John Michael Talbot’s “The Battle Belongs to the Lord” with lyrics from the album “Come Worship The Lord, Vol. 2”
Today I want to take a break from a specific current event, from cartoons, from book reviews, from links to other articles.
Instead, I want to share a few thoughts from what I read in the Bible the other day. Going through the book of Isaiah, I came across a passage I’ve noted before, but one that deserves greater attention. It’s found in chapter five:
Woe to those who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood, and sin as if with cart ropes; …
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight!
It seems as if we are surrounded by those who have turned everything upside down. What used to be considered evil [abortion; homosexuality] is now considered a “good” for society. We walk in spiritual and moral darkness and proclaim that it is “light.” We’re more intelligent than those who came before us, you see. They weren’t as sophisticated as we are. They actually believed there were eternal laws and God-given concepts of right and wrong.
We’ve come so far.
This attitude also reminds me of a passage in the book of Romans, chapter one, where the apostle Paul speaks of those who practice such things as homosexuality, envy, murder, greed, strife, deceit, and malice. He remarks that gossip, slander, insolence, arrogance, and mercilessness abound. Further, he instructs,
And although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
These two passages fit together nicely, Old and New Testament confirming the continuity of the message. And as it was in ancient Israel and in the Roman Empire of New Testament times, so it is today.
Jesus solidified this principle in His talk with Nicodemus when He told him,
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.
Men still hate the Light—otherwise known as Jesus the Messiah—because the light He shines on them exposes their evil.
“Religion is okay, but don’t get too specific about this Jesus fellow, and don’t tell me I have to submit my life to Him. I want to do what I want to do.”
That attitude is the essence of sin—a self-centeredness that rejects the Lordship of the rightful Lord.
The book of James gets to the bottom line:
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.
You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
Too much of modern Christianity avoids tough language like this. We don’t speak enough about sin, repentance, and the kind of life God expects us to lead when we say we give our hearts to Him. There’s a gap between what we say and what we do as the “church” of the living God.
That gap needs to go away. We need to be what we say we are.
That was just on my mind today. Yes, I know it came across as a sermon. I would apologize, but I don’t think God wants me to. We need to take Him more seriously.
Dr. Alan Snyder
Loneliness will creep into every life at some point. But believers are never truly alone because God has given us a permanent companion—the Holy Spirit. He is the Helper who is with us forever.
No one can truthfully promise to always be available to another person; the realities of time, distance, and even death can separate two people who would rather face difficulties together. Thankfully, by sending the Holy Spirit to live inside of us, Jesus Christ keeps His promise to never leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). This means that the relationship with our Companion is greater than any human relationship we have. Since God’s Spirit is a person of the Trinity, He is able to meet our every need. His foreknowledge allows Him to prepare our hearts and minds for any situation.
Human beings weren’t meant to live alone. God designed us to be complete only when we are indwelt by His Spirit, which occurs upon our salvation. We can choose to ignore the Holy Spirit however. For example, some people stubbornly attempt to live the Christian life in their own strength or skip Bible reading when they find meditating on the Word inconvenient. That kind of life is marked by discontent: Peace will be fleeting, and loneliness will feel like the heart’s permanent resident.
The Holy Spirit is our parakletos, or companion who “walks beside.” If we hold Him at arm’s length, we distance ourselves from the Father as well. But if we ask the Spirit to guide our steps and open our minds to God’s ways, He is available.
“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds.” (Colossians 4:2-3)
This strong command is composed of two very similar Greek terms—gregoreuo, meaning “vigilant” or “alert,” and agrupneo, meaning “be awake.” A similar emphasis is at the end of the classic passage identifying the armor of God: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
Our watching must also be with a conscious attitude of thanksgiving during “every remembrance” of each other (Philippians 1:3), particularly since the intercessory request should be focused on asking our Lord Jesus to provide an open door (Revelation 3:8). The Lord is indeed the One who opens the door, but the process for obtaining His action is recorded in Luke 11:9-11. We must ask for the gift of the open door, seek to find the door that He is opening, and then knock once we are at the door that He is ready to open for us.
However, as Paul notes, when the Lord opens a “door of utterance,” the spoken Word of God conveys the power of God—and that message and its power will bring the attention of the Enemy. “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9).
Any fear that might lurk in our minds should be overridden by the necessity to be spokesmen for this wonderful “mystery of Christ.” There is no “salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). HMM III
It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. —1 Corinthians 5:1
The period in which we now live may well go down in history as the Erotic Age. Sex love has been elevated into a cult. Eros has more worshipers among civilized men today than any other god. For millions the erotic has completely displaced the spiritual….
Now if this god would let us Christians alone I for one would let his cult alone. The whole spongy, fetid mess will sink some day under its own weight and become excellent fuel for the fires of hell, a just recompense which is meet, and it becomes us to feel compassion for those who have been caught in its tragic collapse. Tears and silence might be better than words if things were slightly otherwise than they are. But the cult of Eros is seriously affecting the Church. The pure religion of Christ that flows like a crystal river from the heart of God is being polluted by the unclean waters that trickle from behind the altars of abomination that appear on every high hill and under every green tree from New York to Los Angeles.
Lord, I pray for any of Your servants who are caught in the trap of immorality or pornography. This “whole spongy, fetid mess” has so many in its clutches—give victory today, I pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
And I say unto thee,… upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18
The highest expression of the will of God in this age is the Church which He purchased with His own blood.
According to the Scriptures the Church is the habitation of God through the Spirit, and as such is the most important organism beneath the sun. She is not one more good institution along with the home, the state, and the school; she is the only one that can claim a heavenly origin!
The Church is found wherever the Holy Spirit has drawn together a few persons who trust Christ for their salvation, worship God in spirit and have no dealings with the world and the flesh. The members may by necessity be scattered and separated by distance and circumstances, but in every true member of the Church is the homing instinct and the longing of the sheep for the fold and the shepherd.
Give a few real Christians half a chance and they will get together and organize and plan regular meetings for prayer and worship and Bible study, and try as far as possible to spread the saving gospel to the lost world.
Such groups are cells in the Body of Christ, and each one is a true church, a real part of the greater Church. It is in and through these cells that the Spirit does His work on earth. Whoever scorns the local church scorns the Body of Christ.
The Church is still to be reckoned with—”The gates of hell shall not prevail against her.”
O death, where is thy sting?… thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 CORINTHIANS 15:55, 57
The prophets and the psalmists of the Old Testament wrestled as we do with the problem of evil in a divine universe, but their approach to God and nature was much more direct than ours. They did not interpose between God and His world that opaque web we moderns call the “laws of nature.”
They could see God in a whirlwind and hear Him in a storm, and they did not hesitate to say so! There was about their lives an immediate apprehension of the divine. Everything in heaven and on earth assured them that this is God’s world and that He
rules over all.
I heard a Methodist bishop tell of being called to the bedside of an elderly dying woman in his early ministry. He said he was frightened; but the old saint was radiantly happy. When he tried to express the sorrow he felt about her illness, she would not hear it.
“Why, God bless you, young man,” she said cheerfully, “there is nothing to be scared about. I am just going to cross over Jordan, where my Father owns the land on both sides of the river!” She understood about the unity of all things in God’s creation.
Lord, just as Brother Lawrence “practiced the presence of God” in his daily life, I want my life to be about “apprehending the divine” so that I may have a steady supply of godly wisdom, spiritual power and delightful fellowship.