Saturday, March 31, 2007

Christian Music Anyone?

“A Psalm of David. I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.” Psalm 138:1

There is rising in the music community the question, “Does the Christian music genre still exist?” Understand that this is not a debate on the types of Christian music but if the whole genre is fading? I’ll say right now that I’m not an expert in the music industry so I cannot give facts on what artist is doing where. What I can do, however, is comment on the whole question and that it is sad that a question of this is being asked or thought about. Please don’t misunderstand me in that I am not “throwing stones” at anyone for actually raising this question. They are simply basing their observations on what they are currently seeing happen in the music industry. I’ll leave that to them. I’m concerned about their observations.

The cause of this concern lies in the fact that we are continuing to see the lines of separation between the church and the world become thinner and thinner. We must evangelize the gospel and use whatever we can legitimately use for the spread of the Good News. We are Christ’s Ambassadors. Let’s say I came to you from a foreign country, say Spain. Let’s say you are tired of the country you are living in and know there has to be a better place. If I come looking and acting like the country are are now in, you may say, “What’s the difference? You look and act the same and talk the same way I do. You tell me how wonderful Spain is and how gracious the people are there but your manners are the same as mine. You’re culture is no different. Why should I spend the money to go to Spain which, from what I’ve seen, is no different than here?” I hope you get the point.

When I was first saved back in 1976, I was a band director in a small school in Iowa. I began to listen to a Christian radio station out of Cedar Rapids in the evenings when I would be working in the band room. (I wasn’t married then). The first thing I noticed was that the music then had a positive feel to it and I could sense a definite difference from that which I was teaching and hearing during the day. It was uplifting and made me feel closer to the Savior. Isn’t that what Christian music is supposed to do?

I quoted the scripture above for a reason. David said he would praise God with a “whole heart.” That doesn’t mean just part, but the whole. But he goes on saying that “before the gods” he would sing praises unto the Lord. The word “gods” here doesn’t mean idols but is loosely translated as “rulers” and interpreted as “judge” five times. He’s saying that he will praise God before the rulers, but we can also apply this to praising God before the people. Colossians 3:16 says, “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.” This stems from actually singing songs with a message that may teach or provide a gentle warning of a coming judgment, as well as encouragement. 1 Peter 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Reproach To The Nations

“Thou art become guilty in thy blood that thou hast shed; and hast defiled thyself in thine idols which thou hast made; and thou hast caused thy days to draw near, and art come even unto thy years: therefore have I made thee a reproach unto the heathen, and a mocking to all countries.” Ezekiel 22:4

Like Israel, America has become a reproach to the nations. Here Ezekiel is stating that now the southern kingdom, which was Judah, has now fallen and become a reproach to the nations of the world. The cause was apparent – sin! It was sin in the government, sin in the people but the cause was sin in the priesthood. America is in the same lot. Our churches no longer are the centers of deliverance but worldly entertainment with a “Christian” flare to it and havens for those who practice “social concerns.” Worship in the general sense is feigned or not done at all, but has become a routine just like the routine that the priests performed when they carried out their daily functions has priests. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24 America has stood on the Biblical principals of the church for years but now these have crumbled. The church can no longer stop the sweeping tide of sin and leftist propaganda that is now hitting our news daily. While in some places the pews are full, the tide of sin even in those attending has not decreased.

Many have fallen in love with the world and worldliness so much that they are now believing a lie as said in 2 Thessalonians 11-12, “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” This has happened in all rinks and many have strayed away from the Word of God and have built their doctrines on philosophy, favorite teachers, and their own lusts. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;” 2 Timothy 4:3 We are living in that time now. Judgment on America is looming and it will begin at the house of God. 1 Peter 4:17 says, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”

Other nations can now see this. While we, as a nation have done many wonderful things throughout the world in helping those less fortunate than us, we are also causing them to look on things other than the Gospel but on things of this life. I’ve heard press accounts that say, “People hate Americans” and then try to blame in on foreign policy. But may I remind you what the Solomon wrote in Proverbs 21:1: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” And the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:1-4, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” So after reading these scriptures, may I ask who is responsible? There are more and the study could be much more in depth but that’s enough to chew on for now.

Those who claim to be a part of the church in the United States must get serious before God. We must take our prayer time and Bible study seriously. We must not try to see how close to the world we can come and still retain our salvation and contact with God, but hunger for the things of God. I fear only judgment and tragedy will cause the church to come to its knees. “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” Malachi 3:18

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Do You Have to “Find Yourself”

“A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.” Proverbs 18:2

Young people have been saying for several years, “I need to go and find myself.” Whet people are saying is that they don’t know their true purpose here on earth nor do they know their real identity. By identity, I mean they really don’t know what kind of person they should be. Now I’ve never heard of someone calling from somewhere near Dallas saying, “Guess what! I found me here on I-20 and 365.”

This is the problem with many. They never really grow up to “find themselves,” and are still living in their teenage years because of it. If you’re reading this and this is your case, Jesus Christ can give you your true identity and help you know yourself. If you will ask him into your heart and commit your life to him, you will truly “find yourself.”

But there are many in the church who haven’t found themselves. They don’t know what they’re supposed to do in the church nor do they really have an identity as a Christian. They’ve prayed and perhaps been baptized in water by immersion which is the scriptural way, but they have never grown after that. They have gone on their way simply claiming to be a Christian but no longer abide in the vine of Christ. The church is full of this type of Christian and I’m afraid that they will eventually lose out with God. John 15:2 says, “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” So what is bearing fruit?

One way of bearing fruit is having the fruits of the spirit which cannot be done without God’s help. These are the following: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. See James 5:22-23. We are constantly warring against the flesh and if you constantly yield to the flesh it will have control. I know if I constantly feed my flesh with this world and take no time for the things of God, the spirit gets less and less dominance all the time. If I would continue on this downward spiral I would eventually lose out with God altogether. “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 10:38 Eventually the basic faith in salvation is lost and the soul is lost. The works of the flesh are these: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21 Wow! These sound bad, don’t they.

Galatians 5:17 says, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” It sounds like a losing battle doesn’t it. But it’s not. Verse 18 has the answer. “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” That means you want to do right, not just because someone tells you to. You and I can accomplish this by “feeding the spirit” in devotion to Christ. Pray and read your Bible daily and be faithful to a Bible believing church. You will grow and “find yourself” as a Christian. Remember, you may have “found yourself” in a good career but if you don’t “find yourself” in Christ you will be dealing with eternity. Careers last for only a moment in time, but eternity is forever!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Are The Gifts of the Spirit For Today?

“For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Acts 2:39

Peter uttered this statement about 2,000 years ago at the end of one of the greatest messages preached, seeing 3,000 souls that day yield to Christ and take him as their savior. But there was more. He was also talking about what happened to 120 disciples a little earlier that day. “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:1-4

These were filled with the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking with other tongues. This is the same Holy Ghost that Christ spoke of in John 7:37-39. “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” One must drink of the waters of eternal life like he told the woman at the well in John 4:13, “Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” That is eternal life. But there’s more, the Holy Ghost as a river of water as mentioned in John 7:37-39.

Is it still for today. The answer is in the scripture quoted above. “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Acts 2:39 We are still in this time as the Lord is still calling many out from the world to be saved and washed from the sin of this world.

Let’s look at another scripture. In 1 Corinthians 13:8 it says the following: “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” It says that tongues will one day cease. That’s true. So will knowledge.

You may say, “I know people who speak in tongues and live like the devil or that’s all they talk about. There’s more to that than tongues.” You are right on both accounts. There are people who live in sin and claim to speak in tongues. Jesus warned of this in Matthew 7:21-23: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Notice here he doesn’t even mention tongues but other works of the spirit. This is happening today but that doesn’t make the promise invalid. It makes it more valid in that Jesus said there would be false teachers even doing works in the name of the Holy Ghost but that doesn’t make the real thing wrong.

Seek to be filled with the Spirit of God with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Speaking in tongues is not all, in fact it’s just the beginning. There is much more that needs to be written but I try to keep these short. I will also say that speaking in tongues is not something one just does to impress or even in church if there are unbelievers. Much more is written about this in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 14. There is power in praying in the Holy Ghost. We need this power church!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

What Would You Have Done?

“But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar.” John 19:15

Let’s pretend that you are living in Jerusalem at the time of Christ. You’re all excited because this is the time of year when a lot of people are in town for the biggest feast of the year, the Passover. Many of your friends and relatives have come in and you’re having a great time. Then you hear something about this King that has been traveling around the country for a few years and everywhere he goes, people talk of seeing great miracles. But also, he seems to have gotten the priest and scribes all up in arms. You go to the temple faithfully because it not only shows you are a decent person, but that you are somewhat of a patriot because this is the Jews religion and you’re a Jew.

Then the morning of the Passover, you go out with your friends and things seem to be in kind of an uproar. People are going to a place just outside the town gate and they seem pretty upset. “Why not follow them,” you say. As you get closer to see what the commotion is all about, you see the one they call the King and he looks in pretty rough shape. He’s bleeding and someone is carrying a cross beside him. Then you see Pilate and you marvel that he’s out there so early in the morning.

Then Pilate is trying to talk the people out of demanding the King’s execution but they won’t have it but keep crying, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Then suddenly you get all caught up in it too and you start yelling the same thing the rest are yelling, yet part of you is saying within yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Still, you keep yelling.

Finally, you shout with the rest that dreadful statement, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” Matthew 27:25 You then see him laid down on the cross and nails go into his hands and feet. The cross is raised. You watch for a long time but after a while your heart begins to sink. It gets dark and you decide to go home.

If Christ is not in your heart my friend, you are the one above. You may not have been in the crowd but you are still in the dark. Yes, we were all born into sin and we all had a part of crucifying the King, but many have found that he has risen and it’s a new day. Are you still in the dark? Come to know Christ as Savior and ask him into your heart so save you from your sins. Remember one thing. He’s a perfect gentleman and will not come into your life until you ask.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

If You Become Rich, Does That Make You Godly

“Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” 1 Timothy 6:5

We live in a prosperous time.  Our economy is growing and unemployment is at a low.  We survived the 9/11 economy slump and things seem to be rolling along quite well.  God has been good to us as a people.  But do we appreciate his blessings and do we understand that he can also take away as Job found when he said in Job 2:21, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”  Paul said to those who were able to gain some wealth in this world, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;  That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;  Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” 1 Timothy 6:16-18  Most of us in America are rich compared to many in the world how don’t have indoor plumbing, no refrigerator, nor have ever ridden in a car.  Also, when I was growing up, to have one good bathroom with a shower a tub was pretty good, but now hardly any home gets built without at least a bath and a half.  Good has been good to us, don’t you agree?

This has, like many other things, has crept into the church in the form of thinking something like this. “If you’ve got nice things, God must be blessing you.”  Well, maybe he is, and maybe he’s just allowing it to happen.  First, let’s get one thing straight.  Tithing is an essential part for a Christian.  I believe that if a Christian doesn’t tithe, the he’s robbing God.  I can write more on this doctrine but won’t know.  “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Malachi 3:8-10.  lest someone be contentious and say this is just Old Testament, let me point out that Christ commended tithing when he was rebuking the scribes and Pharisees, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” Matthew 23:23  In the more than ten years I have pastured, I have never harped much on tithing although I teach it.  Why, because, while essential, it not the weightiest matters and I never want to give the impression that I’m always out for money, because I’m not.  But I had to bring this out to point out that God can and will help those who tithe and give.  

But now to the point.  When you and I get up in the morning, God does not say to his angels, “Now I wonder how I can make my servant richer today”.  On the contrary, we are HIS servants!  It is completely unscriptural to say that, just because someone has a nicer home, a bigger car, and better job that he or she is blessed by God more.  In fact, the scripture almost teaches the opposite.  “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”  1 Timothy 6:9-10  The poor Christians in some third world countries are no doubt more blessed by God than we are in America.  “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” James 2:5  

In closing, I don’t think we should have to all be poor in order to be right with God.  He does bless those who serve him with prosperity and will meet our needs, however we must flee from the mindset that only the rich are blessed by God.  That is totally unscriptural.