Please everyone Lose everything

donkey

THERE WAS AN OLD MAN, a boy and a donkey. They were going to town and the boy was riding the donkey, with the old man walking alongside.

As they rambled along, they passed some old women sitting in the shade. One of the women called out, ”Shame on you, a great lump of a boy, riding while your old father is walking.” The man and boy decided that maybe the critics were right so they changed positions.

Later they ambled by a group of mothers watching their young children play by the river. One cried out in protest, “How could you make your little boy walk in the hot sun while you ride?!” The two travelers decided that maybe they both should walk.

Next, they met some young men out for a stroll. “How stupid you are to walk when you have a perfectly good donkey to ride!” one yelled derisively. So, both father and son clambered onto the donkey, deciding they both should ride.

They were soon settled and underway again. They next encountered some children who were on their way home from school. One girl shouted, “How mean to put such a load on a poor little animal.” The old man and the boy saw no alternative. Maybe the critics were right. They now struggled to carry the donkey. As they crossed a bridge, they lost their grip on the confused animal and he fell to his death in the river.

You know the moral of the story, if you try to please everyone you will never know what to do, it will be hard to get anywhere, you will please no-one, not even yourself, and you will probably lose everything. We can say it another way, DON’T SET YOURSELF ON FIRE TRYING TO KEEP OTHERS WARM.

We spend a lot of time worrying about what other people think about us. We are continually perplexed because we can never please everybody. The English poet, John Lydgate once said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. Another problem that arises from seeking others approval, is when we find out that they weren’t thinking about us at all. STOP TRYING!

We ought rather, to strive to please God and do unto others as we would have them do unto us [Mat 7:12], instead of worrying about someone thinking us foolish. There is a lesson here for all of us. We will be happier if we learn it.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church: “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.” [1Cor 4:3-4]

There comes a point when you must realize that you’ll never be good enough for some people. That’s their problem. The only One from whom we need any approval is God and He always knows what is right and what is in your heart. [Heb 4:12; cr. John 8:29; Rom 8:8; 1Cor 7:32, 10:33; Gal 1:10; Php 4:18; 1Thess 2:15; 4:1; 2Tim 2:4; Hebrews 11:6; 13:21]

“Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” [2Corinthians 5:9-10]

4 duties toward Government

YOU’RE EITHER HAPPY with the result or not. Now what? What if your candidate wasn’t picked? What are you, as a Christian, supposed to do? To figure that out we must do what we always do. We ask, “What does the Bible Say?”

4 things every Christians must do for Government

The Word of God teaches us how to function with the civil authorities, especially those with whom we disagree. Whether we like who won or not, there are 4 things the Scriptures teach us about our duty to them.

1) SUBMIT –  God expects His people to submit to the civil authorities. Paul wrote, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” [Romans 13:1; Titus 3:1; 1Peter 2:13-16].

It’s more than just because God said so. He explains why we are to submit. The civil authorities are “God’s minister to you for good” [Romans 13:3-4]. When we resist, we bring judgement upon ourselves. We have no fear of government even if they, unjustly, cast us into prison for our faith [Acts 5:18; Revelation 2:10]. The civil agents, when acting as God intended, are not a terror to good works [1Timothy 2:1-2; Romans 13:3].

2) RESIST – There are limitations to the above rule. When the Apostles were commanded “not to teach in this name” Peter stood up and said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” [Acts 5:29]. We are citizens of a Superior Kingdom and follow a Superior King, Christ Jesus. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” [1Peter 2:9]. “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,” [Colossians 1:13].

We can call out the authorities when they act unjustly. This is what Paul did when he was arrested & beaten in Phillipi. Paul said to them, “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out” [Acts 16:22-24, 35-40]. We submit when they act justly & resist when they don’t. In either case, without sin; “Be angry, and do not sin” [Ephesians 4:26a]. Submission is not authorization for abuse [1Peter 2:16].

3) GIVE HONOR & PAY TAXES – Though few ever enjoy paying taxes, God has authorized government to collect them. Jesus taught this through His own example during His time here on earth. “They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” [Matthew 22:21; cr. Matthew 17:24]

God explained why, they bear the sword of justice, “For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour” [Romans 13:6 -7]. Tax evasion is against both the law of the land and the Law of Christ, but tax avoidance is legal under both.

4) PRAY FOR THEM – “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” [1Timothy 2:1-4].

We should be thankful for living in a place that allows us to choose our government. We should be thankful for the peacemakers (police / military) who place themselves in harms way to maintain order. God has given us these authorities so that we can live in a free country and enjoy peace. This peace allows for us all to have a quite life and to worship God.

This peace serves another purpose. Paul continued, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” The peace brought to us through the civil authorities allows free course to the gospel. This can and must be done when there is no peace, but I’m grateful that, for now, we can teach the Gospel without fear.

CONCLUSION: Regardless the winner, we remain citizens of a heavenly kingdom and God still reigns. In this we can take comfort and have joy. No government, president or king should ever stop us from glorifying God nor stop us from spreading the good news.

“This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.”  (KJV) [Daniel 4:17]

3 step method for Overcoming Discouragement

THERE ARE MANY reasons why we become discouraged.

Life is Difficult. Job faced this more than any other person. Problem after problem after problem just kept coming upon him and he didn’t know why [Job 1-2]. Let’s face it, life is hard and it’s dangerous. We face the loss of jobs, or stuff through things outside of our control. Sometimes tragedy strikes us with the loss of a friend or family in death.

Life’s challenges appear too big. This seems to be the challenge for the Israelites as they came into the promised land, even the people were giants! [Num 13:26-33; 32:9] The Lord knew that the challenge of taking the land would look too big and warned them about becoming discouraged [Deut 1:21]. Do the obstacles you face, money, health & relationships, appear too big to handle?

Other folks get us down. Then there’s the trouble that comes upon us through other folks. Their bad behavior affects us. The sin of David in numbering the people did this [2Sam 24:15]. Often we’re troubled by the sin of another. Whether it is their apathy, carelessness or outright wickedness, we become discouraged.

Consider the many tragedies our brother Paul faced during his life as an Apostle of Jesus Christ;  …in labours … in stripes … in prisons … in deaths …five times …forty stripes … Thrice … beaten with rods, once … stoned, thrice … shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; … journeyings often, …perils of waters, … robbers… mine own countrymen, … heathen, … city…wilderness… sea,…false brethren; …weariness … painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. [2Co 11:23-28] It would make almost anyone want to give up, but friend, that is not the answer. “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing” [2Th 3:13]. What are we to do?

3 STEPS TO OVERCOME DISCOURAGEMENT

STEP 1TAKE COMFORT IN JESUS – REALIZE THE POWER OF CHRIST WHEN WE ARE WEAK… Paul is referring to this when he makes the statement in 2Cor 4:16 “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” As we have seen, Paul suffered greatly for Christ [2 Co 4:8-9], but he saw it as an opportunity for God’s power through Christ to be shown [2Co 4:7,10-11]. Christ taught Paul this lesson as he struggled with his “thorn in the flesh” [2Co 12:7-10]. When we are weak, that is an opportunity to depend upon the Lord for strength! So infirmities and tribulations can be occasions to rejoice, not despair!

STEP 2LOOK AT THINGS NOT SEEN…FAITH Heb 11:1. Looking at things not seen refers to the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” [2Cor 4:16-17]. This is what renewed Paul inwardly day by day. This attitude makes our AFFLICTION appear light! It’s this mindset that gives us comfort that if our earthly house is destroyed (our bodies) we have…” a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” [2Co 5:1-5]. If looking to things unseen can renew Paul, it can also do the same for us.

STEP 3TAKE ACTION – DO SOMETHING – FEAR BOREDOM We must keep on keeping on, or as Paul said, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” [Php 3:14]. We can all do something. It’s easy to say, “nobody’s there for me, so why should I be there for them?” Friend, this is not Christ’s way. Even though all had forsaken Him, Jesus didn’t stop serving us all the way to the cross! He left us an example in which to follow.

We can all do something; For OTHERS For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” [Mt 25:35-36]. When we’re serving the brethren, we’re in effect, serving Jesus. I’ve yet to find the passage which states, “Serve thy brethren AFTER they have served you.”

We can also do something for the spreading of the GOSPEL by inviting someone to read the scriptures with you, or inviting them to a worship service. Let me remind you that one of the methods of evangelism is through our HOPE & GODLINESS [1Peter 3:1, 15].

And finally, we can do something for the CHURCH by participating in the worship & in our Bible classes. Colossians 3:16 teaches how we help one another in our songs, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

As one of our songs says, “Let us labor for the Master from the dawn til setting sun, let us talk of all His wondrous love and care; Then when all of life is over and our work on earth is done, and the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.”

Does the Bible Answer Everything?

DURING A DISCUSSION with a 20 something, the question was raised, “do you really think that the Bible has answers for every situation of man?” I immediately responded with, “YES! In principle.”

What I mean by this is that the Bible contains principles that can aid us in working through any and every situation of life. The Bible is God’s revelation for man and contains His law, i.e. rules of conduct to govern man. (2Peter 1:21; 2Sam. 23:2; 1Cor. 2:7-13, Eph. 3:3-5; Gal. 6:2; James 2:12, etc.).  In fact, all Scriptures given by inspiration of God furnish man completely unto all good works, unto all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Tim. 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:3). This tells me that God has made known to mankind His will regarding every situation a person might face.

God, the creator of us all, knows what is best for us. Shall the clay question the potter? Unless we consult with God how shall we direct our own steps [Jeremiah 10:23]? This direction, given in His law, governs our total conduct. Conduct is the meaning of the word “conversation” in Phillippians 1:27; “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ.” KJV

The total of man’s conduct may be catagorized into five relationship areas: religious, political, economic, domestic, and social.

God reveals His Direction for our conduct regarding our relationship to…

RELIGION in the gospel: John 4:24 ; James 1:27; Romans 12:13; Heb. 13:2; Gal. 6:10.

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth

GOVERNMENT (political: Rom. 13:1-7; 1Peter 2:13-14), to business (economic: Eph. 4:28; 2Thess. 3:10).

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

ECONOMIC (Eph 4:28; 2Thess 3:10;)

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

FAMILY (domestic: 1 Tim. 5:1-6; Eph. 5:21; 6:4).

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

COMMUNITY (social: Matt. 7:12; Luke 10:30-37).

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them:

In the Bible, we can study God’s precepts and examples to learn how to direct our own steps. The conduct of many folks, good and bad, are recorded for our learning [1Corinthians 10:6,11; Romans 15:4]. God rejected sinful conduct and demonstrated His approval with conduct that was in harmony with His will. The conduct of their lives, exemplified in the scriptures, are aproved or disapproved according to the dispensation in which they lived.

We have a perfect example in Christ “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his steps: who did no sin.” [1Peter 2:21-22]. Never did He violate God’s law [1John 3:4], but in every respect His conduct was in harmony with the Father’s will. This mind that was in Christ we are to imitate [Phil 2:5-11].

With regards to the final judgment, when this world will be dissolved, what manner of person ought we to be? [2Peter 3:11]. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” [1Pe 1:15-16].

The answer to the question is YES, the Bible does give us directions to face any situation in all of our relationships; Religion, Economic, Political, Family and socially. The Bible is God’s written instructions for mankind, His will for us.

So many people are walking around saying, “I know God has a plan for my life.” He does, yet many never bother to read it. God does have a plan for us, let us study it and do His will [2Timothy 2:15]. Most importantly, let us study His will on how to gain eternal life.

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. John 6:68

The one oar Christian

THERE’S A STORY TOLD OF an old wise man of God who was continually criticized for his motto, “pray and work.” A young pupil, struggling with the mounting problems of life, asked the wise man, “If God is so powerful, why then do you teach us also to work?” The wise man of God invited this youth to go fishing. As they entered the boat, the youth noticed that the old man only used one oar and said, “If you don’t use both, we’ll just go around in circles and you won’t get anywhere.” “That’s right, my son,” the elder man replied. “One oar is called prayer and the other is called work. Unless you use both at the same time, you just go in circles and you don’t get anywhere.”

Over the years I’ve learned that prayer alone, or work alone, is just like trying to row a boat using only one oar. All you ever seem to do is just go around in circles.

There is no doubt that prayer ought to be a part of every Christians day. Jesus taught this on several occasion, exemplifying it in His own life [Mat 14:23; 26:36,39; Mark 1:35; Luke 9:18,29].

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And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
Luke 18:1

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Unfortunately, that is where many of us stop. We pray and pray and pray, wondering why nothing ever changes. What we forget is that God has also required us to act. Let us consider two Godly men Abraham, and Moses, men who are noted for how God spoke to them as a friend [Gen 18:17; Ex 33:11].

In reading Hebrews 11, we see that these two men had a great faith. Was their faith only seen in their prayer life? Are these men remembered for their inactive faith only? Do you recall reading about these men sitting in their easy chair, lifting up praise and prayers to God and softly drifting off to sleep comforted with the thought that God would take care of their troubles? No, never. What we DO READ is that these men of faith prayed and worked.

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By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. Heb 11:8

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Heb 11:7

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When Abraham heard God, he acted upon those commands. In the case of offering up Isaac, it is said that he “rose early” that morning to fulfill the commands of God [Gen 22:3].

Moses also acted upon the commands of God.

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By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. Heb 11:24-26

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Did either of these men think that they were accomplishing anything out of their own power? No, they had placed their trust in God, but this trust was manifested by a remarkable demonstration of action.

When we pray according to God’s will, we’re praying having sought to know His will through the study of His word [2Tim 2:15]. Then after we pray, we get up and apply that knowledge to our lives. We act, not because we think highly about ourselves, rather, because we are trusting God to bless our godly activities.

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But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. James 1:22

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For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”  (KJV) [Jam 1:23-25]

Evangelism Depression

“It must be really depressing to be an evangelist, for very few people really care about the word of God.” Daniel S.

My good friend, a new convert, spoke those words to me after spending the first year after his conversion trying to spread the good news. Yes, it is depressing. Paul was depressed after sending his letter to the Corinthian church.

2Co 2:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.

He was filled with anguish because he was concerned for the church at Corinth. Would they repent, would they leave, would they take others with them in their disobedience. I can only imagine. But Paul did send the letter, and something great happened.

2Co 7:7 And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more. 8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. 9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

You see, any of us who spread the message of the Gospel or seek to help a brother or sister in sin, whether we be paid laborers in the Gospel or Christians desiring to do the right thing, are often full of sorrow for those who reject God’s word. We often take it personally, but we need to remember, they haven’t rejected me, they’ve rejected God. 1Sam 8:7

That is why an evangelist, anyone really, needs to have their joy contained in another place other than people. For if we seek to just make other folks happy, then we’ve failed. Ga 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Mt 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

My invitation to all of you who desire to be a part of an evangelistic church, be warned. It’s sad, difficult and full of pain. But then, someone responds to the Gospel. Our children, our friends or people we meet. We rejoice, not because of what we have done, no, we rejoice with the angels in heaven for one sinner that repents.

Lu 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

We Ought to pray

THE LORD TAUGHT US that we ought always to pray and to not lose heart [Luke 18:1]. This parable tells the story of a woman who pleaded with an unjust judge to avenge her of her adversaries, which he eventually did due to her persistance in her requests. The lesson is explained in vs 7, 8; “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”

Life is full of sorrow, said the preacher [Ecc 1:18]. If you’ve ever experienced the ocean waves, you may understand what I mean. The pains and troubles of this life sometimes overtake us, and keep on overtaking us as wave after wave of sorrow washes over us, preventing us from standing, oftentimes, suffocating us of all hope. Life on Earth is like that. We all have pain which makes it all the more imperitive that we ought to pray.

Lest we add sorrow upon sorrow, we need to stop and pray to the only one that can provide help. Let us remember the lesson, “men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”

The Lord has taught us to pray. Go to a quiet place [Mat 6:6], and pray to the Father who sees in secret. When we study the comforting word [2Cor 1:3] we learn how to pray and for what to pray in difficult times.

It’s in these times that I pray….

Most gracious heavenly Father, my great master and most righteous friend. I know that you are full of all goodness, mercy and grace.
[John 15:14; James 1:17; 2Cor 1:3; John 1:14]

I Thank You Father for what has gone right in the midst of what is wrong. Thank you for the breath that I have, the food you’ve provided and the salvation given through Christ Jesus.
[1Thess 5:17-18]

You’ve commanded me to cast my cares upon you, for you care for me. Therefore, I bring to you my sorrow and worries, seeking your guidance and help, according to your will.
[1Peter 5:7; Luke 11:2].

I pray for wisdom and remembrance of Your godly instructions of what to do in difficult times. Knowing that You Father, give with all liberality. Help me to remember all that you’ve taught through your word that I may know how to proceed.
[James 1:5; John 14:15-24; 16:13]

May your peace come upon me as I think upon the good things of life helping me to think clearly that I may endure what has befallen me.
[Phil 4:6-9]

May a blessing be upon those that are fighting against me. Help me to do good to them that hate me and to love them and forgive them as you’ve forgiven me. Please forgive me of all unrighteousness.
[Mat 5:44; Mark 11:25; 1John 1:9]

May You grant unto me boldness that I may endure the difficulties of life and to take purposeful action knowing that as a child of Yours, You are always beside me.
[Acts 4:29; Hebrews 13:5]

Finally, I pray knowing that today will be a great day. Though every day is filled with some sorrow, it’s even more so filled with your goodness. Because You live, I can face the day! May my light shine through this darkness and into the darkness of this sinful place.
[Phil 3:1; John 14:19; 1Peter 2:15; Mat 5:16]

That’s what I would do. Then I get busy, for I fear boredom. It is the enemy to my thoughts. I get up and go do something of service. What can you do? According to the scriptures, there are many things you can do. God has given us a talent to serve Him, each according to our own ability [Mat 25:15].

We serve Him through…

Diligence in our vocations. Ephesians 6:5-8
Diligence in the raising of our children. Ephesians 4:1-4
Diligence in service for our brethren. Mat 25:31-46
Diligence in our display of hope during trouble, knowing that salvation is upon the true believer. 1Peter 2:15
And Diligence in our sowing the seeds of the kingdom. Mat 28:18-20

— Spencer