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heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can
know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give
every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his
is the heart of man? We think with the heart according to Genesis 6:5
where every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart was evil
continually. We believe with the heart according to Romans 10:9.
Pharaoh's heart was hard and because of that he kept the Israelite's in
bondage. The heart in the Bible then is more than the organ in our body
that pumps blood. It seems to be the source of our emotions and our
motivations. It controls how we think.
Lord says our hearts are desperately wicked or perhaps incurably wicked.
That is a hard pill to swallow because most of us think that we are
pretty good people and that everyone should want to be like we are.
Sometimes I don't think we know what really motivates us. For example, I
often wonder if I preach the Gospel because I love people and want to
help them or because I love the Lord and want to please Him or because I
just love to preach the Gospel. I don't know if I really know. Many of
us have prejudices and emotional handicaps because of things that
happened in our childhood and we don't really know that we are making
decisions that are not good decisions because of pain that we feel that
we don't even acknowledge. Regardless of what we may think, by nature
our thoughts and hearts and motivation are wicked or evil. I do think
our hearts are changed when we come to Christ and trust Him. But even
then most of us still have heart problems at times.
cannot take a person whose heart has never been changed by the Holy
Spirit and force them to live like a Christian who is in love with the
Lord and obedient to His word. Christians are often improperly involved
in what I call "life-style evangelism". We tell the unsaved
whose hearts are not in tune with God's how to live and then we condemn
them for not living the way we think they should. Even though many of
them actually live better lives than the people who are preaching to
them, all we do is alienate the very people we would like to reach with
the love of God. We come across as total hypocrites because they know
that we are asking them to remove specifics sins from their lives that
we abhor, but we are not dealing with other sins that are just as bad.
For example, we are very vocal about being against homosexuality, but I
don't hear the same vocal criticism of couples who are living together
without the benefit of marriage. Both involve sexual immorality and one
is not worse than the other in God's eyes. Living together without
marriage does not repulse most of us like homosexuality does and so we
don't condemn it in the same way. This is just one of many examples
where we end up shooting ourselves in the foot. People tend to judge
Christianity by Christians and not by Christ. And since we don't always
know our own hearts, and since we don't always have our acts together, I
think it would be better to preach about Christ and how he loves those
whose hearts are incurably wicked, rather than trying to convince people
to change their lifestyle before they change their belief system.
of us who are believers in the Bible and reverent when it comes to God,
need to remember that people do not become Christians by changing their
lifestyles. However, when people change their minds about who Christ is
and realize that He loves people whose evil hearts are well known to
Him, then they should be motivated to change their lifestyles. We need
to help people change from the inside out. Forcing people whose hearts
are not right with God to live like Christians only causes resentment.
for the week of November 2, 2008
a killer disease
Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of
the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous,
but sinners to repentance.
go to the doctor only when I know I am sick and when no home cure will
work. If you are like me, going to the doctor is the thing you do only
when you are convinced there is no other choice. Over the years, I have
been to the doctor maybe two or three times. I am sort of like people
who go through life not wanting to get "checked out" by the
Great Physician. Many of them know something is wrong but they don't
want to face the problem. However, the Lord can see inside us and always
gives a proper diagnosis (sin is eating away at us) and has the proper
solution (the blood of Christ that cleanses from all sin) and His price
is right (He pays the bill and we go free).
I had a physical examination. It was the first complete one of my whole
life. I went into the physical feeling fine. I came out being told I was
sick. The tests showed that my heart wasn't all that it was supposed to
be. I was told that the problem could have been congenital and the
problem might be something that I could live with until I die (and that
is sort of what they said), and the problem might be something that they
could correct if I would let them do it. I decided I had to trust the
doctors who tell me that they know what they are doing so, even though I
was symptom free, and I let them do an angiogram. They found out that I
had one artery that was ninety percent blocked high on the trunk of the
main artery tree. A complete blockage there would have affected at least
half of the heart and would likely have meant instant death. The doctor
was able to put in a stent and he says he corrected the problem.
I think this is the case with many of us when we hear the Gospel. We
don't think we are sick. Life is good, and we are feeling good. Who
needs God to tell us that we really aren't "well" at a time
like that? But if we allow our Great Physician to "check us
out", we will find out that we have a disease that needs correcting
and He has the ability and the authority to correct it. He has the
ability because God not only created us so He knows how we work, but He
also sent His son to Calvary to redeem us or buy us back from the slave
market of sin Most of us don't know we are sick until we start reading
the Bible and looking at how we should live and think and then as we
compare the Biblical standards to how we do live and think we are
convicted that something is wrong. Once we are convinced we are sick, we
usually are willing to find a good doctor.
people today say that they are Christians but they seem to lack an
understanding of their disease or their depravity. It is almost as if
the Lord cured or saved those who were well. God doesn't save the saved,
he saves the lost. And we are all lost because of this disease called
sin that we inherit from our forefathers. So whether we found out we
were in need of a physician because we knew we were sick or whether we
found out we needed a physician through a Biblical check up, I can
assure you that once we acknowledge that we have the disease, the Lord
has the right prescription. I trusted a doctor I didn't know and he has
found and corrected the problem. He probably saved my life..
order to be cured from the disease of sin, we have to trust the Lord who
loved us enough to die for our sins. Trusting anyone is hard for me but
I have trusted the Lord and I have let the Lord deal with my sin
problem. If a person can trust a doctor that he doesn't know and who is
making quite a little money off of curing his patients, one should not
have a problem trusting the Lord who wants to cure us and save us for
free. We can read all about Him and in that way get to know Him by
reading the Bible. He has the cure for this disease called sin.
for the week of November 9, 2008
27:22 Pilate said to them, "What then shall I do with Jesus who is
called Christ?" They all said to him, "Let Him be
16:15-16 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the
is a name that either provokes awe and worship or it is a name that
often provokes anger. Pilate said Jesus was "called" Christ.
Those of us who believe in Him know that He is the Christ, the anointed
one of God, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies connected
with the coming Savior. He is the Messiah. Those of us who believe in
Him call Him Lord.
we talk to people about the Lord, most say He was a good man and some
even say he was a prophet. But often they deny that He is the Son of God
which He claimed to be. However, it is not possible for him to be a
prophet if he didn't know who He was and He wasn't a good man if he
pretended to be something He wasn't. So it is not possible for Him to be
a prophet and to be good unless He is who He claimed to be.
is the personal revelation of God to us. When we know the Lord Jesus we
know God. In John we read, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt
among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of
the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14)." John also says
that in the beginning the Word was with God and the Word was God (John
1:1). It is quite clear that John is introducing us to the the Lord
Jesus when he calls him the Word. The Lord Jesus is both the message of
God and the messenger that carries the message. That is what a word
it is quite acceptable to talk about God and to feel that we have
something in common with all those who worship God but "in a
different way." We are told that we all worship the same God. But
if Christ is God and others worship God without worshiping the Lord
Jesus, we are not worshiping the God who gave His Son to die and to take
the punishment that our sins deserved. The other gods do not have the
same Lord Jesus who is introduced to us in the Bible as the Son of God..
I listen to Christians talk about their faith, many of them talk about
God and not about the Lord Jesus. There may be a time to do that when we
are first trying to get people to listen to the Gospel and when we know
that they don't accept Jesus as God. But at some point, we have to talk
about the Lord Jesus. He is the rock or foundation of the church that He
is building (Matthew 16:18). We need to ask the hard question, "But
who do you say that I am?"
it possible that we are uncomfortable talking about the Lord Jesus
because we are ashamed of Him? Or Is it possible that we don't talk
about the Lord Jesus because we don't know Him? If we are ashamed of
Him, one day he will be ashamed of us according to Luke 9:26. I have
become very concerned about the many Christians who are trying to save
the world through the political process and who tend talk only about God
and not about the Lord Jesus. I have begun to realize that many
Christians are trying to change the world without introducing the world
to the Lord Jesus.
for one want to get back to the basics. I recently faced the fact that I
am mortal when I had a stent put into my heart to open up an artery that
I had no idea was blocked. When I thought about death before I was saved
I was fearful. Now I do not look forward to dying, but death is not
something I fear. The difference is that I know the Lord Jesus Christ
and I know He is my Savior. I always knew that there was a God and
always believed in Him, but I didn't always believe in or trust the Lord
Jesus Christ. I think we need to get back to talking about Him if we
really know Him. He alone is the solution to the world's problems and He
is the only one who gives us peace when we face our mortality.
for the week of November 16, 2008
and Giving Thanks
the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and
admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing
with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or
deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the
Father through Him.
was the last time you heard someone sing who wasn't in a choir or a
congregational setting? When was the last time you felt like singing? A
redeemed person should be happy and happiness is usually associated with
singing. We don't read of angels singing though we often presume in our
hymns that they did. But angels were not redeemed. They were not bought
back from the slave market of sin by the blood of Christ. Perhaps that
is why saints sing but angels are those who "say".
in this passage is associated with having the word of Christ dwelling in
us. In the parallel passage in Ephesians 5 verse 18, being filled with
the Spirit leads to singing. Clearly we are filled with the Spirit when
the Spirit controls us. If we are filled with anger or envy in the Bible
those things have taken control of us. I am convinced that the Holy
Spirit cannot take control of us until the word of Christ has taken
control of us or dwells in us richly. The Spirit and the Word always
work together just as they did in creation when read that the Spirit of
God moved or hovered over the waters and then God said (Genesis 1:2-3).
singing people then is a redeemed people who are energized by the Spirit
of God and who allow the Spirit to guide them by the Word of God. When
that happens we are not only singing but we are thankful. What could a
singing people be thankful for this time of year? There are many things
that I could list, but at Thanksgiving time I am always reminded of the
goodness of God in not leaving me alone until I had rested on the Truth
that Christ had died for me. On November 24, 1963, the week before
Thanksgiving that year, I found out that Christ had died for me and as a
result I could be sure that my sins were forgiven and that God had
reserved a place in heaven for me when I died. I am not always as
thankful as I should be about the goodness, grace and mercy of God to
me, but at Thanksgiving time, I always remember that I am indeed
fortunate be called one of God's holy ones or saints. I am a Christian.
That is, I am a follower of Christ.
remember a friend of mine who was about to lose his job at a lumber
store. He was hosting me during a series of meetings. He was at an age
where finding another good job was going to be difficult. In addition,
he had some hip problems that were going to require surgery. I wondered
how he was keeping his life together. So one day, I decided to stop at
his workplace to spend a few minutes with him. When I finally found him,
he was at the back of the warehouse singing a hymn. I was impressed. He
obviously had the Word of Christ dwelling in him richly and he was happy
and he was thankful. Circumstances could not change the fact that he was
convinced that the Lord who had saved him was also able to keep him and
HE WAS HAPPY!.
don't recommend that you sing at your place of business or at school
because if you do, you will probably wind up in a strait jacket and you
may be carted off to a mental hospital somewhere :-) . People do not
understand those who are truly happy today. However, when we find out
that we are loved by God and important to God and that He sent His Son
to die for us so that our sins could be forgiven, should that not make
us happy? When we trust Christ and His Word, shouldn't we be singing and
happy and thankful to KNOW and not HOPE that we have eternal life.
is the thanksgiving season. I am thankful for that late afternoon two
days after the assassination of President Kennedy forty-five years ago
just before Thanksgiving when I listened to God and I trusted His Son.
At that moment I passed from death unto life (John 5:24). That makes me
happy and thankful. I hope you can honestly and sincerely be thankful as
well for a day that you remember when you too passed from death unto
for the week of November 23, 2008
there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the
righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but
also to all who have loved His appearing.
neighbor came over the other day and welcomed me to the "stent
club". While I had a stent put in before having a heart attack, he
had his own story to tell about having been on a motorcycle when neck
pain sent him to an emergency room with a heart attack. Before he got
his stents, he went into cardiac arrest and saw the "white
light" and the tunnel that so many people report when they have a
near death experience. He said he is no longer afraid to die.
Christians that I talk to tend to dismiss near death experiences as not
being Biblical. Some have told me that the Bible says that it is
appointed unto men once to die (Hebrews 9:27) and that we don't die
twice physically. The problem with that statement is that those like
Lazarus who died and were raised from the dead in the Bible, all died
again. So they died twice. So Hebrews 9:27 must be a general principle,
but I don't think it denies the possibility that some people die more
believe that the statement Paul makes in 1 Timothy 4:8 might actually
support the idea of Christians seeing the white light at the end of a
tunnel when they die. Since the Lord is light, I have wondered if they
don't see Him manifested that way as they go from time to eternity. The
appearing that Paul refers to in our verse is an epiphany or the
outshining of light reflecting the glory and beauty of Christ. Paul
talks three times of "that day" in this epistle. Once it is
with regard to his confidence in the Lord (2 Timothy 1:12) and once it
is in connection with the need for mercy for Onesiphorus (2 Timothy
1:18) and lastly it is in connection with the appearing of the Lord.
What day would be on Paul's mind? Since he knows that his execution date
is near (2 Timothy 4:6), it would seem likely that Paul was thinking of
that day. Some say this is the judgment seat of Christ but if it is,
then the judgment seat of Christ where Christians are rewarded for their
faithfulness must occur when we die. And why would Onesiphorus need
mercy at the judgment seat of Christ? Paul likely was hoping that the
Lord would be merciful to his friend who may very well have been facing
the same fate as Paul. I think Paul was hoping that his friend too would
be delivered from the lions just as Paul was (2 Timothy 4:17) and that
his execution would be merciful.
if I am right, then it makes sense that at the moment of death the Lord
appears or is manifested to us in His outshining glory to meet us as we
go from this side to the other side. David said in Psalm 23 that the
Lord is with us when we go through the valley of the shadow of death.
Paul has told us in Philippians 1:23 that when we depart we go to be
"with Christ". I would like to believe that the first thing
Paul expected to see after the executioner had taken his physical life
was the Lord in his glory which involves brilliant light. The Lord is
the light of the world (John 8:12) and He dwells in light (1 Timothy
6:16) and He clothes Himself with light (Psalm 104:2).
is one difficulty however. Many of the people that tell me that they
have seen the light and are not afraid to die are people that go to
churches where the Gospel is not normally clearly presented. So there
must be those who are saved in those churches. I wonder if those of us
who go to churches where the Gospel is clearly presented will all see
the Lord as light and love when we die. I have heard of some who have
not only not seen the light but have had visions of the torments of hell
due to a near death experience. One man that I know came to trust in the
Lord because of what he experienced. Since we know of more who remember
a pleasant experiences during their near death experiences than those
who have had terrifying experiences, some have concluded that the mind
blocks out things that are traumatic. All I know is that I fully expect
to see the Lord when I die. When I do, I have His Word for the fact that
I will be meeting the Lord Who loves me and I will be meeting One who
will know me by name (1 Timothy 2:19). It will be a most pleasant
for the week of November 30, 2008