Sunday, April 20, 2008

Self Righteousness

"Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?" Proverbs 20:6

Finding someone who is faithful is hard to find. In the days of "doing our own thing" and no absolutes faithfulness to almost anything but self indulgence is thrown out the window. Faithfulness is no longer a big part in the work ethic, in family, and especially to God. And while we, as Christians, must be aware that we are required to be faithful to God and his Word, we must continue to examine ourselves to that extent. Are we really being faithful?

There is a real temptation to become as the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14 who, no doubt was a pretty good fellow but yet despised that poor publican who was standing by him.

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Luke 18:9-14

First the Pharisee listed all the things he wasn't than all the things he did. But we must understand that, like the Pharisee, we can easily become hardened to sin and God's Holy Spirit wooing. First of all, understand this: without Christ, we are evil. Yes, we may seem like pretty good folk but in God's eyes that is not the case. Remember that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God and that there is none righteous, no not one. See Romans 3:10, 23. Only through bowing to Christ as Lord can we become what he wants us to be, and it doesn't just stop at conversion but continues on until death or the rapture. Proverbs 20:9 says, "Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?" God knows our motives from the very beginning as pointed out in the eleventh verse. "Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right." God knows why we do the things we do and he can reveal it to us if we want to listen. He can do it through his Word, the preaching, the Holy Ghost, through a friend, or just a still small voice. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9 Much more can be written about motives and you are invited to read 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 for more information.

But we live in a time when everyone blames on their shortcomings on someone else. "I got it from my dad." "She rubbed off on me." I could go on and on but the end is that we are responsible for our own actions and god holds us so. Know another thing: God searches the hearts. Read what King David told his son Solomon when he was about to take the throne. "And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever." 1 Chronicles 28:9 See what he told the church in Thyatira about a prophetess named Jezebel. "And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works." Revelation 2:23

The third point is that we must measure up to God's standard. It's one thing for us to proclaim our on goodness but it avails nothing if we are not right before God. Our hearts can easily become hardened without our recognizing it. "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 3:12 We must humble ourselves before God and sometimes even in fasting and let him examine us.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Where Have All The Families Gone?

Where Have All The Families Gone?

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Genesis 2:24

The family is the oldest establishment ordained by God. It was established before any nation or government system, even before man had sinned and fallen from God's perfect fellowship. While it has continued several thousand years, the institution which is the glue that holds a civilization and country together is crumbling in America and has been under attack for several years. Recently we were all shocked by learning that 11 third grade students had plotted to kill their teacher. They were so organized that each had an assignment, even one to clean the floor after the ordeal. It's not certain what types of homes these children are from so we can't pass judgment on specifics, but when we hear of appalling incidents such as this occurring in our schools and homes, we have to wonder what's happening to our families and nation. According to the U. S. Census Bureau in 2000 the American family which consists of two parents and one or more children under 18 represented only 23.5% of all American households, down from 45% in 1960. Families maintained by women with no husband present increased by 21% while married-couple families only increased by 7%. Also, it is a well-known fact that at least half of the marriages are ending in divorce. Of course we must take into consideration that Americans are living longer therefore there are more homes with one person, but that doesn't account for all. What's happening?

First, immorality in our nation is a serious problem. For example 41% of American women ages 15-44 have cohabited or lived with an unmarried different-sex partner at some point. According to the U. S. Census Bureau the number of unmarried couples living together increased 72% between 1990 and 2000. Holy matrimony is less regarded and sex outside of marriage unfortunately is basically the norm. Secondly, the persistent love for money, pleasure, and things are also killing us as a nation. With both man and wife pursuing full time careers and the children being steeped in all kinds of activities, there is rarely a time when they all can sit down to a meal together, so much of the time even "normal" families just cohabitate. Thirdly, Hollywood has little regard for the family and what scraps are thrown our way is only to satisfy and keep some of the audience. The divisiveness of pornography and dating services on the Internet have done their part to divide and put asunder many homes. The fourth and most important is the liberalizing of the church to fit into this current society. This is the main factor and reason for our country's downhill slide. Because of compromise, the power of God is lost. The Bible is not preached as the authoritative Word of God and there is less and less regard for it as a rule for everyday living. It has been replaced by a type of Christian humanism which is humanism with a "Christian" slant.

What is the solution? The male should be the spiritual leader in the home. This is ordained by God and the man should love his wife and children like Christ loved the church, which is a sacrificial love. If he isn't the spiritual leader, it's left to the woman but this is not God's real plan. Much has been placed on our ladies today that God did not intend. Finally, both husband and wife have the responsibility to teach the children right from wrong and the principles of Scripture. This is God's simple plan and one that works when applied, This is the reason Satan is fighting it so hard. He knows that strong families make strong churches, and strong churches can make a strong nation.

We must recognize that there are many single parents that have become that way not always by choice. They need encouragement and moral support. Our seniors have a great deal of wisdom and can be an example to the younger and teach the young women to love their husbands as scripture calls for. But Jesus Christ must be the head of all no matter what type of household, and without him we will not stand in this life or in the judgment. No matter if you are alone or have a large family, please surrender your heart to Jesus Christ and ask him to become your savior. If you have not been on speaking terms with him, re-open the relationship before it's too late. He's waiting for you.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Supper with the Lord

"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:20

This is the call of our Lord, Jesus Christ today. He said this in the context of talking to a lukewarm church who thought that they were "rich and had need of nothing." But yet, they were and are "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked". Revelation 3:17 It's a church as we have today. One man described this type of church perfectly several years ago and it fits directly with today.

Ye are neither heathens nor Christians-neither good nor evil-neither led away by false doctrine, nor thoroughly addicted to that which is true. In a word, they were listless and indifferent, and seemed to care little whether heathenism or Christianity prevailed. Though they felt little zeal either for the salvation of their own souls or that of others, yet they had such a general conviction of the truth and importance of Christianity, that they could not readily give it up. I would thou wert cold or hot¥ That is, ye should be decided; adopt some part or other, and be in earnest in your attachment to it. If ever the words of Mr. Erskine, in his Gospel Sonnets, were true, they were true of this Church:— 'To good and evil equal bent, I'm both a devil and a saint." They were too good to go to hell, too bad to go to heaven. Like Ephraim and Judah, Hosea 6:4: O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it passeth away. They had good dispositions which were captivated by evil ones, and they had evil dispositions which in their turn yielded to those that were good; and the Divine justice and mercy seem puzzled to know what to do to or with them. Adam Clark

This is why many works start out well but end in confusion while others start in a sense of confusion but seem to end up well. We are caught in this cycle and live in a day of lukewarmness. This is the reason that Jesus is now looking at individuals specifically and not to whole bodies of believers as he has before. Oh yes, I know salvation is an individual experience and always has been, but through the history of the church, God has raised up movements to accomplish his purposes. Now in these very last days, he is looking straight at us, you and I. This does not mean that we should stay out of the church as we know it. Definitely not! When studying the life of Christ, he always followed the protocol of that day so long as it did not involve sin. An example is when he healed the ten lepers and told them to "Go shew yourselves unto the priests." Luke 17:13 While he was the one that did the healing, he told them to go show themselves to the priest so the priest could give them their certificate of healing which allowed them to again circulate among society. See Luke 17:13-19 and Leviticus 13:2-3. But we can't look to the ills in the church and claim that as an excuse for not living for Christ or having fellowship with him or those in the church. However, God has many people and we are not the only ones. Be thankful for that. I will say that if the Bible is not being preached consistently in the church you are in, than you should go where it is preached and lived.

But after this, we must then look to the Lamb of God who wants to "sup" with us. The word "sup" means to have supper and when you partake of the evening meal with someone, you enjoy the tasty meal as well as conversation. When the meal is completed at the end of the day, if the meal was good and the company pleasant, you arise from your chair refreshed and uplifted. That is the communication that is needed with Christ. It is health for our body and soul. Unfortunately, most families now days don't even take the time to sit down in the evening to enjoy a meal and conversation together, much less take time with the Master. If you claim to be a believer, he wants your fellowship and your attention. You and I need his as well. Abide with him and he'll abide with you.