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

TOMORROW’S TROUBLES

Image result for are its own troubles

 

We only worry about 3 days of our lives; YESTERDAY, TODAY or TOMORROW. Since last weeks article looked at letting go of YESTERDAY, let’s see how to handle the worries of TODAY & TOMORROW.

Everyone, at one time or another has had anxiety about some future event. We worry about making our payments, our health, or facing someone that we need to face. There are more emergency room visits & heart attacks on Sunday night & Monday morning than any other day of the week. Why? Because people are worrying about tomorrow. (I confirmed this on a recent hospital ER visit.) People are dying to go to work.

Jesus had much to say about worry over TOMORROW’S things; “Take therefore no thought for the morrow:” [Mat 6:34].  The command is for us not to fret over tomorrow, but did He give us any instructions as to how? I think He gives 2 steps, and we find them in the same passage of Mat 6:25-34.

THE REMEDY TO REDUCE WORRY

The FIRST thing we learn about reducing stress & worry is in finding PERSPECTIVE. Jesus gives 3 examples to help us gain perspective.

  • Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? [v26]
  • Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? [v27]
  • And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: [v28]

These 3 examples are there for us to have PERSPECTIVE on life. As faithful children of God, we can trust in His promise of care [cf. Psalm 37:25; 1Pet 5:7].

The SECOND thing we learn about reducing stress & worry is in taking PRIORITIZED ACTION. Jesus said it this way,

  • But seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. [v33 emphasis mine seb]

This remedy is so simple that we overlook its great power. He is teaching us about having the right PERSPECTIVE and then taking PRIORITIZED ACTION. When a person devotes himself to “seeking the kingdom of God, and His righteousness,” that person will discover the prescription from the creator on how to live, how to survive this life and how go to heaven.

Without His guidance we’re left to worry & stress over how to wander through a broken world. Jesus continues saying, “Sufficient for today are its own troubles.” [v34] This is just another way of telling us to have PERSPECTIVE and to take PRIORITIZED ACTIONS. The only affect we have on tomorrow are the activities we do today. If we seek God’s way of doing things, we’ll have made the best use of today giving the best chance for tomorrow.

This strategy helps us to better understand what is meant in James 5:14; “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

The context is about concern over tomorrow’s work without having PERSPECTIVE about the frailty of life and taking notice of the PRIORITIZED ACTION needed today. That FIRST action must be getting ourselves right with God. Paul reminds the child of God, “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. [2Cor 6:2b]

Would you desire peace today with release from worry? Prepare today to go to heaven and make that the first decision you make each day. Having PERSPECTIVE and deciding on a PRIORITZED ACTION, then all the rest of your decisions will have already been made. You’ll be free to concentrate on, enjoy & fully live each and every day.

Whether tomorrow comes or not, you’ll have done the very best you could possibly do. If it comes, it will begin on the very best possible footing, His righteousness.

If it doesn’t come, you’ll have ended today on the very best possible footing, having sought the kingdom of God and obeying the gospel.

—-spencer

What are you Doing about it?

We can all agree that Jesus the Christ did not sin. “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:” [1Pet 2:22]. The rest of us have “sinned and come short of the glory of God” [Rom 3:23].

We’re not alone. The great bible characters dealt with this realization:

Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Peter & Paul. Each of these faced the reality of their own sin, Paul saying; “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” [1Tim 1:15].

This fact is no authorization to continue in sin even as Christ came to save sinners. Paul also wrote; “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? [Rom 6:1-2]

Through our obedience to the gospel we have found redemption through Christ Jesus, having our sins washed away in water baptism [Acts 22:16]. Although we’ve been washed, sin leaves a terrible mark on our psyche and scars on our bodies. What are we to do with this?

Paul wrote to the Philippians about this, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” [Phil 3:13-14]. However, in another place he reminded the church of their past sins, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” [1Cor 6:11]. What are we to do with that?

Putting these two passages together we come to this conclusion; Remember from where you’ve come and from what you’ve been saved, but close the door on your past so that you can move onward to do the work of God. There are THREE things about our past that need “forgetting” so we can please God today.

FIRST, we need to forget our past sins. Paul had plenty of sins in his past especially as it related to his persecution of the church. “And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women” [Acts 22:4]. Our past sins are forgiven, but unchangeable. They are what they are and we cannot undo them. Therefore, they are to be forgotten.

SECOND, we need to forget our past successes. Whatever good we may have done, however many people we may have helped in the gospel, we cannot rest on those successes. We must continue to press toward the goal. Nowhere is “once saved, always saved” taught in scripture. Not after faith, baptism or any good deed.

THIRD, we need to forget (in a figure) our past sorrows. We’ve all experienced loss & pain, but those sorrows should not prevent us from moving forward with God. Some let the pains and losses of their past to paralyze them from continued service in God’s kingdom.

Rather than let our past paralyze us, it ought to MOTIVATE us into more & abundant service to our King. Being reminded of the forgiveness we have through Christ; our past sins should MOVE us to continual repentance [Acts 8:22-24; 1John 1:7-9].

Our past wins should continue to MOVE us to do more service for our King. “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” [Titus 2:14].

Lastly, the pains of our past should MOVE us to reach out to the lost with the gospel message so that nobody dies outside of Christ. You can feel Paul’s sense of urgency about this for the unconverted Jewish nation; “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” [Romans 10:1, cf 9:2-4].

We have no control over our past selves and we have no control over our future selves except as it relates to our TODAY selves. Today is the largest amount of time within our ability and with that it is our only opportunity to serve God.

Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts… Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;” [Heb 3:7-14].

How does The Holy Spirit work on your heart?

While talking with a denominational preacher about reaching the lost he said, “Some people just aren’t interested in spiritual things, they don’t study and don’t have many conversations about spiritual things. In these cases, all we can do is let the Holy Spirit work on their heart.”

This man would say that he doesn’t accept Calvinism, but he was vocalizing the false doctrine. To remind you of what Calvinism teaches allow me to summarize…

  • Total Depravity: All mankind is born into sin, including babies.
  • Unconditional Election: God picks and chooses who will be saved or lost and it’s unchangeable.
  • Limited Atonement: That God picks only a few individuals to be saved and all else will be lost and you can’t change it. Including babies.
  • Irresistible Grace: That if you’re among those being chosen to be saved, then you cannot prevent it nor resist it.
  • Perseverance of the Saints: Once God saves you (even if against your will) then you can never lose your salvation ever, no matter how sinful a life you lead or even if you change your belief.

Now this is my summary of their belief and if you asked a Calvinist, he will spin it so it sounds better, but the result will be the same; IT’S UNSCRIPTURAL. Another thing you might find is that there are denominations that accept all or part of the above. Belief (faith) comes from hearing the written word of God [John 20:30-31; Rom 10:17].

A partial belief is what this preacher had accepted. He rejects most of Calvinism, but his statement, that the Holy Spirit will work on a person’s heart even as they have no interest in spiritual things, no reading, nor studying with others from the bible, proves it.

HOW DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT CONVERT?

No Bible believer questions the fact the Holy Spirit saves sinners (John 3:5), the question is HOW? We only have 2 options a) direct operation of the Spirit or b) through the influence of a medium (the Gospel, Romans 1:16).

The Scriptures teach us that the Holy Spirit’s work, in the redemption of mankind, is the work of divine revelation. God originates, Christ procures, the Spirit reveals.

Review the chart on the next page to see HOW the Holy Spirit works to save sinners. What you will find is that people are converted through the Holy Spirit revealed word of God that utilized teaching, preaching or reading of the scriptures. Yes, the Holy Spirit does work on our hearts, but He does it through our diligent study of God’s divine word.

ILLUSTRATION: When a person says, “my spouse made a nourishing dinner,” who did it? Were they nourished by the spouse or the food? If a person and an instrument perform the same task, the person is working THROUGH the instrument.Thus, the Holy Spirit saves through the influence of the written word of God [John 3:5; 1Pet 1:22-23].

The Holy Spirit converts a person when they engage in seeking the Kingdom of God, Bible reading and a diligent study of God’s word, rightly divided. [Matt 6:33; 2Tim 2:15]