This question is obviously addressed to professing Christians. If theanswer to this question is "yes", then the other obvious question is,why do we not live like it?
In our "Americanizing" or "Westernizing" of Christianity, something ofthe utmost, prime importance has been gotten away from to the extentthat, for the most part, it is pretty much altogether left out of what it means to be a Christian.
If we really believe what the Apostle Paul says in Ephes. 5:25,"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, andgave himself for it;" then, why are we not living like we believe it?I am not being mean, ugly or judgmental, although the Word does tellus in 1 Peter 4:17, "For the time is come that judgment must begin atthe house of God:" I am certainly not being legalistic, for I myselfdetest legalism that holds God's people in bondage. However, there aresome things that God demands, indeed commands us to do, that aresimply for our own benefit, protection and blessing!
371d36d75e05eda735858f8e467be99cWhen I refer to Ephes. 5:25, I am not referring to the first part of the verse concerning husbands. It is an important subject, of course,and all of us husbands do need to learn the principle Paul isconveying. But, so many times we overlook the second part of the verseand the undeniable, overwhelming truth it speaks in volumes to us, andthat truth is: "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"
Pause for a moment and let that sink in. Christ loved the Church, theBody, the assembly of believers, so much so that he shed His blood,died and arose from the dead, all for her, the Church!We can make any excuses we want about how "church attendance isoptional", or "I just don't have the time", or "I have to have timewith my family" or we have this meeting or this get together, orwhatever, but the fact is that none of our excuses hold water in light of Scripture.
While many of the organizations and activities are not sin, in fact,many are very positive and even Christian based and are good thingsfor us to involve ourselves in, to a degree, however, the plain factis that Christ did not give Himself and die for the Country Club, theP.T.O., ballgames or sports, beach houses, AA, AARP, NAACP, politics,the Republican or Democratic parties, birthday parties, new homes, newcars, Sunday drives, family visits and a host of other things we giveourselves to. CHRIST DIED FOR THE CHURCH!
Not enough time for the Church? With all due respect and the love ofChrist, I tell you, we have really bought into some false teaching ifwe are a professing Christian and are swallowing that.
Years ago, "family time" WAS time spent in church. Our kids today aredoing some crazy stuff and we sit back, scratch our heads and say,"Oh, this generation of kids has just gone mad". However, since Istarted with a question, I'll close with one: Could it be that whatthe kids have been taught, and the examples shown by us to them ofwhat Christianity is supposed to be, just may be the bulk of, if notthe problem? We have made the church out to be some social club,however, Christ did not die for social clubs, and with the many otherScriptures that speak in volumes concerning this, the bottom line isthat "Christ... gave himself for it ( the Church);"
You may be saying, "Well, Pastor Mike, I thought Jesus died forsinners." He certainly did and sinners, once they are saved and bornagain they become saints and that's what the Church is made up of -saints that were once sinners, but have been transformed by His bloodwashing their sins away and the Spirit of Adoption taking us into theFamily of God. We become His family, His bride, His body, - His Church!
Someone is saying, "but, what about people who are not physically ableto get to a church building to meet with God's people?" God is acommon sense God and knows if it is a genuine reason or just an excuseand He will deal accordingly. In fact, those are some of the peoplethat we need to be taking the Church to.
His Word makes provision for every facet of our lives. Again, the bottom line is that Christ gave Himself for the Church.Since that's the case, then church attendance must be, not justimportant, but imperative. I know we are to BE the Church, but part ofthat being is assembling with the Body.
The world of Christianity was rocked this week when well known Contemporary Christian recording artist, Ray Boltz, came out in an interview and said that he is now embracing the homosexual lifestyle. Like most who will not, I didn't say cannot, I said, "will" not get victory over this blatant abomination, he claims that since God made him that way, he wasn't going to fight it anymore.371d36d75e05eda735858f8e467be99c
Okay, if you’re going to commit sin and come out openly about it, at least own it and stop blaming God for it. Plain old-fashioned, common horse-sense dictates that anybody with one eye and half a brain knows that homosexuality simply is not natural and it has been proven there is no “gay” gene. So let’s just be honest and call a spade a spade.
At least when Jimmy Swaggart confessed his sin, albeit he got caught, but yet and still, at least he owned it and called it what it was - sin. He didn’t whine and cry, “God made me that way”, it was a choice he made.
I love Ray Boltz, and yes, we should all pray for him and extend compassion to him, but we must not condone his sin. As genuine Christians, we cannot condone it.
I was in Christian music for a number of years as an artist and musician. Ray and I are about the same age. A friend of mine co-wrote, with Ray, one of the biggest songs he ever recorded. I was even looking forward to an upcoming concert where I would have had the opportunity to work with Ray in concert, but for whatever reasons it never came together because of scheduling or something. He was a tremendous influence in a lot of my own song writing.
Ray, I love you, but man you are wrong. I thought of another one of your famous songs that asks the question, “Does He still feel the nails…” and I would like to ask you a question with one of the succeeding lines, how can you “bear the thought of hurting Him?”
For those of you who are so deceived and call yourself a “gay Christian”, I got news for you, THERE AIN’T NO SUCH ANIMAL! Genuine Christians genuinely love you and want to help you, but because we won’t stroke your sin, condone it and tell you either how great you are for standing up and coming out or how your poor soul has suffered so because of your being misunderstood, you want to lash back at us about how unloving we are. You really know nothing of the love of Christ, because His love is also a demanding love. Just ask the money-changers that He ran out of the temple with a whip.
When God Says: "I Don't Want To Talk About It"
"And I besought the Lord at that time, saying, 24 O Lord God, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might?25 I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon. 26 But the Lord was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the Lord said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter. 27 Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan. 28 But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see. 29 So we abode in the valley over against Beth-peor."
This was Moses' last plea to enter the land and not be denied because of the one sin of striking the rock twice (Deut. 3:23-25; Deut. 4:21 22; Numbers 20:8-13). A deeper study of Numbers 20:8-12 gives us a fuller insight into the severity of his punishment.
Speaking to the rock was all that was required of Moses, and it would have been effective in proving to Israel the benefits of the Messiah who was typified by the rock (2 Cor. 10:14). The rock had already been struck once, typifying Christ's crucifixion which was only to happen once for all men. Merely speaking to the rock now would have brought the same benefits as striking it before.
The same is true now of Christ: all we must do is ask and receive.
Let's take a few play by play looks at our passage here in Deuteronomy. Verse 24 - "...thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand:"
Moses may have hoped to persuade God to let him go into the promised land. Perhaps he thought God would relent by now, in view of his long period of faithfulness. Moses made the plea in his dying hour. Man may become especially merciful at such times, but God is merciful all the time, not just at a person's death. God knew what was best; He could not afford to allow or encourage crucifying Christ afresh in type any more than He will tolerate it in reality. He continues, "For what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might?" Have you ever tried to pull a "snow job" on God? Let's learn from Moses: That ain't gonna happen! And Moses began to realize this and says in verse 26, "But the Lord... would not hear me: and the LORD said unto me, Let it suffice thee: speak no more unto me of this matter." God says, "I'm not talking about it anymore, Moses." We find here another valuable...
Lesson on Prayer
Notice very carefully that this refusal to answer Moses is not an example of God saying no to men who pray according to His will and the Word of God. Some carelessly say that God always answers prayer, but sometimes says no. This is a deceptive excuse of unbelief. Understand this: God never has and never will say no to any child of His—anyone who is in Christ and is sincerely asking according to the promises given. God may say it to people who live in unbelief and use this and every other kind of excuse of unbelief in prayer, but He will surely not say it to people of faith who ask in faith in the name of Jesus Christ, and according to His promises. God cannot and will not refuse to fulfill His own Word. He will meet His own obligations as plainly stated (Numbers 23:10; Psalm 89:34; Psalm 119:89,90,160; Isaiah 46:11; Isaiah 55:10-11; 2 Cor. 1:20; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 10:28). When prayer is not answered, unbelief (Matthew 17:20; Matthew 21:22), faithlessness, sin and/or judgment are plainly involved (as in the case of Moses here). The will of God is not a question where one is truly a child of God, and asking according to the promises, for it is the revealed will of God for His children to ask what they will and desire (Mark 11:22-24; John 15:7).
So, let us be mindful that if God says He doesn't want to discuss it anymore, He has a very valid, righteous and pure reason as to why He doesn't. The best policy for us to strive for is to not get ourselves into a position, such as the one Moses found himself in.
There are multitudes of God's people who may see their promised land, but may never get to experience it for themselves. I don't know about you but, I want to not just see my destiny, but I want to fulfill and complete it!
John 2:5 - "His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it."
Just Do It!
Most Christians are very familiar with this particular passage of scripture, but more often than not, we get enthralled in the miracle of water- turned-to-wine.
However, there is much more that we can learn concerning obedience, which is miraculous in and of itself; that is to say, if many of God's people would live obediently unto the Lord that itself, in many, if not most cases, would be a miracle!371d36d75e05eda735858f8e467be99c
"From Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures constantly command us in
one way or another to 'come our and be separate.' It is amazing to
see how strongly we resist this command! We prefer to represent the
kingdom while continuing to play with hell!" - (Bishop Eddie Long
from his book, "Called To Conquer")
"Someone has said, 'Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his
shoes. That way, if he gets angry, he's a mile away and barefoot!'"
"In the walk of faith, there is no room on the highway of life for
spiritual hitch-hikers!" - (Larry Dixon from the book - "Doc Devos")
"Talk about what you believe and you have disunity. Talk about WHO
you believe IN and you have unity." (E.Stanley Jones)
"We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will perish
together as fools." (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
This question is obviously addressed to professing Christians. If the answer to this question is "yes", then the other obvious question is, hy do we not live like it?
In our "Americanizing" or "Westernizing" of Christianity, something of the utmost, prime importance has been gotten away from to the extent that, for the most part, it is pretty much altogether left out of what it means to be a Christian.
If we really believe what the Apostle Paul says in Ephes. 5:25,
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;" then, why are we not living like we believe it?
I am not being mean, ugly or judgmental, although the Word does tell us in 1 Peter 4:17, "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God:" I am certainly not being legalistic, for I myself detest legalism that holds God's people in bondage. However, there are some things that God demands, indeed commands us to do, that are simply for our own benefit, protection and blessing!
When I refer to Ephes. 5:25, I am not referring to the first part of
the verse concerning husbands. It is an important subject, of course, and all of us husbands do need to learn the principle Paul is conveying. But, so many times we overlook the second part of the verse and the undeniable, overwhelming truth it speaks in volumes to us, and that truth is: "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"
Pause for a moment and let that sink in. Christ loved the Church, the Body, the assembly of believers, so much so that he shed His blood, died and arose from the dead, all for her, the Church!
We can make any excuses we want about how "church attendance is optional", or "I just don't have the time", or "I have to have time with my family" or we have this meeting or this get together, or whatever, but the fact is that none of our excuses hold water in light of Scripture.
While many of the organizations and activities are not sin, in fact,
many are very positive and even Christian based and are good things for us to involve ourselves in, to a degree, however, the plain fact is that Christ did not give Himself and die for the Country Club, the P.T.O., ballgames or sports, beach houses, AA, AARP, NAACP, NA, politics, the Republican or Democratic parties, birthday parties, new homes, new cars, Sunday drives, family visits and a host of other things we give ourselves to. CHRIST DIED FOR THE CHURCH!
Not enough time for the Church? With all due respect and the love of Christ, I tell you, we have really bought into some false teaching if we are a professing Christian and are swallowing that.
Years ago, "family time" WAS time spent in church. Our kids today are doing some crazy stuff and we sit back, scratch our heads and say, "Oh, this generation of kids has just gone mad".
However, since I started with a question, I'll close with one: Could it be that what the kids have been taught, and the examples shown by us to them of what Christianity is supposed to be, just may be the bulk of, if not the problem? We have made the church out to be some social club, however, Christ did not die for social clubs, and with the many other Scriptures that speak in volumes concerning this, the bottom line is that "Christ... gave himself for it ( the Church);"
You may be saying, "Well, Pastor Mike, I thought Jesus died for
sinners." He certainly did and sinners, once they are saved and born again they become saints and that's what the Church is made up of - saints that were once sinners, but have been transformed by His blood washing their sins away and the Spirit of Adoption taking us into the Family of God. We become His family, His bride, His body, - His Church!
Someone is saying, "but, what about people who are not physically able to get to a church building to meet with God's people?" God is a common sense God and knows if it is a genuine reason or just an excuse and He will deal accordingly. In fact, those are some of the people that we need to be taking the Church to. His Word makes provision for every facet of our lives.
Again, the bottom line is that Christ gave Himself for the Church.
Since that's the case, then church attendance must be, not just
important, but imperative. I know we are to BE the Church, but part of that being is assembling with the Body. -
"I discovered an
astonishing truth: God is attracted to weakness. He can't resist those who
humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need Him. Our weakness, in
fact, makes room for His power." - Jim
Cymbala, from his book, "FRESH WIND, FRESH FIRE".
"Whenever God determines to do a great work, he first sets His people to pray." - C.H. Spurgeon
"There is no power like that of prevailing prayer. It turns ordinary mortals into men of power. It brings power. It brings fire. It brings rain. It brings life. It brings God." - Samuel Chadwick
"Most churches are not scriptural; they are
'boardural.' That means boards
run them like a business corporation. Many of them operate like something
that has nothing to do with God! They do not know the
Scripture because they do not exercise or follow the patterns and precepts that Scripture prescribes. Most of these churches are miserable and unbearably jealous of any church that is scriptural in its government and operations. Most of the jealousy arises because these other churches are birthing new things all the time." (Bishop Eddie Long, from his book "Called To Conquer"
"We are not called to be the honey of the world but the salt of the earth. Salt stings on an open wound, but it saves one from gangrene."
"The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor it theories will hold water."
"People are driven
from the Church not so much by stern truth that makes them uneasy as by weak
nothings that make them contemptuous."
"Faith is not something one 'loses'; we merely cease to shape our lives by it." (George Bernanos)
some shocking news for you: Church is not for you to enjoy; it exists to
change you!" - (Bishop Eddie Long from his book "CALLED TO
"If you believe what you like in the gospel and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself." (Augustine)
Truth With A Twist of Humor:
A man was asked by an interviewer, "Sir, what do you believe?"
"I believe what my church believes," he replied.
"Well," asked the reporter, "what does your church believe?"
"The church believes what I believe!"
"That's interesting," the reporter said. "Well, what do you and your
The man thought for a moment and then replied, "We believe the same thing, dummy!"
1 Kings 9:4-5
“And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments:  Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.”
The old minister grasped my hand and spoke some of the last words of advice wisdom that he would ever utter to me personally. He was a man I loved, respected and admired. A man of integrity.
I was just a young minister, as I stood by the bed of Pastor Dewey Chavis, who would soon be going home to be with the Lord. That has been many years ago, but the words he spoke that day are just as fresh in my ears and heart as if he said them just today.
With a heart full of sincerity he said, “Son, always keep your word and don’t ever make a promise you know, or even think, you can’t keep.” Something that many people don’t give a great deal of thought to.
Even though as a child our home was not a Christian home, yet my parents still endeavored ot raise us with morals, principles and character. However, when the man-of-God, on his dying bed, felt that this was important advice to be giving to a young evangelist, it really drove home to me just how important it is to maintain your integrity before God and man.
WALK RIGHT, TALK RIGHT, LIVE RIGHT
For years there has been a basic principle that I have endeavored to live by and again, it was impressed upon me as a child. Please understand, I am by no stretch a “perfect” person. I certainly have many faults and short-comings. However, I strive to live right before God. I have endeavored to impress upon and instill in my children that same basic principle, which is: Walk Right, Talk Right and Live Right and God Will Take Care of You! In other words - maintain your integrity and God will take care of you!
Some folks have various thoughts and ideas when they hear the word “integrity”. Integrity is not simply your reputation or “good name”. It goes much deeper than that. In fact, a person can maintain integrity of heart when the world doesn’t think much of him.
Integrity is sometimes equated with “dignity”, but they are two separate things. A person can have one without the other.
First, let’s look at the definitions of the two. From Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, integrity is defined as: 1- An unimpaired condition: soundness, 2- firm adherence to a code of esp. moral or artistic values: INCORRUPTIBILITY, 3- the quality or state of being complete or undivided: COMPLETENESS.”
Integrity weaves itself into the fabric of a person’s being. As the definition states, it is an “adherence to a code of moral…values” or ethics. Integrity may not always be seen or recognized. It is not something you put on and take off like clothing.
Dignity is defined as: 1. the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed, 2a: high rank, office, or position, b: a legal title of nobility or honor.” Dignity is an appearance that may, or may not, be real. Dignity can be faked – integrity cannot!
According to the Word, God is not nearly as concerned with dignity as He is with integrity and is certainly not impressed by dignity. God loves integrity. It pleases Him.
DIGNITY MINUS INTEGRITY
Let’s look at Reuben in the book of Genesis: “Reuben, my first-born, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defilest thou it: he went to my couch.” (Gen. 49:3-4 KJV)
To be the first-born son in a Jewish family was to be born into a position of great dignity. Power and authority was the birthright of the first-born.
Reuben had the dignity of that position, but because he had no integrity he lost his position. He was weak in will power to restrain lust and lost his place as first-born. He sacrificed his birthright, like Esau, to his passion and, as a result, his position was given to Joseph.
During it’s history, the Tribe of Reuben was inferior in position and power: Dignity without integrity.
The Pharisees, religious “leaders”, were Christ’s bitterest enemies. They were a prime example of dignity minus integrity.
They maintained a very dignified appearance. They had a “high rank, office or position.” They had a “legal title of nobility or honor.” They were esteemed with great honor as “being worthy”, but Jesus called them “hypocrites”. He told them they were like white-washed sepulchres, or graves, that appeared beautiful outwardly, but within they were full of “dead men’s bones”, and rottenness and uncleanness (Matthew 23:27). He went on to say that outwardly they appeared “righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity”.
So, you see they held plenty of dignity, but lacked immensely in the integrity department! And so it is with many today who hold positions of dignity in politics, law, religion, etc. – Dignity with no integrity.
Politicians taking money under the table for political “favors”. Lawyers advising people to take actions that they will later suffer the consequences for, but all they’re concerned with is lining their own pockets. Church leaders and pastors who sometimes use their positions for power plays or to put on heirs, instead of being used as channels of blessing.
Now, let’s look just a bit at what God thinks concerning integrity. First, we go to 1 Kings 9:4-5. God told Solomon, “And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, ‘There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.’” Here God makes a promise based upon the condition of “integrity of heart”.
The Psalmist David, in his testimony Psalm 26, says in verses 8-11, “Lord, I have loved the habitation of Thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth. Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men: In whose hands is mischief, and their right hand is full of bribes. But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me.”
David was saying, “in all my public trust I will walk upright and pay strict attention to truth, justice and mercy. I will not plan evil, use public trust to enrich myself, or give bribes as the wicked do.”
Notice what God told satan concerning Job: “And the Lord said unto satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? And still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause” (Job 2:3 KJV). Job had lost all that he had, including his family, and yet God said that he was holding fast, he had a vice-grip on his integrity.
When the friends of Job came and implied to him that he had done something to cause all of these problems, Job told them, “God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me” (Job 27:5 KJV). Job was conscious of his integrity and sincerity, and nothing could induce him to abandon that position. He declared: “I will not agree with you as long as I live!”
In chapter 31, verse 6, Job states, “Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.” If there is one thing that impresses God, it isn’t dignity, but integrity. Job may have not looked very dignified, but he maintained his integrity.
Integrity doesn’t just happen or is something one is born with. It is something that is worked on and built upon. I once heard a very well-known pastor say something that has stuck with me for a number of years now. He said, “for a man to commit sin, he doesn’t have to do anything. He can just sit in his chair at home and commit sin. But, if a man is going to live right, he has to work at it.”
I work at maintaining my integrity. I have learned that if you lose everything else, including dignity, that you can hold fast your integrity.
Integrity causes you to do what’s right, regardless of how insignificant, inconvenient, or sometimes incomprehensible to the natural mind.
In the post office several years ago, I went to buy a couple of money orders totaling around $1300.00. The postal employee made an error he did not catch and was only going to charge me $700.00. I pointed the mistake out to him. He was a little shaken and thanked me profusely. He told me I could have walked out five or six hundred dollars richer and he would have never known where the shortage came from. He went on to say that is what many folks would have done. I told him that I would know it and that I like to be able to sleep at night.
A lady at the bank one day overpaid me by about $250.00 from a check I had cashed. I was at the drive-though and in a little of a hurry, so I proceeded to count the money while driving down the street. When I realized there was an error, I turned around and went back to the bank. I went inside to the teller and gave her back the cash she had overpaid. That’s just the right thing to do.
Some people say, “Not me boy, that would have just been their loss and my gain.” But, someone would have had to pay the shortage. And you will not really gain, but actually lose in the long run.
Even when I was a child growing up, my dad was not a Christian (he is now). However, he was a man of integrity. If Billy Parnell tells you something, you can take it to the bank! He has always been an honest, hard-worker that provided for his family and paid his bills. A man of character, a man of integrity. I guess some of that was just inbred in me, but as a Christian, God calls us all to walk in integrity!
There are many people of integrity who have influenced my life. People who love God and want to please Him. Too many to even begin to list here. People who have determined to maintain integrity of heart before the Lord.
Oh, that God could say of us as He said of Job: “Hast thou considered my servant… he holdeth fast his INTEGRITY…”!
following surly remark to some Christians one day: "If you want me to
believe in your Redeemer,then you've go to look a lot more redeemed."
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