Sunday, April 30, 2006



Two elderly men saw an elderly church-goer coming down the street. And one man pointed toward her and said, "I'll bet you can't mention anybody that old Mrs. Thompson can't find something good to say about."
The other fellow called the bet and said, "Good morning, Mrs. Thompson, what do you think about the devil?"
Mrs. Thompson cocked her perky little head over to one side and said, "Well, there's one good thing about him. He is always on the job."
Well, I can absolutely assure you that that is correct. And because he is always on the job, we're going to have to be vigilant in resisting him.
An elderly preacher is reported to have prayed the following prayer each day: "O, Lord, give me a backbone as big as a saw log and ribs like the large timbers under the church floor. Put iron shoes on my feet and galvanized britches on my body. Give me a rhinoceros hide for skin and hang up a wagonload of determination in the gabled end of my soul. Help me to sign the contract to fight the devil as long as I've got a tooth - and then gum him until I die."

Two friends were talking about a political candidate running for office. One was quick to voice his opinion. He said vociferously, "I think so and so is a socialist at heart. He's a compromiser; he never stands firm; he accommodates those who will get him where he wants to go. I think he's a woman-chasing liar who doesn't deserve the office." The other friend responded, "Tell me now, how do you really feel?"
That is exactly what Paul meant when he wrote, "Now the Spirit expressly says...." The New American Standard version says, "Now the Spirit speaks explicitly."

Twice in Winston Churchill's illustrative career, he stepped down form a prominent office to take a lesser position. The second time he stepped down was after he had become the Prime Minister of England. For ten years, he lived in virtual obscurity, and during this retreat, he stayed abreast of all the political developments in Europe and warned the English speaking world, especially England of an oncoming attack. There seemed to be no cause for alarm on the part of England, until one day, essentially all that had been predicted by Churchill came to pass. When England fell into crisis, it sought Churchill as its leader once again, realizing that what he had been foretelling had indeed
been the truth - there was great cause for alarm.

I was asked last week by a Canadian couple why in Australia only 3% of people attend evangelical churches. In Canada it is closer to 40% and in the USA it is closer to 70%.
I explained that in the 60's thee was a major drift out of the churches. The problem was two fold.
Firstly the society became secular through the influence of the government school system.
Christian teachers were told that they were not allowd to promote Christian beliefs, and some were told that they had to put aside their christian beliefs in order to become teachers.
Secondly the church became secular through this same pervasive influence. Doctrines of demons!
Today there is a great cause for alarm. And God's word tells us clearly to be prepared. "The Spirit explicitly says..."
The clear word from God's Holy Spirit is about deceitful spirits. The word deceitful means "to lead astray." The structure of the sentence makes it clear that the deceitful doctrine is being taught by demons.
If the demons can dismantle the Christian world view, they can lead people to believe there is no need of a Saviour.
This demonic secularisation of our soiety has focussed upon three areas:
1. The Area of Science (Evolution)
There has never been a more clearly stated departure from the Bible and the teachings of God's Word than
Darwin's theory of evolution, which sparked a world-wide rejection of faith and a deification of intellectualism and scientific pride. It was clearly the demon's deception to sidetrack modern man from his faith in God as his Creator.
With the rise of Darwinism, man has progressively moved from belief in God to an intellectual world view of creation based on a flawed theory that has never been proven. Yet, in scientific circles today, you are not considered intelligent if you believe in biblical creation. But no rational thinking scientist could truly hold to evolution if he is in touch with the facts and the many evidences that refute Darwinism. I call your attention to three:
The first is the evidence of design. Paul Amos Moody, a theistic evolutionist, has said:
Evidences of design are everywhere about us; the forces producing the design are the so-called "laws of nature," many of which still await discovery. The greatest aspect of design visible to us is in the ordered movement of the stars and planets in this solar system and in other solar systems extending on and on through space - a design almost incomprehensibly large. At the other extreme we find all matter composed of invisible atoms, each of which in turn is a solar system almost inconceivably small, with electrons swinging in orbits around the atomic nuclei somewhat as planets circle about the sun....And so it goes - everywhere there is design. Everything is conforming to definite forces acting upon it, is obeying natural laws applicable to its particular state. Whence come these natural laws? There we find the Creator.
Denton, in his book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, says:
Molecular biology has shown that even the simplest of all living systems on earth today, bacterial cells, are exceedingly complex objects. Although the tiniest bacterial cells are incredibly small...each is in effect a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery, made up altogether of one hundred thousand million atoms, far more complicated than any machine built by man and absolutely without parallel in the non-living world.
With such perfect design, doesn't it seem logical to even a non-scientist that there must be a designer?
Second is the evidence of DNA. The ability of DNA to provide unprecedented evidence in criminal trials has become common knowledge to even the most uneducated of laypersons as a result of the sensationalism of some recent cases. We all have come to know that each person's DNA contains his genetic information code. One scientist, Charles Thaxton, believes that DNA is the most powerful indicator of intelligent design because it has a structural identity similar to a written language. He insists that we can assume that DNA is the result of intelligence because it is so similar to human languages which are, without exception, the products of intelligence.
Another scientist has pointed out the fact that if all the DNA in one's body were placed end-to-end, it would stretch from here to the moon over 100,000 times. At the same time, if this densely coded information were placed in typewritten form, it would completely fill the
Grand Canyon forty times, though all of it in one person would not fill two teaspoons. What a miracle!
The third evidence against the theory of evolution is the existence of the second law of thermodynamics. The laws of thermodynamics state:
1) Energy in a system cannot be created or destroyed.
2) In a system, the amount of disorder, or entropy, must increase and the amount of useful energy must decrease.
What does it mean? Everything is running downhill. As Wilder-Smith has said:
...Order tends to disintegrate into disorder, just as water tends to flow down the mountain rather than up to the mountaintop. Order descends to chaos, just as a city with no cleaning, repair and disposal services descends to chaos with the passage of time...The theory of evolution teaches, when all the frills are removed, just the opposite to this state of affairs demanded by the second law of thermodynamics. Evolutionists assume that nonliving carbon atoms, hydrogen atoms, nitrogen atoms, etc., as they "fluttered down" through the ages since the beginning of time, have slowly ordered and organized themselves into more complex, more energy-rich, less chaotic forms. (see Notes #4)
Evolution says things are always moving upward, but reality says things are moving downward, from order to disorder. The theory of evolution is academic gymnastics working in an egocentric mind in order to displace God from the throne and place self upon it.

2. The Area Of Philosophy (Secular Humanism)

Paul warned Timothy that the day would come when people would fall away from the faith because they had given precedence to the doctrine taught by demons.

Probably the second most damaging doctrine, next to evolution, is the doctrine of secular humanism.
The secular humanist theory insists that there are certain dominant systems of ideas that are the foundation of patterns of thought and actions during given periods of history, but after a certain time, these systems of ideas are human life. History then waits until a new system is birthed and becomes the new dominant system.
Therefore the humanist considers certain ideologies to be outdated. You can rest assured that if your world view accepts the existence of God, and if you believe in the supernatural, you will be scoffed at by humanists, who consider Christianity to be a primitive ideology.

3. The Area of Hedonism
The demons realize that if they can divert our minds in the area of the scientific so that we deny our Creator God and change our philosophy from theocracy to humanism, the natural progression results in an overemphasis on physical pleasure or hedonism.
Hedonism seems to have been the by-product of gnosticism, the philosophy Paul dealt with in

Gnosticism has made a revival in our secular culture. It has received renewed impetus through the movie that is about to be released called "The Davinci Code" and the current news story last week concerning the "Gospel of Judas".
The gnostics believed that the flesh was all bad and the spirit was all good. If God is spirit, then He is altogether good and cannot possibly touch something as evil as matter. Therefore God could not have created the world. Creation came about as a series of emanations from God, each one a little more distant from God, until the end of the series was so distant that it could touch and handle matter, thus this emanation created the world. Gnostics also believed that Jesus was a spirit who appeared to be flesh and blood, because God, being spirit, could not possibly be flesh and blood (matter) at the same time.

The end result of this philosophy was manifestd in two diametricaly opposing views: asceticism and hedonism. The ascetics were scrupulously legalistic with all kinds of laws and restrictions. You can read of this form right here in 1Timothy 4 where Paul speaks of those who were making rules about what foods you can and cannot eat.

The hedonists, on the other hand, declared that since the flesh and the spirit are two totally different things, one can be pure in his spirit while giving himself to the pleasures of the flesh because, after all, the flesh is incapable of goodness. In other words, do what you want and don't worry about it. This corresponds fairly well with the philosophy of "the Davinci Code" Our society is overrun with modern hedonists. The playboy philosophy rules.
This logic says that morals don't matter. God is so far off and cares so little for His creation, that you can live as you like.

John MacArthur, in his book, The Vanishing Conscience, has put it well: Remove the reality of sin, and you take away the possibility of repentance. Abolish the doctrine of human depravity and you void the divine plan of salvation. Erase the notion of personal guilt and you eliminate the need for a Savior. Obliterate the human conscience, and you will raise an amoral and unredeemable generation.

I do a lot of funerals for non Christians. 70% of these are for folk who believe in God! They believe in God, but they want to keep Him at a respectable distance. They want $3 worth of God please, just enough to salve their conscience, but not enought to change their lifestyles. Just enough to make them respectable, not enough to run their lives.

How do you deal with these doctrines of demons? Get some truth and deal with it!

There is an answer. The truth is: ...All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God [Romans3:23]. The world in which you and I live is moving in a downward spriral, not upward, and man is degenerate and in need of a Savior. The good news is that:
...God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us [Romans 5:8]

Romans 6:23 The wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!

If we will recognize God as the Creator, Jesus as the Savior, and ourselves as the sinners, and acknowledge our need for Him, we can disregard the demon doctrines and find in HIm, the power to change. He will change us.

Paul warned Timothy because he knew that if the devil could convince mankind that there is no Creator, man might believe that there are no absolutes, but only systems of ideas that change as society changes. Then he would never have a firm mooring, and he could simply gratify the lusts of the flesh and become so preoccupied with himself that he could spend his entire existence upon the earth without God, die, and go into eternity without God. This is the final outcome of believing the demon lies. But listen up, the direction from God is to believe His Word, reject the foreign philosophies, and walk with Him who said: ...I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly [John 10:10]

Joshua faced a secular and strange world view. He called to the people of Israel.

Joshua 24:15 But if it doesn’t please you to worship the Lord, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord.”

There is a COST to follow Christ. There is a Cost to resisting the flow of the secular world view.

It begins with C Choosing.

choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

You need to make a choice between doctrines of demons that pervade our culture, or Jesus Christ.

C Choose.

O Obey. You need to obey the Lord Jesus Christ. He is called the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Some people think theyc an have Him as Saviour, but the Lord thing.. they’d rather let that go for another day> He is called the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. You can’t have one without the other. If you call Him Saviour you must Obey Him.

You Must

C Choose Him.

O Obey Him.

S Submit to Him as Lord of your life. In every thought word and deed submit to His leading upon your life.

T. Trust Him. Will you entrust your life and soul to Him who is your Saviour and Lord?

Will you do that right now? Let’s pray.

1 Paul Amos Moody, Introduction To Evolution (New York: Harper and Rowe, 1970), 497-498,
2 Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory In Crisis (Bethesda, Maryland: Adler and Adler, 1986), 250
3. John F. MacArthur, Jr., The Vanishing Conscience (Dallas, Texas: Word Publishing, 1994), 11.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006





Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Daniel Goleman titled Emotional Intelligence. In that book I found out some interesting stuff about our brains. When we experience an external stimulus—when we see, touch, smell, taste, or hear something—that stimulus rushes to two parts of our brains: our emotional brain, the amygdala, and the rational brain, the neocortex. The problem is that there is a shortcut to the emotional brain, so a few milliseconds before we are able to think about it, we feel it. Goleman offered the example of a waitress who dropped six dinners when she glimpsed a woman with a huge head of red hair. The waitress’s husband left her for a woman who had big, red hair, and her amygdala sent her into panic before her neocortex said, “That's not the woman!” Those are called “Pre-cognitive emotions”— reactions based on bits of sensory information that haven't been sorted through. All of us have those “pre-cognitive emotions.” How often have you said, “I reacted before I thought,” or, “I must not have been thinking.” One way of understanding self-control is learning not to live life guided by our amygdalas. The biblical meaning of self-control is to “get a grip”—to get a handle on our responses and decisions instead of being guided by our flawed emotions and faulty impulses.

When you read the results of a race—be it cars, people, or animals—it's not unusual to see DNF attached to some entrants' names. The letters—standing for did not finish—indicate those who had to quit. Sometimes the reason is also indicated: a blown engine, for example, a pulled muscle, or lameness.

What if the equivalent to a DNF were put by the name of every seminary graduate who is now doing something other than the ministry they once felt called to? Every study of dropouts I hear about suggests that it would be an enormous list.

If reasons were affixed, you might read stress/burnout, or conflict, inadequate people skills, insufficient leadership capability, poor work habits, family unhappiness, or mean-spirited congregants. There would be many others, of course.

And among those, be one that would probably catch the eye fastest: moral failure. The term arouses a lot of natural curiosity and not a little apprehension. The mind wonders: What happened? Why? How was it discovered? What has happened to the people involved? Could this happen to me?

The term moral failure covers a broad spectrum of tragic conduct. Someone has acknowledged an attraction to pornography; another is discovered to have engaged in an improper relationship (with either gender); still a third is found to have a history of some kind of molestation. Is this list large enough?

Given Jesus' sweeping definition of adultery (the intents of the heart), I suppose we are all moral failures in one way or another. Murderers, too. Some in Christian leadership go beyond the intents of the heart and act out the intentions. Almost every time, an unspeakable heartbreak ripples out into lots of lives. And, beyond that, there is always disillusionment, scorn, and the loss of trust that accompanies such sin. Sins of the flesh are destructive and usually result in a DNF.

Galatians 5:22,23--But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Proverbs 25:28 [LB]--A man without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls.

Anything uncontrolled can harm your relationships:

Uncontrolled anger - Psalm 29:11 The Lord gives His people strength; the Lord blesses His people with peace. Moses blew it without self control when he struck the rock and scored a DNF! Think of Moses. He failed to control his anger against the people of Israel. This led him to tempt God and for this sin he was denied entrance to Canaan.

Uncontrolled lust - Proverbs 6:26 For a prostitute’s fee is only a loaf of bread, but an adulteress goes after your very life Samson blew it without self control and scored a DNF. Think of Samson. He failed to control his lust. This led him to marry a Philistine woman, to sleep with a prostitute, and to go to Delilah. He ended up losing his strength and his eyes.

Uncontrolled spending - Proverbs 21:20 Precious treasure and oil are in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man consumes them Achan and Gehazi and they scored a DNF!

Think of Achan. He failed to control his covetousness. This led him to take from Jericho the cloth, gold, and silver that belonged to the Lord. The result: he and his family were stoned to death.
Think of Gehazi, the servant of Elisha. He failed to control his greed. This led him to lie so he and his family ended up with Naaman's leprosy.

Uncontrolled drinking - Proverbs 23:29-35 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? 30 They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. 31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.
32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. 33 Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. 34 Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. 35 They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

Noah Scores A DNF!

Uncontrolled ambition

Think of the Jewish rulers. They failed to control their envy. This led them to plot against Jesus, to make false accusations against Him, and to crucify Him.- Proverbs 23:4 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.

Saul scored A DNF, And Demas 2Tim 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica;

How can we develop self control?

Remember the importance of duty.

“Be faithful ‘till death.” So says God’s word in Revelation 8:10. There are no mystical secrets there. It is simply being true to that which you know is right until you die. Being true to what you know is right even if it kills you. There is a lot to be said for a sense of duty.

General Douglas macArthur said in his last speech at West Point, Duty Honour Country! That was all that mattered when the fighting was over and in the midst of battle, Duty, honour, country!

Church members have a duty to their church. Membership carries with it responsibilities. And members of this church have the duty to make a commitment to supporting this church financially, as well as with our gifts and passions.

A student has a duty to learn. Unless you are working to put yourself through school, someone is providing your education for you. (And if you’re putting yourself through school, then I probably don’t have to remind you to study.) So, as corny as it sounds, it is your duty to study, and not to squander your opportunity to get an education.

It’s time we introduced “duty” into our vocabulary.

Keep in mind what’s important.

One of the most well-known stories in the Bible about a lack of self-control is the story of Esau. In a weak moment of craving, tempted by the smell of savory stew, he defaulted on his future inheritance. The aroma went straight to his amygdala. And he traded his inheritance to his treacherous brother, Jacob, for a bowl of Brunswick stew. Esau forgot

what was important. Self-control is far, far more than learning to say “no.” Self-control grows out of a deep, burning awareness of what’s important.

We often think of self-control only in terms of denying ourselves something that might be bad for us but sure would be a lot of fun. Self-control often seems like nothing more than gritting our teeth and white-knuckling our way through life, pitying ourselves for missing out on so much good stuff. Self-control certainly does include self-denial, but self-control at its best is a recognition of things so important that we won’t sacrifice them for temporary and insignificant pleasures.

For example, a woman with self-control has a deep sense of rightness about being healthy. Her decisions are far more than saying “no” to the second piece of cake. When she goes out to run or exercise it’s about far more than saying “no” to sitting on the couch for an hour watching a re-run of CSI. It’s about saying “yes” to her health. People with self-control look at that new boat or that new dress and think how wonderful that purchase would be…but they realize the deep satisfaction and peace that come from managing our money well and they realize how foolish many of our purchases are. So their decision is about far more than saying “no” to the purchase; it’s about saying “yes” to staying out of debt and to financial stewardship.

A teenager with self-control believes that his or her future, health, and relationship with God are so important that he or she will not sacrifice those things for the kinds of things that everybody else seems to be doing.

Our families, our congregations, our futures, our integrity, and our spiritual health, are all too valuable to sacrifice them on the altar of those things that might be temporarily enticing but far less important. Self-control isn’t first about saying “no” to the stew; it’s about saying “yes” to our inheritance.

Live by the Spirit

Just a few verses before our text on the fruit of the Spirit, in Galatians 5:16, we read: So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

No matter how badly you long to be loving, joyful, peaceful, and for your life to exhibit all these aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, including self-control, you cannot do this on your own. While there is an unmistakable responsibility for us to choose to be more gentle, more faithful, and so on, there is far more to it than personal “want to.” It is primarily about letting God become more and more the center and driver of our lives. In other words, we have to live by God’s Spirit.

Weeds grow on their own. Fruit requires attention and work. So it is with spiritual fruit. So make worship your lifestyle, not just a hit or miss activity. Get up early and read your Bible and pray. When those big decisions and events come along go on a twenty-four hour fast. Join a small group and/or a Bible Study class. Use our media center like a health food store. Get some Christian music CDs and make drive time worship time. And the ability to control those flawed emotions and faulty impulses will grow more and more natural for you.

Erect good walls

Proverbs 25:28 says, "A man who lacks self-control is like a city whose walls are broken down."

New Orleans’ flood walls were flawed walls. The downtown section of New Orleans should not have flooded. The walls that were supposed to protect New Orleans had faulty foundations— particularly the 17th Street canal wall. Some suggest that the problems with the walls were miscalculations in the designing stage. Others suggest that it was a problem of maintenance. Still others suggest that the wall’s builders cut corners. Whichever is the case, the lesson is clear: You gotta have good walls. For example, choosing your companions is also a good way to establish boundaries. All of us ought to broaden our circles to include people who aren’t devoted followers of Jesus. But our inner circles must be people whose values are Godly values and whose standards are God’s standards. Thus we build appropriate walls. Furthermore, men and women must establish boundaries in the workplace. Jim and Sue work for the same company and are out of town on a business trip, staying in the same place. The meetings don’t begin until the next morning so they have dinner together. After the second glass of wine, Sue says, “Jim, you seem like someone I can trust. I’ve been a bit distracted at work lately…because my marriage is in trouble. My husband just doesn’t seem to find me attractive anymore.” Jim answers, “I can’t believe that. I think you are very attractive.”

And at that moment Jim and Sue turn a corner. And down the street they are now on await deceit and lies and heartache. They forgot the walls. In the workplace we must establish walls: conversations we wont’ have; circumstances we won’t get ourselves into. Unmarried couples must build good walls. Over the last couple of weeks our teenagers, in their Sunday night Area Bible Study groups, have been talking about biblical guidelines for God’s gift of sexuality. And I applaud those who have led it and those who decided on the topic.

Let me add my two cents to that. You guys need to build walls. And the walls need to be just beyond your lips. In other words, you can kiss. Guys, when you walk your dates to the door you can say, “I’d like a kiss, please. The preacher said it’s all-right.” (I know that’s fun. Lorelle and I kissed once before we were married, too.) But beyond your lips you need a wall—a wall that will say, “That’s as far as I go.” And let me tell you—now is the time to build the wall. Can you imagine someone saying, as Katrina blew into New Orleans, “OK folks, let’s go build us a wall! Now, it’s going to be a little windy…” That would be crazy!

And, hear me now, the time to build your wall is not on the couch in your den in the dark with your hormones flowing like Niagara Falls. The place to say, “Here is where I will stop,” is right here.

Embrace Grace

Titus 2:11-12: For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

We would imagine that God would say if we follow His rules we will have self-control. But He says, “No, primarily it’s grace.” Self-discipline and deciding to do and be better will never make you who you want to be. You will never find peace with God by trying to follow all the rules. But when we accept His love doing the right thing comes naturally.

The great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, was dressed one day in a Chinese costume. He stood on a jetty while waiting for a boatman to take him across the river. Presently a richly dressed Chinaman came and also stood waiting. When the boat drew near this man not seeing that Mr. Taylor was a foreigner, struck him on the head and knocked him over into the mud. Mr. Taylor said the feeling came to him to smite the man, but God immediately stopped him. When the boat came up, the Chinaman looked at Mr. Taylor and recognized him as a foreigner. He could hardly believe it, and said, "What, you a foreigner, and did not strike me back when I struck you like that?" Mr. Taylor said "This boat is mine. Come in and I will take you where you want to go." On the way out, Mr. Taylor poured into that Chinaman's ears the message of salvation. He left the man with tears running down his face. Such is the power of the Gospel of Christ.

(Prov 25:28) Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control

Monday, April 17, 2006




1 Peter 3:8-12 Now finally, all of you should be like-minded and sympathetic, should love believers, and be compassionate and humble, 9 not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you can inherit a blessing. 10 For the one who wants to love life and to see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit, 11 and he must turn away from evil and do good. He must seek peace and pursue it, 12 because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their request. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the gentle, because they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are the gentle, because they will inherit the earth

Phil 4:5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; ESV

(CEV) Always be gentle with others. The Lord will soon be here.

Tit 3:1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

One of the benefits of having children is getting to watch cartoons without having to explain yourself. Several years ago, there was a television program called “Pinky and the Brain” featuring two mice. Pinky was a rather bizarre character who would be complimented if described as not very bright. Brain was just as his name suggests, a brilliant scientist who had only one consuming drive—to take over the world. At the start of every episode, Pinky would ask, “Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?” He would answer, “The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!” Most of us are not really interested in taking over the whole world, just the portion we deal with the most! We want to be in control of our world, to have the reins in our hands instead of being at the mercy of someone or something else. In the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, Jesus makes a very interesting statement that most of us have a hard time comprehending because it seems to be the exact opposite of what we really believe. He said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

While others clamor and fight to get their piece of the pie, the meek rest confidently and quietly in the promises of Christ.


Apart from Christ, each person seeks his/her own best interests and sees nothing wrong with being either ambitious or aggressive if that is what it takes to get ahead. Self-promotion, we are told, is necessary for you to succeed in a world where everyone else is operating with that agenda. People think nothing of pushing themselves to the front, stepping on people in order to get ahead, and acting more aggressively without concerning themselves about who they might hurt along the way. Even Christians are counseled to do the same thing—pushing one church ahead of another, promoting your own ministry, putting your own picture on the cover of your books, finding agents who can “get you name recognition” so that you can promote yourself in the competitive world of Christian ministry. May God protect us from ambition arising from self-promotion instead of an ambition for the glory of Christ alone!

-Meekness is viewed with disdain and those who come across as meek are pitied, mocked or run over! All the self-esteem teaching and assertiveness training currently flooding the marketplace of ideas promote the idea that you are master of your own future, the designer of your own dreams and you must allow nothing to get in the way of pushing your way to the top—whatever your field of interest. Only when you are on top, we are told, can you ever be satisfied, so never allow yourself to take a backseat, or be talked into professional suicide by acting with meekness!

Somewhere along the line, someone convinced us that life is filled with rights that we have a responsibility to claim—the more we can discover and claim for ourselves, the greater our advantage over others. Suggesting that my rights have been restricted ranks up there with the highest forms of injustice we can imagine because we actually have been taught to think that we deserve whatever we want.

In the original language it communicated what A. T. Robertson calls a “fine blend of spiritual poise and strength…It is the gentleness of strength, not mere effeminacy.”

Bringing all this together, we can then forge a definition for “meekness” that states its meaning like this…That godly quality of deep spiritual power controlled by a quiet confidence and gentleness of spirit… …It does not come unhinged when life goes haywire but remains totally submissive to the ways and will of God.

Matthew Henry -- “Next to the beauty of holiness, which is the soul’s agreement with God, is the beauty of meekness, which is the soul’s agreement with itself. Behold how good and how pleasant a thing it is for the flowers of the soul to dwell in unity, the reason knowing how to rule the affections, at the same time, knowing how to obey.” (Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible)



So you want to take over your world in the right way? -Begin by submitting your will to Jesus Christ so that He can empower you to yield willingly, graciously and humbly before God and man, and in the way you “take in hand” the attitudes of your own soul.

1. Rule Your Own Spirit Prov. 16:32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.

2. Ruled by His Peace Col. 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Meekness preserves the tranquility of mind and spirit when the peace of Christ rules over me.

MEEKNESS IN THE WAY YOU RELATE TO PEOPLE. When meekness governs my heart, the way I relate to people changes drastically so that I relate to them the way Jesus does.

1. The Power of Silence Psa. 38:13-15 I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear, like a mute, who cannot open his mouth; 14 I have become like a man who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply. 15 I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God.

It was not that David could not hear, not that he could not speak, but in meekness of spirit, he chose to keep silent and let the Lord hear and answer.

Matthew Henry – “It is better by silence to yield to our brother, who is and has been or may be our friend, than by angry speaking to yield to the devil, who has been, and is and ever will be, our sworn enemy.”

2. The Peace-making of Soft Words Prov. 25:15 Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone. Prov. 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.


Meekness writes a hymn and sings it day by day, moment by moment: “Have Thine own way, Lord, have Thine own way. Thou art the Potter, I am the clay; mold me and make me after Thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still.”

Meekness…”does not imply an attitude dependent solely on the human will. It is a sign of salvation: of “calling” (Eph. 4:2), election (Col. 3:12), and the work of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:23). It is not a virtue …but a possibility of life and action given by God. It is not an aspect of human temperament. It comes about when men are linked with Christ and are conformed to his image.” Meekness is about a commitment to allow something, Someone, other than ourselves to rule our world. God’s word makes it clear that those who follow Jesus Christ will be meek just as He is.

We laugh at the insanity of two mice thinking that they can take over the world. But we get angry when someone tries to take over our world.

On September 11, 2001, the people of the United States of America were taken down just as dramatically as the towers of the World Trade Center in New York. Once-proud citizens who had long held themselves aloof and apart from the desperate plight of the rest of the world were knocked off their pedestals of pride and found themselves humbled by the realization that they are just as vulnerable to the assault of determined enemies as any other nation. For a time after the attacks, Americans lost their arrogance. Their pride took a direct hit. They were humbled and knocked to the ground and for the first time the rest of the world witnessed a people looking up for help, instead of looking down with disdain.

The proud had become meek! And meekness stands out head and shoulders above arrogance! Jesus calls us to meekness—not the kind that causes us to cower in fear, but a decision to govern our hearts so that our lives are marked by strength under God’s control.

A meek and humble spirit are delightful to the heart of God and attractive to the eyes of man in adorning the name of Jesus Christ with the glory due His name.

Meekness has been panned as a quality because it has been viewed as a weakness by most people—unfamiliar with what it should be and unimpressed by what they think it is. Therefore, even among Christians, meekness is seldom mentioned as a godly quality we are actively seeking. In order to provoke more meekness in the body of Christ, today we will explore three observations that should motivate us to be among those Jesus lauds when He said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).


1. WE MUST TREASURE MEEKNESS Although we might be required to invest a lot of time and energy in tasks we do not enjoy or value, we consider it a pleasure to pour ourselves into doing what we really want to do. People who complain about inconveniences at church, or at work, pay little attention to those same inconveniences when they are related to what they really desire to do…things they truly value. Sports fans will park a mile away, sit through driving rain, scream till they are hoarse and pay a lot of money to participate in their chosen past-time. I got to go to the Masters golf tournament this year and in spite of the pouring rain, the heavy traffic, the distance I had to drive, I would not have missed it!

It occurred to me that I should have that same passion, that same desire, place an even higher value, on spiritual pursuits. What delights the heart of God should at the very least move me to invest what it takes to value the same thing. He delights in meekness, gentleness, humility—so I should place a similar emphasis on such things in my own life! I must value meekness, treasure it, in order that I may desire it enough to pursue it through Christ.

A. IT IS LIKE JESUS Matt. 11:29 “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.

Jesus is meek…that is what He is like, so if you do not treasure meekness or place any value in it, that aspect of the life of Christ has little or no value to you. But if I love Christ, I love everything about Him and treasure each aspect of His character—even the meekness that sometimes leaves me unimpressed, or even indifferent. If I want to be like Jesus, I will treasure meekness and desire it and do whatever it takes to “take His yoke…learn from Him”…and become meek.

B. IT IS FROM JESUS James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

I cannot just follow His example and become meek—I have to realize that He gives it to me and makes it a part of my new life in Him. When He transforms me, as He conforms me to His image, as He shapes me to be like Him, as part of the package I am made meek like Him. It is available nowhere else and cannot be reproduced or counterfeited by anyone who has not been made new in Christ.

The wisdom that comes from above that becomes mine when He gives me the mind of Christ produces an attitude in me which is like that which is in Christ.

Phil. 2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, Apart from Christ, I can only play with meekness, attempt to act meekly—but my heart and mind cannot keep up the charade if my heart still clings to rights and longs to show off its power.

Some preachers, teachers and evangelists today have bought into the idea that the most effective tool to reach people for Christ is power…demonstrated with miraculous deeds and accompanied by signs and wonders. They are partly right…power from on high is an effective tool, but it is power under control, power in an understated manner by willingly choosing the low place that ultimately convinced more people than raw strength in action. Satan can easily counterfeit demonstrations of power, but seldom does it make sense for him to impress with meekness. Meekness comes from Christ and most beautifully reflects an aspect of His character seldom seen anywhere else.

C. IT IS FOR JESUS 1 Pet. 3:3-4 Let not your adornment be merely external…but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle (meek) and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

We should treasure meekness because it is a quality reproduced by Him in our lives for His own pleasure and delight. While others seek to impress with greatness, God calls on us to adorn our lives with something that is precious in His sight—“the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit.”

Displays of greatness and demonstrations of power may impress human beings, but God is looking for something far different, an adornment that stands out in His eyes as especially precious…the meekness of Christ! We may be tempted to show off our greatness for others, to revel in our ability in our own eyes, but God is looking at the heart and wants to see something there that is exclusively for Him—something precious and treasured by Him…a gentle and quiet spirit! If you desire more power and strength, more demonstrations of an outward nature, that is an indication of what you value. God wants you to treasure and value meekness so that you will desire in yourself what He desires for you.


Matthew Henry offers instruction on this point when he writes…

”We must seek meekness…put on meekness…follow after meekness…show all meekness unto all men…We must study to be quiet…To study the art of quietness is to take pains with ourselves, to work upon our own hearts the principles, rules and laws of meekness…(and) labor to be actuated by an even spirit under all the unevenesses of Providence.” (Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible)

--Therefore, to master God’s calling to meekness, we must…

A. SEEK IT Zeph. 2:3 Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD’s anger.

If you do not have it and want it, you must seek it and do what He commands so that you might find what is missing in your life.

Prov. 2:2-5 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

If we believe that hidden treasure awaits us, is there any doubt that we would seek it, look for it diligently, go after it with everything we’ve got?

B. PUT IT ON Col. 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Once we find it, we do not put it on a shelf somewhere to be preserved in the inventory of untouched reserves, saving it for a rainy day when we really need it.

Even though it is to be clothed in our best garments, we are still told to put them on and wear them all the time! We should never be out of uniform once we have been identified as those who belong to Christ.

Therefore, moment by moment, we are to make sure that meekness adorns us as is fitting for those who walk with Christ for His glory in a world looking for something or someone authentic.

Meekness cannot be just an ideology, but must be a practical reality in the way we are and the way we act.

C. SHOW IT Titus 3:2 to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration (all meekness) for all men.

Once we have clothed ourselves in meekness, we are to take every opportunity to show all meekness to all men everywhere in every consideration. Meekness must be shown to those we consider our superiors…shown to those we consider under us…those we see as peers…in fact, to all! The only way to show it is to put it into practice by taking the low place, choosing the less obvious place of service, assuming the role of meekness instead of playing the part of the arrogant and demanding.

Ironically, when we are most meek, we are probably least aware of it, least concerned with trying to show it, but simply functioning in a way that has become normal for us as followers of Christ.

D. PURSUE IT 1 Tim. 6:11 But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.

Seeking meekness until we find it matches God’s design for us, but then He raises the bar and exhorts us to pursue it as if we feared that it might get away from us once we have located it.

We seek it until we know where it is, and then we pursue it wherever it takes us, following hard after Christ in hot pursuit of all that He holds out for us to claim in His name.

Seeking and pursuing are much alike but when we pursue meekness, there seems to be a greater intensity, a higher expenditure of effort and energy—especially in this context when we are told to flee from ungodly things and run after what a man or woman of God should pursue in Christ.

E. BE AMBITIOUS FOR IT 1 Th. 4:11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you;

As we discovered in the studies on contentment, ambition can be directed toward something good.

Here Paul instructs believers to develop an ambition for a quiet life, a meekness that satisfies and brings contentment and peace without having to create a fuss or make a big deal about everything.

God is looking for folks who can take the low place and lead quiet lives with holy dignity and thus bear a unique testimony to meekness in action speak of God’s power under control. When did you last include in your list of life’s ambitions to become meek like Christ?

Monday, April 10, 2006


FAITHFULNESS Galatians 5:23

Four years ago I had a discussion with an American New Tribes Mission director over coffee at Newcastle Airport. "Why do missions like Aussies on the field? Australia is a mission field!" I asked. "We need our best men and women here or the home base will be destroyed. No churches here means no Aussie misisonaries on the field. We support missionaries on average one missionary per evangelical church, Where as in America the rate is one missionary per 5 to 10 churches! Why are you guys so keen on Aussie Missionaries?" "Because Aussies have a stick- to- it-ness. Americans usually go home after one two or three years. Aussies have a competitiveness that says, “we’ll make it work no matter what!”"

This is typified of course on a monument at Gundagai. A few kilometres outside the town of Gundagai in N.S.W. is a monument. It’s a monument to a dog. The dog’s master had been killed in an accident.The story goes that days later they found the dog still guarding his master’s lunch box. The ‘dog sat on the tucker box’ has become a good example of faithfulness.

These lines of verse are part of the story penned by an unknown poet writing under the name of Bowyang Yorke and published in the Gundagai Times in the 1880s. A later version was written by Gundagai journalist and poet Jack Moses.

Both versions speak of a bullock team being bogged at a river crossing nine miles from Gundagai with the dog tenaciously "sitting" on the tuckerbox.

The story of the dog and the tuckerbox was enshrined in the song Where the Dog Sits on the Tuckerbox (Five Miles from Gundagai) by Australian songwriter Jack O'Hagan

The monument of the Dog on the Tuckerbox was unveiled in 1932 by the then Prime Minister of Australia, Joe Lyons, on the 103rd anniversary of Australian explorer Charles Sturt's 1829 crossing of the Riverina's Murrumbidgee River.

Part of Bowyang Yorke's poem about Bullocky Bill:

As I was coming down Conroy's Gap, I heard a maiden cry; 'There goes Bill the Bullocky,
He's bound for Gundagai. A better poor old beggar Never earnt an honest crust,
A better poor old beggar Never drug a whip through dust.'
His team got bogged at the nine mile creek, Bill lashed and swore and cried;
'If Nobby don't get me out of this, I'll tattoo his b…. hide.' But Nobby strained and broke the yoke,
And poked out the leader's eye; Then the dog sat on the Tucker Box Nine miles from Gundagai.

There you go! Only Aussies can put up a monument to a dog's faithfulness. The dog was guarding the owners lunch box long after he ahd died, just in case some other dopey bullocky driver wanted to pinch it!

A shepherd once came to the city of Edinburgh from the country. He had his small obedient dog with him. While there, the man died and was buried. That little dog lay upon its master's grave - not for a day, a week, or a month, but for 12 years. Every day at one o'clock a gun was fired in the castle of Edinburgh. When the gun was fired the dog would run to the local baker who gave it food and water. Then back to the grave it would go. This continued till the dog died 12 years later. That was faithfulness!

A Welsh postman had the British Empire Medal conferred upon him by Queen Elizabeth; he had not missed a day's service in 43 years. That was faithfulness!
Paul Dhrlick, the chemist, performed 605 unsuccessful experiments; the 606th was a success! Thomas Edison made 18,000 experiments before he perfected the light bulb. After experiencing 50 failures on another project he said, "I have found 50 ways it cannot be done!" That was faithfulness!
During the Korean War a man buried himself in the muck and mud of a pig sty (except for his nose and mouth so he could breathe) for eight days and nights rather than betray his buddies and surrender to the enemy. That was faithfulness!

“Faithfulness,” therefore, means perseverance, but not blind perseverance, not mere stubborn determination. It is a perseverance based on “confidence, certainty, and trust.”

So, faithfulness is “stick-to-it-iveness” based on faith. Pistis is “Faith-enough-to-stickto- it-iveness!” Faith enough to stick to it when we’re discouraged. Faith enough to stick to it when others are falling away. Faith enough to stick to it when there are questions for which there are no answers. Perservering faith!

God has demonstrated that faithfulness to you and I.

Jeremiah said it in Lament.3: Your mercies are new every morning. Great is Your Faithfulness...!
The Ten Commandments speak of God’s faithful to a thousand generations of those who love Him.

"Great Is Thy Faithfulness." Talking about God, it says, "There is no shadow of turning with Thee." I wonder if people would say that about our lives.

Deuteronomy 7:9: "Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments" (NKJV).

A thousand generations. Now, that's a Bible way of saying God is always going to be faithful to us. He is faithful in every generation. In fact, in Psalm 119:90, it says, "Your faithfulness endures to all generations"

Is God going to be faithful to me when I fail God? "But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one."

What if I do fall into temptation? 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"

That faithfulness of God is also powerfully shown in some of the Biblical images.

Scripture calls God... our ROCK. Psalm 18:2 "The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge..." In a rock we have something firm, steady and true.
Well, God is like that – an unmovable Rock.
Paul says in 2Tim.213 "If we are faithless, he will remain faithful for He cannot deny Himself."

God's faithfulness to us is a model of the stick-to - it ness we eed to demonstrate in our lives as the Fruit of the Spirit. Perservering Faith!

Perservering Faith is Sticking to a commitment even when the glory and fun are gone.

Keeping our word when doing so gets difficult.

Remaining true to a friend despite the heat you take for doing so.

Refusing to take the easy way out and running from a difficult situation.

The desert fathers were monks who left “civilization” to go live in Middle Eastern deserts as early as the third century. One of those holy men, Abba Anthony, once was asked, “What must one do to please God?” Abba Anthony gave answers that we’d expect such as “Be aware of God’s presence,” and “Obey God’s word.” But his third piece of sage advice was unique: “Wherever you find yourself—do not easily leave.”

Leaving is sometimes attractive, isn’t it? Just walking away. Finding greener grass. But leaving is often not the answer.

There are several funny commercials for a company called “” The commercials show a guy in an office full of monkeys. The monkeys are toying with the copier, playing computer games, and monkeying around at the water cooler. While apologizing to a client on the phone the one human employee in the office says, “I’m sorry, but…I work with a bunch of monkeys.” Then the logo comes up: “Want a better job?” The message is, “Let us help you find that place to work where there are no monkeys!”

But here’s the truth: There are monkeys everywhere!

There is no perfect workplace. There is no perfect school. There is no perfect community. There is no perfect church. There are no perfect relationships.

Granted, some situations are better than others. And sometimes change is the best thing.

But leaving often is a short-sited, short-lived, solution. Wherever you find yourself, do

not easily leave!

Have the faith to believe that God has a purpose for you and it might not necessarily mean leaving the situation you’re in. Practice perservering faith.

Moral causes deserve our perservering faith

Remember the name William Wilberforce? Wilberforce is credited with convincing the British to outlaw and abandon slave trade. But it didn’t come easily. For forty years he worked. Year after year, Wilberforce went before Parliament in London pleading for the abolishment of the trafficking in human beings.

Then, in 1833, eighteen years since his first trip to Parliament, and one month after his death, Parliament passed the bill which eradicated slavery.

Rosa Parks died a few weeks ago. She had faith enough to stick to it when told to move to the back of a public bus in Montgomery fifty years ago. Chuck Colson wrote, “Most people know the story of the seamstress who helped ignite the civil-rights movement, but many people don't know that Rosa Parks is a devout Christian, and that it was her faith that gave her the strength to do what she did that day in 1955.” Mrs. Parks had perservering faith.

Galatians 6:9 reads, Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Marriage deserves our perservering faith

When you got married you said, “I take this person for better or for worse.” Of course you might feel like the lady who went to the judge requesting a divorce from her husband. The judge reminded her that she took him for better or worse. “I know,” she said, “But he’s worse than I took him for!”

Nonetheless, marriage is a sacred covenant between two people before their God—worthy of nothing less than our earnest commitment.

Ecclesiastes 5:1 Guard your step when you go to the house of God. Better to draw near in obedience than to offer the sacrifice as fools do, for they are ignorant and do wrong. 2 Do not be hasty to speak, and do not be impulsive to make a speech before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.
3 For dreams result from much work and a fool’s voice from many words. 4 When you make a vow to God, don’t delay fulfilling it, because He does not delight in fools. Fulfill what you vow. 5 Better that you do not vow than that you vow and not fulfill it. 6 Do not let your mouth bring guilt on you, and do not say in the presence of the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry with your words and destroy the work of your hands?

A Vow is a vow before God. God takes your vows very seriously!

When Jesus commented on divorce, he declared that husbands and wives are to “cleave” (KJV) together (Matthew 19:5). This word “cleave” (translated “be united” in the NIV) comes from the Greek word, kollao, the word from which we get the English word “glue.” In fact, this word was usually used to describe sticking things like metals and other materials together. Jesus said, then, that husbands and wives are “glued together.” He also said in that conversation that if God has “glued” them together, no person has the right to “unglue” them. It’s a superglue situation. Paste just sticks things to the paste. Its stickiness wear’s out and the things fall apart. But Superglue is molecular bonding. Molecules are heated up and move apart, then when they cool, part of the two substances put together are wedged by their own molecules into the bond. Last week I managed to get superglue over both hands. I spread my fingers apart fast, because you know what the result of that is! A long painful experience of trying to separate fingers. That is what marriage is to be licke. A molecular bond. And that molecular bonding, the blending of personalities and character through marriage, Cleaving together, begins with a vow.

I know that a failing marriage is a complex thing. And even Scripture makes exceptions to God’s eternal intention that people who get married stay married. But I encourage you to have the faith to believe that God will bless your marriage if you are faithful to your vows, and practice perservering faith.

The church deserves our perservering faith

Here are three reasons for sticking to the church:

(1) Jesus himself established the church. (“I will build my church” said Jesus). Quite frankly, if the origin of the church is Jesus, then it is worth our very lives.

(2) The church is the body of Christ in the world. Though our blemishes are many, we are His hands and feet—ministering to the world in Jesus’ name.

(3) With all its problems, the church is the best hope for the world, and the best place people can turn in our attempts to live meaningful, joyful lives. Unfortunately, a popular adage about the church is that it is like Noah’s ark: the stench inside would be unbearable if it were not for the storm outside. Though I regret that such a slogan rings so true, most would agree that the storm outside is raging violently. The best way to raise good kids and get through the stresses of our jobs and survive the various bumps and bangs of life is to be intimately involved in a church family. Have the faith to believe that the church is the best hope for the world, and thus that God will use us, and practice perservering faith.

George Mueller prayed for 52 years for a certain man to come to Christ. A pastor visited an elderly man 21 times before being admitted, but then he befriended the man and led him to Christ. That was faithfulness!

Our Lord deserves our perservering faith

“Be faithful until death,” Scripture says. Those words are found in Revelation 2:10, within a section of Revelation addressed to Christians at Smyrna. The Christians at Smyrna were persecuted in countless ways. They were maligned, oppressed, imprisoned and impoverished because of their faith.

An early hero of the faith, Polycarp, was one of the first pastors of the church at Smyrna—very possibly the pastor there when this was written. If he was not the pastor at that time, he certainly assumed that role shortly thereafter. Whichever was the case, the words of Jesus to the Smyrnan Christians via the pen of John were still fresh as Polycarp gave spiritual leadership to their church. And Polycarp took seriously the mandate, “be faithful until death.” It seems to have been on February 23, AD 155, when Polycarp was a very old man, that the Roman soldiers came for him. He was dragged away to the arena like a common criminal.

He stepped forward, and was asked by the proconsul if he really was Polycarp. When he said yes, the proconsul urged him to deny the charge. "Swear, and I will set you free: curse, denounce, Christ."
"For eighty-six years," replied Polycarp, "I have been his servant, and he has never done me wrong: how can I blaspheme my king who saved me?"
"I have wild beasts," said the proconsul. I shall throw you to them, if you don't change your attitude."
"Call them," replied the old man ...
"If you make light of the beasts," retorted the governor, "I'll have you destroyed by fire, unless you change your attitude."
Polycarp answered: "The fire you threaten burns for a time and is soon extinguished: there is a fire you know nothing about -- the fire of the judgement to come and of eternal punishment, the fire reserved for the ungodly. But why do you hesitate? Do what you want." ...
The proconsul was amazed, and sent the crier to stand in the middle of the arena and announce three times: "Polycarp has confessed that he is a Christian." ... Then a shout went up from every throat that Polycarp must be burnt alive.
The rest followed in less time than it takes to describe: the crowds rushed to collect logs and branches ... When the pyre was ready ... Polycarp prayed ... When he had offered up the Amen and completed his prayer, the men in charge lit the fire, and a great flame shot up.

Rick Husband was the commander of the space shuttle that, unfortunately and tragically, blew up just before landing a couple of years ago. You remember the event. I remember watching it on television live. The wife of Rick Husband, Evelyn Husband, had her children there (two children); and they were watching their father come home after being in space for all those days. Rick and Evelyn Husband were believers who loved the Lord dearly. And when asked about the incident, Evelyn Husband said, "Deep inside I knew God was going to walk me through this somehow. I knew it because He had walked me through other crises earlier in my life."

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