Friendly Rebuke vs Flattering Lies

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”
Proverbs 27:6

Many times a good friend will come up to us, out of concern, and let us know that we are doing something wrong.  How do we respond to that?
At the same time, a person who is not our friend, may come up to us, and say how doing that same thing makes us courageous, makes us look really good, and makes us so open minded.  How do we respond to that?

Our flesh will want to lash out against our friend for criticizing us.
Our flesh will want to accept the compliments of the liars as we puff up our ego.  

The problem is that our flesh almost always chooses what’s wrong and what’s ultimately bad for us.  A friend’s rebuke may be what we need to turn our life around, and get back on a healthy track.  A friend that truly loves you wants what’s best for you.  They are not trying to hurt you, and in fact, if they are a true friend, it will hurt them to say those words to you, just as much as it hurts you to receive them.  But if we receive them in love, just as they are given in love, those words can save us, and make us better people. 

If we listen to the liar who flatters our ears, and makes us feel good about our mistakes, it won’t be long until we fall. And that liar, who we thought was our friend ,because they told us what we wanted to hear, will be nowhere to be found when we need someone to lift us up out of the gutter.

Fortunately, that true friend who we became angry at, will probably still be there with their hand held out, even though we got angry with them and ignored their advice.  

Next time someone gives you criticism, stop and think about who it is coming from, and determine whether it’s coming from a place of love, before we lash out in anger.  Someone who truly is our friend will not let us continue in sin. 

Next time someone gives you flattery, stop and think about who it is coming from, and determine whether it’s coming from someone who loves you, or from someone who is trying to gain your attention for their own gain.  We have an enemy who will try to pull us away from God by flattering us any chance they get.  

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”
Romans 16:17-18

“Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish”
Proverbs 12:1

“A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet”
Proverbs 29:5

“A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.”
Proverbs 13:1

“A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin”
Proverbs 26:28

Flattery

 

Advertisements

In the Beginning was the Word

Many people today claim to believe in spirituality and God, but they also want to deny that scripture is fully inerrant.  They only want to believe that parts of scripture are correct, and other parts of scripture must be ignored, or changed, to comply with modern society.  Not only is this wrong, it’s dangerous, and it is causing a society that was established upon the Word of God to crumble.  In most places today you can no longer see a difference between a “Christian” and the unbelieving world.  The assault upon the Word of God is the main reason for this.  I want to make the case that we must fully accept 100% of scripture as God breathed, or accept none of it, because it is unreliable.

Some people say that they value the scripture about Jesus Christ over other scripture.  Well, I’m here to tell you that every word of scripture from Genesis thru Revelation is completely about Jesus Christ.

In-the-beginningJohn 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Christ was there at the beginning of creation.  Christ was there with Moses and the Prophets as they were writing Old Testament scripture speaking of his future coming.

John 1:14 says “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”

The Old Testament Word literally became human flesh, and lived among us, just as the Prophets had foretold by the inspiration of scripture.

John 1:11 says “He came unto his own, and his own received him not”

Just as Christ himself, in the flesh, was rejected by his own people, “Christians” today are rejecting Christ by ignoring his Word.

In John 14:15 Christ says “If ye love me, keep my commandments”

If we truly love Christ, then we will believe all of his Word and not just the parts that comfort our flesh.

In John 14:9 Christ says to Phillip “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father”

The God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are one and the same.  You cannot accept one without accepting the other.

2 Timothy 3:16 says “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”

This text is speaking of “All” scripture.  When you study this out, it’s saying that “All” scripture is breathed by God.  Not only is all scripture, inspired by God, all scripture is authored by God.  This means that the bible has one Author (God) and many writers.

1 Corinthians 2:13 says “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth”

Scripture is not man’s fallible words and wisdom, scripture is God’s infallible Word and God’s wisdom given to us.

Christ himself quotes Old Testament Scripture 3 times when Satan was tempting his flesh in the wilderness in Matthew chapter 4 (“It is written”).  These were of course his own words, as he is the author of all scripture, but this was an example for us to use when our flesh is tempted to sin.  We are to use scripture to battle Satan’s attacks.

Conclusion:  We must have an ultimate authority in our lives that is fully Truth, or we have no authority at all.  If we can pick and choose from scripture what is correct, and what is incorrect, then we do not serve a Sovereign God.  We are serving our own man-made god, where anything goes, and anything can change at any time, based upon our own opinion.  I don’t pretend to understand everything that God does, and everything that God said, and that’s because, quite simply, I’m not God.  I’m a flawed bag of human flesh that believes that God is Sovereign, and God has left us his perfect Word to know him, and to trust him.  I trust fully 100% of scripture is breathed out by this Sovereign God.  If I believe anything less, I am placing my opinion side by side with God’s.  My opinion does not belong anywhere near God’s Word, and that is why I must submit fully to the authority of his written Word.

“The Bible is the Word of God, and God cannot err. So, to deny inerrancy, rightly understood, is to attack the very character of God. Those who deny inerrancy, soon enter the dangerous terrain of denying all Scriptural authority for both doctrine and practice.”
Ravi Zacharias

 

Filling the Emptiness

FillingI was recently working on a drawing for our church and trying to make it look more presentable.  I noticed that there was a bunch of empty space that just didn’t look good.  I thought, “What can I fill this empty space with to make it look better?”  What I settled on not only made the picture look much better, it brought a whole new life to it.  We will get to what that filler was in just a moment.

How often do we have emptiness inside of us, and we go looking for something to fill that empty feeling?  Many choose to fill it with alcohol, drugs, pornography and various other things that can do harm, both to our bodies, and to our minds.  Satan whispers in your ear and tells you that these kinds of things will help you to take the edge off, it will take away your worries, it will make you feel better, etc…  And sure they can, but for a very short period, and soon we become addicted to these vices.  When the effects wear off, we are worse off than we were before.  These vices actually pull us deeper and deeper into the emptiness that we were trying to escape by starting them.

What if instead of attempting to fill our emptiness with these vices, instead we filled it with God?  How do we do that, you may ask?

John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”

God and His Word are one.  We can cry out to God in prayer, but the emptiness can remain.  Why is that?  Because if we are only crying out, it is a one way conversation, and we are turning a deaf ear to God’s response.  We speak to God in prayer, but God speaks back to us thru his Word.  It does us no good to cry out, if we do not listen to God’s answer.  So, What can fill our empty spaces in life?  The same thing that I filled the empty spaces of that drawing with.  Scripture!  Scripture changes it all.  Scripture gives hope to the hopeless.  Scriptures gives freedom to the chained.  Scripture gives life to the dead.  Just as that bland drawing was given new meaning and new life by adding scripture to it, so can your own life be given new meaning and new life by adding scripture to it.  Next time you are feeling low, feeling depressed, or just bored try filling that empty space with scripture.  I promise that it will have a lasting impact on you, and bring new life to what ails you.  Scripture filled my drawing, scripture filled me, and scripture can fill you too!

Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Psalm 16:11 “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Romans 15_13

I’m Not Happy

I think I'm happy, but then I'm notListen around you, Do you hear that?  It’s people saying over and over again, “I’m just not happy“.  In this self obsessed crazy world, virtually no one is satisfied with what they have.  We live in a time where most people desire to live in a fantasy world that is unachievable, and therefore they remain in a constant state of depression.  They compare their own lives to that of TV and movies and books, etc… and desire things that do not exist in reality.

How often does someone buy an expensive object thinking that it will make them happy, only to see that the newness fades quickly, and something different is now more desirable?  Rather than possessions making a person happy, it just makes them more covetous than before, and in a constant state of wanting something that they do not have.
Eve had everything that she could ask for, but threw it all away for the one object she could not have.  (Genesis 3)

How often does someone quit their job because they believe that a new job will make them more money, and that will bring them happiness, only to find that it causes bigger problems?
Achan thought that riches would bring happiness to his family, only to find out that it destroyed them all.  (Joshua 7)

How often does a husband or wife seek happiness in the arms of another, because they wish they could have the fantasy relationship that doesn’t exist in reality?  They bounce from person to person because they seek a dream that’s not real.
David saw a beautiful woman that was another man’s wife, and thought that she could bring him happiness, but ultimately it brought a man of God to his knees in grief.  (2 Samuel 11 & 12)

Green GrassWe are always looking into our neighbors yard and thinking “his grass is greener than mine” and “I would be truly happy if I just had what he has”.  This kind of thinking always leads us to deeper unhappiness and further depression, because it is a never ending cycle of disappointments.  We truly convince ourselves that if we get something, that we will finally be happy, only to find out that isn’t true, and are driven further and further down into a spiral of depression.

James 1:14-15 says “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

There is not a possession in existence that can make us happy, there is not any amount of money that can make us happy, and there is not a person on this planet who can make us happy.  True lasting happiness can only come from opening our hearts up to God, and giving him thanks, and praise, for every small thing that he blesses us with.  When we see someone get something nice, let’s change how we look at it.  Instead of being jealous and petty, let’s have joy with that person, and be thankful that something good happened to our neighbor.  Instead of muttering about them, let’s celebrate with them!

James 1:17 says “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

If either we, or our neighbor, get a good gift from above, let’s celebrate that gift equally.  This is the only way to true joy and happiness.  Let’s give thanks to God that he is giving gifts at all, especially the gift that he gave to all of his children, the gift of his Son’s payment of our wretched sin debt.  If we focus on that, then we will have no time to be unhappy in our self obsessed pity.

Psalm 37:4 says “Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
Does this scripture mean that we will get everything that we desire now?  No, it means that if we find our joy in the Lord, the desires of our heart will change into things that will actually make us happy when we receive them.

Finally, I will leave you with the scripture that has become the anthem of our church.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Are you seeking his kingdom and his righteousness first?  Or are you seeking your own fleshly desires first?  This is the key to finding what will truly make you happy.

Bitterness: Poison to the Church

The Church has had to deal with problems since it’s inception.  Why is that?  Because the Church is made up of people, and people are sinful.  One of the biggest problems the Church faces is bitterness.  What is bitterness?  The definition of bitterness is “anger and disappointment at being treated unfairly; resentment”.
not fairEssentially it’s feeling sorry for ourselves.  It’s being immature and saying things like “That’s not fair!” “She can’t talk to me like that!” “He can’t look at me like that!” “They don’t appreciate me!” These kinds of statements come from immature Christians who have never applied the Word of God to their lives.  This bitterness starts with one person, but then that person has to let it be known to the world that they have been done wrong, and it spreads through all of the immature Christians of the Church.  Next thing you know there is a church split.  So how do we overcome this problem?  We become mature Christians and let the Word of God guide us.  Let’s look at some scripture to help us with this:

Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
When we come into contact with a bitter person, let’s not become bitter ourselves.  Let’s not answer bitterness with bitterness.  Let’s forgive, let’s be tenderhearted, and kind to one another.  Speak truth, but speak it in love, rather than in bitterness and anger.  Christ forgave us for unspeakable sins, but we can’t forgive someone for silly things that are probably only in our own mind?

Hebrews 12:15 “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”
When one becomes bitter there is a chance that many will be defiled.  Do you want to be the cause of many becoming defiled because of childish/selfish thoughts?

Proverbs 20:22 “Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.”
When we take it upon ourselves to right a wrong by repaying evil with evil we are sinning double.  We have the sin of the evil we commit, and also the sin of not relying on God to handle the situation.

Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”
When we have hate in our hearts for someone, we stir up strife for the whole church body.  When we show love to that person, regardless of our selfish feelings, we sin not.

Proverbs 19:11 “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.”
So we can either shout to the world about those who have wronged us, and loathe in self pity, or we can let go of our anger and it will become a glory for us.

Bitterness is a poison pill for the church, not only are we harming ourselves but bitterness is a disease that spreads to weak individuals of the church.  Bitterness is the poison, but the Word of God is our vaccine to prevent it from infecting us.Bitterness (2)

 

Forgiveness or Revenge? Joseph’s Life Lesson

forgiveThe life of Joseph was like a roller coaster that takes us directly to Jesus Christ.  Let’s take a look at all the things that happened to Joseph, and how that points us to Christ, and how it teaches us lessons about how we have no need to seek revenge.

Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him and hated him:  We know from new testament scripture that Jesus’ brothers did not believe in him and no doubt were jealous of him.

Jacob sent his favorite son out to care for his other children:  God sent forth his only begotten Son to care for His other children.

joseph-hatedJoseph was hated because his father loved him and his superior virtue:  Jesus was hated because His Father loved him and His superior virtue.

Jacob’s sons plotted to kill Joseph as he came to care for them:  The descendants of Jacob plotted to kill Jesus as he came to care for them.

Joseph was stripped of his coat:  Jesus was stripped of his garments.

joseph-in-the-pitJoseph was cast into a pit by his own people, but would later rule over them: Jesus was cast into a tomb by his own people, but defeated it, and came out of it, and will rule over the entire world.

Joseph was sold for 20 pieces of silver by those closest to him:  Jesus was sold for 30 pieces of silver by one closest to him.

Joseph was tempted to sin in Potiphar’s house, and did not sin, but was still punished because of false accusations:  Christ was tempted to sin by Satan, and did not sin, but was still punished because of false accusations.

joseph-forgives-his-brothersJoseph was given power to destroy those who had wronged them, but he loved them and saved them from death:   Jesus was given power to destroy those who had wronged him, but he loved them and saved them from death.

Joseph was placed beside two criminals in prison, one would live and one would die:  Jesus was placed beside two criminals, one would live and one would die.

Joseph, who had been rejected by his own people, found a bride among the gentiles:  Jesus, who had been rejected by his own people, found a bride among the gentiles.

kneelcrossThose who had wronged Joseph would have to come back to bow their knee before him to be saved:  Every person who sins will have to come back to bow their knee before Jesus to be saved.

The lesson we can learn from Joseph is to accept the circumstances that happen to us, and move forward, for we cannot know the greater things that God has planned for our future.  Joseph’s own family plotted to kill him, threw him in a pit, and sold him into slavery.  But Joseph made the best of the situation and rose to prominence in Potiphar’s house because God was with him and had bigger plans for him.

Again thru no fault of his own, Joseph was cast into prison, but made the best of the situation and became the leader of the prison, because God was with him and had bigger plans for him.

Finally, By God’s hand, Joseph was made ruler over all of Egypt and in essence, the world, because only Egypt had food.  His brothers came begging before him and he could have had them imprisoned or killed but showed them compassion, and love, and saved their lives, and gave them much more than they deserved.  Jesus does the same for us!

gods-planNo matter how hard your luck has been, keep your head up and keep pushing on, for we do not know what God has planned for our future.  Sometimes God must put us thru the fire in order to prepare us for the great thing he has planned for our future.  Remember these words from Joseph next time someone does you wrong and you desire to seek revenge:
“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Genesis 50:20

 

 

Lonely Temptations

temptationSatan always attacks when he has the greatest chance of success.  One of his greatest successes seems to be when we are alone in our own thoughts.  He places a sinful temptation in front of us and we say “no one will know about this so it will be ok just this one time”.  And then often we become chained down by this sin.  It’s so easy for us to fall into these temptations when nobody is around, and we can convince ourselves that we will get away with it.  The problem is that when we sin, we never get away with it.  Sin always has consequences, and one sin leads us to more sin.  Let’s look at a few biblical examples for this:

 

davidlookingKing David
The great king of Israel, David, was God’s chosen man.  God had blessed him immensely.  Scripture even calls David a man after God’s own heart, but even this great man fell into the temptation of sin when he was alone.  One day the King was supposed to be in battle, but he decided to stay home.  He found himself standing alone on his rooftop overlooking the kingdom.  He saw a beautiful woman bathing herself.  Instead of fleeing from the situation, he lusted after her and inquired about her.  Even upon finding out that she was married to one of his soldiers fighting for him in battle, David allows this temptation to overcome him and he sins with this woman.  No doubt David thought that since the woman’s husband was in battle that day he would never find out, and believed that he would get away with this sin.  But the woman discovered that she was pregnant, so David still attempting to get away with this sin, ultimately had this man killed and finally the baby dies after it is born.  These grave consequences for so many people occurred because David was standing alone when he should have been elsewhere, and a temptation was placed in front of him, and he succumbed.  That one small sin that he thought would be no big deal because nobody would find out, destroyed lives and marred a great man of God.  This is a great example for us, that no matter how much success that God grants us, it can all be destroyed by one small sin that we allow to compound because of our pride.  We must try avoid these situations and temptations, but if we do stumble, we must come before God with a broken heart, and ask him to restore us.  When we try to fix things ourselves we will always make the situation worse.

eveserpentEve
We find Eve alone in the garden, and Satan is speaking to her and appealing to her curiosity about a certain fruit.  Scripture says that Eve looked upon the fruit that God told them that they could not eat, and that it became pleasant to her eyes.  She could not resist this temptation, and she ate of the fruit.  Not only did Eve sin, but she then brings this sin to her husband and he sins along with her.  Instead of coming to God and seeking forgiveness, we find them seeking to hide from God in the garden.  And when God questions what they have done, it becomes a blame game.  Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the serpent.  Ultimately each made their own decision to sin, but in an attempt to get away with this sin, they sin even greater by blaming others for their own decision.  Again we see Eve allowing herself to be in a place looking at something she shouldn’t be looking at, and thinking about and desiring something that she should not be desiring.  It’s in these places that Satan will seek us out and tell us that we can get away with this small thing, and we can convince ourselves that he is right.  Unfortunately when we listen to this, it always leads us to our downfall.

Jesus Christ
Finally, we find Jesus in the wilderness alone fasting for 40 days.  Satan comes to him and tempts him to eat, while attempting to appeal to his flesh and his ego.  But Christ doesn’t hesitate, and quotes scripture back to Satan to avoid this temptation put before him.  Again Satan tempts Christ twice more, and each time we find Christ answer “it is written” and quotes scripture to defeat this temptation.  This is our ultimate example.

written_banner

We should try our best to avoid these situations of being alone in a vulnerable place to Satan’s temptations, but when we find ourselves there, rather than attempting to excuse our own sin, we must use scripture to defeat these temptations and remove Satan’s power over us.  And if we do stumble, rather than trying to cover up our sin, and make things worse, we must come immediately before God and ask him to restore us.  The examples have been laid out for us.  We must learn from David and Eve and countless others on what not to do, and learn from our ultimate example in Christ on what we should do, and follow his teachings and we can avoid these pitfalls.  I’ll leave you with this scripture from James warning us about falling into these temptations, and then the solution to the problem from  1 John:

James 1:14-15
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

1 John 1:8-9 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.