The Godly Parent

Being a father myself, this seemed like an easy thing for me to preach about. It’s really not.

How hard can it be? Have kids, be a Godly parent. Raise them right, show them how to be an adult. Should be easy right?

You see, most men, in fact, almost all men can father a child and most women can bear children, it seems to be a bit more difficult to be a Godly parent.

Let’s see what Scripture says we need to do:

1: First we have to love your children. It’s easy to love right? Feel good, do what your children want, give them what they need, be nice. If only it was that easy.

Love isn’t a feeling, we’ve had that preached to us so many times. Love is not what I feel, but what I do. When we love our children as God intended, there are things we do that just don’t fit in with what the world views as love.

We must be gentle and nourishing.

1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 (NKJV) But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.

We must be long-suffering, knowing that our children our going to try our patience. Children don’t just “get it” they have to be taught, nurtured, brought up. Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

We must be kind: 1 Corinthians 13:-8 (NKJV) Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. […]

Our love must be unconditional, we can’t love our children only when they are good, or only when they are obedient. Tempting, but so wrong. Romans 5:8 (NKJV) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

We must meet the needs of our children: 2 Corinthians 12:14-15 (NIV) 14 Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less?

2) Second, we have to teach our children:

Train them, teach them, show them: Children need to be taught every day about God. Let God’s word sink into them, inundate them with God’s laws until they’re sick of hearing it…and then speak it some more.

Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV) Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Paul talks about being a parent in quite a few of his letters.

1 Corinthians 4:14-21 (NKJV) 14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church. 18 Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. 21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?

Paul speaks of the church in Corinth as being “begotten through the gospel.” Have we done this for our children? Do our children know the gospel as well as they know math, or spelling or the rules for kickball? Have we done everything we should to teach our children about God?

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NLT) “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Have we committed wholeheartedly to God? Do we repeat God’s laws to our children again and again? Even if we do, children do what we do, not what we say. Which brings us to our third point:

3) We must lead our children by example:

1 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.

How many of us want our children to be just like us? How many times have we caught ourselves doing something that we would never want our children to do? Do we lose our temper when someone cuts us of in traffic? Do we seek revenge when someone treats us wrong? Do we try to get a discount for “8 and under” at Golden Corral? God tells us about bad examples in scripture:

2 Chronicles 30:7 (NKJV) And do not be like your fathers and your brethren, who trespassed against the Lord God of their fathers, so that He gave them up to desolation, as you see.

Psalm 78:8 (NKJV) And may not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not set its heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Zechariah 1:4 (NKJV) “Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds.” ’ But they did not hear nor heed Me,” says the Lord.

Don’t be the parent God warns us about, be Paul, exhort your children to imitate you. When we imitate Christ, our children can imitate us and we can be happy about it and not embarrassed or ashamed.

4) Admonish your children:

When we are disciplining our children, how many times have we heard the phrase “because I said so!”? I think as we get older we use that term more freely, but we have to remember that God’s word is the best way to correct our children. When we admonish our children, do it in a Godly manner, not provoking them or berating them or nagging them. If we use scripture to correct our children, they have no room for argument since they aren’t arguing with us, but with God.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV) 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Ephesians 6:4 (NKJV) And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

5) Discipline your children:

I’ve heard so many parents say “I just don’t know what to do with them” or “they don’t listen to me” or “what am I supposed to do?” God covers that:

Proverbs 13:24 (NKJV) He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

Proverbs 22:15 (NKJV) Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him.

Proverbs 23:13 (NKJV) Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.

Proverbs 29:15 (NKJV)15 The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

God says in Proverbs 1:7 (NKJV) The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Do we fear God? I do, Christ says:

Matthew 10:28 (NKJV) And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

That scares me, I don’t want to spend eternity in hell, and I am absolutely sure that God will do exactly what He says He is going to do.

Do our children know that we will do what we say we are going to do? What happens when we fail to correct our children is that they lose respect for us. Children who have no fear of punishment also have no respect for the person meting out the punishment. I’ve seen a quote on the internet: “Everything in the modern home is controlled by switches, except the children.” Are we ineffective in our discipline? Do our children know and understand the consequences of their actions? Is our discipline fair or do we lash out when we are in a bad mood, or take out our frustrations with others on our children?

In conclusion: when we are raising our children, we must love them, teach them, lead them, admonish them and discipline them. All of this with the word of God, not driving them crazy or berating them or nagging them, bringing them up rooted and grounded in the word of God knowing that the most important thing is to know the gospel.

Ephesians 3:14-21 (NKJV)

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father [a]of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Let’s pray.

Character Training

September 11 , 2011. For those of us old enough to remember, September 11 is a tough day to recall, tough to realize how difficult those days must have been for the people living through the turmoil and smoke and dust. I want to start today’s sermon by taking the time to pray for the survivors and our nation, that we do not forget, as our leaders seem to be doing, that a false religion attacked our country simply because we didn’t believe in allah.

Let’s pray.

We, as Godly men and women must be willing to face whatever is necessary, whatever challenges, whatever teasing, whatever harassment that the world throws at us to bring us to its level, to remain strong in the Lord, to have the character that God wants us to have.

Last week we spoke about being un-equally yoked and about being either the horse or the sheep. We want to be the horse, we want to be the one who leads, not the one who is lead. God wants that for us also, and He works diligently to train us, to shape us, to build our character so that we can face the challenges of the world and remain strong.

So what is character?

Meriam-Webster has about 20 different definitions of character. The ones that apply are as follows:

  1. one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual
  2. a feature used to separate distinguishable things into categories; also a group or kind so separated
  3. the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person, group, or nation <the character of the American people>
  4. REPUTATION <the scandal has damaged his character and image>
  5. moral excellence and firmness <a man of sound character>
  6. a person marked by notable or conspicuous traits <quite a character>

We can be either:

  • — in character in accord with a person’s usual qualities or traits<behaving in character>
  • — out of character : not in accord with a person’s usual qualities or traits <his rudeness was completely out of character>

I like all of these definitions. I want to have attributes and features that distinguish me from others, I want to be individualized and have a reputation and moral excellence. I want people to know that I have a notable or conspicuous trait. And I think that everyone has something that we categorize them into, something that we define as their character, something that we use to separate them from everyone else.

God wants us to have His character.

Acts 17:10-12 (NIV) 10 As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

More noble character…? What does that mean? I think Paul defines that in the next few sentences. “they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day.”

It could be said that noble character means that we have the desire to know the truth and earnestly seek after it.

What else could we say, or better yet, what does scripture tell us that God wants to build into our character?

Deuteronomy 8:2-3 (NLT) Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Humility, nobility.

Genesis 39:7-13 (NLT)

and Potiphar’s wife soon began to look at him lustfully. “Come and sleep with me,” she demanded. But Joseph refused. “Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.” 10 She kept putting pressure on Joseph day after day, but he refused to sleep with her, and he kept out of her way as much as possible. 11 One day, however, no one else was around when he went in to do his work. 12 She came and grabbed him by his cloak, demanding, “Come on, sleep with me!” Joseph tore himself away, but he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house. 13 When she saw that she was holding his cloak and he had fled,

What character did Joseph show through this? Trustworthiness, integrity.

We know what trustworthiness is, obviously it means that people can trust us to do what we say we are going to do. What is integrity? Integrity means that we have a rigid adherence to a specific code of behavior. Do we rigidly adhere to the code of behavior that God has set forth for us in His word? Do we practice it every day?

Humility, nobility, trustworthiness, integrity.

John 8:44 (NLT) 44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Satan is a liar and a murderer, God hates liars. Would this not tell us that honesty, truthfulness is part of the character God wants us to have?

Humility, nobility, trustworthiness, integrity, honesty.

Titus 2:1-2 (NKJV) 1 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience;

Sound doctrine. What does that mean? I looked this word up also, since it has so many meanings:

  1. a : free from injury or disease
  2. free from flaw, defect, or decay
  3. free from error, fallacy, or misapprehension <sound reasoning>
  4. exhibiting or based on thorough knowledge and experience <sound scholarship>
  5. legally valid <a sound title>
  6. logically valid and having true premises
  8. showing good judgment or sense <sound advice>

It means to be whole or unblemished, free from flaw or error able to do what it was designed to do. We could use it to describe a bridge or a chair. Is that chair sound? Will it hold me? God uses it to describe our character.

2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV) 7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:13 (KJV) 13Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

Titus 1:9-13 (KJV) 9Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. 10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: 11Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. 12One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.13This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;

Humility, nobility, trustworthiness, integrity, honesty, sound doctrine, sound mind, sound faith.

So our character is what people know about us, how we act, how we respond and how we deal with people and situations. We should strive to be what God has created us to be. He trains us, teaches us, guides us and reveals through His Holy Spirit what He wants us to be.

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Humility, nobility, trustworthiness, integrity, honesty, sound doctrine, sound mind, sound faith. What do people see in you, what would your friends say is your character?

Philippians 1:10-12 (NLT) 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. 11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ — for this will bring much glory and praise to God. 12 And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News.

Remember, are you the sheep, or are you the horse.

Let’s pray.

Unequally Yoked

The last 2 sermons the Holy Spirit gave to me dealt with friends, Godly friends and un- Godly friends. Today He has directed me to speak a little more in depth about relationships in general, marriage in particular, and how we can protect ourselves from being in the wrong relationships. Barry quoted 2 Corinthians 6:14 last night at Chris and Liza’s wedding and that is where we are going to start today.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NKJV) 14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them
And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” 17 Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” 18 “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.”

So I looked up the passage in a few different translations. The term “un-equally yoked” is translated from the Greek word heterozugeo. It is only found in the new testament once, and once in the old testament. The NLT translates the word a bit differently.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NLT) 14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? 16 And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 17 Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. 18 And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

Is Paul referring specifically to marriage in this passage? I don’t think so. I think he is referring to all relationships that we have. “teaming” up can mean a lot of things: working for or with, business partnerships, teammates, friends, people we hang out with, any relationship where we are putting ourselves in contact with people who do not have the same moral values Christian values that we have.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 10, p. 359 says this: “Do not form any relationship, whether temporary or permanent, with unbelievers that would lead to a compromise of Christian standards or jeopardize consistency of Christian witness”

Pretty succinct. Do not compromise Christian standards.

Picture this about being un-equally yoked. We have all seen pictures or movies with people plowing fields with a team of oxen, or horses. Imagine if you put a horse on one side and a sheep on the other. Is there any way the sheep would be able to turn the horse or control the horse? What would happen to the team, how straight would the farmer plow? When we are yoked or teamed up with or in relationship with…someone who is in the stronger position, who has control over us, who can influence us to compromise our Christian standards than we are in trouble. Are you the horse…or the sheep? Compromise is treason in the Kingdom of God, we’ve heard that many times. He speaks directly to us about being in relationships where we are the sheep:

1 Corinthians 15:32-33 (NIV)

32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

I personally like the CES translation of this verse…it seems a bit more to the point.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Contemporary English Version (CEV) 33 Don’t fool yourselves. Bad friends will destroy you.

Does this mean we have to remove ourselves from the world? Become isolationists? Does God tell us that we can’t be in relationship with un-believers? Not at all, in fact, Paul exhorts us to “preach the word!”

2 Timothy 4:1-4 (NKJV) I charge you[a]therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead [b]at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season andout of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

Be patient and preach the word…but do not do it as a sheep. What about marriage? Can we be in a marriage with an un-believer? Scripture has this covered…as it always does:

1 Corinthians 7:12-16 (NKJV) 12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

Peter also encourages wives with un-believing husbands.

1 Peter 3:1-2 (NIV) Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

The reality is that we have to work diligently to avoid relationships with people who are not of the same faith as we are, who try to subvert what Christ has taught us through His word. They want to deceive us, they want to bring us to their faith or faithlessness and they work diligently to convince us that we are deluded in our belief. Avoid them as scripture says in 2 John and 2 Timothy:

2 John 1:7-11 (NLT)

I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward. Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. 11 Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NLT) You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

We must be ready to avoid situations and relationships and “teams” where we are unequally yoked. In our relationship with God we are the sheep, in our relationship with others, we must be prepared to be the horse.

1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV) 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

Let’s pray.

Dealing With Godly Friends

Last week the Holy Spirit spoke to us about un-Godly friends. How easy it is to slip into the ways of the world, how easy it is to want to be liked and accepted. Know this, when we choose God’s way, when we choose the way of righteousness, we are going to lose friends. People who do not walk in the way of Christ will begin to feel uncomfortable around us, they will begin to avoid us and move on to other “friends.” So does that mean that being Godly, being faithful will ensure that we are lonely, separated from others by a bridge that they do not understand? Absolutely not! God created us to be in relationship, first with Him, then with our spouse (if or when we have one) and finally with fellow believers.

Ecclesiastes 4:8-12 (NLT)

This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, “Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?” It is all so meaningless and depressing.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

Relationships are so important to man that scripture is full of examples of people in Godly relationships. God first walked with Adam in the Garden of Eden, then He was close to Enoch, Abraham is called a “friend of God” and finally, Christ calls His disciples His friends many times:

James 2:23 (NKJV) 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.

Genesis 5:24 (NKJV) 24 And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

Luke 12:4 (NKJV) 4 “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.

John 15:15 (NKJV) 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

We must have friends in order to be complete, and God tells us that our friends are so important that we must be willing to lay down our lives for them.

John 15:13 (NKJV) 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

So where do we find people for whom we are willing to lay down our lives, or that are willing to lay down their lives for us? We have to find them in the church. Most of us have many acquaintances, some we might even call close friends, I’ve even been thinking of all the people I know and can’t think of one that would be willing to lay down their life for me that is not a Christian. What does it mean though to “lay down one’s life?” Marines will die for one another, it’s their job, and coming out of the Marine Corps, I missed the relationships I had with my fellow marines and thought for many years that those relationships where the best I would ever have. I was wrong. Laying down one’s life for a friend doesn’t just mean that you will take a bullet for someone, it doesn’t just mean that you will die for someone it really means that you would be willing to put your life aside to help them, it means that you would be willing to place every other relationship on hold for them, it means that you would be willing to sacrifice anything for them. Christ did this for us, not just by dying for us, but by putting aside what He wanted and doing what God wanted. In the garden of Gethsemane Christ asked for the cup to be taken from Him:

Mark 14:35-36 (NKJV) 35 He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.

Dying for someone seems to me the easy path, laying one’s life down for someone is a much more difficult process. It requires putting yourself and everything you want second. It is what we are supposed to do in our relationship with God, and what God tells us to do in our relationships with each other.

1 Samuel 18:1-4(NKJV) Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.

Jonathan loves David so much that he chooses David over his own family. He warns David of his fathers’ treachery on a few occasions.
So, who do you know that you are willing to put everything in your life on hold for? Easy answer for those of us who have children…but again, we have to take our relationship one step further. It’s simple to put aside those things we want, those things we want to do for our children, always going to ball games, or practices. Parents take time from our lives to run a shuttle service, laundry service, cleaning service and general all around “whatever it takes” service. Easy for our kids. How about our friends? Are we willing to put aside what we want for our friends? Are we willing to drop what we are doing to help out those people in our lives that our closest to us? Are we willing to lay down our lives for our friends?

Last week we read:

1 John 3:7-15 (NIV)

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not lovetheir brother and sister. 11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,[a] if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

1 John 3:16-18 (NIV) 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

James 4:4 (NLT) 4 You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.

Proverbs 18:24 (ESV) 24A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 22:24-25 (NLT)24 Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, 25 or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.

1 Corinthians 15:33-34 (NIV) 33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.

So here is what I think is the hard part. Everything up till now is pretty easy, love each other, put each other first, give generously of what God gives you…fairly simple. The hard part for most people is the willingness to correct each other. Paul is quite clear, “Come back to your senses!” He corrects his friends all the time, and is sometimes brutal about it. Are we willing to correct our friends? Are we willing to take the chance that we are going to offend them? Are we willing to make ourselves uncomfortable by speaking the truth into someone else’s life? Are we willing to hear that same correction?

If we are not willing to do these things, than we are not really friends, just acquaintances.

Proverbs 27:6 (NKJV)Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Let’s pray.

Dealing With UnGodly Friends

How many of us have friends who are not Christians? Or say they believe in Christ but continue to do things that are not scriptural? How many of us, when we “hang out” with our non-Christian friends do and say things we would never say when we are with our “Godly” friends? Do we listen to off-color jokes and laugh? Do we watch movies that we know are inappropriate? Do we listen to music that does not give glory to God? Do we try to “fit in” with the world?

1 John 3:7-15 (NIV) 

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not lovetheir brother and sister. 11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women. How simple it is to fall into the habit of being a different person around our non-church friends. How easy it is to fall into bad habits and bad relationships just so we fit in, or don’t offend. I hate to say this, but if you haven’t offended someone today or tomorrow or the next day….you are probably in danger of treason to the kingdom of God. I know that this is an offensive saying and sounds like a contradiction, so let’s examine what God says about the world and those who live in it.

Luke 6:20-26 (KJV)

20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. 22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. 23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. 24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. 25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. 26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

2 verses stand out for today’s sermon: vs 22 and vs 26. Both speak about the people of the world and how they should (or will) feel about believers. Vs 22 reads: 22Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.

Not just hate you, but avoid you, cast you from their company, revile you because you love Christ. It is sometimes so difficult to be a Christian, we strive so diligently to “Love our neighbor as ourselves” and to “do unto others” and “turn the other cheek.” So many things that we are taught about relationships when we love Christ, so many things times we have to let an offense roll off our backs. What Christ never teaches however, is compromise. As Gene Lanier has said many times: “Compromise with the world is treason in the eyes of God” and this is a true statement. When we compromise, the world can accept us. When we compromise by listening to un-Godly music, or watching un-Godly movies, or laughing at un- Godly jokes, we are hypocrites and Christ is not in us. When we do the things the world wants us to, we become friends with the world. Vs 26 reads: 26Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. Let’s change the pronouns in that sentence. Woe unto me if all men speak well of me. Is that something we strive for? Is that something we want, for everyone to like us, for everyone to speak well of us? Are we friends with everyone?

James 4:4-8 (NLT) You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

Vs 4, so important that James writes it twice: friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God.

It has bothered me for a few years that I have very few friends, very few people who come over and visit, very few people whom I visit. Sadly, I am a social animal, I love hanging out with people, I love being in groups and talking to people. It has bothered me that in the past several years the number of people who are my friends has declined greatly. I truly realized this when my Super bowl party, which at one point had upwards of 40 people showing up, had 6 people there this year. Why has this happened? I offend a lot of people, or a more accurate statement: the Holy Spirit living in me offends a lot of people. I don’t listen to secular music, maybe a song or two, but not by choice. I choose not to watch inappropriate movies. I stand firm in my belief that downloading movies and music without paying for them is stealing. My belief in that is so strong that this past week someone I was working with argued with me every day trying to convince me that I was wrong and got VERY upset when I was unbending. Some of you know how difficult it is to argue me. I tend to be a bit hard-headed and have been known to frustrate donkeys with my stubbornness. The point is, if we are living for Christ, we are going to upset people, we are going to make people uncomfortable and we are going to lose friends. Now the friends that I used to have, they’re still my acquaintances, I still speak with them and occasionally hang out with them, they’re just not really interested in having a relationship with me simply because the Holy Spirit makes them uncomfortable.

See there’s a process I see happening to Christians, I’ve seen it with some of my friends who claim to be Godly, I’ve seen it happen in this church, it’s almost happened to me. First we giggle or laugh at an inappropriate joke when we should have stopped it or walked away or corrected the speaker. Then we repeat the joke, or something similar, so we can fit it, so people don’t think we’re weird. We listen to music that is inappropriate, we know the words, we know the song. We can justify this because it’s “not really that bad” or we “just like the beat.” It’s ok, it’s just a song. Compromise. Our friend has a copy of a movie, we watch it because everyone else is. Compromise. We allow people to use vulgarity around us, because we don’t want to offend them, we let them use God’s name in vain, because we don’t want to offend them. We don’t do what is right in the eyes of God because we don’t want to offend the world. We don’t want to lose our friends, we don’t want people to think we’re weird.

James 4:17 (NLT) 17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.

I know it’s hard, if it was easy everyone could do it. The problem is, we all want friends, we all want to fit in, we all want to be liked. Great if we want to be of the world.

Proverbs 18:24 (ESV) 24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

What does that mean? If we have a lot of friends we may come to ruin? God never says that we are to remove ourselves from the world, only that we have to choose our friends carefully.

Proverbs 22:24-25 (NLT) 24 Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, 25 or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.

Remember that our real friends are not afraid to offend us, they’re not afraid to tell us what we are doing wrong, they’re not afraid to let us know when we have committed treason in the eyes of God.

Proverbs 27:6 (NKJV)6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Let’s pray.

Forgiveness Is Awesome

Ever heard someone use the word “awesome?” How often do we hear it, or use it? I still use it, but have tried to curb my use dramatically. Here’s why: there are very few things in this world that we should stand in awe of. All of them pertain to God, all of them should be “awe” inspiring. For instance; we should be in awe of the universe! God created so much, simply because He is God. The birth of a human is another one of God’s feats that is awesome creating us in His image. There are lots of other things we could and should be in “awe” of, and we throw the word around with no real regard to what awe really is.
The dictionary defines awe: 1 : an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime <stood in awe of the king> <regard nature’s wonders with awe> archaic : DREAD, TERROR : the power to inspire dread

Totally awesome dude! Usually does not refer to something we are in dread, veneration and wonder of. But there is something that is totally awesome, something that creates those emotions in me, and should in all of us. Something so simple, yet so incredibly awesome: Forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is awesome. Here’s why:

Isaiah 59

Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked things. No one calls for justice; no one pleads a case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil. They hatch the eggs of vipers and spin a spider’s web. Whoever eats their eggs will die, and when one is broken, an adder is hatched. Their cobwebs are useless for clothing; they cannot cover themselves with what they make. Their deeds are evil deeds, and acts of violence are in their hands. Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. They pursue evil schemes; acts of violence mark their ways. The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads;  no one who walks along them will know peace. 9 So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. 10 Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead. 11 We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away. 12 For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: 13 rebellion and treachery against the Lord, turning our backs on our God, inciting revolt and oppression, uttering lies our hearts have conceived. 14 So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. 15 Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. 16 He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. 17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. 18 According to what they have done, so will he repay wrath to his enemies and retribution to his foes; he will repay the islands their due. 19 From the west, people will fear the name of the Lord, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory. For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the Lord drives along. 20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the Lord. 21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the Lord.

All the things that God will do to those who sin…to those who are un-forgiven. God will put on the garments of vengeance and will repay us for our iniquities. Now that is awe-inspiring, that is awesome. While the vengeance of God is enough to convince me to seek forgiveness, there are other consequences to un-forgiveness. God created us to be in relationships, with Him and with others. If we are separated from God because of un-forgiveness, we are also separated from each other.

Proverbs 17:9 (NLT) Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.

When we are not forgiven by others, or when we don’t forgive others, it not only separates us from God, it separates us from our friends. Lost and lonely… Thank you God for your forgiveness! It is awesome! So how do we get God’s forgiveness? How do we obtain the promises that God has for those He has forgiven? There are a few steps…some prerequisites if you will, to obtain God’s forgiveness.

First: Hebrews 9:19-28 (NIV)

19 When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.”[a] 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. 23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

So, in order to have forgiveness, there must be shedding of blood. Thank God that He gave His son for us, it is awesome that He shed His blood for us.

1 Peter 3:18 (NKJV) 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

Ephesians 1:7 (NKJV) In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

So our forgiveness has already been given to us by God, through the sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ. Christ suffered, shed His blood and died for our sins, so that we would have God’s forgiveness. Awesome. So we know what God has done for us so that we can have forgiveness. What do we have to do in order to be ready for God’s forgiveness? God gave us some directions, some steps we have to take. He tells us that the second greatest commandment is to love others as ourselves.

Leviticus 19:18 (NIV) 18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

Here is what God says love means: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. […]

Love keeps no record of wrongs. Sounds like forgiveness. Christ speaks clearly:

Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father 15 will also forgive you. sins.

Paul also wrote in his letter to the Ephesians: Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

So the first pre-requisite for God’s forgiveness is that we forgive others. God’s word is clear that if we do not forgive others, He can’t forgive us.

Matthew 5:22-24 (NKJV) 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca! shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Leviticus 19:18 (NIV) 18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

Christ also taught us to pray in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, and the order of His prayer was: Praise God, ask for sustenance (spiritual and physical,) ask for forgiveness, forgive everyone. Pretty important. Luke 11:2-4 (NIV) 2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’”

So: step 1 – forgive others (all others, not just the people we like.)

Step 2 is confession: 1 John 1:9 (NIV) 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Perfectly clear.

Step 3: repentance. Asking God to forgive, forgiving others, confessing our sins are great, but if we do these things without repentance, they are merely words.

Jeremiah 15:19 (NIV) 19 Therefore this is what the LORD says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them.

Job 36:9-11 (NIV) 9 he tells them what they have done— that they have sinned arrogantly. 10 He makes them listen to correction and commands them to repent of their evil. 11 If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment.

So a quick recap: God has already forgiven us. His son shed His blood for us and died for our sins. Awesome! In order for us to receive the gift of forgiveness we must do a few things: 1) forgive others. 2) confess our own sins. 3) repent. When we do these things, God is faithful to forgive our sins His word reads:

Isaiah 38:17 (NKJV)17 Indeed it was for my own peace That I had great bitterness; But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.

So many promises.

Isaiah 43:25 (NIV) 25 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.

Psalm 103:12 (NIV)12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Awesome! Let’s pray.

Live Peaceably

Ok, the last couple of weeks God gave me words to speak about anger. We have learned about how to handle our anger and we have read God’s word about what we need to do to prevent anger from ruling over us. Is it possible, that no matter how soft-spoken we are, no matter what we do, that we just can’t seem to prevent others from being angry with us, or persecuting us? There are times when we will do things that are going to make us “unpopular” even, or especially, when we follow God’s precepts. The world will hate us. God knows this. He even tells us in scripture (of course) that is will not be possible to live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:17-19 (NKJV) 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have[a] regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”says the Lord.

Vs 18 reads: “if it is possible”. I find that strangely comforting, knowing that there will be times when we follow God’s word and His law that we are not going to make everyone happy. Which, I think is sometimes something that some of us do, trying to make everyone happy, convinced that it is our responsibility to persuade people to peace. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen. Vs 19 reminds us that even when others are mad at us, we must put aside our own anger and let God take care of everything. So does this verse tell us that we can just do whatever we want and if someone gets mad or takes offense, that’s their problem?
I don’t think so. God tells us that it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to make sure we are living at peace with everyone, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For “He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. 11 Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

Pursue peace, we will probably suffer for righteousness’ sake, it is ok, we will be blessed. Great promises from God. There is however, a catch. God tells us to be ready to defend what we do, why we hope and to have a good conscience, a clear conscience it reads in the NIV. So He tells us that we can’t just do whatever we want and if someone takes offense than it is their problem. We must strive to do what is best in the eyes of God. We must be ready to give account to others for what we do, and we have to be able to use scripture to do so. Otherwise, we are lost. We must strengthen our spirit, reading scripture, praying, fasting, staying in relationship with other Christians and helping each other to be strong in the Lord.

Hebrews 12:12-15 (NKJV)

12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. 14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;

Vs 14 reads that we should pursue peace and holiness, another one of those if/then statements. If we don’t pursue peace and holiness, then we will not see the Lord. By “see” the Lord, Paul is referring, not to the physical aspect of seeing the Lord, we all know that on judgment day, everyone will see Christ and be judged. Paul is referring to the daily walk that we have with Christ, seeing Him in everything, “hanging out” with Him and understanding Him. Living a holy life, pleasing and acceptable to God in everything we do and say.

We are reading a lot about how we need to pursue peace. I think the key to living at peace is to pursue holiness, without holiness, without God in our lives, nothing we do can make any difference. Without holiness, we cannot truly walk in love. If we don’t walk in love, we will make others stumble, we will make others angry.

Romans 14:15-19 (NKJV)

15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.

Live in love, strive for peace, pursue holiness, these are the things that will keep us from anger. Remember that we need to help each other.

1 Thessalonians 5:10-18 (NIV) 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak,be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

In conclusion: we are all priests, prophets and kings according to the word of God.

Malachi 2:5-7 (NIV)  “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth.

Since we are all priests, then we are all messengers of the LORD Almighty therefore we have the promises He has written. A promise of life and peace, if we follow His law. Finally, remember what we prayed for last week:

Psa. 19:14 (KJV) 14Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Let’s pray.

A Bridle For My Tongue

Last week I preached about anger. Anger will always be a part of our lives, and we need to learn how to deal with it in a Godly manner. God directs us to keep our anger in check. Remember these three verses, better yet, write them down:

Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV) 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not 27 let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

Ecclesiastes 7:9 (KJV) 9Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools

Ephesians 4:31-32 (KJV) 31Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you

So what is it that tends to make us the angriest? Bad calls by officials at sports games? Bad hair days? Missing a great sale at our favorite store? Wait, I’ve got it, bad drivers! All of these things can get a person angry, but I think the one thing that has the power to make each and every one of us angry is the spoken word. When people speak, and we don’t agree, or we find what they say offensive or crude, or unacceptable (right or wrong,) or if we are spoken to in anger… The list goes on. How do I anger you, let me count the ways: So how is it that we can become so angry just from words? They have so much power, so much influence, so much authority. Why is it that we are so affected by words?

Please turn to Genesis 1:1-9 (KJV) 1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

And God said…and God said. God speaks and things happen, Jesus is the Word Of God. Words are mighty, full of authority and power. God considers what we say to be very important. He wants us to speak what is right and what is good.

Psalms 39:1 (NIV) I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.”

Psa. 15:1-3 (KJV) Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.

When we speak good things, and don’t backbite or lie or gossip, we do what God is seeking from us. Scripture tells us what we are supposed to say, and what we are not supposed to say:

James 3:9-10 (NIV) With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

Eph. 4:29 (KJV) 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Our words are so powerful, how many times have we been in a pleasant conversation, only to have everything go haywire, tempers flaring from one sentence, or even one word. It is so easy to lose control of our tongues. Paul writes about our tongues and compares them to a rudder on a ship, small yet powerful.

Prov. 11:9 (KJV) An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.

A hypocrite destroys his neighbor. We know that a hypocrite is someone who says one thing, but does another. It is what the world accuses Christians of being. When we lose control of our tongues, we lose control of everything. James writes about what happens, and how we are perceived when we lose control of what we speak.

James 1:26 (NIV) 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tonguesdeceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

If our religion is worthless, we are doomed. God tells us exactly what is going to happen to the wicked and evil person, the person who destroys with his words.

Psa. 50:16-22 (NIV) 16 But to the wicked person, God says: “What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? 17 You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you. 18 When you see a thief, you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers. 19 You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit. 20 You sit and testify against your brother and slander your own mother’s son. 21 When you did these things and I kept silent, you thought I was exactly like you. But I now arraign you and set my accusations before you. 22 “Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with no one to rescue you:

Rom. 1:28-32 (KJV) 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Paul lists 22 things in Romans that are evil and that God hates. 5 of those things are directly related to the tongue: Debate (argumentativeness,) Deceit (lying,) Whisperers (gossip,) Backbiters (two-faced friend,) Boasters (puffed up with pride.) So, about 25% of the list has to do with the tongue. He also writes to the Ephesians about sin:

Eph. 5:3-5 (NIV) But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

We need to take our words very seriously. Christ spoke about our tongues, and our words.

Matt. 12:36-37 (KJV) 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Pretty specific, very condemning, if we don’t watch what we say. So how do we “guard our tongues?” What is it that we have to do to be able to keep our mouths from condemning us?

Proverbs 17:27-28 (NIV) 27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. 28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.

Prov. 21:23 (KJV) 23Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.

Basically: stop talking so much, listen more, think more, hear the Holy Spirit before you speak… Christ tells us in Matthew that it is our heart that speaks.

Matt. 12:34 (NIV) 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

So what should we do to speak the right things? David asks God in Psalm 51 to change his heart. If we change our heart, we change what we speak.

Psa. 51:8-17 (KJV) Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. 13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. 14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. 15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. 16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

When we listen to God, when we guard our tongues, He is generous; he understands that we struggle, that we are at constant war with our flesh. There is so much that God does for us when we are obedient and keep our tongues from sinning.

Remember this:

Psa. 34:12-13 (NIV) 12 Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, 13 keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.

In conclusion, we must guard our tongues, not allowing anger to control what we say, keep our hearts clean and our hands pure, slow to anger, slow to speak, always listening to the Holy Spirit for the words we should be saying. Not easy, but we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

Psalm 19:14 is a perfect prayer for us, letting us know exactly what we should be seeking: Psa. 19:14 (KJV) 14Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Let’s pray.

Anger Management

Anger is part of our lives almost every day. We see anger in others; we see anger on TV, in movies, hear it on the radio and see it in our daily lives. Where does it come from? Why does it have such power over people and lives and countries? To see anger all we have to do is drive around for a little while, or look in any public high school. The other day was graduation for Beaufort High. Approximately 370 students graduated in the class of 2011. After the graduation, there were 9 fights, 6 hit-and-runs and numerous destructive acts in the parking lot and school. Why? Why are we so angry as a nation?

In the classroom I was stunned at how many of the students at Beaufort High are self-destructive in their anger. Watching them explode and then implode because they have no control over their emotions.

So what is anger really? I looked up anger and it was not a very helpful definition.

Definition of ANGER

transitive verb: to make angry <he was angered by the decision> intransitive verb: to become angry

So I looked up angry…also not very helpful.

Definition of ANGRY

  1. feeling or showing anger
  2. a: indicative of or proceeding from anger <angry words>b: seeming to show anger or to threaten in an angry manner<an angry sky>

Is our nation so angry all the time that we don’t even need a definition for the word? We all know what it means…how sad.
Wikipedia says that anger is a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. God’s word speaks about anger in so many places, God never says not to become angry, but He does warn us about anger.

James 1:19-21 (NIV) 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and 20 “Slow to become angry” Not: Do not be angry, but slow to become angry.

Proverbs 29:11 (NIV) 11 Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.

Proverbs 29:22 (NIV) 22 An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins

Proverbs 15:18 (NIV) 18 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.

Proverbs 14:17 (NIV) 17 A quick-tempered person does foolish things, and the one who devises evil schemes is hated

See, what God says about people who get angry quickly is that they are fools and are prone to commit many sins. When we lose our tempers, we don’t hear God, we don’t hear the Holy Spirit and we say and do things that are not Godly. But it is SO easy to let anger have control, so easy to respond to someone else’s anger with anger of your own. How many times do we get into arguments and lose our tempers? Especially with people we love, they seem to be able to “push our buttons” better than others. And once we’re angry, we lose control of our tongues.

James 3:1-12 (NIV) 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

“Slow to become angry” Not: Do not be angry, but slow to become angry.

Proverbs 29:11 (NIV) 11 Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.

Proverbs 29:22 (NIV) 22 An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins

Proverbs 15:18 (NIV) 18 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.

Proverbs 14:17 (NIV) 17 A quick-tempered person does foolish things, and the one who devises evil schemes is hated

See, what God says about people who get angry quickly is that they are fools and are prone to commit many sins. When we lose our tempers, we don’t hear God, we don’t hear the Holy Spirit and we say and do things that are not Godly. But it is SO easy to let anger have control, so easy to respond to someone else’s anger with anger of your own. How many times do we get into arguments and lose our tempers? Especially with people we love, they seem to be able to “push our buttons” better than others. And once we’re angry, we lose control of our tongues.

James 3:1-12 (NIV)

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs?Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Genesis 4:3-11 (NIV) In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord.And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”[a] While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.

Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV) 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

So how do we deal with our anger? What advice does God give us to handle our tempers?

Ecclesiastes 7:9 (KJV) 9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools

Ephesians 4:31-32 (KJV) 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you

Colossians 3:8 (KJV) 8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

Basically, God tells us to put our anger aside, be slow to anger, be patient, be kind. Treebeard says “Don’t be hasty.” We must put aside ourselves and put God first, others second and ourselves last. So difficult sometimes, but again, God knows that we need help and in His word He gives us perfect advice.

Proverbs 19:11 (ESV) 11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Proverbs 16:32 (ESV) 32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

Proverbs 12:16 (NIV) 16 Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.

So how do we avoid anger? We stay away from things that are un-Godly. Choose carefully what we watch, be picky about what we listen to, shun angry people. It is up to us to do what God wants, to answer softly.

Proverbs 15:1 (ESV) 1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 22:24 (NIV) 24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered,

In summary: God allows us to be angry, knowing that He created us with emotions and we know that anger in itself is not sin. Anger leads to sin when we don’t deal with it correctly. Be patient, be kind, respond softly when others are angry. Choose wisely what you listen to, watch and who you hang out with. Love one another. Let’s pray.

False Prophets

We have been hearing on the news and on the radio about the prophet who claimed the world would end yesterday at 6:00. It was a big deal, I saw it on FOX news, CNN, heard it on 2 different Christian radio stations. Sadly, what I heard was people joking about it, making it seem like the man was a kook. In reality, he is a man deceived and deceiving others. There are reports of men, women and children carrying signs and proclaiming what this man said as truth. Sad and dangerous for the church and for Christians around the world. As Christianity continues to take a beating in the media and Christians are persecuted around the world, false prophets make it that much more difficult to stand up for our faith and not allow these so called prophets the opportunity to drag more people away from the beliefs taught to us by God through His word.

It is a good thing that God explains false prophets, true prophets and how to discern the false from the true. First of all, what is a prophet?

  1. one who utters divinely inspired revelations: as often capitalized : the writer of one of the prophetic books of the Bible capitalized : one regarded by a group of followers as the final authoritative revealer of God’s will <Muhammad, the Prophet of Allah>
  2. one gifted with more than ordinary spiritual and moral insight; especially : an inspired poet
  3. one who foretells future events : PREDICTOR
  4. an effective or leading spokesman for a cause, doctrine, or group
  5. Christian Science : a spiritual seer b: disappearance of material sense before the conscious facts of spiritual Truth

Seems that there are a lot of different descriptions for a prophet, not so for God.

1 John 4:1-6 (NIV)

 1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in youis greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

So John tells us how to recognize the spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. Unfortunately, there are many people who have been deceived by false prophets, including the prophets themselves. New Age churches, Spiritualism, Spiritualists, many of whom started out as bible believing Christians but have been deceived. There are a number of “Prophets” in the church today that claim to speak to the spirits of the dead. We know from scripture that this can absolutely happen. Saul called up the spirit of Samuel and was rebuked by it. I’ve read that these Spiritualists claim that it is scriptural because Christ spoke with Moses and Elijah so now it’s ok for us to speak to spirits. God’s word says differently.

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 (NIV)

If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.

God knows that there will be false prophets, His word tells us that they will foretell true events, they will show signs and wonders (Revelations tells of the anti-christ and his prophet performing amazing things and deceiving the world.) Here’s the problem: Satan is smart, he knows that if he can get us to believe a little, he can twist God’s word ever so slightly and make us believe in almost anything. Isaiah talks about people who speak to spirits.

Isaiah 8:18-22 (NIV)

18 Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion. 19 When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter,should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. 21 Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. 22 Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.

So speaking to spirits is not scriptural because we must take into account the entire cannon of scripture and not just pick it apart to suit our purposes. Satan picked out excellent scripture to tempt Christ in the desert, we must understand that demons know the bible better than we do. Christ also warns us to be vigilant and to watch for false teachings, He knows that the church will be tested and that many will be led astray.

Matthew 7:15-23 (NIV)

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day,‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Satan is the great deceiver, he wants to lead us astray and he continues to use the words of God to do so. He did the same thing in the Garden of Eden that he continues to do today: twisting God’s word ever so slightly so that it appears that what he says is the truth. What that produces in us is death. We want to hear things that make us feel good, we want to think that everything is going to be alright.

Lamentations 2:14 (ESV)

14 Your prophets have seen for you
    false and deceptive visions;
they have not exposed your iniquity
    to restore your fortunes,
but have seen for you oracles
    that are false and misleading.

The one good thing about the abundance of false prophets is this: according to God’s word, this has to happen before Christ comes back.

Matthew 24:11-14 (KJV)

11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

Matthew 24:23-27 (KJV)

23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25 Behold, I have told you before. 26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. 27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Matthew 24 describes to us the danger false prophets really bring. Every time we see on the news that another prophet has claimed that the end of the world is coming, every time it doesn’t happen, Christianity takes another hit. More and more people think that Christianity is antiquated and has no purpose in the modern world, and these false prophets fuel this belief and drive more people away from the church.

So what do we do about it? We stand up, we declare the truth, we read scripture and test the spirits. We point out the false prophets and don’t allow them to continue without correction, even if we are only correcting their statements to our own family. We must be vigilant. Peter talks about scripture and how sometimes it is difficult to understand, but not to be deceived.

2 Peter 3:15-18 (NIV)

15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

In conclusion: be prepared, be observant, be thoughtful, be patient, but above all: test the spirits. If a man says he is a prophet and his entire message does not follow the word of God, then he is a false prophet and has been deceived. Remember that Satan only needs for you to doubt the word of God a little to drag you into everlasting condemnation with him.

Let’s pray.