Faithfulness

arm breaking a chain

God is In Control

Do you see Earth convulsing? Do you see the wicked aligning like armies against God Almighty? As my pastor recently preached, can you feel the shaking as God separates His own from those that have rejected Him? Do you feel the oceans raging and the heavens preparing for their retreat? Remember:

Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

Psalms 46:10

A conflict between God and the enemy must take place. The final battle is ramping up, but no one knows the “when” of Christ’s return to retrieve His Church. While we continue to walk in this world, we must understand that God still guides us, ministers to us, and teaches us. Some of His lessons hurt. I could say otherwise, but that wouldn’t be true.

Many of us are already part of the walking wounded. The collapse of Christian morals has allowed wickedness to inflict painful wounds on us. We are learning hard, costly lessons, lessons that have cut us deeply. There is an old song written and sung by Twila Paris titled “God Is in Control.” I think it’s more meaningful now than when she first released the song. Here is a small part of the lyrics:

History marches on
There is a bottom line drawn across the ages
Culture can make its plan
Oh, but the line never changes
No matter how the deception may fly
There is one thing that has always been true
It will be true forever.

Chorus
God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, we know
God is in control

Jesus told us that there would come a time when “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed.” (Matthew 10:21)

In America, we have not yet reached the “put to death” part, but children are “rebelling against their parents” in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. And their rebellion is ripping families apart. Nevertheless, as the world rages, “the line never changes, no matter how the deception may fly.” Truth is truth, no matter where you find it. It may be hated, cursed, and defamed, but the truth never changes. So, though you may suffer, though there is a giant hole that this world cut out of your heart, “be still,” stand with God. God is in control.


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Stupid The Word Stupid Scrabble Tiles

Are You Stupid?

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates reproof is stupid.” Proverbs 12:1

The New Living Translation states this verse as: “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.” Proverbs 12:1

Imagine if you never learned from the corrections your parents and teachers tried to teach you when you were in K–12 schools. You would be of little value to yourself or society. As my dad would threaten me when I was obstinate, “You’ll grow up to be a ditch digger!” [Ditch digging is now a profitable profession, but back then, it was the bottom rung of work.]

This same truth needs to be embraced by every Christian. Besides local church congregations, there are just many Christians in leadership positions who have rejected discipline. As a result, their understanding of Christianity is like Swiss cheese; it’s full of holes.

Consider these statements from Proverbs, chapter twelve:

12 … but the root of the righteous bears fruit.
13 … but the righteous escapes from trouble.
15 … but a wise man listens to advice.
16 …but the prudent ignores an insult.
18 … but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
20 …but those who plan peace have joy.
22… but those who act faithfully are his [God’s] delight.

God has given us marvelous promises, but they all depend on His conditions. We must be righteous. We must be wise. We must be sensible. We must act faithfully. We must have the foresight to make plans that we accomplish. All of these promises are predicated (dependent) on a history of faithful service to God from the person.

It amazes me how many Christians don’t know their own local church’s statements of faith. Or they don’t know that Christianity grew from a handful of believers in Jerusalem to millions of Christian believers when, for the first 1,500 years of the Church’s history, the average Christian didn’t have a Bible and may never have owned even a single copy of one of Apostle Paul’s letters. And they don’t know that there were times when the Protestants and Anabaptists killed people for their Christian beliefs, just as the Catholic inquisitions did. There is so much we, as Christians, need to learn!

For us to learn and grow, God’s conditions require us to receive correction from Christ and His leaders He has placed in His Church – pastors, teachers, elders, deacons, and others that God has anointed to mentor His children. If we try to go it alone, if we try to be our own council, if we reject the people that God puts in our lives to correct us and disciple us through sermons, teaching, and cleaning toilets, then we are stupid.

Image by salmerf from Pixabay


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Table Dinner Dining Formal Elegant Luxury Setting

Finding Our Assigned Seats – Part 2

Jesus wanted to teach His disciples an important principle (principle like gravity – what goes up must come down). So, Jesus sat down – I think He sat on the ground, but that’s just me. I’m sure that when Jesus sat down, all of His disciples immediately sat down. By sitting down, Jesus’ body language was communicating that what He was going to teach would be in the form of sharing instead of lecturing. And what Jesus shared was about a principle of the kingdom of God. This principle was as accurate as any law of gravity. Here’s what Jesus said:

Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.

Mark 9:35

In my previous post, I had us consider:

But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you.

Luke 14:10

The How and the Where

Jesus’ parable in Luke 14:10 is about choosing the lowest place so the king can elevate your position and do so in the sight of others. It may seem that Mark 9:35 conflicts with Luke 14:10, but notice in Mark 9:35 Jesus is speaking of serving; everyone has a purpose. God saved you for a purpose. We are told in James 2:17 that faith without works is dead. Our hearts and our perspective in everything should be “how can I facilitate  help for the needs of others.” 

We should facilitate help without consideration of our stature or place in God. I may be the senior pastor of a church of thousands, but I still should hug the poor guy with lice and pick up the chewing gum wrapper that I spot as I walk to my church. So, Mark 9:35 and Luke 14:10 speak of two different aspects of our life in the kingdom of God. Mark 9:35 talks about how we should serve and how God measures our service, while Luke 14:10 speaks about where God places us.

God Saved You For a Purpose

God has a purpose and ministry for every Christian; God gives each of us a people, a place, and a purpose for ministry.  Your ministry may be praying for people while you’re in line at Walmart or thundering from the pulpit of a church, but we are not measured by where we’re at, but by how obedient we are to the call God has placed on our lives. Whatever God calls us to, we need to be mindful of Mark 9:35 and Luke 14:10.

Summary

God has rules for how we approach Him, receive from Him, and abide in Him. When God calls us to anything, we should take the least honorable position (Luke 14:10) – this doesn’t mean we should despise ourselves! By taking the lowest position, we gain the opportunity for God to call us to a more honorable place and to do so in a way that people see our promotion.

God promoting us is different from being a “servant of all.” Every Christian must express their faith through what they do each day (James 2:17). And we have learned from Mark 9:35 that our hearts should, without consideration for ourselves, ask God, “how can I facilitate help for the needs of others” and then do it!

Wood burning oven.

Ovens and Churches

Do you remember the first time you used a microwave oven? I was at my parent’s home when Mom got her first microwave, and I was at my in-laws when they got their first microwave oven. 

For both Moms, it was exciting, confusing, and a bit scary. What could you do with it? What cups and dishes could you put in it? How could it make popcorn so fast? One of the first things that my mom quickly learned was not to put plates that had metal trim in the microwave. Yikes!

For young people a microwave is as familiar as running water and indoor plumbing. For the young folks, their first microwave disasters were usually placing something in the oven that exploded or boiled over.

Regardless of whether you are young, middle-aged, old, or lying to yourself about your age, my guess is that you use a microwave oven regularly.

Over the last 150 years, ovens have been heated by wood, charcoal, gas, electric, and microwaves. Still, the intent and purpose haven’t changed. Ovens are designed to transfer (heat) energy from the oven to whatever is placed in the oven.

Methods Have Changed

Over the last 2,000 years, the local church has gone through many changes to its music, how services are conducted, how the Gospel is carried to distant locations and many other changes to methods. Nevertheless, the purpose of the local church has never changed.

Today, in America, as well as in most “first-world” countries, local churches are struggling to remain faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ while communicating their value to people. 

Churches have found themselves in an unusual position where people can get sermons, praise music, and social activity without even setting foot inside a church. And, in most cases, there are ways to receive Christian media for free: no tithing.

Obedience

What these pacified Christians are missing is obedience. They are not obedient to God’s Word, and they are not obedient to membership within a real community of Christians. 

You can take communion while watching a Youtube video of a communion service, you can sing along with praise songs on Pandora, you can give to good causes through GoFundMe, you can even go on Christian vacation to Alaska, but you can’t escape the Word of God: 

Personally Attending a Local Church -Hebrews 10:23-25 (ESV) Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 

Church Membership – Hebrews 13:17 (ESV) Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Photo By Hardyplants at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21038162

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New Every Morning

New Every Morning

Lam 3:22-24 (KJV), “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

I often claim this passage during my morning prayer time. God’s compassion does not fail. At one time or other things and people will fail us just as we will fail others. Only Jesus is perfect. We know this, and Hebrews 5:9 confirms it: “And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,” Knowing this, “therefore will I hope in him.”

From Laminations comes this beautiful hymn which we’ve sung so many times. I pray that our Father will show it to us with fresh eyes.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.


Refrain:
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!


Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.


(Refrain)
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own great presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.

Photo by Federico Respini on Unsplash

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