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.

The Truth The Devil Just Can’t Handle

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44)

The devil is a deceiver. His name says it all. Here in our verse the phrase ‘he speaketh of his own’, means that he speaks from his character. He is a liar; he lives in untruth. It is what and who he is. Deception flows from his pores, so to speak. He lives to deceive and above all, and most dangerous of all, he himself is deceived. He thinks he will win. He’s seen the last page of the book, which spells out his doom and his demise, yet he still believes he can change it all. Somehow, he believes he can defy what has already been declared and decreed by the finger of God through the Holy Ghost. It is because of this arrogant and twisted self-deception, that there are several things that he simply cannot accept, or handle. I believe that these are the things that drive him to destroy people; that fuel his blind, yet intelligent hatred toward humanity and the true Christian in particular because it is we who proudly carry the name of the One who defeated him at the cross. So,  first of all,  here is truth number one that the devil just can’t handle–

The fact that he himself is not God
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isa.14:13-14)

These verses are tagged simply as Satan’s 5 ‘I wills’. These five statements spell out his wish list, his bucket list, if you will, with the last one being his ultimate goal; what he’s wanted almost from the start. Having said that, there are three titles ascribed to Satan that I’d like to bring to your attention. First, scripture states that Satan is the ‘god of this age’ (2 Cor.4:4). Secondly, in John 12:31, he is spoken of as ‘the prince of this world’. Finally, in Eph.2:2, he is called ‘the prince of the power of the air’. With all of these grandiose titles–and I’m sure he appreciates and embraces them all, it’s still not enough for him. He wants to be God himself. He would love to dethrone God if he could, but he can’t, so let’s move on. The second thing that the devil just can’t handle is–

The fact that his beauty was not enough to get him what he wanted
Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (Isa.14:11-12)
Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone wasthy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so:thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee
Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. (Ezekiel.28:13-15,17)

Look at all Lucifer had going for him! He was given power, beauty, wisdom, and even an anointing! Yet he forfeited it all because eventually, he came to believe that all of this merited him equal status with God. But of course, this would not be the case. This is a truth he just can’t handle.

Pride is a serious matter.  If it was able to bring an angel of God down, then what do you think it can do to us, who are created a little lower than they were? God is absolutely repelled by pride because it was the very thing that instigated this thing we call sin. The bible states emphatically that, ‘God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble’ (James 4:6). Pride is also actually first in a list of seven things that are an abomination to Him.

These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (Prov.6:16-19)

Thirdly, I believe the devil just can’t handle–

The fact that he can’t do exactly what he wants to do
And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD. (Job 1:12)
And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. (Job 2:6)
I believe it rankles Satan to no end that he cannot really do what he wants, when he wants. We see here his proposals to God, as to what he wanted to do, and we see Gods’ response as to what he actually could and could not do. Do you ever wonder sometimes, why you are even still here, when you have such an enemy as Satan who wants and is willing to destroy you? Why doesn’t he just do it? It’s because he can’t. God has drawn a line in the sand, and the devil won’t–can’t cross it.  If he hasn’t been given permission to do a thing, then he just can’t do it. Oh sure he has been given some power along with some rope, and he does manage to ruin,destroy, and blind the minds of those who do not serve him, but he does not have a free hand. All he does and is allowed to do falls under the sovereign and watchful eye of his creator.

Next, we see that the devil just can’t handle–

The fact that he doesn’t get the worship he craves
And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Mat.4:9-10)
This certainly must be classified as desperation at its peak. Satan is literally asking Jesus to worship him! At the same time though, his request has a two-fold purpose. First, he obviously  wants to be worshipped for his own twisted reasons.  Remember, he wants to be God, so he naturally desires the worship that goes along with it. Second, and actually more importantly, if he could get Jesus to sin, he would have effectively ruined God’s plan of redemption for humanity. This of course, he was unable to do.

The last two truths that the devil can’t handle probably stick in his craw more than all the rest, because they have to do with Christ and His people. The first being–

The fact that the blood of Jesus sets men free
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Rev.12:11)
Because he was unable to thwart God’s plan of redemption, he cannot handle the truth that Jesus’ blood that was spilled on the cross, still has the power to save, heal and deliver from sin. Satan’s plan backfired; blew up fight in his face. You see, the very thing that the devil wanted to happen, that is, Christ dead and out of the way, was the very thing that God needed to happen. No, I am not saying that we owe a debt of gratitude to the devil for inflaming Jesus’ foes with hatred enough to have him crucified. But what I am saying is that God uses the enemy at times to fulfill His purposes. The fact is,  Jesus came to die, only the devil didn’t know it. This is how he would go about destroying the works of the devil. WhAnd I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. When we read Joseph’s words in Genesis, we see a principle that God lays out in scripture, namely that God is able to take what looks bad, what is bad, and cause it work for His purposes. Joseph said, ‘But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive’ (Gen.50:20). The things that make us scratch our heads and say, ‘Why?’, are the very things that God is able to use for our good. This is what happened at the cross. It certainly looked bad, at least for three days. But joy came on Sunday morning! That’s the kind of God that we serve! His blood still sets people free–and the devil hates the blood.

Because Christ did die on the cross, something else fantastic happened, and it’s the final truth that devil really can’t handle. It is–

The fact that he has no power over the child of God
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. (Col.2:13-15)
Here we have the proverbial ‘nail in the coffin’, the ‘coup de grace’, the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’.  These are some of the most powerful and overlooked passages in the bible.  They speak to the nature and enormity of the defeat that Satan suffered at the cross. It was both public and humiliating and he’s been trying to recover from it ever since, to no avail. He still stands powerless before the ‘cross wise’ child of God. When we understand that Satan was disarmed at the cross, having his power over us snatched away, we can better appreciate the victory that was purchased for us there. Christ’s death on the cross secured a perpetual victory for all who trust in Him, and an enduring and most devastating defeat for the devil. He fell there, and he will never get up because he was crushed.  And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (Gen.3:15). 

So there you have it. Prophecy was fulfilled, and truth came to pass–just like God said it would.  And oh don’t you know that the devil just can’t handle the truth!

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

The Toothless, Chained Lion

CHAINED LION

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8

So goes the warning. And it’s a good warning. We’re told to be on guard; to watch our back. The devil is out there; on the prowl. He’s seeking those who’ve left the door to their life open. Those whose steps have faltered; whose minds have steadily become conformed to this present world system, and have shifted their sight and their faith from Christ and the Cross to someone or something else.

These are Satan’s targets. They are his venison. And he will exercise a certain semblance of authority over these to a certain degree. In some cases, the Lord will allow some latitude to the enemy; not to punish his child, but to bring him back into right relationship; though I believe that we who are looking from the outside will not readily know what the Lord is up to in someone’s life , or even our own. Job had no idea what had taken place in the throne room of heaven between God and Satan, but he was greatly effected by it.

However, Satan holds no such sway over those who know who they are in Christ, whose sight is steadily and firmly finding its resting place in the Cross. They no longer put faith in themselves and what they have done, but are now placing it on Christ and what He has already done. For these, who ought not to think of themselves as better, the devil has no real power. Though he continues to operate like a lion, he has no teeth! I don’t say this in order to throw him a railing accusation, but I base the statement on fact.

When Jesus died on the Cross, He stripped Satan of his power. And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it (Colossians 2:15). Those principalities and powers are the same ones referred to in Ephesians 6:12. These are the powers at war with us; the powers we battle against. The plain and simple fact is, we face a defeated foe! We still need to watch and pray, to stand firm and not be moved, and remain vigilant. Above all, we must trust Christ and the Cross. It was through His blood spilled for us there, that we have an abiding victory.

In John Bunyan’s classic allegory, ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, he relates a powerful scene involving the book’s title character, Christian. It goes like this:

So I saw in my dream that he made haste, and went forward, that if possible he might get lodging there. Now before he had gone far, he entered into a very narrow passage, which was about a furlong off the Porter’s lodge, and looking very narrowly before him as he went, he espied two lions in the way. Now, thought he, I see the dangers that Mistrust and Timorous were driven back by. (The lions were chained, but he saw not the chains.) Then he was afraid, and thought also himself to go back after them; for he thought nothing but death was before him. But the Porter at the lodge, whose name is Watchful, perceiving that Christian made a halt, as if he would go back, cried unto him, saying, Is thy strength so small? Mark 4:40. Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and are placed there for trial of faith where it is, and for discovery of those that have none: keep in the midst of the path, and no hurt shall come unto thee.

Don’t you love that? Those lions represent both Satan’s forces, and the fear and intimidation that they attempt to unleash upon God’s children. These are some of the things that try our faith. But that fact that he is chained, means that he can do us no harm, as our our faith remains fixed on the Cross. The Cross is what causes him to tremble, because he knows it was there that he was defeated. ‘And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb…’, is the Apostle John’s resonating proclamation (Rev.12:11).

The next time you’re tempted to fear, to doubt, to turn around or give up, remember: Don’t fear the lions–because they are chained. And don’t fear the lion, Satan, either, because he also has no power over you. Keep your eyes and your faith on Jesus.

A popular song says:

Satan the blood of Jesus
Is against you
Satan the blood of Jesus
Is against you
Satan the blood of Jesus
Is against you
You are defeated
You are defeated
You are defeated
By the blood of the Lamb!

Amen!

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

Bye Bye Mr. Flesh

Grabbed Frame 101 (2)

A short open letter to the flesh based on selected scriptures from Romans Chapter 8.

Dear Mr. Flesh,

How are you? Not well I presume. You’ve probably been feeling a bit lonely of late, so I wanted to write a letter to you to let you know where we stand. Do not think that I am not aware that you are lurking underneath it all. I know you want things your way, but I have a new Master now. I need to let you know that I don’t owe you anything and that I will not give you the pleasure of sitting on the throne of my life. I have learned that when I allow you to be in control, I do not please my new Master. If I would have let you remain in control, you would have killed me. As it is now, because of my new Master, I have life and I have peace. I’ve also come to know that because of my new Master, I no longer entertain guilt or shame. When you were in control, I would always come away feeling that way. It’s all because of my new life. You see, the Spirit of my Master lives in me. I know how that sounds, but it’s true, and as long as I keep in step with Him and not you, I’m free.

I’ve spent and wasted so much time trying to measure up by keeping law. The ‘rules’ some might call them. The problem was that no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t pull it off with any satisfaction. It didn’t matter if I prayed harder, or louder, or even read my bible more. Everything I did led to a dead end because it was part of the problem. I was putting my faith in the doing those things, rather than my Master. Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with those things. It’s just that I made a law out them. You never liked when I did those things anyway. Doing those things could never work and it was all because of you. I hate to be so blunt, but you’re weak. I didn’t know that I could never be free by living that way; but I was certainly trying. I’m under a new law now, so to speak, all made possible by my Master–and make no mistake—things are different now. I am definitely not perfect, but I’m free. I want that to be clear; I’m FREE.

I’m sorry. I didn’t tell you my Master’s name. His name is Jesus Christ. He’s the one responsible for this new change in me. He has made me (and I don’t apologize for being redundant), free. Truly free. The struggle is over. Bye bye Mr. Flesh. If I see you again, it’ll be too soon.

No longer in you, but in Christ,
A Set free Child of God

Rom.8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

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

The Devil’s Joy or Things Church Folk Do That Make the Devil Smile

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. 2 Corinthians 2:11

And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. 2 Timothy 2:26

As Christians, we have a common enemy. Scripture tells us plainly that like a roaring lion, he walks around seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8). Because of this, we need to be vigilant. He will use every tactic in his arsenal that he is allowed to use against us. He will take every opportunity that he is given to halt, slow down, and frustrate the child of God and the work of God. Christians know this, and most will agree to each of these statements. So then how is it that the enemy seems to be making such headway in today’s church? With false teaching running rampant, entertainment taking the place of the Spirit of God and leaders opting for psychology over solid biblical counseling and guidance, it is no wonder things are the way they are. It’s as if anything goes nowadays. Slap a ‘Christian’ label on it and all of a sudden it’s Christian. It doesn’t work that way. What we don’t want to ever do is play into the enemy’s hands. We ought to be doing what the devil hates. Do things that frustrate him. Resist him and he will flee…(James 4:7). We ought to be becoming educated Christians so that the enemy does not so easily deceive us. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…(2 Peter 3:18). Sometimes I think the devil just stands back, with arms folded and a big smile on his face when he sees some of the things God’s people do. Sort of a measure of joy. Now I realize that in actuality this is not the case. I know that in actuality there is war taking place in the heavenlies; yet I do believe he is happy when we veer off and do things we should not.

Some may not agree with the following list I have compiled. Some may be offended. That is not my intent, but it’s where I am and what I see. I believe the devil smiles:smile

-when Christians substitute gimmicks for the Spirit of God.

-when Christians believe that there is actually a such thing as Christian rap, rock or hip hop.

-when we go to church to be entertained, rather than to hear the Word of God.

-when Christians do nothing but dance and shout during praise and worship-then sleep when the Word goes out.

-when saints leave church ‘blessed’ because they ‘had church’-but actually leave unchanged.

-when our dance is in step with the music in the church-but our lives are not in step with the Spirit outside the church.

-when saints believe that prayer shawls are necessary and actually serve a purpose.

-when leaders continue to schedule revivals rather than seek His face for a God given, heaven sent one.

-when no altar call is given-and the unsaved remain that way.

-when false teaching goes out from the pulpit-and is embraced.

-when folk are baptized-without the benefit of being saved first.

-when we think that the louder we shout, we will scare the devil away.

-when the music gets louder and louder, the beat gets faster and faster-and the Holy Ghost moves further and further away.

-when saints believe that the Holy Ghost ‘shows up and shows out.’

-when flesh and pure emotion replace the moving of the Holy Ghost-and saints don’t even know that He has left the building.

That’s it. You’re probably wondering, ‘What has gotten into this guy’s craw?’ Not a thing. I’ve just seen so very much and heard so very much. I just want what is real. That should be what we all want. God has given us discernment. Seek the Lord and ask Him to show you truth. I don’t want a popcorn Christianity or a rollercoaster Christianity. Christianity was meant to be lived in victory. That victory is found at the foot of the cross. Christians walk around daily in bondage to some thing or another and all we do to combat it when we get to church is jump, sweat, and try to shout it out. The devil doesn’t care if you shout and jump. But if I only whisper the name of Jesus in faith, the devil will not be able to stand! None of those peripheral things will give me victory. Things like jumping, shouting, running, chanting, waving banners or flowers (that’s what I said-I’ve seen it), make us feel good and they will make you tired, but they won’t make you victorious. All of these things (except the flowers of course), may have their place in a service that is led and directed by the Spirit of God. But even then, remember that the Spirit of God is not going to go outside of the parameters of His Word to do something that you think He is saying. I must be careful to operate within the framework of scripture, because when I step outside of His Word, I am operating out of self and flesh. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.(Romans 8:8)  

The fact is that when we get away from the Word of God and the Spirit of God, things just get silly. Lord, draw me close and keep me close through the power of your cross. Amen.

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

Profanity in the Pews

NEWSHOWLOGO 108

What did he say? My mind blinked. Then it paused just before it began to race with a flood of emotions. How should I react to this? Should I be angry? Embarrassed? Offended? I sat there nonplussed as my brain struggled to make sense of what my now burning ears had just heard. I mean the venue was safe enough or so I thought. This thing just should not have happened, under any circumstance. Period.

It was at a gathering of chaplains, of which I was one, that this verbal assault on my person took place. As an aside, most of us there were either pastors or ‘bishops.’ We were there in a local church to pray, worship and fellowship. All was going well. There was vibrant singing, praise and a time for testimonies. That was when it happened. After several brothers had testified of the goodness of the Lord, the brother who would be the keynote speaker for this session stood up. He took his place behind the pulpit. He began to speak. He had a testimony too. All the details escape me now but evidently he had been pulled over by the police for some reason or another earlier that day at a traffic stop. They asked him for his license and registration, which he submitted. Then it seems that there was some sort of verbal altercation between himself and the officer. In the brother’s relating of the story he began to speak verbatim portions of this altercation. He said the officer called him a m******%@!!! This word was sprinkled throughout his testimony! I do not question whether the officer was right or wrong to do that. Obviously as an officer of the law, that was not his place, but that is not my point here. My question and observation is this: Why, O why, O man of God are you: a) using such language, b) using such language inside the church, and c) using such language inside the church behind the pulpit?  It would have been enough to simply tell us that words were exchanged, and that in the heat of the moment the officer called him an inappropriate name. It was not necessary to take us there. I think we would have gotten the point. As I recall, this whole thing ended well for the brother. There was no arrest, tickets or citations given; and he was thanking God for that. As I sat there though, I noticed that everyone seemed to be more shocked that the officer had used such language, more than the fact the ‘man of God’ was using such language. At the close of the testimony, shouts of ‘Praise the Lord!’ and ‘Hallelujah!’ could be heard over the loud applause. Shame, shame, shame. He proceeded then to preach. I never heard a word.

Profanity among Christians is something that usually flies under the radar. It’s just not spoken about much. It’s one of those things that follow some into their Christian life after they have gotten saved. Take me for instance. Before I was saved, I cursed like the proverbial sailor. I like to say that I probably invented some of the combination of words people use today. I was bad. But when the Lord saved me, something happened. It did not happen overnight, but within six months, I was delivered. I didn’t curse anymore. Really. Because I now had the Holy Spirit within me, I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to do it. I know my story is not everyone’s story, but if profanity is still an active part of your life after several years, something may be wrong. No, I’m not coming from a holier than thou point of view, or saying that my sin is not as bad as yours. We all have struggles. It’s that profanity is just so ‘out there.’ As we interact with people throughout our day, and these words fly fast and free, and they know we are Christians, what are they thinking? Someone once told me about an individual they worked with who happened to be a deacon-he let everyone know. Only don’t let anything go wrong in the office. He would curse up a storm. The classic ‘cussin’ Christian.  Hey, I also realize that profanity is only a symptom and a by product of a more serious problem such as worldliness, carnality or even a backslidden condition-all of which pretty much go hand in hand. With that being the case, I will not attempt to be exhaustive here, but I do want to try and shed a little biblical light on this most vile, but acceptable vice. I call it acceptable because as I said earlier, no one says much about it; it’s just an ‘oops moment’, if that, and it’s just swept under the rug as if nothing ever took place. No harm done. But it’s just not good. Especially for anyone who names the name of Jesus and calls themselves a Christian.

When we search the scriptures, we discover profanity’s true nature. In Colossians 3:8 we see that it is filthy. It reads: But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. There it is. That statement comes on the heel of a list of things that scripture says we should mortify, that is , put to death. Kill it. The phrase filthy communication is actually one word in the original language. It means foul speaking or low and obscene speech. This verse also says that it should be put off, laid aside and cast off. It’s also interesting to note the sequence of sins here. Each one is connected to the other; in other words, anger leads to wrath, which leads to malice which leads to blasphemy (which is evil speaking), which finally leads to filthy communication. We then read in Ephesians 4:29 that it is corrupt. This verse says: Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Profanity certainly doesn’t minister grace to anyone. Just so you’ll know, that word corrupt there means: rotten, unfit for use, of poor quality and worthless. A quite apropos description of profanity don’t you think?. I could cite several more scriptures but James 3:10 comes to mind: Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Come on my brothers and sisters. You can do better. Let’s bring our tongues to the cross and ask the Lord to cleanse us. It’s only through the cross that we will find release from whatever binds us. Remember that it is for freedom that Christ has made us free…Galatians 5:1. Let’s walk and talk in that freedom.

I claimed the following verse as my own several years back during a particularly rough stretch.. I leave it with you. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O lord, my strength and my redeemer. Psalms 19:14

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

Riding High

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Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was riding high. Just two weeks prior to the big game, he had virtually snatched victory from the jaws of defeat – only to suffer a heartbreaking loss in the big game. Yet he was able to put things in proper perspective during a post game interview when he stated that the need was to keep his head up, and that the goal was to get back to the big game again the next year.
In 1 Kings 18 we see the great prophet Elijah also riding high, so to speak. He had just experienced a great victory on Mount Carmel at the expense of the prophets of Baal, only to find himself the very next day running for his life and asking God to let him die.
You see, your enemy the devil does not want you ‘riding high.’ This is why we must be so careful to guard our hearts after great ‘mountaintop experiences’ (Proverbs 4:23). He wants to snatch the joy, peace and victory you experienced in God’s house or in prayer and replace it with fear, frustration or even discouragement; anything to subvert the power of God from flowing freely through your life, and making a difference in someone else’s. The truth is, when these particular states of mind and heart overtake us, we are no good to anyone – especially ourselves.
In order to break free and begin riding high again, I believe that several things are necessary. First of all, we must remember who we are. Romans 8:7 says that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. This verse speaks both about our position (we are loved by the Lord), and our condition (we are more than conquerors). The phrase ‘more than’ actually indicates that we are ‘super’ victorious. Think about that! Secondly, we must not forget who our God is. According to 2 Corinthians 2:14, our God always causes us to triumph. Finally and most importantly, and difficult for many to grasp is the fact that our Enemy has been defeated because of what Christ did at the Cross. Colossians 2:14-15 state that at the Cross Jesus disarmed Satan, effectively stripping him of his power over us and made an open spectacle out of him, shaming him in the process! This MUST be believed. 1 John 5:4 says, ‘…and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith (italics mine). That faith must be placed in Christ and what He did on the Cross. When I do this, then and only then will I continue to ride high. His victory is my victory!
That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.