Spiritual Warfare Prep

Spiritual Warfare Prep
We Are In The Lord's Army

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Encouragement, Edification, Or, Flattery?

Do you think that sometimes, when we encourage others, that we might be using flattery? I have wondered what the difference is between flattery and encouragement.

Flattery is sometimes referred to as 'buttering up' someone. The motive is to get the recipient to respond in such a way as to get what you want from them. It's kind of like bribery.

The reason why I am thinking about this so much now, is due to the fact that I have received criticism from some of my Facebook friends concerning my posts.

I posted my complaint about this to my friends, and one of them had a great point. He recommended that we encourage one another. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."(ESV).

Encouragement and edification go hand in hand. We encourage one another and build one another up to help the body of Christ. The goal is for the church to be healthy. There must be spiritually healthy people to make up a healthy church.

The world uses flattery to gain friends. The world uses money to win people to themselves. The motive isn't based on love and wanting the best for others.

But flattery looks a lot like encouragement. That is why I am concerned. I want to be an encourager to people, but I don't want to be flattering them. How can I know the difference?

First of all, I will pray that God makes me an encourager. I want to think of others and encourage them to grow and develop in the areas where God has given them strengths.

Encourage means to give support, confidence, and hope to someone. Edify means to build up morally or spiritually. Note: Sometimes, people take a word out of context and use it in a wrong way, that ends up with a wrong meaning. An example of this is the word 'edify'. Some would erroneously teach that this is associated with building up someone's ego. That is definitely not what the Bible is talking about when it talks about edifying or building up. 

For the church to be 'edified', those who are in the body of Christ need to be edified. Encouragement helps people to be edified. Discouragement keeps people from growing spiritually and will keep the church from being spiritually healthy. Discouragement is a tool of the devil. We need to be aware of his tactics.

So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.
Acts 16:40 ESV

Saturday, September 2, 2017

God's Boundaries Do Not Indicate Hate

Any good parent knows that when their children are born and as they start to grow up and develop, boundaries have to be formed to protect the child.

Sometimes, children hate the fact that parents put boundaries around their children. Think of this scenario: a child sees some candy that he wants. He lets his parents know that he wants the candy. They tell him he is not allowed to have that candy. At least at that moment, the candy is not permitted. So, the child throws a temper tantrum and tells the parents that they 'hate' him. They hate him because they have placed a boundary around him and he wants to go beyond that boundary, but because of his age and lack of power, he concludes that his parents 'hate' him.

Now, maybe it is simply because he is using manipulation. He is immature and doesn't understand the reasons why a parent would say 'no' to candy, especially since it is a strong desire for him to have that candy right now.

People are very much like that. We intuitively know that there is a God who is bigger than us. Normal people have a conscience that tells what is right and wrong. Even very young children have some idea of what is right and wrong.

Whether we like it or not, God has placed boundaries around us. When we go outside those boundaries, we become trespassers. Problem is, by our own sinful nature, we are always going outside of God's boundaries. When we do that, it is called, 'sin'.

Many do not like to be inside God's boundaries. Some of these people try to deny God's existence. Others put down the word of God, as if it were a fairy tale. God says that His word will stand forever. His boundaries will never change.

In our culture today, we have many who think they are free from God's laws (boundaries). They want everyone to think that people who still believe in God's boundaries are people of hate. Now, this is a stretch. Believing God is true and His word is still effective does not mean a person hates. But people are insistent that those who hold God's word in high honor, and believe what He says is true, are people of hate.

How are we supposed to look at that? For one, it is a form of manipulation. We can't manipulate God. We can't twist God's arm to make Him change His standards. God will always be God. He is on the throne and what He says is still effective today, and will always be true.

Does God hate? God hates sin. Does God hate us? The Bible says that God loved us so much, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but will have everlasting life. In fact, God loved us even when we are sinners (see Romans 5:8).

God loves us enough to give us a way out of hell. God's love does not change His boundaries. He does not make exceptions for anyone who breaks them. But the remedy to resolve this problem is found in the Cross of Jesus Christ.

People want to believe that God is all-loving and all-forgiving, meaning that we can still continue to live in sin without being penalized. That won't work though. God gives us a way out. We must choose to get out of our sins. We must respond to God. We come to God on His terms, not ours.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Are We Supposed To Judge?

Are We Supposed To Judge?

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you."
Matthew 7:1,2 ESV

One of the biggest objections we get when sharing our faith comes from using this verse. But let's look a little deeper into this passage.

The passage tells us to not judge. Let's look at this in context.

First, let's take an example of a real life situation. Let's say a person goes to a doctor, and the doctor gives his diagnosis. The person has such and such a disease, and, there is only one cure for it, a specific type of medicine.

What if the sick person goes home angry because he thinks the doctor has judged him. The doctor made a judgment call on what was physically wrong with him. Then he prescribed the cure for this sickness, which was another judgment call.

Was the doctor wrong in giving a diagnosis and prescribing the medicine that will help him get well?

We make judgment calls all day. Some of our judgments are off. Sometimes, we make mistakes. But some things are clear cut.

If we run a red light, and hear the sirens screaming behind us, are the cops 'judging' us for running the red light? Or could it be that we did something wrong that was clear-cut, not just someone's opinion?

This part of judging comes partly from Postmodern thinking. If one person has one truth for him, and another person has another truth for her, and if these truths do not agree, then the only conclusion we have, is that each person decides for himself or herself what is truth.

If we think like this, there can be no outside boundaries that are common to everyone. It's hard to decide what is true or not, if truth is different for each person.

Let's look at the end of the Scriptural passage. "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." Vs. 7:5

This verse actually, in an indirect way, is telling us to judge. The only thing it is asking is that we judge ourselves first, before we judge other people. That way, our judgment of the other person will be fair.

When we see God in His glory and splendor, we don't see ourselves as great as we think we are. When we see how small we are before a holy God, we see others who are sinners as objects of mercy, instead of people to make fun of and put down because of their sins. We see sin as a spiritual disease, not as a measurement to compare ourselves with how well we are doing compared to others. 

"We are just beggars, telling other beggars where to find bread".

"We are sinners, telling other sinners where to find salvation".

I know the diagnosis is serious, but,
I don't want to judge you, so, I will
not prescribe any kind of medication.
I don't want you to accuse me of
judging you.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

When The Last Person Comes To Christ, Jesus Will Return

I don't know how long it will be before God's says 'enough' and the world as we know it, comes to an end.

The first time God judged the world, He destroyed it through a global flood. The next time He destroys it, it will be through fire, according to the Bible.
While we look forward to the Lord returning to earth, we mourn and grieve, knowing that many will experience God's wrath for eternity.
This is exactly why it is taking a very long time. One day, God will destroy the earth completely, and everyone on it will be destroyed as well. But God is patient and not willing that anyone will perish. He wants all to come to repentance and faith. He wants every person who will, to come to Him and be reconciled back to Him.

He will take whatever time is necessary for those who will come to know Him to respond. Some may not even be born yet.
When that last person comes to Christ, the end will come. The question is, will we go with Jesus when He returns to earth, or will we be destroyed and face God in eternal judgment?
This world is so evil right now. God has every right to come and destroy it all.
We need to be ready, because it could be any moment when God will return to earth to collect those who are His, and destroy the earth in order to bring the New Heaven and New Earth.

God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. People are quick to note that God is not willing that any should perish, but, they leave off the last part about repentance.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Don't Judge Other People?

  One of the biggest objections that vocally appears when we are sharing the Gospel message with someone is that person telling us to not judge her, or him.

Here are Jesus' words on judging; “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." Matthew 7:1-5 ESV

What is He saying? Here He is calling people 'hypocrites' because they have a log in their eyes.

What does it mean to 'judge'? In this case, it means to pronounce a judgment on someone else. It also involves the expectation to receive that kind of judgment in return on oneself. It is a form of looking down on others.

God has standards. No one, except the Son of God has kept those standards. Everyone else has failed them. The rules have been broken by us. And we reap the consequences for our wrongdoing.

In the passage above, a tendency we might have would be to see someone else who is in sin, and place condemnation on him or her. The problem is, we have our own sin issues that we have to deal with first, before we point out the sins of others.

But notice at the end of the passage. We are instructed to take the log out of our own eyes. That means we have to deal with our own sinful hearts before we do anything else. After that, we will be able to see the sins of others, and instead of using their sin against them, we will be able to help them out of their sin.

When people use this as an excuse for rejecting the Gospel, they misunderstand this whole section of Scripture. It is really a mask to protect themselves from hearing the hard truths of the Gospel message. Instead of being honest with themselves and wanting to deal with the sin issues in their hearts, they turn the tables around and accuse the person sharing the Gospel message with them of 'judging' them.

There is a difference between helping people see what God's word says about sin and judgment, and actually personally judging a person for their sins.

On Judgment Day, I am not going to be in front of the person I am talking to about the Gospel message. That person will be standing before God, not me. All I am expected to do is to help people understand what God says in His word. I am not God. I am not better than they are. If they don't see that, then I can't do anything about their response to the Gospel message.

Making people aware of God's standards is not judging them. They are already judged by God.
"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." Our job is to tell others what God says about their condition and to offer the hope of the Gospel message. God is the One who does the work in the heart.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Man In Hell Pleads For His Family To Not Go There

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’"

This man did not escape the eternal flames
Photo credit: Arabs for Christ/FreeBibleimages.org

This event was told by Jesus around 2,000 years ago. 

There is a lot we can learn from what happened here. So many things we can learn. 

One is that it is not necessarily wrong to have riches or to be wealthy. But almost always, wealthy people have a hard time understanding their need for God. If they do get the message of the Gospel, they have a hard time responding to it because they will not be willing to part with their riches.

On the other side of the coin, poor people are not automatically added to heaven. But being poor does have a good advantage, for, the poor person does not struggle with having to let go of his riches. He won't be worshiping his money, for he doesn't have much money to worship. That idol struggle will not be there.

Hell lasts forever. Once a person is there, he or she will always be there. It is a terrible place to be and no one should ever take the subject and reality of hell lightly.

People who are in hell cannot cross over to the other side. There is a big gap that is uncrossable between heaven and hell. Those in heaven also will not be able to cross into hell. 

Those in hell are wishing they weren't there, but, they are also wishing that their family members would not be there as well. They would do whatever they can to warn their family members about hell and how to avoid it.

There is one thing we will not have the opportunity to do when we are in heaven. There will be no need to preach the Gospel message and do evangelism, for everyone who is in heaven already knows the Lord. 

We should love people enough to tell them the good news of the Gospel. If we ourselves are saved, it would seem like our hearts would want everyone to come into a relationship with God through the Cross of Jesus Christ. If that desire is not there, something important is missing in our lives. 

Many professing Christians think that anyone who believes the facts about Jesus is a true Christian. But there is more to it than that. Some seem to think that God is all loving and wouldn't send anyone to hell. While God is love, according to what the Bible teaches, God is also just. He does love. He loves us so much that He gave His only Son to live a perfect life, and die a horrible death to pay for our sins. We must repent of wrongdoing and selfishness, and trust in what Jesus did for us on the cross, 2,000 years ago. He not only died to take our punishment, but He also rose from the dead on the third day after he was killed.

If we could obey the commandments perfectly, we could go to heaven. But even with one sin that had been committed during our lifetime, that sin would send us to hell. We can look at the commandments and see how we have failed. Looking at the commandments reveals the condition of our hearts. 

No good work that we could do can take away any of our sins. Even if we lived a life where we continually serve people, we would still have to pay for our sins, even if we only commit sin occasionally. 

But we commit sin on a regular basis. That's why we need a Savior. We need someone who can cleanse our hearts from sin. But we also need a new heart that will produce good fruit. If we repent, and trust in Jesus as our Savior from sin, God gives us a new heart, and also the power to live a life that is pleasing to Him.

Life has many choices. Eternity has only 2! 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

God Is Sovereign Over Global Warming And Overpopulation

God calls the stars by name
“He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.” Psalm 147:4 ESV

God knows the number of hairs on your head.
“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” Matthew 10:30 ESV

There are at least 6 billion people on earth today.
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

“And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28 ESV

God holds all things together

“And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:16,17 ESV

Sometimes, we worry about the earth being overcrowded, or that there are too many people here. God knows the dilemma. He has a way of working through this situation. His ways are higher than ours.

People worry a lot about global warming and its affect on us. But many forget that God is still on His throne. In fact, God will always be on His throne. He has this thing all figured out already.

We can either trust Him and ask for His wisdom, or we can try to solve the problems on our own. Either way, God commands us not to murder.

We are only on this planet for a short time. Then each of us goes to one of two places; heaven or hell.

Jesus will be reigning in Heaven. Hell will be a Lake of Fire to punish those who do not trust in God, and haven’t repented of their sins and turned to Jesus as Lord and Savior.

God is sovereign over all the events in the world. God was kind to send Jesus to pay for our sins by His death on the Cross.

Our response is to turn to Him and trust in what He did for us on the Cross to pay for our sins.

Out of the 6,000+ billion people on earth today, all will die.

Life has many choices. Eternity has only 2!