Monday, June 14, 2021

Win Souls and Make Disciples

The very heart of the LORD, especially concerning the multitudes who do not know Him, was, is and will always be, until His return, is for the church, in every generation, to engage every culture, to win souls and make disciples. It should be apparent to us that the more effective and intimate times of worship that we spend before the Lord, the more effective that we are at edifying one another, the more effective we will be as ministers of Christ bringing the good news of reconciliation to a lost world. The church is the only vehicle on the planet in which God is using to bring salvation to a lost and dying world. But just how effective is the church today in carrying out the great commission.

When we examine the workings of the early church it becomes a stark reality to the church today that we pale at fulfilling the great commission. Recent studies of the church in the USA show that approximately eighty percent of those who attend church one or more times a month, believe they have a personal responsibility to share the gospel. However, only nineteen percent of them have spoken to another person about how to become a Christian in the last twelve months. So how is the church growing today? Studies reveal that a good portion of church growth in the USA is not actually growth coming by way of reaching the lost as it is with Christians moving from church to church.  Demographic studies indicate that the percentage of Christians world wide is not increasing, but in fact, true Christianity is losing ground to false religions and humanistic concepts that have been accepted in the church by church leaders.

The humanistic approach for church growth has many names, but its purpose is to make church more accessible and sensitive to the needs of  so called "seekers." It appeals to liberal mainline denominational Christians, Catholics, secular humanists, some Messianic Jewish groups and many who have stopped attending church altogether. Why does it appeal to these groups? The central point of what they teach comes down to nothing more than pop psychology with self-improvement concepts of our day which they call, "relevant messages." They present a message contrary to the Word of God that promotes a worldview of personal fulfillment, that evil on earth is conquered through the good will of men, that there are no evil people but only misguided ones and worse yet for some, Jesus is not the only way to salvation. This is all for one purpose, so people can feel comfortable attending their services. It should be obvious why this approach attracts so many people. However, the great deception behind this approach is numbers. If there is growth, then God has to be in it. Though these congregations tend to grow very large, do numbers really mean that God is in it? Absolutely not!!! In fact Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world and I can assure you that God is not in it.

The church (name withheld) most likely recognized as the forefront runner of this method of church growth has conducted a major survey to see what the results are from this method of church growth. The major thing that this survey revealed was, there was heavy involvement in church programs and activities that contribute to church growth, but it did not translate into spiritual growth and maturity. Their approach to church was not producing solid disciples of Jesus Christ. Numbers yes, but not disciples. Findings like these have caused the church leaders to stand up and admit, "We made a mistake." Can you remember the last time a church leader said anything like that?  It certainly takes humility and courage to admit this, but they are correct in their conclusion and should be applauded. Some of the deceptions that they have come to grips with are such things as, recognizing that the Church today is into therapy and needs to teach doctrine and grow people in the faith. That the church cannot just lead people to a superficial confession of Christ and not have their lives transformed. That church leaders cannot let themselves get caught up in a "just-get-'em-in-the-doors" mentality, no matter how attractive and effective it looks. That this approach to church growth can too easily lead to the watering-down of the Gospel, to a "feel-good" faith, where the church has little impact in society. They have concluded that the health of the church is not just about the numbers. It's about the movement of people toward Christ, toward deep love for God and genuine love for others.

The most deceptive issue behind this approach to church growth is not being able to "discern the sign of the times." In 2 Timothy 3:1-5 the Holy Spirit reveals to the apostle Paul exactly what we see taking place in the church today, it's called apostasy. Apostasy is the disaffiliation, abandonment, or renunciation of one's religion; the abandonment or renunciation of a religious belief. Paul, addressing the coming apostasy tells us that it only produces a form of godliness not true godliness and that it opposes the real power of Christianity. Paul tells us, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." (Romans 1:16) "And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." (1 Corinthians 2:4-5) So what about real church growth?

In order for the church to see significant growth, it must adopt, embrace, implement and act upon the words that Jesus spoke which gave the early church unprecedented success and growth as well having an incredible impact and effect on society...
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20). The church is to make disciples, students and follower of Jesus, not converts and follower of the desires of the flesh. They are to be taught and to comply with all things that Jesus said and did. This means to be taught and comply with the Word of God, the Bible, not books filled with vain philosophy and psychology that have been authored by church leaders. Notice that what Jesus spoke is a command not a suggestion. He finishes His command by saying, "and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Church leaders must wake up and understand that if we are not obeying what the Lord has commanded, even though we may have large numbers of people, the Lord will not be with us. We will find ourselves building an Ichabod without even knowing it because we have mistaken numbers for true Christianity.

Jesus also said, "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." (Mark 16:17-18) Then Mark also records, "So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs." (Mark 16:19-20) Jesus will always confirm His Word with signs and wonders. If congregation are not seeing signs and wonders then only three possibilities exist. You either do not believe that signs and wonders are for today, you are not teaching and preaching the Word of God or most likely, both. The reality is, signs and wonders have always been a part of God revealing Himself to humanity in both the Old and New Testament. It was signs, wonders and the Word of God that drew the multitudes to Jesus. It was signs, wonders and the Word of God that gave the early church unprecedented success and growth and it will be signs, wonders and the Word of God that will cause the greatest church growth in the end times.

I myself almost got caught up in building church the very way mentioned above where we experienced great numerical growth but it was at the expense of true spiritual growth. However, about six years ago a tug of war emerged within me where I became frustrated with church. The Lord spoke to me and told me to preach His Word and He would reproduce Himself in the saints who would walk in His grace and power through faith in Jesus Christ. Well, as fast as we grew, we began to shrink in number. But that also happened to Jesus when He spoke spiritual truths to his disciples,  "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father. From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more." (John 6:63-66)  In the midst of it all I stood upon God's Word and as always He is faithful to do what He had promised.

The lost world desperately needs to see the real Jesus, and hear the real truth, God's Word. The Book of Acts reveals just how powerful the name of Jesus is as well as the Word of God. The apostle Paul knew this and considered all that he had learned his entire life as a religious leader to be repulsive to the knowledge of Christ, the truth. (Philippians 3:7-9) The lost world is depending on the church to rid itself of new age philosophies, pop psychology and worldly concepts of self-improvement and return back to the scriptures so that they can become complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work, experiencing true life as well as experience the power and glory that radiates from the life of Jesus Christ to the believer. Remember, Jesus Said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) Bless the Lord!!! 

Monday, June 7, 2021

Editifying One Another in Love

The act of edifying, is to build up, especially in a moral, emotional, or spiritual sense, through encouragement and instruction.. This is accomplished by the members ministering to one another. The Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul reveals how the church is brought into this purpose, "And He Himself (Jesus) gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." (Ephesians 4:1-16).

Notice the five wonderful gifts apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, that Jesus gave to His church. Also notice the ministry that they bring to the church which causes growth. They equip the saints for the work of ministry, which is for the edifying of the body of Christ. When we look at church history and even look at the church today, we find that many sectors of the church reject the ministry of the apostle and prophet. Yet their purpose, (not function), for the edifying of the body of Christ is the same as the other three ministries, evangelist, pastor and teacher. Next, these five ministries are to function, till we all come to the unity of the faith. I suppose that those who do not believe that the ministry of the apostle and prophet exist today also believe that the church for centuries has been flowing together in the unity of the faith.

These five gifts are also to bring the church to the knowledge of the Son of God. The word knowledge here is the Greek word, epignosis which mean to have a full or complete knowledge. This complete knowledge would bring the church to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. But is this true for the church as we know it today? Maybe the rejection of the apostle and prophet is the main reason why the vase majority of the church is still a child being tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting. I like to say it this way, being tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine created and accepted by faithless church leaders, that operate in and through their senses.

The church is to be a related body of believers speaking the truth in love, that is growing up in all things into Him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." Let's look at some of the ways the church, every member of the body of Christ is to edify itself...

  • Love one another (John 13:34-35) 
  • Comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
  • Honor one another (Romans 12:10)
  • Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
  • Be kind to one another and forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Esteem one another better than yourself (Philippians 2:3)
  • Do not lie to one another (Colossians 3:9)
  • Encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13)
  • Do not speak evil of one another (James 4:11)
  • Have compassion for one another (1 Peter 3:8)
  • Fellowship with the Father, Son and one another (1 John 1:7)
This is not all inclusive of what scripture reveals concerning ways that all believers are to edify one another, but it is enough for us to get this second important reason for the church's purpose and existence. How do you suppose the world would react to the church if believers in just one denomination could live out the edification principle shown above? It is so very sad to see how congregations that seem to be concerned with the town or city that they are in do not work together because of pride and petty differences. I believe that what we call the church today will be restored to the principle that the Bible reveals which means the realization and acceptance of all the ascension gifts that Jesus gave to the church. As I have said to many pastors, success is not based on numbers but on the spiritual growth of each member of the body of Christ. I know this to be true on two levels.

Making a long story short, first, it was my passion to see large numbers in the church (it still is) but to achieve this it would come at a price. Church programs would need to be implemented to meet social needs, replacing true discipleship to meet spiritual needs. The church grew rapidly but the people did not grow spiritually.  The danger behind this is blending the glorious Body of Christ with worldly concepts for the sake of numbers. It is twisting the Word of God so people can feel good about themselves by avoiding any scripture that might sound offensive or seen as being intolerant. In other words, it's presenting a people pleasing passive gospel rather that a God pleasing life changing gospel. General William Booth said it best, “I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.” (This was spoken over one hundred years ago)

The second part of the equation is revealed in the ministry of Jesus. He also had a "feel good" crowd following Him. (John 6:26) But when the truth was revealed many of these followers were offended and walked with Him no more. (John 6:60-61, 66) After ministering to thousands of people in the three and one half years of His ministry on earth as the Son of Man, only four women and one apostle stood by the cross. (John 19:26-26) Then after His resurrection He was seen by Peter, then by the twelve and five hundred other brethren. (1 Corinthians 15:5-6) However, after His ascension only about a hundred and twenty disciple gathered in the upper room waiting for the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4, 15). Not a very large number of disciples after ministering to multitudes of people for three and one half years.

The point is that edifying one another in the church does not mean being social only, but more important, being spiritual. The church must get back to relating on a spiritual level, God is Spirit (John 4:24) and love one another as God loves (Romans 5:3-8) for God is love (1 John 4:16) We must understand that the God kind of love in the believer is a fruit of the recreated spirit (Galatians 5:22) and for the church to truly edify itself in love, every believer must respond to the God kind of love that is spiritual and not the social kind of love that is carnal. Finally, the church must let all of the ascension gifts operate in their individual functions to fulfill the mandate of Ephesians 4:12-16. So, let us all decide to take our part in edifying one another in the God kind of love which is spiritual.    

Monday, May 31, 2021


Today, throughout the United States it is a national holiday entitled, Memorial Day. It is a day in which Americans remember the service men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice of giving their lives so that others may have freedom. They did not give their lives for the United States alone, but also for others throughout the world in efforts to bring an end to demonized dictators who, like Satan their father, have only one desire, power over humanity. Their objective is to steal, kill, destroy and or hold in bondage to slavery their fellow man in efforts to promote their tyrannical reign.

Although people may have many thing to remember, for Christians the greatest Memorial Day for them should be, the day that we "confessed with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believed in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead, and were saved." (Romans 10:9) We celebrate the fact the Jesus Christ also paid the ultimate sacrifice by giving His life to save (redeem, heal, deliver, make whole) all humanity from Satan, the most evil, murderous tyrant known to man. We should remember as Paul said, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience." (Ephesians 2:1-2)

Notice that before one confesses Christ they "were dead in trespasses and sin" not spiritually sick, but spiritually dead. Cut off from and unable to communicate with God. This was due to the fact that before one is born again, they walk according to the world, according to the ways of the devil. Paul tells us that the devil, "The god of this age had blinded your mind from the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ..." (2 Corinthians 4:4) However, one day in the history of man, God took it upon Himself the fix the problem, "He  anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him." (Acts 10:38) Then a glorious thing happened. Jesus said, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him..." (John 6:44) Our heavenly Father drew us to Jesus, gave us the grace and faith to confess Christ. Then God immediately "delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:13-14)

When we consider what Jesus did for us and all mankind, the mind can hardly comprehend it. The apostle Paul tells us, "Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:18-19)   This means that not one person in all of humanity had the ability to provide redemption. God Himself became a man and provided man’s redemption. (John 1:14) It was God who redeemed man from the dominion of Satan. (1 John 3:8) It was God who destroyed death. (Hebrews 2:14) It was God who restored man’s authority over the Satan (Luke 10:19) It was God who adopted us through Jesus Christ and made us His children (Romans 8:15-16) It is God who gives us all things that pertain to life and godliness. (2 Peter 2:3) It is God who gives us exceedingly great and precious promises. (2 Peter 1:4) It is God who gives us the victory at all times (1 Corinthians 15:57) and it is God who gave us eternal life (1 John 2:25) all through Jesus Christ.

I could go on and on concerning what scripture says as to what God Himself did for humanity through Jesus Christ and what He gives to those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord. When we look to the promises that God has made throughout the Bible, there are several estimations. They range from 3000 to 7000 promises. Many of these promises were spoken by the Prophets and have been fulfilled through Jesus Christ. However, in the New Testament there is an estimated 750 promises that God has bestowed upon the believer. PTL Although today is Memorial Day, for the believer remembering what God did us and what he has given to us, should be a Memorial Day celebration everyday. 

Monday, May 24, 2021

We Have Purpose - Worship

I believe that the chief purpose for the church's existence is to glorify and worship God. My reasoning comes from what will take place in the presence of God at the end of time which is recorded in  Revelation 4:8-11 "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!"..."You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your pleasure they exist and were created." Notice that worship is directed towards God alone. What I mean is that if we look at many of the hymns of old and most of what we call contemporary Christian music of today, we will find that the majority of the lyrics are not focused on God but on the believer. For instance, many hymns put everything that believers are entitled to in this life off until they leave this life for the next. Also, the larger portion of the lyrics of contemporary Christian music tend to be beggarly prayers, that is, pleading with God by asking Him to do something that He has already done and made available to believers through Christ. Some other lyrics have taken scripture out of context or have declarations that are never acted upon and sadly, the lyrics almost never mentions the Name of Jesus.

Neither the Old or New Testament reveal a specific form or order of worship, but there is a way that God is to be worshiped. In John's gospel Jesus encounters a woman from a city called Sychar near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph, by a well. Although she insisted that she, a Samaritan (basically backslidden Israelites) worshiped the same God as the Jews worshiped, Jesus gives her a revelation of true worship, "Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:21-24)

Jesus reveals to the woman that God is Spirit. This removes any concept that God is an image or relic of any type. He also reveals that true worship of God will only be accomplished by worshiping Him in spirit and truth. Any other worship is actually idolatry. To worship in spirit believers must understand that God is Spirit and relates to humanity in the spiritual realm. With this knowledge, the believer then yields to the Holy Spirit who moves upon and energizes the believers recreated spirit to connect with God. God's Word is truth (John 17:17) so to worship God in truth means to worship according to His Word. In other words, the Bible records various ways to worship God, singing and speaking praise, shouting, lifting hands, clap, stand, bow, dance and playing a variety of instruments.

The bottom line is, worship is not just songs to sing that contain nice lyrics, but an attitude of the heart, exalting, honoring and adoring God Himself. The Holy Spirit speaking through the apostle Paul says, "For we are the circumcision, (Christians, circumcision of the heart) who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." (Philippians 3:3) This too should challenge believers to lay aside all the songs that take the focus off of God and causes believers to petition God for all their needs, wants, worries and concerns that He has already met and provided for His children through Christ. We should also consider eliminating songs that put all the promises that God has made available to His children off until we reach heaven as well as songs that have taken scripture out of context. These things may sound callous and even difficult to do, but they are necessary if the church is to truly worship God. Let's look once again at the revelation that John received concerning true worship. 

"And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth." Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing! And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying, blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever. Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever." (Revelation 5:6-14) This my friends is worship!!!      

Monday, May 17, 2021

We Have Purpose

Over the next several weeks I will be sharing what the purpose of the church is and why it exists. Before we start, there are some things that we must understand concerning the church. The church is not a parenthetical revelation which came due to the failure of the Jews to recognize their Messiah through unbelief. God had the church in mind before the foundations of the world. In Ephesians 3 the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul reveals the mystery of the church, "To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,  according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Ephesians 3:8-11)

Several times the New Testament mentions the two ethnic groups that encompasses all of humanity, Jew and Gentile. However, Paul tells us, "Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God." (1 Corinthians 10:32) God in His eternal plan has brought forth another ethnic group in which He is at work combining both Jew and Gentile, "For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, (Jew and Gentile) and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, (Jew and Gentile) thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body (The Church) through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father." (Ephesians 2:14-18)

This third ethnic group as mentioned by Paul is "the Church of God." The word church is a translation of the Greek word "ekklesia' which consists of two other Greek words, "ek" which means out of and "Kaleo" which means to call. Thus the word ekklesia literally mean, "the called out ones." So, the church consists of every person, regardless of nation or culture who through Christ "are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy." (1 Peter 2:9-10) The church has been called out of the world, (John 15:18-19), out of the flesh (Galatians 5:13, 16-18) and out of the devil's dominion (Colossians 1:13-14) for a fourfold purpose.

The four main purposes of the church's existence are, to worship God, build one another up in love, win souls and make disciples, and uphold and enforce Jesus' triumph over Satan and his kingdom. As we progress in this series we will explore each of these areas which concerns the purpose of the church's existence that will help us see if we are truly flowing in what God has called the church to be. It will also give us a benchmark do what God called Jeremiah to do if need be, that is, "to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down..." the worldly concepts that have crept into "the church of God" so that we through the Holy Spirit can "build and plant." Jesus said that He would build His church, so the question we must ask ourselves, "Is Jesus really building His church or are we building what we think is the church?"

Monday, May 10, 2021

Sons and Daughters

One of the greatest misunderstandings concerning how God deals with the believer comes from the writer of Hebrews, "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons, My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:5-11)

To understand what the writer of Hebrews is conveying we must define the word chasten. Chasten is defined as: To train up a child; instruct; educate; teach; discipline. Where we tend to go wrong is when we look at the word discipline. Discipline to most means punishment. Although the word discipline has the word punishment in its definition, it also means to correct; to instruct; to chasten. As we can see the words chasten and discipline are synonymous words. Now let's look at what it means for God to chasten or discipline the believer, His child.

First and foremost, God loves us and His chastening is always immersed in His love. Next, He deals with us as with sons and I might add daughters. This is very foreign to most peoples thinking. For many parents, when it come to disciplining their children there is a tendency to punish the out of frustration, disappointment and even anger, rather than through love. This has nothing to do with the method in which parents chasten their children but the attitude of the heart when bringing discipline. Gods most potent characteristic is love and we must always keep in mind that He chasten His children through His abounding, surrounding love.

Next, we see that the chastening of the Lord is for the believers profit. Honestly, how can the believer profit from chastening? We profit because it is always for our good. It is always to promote our welfare. Look at one of the benefits that we profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. The believers becomes so holy that it may be said that we are partakers of the very holiness of God. "And that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:24) Now for some this may be hard to believe, nevertheless it is fact. However, finding such a claim hard to believe actually reveals doubt in the believers heart. The evidence that the new man, New Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness has nothing to do with how we feel or our performance, but faith in Jesus Christ and the integrity of God's Word.

Next, we see what else the believer profits from the chastening of the Lord, it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness. What is the fruit of righteousness? To determine this, we must look to Jesus. The prophet Jeremiah refers to Christ as the "Righteous Branch." (Jeremiah 23:5) At His death, a Roman centurion glorified God by saying, "Certainly this was a righteous man." (Luke 23:47) The apostle Paul states, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21) Jesus tells us,  "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit..." (John 15:5) The fruit of righteousness is doing the works that Jesus did and speaking the Word of God in the same manner as He walked the earth as the Son of Man. It is carrying out the will of the Father as Jesus did. Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father." (John 14:12)

As parents, so also the methods to which God chastens His children may vary. The misunderstanding concerning the chastening of the Lord come from such phrases as, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him, He scourges every son, If you endure chastening, Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful. Unfortunately, believers take these phrases and twist them to mean that God chastens His children with financial struggles, sickness, disease and so on. If this is true, if God truly uses financial struggles, sickness, disease and so on to chasten His children, then one of two things come into play. First, we do not truly know Him (Job 42:1-3, Hosea 4:6) or we believe that He does these things contrary to His Word which is so very far from the truth (Psalm 89:34, 107:20, 119:89, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, John 1:1)

In fact, God punished Jesus (Isaiah 53:4-10) so that those who confess and believe that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9) could enjoy all the benefits and privileges of being sons and daughters. (Romans 8:15-17, 32) He took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses so that we are healed (Matthew 8:17, 1 Peter 2:24) He came to give us abundant life here on earth. (John 10:10) He died in our place to give us eternal life (1 John 2:25) He was made sin to make us righteous. (2 Corinthians 5:21) He was condemned so that we could go free. (Matthew 27:22-23, 34-35, Galatians 5:1) We also must realize that the believer is a member of the Body of Christ. If we truly believe that God chastens His children with financial struggles, sickness, disease and so on, then we must also believe that Jesus Himself, the head of the body deals with the same. We must also believe that the Holy Spirit who dwells in the believe has no problem with sickness or disease defiling our body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16) No, God child trains; instructs; educates and teaches His children through love.

Always remember that no one has a better new birth, a better righteousness, a better Savior, a better Healer, a better Provider, a better Father, a better right standing with the Father than the believer. No one can get closer to the Father's heart than we His children. So when the Lord chastens us, let us stand in the confidence that it is for our profit because God loves us and wants to reproduce Himself in us.  

Monday, May 3, 2021

Thank you Mom

Mother's Day is a celebration honoring motherhood and the influence of mothers in society. In the USA it is always celebrated on the second Sunday in the month of May. The modern Mother's Day began in the United States, at the initiative of Anna Jarvis in the early 20th century. It is not directly related to the many traditional celebrations of mothers and motherhood that have existed throughout the world over thousands of years, however, in some countries, Mother's Day is still synonymous with many older traditions. The American version of Mother's Day has been criticized for having become too commercialized. Even Anna  Jarvis herself regretted this commercialism and expressed that this was never her intention. In response, Constance Adelaide Smith successfully advocated for Mothering Sunday as a commemoration of a broader definition of motherhood in many other parts of the English-speaking world.

Mother's Day marks an important holiday to honor the woman who raised you. I believe in the of God, mother's hold a special place. There are numerous scriptures concerning mother's so let look at some that you may want to share with your mother...

"The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living." (Genesis 3:20)
"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."
(Psalm 139:13-14)
"Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding. The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice." (Proverbs 23:22-25)
"She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." (Proverbs 31:25)
"She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue."
(Proverbs 31:26)
"Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all." (Proverbs 31:28–29)
"Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." (Proverbs 31:31)
"Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?"
(Isaiah 49:15)
"As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you." (Isaiah 66:13)
"You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God." (1 Peter 3:4)

Of course we will always remember a woman named Mary who was the mother of our LORD. "But when Mary saw the angel, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:29-34)

So, as we close in on Mother's Day, let us be mindful of the woman who birth us, nursed us, changed us, fed us, nurtured us, coddled us, had sleepless nights for us and so much more. Let us be thankful and honor our mother's. For without them, we would not be here today. Thank you Mom...