Monday, October 22, 2018

CONFUSION


I Was Just Thinking About – CONFUSION.

A general definition for the word confusion is: “disorder, tumult, upheaval, chaos.” Some Biblical definitions are: “emptiness and instability.” A devotional writer suggests confusion can occur, and most likely will take place – “when our hearts are far from God. One of the ways we know is when we see our Christianity in terms of the externals. Authentic Christianity is not about the right haircut, being at church every time the doors are opened, serving as an elder or using all of the “Christianese” lingo known to man. You can be all cleaned up on the outside while pride, jealousy, greed, and a dozen other internal demons happily feast on your heart. Let’s remember that: Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (I Samuel 16:7).”

Another helpful comment is: “Living in the world is confusing at times.  Things that happen often don’t make sense. We can lessen the chance of our being confused if we stay in the Word of God.  To find God’s hidden will and lessen our confusion, we need to be doing His revealed will because God will never reveal His hidden will for us until we at least obey His revealed will.  Living in obedience to God certainly increases the chances for clarity from God and decreases confusion in our lives” (The Christian Crier).

Confusion is not just an external world-thing! Sadly, confusion seems to be present in too many churches (large as well as the small and dying). It generally occurs when “Man-Control” is employed and it supersedes “God-Control.” It will be argued that it isn’t true but there is too much evidence that refutes that protest. The Church should model both who God is and what God desires. In terms of confusion – both potential and real – Paul stated in I Corinthians 14:33, “God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” I can hear those who argue for contextual exegesis that it is referring primarily to the disruption of people speaking in tongues and shouting questions/answers in the assembly. While that is true in context, the character of God argues for peace rather than confusion.

When Paul wrote his letters to the Corinthian Church, he was attempting to keep the people spiritually focused. He doesn’t want the individual believer to be confused by the activity of Satan. Why? Because - Second Corinthians 11:14 – “Satan masquerades as an angel of light.” The individual believer is to be guarded in this area because one is to be an example to others of a lifestyle governed and controlled by the Holy Spirit. Paul’s instruction is First Corinthians 10:31-32, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble – whether Jews or Greeks – or Church of God.”

One evidence of confusion in the Church is how people respond to the preaching of the Word. Some prefer one type/appearance of a Minister and some prefer another type. Solid preaching and exegesis is not their measure. They are oriented to the general externals rather than to their individual internals. Leadership (?) in the Church generally capitulates to the ones who make the greatest expression (or noise) about what they think and what they believe will improve Church attendance. May God have mercy on those whose expressions dominate and where the leadership fails to lead.

A Hymn written in 1871 contains these words”
Have ye wept with the broken hearted
In their agony of woe?
Ye might hear Me whisper beside you,
’Tis a pathway I often go.
My disciples, My brethren, My friends,
Can you dare to follow Me?
Then, wherever the Master dwelleth,
There shall the servant be.

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Friday, October 19, 2018

FRIENDSHIP


I Was Just Thinking About – FRIENDSHIP.

What do we mean by the term friendship and how important is it to have a true friend. The dictionary offering is: “a friendly relation or intimacy; a friendly feeling of disposition.” Synonyms that are suggested include: “harmony, accord, understanding, rapport.” Years ago, Cole Porter wrote the lyric to a song that he called, “Friendship.” A recurring theme throughout the song regarding the extent and availability to another person is: “It’s friendship, friendship, just a perfect blend-ship. When other friendships are soon forgot, ours will still be hot.”

Proverbs 17:17 indicates what a friend should be and do: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” How many true and genuine friends do you have? Do they meet and match any of the definitions or suggestions listed above? Who do you feel comfortable with as a confidante? On an earthly level, how many friends can you appeal to absolutely count on and trust? A focus point in Proverbs 18:24 indicates: “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” There is a significant distinction between one who is an acquaintance versus one who is a true a reliable friend.

Who is that friend that has proven he sticks closer than a brother? John 15:12-15 states the words of Jesus: “My command is this – love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this - to lay down one’s life for one's friends. You are My friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you.”

Jesus exhibits and defines what a friendship includes. There is a transformation from one being a servant into a relationship of intimacy where one is called a friend. The intimacy assumes trust and the granting of knowledges in terms of God’s thoughts, word and will. How well do you know Jesus. Is He the Friend of friends to you – for you? The Hymn Writers capture this truth when they wrote: “What a FRIEND we have in Jesus…; Jesus, What a FRIEND for sinners…” There’s an old Hymn not often sung that includes: “Sweet it is to sing of Thee, Jesus, our FRIEND; Of Thy great love so free, Jesus, our FRIEND; Oh, for a heart to praise, through all our earthly days, Thy wondrous works and ways, Jesus our FRIEND.” There are many other hymns about the friendship of Jesus that should be a song in and flowing from one’s heart.

A fellow-servant of the Lord has been writing posts that reference the approach to evangelism by John Teter – The Power of the 72. The sub-title is: "Ordinary Disciples in Extraordinary Evangelism." What I have gleaned so far is that there is a lack of urgency for a “now” and “today” in terms of the day of salvation.

Years ago, my family and I were involved in a church that had outlined and developed an outreach effort called Friendship Evangelism. A Family Commitment was made to reach out and invite newcomers in a Church setting or near-neighbors by inviting people to one’s home in a Friendship Outreach. People would be invited to dinner. Paper cups and plates were discouraged whereas china and crystal was suggested. Would there be some risks? Yes! Might some people be turned off by this method? Yes! Could it be – was it – effective evangelism? Yes! Did all in the Church family participate? No! Should they have done their part? If they are Biblical Christians and committed to God’s Gospel, Yes!

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

TRYING TO REMEMBER


I Was Just Thinking About – TRYING TO REMEMBER.

A feature song from the musical comedy – The Fantasticks – is "Try To Remember". The song is about one’s journey through the seasons of life. The lyrics refresh one’s memory to think about “when grass was green and grain was yellow…when life was slow and mellow…when no one wept…Deep in December it’s nice to remember without the hurt the heart is hollow.” Each stanza of the song closes with the appeal to one’s heart to “remember and follow.”
There is the humorous poem that indicates:
My forgetter's getting better
But my rememberer is broke
To you that may seem funny
But, to me, that is no joke.

For when I'm 'here' I'm wondering
If I really should be 'there'
And, when I try to think it through,
I haven't got a prayer!

In a more serious and spiritual sense, it appears that too often one’s “forgetter’s getting better and one’s rememberer is broke.” This morning I was reading Psalm 103 and it struck me how easily one can forget the compassion of the Lord and His many benefits granted to Hs people. For me, it was like a cement-block falling on my head. How could I – how dare I – forget the words of Psalm 103:1-5 (ESV),
“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

I am both ashamed and chagrined (disappointed & humiliated) when I think of how often I fail to remember these and other passages of Scripture that remind one of the ongoing and continual care of the Heavenly Father for His children in all generations. In Second Peter 1:3-4, there is another reminder:
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature…”

I don’t know how it is for you, but I believe we need to work on repairing both our “forgetter and rememberer” lest we get lost in the weeds of fear and doubt. A song of one’s heart should continual be “Our God Is An Awesome God” and “Our God Is Able To Deliver Us” by His power and grace. As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, should we not make the application from the secular song, “If you remember – then – Follow, Follow, Follow”? Our answer should be an emphatic YES - by God’s grace we will.

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.