The Sad Reality of Churches in America Today

Heresy is drastically on the rise across America. Mainstream media and some “Biblical Pastors” such as Joel Olsteen and Benny Hinn show us just how easy it is to create a “feel good” gospel centered around self rather than Christ. Man-centered theology is an oxymoron and should not be tolerated by any Christian. We must diligently watch out for heresy in your church and in ourselves, too. In Galatians 1:8-9, Paul was making his condemnation doubly clear, when he states basically the same sentence twice, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”

By stating the same thing back to back, two times, he is in effect giving them a harsher condemnation. He was making certain that the Galatians knew there was no fudging on this area. We see this in scripture only a few times. Like in Philippians 4:4 where he says “Rejoice in The Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” His repetition also implies that having false pastors (preachers and teachers) in our church is something that could and would happen often and without notice. It seeps in so insidiously.
It is so hard to decipher if we are under sound preaching. We assume our pastor went to seminary and was taught only Biblical truths. We assume, and rightfully so, that they should know more than us and that they have our best interest in mind. However a look at the path the American mainstream church has taken, we ought to think twice and take another look at our own church. We must be good Barreans and do the work ourselves. But how would we know if we have placed ourselves under a pastor who is unknowingly teaching a false gospel?

Sadly many do not. They just go to church and bible study and let others tell them what they should believe. We assume that verses such as Acts 20:29 couldn’t apply to our pastor (a “fierce wolf”). This is why it is so insidious. It seeps in through self centered behavior that comes with power. Man craves it and it is one of the easiest ways Satan gets into the heart of man (even the elect!) Think about it. Does your pastor teach directly from the Bible or does he teach topically on every-day issues then throws a verse or two in? He may even throw 20 verses in, however you can always tell if what they are teaching is man-centered or God centered. How?

Are you ready for it? Be honest with yourself on this one. When you go to church are you interested in what the pastor has to say? Do you like what he is preaching? Do you feel good after the message? Did he give you sound advice on how to be a better person in society? The time has come my friends, where people want to hear from teachers about things that they need help with to feel good. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” 2 Timothy 4:3.

Men behind pulpits will rise up, preaching with passion using the Bible as their cloak. “And from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Read my books and do my studies they tell their people. Has your church turned into a self-help program? Many have. The monster churches (mega) of today are frightening. Yes, there are a few that are mega and still uphold the true gospel, but again, they are few. You can tell by the conviction they teach. A God-centered message is full of conviction, not ear tickling.

Consider Jesus’ own ministry. He did not say, “Come, hang out, I’ve got a bounce house for the kids, and we will be doing a carnival for the family, and oh, by the way, follow me, it’s fun, I love you and have a wonderful plan for your life.” Nope, I still can’t find any of that in the Bible. He said things like, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53) Jesus also said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

Jesus also said things like, be overjoyed when you are persecuted on His account, and when someone hits you on the face, turn and allow him to hit your other cheek, and how about loving your enemies, or that all other religions are false (no tolerance from Jesus on this one), or that your pursuit of money is a pursuit against God. People should be up and leaving right in the middle of a sermon! That is the mark of a good pastor: teaching the truths Jesus taught might just cause people to leave. It weeds out the flock. It is a good thing! Jesus’ ministry had MANY people leaving from teaching that were too hard to hear. Man gets too hung up on staying in the black, filling the pews, having more “amens” during the sermon and more pats on the back after.

John 6:60 states “When many (MANY, not some) of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” And again in verse 66, “After this many (again MANY, not some) of his disciples (not just random people listening but his DISCIPLES) turned back and no longer walked with him.” {!!!!} This should knock the breath out of you. They turned back! They NO LONGER FOLLOWED HIM! Wow! Do you understand now? Take a good hard look at who you are placing your soul under to teach you about God’s Truth. They are just men. Not only do you need to make sure you trust your pastor and make sure you find a good one who is above all else humble to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, but also become a student of God’s word. Not a student of commentaries, but a student of the Bible. Read it. More now than you ever have before. It is THAT important!

Advertisements

Are You Actually Kidding Yourself Straight to Hell?

1 John 1:6 ESV
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

Fellowship was a word not used by the secular writers of the day. It meant to have intimacy with God. This was a foreign concept to both the Jews and those of other religions. But Christians understood the gospel meant that they now have access to the Father through the Son. The literal and figurative veil was torn at the death and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The resurrection and the following receiving of the Holy Spirit guaranteed and sealed their fellowship. The Holy Spirit is our internal guide. He is our Truth. Our True North. We might “say” we are intimate with Jesus. We might even go so far as to “say” we love Him and think He loves us back. The give-away that this warped sense of reality is, in fact, not true is when someone who claims Christ as the one they follow also practices unrighteousness.

The word here in Greek is περιπατέω which is transliterated as peripateō which means to walk, however the Hebrews used this word to mean the conduct of one’s life. I realize that we often speak of ourselves or others as having lost their way. But John is clear when he says if someone says they are a Christian but the conduct of their life is counter to God’s word, then they are not a Christian. At. All. I will say it again, as I have said in multiple other posts: Satan has had thousands of years to perfect the art of deception, and you better believe he is excellent at his craft. Don’t believe the lie he is telling you. Start looking at your life through Truth. Through what the Bible has to say. Please do not lie to yourself thinking you are better than the next person. What are you holding on to? While you may be a “good person” what does that actually mean? I want to give you some solid examples rather than leave this up to interpretation. Here is a very short list of typical claimed-as-non-sin “sins” people commit in entitled America who call themselves Christians but are actually not.

TYPICAL LIE #1
You are sleeping with your girlfriend or boyfriend. (I am going to expand on this first one just a bit so you can see what I mean). You have somehow justified this law as either antiquated or you are engaged or in the eyes of God you are already married.

I remember having a long conversation with an older man in my neighborhood who identified so strongly with Jesus and was extremely involved in his church. He was divorced with kids and was dating another woman from his church who was also divorced with kids. Somehow in the conversation he mentioned three things. 1. They are living together. 2. Yes, they are sleeping together but they said vows to each other so in the eyes of God they are married. 3. They are not getting along so he thinks he is going to break up with her soon. WHAT??? I could have just let it alone but I called him out on his obvious erroneous thought process. He has believed so many lies and was living one HUGE lie after another. He sort of ho-hum agreed with my rebuke and I never saw him again.

Another person in my life believes it is OK that they are sleeping together because they are getting marred and have also stated some sort of private vows. Not only is that unbiblical on several levels, it is also an issue because they were sleeping together LONG before they ever even started to talk about getting married. She agrees to disagree with me.

A friend of mine believes the man she is marrying will “come around”. She says he promised to come to church with her and she is hopeful he will get saved soon. She also says that she can walk down the isle, say her vows, and then ask God to forgive her for going against His word by becoming unequally yoked. How are all these lies are becoming truths? Satan is just that good. She is no longer speaking to me.

TYPICAL LIE #2
You call yourself a “cussin’ Christian”
What does THAT mean? Well, you say bad words. Often. Or perhaps you use the Lord’s Name in vain and really don’t think much of it. Sorry, you are living a lie.

TYPICAL LIE #3
You chase money. You tell yourself it is not money that is bad, it is the LOVE of money. While yes, that is true, it is still a lie. If you are chasing money and using that line to back up your idol, then again you are living a lie.

TYPICAL LIE #4
You are a prayer warrior. Your gift is not evangelism. You leave that to people who are gifted at talking to strangers or who are gifted at sharing the gospel with others. Usually that gift is for pastors and people in full-time ministry. Again, a HUGE lie. We ALL are commissioned to spread the gospel. ALL.

TYPICAL LIE #5
You consider yourself a normal Christian but you have friends who are Jesus Freaks. You reserve that name for the really intense Christians in your life but that is not you at all. You fit in. Your way of witnessing to others is by not being crazy, because who is really going to respond to that anyway, right? LIE!! Being a Jesus Freak does not mean being out of your mind crazy, it means living a life that is counter to how the world lives. Living based on the Bible. Yes, that would most likely put you in the Jesus Freak category, but not in the, stand-on-the-street-corner-holding-an-end-of-the-world-sign crazy. Make sense?

TYPICAL LIE #6
You attend church, you read your Bible as often as you can, maybe a few times a week, maybe every day if you remember. You go on short term missions, or you tithe or give offering to the church. You made a profession of faith when you were 13, you got baptized and you are from a Christian church. I realize not all of this describes you, but some of it may. Christianity is not a checklist. While you may do all these things, they do not, in and of themselves, make you a Christian. Check your growth. Check your fruit. This lie is one of the BIGGEST there is.

2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Broken Beyond Healing

1 John 1:3 ESV
that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

The word for proclaim is apaggello which also gives weight to the fact that John was commissioned by Jesus to testify. Koinonia is the Greek word for fellowship. It is specifically a word used for Christians. We have fellowship with each other only because we have fellowship with the Father AND the Son. John makes this distinction clear because his readers were dealing with heretics of their age that were stating Jesus the man was not the Christ. John is being clear that our fellowship as believers stems from our fellowship and intimacy with the Father and the Son.

Coming from actual on-the-scene eyewitnesses, we as believers can join in with the fellowship of the church and the blessed fellowship with the Father and Son.

This is so real to me as I have gotten tossed around by the world this week. Fellowship with Jesus and the Father is such a huge blessing however it is more so when done in the community of believers. I fear too many people today are lacking in this area. They church hop like they coffee shop hot. In fact, people are more attached to their favorite coffee shop than they are to their church. The fickle behavior of church goers state, “If I don’t feel good at my church, I’m out.” I get it. Family is hard. Being guided and reproved is hard. But as Proverbs 9:8b states, “reprove a wise man, and he will love you.” Too many of us are wise in our own eyes. We are unwilling to listen to criticism. We are stubborn to the point of breaking. Proverbs 29:1 states, “He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.”

I don’t want to be broken beyond healing. Lord, help me to learn and grow even when it is hard. Help me to be moldable even by men. Show me respect and teach me love for those who correct me and are responsible for me. Give me leadership that leads well. Give me leadership that teaches and reproves me the way I need to be reproved and help me to be humble in my education which is my sanctification which is my life. You are everything and I will take all you have to offer in any means necessary to bring about the greatest growth and maturity in Christ.

Commit to Under Commit

Life PyramidOne of the saddest things about life is the fact that we are the only ones to blame for how crazy our life is. I see many many of my friends overwhelmed with busy schedules so much so that they scarcely have time to spend in solid Bible study, reading, and prayer with God. There is no time to meet with friends, no ability to “pop over” for tea. No time to help out when a sister is in need. All because we have mistakenly chased after the things the world tells us we need to chase after.

I get it. We are all busy especially this time of year. Martin Luther used to say when he had a busy day he would get up an extra hour early to get in 2 hours of Bible study and prayer in but when he had an extra busy day ahead of him and he knew he was barely going to be able to fit it all in he would get up 2 hours early to spend 3 hours with The LORD.

Spending 3 hours with God in the morning may seem unrealistic but my conscience bears witness against it being unrealistic. My spirit tells me I need to do as much as I can to be in the Word. Below are some of the potential lies we have eaten hook, line, and sinker (think about that phrase for a sec.) You have swallowed EVERY BIT of the lie. While the items on the below list are not inherently bad, some are, in fact, quite good, you need to check who you are serving and what your motives are for doing them. The things the world wants you to serve or God?

God comes first, then your husband, then your kids, then your family, then your church family, then your co-workers, and on down the line. This is not about hours in your day, of course you need to work 8-9 hours a day. This is about who you are and your priorities. Click on the Green Pyramid and read the things we should focus on when we interact with different people in our lives. God and prayer should be a part of every one. Consider if you are trapped in any of the following areas and how you can lighten your load.

  • Making sure every kid is involved in a sport or even two. (What happened to playing outside with the neighbors and staying out until the street lights come on?)
  • Thinking the right thing to do to enrich your child is an after school program. (I know you could come up with something to help enrich them.)
  • Signing up to volunteer for everything you can (PTA, CHURCH, YMCA, you name it)
  • Working away from home. (I know some of you are not going to like this one, but this is straight from the Bible.)
  • Signing up for this activity or that activity to fill your time. (Quite time and hours spent alone with God are soooo important.)
  • Filling up every weekend with stuff to do. (Try making sure at least one or two weekends a month are free and clear, you never know what appointments God has for you.)

All this leads to being overwhelmed. I encourage you to ruthlessly edit your life. Stop carving out time for God and make him the largest section of your waking hours Life Pyramid. Resolve to commit to under commit.

by Jen O’Sullivan (also featured on Linked Cycling Women)

The Art of Deception

What’s with the Church today? Why is there so much strife and envy between God’s people? Why is Satan so good at causing divisions and confusion? Oh, that’s right, he has had 6,000 years to practice and perfect the art of deception. The smaller and less noticeable the twist, the more who will stumble and fall.

DBR Thought ~ I am Really Good at Being Really Bad

Isn’t it interesting that as we move forward in time we often hear people say “In my day, kids were not as bad as they are today.” or “Back when I was growing up you NEVER heard of people doing the things they are doing today.” We are getting really good and being really bad. Pastor Mike Fabarez spoke about this at Compass Night last week where he talked about how God shortened the lives of men in Noah’s day. It was interesting because he said the reason God’s Spirit would no longer “contend with Man” for as long as it had (upwards of 1000 years) is that men got really good at being bad. They perfected the art of doing evil, or as Jeremiah puts it, “They are ‘wise’ in doing evil!” It is surprising that God cut the lifespan down to under 10% of what it had been. First to 120 years, then onward to in the Psalms 80 is a good old age. I know some people who are fantastic at the art of evil and do it exceedingly well. Interesting thought by Pastor Mike for sure!

They are ‘wise’—in doing evil! – Jeremiah 4:22

Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. (Eph. 6:24)
Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

~ Jen O’Sullivan
www.HolyJustLove.com

DBR Thought of the Day ~ How will you rate yourself? How will God rate you? Are you going to Heaven or Hell?

“so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:10-11

One of my greatest sources of compassion for people comes from an eternal perspective. I look around at people in my life and people I pass by that I do not know and I wonder about their final destination. The Bible says the gate is wide and easy to Hell and that many will enter it. On the other side of that coin it says the gate that leads to Heaven is narrow and hard and that few will enter. It does not say it is narrow and hard but yet still many will enter. It says few. Did you know that the majority of the world when asked to rate themselves on any given thing, skill, appearance, ability would rate themselves 7 out of 10? Dig around the internet and you will find this to be true. It is wild because we all cannot be in the 70th percentile of everything, now, can we? It doesn’t work that way.

Did you know that 9 out of 10 Americans believe in God. Based on what the Bible says, few will enter, so how is it that that many people can be so wrong about God? Being a Christian and believing in the only true God grants me a level of peace and confident assurance in my salvation, however it also affords me a hard life. I hear pastors who say I can pray a good life and get good things here on earth, however when you look at Biblical examples that is just not true. They were tremendously blessed in their relationships with other believers, but outside of that they did not sit around eating grapes, with servants to cool them with fans, watching the court jester entertain them all day long. They did not sit around all day eating fast food in air conditioned rooms watching TV. They were persecuted.

When was the last time you were persecuted? When was the last time you went through a trial that you wished for death but knew it was not your time? I see us sitting around in our cush homes in Southern California and wonder if 9 out of 10 believe in God and we would consider ourselves an 8 or 9 our of a scale of 1-10 when it comes to our lives. They say the mission field is in other countries, but start looking around. The mission field is America. The church of Laodicea. The “Lukewarm” Church.

If you read the verse before the descriptions of the gates (see full text below) in Matthew 7 you will see the “Golden Rule”. “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” This comes right before telling us about the eternal outcome of the majority of the human race. So, here is my thought. The next time you are mad at your boss, or furious with your co-worker, or angry at your child, or resentful of your spouse, consider this: if they are saved, you are commanded to get things right, if they are not saved, this is the best they have. If they, for whatever reason, are not going to Heaven then cut them some slack. This world is the best they will ever know.

Let that angry woman at the check-out line go ahead of you. Hold the door open for that bitter man. Show your mean boss grace and build him or her up even when they deserve the opposite. Give them every courtesy you can in hopes that they may see a glimpse of God through you. Allow God to exact judgment. It is not your job. Your job is to be a light in this world because on that Day when Jesus comes, EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. – Matthew 7:12-14

“so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:10-11

Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. (Eph. 6:24)
Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

~ Jen O’Sullivan
www.HolyJustLove.com

Daily Bible Reading ~ Isaiah 24-26 and Ephesians 4

DAILY BIBLE READING LINK FOR OCTOBER 2, 2013

In today’s reading the promise of judgment is coupled with God’s gracious promise of restoration in Christ’s eternal and triumphant kingdom. May we see clearly the merciful salvation the Lord extends to the repentant. We have some very practical reasons to be grateful for Christ’s provision through his church and in our lives, as we carefully read the fourth chapter of Ephesians.

– Pastor Mike Fabarez of Compass Bible Church and Focal Point Ministries

Isaiah 24-26

Judgment on the Whole Earth

24:1 Behold, the Lord will empty the earth [1] and make it desolate,
and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants.
2 And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest;
as with the slave, so with his master;
as with the maid, so with her mistress;
as with the buyer, so with the seller;
as with the lender, so with the borrower;
as with the creditor, so with the debtor.
3 The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered;
for the Lord has spoken this word.

4 The earth mourns and withers;
the world languishes and withers;
the highest people of the earth languish.
5 The earth lies defiled
under its inhabitants;
for they have transgressed the laws,
violated the statutes,
broken the everlasting covenant.
6 Therefore a curse devours the earth,
and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;
therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched,
and few men are left.
7 The wine mourns,
the vine languishes,
all the merry-hearted sigh.
8 The mirth of the tambourines is stilled,
the noise of the jubilant has ceased,
the mirth of the lyre is stilled.
9 No more do they drink wine with singing;
strong drink is bitter to those who drink it.
10 The wasted city is broken down;
every house is shut up so that none can enter.
11 There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine;
all joy has grown dark;
the gladness of the earth is banished.
12 Desolation is left in the city;
the gates are battered into ruins.
13 For thus it shall be in the midst of the earth
among the nations,
as when an olive tree is beaten,
as at the gleaning when the grape harvest is done.

14 They lift up their voices, they sing for joy;
over the majesty of the Lord they shout from the west. [2]
15 Therefore in the east [3] give glory to the Lord;
in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.
16 From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise,
of glory to the Righteous One.
But I say, “I waste away,
I waste away. Woe is me!
For the traitors have betrayed,
with betrayal the traitors have betrayed.”

17 Terror and the pit and the snare [4]
are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth!
18 He who flees at the sound of the terror
shall fall into the pit,
and he who climbs out of the pit
shall be caught in the snare.
For the windows of heaven are opened,
and the foundations of the earth tremble.
19 The earth is utterly broken,
the earth is split apart,
the earth is violently shaken.
20 The earth staggers like a drunken man;
it sways like a hut;
its transgression lies heavy upon it,
and it falls, and will not rise again.

21 On that day the Lord will punish
the host of heaven, in heaven,
and the kings of the earth, on the earth.
22 They will be gathered together
as prisoners in a pit;
they will be shut up in a prison,
and after many days they will be punished.
23 Then the moon will be confounded
and the sun ashamed,
for the Lord of hosts reigns
on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
and his glory will be before his elders.

God Will Swallow Up Death Forever

25:1 O Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt you; I will praise your name,
for you have done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
2 For you have made the city a heap,
the fortified city a ruin;
the foreigners’ palace is a city no more;
it will never be rebuilt.
3 Therefore strong peoples will glorify you;
cities of ruthless nations will fear you.
4 For you have been a stronghold to the poor,
a stronghold to the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat;
for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,
5 like heat in a dry place.
You subdue the noise of the foreigners;
as heat by the shade of a cloud,
so the song of the ruthless is put down.

6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
7 And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
9 It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
10 For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain,
and Moab shall be trampled down in his place,
as straw is trampled down in a dunghill. [5]
11 And he will spread out his hands in the midst of it
as a swimmer spreads his hands out to swim,
but the Lord will lay low his pompous pride together with the skill [6] of his hands.
12 And the high fortifications of his walls he will bring down,
lay low, and cast to the ground, to the dust.

You Keep Him in Perfect Peace

26:1 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:

“We have a strong city;
he sets up salvation
as walls and bulwarks.
2 Open the gates,
that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.
3 You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
4 Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
5 For he has humbled
the inhabitants of the height,
the lofty city.
He lays it low, lays it low to the ground,
casts it to the dust.
6 The foot tramples it,
the feet of the poor,
the steps of the needy.”

7 The path of the righteous is level;
you make level the way of the righteous.
8 In the path of your judgments,
O Lord, we wait for you;
your name and remembrance
are the desire of our soul.
9 My soul yearns for you in the night;
my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.
For when your judgments are in the earth,
the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
10 If favor is shown to the wicked,
he does not learn righteousness;
in the land of uprightness he deals corruptly
and does not see the majesty of the Lord.
11 O Lord, your hand is lifted up,
but they do not see it.
Let them see your zeal for your people, and be ashamed.
Let the fire for your adversaries consume them.
12 O Lord, you will ordain peace for us,
for you have indeed done for us all our works.
13 O Lord our God,
other lords besides you have ruled over us,
but your name alone we bring to remembrance.
14 They are dead, they will not live;
they are shades, they will not arise;
to that end you have visited them with destruction
and wiped out all remembrance of them.
15 But you have increased the nation, O Lord,
you have increased the nation; you are glorified;
you have enlarged all the borders of the land.

16 O Lord, in distress they sought you;
they poured out a whispered prayer
when your discipline was upon them.
17 Like a pregnant woman
who writhes and cries out in her pangs
when she is near to giving birth,
so were we because of you, O Lord;
18 we were pregnant, we writhed,
but we have given birth to wind.
We have accomplished no deliverance in the earth,
and the inhabitants of the world have not fallen.
19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a dew of light,
and the earth will give birth to the dead.

20 Come, my people, enter your chambers,
and shut your doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
until the fury has passed by.
21 For behold, the Lord is coming out from his place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity,
and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it,
and will no more cover its slain.

Ephesians 4

Unity in the Body of Christ

4:1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”

9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? [7] 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds [8] and teachers, [9] 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, [10] to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

The New Life

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, [11] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (ESV)

Footnotes

[1] 24:1 Or land; also throughout this chapter
[2] 24:14 Hebrew from the sea
[3] 24:15 Hebrew in the realm of light
[4] 24:17 The Hebrew words for terror, pit, and snare sound alike
[5] 25:10 The Hebrew words for dunghill and for the Moabite town Madmen (Jeremiah 48:2) sound alike
[6] 25:11 Or in spite of the skill
[7] 4:9 Or the lower parts of the earth?
[8] 4:11 Or pastors
[9] 4:11 Or the shepherd-teachers
[10] 4:13 Greek to a full-grown man
[11] 4:22 Greek man; also verse 24

Thursday Theology ~ Dr. Mike Fabarez on Discernment

DiscernmentWith the dumbing down of Christianity and the rise of bumper-sticker theology, perhaps now more than ever Christians need wisdom, insight, and discernment. Thankfully there is much of it to be found in Luke 5 and 6. Sandwiched between the calling of the first disciples (Luke 5:1-11) and their commissioning as apostles (Luke 6:12-16), we encounter several concise episodes in the life of Christ that clearly provide the kind of godly discernment every Christian needs. Don’t miss this important eight-part series as Pastor Mike walks us through this instructive section of the Gospel of Luke. – Compass Bible Church

Title Passage Date
Curiosity & Real Conversions (Part 1) Luke 5:1-11 June 23, 2013
Wants & Genuine Needs (Part 2) Luke 5:12-16 June 30, 2013
Urgency & True Importance (Part 3) Luke 5:17-26 July 14, 2013
Reputations & Vital Responsibilities (Part 4) Luke 5:27-32 July 21, 2013
Sorrow & Profound Celebrations (Part 5) Luke 5:33-35 July 28, 2013

Blessing God ~ Busy Bee

Sometimes I go about my day busy at all the tasks at hand, wondering how I will ever get through them all. If you take a look at the bee in the below photo he is busy at his task. It seems as though he is looking down and never gets a chance to look up from his work. Sound familiar? Martha had the same issue and Jesus was actually in her house! Wow! Talk about life perspective. I want to be Mary and choose the good portion, and look to Jesus. Pastor Todd Smith of Crossroads Community Church preached a great sermon where he asked everyone to have a garage sale on all their life’s stuff and get back to simplicity. He detailed how hard it is to make things simple and how easy it is to complicate things. I encourage you to listen to his sermon called “Follow Me: The Commission” if you get a chance.

Honeycomb Bee“The Busy Bee”

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” ”
– Luke 10:38-42

Photography by Jen O’Sullivan

Blessing God Series
Rain from the Lord
Grass in the Field
Parable of the Pearl
Rocks Cry Out
Flourish
Joy in the Thorns
Perfection
Fruit
Everything
Integrity
Hiding Place
Wonderfully Made