COMMITTED to train men and women
to have minds for the Lord Jesus,
hearts for the truth, and
hands that are skilled to the task.

"Chuck Swindoll" Tagged Sermons

DISCERNMENT IN A INVERTED WORLD

Quick facts on 1 John: (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary vol.14 Page 10).
It was written around AD 90.
It was written either in Ephesus or Patmos by John the apostle, son of Zebedee
Why was it written?
So that believers would have fellowship with the Father and the Son and fellowship with one another in the Spirit resulting in a joyful clean discerning and confident life. (1: Jn. 1:3-4; 2:1; 5:13).

• Fellowship produces a joyful life (1:1-10).
• Fellowship produces a clean life (2:1-17).
• Fellowship produces a discerning life (2:18-4:6)
• Fellowship produces a confident life (4:7-521)

• Spirit = pneuma (Strongs 4151) “breath or wind”
• Test = dokimazo (Strongs 1381) to examine, check it out, is it really authentic.
• Confess or acknowledge = homologeo (Strongs 3670) factual, wholehearted, a profession of allegiance ie (Titus 1:16).
• Truth versus Error
• Children of God versus antichrist (those in the world, those from the world, see also Eph.2:1-10).
• We are victors not victims.

Quote from Francis A Schaeffer, Two Contents, Two Realities
…First it means Jesus had an eternal pre-existence as the second person of the Trinity, and then it means he came in the flesh. When a prophet or a spirit comes to you, the test of whether he should be accepted or rejected is not the experience that the spirit or prophet gives you nor is it the strength of the emotion which the spirit or the prophet gives you. Nor is it any special outward manifestation that the spirit or the prophet may give you. The basis of accepting the spirit or prophet—and the basis of Christian fellowship—is Christian doctrine. There is no other final test. Satan can counterfeit and he will.
Also Francis A. Shaeffer states in his book “The Church at the end of the 20th Century page 103,
. . . biblical Christianity must make very plain that it will deal only with hot communication. Biblical Christianity rest upon content, factual content. it does not cause people to react merely emotionally in the first-order experience.

. . . Our faith must be discriminating, discerning, distinguishing faith.
“Do not believe every spirit” and “test the spirits” (4:1).

Seven Statements: ( From Chuck Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary page 108).

1). Never forget that we’re living in treacherous times (Matt.24:11; 2Tim.3:1-9).

2). Doctrinal discernment plays a vital role in surviving . . . and thriving (2 Tim. 3:14-16 1 Tim.4:1-16).

3). Historical roots and doctrinal truth must continue to be valued and embraced (1 Pet.1:10; Jude 1:1-25).

4). Each generation of believers has a serious responsibility to keep the faith ( 2Tim.3:10-17).

5). The church’s leaders are called to guide well the church’s ministry (Eph.4:1-16).

6). The church’s leaders are given the task of guiding the church’s people (Eph.4:1-16; Acts 20:28-32).

7). A strong and healthy church today is no guarantee of the same tomorrow (1 Tim. 4:1).

WAGE A GOOD WARFARE

Lucado, the teaching minister at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas and the author of books that have sold more than 120 million copies, penned a Feb. 11 apologetic letter to the Washington National Cathedral in which he said his 2004 sermon “wounded people.”
“In 2004 I preached a sermon on the topic of same-sex marriage. I now see that, in that sermon, I was disrespectful,” he says in the letter. “I was hurtful. I wounded people in ways that were devastating,” he said in the letter. “I should have done better. It grieves me that my words have hurt or been used to hurt the LGBTQ community. I apologize to you and I ask forgiveness of Christ.”
Lucado, in the letter, does not specify which parts of the sermon trouble him.
“Faithful people may disagree about what the Bible says about homosexuality, but we agree that God’s holy Word must never be used as a weapon to wound others,” he said in the letter. “To be clear, I believe in the traditional biblical understanding of marriage, but I also believe in a God of unbounded grace and love. LGBTQ individuals and LGBTQ families must be respected and treated with love. They are beloved children of God because, they are made in the image and likeness of God.
“Over centuries, the church has harmed LGBTQ people and their families, just as the church has harmed people on issues of race, gender, divorce, addiction, and so many other things. We must do better to serve and love one another,” he wrote in conclusion. “I share the Cathedral’s commitment to building bridges and learning how to listen – to really listen – to those with whom we disagree. That work is difficult, it is hard, it is messy, and it can be uncomfortable. But we need it now more than ever.”
Published in www.Christianheadlines.com

PROCLAIMING THE AUTHORITY OF GOD’S WORD WITHOUT APOLOGY.

This brings me to an especially important point. The Apostle Paul knew that Timothy was CALLED into the ministry. What does that mean?

C.H. Spurgeon published “LECTURES TO MY STUDENTS”
“Lectures II: The Call to Ministry” Spurgeon writes:
“Do not enter the ministry if you can help it.
If any student in this room could be content to be a newspaper editor, or a grocer, or a farmer, of a doctor, or a lawyer, or a senator, or even a king, in the name of heaven and earth, let him go his way. For a man so filled with God, would utterly weary of any pursuit, but that for which his inmost soul pants.”

Chuck Swindoll in his commentary on 2 Timothy makes this observation:
“The call of God includes a sense of destiny combined with an all-absorbing passion to work for the Lord. When complete and confirmed, the call of God manifests itself as an undeniable, unavoidable assurance that one should do nothing else.
A divine call to ministry is God’s leading an individual AWAY from other worthy pursuits to devote himself or herself to vocational ministry. This call also blends giftedness with diligence and responsibility, resulting in benefit to others. If the gift is teaching, others are taught. If the gift is preaching, congregations are challenged.”

Eric Pollard is the founder of ACT-UP (a militant homosexual group). Janet Folger in her book “The Criminalization of Christianity” quotes Eric Pollard who openly admitted that Hitler’s MEIN KAMPF was the model used for the group’s strategy.
Eric Pollard quoted from MEIN KAMPF:
“The magnitude of a lie always contains a certain factor of credibility, since the great masses of the people in the very bottom of their hearts tend to be corrupted rather than consciously and purposely evil, and that, therefore, in view of the primitive simplicity of their minds, they more easily fall a victim to a big lie than to a little one, since they themselves lie in little things, but would be ashamed of lies that were too big.
By clever and persevering use of propaganda even heaven can be represented as hell to the people, and conversely the most wretched life as paradise.”

Erwin Lutzer in his book «When a Nation Forgets God” writes:
“Hitler, you will recall, said that it was necessary to go beneath rational arguments, and tap into the emotions of an audience. Thus the gay movements’ strategy is to “portray gays as victims, not aggressive challengers.” They use the language of victimhood, to appeal to American’s basic sense of fairness and liberal guilt about anyone who claims to have been oppressed. Thus, they have created an atmosphere in which they portray themselves as a victimized class in need of special protections. Of course the buzzwords are TOLERANCE and FAIRNESS and LOVE. And portraying themselves as a persecuted minority, they have gained the sympathy of Americans. But as one former homosexual put it: “It’s an amazing thing to watch a group that said they were oppressed become the oppressors.
Remember that the emotions are more powerful than rational arguments. In short, simply demonize the opposition!”

In a post on Facebook, Grace Pointe Church in Nashville Tennessee posted a recap of a message titled “The Bible | What Is Progressive Christianity?” from lead pastor Joshua Scott’s Feb. 7 sermon.
“As Progressive Christians, we’re open to the tensions and inconsistencies in the Bible”, the church wrote in the caption. “We know that it can’t live up to impossible, modern standards. We strive to more clearly articulate what Scripture is and isn’t,” the church noted before further expanding on what the church believes the Bible is and is not.
Grace Pointe Church added that the Bible “isn’t: the Word of God, self-interpreting, a science book, an answer/rule book, inerrant or infallible.”
Instead, the church argued, the Bible is “a product of community, a library of texts, multi-vocal, a human response to God, living and dynamic.”

“It carries the idea of replacing incorrect ideas with correct ideas. As it relates to sin, this is a command to help others understand the truth regarding their sinfulness. The pastor cannot hedge or hold back. Sin needs to be exposed. Otherwise, the people have no hope but to remain trapped in a cycle of ignorant wrongdoing.” Chuck Swindoll
The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) recently announced that they have revoked their ordination of late apologist Ravi Zacharias after an independent investigation revealed that he engaged in sexual abuse.
After findings were released by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) last week, the C&MA published a statement expressing “great sorrow” concerning the fact that Zacharias, who had served with the C&MA as a licensed evangelist for 46 years, had engaged in a “pattern of predatory behavior”.
“Mr. Zacharias’ actions were in direct violation of his obligation to demonstrate his commitment to serve Christ and His people through his devotion, character, lifestyle, and values,” the statement reads. “In recognition of this gross violation and its painful consequences to the victims and others who were impacted, the C&MA posthumously expels Mr. Zacharias from licensed ministry in our denomination. This comes with the automatic revocation of his ordination.”
In pushing for increased accountability, the denomination announced that itinerant ministers will now report to a district office instead of being licensed nationally.

THE DAY IS COMING

Chuck Swindoll in his commentary on Malachi writes:
“The people of Judah began to be exiled from the Promised Land in 605 B.C. and returned from Babylon about seventy years later. By the time of Malachi, they had been back in the land for more than a hundred years and were looking for the blessings they expected to receive when they returned.
Though the temple had been rebuilt, the fervor of those early returning Israelites had given way to a thorough apathy for the things of God. This led to rampant corruption among the priesthood and spiritual lethargy among the people.
Malachi came along at a time when the people were struggling to believe that God loved them. The people were focused on their unfortunate circumstances and refused to account for their own sinful deeds.
So, God pointed the finger back at them, and through Malachi, told the people where they had fallen short of their covenant with Him. If they hoped to see change, they needed to take responsibility for their own actions and serve God faithfully according to the promise that their fathers had made to Him on Mount Sinai all those years before.”

In his book ‘DARK AGENDA’ – “The war to destroy Christian America”, author David Horowitz (published 2018) writes:
“Religion must die in order for mankind to live”, proclaims left-wing commentator and comedian Bill Maher in RELIGULOUS, the most watched commentary feature of 2008.
Both title and script were transparent attempts to stigmatize religious people as dangerous morons whose views could not be taken seriously. Through the film, Maher travels to Jerusalem, the Vatican, and Salt Lake City, as well as other centers of religion, interviewing believers and making them appear foolish. How did he gain interviews with his victims? HE LIED TO THEM, SAYING HE WAS MAKING A FILM CALLED ‘A Spiritual Journey.”
According to Maher, “THE IRONY OF RELIGION IS THAT BECAUSE OF ITS POWER TO DIVERT MAN TO DESTRUCTIVE COURSES, THE WORLD COULD ACTUALLY COME TO AN END.” He predicts the destruction of the human race as a result of “religion-inspired nuclear terrorism.” Hence the need for religion to die if mankind is to live. Maher’s views accurately reflect the attitudes of a movement called THE NEW ATHEISM, whose leaders are prominent scientists and best-selling authors, far superior in intellect to Maher but equally contemptuous of religion and religious believers.
Like Maher’s film, the New Atheism movement seeks to discredit all religious belief by caricaturing its adherents as simpletons, and worse. The goal of the New Atheism is to delegitimize and extinguish the religious point of view.”

Most people don’t realize that if God is dead,
THEN EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED, BECAUSE THERE ARE NO GROUNDS FOR CALLING ANYTHING – AN ACT, A STATEMENT, AN EVENT, A CHOICE, EITHER GOOD OR BAD, RIGHT OR WRONG, VALUABLE OR WORTHLESS, IMPORTANT OR UNIMPORTANT.

Richard Dawkins “The God Delusion” (2006)
“Do we know of any……examples where stupid ideas have been known to spread like an epidemic? Yes, by God! Religion. Religious ideas are irrational. Religious believes are dumb and dumber. Religion drives otherwise sensible people into celibate monasteries or crashing into New York skyscrapers. Religion motivates people to whip their own backs, to set fire to themselves or their daughters, to denounce their own grandmothers as witches, or, in less extreme cases, simply to stand or kneel, week after week, through ceremonies of stupefying boredom.”

C.S. Lewis in his book “The Abolition of Man” writes:
“The triumph of personal desire over objective validity as a standard of behavior creates what is tantamount to a moral vacuum into which will rush disordered passions bloated in their abnormal freedom from any constraint.
The three passions are: THE LUST FOR SENSATION, THE LUST FOR MANIPULATIVE KNOWLEDGE, AND THE WILL TO POWER, respectively.
The egotistical will to power and pleasure supersedes any less explicit idea or sentiment of obligation to some criterion or good outside of self.
It assumes that the pleasure of self is the highest good and that life is an aesthetic phenomenon; under such conditions, society becomes a jungle in which eventually a contest for the survival of the fittest can only favor the Nazi, the Hell’s Angel, the robber baron, and the gangsters.”

JESUS IS FAR ABOVE ALL POWERS

Chuck Swindoll in his Daily Devotional from December 31, 2020 writes:
“A new year is smiling at us, with twelve months of the unknown. I feel like we’re sitting on the beach, an entire ocean of possibilities, including both sundrenched days and a few storms with howling winds and giant waves, stretched out across the unchartered waters. If you and I let ourselves, we could become so afraid of the potential dangers that we would miss the adventure.
Becoming a couch potato is an option. You’d look toward the horizon, entertain a few thoughts that start with “Someday……” but then lean back and just keep looking and longing. Hawaii would never have been discovered had everyone chosen to sit tight and stay with a sure thing.
Sandwiched between January 1 and December 31 are twelve exciting yet unlived months of opportunities. Challenges brought on by changes await us. We will be shoved out of our comfort zones and required to respond. We can do so positively or negatively, with optimism or with pessimism. Even the familiar beach we have gotten used to is in for some changes, forcing us to leave our “spot” and accept new surroundings. If you are not careful, you’ll be so preoccupied with complaining, you’ll miss your golden moment to grow a little…to make some new discoveries…to switch from being a passive sitter on the beach to becoming an active participant in the adventure beyond the familiar.

STAND FIRM

Pamela Popper and Shane Prier published a book under the title:
“COVID OPERATION; what happened, why it happened and what’s next”
“The most consequential thing to happen in the world since World War II, this event has been perpetrated by a wide network of enemies of the people who have managed to disguise themselves as public servants,
health professionals, and founders and heads of global non-profits. They are everywhere, they are incredibly rich, they are powerful, and they are intent on getting their way.”
“Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development”
The First Scenario is titled: “LOCK STEP” a world of tighter top-down government control and more authoritarian leadership with innovation and growing citizen pushback.”
“The pandemic also had a deadly effect on economies: international mobility of both people and goods screeched to a halt, debilitating industries like tourism and breaking global supply chains. Even locally, normally bustling shops and office buildings sat empty for months, devoid of both employees and customers.
The United States initial policy of strongly discouraging citizens from flying proved deadly in its leniency, accelerating the spread of the virus not just within the U.S. but across borders. However, a few countries did fare better – China in particular. The Chinese government’s quick imposition and enforcement of mandatory quarantine for all citizens, as well as its instant and near-hermetic sealing off of all borders, saved millions of lives, stopping the spread of the virus far earlier in other countries and enabling a swifter post-pandemic recovery.
During the pandemic, national leaders around the world flexed their authority and imposed airtight rules and restrictions, from the mandatory wearing of face masks to body-temperature checks at the entries to communal spaces like train stations and supermarkets. Even after the pandemic faded, this more authoritarian control and oversight of citizens and their activities stuck and even intensified.
In order to protect themselves from the spread of increasingly global problems – from pandemics and transnational terrorism to environmental crisis and rising poverty – leaders around the world took a firm grip on power.”
“At first, the notion of a more controlled world gained wide acceptance and approval. Citizens willingly gave up some of their sovereignty – and their privacy – to more paternalistic state in exchange for greater safety and stability.
In developed countries, this heightened oversight took many forms: biometric ID’s for all citizens, for example, and tighter regulation of key industries whose stability was deemed vital to national interests.”
“Technology in Lockstep is largely driven by government and is focused on issues of national security, health and safety:
Scanners using advanced functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology become the norm at airports and other public areas to detect abnormal behavior that may indicate “antisocial intent.”
“Many people might conclude that either the authors of this document had incredible psychic powers or that the document is being used worldwide today as a handbook for decision-making.” “COVID OPERATION by Popper & Prier”

We hear a lot about CCP, the Chinese Communist Party Virus. The Chinese Communist Party is built upon THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO, written and published by Karl Marx and Fredrick Engel in February 1848.
In this manifesto Marx and Engel advocated the violent destruction of private enterprise, social classes, nations, religions, and the family.

Chuck Swindoll wrote an article with the title: “Don’t Quit”
“There is not an achievement worth remembering that isn’t stained with the blood of diligence and checkered with the scars of disappointment. To quit may feel good now, but it’s a bummer when life’s bills come due. Giving thought to giving up? Considering the possibility of quitting? Looking for an easy way out? Entertaining the idea of running away…stopping before it’s finished…escaping from reality? Admittedly, the holiday season only encourages such feelings of despair. Don’t! Instead, I urge you to draw near to God and to His people. Don’t retreat, but rather surround yourself with loving, supportive friends. And let God be gracious to you. It’s always harder to quit when a few friends stand with you.”

FOR I AM SURE…..

Ryan Holiday is the author of a book titled: “The Obstacle Is The Way”
“There is an old Zen story about a king whose people had grown soft and entitled. Dissatisfaction with this state of affairs, he hoped to teach them a lesson. His plan was simple; He would place a large boulder in the middle of the main road, completely blocking entry into the city. He would then hide nearby and observe their reactions.
How would they respond? Would they band together to remove it? Or would they get discouraged, quit, and return home?
With growing disappointment, the king watched as subject after subject came to this impediment and turned away. Or, at best, tried halfheartedly before giving up. Many openly complained or cursed the king or bemoaned the inconvenience, but none managed to do anything about it.
After several days, a lone peasant came along on his way into town. He did not turn away. Instead he strained and strained, trying to push it out of the way. Then an idea came to him; He scrambled into the nearby woods to find something he could use for leverage. Finally, he returned with a large branch he had crafted into a lever and deployed it to dislodge the massive rock from the road.
Beneath the rock were a purse of gold coins and a note from the king, which said:
“The Obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”

As Susan Perlman in an article she wrote for “Jews for Jesus” publication said:
“One might ask, “What do we need pain for? Couldn’t we accomplish the same things with pleasure?”
The answer has to be that in pleasure we focus on ourselves and our feelings and our perceptions, which makes us to be mindful of ourselves and our will to be pleased; whereas pain helps us to focus outside of ourselves, to reach beside ourselves, to find out what’s there. Pleasure tends to make one self-centered, whereas pain tends to make a more noble person, other-centered and, hopefully God-centered.
A crisis becomes an occasion for declension or advance. A self-centered person in a crisis can become more self-centered and wallow in self-pity. God-centered or God-seeking persons can be propelled forward in their quest for meaning.
It is important to know that we are not helpless and we are not hopeless. We can choose to decide how we will deal with pain. We cannot choose whether or not we will have pain, but we can decide whether or not we will ALLOW PROBLEMS TO AFFECT US.
To live is to endure the pressures of life. But we can decide if we are going to let these things press us down or if we are going to let them lift us up.”

David Aikman wrote a book titled” GREAT SOULS” and in it he writes:
“I have always personally been inspired by the lives of great people. It is hard not to be energized by the stories of how individuals have risen above adversity or suffering or have maintained a purity in the face of great temptation. Our age, with its habit of instantly judging a man or woman’s life based on the fragmentary and proverbial sound bite, is often impatient with detail, nuances, depth.”

Chuck Swindoll writes about Joseph:
“Here is one on the list of God’s “greats”…….a life lived for His glory and, equally significant, though he was terribly mistreated, lived high above the all-too-common reactions of rage, resentment, and revenge. Here is one who deliberately chose to overlook unfair offenses, to overcome enormous obstacles, and model a virtue that is fast becoming lost in our hostile age – forgiveness.”
At the outset, Joseph’s life showed little promise – a simple shepherd, twelfth of thirteen children, a dreamer hated by his brothers. So how did he become a man so extraordinary that Moses spent almost fourteen chapters in the Book of Genesis telling his story? Where did Joseph get the qualities of integrity, leadership, and godliness in such measure that they took him from the pit of slavery to prime minister of Egypt?”

Through Joseph
• God explained dreams
• Revealed the future
• Saved Egypt and Israel from starvation
• Demonstrates the depth of love God has for all of us.

Paul is right:
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, not height not depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

IS IT REALLY THAT HOPELESS?

The historian Will Durant made this comment:
“There is not greater drama in human record then the sight of a few Christians, scorned and oppressed by a succession of emperors, bearing all trials with a fearless tenacity, multiplying quietly, but building order, while the enemy generated chaos. Fighting the sword with the Word of God, brutality with hope and at last defeating the strongest empire that history has ever known.
Caesar and Christ had met in the arena, and Christ had won.”

Chuck Swindoll in his commentary on these verses writes:
“During the interval of time between our Lord’s departure from the earth and His return, He is involved in two projects. One; to prepare a place for His children. Two; to prepare His children for a place. He is engaged right now in preparing heaven for His own. That’s what’s happening away from our sight. But on this earth, He is also engaged in preparing us for the life we will live in eternity with Him.”

POWER TO ENDURE

Journalist Kylee Zempel
“Christians have for months been separated from one another thanks to state lockdown orders. The overwhelming majority of congregations have honored the coronavirus regulations imposed by authorities who would sooner dispense with communion than lottery tickets. To love their neighbors, protect the vulnerable, and remain above reproach, Christians stayed home, resorting to virtual meetings, sermon archives, and other poor substitutes for fellowship. In the process, we sacrificed our spiritual vitality.
As anti-religious leaders and malicious media predictably shamed communities of faith, believers rolled over, our good intentions of meek compliance manifesting in cowardice. When the media employed scare tactics — “gathering will kill Grandma” — Christians fearfully relented. When detractors peddled bogus rhetoric masquerading as science — shopping is fine, but singing is way too “dangerous” — believers capitulated.
We were told groups of more than 10 people were simply not doable. Outdoor services were deemed unsafe. Even parking too closely in a lot or having too many people in a vehicle during drive-in services was prohibited. Police surveilled churchgoers, recording the license plate numbers of service attendees as “the only way we can ensure that your decision doesn’t kill someone else.” The message from the media and oppressive leaders has been clear: Church gatherings are deadly.
But now the game has changed. As brutal anarchists take to the streets alongside masses of peaceful protesters, all the media’s cards are on the table. Progressive governors have shown their hand. The coronavirus scare tactics have largely ceased.
Believing fast food is essential while the Lord’s Supper is nonessential has always been ridiculous. But believing worshiping is lethal while looting is warranted is downright infuriating.
Of course, states have kicked off their reopening plans, including, at the behest of the president, allowing churches to reopen with largely arbitrary regulations. But these rules are stifling. We cancel our song services, worship in shifts, and fracture our bonds by congregating in coteries at six-foot intervals.
Religious leaders have bent over backward to ensure public safety and care for their congregations, taking full precautions, but to what end? When will we say enough is enough? Scripture commands submission to government authority, but at some point, believers “must obey God rather than men.”
When have Christians ever regarded physical health above spiritual health? When has enduring persecution ever entailed abandoning firmly held belief? How can Christians expect spiritual revival, racial harmony, and peace, while neglecting our assembly together?
It’s time for believers to sing from the tops of our lungs in one, full accord — not sit silently in countless rotational services that undermine the unified body of Christ. It’s time to gather around the table, contemplating with holy reverence Christ’s body broken and blood shed for us. It’s time to confess our sacred doctrine and call upon our great Redeemer in corporate praise. No longer can we afford to live in fear.”

G.K. Chesterton said:
“When men stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing! THEY BELIEVE IN ANYTHING.”

Chuck Swindoll in his daily devotional writes:
“When trouble comes we have two options. We can view it as an intrusion, an outrage, or we can see it as an opportunity to respond in specific obedience to God’s will – that rugged virtue James calls “Endurance”. Endurance is not jaw-clenching resignation, nor is it passive acquiescence. It’s a long obedience in the same direction. It’s staying on the path of obedience despite counter-indications. It’s a dogged determination to pursue holiness when the conditions of holiness are not favorable. It’s a choice in the midst of our suffering to do what God has asked us to do, whatever it is, and for as long as He asks us to do it. As Oswald Chambers wrote: “To choose suffering makes no sense at all; to chose God’s will in the midst of our suffering makes all the sense in the world.”
These words are directly related to what James is telling us:
James 1:2-4
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness (endurance). And let your steadfastness (endurance) have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Ravi Zacharias once commented
“When you start a train of thought, it’s important to check the ticket to see where it is going to let you off.”

George Mueller, who cared for 2,500 orphans a day by faith alone, said.
“The only way to learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings.”

Greg Hinnant in his book “Spiritual Truths for overcoming Adversity” writes:
“The power to endure is the ability to bear stress with ease, to be in distress without distress being in you. It’s God’s supernatural grace manifested in us. Situations that wear out others don’t bother us. We go through the fire, but are not burned. We walk calmly and steadily through the midst of the most dreaded difficulties conceivable without mental, physical, or emotional damage. In fearful circumstances, we’re calm and unafraid; in offensive situations, we’re not offended; when faced with a deadline, we’re not at our wits’ end. Where does this grace come from, this power to endure? Not merely from Bible study, not merely from prayer, not merely from fellowship with other disciples, but from PERSONAL VICTORIES GAINED IN PERSONAL TESTS.”

A PLACE OF BECOMING

Chuck Swindoll in his book “The Church Awakening” wrote:
“It is precisely these four areas the adversary will attack so he can disrupt and, if possible, destroy the church. That’s why it’s important to keep our priorities straight. It’s essential that we do not get distracted by all that we CAN do as a church…and stay focused on only what we MUST do as a church. Otherwise we may be attracting a crowd for the wrong reasons.”

Genuine authentic fellowship with other followers of Jesus is the soil for becoming contagious. There are way too many Christians that sit in church every Sunday, they take notes, walk out, and come back next week, to sit, take notes, walk out, and return again next week…
…….UNTIL JESUS COMES BACK. Such Christians will grow stagnant. They come, sit, soak and sour.
Fellowship is much more than coming to church to hear a sermon every Sunday, or engaging in weekly Bible studies, or subscribe to 5 daily devotionals, or to read 5 books a week. Fellowship is physical getting together to share LIVE WITH ONE ANOTHER.

Warren Wiersbe in his book “On Being a Servant of God” writes:
Christian service means invading a battleground, not a playground; and you and I are the weapons God uses to attack and defeat the enemy. When God used Moses’ rod, He needed Moses’ hand to lift it. When God used David’s sling, He needed David’s hand to swing it. When God builds a ministry, He needs somebody’s surrendered body to get the job done.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book “Life Together” wrote:
“The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we ARE sinners! But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says:
You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come, as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you. He wants you as you are; He wants you alone. “My son, give me thine heart” (Proverbs 23:26). God has come to you to save the sinner. Be glad! This message is liberation through truth. You can hide nothing from God. The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him. He wants to see you as you are, He wants to be gracious to you. You do not have to go on lying to yourself and your brothers, as if you were without sin; you can dare to be a sinner.”

ARE YOU CONTAGIOUS?

Chuck Swindoll in his book “The Church Awakening” wrote:
“It is precisely these four areas the adversary will attack so he can disrupt and, if possible, destroy the church. That’s why it’s important to keep our priorities straight. It’s essential that we do not get distracted by all that we CAN do as a church…and stay focused on only what we MUST do as a church. Otherwise we may be attracting a crowd for the wrong reasons.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book “Life Together” wrote:
“The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we ARE sinners! But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says:
You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come, as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you. He wants you as you are; He wants you alone. “My son, give me thine heart” (Proverbs 23:26). God has come to you to save the sinner. Be glad! This message is liberation through truth. You can hide nothing from God. The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him. He wants to see you as you are, He wants to be gracious to you. You do not have to go on lying to yourself and your brothers, as if you were without sin; you can dare to be a sinner.”

Warren Wiersbe in his book “On Being a Servant of God” writes:
Christian service means invading a battleground, not a playground; and you and I are the weapons God uses to attack and defeat the enemy. When God used Moses’ rod, He needed Moses’ hand to lift it. When God used David’s sling, He needed David’s hand to swing it. When God builds a ministry, He needs somebody’s surrendered body to get the job done.”

THERE ARE TWO PLANS

JESUS CAME TO PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM.

Chuck Swindoll in his commentary on this text writes:
“For many years, faulty information had been taught by the religious aristocracy. With unquestioned authority, these religious leaders twisted the meaning of Holy Scripture, offered interpretations that were simply wrong, and demanded applications that were frankly impossible. Not content to let God’s Word speak for itself, they added to the commandments of God and required that everyone obey their additions without hesitation.
When Jesus sat down and delivered His illustrious Sermon on the Mount, jaws must have dropped as His audience heard an entirely different interpretation, delivered in an entirely different mode of communication.”

Dr. Michael Heiser in his book “Supernatural” writes:
“Though Eden was lost, God intends that it be restored. Ultimately, his rule – his kingdom – will return in its full scope when Jesus comes back and God creates a new heaven and earth (one that, in Revelation 21 and 22 looks a lot like Eden.)
In the meantime, we can spread the truth of God and the gospel of Jesus everywhere. We can also represent God to everyone we meet and in every place. We are God’s agents to restore Eden in the here and now, looking forward to the day when Jesus brings that plan to a climax.”

John Stott says it this way in his commentary on Matthew:
“Christian righteousness is greater than pharisaic righteousness because it is deeper, being a righteousness of the heart.
The righteousness which is pleasing to him is an inward righteousness of MIND AND MOTIVE.”

THE GREAT CHALLENGE

Chuck Swindoll in his Study Bible says:
“Jonah’s prophetic ministry to the Assyrians is an example of God’s care for all the nations of the earth to turn from their sin and idol worship and to recognize Him as the one true God.”
The book of Jonah stands as an important link in the prophetic chain,
giving readers a picture of Christ’s death and resurrection hundreds of years before these events occurred.”

Nineveh is the capital city of the Assyrian Empire.
Ashur-Dan III (772-754) sat on the throne of Assyria.

In 1912, Lewis Spence published the book titled:
MYTH & LEGENDS OF BABYLONIA & ASSYRIA. According to Lewis Spence,
“The entire faith in and dependence on their beloved deity on the part of these early Assyrian rulers is touching. The monarchs of Assyria retained the right to call themselves ‘priests of the god Asshur’.

Archeologists found a tablet where the prayer to Asshur was engraved:
“A prayer TO ASSHUR, the king of the gods,
ruler over heaven and earth,
the father who has created the gods,
the supreme first-born of heaven and earth,
the supreme muttallu who inclines to counsel,
the giver of the scepter and the throne.
TO NIL-LIL, the wife of Asshur,
The begetter, the creatress of heaven and earth,
TO SIN, the lord of command, the uplifter of horns,
The spectacle of heaven,
TO THE SUN-GOD, the great judge of the gods,
Who causes the lightning to issue forth,
TO ANU, the lord and prince, possessing the life of Asshur,
The father of the great gods.
TO RAMMON, the minister of heaven and earth,
The lord of the wind and the lightning of heaven.
TO ISHTAR, the queen of heaven and the stars, whose seat is exalted.
TO MERODACH, the prince of the gods,
The interpreter of the spirits of heaven and earth.
TO ADAR, the son of MUL-LIL the giant, the first born.
TO NEBO, the messenger of Asshur,
TO NERGAL, the lord of might and strength
TO THE GOD who marches in front, the first born
TO THE SEVEN GODS, the warrior deities,
TO THE GREAT GODS, the lords of heaven and earth.

GOD SEEKS OUR WORSHIP

Worship has its focus on what we do with our lives.

John R.W. Stott
“Christians believe that true worship is the highest and noblest activity of which man, by the grace of God, is capable.”

Chuck Swindoll in his study Bible writes:
“It is attributing supreme worth to God, who alone is worthy of it. When we worship, that’s what we’re doing.
The purpose of the church is to cultivate worshipers. It isn’t a place to make business contacts or to go to check something off the weekly list or to bring your kids so they get something out of it. No, it’s a place to learn about our God so that our worship and understanding of Him become increasingly deeper and more meaningful. It’s a place where we give Him our praise and our gratitude.
Why is worship so important? Because it turns our full attention to the only One worthy of it.”

Jesus was using the element of water as a metaphor to describe a spiritual reality, something that would meet not just a need of the moment but a need for all eternity.

Chuck Swindoll has a wonderful commentary on verses 19-20
“Oh, you’ve been to seminary. You must be extremely smart. Let me ask you something I’ve always wondered about. How do you reconcile the great existential problem of God’s sovereignty and the free will of man?”
Only in her culture, the great debate revolved around the most appropriate place to worship an omnipresent God.

John 4:23-24
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth,
for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

THE COVENANT-KEEPING GOD

A few important questions:
• Who initiated the Covenant Idea? (6:18)
• Why did God pick Noah as a covenant partner? (6:8-9)
• What did Noah do after the promise of God? (6:22-7:1-5)
• Who made sure Noah was safe? (7:16)
• What was Noah’s response to God? (8:20)
• What was God’s response to Noah? (8:21-22)
• Was Noah fully convinced? (9:8-17)

Chuck Swindoll has this to say about Genesis 11:1-9
“One of the greatest enemies of the Christian life is the religious life. Religion is the broad way that most people take, thinking that somehow, they can do something to please God. Christianity is the narrow way that helps us understand what God has done for us.
Religion is what I do for God. Christianity is what God has already done for me. Religion is an EFFORT. Christianity is a GIFT.
The reason religion is so appealing to us is that we like feeling as if we are giving God a boost. We enjoy talking about all we’re doing for God rather than emphasizing what He has done for us. It makes us feel important. At first, religion might sound like it’s focused on God. But in the end, it’s all about us – our achievements, our glory, and our pride.”

A MATTER OF THE HEART

Chuck Swindoll in his Study Bible:
I have found that searching questions are one of the most helpful ways to deal with my heart when it grows cold and distant or hard and calloused. Here are a few searching questions that I ask myself on occasion:
Has worship become merely formal and proper for me?
Has prayer become a series of meaningless words, just a matter of moving filthy lips, like Isaiah says?
Does God seem strangely distant and out of touch?
Have I forgotten that He really sees me and knows exactly where I am, what I’m doing, and why?
Am I getting too preoccupied with externals?
Is human opinion too important to me?
Do I allow my will to invalidate the authority of God’s Word in my life?
Are there wicked things being tolerated, even cultivated, in the deep chasms of my being?
Have I stayed in this condition so long that I’ve become blind to theses things?
I urge you to ask yourself searching questions like these. If you do it honestly, you will find that God is willing to come into the deepest places of your heart and transform you. Chuck Swindoll

TRUTH HURTS AND HEALS

Chuck Swindoll writes:
Paul’s situation is relevant for us today. Teaching the Scriptures often means communicating truth to people who don’t want to hear it. In fact, those who once appreciated your teaching may turn on you and hate you for it. G.Walter Hansen draws out the implications of this reality for both pastors and congregations:
“The dramatic shift from the Galatians’ warm welcome to their cold rejection of Paul serves as a sober warning to both pastors and their churches. Pastors should not be so naïve as to think they will always receive a warm welcome if they consistently teach the truth. In fact, teaching the truth will always run the risk of alienating some people. And people in the church need to be aware that their initial positive response to pastors who teach the truth will be severely tested when the truth cuts like a two-edged sword. During such a time of conviction, people need to maintain their loyalty to their pastors precisely because they have the courage to preach the truth even when it hurts.” G. Walter Hansen
“Don’t Wrestle, Just Nestle” – Corrie Ten Boon

CURSED OF FREE?

In that little book you find Spurgeon explain the difference between a “gold leaf” Christians and a “SOLID GOLD” Christian. From the outside you cannot seen the difference.
“It is a lamentable fact that many who are called Christians, because they belong to a Christian nation, are a grievous dishonor to the name of Christ. The heathen, judging of Christianity by them, have often been heard to say, “We had better remain as we are than become as drunken, or swear as profanely, or act as viciously as these so-called Christian people do.”
I have nothing to do now with merely nominal Christianity. Do what you like with it.
Neither do I at all identify a man in Christ with one who is profoundly conversant with all the externals of the Christian religion, and who gives himself up devotedly to them, but never looks into the center – into the heart and kernel – of the matter.
I am also bound to confess that there are members of evangelical churches, not devotees of ceremonialism, but advocates for the bares simplicity of worship, who make a very high profession of being real Christians, and talk a great deal about vital godliness, who, nevertheless, are not men in Christ.
The church of Christ has been plagued by hypocrites from the first day even until now. There was a Judas among the apostles themselves. Are you surprised at this? I confess I am not.
Because Christianity is in itself so valuable, therefore there are many worthless imitations. Men counterfeit a sovereign because it is worth having; if it ever should become worthless the trade of the counterfeiter would be gone; and it is because the possession of true godliness is so valuable at thing that there are so many who pretend to have it who know nothing about it.
I distrust full often those who are so loud in their professions. I know that the cart which rings the loudest bell when it goes through the street only carries dust; but I never hear a bell rung when they are carrying diamonds or bullion through the city.
The best actions which are wrought in this world are for the most part done in secret by those who desire no eye to observe them except the eye of the Almighty God. But some, under the pretense of doing that, are rather standing up for themselves than for Christ, and are not quite so anxious to cry, “Behold the Lamb of God”, as to say, “Come, see my zeal for the Lord of hosts! Admire me; and see what a wonderful honor I am to the religion of Jesus Christ.”
Now I give up these religious pretenders to the world’s utmost scorn. I have nothing to say in their defense, but very much by way of disgust at their untruthfulness.” Charles H. Spurgeon

Chuck Swindoll in his commentary on Galatians writes:
Paul’s point, then, is that all people who fail to keep the Law in its entirety live under the shadow of God’s impending judgment. How different this is from the Judaizers’ deceptive “pick and choose” approach to the Law! They thought their pursuit of certain aspects of the Law would earn God’s favor. That teaching, however, is an affront to His grace and mercy, only provoking His judgment.”

Dr. Michael Heiser in his book “What does God want?” writes:
…The sad truth is that many genuine Christians live tormented defeated lives, not because of the Gospel, but because of the way THEIR GUILT has distorted the clarity of the Gospel.
.Working hard to make someone else think you have value requires you to focus on yourself. You can’t be focused on someone else when the goal is to make another person think you are worthy of their attention or love.
We want to feel good about ourselves (i.e., we legitimately deserved something, so we aren’t taking what doesn’t belong to us). We also want others to feel that way about us, too (i.e., we want others to give us something because of the way we make them feel about us).
The Gospel strips this away and casts it aside. It exposes us, demanding naked humility. It insists the focus be entirely on God and Jesus. That’s why it’s a hard pill to swallow for so many. It doesn’t let us take any credit.
What it comes down to is that the gospel cares NOTHING about what you do, but cares EVERYTHING about who you already are.”

Dr. Michael Heiser gives us a summary on page 63 of his book
“Salvation is NOT about performance. It never was, never will be, and never can be. We can do nothing to put ourselves at the level of God, to make ourselves fit for his presence. We lack God’s perfect nature. We are like God, created to image him, but be definition we are LESS THAN GOD, and God knows it. That’s why his solution was Jesus, NOT YOU.

WHEN ACTIONS CONTRADICT DOCTRINE

Chuck Swindoll in his commentary writes:
“The Apostle Paul does not do this to simply hang out the church’s dirty laundry or to meet some ideal of “total transparency”. Paul knows like anybody else that not everything should be broadcast to the public. Furthermore, Paul certainly isn’t trying to hang Peter out to dry..…..
So, what motivated Paul to report his conflict with Peter to the troubled churches in Galatia?
The key to answering the first question comes from one small word: BUT.”
Chuck Swindoll refers to verse 12
“For BEFORE certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles, BUT when they came, he drew back and separated himself, FEARING the circumcision party.

We could call it Peer-pressure from his Jewish friends. Fear of rejection by his Jewish friends. You see, in Jerusalem, under James, “which was known as “JAMES THE JUST” because of the unimpeachable devotion he exhibited among the Jewish people.” (John Stott, “The message of Galatians”)
John Stott provides some insight into the assumptions of this question found in Galatians 2:17
“Paul’s critics argued like this: “Your doctrine of justification through faith in Christ only, apart from the works of the law, is a highly dangerous doctrine. It fatally weakens a man’s sense of moral responsibility. If he can be accepted through TRUSTING IN CHRIST, without any necessity to do good works, you are actually encouraging him to break the law, which is the vile heresy of antinomianism”. People still argue like this today: “If God justifies bad people, what is the point of being good? Can’t we do as we like and live as we please?”
As Chuck Swindoll wrote in his commentary:
“But what seems like a sturdy staircase built to lead us to God’s favor actually turns out to be a rotten wooden trap that will crumble beneath us. As Paul explains, only the cross of Christ can give us the assurance we need to step out in faith and live a truly grace-filled life.

Our justification, sanctification, and future glorification are all results of God’s grace alone, effected through faith alone, in the finished work of Christ alone.

JESUS BROUGHT A SWORD

The sword of which He spoke is the sharpest of all implements of conflict: THE TRUTH. And those who hold it will find themselves hunted by evil. Chuck Swindoll

“Much of our Christian life is nothing more than a cheap anesthetic to deaden the pain of an empty life.” Lewis Sperry Chafer (founder of Dallas Th. Seminary)

“May not the inadequacy of much of our spiritual experience be traced back to our habit of skipping through the corridor of the kingdom like children in the marketplace, always chattering about everything, but learning the true value of nothing.” A.W. Tozer

John MacArthur in his New Testament Commentary on Matthew is quoting Mel White, the author of the book Deceived:
“Walter Mondale wrote that the pastor was an “inspiration to us all.” The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare cited the pastor’s outstanding contribution. We are told “he knew how to inspire hope.” He was committed to people in need, he counseled prisoners and juvenile delinquents. He stared a job placement center; he opened rest homes and homes for the retarded; he had a health clinic, he organized a vocational training center; he provided free legal aid; he founded a community center; he preached about God. He even claimed to cast out demons, do miracles, and heal.”

British pastor Andrew Murray in his book: Abide in Christ: Thoughts on the Blessed Life of Fellowship with the Son of God (1864):
“It is to be feared that there are many earnest followers of Jesus from whom the meaning of (abiding) is very much hidden. While trusting in their Savior for pardon and for help and seeking to some extent to obey Him, they have hardly realized to what closeness of union, to what intimacy of fellowship He invited them when He said, “Abide in Me.” This is not only an unspeakable loss to themselves, but the church and the world suffer in what they lose.”

“The focus of a Christian’s activity is not to work hard enough to make fruit, but to keep his connection to Jesus Christ clean and strong. One way to do that is to absorb the teaching of God’s Word, the 66 books of the Bible. Read God’s Word…..think about it, apply it, talk about it with others, ask questions, commit sections of it to memory. Strength and productivity come from staying connected. However, according to Jesus, failing to remain connected to the vine leads to tragic consequences. Someone who fails to abide is someone trying to transform his or her own character in order to produce Christlike qualities without maintaining a connection to Christ. And that’s futile; it never works. In fact, it’s a perfect plan for drying up and withering away.” Chuck Swindoll

FAITH DEMANDS UNCERTAINTY

Chuck Swindoll in his commentary ON ACTS:
“The Lord used the old covenant to prove that HEARING the word of God isn’t our primary problem. HEEDING the word of God is our constant challenge. With the inauguration of the new covenant, our Master has taken a different approach. Instead of standing before us to issue orders, He now lives within us to transform our minds (Romans 12:1-2) so that we begin to think His thoughts. As the Spirit gradually takes over, defeating our old, selfish, vain, foolish manner of life, we begin to cherish what God cherishes, make decisions according to His values, and view life from His eternal perspective.” Chuck Swindoll

In his essay on prayer, C.S. Lewis suggested that God treats new Christians with a special kind of tenderness, much as a parent does with a newborn. He quotes an experienced Christian: “I have seen many striking answers to prayer and more than one that I thought miraculous. But they usually come at the beginning before conversion, or soon after it. As the Christian life proceeds, they tend to be rarer. The refusals, too, are not only more frequent; they become more unmistakable, more emphatic.”
C.S. Lewis asks: “Does God then forsake just those who serve Him best? Well, He who served Him best of all said, near His tortured death, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” When God becomes man, that Man, of all others, is least comforted by God, at His greatest need. There is a mystery there which, even if I had the power, I might not have the courage to explore. Meanwhile, little people like you and me, if our prayers are sometimes granted, beyond all hope and probability, had better not draw hasty conclusions to our own advantage. If we were stronger, we might be less tenderly treated. If we were braver, we might be sent, with far less help, to defend far more desperate posts in the great battle.”

The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, in his book “Philosophical Fragments”
“Christians remind me of schoolboys who want to look up the answers to their math problems in the back of the book rather than work them through.”

“Faith like Job’s cannot be shaken because it is the result of having been shaken.” Rabbi Abraham Heschel

A TITANIC STRUGGLE

Let’s make sure we all understand the most fundamental principal:
God placed his new creation, made in His image, in a special place called GARDEN OF EDEN, and gave them dominion over the entire earth to subdue it and to populate it. It went south right from the get-go.
But God still intended to dwell with humanity. However, there would be opposition. As Michael Heiser points out: “Divine beings in service to Yahweh could defect. Enemies of Yahweh and his rule, from the human to the divine to something in between, lurked over the horizon. Heaven and earth were destined to be reunited, but it would be a titanic struggle.
In the meantime, any effort to recapture God’s original intent apart from God’s own strategy and will for restoring Eden would end in disaster. There would be no Eden utopia revived by human beings or other gods. It would be a painful lesson.” Dr. Michael Heiser
Chuck Swindoll in one of his commentaries writes that Christians often talk about “walking with God”, so much so that these words can easily become cliché.
He gives this advice, which I pass on to all of you:
What happens when we walk with God?
1. The discipline of silence increases our sensitivity.
When I am always moving fast, always making noise, always being active, I become insensitive. But when I am quiet, the veneer is peeled away. I become more sensitive to God.
2. The reassurance of His will decreases our anxiety.
When I spend time with God, my anxiety is washed away.
3. The submission of obedience proves our humility.
When I do what God says, I prove to Him I am willing to submit to His will. I listen to Him and obey. This interaction solidifies our relationship and brings us into closer communion.

RADICAL DISCIPLESHIP

“Christ didn’t send us into the world as vacationers on a self-guided tour of a playground but as soldiers on a tour of duty in a battlefield. We’re not called to kick back, relax, take in the scenery, and wait for our Guide to take us home. We need to arm ourselves with spiritual armor to withstand the temptations of this world.” Chuck Swindoll
C.S. Lewis in his classic: Mere Christianity writes:
“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God. The present state of things is this. The two kinds of life are now not only different but actually opposed. The natural life in each of us is something self-centered, something that wants to be petted and admired, to take advantage of other lives, to exploit the whole universe. And especially it wants to be left to itself; to keep well away from anything better or stronger or higher than it, ANYTHING THAT MIGHT MAKE IT FEEL SMALL.
It is afraid of the light and air of the spiritual world, just as people who have been brought up to be dirty are afraid of a bath. And in a sense, it is quite right.
IT KNOWS THAT IF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE GETS HOLD OF IT, ALL ITS SELF-CENTEREDNESS AND SELF-WILL ARE GOING TO BE KILLED AND IT IS READY TO FIGHT TOOTH AND NAIL TO AVOID IT.”
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his excellent book ‘Joy Unspeakable” writes:
“Perhaps the greatest danger of all for Christian people is the danger of understanding the Scriptures in the light of their own experiences. We should NOT INTERPRET SCRIPTURE IN THE LIGHT OF OUR EXPERIENCES, but we should EXAMINE our experiences in the light of the teaching of the Scripture.”

WHAT ARE YOU AIMING AT?

The church speaks a lot about Faith, Love, and Hope, but what does it look like?
• Faith is anchored in the past, in actual history events, as we look back to the Lord’s saving work on the cross.
• Love is anchored in the present, as we practice Christlike love toward the people around us.
• Hope is anchored in the future, in the trustworthy promises God gave us in His Word.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

ANYTHING BUT IDEAL

Christmas cannot be understood apart from this simple truth revealed to us in Genesis 3:15
And I will put enmity between you and the women, and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.
The entire Old and New Testament was written so we can understand the spiritual struggle thousands of years in the making. Just think about the New Testament alone. Every chapter provides a glimpse into this spiritual conflict. Follow Jesus footsteps and you are confronted with the fact that wherever He goes, whatever He says, whatever He does, spiritual confrontation with the unseen powers are a daily occurrence. Eventually, the conflict pursues him unto death – it was just a matter of time; God’s time.
Today, the Christmas story has been so sanitized we miss the whole story altogether. It did not happen over night. This romanticizing has taken place over centuries and eventually was picked up by Hollywood, and commercialized by the merchants of this world. The church is not without fault in all of this. Throughout the western world, churches idealize the birth of Jesus Christ through songs, pageants, musicals and dazzling performances.
As we address the theme of this series: “It’s just a matter of time” in the next few weeks, we will pull back the curtain to see what is going on in the spiritual and physical world for thousands of years, eventually culminating when Christ returns the second time to this earth. It’s just a matter of time; God’s time when everything will come to a completion.
Remember, at that time political intrigue, racial tension, increased immorality and societal instability was the norm. This was a time of unprecedented economic and political success for the rich only. For the rest of the Roman empire it was a time of unprecedented economic and political oppression. In other words, for the Jewish people it was anything but ideal. They were hoping that their Messiah would show up and once again lead them out of bondage like Moses did when leading the Hebrews out of Egypt. It was such time as this that God the Father sent His son to this earth. It does not look good. The chances of success are slim from a human perspective.
The problem with the world at large is that people’s lives are dominated with the headlines of the day. God works behind the headlines to accomplish His will. In His word, He revealed to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear what He will do IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME. He tells us WHERE, WHAT, WHEN AND HOW.
Today’s time are no different when Jesus was born. Political corruption…religious compromise…economic crisis. These will always be headline news. Just remember, God uses desperate times, anything but ideal times, to accomplish His eternal purposes in our world and in our lives.

What Time Is It?

So what time is it?
THE ANSWER: Time to make the very most of the time. Do not waste your time. It is time to walk with a purpose and a clear vision. If you have a vision, a purpose, a goal, to redeem the time, to make your time on earth count, you will have to follow the cause of your vision.
IT TAKES COMMITMENT, EVERGY, ENTHUSIASM, AND GIFTEDNESS TO REDEEM THE TIME AND TO KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS.
“As God’s people, we’re the ones who ought to be having the time of our lives! But it’s been my observation that far too many Christians look like they’ve been baptized in lemon juice!”
Chuck Swindoll

Are You Bearing God’s Image?

I would say, Joseph was bearing God’s image. This does not mean that Joseph was perfect. No human being is, except the man of God, Jesus Christ. Bearing God’s image means: Having a powerful faith in God and a positive response to others.
Judah and his brothers went from intellectual faith, to emotional faith, and eventually to transforming faith.They are now bearing the image of God. They are now acting according to God’s Word. Now it’s not just faith, now it’s faith that works according to God’s Word.
They all passed the exam of attitudes.
Humanly speaking, the average Christian would not bear God’s image when faced with people who have done them such wrong. We would demand from the guilty to feel some of the humiliation and shame we felt when they did wrong. We know that they don’t deserve anything good coming their way. BUT LISTEN TO JOSEPH, a man who bears the image of God.