Category Archives: devotion

The pride of life, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes

ME

The bible warns us about the pride of life, lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes, but yet those are three concepts that define our world (culture).

Our culture assails us with phrases like “Do it Your Way,” “Have it Your Way,” and “Do it.”

Media in all forms: TV shows that capitalize on self-centered, crass and degrading themes; commercials that tempt us with things it says we deserve: new cars, trendy clothes, success; and much of music and gaming media that glorifies the lowest, basest self-centered instincts we have (eg. violence, lust, pride).

1 John 2: 15-17 says – 15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

So what I’m wondering is why we have an overabundance of pastors who preach prosperity, happiness and success when these are the very ideas we are warned to stay away from. I mean, think about it. If you go to a church where the pastor says you can have anything you want, God will favor you, and bless you for asking for whatever you want, isn’t the pastor tempting you with the very things that we are warned against in the above passage?

Jesus was tempted by Satan after fasting for 40 days. There’s an account of this in Matt 4: 1-11 and in Luke 4: 1-13. Jesus was really hungry and physically tired and that is when Satan swooped in and tempted him to turn stones into bread. Jesus rebuked him with God’s word so Satan led him to a high place overlooking cities and lands. He told Jesus that if he’d worship him, he would give Jesus all the kingdoms and land. Jesus rebuked him again with God’s word. Satan tried one more time by tempting him to take a risk, jump off the high place and let his angels save him. Jesus rebuked him a third time.

Jesus resisted satisfying his hunger because it was Satan, the evil one, who was tempting him. Jesus resisted the idea of power over kingdoms because Satan, the evil one, was doing the tempting. Jesus resisted taking the risk of falling and being caught by angels because it was Satan who was tempting him.

Are you seeing a pattern here?
Actually, I see two things happening here.

1. The pattern is that Satan is tempting Jesus with the very things our culture tells us are ours for the taking. But another, probably more important pattern is that every time Jesus is tempted, it is in weakness (hunger, tiredness), but He uses God’s word to defeat Satan.

2. The other thing I see is that Satan is trying to tempt Jesus with things that Jesus already has. As God, the father in flesh, He can satisfy his hunger, He already owns everything in the world, and He doesn’t have to take risks because He directs everything from the angels on down.

The take away for this is simple yet very hard for people to do, because it is
counter-cultural, wholly un-PC, and will for sure make you an outcast in society. It could even result in your persecution, loss of job/friends/family and ultimately loss of life.

When we hear messages, whether they come from culture or the pulpit, we need to look at God’s word, the Holy Bible, to see what He says about the message we’ve heard. Does it line up with His truth, or is this something God warns us about?

The other thing we must remember is that as a “child of God” we already have life-sustaining, living water and bread (God’s word) by which we will never thirst, nor ever go hungry. Also, as a “child of God” we are already heirs to the kingdom. The big one; not the earthly, corruptible cities on earth. Finally, as a “child of God” we don’t have to work towards success because our lives are in God’s hands.

His will, will be done.

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The SONshine

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Pumping Sunshine

When a pastor makes “I Declare” statements in relation to our future, or uses the phrase “Holistic Prosperity,” and/or claims that God wants to “Supersize You” – Run. Not slowly, but very, very quickly away from this heresy.

I know it makes for warm and fuzzy, feel good sensation, but that is NOT the gospel.

Gospels that preach the message above are preaching a different gospel. One in which we are warned about numerous times in the bible. 2 Cor 11:4 and Gal 1:7 are just two examples.

God does NOT promise to prosper us as some pastors promote by the use of Jer. 29:11. In this passage, God is talking to Israel because they are captive and He is letting them know that He has plans for them. The NT, Matt 28:16-20, Mk 16:15, 1 Cor 15:1-4, Acts 10:42, just to name a few, gives very clear instruction to current day believers about our role on earth. There’s no promise of being prospered, and in fact, we are warned that the world will hate us Matt 10:22, John 15:18 and that we would be persecuted and in some cases, even killed for our faith.

Our future IS in His hands, and we have eternal life through the death of God’s son, Jesus Christ. His death paid for our sins. (Romans 6:23) But it doesn’t mean our circumstances on earth will change. It DOES mean we know what our future will be.

Now that is pumping SONshine.


The consequences

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People, especially young people, think that bible teaching sermons are old-fashioned, outdated and boring, but this is really what happens when verse by verse bible teaching isn’t happening in the church.

1. It strips the authority of God over the mind of the hearer. God is silenced.

2. It strips the lordship of Christ over His church. God leads the church by speaking to the church, but when it isn’t… preached, God is silenced.

3. It hinders the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit uses scripture to save. The scripture also sanctifies believers (changes us).

4. It legitimizes a lack of submission to God. Instead people will submit to the pastor giving the “talk.”

5. It removes spiritual depth and transcendence from the souls of people and it cripples worship. When people don’t have spiritual depth, they are easily manipulated by shallow worship music that is more me-centered than God-centered.

6. When the preacher doesn’t preach scripture, he devalues the importance of studying the bible.

7. It robs people of their only true source of help. God’s word is an anchor when people have really tough times.

8. It creates a disconnect between sound doctrine and life.

9. It dishonors God by omitting the truths that offend and terrify sinners. It is the same as lying to people when the truth is not preached. People cannot change if they don’t understand how sinful they are.

10. It removes protection from error. Faithful shepherds know they have to protect the flock from false teaching.

11. It deceives people into thinking they’ve heard from God when what they’ve really heard is a pastor’s or author’s idea about something. The way to hear from God is to read His word and hear His word.

12. It keeps a pastor from speaking for Christ. They are supposed to stand-in for the glorious shepherd until His return.

13. It disconnects people from the legacy of the past.

14. It breeds a congregation that is weak and indifferent to the glory of God. They can’t find joy because they don’t know the nature of God.

15. It severs the pastor from the sanctifying power of the word. If he isn’t sanctified, then his congregation won’t be either.

Summary of John MacArthur’s teaching on The Consequences of Non-Expository Preaching.
Part 2


The attraction model

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When my home church of 15 years started using the “the attraction” model to drive church growth it seemed like a good idea, at first.
But after 5+ years of watching this model in action, I’ve witnessed the scattering of sheep (believers) from that church in search of a “shepherd” and the same apostasy in an alarming number of churches as I’ve sought to find a new home church.

I say apostasy with certainty because the attraction model is in direct conflict with God’s word. It is a different gospel — one based on social justice and “love” for all. Nowhere in the bible is there an example of Jesus making friends with nonbelievers, or Him starting a campaign or vision to right a social injustice.

No, He went right to the heart of the manner with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4: 7-32), at the dinner table with Levi and the publicans (Luke 5: 27-33), and with the young rich man who wanted to know how to go to heaven (Matt 19:16-30), just to name a few examples.

He didn’t lift the woman at the well from her “circumstances.” Instead He gave her liberty from her sin (Romans 6:18). Believers are not instructed to liberate people. That is Jesus job. That is why He died. He’s the ONLY one who can set people free. Even in the worst circumstances — slavery, abuse, poverty — people CAN be free.

Jesus told them the truth and that was the most loving thing He could do. He proclaimed the the gospel Romans 6:23 puts it in the most succinct terms – For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Gal 1:6-10 warns against another gospel. It says – 6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

The other reason I say this is apostasy is because James 4:4 and John 15: 9-19 both say that friendship with the world is to be an enemy of God. If the world hates us, know it hated Him before it hated us.

James 4:4 says – Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

John 15: 9-19 brings the point home. It says –
9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.
18 If the world hates you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

People who insist on making friendships and alliances with lovers of the world need to check their doctrine against God’s word. And I don’t mean the watered-down version of the holy book, but a literal, word for word translation of the bible (ESV, NASB, KJV etc.).

The truth is offensive because it IS narrow-minded and unchanging, but Christians are tasked with proclaiming the good news (the gospel of Jesus Christ) – Mk 15:16.

Even when the culture changes, God does not.
If He kowtowed to men’s whims or changing self-centered values, what kind of God would He be?
I’m afraid not powerful enough.

Our God is almighty with resources and power beyond what we can imagine. He is unchanging, merciful and long-suffering.
And I’m so thankful for that.


The defenseless

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I have a question for you. Do you take your bible to church anymore? I mean, with the advancement of technology, many churches now broadcast scripture, poems, quotes and other passages onto large screens that can be seen even in the nosebleed section of the sanctuary. Heck, you don’t even have to wear your glasses to read them because they are printed in XL font, I’m sure.

With this kind of access, you might be wondering who needs to bring their bible anymore?

This is a popular belief in most churches today, but do you understand how dangerous and vulnerable you are when you do not use your own bible?

To take a pastor’s word about a passage leaves you vulnerable to “his” interpretation and because there are so many translations of the bible out there, many times the scriptures being put on the screens are paraphrased from an already paraphrased bible (The Message, NLT, etc.) A common practice now is for a pastor to craft his sermon and then look for scripture that supports his theme, and then he looks for the translation of the verse(s) that fit most accurately with “his” point of view (theology).

Pastors are charged with preaching God’s word and teaching the “flock.” 1 Timothy is such a rich text for godly living, pastoral and elder duties, and contending for the faith. And 1 John 4:1-6 tells us to test the spirits as does 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

Believers should never take man’s word alone, even a pastor’s word, because we are living in times that Matthew 24 warns about — a time when false prophets with false doctrine will be rife. When you don’t have your bible with you at church to look up the scriptures the pastor is using, you are at his mercy and his understanding of it. Men can easily twist God’s word to fit the theme of their sermon for the day.

To put this in terms that make more sense, pretend you are a soldier on active duty, and you’re supposed to be on the front lines of defense in a war. You saunter out of the barracks with your street clothes on and no weapon. You stand in front of your officer for inspection before going directly into the battle. That’s pathetic, but to make matters worse, the commanding officer gives you a “pep” talk and then sends you into battle as you are.

Does this EVEN make sense?

Heck no. You’re not ready to defend anything, and the officer has basically sent you on a suicide mission.

I’m imploring believers to get into their bibles. God’s word is the “Sword of the Lord” and you can’t fight a (spiritual) battle without it. When Christians don’t read their bibles, they in effect have turned in their weapon. Carry it with you everywhere you go. Easy enough to do with “bible apps” for any kind of technology. Read it everyday, test your pastor’s words against the truth he has been ordained to teach.

We are in a serious spiritual battle, especially in our churches, and while Ephesians 6:12 tells us the battle is against principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness, and evil in the highest places, we are defenseless against this kind of power, but God’s word is our armor and the weapon we use to fight the good fight – Ephesians 6:10-20.


The divorce (from the pattern of the world)

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For a few weeks now, the word “rigid” has come to mind, particularly so because for the past 11 months, my husband and I have been actively searching for a new church home.

Some may say that we’ve become rigid in our older years, that our standards are too unrealistic, but our standards haven’t changed in our whole adult (Christian) life. Our former church, which we were members of for more than a decade, and many other church’s standards have changed.

In our church, the change started soon after the installation of a new pastor five years ago. Even though the new pastor was much younger than us, we kept an open mind about his ability to lead a flock because our thought was that everyone has to start somewhere, right?

That, and we were highly involved with several ministries at the church so we weren’t going to hightail it out of there on the first Sunday we felt uncomfortable. We were members, after all.

We wanted to keep our emotion about the change in pastors out of the equation and be discerning about his preaching/teaching/leading of our large congregation, but soon after he came, many of the “older” members left to find other church homes.

In the five years since the change, we have watched our once vibrant Sunday school class of 100, dwindle to a mere handful along with the complete disappearance of many other classes. In January of 2012, we decided to leave the church as well.

It’s been very much like a divorce in that we became uncomfortable because we no longer shared the same views, standards or goals as our church. We’d grown apart, and just as in many divorces, the church family was split in different directions as they sought to bring back consistency, direction and order to their lives.

The other thing we noticed after leaving was how much God was directing our new “home church” search. We’ve visited several churches looking for solid “bible” teaching. You wouldn’t think it would be hard since all preachers are called to teach/lead their flocks, but the meaning of that has taken a strange and dangerous twist.

Instead of “preaching or teaching” from the bible, many churches we’ve visited (and our former church included) have started using excerpts of one or two bible verses along with a devotional, or other material written in the last couple of centuries. The writings may or may not be those of a Christian, but are usually from someone with some wisdom. Or, they may forgo the bible altogether and just use man-inspired material for instructing the flock.

I’m not saying that devotionals or other materials are bad. What I am saying is that Romans 12 instructs believers not to conform to this world, but if preachers are teaching how we should “get along” or “how we live” in this world, and aren’t using the bible for instruction, reproof and correction as 2 Tim 3:15-16 says, aren’t they teaching us how to conform to the culture. How to fit in?

This is completely opposite what believers are instructed to do.

Something believers need to be wary about is that when a church is more concerned with finding or using material that everyone can understand, they are at risk for misleading their flock. Because God’s book — the Holy Bible — is whole. It is everything we need and should not to be added to, nor taken away from (Revelation 22: 18-19). According to 2 Corinthians 3:12-17, God removes the veil when we turn into Him so that we can understand His truth. By watering down (rewriting) the gospel, it leaves no room for the work of the Holy Spirit to give individuals understanding and clarity.

In John 5:37-40, Jesus says if His father’s words do not abide in us then we believe not. To back up a bit to verse 24, for those who hear His truth and believe will have everlasting life.

When we put our complete faith in God, the Holy Spirit abides in us and His truths: words/passages from the bible that formerly made no sense to us, are made clear to us because the veil has been removed.

My husband and I think we may have found a church we can call home. They so far, are teaching/preaching the bible from the pulpit. It is a small congregation, with a pastor whose focus and responsibility is on caring for his flock.

You might call that rigid, but I call it obedience to Romans 12.


The best friend

In the recent passing of my father-in-law, I am struck by the depths that a real friendship can have. As my father-in-law got older and was able to do less and less, it endeared me to him even more. I was happy to spend time with him, listening to many, many stories of happier times for him. Though I lived an hour away, my father-in-law allowed me to visit him often and he loved taking car rides, going out to eat and “visiting.”

He had a bout of throat cancer a couple of years ago — he was 92 at the time — and had to drive 30 miles for radiation treatment Monday through Friday for 8 weeks. There was a Village Inn down the road from the hospital, and every Wednesday I drove there to wait for him while he got radiated and then we would go to the VI for a slice of “free” pie. The VI always had free slices of pie on Wednesdays but he’d always say, “I’ll pay this time.”

Because of him, I understand what having a “good” friend means.

A good friend teaches you how to be patient, love unconditionally, and sacrifice yourself without complaint or worry for your own interests. And, over the course of the friendship, you begin see your own weaknesses that need refining and lean more into the friendship, rather than fleeing from the shame of your immaturity (impatience), your self-centeredness (thinking of the things you could be doing instead), and your pride (feeling like you’re more important in the friendship than the one you are serving).

Just as my father-in-law was a good friend to me, Jesus is a “good” friend too. Jesus has many of the same attributes in the way that He shows us the areas where we need to change and grow. That really is true love.

Proverbs 27 17-18 says “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. 18 Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured.”

John 15:12-15 says “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

I thank God for teaching me through my father-in-law what it means “to be” and “to have” a good friend.