Archive | March, 2013

Easter Sunday and every Sunday

28 Mar

1 Corinthians 15 is one of the most famous chapters in the Bible. It is commonly referred to as the “Resurrection Chapter” not because it tells the story of Jesus’ resurrection but because it speaks of the necessity of it and how it applies to our lives today. As we approach Easter Sunday, I encourage all of my readers to take some time and read through this great chapter.  I intend to do so with my own family during our family devotional times.  Let’s look at some key points of this chapter…

“Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:12–19, NASB95)

Here we see the absolute necessity of the resurrection to our faith. If He is not victorious then there is no victory for us. However, Christ has risen from the dead, so there is victory for us.  In fact, Paul goes on to explain that Christ’s resurrection restores spiritual life to sinful humanity who had lost their spiritual life through Adam’s fall in the garden of Eden…

“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:20–22, NASB95)

Because Jesus is victorious over sin, death, and the grave we can have that same victory through faith in Him!  Furthermore, Paul explains that Christ’s resurrection ensures our resurrection – comparing Christ’s resurrection as the first one of many to come…

“But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:23–28, NASB95)

I hope that’s enough to get your Bible study juices flowing and encourage you to dig into 1 Corinthians 15 this week as we count down to Easter Sunday – resurrection Sunday!  A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Israel for the first time to visit the Biblical sites. Of course, one of the great highlights of any trip there is a visit to the Garden Tomb…

GardenTombexterior

We do not know for sure exactly where Jesus was buried.  The Garden Tomb is one of two locations that many Christians believe to be the place. The other is found just a short distance away in Jerusalem inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  The Garden Tomb has a number of characteristics that coincide with what we know from the Bible, making it the location that is preferred by most evangelical scholars today, although we cannot be certain.

GardenTombinterior1

This is the burial chamber inside the Garden Tomb.  If Jesus was actually buried here, this is very likely the spot.  Take a moment and think about that. Every group that enters the Garden Tomb grows silent as this awesome thought sinks in. For me, it is a spiritually moving experience to be reminded in such a concrete way that I serve a risen Savior!  You see, the most important issue is not WHERE Jesus was buried, but rather THAT Jesus has risen!  Here is what you see above you as you exit the Garden Tomb…

GardenTombinterior2

Yes! That is what really matters! As the old hymn says, “I serve I risen Savior, He’s in the world today. I know that He is living whatever men may say…”  That is the message and the hope of Easter.  In fact, Easter Sunday is not the only Sunday that the Christian church celebrates the resurrection. Have you ever wondered why we worship on Sunday?  Because Jesus rose on Sunday.  The early Christians did not gather to worship on the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) but gathered to worship on Sunday because that was the day their Savior rose.  So, every single time we gather for worship on Sunday, we are celebrating the resurrection of Christ.  Yes, Easter Sunday and every Sunday is resurrection Sunday!

I love the church, churches, and my church

26 Mar

Have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus only said that He was personally building one thing: the church?

““I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.” (Matthew 16:18–20, NASB95)

Here Jesus speaks of the “universal” church, that is the ekklesia made up of all believers the world over who have ever lived, are living, and will ever live.  The Bible also speaks of what we call a “local” church, that is a gathering of Christians from a particular location.  For instance, many of Paul’s epistles begin with a reference to the saints in a particular city. That is they are addressed to particular churches.  Revelation 2-3 famously refer to the seven churches in Asia and there God speaks to specific local churches.  You really can’t separate those two ideas out.  I like to say that the local church is simply an expression of the universal church.

As Christians, we are to love BOTH the local church and the universal church. It’s easy to love the universal church. Just the thought of millions upon millions of fellow believers from almost all nations, races, and languages is an encouragement to us. There is nothing quite like traveling to another country and worshiping with other believers that you do not know and yet immediately sensing the Spirit of God in your midst.  While the church is struggling in North America right now, it is advancing strongly on every other continent. Jesus is truly building His church every single day. More people are coming to Christ the world over right now than at any time in world history. It just doesn’t appear that way if you are sitting in a church in America.  I love the universal church. It is a great encouragement to me.

This fact brings me to the local church. Probably, most readers of this blog are faithful members of a local church in the United States.  The local church is a little more difficult to love because we have seen it up close. We have seen churches grow, and we have seen churches implode. We have seen churches reach people and we have seen churches go for years without a single baptism. We have seen churches move ahead with great faith and unity, and we have seen way too many churches fall into severe conflict with collateral damage in the lives of countless people.  We have seen churches change and we have seen churches die. If we stop and think about it, we could all likely name a number of scandals involving a local church.  Depending on our particular experiences and perspective, the local church may or may not be a source of encouragement when you think about it.

Please let me share a word of exhortation here. I am one who has given my entire adult life to serving local churches – that’s over twenty years of full time ministry as a pastor. Certainly, I have seen the great, the good, the bad, and the downright ugly in the local church. I have seen the local church at its best and I have seen it at its worst, and I would absolutely do it all over again!  How do I say that?  Because I believe with all of my heart that the local church is the most important organization on the planet. Remember, the church is the only thing that Jesus said He is personally building. I want to invest my life in what is most important to Jesus!

The truth is that I love all Bible believing, gospel preaching, Jesus worshiping churches.  I have preached in churches of all sizes and in all types of  communities.  I love churches.  It fascinates me to see how God is working in each place. Certainly, I have seen many churches that could be more effective due to many factors, but I have yet to see a church that could not reach someone.  I have yet to see a church that did not have at least a handful of Godly, faithful people who longed for revival and to see their church reach others. I have yet to see a church that did not advance the kingdom and bring honor to Christ in some way.  I love churches.  Country churches, city churches, suburban churches, small churches, large churches, traditional churches, contemporary churches, you name them, I love them all.  Jesus is building His church, and that is evident through His work in local churches all over the world.

Now, let’s think for a moment about “my church” that is the church I presently serve, Whitesburg Baptist Church.  You know the church that you go to is like your family.  Deficiencies and shortcomings quickly come to mind!  Why is that?  Because we see the blemishes of those we are closest to.  All of us who attend church faithfully could list numerous ways that our church could be better.  It is at our home church that we see up close and personal that the church is people and therefore imperfect. Nevertheless, I love my church. There is far more right with Whitesburg than wrong with Whitesburg. Some of the finest Christians I have ever known are part of the Whitesburg family. Each year, hundreds of people give their life to Christ through my church’s influence. Some of the closest friends I have in this world are at Whitesburg.  The Bible is preached and Christ is exalted at Whitesburg. I love my church.

So there you have it. I love the church universal, the church local, and I love my church.  Jesus is at work building His church, and it is a great joy of my life to be a small part of what He is doing in the church. No matter what may be going on in your particular church, don’t give up. God is not out of business. Love the church, churches, and love your church!

Life verses #2 – Ephesians 4:32

22 Mar

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32, NASB95)

Recently, I saw a “tweet” from a Christian leader who pointed out that we really don’t hold grudges, but rather grudges hold us. That is so very true. Bitterness and grudges have been around since the very beginning of time. Remember Cain and Abel?  However, from where I sit, it appears to me that anger and bitterness is running rampant in our culture in a way that I have never seen before. So many live in the bondage of unforgiveness. Unfortunately, a large percentage of Christian believers live in that bondage too.

Like many Christians, I sometimes struggle with forgiveness. It certainly doesn’t come naturally, does it?  However, forgiveness is not an option if we are to live faithfully for Christ. We cannot bear spiritual fruit and know the joy of the Lord if our hearts are filled with bitterness and anger. On the surface, this appears irreconcilable, doesn’t it?  On the one hand, forgiveness is absolutely necessary, but on the other hand forgiveness goes against everything that we naturally feel.  It is certainly no surprise that the overwhelming majority of people live their lives in the bondage of unforgiveness. It is what comes most naturally.

Ephesians 4:32 reminds us as Christians that forgiveness is a SUPERNATURAL part of our lives. Notice that we are not encouraged to forgive because we are so good and kind. The basis of our being able to forgive others is the powerful forgiveness of Christ that we have experienced for our own sin.  We can forgive because we have experienced such incredible forgiveness ourselves. Christ forgave us of our sins and we certainly do not deserve it. Therefore, because we have experienced love, grace, and forgiveness in our own lives, we can extend them to others who have hurt us.

Ephesians 4:32 is one of my life verses because each year I find myself coming back to it on multiple occasions. Life hurts. Family hurts sometimes. Ministry and church hurts sometimes.  I have learned to run back to this verse when I sense that I am struggling to forgive.  This serves two purposes. First, it reminds me that I can forgive and the ability to forgive is not based on my goodness, but on the goodness of Christ.  Finally, it also reminds me of the greatness of my salvation.  Christ has forgiven me of all of my sins; he came into this world to save sinners – of whom I am chief!  Once I am reminded of those two great truths, then I tend to be in a more ready mindset to forgive and move on.

Do you need to forgive someone today?  Make Ephesians 4:32 one of your life verses.

Finishing with Jesus

20 Mar

As Jesus was taking his last breaths on the cross, he cried out “It is finished!”  What did he mean by that?  What does that have to do with our lives today?  I take a look at those questions in this message I shared this past Sunday at Whitesburg…

Baptists and Popes

15 Mar

Like so many around the world, I have been interested this week in the selection of the new pope.  Pope Francis is now the leader of over 1 billion Catholics around the world.  His selection is understandably big news.  His religious leadership and influence on the world stage is evident.  I am grateful for his strong stands on the sanctity of all human life and for Biblical marriage between a man and a woman for life.  I pray that he will continue to stand firm on these issues and lead courageously.

On the other hand,  first of all as a born again Christian and Bible preacher and second of all as a Baptist, I do feel it is important to help people understand some very real distinctions.  Catholics believe that Peter was the first pope and reference Matthew 16:17-19.   I believe Jesus is actually referring to himself in that passage and affirming that the church is built on the rock of salvation – the Lord Jesus Christ.  I believe the Bible teaches that no man is the head of the church, but rather the Lord Jesus is the head of the church of the church that he is building…

“but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:15–16, NKJV)

In addition, I believe the Bible teaches that we do not have a priesthood today because the Lord Jesus Christ is our great High Priest who provided direct access to God through his death on the cross…

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14–16, NKJV)

While volumes have been written on these theological issues, let me sum up briefly.  Because the Bible teaches that Christ is the head of the church and the great High Priest of every believer, then every sinner can draw near to God for salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus.  There is no priestly mediator that must accept your confession, but rather each person confesses their sin directly to God.  Therefore, the Lord is directly involved in a real and personal way in the individual life of every Christian.  As a result, we look to the Bible and the leadership of the Holy Spirit for our guidance. Individual Christians may worship, pray, confess, and study the Bible based on their own personal relationship with the Lord.  This is a fundamentally different understanding of personal salvation and Christian discipleship than what is taught in the Catholic church. These convictions are held by Baptists and many Christians from other denominations and backgrounds. It is important to understand these distinctions.

As a result, Baptists do not elevate and recognize the pope to anywhere near the degree our Catholic friends do.  Our King is Jesus. He is the head of the church. The Bible is our authority. We do not have popes; we have pastors who are called by each individual congregation to teach the people, shepherd the people, and lead the people all under the authority of the Great Shepherd – the Lord Jesus Christ.  The pastor is not the ruler of the church, and he is certainly not infallible. That is why the pastor is to lead the people in a way that allows the Lord to work in their hearts and bring them to the same conclusions and directions.  As a result, when the Baptists vote on a matter we believe this reflects God’s will as He has spoken to the individual members of the church. This is called congregational church government, another Baptist distinctive.  Each Baptist congregation is free to call its own pastor and make its own decisions as it feels led by the Holy Spirit.

As a result, there is no Baptist Vatican either. While there is a Southern Baptist Convention headquarters in Nashville, it has no authority over any church.  It exists to carry out the cooperative missions and education efforts of over 40,000 Southern Baptist churches. Participation is completely voluntary.  No church is required to give a single dime. No pastor is ever told what he must preach. No church is ever told what they must do. Churches choose to be part of the cooperative Southern Baptist family. They can choose to no longer cooperate at any time.  This is why one person described the Cooperative Program as a “rope of sand.”

The same holds true on a state and local level. The church I serve is also a member of the Alabama Baptist State Convention and the Madison Baptist Association. The same principles hold true in those relationships. Whitesburg Baptist Church is not instructed by or bound to either of these organizations.  Whitesburg Baptist Church owns our buildings, calls our own leaders, and makes our own decisions as we feel led by the Lord.  We are glad and busy participants in the Southern Baptist Convention, Alabama Baptist Convention, and the Madison Baptist Association, but this is because our church chooses to be and we feel the Lord wants us to cooperate with other like minded believers.  Neither of these groups has any authority over our church.  In fact, the true headquarters of the Southern Baptist Convention is the local church!

In light of the new pope being chosen, I thought it appropriate to remind all of my readers about these important distinctives.

There is power in just staying faithful

9 Mar

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:3–5, NKJV)

On this Saturday morning as I was doing my personal devotional time in Deuteronomy, for some reason these verses in Psalm 37 came to my mind. Verse 4 is a favorite of many. However, it’s important to remember that it comes between two verses that speak of our staying faithful and trusting the Lord.  Notice what we are told to do while we are waiting on God to give us the desires of our heart:  “do good…dwell in the land.”  In other words, stay faithful. Do what you know the Lord wants you to do. Be a faithful spouse.  Invest in your kids. Be faithful to faithful to your church.  Pay your bills.  Be a great employee.  Do all of these things while you trust in Him and wait on Him.

It’s a mistake to believe that trusting God means we just rest on our laurels or give up on our situation.  These verses teach the opposite. Trusting God is staying faithful and doing good – all the while believing that God will move one day and give us the desires of our heart.  You see, trusting God IS staying faithful.

Finally, notice the last phrase “…He shall bring it to pass.”  When we stay faithful and do what we know the Lord wants us to do to the best of our ability, then He is responsible for the results. Staying faithful demonstrates that we are not depending on ourselves, but on Him. Think about it.

 

 

 

A Powerful Picture of Grace

7 Mar

On Wednesday evenings, I am sharing a series of message on the life of David. Recently I shared a message on David’s actions toward a young man named Mephibosheth and what they teach us about grace.  Due to the great amount of feedback I have received from this message, I wanted to share a synposis of it here. Take your Bible out and follow along!

“A Powerful Picture of Grace”

2 Samuel 9:1-13

You might want to make a note that Mephibosheth is first mentioned in 2 Samuel 4:4 where we are told that he was the 5 year old son of Jonathan, the grandson of King Saul. It says in that verse that when word came back that both Saul and Jonathan were dead that the nanny immediately decided to flee their home. Why would she do that? Well, I am sure that they thought they were next! Anyway, the Bible says that she took young Mephibosheth and began to run away and he fell. Maybe she had him in her arms and dropped him. Maybe he was running beside her, but either way he fell and broke both of his legs or ankles. Now broken bones are terrible injuries to have today. They are painful and they take a while to heal even with the medical care we have today, but rarely are broken bones debilitating. However, in Bible times, if you broke your leg, that first of all could be fatal and second there was a good chance it was be debilitating for the rest of your life.  Mephibosheth broke both his legs or ankles and could not walk for the rest of his life.

So this is the story of Mephibosheth and his encounter with the great king, David. From his story, I want us to talk about the promise of grace and the powerful picture of grace that we see here…

I.               The promise of grace  (v. 1)

Verse 1 really is out of the ordinary. Think about it. David is at his height of power, prestige, wealth, you name it. A number of years have passed, and then David asks this question. Really “kindness” isn’t a bad translation of the Hebrew word, but we can’t really capture the idea in one English word. In fact, this same Hebrew word is used numerous times in the OT and do you know the most common way it is translated in our English Bibles?  MERCY. So, here is the powerful king asking if there is someone left that he could show mercy to.  Why would he care?  Because he had promised!   In 1 Samuel 20, Jonathan had asked David to spare his life when he became king.  Now we know that David loved Jonathan, so why would that matter?  Because at this time in history, when a new king took over and established a new dynasty, the first thing that he typically did was to exterminate all of the family members of the former dynasty. You had less rebellions that way!  So that was Jonathan’s concern.  Then in 1 Samuel 24, David has spared Saul’s life in the cave and Saul asked David to promise that when he is king, he will not destroy his descendants. So, David made that promise on two occasions and evidently when we get to 2 Samuel 9, David is thinking about that promise.

Let’s pause and make sure we get the big picture here. David had promised to have mercy. David had promised to bestow grace. Do you know that it works the same way with grace today?  We can only have it because the King of Kings has promised it to us!!!

So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”” (Acts 16:31, NKJV)

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9–10, NKJV)

 Those are promises in the Word of God. We can only receive grace today because the King of Kings has promised. Did you know that is really all being saved involves?  It involves taking God up on His promise to forgive your sins in response to simple faith. Sadly, most people today are not saved, many of them because they just absolutely cannot believe it can possibly be that simple. I even had a man I witnessed to tell me one time, “There’s got to be more to it than that!”  No. Grace flows out of a promise. And the grace that King David promised is a foreshadow of the saving grace of King Jesus!

              

II.              The picture of grace (v. 2-13)

Now that we have seen the big picture story of Mephibosheth, I want us to take a closer look because what we find is that his life and story is a great parallel of the NT doctrine of God’s grace. I want us to see several ways that Mephibosheth and his experience with King David are a great picture of God’s NT grace.

  • Like Mephibosheth, we are crippled from a fall

He fell when he was five years old and was lame from that point on. We are also crippled from a fall – not physically crippled, but spiritually crippled.

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—” (Romans 5:12, NKJV)

This death speaks of both physical death and ultimate spiritual death. The Bible says that we are dead in our trespasses and sins as a result of the fall!

  • Like Mephibosheth, the King called us even though we deserved nothing, did nothing, and can repay nothing.

Look at verse 4 of our text. Did you notice where he was living?  Lodebar.  Out in the sticks of the sticks. It was basically out in the desert wilderness. He was hiding from David. Anyone remember what Adam and Eve did after the fall back in Genesis?  They tried to hide!  From Adam and Eve on, every single one of us has been a lost sinner separated from God. We’ve been like Mephibosheth hiding out, but the King knocked on our door when we had nothing to offer! Think about if you were Mephibosheth and you are a home one day and there is a knock at the door. You crutch over there and there are several soldiers standing at the door. What are you thinking?  You are thinking, “I’m dead.”  HOWEVER, THAT KNOCK ON THE DOOR WAS NOT A KNOCK OF DEATH BUT A KNOCK OF GRACE!

  • Like Mephibosheth, we have been brought from where we were to the presence of the King

Think about it. Mephibosheth was in the desert, but he was taken into the King’s chambers.

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” (Ephesians 2:1–6, NKJV)

  • Like Mephibosheth, we have been adopted into the King’s family

Did you notice v. 13 of our text?  It says that Mephibosheth ate at the King’s table. Do you know who ate at the King’s table?  The King’s family!  The New Testament presents our salvation in terms of being adopted into the family of God…

just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:4–6, NKJV)

Today is the day!

5 Mar

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15–16, NASB95)

Years ago I heard someone talk about what you cannot do with the time you have in this world.  First of all, you cannot save time because time is gone once you have it.  There is no storing up time for tomorrow, no matter how much we wish we could!  Also, you cannot manage time because time marches on no matter what you do with it.  Finally, this speaker said, “The only thing you can do with time is spend it.  Time marches on, but you choose how you spend it.”

I have never forgotten that.  It is the truth. The same idea is expressed in Ephesians 5:15-16.  As Christians, we ought to be determined to make the most use of our time. The old King James Version that many of us grew up with says, “redeeming the time..”  All of us have the same twenty-four hours in every day. The only question is how we spend it.  All too often, we get so busy that we fail to think about being intentional with our time.  Really, each one of us should ask the Lord two important questions.  First, we should ask, “Lord, what do I need to do more of?”  Then, have the courage to ask, “Lord, what do I need to do less of?”  Those two questions will go along way in helping us make the most of our time. Do more of the things that matter most and less of those that do not.

It’s important to know that there is one important key to making the most of our time:  do it today.  The time to do what we need to do is today.  The great preacher and author, Dr. David Jeremiah, once wrote that “today” is God’s word and “tomorrow” is Satan’s word.  I believe that to be true.  If Satan cannot get us to fall into gross sin and failure, then the next best thing for him is to influence us to put off until tomorrow what we need to do today.  Satan certainly knows that very often tomorrow never comes.  The other day, I asked my administrative assistant to help make sure that I made a particular ministry contact by the end of the week and I explained why it was so important.  Wisely, she looked at me and said, “Why don’t you just do that one right now?”  She was right. If it was so important, I needed to do it right away.  I took her advice.  If it’s really that important, then do it today.

What do you need to do today?  Perhaps you are reading this blog and you need to give your life to Christ.  I beg you. Do it today!  Want to be a soul winner?  Start today.  Do you need to have a daily time of prayer and Bible reading?  Start today.  Is there someone you need to forgive?  Forgive them today.  Is there someone you need to apologize to?  Why not go ahead and do that today?   Is there someone that you need to tell how much they mean to you?  Tell them today.

What do you need to do?  Today is the day to do it!  Take that advice and you will make the most of your time.

The dead calm of indifference

1 Mar

“Anything is better than the dead calm of indifference.” – Charles Spurgeon

This morning, I read those words and they gripped my heart. Immediately, my mind went to the Lord’s famous words to the Laodicean church in the book of Revelation…

““And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” (Revelation 3:14–16, NKJV)

In New Testament times, the temperature of the water supply was one of the ways that cities were known. Hierapolis was a nearby city that was famous for its hot springs. Colossae was known as the home of a cool mountain stream.  However, the city of Laodicea was famous for its dirty, tepid water and out of town visitors to the city often spit it out immediately after drinking it.  This fact sheds great light on why the Lord spoke to the church at Laodicea in the way He did, doesn’t it?  Basically, God was telling that church that anything is better than the dead calm of indifference and He used something they were all familiar with to do that.

The dead calm of indifference is the place in life where we are not living with passion and purpose, but just existing – going through the motions. There can be many causes of indifference.  The busyness of life and physical exhaustion can get us to that point.  Discouragement and depression definitely take us there. Unexpected hurts, problems, or setbacks in life quickly lead to, “Why do I even bother?  I don’t care anymore.”  Routine and the familiar can easily take us to indifference. If we’ve done the same thing the same way for years, then maybe we don’t even think about it or appreciate any more.

This morning, my personal prayer is that the Lord will renew my passion and purpose for the things that really matter in my life. I became a Christian when I was eight years old, and I pray that my passion for Christ will be more fervent in this season of life than ever before. After nineteen years of marriage, I don’t want to just go through the motions. I want to invest in my marriage intentionally.  As a father of two sons who are growing into men before my eyes, I pray that I will let nothing deter me from intentionally investing in them.  After more than twenty years of full-time ministry, I am praying for a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit to propel me into the next twenty years.  God is too great and life is too short to live in indifference.

I am so grateful that God gave the Laodicean church the cure for their indifference…

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:19–20, NKJV)

The cure for indifference is repentance and renewed fellowship with the Lord. What is holding you back?  What sin are you ignoring?  How long has it been since you got alone before the Lord and prayed fervently?

Anything really is better than the dead calm of indifference. God is too great and life is too short to live there!