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Sunday, March 25, 2018

IT'S A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH

A BLESSING OR A CURSE?



Deuteronomy 11:26, “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;”

 When the Israelites were about to enter into the Promised Land in the book of Deuteronomy God said that He had set before them a blessing and a curse. He called it life and death in Deuteronomy 30:15. He said He had set before them a blessing and a curse or life and death. God is not saying that He was setting before them being blessed or being cursed. He was saying He was setting before you being a blessing or being a curse.

 Then in Deuteronomy 30:15 he uses a synonym of life and death. According to I Timothy 5:6 one can be dead and still be breathing. What God is saying here is whenever you learn to be a blessing to someone that is life and that is living. When you live for yourself that is a curse and that is death. God is saying He has set before you being a blessing or being a curse or being life to someone or being death to someone. 

Those who on Saturday night attempt to satisfy their senses are dead though they are living. The people who live for others: Sunday school bus captains, Sunday school teachers, and soul winners they have chosen to be a blessing. When one chooses to be unselfish that person is choosing life. When one chooses to die to self that person will live for others.

 Paul said to young Timothy, “She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” She breathes, but she is dead. She speaks, but she is dead. She walks, but she is dead. God said you are coming into the Promised Land and I am giving you a choice. You can choose to be a blessing or you can choose to be a curse.

 God gives them an object lesson. He did something amazing here. Right in the center of Samaria is a valley. The famous place called Shekum it there and another famous place called Sychar is there in that valley where John chapter 4 occurred. On the north side of that valley is a mountain called Mount Ebal. To the south side of that little valley is a mountain called Mount Gerizim. 

 If you went there today you would see a very small narrow valley on the north side you would see Mount Ebal. Mount Ebal has no growth on it at all; no fruit trees, and is a barren king of a mountain. Just on the other side of the very small and narrow valley you can stand on Mount Ebal and speak and be heard on Mount Gerizim. Likewise you can stand on Mount Gerizim and speak and be heard on Mount Ebal.

 On the north side is Mount Ebal, not a tree on it and nothing, but a cursed mountain. On the south side is Mount Gerizim: fruitful, fruit trees galore, and everything is green. Picture it, a beautiful green mountain on one side and on the other side of the valley a barren dry mountain on the other side. God uses that as a backdrop or as a visual aid.

 Some of you reading this article are living on Mount Gerizim and you are living a life of unselfishness. You have lived a life for others. You could sing, “Lord, let me live from day to day in such a self forgetful way, that even when I knell to pray, my prayer shall be others. Others Lord, yes others, let this my motto be. Lord let me live for others that I may live like thee!” The truth is you are the happy children of God because you have experienced real life!

 On the other hand there are those of you reading this article who are living over on Mount Ebal. You live for yourself! You did not put one bite of food in a hungry stomach last year. You did not put one coat on a cold back last year. You did not put one pair of shoes on a couple of cold feet last year. You have lived for yourself! It is me, my, and mine! The truth is friend that is living on Mount Ebal and God calls that being a curse or death. You may say, “Boy, I’m living it up!” No, you are “Dying it up.”

 Let me suggest to you that you move over to Mount Gerizim and you live an unselfish fruitful life that helps other people. That old barren cursed death of a life helps no one but your self!

TWO MOUNTAIN PEAKS SIDE BY SIDE

 There are two mountain peaks side by side and a vast difference between the two. Mount Ebal, which is barren and fruitless. That mount is just a few yards away from Mount Gerizim, which is fruitful and green.

 The difference cannot be the climate! The climate is the same! Every time the sun shines on Mount Gerizim it shines on Mount Ebal. Every time it rains on Mount Gerizim it rains on Mount Ebal. It cannot be the climate or the weather!

 Ok, it cannot be the people, because the same people live at the foot of Mount Gerizim that live at the foot of Mount Ebal. So, it cannot be the people!

 When it snowed, rained, sun shining, was cold, or was hot it happened on both mountains. There are couples that sit in church side by side. Eat at the same table, parent the same children, sleep in the same bed, ride in the same car, and yet the truth is they are living on different mountains. Husbands, who are faithful, pay the bills, and are honest, yet never do anything for anyone else. You sir are living on Mount Ebal of me, my, mine, I, we, us, and ours. 

 Yet, who seats right beside you is a wife who lives on Mount Gerizim. She lives a fruitful life. She lives a life for others. She lives on Mount Gerizim while the husband lives on Mount Ebal. Yet, they live in the same house, parent the same children, sleep in the same bed, and eat at the same table.

 Would it not be wonderful if the husbands living for themselves would resolve to start living for others? Would it not be wonderful if the wives living for them selves would resolve to start living for others?

 The sad thing is there is a split in the atmosphere of a home where one lives on Mount Ebal and the other mate lives on Mount Gerizim. They share the same events in life, but one is being a curse and the other is being a blessing and it becomes a house divided against itself.

 There are two brothers who grew up side by side. One is living on Mount Ebal and the other is living on Mount Gerizim. They have the same father and the same mother. They eat at the same table, ride in the same car, and go to the same church, but both are like Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal. Side by side and yet do not live on the same mountain. One goes soul winning, prays, gives, and lives for others while the other does not.

 There are two sisters who grew up side by side. One is living on Mount Ebal and the other is living on Mount Gerizim. They have the same father and mother. They sit at the same dinner table, ride in the same car, share the same hair curlers, and go to the same paint and body shop. Yet, they live on two separate mountains. One is unselfish and the other is selfish.

 May I recommend to the couples both of you should live on Mount Gerizim. May I recommend to both brothers and sisters live on Mount Gerizim. It is a matter of choice. You can choose to live on the fruitful mountain if you want!



Sunday, March 11, 2018

THE PERFECT WILL OF GOD

PREDESTINATED WILLS OF GOD



Ephesians 1:5, “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,”

Ephesians 1:11, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”

 There are some things in life that God desires that He allows us to decide. You have the acceptable will and the perfect will of God in Scriptures. God tells us areas we are to choose from in every area of life. We can choose from the acceptable or the perfect will in every area of life.

 Adam and Eve had many species of trees in the Garden of Eden. The majority of those they could choose from while one of them was off limits. Any time that you choose any thing from the area that God says you may choose from you are in God’s will. Now, it is not necessarily the perfect will but nevertheless it is acceptable to God.

There are some things God does not want us to choose from

 II Corinthians chapter six is an example. There is a list of those that God forbids His children to fellowship with. God is telling us that there are certain people God does not want us to choose from. God is saying, “I don’t want you to fellowship with an unbeliever, unrighteous person, or an infidel.”

This leaves the acceptable and perfect will of God to choose from 

 Thus, this leaves the acceptable and the perfect will of God to choose from while only one is the perfect will of God.

 Some married inside the will of God and maybe did not get the one, but married one that was acceptable. There are some things that God desires that He allows us to decide.

 God allows us to decide whom to marry, where to go to college, where to work, what clothes to wear, what food to eat, what car to drive, or what house to live in. In other words it is the will of God that He wants you to choose. This is called the good will, the acceptable will, but not necessarily the perfect will.

 However, there is an area that is the predestinated will of God. I am not speaking about going to Hell or Heaven. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. There are some things that are in the predestinated will of God and they are going to happen.


There are some things that God desires that He decides


 You did not choose your parents. Your parents were chosen by God and were in the predestinated will of God for your life. You did not choose your children. You did not decide what child you wanted. Your children are apart of the predestinated will of God. You did not choose where you were born. Where you were born was included in the predestinated will of God. There are areas in your lives, which are apart of the predestinated will of God.

 God has a lot of wills or wishes for every area of your life. It is a misnomer to say the will of God because in reality there are many wills or wishes God had for His children. Among those are the areas we are to choose from with one of them actually being the ONE that God had in mind. Then there are the areas that were God’s choice alone.

The perfect will of God is when we choose what or whom God has chosen

 There are things we have no control over at all and God makes those choices for us. There are those areas where we are forbid to choose from. Then there are the good, acceptable, and the one perfect will which God had in mind to begin with. The perfect will of God is God’s choice and your choice. The perfect will of God is when you choose what or whom God has chosen.

 The predestinated will is God’s choice, the acceptable will is your choice, while the perfect will of God is your choice and God’s choice. So, there is God’s decision, our decision not to choose from the unacceptable, and our decision to choose from God’s choice.



Thursday, March 8, 2018

THE LEADERSHIP FALACY OF EXERCISING AUTHORITY

MINISTERING



Proverbs 19:10, “Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes.”

Matthew 20:25-28, “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion oer them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Every Leader is a Second Man

Every leader is in essence a second man for Jesus is the head. A pastor for example is not the number one man of the local church for Jesus is the head of the local church. The pastor is an assistant to Jesus Christ and in every area of our lives God has installed what Dr. John R. Rice calls “God’s deputies.” We are stewards of God and the responsibilities are God given.

No one has a right to lead as he or she sees fit for God gave us our opportunity and also our guidelines for each area where we are “God’s deputies.” I did not use the kind of music I liked rather I allowed in the two churches I pastored the kind of music God likes. The standards were never my standards for they were God’s standards. The organization or church polity was not what I preferred rather it was what God mandated from his word.

The same is true of the family unit. I had and have no right to lead my family into anything that is harmful to them according to the word of God. The restrictions I have are those imposed by the “boss” or “Lord.”

Whether it is a matter of finances, child rearing, or education we have to realize our position is that of a second man and allow God to run these areas of life for he certainly knows better how to run that which he created.
  
Leaders come from Followers

No one has ever trained any one to be a leader, for leaders come from followers. Those who have a passion and employ those passions and direct them to succeed usually rise out of the crowd and provide passionate initiative and garner the admiration of the rest of the crowd to follow. His confidence is not cockiness but confidence, for it is hard work that produces that which others desire to emulate

Followers can be trained to do what is right to do and to do it well. Passion comes from the inside  and fueled by the outside. Doing things well fuels passion that is inward resulting in visible works.

Real Leaders do not Relish leading

I knew and preached with several great men of God who accomplished the greatest things in history. These were all quiet men who did not enjoy leadership such as Dr. John R. Rice, Evangelist Lester Roloff, Dr. Lee Roberson, Dr. Tom Malone, Evangelist Carl Hatch, Dr. Jack Hutson, Dr. Curtis Hudson, and Dr. Jack Hyles. These men were not seeking spotlighted roles for they were too busy doing to be seeking.

I had the honor of traveling and preaching with Dr. Jack Hyles for 22 years. Interesting that he was always home in his own pulpit every Wednesday night. I made it a policy to make sure I was home in my own pulpit every Wednesday night and there for Church-wide soul winning on Thursday night. No one can neglect their own vineyard and expect folks to follow who are working that same vineyard.


Leaders are Pushed up from the Bottom

Dr. Hyles said to me one time there are five kinds of people: followers of leaders, leaders of followers, leaders of leaders, follower of followers (church splits), and followers of leaders of leaders (TV preachers).

Real dynamic leaders who accomplished the impossible were not concerned with the spotlight for they were too busy reaching one person at a time back home in order to be flattered into a role they were not comfortable with. The truth is they were comfortable in their own skin doing what God commanded them to do and not what the crowds demanded of them.

The reason these men and others were pushed up from the bottom was because they had no desire for personal compensation for they were wrapped up in winning souls and building their ministries to win more souls. Today we have everyone running to the spotlight and neglecting personal soul winning.

Dr. Shelton Smith, Editor of THE SWORD OF THE LORD paper, said to me recently that he was sick of pastors coming up to him and asking, “What is the latest thing?” This is a day of wanting a big church rather than ministering to the individual.

Leaders lead more by Example than by Exhortation

A pastor of a great church one time said to me he almost lost everything because his church was so organized that he was preaching out more and quit going soul winning himself. Then the church began to slow down in her aggressiveness to win the lost because like begets like. Sooner or later the leader will find himself being reflected in his church member for they are nothing more than a reflection of him. God’s men and all leaders must lead much more by example than exhortation.