VIDEO The Crooked Steeple – God’s Purpose in Our Pain

The Crooked Steeple

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

Turns out that crooked church steeples make people nervous. When we visited some friends, they shared how, after a fierce windstorm, their church’s proud steeple was crooked, causing some alarm.

Of course, the church quickly repaired the flagging spire, but the humorous image got me thinking. Often church is seen as a place where everything is expected to look perfect; it’s not seen as a place where we can show up crooked. Right?

But in a fallen, broken world, all of us are “crooked,” each with our own collection of natural weaknesses. We might be tempted to keep our vulnerabilities under wraps, but Scripture encourages the opposite attitude. In 2 Corinthians 12, for example, Paul suggests that it’s in our weaknesses—for him, an unnamed struggle he calls a “thorn in my flesh” (v. 7)—that Christ is most likely to reveal His power. Jesus had told Paul, “My power is made perfect in weakness” (v. 9). So Paul concluded, “For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (v. 10).

We may not like our imperfections, but hiding them only denies Jesus’s power to work within those aspects of ourselves. When we invite Jesus into the crooked places in us, He gently mends and redeems in ways our effort could never accomplish.

By Adam Holz

Reflect & Pray

What are some of the “crooked” places in your life? In what ways have you seen God work through your imperfections?

Invite Jesus into your imperfections for His mending.


God’s Purpose in Our Pain (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

America’s Christians…. Ashamed and Afraid

The state of the Christian church in America today is nothing like it was when I was young and the change is not a good one.

When I was young, many Christians boldly stood up for Jesus Christ and their faith in Him. They weren’t embarrassed to pray over the meal when eating in a restaurant or in front of other people. They weren’t afraid to stand up against the social recognition of sins and perverse lifestyles.

Sadly, over the past 50 years, millions of American Christians began to compromise with the decaying secular world. Rather than continue to stand up for their faith, they didn’t want offended anyone and they wanted to be inclusive.

Believing they were witnessing to perverse sinners, they opened their doors to them and then began catering to them. Afraid that hearing the truth that they were sinners living a life that God calls abominable, many churches watered down their teaching of God’s Word.

In my late 20’s, I was sick one Sunday morning and stayed home from church. I turned the television on and found the church service of a well-known pastor of a huge church in California. As I sat and listened to him, I was absolutely shocked when I heard him tell his auditorium of several thousand that he was intentionally compromising the Word of God so that they (his parishioners) would feel better about themselves. He repeated telling them how he compromised the Word of God for their sake and the audience applauded him. I later found out that he refused to preach about sin because he didn’t want people to have a poor self-image. He also stated that when Adam fell, he lost his self-esteem and that when we are saved by Jesus Christ that we regain our self-esteem.

I was appalled to learn that this preacher was leading thousands of gullible people to eternity in Hell by teaching them a false Gospel, and sadly, he wasn’t nor has he been the only preacher to teach a false Gospel. Jesus warned us about such false teachers in the following verses:

Matthew 7:15-16: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”

Matthew 24:10-12: “And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.”

Matthew 24:23-25: “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.  For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.”

There are other warnings about false teachers and false prophets, but what I want to know is why so many people who claim to be Christians are embarrassed and/or afraid to stand up for what the Bible really teaches?

We’ve all seen far too many examples where a Christian will remain silent or refuse to confront false teaching or preaching. When a Christian stands up and defends homosexuality, they are sharing a false Gospel. When someone stand up and says that everyone who leads a good life will go to heaven is teaching a false Gospel and the list goes on and on.

There is far too much emphasis in our culture today about not offending others and being all inclusive, but that is NOT what the Bible teaches and it’s not what Jesus taught. Far too many Christians are afraid to be a true follower of Jesus Christ, especially when He warned us:

Matthew 10:17-22:

“Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

Are you willing to endure the hatred and treatment of the secular world for Christ’s sake or are you one of those who is afraid of offending someone or losing everything you own? Be honest!

If Christians lived their faith the way Muslims live theirs, America would still be a Christian nation and many of the problems we see in our nation today would not exist. America is the way it is today because too many Christians are afraid or embarrassed to stand up for and live their faith.

 

Original here

 

 

Those Who Have Never Heard

Romans 1:16-25

In many countries, the gospel cannot be shared freely. Repressive governments and religions stop Christians from telling others about Jesus. However, God is mightier than oppression. Where human messengers can’t carry the good news, the Lord is revealing Himself to those whose hearts are open.

God wants everyone to come to a saving knowledge of Him (1 Timothy 2:4). But because He is holy and just, He can’t overlook man’s sinful condition, which renders all guilty and without excuse (Rom. 1:18-20). That is, He will not admit people into heaven unless they have acknowledged their need for a Savior (Rom. 3:20-23). However, our Father is also fair and merciful. He makes His presence known to every person so that each one can recognize His sovereignty.

The Lord does this by revealing Himself to all mankind in two ways: through conscience and creation. First, He has imbedded His basic moral guidelines in the human conscience (Rom. 1:19). In other words, at some point in life, people generally have an innate sense that certain actions are right and others are wrong. Second, the Creator displays His power and divine nature through what He has made (Rom. 1:20). The complexity, variety, order, and beauty of the world all point to a Designer.

We can’t pinpoint every method the Lord uses to reveal Himself. Yet we can be sure nothing will stop Him from reaching out to people who follow conscience and creation to the logical conclusion—the existence of a loving, sovereign God.

Separate, Sensual and Mockers

“But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.” (Jude 1:17-19)

Jude had previous contact with the apostle Peter and was aware of Peter’s observation “that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts” (2 Peter 3:3). Peter describes the lusts of these scoffers by pointing out that their derision is focused on the second coming of our Lord Jesus—they deny the very possibility of the creation itself and, therefore, the omnipotent and omniscient authority of God Himself (2 Peter 3:4-6).

Jude, however, focuses on the core character of these mockers, noting that they “separate themselves” and are “sensual.” They are “soulish” (the Greek word is the adjective form of the noun for soul). That is, these kinds of people are driven by their “natural man” and cannot receive “the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:14). James is even more intense: These people are “earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:15).

Furthermore, they consciously separate themselves from the godly. The apostle John speaks to this phenomenon: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (1 John 2:19). Jesus simply notes that “every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (John 3:20).

It is therefore an absolute—these people do not have the Spirit of God dwelling in them. “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9). HMM III

A Hireling Is No True Shepherd

Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee but the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

—2 Timothy 1:6-7

It is doubtful whether we can be Christian in anything unless we are Christian in everything. To obey Christ in one or two or ten instances and then in fear of consequences to back away and refuse to obey in another is to cloud our life with the suspicion that we are only fair-weather followers and not true believers at all. To obey when it costs us nothing and refuse when the results are costly is to convict ourselves of moral trifling and gross insincerity….

Again, the pastor when facing his congregation on Sunday morning, dare not think of the effect his sermon may have on his job, his salary or his future relation to the church. Let him but worry about tomorrow and he becomes a hireling and no true shepherd of the sheep. No man is a good preacher who is not willing to lay his future on the line every time he expounds the Word. He must let his job and his reputation ride on each and every sermon or he has no right to think that he stands in the prophetic tradition.   SIZ146-147

Give me grace to follow, Lordespecially when it really does cost me something. Amen.

 

Put on the new man

Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.—Ephesians 4:23, 24.

 

Be constant, O happy soul, be constant, and of good courage; for, however intolerable thou art to thyself, yet thou wilt be protected, enriched, and beloved by that greatest Good, as if He had nothing else to do than to lead thee to perfection by the highest steps of love; and if thou dost not turn away, but per-severest constantly, know that thou offerest to God the most acceptable sacrifice, If, from the chaos of nothing, His omnipotence has produced so many wonders, what will He do in thy soul, created after His own image and likeness, if thou keepest constant, quiet, and resigned.

Miguel De Molinos.

 

Wouldst thou feel thy soul’s rest in Christ? Thou must know His voice, hear it, learn daily of Him, become His disciple; take up, from His nature, what is contrary to thy nature. And then, as thy nature is worn out, and His nature comes up in thee, thou wilt find all easy; all that is of life easy, and transgression hard—unbelief hard: yea, thou wilt find it very hard and unnatural, when His nature is grown up in thee, either to distrust the Lord or hearken to His enemy.

Isaac Penington.

 

Yes, We May Speak For God

“There fore thus saith the Lord, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth.” Jer. 15:19

Poor Jeremiah! Yet why do we say so? The weeping prophet was one of the choicest servants of God, and honored by Him above many. He was hated for speaking the truth. The word which was so sweet to him was bitter to his hearers, yet he was accepted of his Lord. He was commanded to abide in his faithfulness, and then the Lord would continue to speak through him. He was to deal boldly and truthfully with men, and perform the Lord’s winnowing work upon the professors of his day, and then the Lord gave him this word, “Thou shalt be as my mouth.”

What an honor! Should not every preacher, yea, every believer, covet it? For God to speak by us, what a marvel! We shall speak sure, pure truth; and we shall speak it with power. Our word shall not return void; it shall be a blessing to those who receive it, and those who refuse it shall do so at their peril. Our lips shall feed many. We shall arouse the sleeping and call the dead to life.

O dear reader, pray that it may be so with all the sent servants of our Lord.