Sardis:The Zombie Church

First, let me state at the outset that I believe in the Church. I believe in it’s presence, it’s purpose and it’s power. Established by the Lord Jesus Christ, I also believe that it continues to grow and I am sure that the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Mat.16:18). This being said, it must be told that the present state of the Church is not good.

Having said that, it is important to note what the church is. The word church is properly defined biblically as, ‘a called out company or assembly’. The word is used in three different ways:

1. the local assembly – i.e., the gathering (‘…the church that is in her house’ Col.4:15)
2. individual believers – i.e., you are the church (the idea Paul conveys when he tells the Corinthians, ‘…you are the temple of God…’ 1Cor.3:15)
3. the universal/worldwide body of believers – i.e. all true Christians throughout the world

Once this is understood we can come to the conclusion that the messages to the churches are to be and can be applied to the church in general and/or to the individual members in particular. Although a church may be blind to it or unwilling to own up to it, every local assembly, more or less, will find its identity in one of the seven churches. Also, and this is important, the letters are addressed to leadership. They are to the churches in general (every member), and the pastors (leaders) in particular. Each letter opens with, ‘…unto the angel of the church of…’ The angels, without going into any long dissertation or explanation, speak of the pastors of those particular churches. A church, by default, will take on the nature of its leadership. What they do or don’t do, or what they allow or don’t allow, is in turn, what that congregation will follow through on. This is why leadership needs to be in alignment with the Lord’s program and not their own.

The Church at Sardis – Revelation 3:1-6

Their Reputation (v1)

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

This church had ‘a name’. This reputation identified them as:
• being alive
• being active
• being successful

It was their activity (works), which gave strength to the idea that they were alive and successful. But this was not the case. This was their outward appearance; how they looked to others. However, all these things were not a true indication that they were a living, breathing church. Jesus knew the real truth.

Their Reality (v1)

The truth about this church that Jesus knew was that it was actually dead. This reality was either unknown or unaccepted by them.Their works were hollow and incomplete. Any church void of the moving and operation of the Spirit of God is dead. A hollow word breeds a hollow faith, which breeds hollow works. It was hollow because it had lost its power; yet their problem was not necessarily doctrinal–it was obedience. They had the Word, but for them, it wasn’t enough; and once you put His Word aside, you will, eventually, venture into alternative facts. Today’s church is also guilty of reaching for something extra, and has, unfortunately gone the way of doctrinal error. The sad part about it is that doctrinal error is so accessible. Many high profile names speak a truth that is not truth, and preach a gospel that is not the gospel. Youth groups are dead and dying because their leaders are trying to entertain them, rather than preach the pure gospel, which is the Cross. However isn’t it good to know that even death is not beyond His touch? There was and is hope.

Their Recommendation (v2-3a)

Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent…

Of all the seven churches, Jesus had nothing good to say about them. The closest he comes is telling them to strengthen ‘what remains’. His recommendation to them is a strong one, which amounts to a command. He tells them in essence, ‘You need revival’. That was the essence of His words ‘be watchful’, which simply meant, ‘Wake up!’ Jesus’ words also reach us today–we too need revival. We do not more dead words and dead services. No more promises of great financial and spiritual wealth. No more soothing, feel good messages that will serve only to reinforce the spiritual stupor we are in. With all the revival services that I see advertised, if it was real revival, churches would be full; ain’ts would become saints, and prayer meetings would be breaking out, instead of another concert. Here’s truth: good singing is not revival; great sounding choirs is not revival; passionate preaching is not revival; big crowds on consecutive nights is not revival; dancing and shouting before the Lord is not necessarily revival. Real revival reacquaints us with the Christ of our salvation; it sets us on a path of obedience. Real revival goes hand in hand with brokenness. That is where repentance comes in. He calls us to change; to turn around.

Their Reproof (v3b)

…if therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

This coming that the Lord is speaking about is judgment. Scripture states in 1 Peter 4:17:
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

Sometimes, judgment can come in the form of an absence of His presence, due to a grieving and quenching of His Spirit. Other times, His judgment can come in the form of sifting. That is, He will allow the enemy to have some leeway in our lives. Whatever way He chooses to judge, it can be avoided if we would judge ourselves. Here’s what the Spirit says through the pen of the apostle Paul:
For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.1 Corinthians 11:31-32

This principle, set forth during a discussion of the Lord’s supper, holds true here. We must be able to receive His truth and make an honest assessment of our condition. Just come clean.

Their Remnant (v4)

Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

Names. Individuals. It’s important to remember here once again that the church is made up of people. Jesus says here that there were some people—but sadly not many, who had not ‘defiled their garments.’ This is the harsh, but honest language He uses to describe those who had not allowed sin, Satan and self to intrude and dominate their lives. They had not allowed the world to pollute and contaminate their minds and hearts. They had made themselves so familiar with truth that when a lie entered into their hearing, their Spirit-given discernment immediately was aroused. There is yet that same remnant that exists in today’s church. Their ears have not been tickled by the latest fad or teaching. The only thing they are guilty of is remaining true and faithful to the Lord and His Word—and this makes them worthy; not perfect—just worthy.

Their Reward (v5)

He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

I’d like for you to get the full import of this word ‘overcome’. It speaks of those who hold firm to their faith even to the point of death, and against the power of their enemies, temptations and persecutions. Wow! In essence Jesus says, ‘he that continues to conquer…’ We ought to be living in victory, not always reaching for it. This can only happen through the Cross. Jesus promises three powerful things here. First, He says we will be clothed in white. This indicates full righteousness as we walk with Him on the streets of gold. Second, He states that our faithfulness means that we will be kept until the end. Finally, our names will be joyfully acknowledged before the Father. Could it be that our names will be shouted throughout the corridors of heaven? What a day that will be!

In spite of its present day condition, His Church is a glorious Church, and it will remain so because He is the Head, and hell’s best will not even begin dent its doors. We the body need to live up to its glorious calling.

Our Response (v6)

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Church, let’s not turn a deaf ear to our Lord’s words. Rather let us respond to His gracious invitation found in Isaiah 1:16-18:

Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment; relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

If we cannot hear what he is saying, maybe it’s time to go back to the altar. Only as we obey His word can we avoid the judgment He promises. Wake up Church! There is life in Jesus’ name!

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

About the Seasons of Life…And Avoiding the Convenient One

Winter. Spring. Summer. Fall. What’s your favorite season? Depending on who you are, and no matter what your seasonal preference is, you’d have to admit that each one has its own perks. Look at winter. Winter has Christmas! Yay! The children say to that (and many adults too, I’m sure). Ah springtime! Melting snow, nasty cold weather slowly disappearing, along with the blooming of flowers–readying themselves for warmer weather. Then there’s good ‘ole summer! Schools closed, vacation time, warm days at the beach, and the park. Can you beat all that? Finally, the only season with two names. Autumn brings the promise of color! Those summer green leaves transforming into bright oranges, yellows and shades of brown; all falling to the ground. And not to forget, the children go back to school! Yay again!
Each season also has its downside. And once again depending on who you are, it’s too cold in the winter, too rainy in the spring, too hot in the summer, and too many leaves to rake in the fall. It’s all a matter of preference, but the simple fact is seasons come and seasons go–and that will never change. Read the Lord’s words in the first book of the Bible: While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease (Genesis 8:22). That’s the promise. As long as this earth remains, there will be seasons. I believe this truth; and I believe this principle can also be carried over into our spiritual lives. The fact is that our lives in the Lord also consist of seasons.

God says that there is a time and place for everything. This is not as much a theological truth as it is a practical truth. All seasons however, must be seen in their proper perspective. In addition to these seasons or times we experience, there are several other seasons we go through that the bible speaks of both specifically and not so specifically; yet I believe most have experienced many of these seasons for ourselves.

  • There are seasons of plenty
    Ex. Egypt’s seven years plenty (Gen.41:47-49)
  • There are seasons of drought
    Ex. Egypt’s seven years of famine (Gen.41:54)
  • There are seasons of dependence
    Ex. Elijah being fed by ravens (1Ki.17:6)
  • There are seasons of doubt
    Ex. Lord I believe: help thou my unbelief (Mk.9:24)
  • There are seasons on the mountain
    Ex. Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1Ki.18:20:40)
  • There are seasons in the valley
    Ex. Elijah running for his life (1Ki.19:3)
  • There are seasons of transition
    Ex. Abram moving on from Ur (Gen.12:1)

All of these seasons, both good and bad, play vital roles in our lives and help to shape us into the persons we are and will become. The psalmist stated, ‘It was good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes’ (Psa.119:71). Ultimately, all seasons serve a definite purpose and are in God’s sovereign control. Once again, the Word declares: ‘…all things work together for good to them that love God…’ (Ro.8:28), and also from Eccl.3:11: ‘…He hath made everything beautiful in His time…’

The list of Seasons can go on and on. A thing qualifies as a season if you remain there for a significant amount of time. But there is another season-it’s a season you want to avoid at all costs. It’s a season you don’t want to step into. Yet many, because they are so zoned in to making it happen for themselves, willfully enter in to this season by giving God a rain check; and with a friendly ‘don’t call us we’ll call you attitude, walk away from God’s best for them. They have entered into the convenient season.

What is the convenient season? A convenient season is a time of your own making. It is putting God on hold. It is time and life on your own terms. It is a season that finds you attempting to undermine and derail the plan of God for your life. It is the sinners’ or saints’ excuse when under conviction and refusing to surrender to God’s will and way. It is a refusal to say, ‘Not my will, but thine be done.’ Read the words of governor Felix to the Apostle Paul after being convicted by the Spirit of God to change his ways: “And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” (Acts‬ ‭24:24-25). Notice that Felix trembled after hearing the powerful gospel. This discomfort gave him all the reason he needed to remove himself from Paul’s presence. What he didn’t realize was that he was actually attempting to distance himself from God’s presence.  The truth is that you can never unhear the Word of God after the Spirit of God has impressed it upon your heart and mind. Felix’s response shows us that in addition to placing himself into a convenient season, he also entered into:

  • A proud season…when I(v25)
  • A presumptuous season…I will(v25)
  • A selfish season…makes it
    all about you
  • A deceptive season…he listened to Satan’s lie what other lies will he tell him?
  • A declining season…Whooping Goldberg  had a line in the Oscar winning movie ‘The Color Purple’ that went like this: ‘…till you do right by me, everything you think about gonna fail!’

Though not precisely scriptural, the statement yet has an aura of truth around it and here it is: As long as an individual chooses to remain on the opposite side of the will of God, whatever it is that they do will be tainted-it will ultimately come to naught-at least for them. This is because it will have the stench of disobedience upon it. That thing may be good and right; but it is not good and right for that person because it’s not what the Lord told them to do. The convenient season says, ‘I’m in my place, I’m in my time–I need to complete me before I deal with with God.’

The convenient season in all cases are seasons of procrastination. In all cases they are seasons of avoiding the truth. It is the result of running from God. Runners from God have a language all their own. They say things like:

  • I’m not ready
  • It’s not my time
  • I will later…promise
  • What if this way is not the right way?
  • I have other things to do…let me go and bury my father first (Lu.9:59-60)

Avoiding the convenient season is as simple as saying, ‘Yes, Lord.’ Except saying it is sometimes the most difficult thing to do. We have to come to the end of ourselves by concluding that God, in His infinite wisdom, knows what is best. God’s will is not a matter of convenience, it’s a matter priority. He must come first or I run the risk of following myself and not Him; and when I follow myself, ultimately I’m no different than the proverbial dog who chases his tail-getting itself nowhere.

So when faced with the choice to do or go God’s way, or your own…don’t settle for convenience. Avoid it at all costs. You’ll be glad you did.

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Word To My Hyper-Holy Brethren:Caterpillars Can’t Fly

No, I don’t have an axe to grind. I’m not angry at anyone. And I don’t for one second presume to think I know better or am better than anyone else-because I’m not better and I don’t know anything. I’m just a small voice in a small corner of the world, trying to fulfill the Great Commission. I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind about anything with the words that follow. But I’d like to address several important issues that have been scratching at my heart and mind lately. Indulge me if you please.

Ok. Let me lay down some ground rules. I am Pentecostal. No shame for me there. I would probably be described as being of the more ‘conservative’ brand; comparatively speaking-as opposed to those who are hyper or ultra Pentecostal. I am neither, but I am Pentecostal nonetheless. We’re the ones who speak in tongues. Some of us jump, shout, and wave our hands; we are quite the demonstrative ones. Some even run, spin around or wave their hands; and I hold no malice toward those who do those things–I do some of those things myself. But it must all be Spirit led and Spirit driven, and not flesh driven. Having said all that, I must say sadly, that as I see it, much of the bad doctrine that has permeated the church in recent years, has come from our camp (I speak also of the closely related Charismatics). It’s actually a shame to even speak of different ‘camps’–seeing that God does not recognize denominations anyway.

Do Pentecostals have the corner on spirituality? Of course not. Depending  on what church you attend, why is it that we Pentecostals sometimes spend so much time and effort trying to make everyone else just like we are? Let me tell you what happens sometimes, or rather what I have witnessed. In some churches there are ‘cliques’. These cliques sometimes call themselves ‘ministries’. Some of them, however, are quite ‘exclusive.’ To be a part, you basically have to do what they do and speak and believe what they do. If you don’t measure up, you become a piriah (an outcast), and you get treated as such (yes, I’ve seen it).

In some churches, tradition prevails over truth in some matters. Many people, especially young people, are made to feel as if they must ‘conform’. They are inadvertently pushed by well meaning, but overzealous parents and in some instances pastors, to be baptized, take communion, or even ‘preach’. I once heard a pastor tell a young person, ‘You’ve been coming to church long enough, why are you not baptized yet?’ Surely time spent in church cannot be the criteria for getting baptized and such, right? Am I missing something? Caterpillars cannot fly. Longevity has its place, but that alone is no substitute for salvation. Before baptism and the like can take place, a person must be saved. Encouraging individuals, especially youth, to do saved things, will not benefit them-if they’re not saved. As it pertains to preaching, the church is not the place to ‘hone’ your preaching skills. Young people don’t need to ‘learn’ how to preach. If the call of God has been placed on someone’s life to preach, He will make it known. The church is not the Aberdeen Proving Grounds. You may be thinking, ‘Who set you up as a judge, and how do you know who’s saved or not?’ What I will say is that God has given us discernment; the Spirit-led ability to know whether someone or something is of God or not. In our desire to see young people serve God, we must not attempt to ‘play God’ by placing them behind the pulpit to keep them on fire for God. If some of these are not saved in the first place, as stated previously, then there’s no fire anyway; putting them behind the sacred desk will do them no good, except possibly giving them a false sense of security, resulting in the mistaken idea that they must be a Christian; ‘After all, I preached!’, some may say to themselves. When will we learn that going and being in church is not the equivalent of being in Christ. The pulpit, as far as the preaching of the Word goes, is for those who have been called to it.

The following matters are not weighty issues at all. They do not affect one’s salvation in one way or another. I bring them up only as points of reference as they pertain to youth, or others affected by it. For instance, does the bible explicitly state that it is a sin for a woman to ‘straighten’ or ‘perm’ her hair? Weaves? No. Many young people in hyper-holy churches are told yes. How about braids? Or pants on women? Sleeveless blouses in God’s house anyone? Those who are part of the hyper-holy crowd will tell you that these things are evil, worldly, and just plain ungodly. Once again, I’m simply using these cases as examples. My aim is not engage in any lengthy debate. I’m only saying that for those who believe that these and many other such things are actually sinful, young people in particular are placed under pressure and highly scrutinized. The older ‘saints’, in an effort to keep them and the church ‘holy’, are actually turning out ‘clones’, i.e., younger versions of themselves. Is this what we want? Listen to what Jesus said: ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves (Mat.23:15). I’m not calling anyone a child of hell, but what I am saying is that we should avoid adopting a ‘pharisaical’ mindset. Should we not want folk to be like Jesus, and not like ourselves? With all of our holier than thou, pre-conceived, ‘I think that’s what Jesus would’ve done’ attitudes? Half the things folk do in church, in His name, He never sanctioned anyway!

When it comes to matters of praise, worship, the moving of the Spirit of God and prayer, how is pressure placed upon the young? First of all, church, i.e., the worship service, is not a circus. The Spirit of God can have His way without it being a free for all. Anything should not go in God’s house. The Holy Spirit is the moderator of worship services-not we ourselves. Some of the things I’ve seen over the course of many years in several places, amount to one thing–flesh. Scripture tells us in 1 Jonn 4:1, that we should test the spirits, to see whether they are of God or not. He’s telling us here not to be deceived; everything that looks of God is not of God. So, when some well meaning saint places their hands on someone to pray for them, and the immediate response of the one being prayed for is a shake, and a shimmy, and a shout, and the same response comes from the next one, and the next one, and the next one, etc.; and all of the responses are exactly alike in word and motion–then I know that something is rotten in Denmark! No rocket science is needed to figure out that something’s not right.

Mimicking has become an art in many Pentecostal churches. As I stated at the outset, I’m Pentecostal myself. We’re loud. We express ourselves. This is what we do. However, we all cannot do the very same thing, in the very same way, at the very same time all of the time. It’s not a spiritual phenomenon, but it is a fleshly one.What I believe has happened in some places is that folk have simply, and maybe unintentionally picked up one another’s behavior, and made it their own. When this happens they are not allowing the Spirit of God to work uniquely with them, and settle for ‘conforming’ to what everyone else does. This in turn causes the Spirit of God to step back because not only is He grieved, but He is quenched now that the flesh has come in. Scripture plainly states: ‘…So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.’ (Romans 8:8). Young people, sometimes because they don’t know any better, or because they just want to be a part, unfortunately fall into this terrible behavior of just doing; copying and mimicking what the older ones do; and it’s not good, and it’s not right. Caterpillars cannot fly.

As far as the scripture goes, a wrongly divided word will do untold damage to those who hear it. When preachers add restrictions and read things into scripture that are not there, they place invisible shackles upon those under the sound of that word. For the young, many of them carry those chains with them into adulthood, with varying degrees of misery. As they grow, many begin to question certain restrictions that have been placed on them because they don’t find proof of these restrictions in the Word for themselves. This is because these restrictions do not exist! Rather, they are the unfortunate misinterpretations of those who have treaded down legalism’s path. Legalism is a dangerous monster and it’s victims are many. Young people who have chosen to opt out of church due to all they have seen, heard and experienced. For each one who has opted out, several others have thought about it or are presently thinking about it. A young lady told me years ago that she couldn’t wait until she turned eighteen, because then she was going to leave home, and leave church, due to the fact that she had had enough. All I know is, from that point, I began seeing her less and less-until I didn’t see her anymore.

Let me close by saying that we are not perfect. This should be obvious. But we must take pains to get the Word right. If not we run the risk of pushing people out rather bringing them in. The Word of God is described as a hammer; (Jeremiah 23:29), but we must not turn it into a spiked club. The Word is a sword; (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12) but we must refrain from using it as a dagger. Let’s draw them to the water of life that they may drink-freely. We must not impose, we must not force, assume or take things for granted. We need to draw young people and everyone else to the living water, but we cannot make them drink. It’s the simple presentation of the gospel-the message of the Cross, preached under in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit that will change lives. Anything more, or anything less, will not produce the desired results. Only saved people should do ‘saved’ things. Caterpillars can’t fly; and they shouldn’t try-not until they’ve been transformed into butterflies. And then the sky is the limit.

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

The Missing Ingredient

Imagine your favorite food. You taste, and it’s just not right; something is missing. You go and get that one ingredient that will make it taste the way it should. Once you add just enough of what was missing, you can eat on to your heart’s delight.

There are two types of people in every congregation: those who profit from the Word preached–and those who don’t. There always seems to be a case of us or them. Two students, same teacher; one passes and one fails–us and them. Consider also
two siblings with the same parents. Each child goes in two opposite directions in life–once again a case of us and them. In every group, some seem to go up and others seem to go down; some move forward in life, and some go backward; some do well and others not so well. Then there’s our case of the two people in the same congregation. Both under the same preacher, hearing the same gospel and only one of them profit from that word being preached–us and them.

Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” Heb.4:1-2

This word preached that proved to be unprofitable to the hearer is not the fault of the Word. The Word of God has the power to pull down strongholds. The problem here is that the Word which was heard was not mixed with faith. The hearer simply did not believe. As it was then, so it is now.

The Choice of Unbelief
Do not fail to enter into His rest because you fail to believe–unbelief is the crux of the matter:
Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭3:7-8‬ ‭

The phrase ‘harden not your hearts’, obviously indicates personal choice. This was for the Israelites, their unfortunate response upon hearing the voice of the Lord. It is the voice of direction; why do we run from it? It is the voice of peace; why do we ignore it? There is a price to pay for not trusting His voice, as they would find out. The price we pay is no less. No, we don’t just die away as many of them did. It is a slow death to void oneself of His help. To put oneself at odds with the One that we will give an account to is a foolish thing. To choose not to believe what He has spoken, has to be the highest form of treason; choosing our way over His.

So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Hebrews 3:‬19

The Character of Unbelief
Unbelief is, at its root, rebellion. It is both a hardening of the heart and a departure from the living God.

“Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation…”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭3:8‬a

“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭3:12‬

We are told here that unbelief is akin to evil which is a departure from the Lord. This makes unbelief a very serious matter.

“That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”‭‭ Hebrews‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭

The Chemistry of Unbelief
“…but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it”Heb.4:12b
Several things cannot be mixed the Word. You cannot mix worry with the Word and you cannot mix doubt with the Word. Worry and doubt are cut from the same mold, and are actually the opposite of faith. Another thing that cannot be mixed with faith is apathy. Apathy naturally says, ‘I don’t care.’ The only thing that can be mixed with the Word is faith.

Two Impossible Things
First, it impossible to live the Christian life in your own strength. Most will deny that they do this. However, when individuals continue to ‘work’ at being a Christian and trying harder by doing more in an effort to keep from sinning, then living through your own strength is what is taking place. Second, it is impossible for someone who is not a Christian to live the Christian life at all–and don’t say ‘Who would ever do something like that?’, because it happens every day and every Sunday in churches all over the city, country and world–individuals caught up in church life. This is commonly called religion and uncommonly called churchianity.

The Consequence of Unbelief
Old and young alike, show up to church to have a good time, or to fulfill some duty, or even to make some connection–business or otherwise. Unfortunately, some are so blinded, deceived and far away from God, due to a false sense of security, and an over abundance of self-righteousness, they just don’t get it. No matter how much they hear, they don’t understand. They are the ones that scripture says are ‘ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (2Ti.3:7). This is truly a sad state of life; to be in the right place to hear the truth, yet not able to receive it and walk in it.

I believe there are several things we can do to, in a sense, ‘protect’ our faith. These things themselves are accomplished by keeping Christ at the center of all we do by faith.

  • Do not allow the difficulties of your present circumstance overshadow the reality of God’s truth. All God’s promises concerning our well being in times of trouble, must be received.
  • Don’t be a hearer of the Word and not a doer; this is deception – (Ja.1:22)…thinking that because you have heard and have put yourself in a position to hear, that this amounts to righteousness on your part, or that God is somehow pleased.
  • Don’t be a learner and not a believer – 2Ti.3:7 (one who does not trust or have faith); this is also deception. Learning in this way only makes you acquainted with facts.Facts are good; but they are not enough. Remember, truth that does not transform, is truth that has not been properly received.

Without faith, hearing and learning become exercises in futility. Not entering into rest in the Lord due to a refusal to believe, actually causes one to short circuit and sabotage ones’ own destiny.

The Cure for Unbelief
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

The cure for unbelief is faith! It is shown by coming boldly, that is, coming in confidence and assurance, to receive what is needed, in this case, rest. This must be done by faith because:
“…without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

Once we enter in to His rest by faith, great things will begin to unfold.

By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:2

Need some rest? Add some faith!

Thats the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

What Does It Really Mean To Be A Christian?

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)

This question has been asked and answered by many, with a variety of answers. Many people believe that they are a Christian based on the mere fact that they live in America. This is is based on the idea that the United States is a Christian nation. While this may be true at least foundationally, this is obviously not the case in actual practice. What does the bible say? What does Jesus say?
Is it going to church?
Is it living a moral life?
Is it treating people right?
Is it living in America?
Is it keeping a list of rules?
Since the very beginning man has been seeking to cover himself by his own means. Lets first take a look at Genesis chapter 3:

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.  And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. (Gen.3:7-10)

Here’s what it is. Man has been seeking to cover himself by his own means ever since. We have our own ‘fig leaves’ that we use to cover our sin in an effort to put or keep ourselves in God’s ‘good graces.’ Whatever looks right and feels right must be alright, and God must approve of it–right? Not so fast. Before we fall into the world’s mindset and believe that God is a happy, tolerant, higher power who just wants us to be happy in whatever makes us happy, we must first search the scriptures. There we will find truth.

Those seeking to be justified by the things they do, by default, usually wind up saying things like the following to show that they are saved, or that at least they have a place in heaven:
But I’m educated
But I’m a member of the church
But I give to charity and feed the poor
But I’ve been baptized
But I give to the church
These are all works. These are all false hopes of salvation. But what does the bible say? For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Eph.2:8-9). When a person becomes a Christian, they enter into a spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ. As for the aforementioned actions deemed to be good enough to make one righteous, the bible says that there is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the way thereof ends in death (Proverbs 14:12).

The Case of Nicodemus

Nicodemus was a good, religious and upstanding citizen. When I say ‘good’, I mean that at least he was considered good by the people. Being a Pharisee automatically placed him in the upper echelon of their community–and they knew it. They were, for the most part looked upon in favor by the people. Jesus however, saw them in a different light. While the Pharisees, almost to a man, looked upon themselves as righteous and accepted in God’s sight, Jesus told them the truth about themselves. Listen to Jesus’ own penetrating words:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. (Matthew 23:27)
Nicodemus may have also thought like the majority of the other Pharisees, that he was better than others. Here is a sampling of the Pharisaical mindset:
And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. (Luke 18:9-14)

I am sure that when Jesus came on the scene, and Nicodemus heard him, while as stated, he may have had this particular mindset concerning himself, Jesus words arrested him. The Holy Spirit began His convicting work in Nicodemus’s heart. Nicodemus came to Jesus by night because he knew that there would be backlash aimed in his direction had his Pharisee brothers known that he had come to question Jesus concerning the things He spoke. Though Nicodemus had probably thought that he was righteous based on his status and the things he did, he now realized that something was missing. He came to Jesus to find out what it was. Jesus obliged him telling him that he needed to be born again.

The Case of Cornelius

Here was a man, by all intents and purposes, who, if you did not know the intricacies of what a Christian is, would be your model of what a Christian should be. Read his profile found in Acts 10:1-2:
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.

Cornelius was doing things that some Christians don’t even do regularly! He was devout and respectful, and he had reverence for God. He was that type of person who would cross himself each time he walked past a church, cathedral or temple. Cornelius also had a heart for the poor, as scripture here says that he gave ‘much alms’, that is, charity to the less fortunate. Also, Cornelius did not just pray, he prayed always. In all he did, God saw his heart and knew his heart–but still–Cornelius was not saved. Had he died in that state, I shudder to think where he would have spent eternity. But God is gracious. God dispatched an angel to Cornelius who instructed him to seek out Peter who would in turn, speak words to him that would bring salvation to his soul, and as instructed by the Holy Ghost, this is just what Peter did. Cornelius and his family were saved, even before Peter could finish speaking!

In each case, both Peter and Jesus make it absolutely clear that becoming and being a Christian have nothing to with the good or righteous things we do. Being a Christian is not about turning over a new leaf, or deciding you’re just going to be better. Being a Christian means having a living, breathing, one on one relationship with Jesus Christ. Too many people believe that just by going to church over a period of time, or listening to gospel music of some kind–and enjoying it, or because they actually ‘like’ God, and try to do the best they can when they can, qualifies them as ‘Christian’.  Here is the bottom line: when your life changes from the inside out, and not from the outside out; when His Word becomes what you do rather than just what you hear; when your sin, more than anyone elses, becomes an affront to you, and prompts you to run to His throne for mercy, then you have entered into relationship.

In closing, please allow me one final thought. Please stay away from religion. It will kill you spiritually and eventually send you off into eternity without ever knowing Jesus personally. It will also drive a wedge between you and God and give you a false sense of security. It’s what the Pharisees were. It’s what Cornelius was. The mercy and grace of God bought them out. When they placed faith in Christ, He in turn, gave them new life. There it is. The Christian life is about living a new life. His life, in us. 

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John14:6)
That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

Too Much Church And Not Enough Jesus

Grabbed Frame 102 (2)

Pizza parties. Game nights. Movie nights. Seemingly clever little ideas to draw youth into the church or keep them in. It all sounds good, maybe done with good intentions. Food! Fun! Fellowship! Make it all worth their while. Give them a reason to want to come. We do need to at least make it a little more exciting, right? After all, who wants to go to another boring service? Give them something to do. How about a dance ministry? Step team? Mime? Anybody down for the drama team? Let’s call another week or two long revival, with an exciting guest speaker–or maybe a concert. That’ll bring them in won’t it? Here’s a novel idea: we’ll let them preach to one another and let them have their own worship team. Not a problem here; except let’s make sure that all the parties involved are saved first please? Let’s top it all off with some good music; not that slow old fashioned kind–something new, fresh, rhythmic and LOUD—because every little bit helps.

Unfortunately, the church has dug deep into the world’s grab bag and tried to implement many of these things into itself.  We cannot win the world to Christ using the worlds’ methods. The church has also, without realizing it, tried to improve upon the gospel message. By that I mean to make it more palatable to the taste. Let’s not talk so much talk about sin, and the blood; that’s not appealing. Let’s give them something more soothing and inviting. When this is done, it becomes watered down. A watered down Word will not and cannot save anyone.

I’m well acquainted with most of the arguments for these things. One,  for example says ‘Young people need to express themselves; they need an outlet.’ Take dancing for one. They say, ‘After all, didn’t David dance before the Lord?’ Oh yes he most certainly did! Only David’s dance was not choreographed; his was spontaneous praise.

If all any church can do is to play the music louder and faster to get the youth, (or anyone else for that matter), to jump higher, sweat harder, dance better, and shout louder, then what has been done? Nothing. Where’s the anointing? The doing of all those things does not guarantee the Spirits’ approval or presence.

Today’s church is off track, out of line, and gone astray. It has abandoned the old fashioned gospel and has made a plate at the table of entertainment and a ‘feel good’ message; a catchy, alluring and psychologized message that invites you to, among other things, ‘live your best life now’. It has gotten away from the mission statement given by the Lord Jesus Christ: ‘…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.’ (Mark 16:15)

The church is not an entertainment outlet. Instead of ‘shakin’, rattlin’ and rollin’, the church should be evangelizing and preaching and reaching the lost with the gospel. Not prosperity. Not social justice. Not a ‘happy, feel good’ word. You go ahead and live ‘your best life now’, and be as ‘purpose driven’ as you want to be, but there are hard times coming. Much harder than the hokum that’s being preached now can handle. The true, cross-centered gospel will liberate the sin-chained souls of men and women. None of the pseudo-gospels (which are actually no gospel at all), have any power to save or set free. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Rom.1:16). These so-called gospels only pander to the flesh and to those with itching ears; yearning to be told that everything is alright.

From where I stand, young people are disenchanted; many are deceived, and even more are lost. I see young people leaving the church because they do not see and have not experienced anything that is real. Sheer emotionalism will not cut it; and it is the fault of the church. Young people and others are being fed a steady appetite of ‘church’–or what is called church, and not enough Jesus. More dancing, more sweating, more jumping, more shouting–and no anointing. No power. There is nothing wrong with these things in themselves, but is that all you have? When the enemy attacks and comes in like a flood, if that’s all you do have, then the enemy will come in like a flood, and overtake them!

The church needs to come home to the Cross. That’s where our life in Christ began and where it needs to stay. There are no alternatives. It cannot be improved upon or minimized. Preach it. Teach it. Proclaim it. Live it. Cherish it.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

That’s the Word. Take it with you. God bless you.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses: Do You Have One?

Excuses-2

In spite of the bumps and bruises along the way, and the ups and downs, some of which I have been personally responsible for,  giving my life to Jesus over forty years ago has been the single greatest thing I have ever done. I have not done many great things in this life: I suppose, possibly none–but this one thing shines above everything. And yet, in spite of it all, I cannot take credit for anything. To God be the glory! I cannot imagine living this life without Him! I am married, I have children, and for all of these I am most grateful and thankful. However my salvation-my life in Christ, has had a greater impact and has affected my life more than anything else I’ve ever done.

This may all sound strange to some. ‘We understand the importance of God in a life, some may say, ‘but more important than family and accomplishments?’ O Yes, yes…a thousand times yes! Jesus is the one who died for me. Jesus is the one who saved me. Jesus is the one who took my sins away. He is the one who keeps me. I could go on and on. You just don’t understand who my Jesus is!

In the final analysis, in the natural, I don’t know how anyone manages to live without Him. On the surface it all seems very innocent, and Satan would have us to see it that way. ‘To each his own’, people say, or ‘that God stuff is all good for you, and I’m glad for you, but it’s not for me’, and now the more popular mantra, ‘You must live in your truth.’ So now truth is whatever I say it is? This is not a new idea, but it is very dangerous. Truth is what God says it is. But, I digress.

The reasons people give for not serving God are many. What they amount to are excuses.They are weak and hold no water and will ultimately doom them to a Christless eternity. Let’s take a look at some of these excuses from scripture. These excuses are what ultimately stood between their soul and the Saviour. Do you have one?

The Rich Young Ruler

Mk.10:21-22 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
This young man couldn’t get out of his own way. His material possessions were keeping him from an eternity with Christ. In spite of this, notice Christ’s attitude toward him. He loved him. Romans 5:8 comes to mind, which says, But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 

Those Certain Men

Lu.9:59-61 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
These men seemed to have had good intentions, but the cares of this life were more important. No noun should keep us from serving God. No person, place or thing, that is.

The Chief Rulers

Jo.12:42-43  Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
This particular group believed on Jesus, but secretly. They cared more about appearances and were concerned about what others thought. This is also unacceptable. They were secret agent Christians; undercover brothers. They needed to ‘come out of the closet’, so to speak, and serve Christ in the light.

The Real Reason

Whatever the excuse people give for not serving God, there is only one legitimate reason; and scripture tells us plainly what it is.
2 Cor.4:4  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
There it is! Satan himself has caused a blindness to come upon the very minds of the unsaved! This is why, in layman’s terms, they just don’t get it. They may think they understand why they don’t serve God, but the problem is much deeper than they can see. The enemy does this because he wants to keep them away from the Light, and away from the Glory. He has seen firsthand, what the power of the gospel can do!

These words speak to both saint and sinner alike:
Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid
Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blessed
And have peace and sweet rest
As you yield Him your body and soul.

No more excuses. Serve Him. All the way.

That’s The Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

The Forgotten Commandment

Grabbed Frame 25

There she was. On a subway train with a bible in her hand, trying to gather herself. I sat at a distance on the same subway car and watched as the fear and apprehension seemed to overtake her. I could sense what she was dealing with, because I’d experienced this type of fear before. What to say? How to say it? What if someone does not like what I say? What if someone has questions? I watched her and began to pray for her silently. I don’t believe anyone else on that car knew what was happening. But I did. As I recall, she did pass through the car passing out tracts, and saying ‘God bless you.’ When she got to me, I accepted the tract and looked directly at her smiling, hoping to encourage her. She went on to the next car. I never saw her again.

In its simplest form, evangelism can be defined as being the active transmittal or communication of the gospel from a saved individual to an unsaved individual. Whether it be one on one verbal witnessing, by tract, or by preaching from the pulpit, evangelism is the forgotten commandment. Nowadays it seems the church is more concerned with ‘bettering’ itself. From ‘health and wealth, to ‘name it and claim it’, to ‘blab it and grab it’, and now the so-called grace ‘revolution’, the unsaved have gotten lost in the shuffle. While the church continues to be seduced by these doctrines of demons, the lost are perishing. Where is the gospel? We would rather dance and shout and leave God’s house ‘feeling good’ because we ‘had church’; folk actually leave the church still in bondage and need of a Saviour.

Jesus’ words in Mark 16:15 are explicitly clear, and they should pierce us. He said ‘Go ye.’ This was not a passing thought or idea. It was not a good suggestion. It was a command; plain and simple. He expects us to evangelize, and any excuses are feeble at best.

The reasons why Christians do not evangelize are varied. The reasons can range from fear, ignorance, or just plain apathy. Whatever fear Paul and the other apostles may have had was replaced by boldness when the power of the Holy Ghost came upon them. Ignorance cannot be claimed if one knows what Jesus said in Mark 16:15 and other places, and if that is the case, then its open disobedience-or maybe rebellion is a better word. In most cases apathy rules. Not that we do not care at all what happens to the unsaved; in most cases we know what scripture says. It also cannot be said that we are oblivious and have a total disregard for the lost. So what’s the problem? I believe that we are simply unwilling. Unwilling to go the extra mile. Unwilling to put our time and effort into it. Unwilling to (in some cases) put ourselves in peril. We want to fit in and not really make any waves. The quiet life. Live and let live. You do your thing and I’ll do mine. Invite folk to come to your church every once in a while, or to a concert your church is involved in. That’s about as far as many will go.

The proclamation of the true gospel will turn heads. It will cause the masses to do a double take. The true gospel will cause people to reassess and rethink all that they’ve known and heard. The true gospel, through the power of the Holy Ghost, will convict the world of sin (John 16:8).

The following is an overview of the meaning, purpose, content and results of Spirit led and inspired evangelism, taken from Acts 17:1-10.

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:

• EVANGELISM TAKES YOU WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE. Be led by the Spirit of God. (Acts 16:7). Whether it’s at school, on the job, or wherever you find people-that’s where the Spirit will send you.

2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,

• EVANGELISM IS THE HEARTBEAT OF CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. Evangelism is what Paul did; He had an occupation as a tentmaker, but this was his calling. This was his manner or his custom. Wherever God places you in the secular world, you are only there as a means to spread the gospel where you are. More often than not, we get caught up in the culture of the job, and our Christian witness suffers because we become ‘one of them’. The gospel needs to be at the center of all we do in Christian ministry-regardless of our ministry. Whether you sing, sweep or simply sit, evangelism is something all of us should do. Also note he reasoned with them, ‘out of the scriptures.’ A working knowledge of scriptures pertaining to salvation is vital. Do you know how to lead someone to Christ through scripture?

3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.

• EVANGELISM IS THE PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL. This verse contains all the components of what the gospel is: the fact that He lived, He suffered, He died, and He rose again-He is the Anointed One (1Cor.15:3-4). The gospel is actually the message of the cross. 1Cor.1:17 states, For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. The gospel is not about me or you or what ever church we go to and what is done there. The gospel is about Jesus.

4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

• EVANGELISM IS MEANT TO BRING AND CAUSE CHANGE. The whole idea behind evangelism is to point lost people to Christ. When the gospel is presented, it will ultimately either be received or rejected. Let the Holy Spirit work. Leave the results with Jesus. If you give your testimony to someone, it is only as a means to point them to Christ and what He has done. Make sure you do not become the showcase and highlight as you speak. Keep Jesus at the center.

5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.

• EVANGELISM IS AN INTRUSION INTO ENEMY TERRITORY (SATAN’S KINGDOM). Because Satan is the prince of this world, many are hardened in their lifestyle and thought. Everyone will not believe and all will not receive. Remember the words of Paul in 1Cor.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. When opposition is encountered, it is an indication that the Word has touched a nerve; the Holy Spirit is doing His ministry of convicting the world of sin.

6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;

• EVANGELISM ACCOMPANIED BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL TURN THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN. A watered down version of the gospel message will be embraced by the world, but the undiluted gospel message will either draw men to Christ or repel them. Jesus said, And I if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me (John 12:32).

7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus,

• EVANGELISM HAS KING JESUS AT ITS CORE. Paul states in 1Cor.2:2, For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Remember what we said previously-we are not the focus, and our testimony is only a means to point people back to Jesus.

8 And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.
9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.
10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

• EVANGELISM WILL TURN YOUR WORLD UPSIDE DOWN. Once you begin to take the gospel message to heart, and understand the need and purpose for it, and get a burden for the lost, it will change your life; how you respond to, and relate to the unsaved. The question must be asked, why did Paul and the others do what they did, with a seemingly reckless abandon, continually disobeying the powers that were at the time? I believe that they were thoroughly convinced, and were responding to the call and burden placed in them by the Spirit of God. It was a ‘woe unto me if I preach not the gospel’ mentality (1Cor.9:16). It was something they had to do. They understood the ramifications of not knowing Christ, and did not want to see anyone enter into eternity without Him.

So, at the heart of evangelism is the belief that people are spiritually lost and that the only remedy for this spiritual ‘lostness’ is Jesus; not therapy, not psychology, not ‘happy words’ telling them that they need to discover the ‘champion’ within them. The gospel endorses Jesus. Rather, the gospel is Jesus. He is the only answer to man’s dilemma. Do you believe that? Or have you forgotten this great commandment? And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15).

That’s the Word. Take it with you. God bless you.

The Illusion of Vindication

Grabbed Frame 12

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Isaiah 5:20

As I sat and watched nothing less than a shameless  display of jubilation, my spirit was grieved within me. Rebellious revelers  responding with glee at the decision handed down by the United States Supreme Court, guaranteeing the right to same-sex marriage- for those so inclined. This all should come as no surprise. As the world seemingly continues to spiral out of control, I believe we can expect see these types of things more and more. I do not share the faulty beliefs of some in the Christian community that say that as time passes, the world will become progressively better due the ‘gospel’ touching every strata of society. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here’s what the bible says: Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron…(1 Tim.4:1-2).  Ladies and gentlemen: these are the latter times. Scripture goes on to tell us more: This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, coveteous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2 Tim.3:1-5) Once again ladies and gentlemen-WE ARE THERE..

In the case at hand, those who celebrate this pseudo-victory, do so ignorantly. No doubt there is a sense of freedom and vindication that their case has been heard and what they have long sought for has been granted. However, there is probably nothing more pathetic than a perceived freedom; something which is thought to bring both liberty and latitude, that will only lead to bondage. Freedom to sin and the approval of the same always does. This latest ‘seal of approval’ given to this portion of sinful society, will only lead its participants into a greater enslavement, a greater subjection, and a greater domination to the very thing which already has them in their clutches. This ruling will add to the sorrow and misery of this lifestyle by giving them the latitude to dig themselves deeper into sin. It must be understood that Satan’s lust for souls is never satisfied; he will not let go that which he sees as belonging to him; and except for the mighty hand and power of the Holy Ghost, he will not let go.

What we have here now, and any time that sin seems to triumph, is an illusion of vindication. Let’s first define the word. When something is vindicated it means that though a thing has been criticized, spoken against or doubted, it now has been found to be correct or true. This ruling by the court has now seemed to vindicate those who have fought for this so-called ‘right’. This vindication however, is an illusion. What seems to be, actually is not. It must be remembered that even though the corrupt hearts and minds of men seek change or even blot out what God has plainly spoken in His Word, that same Word stands, and will continue to stand. Society is on a downward slope, and will continue to tumble as long they push His Word aside. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 Tim.3:13. As spoken in our opening verse, society has gone the way of Isaiah 5:20. But scripture’s promise and warning is that sin’s enjoyment, fun and the pleasure derived from it, is short-lived.(Heb.11:25) Sin will always leave one broken, bound, and empty.

There should be no anger, no hopelessness, no retreat and no surrender. Remember that where sin abounds or flourishes, grace does much more abound.(Rom.5:20) We must continue to preach the truth of the gospel in power and under the anointing of the Holy Ghost. He is the only one who can change hearts and lives of individuals bent on destruction. Where the world now sees vindication, Jesus wants to bring salvation. Every soul seeking a way out, every person caught in a sinful web of their own making, every individual tired of living as they do, Jesus offers and is the way out.

The hashtag that came out after the ruling said, #LoveWins. No Supreme Court. No White House. No Mr.Obama. Love has NOT won. But Jesus has won! At Calvary!

Mercy there was great, and grace was free

Pardon there was multiplied to me

There my burdened soul found liberty

At Calvary!

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

The Cure For The Saddening Blissfulness of Sinfulness

Happy-face-sad-face

Years ago at my job, one young man got up and announced to all within listening distance, how much he was looking forward to Friday. He said he was excited and was anticipating it because after work he intended to go out to a club or two, meet a few people, and get drunk out of his mind, in so many words. On Monday, with the weekend behind us, we all gathered at the job, minus one: the excited, anticipating young man. He did show up, late, wearing the same clothes he had worn on Friday, a little wrinkled but no worse for the wear. As he told it, he did go out as he said, but the rest of the weekend was a blur. He had awaken early Monday morning in the back seat of his car. He never made it home. The amazing thing was, he was bragging about his weekend and excitedly looking forward to another one. There was another individual I recall, several years later, who was looking forward to the annual Christmas party (which I never attended). The day came, and everyone was more dressed than usual. At the day’s close all who were going, left to go to the party which was at another location. When Monday came I was told that this individual basically nodded out in a corner and had to be helped home. This person too, bragged about his ability to ‘hold his liquor’, and proclaimed what a good time he had had. This is all very sad. I call it the ‘saddening blissfulness of sinfulness.’

What this condition amounts to is spiritual blindness. Sin has taken some so far, that they are absolutely unaware of their condition. They simply don’t recognize their need for Him. I know all the unsaved are in this condition in one form or another, but I’m speaking of an accelerated state. All men and women without Christ are lost, but these folks bask in the sinfulness of their sin; feeling no remorse and no regret, only a sense pride and accomplishment.

This ‘pseudo-joy’ is short lived. The duration of ‘short’ may vary, but eventually sin will take its toll on a life. The examples used above focus on alcohol and drunkenness, but sin of any color or stripe will rip at the fabric of the soul, leaving one lost, disillusioned and in all cases, in bondage to one degree or another. Whether it’s such socially ‘acceptable’ sins like self-righteousness, impatience, irritability, etc. (and the list can go on), the accumulation of it all takes its toll.

The cure for all of this and for whatever nags and ails the soul is  found in the Word of God. While scripture is full of verses that will bring comfort and deliverance, I gravitate to Luke 4:18, because it is so all-encompassing. It touches and addresses the human condition like no other. In it Jesus prophetically lays out His mission statement to His people. He says: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. We’ve all been to these places both emotionally and spiritually at one time or in one form or another, and it hurts.

The world offers its own solutions to these types of problems. For one, therapy is not the answer. Psychology promises freedom, but delivers little more than a very small bandage. Anyone who believes that psychology will alleviate what troubles them, and bring them any kind of lasting peace, is deceived. Here’s what scripture says: Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Col.2:8) Psychology is a mere stop-gap solution, if that. The world also offers other stop-gap solutions to life’s problems and addictions such as: patches, e-cigarettes, Methadone, and several variations of A.A. There are self-help books galore, claiming to tell you how to be the best you, or to live your best life now, with none of them holding any water and leaving those who seek their help dry. The world simply does what it knows. What they offer are simply ways around the truth, which is Jesus.

Jesus is and will continue to be the remedy for sin. That’s why we must not stop preaching the chain-breaking message of the cross of Jesus Christ. It’s for the blind, the bruised, the bound and the broken.

Jesus is the answer

For the world today

Above Him there’s no other

Jesus is the way!

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.