business is none of your business.” I would suggest that we not pry into the future and that we do not pry into problems we cannot solve.
The best way to take an exam is to answer all the questions that you know the answers to first. It is not wise to attempt to solve the problems you cannot solve but solve the ones you can solve. It is none of your business what your friends do, neighbors do, or others do. It is best to keep your nose out of others business and stay busy caring for your own business.
I do not try to solve problems that are none of my business or that I cannot solve. I do not solve problems that I am not asked to solve. I do not solve problems I do not need to solve. I do not try to do what I cannot do. I do not try to know what I cannot know. I do not meddle with what I cannot control and that way I can focus on what I can control. I do not go looking for problems for I have enough I am responsible for in my life and so do you!
“What is going to happen to John?” Jesus said, “What is that to you” or in other words “Don’t’ pry!” “Is the kingdom coming soon?” Jesus answers, “That is none of your business.”
90 % of our worries are because we spend more time worrying about how it is going to turn out than turning it out! We also stick our nose into business that is known of our business. Attempting to solve problems you cannot solve is in essence neglecting the problems you can solve!
· Do not pry into the future
· Do not pry into problems you cannot solve
DO NOT PRY INTO THE PAST
I do not pry into the future, do not pry into problems I cannot solve, and I refuse to pry into the past! If you would like to forget about some dumb stunts you have pulled in the past then do it. You are the one that keeps it stirred up! Then you keep pulling another bonehead stunt, which cause those over you and around you to be reminded of the last dumb stunt you pulled. What you are saying is, “I have not changed!”
I cannot change nor remove the past for it is gone and done! I cannot know the future for that is in God’s hands! However, I can know the opportunity at hand and at the moment. I must forget the past, forget the past failures, and quit doing those dumb things that remind others of my past while creating a new past today.
Our sins are blotted out of God’s memory book for they are buried in the deepest sea, under Jesus’ blood, behind the back of God, hidden from God, and they are as gone as far as the East is from the West so quit prying into the past!
· Do not pry into the future
· Do not pry into problems you cannot solve
· Do not pry into the past
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
IS THERE A JUDAS IN THE HOUSE?
Matthew 27:3-5, “The Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that, And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.”
A strange man has come into the area. He dressed rather strangely and differently. He was wearing some rough clothing called camel’s hair. He was from the wilderness sort of a hillbilly if you please. He was from the wilderness of Judea. His diet was a very unusual composing of locust and honey. He came to the banks of the Jordan River from the hills and wilderness nearby. He began to preach about someone the people had anticipated would come someday but did not realize He had already arrived on the scene.
This strange hillbilly preacher was John the Baptist. I am convinced most of the Apostles were saved under his ministry and baptized by John the Baptist. This of course in itself made the Apostles Baptists.
John the Baptist came preaching and crying aloud, “There cometh after me one whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose.” He said to the people, “He must increase and I must decrease.” The lowly man of Galilee wandered to the shores of the banks of the Jordan River. There John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and shouted, “Behold the lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.”
Some dumb bunny said that John the Baptist preached one Gospel and Paul preached another Gospel. No! John the Baptist said, “Behold the lamb of God” the substitute that taketh away the sins of the world if you please.
Multitudes came to hear this unusual hillbilly preacher. This evangelist had not preached like any one had before his time. There was a certain attraction and magnetism toward him. I’m sure he gave an invitation much like a fundamental church would today. John the Baptist asked the people to come to Jesus and accept Him as the Lamb of God that would be the payment for all of their sins.
I can see it now! I see a throng of people coming down the aisle, not a church aisle, but an aisle in between people who were standing or seated. There is one who came, another who came, and another who came, and then dozens and dozens who flooded these make shift aisles.
In that crowd that day was a man named Judas Iscariot from a place called Cariot. Judas Iscariot that day saw his friends walk down the aisle and he said to himself maybe I’d better go down to the front too! He steps out and starts to the front but there was something different going on in his mind and heart. Others were admitting they were sinners, Hell was where they were headed, and they must have the Lamb of God to pay for their sins. Others were admitting that outside of Jesus’ shed applied blood they would have no hope of going to Heaven.
However, this was not the mindset of Judas Iscariot. He walked an aisle, but did not admit he was a sinner. He walked an aisle, but did not admit he was on his way to a devil’s Hell in his condition. He walked an aisle, but did not admit that he must trust the Lamb of God to pay for his sins. He walked an aisle, but he did not admit that the shed blood of the Lamb must be applied to his soul in order to have salvation.
Like Cain in the Old Testament he wanted to make his own way. Thus, Judas Iscariot when he arrived to the front made a false profession of faith in Jesus Christ. When John the Baptist congratulated the dozens upon dozens at the altar for trusting Christ as their Saviour no doubt Judas said to himself, “This is crazy! I didn’t get saved! I’m not trusting Christ to save my soul! All I want to do is straighten up a little bit and start running with the right crowd. All I want to do is have a better life. No, I’m not trusting Jesus Christ at all. The truth is I don’t need Him in order to make it to Heaven!”
Then he begins to feel bad! He feels like a hypocrite and as John the Baptist goes from convert to convert he looks one in their eyes and asked, “Are you trusting Jesus Christ as Saviour and Him alone for the payment of your sins?” Convert after convert responds, “Yes!”
Now, this Baptist preacher looks Judas Iscariot in his eyes and asks, “Are you trusting Jesus Christ as Saviour and Him alone for the payment of your sins?” Something inside of Judas screamed, “Tell him NO, NO, NO!” However, Judas answered, “Yes!”
I wonder when his name was read if he did not say to himself, “Maybe I ought to tell them now that I’m not saved and I do need to get saved?” Something inside of him said, “Stand up and tell the preacher you are not saved! Tell him you are a sinner! Tell him you are headed for Hell! Tell him you want to trust Jesus’ shed blood and have it applied to your soul!” But, tell him he didn’t because he was too proud to admit that he wasn’t saved just like some of you reading this chapter.
Judas said to himself, “I can’t do this! I’ll embarrass myself! Why, I’m well known and respected! Why, I’m a smart businessman! Why, I’m a man of some means!”
Can you imagine how he felt when the hands of John the Baptist were placed on him for baptism? No doubt the preacher’s left hand went to Judas’ elbow and his right went behind the head of Judas Iscariot and held him by the neck while lowering him into the Jordan River.
I can imagine what must have gone through the mind of Judas Iscariot. No doubt he said to himself, “This is mockery! I’m not really saved! I should have admitted I was a sinner! I should have admitted I too am headed for Hell! I should have received Christ by faith and been born again like the others! I must stop this baptism! I must tell the preacher I’m not really saved! But I can’t do that. I’m respected in this town among these people. Folks would laugh at me. Folks would make fun of me. I can’t ruin this baptismal service. I can’t admit here and now I’m not saved I’m not really born again. I know what I’ll do I’ll wait and tell the preacher later on at a more convenient time.”
Ladies and gentleman I’m not attempting to cause you to doubt, but I am cognizant of the fact that if out of the chosen twelve there was one who was still unsaved and lost that out of twelve readers of this article one is also possibly unsaved and lost without salvation.
If you have never come to grips with the fact that you are a sinner and will continue to sin, that you are headed for a devil’s Hell, that Jesus Christ was the only acceptable sacrifice by God the Father for man’s sins, and that you personally must invite Him to be your Saviour that you are as lost as Judas Iscariot was.
Jesus made it clear in John chapter that if a man is not born again he will not even see the kingdom of God let alone go there. The same hands that lowered our Saviour into the water of the Jordan River baptized Judas but Judas was too proud to admit he wasn’t saved!
FULL TIME SERVICE
Time past and Jesus decided to call some men up into a mountain in Matthew chapter 10. He decided to choose the twelve men who would be His Apostles: the men whom He would train to carry the Gospel to the known world after He is taken back up into Heaven. Peter, Andrew, Bartholomew, James, John, Philip, and then to the shock of Judas Iscariot his name is called. He was chosen to be one of the twelve Apostles to walk with Jesus.
He saw Jesus open blind eyes, unstop deaf ears, made the lame to leap, caused the dead to rise from the grave, and bless the little children. He, Judas Iscariot, was chosen by Jesus to be trained by Jesus Himself to be one of the Apostles. A full time worker for God if you please!
Can you imagine how the ordination service was when Jesus came and placed His hands on the head of Judas Iscariot and Judas said to himself, “What in the world am I doing? This is getting totally out of hand! Why, I ought to stand up right now and tell everyone I’m not saved! I’m not born again! I ought to stop this charade and stand up and tell them and take care of this thing once and for all! But, I can’t do that. They will laugh at me. Look at how they are all looking at me? Why I will embarrass myself. I can’t admit I’m really not saved. I know what I’ll do I’ll wait till after the ordination service and then I’ll have a little talk with the preacher. I’ll admit to him that I realize I’m a sinner, I’m headed for Hell, and I’ll explain that I must trust the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in order to go to Heaven. That’s it, I’ll wait till this ordination service is over.”
As the actual hands of Jesus were placed on his head, we have an unsaved man who knew he was unsaved, who knew he ought to get saved, but because of pride would not stop this farce and trust Christ goes ahead with this lie. All because he was afraid of embarrassing himself in front of a few hundred people will someday be embarrassed in front of the whole world at the Great White Throne Judgment of the unsaved as he stands before God.
He is not only an unsaved church member, not only an unsaved charter church member, but now he is an unsaved ordained full time servant of God. He walked the aisle in a Baptist preaching service but still lost. His name was called along with the others at the altar as trusting Christ but still lost. He was baptized by John the Baptist but still lost. He was ordained by Jesus Himself but still lost. Why, because of pride and because he kept putting it off and putting it off!
No one reading this chapter should take a chance on your never dying soul! Is there a Judas in the house? Are you born again? Is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? Are you saying to yourself you will take care of this matter of being saved later on? Are you saying I’ll take care of it later on? Please do not dare take a chance on an eternity in Hell.
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” It does not say, "may be saved" but it does say, “shall be saved.” AMEN!
Time has pasted and the church is growing rather significantly. The offerings are likewise growing and finally someone said we have to have someone who will do nothing but be responsible for the accounting of the offerings. They held a meeting of the church and someone stood and said there is a man in this church whom I trust more than anyone else and his name is Judas Iscariot. That man made a motion and quickly someone else seconded the motion that Judas be a staff member in charge of the finances. No doubt it was a unanimous vote for everyone had confidence in this businessman named Judas Iscariot.
If that church had voted who in their church was not saved they would have never suspected it would be Judas Iscariot. Judas was the most trusted disciple when it came to finances. They gave Judas the purse. They gave Judas the responsibility of the offerings. They did not have banks in those days so Judas carried the money.
Get the picture! As Jesus Himself laid the moneybag in Judas’ lap Judas no doubt said to himself, “Stop this insanity now! Tell Jesus you are not saved! Tell them all that you have not been born again! This is crazy! This has got to stop! I should have admitted this when I walked the aisle. I should have said something when they read the names of those at the altar. I messed up because I should have stopped the baptism service and told them I was unsaved. When I joined the church I should have stopped and told them I was not saved. When I was ordained I should have told them the truth! What have I done? But, that’s ok I’ll do it now! I’m going to stand up and stop this now and tell them all that I’m not really saved and I’m not really born again! Wait a minute! If I do that I’ll make a fool of myself! I’d better wait and tell them later on! No sense in ruining this business meeting now. I’ll wait for a more convenient time!”
However, Judas Iscariot waited too long and now he is in Hell at this very moment! The Scripture says that Judas went to his own place and there are some people reading this chapter who have walked down a church aisle, been baptized, joined a local church, chosen to be a leader but still unsaved. Please do not wait for a more convenient time for TODAY IS THE DAY OF SALVATION!
Judas continues his folly. Hey, is there a Judas in the house? Judas walked a church aisle at the invitation time, baptized by John, and joined the church. Chosen as one of the twelve, and chosen as the most trusted of the twelve. He was not doubt at Sychar’s well. I wonder if he didn’t say to himself, “I ought to do what she just did!” I’m sure he was there when Matthew the converted tax collector had his meeting and gave his testimony of how he had trusted Jesus Christ as Saviour. No doubt Judas said, “I ought to do the same thing Matthew did. I ought to swallow my pride and fall on my face, admit I know I’m a sinner, admit I’m headed for Hell, admit that Jesus Christ is the only one who can pay for my sins, and then ask Jesus to save my soul from going to Hell. BUT, this is not a good time. I probably shouldn’t disrupt this meeting! I’ll just wait for a more convenient time!”
When Matthew spoke it was Judas’ pride that kept him from saying, “I myself am not born again! I walked the church aisle, I’ve been baptized, I am a charter church member, I am one of the twelve Apostles, and I am the church treasurer but I’m still unsaved!”
THE END IS NEAR
In just a few hours Jesus is going to Calvary. They have already felled the tree. They are shaving its bark. They are making it into a cross. The court is about to convene. Jesus and about 120 are in the upper room. Judas Iscariot is sitting there along with the others. All of a sudden Jesus takes a towel and a basin of water. He approaches the feet of the disciples and begins to wash their feet.
Can you imagine how Judas Iscariot felt when the Son of God began to wash his feet? Here He comes he is getting closer. Now’s the time Judas! Tell Him now Judas! Settle it now Judas!
Judas says to himself, “I see it, Calvary is just around the corner. I know Jesus is going to die. It is all coming to a head now. I can sense it. It is true what Jesus said, ‘Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground it abideth alone.’ It’s true what He said, ‘Destroy this temple and I’ll raise again after three days.’”
Judas said to himself, “This is crazy. How could I let this go on and on like this? I walked that church aisle and I knew better. The day they read my name along with the other convert’s names I knew I was not saved. That day I was baptized I should have said something then. That day I joined the church I should have spoken up. That day I was ordained I knew better I should have stopped it and spoke up. That day they voted me in as treasurer I should have said something and told them the truth. There is Jesus kneeling before me when I ought to be kneeling before Him. I ought to do it now! Get saved now! BUT, they will laugh at me so I’ll just wait a little longer. That would be much better.”
The problem with it is Judas is burning in Hell at this very moment! Judas no doubt reasoned within himself, “I’m a preacher! I’m ordained! I’m a charter church member! I’m holding an office at church! I was baptized by John the Baptist himself! I was ordained by Jesus Himself! Surely this is enough? Why, I even have cast out devils in His name1 I’ve healed people! I’m one of the twelve most respected men in Christianity! I am the most trusted of the twelve!” Is there a Judas in the house?
A few hours have past. Jesus had given the sop to Judas and Judas had been pointed out as the one who was going to betray Jesus. Jesus goes to the Garden of Gethsemane. All of a sudden out of the shadows Judas Iscariot says in a viper like hiss of a sound, “That’s Him! Over there! I’ll kiss Him!”
The soldiers then impatiently asked which one is He and Judas Iscariot said, “It’ll be the one that I kiss! He’s the one! All while holding thirty pieces of paltry pieces of silver in his hand. The truth is many are selling Jesus out for far less than that.
I see Judas slipping and slithering up on the Saviour. I see him as he tiptoes toward the Saviour. I see him as he is getting closer and closer. I see Judas as he leans over to kill the Saviour as he says to himself, “What am I doing? What’s the matter with me? This is insane! This is crazy! What in the world has Jesus ever done to harm me? I ought to admit to Him right now that I am a sinner, I’m headed for a devil’s Hell, and I ought to admit to Him right now that He is the only one who can save my soul? I ought to ask Jesus’ forgiveness right now and trust Him to pay for all of my sins?”
The truth is the day Judas walked down the aisle with the dozens and dozens of others who trusted Christ he could have and should have been honest with himself about being a sinner and needing Jesus Christ to save him from all of his sins.
Judas is saying, “The day I walked down the aisle I should have gotten saved. The day I was baptized I should have gotten saved. The day I joined the church I should have gotten saved. The day I was ordained I should have gotten saved. The day I was elected treasurer I should have gotten saved. The day Jesus washed my feet I should have gotten saved, and right now I ought to stop this horrible betrayal and get saved! BUT, what will the soldiers think? What will the crowd say? What will the disciples say? What will the rest of the church say? I can’t do it! I’ll wait till this all blows over and later on I’ll get saved.
Is there a Judas in the house? Is there a Judas in the house? Judas Iscariot passed upon yet another opportunity to become born again of the Spirit of God. He could have truly kissed the Son of God with the kiss of faith but now he kisses Him with the kiss of betrayal.
A few hours passed. The Scriptures tell us he repented himself. What does that mean? He was not repenting of what he did but because he did it for such a small amount of silver. He did not go to the Saviour he went to a Chief Priest. He would rather have religion than have Christ. Judas was so guilt ridden and unrepentant that he took his money and cast it before the Chief Priest and then went out and hung himself. What a sad ending!
The Scripture says Judas Iscariot went to his own place and for 2,000 years he has been screaming in Hell awaiting his final entombment in the Lake of Fire forever. I can hear him screaming now, “Oh, my God I waited too late! Oh, my God please give me a drip of water to cool my tormented tongue for I am tormented in this flame!
IS THERE A JUDAS IN THE HOUSE?
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
THE PRINCIPLE OF CHANGE
It was not that he was against computers, nor did he consider screens in the auditorium to be a sin. Glass pulpits were not a sign of the antichrist and lapel microphones were not out of hell. He was, in many ways, a thoroughly modern man. He was progressive in many areas of his life, yet, he always possessed a certain fear, or shall we say reluctance, towards change and preferred to view it as “improvement” and not “change.”
Now we know that change is inevitable. I do not look the same in my sixties as I did in my twenties. My neighborhood has changed. The cars we drive have changed. Change is a part of life, but some people make changes drastically and carelessly and make terrible mistakes as a result. For example, if a family gets upset at the pastor and changes churches, that change could have a devastating effect on their children. If a politician changes parties, that change will have a monumental effect. Dr. Hyles allowed things to change and people to change but he, himself, was slow and deliberate when making changes.
1. He was very slow to follow trends. Trends come and trends go. Dr. Hyles never wanted a trendy church but a consistent church. He was not a trend follower. In many ways, he set trends that were baptized in principle. Far too often those who attempted to emulate him failed to wrap their minds around this principle, for they themselves were trend followers.
Dr. Hyles supplemented and never substituted! As I travelled the nation in these thirty plus years, I would hear one year “per-capita giving” then the next year “missions” and then the next year “number of bus routes” then the next year “baptism numbers” and then the “enrollment figures” of the Christian school, and then “Bible College building.”
Dr. Hyles had his face set like a flint! He would often supplement, but never did he substitute! He would add to what he was doing and not substitute what he was doing through the church he pastored. He never neglected one ministry for another ministry. There is no one solution to the fulfilling of the “Great Commission.” Trout line fishing is the trademark of Dr. Hyles. He would flood the river with multiple hooks and not just one big hook.
2. He saw change to often be the predecessor to compromise. Where does compromise begin? It often starts when we are seeking an idea that will help us grow, but then leads us to other ideas that are not scripturally based. An idea is not pure merely because of what it is, but also from where it came. Some very dangerous teaching regarding tithing came from the charismatics. While some of the ideas may have been fine, the pastor who follows them does not stop until he has moved into some serious accompanying error.
Far too often men of God underestimate their people! These dear church members have the same Holy Ghost living in them and they talk to God and God talks to them. When the leader introduces “change” for the sake of growth he is introducing something into the spiritual system of that dear church that does not compute! The people are not dumb! This is a dangerous practice to garner things from a poisoned field to feed the souls of God’s people! It begins to zap and quench the Spirit of God among the people. Many times there is poison in the pot. There is something wrong, but no one has yet put his or her finger on it!
3. He saw change as a fickle attempt to find something new that would work. Dr. Hyles was creative, but he was not all about growth. Growth seemed to follow Dr. Hyles wherever he went, basically, because he had a heart for God and God’s people. He did not desire to enter into a race with anyone other than himself. He was his own competition, thus, he did not entertain “change” for growth’s sake. Rather, he emphasized “improvement” for the people’s sake. Change is akin to the Law of Thermodynamics where everything, if left alone, automatically deteriorates! It takes work to “improve” anything while it takes nothing to “change” everything!
4. He recognized change often upset the continuity of what was already working. There was security in the presence of Dr. Hyles. The reason was very simple because it was the simplicity of his activity and his actions that created an atmosphere of security. He was “predictable.” The church services, the music, the order, the organization, and tempo provided continuity, which allowed the people to fellowship and relax their spirit so the Holy Spirit could work. It brought about a harmony of spirit that became conducive to fulfilling the very definition of “church” being a “called out body of baptized believers.” Thus, it became a people of one place, one mind, and one accord!
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” This statement is still ringing in my ears years later after a plane ride with Dr. Hyles to a Bible Conference. “Never break stride!” I have this written in front of one of my Old Scofield Bibles at the insistence of Dr. Hyles.
5. He knew that change was often difficult for followers to digest. God’s people are referred to in Scripture as “sheep.” Jesus is the shepherd while God’s men are the under-shepherds. It behooves the pastoral leadership to exemplify Jesus’ care and gently lead in the lives of the sheep. Dr. Hyles taught us that one of the attributes of the pastor is being the “overseer.” This has two definitions, one being the responsibility of “oversight” and the other meaning the ability to “over see” or see further down the road. Decisions affect, and many times in a “domino” manner! The ability to see the end from the beginning, and methodically move, with consistency, toward that end and do it by leading softly helps remove the element of fear for the follower.
The follower needs to be able to serve without the associated fears that accompany the role of the leader. Change is a scary thing for anyone, but especially for God’s people as they grow older. Dr. Hyles knew all of the intricacies that went into decision-making or policy-making and the necessity of them being as smooth as possible. It had to be viewed as “improvement” and not “change” in order to not spook the follower.
Change for change’s sake is living on the sensual side of life. This diversionary lifestyle has no spiritual life in it! Those in love with the cause of Christ easily accept improvement for the cause of Christ.
6. He knew that innocent change was often accompanied by other negative influences. That which appeared to be an innocent change was often birthed in a race for numbers and developed a competitive spirit among churches rather than a competitive spirit for the unsaved. This ego led Mega- Church mentality has created an appetite for change for quick, visible results. The scripture says “considering the end” which is how we are to move forward by faith.
Too many are attracted to the numerical success and, thus, emulate and embrace “change” in order to justify the end result. The end does not and never will justify the means in life, especially in God’s economy! Numbers are important because of the individual souls they represent. Pastor Bill Hybels, who built one of the largest Mega-churches in America, said after doing an internal study that he was successful in producing crowds, but unsuccessful in producing Christians.
For example, Dr. Hyles had 800 plus Sunday school classes in his church. Most of those classes averaged twenty or less with a few other larger adult classes that averaged anywhere from a few hundred to a thousand in attendance. This is why he was able to have over 20,000 in Sunday school. However, in today’s Independent Baptist world, we want the 20,000 without the 800 plus Sunday school classes. That is because we are often numerically driven rather than being driven by the desire to reach “every creature.”
Dr. Hyles labored to create the lowest common denominator by organizing Sunday school classes, teachers, staff, classroom, lessons, etc., and while others admired the cumulative result, he toiled for the “every creature” concept.
7. He saw change to often be a peer pressure action rather than a principled decision. The pressures are great on any man of God who endeavors to do a work for God. However, principled decision-making must engage all of the elements in an organized fabric to which external motivation must bow to internal motivation. No man can escape external motivation, but he must learn to harness it for the right cause.
When the Apostle Paul saw the city wholly given to idolatry, then he was pressed in the spirit. He was motivated externally, but drew from internal motivation. King David “encouraged himself” and this pressure to succeed must be from within and fueled by that which is without, namely for a lost and Hell- bound world in need of the Saviour. To shortcut the work is to shortcut future works!
No man ever outgrows peer pressure. The Apostle Paul said in the Galatians, “Who hath bewitched you?” He did not say “what” but “who.” It is always a personality that draws the sword in opposition to truth. The church at Galatia put their car in reverse doctrinally because of peer pressure. A little leaven does leaven the whole! To be expedient and reckless in order to stay up with the “Jones” religiously is dangerous for the generations to follow. Abraham did get out of Egypt bringing Lot with him, but Egypt never did get out of Lot!
Principles, and not popularity, are the glue that will hold together a work. We use the world and the world will use us!
8. He sought improvement by making minor adjustments rather than major changes. I still recall a Tuesday afternoon in Cheyenne, Wyoming, when he said to me, “Do not jerk the wheel when making adjustments!” He went on to say that slow, deliberate improvements would create an atmosphere of security. The little things can make or break! Minor adjustments which improve are far superior to major changes which destroy! I can still hear Dr. Hyles say, “Keep your eye on the prize of ‘Well done thou good and faithful servant!’”
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Monday, July 7, 2014
"PUT YOUR PENS AWAY"
(A 384 page hardback book with 33 chapters)
Truth is not that difficult nor is it all that complicated. Now, that is not what many preachers would have you believe. They think that if they can take you around the block enough and point out enough scriptures they can impress you with a truth. was not given to us to impress us. It was given to us to an impression on our lives.
If you went to your doctor to be treated and your doctor decided to peruse the medical books with you to impress upon you the truth of what he studied that week you might be inclined to find another doctor. Yet this is exactly what many preachers attempt to do when they preach. They seem to feel they are giving a lecture on theology rather a prescription for living the Christian life.
Dr. Hyles was often criticized for being a practitioner rather than a lecturer, yet when people heard him preach they were moved to change something. Every sermon was an attempt to make a difference in some area of their lives. Call it topical or call it Biblical, I don't care. What I do know is that I never heard him preach without being moved to do something.
When Dr. Hyles preached he did something very few men do, and if they do it they do not fully understand why they do it. They may merely be doing it because they saw Dr. Hyles do it which is not altogether a bad reason. I have heard him say literally thousands of times, “Put pens, put your Bibles under your seats and look right up at me while I’m preaching.” with me he would add, “Now when Dr. Gray is preaching I recommend you take notes but while you have a good looking man up here you need to look at him.” It never failed to make people laugh and relax.
At First Baptist Church the people were trained to not take notes while he preached. At HylesAnderson College he did not have the students take notes on his sermons. No matter where he he was adamant that people listen to him preach rather than take notes. I cringed when I saw someone writing while he was preaching. I knew if he saw them he would ask them to stop.
Before I explain the why of this I to comment that having heard thousands of sermons by many wonderful men over the years of my ministry, I remember with greater clarity more sermons preached by Dr. Hyles all the other combined. I heard many masterpieces of oratory in my years but the sermons I remember most were the ones he preached. He always impacted me. Now, why did ?
1. He was not lecturing. Dr. Hyles was a wonderful teacher but he was not a lecturer and did not strive to be. He was a preacher and he believed there was a grand difference between preaching and lecturing. Wednesday nights he more of a teaching type of lesson where people could take notes but on Sundays and in conferences he was a preacher.
He was not invited week after week to come to a church and lecture. Could he have done so? Yes. Dr. Hyles had one of the most brilliant minds of any man I know. I have had discussions with him where I thought that he could have been . His mind was very organized and calculated. However, that was not God called him to do. God called him to preach and that is what he focused on.
2. He was not an expositor. He did not criticize men who were but he admitted that he was not. He often said he considered himself more of a general practitioner I NEVER heard a person ask Dr. Hyles about a passage of Scripture that he could not explain it and illuminate it. He was a brilliant Bible student, but that was not what he felt would allow him to influence the most people for God. He was not going to change what he believed God called him to do just because people were critical of topical preaching. He was in the business of changing lives not imparting information.
3. had one end in mind for every sermon. His goal was not to see how much information he could impart during his time in front of the audience. He was not there to get across a volume of information. He was there to get across a single truth.I remember sitting next to while a good man was preaching one Tuesday morning in a conference. When he was finished Dr. Hyles leaned over and said, “That was three of the best sermons I ever heard.”
He wasn't being critical of the man. He loved him and he truly was impressed with all the thoughts he gave, but that was not purpose. That preacher had left all of us with much to think about and ponder but that was not what Dr. Hyles sought to do when he preached. He wanted people to leave the service not with a smorgasbord of thoughts or ideas but with a single decision
4. knew he had time to accomplish what he came to the pulpit to accomplish. When he stood to preach he was the most time conscious man I ever knew. He confined himself into a time schedule. From the moment he stood to preach he was watching the goal line and he knew how much time he had to accomplish what he felt .
He was like a basketball player who was bringing the ball down court. He knew the goal was to score a basket in an allotted amount of time. He had his eyes on the basket He had his eyes on the play clock and he had his eyes on the play he was about to run. From the moment the basketball comes bounds the players are aware of those three things. Dr. Hyles was aware of them as well. He knew that his goal was to run a certain play and to accomplish a certain goal in a certain amount of time. Less than that meant he had failed to do what he was there to do.
He never tired of the beauty of a single thought. A basketball team has a basic play they run over and over again. The purpose of that play not so that people leave the and saythat a great play they ran tonightThe purpose of the play to score a basket. If a team ever tired of that they would lose every game. Dr. Hyles never got tired of scoring baskets. In every sermon he knew that he had to score a basket or accomplish one purpose. The sermon was merely the play he ran to accomplish that purpose.
Dr. Hyles knew that the beauty of Jesus' teaching was the way could make a single truth come alive. That was what he chose to do. Jesus was not walking around trying to impress people with His knowledge of Scripture. In fact the Bible never said He came to explain the law but rather to fulfill it. Jesus taught very little of the Bible from the standpoint of teaching types and , I highly doubt that he ever referred to a commentary.
He was there to drive home truth. Jesus taught simply and with focus, yet He knew more about the Bible than anyone who has ever walked the earth. He is the Word. What did the disciples at Emmaus say about his teaching? They said, “Did not our hearts burnI never heard Dr. Hyles preach but what my heart burned.
He did not want people to leave with an outline in hand but a goal line in mind. He did not believe the outline was the end, but the means to the end, which was the goal line. Why should people write down the means rather than focusing on the end. This is where he differed. He was not asking people to keep notes on the means to the end. He did not want them to become enamored with the outline.
He wanted them to see the goal line. Many a man preaches a memorable outlineoutlines himself There have been times when my outline distracted me. There was so much in the outline that I was instead of the finish line. used an outline the lines on a track to keep him in the lane to reach his goal. Many men chase rabbits because they have an impressive outline to .
The sermon was not the purpose but the tool. He called it a greasy wrench. One of the things I so admired about Dr. Hyles was his ability to judge a sermon not by the “response” but by the effect. Many sermons get a great response but have little effect.
I remember once many years ago preaching in a conference with Dr. Hyles. On the program was a man who could take you for a ride through his preaching. went to the and had a . People were shouting and having more fun than a amusement park ride. When it was over , I said, “That was one of the greatest sermons ever wasn't it?”Dr. Hyles quietly replied to this still young preacher, “Yes it was Bro Bob and what exactly did you take from it that will change something in your life?”
We said and I was left what he was trying to teach me. In my room that afternoon I learned a lesson that was more valuable tha anything Iheard in that memorable “sermon.” I learned that the sermon is only as successful as the effect has on people's lives. Many men can tickle the , not accomplish a goal Dr. Hyles purposed in his preaching.
He preached to keep people's attention on the he was preaching. He knew that often when he listened to preaching he would become distracted by a thought and to write down thoughts and ideas rather than concentrating on the message. He did not want to cause distraction in his own preaching. He knew that if people heard a nugget they be distracted and focus on the nugget and miss the goal line.
Few men were more quotable than Dr. Hyles. His one line thoughts are used by people everywhere even some who did not follow his ministry. He had artistic ability in preaching but he did not want someone noticing the stroke of his brush the expense of getting the focal point of his painting.
He did not believe that the diligence of his study was evidenced by how much information he had transcribed to notes but by how much of the truth had permeated his being. Many men get bogged down by their own preaching notes rather than consumed by the truth and the people. His outline was a servant to his purpose, rather than his master. He did not write down many thoughts in his outline and kept it simple enough so as not to distract him. that a sign of negligence in preparation? Not at allIt was a sign of how much he had committed the sermon within, rather than on paper.
1 attention was main purpose when he preached. This is such an important principle. He could not you if he could not reach you. But first he knew he had to have God's attention. While may be perfecting their he was getting hold of God. Then he had to get his own attention Then he worked on getting and keeping the attention of the individual.
I want to point out that I did not say anything about keeping the audience's attention. That was not how he preached. A good show can keep the attention of audience but it takes thorough thought and planning to keep the attention of the man who worked all day and then rushed to hear him preach. He knew that if he could keep that man's focus on him as he preached he could give that man something that could help him in his Christian life. The Globetrotters can keep your attention, but they cannot change your mind.
1. The invitation was the point of finality. This is so important. Many times when we see people taking notes, they become distracted as to the reason they are there. Why are they there? In mind they were there to decide something. It may be to up something or start something but there was a reason he was after when he began his sermon. When he was done there were no notes in their hands to put away, pens to . All that was in their mind was what they had just heard. He then challenged audience to make decision No, it was usually just one basic decision from that one truth just preached
When I open my Bible I have very few sermons I heard him preach over years. When I open my heart it is packed with God's truths that he impressed upon me in one at a time. He would preach “Fresh Oil” for the hundredth time. With pen pocket Bible under my seat I would hear that man point me to the goal line of getting a fresh anointing of the power of God. When the invitation came I would leave my seat...every time...and make my way to the altar. With tears in my eyes I would ask God to anoint me with fresh oil. Then I would go back to my seat, changed, once again.
No, I don't have many notes in my Bible from his sermons, but I thank God that he made me put my pen away so he could point me to the goal line rather than
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