Saturday, June 27, 2015

SET APART AND NOT OF THE WORLD.

"Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth." - Jn 17:17

How often we have heard these words! We use these words of our Lord to establish that truth is found in the Bible. And this is true, but is that what Jesus was talking about?

Jesus is talking to the Father. Jesus isn't telling the Father or us where to find the truth. Instead Jesus is saying God's word will set the disciples apart from the world.

"14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." Jn 17:14-16.
As Christ came into the world to do God's work and to glorify Him, so the disciples have been left in the world to do His work and to glorify the Father.

Jesus later says that His disciples are in the world, but they are not of the world. What is it that keeps the disciples from being of the world but the word of God. Disciples can be in the world, remaining holy and about the Father's business, because the word of God sets them apart.

"Sanctify them in the truth" is showing that God's word must come to the disciples if they are to be "in the world but not of the world". They won't have human wisdom. They won't have traditions. They won't be left with doubts and questions. But God will give to them the Holy Spirit inspired truth so that they will be set apart.

How about you? Are you striving to overcome sin? Do you feel you are too often just like the world. Is your life in the world AND of the world? Well it's because you are not sanctified by the word of truth. Without God's word, you are going to act as one who is still of the world.

God bless you. Dan Mayfield

STIRRED UP

Paroxuno - "This Greek verb gives us our English word paroxysm which is defined as a fit, attack, or sudden increase or recurrence of symptoms (as of a disease), a convulsion (like paroxysm of coughing) or a sudden violent emotion or action, and so an outburst (a paroxysm of rage)."

This is the Word used for Paul being "provoked" in his spirit at seeing all of the idols in Athens.

My spirit is provoked at seeing the idols being propped up by President Obama, liberal judges, and godless politicians in both sides of the aisle.

To be provoked over sin is right. A godly man is jealous for God and is provoked by the immorality that is growing in this land. "Remember, do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness; from the day that you left the land of Egypt until you arrived at this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD." Dt. 9:7.

How long before God comes down and judges Sodom and finds these who would pervert the precious marriage institution? They will be weighed and found wanting.

WHEN GOD IS YOUR HOPE.... Psalm 131

1 O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.

The world that does not hope in God is proud and boastful. The world that does not hope in God is overly involved in matters not too great for man. The world that does not hope in God believes in its own might and it does not know it is weak. The world is doomed to fail that does not hope in God.

2 Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.

The child of God has been tenderly fed and nurtured as an infant is from his dear mother. And at the right time, the child has grown to eat on food and no longer needs the mother's milk. Now the child is grown and weaned but still is comforted by the abiding presence of God. God's child has a hope. He is secure as a weaned child in the care of his mother.

3 O Israel, hope in the LORD
From this time forth and forever.

Israel and the Church does not hope in the temporal and passing things of this life. There is only hope in the LORD. When you feel proud, remember there is no hope there. When you want to involve yourselves in matters too great for man which only God can answer, remember there's no hope for you. And when you try to do what only God can do, know there is no hope there.

Let God be your hope from now and forever more.

GAY LOVE IS JUST THE SAME?

"Our love is equal". These are the words of someone celebrating the decision by the Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states. It is not equal. Just as all "love" is not equal, so this gay "love" is not equal. There is no real comparison between union between a man and woman. They are complimentary. The man and woman bring unique talents to the union which a "union" of two men or the "union" of two women can't possibly bring.

The Supreme Court just blew up the rational view of marriage. In a recent post of a video showing why the traditional, biblical, and moral view of marriage should be policy for government and the author showed why on philosophical grounds.

In the video I posted showing on philosophical grounds the superiority of marriage between man and woman, the author/speaker pointed to statistics showing that a marriage between two men has exaggerated levels of promiscuous sex outside of the "union". It is men who tend to be promiscuous. This tendency is doubled in a gay "union". Similarly, women tend to be more emotional and needy for attention (don't get offended, we are only talking about the truth) and in a lesbian "union" it is accentuated. The author/speaker in said video points out what I didn't know and what isn't talked much about that lesbian couples have the highest rate of divorce. The point is that the stability that's needed in marriage and home is broken down in the "union" of gays and lesbians.

God is going to judge the godless politicians and judges for their ungodly decisions.

"Love wins" is the announcement by iHeart radio in celebrating the decision by the court. I can assure you that with this win, someone is losing. Churches will lose when they preach against homosexuality and the sin of gay marriage. Businesses refusing to support or participate in gay marriages on the basis of conscience will lose. Children who are placed in gay and lesbian relationships will lose because they will have no right to be with and know their biological parents.

You can be sure that the whole story is not being told. The sin of homosexuality has vast, seedy underbelly that isn't pretty. The rainbow is the image and the public pronouncements aside, it's immoral and it will be judged. STAND FIRM AND DO NOT YIELD FOR A SECOND.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

HOW MANY FAITHFUL CHILDREN WILL THERE BE?

QUESTION: what is the key word in Ezra chapter 2?
"Children" or "sons", depending on the translation.   They are the descendants of Israel who had accepted the call to leave Persia and return to Jerusalem and Judah. That 42,000 plus servants would pack up and leave is actually a testimony of their faith. Here is how chapter 2 begins....

"The number of the men of the people of Israel: the sons of Parosh, 2,172; the sons of Shephatiah, 372; the sons of Arah, 775; the sons of Pahath-moab of the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,812...."  - Ezra 2:3ff

The listing of the sons continues through the entire chapter. But I want to focus on the number as it relates to faithfulness.  The sons are returning to the faith of their fathers that they might be the children of God.  I wonder how many of us fathers and mothers will have such a number of descendants who follow the LORD? I have five children who follow the LORD. My children are married to faithful Christians and they are therefore my children.  My children have given me eleven grandchildren and they are my children. My grandchildren are learning to walk with the LORD. I have taught my children to raise these eleven to be faithful to the LORD. And my children are teaching their children to teach their children to be faithful to the LORD. How many children of Dan will there be in a hundred years? Are we living our faith and raising our children to live by faith so that our children's children will desire to serve only Him?

Pray about this. - Dan Mayfield

DO YOU RESPOND?

When Ezra read the book of the law to the assembled people, it says he "4stood at a wooden podium which they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand; and Pedaiah, Michael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Mechullam on his left hand. 5Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it all, all the people stood up. 6Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, 'Amen, Amen!' while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces t the ground." Nehemiah 8:4-6.

I have preached many years and have never seen such a response from the people in the church. Why? There is nothing unholy or distracting about the response of these people who shout and lift their hands.

I sense that the church is so on guard against the very real threat of emotionalism that runs over the truth and over the commanded order that any visible expression is hushed. While we in the church admit that what the mind knows, the heart feels, we communicate that the expression of joy must be curtailed to a minimum lest we fall into error and turn the worship into a circus.

The emotional response of the people in Ezra and Nehemiah's day showed reverence to God's Word by standing at the reading of the Scripture, and they knew the proper moment to speak so that all together they said, "Amen! Amen!"

This response isn't orchestrated. Being raised Catholic, sort of, and being familiar enough with being told everything to say, and when to kneel, stand, and sit, I'm familiar with shows of religion that have nothing to do with the natural, heartfelt, and spiritual response to God.

What about the lifting of the hands? First, I dislike very much anything that becomes orchestrated and showy.  And I've visited denominations who make a big show of their religion in this way.  However, the raising of the hands as an expression of faith is as natural as a child lifting his arms to a parent. It is as natural as lifting the eyes to heaven. It is as natural as dropping to the knees in humility. It is as natural as prostrating oneself before God in prayer. There is nothing unspiritual or unscriptural about someone lifting up their hands to God.

The danger. With all such shows of faith, shows of expression, there is always the danger of it becoming nothing but show which conceals a heart that is not being lifted up to God. We have seen people come forward at the end of the sermon and it is with tears and sorrow for sin.  This isn't wrong. It is good. But there's never a guarantee that the expressions are genuine. But we don't tell people to not respond because such things might be fake. There's always a danger of fakery. God will deal with that.

The title of the lesson here isn't about lifting the hands or shouting "Amen". It is about responding in a very real way to the Word of God.  It seems the church has become comfortable with hearing the Word of God that it elicits no response at all. The preacher has poured his heart into the lesson and has most likely shed a tear and prayed deeply to God by being personally touched and convicted by what he's studied.  But then he stands at the podium as Ezra did and he makes his final appeal and then sits down. All the while, the people are stone silent. To my core, I can't explain it, but I think something is wrong.

Does God need to shake the mountains to make us quiver? Does Jesus need to make a whip to bring us to repentance? Or does the Word of God still touch you and move your spirit to say, "Thank you! Thank you! O my Lord, Amen to You!"

I offer this humbly, Dan Mayfield

Thursday, June 11, 2015

BREAKING DOWN THE BARRIERS


God says and reminds all who will hear that He is holy and nothing impure can come into His presence. "Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor..." Hab 1:13; cf Rev 21:27.  Yes, God makes a distinction between what is holy and profane.

The priests, Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, learned and were taught this lesson when they mingled the holy and unholy so that God's wrath was stirred and He killed them. God said to Moses, "10 and so as to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean, 11 and so as to teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them through Moses." Lev 10:10,11. It has always been God's design that men be righteous and that they make every effort to avoid all that is sin and all who are sinful. Because God is holy, His people are to be holy in all their behavior, 1 Pt 1:14-16.

To walk with Christ and to have the fruit of the Spirit is to be godly or god-like. All that God has done through His beloved Son to redeem man from sin is to restore sinful man back into a happy and blessed covenant life with Him.

Don't break through God's barriers of holiness by becoming like the sinful world.  The Apostle writes,

"14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 17 "Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE," says the Lord. "AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. 18 "And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty." 2 Cor. 6.

It is amazing that God desires a familial relationship with His children. But to be sons and daughters, there must be a clear distinction in how they live from the world. They "come out from their midst" and are "not bound together" with them "being separate" from the world is essential to have the right to be welcomed into the sanctuary of the Lord.  Psalm 24:3ff asks who may enter God's sanctuary? The answer is those who have clean hands, a pure heart, who have not lifted up their souls to falsehood, nor have they spoken deceitfully. God established the rules for having fellowship with Him. And spiritual people keep themselves from their feet and eyes and mind away from the immoralities of the world.

Do not break through the boundaries established by God so that you walk in sin.  In the days of Noah, it says, "1...it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose." Gen 6:1,2. Just as Paul said in 2 Corinthians that Christians are not to be bound together with unbelievers, so there was the mingling of the good and evil in the days of Noah and we see what evil was wrought.

Compromise and you lose your spirituality.  The holy and loved relationship with God is too valuable to jeopardize by dabbling and playing with the world.  We must be always on our guard that we not be deceived to compromise our way with God.  Respect the barriers of holiness and abstain from all that is wicked.

Monday, June 08, 2015

PREACHING OUT OF SEASON

What is clear is that the Preacher and the Church is to be addressing the selfishness and immoralities being encountered in the world.  Instead of being vocal, often we are just silent.

"2 Timothy 3:1-5 NASB
[1] But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. [2] For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, [3] unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, [4] treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, [5] holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these." 2 Tim 3

And with the culture today making the full embrace of Bruce Jenner calling himself a woman, as well as having the President making June a month to highlight LGBT issues, it's going to become even more difficult. People wonder what they should think or believe about transgenderism. Well it's an inordinate sex issue. Bruce Jenner calls himself a woman, dressed like a woman with the hair and makeup. And his sexual relationships will be sin no matter how "normal" it looks on the street.  It is abnormal and upsets the order designed by God.

The problem is a love problem. Looking at the text above, instead of loving God, the people are lovers of self, lovers of coin, and lovers of pleasure.  And the "pleasure" is the word we get hedonism from. This is an upside down world. Everything is about me, myself, and I.  There's no room for "love they neighbor" and in verse 3 he says the people are without the natural affection for family.  This truly marks the difficult times ahead.

In chapter 4 of 2 Timothy, Paul says for the young preacher to preach the word and to do it when it's easy and when it's hard.  Because the religious people are going to be going along with the world. This will make the job even harder because Timothy will have fewer people to preach to as the people look for preacher to say what they want to hear.  This will be a difficult time.

Be faithful. Don't let the gender bending confuse you and be sure to teach your children the natural design by God.  And teach the truth with love and patience.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

FAITH ALONE ?


"8Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul." Ps 143:8

When a man approaches God and "lifts up his soul" to Him, there must of necessity be the corresponding walk. If a man is lifting up his soul to God, but the corresponding deeds aren't done, then it is vain and displeasing to Him. The Psalmist said,
"3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place?  4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, And has not sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive a blessing from the LORD, And righteousness from the God of his salvation." Ps 24
As the Psalmist lifts up his soul to God, his words and deeds are in harmony with the will of God.

It is impossible that God intended for sinners to be saved by faith alone. Man is spirit and body. The body without the spirit is dead, and works without faith and faith without works is not at all what God desires. As we are body, soul, and spirit, so that love for God must be with our entire being lest our love be incomplete, just so must our faith incorporate more than belief only. If God would be pleased with a love only in words, then God might be pleased with a faith only in a prayer. Faith that saves must incorporate obedience or it is dead. That's why "faith only" doctrine is lipservice and completely contrary to God's will.

THIS IS A CHRISTIAN

CHRISTIANS...
 Are Holy, because God is holy, 1 Pt 1:16. If we are carousing, partying, lusting, unfaithful, and are generally giving ourselves to what pertains to the flesh, then we are not holy and are not a Christian.

Are Loving. The first great commandment is to love God. In fact our whole life should be characterized by these because God is love, Mt 5:43-48. There are many professing to be Christian who we must be honest have their affection set on the world. It is a lack of faith to love this world because Jesus the love for God will be compromised. We cannot love God and love what is contrary to God.

Are Humble. The world is proud and boastful. But God is opposed to the proud. Jesus taught humility by washing feet. Jesus taught disciples servanthood instead of seeking the place of honor, Lk 14:7-10. Jesus said 'whoever humbles himself as this child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Mt 18:4.

First and foremost, Christians are spirit beings; we are spiritual beings. Things like faith, love, humility, purity, truthfulness and the like are spiritual "exercises". These are the things which are like God and bring us into communion with Him.

All such spiritual "exercises" (think 1 Cor 13:13) have physical work or deeds which relate perfectly to them so that what we are "doing" (think book of James) is spiritual. We can talk about our faith (think Hebrews 11:1), but talk alone is not good because our faith isn't just talk, but it is also visible in "walking the talk", as they say. If there is only talking, or if there is not the spiritual life being lived that's in harmony to the spiritual life being professed, it is an immediate indication that the fleshly, double mind, is in control. When we are hearers and not doers, we are compromised as we are not being guided by the things of God. We are compromised when our spirit is submitting to the desires of this world. If such is the case, then the spiritual "excercises" like faith, humility, purity, love, and humility are spoiled and displeasing to God.

James is called the book of "practical Christianity", but what that means is that James is showing us how to live, and walk, and talk so that there is unity, not compromise, between our physical life and our spiritual life that is always before God.

Notice what James says at the end of chapter 1 that "pure and undefiled religion IN THE SIGHT OF GOD THE FATHER" is...." And then James goes on to show examples of how our physical life of talking and walking in unity with the religion that is the exercise of our spirit before our heavenly Father.

James is "practical" because it shows us that our physical deeds are to be in perfect harmony (no double-mindedness as in James 1:8; 4:8) with the spiritual "exercises" such as being loving, humble, and pure in spirit.

God made us in His image. God wants his children to live spiritual lives, which means that the walking and talking that we do is also spiritual.

When Christians, those who profess to be people of faith, love, and hope, when these are living lives that are contrary to the spiritual, then it is sin to be repented of. If I'm praying, but I'm also living a lustful and fleshly life, then I'm not a Christian - not any kind of Christian which the Father desires. If I am humble, then it shows in my life. If I'm loving, then it shows in my life. If I'm pure, it shows in my life. When these spiritual things aren't portrayed in my life, then I am showing to the Father that I've set my mind on the flesh and not on the things of the Spirit (think Romans 8:5ff). When we profess to believe (this is the faith "exercise" of believing the unseen realities of God) but are doing the things of the flesh, we are compromised, double-minded, and the faith that we have is dead (think James 2:14-26). Believing in God and professing to be Christians is always evidenced by the deeds because there is to be perfect harmony in our mind, body, soul, and spirit. As Paul says in Romans 6, we are new and born again, the spiritual reality being that God raised us up from baptism a new creature, baptism being the doing of our faith showing perfect harmony, and as a new creature we are always presenting ourselves to God as an instrument of righteousness. If there is no compromise between the spiritual religion and the living of it, then we are not presenting ourselves to sin as instruments for sin (Romans 6:12ff). Christians are not ever perfect in keeping the harmony between the religion before God and the life we live. We sin. But if we love God and humbly come before Him, then the purity we strive to have before Him brings us to repentance when there is the living and talking that's contrary to God. This is the practical Christianity of James. If you say you are a Christian, then live the life of a Christian.

When I say that Christians "are" humble, pure, and loving, these are the spiritual realities which God is most concerned with. When men can't see the spiritual realities, then we are being Christian in name only. If you are humble, then don't be easily bothered with insults or criticisms. If you are loving, then look out for others. Love your wife by serving her. Love your children by putting your stuff down and read to them and by talking to them tenderly of your pure faith. If you are pure before God, then shield your eyes from the immoralities of the world.

The Psalmist asked the question, "Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?" This is talking about coming to the temple of God to worship Him which is spiritual "exercise". The answer is disturbing to those who are not living the Christian life. He answers, "4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully." The purity and truthfulness of the Christian is evidenced by the life being lived. When the life we live in our body is in harmony with the spiritual, then we may go to the throne of God and worship Him. If there is not harmony between the spiritual "exercises" and the deeds we are doing in the body, then it makes our religion in the sight of God to be vain or displeasing to Him. This is why Jesus said, "23"Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering." Mt 5. Jesus shows us that ascending the hill to the temple of the Lord when we have sin in our life is displeasing to God. Don't go to the throne of God in prayer and quiet meditation without first addressing the things in our life that are not harmony with that religion before God. If you would be seen by God as loving, pure, and humble, then live it and He will be pleased with your worship.

This is what a Christian is. A Christian is one whose living in his body is in harmony with what he's doing before the Father. If God the Father sees our life is an evidence of the faith we say we have in Him, then God is pleased. Zephaniah 3 is talking about a future time, the Christian age, when the people will tell the truth and do good, and it says, "The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy." Zeph 3:17. This is what makes God happy that the spiritual life we live before His throne, in His holy temple, is in harmony with the life we live in the body. This is what a Christian is.

Because God is pure, be pure. Because God is holy, be holy. Because God is humble and lowly, be humble an meek and lowly. Jesus Christ is our example in all of these things. "Come and follow Me" is Jesus' invitation to become as He is. We follow Jesus to learn His ways. He always did the will of His Father in Heaven to show us the example that the spiritual "exercise" of faith and love is practiced on the dusty roads and among the throngs of hungry people. Jesus wants us to live for Him. At the coffee shop. On the basketball court. In the training of our children. In the assembly of Christians. Our lives are to be a living sacrifice, in harmony with the life of worship before God. This is a Christian.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

ALL POWER IS FROM GOD, Dan Mayfield

David said, "Once God has spoken; Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God;" Ps 62:11.
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon learned this principle after he said, "Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?" Daniel 4:30. God heard him and brought him down to such a humble and broken condition that for "seven periods of time" the king was driven from mankind and ate grass from the field like an animal. At the end of this period it says Nebuchadnezzar looked up and said, "my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation." Daniel 4:34. All great men, all proud men, all thinking men, all endowed men, and all men who are graced with good fortune need to know that their strength is fleeting and that it can be taken from them in a single moment. The king's boast ought to be in the Almighty God who gave the ability to do great things.
Do you have power? It is from God. Is there power in the Universe? It is from God? All power that grows the blade of grass to that which moves the constellations is the power of God. The Creator spoke the word and all things came into being so that what is seen was made from what cannot be seen, Heb 11:3. This is why we bow to Jesus Christ because the Lord of heaven and earth is creator of it all, and "3and upholds all things by the word of His power." Hebrews 1:3. All strength is not of man but God. Without God's power, all would be powerless. This helps us to better understand the humble faith of Paul who said, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." Phil 4:13. Man is powerless to save himself. Man is powerless to do good and he will always fall short until he acknowledges the greatness of God and His power. Man may do great things but he is always tapping into God's power. The glory and boast is not his to take, but it is God who made possible, and it is God who should be glorified. It is possible to appear powerful and to be counted as powerful by men. But all such men will pass from this earth and all remembrance of them and their works will be forgotten, Eccl 2:16. Why is God opposed to the proud? Because they arrogantly believe their greatness is of themselves. They commit the greatest evil of denying the Creator; but not only do they deny the gracious appeals of God, but they shake their fists at Him and proceed to deceive others. God is opposed to all but the humble who know their true state is pitiful. How much better it is to acknowledge our own powerless condition, and to humbly present ourselves before the Almighty God! Do you not know that God will humble you if you are proud? The Apostle Paul was given a thorn in the flesh so that he might boast in weakness and not in his power. Do you want a thorn? It is better to bow before Him and give Him honor for all He has done for you. Paul said, "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am strong." 2 Cor. 12:10. God told Paul that "power is perfected in weakness" which means that if there is any power to be had, it must be God's that comes through a meek and lowly spirit. You think you have power but you don't. Not of yourself anyway. If you have power, do not engage in vain boasting or God will see and take it from you so that you learn while you still have a chance. And if you are humble, then God will exalt you.
Isaiah said, "28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable *. 29 He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. 30 Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, 31 Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary." Isaiah 40:28-31.
Strength comes from the Lord if we will wait for Him.

LIBERTY OR FREEDOM IN CHRIST - Dan Mayfield

Liberty is in Christ and it includes freedom from the Old Law and circumcision, Gal. 5:1ff. Of course, this includes the very real freedom from sin and its penalty. Because of God's grace through OBEDIENT faith (Rom 1:5; 16:26; 1 Thess 1:3; Jas 2:14ff), Christians are set free from any system of works which requires perfection. "3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." Rom. 8:3-4. In Christ, we are truly free; we are free indeed.
----But liberty is not absolute as it can't include a liberty to sin against God: desiring to sin would not be the right spirit, Rom 8:5,6. God has not set us free to sin against Him. Instead He says, "But through love, serve one another", Gal. 5:13. Sin harms others because it's contrary to the commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself". Therefore liberty ends at the point of sinning against God and others.

Liberty includes some things that a Christian holds as a matter of faith to God. Romans 14 gives the examples of eating meat sacrificed to an idol and to the holding of special days. Concerning this, Paul says, "5 Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God" Rom. 14:5,6. These liberties represent personal and private expressions of faith. These personally held liberties cannot be forbidden or legislated against by the church.
---- But these liberties cannot be exercised to the harm of others.The observance of these liberties is limited to private observance because opinions vary and they will be highly divisive. "For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died." Rom. 14:15. An obvious conclusion is that to bring personally held liberties into the church and to impose them contrary to another man's conscience is not walking according to love. Paul said, "19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. 20 Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. 21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles." Rom. 14:19-21. Loving others and the pursuit of unity in the church trumps any right we have to exercise our freedom. Liberty ends at the point of dividing the church.

What is lawful, is not always "profitable". Paul says in 1 Cor. 6:12 and 10:23, "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything....All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify." How can something be lawful but not profitable? Two things. The liberty becomes your master and Paul says, "I won't be mastered by anything." And second, it is not edifying. If the liberty is harmful to the spiritual condition of self and/or others, the liberty should be shelved. Paul was more interested in saving souls and in doing what was profitable to the spiritual growth of the church than he was in practicing his liberty. If the lawful thing enslaves and does not edify, then it is unprofitable and is not allowed in the church to be practiced.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WERE RICH?

"If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them." - Ps 62:10

If you were an instant bazillionaire, and instantly had more money that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet combined, would you still worship God? Would you still meet with the saints and would you "glory in your humiliation" Jas 1:10? Would you sing praises to God and humbly lead the prayer? Would you give a large portion of your bazillion to God's work or would you withhold in fear that so much might cause the church to go astray? Would you still wear your gospel shoes (Eph 6:15) and knock doors and would you help yearly with the VBS? If you were an instant kazillionaire would you sit at night meditating on God's holy word and would you pray to Him for His will to be worked in you?

Or....would your first order of business be to write a bucket list of things you always wanted to do? Would you get liposuction and hair implants? Would you do a lot of things that invest in the little bit of life you have here?

Even if you never become a killionaire, it might be the new management position and the handsome raise there that's just enough to change your life away from God. Jesus said, "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much", Lk 16:10. Are we faithful now? Is God the yearning of our heart now? Is His will the meditation of our heart now? Do we die daily to self and have we presented ourselves fully to Christ for service? Riches? We don't need to money of Bill Gates to lure us away from God. All we need to do is forget that this life is like the fleeting mist of the morning. Please look to God and devote yourself fully to His will for you.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

APPRECIATE THE BLESSING

Our daughter Kristin related a story of a mother who was obsessed with cleaning and would get very frustrated over finger prints or anything out of place. Her child was always frustrating her because of the dirt and grime he left behind. Well an accident happened and the child died. A real tragedy. The mother did something very natural which we do when losing someone important in that she began looking for evidence of the child's play. There was none. The toys were put up and the fingerprints were all wiped clean. How she would have loved to find a fingerprint.

Today, Heidi was telling me how she tries to ignore the little messes in life that can keep her from enjoying the really important things in life. She told me that a Proverb came to her mind this morning, which says,

"Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much revenue comes by the strength of the ox." Pro 14:4.

She decided that it meant it was better to focus on the good than the bad. So what if you have a clean house but don't have the little rug rats, family, and friends who are so very precious?

This morning, Heidi went in to wake Rushie up and he said for her to get in bed with him (Rush is 2). So she did and he covered her up. Then she started feeling crumbly things in the bed. She said, "Rush, what's all of this crumbly stuff in the bed?" He said, "That's my rocks!" Well he had had five or six geodes in bed the day before and they tend to crack and crumble along the edges. There were many crumbly and uncomfortable bits of rock which Rush slept on through the night. Heidi said for Rush to tell her next time there is something uncomfortable in his bed and she would clean it up for him. Rush said, "OK mommy, I'll tell you, and you can clean it up, and I'll put more rocks in my bed." It made Heidi laugh as she thought how Rush is her little ox and how much better it is to have his messes than to have a clean house without him.

You have the choice to fret about the troubles of life or to give thanks for the blessings. The garden can be a burden for its weeds or it can be a blessing for the produce it brings in the harvest. Don't let the devil steal away your blessings.

CREATURE COMFORTS

When a Scribe said he would follow Jesus anywhere, Jesus replied, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere * to lay His head." Lk 8:20. First, I can't read those words without crying. I love Jesus and can't take away what he went though. But also it makes me think about what I would say? Would I think, "Oh, well that stinks. Let me think about it. I'll get back with you when you are back this way."? This truth is, we are living with way too much and most of us would turn away rather than make the sacrifice Jesus called for.

Go without a pillow and sleep where the lost souls are. Go hungry from being too busy with the Lord's work to stop and take a bite. Let go of the friends and family that are a continual hindrance to your walk in the light. Give up the politics and world interests that are killing your soul from the eternal things of God.

Jesus died on a cross and then said "follow Me." Does Jesus look over His shoulder and see you walking close in His steps? I pray He sees me. I'll die to self. I'll sacrifice my time. I'll serve. I'll give rather than receive. Walking with Christ is not always the easy path; it's sometimes hard, but it is the way of peace, joy, and an eternal hope laid up for those who do.

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