When Christians Compromise With the World

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

14June  A man’s greatest strengths are often also the source of his greatest weaknesses.  A man who has strong convictions, who speaks out boldly for God’s truth, if he’s not careful can become harsh or unkind.  On the other hand, a man oozing with love and compassion can err by tolerating everything and everyone, thus compromising God’s truth.  The latter error seems to me to be the more common danger in the church today.  Often, in the name of love and out of the desire to promote unity, Christians have compromised with the world.

Our standard always needs to be, “Is it biblical?” not, “Does it work?”  Or, “Does it feel good or right?”  And by way of long-term results, the Bible is clear: Any compromise with the world, whether in doctrine, morals, or relationships, has disastrous consequences.

The story of Jehoshaphat, in 2 Chronicles 17-20, is about a godly, good king with a major weakness for compromise with the world.  We learn that . . .

Compromise with the world brings

Disastrous consequences

To God’s people.

The outward damage may not be apparent for a while.  But just as driving your car on salted roads in the winter brings inevitable, although not immediate, damage to your car, so compromise with the world brings inevitable corruption into your life and into the church.  Let’s see four observations from the story of Jehoshaphat:

1. Compromise with the world is a danger for even the most godly of believers.

Clearly Jehoshaphat was a godly man (note 2 Chronicles 17:3-4), 6).

  • He sought the Lord and walked in His commandments.
  • He took great pride in the ways of the Lord and removed idols from the land.
  • He sent out teachers to instruct the people in God’s law (17:7-9).
  • When a prophet rebuked him for his wrongful alliance with Ahab, unlike his father (16:10), Jehoshaphat accepted it and went on to institute further religious reforms (19:2-11).
  • In chapter 20 we see his heart as the nation is threatened by a vast army.
  • He calls the people to prayer and fasting.
  • Jehoshaphat’s prayer before the assembly (20:6-12) reveals his humble trust in the Lord.

The point is, Jehoshaphat was not your average, run-of-the-mill believer.  He was a man of strong faith and open godliness who courageously brought reform to the nation. And if he suffered from the danger of compromising with the world, then none of us is exempt.

Please note . . .

In pointing out Jehoshaphat’s problem

With wrongful contact with the world,

The Bible doesn’t condemn everything the man did,

But rather it portrays his strengths and his weaknesses (19:2-3).

I say this because some read what I say and wrongly conclude that I’m completely throwing out the man and his ministry.   But I’m not doing that and the Bible doesn’t do that either.  I’m simply pointing out that these men who obviously have a heart for God also have some areas where they are wrong and that if God’s people follow them in those wrong areas, there will be serious consequences down line.

Why did Jehoshaphat and why do we fall into the problem of compromise with the world?

2. Compromise with the world is a danger because of its subtlety.

The first thing we read of Jehoshaphat (17:1-2) is how he strengthened his position over Israel (Ahab’s northern kingdom).  Later we read of his valiant army and fortified cities (17:12-19).  He was ready for any onslaught.  If Ahab had declared war, Jehoshaphat would have defeated him!  But instead Ahab devised a plan to get his daughter married to Jehoshaphat’s son.  The next thing we hear is Jehoshaphat promising the godless Ahab, “I am as you are, and my people as your people, and we will be with you in the battle” (18:3)!  Incredible!  It’s as if a boxer has trained for the big fight and his opponent invites him out for dinner and slips poison into his coffee.

That’s how Satan works.  He’s not usually frontal; he’s tricky.  He fools you with ostensibly good causes and lures you into his den.

Why did Jehoshaphat get entangled with Ahab?  Jehoshaphat was one of the most godly kings ever to reign in Judah, and, as someone has said, ” Ahab was one of the most despicable snakes ever to coil on the throne of Israel.  Why did they get together?”

The text doesn’t give much of a clue (18:1), but we can surmise that due to Jehoshaphat’s power it was to Ahab’s advantage to become allies.   Ahab probably sought the alliance.  Remember, Jehoshaphat was a nice guy.   And he probably thought how good it would be to reunite the southern and northern kingdoms. So, he gave his son in marriage to Ahab’s daughter.   It was for a good cause!  Maybe the boy would have a positive influence on Athaliah and her mother, Jezebel!  Sure!

A few years later, Jehoshaphat went down to Ahab’s capital, Samaria. Ahab rolled out the red carpet.  After they had gorged themselves on Ahab’s food, the crafty king proposed a “spiritual” project to Jehoshaphat: “Will you go up with me against Ramoth-Gilead?” (18:3).  Ramoth-Gilead was one of the cities of refuge ordained by God. It had fallen into the hands of the king of Syria.  What could be more right than to go against this pagan king to recapture this city for the Lord and His people? So Jehoshaphat pledged his allegiance to Ahab.  It almost got him killed!

That’s how Satan ensnares believers.  He’s not up-front about the disastrous consequences of compromise with the world.  He makes it look good.  He makes it seem wholesome and even right.  Satan doesn’t approach you with truth, or the reality of the situation.  Instead, he presents you with a nice situation where everything “seems” right.

Satan doesn’t walk up, pitchfork in hand, and ask with a diabolical grin, “How would you like to become a drunk or a dope addict? You’ll become a thief and a liar to support your habit, you’ll ruin your health, you won’t be able to hold down a job, you’ll shred your relationships with your family. Wanna sign up?”

Instead he says, “Hey, you need to relax and feel good.  You’re under a lot of pressure.  Your friends are all doing it.  Don’t spoil the fun.  Smoke a joint, pop a pill, take that drink!”  And he ensnares you.

He doesn’t come up and say, “How would you like to get venereal disease or have a baby out of wedlock, or maybe kill one through abortion?”  Or, “How would you like to destroy two families by committing adultery?”  Rather, he says, “Sex is exciting!  You’re in love!  How can it be wrong if it feels so right?”

That’s how even godly people get lured into compromise with the world–through subtlety.  How does it work?

3. Compromise with the world sucks you in through wrong relationships.

Notice how Jehoshaphat got drawn in deeper and deeper.  First, he gave his son in marriage, probably for a good cause (to reunite the two kingdoms).  Next, he accepted Ahab’s hospitality and foolishly gave his word about going into battle.  But at that point his conscience was nagging him, and so he asked for a prophet so that they could inquire of the Lord.  But even after the godly Micaiah prophesied against Ahab’s expedition, Jehoshaphat felt locked in – he had given his word.  And so, he stood by while the godly prophet was hauled off to jail.  His conscience must have been shouting at this point, but he had given his word!

Next, (this was a real no-brainer!) he naively agreed to Ahab’s scheme where Jehoshaphat would wear his kingly robes into battle, while Ahab went incognito. Christians are generally trusting people.  When they start running with the world, they get outsmarted real quick!   And so, Jehoshaphat went into battle with the godless Ahab against the word of God’s prophet.  Except for God’s grace he would have been killed!

We get lured by the subtlety of the world

And then we get locked in

By forming wrong relationships

That get us entangled even deeper.

Jehoshaphat’s experience reveals several areas where we as believers must be on guard against forming wrong relationships:

(1) Wrong marriage relationships — The Bible is clear that it is sin for a believer to enter a marriage with an unbeliever. “Do not be bound together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14; see 1 Corinthians 7:39).  Most often it seems to be a Christian girl who falls in love with a nice non-Christian guy (they’re all nice!).  I’ve had young women tell me that they’ve prayed about it and feel a peace that God will bring the man to Christ. Besides, if she drops him, she won’t be able to witness to him! It’s incredible how Christians will rationalize their disobedience even though it’s going to plunge them into terrible heartache! It’s never God’s will for a Christian to marry a non- Christian. (If you’re already married to an unbeliever, God’s will is that you remain married and live a godly life – 1 Corinthians 7:12-16.)

(2) Wrong social relationships – In this area you must be very careful.  If Jehoshaphat had not been there enjoying Ahab’s hospitality, he wouldn’t have been so ready to join Ahab on his military expedition.  It is not wrong and is, in fact, right to form social relationships with unbelievers for the purpose of leading them to faith in Christ. Jesus was a friend of sinners in that sense.  But you must be clear on your purpose, and you must not compromise your standards as a follower of Jesus Christ. “Do not be deceived,” the Bible warns. “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Note 2 Chronicles 19:2, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord?”  Sadly, many Christians would answer, “Of course we should!”  You’d better read your Bible more carefully!  It says that God hates the wicked (Psalm 5:5) and that we should too (Psalm 139:20-22)!  You say, “Wait a minute, doesn’t God love everyone and aren’t we supposed to love the sinner but hate the sin?”  Suffice it to say here that the Bible is a bit more cautious and discerning than most Christians.  In Jude 23 the Bible says that on some, we are to “have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.”  You should not form primary friendships with unbelievers.  Your closest friends must be those who share your values and goals in Christ.  The Bible  asks, “What fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).  The Answer: None!

(3) Wrong spiritual relationships – -Jehoshaphat finds himself lined up with 400 false prophets against the lone prophet of God.  How do you think Jehoshaphat felt as he watched this godly prophet boldly speak for God and then get hit in the face and get thrown in prison while Jehoshaphat marched off to battle on Ahab’s side?

I often hear Christians say that Jesus said the world would know we are His disciples by our love and unity, so we need to bury our doctrinal differences and proclaim our unity and common ground.  The current push is even to break down barriers between denominations, as if there were no significant differences.  Certainly, Protestants have often divided over petty issues, and that is sin.  But core theological issues mean the difference between heaven and hell!  Some denominations are so spiritually corrupt that we cannot join with them in any cooperative sense without tarnishing the name of our Savior.  “Love” that compromises cardinal truth is not biblical love.

(4) Wrong political relationships – Although our political system is not parallel to the situation in the text, there is a warning here for us as Christian citizens.  As soon as Jehoshaphat entered into this military pact with Ahab, he lost his position of strength. Now he was committed to go into battle with a godless man who operated on different principles than he did.  He had to work under Ahab’s scheme in the battle.  It almost cost him his life.

As believers, we may find it helpful at times to link up politically with unbelievers to achieve some common goal (such as pro-life or pro-family legislation).  But we need to think it through very carefully and keep our goals and methods clearly in view.  Some Christians in America are getting carried away with the political process, as if that is the answer to preserving our freedoms.  While I am not disparaging our political responsibility as Christian citizens, I do maintain that the only hope for America is the gospel.  We dare not forget it!  Wrong political relationships can suck us into compromise with the world.

(5) Wrong business relationships – -Jehoshaphat didn’t learn his lesson with Ahab and so he entered into a shipbuilding venture with Ahab’s son Ahaziah.  The Bible pointedly states that this was a wicked deed on Jehoshaphat’s part.  The Lord judged him by destroying all the ships (20:35-37).

Many Christians never think of applying 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers,” to business ventures.  But the text does not stipulate marriage or any single area.  It certainly applies to business relationships.  If you get into a business partnership with an unbeliever, his goal is to make money, preferably as easily as possible.  Your goal is to honor Christ (or it should be!).  You want to be honest and upright; he wants to cut corners if need be.  It won’t work.  You’ll end up compromising with the world.

If you were already in a business relationship with unbelievers when you came to Christ, then you need to give clear testimony to your partner of your new faith in Christ.  Also, you need to let him know that you plan now to obey God in your business, even if it means less profit.  You may need to begin prayerfully planning a way out of the partnership.  You especially need to be careful not to wrong any person in the way you get out of a wrong business alliance.  It took time to get into the partnership, and it probably will take time to get out.

We have seen that compromise with the world is a great danger even for the most godly of believers.  It is subtle; and it ensnares us through wrong relationships.

4. Compromise with the world brings disastrous results.

It may take time, but sin always has its consequences.  Sometimes the consequences affect future generations more than our own.  But if you sow compromise with the world, you won’t reap God’s blessings.  Jehoshaphat himself, apart from God’s grace, would have lost his life in battle.  He later did lose financially in his ungodly business alliance with Ahab’s son.

Furthermore, Jehoshaphat’s sin affected God’s people.  He did not say merely “I am as you are,” but also, “and my people as your people” (18:3).  When Jehoshaphat went into war alongside Ahab, the army of Judah went with him, and no doubt some lost their lives.  Probably others in Judah would look at the godly Jehoshaphat’s friendship with the evil Ahab and say, “There must not be much difference between Ahab’s religion and ours. Surely, if there was any big difference, such a good man as Jehoshaphat wouldn’t be so friendly with him.” We never sin alone.  Our sin always affects others in the body of Christ, especially the sins of a leader.

In addition, Jehoshaphat’s sin helped the enemies of God in their wickedness (19:2). What if Ahab had won?  Would he have fallen on his face before God?   Hardly  He would have thanked his godless prophets and continued in his evil ways, thanks to Jehoshaphat. We never help sinners by compromising our standards to help them accomplish their purposes.

The clincher of this story is the devastating effect that Jehoshaphat’s compromise with the world had on his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and on the whole southern kingdom.  In chapters 21 and 22 we read that after Jehoshaphat’s death, his son Jehoram (married to Athaliah) slaughtered all his brothers and then turned the nation to idolatry (see 21:6).  God struck him with a terrible disease and he died after eight years in office.  His son Ahaziah became king and lasted one year before he was murdered (see 22:3-4).  Ahaziah’s wicked mother Athaliah then slew all his sons (her own grandsons!), except for Joash (a one-year-old) who was rescued and hidden from her.  The Davidic kingly line from which Christ was descended came that close to being snuffed out!  And then the wicked Athaliah ruled the land for six years.  All this was the result of Jehoshaphat’s compromise with the wicked Ahab!

Conclusion

The of the most significant books I read last year was David Wells’ No Place for Truth: “Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?” [Eerdmans].  He argues convincingly that the evangelical church in America has lost its theological foundation, its God-centeredness.

Instead of being “truth brokers”

Who help their flocks come to know

And live in submission to the holy God,

Pastors have become business managers

Who market the church and

Psychologists who help people find

Personal fulfillment and good feelings.

He points out how if the Apostle Paul

Were looking for a pastorate today,

He might be hard pressed

Because few would warm to his personality

And, “… most pastors stand or fall today

By their personalities

Rather than their character” (p. 290).

He argues that the church

Has blended in with “modernity,”

Promoting God and the gospel

As just another self-help method.

I’m not here to employ the latest proven church growth techniques to build the Lord’s church or to share the latest psychological insights to help you feel better about yourself.

My aim is to walk with God,

Tto follow His Word of truth,

And to help you do the same.

My function as a biblical pastor

Is to help my flock

Come into submission to the God

Who has revealed Himself in His Word –

In your thinking, from which all else flows

(That’s why right theology is so crucial!);

In your personal and family lives

(Godly living has to begin there);

And in your public lives

(How we relate to this godless culture

Without being conformed to it).

This is my prayer and desire for you: As you allow God’s to work in you . . .

  • I pray you take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.
  • I pray that you will come to understand that embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him;
  • I pray that you don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.
  • I pray that fix your attention on God and anchor your life to His Word.
  • I pray that you’ll be changed from the inside out.
  • I pray that you will readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it.
  • I pray that, unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, that God will continue to work to bring the best out of you and develop you into a well-formed mature follower of Christ.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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The Need For Self-Discipline Today, Part 2

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

12JuneYesterday we looked at some general truths regarding the biblical teaching of self-discipline.  We saw the need of it and how some have tried to combine human effort with heavenly grace to accomplish this task.

Every Christian is responsible to pursue holiness,

Yet the Bible teaches that

God must work within us to produce personal godliness

(Philippians 2:13-14).

In today’s blog we will look at what God can do through our lives as He produces the Spirit-controlled life that we need.

Only God can produce authentic self-discipline in the believer.  So, let’s answer the question . . .

Who Produces Self-Discipline?

This quality of “self-control” is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

As a vine produces fruit,

Self-discipline is created

Exclusively by the Spirit.

Self-control is never self-generated;

Rather, it is a work of grace within us.

Though we are active in practicing it,

We simply bear this fruit of self-discipline.

We never produce it.

Jesus maintained, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

In our own willpower,

We cannot do anything

That pleases God.

Only by God’s enabling grace

Can we exercise self-control

In our ongoing war against sin.

The Bible affirms this in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  That is . . .

Christ must be mightily working within us.

As sap flows into the branch, producing fruit, divine grace must fill the believer, producing self-control.

The self can never produce self-discipline.

Only as Christians live under

The Holy Spirit’s control

Can they live self-controlled lives.

In Galatians 522-23, we read that there are nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit.

Self-discipline appears last on the list.

By occupying this final position,

Self-discipline assumes

A place of strategic importance.

In reality, self-discipline

Is the summation of the previous eight qualities

That the Spirit produces.

The work of the Spirit reaches

Its consummation in self-control.

This virtue enables us to realize

Every other aspect of spiritual fruit.

What Does Self-Discipline Look Like?

The Apostle Paul compared the self-discipline required in Christian living with an athlete training for and competing in the ancient athletic games: “Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in small things” (1 Corinthians 9:25).

If a runner would win the prize,

He must bring his entire life

Under the strict discipline

Of rigorous training.

The strenuous workout of the athlete demands that he seriously restrict his personal liberties.  If he is to be victorious, he must refuse many individual freedoms.  Liberties are largely for spectators, not a champion athlete.  He must pursue a proper diet, sufficient rest, and arduous conditioning and drills.  Every area of his life must be brought under control.

So it is in the Christian life.  Paul urges, “Train yourself for godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). To pursue holiness, a believer must hear biblical preaching and teaching, and participate in corporate worship, the Lord’s Supper, Bible reading, meditation, prayer, and fellowship.  Furthermore, he must deny many legitimate pleasures if he is to win the prize.

This kind of self-discipline is a rebuke to half-hearted Christians

Who do little to train for spiritual victory.

They are out-of-shape believers with flabby faith.

They are spiritual couch potatoes with bulging spiritual waistlines.

Their lifestyle is self-indulgent due to their lack of self-control.

Paul adds, “I box in such a way, as not beating the air” (1 Corinthians 9:26).  A champion boxer must have a clearly-focused aim in the ring.  But an undisciplined fighter throws wild punches, never landing a blow on his opponent.  An undisciplined believer suffers great defeats in his bout against sin.  To the contrary, a believer must live with self-control in fighting against sin.

A champion athlete must beat his body into submission.  If not, he will be disqualified from the race.  Paul warns: “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (verse 27).  The Apostle urges us to discipline our bodies and resist sinful desires.  If we do not, we will forfeit the prize.

What Is the Price?

Believers have liberty in Christ

To pursue what is not forbidden in Scripture.

But we cannot afford for anything

To gain mastery over us.

Victory always comes at a price.

The Christian life is no different.

This necessitates that we exercise self-discipline in areas like food, drink, sleep, time, and money.  We must exercise self-control in the entertainment and recreation in which we engage.  We must restrict our liberties in whatever would hinder us from winning the prize.

If we are to exercise self-control,

We must relinquish

The control of our lives

To Jesus Christ.

Here is a paradox of the Christian life:

We must give up the control of self

If we would gain self-control.

May God enable us to exercise self-discipline, an absolute necessity for victory over sin.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

GraceForTheJourneyBottomOfPagePicture

 

 

The Need For Self-Discipline Today, Part 1

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme12June

Growth in personal holiness is largely determined by our progress in self-discipline.  Without this foundational discipline, there can be no advancement in grace.  Before other disciplines can be administered, whether in the home, business, or church, there first must be self-discipline.

Admittedly, personal discipline is not a popular subject today.  In our society, any insistence upon self-discipline is largely resisted, even among many Christians. Legalism, they cry, defending their rights of Christian liberty.  These free-spirited believers maintain that discipline restricts their freedom in Christ, binding them in a spiritual straight-jacket.

But many of these believers have so abused their freedom in Christ that they have virtually no spiritual discipline.  They have swung the pendulum so drastically toward Christian liberty that their spiritual lives are out of balance.  Such neglect of self-discipline prolongs their spiritual immaturity, leaving them with little self-control to resist temptation and sin.

It is important to understand something very clearly . . .

If there is no discipline,

There is no discipleship.

If we do not discipline ourselves, God Himself will discipline us (Hebrews 12:5-11).  One way or another, there will be discipline in our lives.  Given our tendency toward sin, we must discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness, lest we be disciplined by God.

What Is Self-Discipline?

The Greek word translated “discipline” comes from a word which denotes “power or lordship.”

Self-discipline means

To “exercise power over one’s self.”

It is the ability to keep one’s self under control.

The word indicates self-mastery

Over one’s inner desires, thoughts, actions, and words.

It is the control a believer must

Exercise over his life (Galatians 5:23).

This same word is used in 1 Corinthians 7:9 to indicate the “self-control” one must show over unlawful sexual desires.  Likewise, elders must be “self-controlled” (Titus 1:8), disciplined in their inward attitudes and outward actions.  Mastery of self is non-negotiable for spiritual leadership.

The opposite of self-discipline is a self-indulgent lifestyle that produces “the works of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-21).

Any lack of self-control

Will inevitably

Result in sinful deeds.

But where self-mastery exists,

There is a strong resistance

To sensual appetites and sinful choices.

Self-rule brings every

Thought, word, and deed

Captive to the obedience

Of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Any advance in personal holiness

Demands self-control.

What Self-Discipline Is Not

To best understand what self-discipline is, we need to see what it is not.

Two erroneous views of the Christian life

– Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism –

Distort the truth of self-discipline.

In the fourth century, a British ascetic named Pelagius (AD 354–420) taught the fatal error that . . .

Man has the inherent ability

To both save and sanctify himself.

By a person’s sheer force of will,

He claimed, he is able

To accomplish the divine will.

By this . . .

Pelagius denied original sin

And the total depravity of mankind.

The mere knowledge of the divine law,

He insisted, is all that is needed.

By his own free will,

Man may discipline himself

By self-determination.

Pelagius was denounced as a heretic by the Council of Carthage for this fatal teaching (AD 418).  Tragically, however, Pelagianism remains with us . . .

Many today falsely assume

That they can simply will themselves

To be whatever they want to be.

This mindless mantra is found in today’s self-help movement and prosperity gospel, chanting, “What the mind can conceive, the will can accomplish.”  The ability of self-discipline, they claim, is within us.

A second erroneous view is semi-Pelagianism.  This is an attempt to blend Plaggianm with Christianity.

It assumes that man has some ability

To save and sanctify himself.

A person must supply his willpower

In partnership with God.

In this joint venture . . .

God and man are co-contributors to self-discipline.

God gives a measure of grace,

But man supplies the rest.

Semi-Pelagianism is only half-Christian.  This compromising position was likewise declared heretical by the Western Church in the Second Council of Orange (AD 529). Yet tragically, this tainted legacy remains to this day in the man-centered theology of Arminianism (he taught “that man is the final arbiter of his election, and that God elects him on the basis of foreseen faith which is exercised by libertarian free will of each man, thus making man ultimately decisive)” and in the pragmatic methods of Charles Finney (he taught that “we are all born in a state of moral neutrality, able to choose between good and evil”“to choose between being good or being sinful).”

Instead . . .

The truth was taught by another

Fourth century teacher named

Augustine (AD 354–430).

This gifted leader asserted

That God is the sole author of

Man’s salvation and sanctification.

By His sovereign grace,

God “monergistically regenerates spiritually dead sinners.”

Every Christian is responsible to pursue holiness, yet God must work within us to produce personal godliness (Philippians 2:13-14).  Augustinian teaching rightly understands that only God can produce authentic self-discipline in the believer.

In tomorrow’s blog we will look at what God can do through our lives as He produces the Spirit-controlled life that we need.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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What Should Preachers Do Today?

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

11June  I have had a heavy and grieved heart recently.  It is not because of any personal or immediate family issue or church family crisis.  My heart is grieved because many pastors and churches are making decisions that put them in a condition that the Bible describes in the last day, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first” … “having a form of godliness but denying its power” … “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:3; 2 timothy 3:5,7).  I have observed this heartbreaking prophecy fulfilled on television and radio, in newspapers and magazines, and on the internet – watching in amazement and sadness as historically solid denominations caved in the face of social pressures brought on by the media and a fresh wave of ungodly boldness that has swept the planet.

In the face of all of this, however, I have been grateful to be a part of a group of churches and pastors called Southern Baptist; and blessed to know that I am a part of the remnant that has not figuratively bowed before Baal and the world.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage, an act the Bible plainly and uncompromisingly describes as contrary to God’s will and plan, I was heartbroken as I witnessed many once mainline denomination pastors and churches softening and altering their stance on this lifestyle.

Rather than reading Facebook posts denouncing this sin and defining it for what it truly is, my newsfeed was inundated with “Let’s not forget that we’re all sinners…” “Let’s not be critical about this sin, until we’ve gotten the mote out of our own eye” … and, “Who are we to judge?”

To be fair, there were and remain many who have remained faithful to God and His Word, but sadly, at a time when God’s people should have been yelling at the top of their lungs that a major injustice and abomination had been wrought upon this land, many of His ministers – or at least many who claim to be His ministers – were either silent or so wishy-washy that they would have done less harm had they been silent.

Yes, it is true that God can save the lowest of sinners… sinners like you and me, who all of us can say, “of whom I am chief.”  Yes, it is true that the church has an obligation to lovingly reach sinners with the truths of salvation.

However . . .

Far too many preachers

Have become obsessed

With the idea of “reaching them”

That they have failed to recognize

That our primary task as men of God

In the final days is simply

To be found faithful to the Word –

Not be found successful in reaching the multitudes

Or changing a culture.

We know this, because the Bible plainly show this to be the case:

In 2 Timothy 3, Paul outlines how perilous the last days will be, describing a world that is full of religion, yet reprobate concerning the faith:

“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away… Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth… men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith…” – 2 Timothy 3.5, 7, 8b,

And what are we supposed to do in the midst of this wicked and corrupt generation?  Are we to replace traditional sermons with gentle talks that make the listener feel good and happy?  Are we to replace our pulpits with the trendiest new fad that will attract the lost?  Are we to adapt our sermons so that we do not mention sin in hopes of appearing less “preachy?”

No!  Absolutely Not.

We as preachers

Are commanded

To do one thing:

“Preach the Word…”

(2Timothy 4.2)

Even in modern-day 2019, God’s Word offers one avenue for “reaching them,” – preach the Word!  And the Bible teaches that this is not just God’s desire for the preacher, it was the normal conduct of His disciples … in Acts 5:42 the Bible says, “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”

Even in a college town.  Even in atheistic Europe and secular America.  Even in a Gospel-saturated community in the buckle of the Bible belt – it makes no difference when or where . . . we have been commanded to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

This single act is essential

To the success of our faith,

And is the bedrock of Christianity,

For, without the preaching of the cross,

The Gospel message is without

“The power of God.” (Romans 1:16)

The Bible also says in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

Not only does Paul command preachers to preach to the very end, but he also details exactly how we are to preach: “…reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4.2)

Interestingly, at a time when so many are watering-down their messages in hopes of being more effective and not offending, Paul, the most successful preacher in human history outside of Jesus, commanded that two-thirds of our preaching be what the world would consider negative: “reprove, rebuke, and exhort.”

It is important to note that in the midst of our so-called “negative preaching,” the Bible tells us there is to be a “long-suffering.”  This “long-suffering” is defined and pictured in Jude 22-23, where the Bible says, “And of some have compassion, making a difference:  And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”  This “long-suffering” involves a tenacious, enduring love and compassion; a brokenness, a Christ-like passion that is burning inside of our hearts as we go about reproving and rebuking, fearfully and compassionately wrestling with the powers of Hell for the souls of our fellow man.

At the core of any preacher’s very existence, should be a jealous zeal – not to have the largest congregation in town, not to be acceptable in the eyes of the world, not even to reach sinners, but to be found faithful to God, His Word, and the doctrines of our faith.

Sound doctrine,

In our personal living

And in our public ministry

Should be the obsession

Of any man who claims

To be a minister of the truth.

The Bible says in Titus 1:9, “Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine. both to exhort and to convince those who contradict.”

In essence . . .

You’re not going to win the lost by tickling their ears,

But rather by being different –

By trumpeting the truth through sound doctrine!

The Bible says in Titus 2:1, “But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine.”

And in 1 Timothy 1:9-11 the Bible says, “Knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.”

Sound doctrine is only obtained through the Bible – thus when it comes to church growth, pastors would do themselves and their congregations much service by returning to the Book that governs the church, rather than the latest best-seller written by a man.  We are reminded of that in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, where the Bible says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good works.”

The problem is this – for too many years, many pastors have been walking a tightrope between a cavern with their parishioners and communities on one side and “the holy Scriptures” on the other side.

It is because of this that many preachers seem to be talking out both sides of their mouths when it comes to an current issues that are so cut-and-dry as far as the Bible is concerned . . . they’re trying not to appear offensive to their carnal and unsaved communities and Sunday-morning-only visitors, while at the same time fearful of alienating fellow church members and pastors.

In the end,

Any such preacher looks like

A fool to both audiences

And is less effective

Than that person who has resolved

To remain a gospel and Bible preacher,

Regardless of societal norms

Or the laws of men.

The bottom line is this . . .

As we near the return of Jesus Christ,

Rather than being a church and a people

Whom the lost world is attracted to and desirous to be like,

The scriptural and successful churches will be those

That are loathed and disdained by their culture.

To put it simply . . .

The churches that obey and please God

Will be those that are seeking

To stand out from their culture,

Not blend in with their culture:

The Bible says in in 2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.”

And in Mark 13:13, the Bible says “And you shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake…”

Rather than seek to be a church

That is “relative” in this generation,

We should seek to be a church

That is resolute;

Resolute to remain faithful

To the Bible

No matter what the price.

Let me leave you with an interesting observation . . . One thing I have noticed that is happening today is that the churches that have remained faithful and resolute to God’s Word are doing anything but struggling – people are getting real help – they’re getting eternal help and they just can’t keep from telling their neighbors!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Pursue Integrity Relentlessly

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

10June A small article I read in the news twenty years ago has stuck in my mind ever since.  The Rockdale County High School Bulldogs basketball team of Conyers, Georgia, won their first-ever state championship in March of 1987, rolling over all their opponents.  After eighteen years of coaching the team without a championship, coach Cleveland Stroud was ecstatic.

But a few weeks after the championship game, Coach Stroud was doing a routine review of his players’ grades when he discovered that one of his third‑string players had failed some courses, rendering the player academically ineligible for the basketball team.

The struggling student was by no means a factor in the team’s victory.  He was an underclassman who suited up for games but hadn’t actually seen any playing time all season.  During one of the semifinal matches, however, with the team leading by more than 20 points, Coach Stroud wanted to give every player an opportunity to participate. He had put that player in the game for less than 45 seconds.  The ineligible man had scored no points.  His participation had in no way affected the outcome of the game.  But it was, technically, a violation of state eligibility standards.

Coach Stroud was in a distressing predicament.  If he revealed the infraction, his team would be disqualified and stripped of their championship.  If he kept quiet, it was highly unlikely anyone outside the school would ever discover the offense.

Yet, the coach realized that at the very least, the player involved was aware of the breach of rules.  It was also possible that other students on the team knew and thought their coach had purposely ignored the eligibility guidelines.  But more important still, Coach Stroud himself knew, and if he deliberately tried to keep the facts from coming to light, his greatest coaching victory would be forever tainted with an ugly secret.

Now, in today’s climate, many people would council Coach Stroud to just be quite; after-all, it is really no big deal and no one would get hurt.  But, Coach Stroud said from the moment He discovered the violation, He knew what he had to do.  He never even pondered any alternatives.  His priorities had been set long before this.

He realized that his team’s championship

Was not as important as their character.

“People forget the scores of basketball games,” he said. “They don’t ever forget what you’re made of.”  He reported the infraction and forfeited the only state championship his team had ever won.

But both coach and team won a far more important kind of honor than they forfeited. They kept their integrity intact and gained an immeasurable amount of trust and respect. The coach was recognized with numerous teacher-of-the-year, coach-of-the-year, and citizen-of-the-year awards, as well as a formal commendation from the Georgia State Legislature.  A few years later he was elected to Conyers City council, where he still serves.

He was right.  People who would have long ago forgotten about the Bulldogs’ victory in the state championship have never forgotten about this coach’s integrity.

Ethical integrity is one of the indispensable

Attributes of Christlike character.

As vital as it is to be sound in doctrine

And faithful in teaching the truth of Scripture,

It is by no means less crucial for Christians

To be upright in heart and consistent in our obedience

To the moral and ethical principles of God’s law.

That is no simple duty, by the way.  The moral standard God’s people are supposed to live by far surpasses even the highest principles of normal human ethics.

This was one of the main points of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus says in Matthew 5:20, “I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  The whole sermon was an exposition of the Law’s moral meaning.  The heart of Jesus’ message was an extended discourse against the notion that the Law’s moral principles apply only to behavior that others can see.

Jesus taught, for example, that the sixth commandment forbids not only acts of killing, but a murderous heart as well (verses 21–2).  The seventh commandment, which forbids adultery, also implicitly condemns even adulterous desires (verses 27–28).  And the command to love our neighbors applies even to those who are our enemies (verses 43–44).

How high is the moral and ethical standard set by God’s law?

Unimaginably high. Jesus equates it with God’s own perfection:

“Therefore you shall be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

That sets an unattainable standard, of course.  But it is our duty to pursue integrity relentlessly nonetheless.  Perfect ethical consistency is a vital aspect of that consummate goal — absolute Christlikeness — toward which every Christian should continually be striving (Philippians 3:12-14).  No believer, therefore, should ever knowingly sacrifice his or her ethical integrity.

Here are three powerful reasons why:

First, for the sake of our reputation.  Of course, Christians should not be concerned with issues like status, class, caste, or economic prestige.  In that sense, we need to be like Christ, who made Himself of no reputation and took on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7).

There is a true sense, however, in which we do need to be concerned about maintaining a good reputation — and that is especially true in the matter of ethical integrity.  One of the basic requirements for an elder is this: “He must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:7).

Nothing will ruin a good reputation faster or more permanently than a deliberate breach of ethical integrity.  People will forgive practically any other kind of error, negligence, or failure — but ethical bankruptcy carries a stigma that is almost impossible to rise above.

Several years ago, a church member told me something no pastor ever wants to hear.  A friend of his had invited a business acquaintance to his church.  The man replied, “You go to that church? I wouldn’t go to that church. The most corrupt lawyer in town is a member to that church.”

I didn’t — and still don’t — have any idea whom he was talking about.  The church member’s friend attends a very good Bible-believing church.  My hope is that it was a case of mistaken identity and that the person he had in mind was not a member of that church.  But if the lawyer that man described is in that church, I pray that he takes a lesson from Zaccheus: that he repents and does whatever he can to restore his reputation in his community.  In the meantime, I pray that God will convict him to stop representing himself as a Christian.  He is dishonoring God and destroying the whole church’s reputation.”

According to Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”  You don’t have a good name at all unless your ethical integrity is intact and above reproach.

Second, for the sake of our character.  More important still is the issue of personal character.  There’s a good reason why Jesus’ exposition of the moral law in Matthew 5 focused so much on uprightness of heart as opposed to external behavior.  That’s because the real barometer of who we are is reflected in what we do when no one else is looking, how we think in the privacy of our own thoughts, and how we respond to the promptings of our own consciences. Those things are the true measure of your moral and ethical fiber.

As important as it is to keep a good reputation in the community, it is a thousand times more important to safeguard our own personal character.  That is why Jesus dealt with the issues of morality and ethics beginning with the innermost thoughts of our hearts. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:19).

I do not think that I am overstating the case at all to say that the single most important battlefield in the struggle for integrity is your own mind.  That’s where everything will actually be won or lost.  And if you lose there, you have already ruined your character.  A corrupt character inevitably spoils the reputation, too, because a bad tree can’t bring forth good fruit (Matthew 7:18).

That brings us to a third reason why it is so vital to guard our moral and ethical integrity: for the sake of our testimony.

Your reputation reflects what people

Say about you.

Your testimony is what your character,

Your behavior, and your words

Say about God.

Consider what is being communicated when a Christian lacks ethical integrity . . .

  • That person is saying he doesn’t truly believe what the Bible plainly says is true of God;
  • That “to do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice” (Proverbs 21:3);
  • That “the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to Him” (Proverbs 15:8);
  • And that God “delights in truth in the inward being” (Psalm 51:6).

In other words, the person who neglects ethical integrity is telling a lie about God with his life and his attitude.  If he calls himself a Christian and professes to be a child of God, he is in fact taking God’s name in vain at the most fundamental level.  That puts the issue of ethical integrity in perspective, doesn’t it?

That’s what we need to call to mind whenever we are tempted to adapt our ethical principles for convenience’ sake.  It isn’t worth the high cost to our reputation, our character, or our testimony.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Sold Out? Or Only “So Far?”

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

7JuneThe Bible says in Exodus 8:28, “Pharaoh said, ‘I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the Lord your God in the wilderness, but you must not go very far.’” 

The world welcomes our faithfulness to God

As long as we do not get too carried away with it.

Like Pharaoh, they will let us have our religion and our relationship with our Redeemer, as long as we only go so far with it.  Pharaoh did not want to let the children of Israel go too far away from his influence, his authority, and his control, and the same is true for the world we live in today.

The world will tolerate our Christianity

As long as our faith does not contradict

Its morals or infringe upon its practices.

The world cheerfully welcomes the “cultural Christian”

Who embraces the worldly wisdom

Of “tolerance” and “compromise.”

But it reacts harshly

When we go too far

And declare that the Bible commands us

To live in a certain way.

The world loves truth . . .

Just as long as it is not absolute.

The tragic truth is that many in the church today are in bondage to Pharaoh’s demand that, “You must not go very far” in our faithfulness to our God.

But this is not what God wants for us!  If we are going to be true to our first love, we must walk into the wilderness and separate from the wisdom and ways of this world.  The fleshpots of Egypt have nothing of eternal value to offer us and Pharaoh seeks only that which is pleasing and profitable to him.

The religion of this world tells us

To do whatever seems right in our own eyes;

True Christianity tells us

To do whatever is right in the eyes of God.

The religion of this world says,

“If it feels good, do it.”

True Christianity says,

“Regardless of how it feels,

If God says it is good, do it

And, if God says not to do it, don’t do it!”

We are in this world, but we are not to be of this world; we are commanded by our Lord to “Come out from them and be separate” (2 Corinthian 6:17).

If we are to make a difference in this world,

It will be because

We are different from this world.

We are not called by God to separate physically from this world, but we are to separate spiritually in every way.  We are to have different dreams, different desires, different direction, and different lifestyles, which are all done for the sole purpose of pleasing and glorifying our precious Lord and Savior.  We have a new King, and His name is Jesus Christ.  He has called us to live a life that is committed to living for Him and expanding the cause of His kingdom in this world.  On the cross, our King not only paid the penalty for our sin, He also paid to remove both its power – and ultimately, its pleasure.

So, where does this message find you today?  Have you been seduced by the “Pharaohs” of polite society who demand that you only go so far with your commitment to Christ and your relationship to your Redeemer?   If that’s the case with you, remember that His mercies are new every morning.

Rise up and renew your commitment

To your calling as a child of God.

Advance confidently in

The direction He is leading,

Regardless of how far it takes

You into the wilderness.

The Bible says in Hebrews 11:24-27, “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”

The choice is yours: Will you live a life that is sold out for your Savior?  Do you regard Him to be more precious than the things of this world?  Or will you live a life that only goes so far?

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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A Little Oil In The Hands Of An Omnipotent God

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

6June The Bible says in 2 Kings 4:2, “The woman said to Elisha, ‘Your servant has nothing at all, except a small jar of olive oil.’”

In our Bible passage for today’s blog, a woman has suffered the loss of her husband, and now a creditor is coming to take away her two boys as slaves.  In desperation, she cries out to the prophet Elisha, who asks how he could help.  When she told him she had only a little oil, he instructed her to go and ask her neighbors for empty jars (“Don’t ask for just a few,” Elisha cautioned) and to pour what oil she had into the jars.  The woman kept pouring and pouring and pouring . . . until there were no empty jars left.  Immediately, the oil stopped flowing.  Elisha then told the woman to sell the jars of oil, pay her debts, and assured her that she and her sons could live on what was left.

The biblical principle is clear,

And it should be a source

Of great encouragement to you,

Regardless of where this message finds you:

A little in the hands of our Lord is a lot!

Here we see that a little oil in the hands of our omnipotent God become more than enough for this widow and her two sons . . . and the same is true for me and you today.

As I read through the Scriptures,

It never ceases to amaze me

Just how incredible our God

Truly is in meeting us in

Our deepest places of need.

From manna from heaven to water from a rock, our omnipotent God sustained the children of Israel in the wilderness for 40 years.  Two loaves and five fish in the hands of our omnipotent Lord fed more than 5,000 people, with twelve baskets of leftovers!

The poor widow could not see her abundance, yet it was all around her, and the same can be said of us today.

Our God is not impotent;

He is not incapable

Of meeting our needs.

In fact, He has promised

To meet every single one

of our needs (Matthew 6:33),

And there is no power

In this universe

That can hold back His hand.

But we must remember that He will meet our needs in His time and in His way.

We need only to trust His heart,

Even when we cannot trace His hand.

When we find ourselves in lack,

We must remember that the lack

Is never with our God,

For He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10).

God owns everything (Psalm 50:12),

And has promised to give to us

Everything we need

When we need it.

The key to living in “times of need and times of abundance,” as the Bible says in Philippians 4:12, is to take our eyes off our circumstances and fix them on our Savior.

Oh, to have the spiritual eyes to see

God’s storehouse of infinite supply!

Then, we would not shrink back from any storm wind that blows our way.  In fact, we would do everything within our power to “rest in His hands,” knowing that our God is in the gale with us, growing us into the person He is calling us to be.

There is no such thing as scarcity with our Savior.  There is no such thing as lack with our Lord. We simply need to fix our eyes on things above, and our omnipotent God will take care of all things below, r

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ight up until that day He calls us home.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Serving Service? Or Your Savior?

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

6June The Bible tells us in Luke 10:39-40, “Mary . . . sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving.”  Mary and Martha both loved their Lord.  Both were sold-out in their commitment to Him and His service.  But there was a huge difference in the two serving sisters:

Mary knew when to exchange her service

For devotion to the One she was serving . . .

Martha did not.

Within every child of God is some Mary and some Martha.  Which one do you identify with more closely?

It is not uncommon for those who are sold out in service to their Savior to find themselves, at times . . .

Serving the service

Rather than getting to know

The One they are serving.

I must confess that I know this truth from personal experience.  The old, sinful self is in a constant struggle against the new, Spirit-led self, even when we are engaged in service of our Lord.  When the old self wins . . .

The service becomes the end,

Rather than the means to the end,

Which is knowing Jesus.

Mary and Martha had both been busily engaged in preparing a wonderful feast for Jesus and His companions.  We know Mary was just as involved in the preparations as her sister was because of Martha’s urgent request to Jesus: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me” (Luke 10:40).

This is the classic example of what it looks like

When we slip from serving our Savior

To serving our service.

Jesus beautifully and tenderly pointed this out to Martha in Luke 10:41-42, “The Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’”

How easy it is for us to get caught up in Martha-like service!  We can be so absorbed in our service that we completely forget to know and express adoration to the One we are serving.  Mary, on the other hand, knew when it was time to exchange serving her Lord for sitting at His feet.

The message is clear:

We must never let our devotion to our Savior

Be exchanged for our duty to serve Him.

We must remember that

The most important thing

We can ever give to our Lord

Is what flows out of our hearts . . .

Not what passes through our hands.

To be sure, we must never stop serving our Savior, but we must know when it is time to exchange service for sitting at His feet.

So . . . who are you most like?  Mary or Martha?  If your answer is “Neither,” it is time for some self-examination and time to actively engage in beginning to know the Savior.  I can assure you that if you approach the leadership team at your church and ask if you can volunteer some of your time, you will be met with open arms!  And it is important that we all do what God has called and gifted us to do.  We desperately need the blessed results when this happens –

“Many hands make light work.”

On the other hand, if you are a bit like Martha, remember, the greatest service you can offer to your Lord is to do what Mary did: she sat at His feet and worshiped.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

 Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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The Witness Of Wonder

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

4June The Bible says in Luke 2:18, “All who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.”  I encounter far too many believers who have, for a variety of reasons, lost a sense of wonder in their walk with Christ.  The shepherds preached the simple message of the Gospel, and “all who heard it wondered.”

We should keep that sense of wonder

Every step of the way into the Celestial City.

It is my prayer that these few words in today’s blog will encourage you today to do just that.

The prophet Micah’s name means “Who is like Yehwah?”  Isaiah reminds us of the many names of our God; one of them is “Wonderful Counselor.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Our God is like no other,

He is Wonderful,

And the witness of wonder

Must be our daily experience,

Because holy wonder

Leads to heartfelt worship.

When we think about Who God and what He has done, we should be in a  continual state wonder!  God came after rebels on the run – our first parents, who willfully disobeyed His one prohibition in the Garden – to restore them them and not to destroy them.  Instead of casting them into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, and starting all over with a new “first couple,” God cared for them.  And if that isn’t enough to keep us in a state of wonder . . .

God the Father sent His beloved Son

To pay the penalty for our sins,

So that you and I would be brought back

Into right relationship with Him.

Surely this is

The wonder of wonders!

I am convinced that wonder wanes when we shift our focus away from Christ and put it on our circumstances.

Our thoughts become trapped

In the temporal and the earthly,

And we miss out on the wonder

Of the eternal and the heavenly.

When this happens, we must journey back to Golgotha, where our Lord hung on a cross and died in our place.  The Lord Jesus Christ chose to be forsaken by His Father so that you and I would never experience utter and eternal damnation.  And now God is able to say in Hebrews 13:5, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”  What unimaginable wonder is this, that our God has pledged His fidelity to us for all eternity?

A holy wonder

That leads to heartfelt worship

Will ultimately lend itself

To hopeful watching.

This will keep us looking up, rather than out and in.  When we are looking up at Jesus, we will sense His presence so greatly wherever we go that we may well wonder why we have not taken off our shoes, since we are standing on holy ground.  We will cry out with the psalmist, “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders You have done, the things You planned for us” (Psalm 40:5).

The witness of our wonder

Should never wane

When we look back

At all God has done for us

And look ahead

To all God has promised yet to do.

So . . . how would you rate the witness of your holy wonder?  If you find it to be a bit less than what it should be, you need only shift your focus away from your circumstances and center it on Christ; get into God’s Word and discover what great things He has done for us.  If you pause long enough right now, you may even feel the scars on those hands that hold you tightly and will never let you go.

Oh, the wonder of it all!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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How Are You Handling Your Bible – Do You Search, Skim or Skip the Scriptures?

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

Jan31 How would you define the way you have been handling the Scriptures lately?

Would you say you have been . . .

Searching them? . . .

Skimming through them? . . .

Or

Skipping them altogether?

The Bible says in Acts 17:11, “The Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and searched the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

The Bereans did not skip the Scriptures,

Nor did they skim through them.

The Bereans searched the Scriptures

And in so doing,

Set a noble example

For every child of the Most High God.

To search the Scriptures is to study them and sift through them slowly, looking for every speck of gold contained within them.  Charles Spurgeon once said, “No man who merely skims the book of God can profit thereby; we must dig and mine until we obtain the hid treasure.  The door of the Word only opens to the key of diligence.”

If we really understood the Bible to be God’s love letter to us, would we dare skim through the Scriptures . . . or even skip them altogether?  Heaven forbid!

We confess what we truly believe

About the Word of God with our lives,

In the way we come to the Scriptures and search them,

And the way we consider the Christ,

Who is revealed within every page.

On the road to Emmaus, Jesus rebuked two of His disciples, who were thoroughly dejected after the Christ was crucified and buried.  The Bible says in Luke 24:25-27,32, “’O foolish ones,’ the risen Savior said, ‘and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’  (Then, as He walked along the road with the two men, the living Word held a Bible study) “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”  Later, the two disciples marveled, saying to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”

One of the most amazing things I have learned over the years in searching through the Scriptures is that no matter how often I have read a particular passage, there is always something new to be uncovered!

The reason this happens for every serious student of the Scriptures

Is because the Word of God is living and active

And sharper than any double-edged sword

(Hebrews 4:12).

All other books, no matter how well written, are dead.  Only the Bible is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) and alive, and it makes us more alive every time we come to it with a heart set on searching its pages for a fresh encounter with God.

When we realize the truth

That every page of the Bible

Testifies to the truth of our precious Savior and Lord,

Is there anything that could keep us

From searching them often?

If our vision and view of the Gospel is clear, there is nothing that could stand in our way.

The more we read the Bible,

The more we see Jesus;

And the more we see of Jesus,

The more we read the Bible.

There is no more compelling motivation than that to cause us to diligently search the Scriptures . . . and keep on searching them.  The truths of the Gospel draw us to its well, that we may drink in all of its living water.

Regardless of where this blog finds you today, open the Book and let it speak into your life.  It will lead you to Jesus, Who will . . .

  • Meet you in your place of need.
  • Answer your questions.
  • Calm your fears.
  • Give you the strength to overcome every obstacle that stands in your way.
  • Will be the death of doubt and discouragement.

There is milk for those who are babes in searching and meat for those who have spent a lifetime doing it.  There is something for everyone who is willing to search and that something is the only thing we really need in both life and death . . . or more accurately, Someone . . .  and His name is Jesus Christ.  As one writer once said, “May [the Bible] be our pillow at night and our guiding light by day.”

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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