Look Forward

I like to look forward. 

I look forward to the day when the Eastern sky splits wide open and the Savior Jesus Christ is there to take us home to heaven with Him.  I look forward to reigning with Him in the Millennial Kingdom.  I look forward to a new heaven and a new earth, one where there will no longer be tears, nor sorrow or heartache.

I like to look forward.

I look forward to things here on earth as well.  I look forward to my children’s birthdays.  I can celebrate them getting another year older, and they can laugh and play with their friends.  I look forward to seeing their faces when they open their presents, or when they blow out their candles.

I look forward to my anniversary, because it is a reminder that I have spent another year with the love of my life.  We can celebrate the bonds that hold us together, and the fact that without her, I would be pretty pitiful.

I look forward to church events.  I looked forward to the revival we recently had, and I look forward to the singing that we will have soon.  I look forward to church every Sunday, actually, and Bible study on Wednesday nights.

Why do we look forward to things?  Someone once said that wanting a thing is infinitely better than having that thing.  Basically, the anticipation is better than the acquisition.  Why?  Because in that limited view, it is thought that the expectation far outstrips the reality of having or of experiencing it.

While that may be true of physical objects, such as toys and parties while we are young, and bigger toys and events once we get older, I don’t think that it’s always the case.  In fact, I am rarely disappointed when I leave church.  Sure, it may not go as I had planned all the time, but a bad day around God’s people is better than a good day without them.  A bad day worshipping God is better than a good day not hearing from Him.

I would much rather be around the people of God than go to work on a daily basis.  Do I dislike the people I work around?  Not all of them.  Well, not even most of them.  They’re some pretty good people, at the end of the day.  However, our purpose when we get together is to make the bank money.  When I am with the people of God, sitting in a church or at any church event, our purpose is a bit different.  And that is why I look forward to it.

One thing I know that we won’t be disappointed in, that the having of will far outstrip the yearning for, is when our Lord comes back in the clouds to take His bride home.  That day, being in His presence, will be the most glorious day we can imagine.  But Paul said it best when he said that there was no way we could imagine it.

Because it will be extraordinary beyond belief.

I look forward to it.

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The Whole Armour of God

10- 13 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

Now, in these verses, Paul is talking to the Ephesians about who the real enemy is. Sure, people may come at you, the government may come at you, and situations in life may suck, but if you are a Christian and you are standing up for God in this world, the enemy is always going to be Satan. You think those principalities and powers went away after the Apostles died? No, they are still here, and they haven’t even been hiding. They’ve been doing the job of the devil since he caused man to fall in the garden of Eden. We will be wrestling with them. It isn’t a choice. If we are going to stand for Christ, we will have to go through the same things Christians have been going through for 2000 years; the same things godly people have been going through for all time.

Look what happened to Job. God allowed Job to go through tough times. God didn’t cause the heartaches and loss that Job endured; Satan did. But he had God’s permission. Spiritually speaking, he wrestled with the demons. But, because God is awesome, and He doesn’t leave us without help, He gave us the how when He told us what we were going to go through.  He didn’t say, “Fend for yourself.”  He gave an instruction book to those of us who cared to look.

Verse 14 “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;”

The first thing we need is truth, which is sorely missing in a lot of churches today. If your church forgoes the preaching of sin, then you should leave. A pastor’s job, according to 2 Timothy 4:2 (“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.”) is to tell his people what the Bible says about sin, that they need to stop it, and then encourage them to live right. If a pastor is not doing that, then he isn’t doing his job. We have to have truth. The truth is found in the Word. And once we have the truth, we can get righteousness. (We cannot be righteous without the truth.)

Living righteous in today’s world will earn you a lot of enemies, by the way. Even among others that call themselves Christians. Today, righteous living is hampered by everyone’s need to be politically correct and not offend anyone. Jesus tells us in Luke 17:1 “Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!” Christians will be offended at what the world does. And in I Peter 2:8, “And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” What we do will be an offence to some. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. The gospel will upset people, even those that profess to be Christian, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t spread it.  Giving the gospel is our job!

Taking that into account, look at the next verses. Verse 15-16 “And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”

We should be prepared to give the gospel. People don’t want to hear it? Too bad. That wasn’t the option Jesus gave us. He told us to preach it. Paul tells Timothy to “preach the word…in season, out of season.” 1 Peter 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” If anyone asks you why you’re a Christian, you’d better be ready to give them an answer. That’s another problem today; people have no idea why they go to church, much less why they call themselves a Christian. There’s too many feel-good, you’re okay, I’m okay, and that’s okay messages, and not enough study about who we are, why we’re here, and what God expects us to do. II Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” That’s an order. We are supposed to study the Word of God.

But knowing the gospel and sharing the gospel are two different things. We should be prepared to share, but we should also have faith that God’s Word is true. That shield of faith keeps us safe when the wicked fire back at us. How many Christians have you known that have withered under the pressure from different interest groups, whether it be Planned Parenthood, LGBT groups, or others? It’s because their faith in God is lacking.

(Mock horror!)  “You can’t say that, preacher.  You don’t know how much faith they have!”

Really?  I can tell how much Bible study they’ve done.  I can tell that they would rather shut their mouths than get raked over the coals for their beliefs.  I can tell that they don’t have the faith to stand up to the fiery darts of the wicked.

They haven’t prepared, and they aren’t shielding themselves with faith. “God said it and that settles it.” That’s your faith, right there. I was talking to my kids the other day about having faith when you pray, because if you don’t believe that God can or will answer your prayer, He just might not. Mark 11:24 “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

Verse 17 “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:”

Our personal relationship with Christ is something we can fall back on when everything else fails.

And here is where many Christian’s get everything backwards. The last thing (not the first, as is usually the case) we are supposed to do, is to go on the offensive. A sword is an offensive weapon, and we need to use it as such. But first, we have to be prepared with the armour. Attack, parry, lunge. If we’re on the attack and we haven’t protected ourselves, we are just begging to be injured before the attack even has a chance of success. “Abortion is wrong, and God says so!!” “Oh, yeah, where does it say that?” “Uh, uh, uh…in the Bible!”  That person is unprepared.  “God is against gay marriage!”  “Do you have scripture for that?”  “Let me go ask my preacher.”  Unprepared.

The same goes for alcohol consumption, premarital sexual relations, or homosexual relations, or even divorce. If you don’t know what the Bible says about it, you cannot intelligently articulate your argument against it.  But you have to “study to shew thyself approved…” Not all issues are black and white, and not everything that people attribute to the Bible is actually in the Bible.

That is precisely why Paul tells us to prepare first.  All of that armour is for our protection.  A soldier doesn’t go into battle with a gun only.  He first prepares himself with body armor, a uniform, boots, a helmet, and extra ammunition.  Then he grabs his gun, making certain that he is ready for battle.  As soldiers of the cross, we have to be the same way.  Be prepared in this life.  Don’t go into battle unready.

Good Tree-Good Fruit

Pastor Michael Black

The issues facing our country today would shame our grandparents, and the founders of this great nation.  No matter their political stripe, the founding fathers would have been appalled at men and women trying to pass themselves off as the opposite gender.  It is truly a sad day in America.

Matthew 7:17-18 says, “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”

This passage gives me pause.  If a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, then what does that say about our nation?  Perhaps it is not our nation itself that has become evil, but simply our government.  But still,  the people of this nation elect the people that run the nation, either through voting, or through a decision not to vote.  This new issue our government is making so big a deal about, with men and women wanting to use each other’s restrooms, is weird enough.  But to force our children to have to deal with this?  That is outrageous.

This is not a political commentary.  This is a Christian trying to get you to see what the Bible says about this issue.  Genesis 1:27 tells us, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”  God did not make a mistake when he created human beings.  He made them male and female.  One man, one woman.  As an aside, this is also the template for a godly marriage.

But God created men and women, and He did not mess up and start putting women’s brains in men’s bodies.  The sin nature that we are all born with has caused people to think strangely, but that is not all that is going on here.  There are legitimate psychological disorders at play here.  Instead of trying to treat them, our culture has decided that we have to indulge people in their fantasies.  Parents are not teaching their children the way they should go, but letting the children run the households.

When children run the house, anything goes.  And when anything goes, those children will grow up to allow even more foolishness in their homes.  When morality has been turned on its head, and right is wrong, and wrong is deemed right, those who stand up for Biblical morality and standards are targeted as “haters” and “backward.”  We are labeled as intolerant, as if that were a bad word.

This world, indeed our country at least, needs a bit less tolerance.  We need to stop tolerating the government telling us that Christians are the enemy.  We need to stop tolerating 0.2% of the population telling us that we need to conform to their perverted view of the world.  We need stop tolerating the evil that has pervaded our country and our very communities.

We need to center ourselves on the Word of God.  We need stop taking our queues from the world, and start taking them from God again.  We need to stop letting the sinful world set the agenda for us.  We need to use God’s Word to stop the mouths of those who would tell us that we are wrong.

“…yea, let God be true, but every man a liar;”  Let us live by that maxim.  Assume that your thoughts are fallible, because they are.  Seek daily the mind of God.  Sit with Him in prayer.  Read His holy word.  Apply that word to your life, and let it control your decisions.

If our leaders did this, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are today.  But if our nation, our people had done this, we wouldn’t have elected people who would push us in this direction.

Make our country good even if our government isn’t good.  Bring forth the fruit of righteousness, not the fruit of evil.

He’s Not a Real Preacher

by Michael Black

I recently read an article over at nowtheendbegins.com that speaks about a “transgendered Baptist preacher.”  This man, for I refuse to call him a woman, believes that an angel, whom he has named “reason,” told him to question the Bible and to question who he was, and even to stop “fighting” the identity crisis he was having.  Now, I’m not really a biblical scholar, but I do study the Bible, and I know a few things to be true.

In fact, the article glossed over some major points, which I wish to bring to light.  I will reference the specific article at the end of this post, so bear with me.  I want to give credit where credit is due; Geoffrey Grider is the writer of the article, and incurring the wrath of the LGBT community is no joke.  I applaud him for bringing this up, as it seems that community is ever increasing its subversion of the Christian faith for many, and infiltrating churches that at one time professed to believe in God and the Bible.

I’m going to start with a quote by Daniel Robinson, who has decided that he is actually a she, and has changed his name to Allyson.  “I have known my entire life that the world was wrong about me…”

In my humble opinion, this is a defining quote from Mr. Robinson.  He may as well have said, “The entire world is wrong, and I am right.  No matter what the evidence says, I am the complete opposite of what your eyes are telling you.”  This speaks to Mr. Robinson’s pride.  Not only is he telling us that, despite all evidence to the contrary, he is not really a man, but that what we thought was a defining characteristic of men everywhere is actually superfluous, and does not represent men.  “…when the doctor took a cursory glance between my legs and authoritatively declared ‘It’s a boy,’ he was wrong—dead wrong.”

Really?  An obstetrician, and subsequently every pediatrician you ever had, can’t tell the difference between a boy and a girl?  Tell me, have you ever had a DNA test?  I’m guessing you’re going to have an X and a Y when the results come back.  Do you know why?  Because you are a man.  Genetically, physically, biologically.  A man.  Dressing like a woman and having your body mutilated will not change that.  Are there cases of hermaphroditism where the doctors choose the incorrect gender at birth?  Sure, it has happened.

That’s not what happened here.  And you, Mr. Robinson, telling everyone else they’re wrong is not going to change the truth of the matter.

It is the next part of the article that really got me going, however.  Apparently Mr. Robinson contemplated suicide, but an “angel of the Lord” that he called “reason” stopped him.  What did this angel supposedly tell him?  He asked a question.  “What if God hasn’t fixed you because you’re not broken?”  To which Robinson replied, “The Bible says I am broken.”

So what does this voice say next?  “What if the Bible is wrong?”

Let’s stop here.  First off, II Corinthians has some interesting things to say about this.  II Corinthians 11:13-14 “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”  There are people preaching out there that appear to be working for Christ, but are teaching false doctrine, and are leading people astray.  They are deceitful workers.  They can transform themselves into the appearance of being “of Christ.”  How?  Because, as Jesus said of the Pharisees in John 8:44 “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.”  They lie because their father, Satan, is the father of lies.  But Satan can also transform himself into an angel of light.

I wonder if this angel that spoke lies to Mr. Robinson that night was an “angel of light.”

I wonder also if Mr. Robinson has ever read the Bible.  In the very first book of the Bible, Genesis, in the third chapter, we see the fall of man.  How did it begin?  It began with Satan, that vile serpent, asking Eve, “Yea, hath God said…”  When an “angel” questions the word of God, perhaps you should question his motives.  Satan got Eve to question God’s word, and she and Adam sinned, causing the fall of mankind into sin.  If this “angel” called “reason” was questioning God’s word, Mr. Robinson ought to have had the Holy Spirit telling him to run away, to escape the temptation of giving into himself.

Instead, he gave into his own feelings.  He stopped fighting the sin with which he was struggling.  He did not take God’s manner of escape, as He promised He would give us.  Mr. Robinson gave into himself, and he became his own god.  That’s what Satan tempted Eve with.  Genesis 3:5 “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

Finally, Robinson said that in that moment, the moment with the “angel,” that he “sacrificed his certainty” and hoped God would count it as “righteousness.”

I’ve been doing a series in Romans at church recently.  The last message I taught on was Romans chapter 4.  My Bible, and I suspect yours as well, says something about faith.  If I know my English, and I think I do, the uncertainty is somewhat the opposite of faith.  “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

Faith is counted for righteousness, not uncertainty.  I don’t know everything, but I know my Bible is true.  As the scripture says, “Let God be true, and every man a liar.”

One other thing.  They may have relabeled Gender Identity Disorder and removed it from being a “mental illness,” but that doesn’t change what it is.  The medical profession seems to be swept up in political correctness as much as the politicians are.  It is a disorder, and even if we call it the new name, Gender Dysphoria, it still requires that we look at it medically.  This disorder, according to WebMD, can lead to mood disorders, anxiety, schizophrenia, and other mental health issues.  But my God is not the God of chaos.  It says so in the Bible that this man is questioning.

That leads me to my final point.  Mr. Daniel Robinson no longer believes in God, if in fact he ever did.  If he is worshipping a God today, it is not the God that Baptists worship, though he might call himself a Baptist.  It is not the God that Christians worship, though he may call himself a Christian.  (I am not drawing a line of distinction between Baptists and Christians, just repeating myself to make a point.  Baptist doctrine is Christian doctrine.)  Mr. Robinson is one of those false teachers.  One of those that is pretending to be an apostle of Christ.

Jude 1:4  “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”  John 1 calls Jesus Christ the Word.  And when you reject the Word of God, you reject the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

The article I was referencing.

http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/transgender-baptist-preacher-says-angel-of-reason-prompted-sex-switch/

 

Fellowship

I John chapter 1 tells us that if we say we have fellowship with Jesus, but then we walk in darkness, we are liars.  Fellowship with Jesus, with the God of the Bible, is important if we are to have the joyous Christian life that God wants us to have.

There are many things that can break our fellowship with Him, but really, it’s only one thing; living in sin.  When the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin, and you ignore Him, when you sin anyway, you have broken fellowship with the Father.  Notice I didn’t say that you have lost your salvation; nothing can do that to you.  But breaking fellowship with God hurts you, and hurts Him.  He wants you to do right, and He wants to have sweet fellowship with you.  God knows the joy you are missing out on by living in sin and losing that day to day relationship with the Lord.

Even when you pray, if you have not confessed those sins and repented of them, your fellowship is still broken.  Sin is darkness, it is the darkness of this world.  As John says, if you walk like the world, and talk like the world, how can you also try to walk with God?  You can’t.  God cannot look on sin, and He cannot associate with sin.  God loves you, but He cannot walk with you while you have rejected Him.

As the old preachers used to say, God is a gentleman.  He will not force anyone to hang out with Him.  God lets you make that choice.  He may chastise you as a son, He may let you mess your own life up for a while, but He will not make you come back to Him.  Your choice is to put away your sin and come back to Him, or to stay in your dark sin, and forget how great it was with the Lord.

When we decide to stay in our sin, however, we are not just choosing to leave the fellowship of our heavenly Father, we are choosing to leave the fellowship of other Christians.  If you decide that sin is more important than Christ, how will you feel spending time at church?  Will you want the pastor or the evangelist pointing out your sin on a weekly basis?  Godly people start to notice that you aren’t acting like you should, and maybe they tell you that they notice.  Will you want to hang out with them?  Will you want to be around your family that tells you, in love, that you aren’t living right?

When you lose fellowship with God, you also lose fellowship with other Christians.  Like the prodigal son who left his father’s house to pursue his own wants and desires, without thought to advancing his father’s estate, we can get to the point where our own desires supersede those of our Lord.  But also like the prodigal, there will come a time where we find ourselves, spiritually speaking, looking longingly at the pig’s trough for a bite to eat.  It has been so long since we fed on the bread from the Master’s table, we don’t know what real spiritual food looks like.

And like the prodigal, we come to ourselves.  We remember the fellowship that was in the house of the Lord.  We remember our father, and all that He has done for us.  We have a choice to make: we can continue wallowing in the mud with the pigs, or we can turn around and go straight back to our Father’s house.  Not only will He accept us, but He will be waiting on the road, looking for our return.  And when we get home, there will be rejoicing in heaven, for a lost child has come back.

Don’t let sin and darkness destroy your fellowship with your heavenly Father.  Don’t let a love for the things of this world take you away from the love of Jesus.  He’ll never leave you, nor forsake you, but He can’t have fellowship with you.

And that would be a bad place to be.

God’s Grace to All

It occurs to me while reading the Old Testament that God was gracious to His people.  But He wasn’t just gracious to His people, He was gracious to nations and cities that were enemies of His people, and those that did not worship Him, and often to those that outright hated Him.

Why would He be gracious to them?  Why would He give second chances to people that hated Him?

Because He is God.  The Ninevites were hostile, wicked people.  Nineveh was a large city, with a huge population for the time that it existed.  It is said to have exceeded 100,000 residents in its prime.  They were wicked, and they did not like Hebrews, for whatever reason, and were evil towards them.  It was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, which was often hostile to the nation of Israel.

And yet, God sent Jonah to preach to them, to give them a chance to repent and turn towards Him.  Jonah resisted, but did end up preaching the message of destruction and repentance towards God.  The Ninevites listened, and turned their lives around, from the King on down to the peasants.

That is the power of God’s forgiveness.  He does not judge between a Jew and a gentile when it comes to offering grace and mercy.  He gives of each freely, even when we do not ask for it.  He gave the Ninevites a chance to follow Him, and to repent for doing wickedly.

He also judges people, and nations, when they turn away from Him.  God is longsuffering, and His patience is supernatural.  It is not everlasting.  His righteousness demands that eventually He take care of wickedness.

The Ninevites were exceeding wicked.  They eventually went back to their wicked ways, and were as violent and greedy, and as deceitful as they had been before Jonah came.  Nahum had to tell them that God was not giving them any more chances.

His patience had run out.

Eventually, God’s patience runs out even with His children, Christians.  When we say we’re not going to fall in to that sin any more, and then we willfully engage in sinful behavior.  When we promise that we’ll surrender to that particular ministry, or help the next person we find that is in need, or share the gospel with “at least three people this week.”

God hears every promise.  He knows every sin.  And He knows when we’re lying to Him.  He knows when the promise is not being made in good faith.

God is longsuffering to someone that is really trying to live a righteous life.  His patience wears thin on those that lie when they pray, or “repent” knowing full well that they have no intention of quitting their sin.

The Ninevites learned this the hard way.  Eventually, so did the children of Israel.  I am afraid that America is on the same path.

More and more people are turning away from God.  We must continue to follow Christ, and more than that, lead others to Him.  This country is ripe for a revival of spirit, but we need workers to go out there and tell people about Him.  If we don’t, who will?

What Can We Learn From Ziklag

I Samuel 30:1-8

David, in running away from Saul, did some pretty ignorant things.  None was more suspect than leaving Ziklag, the city that he and his men had claimed for their own, to go and fight for the Philistines against Israel.  God would not let that happen; in fact, the princes of the Philistines refused to allow him in their ranks, even though their leader favored him.  God would not let the anointed King of Israel take up arms against His people.

Unfortunately, God did not let this failing of David’s go to waste.  He used it as a learning opportunity.  He taught David and his men a few valuable lessons after this.

Ziklag was burned to the ground.

The Amalekites had come in and invaded, stealing everything they had, including their wives and children.  David’s men, on seeing this, began discussing stoning him.  In the midst of this, David did not make a knee-jerk reaction.  Instead, his men see him do what al followers should see their leaders do: he asked God’s direction.

With God’s blessing, he was able to take off after those that had robbed him and his men of their livelihoods.

They also learned that there was a limit to human endurance.  About two hundred of the six hundred men were too weak to follow to the battle, and had to stay by the brook Besor.

They learned about redemption.  They found an Egyptian that had been a servant to the leader of the Amalekites.  He was left by the side of the road after getting too sick to continue on.  His master no longer wanted him, but David had room for everyone that turned their life around.  David showed his men about grace, and forgiveness.

They learned about God’s providence.  After battling with the Amalekites, they found that there was not one thing lost of all that the enemy had taken from them.  Neither child nor wife nor piece of silver was missing.  They received other spoil as well.

They learned about sharing.  Some of David’s men decided that because the other men were too faint to follow, they should not share in the spoil.  David was having none of it.  He gave an equal portion to those that stayed by the stuff while the rest went to battle.  He recognized that it was God that delivered the enemy to them, and provided the spoil, so it was fitting that the blessing be shared with them all.

Finally, they learned about hope.  David had been promised the kingdom of Israel years before.  God had used this time, as well as his absence from the war with the Philistines, to finally remove Saul from the throne of Israel, leaving David to the crown.  They had hoped for this day for years, and now, their patience was paying off.

Isn’t it just amazing what we can gather from the Bible?  In a single chapter, there is so many lessons that we can learn.  Sure, it was a lesson to those men to be sure, but how much more a lesson to us now that we can read about their trials?  The Bible is much more than a bunch of stories and proverbs; it is alive, and it is food for the soul, and water for a weary heart.  Read it and allow God to feed you from it.