OBEDIENT FROM THE HEART

Image result for romans 6.17

THERE IS AN OLD STORY THAT GOES SOMETHING LIKE THIS:

An old man, going on a journey, left instructions for his 3 sons to take care of the farm and to build a barn by the field to the west, a house on the hill toward the north, to plant an orchard toward on the east side and dig a well on the southern part of the property. He then departed on his journey.

After the old man had left, the 3 sons went to the west where the barn was to be built. They conferred and said,

Father has made an excellent choice for the barn.” So, they built the barn according to their father’s instructions.

Next they surveyed the hill to the north for the building of the house. They conferred once again and said to one another:

Father has chosen an excellent spot for the house.” So, they built the house according to what their father had said.

After this they went toward the east side of the property and examined the area for the orchard. Upon inspection they said to one another,

This is indeed a fine spot for the orchard.” So, they planted the orchard in the instructed location.

When they had completed the barn, the house and the orchard their attention then turned to the digging of the well. They went over to the southern side to inspect the spot their father had chosen for the well. They counselled with one another and said,

“Father has truly made fine choices for the locations of the other things, but his choice for the well is not good. It’s not in a convenient location. There’s already a nearby stream, let’s forgo digging and use the stream for our water.” They then ceased their work from the father.

The question then is this, in how many areas were the sons obedient to their father? Four? Three?

The correct answer is NONE!

We can easily see that they disobeyed in one area, but they had actually disobeyed in all four. Regarding the 3 areas in which they followed the father’s instructions, they only followed their father’s instructions in the areas after they agreed with his choices.

Obedience requires following instructions whether one agrees with them or not.

OBEDIENCE, IF ONLY IN AGREEMENT = DISOBEDIENCE.

This is exactly what we see regarding our Heavenly Father’s instructions. God has given instructions regarding salvation:

  • God said that one must believe in Jesus as the Christ [Acts 10:43; John 3:16]. This makes sense to many, so they agree to believe in Jesus.
  • God said that each person must repent of their sins. [Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30). To many this also makes sense, so they agree to repent.
  • God said that everyone must confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus [Rom 10:9, 10]. This is seen as a reasonable command, so they gladly oblige.

God has also clearly commanded the believer to be Baptized in water for salvation. [Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; 1Peter 3:21] Unfortunately, some stop at this point because they don’t agree with the Lord. They don’t see the need for baptism. Naaman had this problem, he thought waving hands was better. [2King 5:11]

So, they refuse to be baptized to have their sins washed away. [Acts 22:16].

The question is repeated here; In how many ways have those who have faith alone obeyed God? The answer is the same, NONE. They’ve only acted on the instructions with which they agreed. Obedience requires submitting to God’s will whether you agree or not. Submission implies some disagreement.

Jesus asked it this way, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” [Luke 6:46]

What about those who never heard?

Romans 10 tells us that a person cannot confess Christ unless they have heard of Him.

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” [Rom 10:14]

Many antagonists of the Gospel, this includes denominational believers, will often challenge obedience to the Gospel in Baptism by asking this question. This is one of the most challenging questions, but not unanswerable. As with all questions we turn to scriptures for the solution.

Before we answer, we must establish some undeniable facts about Christ. Here are 3 absolutes about Jesus:

1: JESUS is the ONLY WAY to the Father. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” [John 14:6]

If reconciliation to God could be done by good works of man, Mohammed, philosophy, ignorance or any other way, then what was the need of sending Jesus to provide a sacrifice? No one will get to heaven without coming to Jesus the Christ.

2: JESUS is the author of salvation for all that obey Him. All of the saved are obedient to Christ [Luke 6:46]. This is exactly the meaning of Hebrews 5:9: “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

There is no salvation by accident, ignorance nor faith alone.

3: OBEDIENCE to the Gospel is required. The knowledge of God and obedience in Baptism are essential to salvation. One is not saved by faith only [Jas 2:24], is not saved then baptized. We are saved when we are baptized (buried) in water through faith.

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” [1Peter 3:21]

There’s more that could be said, but this is sufficient to prove the point, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” [Acts 4:12]

WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO HAVE NEVER HEARD?

We answer this with the bible and just a little bit of reasoning.

Allow me to offer 2 possibilities:

EVERYONE WHO IS SEEKING THE TRUTH, GOD WILL ENSURE THAT THEY HEAR IT. We have a few examples of this in the New Testament. The first is the house of Cornelius. He was a devout believer in God and had been praying about this very thing. God sent him Peter to, “who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.” [Acts 11:14]. We can also see this when Philip was urged to go down toward Gaza and encountered the seeking Eunuch. [Acts 8:26-39]. All the more reason we need to keep preaching to the whole world. [Mat 28:18-20; cr. Lu 10:2]

GOD KNOWS WHO WON’T ACCEPT THE GOSPEL EVEN IF THEY HEARD IT. The rich man in Luke 16 wanted Lazarus to go back from the dead to warn his brothers about the torment they were facing. The answer was, nope, if they’re not listening to the revelation they already have, they won’t hear even if someone were raised from the dead. [Luke 16:19-31]

Romans 1:20 tells us people are without excuse in light of creation. We all know that many reject God and they use His creation to do it. We could all think of a person that is NOT SEEKING the truth, rather they’re seeking THEIR TRUTH. [2Thess 2:8-10].

If they wouldn’t accept the basic light of creation declaring the existence of God, they won’t accept any more light. Jesus acknowledged this when He said, “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” [Mat 15:14].

He also warned, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” [Mat 7:6]

There are those who just won’t believe regardless the effort, even if someone comes back from the dead. That’s what Jesus did, and many still won’t believe.

The Restoration Plea

 

IT’S BEEN WRITTEN, BY THOSE WHO lived closer to the time, that there were 6 causes leading up to the RESTORATION MOVEMENT in the United States.

  1. DISSATISFACTION with human creeds: The first was a product of the REFORMATION movement that sought to transform the Catholic church. The Protestant denominations and their leaders had been forcing creeds upon the world as tests of fellowship. These creeds became sources of strife and were at best the opinions of men. Many of the creeds contained ideas that were objectionable to thinking people. The creeds set aside the authority of Christ and kept Christendom divided.

Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” [1Cor 1:12-13]

  1. TEACHING babies were lost because of the false teaching of total depravity. The error was taught that a person was born a sinner. That meant that babies were lost spiritually from birth. Infants were doomed at birth if ‘unbaptized.’ The dogma goes onto teach that a person was eternally lost or eternally saved as God elected them regardless of their faith. This made man a mere toy in the hands of his Maker.

Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” [Mark 10:14]

III. THE MYSTICAL conception of conversion. Calvinistic theory teaches that every conversion had to have ‘miraculous accompaniments,’ such as a dream, vision or some other sort of mystical occurrence. It can be easily seen that this mystical theory of conversion appealed only to people who were temperamentally emotional.

Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” [Acts 8:35-36]

  1. NEGLECTING BIBLE STUDY. Strange as it is to say, but Protestants knew very little about the bible. JD Tant, a Presbyterian preacher before becoming a Christian, was criticized for using too many scriptures in his sermons. The protestants had effectively hidden the scriptures behind their speculations as did the Roman Catholic church did with her traditions. The average denominational exhorter would more likely send you to the Psalms of David or Jeremiah to find out what to do to be saved over the book of Acts.

And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” [Acts 22:16]

  1. RAMPANT SECTARIANISM. Not only were they ignoring the Lord’s prayer for unity, they were defending denominationalism. The arguments were that denominations were needed to suit the style preferences of the people. They became blind to the theological mess their reasoning had created.

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” [1Cor 1:10]

  1. RELIGIOUS STAGNATION and a widespread decline of morals. Perhaps because of the aforementioned problems in denominational religion, the world grew skeptical and attacks against the bible and against the Christian faith increased. Skepticism was seen in the colleges & universities of the United States and the spread of irreligious activity was enhanced. Public morals dropped, intemperance, gambling and even debauchery prevailed to an alarming degree, even among their own clergy.

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up,” [1Cor 5:1-2a]

WHAT WAS THE SOLUTION?

The pioneers of the RESTORATION movement stood on plain & simple high ground, the word of God.

  • “Where the scriptures speak, we speak; where the scriptures are silent, we are silent.”
  • They opposed anything that could not be supported with the Authority of Christ.
  • They rejected all sectarian names and creeds. During a debate over creeds, they petitioned an unbiased Frenchman who had heard the entire debate to decide who was right. The Frenchman asked the man with the New Testament who made his creed. “Jesus Christ” was the answer. Turning to the man debating for a creed he asked the same question. The creed holder said, “it was adopted in the city of Philadelphia, in the year 1742.” The Frenchman said, “Very well gentlemen, that is enough. If you follow your creed, Mr. Christian, when you die, it will take you to Jesus Christ. Follow yours, Mr. Baptist, and when you die, you will go to Philadelphia.”
  • “Nothing ought to be received into the faith or worship of the church, or be made a term of communion among Christians, that is not as old as the New Testament.”

The ‘pioneers’ of that day were only coming to the truth that many others had already been practicing in this country. Whenever someone takes the seed of the Kingdom, the word of God [Matt 13:19] and understands it, they too can become just a CHRISTIAN when they obey the Gospel of Christ.

References: adapted from, “Sermon Outlines on The Restoration Plea” by C.C. Crawford, 1927 second edition 1956.

GOD GAVE US

Every good and perfect gift comes from above – James 1:17 ...

 

AS WE LEARN ABOUT GIVING in our study of 2 Corinthians 9, we have come to a point where Paul is writing to encourage us to give BOUNTIFULLY.

He uses the illustration of sowing & reaping. This is still good imagery for today. Paul specifies 4 out of the 9 basic principles of the Law of Sowing & Reaping.

  • We expect to reap so much MORE than we sow.
    • If you plant a few seeds, you’ll get a smaller return.
    • If you plant a lot of seeds, you should expect a much greater return.
  • You will reap in a different season than when you sow.
  • If you don’t sow, you won’t reap.
  • You WILL reap what you sow.

Paul then goes on to emphasize the necessity of giving by pointing out the giving done by our Creator.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.” [2Cor 9:8-11]

Upon reading this, along with a few additional passages on the subject, we glean 5 incredible gifts given to us by God.

SEED to SOW: v10. Everything we have was created by God. Isaiah 55:10 states, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater::”

SEASON: God has given us the seasons, as Paul spoke in Acts 14:17, “Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” These seasons provide for the growth cycles as well as for us to see God’s might & power [Le 26:4; De 11:14; 28:12; Job 5:10; Ps 65:10; 68:9; 147:8; Jer 14:22]

SPROUTING with fruit: v10; What a comfort it is to know that God continues to provide for us the things need for life. David concluded, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” [Psa 37:25] cr 1Cor 3:6.

SUN: When God was displaying His power to Pharaoh, He darkened the sun for 3 days. It was a darkness so dark that it could be felt. [Ex 10:21]. Every time the sun rises, take a moment to thank God for the marvelous light. [cr. Jas 1:17; 1Cor 15:41]

SIGNS: God doesn’t leave us in darkness of His will, He also gave us signs that we can read about in the Bible. “God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” [Heb 2:4] These signs are sufficient for our faith, if we’ll just read His word. [Acts 14:3; John 20:30-31]

HIS SON: v15; No listing of God’s blessings is complete if we fail to include Christ Jesus. All other blessings pale in comparison. God’s love is demonstrated toward us through the giving of His Son as a sacrifice for the sins of man.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” [1John 4:9-10]

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16]

It’s a shame that people continue to reject the Grace of God given to us through Jesus, the Christ. It’s also a shame that those who have obeyed the gospel become stingy with their Time, Talents & their Treasures in service to the Almighty.

Let that not be one of us.

Why so much evil in the world

19 Reasons Why There is so Much Evil in the World - YouTube

 

THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION is very simple but not liked. The question always arises after such violent tragedies as was seen this last week in El Paso & Dayton (just 2 of many in recent years). In reality, millions of people have suffered under tyrannical evil from the time after the Garden. [Gen 3]

Evil exists because of the fall in the garden of Eden. It entered the world through the tempting by the serpent.

Since then, mankind has had to struggle with sin (evil’s real name). EVIL does not exist unless there is something that is GOOD (it’s the absence of good). For us to distinguish between the two there must be a moral law. A moral law that doesn’t move with the times requires a MORAL LAW GIVER. We call Him GOD.

Paul wrote, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “There is none righteous, no, not one:” [Rom 3:10; Ps 14:1-3; 53:1]. This being true, mankind is not generally good. Neither are they generally evil as the error of inherited sin proposes. Babies are innocent (2Sam 12:23; Mark 10:14), as are those born with stunted mental ability & remain with a childlike maturity. What this means is that sin is in the world, and man learns to sin. We all sin, if we say we’re without sin we lie. [1John 1:7]

So, where does all of this evil come from? It comes from sin. James gives more information about the source of wars & fighting;

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” [James 4:1-4]

Therefore, evil comes because of selfish, narcissistic lusts & desires. Now that we’ve established that sin is in the world, which is evil, let’s approach it from another direction.

Witnessing the terrible evils of our day give us much grief, perhaps anxiety. Definitely frustration and anger. The next question is this; “HOW DO I COPE WITH THE EVIL?”

This question is a bit more difficult to answer as each person must wrestle with their own emotions & reasonings. However, there may be help by understanding a major reality of this life. (This is just one of five things to help you cope. The other four will be in this morning’s sermon.)

PARADISE has been lost. It was lost within 100 years of creation and will no longer be found on earth.

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.” [Gen 3:22-24]

We will never be able to eradicate EVIL; no laws will stop it. There’s no place on Earth you can go to avoid it. Therein lies the key, no place ON EARTH. Utopia, bliss, peace, whatever word you want to use shall not be found on the Earth. This is awaiting the faithful in HEAVEN.

God has provided a way of escape and a way to cope with the evil of this world by providing a rescue plan in Christ Jesus. “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” [Rom 5:21, cr. Rev 21:1-8]

This is the first of five keys to coping with EVIL in this life but, it’s one of the most important. Let me sum in up this way; EVIL angers & frustrates us because we think we can get rid of it. We can’t. We CAN make things better in this life by working on brightening our own lights in the Gospel and teaching others to obey the Gospel also. This is the only proven way to fight evil.

DUELING CONCEPTS

Entrepreneurship Ministry/Stewardship | Recycling Dollars

 

One of the questions I like to ask folks is, “Why do you go to your church?” The answers vary, but the least frequently mentioned reason is Biblical accuracy.

Even when someone does mention sound Biblical teaching, it usually falls under one of 2 categories, chief of which is, “I really like the Pastor.” Second to this is, “he uses the bible.”

This is my cue to ask another set of questions. It usually goes like this…

ME: “That’s cool, what does your pastor teach about salvation?”

THEM: “It’s about a relationship not a religion. If you ask Jesus into your heart you will be saved.”

ME: “Oh? What is that bible passage for that belief?”

THEM: blank stare “I don’t know the bible as well as I should, but I know it’s in there. Besides, Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”” [John 3:16]

ME: “I was reading 1Peter 3:21 and I saw this. Maybe you can help me understand what it means, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us.” What do you think that means?”

THEM: “I have to go.”

The above was just an abbreviated version of several conversations I have every week. People are very happy to tell me of their feelings of faith. When asked for biblical clarity, many no longer want to talk.

I KNOW WHY

There are only a few reasons why a person won’t talk to me or another who asks for clarity of their beliefs.

  • EMBARRASSED: They can’t defend them & are a little embarrassed, so they must go before I discover their ignorance. Sometimes embarrassment becomes anger.
  • MISTRUST: Connected to the first, since they know they don’t know, they must run away from any who has a different gospel. Maybe they heard Gal 1:8-9 in reverse?
  • HOOKED ON A FEELING: This is exemplified by phrases like, “You can’t tell me that God isn’t speaking to me.” “I had an overwhelming feeling of peace…” (I’ve heard these lines from just about every denomination which begs the question, how do we know their feelings are accurate?)

There is a way to KNOW for certain. It’s in God’s word. We can read it in context and COMPARE it to what we are doing. “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:” [Matt 7:24]

The sayings of Jesus are recorded in the Gospels and His commands are in the rest of the New Testament, [1Cor 14:37]. “These are written that ye might believe…” [John 20:30-31].

The beauty of the written word is that we can all look at the same material and know the truth and be set free. [John 8:32]

In short, WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

GOD SAYS

BAPTISM = IMMERSE in WATER

ESSENTIAL

ACTS 22:16; 1Pet 3:21

ONE CHURCH

EPH 4:4, 1:22-23

SILENCE PROHIBITS

Heb 7:12-14; 2Sam 7:7

LOCAL CHURCH AUTONOMY

Acts 20:28

LIMITED BENEVOLENCE

1Tim 5:5-16

FAITH through the WORD

Rom 10:14-17

ASSURANCE through OBEDIENCE

2John 1:9

NOT BY FAITH ALONE

James 2:24

 VOCAL SINGING

Eph 5:19; Col 3:16

MAN SAYS

BAPTISM, Sprinkling / Holy Spirit, Not ESSENTIAL

MANY CHURCHES

SILENCE PERMITS

A CHURCH WORLD HEADQUARTERS

UNLIMITED BENEVOLENCE

FAITH through A FEELING

ASSURANCE through A FEELING

FAITH ALONE

SING, PLAY INSTRUMENTS, BANDS, CHOIRS, SOLOS etc.

Fountain of Life

The Fountain | Precious Sheep Of Renown

 

“…Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again…”

JESUS DECLARED THIS TO THE WOMAN AT THE WELL. Her response demonstrates that she didn’t catch the true meaning of His words, for she asked for this water, “that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” [John 4:13-15]

Jesus was speaking about spiritual matters, not physical. He was, and still is, drawing those who are thirsting for righteousness to come to Him in faith.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” [Matt 5:6]

In another setting, Jesus tells His followers, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life…” [John 6:27] In similar fashion to the woman at the well, the hearers of this said, “Lord, give us this bread always.” [John 6:34]

Jesus then explains, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” But the Jews complained about Him, because of this statement. Jesus doubles down by repeating, “I am the bread of life.” [John 6:48] He then breaks it down this way;

  • His bread is BETTER than the manna and the bread with which He had just fed 5,000. “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.” [John 6:31-33, 49-50, 58; 6:1-14]
  • His bread is eaten when it is READ / STUDIED. [John 6:29, 40, 58, 20:30-31] “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
  • His bread is ETERNAL LIFE; “If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever;” [John 6:51, 54, 57]
  • His bread leads to ABIDING in CHRIST. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” [John 6:56]
  • His bread DELIVERS one from spiritual death. “This is the bread which came down from heaven–not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.” [John 6:58, 68]

This troubled many of the hearers so much that they “went back and walked with Him no more.” [John 6:66] They were stuck on the physical meaning and didn’t see the spiritual.

Jesus was telling the woman at the well, those at Capernaum & us, that we need to feed on, consume His words. The Holy Spirit, through the Apostles, would pick up this reference when He inspired them to write;

  • “you have come to need milk and not solid food.” Heb 5:12
  • “I fed you with milk and not with solid food;” 1Cor 3:2
  • “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,” 1Pet 2:2

The word of God is food & drink indeed in the spiritual sense. Without this nourishment, we shall spiritually perish. This is not new language, God had used similar language when He warned, “That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the LORD.

They shall wander from sea to sea, And from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, But shall not find it. In that day the fair virgins And strong young men Shall faint from thirst.” [Amos 8:11-13]

The warning is clear, we starve ourselves spiritually when we fail to read & study God’s word. As the disciples would say, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” [John 6:68]

The Moon Landing

Image result for moon landing

FIFTY YEARS AGO TODAY, TWO MEN SET FOOT ON THE SURFACE OF THE MOON. “One small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.” It was a moment of international attention with nearly 500 million people watching it on live TV.

Very little of our day draws that kind of unity or interest, nothing positive anyway. It was a time of national pride that got behind the accomplishment of a national goal. A goal set by President Kennedy during a speech in Houston Texas on September 12, 1962.

As fantastic as that accomplishment was, it wasn’t the first time that man attempted to reach the heavens. As a matter of fact, the whole world got behind a movement to not only reach up into the stars, but attempted to reach into heaven itself. You know it best as the TOWER of BABEL.

THE STORY is found in Genesis 11:1-9, and goes like this: The whole world had one language and they tended to stay grouped together. One day, an idea developed saying, “let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” [11:4].

There are 3 takeaways about the people that we can draw from this one idea:

  • PRIDE ruled their hearts when their primary goal was to make a name for themselves. This was an afront to God their Creator for He had already given them the top place among all the creation of the earth. Man was made in the image of God. Gen 1:27
  • ARROGANCE in that they thought they could prevent or otherwise thwart God’s will and stay together. In Genesis 1:28 man was commanded to “fill the earth.”
  • DISOBEDIENCE was the result of the first two. By building the tower, they were in willful disobedience to God. Sin of commission and the sin of omission. They added to and took away from God’s word.

It doesn’t go well for man when he seeks to disobey God. As the building program was under way, God saw what they were doing and put an end to it. It’s interesting how He did it. Rather than destroy the tower, He simply confused their language so they could no longer effectively communicate. This got them back on the right track and they scattered all over the earth, abandoning their silly building scheme.

There are 5 things we can learn from this pivotal event:

  1. BUILDING schemes of man, no matter how popular they are, will never get man into heaven. Jesus said that, “I will build my church” [Mat 16:18]. That is the only place where God will meet with us.
  2. ALWAYS do what God commands, it’s the only way. God gives us free will, but He also gave us commands to follow that will lead us back to him. We cannot even do good without His authority. [Mat 7:21-23; Is 59:2]
  3. BODIES of FLESH cannot go into heaven. Only Spiritual bodies may, and that spiritual body is provided by God to those who are in Christ. [1Cor 15:50-58]
  4. EARTH is only a temporary dwelling place, and no matter how successful we become, or how great a name we try to make for ourselves, the result of this life is death. Man has a tendency to plan only for his EARTHLY future. We ought to be mapping our lives into our ETERNAL future. It will either be in Heaven or it will be in Hell. These are the only 2 choices, and it is our choice. [Mat 25:31-46]
  5. LANGUAGE UNIFIES. It can unify us for good or for evil. The breakdown of relationships comes from a failure to communicate. In a figure, we’re not speaking the same language. Paul urged the Corinthians to; “that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” [1Cor 1:10; John 17:17]

The next time The Lord comes down to earth, it will be with His Holy angels to gather up His church, to destroy the earth and then the judgement. [1Thess 4:16-18] Will He find us “making a name” for ourselves, or will He find us doing His will? [Luke 12:43]

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” [2Cor 5:10]

The Christian Diet Plan

Image result for daniel diet plan.

 

There’s a diet plan out there called, The Daniel Diet. It’s based upon the health success of Daniel, a captive Jew taken to Babylon. [Daniel 1:8-16] There’s wisdom in this diet plan for our physical health, but more importantly, we need to look to learn from this diet things that will lead to our spiritual health.

If we begin here and make a spiritual application, we discover just 3 parts of the diet:

  • Don’t defile oneself with the NORMAL delicacies.
  • Eat only wholesome & UNPROCESSED food.
  • In 10 DAYS, you’ll see a difference.

And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.” In other words, they were healthier. [Daniel 1:15] So, let’s look at these 3 PARTS & make a spiritual application.

Don’t defile oneself with the NORMAL delicacies.

What are the NORMAL delicacies of the world that lead to poor health spiritually? Most folks are on a diet of…

  • News, and what pretends to be news. News has become a form of entertainment and must become ever more sensational to keep our attention. “If it bleeds, it leads.”
  • Social Media; Social media is a platform that rewards Egotism, Argumentation & Voyeurism. How can any of that be healthy spiritually.
  • Violence; A few of the most popular grossing movies are called; “Star Wars, Infinity Wars, Fast & Furious, Captain America; Civil War. These are just the tame ones. Don’t get me started on the video games…Grand Theft Auto anyone?
  • Profanity; Gone with the Wind would not raise an eyebrow today as it did when Rhett uttered that now famous line.

Upon writing this list I could hear the faint shattering of a glass house somewhere. Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself with the NORMAL delicacies. “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank.” [Daniel 1:8]

Eat only wholesome & UNPROCESSED food.

The second part of this plan is to replace the NORMAL with an UNPROCESSED diet. Keeping the spiritual application in mind, many today only know about Jesus after it’s been processed by the mockers, unbelievers and the disobedient. Physical food is much healthier the closer one gets to the source of the food. Food Plucked from the garden or the orchard tastes so much sweeter than the processed ‘DELICACIES’ of today. So too will the truth of God’s word carry so much more spiritual nutrition for us when we read the books, chapters & verses ourselves. [cf. Acts 17:11]

In 10 DAYS, you’ll see a difference.

This direct & unprocessed approach will lead us to the same results experienced by Daniel & his friends.

And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.” [Daniel 1:15]

Could you stay on a diet of only positive things and positive people for just 10 days? No news, no violence, no arguing. Very few of us could, but considering the results, well worth the effort. Let’s face it, much if not all of the information we’re getting has zero spiritual nutrition.

There is one more PART we can add to our SPIRITUAL DIET and we find it in the life of Christ.

Get alone in silence to MEDITATE on God’s word.

Jesus often went out ALONE to pray or to teach His disciples [cf. Mat 14:23; Mark 6:46; Luke 9:18]. What this teaches me is that much of our information diet is nothing but NOISE that is hindering us from THOUGHT & PRAYER.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to deep meditation and thought [Phil 4:8] is the cacophony of NOISE emanating from the Radio, TV & Internet. A noise that we ourselves blast into our ears muffling the sounds coming from our minds.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

HE IS ABLE TO DELIVER THEE

Related image

 

An enormous golden statue was raised up in the land of Babylon, and King Nebuchadnezzar commanded that all the people should worship the image upon hearing the sounds of the “cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” [Dan 3:5-6]

At least 3 captive Jewish men ignored the command and were set to face the furnace for their faith. They were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (their Israelite names), better known as, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego [Daniel 3:12]. Faithful men who refused to bow down to any image or person except God.

What’s interesting to me about this whole event are the words spoken by these young men as they faced the fiery furnace being given the chance to worship the image & live or stand fast & die.

O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” [Daniel 3:16-18]

Here’s a summary of what they were saying…

  • We have no need to give you a new answer
  • Our God whom we serve
  • Is able to deliver us, and He will deliver us
  • But if not, (if God doesn’t deliver them)
  • Know this, we WILL NOT serve false gods, nor worship the golden image.

This is a remarkable response from these 3 young men to an all-powerful King. They understood that all Nebuchadnezzar could do was kill their body, but not their souls. [cf. Mt 10:28] In other words, never let fear override your faith.

There are 5 lessons we can learn from this simple example:

  • There is no amount of pain on earth sufficient enough to match the severity of hell.
  • There is no amount of worldly pleasure great enough to surpass the joy of heaven.
  • God is able to deliver us & reward us in this life, but if He doesn’t, don’t miss heaven over it.
  • Standing firm in your faith is going to make someone very angry, stand firm anyway.
  • Standing firm for your faith may change someone’s mind.

After they were thrown into the furnace with haste, God did deliver them, and Nebuchadnezzar became a changed man. Let’s read what happened. [Daniel 3:26-28]

Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.”

Today we face different challenges to our faith. However, the lessons of these faithful 3 can help us. Peter wrote about the suffering that Christians face and how we ought to respond.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” [1Pet 3:15]

You see, people see the confidence in our hope during the persecutions of Godly living and want to know why.

 

–spencer