Sunday, June 26, 2022

Prayer for Sins "Not unto Death"

1 John 5:13-21, contains a message to Christians that one of their greatest blessings was the power to pray to God and have that prayer answered positively (if it is according to God’s will). That would include, the blessing and responsibility, to pray for a brother (presumable unrepentant) to give him time to come to his senses.
It is not God’s will that we pray for an erring brother who is engaged in a “sin unto death”. So it is incumbent on Christians to not only watch for sin but also to categorize the sin so we can know if we should pray for it or not.
The conclusion of this section states… “My little children, guard yourselves from idols
Let me suggest that the sin we are not to pray for is the sin that a Christian commits when he rejects Jesus Christ and returns to idol worship. Note that the word idol in any of its forms does not occur anywhere else in this letter except at the end of this section on prayer for the erring Christian. That’s important to note… in fact it is screaming at us.
Review with me Nehemiah 9:18,
Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies
The children of Israel had witnessed all of God’s great miracles against the false God’s of Egypt and at their first opportunity rejected God by molding the image of a golden calf and worshipping it. The Holy Scripture characterizes that action as a “great blasphemy”.
It is also a great blasphemy for a Christian who has experienced all the great blessings that Jesus has to offer and reject those blessings and reject Jesus Christ and replace him with an idol.
Christians can pray and should pray for any other sin that might be committed by a brother in Christ but not the sin of blasphemy against Jesus Christ. If you do… don’t expect that prayer to be answered.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Sin: Are You For or Against it?

There’s a story that is told of the fellow who asked the preacher what he was going to preach on the following Sunday. The preacher said “sin… I’m preaching on the subject of sin”. The fellow asking the question responded… “are you for it or against it?”
That’s a funny story but what’s not funny is that sometimes I can’t tell by observation if Christians are actually for or against sin.
I see some folks of the “once saved always saved” persuasion say things like… everyone’s a sinner so we’re going to sin from time to time and it doesn’t affect my salvation in any way. Kind of like a “get out of jail card free” that you can play. For example, you might see Christian men and women living together outside of the ties of marriage and it’s okay because they have been saved.
I see some folks say things like… the blood of Jesus Christ is so powerful that it can forgive anything. And you might see these kind of folks marrying, divorcing and remarrying seven times or even seventy times seven times because the powerful blood of Jesus Christ cleanses that sin right away and you’re so clean you can just move on to the next woman… there are no “consequences” to sin.
So just what is the truth on sin and how do we apply those truths to our lives?
Let me start with this… that might set some folks back on their heels… God expects us to be sinlessly perfect.
Matthew 5:48, states that we are to be “perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”.
Ephesians 4: 15, states that we are to “grow into Him… even Jesus Christ”
Romans 12:2, states that we are to “transform ourselves by developing new minds”, i.e. we don’t even think about sin much less act upon it.
So that seems impossible for mortal men to achieve right? Wrong!
In Philippians 3:15, the apostle Paul says this… “Let us therefore, as many as are perfect be thus minded…”
Get this Paul identified himself as being perfect and others as well. What are we to assume? Paul was perfect as his heavenly Father was perfect (Mt. 5:48). Paul had grown into the image of Jesus Christ (Eph. 4). Paul had transformed his mind so he didn’t even consider sin (Romans 12) and others had too.
Let me suggest that your salvation might be in peril if you willfully and consistently violate God’s Law and twist God’s Word to justify it. Let me also suggest that there are consequences to sin. Oh yes, you can get the forgiveness of any sin but a consequence may be that you are not free to just remarry willy nilly.
That kind of behavior doesn’t even pass the smell test and in fact it stinks all the way up to Heaven.
Be perfect as God is perfect… it is what God expectes of you.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Lessons from Former Employees

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of employees come and go and am generally not too surprised at the process.
Some will get mad for some reason and just walk off the job… no notice or anything. They put not only the business in a bind but also their former fellow employees.
Some give notice and especially if they have been a long term employee we’ll give a card or a gift or buy lunch or have a going away party and we wish them well and mean it too. We’ve had more than one employee leave but come back later because they missed the work, the camaraderie and everything we do. Sometimes the grass is not greener.
Like I say… I’m never very surprised at the way people leave except for what happened the other day.
We had a long term employee who was one of our best who found a better opportunity and we wished her well and did all the things we do for someone like that.
On the day that she left she brought breakfast for everyone at work and on the following Saturday night threw a party at her house for all her fellow employees. Wow… I’ve never seen the like. To my best knowledge she isn’t even a Christian… she was just raised right. Color me impressed.
There’s a great lesson in that for Christians who may leave a job abruptly, call names, write ugly google reviews and the like. What kind of impression are you leaving? Would you be welcomed back? If they knew you were a Christian would they like to come visit services?
Sometimes we all let our emotions get the best of us and do things we might later regret. There’s a remedy for that… go and tell the person or former employer you regret your actions and the things that you said. Maybe even bring them breakfast one day. I’m telling you that will get their attention and God’s attention too.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

How to Control Your Anger

"Be angry, yet do not sin." Do not let the sun set while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26)
Notes this… you can be angry and not sin and you can be angry and sin. One way (according to Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount) you can be angry and sin is by killing the person you’re angry at… definitely a sin and there are probably other ways to sin in your anger as well.
The second part of this verse, “Do not let the sun set while you’re angry” may have a non-sinful application. The Apostle may be giving an instruction on how to live happily.
Of course the sun sets long before most people go to bed but have you ever noticed that if you are angry and you go to bed that you can’t sleep? And of course you pay for it the next day when you go to work unrested.
Sometimes when we go to bed we don’t want to be angry or have any other kind of anxiety but we just can’t get those emotions out of our heads.
So what do we do in that situation? Here are a few ideas…
- Distract your brain by reading a book. Of course the Bible would be the best book to read but any book that fully engages your brain.
- Listen to mind soothing music.
- Watch a TV show.
- Go exercise or get involved in some activity that requires a focused mind.
- Go visit some people with some real problems like people in the hospital or in a nursing home. I had an employee tell me that when she was young her mother would take her to the nursing home to play games with those old folks. She said she loved that and learned a lot.
- If all that fails and I doubt that it will… take a doctor prescribed Valium.
Some anger is good and some anger is bad. God does not want us to be angry, spiteful people that act upon our anger in a sinful way. He wants us to be happy and sin free. Control your anger… don’t let it control you.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

BBQ Sandwiches, The Sermon on the Mount and Blessings

In my High School/Young adult class this morning we were taking a look at the sermon on the mount and came to the part that said… “blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness’ sake for they shall be filled”. I told them I worked on Saturday and at lunch went to Mike Cotton’s BBQ and had a sliced brisket sandwich. I even told Cotton’s what cut of the brisket I wanted on it. That sandwich was so good that I dream about it and can’t wait for the next one.
Imagine if we hungered and thirsted after spiritual things like I did for that BBQ sandwich. It would be like watching the congregation like a hawk for an opportunity… where are the widows? Where are the meek and those who mourn, the persecuted, etc. I’m going to find them and do whatever I can do to help. I dream of that spiritual BBQ sandwich… I’m obsessed with it and won’t be stopped.
Imagine if the whole congregation was that way… what would it look like? To the world it would look like a bright shining light. To God it would smell like a sweet aroma. To Satan it would feel daunting and horrifying.
We have some work to do brothers and sisters!

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Bear One Anothers Burdens

This morning in our High School/young adult class we talked about loving people so much that we feel a sense of obligation to advise them when we see them headed in the wrong direction (Galations 6:1).
Of course timing is an important part of that. For instance, you would wait for the drunk to sober up first… right? Also if someone is inappropriately angry you would give them time to settle down before you approached them. Or if you were angry with them… probably should take a little time to settle down first.
Of course the text says you should offer counsel in a spirit of gentleness… not self-righteousness or spiritual arrogance. Or derogatory language like… you’re just like your momma.
Let me offer one more thing… if you’ve never said an encouraging word to that person or done anything to help build them up then you’re not qualified to critique them either. I don’t have a verse for that one but think that I have the spirit of God with me on that concept.
It’s easy just to ignore people and their behaviors like they don’t even exist. Of course that’s not love right? And if someone is ignored long enough they start thinking they don’t matter to anyone and drift back into Satan’s flock. How horrible.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Taking Advantage of Widows

James 1:27 states “Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this… to visit the widows in their affliction…”
In our High School class we have been talking about this concept and things we can do.
Of course in the Mosaic Law farmers would let widows glean their fields but I hardly think today we could get the widows to go out into the cotton fields during the hottest month of the year to glean after the mechanical cotton strippers have done their job. We live in a different world… I doubt they would glean those fields even if they were air conditioned.
Many years ago I knew a fellow who had a huge antique tool collection and I bought some things from him. That had to be back in the 1990s and he has since passed. I happened to run into his daughter several months ago and she told me her mother would be glad to let me look at those old tools again.
That was months ago. Two days ago I called the 90 year old widow and she showed me that marvelous collection. Of course along the way she talked my ear off… I’ll probably never be able to wear eye glasses.
Anyway… all her stuff was really quite valuable and more than I wanted to pay but I told her I wanted to help her and told her and I knew someone in the auctioneer business who could sell all her stuff for her. She was very excited and thanked me because she had been trying to sell it for a long time and had given up.
So I took a lot of photos and messaged them to my friend and added that I would have liked to purchase some of her things but did not feel comfortable making an offer that might be viewed as taking advantage of a widow. BTW, this same auctioneer had helped another widow I identified for him. Here was my friend’s response…
“… you are one of the few people I know that won’t do that. Most do and it’s usually a relative or a real good friend that has no problem taking advantage of someone”
How sad.
Most of our widows today have plenty to eat but there’s also plenty of other things we can do the help. Look for those opportunities to help and to not take advantage of a widow.