Tag Archives: reverence

Giving Thanks Through Worship

Today’s message summary of November 19, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

 

Psalm 100:1-5

Let the whole earth shout triumphantly to God!

Serve the Lord with gladness;

come before him with joyful songs.

Acknowledge that the Lord is God.

He made us, and we are his

his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving

and his courts with praise.

Give thanks to him and bless his name.

For the Lord is good, and his faithful love endures forever;

his faithfulness, through all generations.

 

Psalm 100 is very simple to understand.  It is the shortest psalm in the Bible and very memorable.  It is sung during several worship services.  If you have attended a Reformed Presbyterian church, you would have heard this presented as part of a doxology.

Take notice of the title of Psalm 100.  It is written as a psalm of Thanksgiving.  It is also referred to as a psalm of giving praise.  Both references are correct.  Giving thanks is a way of showing appreciation to God for what He has done.  It is an act of worship.

Psalm 100 has two parts.  The first three verses acknowledge God for who He is, and the last two verses worship Him.

The first command in the psalm is in verse 2, where you are asked to serve Him.  In verse 3, we are two know who He is, and is verse 4, we are to give thanks to Him.  The psalm was written for public worship.  In Jesus’s time, the people would have read this psalm within the synagogue.  The people would publicly assemble to come together in a unified presence to praise God.  It was to be done with exuberance.  It is an invitation to come together with excitement!

Everyone, throughout the world, was invited to worship and praise Him.  It was not a song relegated to the Jews.  People were to shout to Him with gladness!  If you can picture everyone coming together to recognize a king or queen, you can imagine the crowd forming and celebrating loudly.  Thousands and thousands of churches are all worshiping right now in this manner.  There is certainly nothing wrong with making a joyful noise unto the Lord!

This praise was (and is) to be a praise of reverence.  While the physical buildings that existed from the days of Jesus and the Old Testament, we are now able to worship the Lord through our own bodies. Jesus declared that our own bodies are temples before Him.  God deserves all praises from mankind and for all of creation.

Luke 19:40

He (Jesus) answered, “I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out!”

Note that Psalm 95 has a similar approach to Psalm 100:

Psalm 95:1-7

Come, let us shout joyfully to the Lord,

shout triumphantly to the rock of our salvation!

Let us enter his presence with thanksgiving;

let us shout triumphantly to him in song.

For the Lord is a great God,

a great King above all gods.

The depths of the earth are in his hand,

and the mountain peaks are his.

The sea is his; he made it.

His hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us worship and bow down;

let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

For he is our God,

and we are the people of his pasture,

the sheep under his care.

Today, if you hear his voice.

 

The first command in Psalm 100 is to serve…as in serve the Lord (Psalm 100:2).

The word “serve” describes the act of working or worshiping as a slave before God.  Being a slave for God implies ownership (not in the negative sense of slavery within US history).  God is to be feared as our Master.

Colossians 3:22

Slaves, obey your human masters in everything. Dont work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.

When you note that we are servants of God, it means that there is a reverence for Him.  In the same way that servants have masters, God does not want His true servants to do what they want to do.  Because we are in the flesh, we are to remain obedient to the Lord because it is in our best interest.  When we serve Him, we are to do so with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).

Psalm 2:10-12

So now, kings, be wise;

receive instruction, you judges of the earth.

Serve the Lord with reverential awe

and rejoice with trembling.

Pay homage to the Son or he will be angry

and you will perish in your rebellion,

for his anger may ignite at any moment.

All who take refuge in him are happy.

 

When we serve the Lord, we are being obedient to Him, and we are doing so with gladness.

The epitome of Sunday service worship is summarized in Psalm 100:2. We came and gathered in this building, and into His presence to worship Him.  The building itself is physical and could disappear tomorrow, but we could still gather as a group without the building and worship Him as members of the body of Christ.

The reverence and holiness of God is to be taken into account:

Exodus 20:18-21

All the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain surrounded by smoke. When the people saw it they trembled and stood at a distance.  You speak to us, and we will listen, they said to Moses, but dont let God speak to us, or we will die.

Moses responded to the people, Dont be afraid, for God has come to test you, so that you will fear him and will not sin.  And the people remained standing at a distance as Moses approached the total darkness where God was.

 

It is to remind us to not sin against the Lord.  Whether we are gathered in a group or even praying and meditating alone before Him, we are to keep the fear of the Lord on our hearts.  Your understanding of who the Lord is will help to dictate your own behavior.  Those who have little to no fear of Him will often only live for themselves.

Be mindful that when you serve the Lord, your service is an act of worship.  Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ voluntarily and willing perform this service.  Please note, however, that such service without reverence and faith is meaningless.

The second command in Psalm 100 (verse 3) is to know the Lord.

Knowing the Lord is also referred to throughout the book of Ezekiel and in many parts of the Old Testament.  To know the Lord is to take the time to learn about who He is.  It helps you to learn about how to not sin against Him, and He encourages you to be obedient to Him.

Psalm 100:3-4

Acknowledge that the Lord is God.

He made us, and we are his

his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving

and his courts with praise.

Give thanks to him and bless his name.

 

Getting to know who He is puts the focus on Him.  When we take our focus off of Him, that it when things start to slip.  If your focus is on the glory of God–and of Christ, then your desire should be to learn more about Him each and every day.

Romans 9:20-21

But who are you, a mere man, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, Why did you make me like this? Or has the potter no right over the clay, to make from the same lump one piece of pottery for honor and another for dishonor?

The God of the universe is indeed the Potter, and He has created everything.  His love and His holiness cannot be contained because that is the essence of who He is.

The third command is to give thanks to the Lord (Psalm 100:4).  Note that giving thanks to the Lord is not just relegated to the Thanksgiving holiday.  It is far more than that.  Giving thanks to the Lord is an act of worship, and that is to be done throughout the entire year.  It is an act of worship that others in your life should readily see—and wonder.

Giving thanks is not just about having something like food or possessions.  We give thanks to the Lord because of His goodness.  If a person who has nothing can still give thanks to God for who He is, then they understand the character and nature of a holy and righteous God.  One’s circumstances may change, but the nature of God never changes.

Psalm 100:5

For Yahweh is good, and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations.

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The Baptism of Jesus Christ

In our continuing study of Jesus Christ, we are examining His baptism. His act of obedience in allowing Himself to be baptized was a great public example. We need to understand, however, that there is a deeper meaning to it.In Jewish culture, there was no use for baptism. Gentiles, however, were taught of the importance in faith of circumcision, baptism, and sacrifice. The scribes and Pharisees, being Jewish, did not regard baptism as part of their worship culture. John the Baptist, who was actively baptizing those who chose to follow God, sometimes chided the Jewish leaders for not recognizing the need for personal repentance.John’s purpose of his ministry:
1. Announcing that the kingdom of heaven was near.
2. Proclaiming the need for repentance of the individual–not for the group. In fact, this was far beyond the norm of the temple sacrifice of the Jewish culture. To be baptized was to make a personal declaration of sin and the desire to follow God
3. John reveals the King of this kingdom–Jesus Christ.

Luke 3:3-6

3 He went into all the vicinity of the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4 as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:

    A voice of one crying out in the wilderness:

    “Prepare the way for the Lord;

    make His paths straight!

    5 Every valley will be filled,

    and every mountain and hill will be made low;

    the crooked will become straight,

    the rough ways smooth,

    6 and everyone will see the salvation of God.”

John 1:29-37

 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is the One I told you about: ‘After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’ 31 I didn’t know Him, but I came baptizing with water so He might be revealed to Israel.”

    32 And John testified, “I watched the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He rested on Him. 33 I didn’t know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The One you see the Spirit descending and resting on—He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. ‘ 34 I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God!”

    35 Again the next day, John was standing with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!”

    37 The two disciples heard him say this and followed Jesus.

John is preparing the hearts of the people, in his ministry, for regeneration of the hearts of men for the appearance of Jesus Christ. John was the one who was to reveal Christ as King and also noted this as the close of one ministry and the beginning of another (John 3:30).

John 7:18-23

18 The one who speaks for himself seeks his own glory. But He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. 19 Didn’t Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law! Why do you want to kill Me?”

    20 “You have a demon!” the crowd responded. “Who wants to kill You?”

    21 “I did one work, and you are all amazed,” Jesus answered. 22“Consider this: Moses has given you circumcision —not that it comes from Moses but from the fathers —and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses won’t be broken, are you angry at Me because I made a man entirely well on the Sabbath?

Why did Jesus asked to be baptized? He was not baptized because of a need for repentance as it was for others, for He was without sin.

1 Peter 2:22

22 He did not commit sin,

    and no deceit was found in His mouth.

Hebrews 4:15

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin.

He was baptized to set the example for all of us and to confirm that His kingdom is present. It is a commitment to the work that He would do in His ministry.

John the Baptist provides a picture of Jesus through the words of Isaiah. It is a picture of reverence and understanding of who Jesus Christ really is. If we truly see this, we would have the mindset of always seeking Him in prayer and asking how we can best be of service for Him.

Isaiah 11:1-5

 1 Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse, 
    and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.

    2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him —
    a Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    a Spirit of counsel and strength,
    a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.

    3 His delight will be in the fear of the LORD.
    He will not judge
    by what He sees with His eyes, 
    He will not execute justice
    by what He hears with His ears,

    4 but He will judge the poor righteously 
    and execute justice for the oppressed of the land.
    He will strike the land
    with discipline from His mouth, 
    and He will kill the wicked 
    with a command from His lips.

    5 Righteousness and faithfulness
    will be a belt around His waist.

Isaiah 33:17, 42:1

17 Your eyes will see the king in his beauty; 
    you will see a vast land.

 1 “This is My Servant; I strengthen Him,
    [this is] My Chosen One; I delight in Him. 
    I have put My Spirit on Him; 
    He will bring justice to the nations.

Matthew 3:13-17

 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to stop Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?”

    15 Jesus answered him, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him [to be baptized].

    16 After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. 17And there came a voice from heaven:

    This is My beloved Son.

    I take delight in Him!

John 1:29, 32

 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

32 And John testified, “I watched the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He rested on Him.

Before His baptism, Jesus was known merely as the carpenter’s son. Afterward, He was known as the Son of Man. It is important to note that Jesus’ public commitment of baptism and humbling Himself before others is to show a dependence to His heavenly Father and to the Holy Spirit for everything that would be taking place. Jesus is our example in how we are to emulate Him in life and in ministry to others.

John 13:12-15

 12 When Jesus had washed their feet and put on His robe, He reclined again and said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord. This is well said, for I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you.

1 Corinthians 11:1

1 Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ.

1 Peter 2:21

21 For you were called to this,

    because Christ also suffered for you,

    leaving you an example,

    so that you should follow in His steps.

Jesus Christ shows the example, through baptism, to committing yourself to the task of ministry, including the act of dying to Himself. He does not deny that He is God, but He readily acknowledges that He is serving the Father and depends upon the Holy Spirit. He shows us that if we do the same, we will be successful in everything as we remain in His will.

John 4:34, 6:38

34 “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work,” Jesus told them.

38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

Jesus prayed as He was coming out of the water after His baptism.

Luke 3:21-22

 21 When all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized. As He was praying, heaven opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in a physical appearance like a dove. And a voice came from heaven:

    You are My beloved Son.

    I take delight in You!

Baptism is a symbol of death, burial and resurrection. Our declaration of baptism is a statement represents dying to self (for us, dying to sin) and living for Christ. Note that Jesus willingly went shortly thereafter to the wilderness to experience the temptation that we face on a regulate basis. He is a God that relates to each of us.

The life that Jesus lives is a life in service for God; in the same way, the life that we live is a life in service to Jesus.

Romans 6:3-14

3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. 5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished,so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him, 9 because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, no longer dies. Death no longer rules over Him. 10 For in that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in that He lives, He lives to God. 11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

    12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. 13 And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness. 14 For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.


Jesus Christ Calls Us To Service

When a person considers the magnitude of the gift of salvation from Jesus Christ, it is difficult to conceive how that same person cannot love Him. In fact, the natural conclusion is to love Him, to seek ways to fellowship with Him, and to be obedient to His Word.It begins with a message. The message communicated by a pastor, or a peer, or even a friend, indicates that you are special in God’s eyes and that He desires for you to fellowship with Him. The call from God to each one of us has been countered by the social and economic events of our lives that seem to be ever present and all-consuming. While your friends and acquaintances may not completely understand this calling of the Lord, it is God’s desire for you to recognize that what God wants for you is what is best for you and that the best for you will ultimately glorify Him.
Ephesians 1:18-19
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.

God wants us to take the initial step to acknowledge Him in spite of the opposition that you face. The evidence of our faith should be our behavior in humility, and it is to be consistent throughout.

Ephesians 4:1-2
I, therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love.

If you have been a believer in Jesus Christ for sometime, do you remember your calling? Do you know what God would want you to do at this time? Sometimes it is as simple as refreshing yourself in God’s Word and seeking Him in prayer. Your call needs to be recognize as the will of God being a part of your life each and every day. It starts with a surrendering of your heart and your own way of thinking, and yielding to the Lord in all things. God wants you to look beyond what appears good to man, but rather, do what is pleasing to God.

Ephesians 4:17-24

17 Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. 19They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more.

    20 But that is not how you learned about the Messiah, 21 assuming you heard Him and were taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus: 22 you took off your former way of life, the old man that is corrupted by deceitful desires; 23 you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24 you put on the new man, the one created according to God’s [likeness] in righteousness and purity of the truth.

Philippians 3:14
I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 1:9-10
For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.

The act of setting God before you will help you to remain focused on Him. The continued focus on God’s Word, especially in these latter days, is now more important than ever for all believers. We must remain well informed and well prepared as we live and minister to others. God’s Word is very clear to us, and we need to live in the same way that His Word is clear and definitive–with the confidence that what we say and do is an extension of God’s will. We are set apart from the world in order to make a positive difference in the world. We are set apart because of God’s redeeming grace, and we can pray for others and share what God has done for us. Those that we pray for can experience, through your intercession and testimonies, the glory of God can also belong to them–it’s God’s will for them to experience Him, too.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-15
But we must always thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, so that you might obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught, either by our message or by our letter.

There are no naturally born children of God–all of us are adopted into His family. We recognize how much God loves us through His desire to seek those who are lost–who was each of us at one time in our lives. We are to live for Christ in our calling and see the world in the same way that Jesus does. We are to be like Christ in all that we do. His will is our calling.

2 Peter 1:10-11
Therefore, brothers, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lird and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly supplied to you.


The Hardened Heart Falls Into Calamity

Heart is used in Scripture as the most comprehensive term for the authentic person. It is the part of our being where we desire, deliberate, and decide. It has been described as “the place of conscious and decisive spiritual activity,” “the comprehensive term for a person as a whole; his feelings, desires, passions, thought, understanding and will,” and “the center of a person. The place to which God turns.”*

The authenticity of a person is often a reflection of their heart.  A person can have a sincere heart for God, or can possess a heart of stone.  A heart of stone is the hardness that we read about in Scripture, especially the example of the Pharoah in the book of Exodus.  A serious condition of hard-heartedness is the desire remain disobedient to God and to commit ongoing evil acts.  This is a very dangerous condition in that God will allow men to do the very thing that their heart desires when evil is at the forefront…commit more evil.  Paul noted in Romans 1:24-28:

Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual intercourse for what is unnatural. The males in the same way also left natural sexual intercourse with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty for their perversion. And because they did not think it worthwhile to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong.

God allows this by withdrawing His restraint, which gives for greater hardening of the heart against Him.  As a result, God does not cause men to sin, nor does He make them behave badly.  Rather, He simply lets them harden themselves as a punishment for their wickedness.

God will harden the hearts of those who choose not to follow Him in order to reveal His glory.

Exodus 4:21

The LORD instructed Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, make sure you do in front of Pharaoh all the wonders I have put within your power. But I will harden his heart so that he won’t let the people go.

Exodus 7:3

But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart and multiply My signs and wonders in the land of Egypt.

Exodus 14:4

I will harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he will pursue them. Then I will receive glory by means of Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” So the Israelites did this.

The hardened heart leads to potential ruin, and God’s sovereignty is prevalent.  Thankfully, a person who sincerely seeks the Lord will no longer be repelled from Him.

Proverbs 28:14

Happy is the one who is always reverent, but one who hardens his heart falls into trouble.

Romans 9:18

So then, He shows mercy to whom He wills, and He hardens whom He wills.

2 Corinthians 3:15-18

However, to this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts, but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. We all, with unveiled faces, are reflecting the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.

The lack of reverence for God through Jesus Christ can lead to a hardened heart.  True worship begins with reverence and respect for who God is in your life.

John 4:23

But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

 

*J. Stowell, Fan The Flame, Moody, 1986, p. 13.


A Nation In Trouble

Why are Christians losing their zeal for the Lord? It can be argued that the church, specifically the body of Christ in America, has lost its way. We need to remind ourselves of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for all of us. Unfortunately, today, we’re having a hard time making our way to Calvary, let alone picturing Christ being on the cross. As a church, and as a nation, we need to find our way back to Calvary.

Whether we care to admit it or not, we’re in trouble as a nation. Its people are also in trouble. We’re in trouble because of the lack of church leadership in bringing forth persons to serve in leadership positions in government for our country. We have relied on today’s government to provide this leadership, but this is only part of the problem.

As a nation, we’re spoiled. On our worst day, we are doing better than three-fourths of the rest of the world. We consume a lot of food, and we also waste food. We spend a lot of money, but we also create a lot of debt. We need to realize, however, that our lifestyle has plunged us into debt as a nation. The US raised its debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion in 2010. Our nation owes money to China, Japan, India and Russia.

Over the course of history. nations have failed and civilizations met their demise for three basic reasons: a lack of military strength, a lack of morality and poor standards of behavior, and a lack of financial viability and/or capability. The United States is presently suffering through visible symptoms of all three of these issues. All of these problems will ultimately have the greatest impact in our youth, as they will be the ones most affected in the future. Note that prices are still increasing (inflation) while wages are decreasing, and we are in debt, as a nation, by $13 trillion, with no relief in sight.

What reference to Scripture is there about our nation going into debt?

Deuteronomy 15:6

When the Lord your God blesses you as He has promised you, you will lend to many nations but not borrow; you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you.

The United States began to borrow money from other countries in 1963. In addition to this, a change took place culturally in this nation with our lifestyle.  Note the conditional verse just before Deuteronomy 15:6:

Deuteronomy 15:5

–if only you obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow every one of these commands I am giving you today.

If we are honest about where we are as a country, it is clear that we have lost sight of God and His commands.

Proverbs 22:7

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is a slave to the lender.

Once you are in debt, someone has control over you. You lose out on the freedom of your life because of the debt you incurred. This is the state of our country today. Essentially, we are servants to other nations because of the debt we owe to them.

When you forget who you are as a nation and as a people who God is and how He has blessed us, we bring ruin unto ourselves. Christians that become “satisfied” with their life tend to forget where their blessings have come from. There should not be debates over issues amongst believers that are clearly defined within Scripture; yet, this is a symptom of our growing satisfaction and pride that tends to draw us towards the things of this world rather than pursuing what God would have you to pursue. Who gave you the ability and wisdom to work each day and to make a living? Who brought you out of your previous circumstances to where you are today? How many different ways has God blessed you and enabled you?

Deuteronomy 8:10-20

When you eat and are full, you will praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you. “Be careful that you don’t forget the Lord your God by failing to keep His command —the ordinances and statutes —I am giving you today.  When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.  He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint-like rock for you.  He fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end He might cause you to prosper.  You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm His covenant He swore to your fathers, as it is today.  If you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other gods to worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will perish.  Like the nations the Lord is about to destroy before you, you will perish if you do not obey the Lord your God.

Have we forgotten how God has blessed us? As an example, while you may not have participated in the civil rights movement of the 60s, many of the blessings that you receive today came through God’s leadership through the actions of those civil rights leaders. We are able to achieve what we have today because of God’s blessings working through those who came before us and through the sacrifices and prayers of the participants, their families, and their supporters. God gives us the ability and perseverance to handle everything that we encounter as we trust in Him.  When it comes to our finances, we need to pray for direction on how to spend the money we earn. If we fail to follow God and forget about Him, we are removing from ourselves His covering and protection.

Deuteronomy 32:15

Then Jeshurun became fat and rebelled — you became fat, bloated, and gorged. He abandoned the God who made him and scorned the Rock of his salvation.

We are at the point where we have become so content with everything that we have, we have rejected the One who has provided all of the very things that we enjoy. We are likely forgetting that Jesus is coming back as He said He will do, and that we are paying attention to other people or circumstances that take our focus away from God (2 Peter 3:4, 8-9).

We need to remember the standards that we should use as a people, as a church, and as a nation.

Deuteronomy 10:12-13

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you except to fear the Lord your God by walking in all His ways, to love Him, and to worship the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul?  Keep the Lord’s commands and statutes I am giving you today, for your own good.

We need to live in such a way that Jesus is coming very soon, and to never forget it (Matthew 24:37-44).

There needs to be a fear, reverence and respect for God. As a nation, we have lost this, and it is even scarce amongst believers in Jesus Christ. In having a reverence for God, we are to walk with Him, love Him and serve Him. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). We need to love Jesus, and listen to Him through His Word and through our fellowship with Him in prayer. We show our love for Jesus by serving Him as He served us (Matthew 20:26-28). There are many ways to serve Him by just loving others and conducting yourself publicly as His faithful servant, for your work is not for men, but for God Himself (John 15:9-12).


God’s Will and Man’s Choices

If God is not working in a person’s life, that person will not see the need for Christ or acknowledge the need for salvation. God must work in a person for them to realized the need for salvation. This is part of God’s will that all men come to know Jesus as Savior (1 Timothy 2:4).

While God wants all humans to be saved, He created all of us with the ability to make choices according to our will–we operate with free will. We develop our ability to make choices as be grow and mature from childhood to adulthood with education and information and societal influences. In this gathering of knowledge and information, each of us has learned that we are created beings and that there is a Creator. We also learn about morality–what is right and what is wrong. All of this, including societal pressures and influences, shapes our decision-making process over time.

In that process of discovery, there are things that appear to be good when, in fact, are not. For example, our society promotes that people who declare love for each other as being a good thing, but the problem with this reasoning is that, in this expression of love, it is acceptable to live with someone before marriage, have sex outside of marriage, or practice homosexuality. These are circumstances where a person’s feelings are equated with love and become more important than what is moral truth. In reality, truth should always trump that the fulfillment of one’s feelings or desires.

It is important to understand that the persons who follow and trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior would have had to experience God at work in their lives prior to their acceptance of Christ. God had to be in this process because the act of choosing to follow Christ defies any human logic–we have difficulty grasping the ability to follow someone that we have never seen. Who is it that provides the stimulus that brings us to a point where we have a need and desire for repentance? God does. At this critical juncture in one’s life, it now becomes a matter of acceptance or rejection of the gospel.

John 6:65-66
He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted to him by the Father.” From that moment many of His disciples turned back and no longer accompanied Him.

Romans 2:4-11
Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? But because of your hardness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed. He will repay each one according to his works: eternal life to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality; but wrath and indignation to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth but are obeying unrighteousness; affliction and distress for every human being who does evil, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does what is good, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. There is no favoritism with God.

Romans 8:6-8
For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

The mind of a sinful man ultimately will lead to death, for it constitutes a rejection of Jesus Christ and His gospel. In spite of this, God will give a person opportunities to turn from sin and repent of it. This is while the person still has the ability to make such a choice for himself. There does come a time, however, where a person is so engrossed with sinful behavior that God will allow the person to acquire a reprobate mind, which means that God will allow the destruction of that person’s life. God does eventually come to a place where He declares “enough is enough” for the person who willfully commits sin without repentance. The person is no longer able to turn from his sin because God has given over his ability to repel the sin and affect change for his life. Thankfully, the believer has the benefit of the presence of the Holy Spirit who teaches us about the things of God.

Romans 1:20
For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made.

Creation is a witness to the testimony of God as a creator, but it is clear that there are some who make a choice that God will not receive the reverence. It is a failure to submit to the true God.

Romans 1:21-23
For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images representing mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.

It is man’s choice to willfully live in sin while failing to acknowledge the deity of Christ and change the personhood of God. God, in turn, will remove any restraints in those persons lives, where lust for those things of man that allows sin to take over your life, and there is nothing that can be done to stop it. You cannot will your way out of it, and it is where you are no longer able to distinguish right and wrong.

Romans 1:24-28
Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen. This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. The males in the same way also left natural relations with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error. And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong.

2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
For this reason God sends them a strong delusion so that they will believe what is false, so that all will be condemned–those who did not believe the truth but enjoyed unrighteousness.

Please note that this delusion or depraved mind is not only for those who practice homosexuality.

Romans 1:29-32
They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. Although they know full well God’s just sentence–that those who practice such things deserve to die–they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.

Instead of rejecting God, when one accepts the Lord Jesus Christ, it is ultimately a work done by God and provided for you. He gives you what you need in faith to begin to follow Him (Romans 12:3; John 6:65; Romans 10:17).

With this measure of faith, now comes the responsibility to add to your faith (2 Peter 1:5). It is this process of adding to your faith where we can develop it to a greater level. From there, you progress to a gift of faith, which is different from the measure of faith and adding to your faith, for those are faiths that God gives you to help you to grow. The gift of faith comes from you, because it is where you have come to the place where you are now striving for others for the sake of Christ and the gospel. It is a willingness of doing things for God by faith, even in sacrifice. It is the culmination of dying to self and living for Christ. This gift of faith at work for the benefit of others.

Acts 21:13
Then Paul replied, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Your faith increases by adding God’s Word and His biblical truths. Note that, on both ends of the spectrum beyond our free will choices, God is in control of everything. People who accept the truth of God will live according to His will, while others who reject God’s truth will eventually be given over to reprobate minds.

God enables you to work on His behalf because of His gift of salvation. He wants His glory to shine through us in everything that we say and do on his behalf. All of this is because God is working in your life. It may take some time, but it all starts with your belief in Him as your personal Savior.

Ephesians 2:8-10
For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift–not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

Philippians 1:6
I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
And in view of this, we always pray for you that our God will consider you worthy of His calling, and will, by His power, fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified by you, and you by Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.


A Time To Step Up and Speak Up

It is important for parents to communicate with their children about the world we live in, especially in the area of morality and values. Parents need to speak regularly with their children and have frank discussions about matters of right and wrong because there are, unfortunately, ongoing conflicting voices and opinions that are prevalent from media sources, network programming, and even Hollywood and its celebrities. Today, to counter these messages that are in conflict with our values, we must have the courage to speak up for what is truth. We must take a stand for righteousness and be clear in our opposition to sin and deviant behavior. Taking such a declarative stand, of course, has a cost, and we should be prepared for such a cost and fallout for speaking the truth according to God’s Word.

This stance will require courage and strength from the presence of the Holy Spirit. We have to come to a place where we, as a people, have to be prepared to speak up and declare the truth about sin, sexuality outside of God’s intent within marriage, and the gay lifestyle. There are many people who are openly proclaiming that open sexuality and the gay lifestyle is acceptable behavior. Their opposition to any discussion about such behavior is that they should be free to make the choices to live as they do, and that they love everyone, and challenge others to be more open-minded. On the surface, this may be a valid argument until you compare this reasoning with God’s Word, His standards, and its true authority in our lives. The reality is that sin, which is contrary to God’s Word, can have a significant negative impact on your relationship, if any, with God, on your life, and even the lives of others.

For those who believe and trust in God’s Word, are you ashamed of what the Bible teaches? “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). “But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life. And who is competent for this? For we are not like the many who market God’s message for profit. On the contrary, we speak with sincerity in Christ, as from God and before God” (2 Corinthians 2:14-17). When a believer in Jesus Christ goes from place to place, he or she should be presenting a “fragrance” of the knowledge and wisdom of Christ before anyone and everyone in which they make contact. The reality is that there are two different groups of people that you will encounter–those that will have the desire to know Christ, and those who will reject the message of the gospel. Do you realize that your choice to receive salvation is an agreement with God? For those who accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, they are in agreement with God about His message of truth. If one does not accept the gospel, then God is in agreement with the choice to reject Him, and He will allow that person to go his or her own way–to be eternally separated from Him. The truth of the gospel is inherent in the message that needs to be communicated in how sin and a sinful lifestyle separates us from God.

There are things that should never occur amongst the people of God. “Now Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was 41 years old when he became king; he reigned 17 years in Jerusalem, the city where Yahweh had chosen from all the tribes of Israel to put His name. Rehoboam’s mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonite. Judah did what was evil in the Lord’s eyes. They provoked Him to jealous anger more than all that their ancestors had done with the sins they committed. They also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree; there were even male cult prostitutes in the land. They imitated all the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites” (1 Kings 14:21-24). What God had driven out previously that was against Him and His instruction was being brought back in. Was this practice much different than what is occurring today? Hardly. As a people, those who profess to follow Christ have become accustomed to outside influences that have compromised God’s Word within the church and within the body of Christ. The minds of those who practice sexuality in the form of prostitution have to be trained to do what they practice. These are willful acts that are contrary to God’s Word. “No Israelite woman is to be a cult prostitute, and no Israelite man is to be a cult prostitute. Do not bring a female prostitute’s wages or a male prostitute’s earnings into the house of the Lord your God to fulfill any vow, because both are detestable to the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 23:17-18). God’s Word makes it clear that money earned through prostitution should not be shared with the church.

The people of God are the army of God that combats against sin (Judges 20:1-2). There is an urgent need for a counter-response to those who sin and practice sinful behaviors (Judges 19:20-26). How much of an effect can sin have on a multitude of people? In the book of Judges chapters 19 and 20, note that one incident of a sexual act resulted in the death of 100,130 people. A tribe of Israel was destroyed because of what it allowed to occur within their midst. Note that the men who participate in this grievous event were evil and perverted. The thought process of that time was to not necessarily abstain from deviant sexual behavior, but to allow for this type of behavior to be perpetrated against the under a different outlet women, or in this case, a female concubine of the house guest (Judges 19:25-27). The result of this travesty was noted in the verses that followed in Judges 20:5-7.

How does this relate to today? We need to make a decision as a group with one voice that deviant sexual behavior, with its roots in sinful behavior, is morally wrong. Unfortunately, the body of Christ has been deeply divided in its communication of this message to the world, and even amongst its own people. As individuals, we have to make a decision–is it a sin to have sex outside of marriage? Is it sinful to participate in gay sex? Is this behavior right or wrong? In order to even begin to come together as a group, we have to make these decisions as individuals and take a stand for God’s Word and righteousness.

Do you know that, while there is suffering in your decision to speak the truth, God will protect you? “For this gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher, and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know the One I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day” (2 Timothy 1:11-12).

The body of Christ must come together and be united as one voice for the truth of the gospel and God’s Word…He never intended for the church to be divided. “Knowing their thoughts, He told them: ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction, and no city or house divided against itself will stand‘” (Matthew 12:25). “Now I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause dissensions and obstacles contrary to the doctrine you have learned. Avoid them, for such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites. They deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting with smooth talk and flattering words” (Romans 16:17). See also Judges 20:11, Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, and 1 Corinthians 12:25.

Who are to be have one voice against? Sometimes the audience is right in front of us–it may be the members of our own families or someone very close to us that is involved in the ongoing practice of sinful behavior (Judges 20:13; Genesis 46:21, 49:27). Yet, it is vital to speak the truth about sin and its ultimate destruction and devastation in the lives of people.

Conquering sin and those who oppose the message of truth will not be swift. While it will not come quickly, victory will eventually come to pass. Until that time, we must continue to encourage each other in the combat and struggle (Judges 20:17-36). When you are taking a stand for truth in the battle against sin, there will ultimately be conflict. We are to encourage, and pray, for one another. Sometimes God has to allow for us to be in a state of brokenness in order to best use us for His glory and His purpose. There are times we need to give of ourselves in fasting, prayer, and sacrifice of ourselves to bring us to a place where we are relying on God’s energy and strength to accomplish His will and purpose (Judges 20:28). When we see God in the way that He wants us to see Him, and we have the proper reverence of Him, He will give you victory (Romans 8:37-39).

In this combat against sin, as we speak to those who need to hear the truth about sin, we need to remember that it starts with an individual decision, and that we work in unity with others for the common goal of proclaiming the gospel. We are to grieve when someone is caught up in sin (Judges 20:6), and we need to not make light of sin and what is occurring in our lives. We are to pray for the Lord’s guidance in addressing these issues in reverence for God and His Word. We need to trust Him that He will give us the victory as we remain obedient to His Word and trust in Him.