May 2, 2010 What Should You Do?

What should you do?

 

What should you do if someone or a group wanted to build a pornographic book and video store in your neighborhood or city?  A brothel?  An anti-America compound?  A mosque?  Plans for a mosque were presented to the Brentwood City Planning Commission last Tuesday evening.  The City Commissioners will hear such recommendation later this month and decide.  How strongly should a Christian resist this?  What does the Bible say?

 

The Plan is for a 12,000 square foot complex of meeting room and prayer center to be built on a parcel along Wilson Pike contiguous with the Twin Springs subdivision and near the tunnel walk-bike-way under the street.  Forty Muslim families from Brentwood and Franklin want this Islamic Center built with 120 parking spaces and to serve 325 people.  These families currently drive to mosques in Nashville. 

 

Among the questions to be answered are

  • What will be the impact on surrounding property values;
  • Will the City allow the practice of Sharia Law, including the beating of women, on the property (now in their homes?);
  • What has been the history of progression of Islamic infiltration into community life in other cities and countries, that started with a request by a few families for a mosque near them;
  • Will they teach the overthrow of the United States, as has been taught in other mosques and, apparently, assented to by all Muslims because of their silence of opposition;
  • What does this have to do with righteousness; and
  • What should be the position of Christians?

 

Bible imperatives and history

  • The first commandment is: ‘You shall have no other gods before Me’ (Exodus 20.3; Matthew 22.37-38; verse 39 is explained in 2 John 6).
  • Exodus 34.12-16 forbade Israelites from marrying outside of their religious family.  Deuteronomy 17.17 said that the king should not have many wives.  The purpose was to not bring foreign gods among the people, which would cause violation of the first commandment.
  • But, King Solomon did just that; see 1 Kings 11.1-4.  King Manasseh added worship of moon-god (with early characteristics of Islam); see 2 Kings 21.1-5.  Continue reading about God’s opposition to their practices.  BTW, Islam’s god is satan; not the God of Jews and Christians; see Isaiah 14.12-15 and John 8.39-47.

 

What is God’s perspective?

  • Exodus 12.12 and Numbers 33.4 states God’s actions against pretenders of deity and their followers.
  • He used Gideon to destroy pretenders of deity in his town; see Judges 6.25-27.
  • In his early days as king, Solomon repeated his father David’s teaching that ‘the fear of the Lord is to hate evil…’ (Proverbs 8.12).  Note David’s attitude in Psalm 139.21-22; strong words from the ‘man after [God’s] own heart’ (1 Samuel 13.14). 
  • But, this is God’s heart!  Note His words through the prophet to King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 19.2

 

So, what should you do?

Petition the Brentwood Commissioners with polite but firm resolve in written form and personal attendance.

April 18, 2010 Revealing Jesus

Revealing Jesus

Jesus’ prayer in John 17.1-26 is one of the richest passages in the New Testament, I believe.  It and Matthew 10.1-42 give the clear intentions of God for believers – ministry impact upon and resistance from the world.  They show the manifested love of God for mankind illustrated by overcoming satan’s deceptions and troubles (John 16.33).  In a sense, believers are to demonstrate the actual victory of God over the abusive presence of satan in unbelievers; thus, God versus satan.  We know Who wins (Isaiah 14.12-15; Revelation 19.20-21, Revelation 20.10)!

How is God’s intention taught from person to person and generation to generation?  We received it from others perfectly or imperfectly illustrated.  How do we pass it along, improving upon its perfection we received?

 

Jesus passed along God’s intention perfectly.

What other work did Jesus complete before going to the Cross?

  • Remember that He did this in the context of John 15.18-19.  What did Jesus want his followers to understand?  This context has not changed at all, because the enemy has not yet been bound.  But, also remember 2 Corinthians 2.14 and Revelation 12.11!

 

We are to reveal God, too!

John 4.35-38 implies it, as does 2 Corinthians 5.20.

 

It’s all in Jesus’ name!

to Acts 3.16 (see Acts 3.1-10).  See the victory in Philippians 2.9-11!

 

Our individual task is found in John 17.26.

  • Personalize what Jesus says in this verse.
  • How well HAVE you declared the name Jesus?
  • How well WILL you declare ‘Jesus’ starting today?
  • When you say ‘Jesus’, He comes on the scene to reveal the love of God

to all in need (Mark 16.20).  But, you must say ‘Jesus’ in the circumstance!

You ARE important!  ‘Let others [experience] Jesus in you’ (hymn).

March 21, 2010 Command Appearance

Command Appearance

 

In Deuteronomy 16.16, Moses informed the Hebrews who will be going into the Promised Land of God’s requirement that ALL of their men must present themselves before God in Jerusalem three times each year, with an appropriate gift for Him.  There will be one more command appearance before Him that is the subject of this lesson at Easter. 

The Apostle Paul informed the residents in Athens, Greece, of this coming day in Acts 17.30-32. 

 

My questions to you are: is your uniform pressed, and do you have your gift?

 

Times of Ignorance

  • Acts 17.30 reminds of God’s patience and mercy.  He puts up with a lot from mankind. He has delayed judgment, so that people might choose Him without being pressured.
  • But, time is short, even shorter today, and God ‘commands all men everywhere to repent.’  Jesus’ entry into the earth was the beginning of the end.  The end could come at anytime after His resurrection; even today!
  • My favorite definition of ignorance is found in Jeremiah 13.10. 
  • Ignorance is the absence of truth and occurs when you ‘refuse to hear’ God’s word. 
  • See also Jeremiah 8.8-9 and Jeremiah 9.23-24.
  • When you refuse to hear God’s truth, you begin to ‘walk in the imagination’ of your mind, you automatically begin to ‘walk after other gods to serve them and worship them’, because satan constantly brings lusts and pride to your mind. 
  • Paul illustrates this in Romans 1.18-21.
  • Ignorance will no longer be excused!  Time is up!

Repent Now…Or Else!

  • Acts 17.31 should jolt you awake, as I believe it did the Athenians, with words that drown out all others: God ‘has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness….’  Hosea 14.9 removes all supposition about ‘righteousness’.  It is God’s ways, not man’s ‘imaginations’.
  • The day of His judgment has been set; it is pending, awaiting only His declaration.
  • As stated above, the ‘Judge’ was born, paid with His blood the price for your sin, and arose to be with God forevermore.  The end could come at anytime after His resurrection; even today!
  • This ‘Judge’ gave His criteria for judgment in John 12.48-50.  Will there be ‘balance’ when you are put on the scales of His justice?  How do your deeds express your faith? 
  • Hear, when you read James 2.14-26 and Matthew 25.31-46, sounds from the courtroom on that judgment day.

How will you recognize the ‘Judge’?

  • The last part of Acts 17.31 identifies the Judge as Jesus Christ, God’s only Son!  He is the One that He ‘ordained’ (set apart for this important, specific purpose).
  • God identified Jesus by raising Him from the dead!  ‘O Death, where is your sting?  O Grave, where is your victory?’  The Apostle Peter was the voice of the Holy Spirit’s proclamation of this truth on the Day of Pentecost, in Acts 2.22-24. 
  • Jesus, Himself, prophesied the same in Matthew 12.38-40.
  • Jesus was/is the Prophet of Deuteronomy 18.18, Who acted just like His Father;
  • compare John 15.24 to Exodus 34.10. 
  • He was/is the One Whom John the Baptist was looking for in Matthew 11.1-6. 
  • Jesus was/is the fulfillment of Isaiah 61.1-3 (Luke 4.16-21). 
  • He is the only One qualified to Judge!
  • ‘The Judge is coming!’ proclaimed Paul to the Athenians.

Two Alternatives

  • Acts 17.32 records the response of the Athenians to his plea that they ‘repent’: some mocked; some wanted to hear more.  Do you need more time?  Will you have more time?
  • Acts 2.40-41 tells a different response to Peter’s plea ‘be saved from this perverse generation’: ‘three thousand souls were added to them (believers and followers of Jesus)’.  See also Acts 2.19-20 and Acts 4.12.
  • People will decide individually. 
  • Jesus differentiated the few from the many in Matthew 7.13-14.
  • Your and my job is that of Paul with the Athenians. 
  • Prayerfully contemplate 2 Corinthians 5.20-21.

Two Questions

  • is your uniform pressed, and
  • do you have your gift?

Study question for next week:

“Why is the resurrection of Christ the pivotal point, the crux of our Christian faith?”

March 7, 2010 Pride Promotes Strife

Pride Promotes Strife

‘Where do wars and fights come from among you?’ This open-ended, non-rhetorical question from James 4.1 should be asked within marriages, families, friendships, schools, businesses, local and state and national and international governments, etc…wherever two people relate. James was directing his question to believers in churches. Evil pride promotes strife and separation among the body of Christ to weaken our resistance of his schemes that steal, kill, and destroy;

see Isaiah 14.12 and John 10.10.

‘Yet, you do not have because you do not ask’ (James 4.2) focuses attention on the real problem. Let’s consider this issue by looking at James 4.1-10 and Numbers 14.1-11.

 

Teeter-tottering between the flesh and spirit

James 4.2 expresses the same struggle that the Apostle Paul describes in Romans 7.22-25. Jesus, too, encouraged you to ask Him, instead of taking from one another;

see Matthew 7.7-12.

How does John the Baptist’s wisdom in John 3.27 guide your understanding of the struggle?

God, Who knows your hearts, denies your requests because of James 4.3-6.

How does buying a lottery ticket illustrate this point? (You don’t think about missions or alms when you plunk down the money.)

God wants you to look to Him, not to the devil; to cash or debit, not credit cards. How does Numbers 15.39 describe you? (Perhaps, you should tape a note to each check and every card reading: ‘did you ask God first?’)

James says the origin of this is pride.

What similarities and proofs of James’ truth do you find in Isaiah 14.12-15?

How does James 4.7-8a lead you to victory in this tottering? How can you recognize the real enemy in the struggle?

How do Matthew 6.33 and Philippians 4.19, each, explain James 4.10?

What, then, is ‘humility’?

Remember James 1.5-8.

How do these verses apply in the contexts mentioned in the introduction above?

 

Celebration or conflict erupts when two people teeter-totter in the same direction

Who controls celebration? Who controls conflict?

Pride and selfishness have ruined many relationships.

Name some that you have observed and/or experienced.

Numbers 14.1-11 describes the effect on the most important relationship.

Which side of the disagreement would you have been on at that time?

Why?

How were the dissenters ‘despising’ and disbelieving God? See verse 11.

How can the relationship of God’s word and name in Psalm 138.2 encourage you to live more in the spirit?

How do 2 Timothy 3.16-17 amplify this understanding?

What about Paul’s advice in 1 Timothy 4.7-8?

 

So, how do you keep ‘wars’ from creeping into the church?

What was God’s ideal outcome in Numbers 14.11?

Notice His action in 2 Chronicles 16.9a.

Contemplate Isaiah 64.4; are you willing to wait?

How similar is this outcome to James 4.2c?

Hold onto God’s encouragement in Isaiah 55.10-11 and Ephesians 3.20-21.

February 28, 2010 No Substitute Update

No Substitute Update

 

An interesting Associated Press article was circulated on Friday, February 12, 2010, by OneNewsNow.com.  It read: “A poll of members of the Presbyterian Church USA shows a significant percentage of them now reject the exclusivity of the gospel message…that 36% of members disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement: ‘only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved’…another 39%…agreed or strongly agreed with the statement.”  That leaves 25% who, apparently, are undecided about John 14.6.  This is not the first time that evil has crept in to change fundamental beliefs in Christian churches.  This lesson describes the confrontation.

 

Christianity is absolute, not relative.

  • God has consistently proclaimed the message of Isaiah 45.22 from the Garden until today. 
  • Apparently, then, the Presbyterian problem expressed above is intermarriage with spouses who follow other gods.  See Exodus 34.11-17.

 

  • Why is God so absolute as His statement in Exodus 20.3.

 

Pharisees were relative, not absolute, followers of God.

  • Jesus called them sons of the devil, in John 8.44.

 

  • Jesus confronted their behavior with the question in Matthew 15.3 that still resonates today.  Note Jesus’ words in Matthew 15.6. 

 

  • Would He say this about the Presbyterian 61%?

 

 

Relativism continues its attack among believers.

  • The Apostle Paul could have been commenting about the degradation of the world’s people in 1 Corinthians 5.1-13.  He was not the first to condemn such sexual perversion. 

 

Jacob recognized in Genesis 49.4 the aberrant behavior of his firstborn son, Reuben, in

Genesis 35.22 and a chronologist recorded the result in 1 Chronicles 5.1. 

Leviticus 18.6-8 expresses God’s displeasure, in His rules for a normal society.

 

  • Paul’s solution was to cast this demon-possessed one from the congregation

(1 Corinthians 5.7 and 1Corinthians 11-12) and to ‘deliver such a one to satan for the destruction of the flesh’ (verse 5; see 1Timothy 1.18-20 also). 

Like God had said, purge evil from the congregation; Numbers 25.1-9.

 

  • John the Baptist’s confrontation with Israel’s King Herod upheld another of God’s rules for a normal society. 

 

Compare Matthew 14.3-4 to Leviticus 18.16 and Leviticus 20.21.

Herod lost badly in the end; Acts 12.20-24.

 

  • Despite the Apostle Peter’s proclamation of truth in Acts 4.8-12, he wrote to warn and encourage Christians to hold onto the purity of their faith in Jesus. 

Read his words in 1 Peter 4.1-6 (especially verse 3) and 1Peter 5.8-9. 

 

In 2 Peter 2.1-22, he warns about teachers of relativism and describes, in verses 7-8, how this affected Lot, Abraham’s nephew in Sodom and Gomorrah;

see also Genesis 19.4-5 and Genesis 13.12-13 and Ezekiel 16.49-50 (note ‘idleness’).

 

 

 

What to do. 

John offers a similar instruction in 1 John 4.4-6 to Paul’s in

1 Corinthians 11.1 and Hebrews 6.12. 

 

Be ‘Berean’ (Acts 17.11)!

February 14, 2010 No Substitute

 

No Substitute

 

An interesting Associated Press article was circulated on Friday, February 12, 2010, by OneNewsNow.com. 

It read: “A poll of members of the Presbyterian Church USA shows a significant percentage of them now reject the exclusivity of the gospel message…that 36% of members disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement: ‘only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved’…another 39%…agreed or strongly agreed with the statement.” 

That leaves 25% who, apparently, are undecided about John 14.6.  This is not the first time that evil has crept in to change fundamental beliefs in Christian churches.  This lesson describes the confrontation.

 

Christianity is absolute, not relative.

God has consistently proclaimed the message of Isaiah 45.22 from the Garden until today.

When unpacking the Ten Commandments to Moses, God declares the seriousness of relative allegiance in Exodus 22.20. 

He meant what He said in Exodus 20.1-7.

This was to continue forever, as I believe was the message of His warning in

Exodus 34.11-17.

Apparently, then, the Presbyterian problem expressed above is intermarriage with spouses who follow other gods.

Why is God so absolute as His statement in Exodus 20.3; because He knows there is no salvation apart from Himself; Isaiah 45.22.

 

Pharisees were relative, not absolute, followers of God.

Jesus called them sons of the devil, in John 8.44, for not accepting Him as Messiah. 

In John 15.24 and John 14.11, He reminded them that He was the One they should have been looking for to fulfill Deuteronomy 18.18 and Exodus 34.10.

Jesus confronted their behavior with the question in Matthew 15.3 that still resonates today. 

Over the centuries from God declaring Exodus 20.3, periods of ‘enlightenment’ had distracted succeeding leaders into intermarriage and the weakening of future progeny. 

Note Jesus’ words in Matthew 15.6. 

Creeping evil continues to weaken the line; see Isaiah 14.12-15. 

Remember the Apostle Paul’s encouragement in Colossians 2.8-10.

Other examples of Pharisees’ relative faith are seen in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

(Matthew 5-7) and in His scathing rebuke in Matthew 23.1-36. 

Note, especially, His description of ‘relativity’ in Matthew 23.27-28; the result of ‘intermarriage’.

Would He say this about the Presbyterian 61%?

Jesus declared God’s absoluteness in John 8.31-32 and John 17.17!

 

Relativism continues its attack within the church.

Despite the Apostle Peter’s proclamation of truth in Acts 4.8-12, he wrote to warn and encourage Christians to hold onto the purity of their faith in Jesus. 

Read his words in 1 Peter 4.1-6 and 1Peter 5.8-9.  In 2 Peter 2.1-22, he warns about teachers of relativism and describes, in verses 7-8, how this affected Lot, Abraham’s nephew in Sodom and Gomorrah.

In his discussion of this in 1 John 2.18 through 1John 4.6, John gives three verses for overcoming relativism’s attack: 1John 2.24, 1John 3.7, and 1John 4.4. 

See also 2 John 9-11 and 3 John 11.

 

What to do. 

John offers a similar instruction in 1 John 4-6 to Paul’s in

1 Corinthians 11.1 and Hebrews 6.12. 

 

Be ‘Berean’ (Acts 17.11)!

 

January 24, 2010 Identifying Evil Creeping In

Identifying Evil Creeping In

‘How do you know,’ was the question a student asked last week to explain how evil can creep into church and personal beliefs.  How do you know when evil is creeping in?  This is, perhaps, the most important question for fulfilling Proverbs 4.23.  The following Scripture references will help you to identify when evil is creeping in.

 

It is never too late to eradicate evil!

  • God’s call to Jeremiah 1.9-10 is the same for you.  Notice your position in God’s eyes.
  • In Jesus’ letter to the church at Ephesus (1st in the circuit that John would have taken to visit all seven churches), in Revelation 2.2-5, He commends their testing and identifying false apostles of Christ.  But, there was a subtlety they needed to overcome: having ‘left your first love’.  His remedy was to ‘remember, therefore, from where you have fallen.’  Go back to the beginning. 
  • (This reminds me of God’s advice in Jeremiah 6.16.)
  • In Jesus’ letter to the church at Smyrna (2), in
  • Revelation 2.9-10, He warns believers about the ‘blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not’; they don’t believe in God at all.  Their evil will test your faithfulness.  His remedy is to ‘be faithful’ to what you have believed about Him, even in their extreme efforts to break your faith.  They were not commended because they believed the lies of the supposed Jews.
  • In Jesus’ letter to the church at Pergamum (3), in
  • Revelation 2.13-14, He commends them for holding ‘fast to My name’ and not denying ‘My faith’ in the days of persecution.  But, there was tolerance for sexual immorality and other satanic deceptions among the congregation that He will ‘fight against’, when He comes.  Therefore, ‘hold fast to My name’!  Why is tolerance not a Christian virtue?
  • In Jesus’ letter to the church at Thyatira (4), in
  • Revelation 2.19-25, He commends their increasing service and faith and says they must ‘hold fast what you have’.  Their problem was a tolerance for a teacher of the ‘depths of satan’, who encouraged sexual immorality and eating foods offered to idols.  How many flirting glances or tastes of sin over how long does it take to loosen a firm hold of faith?
  • In Jesus’ letter to the church at Sardis (5), in
  • Revelation 3.2-4, He warns the congregation that their light of His truth had almost been consumed by satan’s darkness of deception, that only ‘a few names’ had not been blotted out ‘from the Book of Life’. 

In Matthew 6.22-23, Jesus said to make sure that your ‘truth’ is, indeed, truth and not deception.  Jesus shows how in John 8.31-32.  Don’t be dead people walking, to paraphrase a line from a movie about death-row inmates. 

Consider Matthew 23.27-28.

  • In Jesus’ letter to the church at Philadelphia (6), in Revelation 3.8-9, He commends believers for ‘[having] kept My word and [having] not denied My name’.  But He recognizes their ‘little strength’ because of the continuous lies of ‘those of the synagogue of satan, who say they are Jews and are not….’  His encouragement?  Persevere in ‘My word’ and ‘My name’ (implied)!  2 Peter 1.5-10 gives some good exercises for building up your faith.  Note, especially, the benefits at the end of verse 10. 

Sounds like Joshua 1.8!

  • In Jesus’ letter to the church at Laodicea (7), in
  • Revelation 3.15-20, He warns them about their lack of commitment to Him.  Their stuff from this world has blinded them to the true riches of Christ. 
  • (Matthew 16.26; 1 John 2.15-17)  So, ‘I stand at the door and knock’, He says, hoping they will open to Him and begin to show their preference for the things of God.  What do your preferences say about your commitment to Christ?

 

To summarize, evil may be overt or covert.

  • Evil may be overt, as in Ephesus (false apostles).  satan’s agents claimed to be believers but were satan’s agents.  Jesus said to inspect their fruit; see Matthew 7.15-20; is this judgmental?
  • Also, evil may be covert.  Covert evil may slip in while you are so busy defeating the obvious that you forget the fundamental contrasts of subtleties against His name, word, and faith; as at Ephesus (forgot first love).  Some church members wanted to justify their evil by spreading it to others; Smyrna and Philadelphia (philosophies of supposed Jews), Pergamum and Thyatira (tolerance for sexual immorality and eating foods sacrificed to idols).  Some flaunted their stuff, creating envy among the ‘want-to-bes’; Laodicea (trinkets and trash from the world).   The lights of commitment dim when the oil runs out; Sardis (light almost complete extinguished).  See Jesus’ encouragement in

Matthew 25.1-13.  You, emperor, may not realize the degree of your ‘undress’ until it is too late.

  • Today, you probably would beat to death the snake in
  • Genesis 3.1; overt evil.  But, what would you do, if you were Adam and had heard God say Genesis 2.16-17 and you, later, heard the snake challenge God’s instructions with rationale and a tempting display of forbidden fruit (Genesis 3.1-7)?

What had changed for Adam? 

How might he have allowed these circumstances to reduce his attention to the fundamentals?

 

What about you?

  • What overt evil do you see in your life?  How do these verses, Job 31.1-4 and

Isaiah 33.14-16, challenge your choice of movies and television?

  • What overt evil do you see in your church? 

How do Galatians 5.1-4 challenge any teachings about the place of works in salvation?  What is Jesus’ understanding? 

See John 6.47.

  • What covert evil do you see in your life? 

Is Paul’s admonition in 1 Timothy 6.10 a problem for you? 

What about Colossians 2.8-10?  How much time to you spend in Bible study (more than just reading) and prayer?

  • What covert evil do you see in your church?  Is ‘Sophia’ present (Greek for the female part of God and source of wisdom and power)?  Does your church teach that the God of Christianity is also the god of Islam (Isaiah 14.12-15)? 

Are your children ‘saved’ because you believe in Jesus? 

See Ezekiel 14.14 and 20 and Exodus 18.4 and John 3.16.

 

Evil is trying to creep in.  Will you let it?

January 17, 2010 Identifying Evil Creeping In

Identifying Evil Creeping In

‘How do you know,’ was the question a student asked last week to explain how evil can creep into church and personal beliefs.  How do you know when evil is creeping in?  This is, perhaps, the most important question for fulfilling Proverbs 4.23.  The following Scripture references will help you to identify when evil is creeping in.

 

It is never too late to eradicate evil!

God’s call to Jeremiah (1.9-10) is the same for you.  Notice your position in God’s eyes.

In Jesus’ letter to the church at Ephesus, in Revelation 2.2-5, He commends their testing and identifying false apostles of Christ.  But, there was a subtlety they needed to overcome: having ‘left your first love’.  His remedy was to ‘remember, therefore, from where you have fallen.’  Go back to the beginning.  (This reminds me of God’s advice in Jeremiah 6.16.)

In Jesus’ letter to the church at Smyrna, in Revelation 2.9-10, He warns believers about the ‘blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not’; they don’t believe in God at all.  Their evil is will test your faithfulness.  His remedy is to ‘be faithful’ to what you have believed about Him, even in their extreme efforts to break you faith.

In Jesus’ letter to the church at Pergamos, in Revelation 2.13-14, He commends them for holding ‘fast to My name’ and not denying ‘My faith’ in the days of persecution.  But, there was tolerance for sexual immorality and other satanic deceptions among the congregation that He will ‘fight against’, when He comes.  Therefore, ‘hold fast to My name’!  Why is tolerance not a Christian virtue?

In Jesus’ letter to the church at Thyatira, in Revelation 2.19-25, He commends their increasing service and faith and says they must ‘hold fast what you have’.  Their problem was a tolerance for a teacher of the ‘depths of satan’, who encouraged sexual immorality and eating foods offered to idols.  How many flirting glances or tastes of sin over how long does it take to loosen a firm hold of faith?

In Jesus’ letter to the church at Sardis, in Revelation 3.2-4, He warns the congregation that their light of His truth had almost been consumed by satan’s darkness of deception, that only ‘a few names’ had not been blotted out ‘from the Book of Life’.  In Matthew 6.22-23, Jesus said to make sure that your ‘truth’ is, indeed, truth and not deception.  Jesus shows how in John 8.31-32.  Don’t be dead people walking, to paraphrase a line from a movie about death-row inmates.

In Jesus’ letter to the church at Philadelphia, in Revelation 3.8-9, He commends believers for ‘[having] kept My word and [having] not denied My name’.  But He recognizes their ‘little strength’ because of the continuous lies of ‘those of the synagogue of satan, who say they are Jews and are not….’  His encouragement?  Persevere in ‘My word’ and ‘My name’ (implied)!  2 Peter 1.5-10 gives some good exercises for building up your faith.  Note, especially, the benefits at the end of verse 10.  Sounds like Joshua 1.8!

In Jesus’ letter to the church at Laodicea, in Revelation 3.15-20, He warns them about their lack of commitment to Him.  Their stuff from this world has blinded them to the true riches of Christ.  (Matthew 16.26; 1 John 2.15-17)  So, ‘I stand at the door and knock’, He says, hoping they will open to Him and begin to show their preference for the things of God.  What do your preferences say about your commitment to Christ?

 

To summarize, evil may be overt or covert.

Evil may be overt.  Some claimed to be believers but were satan’s agents.  Some wanted to justify their evil by spreading it to others.  Some flaunted their stuff, creating envy among the ‘want-to-bes’.  Jesus said to inspect their fruit; see Matthew 7.15-20; is this judgmental?

Also, evil may be covert.  Covert evil may slip in while you are so busy defeating the obvious that you forget the fundamental contrasts of subtleties against His name, word, and faith.  The lights of commitment dim when the oil runs out; see Jesus’ encouragement in Matthew 25.1-13.  You, emperor, may not realize the degree of your ‘undress’ until it is too late.

Today, you probably would beat to death the snake in Genesis 3.1; overt evil.  But, what would you do, if you were Adam and had heard God say Genesis 2.16-17 and you, later, heard the snake challenge God’s instructions with rationale and a tempting display of forbidden fruit (Genesis 3.1-7)?  What had changed for Adam?  How might he have allowed these circumstances to reduce his attention to the fundamentals?

 

What about you?

January 3, 2010 Evil Creeps In

 

Evil Creeps In

‘Do you know the seven signs of structural failure’, said the salesman over the radio. 

This started me to thinking about the ‘signs of structural failure’ to the church and my faith.  Like our tolerance for the small crack in the plaster that we notice but do nothing about until it is a gaping separation, are there early signs of satan’s weaving lies among the truth of the Bible until they are accepted as truth? 

Have we been ‘frogs in the kettle’ of pleasant waters becoming boiling? 

Consider the following examples from the present and the past. 

Then, consider what the Bible says to do.

 

Kwanzaa – an evil creeping in.

The following comes from Revisionist holiday history, by Marcia Segelstein, a guest columnist in OneNewsNow.com on December 29, 2009.

          This heresy was invented in 1966 by Ron Karenga, who became known as Maulana Ron Karenga.

          His motive for this deception can be read in Chapter 6 of an online version of his book, The Quotable Karenga. 

          He writes: “Christianity is a white religion. 

                   It has a white God, and any ‘Negro’ who believes in it is a sick ‘Negro’. 

                   How can you pray to a white man?” 

                   “The time we spent learning about Jesus, we should have spent learning about Blacks.”                  

                   “The Christian is our worse [sic] enemy.”

 

Kwanzaa and the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) share the same seven principles:

unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative production, purpose (liberation), creativity, and

faith (in ourselves).

 

This similarity could be because Karenga considered other groups when helped to found a violent black- nationalist organization called United Slaves, which believed that the Black Panthers were not extreme enough.  He chose SLA’s seven as Kwanzaa’s principles.

 

The seven-headed-cobra symbol of the SLA is similar to the ‘kinara’, which holds seven candles (like the Jewish menorah). 

          One candle is lighted for each the seven days following Christmas.

According to one website, Karenga was ‘inspired’ by African harvest festivals.  However, there are no harvesting rituals celebrated in December – anywhere.

 

Deceased columnist Tony Snow wrote in a column about Kwanzaa: ‘The white establishment has thrown in with it, not just to cash in on the business, but to patronize black activists and shut them up.’

 

Evil creeping into American society, culture, and the church. 

          The goal: separate black Americans from white and from Jesus.

 

Fundamentally, we know the following about God and Jesus:

          God is a Spirit, neither white nor any other color (John 4.24);

          Jesus was born to an olive-complexioned Jewish virgin

          (Luke 1.26-27).

 

Eastern faiths and New Age thinking – evils creeping in.

The following comes from ‘Mix-and-match’ faith dangerous, by Allie Martin in OneNewsNow.com on December 21, 2009.

          According to the recent Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 65% of American adults mix contradictory beliefs.

          28% of people who attend church weekly say they visit multiple churches outside their own tradition;

          59% of less-frequent church attendees say the same.

 

They blend Christianity with beliefs like reincarnation, astrology, and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects (like crystals).

 

Rev. Julian Dobbs with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (conservative) says: ‘Those things that appear attractive to us out of other religions may have just enough truth within them to ensnare us and entrap us into faiths that do not produce a relationship with the living God.’

And, ‘…when you mix and match and build a religion or a faith around you and what works for you and your likes and dislikes…you do that based on your hopes as an individual, rather than the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

 

God told the prophet Hosea, ‘My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge’ (4.6).  Consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 6.23 and the Apostle Paul’s in 2 Corinthians 6.14. 

The world’s argument about intolerance of Christians is founded in this mix-and-match philosophy and John 14.6.  

Does this confront your beliefs? 

Why?

Remember our earlier discussion of Colossians 2.8-10. 

Thus, base your faith on what Jesus said, as is recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

 

A history of evil creeping in.

The following comes from Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of our Church Practices, by George Barna and Frank Viola, Tyndale, 2002/2008.

          Robert Raikes from Britain founded the Sunday School in 1780 for the purpose of providing a basic education to poor children, not for the purpose of religious instruction.

          The first Protestant Seminary began in Andover, MA, in 1808 with a curriculum built on the teachings of Thomas Aquinas.

          The first Catholic Seminary began as a result of the Council of Trent (1545-1563).  Its curriculum was based on the teachings of Thomas Aquinas, which blended Aristotle’s philosophy and Neoplatonic philosophy with Christian doctrine.

          Infant baptism was brought into the Christian faith in the late second century and had replaced adult baptism by the fifth century. 

          The practice was rooted in the superstitious beliefs of that pervaded the Greco-Roman culture.

          Constantine brought the leadership style of the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans into the church in the fourth century.

          Ignatius of Antioch (AD 35-107) introduced the model of one-bishop rule in the church in early second century. 

                   It did not prevail until the third century. 

                   From his letters: ‘You should look on your bishop as a type of the Father…It is not lawful apart from the bishop either to baptize or to hold a love feast; but whatever he shall approve, this is well-pleasing also to God…Plainly therefore we ought to regard the bishop as the Lord Himself….’

 

Paul summarized the continuous assault by satan in

1Corinthians 1.22-23, which he wrote in AD 59.

 

Parts or the entirety of the following Bible books deal with evil creeping in:

Galatians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, Titus, 1 & 2 Peter, Hebrews,

1 & 2 & 3 John, and Revelation. 

 

The Apostle John received the Revelation from Jesus at about this time. 

The letters to the churches in Chapters 2 and 3 deals with similar evils creeping into the fledgling church.

 

What are we to do? 

OVERCOME!

Overcome is the only word that is common to all seven letters in Revelation 2 and 3. 

It is Jesus’ command; our imperative!

Notice the past tense of the verbs in 1John 2.12-17. 

It can be done!

Get ready to fight spiritual warfare! 

Praise God for His victory!

December 20, 2009 The Birth of Hope

The Birth of Hope

 

The more things change, the more they remain the same.  Despair, depravity, defeat, dissipation, drunkenness, death, deception – before Jesus’ birth and today. 

Isaiah 35.3-4 can be read in both time periods by only changing ‘will come’ to ‘came’ in the last sentence.  The hope that God foresaw, He brought to reality and now burns with intensity within every person who accepts Jesus as Savior.  This gift of hope to us we are to give to others, especially those depressed by deficiency at the end of this decade.  What hope do we have for ‘weak hands’, ‘tottering knees’, and ‘fearful hearts’?  Let’s see what we can give;

1 Peter 3.15.

 

Hope is the capability for victory.

  • In Romans 4.21, the Apostle Paul states that Abraham was ‘fully convinced that what He had promised He was also [capable] to perform.’  His old age did not matter; Sarah’s ‘dead’ womb did not matter; God had said their children would be innumerable!  He did not ‘waiver at the promise of God’ (verse 20) but was ‘strengthened in faith, giving glory to God’.
  • Follow Abraham through his struggles against discouragement as Paul describes in Romans 5.3-5 how to grow in confidence in God’s capability to do what He says.  Notice that the Holy Spirit walks the path with us to remind us of God’s promises and faithfulness.  Romans 8.14
  • Consider how other writers expressed their hope in God’s capability:
  • Psalm 119.147;   Psalm 138.2;   Psalm 71.4-6;  
  • Psalm 39.7;   Psalm 38.15;       Isaiah 64.4;    
  • Lamentation 3.25-26

 

Hope is victory now!

  • The context of Paul’s declaration in Colossians 1.27 is the persuasion of all mankind that Jesus Christ is Lord of all!  ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ describes the dynamic life of the Christian and the source from within.  We discussed this recently in our consideration of Mark 16.20. 
  • Disciples are to repeat the pattern given in Matthew 10.7-8, and Jesus will work through our words and hands to produce the results – now!
  • Paul explains in Romans 8.10-11 how this occurs to us.  So, the Holy Spirit reminds us of God’s promises and faithfulness and gives divine life within our fleshly bodies to believe and to receive the promise.  It is as though He speaks through our voices (Matthew 10.19-20, 1 Peter 3.15) and touches through our fingers (Acts 28.8-9).  He’s inside of us now!
  • What do we want now?  Victory over despair, depravity, defeat, dissipation, drunkenness, death, deception, and deficiency!  God gave victory to us through Jesus! 
  • 2 Corinthians 2.14

 

Hope is victory for Heaven.

1      Substitute your name in Paul’s salutation in Titus 1.1-3, because he describes the Christian life.  ‘Hope of eternal life’ is a certainty because ‘God, who cannot lie, promised before time began’.  Jesus’ declaration in John 3.16 is true, as are verses 17-18!  Note Titus 3.7 also.

2      The Apostle Peter stirs our imaginations of the ‘living’ nature of Heaven in

1 Peter 1.3-5.  Paul reminds us that this is ‘laid up’ for us in Heaven;

see Colossians 1.5.

3      Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2.19 that sharing Heaven with people who have believed his message about Jesus will be his ‘crown of rejoicing’.  How big will your ‘crown’ be?

4      Best of all, we will see and live with God, our Father – forever!  You can almost hear the excitement in the Apostle John’s voice as he wrote 1 John 3.1-3.

5      Remember what Paul wrote to Titus: this is a certainty!

 

Praise God for His Hope that He birthed to us on Christmas!  Jesus is Hope!