Friday, September 30, 2016


   As we are in the midst of the political battle for President of the United States, the Church must not lose sight that it is changed hearts that move a society, not a political leader.  Our society has not shifted to the Left because of who our president is, our president was elected because his policies and ideas reflected what was in the hearts of the electorate.  Reading in 2 Timothy, we find this passage: 2 Timothy 3:1-7  But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,   treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.   For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 


This passage seems to describe our society at large.  This is not a political issue, this is a spiritual issue.  While we are called to be in the world and to be salt and light, the message is Jesus Christ, not our candidate of choice.  No politician can save America, only God, through Christ can do that.  I see brothers in the Lord attacking one another on Facebook, actually making threats to one another over presidential candidates.  Families are being divided and relationships destroyed because believers are not keeping their eyes on the King of Kings, but instead, are looking to a man or woman to lead us to Utopia.  

     As believers, we are called to support the government set over us because it is given to us by God.  Peter wrote in his first epistle that Christ followers were to pray for and submit to the government authority set over them... NERO WAS RULING ROME AT THE TIME!  If Peter and the first century church could pray for Nero and accept that his authority was given by God, surely we can pray for and accept the authority of Obama, Clinton or Trump.  Last I checked, none of these are throwing Christians to the lions. 

Believe me, I am very critical of the current administration and have very strong feelings coming into this election.  I have prayerfully been seeking guidance on my role as a voter and am still not sure what God would have me do.  I am definitely leaning in a particular direction, but ultimately am waiting on God's direction.

    Whatever the outcome of the election, we will get a nice picture of where the hearts of most Americans lie, concerning spiritual matters.  This is our mission field, not the voting booth.  We should be involved politically, we should vote and make our voice heard and support the candidate God lays on our hearts, but we should not be turning on each other over a decision that is ultimately up to the sovereignty of God.  The souls of the lost and the hearts of the next generation, which is leaving the church in droves, is our mission field.   

Sunday, September 11, 2016


   As I was preparing my message in 1 John 2:1-6, for Sunday night's meeting, I kept coming back to a recurring theme, we do not pursue obedience and holiness in order to be made righteous, we pursue obedience and holiness because we have been made righteous by the blood of Christ. Righteousness precedes holiness!  

1 John 2:1-6  My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.  Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,   but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:   whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked

Conversely, the lost are not going to hell because they sin, they sin because they are lost and going to hell.   Unbelief is the only unforgivable sin (blasphemy of the Holy Spirit).  The lost cannot obey God because they do not have the Spirit of God and they have one master, their own sin nature.  All people are natural born sinners, so all people naturally sin, unless they are regenerated by the blood of Christ.

Think of it in terms of patriotism.  An American patriot would never consider burning an American flag or spitting on a veteran.  A person who identifies as an American patriot does not struggle with desires to harm America, he naturally performs patriotic acts.  An American patriot proudly displays a flag and will proudly stand up in public, hand on heart, to recite the Pledge or sing the National Anthem. An American patriot does not worry that he will be considered weird or a fanatical, he wants others to know what he believes and why.

         Why should it be any different for Christians?  Should we not proudly live and identify with Christ, if we count Him as our savior?  The Apostle John believes we should.  A study of the first part of the second chapter of 1 John should help remove the question, "am I really saved?".  John goes on, in his letter, to say 1John 5:13  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. If you are a believer, you should naturally exhibit a desire to know and obey God.  We cannot live like an atheist and claim salvation.  

     We are not required to work for our salvation, we are empowered to work by our salvation and our work should be a natural outpouring of the Spirit of God within us.

Thursday, September 8, 2016


     Easy Believeism  and benefits oriented evangelism are two of the most detrimental fads in the American Church.  Easy Believeism is the practice of offering salvation without repentance or commitment: "Just acknowledge Jesus and you will be forgiven!"  Benefits oriented evangelism is promising a happy life to anyone who might beleive: "Just trust in Jesus and he will take all your problems away!"  Both of theses methods are successful in filling churches but neither is honest nor Biblical.  Jesus never offered a benefits only salvation: "Pick up your cross and follow me", "Sell all you have and give to the poor and come follow me".  The latter half of John 6 is a course study against a benefits oriented gospel message: John 6:26-29  Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal."  Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?"   Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."   Nor did He offer Easy Believeism: "Go and sin no more", "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near", "Go, sell all you own and then come follow me."    


     Easy believism does no favor to the true seeker.  To be truly "seeker sensitive" we need to focus on true discipleship.  True discipleship means telling the truth.  Some modern evangelistic methods make promises not found in God's word, misrepresenting God and sowing seeds of discontent.  One of the biggest lies we hear from coming from the modern church movement is "God wants you to be happy!"  There is no place in scripture that tells us God wants us to be happy.  I am not saying God wants us to be unhappy, as that would be just as much a mischaracterization the other.  What God wants us to be is content, joyous and thankful.  Happiness is circumstantial. If things go my way, I am happy, if things do not go my way, I am unhappy.  In the pursuit of happiness, I can only be as happy as the last good thing that has happened.  If we could graph happiness in our lives, we could see when life goes as we perceive it should, as we get away with things, as we acquire things, as others recognize us, happiness goes up.  When we are held accountable, when we suffer loss, when we encounter "unfairness", when others ignore our efforts, happiness goes down.  

Living in the pursuit of happiness places us on an emotional roller coaster, eventually leaving us empty and unfulfilled.  

      Contentment, joy and thankfulness, on the other hand, are not circumstantial, can be attained in the midst of hardship and are the direct result of focusing on what Christ has already done for us on the cross.  


     Matthew 6:33  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  God's design for us is to seek Him and His will and purpose for our lives and leave the rest to Him.  Practically, what does this mean, should we quit our jobs and walk the streets preaching the Gospel, trusting God for all provision?  For some this may very well be where God is leading.  Why is that any different than a missionary, going to a far off land, trusting God for all provision?  Chances are, however, God wants to use you where you are, in your current job or school. What God does not want us to do is be anxious for anything, because He promises to care for us as we seek Him.  What God does want from us is our all. God is not looking for our second best effort or our left over time and resources, He wants the cream of our lives.  Twice per year, the nation of Israel was called to offer the firstfruits, or the first yield of the harvest.  The act of firstfruits sacrifice showed trust in God to bless the rest of the harvest and anticipated God's blessing and provision.  We, likewise, are to give God our best, from the top, anticipating His provision. This takes trust, and trust is earned.  God earned our trust at the cross, providing Himself a sacrifice on our behalf.  If God is willing to provide us with undeserved salvation through the death of Christ, how much more will He provide our needs as we pursue His kingdom and holiness?

    As a Christ follower, are you giving Him your best, are you trusting the Father to care for you as He has promised or do you live by the faulty creed, "God helps those who help themselves"?  God does not promise us health, wealth and prosperity, but He does promise to provide all our needs, when we commit to serving Him in obedience: Philippians 4:19  And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  This was written to a church of people who were diligently serving and giving time and resource to the kingdom of God and the spreading of the Gospel.


    Everything we are and all that we have is provided to us for one cause, disciple makingMatthew 28:19-20  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."  This is what Jesus told us to do, it was not a suggestion, but a command.  We are not all called to "win souls" but we are all called to make disciples.  We, everyone of us, has a unique calling and purpose in the Body of Christ. Operating in that calling and purpose is where we find fulfillment, peace, joy and contentedness. The fruits of the Spirit are found in living under the authority of the Spirit and fulfilling our unique role, chosen especially for us as individuals.  


  God wants the best of everything we are and have, He wants the best of your time, the best of your ability, the best of your harvest (tithe) and the best of your heart, dedicated to His glory.  In return, God provides us all we need to pursue Him and his purpose for us.  The cost of true discipleship is all you are, all you have, all you hope to be, completely dedicated to His service.  We are not all "called out" to "full time" ministry or the mission field, but we are all called to love the people in our lives, we are called to live our faith in such a way that others see Christ in us.  It is cliche, but, if you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?  That is an important question to ask oneself.  


   "I do not know where to even start."  This is a common statement many believers make when confronted with the cost of discipleship.  Start with prayer, not just "help me God" prayers or "gimme" prayers, but true, heart felt prayers in which you ask God to speak to you, to open your spiritual eyes to the needs of others, where you earnestly ask God to reveal sin that needs repentance.  As we dedicate time to prayer and seeking the power of God in our lives, we will see amazing things happen.  No move of God has happened without first being preceded by prayer.  Prayer does not have to be fancy, just speak to God as the loving Father that He is.  Pray with anticipation that God hears and desires to bestow good things to His children, knowing that God's definition of good may be different than ours at first.  


    As we seek first His kingdom, we can be assured that He loves us and desires His best for us.  What is the cost of discipleship, everything. In giving God all of us, we get all of Him.  All of His provision, all of His guidance, all of His love, all of His comfort, all of His grace.  The list goes on and on.  This is a pretty good trade off, as we have nothing God needs and God has everything we need.  Living the life of a disciple is a road less traveled and is not always a paved highway.  We will encounter difficulties as a God honoring lifestyle is counter-culture. We will not always fit in with the crowd, we may be misunderstood or even misrepresented, we may be ostracized, we may even encounter persecution.  Discipleship may cost us dearly, but the rewards are eternal and limitless.  Salvation from hell, fellowship with the creator, indwelling of the Holy Spirit, peace, joy, love, these are things on which we cannot put a price.   Matthew 13:44-46  "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,  who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.