Building Spiritual Walls and Gates

We always hear of people who build walls around their hearts. ” That person is walled up” The city of Jerusalem (City of Peace) had walls, the reason they had walls was to keep the enemies out, but they had gates, and the gates had different uses. the same with our lives, we have to have walls for protection to keep the enemies out but we have to have gates to let the good stuff in and let the bad stuff out, but those gates need to be protected and usually that is where we fail the most.

The book of Nehemiah one of the history books of the Bible, continues the story of Israel’s return from the Babylonian captivity and the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. It serves as a great metaphor for living the spiritual life. In the book, the Temple represents our heart (where God meets with us); the city of Jerusalem represents our mind; the walls of the city represent our spiritual walls and the health of our relationship with Christ, and the gates of the city represent our eyes, ears and mouth.

Nehemiah built the city walls and installed the gates to protect the city and the temple. Walls keep bad stuff or bad people out. Gates allow good stuff and good people in. But sometimes, the gates allowed bad stuff and bad people in. It’s not what the gates were designed for, but it happened because those in charge of the gates weren’t guarding them like they should.

Nehemiah was a Hebrew in Persia when the word reached him that the Temple in Jerusalem was being reconstructed. He grew anxious knowing there was no wall to protect the city. Nehemiah invited God to use him to save the city. God answered his prayer by softening the heart of the Persian king, Artaxerxes, who gave not only his blessing, but also supplies to be used in the project. Nehemiah is given permission by the king to return to Jerusalem, where he is made governor.

In spite of opposition and accusations the wall was built and the enemies silenced. The people, inspired by Nehemiah, give tithes of much money, supplies and manpower to complete the wall in a remarkable 52 days, despite much opposition. This united effort is short-lived, however, because Jerusalem falls back into apostasy when Nehemiah leaves for a while. After 12 years he returned to find the walls strong but the people weak. He set about the task of teaching the people morality and he didn’t mince words. Nehemiah 13:23-27(HCSB)23 In those days I also saw Jews who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24 Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples but could not speak Hebrew. 25 I rebuked them, cursed them, beat some of their men, and pulled out their hair. I forced them to take an oath before God and said: “You must not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters as wives for your sons or yourselves! 26 Didn’t King Solomon of Israel sin in matters like this? There was not a king like him among many nations. He was loved by his God and God made him king over all Israel, yet foreign women drew him into sin. 27 Why then should we hear about you doing all this terrible evil and acting unfaithfully against our God by marrying foreign women?” He reestablishes true worship through prayer and by encouraging the people to revival by reading and adhering to the Word of God.

Nehemiah led the Israelites into a respect and love for the text of Scripture. Nehemiah, because of his love for God and his desire to see God honored and glorified, led the Israelites towards the faith and obedience God had desired for them for so long. In the same way, Christians are to love and revere the truths of Scripture, commit them to memory, meditate on them day and night, and turn to them for the fulfillment of every spiritual need. 2 Timothy 3:16(ESV) tells us, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” If we expect to experience the spiritual revival of the Israelites we must begin with God’s Word. Nehemiah 8:1-8(HCSB)1 all the people gathered together at the square in front of the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses that the Lord had given Israel. 2 On the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women, and all who could listen with understanding. 3 While he was facing the square in front of the Water Gate, he read out of it from daybreak until noon before the men, the women, and those who could understand. All the people listened attentively[a] to the book of the law. 4 Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform made for this purpose. Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah stood beside him on his right; to his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hash-baddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam. 5 Ezra opened the book in full view of all the people, since he was elevated above everyone. As he opened it, all the people stood up. 6 Ezra praised the Lord, the great God, and with their hands uplifted all the people said, “Amen, Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. 7 Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah, who were Levites,[b] explained the law to the people as they stood in their places. 8 They read out of the book of the law of God, translating and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was read.

Each of us ought to have genuine compassion for others who have spiritual or physical hurts. To feel compassion, yet do nothing to help, is unfounded biblically. At times we may have to give up our own comfort in order to minister properly to others. We must totally believe in a cause before we will give our time or money to it with the right heart. When we allow God to minister through us, even unbelievers will know it is God’s work.

The walls around Jerusalem have been torn down, built up, and moved many times. In AD 70, they were destroyed by the Romans, and in 1033 by an earthquake. The walls as we see them today were built in the 1500s.

While Nehemiah served King Artaxerxes in Babylon, he heard of the ruined state of Jerusalem. He was given authorization and supplies to go there and restore the walls and the gates. When Nehemiah arrived, he made a detailed inspection of the walls and gates (Nehemiah 2:11–16) and organized the people to start the rebuilding effort (Nehemiah 2:17–3:32). When the wall was rebuilt, it probably encompassed the same area as before, except it may have excluded the king’s gardens in the southeast. Starting from the east corner of the north wall, Nehemiah went counterclockwise:

Sheep Gate: North central, just north of the Temple Mount. Near where the sheep market was for the temple sacrifices. Sheep Gate

(Nehemiah 3:1-32)

The very first gate mentioned is the sheep gate. It was called the sheep gate because this was the gate which the sheep and lambs used in the sacrifice were bought through.

Personal aspect: No prizes for knowing that this speaks of the very first experience we come into in our Christian life – that is, a realisation that Jesus was the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. The sheep gate then speaks to us of the cross and the sacrifice that was made for our sins. It is the starting point of everything but you will also notice if you read the entire chapter that the sheep gate is also mentioned at the very end once we have come full circle. That is because everything starts and ends with Jesus’ death on the cross.

 

Prophetic aspect: This gate points to the first coming of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). He is the sacrifice foretold in this sheep gate. He is the door by which everyone must enter to be saved (John 10:7-9).

Fish Gate: (Nehemiah 3:3) Northwest, just northwest of the temple. The Fish gate was mentioned next. It was called the fish gate because the fisherman of Galilee would bring their catch in through this gate to be sold. The Fish Gate was one of Jerusalem’s main entrances. King Manasseh had built it after God sent the Assyrians to capture him and teach him humility (2 Chronicles 33:14). Nehemiah had the sons of Hassenaah rebuild it (Nehemiah 3:3). Zephaniah prophesied that a cry will come from the Fish Gate on the Day of the Lord (Zephaniah 1:10).
Personal aspect: For us, it speaks of evangelism as we have been called to be ‘fishers of men’ (Matthew 4:19). It is a natural progression in our Christian life that after seeing that Jesus died for our sins, we would then want to tell others about it. Surveys have shown that believers who have been saved less than two years win the most people to the Lord. Their simple testimony of what Jesus has done in their lives qualifies them to be great ‘fishers of men.’ So this is the next step in the Christian life.

Prophetic aspect: This gate speaks of the church in the first century (the apostolic era) where believers on fire for God sacrificed all and went out to turn the world upside down with the message of Jesus Christ! And that is what happened. Starting with the Jews and then traveling out to the Gentiles in the then known world, the Apostles and disciples of the Lord truly were ‘fishers of men’ and the growth of Christianity spread rapidly during the first century.

Old Gate (Nehemiah 3:6) Following from the Fish gate was the Old gate. Nehemiah is the only book in the Bible where it is called the Old gate and it may have been one of the original gates made. Old Gate it is near the northwest corner of the wall, west of the Fish Gate.

 

Personal aspect:  This speaks to us of the old ways of truth. A young Christian having experienced the sheep gate, then the fish gate, soon sees the need for experiencing the old gate. This means learning the old ways of truth that never change. Jeremiah 6:16(NLT) states ‘Thus says the Lord, Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls.’ Too many Christian’s today want something new. The latest teaching, the latest experience… Or they try to change truth to make it acceptable with what the world thinks is right ‘today’ (which may not be the same as what it thinks ‘tomorrow’.) But the Ancient of Days calls us back to His long established ways that do not change and remain the same yesterday, today and forever.

Prophetic aspect: Prophetically this speaks of the period of the Church Fathers around 100-325 AD (sometimes known as the Ante-Nicene era). This was a period where a defence of the faith and the truth of God were further established to counter attacks and persecution from unbelievers.

Valley Gate: (Nehemiah 3:13) West central, south of the present wall of Old City. The gate that Nehemiah used when he did his inspection of the walls. Several valleys surround Jerusalem and this gate apparently opened out to the valley of Hinnom.

Personal aspect: Examining the picture above you notice that there is a long distance before you come to the next gate, which is the valley gate. For a new Christian the Lord allows a ‘honeymoon’ type period where He teaches you and His presence is strong in your life. This can go on for some time as indicated by the positioning of the old and valley gates. But sooner or later the valley gate must come. The valley gate speaks to us of humbling and trials – valley type experiences used by the Lord for our personal growth. Never easy but the Christian needs to remember that in the natural nothing really grows on the mountain tops, but it certainly does down in the valleys. So it is in the spiritual. Never a nice experience but it always produces fruit.

Prophetic aspect: In the history of the church the valley gate would speak of the humbling and suppression of the true church following on from when ‘Christianity’ was made a state religion under Constantine (~390AD). Pagan rituals were adapted and brought into the ‘church’ and spiritual regression ensued. This long period continued with the ‘dark ages’ and the further establishment of Roman Catholicism as the face of ‘Christianity’ to the world.

Dung (Refuse) Gate (Nehemiah 3:14) Very southern tip, facing southwest it exited out to a garbage dump in the Hinnom Valley where, in the days of King Manasseh, child sacrifices took place (2 Chronicles 33:6). All of Jerusalem’s refuse and rubbish was taken out through the dung gate, down to the valley of Hinnom, where it would be burned.

 

Personal aspect: Again there is quite a distance to the next gate indicating that, unfortunately, the valley experience can carry on for some time. But the result of that experience is clearly seen in this next gate – the dung gate. This is where the rubbish is removed and this is what happens in our own life. Valley experiences are used by the Lord to clear away the rubbish so that true faith, refined by the fire, can come forth and produce fruit. Clearing away the rubbish in our lives is never easy but the benefits of this experience can be seen in the next gate. You will notice also that at this point of your Christian life there is a dramatic ‘turning of the corner’ that takes place. From the diagram above, up until this point we have been moving downward and the experiences have been hard, but having come to this point there is a sharp turn in the road and we begin to move upward again.

Prophetic aspect: The dung gate speaks of the rubbish that became established within the ‘church’ during the dark and medieval ages leading up to the reformation. Some of doctrinal ‘rubbish’ that needed removing included the teachings of indulgences, purgatory, salvation by various sacraments and works, exaltation of Mary as the ‘Mother of God’ and the man-made church hierarchy and papal authority. There was a lot to be removed!

Fountain Gate:(Nehemiah 3:15) Southern tip, facing east. The east gate that led out from the Pool of Shelah to the king’s gardens and the stairs that went down the eastern slope. The fountain gate is located near the pool and was often used by the people for cleaning before proceeding on to the temple.

Personal aspect: You will notice from the picture that the fountain gate is located extremely close to the dung gate. In other words, after a valley type experience where rubbish in our lives is cleared out through the dung gate, true faith comes forth and the fountains begin to flow quite quickly! This speaks to us of the living waters of the Holy Spirit that cleanse our lives and empower us for our Christian life. Jesus said: ‘Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:38)

Prophetic aspect: In church history, this speaks of the period beginning with the reformation (1517-1600). It was a time when the truth of God’s word was established again as Bibles were printed for the common man to read and the key truth of salvation by grace through faith opened the fountains of salvation to flow again.

Water Gate: (Nehemiah 3:26) Facing east, south of the current Old City walls. The Water Gate led down to the Gihon Spring which was located adjacent to the Kidron Valley The eastern wall on the south end apparently was abandoned and a new wall built farther west, turning the southern section into more of a tail. The new wall excluded the tomb of David and most of the water tunnel that fed the Pool of Shelah by the Dung Gate. But the narrow confines included the upper house of the king, the home of the high priest, and the ascent to the armory. After the wall was built, Ezra read the people the Law from a square by the Water Gate (Nehemiah 8:1).

 

Personal aspect: The next gate we arrive at is the water gate. The water gate is a picture of the word of God and its effect in our life. Ephesians 5:26(NLT) states ‘… having washed her by the water of the word.’  Psalm 119:9(NLT) states that it is only through God’s word that we can be clean. It is no coincidence that this gate was located next to the fountain gate as the two often go together. The Holy Spirit is the one who makes the word of God alive to us personally, allowing cleansing, encouragement and direction to take place in our life.

Prophetic aspect: From 1600-1900 the word of God made a dramatic impact in the lives of many around the world. Some of the great men of God preached the word including John Bunyan in the time of the Puritans, John Wesley, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, D.L Moody among others. The preaching and cleansing of the word went forth into countries and continents previously starved of the word through men such as Hudson Taylor, Adoraim Judson and William Carey.

Horse Gate:(Nehemiah 3:28) East side, just east of the royal palace and southeast of the Temple Mount. Near where the priests had their homes. The horse gate was  close to the King’s stables and the men of Jerusalem would ride their horses out of this gate to war.

Personal aspect: The horse gate speaks to us of warfare as horses were used in battle and became a symbol of war. Revelation 19:11(NLT)’I saw Heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness does He judge and make war.’ Spiritual warfare, as we will see in this entire study on Nehemiah, is a requirement of every Christian because we are all in a battle whether we know it or not. It is also interesting that the horse gate follows the water (word) gate for as the word goes forth the spiritual warfare is sure to increase!

Prophetic aspect: Horses speak of speed and war. From the 1900’s onwards both of these certainly apply! The speed of medical, technological, industrial and scientific advancements was beyond comparison. And yet with it came two world wars, countless wars between nations and constant ethnic unrest. For the church it has been one battle after another with the rise of the cults, Biblical criticism. Modernism and liberalism leading to an increasing apostasy within the church. The ultimate fulfilment prophetically of the horse gate will be in the Tribulation – the Day of the Lord as described in Revelation 6-19.

East Gate (Nehemiah 3:29) Just north of the Horse Gate, it led to the temple.

The East gate is located on the opposite side of the Mount of Olives.

Personal aspect: Ezekiel 44:1-3(NLT)… the gate that looked toward the east, and it was shut. The Lord said to me, ‘This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord God of Israel has entered by it.’ The east gate opens and looks toward the Mount of Olives and we know that when Jesus returns He will return to this mount. (Zechariah 14:4(NLT). He will then enter Jerusalem by the east gate. The east gate then speaks of the return of Jesus Christ. For our Christian life it shows us of our need to live with this hope and to long for His return. A specific crown is even given to those who do this (2 Timothy 4:8(NLT).

Prophetic aspect: Please take note how the last three gates (Horse, East and Inspection gate) in the picture are very close together because so are the events which they symbolise. Prophetically the east gate is very close to the horse gate because the day of God’s wrath ends with the coming of the Lord Jesus to Jerusalem on earth. (See Zech chapter 14).

Muster Gate (AKA Inspection Gate) (Nehemiah 3:31): Between the East Gate and the northeast corner of the wall. Also known as the Miphkad gate. The word in Hebrew has a military connection and according to tradition it was at this gate that David would meet his troops to inspect them.

Personal aspect: The final gate is the inspection gate. This gate speaks to us of the examination of our lives by the Lord. This occurs in this life as indicated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:4(NLT): ‘For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.’ The ultimate fulfilment is at the judgement seat of Christ (as spoken of in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, 2 Corinthians 5:10(NLT) where our lives are inspected and rewarded appropriately. In our Christian experience we should be living with this in mind. We are called to live our lives with eternity in view, caring more for the things of eternity than the temporal that we see around us.

Prophetic aspect: Following the return of the Lord there is a judgement of the nations that will occur as well. This is recorded in the sheep and the goats judgement in Mathew 25:31-46. From here he will separate all the people into those that can enter into His kingdom on earth (sheep) and those that are to go into everlasting destruction (the goats). And then the Lion of Judah shall reign in His Messianic Kingdom!

Apply the metaphor to our spiritual lives. We build our spiritual walls each day as we engage in spiritual disciplines (reading the Bible, praying, obeying God…). We put a lot of work into building those walls, because we want to do our best to follow the Lord. But there’s a problem. Sometimes, we don’t do a very good job of guarding our gates (our eyes and our ears). We allow bad stuff to come into our city (our mind), and give it access to our temple (our heart). All the hard work we put into building our walls is now compromised, because we didn’t guard our gates.

Genesis 4:7(HCSB) 7 If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

The Enemy will get into our hearts and minds any way he can. If we’ve built strong spiritual walls with no gaps in them, he’s going to attack us at our gates. We need to be as diligent about guarding our gates as we are about wall-building. So, the question is, are we?

I think we underestimate the power of media in our lives. Not just “the media,” though I’m including them. I’m talking about all the types of media that we watch or listen to in a given day or week. Music, television, magazines, newspapers, email, advertisements, gossip… We let that stuff into our brains! Are we being selective enough?

We shouldn’t be naive about this. There is programming going on. When we open our eye-gates and our ear-gates to the media around us, it gets into our brains. If enough gets in, it will make its way to our hearts. That’s okay if we are only opening our gates to God-honoring messages. Program away! It will help us walk straighter. But most of us are not guarding the gates carefully enough, and bit by bit, we are filling our minds with things that don’t honor God.

When I teach kids, I do an illustration of this with a large bowl of water and some food coloring. I tell them that the bowl of water represents their minds as God created them – pure and clean. The food coloring represents some of the bad stuff we can let into our heads – profanity, the Lord’s name used in vain, music with inappropriate themes, movies with inappropriate scenes, jokes with inappropriate punch lines, stories told from inappropriate motives…

Each time I mention a new bad thing that can get into our minds, I have one of the kids drop a little food coloring into the bowl. By the time I’m done, the pure, clean water is dark and murky. It doesn’t take much to spread all throughout the water – just like it doesn’t take much bad stuff in your gates before your thinking starts to change. “It’s not so bad.” “Everyone is doing it.” “You can’t get away from it – you just have to ignore it.” “That’s just the way things are these days.”

Our brains are incredible. They can hold more data than any computer on earth. But the bad news is that they never purge all the bad information and images we put in them. Once it’s in, it’s in for good and forever. Our only hope is that we can dilute it by allowing more good stuff in our gates. That’s hard work, and it takes time.

Nehemiah set up rules for guarding the gates of Jerusalem, and he got rid of all the riff-raff that were hanging right outside the gates. Maybe we should do the same. A few gate-keeping rules might do us some good.

These are the places where things come into our minds. It’s important that we exercise some control in this area, because what gets in begins to influence how we think and how we act over time.

There’s one more gate that I may not have mentioned; it’s your mouth gate. While the ear and eye gates control what comes into your mind, the mouth gate controls what comes out of it.

You may have heard this expression before. GIGO means “Garbage In – Garbage Out.” It mainly refers to computers (i.e., don’t blame the computer…if you put in bad programming, you’re going to get a bad result.), but it applies to our mental computers, as well. If you stock your brain full of garbage, be certain that it will find it’s way back out – usually through your mouth gate.

Men, if we allow large shipments of sexual images to enter our eye gates, it won’t be long before it affects our thinking. We will start to see women more as objects than as people. When enough shipments come in, some of that thinking will find its way across our lips; I almost guarantee it.

We’ll find ourselves making lewd jokes or engaging in sexual innuendo. We’ll talk about co-workers and neighbors in terms of how they look rather than focusing on their more meaningful qualities. We’ll find it hard to resist the double entendre when we hear someone make a harmless remark.

Women, your temptation comes through both your ear gates and your eye gates. If you listen to frequent gossip and critical assessment of those around you, it will start to color your thinking. Before long, you will find yourself evaluating people in just the same, graceless way. If you watch shows or read magazines about shallow, superficial judgments of others, you will struggle not to descend to the same behaviors in your personal life.

You’ve heard the principle, “what goes up must come down.” How about “what goes in must come out?” The more junk you allow in your ear gates and eye gates, the more likely it is to find it’s way into what you talk about and how you talk about it. Jesus was communicating this principle when he said:

Matthew 15:17-20 (HCSB)17 “Don’t you realize that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is eliminated? 18 But what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this defiles a man. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. 20 These are the things that defile a man, but eating with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”

Be careful what you allow in through your gates. When your heart and mind are full of garbage, you won’t be able to hide it long before the neighbors start noticing what you’re putting on the curb.

Advertisements

Philippians Pt6 Count it all as Lost

Philippians 3-11(HCSB) Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write to you again about this is no trouble for me and is a protection for you. 2 Watch out for “dogs,” watch out for evil workers, watch out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh— 4 although I once also had confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; regarding the law, a Pharisee; 6 regarding zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness that is in the law, blameless. 7 But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.

Paul speaking of his religiously self-righteous way of life before meeting Jesus, says, Philippians 3:8(NET)8 More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things—indeed, I regard them as dung!—that I may gain Christ,. That little word “Skubala” has been the source of big controversy. Various English translations use words such as “rubbish,” “garbage,” “filth,” “dung,” “refuse,” “worthless trash,” and “dog dung.” Making the entire issue more difficult is that the word is a hapax legomenon, which means it appears only once in the entire New Testament.

Greek scholar and expert Daniel B. Wallace has studied this word in great detail, and he explains: “In Philippians 3:8, the best translation of skuvbala seems clearly to be from the first group of definitions [that is, meaning (human) excrement]. The term conveys both revulsion and worthlessness in this context. In hellenistic Greek it seems to stand somewhere between ‘crap’ and ’s**t.’”

This is what it means to be a Christian. It is not advanced discipleship; it is basic Christianity. This is confirmed in Jesus’s words, Luke 14:33(ESV)33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Renouncing all we have is the same as “counting everything as loss.” This is what happens in conversion. You can’t be a disciple without it. Jesus said this. Renouncing all (counting all as loss) means that, if we must choose between Christ and anything else, we will choose Christ. For most people Christ is just an addition to their already jacked up lives. and if there isn’t anything better then they will do the “Christian” thing. They come to church when it is convenient, they worship when it is convenient, there is no separation between them and the world or them and their old ways.

Jesus describes this conversion in a parable: Matthew 13:44 (ESV)“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field”. Selling all you have with joy, in order to have the treasure of the kingdom, is a parable-way of saying: count everything as loss in order to gain Christ.

So, to become a Christian is to awaken from the blindness of spiritual death and find Jesus so all-sufficient and all-satisfying that 1) we count everything as loss, 2) we renounce all our possessions, and, in parable-language, 3) we sell all we have to possess the treasure of Christ.

If you ask people “what is Christianity, you will probably get whole lot of different answers.  It seems to me that there is widespread confusion with regard to those who present themselves as the vendors of Christianity and its benefits.  Just exactly what do you think people assume Christianity offers?  Health, wealth, success, peace of mind, a certain level of tranquility, perhaps the promise of a better job, a better career, the fulfillment of your dreams and ambitions and desires, perhaps even everything you can think of and articulate, that would be a fairly common presentation of Christianity.

But I think the overall general sense of Christianity is that it offers you whatever you want.  Whatever it is that makes you happy, whatever it is that satisfies you, whatever it is that fulfills your ambitions, your desires and your dreams, that’s what Christianity offers you.  Christianity offers to make you everything you really want to be.

That is a very confusing message and a very unbiblical one. It also lays out a complex answer to what should be a very simple answer. In a word, what Christianity offers you is Christ, Jesus Christ, that’s what Christianity offers. That is a very simple, straightforward, one word answer to what has become a very complicated issue. We offer Christ in offering the gospel.  The surpassing theme of the Scripture, the surpassing theme of the New Testament, in particular, is Jesus Christ.  And in not having Christ, you have nothing.  And in having Christ, you have everything.

Christianity is very simple, it is very pure, it is about having Christ, knowing Christ.  Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”  He says in Philippians 3:8  that when he saw the glory of Christ, everything else became (Skubala)manure.  And so he says, Philippians 3:13-14(HCSB)13 Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus What is that?  What is the prize when we’re called up?  It is to be like Christ.  Paul says, “One day I will be like Christ.  Until then, my goal is to pursue that Christlikeness.”

We have only one message, and that is Christ.  We tell sinners they can have a relationship with Christ and in that relationship with Him, they will receive everything they need, all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies.  And yet in the name of Christianity, in the name of the gospel, in the name of the church, in the name of evangelism, people are told all kinds of things, promised all kinds of things, sold all kinds of things and in the middle somewhere is, if recognizable, a significantly diminished little Christ.  Anything that diminishes Jesus Christ is a perverted presentation, it is another gospel, a false gospel.

Christ is Christianity and He is all there is to offer because He is all that we need. When you ask…what is a Christian?  It is one for whom to live is Christ.  Christ is our life.  We have no other life.  We have nothing but Christ and we have everything in Christ. Christ is not an addendum, an additive to your life, He is not something you add to it. Church is not something you go to when you have nothing else better to do. Christians not gathering together often was unheard of in the New Testament. Living for Christ wholeheartedly was and is the only way. Every other way is a false way, every other way is crap, it is idolatry.

Apparently the Philippians had been told that there was something more needed than just Jesus Christ.  Something beyond Christ was necessary.  There was some insufficiency in Christ that prompts the Apostle Paul to write these words.  The insufficiencies in Christ can be made up by philosophy, human traditions, doctrines of man, external gifts, etc.. Christ is not enough.

If church history teaches us anything, it is that legalism — the belief that we must add something to grace to make us acceptable in God’s sight — is a never ending threat to the church. The catholic church, for example, made the system of penance a precondition of divine forgiveness. More recently, some traditions identify true Christians as those who do not drink, dance, or smoke nor chew and don’t run with those who do.

There have always been those who are unwilling to accept the idea of God’s salvation being offered freely to those who believe. They reason that such a grand gift as forgiveness from such a holy God must require some kind of payment from us. We thank God for His grace, but we understand that He expects us to somehow earn that grace—in other words, there must be something that we can do to pay off the debt we owe to God. In the early church, those who taught a combination of God’s grace and human effort were called “Judiazers.” The word Judaizer comes from a Greek verb meaning “to live according to Jewish customs.” The word appears in Galatians 2:14(NLT)14 When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions? Here Paul describes how he confronted Peter for forcing Gentile Christians to “Judaize.”

The first legalists in church history were the Judaizers described in the New Testament. These false teachers asserted that Gentile converts must believe in Jesus and do works of the Law, such as circumcision, to be declared righteous before God. Even the Philippian church needed to be warned about the Judaizers, and we find this warning in today’s passage.

Using the word dogs, Paul ironically contrasts the Judaizers’ false gospel with the true Apostolic gospel. The ancient Jews did not keep dogs as pets because the dogs living in ancient Israel were wild, unclean scavengers. In turn, the Jews often applied the word dogs to Gentiles, for they regarded non-Jews as unclean. In calling members of the Judaizing party “dogs,” Paul warns the Philippians that these Judaizers are actually filthy, even if ] Judaizers believe they are cleansing Gentile converts by circumcision.

Paul continues, calling the Judaizers “evildoers … those who mutilate the flesh”. God instituted circumcision as an old covenant sacrament (Genesis 17:1–14), but its new covenant fulfillment is baptism. Colossians 2:11–12(NLT) 11 When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. 12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.

True circumcision is heart circumcision, the baptism into (union with) Jesus by faith. Romans 6:3–4(HCSB)3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. This sets us apart as holy, which is why all who trust in Christ alone are “the circumcision,” the true worshippers of God.

A Judiazer taught that, in order for a Christian to truly be right with God, he must conform to the Mosaic Law. Circumcision, especially, was promoted as necessary for salvation. Gentiles had to become Jewish proselytes first, and then they could come to Christ. Paul is saying watch out for those dogs, those religious ones who tell you to mutilate the flesh in order to serve Christ.

To add anything to the work that Christ did for salvation is to negate God’s grace. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, not by returning to the Law. Galatians 2:21(NLT)21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

We see dogs/judaizers being corrected in the New Testament. Paul admonished the Judaizers in Galatia, who thought they were holy because they were circumcised a bit, to go all out and cut the whole thing off. This literally would have meant that these dogs would no longer be accepted as Jews, and not only cut off physically but also cut off spiritually from temple worship. Paul says:

Galatians 5:11–14(HCSB)11 Now brothers, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves castrated! 13 For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.

People love to prooftext verses, and they don’t read the context. The guy (Paul)who said “love one another” prefaced it by saying “cut your penis off.” How curious it is that sheep and the religious alike are prone to quote the latter half of this section of God’s Word and argue that we should be loving, as Jesus taught, while conveniently ignoring the part about cutting ones manhood off. Indeed, when the Bible says we need to be loving, we need to read the verses around those words to see how the Bible also exemplifies how to be loving to God, sheep, lost people, and religious people. Apparently, in some cases telling religious judaizers to castrate themselves is loving.

Though this is a long time ago, nothing has really changed.  There are people today who tell us that Christ is not enough, we need more than Christ, more than all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that are found in Him.  We need Christ plus philosophy, human traditions, man made doctrines, external gifts, baptism,etc.

Pentecostal (UPC)– Oneness churches, generally teach the following as the foundation of Christian conversion: repentance, water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. The Oneness Pentecostal movements generally teach that to receive and maintain salvation, a person must adhere to four essential requirements.

1. Faith in Jesus Only

Oneness teachers would agree that salvation requires putting one’s full faith in the Jesus of Oneness doctrine, that is the Jesus who is the totality of the Godhead, who died on the cross as an atonement for sin, and who rose again from the dead. They do not believe in the trinity. God has revealed Himself as Father (in parental relationship to humanity), in the Son (in human flesh), and as the Holy Spirit (in spiritual action).  The one God existed as Father, Word, and Spirit before His incarnation as Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and while Jesus walked on earth as God Himself incarnate, the Spirit of God continued to be omnipresent.

2. Repentance and Baptism in the “Name of Jesus”

Acts 2:38 is used as evidence that the early church baptized only in the name of Jesus. They maintain that baptism in the trinitarian formula is invalid since it implies belief in three gods. They claim Matthew 28:19 is not to be taken as a command to baptize in that formula. Oneness believers believe that for water baptism to be valid, one must be baptized in the name of Jesus, rather than the mainstream baptismal formula in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

3. Speaking in Tongues

Like most traditional Pentecostals and charismatics, Oneness Pentecostals teach that speaking in tongues is a gift to be exercised today. However, unlike most traditionalists, the Oneness movements maintain that speaking in tongues is not just a post-conversion indicator of the filling or baptism of the Holy Spirit, but an essential ingredient in the salvation experience itself.

4. Adherence to Holiness Standards

Most Oneness Pentecostals teach that once salvation is gained initially by the preceding ingredients, it must be maintained by daily adherence to legalistic codes of personal behavior. Alcohol and tobacco are prohibited. Women are not allowed to cut their hair, wear short dresses or slacks, use make-up, or wear jewelry. Men are expected to dress conservatively (white shirts and dark slacks), be clean shaven, and have short haircuts. Violations of these codes may result in a loss of salvation and exclusion from church fellowship.

Oneness Pentecostals have an anti-trinitarian view of God, an unbiblical doctrine of Jesus Christ, and unbiblical requirements for salvation (speaking in tongues, water baptism in “Jesus’ name,” and a legalistic moral code). Thus, those churches adhering to its basic doctrines cannot be regarded as authentically Christian. Any group or church that claims to be Christian yet deviates at any point from historical Christian faith is, by definition, a cult. Oneness Pentecostal churches are, therefore, cultic in nature and outside the theological parameters of historic Christianity.

Catholicism – Salvation, in Roman Catholicism, is a process with many steps: To begin, God grants actual grace to a person which enables him to believe in Christ (CCC 2000) and also believe in the truth of the Catholic Church (CCC 1814).  After belief, the person must be baptized, which is necessary for salvation (CCC 1257).  This baptism erases original sin (CCC 405), unites the person with Christ (CCC 977), infuses grace into the person (CCC 1999), and grants justification (CCC 1992, 2020).  After baptism, he is saved.  But, to maintain his salvation, it is necessary for him to perform good works (CCC 2010, 2068, 2080) and participate in the sacraments (CCC 1129) which provide grace that is “proper to each sacrament” (CCC 1129, 2003).  This is necessary in order to maintain infused grace (CCC 987, 1468).  However, grace can be lessened by venial sins or completely lost by mortal sins.  Venial sins (CCC 1862) remove part of the infused grace but not the saving grace known as sanctifying grace (CCC 1863). To remedy the problem of venial sins, the Catholic is to take the Eucharist which the Church teaches forgives venial sins (CCC 1416).  He must also perform various penance which must be done in concert with perfect contrition (CCC 1452). But there is a problem.  Sins require punishment.  Even though sins are absolved by a priest (CCC 1463, 1495) the punishment due to a person because of his sin can remain.  To deal with that remaining punishment, indulgences are administered to deal with the punishment due to the guilt of the sins already forgiven (CCC 1471, 1498).  These indulgences draw upon the “good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary” (CCC 1477) and “of Christ and the saints” so as to obtain “the remission of the temporal punishment due for their sins” (CCC 1478).  Furthermore, the indulgences can be applied to themselves or the dead (CCC 1471) who are in purgatory (CCC 1498).  Now, in case the Catholic has committed a mortal sin, then all his infused grace is lost.  To regain this grace, he must partake of special penance (CCC 980) since it helps restore grace that was lost (CCC 1468, 1496).  To conclude, the Roman Catholic must have faith, participate in the sacraments, take the Eucharist, keep the commandments, perform penance, and do indulgences in order to attain, maintain, and regain his salvation as well as reduce the punishment due to him for the sins of which he has already forgiven.

Colossians 2:8-15(NLT) 8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. 9 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. 10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. 11 When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. 12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. 13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

In verses 13 and 14, not only a complete salvation but a complete forgiveness.  “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us…that’s the record of all our sins which was, of course, hostile to us…and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

I want you to notice something.  Verse 9, “In Christ.”  Verse 10, “with Christ”  Verse 11, “Ito Christ”  Verse 12, “Buried with Christ.  Raised with Him.”  Verse 13, “God made you alive with Christ”  It is about being in Him, in Him, with Him, with Him.  And because we have Christ, we have complete salvation and complete forgiveness…so complete that He has literally blotted out our transgressions, canceled out, erased, wiped off our sins. In verse 15, “On our behalf He disarmed the rulers and authorities, the host of hell, the demons, Satan.”  He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them.  Again, through Him.  When He disarmed the rulers and authorities, we triumphed over them through Him.  Because we have Christ, we have complete salvation.  Because we have Christ, we have complete forgiveness.  Because we have Christ, we have complete victory over all the hosts of hell.  Philosophy, Human Traditions and doctrines adds nothing whatsoever to that.  What we offer in offering the gospel is what this text presents.  We are offering a transformation through faith in Jesus Christ from death to life.  We are offering the forgiveness of all our sins for Jesus paid in full the penalty for those sins, the list of our sins literally was nailed to His cross.  We are offering in the gospel true, total, complete, triumph over Satan and demons.  Philosophy, Human Traditions and doctrines can do nothing to embellish that.

So what does it take?

Faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior is the only “step” to salvation. The message of the Bible is abundantly clear. We have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23). Because of our sin, we deserve to be eternally separated from God (Romans 6:23). Because of His love for us (John 3:16), God took on human form and died in our place, taking the punishment that we deserve (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). God promises forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven to all who receive, by grace through faith, Jesus Christ as Savior (John 1:12; 3:16; 5:24; Acts 16:31).

Salvation is not about certain steps we must follow to earn salvation. Yes, Christians should be baptized. Yes, Christians should publicly confess Christ as Savior. Yes, Christians should turn from sin. Yes, Christians should commit their lives to obeying God. However, these are not steps to salvation. They are results of salvation. Because of our sin, we cannot in any sense earn salvation. We could follow 1000 steps, and it would not be enough. That is why Jesus had to die in our place. We are absolutely incapable of paying our sin debt to God or cleansing ourselves from sin. Only God could accomplish our salvation, and so He did. God Himself completed the “steps” and thereby offers salvation to anyone who will receive it from Him.

Are We Condoning Satanism in the Modern Church?

Knowing what you believe and why you believe it could mean the difference between following a true teacher or a false teacher, it could mean the difference between eternal life or eternal damnation. 1 Timothy 4:1-8(HCSB) Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, 2 through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. 3 They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods that God created to be received with gratitude by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing should be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer. 6 If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and the good teaching that you have followed. 7 But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness, 8 for the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Paul said to Timothy, 2 Timothy 4:1-4(HCSB) I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.3 For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new 4 They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.

This should sound an alarm in the the heart of every preacher, pastor, and teacher to seriously reevaluate their ministry — are we encouraging sin by not warning? If so, we’re heading down a dangerous path.

I believe that we can be both loving and truthful. How can we warn if we won’t confront? How can we correct if we won’t challenge? How can we contend for the faith if we won’t question lifestyles that oppose it?

The Book of Satan IV
Say unto thine own heart, “I am mine own redeemer.”

Life is the great indulgence – death, the great abstinence. Therefore, make the most of life – HERE AND NOW !

TD Jakes says “When we feel misaligned, without passion or rhythm, we’re not being guided by our instinct. “Most people are manipulated by the needs of others, the paycheck that supports them and the demands that dominate them,” he writes in Instinct . “On this path we eventually live like slaves to a man-made system. We chase the goals of others instead of pursuing our own dreams. We anesthetize our despair with the next purchase, pill or plunder. We do what we think we should instead of living beyond what logic alone can dictate.”

The feelings of disconnect, despair and foreboding that result from living outside our divine purpose make us what Jakes calls “a lightbulb without a lamp.” But when we listen to our instinct and ultimately follow it to realize our potential, “it is the feeling of fitting in, like a piece in a puzzle,” he writes. “It is the innate satisfaction that comes from giving the gifts that you and you alone can contribute to the world.”

Instinct, he says, is fundamental in finding his direction—both small and large. “Whatever you do with your life, it should honestly be the outflowing of who you are. That way you don’t have to work hard to manufacture it. It’s best when it is organically and artistically an outpouring of your gift, your talent, your perspective.”

Joel Osteen makes you feel good. He’s positive. He is encouraging. That’s what draws some 30,000 people a week to Lakewood Church in Houston. It’s also why Osteen’s book Your Best Life Now, is on the New York Times bestseller list.

It’s time to use our words to declare good things! Speak blessings over your life and your family. Throughout the day, say things such as, “I have the favor of God. I am strong and healthy. I’m well able to do what I need to do.

Did you know that what you say about yourself has greater impact on you than anything anybody else says about you? Many people are overly critical of themselves, saying, “I’m so clumsy. I can’t do anything right.” “I’m so overweight. I’ll never get back into shape.” “I never get any good breaks.”

They may not realize it, but they are cursing their future. Those words sink into their minds. Before long, they develop a defeated mentality, low self-esteem and diminished confidence. Worse yet, those negative mindsets can interfere with God’s plan for their lives.

One of the best ways to break free from such strongholds is simply by speaking words of victory. Every day, look in the mirror and declare, “God’s Word says I am strong. God is fighting my battles for me. I’m excited about my future.”

Maybe you are lonely because you don’t have a lot of friends. Instead of complaining, start declaring, “God is bringing great people into my life. I know He loves me, so I can risk loving others.”

Speak blessings over your life, and as you do, you’ll go out with more confidence, you’ll be more congenial and, in turn, you will attract new friends.

When discouragement comes, instead of sitting back and accepting it, say, “No, I’m a victor and not a victim. I may have been defeated before, but the past is the past. This is a new day.”

It’s not enough just to think it; you need to hear it, because what we constantly hear ourselves saying we will eventually believe.

Some people live in a perpetual state of financial crisis. They can’t seem to pay their bills — always living “under their circumstances” and constantly speaking defeat.

If you are struggling financially, remind yourself repeatedly, “I am the head and I am not the tail. I will lend and I will not borrow. Everything I touch will prosper and succeed.”

Understand, it’s not enough to avoid saying anything negative; you must go on the offensive and start making positive declarations over your life. Remember, your own words will have more impact on your future than anything anybody else says about you.

Friend, if you’ll do your part and speak words of victory, God will pour out His favor in exciting, fresh ways in your life, and you will live the abundant life He has in store for you.

The Satanist shuns terms such as “hope” and “prayer” as they are indicative of apprehension. If we hope and pray for something to come about, we will not act in a positive way which will make it happen. The Satanist, realizing that anything he gets is of his own doing, takes command of the situation instead of praying to God for it to happen. Positive thinking and positive action add up to results.

When a Satanist commits a wrong, he realizes that it is natural to make a mistake – and if he is truly sorry about what he has done, he will learn from it and take care not to do the same thing again. If he is not honestly sorry about what he has done, and knows he will do the same thing over and over, he has no business confessing and asking forgiveness in the first place. But this is exactly what happens. People confess their sins so that they can clear their consciences – and be free to go out and sin again, usually the same sin.

Since man’s natural instincts lead him to sin, all men are sinners; and all sinners go to hell.”Times have changed. Religious leaders no longer preach that all our natural actions are sinful. We no longer think sex is dirty – or that taking pride in ourselves is shameful – or that wanting something someone else has is vicious.” Of course not, times have changed! “If you want proof of this, just look at how liberal churches have become. Why, they’re practicing all the things that you preach.”

“A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better…This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.” –Rob Bell (Love Wins, Preface, VI)

“I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think that the church needs to just … this is the world that we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.” –Rob Bell (online source)

“We do not think this [Emerging Church Movement] is about changing your worship service. We do not think this is about…how you structure your church staff. This is actually about changing theology. This is about our belief that theology changes. The message of the gospel changes. It’s not just the method that changes.”  –Tony Jones (“A New Theology for a New World.” A workshop for the 2004 Emergent Convention in San Diego)

“I must add, though, that I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts.” –Brian McLaren

“I now believe that GLBTQ [Gay, Lesbian, Bisexuals, Transgender, and Queers] can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (as least as much as any of us can!), and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state.” –Tony Jones

  

Satanists hear these, and similar statements, all the time; and they agree wholeheartedly. BUT , if the world has changed so much, why continue to grasp at the threads of a dying faith? If many religions are denying their own scriptures because they are out of date, and are preaching the philosophies of Satanism, why not call it by its rightful name – Satanism? Certainly it would be far less hypocritical.

In recent years there has been an attempt to humanize the spiritual concept of Christianity. This has manifested itself in the most obvious non-spiritual means.

It is much simpler to obtain an emotional reaction using words and phrases that cannot be understood than it is with statements which even the simplest mind will question when hearing them in an understandable language.
Charisma magazine wrote an article on speaking in tongues.
This step is the most obvious step, but it’s where most people go wrong – open your mouth. Start making syllables and word sounds. In short, start babbling like a baby. Start exercising your tongue and mind to produce random word parts.

Many people incorrectly believe that gifts from God are bestowed upon us all at once and in full and their inability to heal, prophesy, or speak in tongues is because God has not yet blessed them with the gift. As a result, they never step out in faith to try or they quit early, but this just is another example of the old saying “Jesus can’t take the wheel of a parked car”.

Robert Morris of Gateway Church puts it:

Babies don’t start speaking fluently, and here is the amazing thing…we think it’s cute. It doesn’t bother us when our children mispronounce words. In the same way, so many people are afraid they aren’t going to do it right, but even if you don’t do it right your Father likes it. He will like that you are trying.

In the beginning it will not be fluent. Most likely it will be very choppy, repetitive, and hard to resist your mind taking back control of your mouth. All of this is just fine as you are starting and you have to start somewhere.

There is a difference between worship and performance. We are not up here to perform, I believe in engaging the world but I do not believe in being like the world in order to gain people for Christ. I often hear and see Christians using the the words “I’m about to perform, pray God word is heard” or something to the like. It always bothered me to hear the word “Perform” when used as describing a ministry.

There is a HUGE difference between the two. Performing is for the pleasure and approval of the audience. Ministry is for the approval and glory of God! We Christian artists MUST be aware of this difference and make sure we are not performing when we are ministering.

Many churches with some of the largest congregations have the most hand-clapping, sensual music – also Satanically inspired. After all, the Devil has always had the best tunes. 

“Satanism is based on a very sound philosophy,” say the emancipated. “But why call it Satanism? Why not call it something like ‘Humanism’ or a name that would have the connotation of a witchcraft group, something a little more esoteric – something less blatant.” There is more than one reason for this. Humanism is not a religion.

Humanism sees man as basically good. Thinks that people should feel good about themselves regardless of their behavior. Tries to deal with guilt by positive self-talk. Another thought process that denies original sin is Arminianism, PELAGIANISM comes from Pelagius around 400AD and he categorically denied the doctrine of original sin, arguing that Adam’s sin affected Adam alone and that infants at birth are in the same state as Adam was before the Fall. As such, he insisted that the constituent nature of humanity is not convertible; it is indestructively good.

Semi-Pelagianism is a weaker form of Pelagianism (a heresy derived from Pelagius who lived in the 5th century A.D. and was a teacher in Rome). Semi-Pelagianism (advocated by Cassian at Marseilles, 5th Century) did not deny original sin and its effects upon the human soul and will; but, it taught that God and man cooperate to achieve man’s salvation. This cooperation is not by human effort as in keeping the law but rather in the ability of a person to make a free will choice. The semi-Pelagian teaches that man can make the first move toward God by seeking God out of his own free will, and that man can cooperate with God’s grace even to the keeping of his faith through human effort. This would mean that God responds to the initial effort of person, and that God’s grace is not absolutely necessary to maintain faith.

The problem is that this is no longer grace. Grace is the completely unmerited and freely given favor of God upon the sinner; but, if man is the one who first seeks God, then God is responding to the good effort of seeking him. This would mean that God is offering a proper response to the initial effort of man. This is not grace but what is due the person who chooses to believe in God apart from God’s initial effort.

•Semi-Pelagianism says the sinner has the ability to initiate belief in God.

•Semi-Pelagianism says God’s grace is a response to man’s initial effort.

•Semi-Pelagianism denies predestination.

Semi-Pelagianism was condemned at the Council of Orange in 529.

A select few Southern Baptist are trying to start an interdenominational schism/argument with a modified version of this by saying in A Statement of the Traditionalist Understanding of salvation Article Two: The Sinfulness of Man We affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin. Each person’s sin alone brings the wrath of a holy God, broken fellowship with Him, ever-worsening selfishness and destructiveness, death, and condemnation to an eternity in hell.

We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.

Satanism is the only religion known to man that accepts man as he is, and promotes the rationale of turning a bad thing into a good thing rather than bending over backwards to eliminate the bad thing.

Jesus loves you jsut as you are but refuses to leave you that way. “Come as you are” is sometimes misunderstood and misapplied in today’s church. Those churches identified with the emerging/emergent church or hipster movements, among others, sometimes take the grace of God and turn it into licentiousness (Jude 1:4) by teaching that it makes no difference how you live, as long as you believe. If you come to Christ in an illicit relationship, some say Christ will accept you just as you are and sanctify that relationship. If you come to Christ as someone who enjoys the night life, you can continue in that path, and use it to “reach others for Christ.” This may be a popular message, but it directly contradicts Scripture which clearly says that these things from our past lives should be left behind and that our former friends will think us strange for doing so (1 Peter 4:3–4). Romans 13:13 commands us to walk honestly, or decently, no longer participating in the licentious lifestyle of the world. Galatians 5:13 says that we are called to liberty, but that we cannot use liberty “for an occasion to the flesh,” excusing our continued sins.

At the heart of the demise of gospel preaching is what may have begun as a subtle shift. In Jonathan Edward’s day, evangelical preachers preached for conversions. They believed the lost were truly lost and powerless to do anything about their wretched condition. The only hope was the grace of God through the gospel to convert sinners. The nineteenth century marked a major turning point in American evangelicalism. The turning point is epitomized by Finney’s “new measures.” Because Finney believed in human ability (as Edwards did not), Finney preached to “arouse dormant powers.” From Finney’s day on evangelism changed and has continued to change. We have gone from belief in conversions through gospel preaching to “decisions for Jesus.” This seemingly subtle shift is actually a major chasm that is as deep and wide as the chasm between heaven and hell.

If this shocks some people that may be what is needed. Well-motivated or not, there is a huge difference between the gospel as preached by Jesus and His apostles and the idea of “making a decision for Jesus.” Some are converted through the efforts of such evangelicals. If somewhere, somehow, buried under the many layers of activities and evangelical culture, those who get involved eventually do find out who Jesus is, what His claims are, and their need for the blood atonement, they may indeed be converted. But why should the conversion of sinners be pushed to the background so that a slick, user-friendly Christianity is all that is apparent to most observers?

There are problems even when some are actually converted through the popular “decision for Jesus” approach. If they eventually do find out the true nature of the gospel, those truly converted then realize that they have been sold a bill of goods. The gospel does not promise better living in this world through a simple decision. The gospel calls us to take up our cross and live in this world as ones already condemned to die.

Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23(ESV)24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.Let’s begin with what Jesus didn’t mean. Many people interpret “cross” as some burden they must carry in their lives: a strained relationship, a thankless job, a physical illness. With self-pitying pride, they say, “That’s my cross I have to carry.” Such an interpretation is not what Jesus meant when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.”

When Jesus carried His cross up Golgotha to be crucified, no one was thinking of the cross as symbolic of a burden to carry. To a person in the first-century, the cross meant one thing and one thing only: death by the most painful and humiliating means human beings could develop.

Two thousand years later, Christians view the cross as a cherished symbol of atonement, forgiveness, grace, and love. But in Jesus’ day, the cross represented nothing but torturous death. Because the Romans forced convicted criminals to carry their own crosses to the place of crucifixion, bearing a cross meant carrying their own execution device while facing ridicule along the way to death.

Therefore, “Take up your cross and follow Me” means being willing to die in order to follow Jesus. This is called “dying to self.” It’s a call to absolute surrender. After each time Jesus commanded cross bearing, He said, Luke 9:24-25(ESV)“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”. Although the call is tough, the reward is matchless.Furthermore, the truly converted who are in the evangelical culture soon find themselves dying of spiritual starvation because the Word of God is not being preached. How much better to tell our hearers up front what the gospel is, and then when they come on that basis they can, like the early Christians in Acts, “rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

If that is what is passing for Christianity today, then the need for true gospel preachers is more than severe. Someone needs to tell these people—even if they are not inclined to hear; even if it’s over the heads of their own “pastors”—that the gospel is not about collaborating with God to make yourself successful. It is not about getting more stuff and being more prosperous. It is about God forgiving people for their sin through the death of his Son, bringing them to life from the spiritual dead, and conforming them to the image of Jesus Christ. Whether Joel Osteen preaches those truths in his church of thirty-thousand, I have no idea. But he certainly has not written about them.

Not everyone is an A.W. Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill, or a John the Baptist, but all pastors have a biblical mandate to preach the truth.

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15), yet, many avoid words such as sin and repentance. The good news about Christ can only be appreciated with the bad news as the backdrop. When we fail to proclaim God’s Word faithfully, we run the risk of “encouraging sin” and “perverting the words of the living God” (cf. Jeremiah 23).

All of us must return to the prayer closet where brokenness, humility, and full surrender take place. Without prayer, “the church becomes a graveyard, not an embattled army. Praise and prayer are stifled; worship is dead. The preacher and the preaching encourage sin, not holiness … preaching which kills is prayerless preaching. Without prayer, the preacher creates death, and not life” (E.M. Bounds).

“Without the heartbeat of prayer, the body of Christ will resemble a corpse. The church is dying on her feet because she is not living on her knees” (Al Whittinghill).

Where are the Tyndales and Huss’ who were burned at the stake for simply declaring the truth? Where are the Luthers who, when asked to recant or face possible execution, said, “Here I stand; I can do no other”? Where are the John Calvins who shape the religious thoughts of our Western culture? Where are the John Knoxs who cried, “Give me Scotland [for the cause of Christ] or I die”? Where are the Whitefields who shook continents?

Where are the Spurgeons who spoke with such authority that his sermons are read more today than ever before? Where are the D.L. Moodys who brought America to her knees? Where are the Evan Roberts who, during the Welsh Revivals of 1904-5, preached so powerfully against sin that people cried out to truly know God? Where are the Puritans like Richard Baxter, who said with such humility, “I speak as a dying man to dying men”?

As the church falls deeper into self-reliance and further from reliance on God, our need for bold leadership has never been greater. Change in our nation will only occur when there is a strong conviction of sin, genuine faith, humility, and sincere repentance, beginning in the pulpits. May God grant us the wisdom and strength to proclaim these truths.

We must stop confusing God’s patience with His approval and preach with conviction from the pulpits again — as dying men to dying men.

Philippians Pt5

Philippians 2:19-30(HCSB)19 Now I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon so that I also may be encouraged when I hear news about you. 20 For I have no one else like-minded who will genuinely care about your interests; 21 all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know his proven character, because he has served with me in the gospel ministry like a son with a father. 23 Therefore, I hope to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 I am convinced in the Lord that I myself will also come quickly. 25 But I considered it necessary to send you Epaphroditus—my brother, coworker, and fellow soldier, as well as your messenger and minister to my need— 26 since he has been longing for all of you and was distressed because you heard that he was sick. 27 Indeed, he was so sick that he nearly died. However, God had mercy on him, and not only on him but also on me, so that I would not have one grief on top of another. 28 For this reason, I am very eager to send him so that you may rejoice when you see him again and I may be less anxious. 29 Therefore, welcome him in the Lord with all joy and hold men like him in honor, 30 because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up what was lacking in your ministry to me.

It is clear that the Philippian church is close to Paul’s heart, being a church he personally founded and cared deeply for. It’s these glimpses past Paul’s armor of doctrine and into his caring, loving and affection side that give great insight into Paul’s thought. He is a minister, an apostle, and corrector, and overseer, a debater, a defender of the faith…but he is also a friend who cares deeply about both the church he has founded and also deeply for his partners in ministry. While he regards these men as friends, he also gently demands respect for them because of their virtue as enduring disciples; they aren’t being sent merely on a social call but to shepherd and guard the church, and as such the church is to treat them with due respect.

Paul is offering two additional examples of people who are serving humbly like Jesus and Paul. Timothy and Epaphroditus are examples of “having the same mind” as Christ Jesus.

Timothy is the most well-known of Paul’s co-workers and co-author of the letter to the Philippians. Timothy first appears in as a companion of Paul. Acts 16:1-5(HCSB)Then he went on to Derbe and Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a believing Jewish woman, but his father was a Greek. The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him. Paul wanted Timothy to go with him, so he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, since they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they traveled through the towns, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem for them to observe. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in number daily. Timothy was a companion of Paul since the second missionary journey. He was from Lystra with a good reputation among the Christians in the area and Paul often sent him to churches as his personal representative.

Paul describes him in Philippians with very affectionate terms. Timothy is like a son to him, “no one like him,” and someone who has served alongside him for a very long time.  In fact, Paul says Timothy “of the same mind”. Paul calls Timothy his “colleague,” someone who has the same concerns and interests he does.

Paul would like to return to Philippi soon, but since he remains under house arrest in Rome he will send Timothy as soon as he can. Why is Paul sending Timothy to Philippi? It is possible Paul’s imprisonment has raised questions among the Christians in Philippi. Perhaps they were concerned the advance of the Gospel was hindered by the long house arrest, as the opening prayer of the letter seems to imply (1:3-11).  It is also possible they have had no news from Paul as a result of Epaphroditus’s illness. Timothy seeks the interests of Jesus Christ rather than his own. Verse 21 says that “they all seek their own interests,” but there is not subject in the immediate context.  This is another hint of the self-serving minsters from 1:15-16, or possibly the opponents in chapter 3.  Since Timothy seeks the interests of others (in this case, the Philippian church), Timothy is living a life worthy of the Gospel and therefore is quite counter to the culture of Rome.

Timothy has been “proven worthy,” as the church is well aware. The noun (dokimé)proof of genuineness (“approval, through testing”) a test of character in order to determine how genuine that character really is (for example in
2 Corinthians 2:9(HCSB)I wrote for this purpose: to test your character to see if you are obedient in everything.),

Also in Romans 5:2-5(HCSB)We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. the word is simply translated “character.” Just as gold or silver has to be tested in order to determine quality and value, a person’s character is tested and shown as they pass through difficulties and trials. Think about how people’s personalities change when they pass through hard times. That is when the “true character” is revealed. Everyone knows an example of someone who appears to have been a “good Christian” (whatever that means), but when they are faced with difficult problems they begin to question or turn away from their faith. Timothy is therefore an example of someone who is living their life “worthy of the gospel.”

Paul makes it clear that joy does not mean the absence of trial. He is making it absolutely, crystal clear that the kind of gospel joy that he has, and the kind of gospel joy that he wants the Philippians to have. He makes it clear in this passage that the kind of gospel joy that he wants them to have and that he wants us to have in every Bible believing, gospel-preaching, Christ-exalting, local congregation of Christians, he wants there to be gospel joy, but he wants us to understand that that is not going to mean an absence of trial. Even in the church, its not going to mean an absence of trial.

We can have Joy in grief. Look at how he proves this to us. First of all, look at v. 27. He’s telling you how glad he is that God spared Epaphroditus’s life. He said, “If Epaphroditus had died I would have what? grief untop of another.” He doesn’t just say that he would have been sorry if Epaphroditus had died, it would have been “grief upon grief.” “I would have had more grief,” Paul is saying. Of course, it would have been sorrowful to lose Epaphroditus, he was ministering to him, but Paul is indicating here that he had other sorrows that they would simply mount upon. Now Paul is a servant of the Lord, serving with gospel joy and yet he characterizes himself as a person that has to cope with sorrow.

Then look at v. 28. There he says, “I’m sending Epaphroditus back to you and one reason I’m doing it is so I will have less anxiety.” Now isn’t that interesting? He doesn’t say, “I’m sending him back so that I won’t have any anxiety at all,” but only, “that I’ll have less.” In other words, he is going to send Epaphroditus back so that Epaphroditus can take them word of the Apostle Paul and so that word can be sent back to the Apostle Paul that the Philippians are doing okay. Because the Apostle Paul is a little worried about the Philippians. He’s a little worried about the petty divisions in the church. He’s a little worried about people in the church that are looking out for number one, instead of being concerned for others in the congregation and seeking the welfare of the whole body. He’s a little worried about them. He is the Apostle. Elsewhere, he says, “the daily burdens of the care of the church weigh upon me.” He’s always thinking about the people of God. And so he says, “I want to send Epaphroditus back so I’ll have less anxiety.” Now, it’s so ironic that Paul would say this because later in this letter what is he going to say to the Philippians? “Do not worry about anything.” And yet, the Apostle Paul here is saying, “You know, I’m a little worried about you Philippians, because I love you, I care about you, and I want you to be well. I want you to be growing in grace, I want you to be secure in Christ, and I want you to know gospel joy. And I’m a little concerned about the congregation.” Here’s Paul wrestling with anxious cares and anxiety for the people of God, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have gospel joy.

Sorrow Not Inconsistent with Gospel Joy

And then, if you look back in vv. 20-21, he talks about Christians who were there with him at the time of his imprisonment other than Timothy and Epaphroditus. And you know what he says about them? He says that he couldn’t send any of them to the Philippians because they wouldn’t look out for the Philippians’ best interest; they would only look out for their own. Ouch! Oh, that would have been discouraging to the Apostle Paul to think, “You know, the only two guys that I can really trust to go back to the Philippians is Timothy and Epaphroditus. The rest of them are immature to the point that they look out for themselves rather than the people of God; rather than for the interest of Christ.” Surely, that must have grieved the Apostle’s heart that he didn’t have more people that could have been trusted to go back on that important ministry and errand to the Philippians.

And yet, the Apostle Paul says these things and they are not inconsistent with his experience of gospel joy. Your experience of gospel of joy does not mean that you enter in this life into a blissful estate in which there is uninterrupted harmony, peace, and utter equilibrium of everything in life. It doesn’t mean there aren’t hard things, disappointments, trials, sorrows, anxieties, and cares. It’s so important for us to understand. There will be a day when there will be no sorrows or cares, no more disappointments, but that’s when we are with Jesus in Heaven.

Paul, in this passage though, is exhorting us to experience a gospel joy now, in the congregation, even though there are still trials and disappointments and sorrows and anxieties. And that’s very important for us, because we will disappoint one another, we’ll let one another down in fellowship, we’ll be disappointed by the lack of maturity in some, we’ll feel the sting of betrayal by others, we’ll be sorrowful at certain events that happen in the family of the people of God, and yet that is not a limitation to gospel joy. It can still be experienced in the body, even in the midst of trials. Because the kind of gospel joy that Paul is talking about does not mean the absence of trial. That is a huge message to learn in the Christian life. I think a lot of Christians are looking for a time in this life when the battle will be over. The battle will never be over until Jesus calls you home or He comes, whichever comes first.

Paul’s so realistic about this isn’t he? Isn’t it refreshing to have Paul utterly realistic about life in a fallen world? He wants you to experience gospel joy, but he knows that troubles are not going away in this world, not even in the church.

The Christian Life is a Life of Companionship

Second, and you really learn this from the whole chapter, but especially from the way that Paul describes the ministry of Timothy and Epaphroditus to him, here is the lesson that he teaches: the Christian life is a life of companionship. The Christian life was meant for company, God did not intend us to go through the Christian life alone. God intended us to need, to depend upon one another and to minister to one another as we walk through this world on the way to the New Heavens and the New Earth.

The Christian life is a life of companionship. How do you see this here? Well, here is the Apostle Paul, who met Jesus face to face on the road to Damascus. To whom Jesus personally talked, who was vested with all of the authority of Jesus so that he could raise people from the dead, so that he could heal people, so that he could prophesy by the Holy Spirit, and so that he could speak in tongues and interpret and give words of knowledge. This Apostle had all of the powers of Jesus Christ vested in him by the Lord Jesus and had been taken up into the third heavens and been shown things which are not allowed for a man to tell. And yet, here he is describing to the Philippians what? How he needed Timothy and Epaphroditus. Is that huge?  If Paul needed Timothy and Epaphroditus to minister to him, how much more do we need one another to minister to one another and to be ministered to by one another? Even the Apostle Paul needed godly Christian friends and their help and their support.

Nourished by the Character of Fellow-Christians

Notice how you can tell how he has nourished in his spirit by their Christian character when he starts describing Timothy as being selfless and only interested in the things which pertain to Jesus Christ. And when he describes Epaphroditus as one who was ready to risk his life for the gospel, you can almost see the life flowing back into Paul’s weary spirit in prison. As he just thinks about the character and the deeds of these men he says to the Philippians in essence, “I needed those men. I needed their ministry. I couldn’t have made it without their ministry.” And so, he is saying to them, “Brothers and Sisters, you need one another just like I needed them.”

Do you realize how important that is for this congregation? I think that a good proportion of our congregation would say that they have experienced in the life of this church family real Christian friendship and companionship. They would say that there are a group of people that really know them and love them and care about them and encourage them in numerous ways and are there with them in times of need. I’ve had that testimony from so many of you. But, I know that there are also others that are part of this fellowship who sometimes feel lonely and alone. And who feel as if they still stand in need of Christian friends who will genuinely love them and care about them and be concerned for them and come alongside of them and support them.

My friend, it should be your absolute intention, as a member of this congregation who once upon a time who raised your hand and said, “I will support the work and worship of this church to the best of my ability.” Do you know what one of the most important works of this church is? It is you being Jesus’ family to one another. And it should be your intention that there should not be one member of this church who can say, “You know, I feel lonely and alone and unsupported as I attempt to walk the walk of faith with Jesus Christ in this sin-filled world.” It should be the testimony of every member of this congregation that we are all investing in at least a few other members so that we are all ministered to and we are all ministering, every single one of us. It’s not about just being a taker, every one of us must be a giver, but every one of us needs a few people to give to us in the congregation. That’s how God built us to be. That’s what Paul is talking about here.

The Apostle Paul needed Timothy and Epaphroditus, how much more do you and I need one another? Will you make that commitment today? Friends in Christ, will you start asking the question, as you look around the congregation, “Who needs my ministry? Who needs to be befriended and helped and supported by me?” Don’t wait for me, the Pastor to do that. Don’t wait for the Deacons to do it, they should be doing that, hold them accountable, but don’t expect them to do your job for you. Don’t just expect the Deacons to do it, they’re going to be doing it, they’re going to be involved in the lives of the people of God in the church, they’re supposed to be examples, but don’t expect them to do your job. If you are a member of this church that is your job. And, oh my, there are a few of us and only 4 deacons. It is going to take all of us, together, to do this. And in the middle of this missionary report Paul reminds us that the Christian life is a life of companionship.

Christians Always Seek First the Interests of Christ

Third, Paul makes it clear in this passage that Christians always seek first the interests of Christ. And he does it in the negative. In vv.20-21, you’ll see this. He’s describing Timothy as a man who does what? “He is a man that I can trust to be concerned for the well being of the church.” But then, sadly, the Apostle Paul will comment, “There’s nobody else around here, other than Timothy and Epaphroditus, that is going to be more concerned for the interests of Christ than he is for his own interests.” And in doing that, Paul is, in the negative, commending for you this truth: that Christians always seek first the interests of Christ.

He’s made this point in Philippians 2 about Jesus, that Jesus did what? He did not seek his own interests, but he set aside his interests, so that he could seek your interests. Now, he draws your attention to Timothy, who alone among the circle of disciples was with Paul in his imprisonment, who alone of whom it can be said, “he did not seek his own interests, but he sought the interests of Christ.” In other words, he says, “Timothy is thinking like this: ‘what’s going to be for the best well being of Paul and what’s going to be for the best well being of the church? That must come first.’”Not my interests.

Do you think that way about the church? Can you think of a decision that you have made in a time when you thought, “You know, this would be good for me personally, but I’m not sure it would be good for the church as a whole, therefore, I’m not going to do it. I’m going to do what’s best for the church.” Can you think of a time where you ever changed your mind about anything? It might be as simple as whether you are going to go to a ballgame or on a vacation during some important time in the life of the church and you decide, “You know, it’s more important for me to be there at the church than it is to enjoy myself doing whatever else it is that I’m getting ready to do.” Have you ever thought that way? Paul is commending Timothy to you as a person who did think that way. He thought not just, “Would this be good for me?” But, he thought, “Is this going to be for the best interests of the church?” Paul is commending that to us in the Christian life.

Christians Are Ready to Die for the Work of Christ

Fourth and finally, in v.30, he tells us that Christians are ready to die for the work of Christ. It is the elders’ and my job, not only to equip you to live the Christian life, but to prepare you to die. If we only equip you to live the Christian life and not to face death, we have not fulfilled our obligation. Because, barring the return of Christ, there is one thing that everybody in this room has in common: we are all going to die. And if we do not prepare you to die, we haven’t done our job because every person has a dying day and dying well is as important as living well.

Well, the Apostle Paul in this passage commends Epaphroditus, who was ill and nevertheless risked his life for Paul’s sake and the sake of the Philippian church, because he thought that his life was of less value than the work of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s saying, “I give you a man who is ready to die. Because he understood that when you seek first the kingdom of God, then He will add all other things to you.”

Are you ready to die? Are you ready to die in the work of Christ? That is what the Apostle Paul is holding before the Philippians and before you and me as an example of being like Jesus Christ. Because Jesus Christ was not only ready to die for us, he did die for us.

It may be sending your children or your grandchildren to the mission field, to a Muslim country where they will die for Christ. Or it may be a willingness yourself to put your life in harm’s way for the sake of the gospel. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that Christians are ready to die in the work of Jesus Christ.

Intimacy with God

Don’t think the devil wont try to give you everything you desire to keep you from your purpose. He can only tempt you with what you can be tempted with. He knows if he can get you to compromise in worship, then he can get you to compromise in church, then in your prayer time and eventually you will fall way. If he can’t get you to do that he will keep you busy with work chasing the American dream to keep you from your purpose. Don’t think he won’t make taking that job away from home, stepping down from ministry, missing your wife and kids and forfeiting your purpose of God very appealing.

The first thing you lose in compromise is not the anointing, the revelation or the gift, it’s the intimacy. You stop spending time with God. Intimacy with God is where supernatural things are produced. Spiritual reproduction is a result of intimacy with God. God made Adam from dirt and Made Eve from Adam. We all know that men are women are different physically. God had everything he needed to form Eve from Adam. God could’ve just made another person from the dirt or give Adam the ability to form people from dirt. But it wasn’t God’s will to reproduce without intimacy. The problem with the modern church is that we have so compromised that we are no longer intimate with God and we are trying to reproduce things without presence.

We are producing a godless culture because we are reproducing without presence, we are so called outreaching without presence, we are building buildings without presence, building multi campus without presence, multiple services without presence, were becoming a Rock Star huge “success” without presence writing multi million dollar selling books on how we learned to procreate without intimacy.

Genesis 38:8-10 (NLT)

8 Then Judah said to Er’s brother Onan, “Go and marry Tamar, as our law requires of the brother of a man who has died. You must produce an heir for your brother.”9 But Onan was not willing to have a child who would not be his own heir. So whenever he had intercourse with his brother’s wife, he spilled the semen on the ground. This prevented her from having a child who would belong to his brother. 10 But the Lord considered it evil for Onan to deny a child to his dead brother. So the Lord took Onan’s life, too.

We need to be impregnated not stimulated, Onan went in to stimulate the bride but did not impregnate her.  We are in the church to impregnate you with something so your appetites change, we are not here to stimulate and make u feel good about yourself.  The sword is the word and it is here to separate your flesh from your spirit. The sword is not here to entertain, we are in an entertain me society.
Genesis 21

Abraham even at 100 knew that he could not reproduce without intimacy with Sarah. At 100 he still believes, not that God will do it another way but that intimacy is still relevant to reproduction. Abraham is a man of enormous faith who refused to stop believing God. Regardless of the mistake he made he was still unwavering in the promise that God made him. What God spoke to him at 75 he still believed at 100.What God spoke to him at 75 that he made a huge mistake of getting intimate with something that should have been serving him. Hagar was supposed to serve Abraham but when you get in bed with things that are supposed to be serving you like your job, your career, materialism, secular humanism, philosophy, intellect, whenever you get intimate with them you end up producing something that will fight against your promise. Later on Sarah looks out and sees Ishmael picking on Isaac and says to Abraham get that bondwoman and her son away from my Isaac. If you never separate them your mistake will begin to mock your miracle. Isaac was the miracle and Ishmael was the mistake and Abraham wanted them to live together but God is showing us that there must be a place of consecration and disconnection if there is going to be a real elevation to the next level. Whatever God is asking you to get rid of, whoever he is telling you to disconnect from is not because he wants to see you in pain or suffer its because you cannot elevate to the new level with that amount of baggage.

What happened here is Abraham stepped in and took matters into his own hands not because he didn’t believe it’s because he compromised and when you compromise you lose intimacy. When you compromise you diminish the role of the bride and you start partnering with stuff you should be communing with. God is looking for brides. Sarah was the bride but her role was diminished when Abraham turned to self management. When we compromise and move into self management we lose our bride status. We become busy, sensible, reasonable and practical and just getting things done seems much more easier than just waiting in prayer. We move into busy but we don’t labor for him anymore. We lose the intimacy that marks us and our ability to reproduce and any thing coming out of us isn’t of any divine consequence, and never accomplishing anything worthwhile for Him.

The enemy knows that if he can get you to compromise, you forfeit your bride status, move out of intimacy and move into adultery. He has no new tricks, if he can get you to forget your identity you will compromise.

1 Corinthians 15:45-49(ESV)45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

2 Corinthians 11:1-6(ESV)  I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 5 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

Genesis 3:1-7(ESV)Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
Eve was created in the image of God and walked with God but the enemy got her to forget her identity for a moment.

Genesis 1:26-27(ESV)26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image,  in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

What the enemy tries to do is get us into spiritual adultery. God uses sexual imagery to describe our desire to “whore” after the latest religious fads, to believe false teachers, to embrace the world. What is obviously witchcraft, idolatry, carnal, false, or demonically enhanced is readily embraced as long as it is popular. Deviant “ministries” push to feed our lust to be hip & trendy. Do we recognize how intense the desire is within us to “search” for spiritual thrills? God has a few things to say concerning this

Spiritual adultery is unfaithfulness to God. It is having an inappropriate affection for the things of the world. Spiritually adultery is comparable to the unfaithfulness of one’s spouse:Jeremiah 3:20(NLT)20  But you have been unfaithful to me, you people of Israel! You have been like a faithless wife who leaves her husband. I, the Lord, have spoken.”;

Isaiah 1:21(ESV)21 How the faithful city has become a whore, she who was full of justice! Righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers.;

Ezekiel 16:30-34(ESV)30 “How sick is your heart, declares the Lord God, because you did all these things, the deeds of a brazen prostitute, 31 building your vaulted chamber at the head of every street, and making your lofty place in every square. Yet you were not like a prostitute, because you scorned payment. 32 Adulterous wife, who receives strangers instead of her husband! 33 Men give gifts to all prostitutes, but you gave your gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from every side with your whorings. 34 So you were different from other women in your whorings. No one solicited you to play the whore, and you gave payment, while no payment was given to you; therefore you were different.

The Bible tells us that people who choose to be friends with the world are an “adulterous people” having “enmity against God” (James 4:4–5). The “world” here is the system of evil under Satan’s control. 1 John 5:19(ESV)19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. The world system, with it’s deliberately created and deceitful scheme of phony values, worthless pursuits, and unnatural affections, is designed to lure us away from a pure relationship with God. Spiritual adultery, then, is the forsaking of God’s love and the embracing of the world’s values and desires.
1 John 2:15–17(ESV)15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Spiritual adultery includes any form of idolatry. In the Old Testament, the children of Israel tried to mix the worship of other gods such as Baal with that of God (Judges 3:7; 1 Kings 16:31–33; Jeremiah 19:5). In doing so, Israel became like an adulterous wife who wanted both a husband and another lover (Jeremiah 9:2; Ezekiel 6:9; Ezekiel 16:32). In the New Testament, James defines spiritual adultery as claiming to love God while cultivating friendship with the world (James 4:4–5). The person who commits spiritual adultery is one who professes to be a Christian yet finds his real love and pleasure in the things that Satan offers. For believers, the love of the world and the love of God are direct opposites. Believers committing spiritual adultery may claim to love the Lord, but, in reality, they are captivated by the pleasures of this world, its influence, comforts, financial security, and so-called freedoms. The love of the world is primarily an attitude of one’s heart, and we can cast away worldliness by cultivating a new affection.

The imagery and symbolism of marriage is applied to Christ and the body of believers known as the church. These are those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their personal savior and have received eternal life. In the New Testament, Christ, the Bridegroom, has sacrificially and lovingly chosen the church to be His bride

Ephesians 5:25-27(ESV) 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Just as there was a betrothal period in biblical times during which the bride and groom were separated until the wedding, so is the bride of Christ separate from her Bridegroom during the church age. Her responsibility during the betrothal period is to be faithful to Him
2 Corinthians 11:2(ESV) 2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
Ephesians 5:24(ESV) 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. At the Second Coming of Christ, the church will be united with the Bridegroom, the official “wedding ceremony” will take place and, with it, the eternal union of Christ and His bride will be actualized.
Revelation 19:7-9(HCSB) Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself.8  She was given fine linen to wear, bright and pure. For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints.

The church is in the state it is in because the church leaders have lost their intimacy. We have worship leaders who can sing and entertain but would not know the glory of God if it came in like a bulldozer. Preachers who have great skill and great gifting but would not know how to shut their plan down for the glory of God if their life and ministry depended on it. What it going take is for us to recognize we are leaders and we have got to maintain our commitment to His presence and stay in the intimacy if we are going to become the bride that God has intended us to be, the warring governing bride of all mighty God representing on the Earth, the great groom who has never lost a battle in the history of all mankind. But it’s going to take intimacy to get us back to the place He called us to be.

That word know, “ginosko” in the Greek, refers in this context to an intimate relationship of union and approval. That is the kind of relationship a believer needs to have with Christ.

Matthew 7:21-23(ESV)21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Luke 1:34(KJV)And Mary said unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man

Paul said, 1 Corinthians 8:3 (ESV)But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.” . Jesus will not say those words of condemnation in Matthew 7:21-23 to someone who truly loves Him. God recognizes, approves and truly works together with those who love Him. If we love the Lord, we will be looking to Him for power to overcome sin before we look for miraculous displays of the power of signs and wonders.

Philippians pt4 Eyes on Jesus

Philippians 2:12-18(HCSB)12 So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose. 14 Do everything without grumbling and arguing, 15 so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world. 16 Hold firmly to the message of life. Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run or labor for nothing. 17 But even if I am poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 In the same way you should also be glad and rejoice with me.

The command that Paul gives is to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (2:12c). It is has to be pointed out that Paul does not say “work for your salvation,” or “work toward your salvation,” or even “work at your salvation.” Rather he says “work out your salvation.” However, this observation misses the point. Paul is not talking about one’s individual salvation from hell. Instead, he is commanding the church to corporately “work out” their “salvation” (soteria) or present deliverance by applying the truths Paul elaborated upon in Philippians 2:6–11. Paul is not commanding personal introspection, but that we should look out for each other. Contextually, “salvation” has two distinctions: Positively, salvation refers to achieving a unity based on imitation of the mind of Christ. Negatively, salvation is further defined below as doing “all things without grumbling or disputing”. The Philippians, then, are to produce the fruit of their salvation, that is, peace, love, and harmony in the Spirit. Rather than fighting with each other, Paul commands the Philippians, and us, to work out our salvation by encouraging each other to grow in humility and unity. This is also expressed in the phrase “fear and trembling,” which can best be summed up by the word “humility.” Humility is the basis for sacrificial service and unity. Humility is the attitude Paul has called for (2:3–4) and is illustrated by the example of Jesus (2:5–11).

Christians are distinct from the rest of the world, the religious world, we have the amazing privilege of not only serving our God, but of having our God dwelling within us, of having an intimate relationship with the true God of the universe.  He takes up residence with us and in us. We talk with Him. We hear Him speak. We experience the comforts and the encouragement and the guidance and the direction of His presence. Understanding the difference between justification and sanctification can be as important as understanding the difference between salvation and damnation. Rightly dividing between the two is of crucial importance.  When you understand what they are, you can then draw a line in the sand and say, “This is what saves. This is not what saves.”

Sanctification is the same Greek word as holiness, “hagios,” meaning a separation. To sanctify means to be set apart for a holy use. God has set us apart for the purpose of sanctification not impurity
1 Thessalonians 4:7(HCSB)7 For God has not called us to impurity but to sanctification, and being such we are called to do good works Ephesians 2:10(HCSB)10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

Justification is the work of God where the righteousness of Jesus is imputed to the sinner, so the sinner is declared by God as being righteous under the Law. This righteousness is not earned or retained by any effort of the saved. Justification is an instantaneous occurrence with the result being eternal life. It is based completely and solely upon Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross (1 Peter 2:24(HCSB)He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds.) and is received by faith alone Ephesians 2:8-9(HCSB)8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast..  No works are necessary whatsoever to obtain justification.  Otherwise, it is not a gift (Romans 11:6(HCSB) Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace.).  Therefore, we are justified by faith. Romans 5:1(HCSB)Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sanctification is the process of being set apart for God’s work and being conformed to the image of Christ. This conforming to Christ involves the work of the person, but it is still God working in the believer to produce more of a godly character and life in the person who has already been justified (Philippians 2:13). Sanctification is not instantaneous because it is not the work of God alone. The justified person is actively involved in submitting to God’s will, resisting sin, seeking holiness, and working to be more godly. Significantly, sanctification has no bearing on justification. That is, even if we don’t live a perfect life, we are still justified.

Where justification is a legal declaration that is instantaneous, sanctification is a process. Where justification comes from outside of us, from God, sanctification comes from God within us by the work of the Holy Spirit in accordance with the Bible. In other words, we contribute to sanctification through our efforts. In contrast, we do not contribute to our justification through our efforts.

Paul challenges the church to brightly shine Christ’s love to a dark world that desperately needs to see an actual visible expression of Him.
Luke 11:33-36(HCSB)33 “No one lights a lamp and puts it in the cellar or under a basket, but on a lamp stand, so that those who come in may see its light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of the body. When your eye is good, your whole body is also full of light. But when it is bad, your body is also full of darkness. 35 Take care then, that the light in you is not darkness. 36 If, therefore, your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be entirely illuminated, as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

There are two points of the lamp in these verses, the first lamp:

Verse 33 “No one lights a lamp and puts it in the cellar or under a basket, but on a lamp stand, so that those who come in may see its light.

This refers to what Jesus has just said about his wisdom and resurrection: I am the lamp that must not be hidden or missed.

The second lamp:

Verse 34: “Your eye is the lamp of your body”

The way the lamp of Jesus becomes a lamp for you is that you see it for what it really is. Your eye becomes the lamp of your body when you see the lamp of His greatness in the world.

He elaborates: “When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.” In other words, if your eye sees me for who I really am, then you are full of light; but if you don’t see me for who I am, then you are full of darkness.

Then Jesus says, “Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.” In other words, there is much that passes for light through the eye that is not light. There are many bright things in the world that keep us from seeing the true light of Christ—just like city lights keep you from seeing the stars.

“Be careful!” This is the only imperative in the text. Be careful what you see! Be careful what you regard as bright and attractive and compelling. If it is not Christ, you will be filled with darkness—no matter how bright it seems for a season. Candles seem bright until the sun comes out. Then they are useless and put away. By “light” of the body, Jesus means “lamp,” “illuminator,” that which sheds light on something [the Greek word is luchnos]. A lamp illuminates where we are going, what we are working on, and so forth. Likewise, the eye shows us where we are going and what we are doing.
Luke 11:34-36(KJV)34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. 35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. 36 If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.

Luke 11:34. in the greek luchnos, the lamp of the body is thine eye. This thought in connection with the earlier one might lead us to expect some remark on the proper placing of the body’s lamp, but the passage proceeds to speak of the single (haplous) and the evil (ponéros) eye. The connection lies in the effects of these qualities. The single eye, like a properly placed lamp, gives light; the evil eye, like a lamp under a bushel, leaves one in darkness.

The word “single” in this passage is the key to understanding Jesus’ point. The Greek word translated “single” is haplous. It literally means without folds. It can be used to mean “not complex,” “simple,” “single as to purpose.” If you were driving at night down a dark road and your headlights suddenly started pointing in different directions—left, right, up, down, straight ahead, right, etc.—you would become confused and might even have an accident. You would say your headlights are bad.

Now imagine your eyes doing the same thing, continually looking right, left, up, down, etc. It would be hard to walk, let alone do your work.

What Jesus is saying is that we should have singleness of vision or purpose. We should set our eyes on the goal and keep them there. Jesus tried to get us to see this point many times through various instructions and illustrations. In Matthew 6, just before telling us about the light of the body, He told us not to lay up treasures for ourselves on earth but to lay up treasure in heaven. That’s singleness of purpose and begins to tell us what the goal is. Then, in verse 24, He tells us that no man can serve two masters.

Matthew 6:19-24(HCSB)19 “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures[n] on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness—how deep is that darkness! 24 “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.

Jesus considers anything but having the single goal of the kingdom of God to be evil. Allowing ourselves to become distracted from the very purpose for which He called us is wicked. Having double vision—the kingdom of God and something else—is to be full of darkness. This is contrary to what we might naturally think. We might think that it is okay as long as the kingdom of God is one of our goals. The light might be a little dimmed, but it would still be light. But that is not what Jesus says. He says that such a mixed light is really darkness:

“Light” in this verse is from phōs, which literally means “light,” and can metaphorically mean “truth,” “knowledge,” or “reason.” Mixed light, putting other goals beside the goal of the kingdom of God in your life, is really darkness; in fact, it is great darkness or a lack of true knowledge or enlightenment. This is a serious matter.

Colossians 3:1-5(HCSB)So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. 4 When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. 5 Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.

Why is it wrong to have another goal alongside the kingdom of God? Because it is a New Testament form of idolatry. In the Old Covenant God made with Israel, in the Ten Commandments, God told them, Exodus 20:3(HCSB)Do not have other gods besides Me. But Christians should now understand that idolatry includes more than just setting up a graven image. Our hearts are factories of idols.- John Calvin. New Testament idols are no longer wood or stone but heart issues. It is to put anything—job, house, the cares of this world, the pleasures of this world, even family—on a par with wanting the righteousness of God and His rule for ourselves and others. This does not mean we should have nothing to do with these other things. But we must keep all in a godly perspective. Spreading God’s love in our family and teaching our children the Scriptures is part of putting the kingdom of God first. So is being a good, Christian example on the job. Do all to the glory of God, and keep your eyes always fixed on the goal.

Jesus’s true followers have not only been crucified to the world, but also raised to new life and sent back in to free others. We’ve been rescued from the darkness and given the Light not merely to flee the darkness, but to guide our steps as we go back in to rescue others.

1 Peter 2:1-10 HCSB “So rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation, since you have tasted that the Lord is good. Coming to Him, a living stone — rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God — you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it is contained in Scripture: Look! I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and honored cornerstone, and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame! So honor will come to you who believe, but for the unbelieving, The stone that the builders rejected — this One has become the cornerstone, and A stone to stumble over, and a rock to trip over. They stumble because they disobey the message; they were destined for this. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

The darkness does not get darker, it does not get an adjective, only the light gets an adjective. It doesn’t matter how dark the darkness was in your life. It could be sexual darkness, anger darkness, addiction dark, when you shine the light, the wonderful light of Jesus the darkness has to flee. Darkness is just regular darkness we can try to magnify the degree of darkness or celebrate the wonderful light! 

The degree of the darkness has no effect on the degree of the light.

No matter how dark a room is the smallest amount of light illuminates it. It can’t be so dark that light doesn’t work. The reason the world is so dark is not the degree of darkness but the absence of the flame in the heart of the believer. When there is an explosion of the flame in the heart of the believer you will see the driving out of darkness.

See the world for what it is: a sin-filled place of desperate need. The darker the world is to us, the more clearly the light of Christ will stand out. It’s not hard to focus on a light in a darkened room.2 Peter 1:19(HCSB)19 So we have the prophetic word strongly confirmed. You will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dismal place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Those who stay focused on Christ will find their perspective on worldly things changing.

Christ is the glory we were made to see. His light alone will fill us and give the light of life and meaning to every part of our lives. And when that happens, we ourselves will shine and give off the rays of Christ. “If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.

Hebrews 12:1-2(HCSB)Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.

New Year Resolution 2017

This is the Word for 2017, Everyone wants a “WORD” for the new year and make up these ridiculous resolutions and empty promises. God is going to raise up a people who understand presence. This people won’t be wooed and ahhed by a religious show, people who won’t be entertained and know when a pastor is tickling their ears to get them to come back next week. Elijah prepared an altar and summoned all the people and all the prophets of baal, Elijah prayed and fire fell and consumed the altar and the sacrifice then all the people fell and said Yahweh is God. One thing is clear the church today is like the people of Israel of the time, we follow other gods and allow a sadistic king and all his prophets to seduce us, and when we do call out to God we act like the prophets of Baal, we stir up the dust with activity and then congratulate ourselves on the show. What will it take for the fire to fall? A Troubler like Elijah, a troubler like John the baptist who called out the smug religious people and called them sons of vipers, we need the spirit Jesus to fall on someone who has the courage to call us out on our whitewashed tombs, pleasant to look at on the outside but inside we are like rotten stinking dead men.

How long will you serve the gods of wealth, health and worship the gods of ease,comfort and compromise? If the Lord be God serve Him, if not serve the others all the way to Hell. Have I stated this to harshly? Have I offended you? My problem is that I have offended God by not being a troubler. BY not stirring the waters of compromise in this church and in the south.
1 Kings 18:21 Then Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If Yahweh is God, follow Him. But if Baal, follow him.” But the people didn’t answer him a word.

Oh God we need Elijahs, We need John the Baptists, we need the Pauls the Ones not scared to speak the truth and offend the religious, offend the Sunday morning routine.

Shake us up God we are too comfortable, Love us enough to shake us up, we are too comfortable depending on the things of this world, we have figured out how to have church without presence. 

God is about to make us uncomfortable. He is about to make this church turn upside down, He is about to shake all that can be shaken until all that is left is the unshakable.

Hebrews 12: 25-29(ESV)25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

There is no greater insult to theology, the knowledge of God, than to say, God you are not enough, God we need programs, we need all this man made humanistic garbage, because you are not enough. See we learned how to do this church thing without presence.
God is raising up leaders who say God you are enough, Jesus said I will build the church and it is time for us to take a back seat and let God build His church and if half of you walk out then so be it, we will build this on His presence.

The greatest weapon the enemy has against the church is inconsistency and inconsistency produces compromise and compromise is the ninja army against a church. Gross sin is obvious but inconsistency and compromise is not. Compromise is a leaven that when it hits a church it does not only affect the ones in compromise but it permeates to the point that a little leaven, leavens the whole congregation. Satan begins making headway in our lives when he influences us to compromise on biblical disciplines and follow our own way. Once we compromise, the process of sin has begun, and its ultimate end is death James 1:14-15(HCSB)14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. 15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.

The time to stop the process is in the beginning, when the situation and the pulls are still small and simple. It is the little compromises—the ones we think are so meaningless—that grow into full-blown sin and apostasy. And the enduring consequences of compromise will never have a chance to bloom. We need to kill it before it kills us, what we do in moderation, the next generation will do in excess. One Generation’s compromise will be the next generation’s demise.
Lets talk about what happens to a compromising person, if they continue in their compromise,they become a Casual Christian.
If many Christians went to their jobs each day as they go to church, millions of Christians would be promptly fired.

Many folks are seriously late for the church meetings.  They drag in, sometimes missing much of the worship service.  They are saying with their feet, “I hate this!  I wish there was some other place I could be for the next 2 hours!” Too many folks in our day don’t bother to go to church at all, or else they do the “every-other-Sunday routine,” or perhaps “the once-a-month routine” in their attendance.

In many parts of the world today it is impossible to be unconcerned and casual in church services.  In these places, worshippers assemble fully knowing that they could be slaughtered for doing so.  We would have to agree that these are some very serious christians.

But in the US particularly, we are unconcerned, casual and apathetic to what is happening at church.  Many seem to greet it all with a big yawn.  It appears that a lot of people are simply bored with their relationship with the Lord.

Church is apparently not very important to a lot of Christians today.  Many seem to be agreeing with the priests in Malachi.  They were saying of their sacred priestly functions: Malachi 1:11-13 (HCSB)11 “For My name will be great among the nations, from the rising of the sun to its setting. Incense and pure offerings will be presented in My name in every place because My name will be great among the nations,” says Yahweh of Hosts.12 But you are profaning it when you say: “The Lord’s table is defiled, and its product, its food, is contemptible.” 13 You also say: “Look, what a nuisance!” “And you scorn it,” says the Lord of Hosts. “You bring stolen, lame, or sick animals. You bring this as an offering! Am I to accept that from your hands?” asks the Lord.

We no longer feel that the Christian Church and our assembling together is the most important thing in the world—that it is literally the hope of the world.  We probably cannot understand how Israelites of old could journey on foot the one-hundred miles from the Galilee to Jerusalem, to worship and make their offerings.  We will also probably not understand how these same Hebrews generally offered up to 50 percent of their incomes to the Lord in the various sacrifices and other requirements each year. We sigh, and go on with our casual christianity and lukewarm living. Obviously, serious Bible study and prayer times are on the decline these days.

I don’t get mad at people who sin but I hate hypocrisy, nothing makes God sicker than a Christian playing a game. Compromise produces a like warm christian and nothing makes God sicker and makes him wanting to vomit than being lukewarm. Revelation 3:15-18(HCSB)15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I’m rich; I have become wealthy and need nothing,’ and you don’t know that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see. 

Notice He does not say the lost, the evil, the homosexual, the greedy, the religious, nor the false teachers or the wolves, but the luke warm. that is what makes him sick.

God does not grade on a curve and He will not change the standard because He has a hard time finding people that can meet it. Genesis 6:9 Noah found grace but God did not change his mind because He couldn’t find more who could meet the standard.

He also will not change the standard because you can’t put down things of this world and get into an intimate relationship with Him.
The first thing you lose in comprise is not the anointing, the revelation or the gift, it’s the intimacy. You stop spending time with God. Intimacy with God is where supernatural things are produced. Spiritual reproduction is a result of intimacy with God. God made Adam from dirt and Made Eve from Adam. We all know that men are women are different physically. God had everything he needed to form Eve from Adam. God could’ve just made another person from the dirt or give Adam the ability to form people from dirt. But it wasn’t God’s will to reproduce without intimacy. The problem with the modern church is that we have so compromised that we are no longer intimate with God and we are trying to reproduce things without presence. We have learned to do church without presence, there are books written on how to preach without presence, have church without presence and even evangelize without presence. Because they are so inconsistent and in compromise they forgot that it is God who is in control.

Genesis 38:8-10 (NLT) 8 Then Judah said to Er’s brother Onan, “Go and marry Tamar, as our law requires of the brother of a man who has died. You must produce an heir for your brother.”9 But Onan was not willing to have a child who would not be his own heir. So whenever he had intercourse with his brother’s wife, he spilled the semen on the ground. This prevented her from having a child who would belong to his brother. 10 But the Lord considered it evil for Onan to deny a child to his dead brother. So the Lord took Onan’s life, too.

We need to be impregnated not stimulated, Onan went in to stimulate the bride but did not impregnate her.  We are in the church to impregnate you with something so your appetites change, we are not here to stimulate and make u feel good about yourself.  The sword is the word and it is here to separate your flesh from your spirit. The sword is not here to entertain, we are in an entertain me society.

The problem is most people come here to get stimulated and never leave impregnated with something to where their appetites change.

You have to be in Covenant to produce Intimacy to have something impregnate you so that your appetites change.

Abraham even at 100 knew that he could not reproduce without intimacy with Sarah. At 100 he still believes, not that God will do it another way but that intimacy is still relevant to reproduction. Abraham is a man of enormous faith who refused to stop believing God. Regardless of the mistake he made he was still unwavering in the promise that God made him. What God spoke to him at 75 he still believed at 100.What God spoke to him at 75 that he made a huge mistake of getting intimate with something that should have been serving him. Hagar was supposed to serve Abraham but when you get in bed with things that are supposed to be serving you like your job, your career, materialism, secular humanism, philosophy, intellect, whenever you get intimate with them you end up producing something that will fight against your promise. Later on Sarah looks out and sees Ishmael picking on Isaac and says to Abraham get that bondwoman and her son away from my Isaac.

We cannot come to church and spend 2 hrs a week with Him and expect intimacy. Intimacy is a secondary consequence of covenant. We have a Covenant first that produces intimacy. Many people try to have intimacy without covenant. We can not expect to have intimacy with our spouse by only spending 2 hrs a week with them. God does not allow us to get into intimacy with anything else without covenant why do we think we can not have a covenant with him and reproduce anything worth while?

We are the Bride of Christ, there is a difference between a bride and a whore.We have got to maintain our commitment to His presence and stay in the intimacy if we are going to become the bride that God has intended us to be, the warring governing bride of the almighty God representing on the Earth, the great groom who has never lost a battle in the history of all mankind. It’s going to take intimacy to get us back to the place He called us to be.

If we have lost intimacy then we must fight to shut everything down, repent of what we have compromised and partnered with. We must fight to get back what is of any worth in this life and it is the presence of All Mighty God. Deep is calling to deep just as shallow is calling to shallow. We must get so deep into intimacy with God that we can no longer hear the calls of shallow. We must stay the course that God put us on when we first came into His presence; we must stay in His presence and stay in intimacy with Him. We must remember that God timing is not our timing. If God told us to do something we must do it until it comes to fruition and he puts us on another task.