Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Geology Of A Believer

Matthew 7:24-25  “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.”
As believers, our lives must be built on God’s Word. In our job, at our church, with our spouses, and with our children; the final word for us must be from the Bible. Whatever situation we find ourselves in, wherever we are at in our life...we have to get our instruction from the Bible. Forget the hypothetical “what would Jesus do?”  - the real question should be “what did Jesus say?”
God hasn’t left us in the dark here! He told us everything we need to know about our life. He wrote it all out inside His Word. So if there was one priority in a believer's life, what should it be? We should be digging into the Bible before we turn to anything else. God's Word is the the rock that a secure life is built on.

Well, that's only half true...the rest of the story is found in verses 26 and 27. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” Knowing God's Word isn't enough to make your life storm-proof. To do that, you also need to obey what you know.

The Bible is the firm foundation for a strong life. Anything that you build in this life – a business, a marriage, your children, a ministry – must be built on the obeyed Word of God. That is the rock that stands firm against the storm.

If obeying the Bible's directions is shown to be the rock to build on, what do you suppose the sand in this story is? Simply put, it's hearing the Word and ignoring it. How many Christians do this every week in church. They hear something from the pulpit that convicts them, they know that they need to change, but they walk out and forget about it! Jesus said that was like building a house on the sand!

Now let's get a little more in depth. When you look at all the passages where sand is mentioned symbolically, it always referring to masses of people. If you think about it, this is one of the biggest reasons why people don't obey God's Word. They hear it -  but then they talk to their mom who's got a better idea. or they hear another “viewpoint” on TV, or they follow their own logic instead of what the Bible says. These people hear the sayings of God, but they reject it in favor of the shifting sand of man's opinion.

Storms come to both types of people. People who obey God and people who do things their own way will both have trouble in their life. When someone who has built their life on the rock faces a storm, they can rejoice knowing that they're going to be standing on the other side. But, when someone who ignores God's Word goes through a storm, everything they've built for themselves will collapse.

How many times have we seen this? Marriages fall apart because the wife won't respect her husband or the husband won't love his wife. Kid's go crazy because they weren't disciplined God's way while they grew up. Churches split in half because the congregation refused to listen to God's warnings on strife and division.

If we want to build anything in this life that lasts – we must learn what God says, and then obey it!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Slackers Don't Get This

Proverbs 25:19 Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint.

Do you remember when you had loose baby teeth? You would go to take a bite out of something at dinner time, and it would just give way! Or how about this, have you ever sat on your leg until it went to sleep and didn't know it? You would get up and take a step, only to have your leg buckle under you! That feeling – knowing that something should work and it fails you – is the kind of feeling that comes from depending on an unfaithful person.

Have you ever depended on someone, and they didn't come through for you? It stings, right? Or, have you ever been the cause of that kind of frustration? I have been in both places, and I didn't enjoy either!

Faithfulness and loyalty are not common in this world anymore. Even in the church, where we should be true to our word, there are a lot of unfaithful people. Even Solomon noticed that trend back in his day; Proverbs 20:6 says, “Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?

In the New Testament, the Greek word for faithfulness is “pistis” - and it's used to describe both reliability and faith! Why is the word for faith used to describe our reliability (faithfulness)? Because, the Bible is describing a faithful person's trustworthiness from someone else's viewpoint (“I have faith in them”). In other words, our faithfulness should allow people to put their faith in what we said we would do!

Faithfulness is our human reflection of God's character. God is always faithful to His word – that's why we put our faith in Him. As His kids, we should be faithful to our word as well! From marriage vows to job contracts, a believer's word should be binding. Psalm 15:4 shows how a faithful person views his promises; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change. Even when it's costly, a faithful person does what he says. This is the kind of character should be found in the home, on the job, and in the church.

God's currency is faithfulness!

For example, if you want to advance in your workplace, make sure you're faithful to your boss! Luke 16:12 says, “And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?” If you have to be told two or three times to do something, if you're badmouthing your boss behind his back, if you're always complaining about the job you have – why on earth would you be expecting a better position? If you're not faithful to what your boss is giving you to do, you will never be made a boss yourself. 

When you're faithful, other people may call you a “kiss-up”, but God will honor your faithfulness to your boss!

This type of faithfulness applies to ministry as well. When someone has a call to preach, the best thing they can do is submit to another man's ministry. Be faithful in what is another man's and God will give you your own! The worst thing a young minister in a church can do is badmouth the senior pastor and constantly maneuver for a better position! You're setting yourself up for failure, my friend, so stop it! Take a lesson from Paul, look at how he was placed in ministry: “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry” (1 Timothy 1:12).

Luke 16:10 sets the rule - He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Go ahead, try to claim that you'll do a better job when you have something more important to do. But I'm telling you – the way you serve in the little things is a picture of what you will do with greater things. In God's eyes, someone who faithfully cleans the church bathrooms for ten years is more qualified to step into ministry than a fresh Bible school graduate!

Faithfulness is essential for your Christian walk! God emphasizes it over and over again. Be faithful to the people in charge, and God will bless you!

A faithful man will abound with blessings Proverbs 28:20

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Lost Art Of Fear

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom

If you were to ask churchgoers today what the “fear of the Lord” is, I honestly am not sure what the answer would be. You would probably get a lot of vacant stares. Maybe you would get an answer like, “that's something from the Old Testament that God used to keep His people in line.” But the truth is, the fear of God is often mentioned in the New Testament – not just the old!

If you were asking a pastor, he would probably say, “it's a reverential respect of how big God is.” This is a little closer to the point, but it's still only partially right. The simple fact is, we haven't been very clear about what it means to fear God.

That's a shame, because there is so much in our Christian life that depends on the fear of the Lord!

Divine protections is a result of a person fearing God. Psalm 34:7 says, The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them. Being delivered from trouble is a direct result of a believer's fear of God!

Long life is another benefit. Look at Proverbs 10:27: The fear of the LORD prolongs days. Now look at what Proverbs 22:4 says: By humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches and honor and life. In that verse we see that not only is your life attached to your fear of God, but so is your wealth and reputation! Psalm 128:1 echoes that by saying, Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways. (By the way, Psalm 128:1 also has a clue to what Godly fear is all about – you'll see it again later.)

And we can't list the benefits of fearing the Lord without going back to our starting verse! Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. How often do we need wisdom in our life? How often have you wished you had more? The way you start getting wisdom is by learning how to fear God!

So what is the fear of God? Proverbs 8:13 says it in the simplest way: The fear of the LORD is to hate evil. That's the bottom line, fearing God is hating what God hates.

Paul goes a little bit deeper in 2 Corinthians 5:10-11 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the rewards for things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences. Did you see that? The fear of God is knowing something. It's knowing that one day you're going to stand before Jesus and give an account of what you've done on earth. Keeping that knowledge in the front of your mind is going to make you hate evil. Why? Because you shudder at the though of having to give an account for those things when you stand before Jesus!

That's the fear of God! The fear of God is when you know that you're going to give an account of what you do here, so you keep yourself away from sin. 2 Corinthians 7:1 agrees with this: Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

This brings us back to the second part of Psalm 128:1, Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways. Psalm 112:1 says essentially the same thing: Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who delights greatly in His commandments.

Fearing God will even deliver those weak believers out there who are struggling with sin. You see, when you know someone is watching you, you tend to straighten up, right? That's why most of a Christian's sin is done in private – because we don't want anyone to see us! But when you understand the Fear of God – that He's always watching you, and you will have to stand before Him one day – you find the strength to resist! That's what Proverbs 16:6 says: In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil. The way you depart from evil is by fearing God! No wonder David says in Psalm 19:9, The fear of the LORD is clean...

I feel like I need to repeat yesterday's post a little bit. Don't think this is about getting saved. There is only one way to be saved, by grace through faith. Obedience isn't going to get you into Heaven. And, for a believer, the judgment of Jesus isn't about Heaven or Hell. When you believe in Jesus Christ - His death, burial, resurrection, and Lordship – you're going to Heaven. Jesus paid the price for you, it's not about your obedience. But, the judgment seat of Christ is where your rewards are going to be given.

We are going to be rewarded for our obedience here on earth. Wouldn't it be a shame to have Jesus say to you, “Son, you believed in Me and I saved you. You're going to Heaven. But I'm sorry - you didn't do what I asked you to do while you were on Earth. You didn't listen to the men and women I gave you (Ephesians 4:11) who were trying to instruct you. You never picked up My Word for yourself, you never asked Me what I wanted done. So, you can go in, son...but you won't get any of the rewards that I wanted to give You.”

I don't know about you, but that put's godly fear in me! I want to make Him proud of what I do here! I want to see what the rewards He has for me are. His rewards are going to stay with us for eternity – but so is the lack of them. Just making it into Heaven isn't enough for me, is it enough for you?

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Glorious Church

2 Chronicles 1:3-4 Then Solomon, and all the assembly with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon; for the tabernacle of meeting with God was there, which Moses the servant of the Lord had made in the wilderness. But David had brought up the ark of God from Kirjath Jearim to the place David had prepared for it, for he had pitched a tent for it at Jerusalem.

This passage gives us look at two different tents of worship:

The Tabernacle was the tent that God set up in the wilderness. Moses built it in the book of Exodus. Once he set it up, the Bible says that God's glory filled it. The priests weren't even able to go in at first, because of the glory of God. The Ark of the Covenant was there – a majestic symbol of God's presence. When Israel finally entered the Promise Land, the tabernacle came with them It was set up in Shiloh.

While the Tabernacle was at Shiloh, something devastating happened to it. 1 Samuel chapters 4-6 tells the story: A single, ungodly act by the Israelites caused the Ark of the Covenant to be captured. Although God brought the Ark back to Israel seven months later, it never entered the Tabernacle again. The Tabernacle still functioned though; and it moved from Shiloh to Nob to Gibeon – where it was in the time of Solomon. The priests still performed the religious rituals and ceremonies. From the outsiders point of view, it looked the same. But this tent of worship was missing the Ark, the very symbol of God's presence!

Enter David. God loved David and David loved God! When David became king in Jerusalem, his heart's desire was to have the symbol of God's presence (the Ark) close to him. At the time, the Ark was being cared for by the family of Abinadab in the town of Kirjath Jearim. David's desire was to move it to Jerusalem. After a three-month pit stop at Obed-Edom's house (while David learned a lesson on the proper way to usher in God's presence), the Ark was brought to Jerusalem. David set up a tent for it and appointed Zadok and Abiathar to be priests. A multitude of singers and musicians were there to constantly praise and worship God.

The difference between these two tents was striking. One was beautiful on the outside, the other was rather plain. One had all the religious traditions and customs, the other had heartfelt service and genuine worship. One had the presence of God inside it, the other was hiding its emptiness.

It's the same difference between churches today. One type is all about forms and customs, the other is devoted to God's presence. One can be found in 2 Timothy 3:5 “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” The other can be found in Ephesians 5:27 “a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”

It's not about how relaxed or how formal your church is. God's presence was in the Tabernacle first, with all it's ceremonies and traditions. And then after staying in David's informal tent, the Ark went to the Temple, with its ceremonies and traditions. So being formal or casual has nothing to do with this. What it's all about is this; are you in a place where God's presence is?

But beyond the local church, are you personally housing God's presence? Or, like so many professing Christians, are you going through the rituals and traditions of “church” without ever seeking the presence of God? You could be in the most devout, powerful and sincere church on the planet and still be worshiping in an empty Tabernacle personally. If I were you, I would find out how to be a part of Jesus' glory-filled church and leave empty traditions behind!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Forgotten Side of Grace

If I were to ask you what grace is and what grace does, what would you say? Undeserved favor? Getting what we don't deserve? How about “God's Riches At Christ's Expense? Have you heard any of this before?

Grace is probably one of the most taught about subject in church today, and rightfully so. It's by grace we are saved through faith; not of works lest we should boast. It is accurate to say that grace is when God freely gives us His own righteousness. We don't have to work for it or try to earn it – we're no longer under the old law! God's grace has completely wiped out our past sins, leaving us clean in His eyes! Praise God!

But forgiveness isn't the only side to God's grace. It is the only part being taught today, though. This message is very true, but it is also incomplete. From what is being taught in a lot of churches today, it would be easy to come to the wrong conclusions. It would be easy for us to get so caught up in Ephesians 2:8 and 9 (For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast), that we forget to read on to verse 10 (For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them). There is more to the story of grace than we're being told!

The rest of the grace message is found in Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age. We have gotten so wrapped up in being saved by grace and not works, that we have lost sight of the fact that grace teaches us to do good works.

Grace isn't about how much we can get away with once we're saved. We aren't allowed to do whatever we want and claim grace over it. Paul says in Romans 6:15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Paul absolutely disagreed with the doctrine of “greasy grace.” That's the teaching that “as long as you believe in Jesus, it's ok, go ahead and do whatever feels right for you.”

Jesus agrees with Paul when He said in John 14:12 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. Obviously, even though it is God's grace that saves us, it is obedience that proves our love for our Savior.
It is God's grace that saved us, but grace didn't save us just to let us go back to our sin! Now that grace has saved us, it teaches us how to live a godly life! That makes sense, right? I mean if we were saved “for good works” (according to Ephesians 2:10), it would be understandable that the same grace that saved us would teach us how to do what is right!

Not only does grace save us and teach us, it also empowers us. It doesn't just teach us to do the right thing and then expect us to be able to do it alone. We were powerless to obey God before we were saved. And now that we are saved, we still need the strength do do what's right. Grace gives us that strength. It is God's grace that empower us and enables us to obey Him. Hebrew 12:28 sums up this side of God's Grace, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” After reading that, God's word to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 makes more sense: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” There you have it: grace is synonymous with strength!

So, God's grace saves us by faith in Jesus Christ. It teaches us to live right and to obey God. And when our strength to obey is weak, God's grace empowers us. What an amazing gift God has given us! It's no wonder Ephesians 1 and 2 declare the “riches of His grace!” God's grace is truly all that we need in our Christian walk! It is a pity to think that so many people would cheapen the real grace message to “what can I get away with and still be a Christian?” How sad!

Now, don't get confused and think that I'm talking about legalism. I'm not! I'm not teaching obedience instead of grace
First of all, we're not talking about doing something to get saved; we're talking about doing something because you are saved!
Secondly, true grace is the only way to obey God! You simply can't obey God by your own power. You need God's grace to enable you!
And finally, this isn't about earning righteousness – it's about demonstrating righteousness!

That is the forgotten side of grace. Not just a salvation, but the wisdom and power to obey God in our everyday life!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Little Too Far

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition

            According to this verse, everything that happened to the Israelites in the wilderness served as examples for us. We can learn about our Christian walk by studying what they did in the desert. If that’s the case, what do you think we can learn from Numbers 16?

            I’ll abbreviate the story here, but it might be good to read that chapter for yourself! When God made Aaron and his family priests, He also assigned the Levite tribe as their helpers. Basically, they were the helps ministry in the tabernacle. Everything that the priests needed done, the Levites would to it for them.

            In Numbers 16, a Levite named Korah got a little too ambitious. He and his three friends gathered 250 leaders of Israel together and went to Moses and Aaron. This was their complaint, You have gone too far! The whole community of Israel has been set apart by the LORD, and he is with all of us. What right do you have to act as though you are greater than the rest of the LORD’s people?”

            They were after the priesthood that God gave Aaron.

            Moses responded, “Tomorrow, God will show who He set in that position!” Then he said, “Korah, isn’t it enough that God chose you to serve in His house? Isn’t it enough that you’re responsible for the care of the Tabernacle? And now you’re demanding the priesthood too? Who is Aaron that you’re complaining against him? God put him there! You’re the one who has gone too far!”

            The next morning was the test. Moses told every one of the 250 leaders to fill their pans of incense to burn before God – something that God told the priests to do. They wanted the priesthood, so they were going to find out if God would accept their ministry. Aaron also filled his incense pan to burn before God. Moses called everyone to come and see who God would choose, but Korah’s friends refused to come. They even complained that Moses ordered them to come – accusing him of trying to be their king!

            It didn’t take long for God to make His point. The ground opened up under Korah’s friends and swallowed them up! At that very moment, fire erupted in the incense pans of Korah and the other leaders, and burnt them to a crisp! Only Aaron was left standing there! God’s decision was clear; Aaron was the man He chose.

            So if this is an example for us, what can we learn?

            Korah and his following thought that Moses and Aaron set themselves in their positions. They failed to see why Aaron was the only person that got to be priest. Their complaint was, “Everyone here has been set apart by God, what right do you have to take charge over us?” They didn’t realize that God chose Moses and Aaron to stand between Him and them.
            Sound familiar? This happens in churches all over the country. People are unhappy with the man that God placed in authority and with the decisions he makes. Sometimes they’re angry about nothing more than the way he preaches! They rise up against him, claiming that they have just as much right to run the church. In the words of Moses, they go too far! God’s response to them is clear, even in the New Testament!

            Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. – Not everyone is called to these positions! The responsibility of the ones called to be leaders is found in 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, encourage, with all longsuffering and teaching.” They are responsible to teach us, to rebuke us and to encourage us. Most church-goers are lost when you get to rebuke – but correcting sin is part of a spiritual leader’s responsibility!

            God will be the One to judge them based on their responsibilities – that’s not our job! Our responsibility to them is found in Hebrews 13:7 “Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.”
Again in 13:17, “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say.” That is our responsibility. It’s not our job to oversee them; their job is to oversee us!

Theirs is the bigger responsibility by far, and God holds them accountable to it! The rest of Hebrews 13:17 is, “for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” They are going to give an account to God for us. Wouldn’t you like that account to be joyful? How would you feel if their account is only about the grief you caused? That would definitely be “unprofitable for you!”

So help your pastors! Don’t be like Korah and complain about what your pastor is doing! Don’t be like the 250 and join in with complainers. Follow your pastor’s example and do what you can to help him! Ephesians 4:8 tells us that these men are gifts to us! Let’s treat them right!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

God Doesn't Like Mixed Marriages

Genesis 28:6-9 Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Padan Aram to take himself a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan,” 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Padan Aram. 8 Also Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father Isaac. 9 So Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife in addition to the wives he had.

Now that I got your attention, let me reassure you. I'm not talking about white, black, jewish, hispanic, oriental, or any other so-called “race” of people. We're all one physical race; all descended from Adam through Noah. God isn't opposed to people of different ethnic groups marrying each other. After all, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

God doesn't see in terms of race. He is Savior to the Chinese as well as the African Pygmies. Jesus laid down His life for the Russians as well as the Polynesians. Every person on this earth was made in God's image. So what was the problem with Esau's foreign wives? And why did God command the Israelites not to intermarry with the Canaanites? Simply put, was an issue of their hearts – not their bodies.

The Canaanites were a desperately wicked culture. Sexual immorality was everywhere. So was idolatry. The pagan Canaanites would regularly offer their own children on the altars of their demonic gods. When God warned His people not to intermarry with them, He wasn't vague about His reasons. “Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.”

And if the issue was racial (instead of an issue of the heart), why was Rahab, a Canaanite woman, listed in Jesus' geneaology? This Canaanite had a change of heart, and that was all it took in God's eyes. One generation later, a Moabite named Ruth had the same change of heart, allowing Boaz to marry her.

But that's just a side issue. There are too many racist people out there trying to use God's Word to justify their prejudice. But now, let's get back to Esau.

Esau saw that his dad didn't want his kids to marry these pagan women. He knew his dad sent Jacob back to where they came from (back to where they still served Yahweh) to find a godly wife. And Esau also knew that the two pagan wives that he had were a source of grief to his dad. So, to try to make his father happy, Esau married a third woman – this time, Abraham's granddaughter. Instead of repentance, Esau tried to add obedience to his disobedience.

That's the kind of mixed marriages God hates – when we marry obedience to God with our disobedient lifestyle. When we think that obeying most of what God says balances out disobedience in a few areas, something's wrong.

God forgives sin, but only after it's repented and turned away from. Continuing in sin while trying to cover it up with obedience doesn't work. You can't add Jesus to your own lifestyle and hope everything turns out ok! This is all or nothing, either you give God control over all of your life, or you've given Him nothing.

This is an enormous problem inside churches right now. We're adding God to our schedule, giving Him a few hours on Sunday, and then going back to our own life Sunday afternoon. We've been duped into thinking that as long as we obey the more important commandments, that will balance out the rest of our life. But, you can't mix your lifestyle with His Lordship.

It's a clich̩ we've heard over and over Рbut either Jesus is Lord of all, or He isn't Lord at all.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Covering Sin

Proverbs 10:12 Love covers all sins.

Pop quiz, how many kids did Noah have?

We all know the story of Noah. Somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 years after the world was created, the human race had become very, very wicked. The Bible says in Genesis 6:5 that "everything they thought or imagined was totally evil." Then again in verse 11 that the whole earth was filled with violence. Can you imagine being Noah - the only righteous man on the planet?

Well, fast forward about a hundred years or so. Noah and his family had just gotten off the ark into a brand new world. Nothing here was the same. All of a sudden, all of humanity bottlenecks into one man and his family! So, it's easy to see that Noah might've have been a little overwhelmed for a while. Unfortunately, the way he handled that pressure wasn't very smart. He made some wine and got drunk. The New King James Bible says, "he became uncovered in his tent." That's a nice way of saying that this mighty man of faith was passed out naked. Can you believe that? How could Noah, a "preacher of righteousness", hero to our faith, ancestor of everyone on earth, do something so stupid?

While he was passed out drunk, naked in his tent, his son Ham walks by and sees him there. He was shocked that his father would do that! He was disgusted at how Noah was acting! But now Ham had a choice to make. Was he going to take care of his dad in this moment of weakness?

He didn't so much as close the tent! Instead, he literally told the whole world! He went to his two brothers, Japheth and Shem, and told them. "You are not going to believe what our dad is doing! That old man got himself so drunk that he can't stand up. Now he's in bed naked - how in the world did he end up naked?"

Japheth and Shem didn't listen very long. They loved their dad too much to let him stay like that! The went to his tent, put a blanket on their shoulders, and walked in backwards. They didn't want to look at what Noah was doing wrong! They covered his sin! If I had to guess, they never brought it up again.

Now think about this. In your mind, which was worse - to pass out naked and drunk, or to pass on the news that someone is passed out naked and drunk? The fact is, nothing more came out of Noah's little episode. He seemed to sober up and still remained the head of his family. Ham's gossip, though, brought a curse on his family line! The flip side is, Shem and Japheth's act of love (their covering of their dad's sin) brought a huge blessing on their families!

Remember this when you see your brother or sister do something stupid and crazy. In God's eyes, your repeating the matter to your friends is worse than the matter itself! God hates gossip! According to Proverbs 6:19 ("these things are an abomination to who sows discord among brethren") and 24:9 ("a scoffer is an abomination to men") - God feels the same way about gossip as you would feel about someone who is constantly laughing and making fun of you. He hates it!

If you want to walk in God's love. if you want to receive your Father's blessing like Shem and Japheth did, then you must guard your tongue from gossip. Even if what your saying is true, even if you really did see that person mess up - love will cover that up. No one else needs to know!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Loving God's House

Genesis 28:16-17 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”

There's a growing problem in the Church of God today. It's an issue that strikes at our very heart. It's a problem that, if not solved, will destroy individual believers as well as local churches. That problem? Apathy.

We've lost our passion for God's house. We've forgotten what coming to church is all about. In a very true sense of the word, we've been asleep. Just like Jacob, we've wandered into Bethel ("the house of God") without realizing Who's here with us! Why else is it surprising to us when there's a "great service"? During those moments, we wake up like Jacob and say "God is surely in this place!" But too often we fall right back asleep again. It shows on our faces...we're bored. In God's house, the very gate of Heaven...we pay no attention!

The answer isn't more exciting church programs. It isn't attendance drives or more "relevant" messages. It's God's word, people...if a preacher just got up and read three chapters and sat down, it would be relevant! The answer is for us to realize where we're at!

"How awesome is this place!" That was Jacob's realization, and it needs to be ours too. This isn't just a building. I know that we've been taught that over and over, but we've been misled. Sure, you and I are the church of God - that's part of the truth. But the rest of that truth is found in 1 Timothy 3:15 "I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" I know that we are the Church, but when you and I (the body of Christ) meet together - wherever we meet becomes the church of God - God's house on earth! Where we meet together with God is Bethel!

Now listen to what else Jacob says! "This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of Heaven!" Are you wanting more from God in your life? do you want to see God do more in your life? Do you feel like Heaven is closed up to you? I would examine your attitude toward your local church! Where you come to meet with God is the gate of Heaven in your life! Everything God wants in your life has to come through the gate of Heaven - the house of God!

Now...concerning your attitude toward your church. Are you fussing with your brothers and sisters? Are you eating your pastor (God's gatekeeper, if you will) for dinner on Sunday afternoon? Are you always half-awake, half-hearted, and a half-hour late? How would your friends feel if you showed up to their house like that all the time? How would your boss feel? Why do we reserve that kind of indignity for the gate of Heaven?

The bottom line is this, if you want what Heaven has - you have to treat its gateway with a little more respect.