Tag Archives: the church

(Lamentations) Lord, Bring Us Back

If the Old Testament nation of Israel is a picture of the New Testament Church, all of us should share in Jeremiah’s grief. The frightening truth is that if God could turn His back on His chosen people, if the city of Jerusalem and the temple there could be destroyed, the Church had better pay attention.

Read Lamentations with our modern Church in mind. There are so many spiritual red flags here, from a look at starvation in a spiritual sense, to cannibalism which speaks to me of parents – and church members – who try to get what they want out of God while sacrificing the spiritual needs of their children, to the Church once revered now an object of scorn by the world, and seen as an enemy to be destroyed by some.

We have reason to lament.

God’s protection has always been linked to obedience. But there are people who believe the Church is somehow different, that because Jesus told Peter that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church, that the Church’s position on earth is untouchable.

Israel wasn’t untouchable. Jerusalem wasn’t. The temple wasn’t. And it’s my opinion that the Church in 2021 isn’t untouchable, either. God’s demand to be obeyed is as binding as it was in Jeremiah’s day. And disobedience means separation from God, and destruction.

An obedient Church is untouchable.

I am thankful that every time God warns His children about the coming consequences for our disobedience, He leaves us with a bit of hope. The writer of Lamentations prays:

Lord, bring us back to yourself, so we may return; renew our days as in former times, unless you have completely rejected us and are intensely angry with us. (5:21-22)

Yes, Lord. Bring us back to yourself.

(Proverbs 24:10-12) How We Care

We hear that the neighbor down the street has received a devastating medical diagnosis. We shake our head and sigh, “I’m so sorry to heart that.” And we mean it.

We find out our friend is leaving her husband, and say, “I had no idea things were so bad.” And we really didn’t know.

A married couple you’ve gone to church with for years goes MIA for a few weeks. You say something to the person who normally sits near them during Sunday morning worship, and find out they’ve started going to another church. You’re surprised because you didn’t know they were even thinking about leaving.

Whose fault is it when we don’t know what’s going on in each other’s lives? Yes, the one who is going through hard times, is unhappy or dissatisfied ought to speak up, ask for prayer, talk things through. But let’s face it – you don’t do those things, either.

The wisdom of God tells us we have the responsibility to know. Not so we can spread the word like some gossip, or so we can have the satisfaction of being “in the know.” We need to be invested in each others lives so that we can be the chauffeur, or chef, or babysitter, or yard maintenance worker, or maybe an ear. We have the responsibility to know so that you and I can be the hands, feet, and voice of Jesus in the lives of people who are hurting.

It’s not enough to say we care. God will hold us accountable for how we care.

(Psalm 36) Who’s To Blame?

I doubt if anyone (believers and non-believers alike) can look at this world and think things are going well. I doubt the first thing that comes to anyone’s mind when describing society is “love, peace, or perfection.” Why is that?

Most Christians would say Satan is to blame. Or they would point a finger at atheists, Muslims, and the like. But I wonder.

Warren Wiersbe said something in his commentary on Psalm 36 that has me thinking. He writes: “If there were more salt and light in this world, there would be less decay and darkness in society.” (Be Worshipful; David Cook Publisher; 2009; p. 134)

Read that again. Think about it for a minute.

David said this about the wicked in Psalm 36:

Dread of God has no effect on him. For with his flattering opinion of himself, he does not discover and hate his iniquity. (vv 1b-2)

Are non-believers the only ones flattering themselves and not dreading the judgment of God for sin? Are only non-believers accepting sin instead of recognizing it and repenting of it? I’m pretty sure Christians are having difficulty discovering our own sins, too.

Even in Christian circles, we would rather talk about the love of God than address sin. We would rather talk about God as our friend, instead of a fierce and frightening Holy Judge. The result is watered down salt and dimmed light, and darkness in the world.

Yes, I believe the fault of our decaying society falls on God’s people, the Church, we Christians, and NOT on non-believers. Non-Christians will act like non-Christians. We can’t expect them not to.

The truth is you can’t legislate good behavior, no matter how much big-government proponents want us to believe they can. You can’t write enough laws, throw enough money at programs, change history or demand equality enough to solve the world’s dilemma.

Only God can do that. And He has chosen to work through Christians to accomplish His will. Because if we are obedient, if we are holy and set apart, fleeing sin, and surrendered to God, God would do what He longs to do, what Jesus came to do…

save the world!

So to answer the question in the title of this post, “Who’s To Blame?,” the answer is, Christian, you and I.

(Psalm 2) Chains? Or Lifelines?

Verses 1-3: This psalm paints a picture of a wild animal fighting against the chains which hold him captive. Snarling, writhing, pulling this way and that with teeth bared. But he is only hurting himself.

He doesn’t understand why he is chained. He just knows he wants to be free of them.

Verses 4-6: The one who has placed the chains on the beast sits back and waits for the beast to wear itself out. He knows those chains has placed the beast under his control, not the other way around.

Verses 7-9: In fact, he gets his authority from the owner of the beast, the big boss. The owner has made him his son! He’s been given the power to control the situation, extending to the ends of the earth.

Verses 10-12: The beast is better off in the hands of his captor, under the protection of the one given authority. Instead of fighting against him, the beast would do better to submit to him. “All who take refuge in him are happy.” (verse 12b)

Here’s what the beast doesn’t understand. He is chained for his protection. There are enemies out there stronger than he, determined to kill him. While he is under the protection of the one with authority he can move around, enjoy freedom within the safe boundaries set out by the one with authority.

Warren Wiersbe says: “Freedom without authority is anarchy, and anarchy destroys.” (Be Worshipful; David C Cook Publisher; 2009; p 24)

Let me say that again. “Freedom without authority is anarchy, and anarchy destroys.”

We are seeing a society of people racing toward destruction because they want to throw off the shackles of Truth, of rules, of religion. They want to create their own truth and will fight anyone who disagrees. Anarchy leads to destruction.

I’m not just talking about society in general. The same is true of the modern Church. We want the freedom to worship like we want, believe what we want, live like we want. Throw traditional dogma out and be free. Anarchy leads to destruction.

But there ARE rules. There IS Truth. There IS right and there is wrong. You may consider them chains. I see them as lifelines.

I am sure most of you get it. This psalm is talking about Jesus, the One given authority by the Father. Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus who tells us to follow Him, to be holy, to believe and be saved.

Jesus is not a bully-captor holding us back with cruel chains. He is the lifeline!

All who take refuge in him are happy!

(Nehemiah 9-13) Spiritual Integrity

Regarding Nehemiah’s harsh treatment of foreigners and sinners, the commentator in my Apologetics Study Bible used the words, “spiritual integrity.” In order to protect the holiness of God’s people, their spiritual integrity if you will, Nehemiah expelled those who didn’t worship God in truth. He kicked them out, and not all that gently, either.

Nehemiah knew the “negative spiritual ramifications” of accepting non-believers into the family of God. I don’t think we understand those spiritual ramifications today.

Even our pastors encourage us to bring sinners into God’s house. Worship leaders use Bethel and Hillsong music, inviting false teaching into our fellowship. We try so hard to look like our unsaved neighbors we no longer stand as a beacon in a dark world.

What are the negative spiritual ramification? Too many of us, too many of our churches, have lost our spiritual integrity. And you know something that makes me sad about that? Some of you will say that’s a good thing.

(Ezra 1-6) Not Just My Soapbox

A quote from the CSB Apologetics Study Bible, (Holman Bible Publishers of Nashville, TN, 2017, page 552) regarding 6:21:

“Spiritual holiness was expected of those who worshiped God. Today’s church could learn from this early community. Church discipline has fallen by the wayside as contemporary congregations attempt to shed their image of exclusivity. However, God expects to be served by a holy people. The church today must demand that church members conduct themselves according to certain spiritual standards that honor the faith community and God. (Romans 12:1-2, I Pt 1:13-16)” ( emphasis mine)

I boldly and unapologetically say, “Amen.”

(2 Chronicles 32-34) Pray For Revival. But Be Warned.

What is a revival? Is it an evangelistic effort to present the Gospel so unsaved people find the Savior? That has become the accepted definition in the Christian realm. But in the true sense of the word, isn’t it more a re-awakening? Doesn’t it mean that something dead is brought back to life? Isn’t it more of a transformation from “what is” to “what is better?”

We see a revival here in the life of King Josiah and Judah. The king was already a believer, a follower of God busy doing great things in the name of the Lord. But something happened to Josiah when he read the Scriptures for himself.

He was convicted of sin. He woke up to the truth. He was revived, energized, and began to serve God with a new determination. The result of his personal revival was that it spread throughout Judah so that the nation began serving God anew, too.

I think we need to be praying for revival in our world. But it’s the Church that needs revived. It’s a dead, weak, ineffective Church made up of dead, weak, ineffective believers who need a wake-up call.

Of course unsaved people need Jesus. Of course the world’s problems would be solved if people loved and served God according to His Word. But that won’t happen until a revival happens in the pews first.

Let’s pray for revival. But be warned. When you do, you’re praying that your relationship with the Savior will be revived first, that you will confess and repent of sin in your own life, that you would boldly throw off the chains of this world and stand apart in the truth of Scripture.

Yes, Christian. I am praying for your revival and mine. I’m just warning you.

( 2 Chronicles 24) It’s tax time. Hurray!

When the people of Israel heard that their king was bringing back the temple tax, how do you think they reacted? Did they start a Twitter war? Post rants on social media? Did they start an impeachment process, or complain to their neighbors over the backyard fences? You won’t believe this:

All the leaders and all the people rejoiced, brought the tax, and put it in the chest until it was full. (24:10)

You read that right. They rejoiced! And Scripture tells us they filled the tax collection box daily.

We just passed the traditional tax deadline of April 15th this week here in the States. Anybody rejoice when you wrote that check? Right.

What we see here is people joyfully, willingly, thankfully giving to the building up of the temple, giving to the work of the Lord.

So tomorrow, when you write that check to your church, will you do it joyfully? I hope so. Whether you interpret Scripture as demanding a literal 10% tithe, either from your gross or your net earnings, or if you believe that 10% is a guideline, how you give is as important as how much you give.

God blesses obedience that begins in our hearts. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:7 that

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

The work of your local church needs your money in order to efficiently serve God. But equally important to the ministry is your heart’s attitude.

Is it possible to love too much? Is there such a thing as too much joy? Can you ever give God too much from what He’s given you?

I pray you will know true joy as you generously support your church fellowship with your finances. It’s what God deserves.

(Judges 1-3) Failures

The Jews were failures. Manasseh failed. Ephraim failed. Zebulun failed. Ashar failed. Naphtali failed. The Danites failed. They all failed to obey God by not driving out the enemy from the Promised Land.

Judah didn’t drive out the enemy, using the excuse, “They have strong chariots.” Judah failed.

Benjamin didn’t drive out the Jebusites, but learned to co-exist with them instead. Benjamin failed.

All the tribes of Israel obeyed God to a degree. But Scripture doesn’t celebrate their partial victories. Scripture reports their failures.

I guess I’m understanding that mostly obeying God means I’m disobeying Him. The Israelites will pay dearly for their disobedience as we will see in the books of Judges, the Samuels and the Kings. The Jewish people are going to look and worship just like the enemies they didn’t drive out of the land. And God will judge them.

Our 21st century Church needs a wake-up call. Baptists are failures. Presbyterians are failures. Methodists are failures, Catholics are failures. We haven’t driven out the enemy, but have learned to co-exist with him. And we look and worship just like those who follow the enemy.

I think God would have us take a look at our level of obedience. Because if we aren’t obeying Him 100%, we are disobeying Him. If we aren’t obeying Him according to Scripture, we are failures.

He Will Not Win (The Revelation of John)

God allowed John to see the big picture. He showed him the Church, our role in the world, our blessings for obedience, and God’s judgment for disobedience. John saw God’s enemy at work, and the fact Satan only has power given him by God.

I think we miss the point of John’s revelation when we try to fit it into a material box, or try to place events on a timeline. John’s vision is both an encouragement for us, and a warning we need to heed.

The fact is, there is a war going on, and all of us must choose a side. The enemy is clever. He uses both force and subtleties, to bring people to his side. He is cunning, and a pretty good imitator of God.

But he is not God.

And while Satan tries to cloud the Truth that is Jesus, while he tries to put up a smoke screen against the Gospel, he cannot and will not change the Truth. God will be reckoned with. And only we who are on God’s side will escape God’s wrath.

Oh, Satan has and will continue to enjoy certain victories along the way. God’s Church will be beat up, persecuted, and ignored.

But take heart, dear one. Satan will not win this war!