- To embrace the will of God for our life…God is the One Who is going to go with you.
- That our employer, our national leaders, our health, our retirement may fail us…God has never and will never fail you.
- That those we love or invest in might forsake us…God will never forsake you.
Does God have a specific task and calling for every believer in the local church? Yes! Yes! Yes! Beginning with Christ and His disciples and throughout the New Testament, God teaches believers that we were saved to serve. While the world has always despised serving others and promoted being served, the Bible teaches us the exact opposite. All those who follow Christ should be servants.
In many churches today, there is a dangerous philosophy that has crept in. It is the idea that the pastor and staff are paid to do all the serving. With this philosophy, soulwinning, cleaning, maintenance, vehicle repairs, lawn care, snow removal, hospitality, care for the hurting, widows and fatherless and much more is hired out to staff. The Bible says in Ephesian 4:11-12 that the very purpose of a pastor is to develop believers to serve in the church. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11–12) Yes, the pastor is to serve and one of the greatest ways he can serve believers is by developing them to serve. Certainly, a part of this development, is personally modeling a servant’s heart just like Jesus did for His disciples in John 13.
As a believer, don’t buy into this philosophy that you come to church to be served. You have a vital part in what God wants to do in your church and community. William McDonald aptly said, “Limitation of Christian service to a select class of men hinders the development of God’s people, stifles the cause of world evangelism, and stunts the growth of the church. The distinction between clergy and laity is unscriptural and perhaps the greatest single hindrance to the spread of the gospel.”
I encourage you that if you do not already have a place to serve in your church with your God-given gift, this Sunday, ask your pastor how you can serve. Don’t wait to be asked. Be eager to serve.
It is natural to follow feelings. You get too close to the burner on your stove and your feelings (senses) tell you that you had better move back quick. In our daily life, we often adjust our behavior based on our feelings. It is natural!
However, when we come to being committed followers of Jesus Christ, our feelings can really mess things up. Here’s what I mean. The Bible tells us to “Love your enemies…“. It also tells us to “...have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness…” Immediately, our feelings say, “No way!” Yet, God commands us to do these things. It is important to stop and look at the facts. The fact is, with every command, He will give the strength to obey it. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” If we live by feelings we will never obey God’s Word. So what is the answer?
The answer is to live by faith, not by feelings. We can obey by placing our faith in fact—the truth and trustworthiness of God’s Word. Living life by your feelings is to live life backwards. You will be fickle and frustrated. Living life by faith in God’s truth, will always keep you following Jesus. This is a life of safety, stability and spiritual strength.
Your spiritual heart is the real you—your thinking, will and emotions. The parable of the sower in Mark 4:1-20 shows us that Jesus was very concerned that his followers would have a heart that was ready to receive the His truth. Today, Jesus is just as concerned that we would have that kind of heart. Consider some ways to develop a fertile heart for God’s truth.
- Honor God’s Word. One of the most obvious signs of a hard heart is a casual approach to God’s Word. It is seen in the take-it or leave-it kind of attitude. When we begin to convince ourselves that daily reading of the Bible is really not that important. Hearing your pastor preach God’s Word is good and needful for my children, but its not a big deal if I miss church or am distracted at church. Honor God’s Word by giving time and priority to both reading it and hearing it preached.
- Plan to Respond. Every time our Bibles are opened, God intends to guide us into all truth and we must respond to that truth. We can respond positively or negatively. As a preacher, I am often burdened at the hesitance of believers to respond openly to God’s Word. We have, seemingly, bought into the world’s thinking that our relationship with God is completely a private issue, so we keep it to ourselves. The problem with that is, we begin to present ourselves as never having the need to progress in our relationships with God. We give the impression that we have nothing about which to be humble before God and others. Let’s keep a fertile heart by planning to respond to the truth that God reveals to us.
- Choose to be Real. We all want to appear well. In church, we want to appear as spiritual. Sure, we would not admit or say that. If we are honest, this desire can be nothing more than cleverly packaged pride. When you or I come to God’s Word, we must come realizing that we are broken messes in desperate need of God to fix us. Why? Because we are human. We have flesh. Let’s learn to admit it and simply be real so that we can have a fertile heart that is ready to be fixed.
- Eliminate all Distractions. God’s truth cannot have an affect on your heart if it does not have access to your heart. Much of the reason God’s Word does not have access to our hearts is the constant barrage of distractions. Life will give you 101 alternatives to being in your Bible or in church—lawn care, shopping, sales, events, extracurricular activities, sport schedules and fatigue etc.. Even when you go to church, there will be a host of distractions that would keep you from being in the Word. Go to church to hear God’s Word for yourself personally. If this will happen, distractions must be eliminated.
Proverbs 4:23 “Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life.” Our hearts will only remain fertile as we choose to guard them from becoming hard. The propensity of every heart is to harden. Praise God, that with His help, it is possible for every heart to remain fertile—ready to hear, accept and apply God’s truth in our daily lives.
Listen to A Responsive Heart
The July 4th holiday, aka Independence Day is celebrated with reunions, barbecues, parades, festivals, bonfires and fireworks. Adults and children alike enjoy wearing and waving red, white and blue. Flags go up on houses and poles, and the Star Spangled Banner is sung. This special day provides a needed mid-summer break for hard working Americans to relax and spend time with those they love. All these things and more is what Americans love about July 4th.
As I participate in public Independence Day activities, I am often reminded just how detached we, as Americans, have become from it’s significance. Because we have been an independent nation for two hundred and forty-one years, it is easy to forget that there was a time we were not independent.
There was a time that we were required to pay taxes to a nation which gave us no representation. July 4, 1776 marks the day that the final version of the Declaration of Independence was approved. Though it was not signed until August, this is the date that is included in the Declaration as the day we, as a nation, declared our independence from the tyranny of England.
MEMORIALS ARE IMPORTANT:
We become detached when we fail to remember the significance of past events. This was the sentiment of John Adams when, in 1817, he wrote in a letter that America seemed uninterested in its past. Fortunately this would soon change. When the Federalist party fell apart following the War of 1812, the Declaration of Independence began to be circulated again.
The deaths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson on July 4, 1826, also helped to serve as an important reminder of the day. By 1870, Congress declared July 4th to be a national holiday in a bill that also included the observation of Christmas as a holiday.
If we are to remember, establishing memorials is essential. We see this demonstrated for us in Scripture. God often called His people to establish memorials. He wanted them to remember significant, life-changing events like crossing the Jordan on dry ground. He wanted them to remember Lot’s wife. He wants believers to be reminded often of the sacrifice of Christ by observing the Lord’s Supper. Memorials are important.
As we celebrate Independence Day, we are pausing to remember the day that our nation was born as an independent nation. The day we became a free nation. As such, our nation became something truly exceptional because our nation and its founders valued independence and freedom.
FREEDOM IS FROM GOD:
“WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” The well known opening lines of the declaration reveal that the writers understood that freedom is a gift from God.
This understanding directly stemmed from their respect of the Word of God. While many today question our beginnings and seek to turn from the God of the Bible, it is extremely important that we remember that the freedom we celebrate is from God. It was made possible by men who believed this and pledge their lives and sacred honor to procure it for our nation.
As we celebrate, may we remember again that the freedom we enjoy today is a product of our nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage.
Take the time to remember the significance of Independence Day. Share it with your family and friends. Take a moment to publicly thank God for the freedom that we are privileged to enjoy. Also, don’t forget your personal independence day. It is the day you were set free from power and penalty of sin. The day you believed on Jesus to save your soul. John 8:36 says, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
(This article was originally posted on Theology without Apology)
Disney and the Gay Agenda
Disney has been in the center of some controversy over its decision to include a gay scene featuring Josh Gad as LeFou in the newly released Beauty and the Beast (released March 17th). The opposition was voiced especially via social media and petitions. One of the petitions created by Life Site News gave the message to Disney, “Children’s movies are no place for promoting a harmful sexual political agenda, one that offends the deeply-held beliefs of countless parents and families.” The New York Times responded to this opposition with the article, “‘Beauty and the Beast’: Disney’s $300 Million Gamble.” Even the New York Times saw such a move as a dangerous one for a company that claims to be family oriented.
If any people wonder if this is a casual move on Disney’s part, it is not. Bill Condon, Beauty and the Beast’s director, is quoted as saying the movie includes “A nice exclusively gay moment.” He goes on to share that Disney deals with the opposition by ignoring it. The point is, Disney has no intention of changing. In an interview, Condon was asked about his feelings toward the Bible and what he would do when he finds one in a hotel, “I wish I could say I’m like Ian McKellen and immediately go rip pages out of the Bible, but there don’t seem to be Bibles in the hotel rooms I stay in these days.” The obvious fact is, Condon has no respect for God’s Word and defiantly chooses to promote agendas contrary to it. Furthermore, it is evident that Disney will continue to promote whatever agenda is in vogue even if it causes them to lose supporters for a time.
We must realize that this is not new for Disney. Disney has been a kind of Trojan horse, seeming to uphold traditional, moral, family values, when in reality, they have been doing just the opposite. During 1994, Disney opted to begin granting health insurance benefits to homosexuals. This move was a declaration of approval for the gay lifestyle. Their annually hosted “gay days” at their theme parks further confirms this. Disney has well earned the public reputation as a promoter of the homosexual lifestyle.
What Does the Bible Say?
God designed marriage to be between one woman and one man, and it is honorable. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Nature itself reveals that this is God’s design for companionship and procreation. Man will give account for every distortion of this sacred institution. (Romans 1:26-27, 32)
Shock of Bible Believers
However, even with Disney’s blatant defiance of Biblical principles, I am often more amazed at the shock expressed by born-again believers concerning the decisions of this and other secular organizations to promote anti-biblical agendas. There is shock over Starbucks not promoting Christmas on their cups. There is shock that Target would want to publicly jump on the transgender bathroom bandwagon. Currently, there is shock that Disney would take an old story, reshape it, and use it to promote a sexual political agenda. The list could go on, but I think you get the idea. We sometimes are stunned at the fact that the lost act like the lost.
A Secular Company and Biblical Values
This is what is most astonishing about this issue–not that Disney is failing to uphold moral values, but that believers are surprised at it. You see, the Bible gives us several truths about the lost that show us that they simply do not have the ability to understand or uphold Biblical values.
I Corinthians 2:14 says, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Those without Christ do not understand Biblical truth and do not make their decisions according to it. We are reminded in Ephesians 2:1 that before salvation, we “…were dead in tresspasses and sins.”
We were spiritually separated from God in active lawlessness and defiance against God. Every lost person is in that exact position of defiance against God’s laws. I John 3:8 shows us that they continuously sin and side with the god of this world—Satan.
“He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.” While we all mourn the declining morality of so many in our society, we must remember that they do not have the ability to uphold Biblical values—they are lost. That is the job of Bible believers.
Christians point their fingers at the lost and expect them to act like believers and follow God’s Word. They won’t. That’s why we have been left here. God has told us to be salt and light. He has commanded us to go and preach the Gospel to every creature. They will not stop acting against God until they personally know God through a relationship with His Son Jesus. That’s where we come in.
May we as Bible believers be ever ready to share Jesus Christ everywhere we go.