Wednesday, May 30, 2012


2 Corinthians 7:10 “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

Many Christians put too much emphasis on the way things make them feel. If something feels good, if they have “peace” about it - then they think it must be God. The flip side is, if something makes them feel bad, if they’re being challenged to repent and change, they believe that’s legalism and condemnation. They get this idea that they should never feel uncomfortable in church. I challenge you to read what Paul says to the Corinthian church in his first letter. He was very direct and confrontational - demanding that they wake up and deal with the blatant sin in their fellowship. As he wrote and confronted them about their behaviour - he pulled no punches. Twice he wrote, “I speak this to your shame,” as he described some of the things they were doing. “That’s not love, brother!”

Remember, Paul wrote this to Christians!  If the Corinthian church had been full of today’s believers, it would have emptied out when their preacher read, “at your next service, when you’ve all gathered together - turn that immoral man over to Satan!” How would your church respond if a preacher wrote to warn about sin before he showed up? Paul did that in 1 Corinthians 4:21. What do you think would happen in the American church if a pastor began pointing out people in the church that he didn’t want you to hang out with or even eat with? Paul did that too in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11.

Now, I’m not saying that preachers have the right to be cruel or mean-spirited to their people. However, I want you to realize that there are times when a very loving message can sound aggressive. Paul wasn’t being arrogant when he confronted the Corinthians with their sin - he was trying help them! Just because you felt bad when your pastor started dealing with sin, doesn’t mean he’s preaching legalism!

You see, there’s a difference between conviction and condemnation.

A life of condemnation is a life without hope. Condemnation is when we’re demanded to pay the price for our sin. It’s the fearful expectation of judgement. Before salvation, humanity already stands condemned. We, as the church, don’t have to condemn the world, they’re already condemned! John 3:18 declares, “He who believes in Him [Jesus] is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” It’s not that Jesus condemns them, their own unbelief is what brings them into condemnation.

But once we are born-again and following wholeheartedly after Jesus, condemnation should have no place in our lives! Romans 8:1 tells us what a righteous life should look like. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Hallelujah! When we’re serving Jesus, we stand free from condemnation. We are now looking forward to the eternal promises that Jesus gave us! Our sin has been paid in full and washed out of our lives! As long as we follow His lead, we will never have to live under condemnation again!

What people may not understand, is that there will still be times when they feel bad about their behavior. This isn’t condemnation, it’s conviction! Condemnation is worldly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:1). It’s sorrow without hope or and without change. Conviction is godly sorrow - it brings repentance and a change in behavior.

So how can you tell the difference? Condemnation cuts down, conviction builds up.

Condemnation confines people in their sin. Condemning thoughts and messages sound like this:
“You’ll never get better.”
“You’ll always be a screw-up.”
“You’re not worth the next breath you take.”
“God hates you.”
It gives no hope and offers no escape.

Conviction will never start with, “look how bad you are, you’re always messing up!” John 16:10 shows us that conviction starts with our righteousness. Godly conviction says:
“You don’t want to do that, you’re righteous now!”
“You’ve been made better than that behavior!”
“You don’t want the consequences of that!”
“Jesus set you free from that bondage!”
Can you see the difference?

Conviction is a gift of God’s grace! Titus 2:11-12 tells us that grace teaches us to deny ungodliness. This may be a little uncomfortable at first, but it’s an important part of the believer’s life. Sadly, too many christians deny the grace of God when they turn their backs on His conviction. Brothers and sisters, this shouldn’t be!

The next time you get challenged or confronted with something in your life - don’t be angry! You’re not being condemned! This is conviction, my friend! Embrace it and watch the change that takes place in your life!

2 Corinthians 7:11 “For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire,what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”

Thursday, May 24, 2012


There are few things as interesting to study as a fossil. To have a once-living, now dead and buried organism in front of them can be captivating for some people. It’s very easy to get caught up in imagining what this creature looked like when it was alive. How did it live? What did it eat? What would’ve eaten it? How did it die? The nature of this field of science (paleontology) is that these questions have to answered with a mixture of science and imagination. As a result, many of today’s paleontologists are among the most creative of scientists.

Fossils are literally everywhere. From deep below the water to high in the mountains, from the scorching deserts of Africa to the frozen land of Antarctica - fossils can be found in rock layers in nearly every area in the world. Where did they come from? How did they get there? It’s not surprising that the answer to those questions depends on the assumptions one starts with.

Scientist who start with secular evolution as their premise will say that these creatures were buried gradually. According to them, the geologic column (that is, the different layers of rock around the world) were laid down over the course of hundreds of millions of years. Each layer of rock represents a different era in the past. Although some fossils may have been buried rapidly in an isolated catastrophe, the vast majority of them were buried after they died and then fossilized.

Scientists who start with biblical creation as their premise will say that these creatures were buried very rapidly. According to them, the geologic column is a record of a rapid, watery burial during the worldwide flood described in Genesis seven and eight. Around 4,500 years ago, millions of creatures were quickly drowned and buried in water-borne sediment (such as sand). The different layers of the geologic column were formed under the water and eventually hardened into sedimentary rock, along with the fossils they contained.

Because I believe that the Bible is true, I hold to the second interpretation of fossils. After all, if the world was once wiped out by and completely covered with water - wouldn’t you expect to find dead creatures around the world buried in rock that was formed by sediment and water?

There is an enormous amount of evidence that the creatures that formed these fossils were buried extremely rapidly. When an animal dies today, it quickly decays and is picked apart. Very little of it, if any, is buried naturally. Yet we continually see complete and intact fossils being dug out of the ground! Many of these fossils still have preserved skin, organs and other soft tissue. Fossilized jellyfish have been found in Australia. Fossilized insects have uncovered, still in their burrows, with all of their intricate details preserved. Fossilized plants are uncovered all around the world with every detail of their leaves preserved. You tell me, isn’t the simplest explanation that they were buried in sediment before they had a chance to decay?

An enormous amount of the fossils we find are from aquatic animals, including fish. Are we really supposed to believe that these fossilized fish - many of them whole and intact - died, sank to the bottom of the sea, and were then buried in the sand? Isn’t it common knowledge that fish float when they die, and are picked apart by scavengers? So the fact that many complete fish fossils shows that these fossils must have been buried quickly. Fish have even been found buried while in the process of eating other fish!

Did you know that there are even fossils on the tops of the Himalayan mountains. These are the tallest mountain ranges on earth, yet there are still creatures buried in rock at their peaks. And these aren’t just any fossils - they’re aquatic fossils. Fish, clams and other shellfish can be found throughout the rock on the Himalayas. How could there be fossilized shellfish on a mountain unless it was under water at one time?

Another interesting fact about the fossilized clams on the Himalayas - they were fossilized while they were still closed. Clams have a specific muscle that keeps their shells closed. As soon as the clam dies, their muscle relaxes and their shells open. For these “mountain shellfish” to be buried while closed, they had to be buried alive

Many times we find large groups of fossils that have been jumbled together into a single area. We call these areas fossil graveyards. These graveyards are strong evidence for a watery catastrophe. One possible explanation is that area could have been high ground before the flood. As the waters rose, these creatures crowded there for safety - but were drowned anyway as the water covered even the highest places. A more likely explanation is that these creatures drowned in the flood and were carried by currents to their burial place.

There’s a bigger problem for the rock layers = millions of years theory - they’re called polystrate fossils. These are fossilized organisms (usually trees, but often large animals such as whales) that protrude through several different layers. If these rock layers were supposedly laid down over thousands of centuries, how could these fossils criss-cross them? Wouldn’t the parts of that tree or animal that were sticking above one layer have decayed long before the next layer could be formed?

Then there’s the issue of bent and curved rock layers. In many different mountain ranges, all the rock layers have been curved and bent together. If these layers were already solid rock, they would have fractured, not folded. The only way these layers could have all bended and folded together is if they were still wet - i.e. they weren’t dry rock yet. This means that they must have been formed together, not one by one over millennia.

I believe that the fossil record is a clear record of the biggest catastrophe the world has ever seen. Millions of animals and plants were suddenly swept away and buried, preserved for us to find today. This isn’t a record of era upon era, age upon age - it’s a record of judgement on sin. It shouldn’t really be surprising to a believer  that our modern culture wants to forget that. Peter declared in his second letter that this would happen. Listen to his prediction in 2 Peter 3:3-7:

Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires...They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of His command, and He brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. Then He used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Blind Dating

Let me start with this again: I absolutely believe in God’s Word. I believe that the Bible is 100% accurate on any subject that it touches on. When I look at the world, this book is my starting point. My views and beliefs are shaped by the words on its pages - as it should be with every believer. After all, believers should believe! Although it’s not commonly admitted, secular scientist have the same type of faith. Their belief that there is no supernatural (or at least no supernatural impact on the natural process) shapes the way they see the world. Everyone has a bias based on what they believe - no one is as open-minded as they claim to be. If you ever need proof of that statement, just walk onto a college campus and say that you believe in creation - you’ll find out how open-minded some of these “enlightened” people are!

This bias can be clearly seen in the field of radiometric dating. Radiometric dating is often used to demonstrate how scientific the General Theory of Evolution (GTE) is. “We can scientifically prove - in the laboratory - that the earth is 4.5 billion years old! Doesn’t that prove that you Christians are nuts to disagree with us?”

Trust me, I wish most debates would go deeper than that. I would love to have an honest discussion, bringing up all the strongest arguments on each side. But usually, I can’t get past the level of, “Science has proven evolution - you’re crazy.” End of argument.

In simple terms, radiometric dating measures how quickly a unstable radioisotope (like carbon-14, potassium-40 and uranium 238) decays into its daughter element (nitrogen-14, argon 40, and lead 206 respectively). The theory is this; since this radioactive decay occurs at a consistent pace, we can look at how much of the daughter element is left in a rock and calculate backwards to find out when it first formed.

Think of it this way: Someone walks into a room and finds a candle already burning. At the time he entered the room it was three inches tall. After studying it for an hour, the burning candle was two inches tall - thus he determines that this candle burns at a speed of one inch-per-hour. He then uses this data to determine how long ago the candle was lit.

The problem is, the scientist only knows two parts to a four-part equation:
1 - How much of the daughter element (lead-206 for example) is present in the rock? [Or how tall is the candle right now?) This is one of the factors that scientists know, as it can be easily observed in the laboratory.
2 - What is the present speed that the radioisotope (uranium-238) decays into the daughter element (lead-206)? [Or how fast does the candle burn down?] Again, this is easily observable and testable; it’s the second part of the equation that scientists know for sure.
3 - Has the speed of decay been constant in the past? [Or has this candle always burned at one inch-per-hour?] Scientist can’t know this for sure. Has there been an environmental shift that caused the decay speed to slow down or speed up? Could more of the radioisotope or the daughter element have been added to the rock at some point in the past? Both of these factors could give a completely wrong date!
4 - How much of the daughter element was present to begin with? [How tall was that candle before it was lit?] This is a very important factor in this equation. Two different assumptions about how much lead-206, for example, was originally in a rock could bring two dramatically different dates for formation!

Because of these unknown factors, no scientist just sends the rock into a laboratory to be dated. They also send additional information to help “aim” the dating process - information like what layer of rock it was found in and what fossils were around it. If a T-rex fossil was found in the same layer of rock, then the laboratory knows that the rock “must be” 67-65 million years old. Fossils that help with the dating process are called “index fossils.” Because their age is known, they can help to date the different rock layers. You see, radiometric dating (supposed “proof” of the GTE and an incredibly old earth) is based on their already-formed assumptions on the age of a particular fossil.

If the evolutionist’s “silver bullet” of radiometric dating doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, what’s left for the theory? They’re left with exactly what they started with: an interesting story, a fairy tale, an imaginative world where millions of years pass in the blink of an eye.

Why is this important? Because the Word of God gives the earth a maximum age of 6,000 years. According to the Bible, the first humans were made when the world was only six days old. So this teaching of “millions of years before man” cannot line up with a Biblical worldview. It’s important for us as believers to realize that God’s Word can be trusted from beginning to end.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Renegade Theory

Stop me if you’ve seen this before. A cartoon character walks up to a pile of wood and nails and puts a stick of dynamite under it. A few seconds later, the dynamite explodes and all the pieces of wood fall and form a beautiful house. It’s pretty common, right? It’s funny in a cartoon because we know that it simply doesn’t happen in real life. But there’s a belief, a religious faith masquerading as science, that is trying to force us to accept a bigger version of that scenario. It is the theory of naturalistic evolution.

Even though it’s claimed to be the cutting edge of science, there is never any new forms of the General Theory of Evolution (GTE) presented. The story that the GTE tells is this: 13.7 billion years ago, all the matter in the entire universe began to draw together. As it continued to compact, this ball of matter also began to spin. Eventually, it compacted together so much that all of the matter in the universe could fit inside the period at the end of this sentence. As this little dot was spinning, it suddenly exploded and broke apart. This is what is referred to as the “Big Bang.” The explosion spread the matter into the various galaxies, stars and planets - including this one. Earth (originally a molten ball of rock) cooled off and the oceans formed gradually. About 3.8 billion years ago, the first complex DNA molecules replicated and formed the first simple life forms. Over the course of hundreds of millions of years, life evolved and became more and more complex. Finally, around 3 ½ million years ago, humans began to evolve out of the primate lineage. In the “blink of an evolutionary eye”, mankind dominated the earth.

Well...that’s the thought anyway. The GTE is pushed everywhere now: in every schoolbook, on every TV show, in every conversation about dinosaurs. The system simply demands that we accept this theory without question. It seems like the message coming from our schools is, “You don’t have to think about this, kids. We’ve already thought it through for you.”

For the believer, the GTE is unacceptable. I don’t know about you, but I believe the Bible - above anything and anyone else! And, as you know, the Bible tells a much different story about our origins. As a believer, God’s Word is always my first objection to this secular interpretation of the natural world. It simply cannot be true - it disagrees with the eyewitness account of the only One Who was there at the beginning!

Not only does the GTE insult my faith in God’s Word, it also insults my intelligence. It’s a renegade theory - it defies the laws and principles of science! For something to be accepted as a scientific fact, it must first be observed, tested, and repeated. If your theory cannot meet these criteria, it may be an interesting theory - but don’t tell me that I have to believe it!

The goal of the GTE is to eliminate the need for God in the creation of the universe. No spiritual concept is allowed into this theory. As a renowned evolutionist said, “We cannot allow a divine foot in the door.” So evolutionist are strictly confined to the natural world with all its natural laws. This is ironic, since this theory breaks so many of these laws without explanation.

Laws like:

#1. The first law of thermodynamics - Matter cannot be created or destroyed, only changed. Matter can’t be eternal (eternity is a supernatural concept, not a scientific one), so where did it come from? Not just matter, though - how did space, time, and energy come into being?

#2. The law of inertia - Objects at rest (or in motion) tend to stay at rest (or in motion) unless acted upon by an outside force. If all of the matter in the universe was in that single dot, where did the outside force come from to start it spinning?

#3. The law of conservation of angular momentum - The pieces of a spinning object keep that spin when they break apart. In other words, if a rotor blade broke off of a helicopter while it was spinning, that blade would keep spinning in the same direction. If the Big Bang were true, all of the galaxies, stars, and planets - or at least most of them - should be spinning in the same direction. That’s not what we see! Objects in space are spinning, revolving and rotating in all different directions.

#4. The first law of biogenesis - Life can only come from other life. This law has been clearly defined since Louis Pasteur in the mid-1800s.

#5. The law of information - Information can only come from an intelligent source. This law is why we recognize the difference between an old arrowhead and a rock. We recognize the signs of intelligence. Nature has a tendency to make things random. Whenever we see non-random patterns, it’s likely to be a sign of intelligence. If we know that’s true with rocks, then why is this law ignored when we look at the cellular and genetic world? Each single cell in our body is easily as complex as a city’s infrastructure. Each cell has its own unique traits and highly organized systems - and we being told to believe there was no intelligence involved in their design?

But let’s go beyond the cell to the DNA inside the cell. Did you know that the DNA in your cells contains the blueprints for your entire body - in coded form? Not only is all of your information stored in your DNA, but the very code that your body needs to read that information is written there as well! Your DNA is so complex that a single teaspoon of it can hold 800 trillion megabytes worth of information - enough to fill 1 trillion CDs! For perspective, that’s enough CDs to lay end-to-end from the earth to the sun 750 times! And every one of them can be filled with the information that fits on a single teaspoon of DNA! This is a level of information that we haven’t even come close to yet!

Knowing this, how could someone even try to explain in naturally? That information had to start somewhere! Someone much smarter than we are had to write our genetic code.
There is no chance that this kind of complexity came about by chance!

I believe David summed this up in Psalm 139:14 - “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Life Of A Believer - Seizing The Promise

Deuteronomy 31:3-6 “Yahweh your God Himself crosses over before you; He will destroy these nations from before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua himself crosses over before you, just as Yahweh has said...Yahweh will give them over to you, that you may do to them according to every commandment which I have commanded you. Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for Yahweh your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

After the Exodus, after turning back at Canaan’s border, and after spending forty years camping in the wilderness; Israel was once again at the threshold of their promise. None of the original whiners and complainers were there to see this day. Not one of the ten fearful spies were still living, nor were any of the people who listened to them. Out of that entire generation, only two men remained - Joshua and Caleb. Every other person standing at the edge of the Jordan River that day grew up in the desert.

These were the group of kids that watched God show Himself on Mount Sinai. They were the little ones who grew up seeing God’s glory over the tabernacle. They knew nothing else but the miraculous provision of manna every day. They watched the older generation drop like flies in the desert when the consequences of their sin arrived. Over and over again they learned about the time when their parents almost made it into their promised land. And as they grew up, they learned that they were the ones who were going to possess what their parents turned away from.

Now, Moses was on the way out and Joshua was on the way in. Now they stood at the edge of what God had waiting for them all along. This time, they were prepared. Listen to their words to Joshua, “All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we heeded Moses in all things, so we will heed you. Only the Lord your God be with you, as He was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your command and does not heed your words, in all that you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and of good courage.” They weren’t playing around this time! They were willing to execute anyone at the slightest hint of rebellion against Joshua. Why? Because they refused to lose their opportunity to possess what was theirs!

Joshua truly did lead them to victory. Seven Canaanite nations were destroyed or subjugated. Thirty of their fortified cities were taken and one of them (Jericho) was leveled and abandoned. In a single battle, Joshua and the Israelites wiped out five Amorite kings with their armies. After that they proceeded to conquer southern Canaan. After this, no fewer than fifteen kings from the north joined forces and attacked Israel. Joshua wiped out their combined forces - then proceeded northward and captured all of their land.

A beautiful summary of Joshua’s leadership is found in Joshua 11:15 - “As the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.

Now, a lot of people have the idea that the Promised Land is symbolic of Heaven. That’s why we hear songs about “crossing over the Jordan” and coming to the pearly gates. But let me ask you, does a lifestyle of battle and conquest sound like Heaven to you? Why did things occasionally go wrong for the Israelites (think Ai) if they were supposed to be symbolizing Heaven for us? Canaan wasn’t a picture of Heaven, it’s a picture of the promises that God has made to us here on Earth!

Just as it was for the Israelites, our promises have to be fought for. The Israelites fought seven nations of people for theirs - but Ephesians 6:12  tells us that we are not fighting against flesh and blood. Our enemies aren’t natural, they’re spiritual. They are the spirits of this world’s system that are trying to keep us out of the promises of God on this earth.

When the Israelites were led out of Egypt, they were led by a savior. They didn’t have to do a thing to be rescued except apply the blood of the Passover. That is just like salvation. We were saved without having to do anything except receive the blood of Jesus to wash away our sin.

When the Israelites were in the wilderness, they were faced with their worst enemy - themselves. They struggled with their own craving, discontent and rebellion. Still, Moses led them patiently and God never left them. Even when they refused to go where He was taking them, God still had mercy and took care of them. Most Christians are in this place right now. They are still their own enemies. They’ve never been victorious over their flesh. They’ve continued to crave the things that they were delivered from. And they’ve only known Jesus as their Savior.

But there’s more to this life than our salvation and our struggle with our flesh. Jesus wants to become more than our Savior. If we ever want to obtain the promises of God that the kingdom of darkness is trying to keep us out of - we have to recognize Jesus as our Commander. You see, even though we were saved freely by grace - in battle, obedience equals victory. Only when we obey the Word of our Commander will we start to live a victorious Christian life.

Are there promises in your life that you have yet to possess? Are you still finding yourself to be your own worst enemy? Have you been living a less-than-victorious life? Then, my friend, it’s time to move past receiving Jesus as your Savior, and receive Him as your Lord! Read His Word, recognize His commands, and follow His lead. Then, it won’t matter what spirit tries to keep you from His promises! Let everything in this world go to pieces, but you’ll stay on top!

Pastor Tracy Harris says it this way, “When you make God’s enemies your enemies, He’ll make your battles His battles.”

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Life Of A Believer - Discouraged

Numbers 21:4-5 “Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.’”

After Israel’s rebelled at the edge of their promise, God turned them around and sent them back out into the wilderness. For four decades they marched through the dry wasteland burying each other one-by-one. That’s a long time to live in a tent! Eventually, their hearts began to wander back to where they came from.

“Remember the houses we lived in in Egypt?”
“What I wouldn’t give for a dip in the Nile river right now!”
“Why did we even leave? Oh yeah! Moses promised us a land flowing with milk and honey!”
“Moses! Where’s this promised land of yours?”
“Did you really bring us out here to die?”

The conveniently forgot that Moses did lead them to their promise, and that their unbelief and rebellion kept them out of it. In fact, if anyone had a right to be discouraged, it’s Moses! Think about this from his perspective: you’ve done everything right, you’ve put up with these stubborn people for over a year, you bring them up to the place God wanted them to be - and they refuse to go in! Now you’re stuck with them for forty years in the wilderness, and they’re blaming you!

God refused to put up with it! He sent “fiery serpents” among the Israelite camp - venomous reptiles that bit the people so that many of them died.

Without going into too much distracting detail, God didn’t have to do much to “send” these venomous reptiles into the Israelite camp. According to Herodotus and Josephus, this desert area was literally infested with these serpents (reptiles, but not “snakes” as we have always been taught), all God had to do was remove His protection that previously covered the Israelite camp. As soon as He did that, the serpents that were kept out of the camp were allowed to come in.

It didn’t take them long to realize that this was because of their sin. They came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against Yahweh and against you; pray to Yahweh that He take away the serpents from us.”

Moses, the good man that he was, did just that. He went to God and prayed for the people. However, God didn’t simply take the serpents away or even reinstate His protection of the camp. He told Moses to make a pole with a bronze serpent on it and set it up in a prominent place. From then on, anyone who was bitten could look to that bronze serpent and be healed of the poison. It was an exercise in trust - were they finally going to submit to God’s care for them or not? Apparently they did trust God - because from that time forward, no one else died from these creatures’ bites. It’s also interesting that from this point on, they never complained against Moses again!

Once again looking at 1 Corinthians 10:6-11, we see that these things serve as examples for us: “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”

The Israelites didn’t guard their hearts from discouragement. That discouragement led to discontent. That discontent led to discord (complaining and whining against Moses and against God). Finally, their discord led to their destruction. This is a pattern that still holds true today.

This is why Proverbs 4:23 warns us, “Above everything else, guard your heart; it is where your life comes from.” More than anything else, we need to watch over our emotions. Like the Israelites, it’s easy for us to get discouraged when we’re lacking something we feel we should have. Whether we short-changed ourselves on what God wanted for us or whether we’re still waiting for what we know God promised us - beware of discouragement!

If you’re not watchful, a little discouragement will grow fast! Without guarding your heart, you’ll soon find yourself feeling “down” all the time. Before long you’ll be focused more on what you lack than what you have. Why? Because discouragement breeds discontent. Before long, that discontent will worm its way into your conversations. You’ll begin to say things like: “I don’t understand why this isn’t happening.” or “Why hasn’t God done what He promised?” As soon as words like this come out of your mouth, you’ve moved from discontent to discord. You’re actually accusing God of not following through with what He said - making Him into a liar!

Complaining against God is dangerous. He won’t “punish” you for it - but it does open the doors of your life to the things that God is keeping out. I don’t know about you, but if God is keeping something out of my life - I’d rather not invite it in! But that’s exactly what we do when when we allow discontent to come out of our mouth.

So what’s the answer? John 3:14-15 tells us: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
In the Greek, that word translated “life” is “zoe”. Pay attention to the way James strong defined zoe: “life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions (among them a more perfect body), and to last for ever.” So you see that it’s not only salvation from Hell, but a real and genuine life here on earth!

In the same way they looked to that serpent on a pole, we look to what Jesus did for us on the cross. When He died for us, He paid for our joy, our peace, our righteousness, our healing, our forgiveness, our abundant life and our eternal life! When we look to Him, and the price He paid for us - it destroys discouragement!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Life Of A Believer - So Close!

1 Corinthians 10:11 “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”

Around a year after Israel’s exodus from Egypt, God brought them to the edge of their promise. Soon, they were going to cross into Canaan and begin  to possess the land that God gave them for their own. Twelve scouts were sent into the land first to gather information. While  spying on the Canaanites, they saw some things that were tough for the natural mind to take in. Powerful fortified cities inhabited by 10-12 foot tall warriors were not at all what they were expecting! When they came back, ten scouts had moved from trust in God to fear for their lives. Only two of the men (Joshua and Caleb) maintained an attitude of faith in God.

As if losing their own faith in God’s promise wasn’t enough, the ten scouts began to plant seeds of unbelief in the people of Israel. In a very little amount of time, only three people still believed in God’s promise to give them Canaan - Moses, Joshua, and Caleb. What should’ve been a simple information-gathering mission turned into a showdown between three leaders and three and one-half million people.

Numbers 14:2-4 “And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, ‘If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?’ So they said to one another, ‘Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.’”

If got so bad that the people actually planned to stone Moses, Joshua, and Caleb to death. Just before they could, though, God showed up at the Tabernacle. He was not at all happy with the people. He told them that only the ones who believed His promise were going to enter Canaan - not one of the millions of unbelievers were going to see the good land. Instead of leading them further into the land of promise, God turned them around and brought them back into the wilderness. For thirty-nine more years, that generation died one-by-one.

1 Corinthians 10:11 tells us that we can learn what we should do from these people. Hebrews 3:16-19 says “For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Can you see this? Israel moved in fear and unbelief, but God called what they did rebellion and sin. A moment of hesitation and fear equals rebellion in God’s eyes.

We all come to this place. As we progress in our spiritual walk, we come to the edge of what God has called us to do. When we get a glimpse of where He’s taking us, that thing that He’s been leading us to all along, it is too much for our natural mind to process. It’s then that we have a choice. Do we progress in God’s kingdom and His calling? Or do we refuse to do what makes us uncomfortable and try to stay where we are? If that’s what you want to do, let me warn you - Israel didn’t stay put, they went backwards. The moment you refuse to obey God - whether it’s because of convenience or fear - you will regress backwards in your spiritual walk.

Denominations are famous for this. To begin with, a man or woman gets a “new” revelation from God that takes them further on their journey. They teach this to other men and women and then they move forward together - this becomes a new movement in the church. The churches they came from refuse to move forward with this revelation, so they come out of those places and start a new church organization. This new organization continues to move forward into God’s promises and grows rapidly. Then, all of a sudden, they learn where God wants them to go next - and it makes them uncomfortable. Instead of progressing into what God has called them to, they try to stay put. Sadly, that cannot happen.

In our Christian walk, we are either progressing or regressing. Before long, that organization that was alive and growing in the things of God begins to regress into passivity, worldliness, and ultimately rebellion. How could a once-godly denomination endorse homosexuality? How could an organization that was once on fire for God and burning with the Holy Spirit be reduced to “seeker-friendly” messages with no depth? It’s because they encountered their Canaan, and instead of moving forward, they tried to keep things as they were.

Have you encountered this in your own life? Have you been led into something that made your natural mind uncomfortable? The only answer is faith! Trust in God’s plan for your life and move into His next stage for you. Don’t hesitate when He calls. Don’t try to compromise with God and stay where you are. Remember, always move forward!!

Hebrews 4:11 “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Life Of A Believer - Craving

Numbers 11:4-6 “Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. ‘Oh, for some meat!’ they exclaimed. ‘We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!’”

For a believer, the Israelites’ time in the wilderness is symbolic of the spirit’s struggle with the flesh. From their first test of faith at Marah, to their desire to have a god that fit their convenience, they were always their own worst enemies.

In Numbers 11, their ugly side began to show again. It started among the mixture of people they had with them - the Egyptians that were impressed with the way God rescued Israel and followed them out to the wilderness. As they journeyed through the desert, these Egyptians began to crave their favorite foods from Egypt. Apparently this craving became a continuous topic of conversation and eventually the Israelites picked up on it. The miraculous provision that God poured out for them every morning became the object of complaint. They began to long for what they saw as the luxuries of Egypt; meat, fish, and a few vegetables. Ignoring the hardships of slavery, they began to dream of going back!

These complaints and cravings became rampant throughout the camp. Whenever two people talked to each other, this craving eventually wormed its way into the conversation. Whenever they came to see Moses, this was what they always brought up - we want meat to eat!

Finally, Moses got tired of dealing with their whining and moaning. Look at his conversation with God in verses 10-15, Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the Lord became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated. And Moses said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people? Did I give birth to them? Did I bring them into the world? Why did you tell me to carry them in my arms like a mother carries a nursing baby? How can I carry them to the land you swore to give their ancestors? Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep whining to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!

Whatever complaints these people had, they weren’t valid. They were rescued from a harsh life of slavery and were on their way to a land of their own. Their lives weren’t in danger - it wasn’t as if they were starving. And even though they may have a temporary shortage of meat, they did have meat to eat. They raised their own livestock, so manna wasn’t all they had to eat! Their problem was their own craving.

These people wouldn’t stop craving the things of Egypt, so God gave them over to it. He said in verse 18, “Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the Lord, saying, ‘Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt.’ Therefore the Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the Lord who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, ‘Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?’”

This is exactly what happened! God sent an enormous flock of quail. This flock covered the whole camp and extended for miles on either side of it. God held the birds fluttering about three feet above the ground. All the Israelites had to do was reach out and pull them out of the sky! No one gathered less than 30 pounds of meat - that is a lot of quail!

But this wasn’t a reward for their whining, it was a consequence of it. While they were gorging themselves, unrestrained in their craving, they began to die. Verse 33 says, “but while they were gorging themselves on the meat—while it was still in their mouths—the anger of the Lord blazed against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague.” Many people died and were buried there, all because they “yielded to intense craving” (verse 4 NKJV). When they moved on, they named that place Kibroth Hataavah - the graves of lust.

1 Corinthians 10:1-6 “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.”

Everything that happened to the Israelites after the Exodus happened as a spiritual example for us. The things they went through are a picture of what we go through on our spiritual journey. Some of these examples are good to follow, more of them are warnings to avoid. This is one of those warning.

We all had things that we really liked to do while we were in the world. It could be drinking, it could be partying, it could be pornography - it could be anything. Before we received salvation, we were slaves to all kinds of sin. But when we were rescued by Jesus, we were delivered from the power those sins had over us. Now we no longer have to submit to it. However, now we have to diligently remove any trace of our old life from our new one.

Our flesh will still desire, or crave, the things we once did. Sin is so sneaky! It will convince you to remember all the fun you had when you behaved that way - all the while forgetting the bondage you were in and the freedom you longed for! It will pant thoughts like: “Do you remember all the fun you had?” “Don’t you remember how good those tasted?” “You know, before you were saved, you didn’t feel bad about doing that!” If you don’t respond properly, you’ll find this thing worming its way deeper inside.

Eventually, if you don’t stop that craving (that lust), you’ll have the opportunity to go back to it. But just like there were consequences for the Israelites, there will be consequences for gratifying that lust. Stay away from that “meat”!

How should we respond to these ungodly cravings? The same way the Israelites should have - by focusing on what you have, not what you don’t have! These people had their freedom! They had a promise! They were being supernaturally provided for! If they would’ve filled up on what God gave them, they wouldn’t have hungered for what they used to eat. Remember, manna is symbolic of God’s Word - our spiritual food from Heaven.’re answer to these cravings is to keep your nose inside the pages of your Bible.

Cut out those things in your life that are stirring up your lusts (like those Egyptians that were traveling with the Israelites) and replace their thoughts with what God’s word says! Whatever you do, never allow yourself to return to the things that held you in bondage!

Romans 6:16-18 “Don't you know that when you give yourselves to obey someone you become that person's slave? You can be slaves of sin. Then you will die. Or you can be slaves who obey God. Then you will live a godly life. You used to be slaves of sin. But thank God that with your whole heart you obeyed the teachings you were given! You have been set free from sin. You have become slaves to right living.”