Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Nothing New Under the Sun

Ecclesiastes 1:9 – “There is no new thing under the sun.”

So says the wise man of the Bible – King Solomon – that one who, given a choice of anything he could want of God, chose wisdom to rule his people. In exasperation over the monotony of life, He makes this statement that has been quoted by academia and political pundits alike. He continues his diatribe in verse 10 by asking, “Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new?” then in answer to his own question, he retorts, “It hath been already of old time, which was before us.” He then concludes in verse 14, “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” In other words, he says that there is never anything new that happens, and the same ole same ole that does happen is all for nothing, empty, vain, worthless.

But God, in His infinite wisdom is using the musings of this worldly wise man to teach us a thing or two. Solomon, or the Preacher, as he calls himself, says that time goes on generation after generation and all things stay the same. The sun comes up and the sun goes down but all things stay the same. This could lead us to assume that even when new inventions come along, all things stay the same. So we can draw from this that the man of God in this passage is speaking of heart attitudes, not physical things. For there are new things constantly making the scene in the physical realm – things that Solomon could never even dream of – but all things stay the same. This precept is inscribed forever in the pages of Scripture. The fact of this precept remains – all thing stay the same – there is nothing new under the sun – and all is vanity.

First there’s the idea that man is the center of all things. Humanism is not a new idea! From the very beginning, in the Garden of Eden, man has tried to assert himself over God’s sovereignty. He looked at the fruit of the tree and decided it would be better to do things his own way than to stick to God’s way. And he has been trying to do thing his own way ever since. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Man has constantly tried to subvert God’s will with his own. Cain thought he had a better way – Nimrod thought he had a better way – Korah thought he had a better way – Nadab and Abihu thought they had a better way – Balaam thought he had a better way – Hophni and Phinehas thought they had a better way – King Saul thought he had a better way. And they all paid with their lives. Even some of God’s own men thought they had a better way – David bringing the ark back – David with Bathsheba – Aaron in making the golden calf – King Uzziah in offering before the Lord – Demas in forsaking Paul for the world. And in each case, they paid dearly.

Then there’s the false heresies that run prevalent in the church today. These are not new ideas! There’s theistic evolution – there’s Gnosticism – there’s Agnosticism – there’s Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism – there’s Armenianism – there’s the Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of Mary – there’s the Docetics – the Arians – the Apollinarians – the Nestorians – the Eutychians. All these various heretical beliefs and dogmas have taken away from the truth of “Thus saith the Lord” and stamped upon Christianity “Thus saith man.” Satan has attacked the church through these many heresies, and the church has held firm. Now he’s attacking the church through the very Word of God, causing doubt in the inspiration and preservation of the Scriptures. But that’s a topic for another study. Needless to say, it reinforces the idea that “there is no new thing under the sun.”

Quote – “The Lord can work a radical change in you. He that sitteth on the throne can do for you what you cannot do for yourself; and, as he made you once, and you became marred by sin, he can new make you; for he saith. ‘Behold, I make all things new.’” – C. H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Christ Our Treasure

2 Corinthians 4:7 – “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

John MacArthur tells of a story he saw in the May 17, 1987 edition of the Atlanta Journal & Constitution. He says a rock hound named Rob Cutshaw owns a little roadside shop outside Andrews, North Carolina. Like many in the trade, he hunts for rocks, then sells them to collectors or jewelry makers. He knows enough about rocks to decide which to pick up and sell, but he's no expert. He leaves the appraising of his rocks to other people. As much as he enjoys the work, it doesn't always pay the bills. He occasionally moonlights, cutting wood to help put bread on the table. While on a dig twenty years ago, Rob found a rock he described as "purdy and big." He tried unsuccessfully to sell the specimen, and according to the Constitution, kept the rock under his bed or in his closet. He guessed the blue chunk could bring as much as $500 dollars, but he would have taken less if something urgent came up like paying his power bill. That's how close Rob came to hawking for a few hundred dollars what turned out to be the largest, most valuable sapphire ever found. The blue rock that Rob had abandoned to the darkness of a closet two decades ago -- now known as "The Star of David" sapphire -- weighs nearly a pound, and could easily sell for $2.75 million.

“Christ in you, the hope of glory,” the apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 1:27. He dwells within each and every child of God. Just as that chunk of blue rock had within it an invaluable gemstone, we have within each of us a treasure much more precious than diamonds or rubies – more precious than gold or silver – more precious than sapphires or platinum. The Lord Jesus Christ is our treasure. Rev. John Cromarty described Him thus: My friends in Christ, behold the treasure. The treasure is Christ, the way, the truth and the life. The treasure is Christ, the resurrection and the life. The treasure is Christ, the light of the world. The treasure is Christ, our prophet, priest and king. The treasure is Christ, merciful, gracious and who receives sinners.

And this treasure abides in earthen vessels – that’s you – that’s me –that’s us. We who are frail bodies of dust inbreathed with the living breath of God – indwelt with the living glory of God – are the tabernacles in which the precious Son of God has taken His abode. Psalm 103:14 tells us, “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” In Isaiah 64:8, God tells us that we are clay in the hand of the potter, “But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” Jeremiah speaks of the relationship between the potter and the clay in Jeremiah 18, as does the Apostle Paul in Romans 9. Such is the condition of these vessels of clay – these creatures of dust. Job tells man’s condition in Job 7:5 where he says, “My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; my skin is broken, and become loathsome.” And yet God chose these clods of dust in which to place His treasure.

Man who is weak and powerless can do nothing in himself. I heard one preacher say, “Man is a biz zero with the rim rubbed out.” That’s how much nothing we are. Yet God, in His infinite love and mercy and wisdom and grace chose to hide His treasure in these weak, earthen vessels. He tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “For my strength is made perfect in weakness.” And Paul declares in the next verse, “For when I am weak, then am I strong.” And this treasure – the Lord Jesus Christ – the riches of His grace – the salvation we have in Him – this pearl of great price – this treasure hid in the field – our Saviour and King – the blessed Spirit of God dwells within each one who has accepted His gracious gift. He is the treasure and we the earthen vessels.

Quote – “The heavenly treasure now we have In a vile house of clay! Yet He shall to the utmost save, And keep it to that day.” – Potto

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Fear of the Lord

Matthew 10:28 – “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Mysophobia is fear of "dirt." Hydrophobia is fear of "water." Nyclophobia is the fear of "darkness." Acrophobia is fear of "high places." Taxophobia is fear of being "buried alive." Xenophobia is fear of "strangers." Necrophobia is fear of the "dead." Claustrophobia is fear of "confined places." Triskaidekaphobia is fear of the "number 13." Unfortunately, many people who have learned to fear things that they probably shouldn't have never learned the fear of the Lord. Too few who have acrophobia have learned to fear God and to keep his commandments. Many who have some of these fears give no heed to the words of Christ: "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Many fear what man can do to them but not what God will do at the judgment day if they do not repent and turn to Him in faith.

The fear of the Lord is a principle of the Scriptures that seems to have vanished today. There was a time when truly born-again people were called God-fearing Christians, but this seems to be a relic of the past. God does not expect us to fear Him or dread Him as a child fears some dark shadow under his bed – He expects us to fear Him with a reverential awe as we would feel if we were standing in the presence of a great and powerful man such as the President or a judge. Because truly, God is our President and our Judge. We are to respect Him – to reverence Him – to honor Him – to be in awe of Him.

Let’s look at some other passages which speak of this awe and fear towards God:

Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

Proverbs 8:13 “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.”

Proverbs 14:26 “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence.”

Proverbs 10:27 “The fear of the Lord prolongeth days.”

Proverbs 14:27 “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life.”

Proverbs 15:33 “The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom.”

Proverbs 19:23 “The fear of the Lord tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall not be ashamed.”

Psalm 19:9 “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.”

Psalm 130:3 “But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.”

Isaiah 8:13-14 “Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary.”

If we will walk in the fear of the Lord, as the early church did in Acts 9:31, then we will walk in holiness – we will hate evil – we will walk with confidence – we will prolong our days – we will have a fountain of life – we will have instruction of wisdom – we will not be ashamed to walk with Him – we will be forgiven – and we will have Him as our sanctuary. We truly are a God-fearing people – a people who hold Him up with awe and reverence – a people who honor and reverence “Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Quote – “We fear men so much because we fear God so little.” – William Gurnall

Saturday, February 24, 2007

He That Is Spiritual

1 Corinthians 2:15 – “But he that is spiritual judgeth [discerns] all things.”

Leroy Eims used to tell how one spring his family was driving from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa, Florida. As far as the eye could see, orange trees were loaded with fruit. When they stopped for breakfast, he ordered orange juice with his eggs. "I'm sorry," the waitress said. "I can't bring you orange juice. Our machine is broken." At first he was dumbfounded. They were surrounded by millions of oranges, and he knew they had oranges in the kitchen--orange slices garnished their plates. What was the problem? No juice? Hardly. They were surrounded by thousands of gallons of juice. The problem was they had become dependent on a machine to get it. Christians are sometimes like that. They may be surrounded by Bibles in their homes, but if something should happen to the Sunday morning preaching service, they would have no nourishment for their souls. The problem is not a lack of spiritual food--but that many Christians haven't grown enough to know how to get it for themselves.

The problem could also be in their environment. If you fill a clay pot with a gallon of water and carry it on your head it will soon grow heavy. However, when you swim underwater you have many gallons of water on top of your head and the weight is not nearly as burdensome. Why the difference? The environment that you are in. When you are in an environment of air, water is hard to carry. When you are in the environment of water, it is easier. So it is in the spirit. If you are in the environment of the flesh, then God's commands are extremely burdensome. If you are in the environment of the Spirit they are much easier.

So exactly how are we to become spiritual? First of all, we are to follow Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 5:18 – “Be filled with the Spirit.” Being filled with the Spirit is the key to the spiritual life. I once demonstrated this concept with a gallon jug of Pepsi and a gallon jug of milk. I took the Pepsi jug and used it to represent the Christian life and the jug of milk to represent the Spirit. In order to fill the Pepsi jug with the milk, I found it necessary to empty out the Pepsi. Now, if I only emptied half of the Pepsi and poured milk into the jug, it became a mess. So it is with being filled with the Spirit – in order to be filled with the Spirit one must completely empty himself of self – then, and only then, can he be filled with the Spirit. If you will be filled with the Spirit, then you will be pleasing to God.

Secondly, we are to dedicate ourselves to God to do His Will as commanded in Romans 12:1-2. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” If you’ll sell out to God and be filled with the Spirit, then this will be pleasing to God.

Thirdly, we are to manifest the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. This is found in Galatians 5:16-26. Paul first lists for us in verses 19-21 the works of the flesh and warns us to not do these things. Then in verses 22 and 23, he gives us the works he calls the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” These are very much the things we should strive to demonstrate in our lives. If you will manifest the fruit of the Spirit, and sell out to God, and be filled with the Spirit, then you will be pleasing to God.

Lastly, we are allow ourselves to be fully controlled by the Spirit of God – look in Romans 8:11 – “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” If you’ll be fully controlled by the Spirit of God, and manifest the fruit of the Spirit, and sell out to God, and be filled with the Spirit, then you will be pleasing to God.

Quote – “When the dew of God’s Spirit saturates our spiritual nature, it makes the doing of God’s will an easy matter.” – Dr. F. E. Marsh

Thursday, February 22, 2007

He Careth For You

1 Peter 5:7 – “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

In 480 B.C. the outmanned army of Sparta's King Leonidas held off the Persian troops of Xerxes by fighting them one at a time as they came through a narrow mountain pass. Commenting on this strategy, C.H. Spurgeon said, "Suppose Leonidas and his handful of men had gone out into the wide-open plain and attacked the Persians--why, they would have died at once, even though they might have fought like lions." Spurgeon continued by saying that Christians stand in the narrow pass of today. If they choose to battle every difficulty at once, they're sure to suffer defeat. But if they trust God and take their troubles one by one, they will find that their strength is sufficient.

Worry is one of the biggest problems facing today’s society. And sad to say, it’s one of the biggest problems facing the church. Experts tell us that the average person’s anxiety is focused on: 40% - things that will never happen; 30% - things about the past that can’t be changed; 12% - things about criticism by others, mostly untrue; 10% - about health, which gets worse with stress; and 8% - about real problems that will be faced. That’s 92% of our worries are about things that we have no control over or aren’t real problems to be concerned about. There’s no reason whatsoever for us to kill ourselves with stress and worry. Now if we’ll follow our text verse and cast upon Christ everything that would cause us anxiety, think of the lower stress levels – think of the lower suicide rate – think of the lower blood pressures – think of the lower valium consumption. Bill Harvey’s little chorus says, “Fret not – He’s watching over you. Fret not – The Lord will see you through. Fret not – you’re sure to stand the test. Commit and trust – delight and rest.”

Take a look at Matthew 6:25-34. There are in these verses six warnings against worry. “Take no thought” – six times. “Be not anxious for your life,” Christ is telling them. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Now look at Proverbs 10:22 – “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3 – “But the Lord is faithful.” There are many other verses that command us not to be fearful. For example, Philippians 4:6 – “Be careful [or anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Bring it to Jesus and cast it on Him. He takes great pleasure in handling your problems for you.

Many of us allow worry to consume us – we let worry turn to fear – and fear is the result of trying to look at God through your circumstances. But what God honors is faith – turning your anxieties over to Him is faith – and faith is the result of looking at your circumstances through God! There’s a big difference between a burden and a worry. When a burden begins to rob you of the joy of the Lord, then it’s a sin. Romans 14:23 tells us, “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Did you know that every time you worry you display a lack of faith and that is sin? But if you’ll cast every care upon Him, then you are displaying faith. Did you know that worry and anxiety lead to fearfulness? – and “perfect love casteth out fear (1 John 4:18).”

Whether it be a fear, or a burden, or a worry, or a care – whether it be one of those things that we worry about that will never happen – whether it be one of those things about the past that we can’t change – whether it be one of those untrue criticisms by others – whether it be a concern about a health issue that compounds with stress – whether it be a real problem or an imagined problem – “Cast all your cares upon [Jesus] for He careth for you.”

Quote – “Cast all your cares on Him – casting signifies a rolling – you can roll many a burden you can’t lift.” – Dr. John McCormick

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What is Salvation?

Luke 19:10 – “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

A young girl in Scotland once described salvation this way: “Oh, sir, I cannot explain it, but I know it. It seems to me it is like the washing of the sheep in yonder brook. We take them into the flowing stream and hold them there till all the dirt has been cleansed from the wool. We cannot tell where the water comes from or where it goes, but we know that the fleece is cleansed. I can’t explain it, but I know the blood of Jesus cleanseth me from all sin.”

To describe salvation – there aren’t enough words – the words we do have can’t be put together in such a way – if we could put them together, we could not even touch the wonder of it – to describe salvation. Some try to say that it is merely a reformation – turning over a new leaf – making a conscious decision to do better – making a New Year’s resolution. But reformation is not salvation – a man cannot plumb the depths of his soul enough, reach the heights of heaven enough, or scrape the pit of hell enough to change sufficiently to meet God’s demands. Some try to say it is confirmation – make a head decision – shake a preacher’s hand – sign a decision card. But confirmation is not salvation – religion tells you that when you reach a certain age you can be confirmed into religion as a means of grace – but there is nothing magic about that age, and besides that the church cannot save you. Some try to say that it is information – if you make an informed consent – if you gain enough knowledge – if you gain enough worldly wisdom – then man can save himself. But information is not salvation – no amount of head knowledge can bring about salvation. Some try to say it is a demonstration – if you can demonstrate a desire to bring about salvation – an assertion of selfhood – a self-sacrificing act – a self-punishing experience – then salvation will surely come. But demonstration is not salvation – no amount of self-flagellation, self-sacrifice, self-abasement can resolve the sin-debt that must be paid. Some try to say that it is isolation – cut yourself off from the rest of the world – isolate yourself from worldly desires – and you’ll cleanse yourself of sin. But isolation is not salvation – removing temptation and worldly desires will not resolve the sinful condition of your soul. Some try to say that denomination is salvation – if you follow this doctrine or that dogma or this catechism – then surely salvation will follow. But denomination is not salvation – denominations are man-made perversions of God’s original intent – no denomination can save a man.

Then, you may ask, what is salvation? Three things: First, salvation is a change of mind. In Luke 13:3, Christ uses some recent local happenings to describe salvation to the Jews. “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” He repeats the same warning again in verse 5 – word for word. So repentance is essential to salvation. What is repentance? It is an about face – a complete change of mind – a 180 degree turn. You cannot be saved and continue to walk the way you were going. This turning from sin is a continual process, a continuous turning away from sin. Second, salvation is a converting of walk. Ephesians 4 instructs us how we are to walk. Paul says in verse 1 to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” In verse 3 – walk in unity; in verse 17 – walk in purity; in 5:2 – walk in love; in 5:8 – walk in light; in 5:15 – walk carefully; in 5:19 – walk in harmony; and in 6:10 – walk in victory. Everyone who would be saved must turn again his walk from the world to Christ. Third, salvation is a committal of faith in Jesus Christ. We don’t have to work for our salvation – Christ did that at Calvary – but we must do certain things – we must accept – we must repent – we must believe. This belief comes through accepting Christ as Saviour through faith in His finished work on the cross, acknowledging the need for salvation, and believing in your heart that He will save. This belief in Christ brings with it the salvation of the soul. Salvation then brings the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, a daily walk with Him in this present life, and eternal life with Him in heaven.

Quote – “The shed blood is like a scarlet carpet which men follow to Heaven.” – Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.

Monday, February 19, 2007

'Twas His Grace

2 Timothy 1:9 – “Who hath saved us … according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus.”

Charles Spurgeon and Joseph Parker both had churches in London in the 19th century. On one occasion, Parker commented on the poor condition of children admitted to Spurgeon's orphanage. It was reported to Spurgeon however, that Parker had criticized the orphanage itself. Spurgeon blasted Parker the next week from the pulpit. The attack was printed in the newspapers and became the talk of the town. People flocked to Parker's church the next Sunday to hear his rebuttal. "I understand Dr. Spurgeon is not in his pulpit today, and this is the Sunday they use to take an offering for the orphanage. I suggest we take a love offering here instead." The crowd was delighted. The ushers had to empty the collection plates 3 times. Later that week there was a knock at Parker's study. It was Spurgeon. "You know Parker, you have practiced grace on me. You have given me not what I deserved, you have given me what I needed.”

That’s just how God treats us, He gives us what we need, not what we deserve. If we got what we deserved, each of us would be in hell today – or well on our way – but God, in His infinite mercy, has chosen to give us that which we do not deserve. If you look in just about any Bible dictionary, you’ll find that the word grace means unmerited favor – that is, a gift that is not deserved or earned – and there is no way that we as finite beings could ever do anything in order to earn the gift of salvation. But God, in His infinite mercy, has chosen to give us that which we do not deserve – the free gift of salvation. And what do you have to do to receive a gift? Nothing, but accept it – it’s free – it’s a gift – it is in no way earned or worked for. Romans 6:23 tells us, “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Ephesians 2:8 tells us, “For by grace are ye saved.” And that’s the unmerited favor of God – the free gift of salvation.
Twas His Grace

When in sin’s dark dominion I aimlessly trod,
When my soul did cry out in despair,
‘Twas His grace e’er so free wrought salvation from God.
Now I’m resting in His loving care.

This same grace is sufficient to meet every need
That might come in my life every day.
Every trial, every heartache He’ll graciously heed,
And He’ll guide me each step of the way.

When I’ve come to the end of this long tiresome race,
When I’ve finished my course here below,
He will sweetly sustain me through His precious grace
As across death’s dark river I go.

The Father sought me, the Saviour bought me,
The Spirit taught me of His sweet grace.
By grace He saved me, His grace secures me,
His grace will send me to His embrace.

© 2006 Paul Stultz

Quote - “Grace means undeserved kindness. It is the gift of God to man the moment he sees he is unworthy of God's favor.” – D. L. Moody

Friday, February 16, 2007

Simple Child-Like Faith

Mark 10:15 – “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”

The Chicago Daily News captions a picture of small children entering a "tiny-tot play lot" through a low gateway shaped like a keyhole. Admittance to the lot, given to the youngsters of Oak and Sedgwick Streets by Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. Dewey, depends on the ability of the child to walk upright through the low gate. Size too, determines whether or not a person enters Heaven. When His disciples asked the Lord Jesus who was the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, he "called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matt 18:13).”

This is an important concept in the Scriptures – we must exhibit simple child-like faith in order to be saved. Many times we adults – educated beyond our wisdom – cynical beyond our years – proud beyond our raising – we tend to make salvation much more difficult than it is. Now, I’m no advocator of “easy believism” – I believe that faith is a definite act – and with that act comes a command for repentance – but it is a faith that has no bearing on any work of our own. The work was done at Calvary, and all we have to do is believe and accept the finished work. But it is not a difficult thing. Simply “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31).” No ceremonies – no rites – no chants – no vain repetitions – no bugles – no drums – no marching bands – no dogma – no catechisms – no works – no nothing, but “believe and be saved.”

In fact, there is nothing that we can do to even deserve salvation – Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us.” Through an implicit faith in Christ as the supreme sacrifice for sin, any man who wholeheartedly accepts Christ through believing and repenting will be saved. It’s all about His wonderful mercy and grace – through child-like faith.

Just why do you suppose we must “become as little children” to be born-again? We could look as several possibilities:
Children are pure in mind and heart. Psalms 131:2 “Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.” As children pass from childhood to adolescence, their minds become sullied by the educators of this world, and they lose their purity. Their hearts become entangled in affairs of this world, and they lose their purity. Their emotions become distorted by the prince of this world, and they lose their purity.

Children are innocent in worldly ways. 1 Corinthians 14:20, “Brethren, … in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.” Children have no guiltiness – they are innocent. They have no malice – they are innocent. They have no accountability – they are innocent. As they increase in understanding, they also increase in accountability. Their innocence becomes ruined by cynicism.

Children are free of preconceived notions. 1 Peter 2:1-2, “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word.” They don’t carry all the mental and emotional baggage that adults do. It’s a fact that worldly experience brings about worldly thoughts and ideas.

Quote – “Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that He will!” – Paul W. Brubaker

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Not Your Own

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

I spoke with a pastor yesterday who bemoaned the allurements of the world today on his church members. He said, “I get in the pulpit Sunday after Sunday and preach holy living, righteous judgment, soul-winning, and humility of spirit, and it seems the crowds are flocking to the mega-churches to be entertained rather than preached to. The Bible says the people ‘would heap to themselves teachers having itching ears.’ And that’s exactly what today’s churches have done. They’re neither cold nor hot, and God says He would spew them out of His mouth. The problem is in both the pew and the pulpit. Preachers today are more worried about their paycheck and their pension funds than about preaching the unadulterated truth of God’s Word.”

And it’s true – the modern-day church is filled with “saints” who go about their daily lives seeking only to please themselves. Taught by this humanistic society, they attempt to gratify self – to gain wealth – to satisfy the lusts of their flesh. They don’t accept the biblical teaching of self-denial and self-abasement. No wonder today’s churches show no similarity to the church of New Testament days. We need members who are sold out to God – who are committed to Christ – who are responsive to the Spirit. Any member who is not, is not a true saint.

And we’re not going to get members like that until we get some preachers like that. We need preachers who are committed to following God’s instructions in the Word – to submitting to the teachings of Christ – to listening to the leading of the Holy Spirit. They need to not be so concerned about their careers and be more concerned about their calling. If preachers would let God lead them instead of following their pocketbooks, they would preach the truth of God’s Word – that if we are saved we are not our own, but we are bought with a price – that we don’t control our own destiny, but we are controlled by the Spirit of God – that we don’t esteem ourselves, but we esteem others. Let’s follow Paul’s instructions and glorify Him by living a righteous and holy life for Him, by telling others about Him, and by living unto Him instead of unto ourselves. Man is not the ultimate, regardless of what Nietzsche says. Christ redeemed us from the slave-market of sin, so we are no longer our own – we are no longer the world’s – we are no longer the devil’s. So let’s act like it.

In His Name

In whose name do we come to pray?
We say the name of Jesus.
But when we’re done we rise to play,
As if He never sees us.

We continually fill our lives
With things apart from Him.
His Holy Spirit with us strives,
Convicting us of sin.

And yet, we try to go each day,
As if He’s nowhere near,
And if indeed we stop to pray,
It’s not with awe or fear.

We seek to pass each moment here
In our own strength alone.
He tries to make it very clear
That we’re not ours to own.

We ought to live for Him each day –
To Him we ought to come –
And in His Name to daily pray
Until He takes us home.
© 2006 Paul Stultz

Quote – “If you have a fire-man in the pulpit, you’ll not have many snow-men in the pew.” – C. H. Spurgeon

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Salvation Brings Love

2 Thessalonians 3:5 – “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.”
Happy Valentine’s Day!
You know, the world recognizes this day as a day of love – a day of caring – a day of chocolates – a day of flowers – a day of jewelry. It’s a day when young boys (and old men) turn their thoughts to the fairer sex. But the greatest love story was played out over two thousand years ago when Christ came to this earth and gave Himself on Calvary’s cross. It was an act of total love and compassion. 1 John 3:16 tells us, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us.” 1 John 4:7-8, “For love is of God … for God is love.” 1 John 4:10, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his son.”

And as our thoughts turn to love – the love of God – the love of Christ – His eternal love, let us not forget that in His Word He tells us that He has imparted perfect love to us (1 John 2:5). In fact, He tells us in 1 John 4:17, “Perfect love casteth out fear.” In His Word He also commands us to love one another (1 John 3:11). In fact, one of the proofs that we are His is that we love the brethren. In His Word He also commands us who and what not to love – “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world (1 John 2:15).” In His Word He also commands us to love God – “We love him because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).” Love holds a special place in the Christian’s heart – “Now abideth faith, hope, charity [love], these three; but the greatest of these is charity [love] (1 Cor 13:13).” Love is also mentioned first in the manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 – “Love, joy, peace …”

So in this season as our thoughts turn to love, sure, love your spouse – love your boyfriend – love your girlfriend, but let us not forget the greatest Valentine – God’s love for us. Let us love Him more!

Because of His Love for Me

Once I was all alone and forgotten
Till the Saviour took me in and cared for me.
He washed my sins away,
Changed my nighttime into day,
Taught me of His love so full and free.

I was clothed in rags of sin when He found me;
In my own goodness such a stench filled the air.
When His name I did confess,
He gave me robes of righteousness.
Now I praise Him for His loving care.

On the road of sin and death I was wand’ring,
Not aware of the end that was my fate,
But when I knelt to pray,
He put my feet to stay
In the path that leads to Heaven’s gate.

I’ve been adopted in a royal family
Through His Grace so abundant and free.
I’ve been washed as white as snow,
And to Heaven I will go,
All because of Jesus’ love for me.
© 2006 Paul Stultz

Quote – “Love is an itch that it takes two to scratch.” – Evangelist Bobby Grubbs

Monday, February 5, 2007

The Power of Deception

Matthew 24:4 – “Take heed that no man deceive you.”

In a message entitled Deception is Sweeping the Country, Dr. John Hull tells us, “Forty years of secular humanists have given us no-fault religion, a humanistic educational system, and abortion on demand.” These worldly wise have deceived the world into thinking they have the answers to all of life’s troubles within themselves – in their humanity – in the self-esteem – in their self-aggrandizement. But Christ Himself warns us against this deception in the passage in Matthew called the Olivet Discourse.

Let’s look into Matthew 24 and see what He tells us. Now, this passage specifically refers to the time called the tribulation period, but we can take His warnings and apply them to our everyday lives also. Look with me in verse 3 – the disciples come to Jesus and ask Him three important questions: “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Jesus had just spoken about the destruction of the temple, saying that there would not be one stone left on top of another, and the disciples were asking Him when this would take place.

Jesus responds in verse 4 with a general warning, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” So His answer was, “When deception comes.” That could be today, right? There’s no shortage of deception in our world today. Just think of those things Dr. Hull mentioned: no-fault religion – do whatever makes you feel good – there’s no punishment – you are the final authority; and then there’s the humanistic educational system – let’s not discourage children by teaching them about accountability – do whatever makes you feel good – let’s teach them that their self-esteem is more important than doing what’s right; and lastly abortion on demand – take no responsibility for your actions – do whatever makes you feel good – you can always get rid of it. Truly deception is sweeping the country.

Let’s move on to verse 5, “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Now, there are not many religionists out there claiming to be the Christ – there are some, but not many. But through their teaching of humanism, they are claiming the place of Christ. Christ says they shall deceive many with this false doctrine – and that’s what humanism is – a false religion. We also see that it is the religion of antichrist – not yet THE antichrist – but antichrist, nonetheless. 1 John 2:18 tells us, “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know it is the last time.” He magnifies this in verse 22, “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” And if we break down the word antichrist; anti, which is usually translated against, also means instead of, and Christ, of course refers to the Christ, the Messiah. So we can infer that the word antichrist means against Christ, or more to the point instead of Christ or in the place of Christ. Sounds like humanism to me.

Matthew 24:11 continues, “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” There are many prophets of the false humanistic religion daily standing before our young teaching in the public education system spreading their damnable, false doctrines with total impunity, while kicking the God of the Bible out of the classroom. But it goes on in verse 24, “If it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” This tells us that they will try to deceive the born-again blood-washed saints. Whether they succeed or not is up to us. Let’s take Christ’s warning from verse 4, Take heed that no man deceive you.” Let’s guard ourselves daily against the bombardment of this false, man-centered religion.

Quote – “Public schools have so brainwashed our young people that they have lost their desire to serve the Lord.” – Dr. Myron Cedarholm

Saturday, February 3, 2007

They Became Fools

Romans 1:22 - “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”

Before his death in 1980, the noted French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre told a close friend, "I do not feel that I am the product of chance, a speck of dust in the universe, but someone who was expected, prepared, prefigured. In short, a being whom only a Creator could put here; and this idea of a creating hand refers to God.” Sartre was one of a school of philosophers called existentialists, which was divided into two groups – Theistic existentialism and Atheistic existentialism. Sartre was in the former group – Frederich Nietzsche, of “God is dead” fame, was in the latter group, which is also the more prevalent today.

It is unusual for a worldly wise philosopher to even believe in God, much less believe that God created all things. Man has become so wise in himself that he must be the cause of all things – the means of all things – the end of all things. Today, we refer to it as humanism. This is no new idea – it’s merely the latest in a long line of satanic beliefs that encourage anything other than the truth. Some examples include evolution, Gnosticism, agnosticism, mythology, and many more. Of course, Satan is the root of the problem – but he knows that he has a willing accomplice in man. He knows that man is too rebellious to accept the truth of God’s sovereignty. So just as he did to Eve in the garden, he supplants thoughts of doubt in man’s mind – and because of his rebellion, man is all too ready to comply.

Romans 1 shows the progression of man’s rebellion: v. 21 – “They knew God, (1) they glorified him not as God, (2) neither were thankful; (3) but became vain in their imaginations, (4) and their foolish heart was darkened.”
Then (5) “they became fools,” and from there it gets worse and worse, ending with man being given over to a reprobate mind. But Christ tells us throughout the Scriptures that it doesn't have to be so. He tells us that we can submit ourselves to His control - give our hearts over to His love - give our bodies over to His mercy - give our minds over to His Will - and He will present us faultless before the throne of grace. Think about it!

They Became Fools

I don’t believe the naysayers,
Who do not trust the Lord,
Who try to find some other way
To go to their reward.

I don’t believe the modernists,
Who scoff at God’s true Word.
They try to alter Holy Writ
So all the lines are blurred.

I don’t believe the monkey-men,
Who say that we evolved –
Those who say the riddle of
Life’s origin they’ve solved.

I don’t believe the bone peddlers,
Who teach eons of time.
They say that homo sapiens
From lower forms did climb.

The way it all boils down, now,
For man in his own eyes –
More foolish he continues,
Though thinking himself wise.
© 2006 Paul Stultz

Quote – “All the ills from which America suffers can be traced to the teaching of evolution.” – William Jennings Bryan

"He Knows My Name" - MVBC Young Ladies Trio

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