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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Another Holiday Challenge – Number Five: Remember the Poor

This challenge is rather late, and I apologize for that.  Some of you may still have opportunity to put some of these thoughts to use, but perhaps it will challenge you to make changes for next year.  At any rate, I’m inclined to say that this challenge is not for the faint of heart.

Challenge Number Five - Remember the Poor

“Have you ever considered how the Lord Jesus Christ would have you "celebrate His birthday"?  Be honest.  Have you considered what He would do, what He did do when He was on this earth, and the sort of people to whom He delights to minister?”

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thoughts from the Past – In the Wrong Order

July 20, 2007

In the Wrong Order

Acts 9:31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.

We read this verse a few weeks ago in our family Bible reading. My dad pointed out the importance of the order of progression here.

In thinking about that, it crossed my mind how the devil likes to get that turned around backwards. He seems to get a great deal of mileage out of turning things upside down and backwards. He also gets a lot of power in the lives the people who turn things around from the order that God ordained. Think about women taking charge of their husbands and/or churches, children becoming the main focal point of the home, sexual relations before marriage, exalting the pastor instead of Christ, etc. Much joy and peace that God intends us to have by following His order are lost when we turn things around backwards.

In looking at the above verse I started from the end and considered how you can see right from this verse why so many churches are far from the order and peace that God wants for them.

In most Bible believing churches "multiplying" is the emphasis. Pastors, deacons, Sunday School teachers, pastor's wives, youth pastors, etc. all push for more numbers. "Bring more people. Invite your friends." "Let's see if we can all invite one person to church next week." "We need to have a 'Bring A Friend Sunday' and everyone bring at least one guest to church." And so it goes.  [Dec. 2011 note: My dad found out from personal experience that they efforts don’t usually bring desirable results.]

But, according to the verse above, what is lost when the order is reversed and the multiplication is put in first place by man or the devil?

People who are constantly being nagged to increase numbers and attend "visitation" usually don't have much comfort of the Holy Ghost. They are more likely to be living under guilt or a compulsion to push the people around them to perform better. They also tend to live with frustration toward the ones who won't "perform" according the requirements.

Next they usually are walking in the fear of man rather than the fear of the Lord, and the man they fear is usually a pastor or "great man of God."

The saints stop being edified because the emphasis is on increasing the membership role, not feeding the sheep and lambs.

The church most certainly does not have rest. They are usually exhausting themselves and each other with the large selection of “ministries”, “outreaches”,
“visitation”, programs, etc. which they feel driven to perform so they will “grow”.

All this because the multiplying is not put in God's order - last - but in man's and the devil's order which is first.

[Dec. 2011 note: This has been graphically illustrated for us in the “seeker sensitive” churches where what people want has become all-important in order to accomplish growth – multiplying.]

John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Romans 14:16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of: 17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. 19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Another Holiday Challenge Posted

Challenge Number Three of the Holiday Challenge is no up.

While I realize that some of these challenges are going to be too late for you to incorporate this year, I still plan to continue posting them till they are done, Lord willing.  The one I just put up is about reducing the level of activities that you participate in.  After all, if you are supposed to be celebrating Christ’s birth, why not focus more on Him and less on the “festivities of the season”?  This is one thing that you may still have time to adjust in some areas.

Challenge Number Three – Simplify Your Holiday Activities

Excerpts:

1 Peter 4:3-4 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:

“What is this madness that people get into for a month or more prior to Christmas?  They are running to parties, shopping, attending events (recitals, plays, programs, cantatas, practices), shopping, cooking and baking in excess, shopping, etc.?  What does all that have to do with the Lord Jesus Christ?…”

“…Maybe it's time to choose a simpler plan for your "celebration".  Not only will it save you money; you will also have time to focus more on your family (especially your children whom you claim you must have Christmas for); you will be less emotionally exhausted; and most of all you will have more time, energy and resources to focus on the Lord Jesus Christ.  (Wouldn't that be a novel idea.)…”

Monday, December 5, 2011

Running In Vain? - A Holiday Challenge

If you know what our position is on the Christmas holiday you are likely to think that you know what this is about.  Try again.  It is not what you think! :-)  Please take the time to look it over before you write it off.

Do you claim to celebrate Christmas in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ?  Silly question, right? The commercialism and the lack of focus on Jesus Christ is something that has been a particular burden on my heart this year.  Consequently, it seemed like a good idea to lay out some challenges to my fellow believers to attempt to get those of you who do celebrate to consider what you are doing, and why. Furthermore, it would be good to give up some of the things that are either contrary to sound reasoning (to say nothing of scripture) or excessive either in cost or behavior.  Under the present circumstances worldwide, there is great virtue in simplifying your celebrations and making a point of spending less; or spending in a manner that takes Jesus Christ as the example.

A few excerpts from the introduction:

In Galatians 2:2 the Apostle Paul writes regarding his visit to Jerusalem, And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.  This verse was brought to my attention in another context the very same day that I started writing this article.  (God is like that, and I love Him for it!)  It seems to me that there are so many Christians who, in the area of celebrating "Christmas", are running in vain…

I urgently desire to see my fellow believers be more purposeful in what they do, especially when claiming that it is to the glory of God.  Because of this, I am introducing a variety of challenges so that you may choose one or more that you feel you can truly accomplish.  There will be some that are more challenging than others.  Please prayerfully consider what the Lord would have you to do…

You don't want to be like the people Jesus describes in Matthew 15:8, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

Continue reading this challenge.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thoughts from the Past – He Will Not Remember

May 24, 2006
He Will Not Remember

Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.

Here is a beautiful verse! The Lord is speaking to Israel here, but we can get in on the blessing of it as it is in keeping with New Testament teaching.

First of all, God says that He blotteth out our transgressions for His own sake. That means that there is nothing we can do to deserve having our transgressions blotted out, but it is for His own pleasure that He saves us. Therefore, it is of no account that we are unworthy sinners in and of ourselves, because He is worthy. It pleases God to do this for His own sake that He might enjoy the friendship of His creation. That is a tremendous thought and I suggest you stop and ponder it!

Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. [Emphasis added]

Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Secondly, God says He will not remember our sins! He Will Not! Read that again - He WILL NOT remember our sins. By an act of His sovereign will God chooses not to remember my sins. He chooses not to remember your sins if you have also believed on Christ in faith. For us this act of willful forgetfulness is applied through the blood of Jesus Christ His Son, which cleanseth us from all sin. (1John 1:7-9).

The doubters who wish to question their own salvation or the salvation of others will ask, "But what if He decides to remember?" In the modern expression, "What don't you understand about 'will not'?" It is a promise not up for debate. If God does not keep His word, He's a liar and you shouldn't believe in Him anyway! Romans 3:4 ...yea, let God be true, but every man a liar... Every time man contradicts a plain promise of God, it's man that is lying, not God! That includes your own deceitful heart (Jer. 17:9).

We have no cause to fear man's threats nor ourselves, for nothing rests upon our worthiness or upon us, with out discouraging tendency to sin. The Lord says He will not remember our sins, and that He has blotted out our transgressions for His own sake. Believe it! Praise the Lord!

Psalm 130 ¶ A Song of degrees.
1 Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD.
2 Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
3 If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
5 ¶ I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
6 My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.
7 Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
8 And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.