RSS

Monthly Archives: July 2011

MATTERS OF THE HEART

How would you feel if your spouse were unfaithful? They made vows that they would love, honor, and cherish you, yet you come home from work and catch them in the midst of an adulterous situation. And when you confront them with the question, “How could you do this to me?” their response is a statement calmly made of, “But, honey, you know my heart,” implying that although they are guilty of adultery and the taking of your love and their vows for granted, that you should just overlook their shameful, disrespectful behavior because down deep they really do love you. Would their words make you feel any better? Would this so-called “heart love” match the blatantly disobedient behavior of the one who is your spouse? Of course not! Yet every single day men and women who claim to be the bride of Christ justify their unfaithfulness towards the Lord (their sinful behavior) with those five little words, “But God knows my heart.”

Here are some real-life examples of times when people have used this “but God knows my heart” line to justify their sin:

– Here we have people who lie, cheat, or scam to get ahead at work or to benefit in other ways:

“I know that lying is a sin, but my boss expects it in certain situations. I have to lie or I might lose my job. Well, God understands because he knows my heart.”

“If I fill out these medical forms with my true status (newly married), I will lose my welfare benefits. I guess I’d better keep that information to myself and not tell them the truth. Oh, well, God knows my heart.”

– Here are examples of men and women who justify the reasons they are fornicating:

“I’d love to get married, but he doesn’t want to. Anyway, I’ve invested this many years in this relationship. It’s like we’re almost married. I’m sure God will forgive me. He knows my heart.”

“If I get married to my live-in boyfriend, I will lose my widow social security benefits. I want to do right, but because of ‘the system’ I can’t. But I know that God understands. He knows my heart.”

“I’m scared to get married again because I was burned by my first wife in an ugly divorce. Maybe I will some day if my girlfriend signs a prenuptial agreement. In the meantime, we will just move in together and see how it goes. God knows my heart.”

– Here are people who chose society’s standards of right and wrong instead of God’s standards of purity:

“As a professed Christian actress, some people might talk when I take on this R-rated role that requires nudity. Oh, well, I made my decision based on that still small voice inside. And I don’t care what people say, God knows my heart.”

“I don’t feel comfortable being at this concert (or party or club or movie) with my unsaved friends and taking part in this worldly behavior, but I want people to like me. I want to fit in. Hey, God understands that it’s hard being a teen, and He knows my heart.”

Friend, do any of the above-mentioned real-life scenarios sound like behavior that you have engaged in? Are you making excuses for your sin or holding on to a lifestyle that a true lover of the Lord should not be holding on to? Have you been unfaithful to your Bridegroom, Jesus Christ? Are you using God’s mercy and grace as a license to sin?

Yes, God does know your heart. God knows your heart even better than you do. And although you may fool yourself with this irrational thinking that somehow your actions and your heart are not connected, God is not fooled. His Word says this about you and your behavior:

Ezekiel 33:31, “And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.”

Matthew 15:8, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.”

Jeremiah 13:10, “This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.”

Luke 6:45, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil.”

What are you bringing forth? Good fruit or evil fruit? Our ACTIONS show where our love lies. If in your heart you truly loved the Lord, you would repent of your sinful ways and live a life in obedience to your Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. God’s law is written on every man’s heart. You know right from wrong, yet you choose sin over God’s will for your life. Then you justify your sin by making excuses or pretending that in spite of your actions, you love the Lord. What utter nonsense! The verses below show how someone who truly loved the Lord would live:

John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

1 John 2:3, “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

1 John 2:6, “He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”

1 Corinthians 10:21, “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.”

3 John 1:11, “Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.”

So, Reader, are you truly of God? And if you are claiming to have been born again and saved, then why are you still living like an old unregenerate sinner? Is that man or woman that you are fornicating with your idol? They must be, why else would you put pleasing them before pleasing the Lord? Are those lies that you are telling helping you to build a bigger, better golden calf to trust in? They must be, why else would you be so unwilling to speak the truth? Are those friends that you are compromising your Christian walk for worthy of the altar that you have placed them on? Obviously your answer is yes, or else you would not be hiding your Christian light in order to blend in with them.

You can’t be a 70% Christian or even a 95% Christian. If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you should be obeying Him 100%. Otherwise, you are just engaging in meaningless lip service. The Lord wants, no, He deserves a chaste bride, a righteous bride, someone who loves and cherishes Him above all else. You should not offer to Him your sloppy hand-me-down love. You should be ashamed to call yourself a Christian while your life resembles that of an unsaved heathen. God’s Word shows us what we must do and how we are instructed to live:

2 Corinthians 7:1, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

Deuteronomy 10:12, “…What doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes…”

Galatians: 5:24, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”

1 Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

1 Peter 2:11, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;”

Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Ephesians 5:11, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”

Acts 8:22, “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.”

Romans 6:11-12, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.”

1 Samuel 12:24, “Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart; for consider how great things he hath done for you.”

It could not be any clearer than that! Our Bridegroom who has done such great things for us should receive our utmost in return. So in conclusion, Friend, if your heart has been convicted and you know that you have not been living as you ought, it is not too late for you, but you need to make some changes. You need to be willing to give up the sins that you have been engaging in. Repent and ask the Lord to forgive you. Yes, you might have to sacrifice that relationship with that girlfriend or boyfriend. Yes, you might have to stand up to your boss. Yes, you might lose out on some money or worldly benefit. But if Jesus Christ is truly the One whom you love above all else, it should not be hard to let go of the people, possessions, or lifestyle which is causing you to sin in the first place.

And in the future, don’t ever just go by how you feel. Don’t just “listen to your heart” when deciding what things are good and right because you can deceive yourself into believing what is evil is good. Always look to God’s Word. God has blessed us with instructions on exactly how He wants us to live. Read the Holy Bible and obey what you read. And don’t judge a situation by the examples of others. Don’t listen to your friends. Don’t even think that your pastor has all the answers. God’s Holy Word is the only source you need or that you can rely on.

Matthew 15:19, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”

Proverbs 16:25, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Proverbs 28:26, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.”

Jeremiah 17:5, “Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.”

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

ARE YOU IN GOD’S BOOK OF LIFE ? BY ALEX

To enter Heaven, you must have your name written in God’s BOOK OF LIFE.

Revelation 20:15 says:

“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Hell wasn’t created for you and me.

Matthew 25:41 says, hell was,

“. . . prepared for the devil and his angels:”

The problem is you have sinned AGAINST God, and His WRATH is on you. (John 3:36)

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”

The Biblical definition of sin is ….

1 John 3:4 “…transgression of God s law.”

God is HOLY. He sees lust as adultery (Matthew 5:28) and hatred as murder (1 John 3:15). He commads “Do not lie, Do not steal, Do not take His name in vain….etc…(Exodus 20) The greatest commandment in the whole Bible is to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. (Mark 12:30)

James 2:10
“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

Hebrews 9:27 ”
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”

Revelation 21:8 “…the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

To have your name written in God’s book of life, you must be BORN AGAIN.

John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 3:14-21 “14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

Romans 10:8-11 “8… The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. ”

Ephesians 2:8-10 “8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF OBEDIENCVE : LESSON 5

Tonight will be our last lesson on the topic of obedience. We will be reading about a man named King Saul and, hopefully, will learn from his life the importance of being obedient to God’s commands. Below are some instructions given to Saul.

1 Samuel 15:1-3 “Samuel also said unto Saul, The Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”

There was a town called Amalek. And when God’s people, the Israelites, had come out of Egypt, these people from Amalek repeatedly troubled them. The Amaleks warred with Israel, snuck up on Israel, and killed the people of Israel every chance they got. And now God’s wrath is going to come down on the Amalekites, and God wants King Saul and his soldiers to totally destroy all the people and everything in that wicked city. The town of Amalek and the people there are like a cancer, and God wants the cancer 100 % wiped out! Let’s see what happens.

1 Samuel 15:4-9 “And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah. And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley. And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye showed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that over against Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.”

First of all, did Saul follow God’s instructions? No. Instead of killing all of the Amalekites, Saul let the head Amalekite, King Agag, live and brought him along for the ride back. And instead of destroying all of the stuff, Saul and his men kept the best of the stuff for themselves.

How do you think it made God feel when Saul is buddying up with the leader of the people that God hates and then is parading around with the stuff from the place that He wanted burned to the ground? Are there things in your life that you know, from reading God’s Word, that He hates those things and wants you to totally have nothing to do with them, cut them out of your life, yet you are holding on to them anyway? Let’s see how God feels about Saul (and us) when we disobey His commandments. 1 Samuel 15:10, “Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel and he cried unto the Lord all night.”

God is saying that He regretted ever making Saul king. Have you made God sorry in the past? Well, to turn back from following God and to be at a place where you are not performing His commandments is a sad, dangerous place to be. Sometimes we fool ourselves into believing that it’s not so bad. We didn’t do anything really wrong. We say, “Hey, God will understand. He’s loving and forgiving.” But as we will see, our disobedience carries a heavy price.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Let’s see if Saul recognized or admitted what he had done wrong. 1 Samuel 15:12-3, “And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, “Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal. And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord.”

Did you catch that? Saul is having a fine day. In his mind, everything is great. He woke up early, probably had a good breakfast, started his day. And now he is all happy as he is greeting Samuel. Look again at what he said, “Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” Saul is loudly proclaiming that he did just what the Lord told him to do, which is an outright lie. So while Samuel spent the night grieving and crying to the Lord over Saul’s disobedience, Saul happily slept like a baby — proud of his accomplishments, deceiving himself into thinking he did good.

How many of you right now have mothers, fathers, or friends praying for you, crying because of your disobedience to the Lord, pleading to the Lord to forgive you and have mercy on you, while you are carefree, happy, don’t have a concern in the world, and are proud of your past sinful exploits? If that describes you, again, you are in a dangerous position.

The thing about being disobedient and sinning is that after a while, your heart gets to a place where you don’t even see sin as sin. You start lying to yourself. You begin to think that you are okay and that it’s God who has the problem. Let’s see what Samuel said after Saul lied and announced that he did what the Lord told him to do. 1 Samuel 15:14, “And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” Here Samuel is saying, “Oh, you totally destroyed everything and everyone like the Lord said? Then why do I hear all of these new animals making all that noise? And who is that guy over there that looks just like King Agag?”

Now that Saul is being confronted, let’s see if he repents of his sin and asks the Lord for forgiveness. 1 Samuel 15:15, “And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.”

Instead of admitting that he was disobedient, Saul tried to say it wasn’t him, but it was the people. Who was in charge? Saul. Who did God give the instructions to? Saul. Who do you think told the people what to kill and what to keep? Saul. But Saul was trying to be slick. Not only did he not admit that he was disobedient, but then he tried to make it seem as though he did it for the Lord. He said, “The people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord.” Saul is, basically, saying, “But, God, we did it for you.” Saul is fooling himself into believing that he was disobedient to please God. How ludicrous is that!! That would be like saying, “God, I know your commandment says not to steal, but I’m going to donate 10 percent of the money I steal towards building a new church.” Or “God, I know that you want me to wait until I’m married to have sex, but, hey, I’ll have sex now, and if my girlfriend gets pregnant, we will name our child after one of the great Bible heroes to give you the glory.”

Do you think what Saul did or what I illustrated in those above examples would make the Lord happy? Of course not. Let’s see what Samuel told Saul. 1 Samuel 15:16-19, “Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on. And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel? And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord?”

Samuel is showing Saul that what he did was evil in the sight of the Lord. Samuel is giving Saul another chance to admit his sin and ask the Lord for forgiveness. He is reminding Saul what God’s exact instructions were: “Utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, until they are totally consumed.” Let’s see what Saul has to say for himself. 1 Samuel 15:20-21, “And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal.”

Again, Saul is still insisting that he didn’t do anything wrong. Even in the face of God’s exact instructions, Saul is saying, “Yeah, I brought back alive the main person you hated the most, King Agag, but it was for a good reason. And, really, my soldiers are the ones who messed up by keeping all of the Amalekites’ stuff. But, hey, they did it for a good reason, too.” Saul is disobedient, unrepentant, and just making it worse and worse for himself.

***Key point here: Is there a “King Agag” or some Amalekite stuff in your life? What are those sinful habits and things that God wants you to utterly destroy, but you keep holding on to them? You keep making excuses and reasons for not letting them go? You are willingly blind to the fact that this thing(s) is killing your relationship with God.

What does God want the most from you? Does he want your money? Does he want your time in attendance at church? Does he want you to sing for Him? No. All of those things are well and fine, but the thing that God wants from you the most is your obedience. If you say you love Him, yet are disobedient, your words don’t mean a thing. If you go to church every Sunday and pray every night, yet throughout your days you keep breaking His commandments and being stubborn and rebellious, your time and prayer are not pleasing to the Lord. See what this verse has to say on this: 1 Samuel 15:22 reads, “And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” Our obedience is what God wants and what God deserves! And here are some more verses that illustrate this truth: John 14:15 reads, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” And 1 John 2:3-5 says, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” If you say you love God, show it by your obedience. It’s as simple as that.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When we are disobedient and rebellious, that is as bad or equal to us being involved in witchcraft or idolatry in God’s eyes. 1 Samuel 15:23 reads “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” If you stubbornly refuse to live the way God wants you to live, God is giving you right there a name for your behavior. Stubborn/rebelliousness equals witchcraft and idolatry to the Lord, period. Samuel 15:23 goes on to say of Saul “Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”

Saul went from being a man hand-picked by God to be king to a man who is now rejected by God. And many other people who have chosen to disobey God and instead want to live by their own rules will also one day be rejected by God. Will you be one of them? When you die and face the Lord, will He tell you, “Depart from Me. I never knew you. I reject you”? Sadly, that is what is going to be told to some people. Matthew 7:21-23 reads, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

If you know that you have been like Saul and have chosen your own way over being obedient to God, I hope that you turn from you sin and ask God for forgiveness before it’s too late. And make sure you go right to the One you disobeyed — God. He is the only one who can forgive you. Saul finally admitted that he sinned and even asked to be pardoned. But he didn’t ask God. He asked Samuel to forgive him. Let’s read that. 1 Samuel 15:24-25, “And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord.”

Whenever we sin, we sin against God. And only God Himself can forgive us. The Prophet Samuel can’t forgive you. Your mom can’t forgive you. You can’t confess to me so that I can ask God to forgive you. You have to go directly to God!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After all of this happened, Saul was never the same again. He didn’t die immediately, but his relationship with the Lord was forever ruined. His life was full of anger, bitterness, jealousy, worry, sorrow, and he ultimately killed himself by falling on his sword. Instead of King Saul being a great man of God, he is a man who we look to as a warning and an example of what could happen if you rebel and choose to make yourself god instead of following and obeying the only True Living God.

Before we end, let’s see what happened to that king that Saul was supposed to kill but didn’t. 1 Samuel 15:32-33, “Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past. And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.”

King Agag tried to sweet-talk his way out of being destroyed. Isn’t that just like our Enemy (Satan) to try to buddy up with you and act as though the past hell brought into your life was nothing? But Samuel took his sword and cut Agag to pieces. And that is what we need to do when anything sinful is creeping back into our lives. Cut it out of your life. What about you? Are you going to be a Saul or a Samuel?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

THE IMPORTANCE IOF OBEDIENCE : LESSON 4

Did you know that there are really only two types of people in the world? There are people who are sincerely trying to be obedient to God and follow God’s commands and instructions, and there are people who could care less about being obedient to God and instead make up their own rules to follow. We all fall into one category or the other. Jesus said you are either for Me or against Me.

Well, we are going to look at two men in the Bible. One man was obedient, and the other man was disobedient. And we are going to show you what can happen in your life depending on which kind of person you choose to be.

First let me ask you this: Does anyone know what the 1st Commandment is? “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). When we are disobedient to God’s rules and instructions to us, by our actions we are making ourselves god of our own lives, and we are breaking the 1st Commandment. We are basically saying, “forget you, God. I’m running things around here, and I will do whatever I want.” Well, the disobedient man we will be talking about had that attitude. He was called Pharaoh, and he was a ruler over Egypt. Pharaoh seemed to forget that he was one of God’s creations, and instead he began to believe that he was God. Pharaoh became very disobedient and didn’t listen to God’s instructions and was ultimately destroyed because he thought he was bigger than God.

The obedient man who we will be reading about was named Moses. Moses was obedient to God, and God used him to do great things. The point of this lesson can be summed up in two sentences: Obedience to God will lead to God doing great things in your life, but disobedience to God leads to your destruction.

Now let’s read about the two men. We’ll start with Moses.

God had a special assignment for Moses. God wanted to use Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, out of slavery, and into the Promised Land. One day Moses was just living an ordinary life, taking care of some sheep, and the Lord spoke to Him. Let’s pick it up there. Exodus 3:7-8, “And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey…”

Exodus 3:9-10, “Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.”

* So God had personally chosen Moses for this great task. How would you feel if God asked you to do something? Would you feel like you weren’t worthy to be used by God? Would you feel kind of insecure about being able to do it? Did you know that is just how Moses felt? Moses was an ordinary man. He wasn’t perfect. He had made some mistakes in his life, and he was somewhat insecure. He wasn’t a natural born leader. As a matter of fact, he didn’t even feel qualified to be used by God. He wasn’t young and strong. Moses was 80 at this point when God called on him. And Moses had been away from Egypt for 40 years. He fled from Egypt after he had killed a man. Now he was living as an ordinary shepherd, and he didn’t think he was worthy to do what God asked.

Let’s read what Moses said to God. Exodus 3:11, “And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Moses was a humble man who was basically saying, “Lord, I’m nobody. I’m not worthy of such an assignment. And now jump down to Exodus 4:10-12 to see what else Moses said. “And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant; but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.”

* Sometimes we think that to be used by God we have to be really smart or speak really well. Moses obviously felt that he wasn’t a very good speaker. Some have said that perhaps Moses had a stuttering problem. And now we see that Moses just couldn’t believe that God wanted to use him for such an important task. But you have to remember that God doesn’t require that you be talented. God will give you whatever you need to accomplish His work. God only requires that we be obedient and that we go where He tells us to go and do what He asks. God wants to use humble people, shy people, ordinary people. He wants to use people who were once sinners. God wants to use people who will know without a doubt that the greatness they achieve is a direct gift from Him. Let’s see how God responded to Moses’ insecurities.

Exodus 4:11-12 reads, “And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.”

* Here we can learn that obeying God comes from not believing in our own abilities, but in trusting in God’s promise to sustain us through whatever we are about to go through, whether that be facing temptations or dealing with sorrow in our lives, or overcoming our addictions to things of this world. On our own, it might be impossible. But with God’s help, all things are possible. So never use the excuse that you can’t be obedient to God because it is too hard. God promises to aid us in the things that we have to go through. In Matthew 28:20 God said, “Lo, I am with you always.” And in Genesis 28:15 God said,”And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.”

Because Moses was obedient to God’s calling, Moses went back to Egypt, and through God he was able to eventually free the Israelites and lead them out of slavery. And now thousands of years later, we are still talking about Moses.

But now let’s read about the second man that we talked about at the beginning of the discussion, the man called Pharaoh who was disobedient and who believed himself to be God. Moses had some interesting encounters with him.

Now, remember that Pharaoh was the ruler over all of Egypt. He held the Israelites in slavery. He wanted all of Egypt to build temples in his honor and to worship him as a god. And Pharaoh was about as disobedient as a person could be. He didn’t care at all about God or what God had to say. Let’s read what Pharaoh said to Moses when Moses told him that God said to let the Israelites go.

Exodus 5:1-2, “And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go.”

Pharaoh was basically saying, “God? God doesn’t mean anything to me. Who does God think He is? I’m in charge!” Pharaoh had no intention of setting the Israelites free. And to really insult God, after Moses and Aaron left, Pharaoh made the Israelites work even harder, and he took away some of their building supplies.

I think that a lot of people are like Pharaoh. God tells you to do something and instead of obeying, you try to fight God. We make up our own rules and act as though God doesn’t exist. By our actions, we are saying, “Who is God?” But this is the kind of thinking that will get you in trouble here on earth, and then cause you to be in hell once you’ve died and left this earth.

* Does anyone know what God did to Pharaoh when Pharaoh would not be obedient and follow His instructions? God sent trouble Pharaoh’s way in the form of ten plagues, and each plague got worse and worse. God first turned all of the water into blood. Then he sent frogs. Then he sent lice. Then he sent flies. Then all of the cattle and horses, etc., were killed. Then all of the Egyptians were afflicted with boils. Then God sent hail. Finally, Pharaoh started to bend a little. You know how it is. Once you are in trouble, then you admit to God that you were wrong. I’m sure many of us here have been disobedient to God. Then as soon as times got hard, we promised God we would do what He asks. But when the bad times pass, then it is back to those old sinful ways. Let’s read how after some of the plagues, Pharaoh acted like he was going to obey God.

Exodus 9:27-28, “And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. Entreat the Lord (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer.”

But after God did what Pharaoh asked, we read in Exodus 9:34-35 that Pharaoh went back to his disobedient ways. It reads, “And when Pharaoh saw that the rain, and the hail, and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the Lord had spoken by Moses.”

* By now, God had had enough. God will give you chance after chance, but if you refuse to be obedient, you will have to pay the price. God sent one last plague, and this one was the worst of all: Death to the firstborn male child. The only way to guarantee safety for your family was if your house was marked with the blood of a lamb.

Let’s read Exodus 12:12-13. God said, “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.”

To be spared from God’s wrath, these people’s doorframes had to be painted with lamb’s blood. Similarly, we too have to be washed in Christ’s blood for us to be spared from hell.

But since Pharaoh thought that he was God, he didn’t heed God’s warning, and his son died. Exodus 12:29-30 reads, “And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt: for there was not a house where there was not one dead.” Pharaoh and his people had to pay for their disobedience. They were warned, but they chose not to obey. And because Pharaoh was disobedient, he felt the wrath and power of the one true God.

**And I want you guys to catch this one very important point: When we are disobedient, not only do we pay the price, but our family, our children will pay the price, too. If you believe that you are greater than God and that you don’t have to submit to God’s will, you are probably teaching that same attitude of disobedience to those around you: your little brother, your cousin. What are your children learning from you? Or what will your future children learn from you? Will all of you end up in hell together? Or when judgment day comes, will your family be covered in the blood of Jesus because you taught them to be obedient to the one and only true living God?

Moses was used by God and went on to do great things because he was obedient to God’s instructions. Pharoah, on the other hand, had a kingdom that was ruined, a son that was killed, and then he himself was killed. Pharoah died in his sins and ended up in hell because he chose to be disobedient to God. God warned him, but he chose not to listen or obey. Who are you going to end up like — Pharoah or Moses? Don’t you want to be used by God the way Moses was? You might not lead a whole nation to the Promised Land, but wouldn’t it be great if you could play some small part in introducing even one person who was headed for hell to Christ our Savior? Matthew 9:37, reads, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.” God is still looking for a few good men, but you have to obey His voice when he calls. Be a Moses, not a Pharaoh!!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF OBEDIENCE : LESSON 3

What happens to a child when his parents give him specific instructions, but the child disobeys those instructions? What will a good parent do? What happens is the child gets punished. The child has to be taught a lesson. Well, once again we will be discussing being obedient to God. In this lesson we are going to talk about someone in the Bible who was given specific instructions by God, but they chose to do things their own way instead of God’s way. And because of their disobedience, God had to discipline them and teach them a lesson. Hopefully, you will learn from this man’s mistakes and think twice the next time you are tempted to go against God’s will.

But before we get to the people in the Bible, I wanted to ask you guys a question. Did you know that God has specific plans in mind for each and every person He created and that the plans are special according to your individual personality, talent, needs, potential, or environment? But sometimes we get in the way of what God wants to do in our life. We either listen to our friends instead of what the Bible tells us is right, or we listen to the devil’s lies and get sidetracked. Or sometimes we are just stubborn and we don’t have anyone to blame but ourselves when we miss out on what God had in store for us. Here is a verse that shows that God wants to instruct you: Psalm 32:8-9, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.” God is telling us not to be stubborn like a horse that the rider has to discipline to get it to do what he wants. God wants to lead and direct us, but we have to respond promptly to Him and believe that the way He would have us go is better than what we want for ourselves. God will guide you, but you have to be willing to hear and obey. Isaiah 30:21,”And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee saying, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it…'”

So we have the opportunity to be directed by the Spirit of the living God. But if you hear the voice and are disobedient to it, you either run the risk of God having to teach you a lesson, or you might even harden your heart so much that it’s almost impossible to even hear God’s voice anymore.

Anyway, let’s read an account in the Bible about a man who had to be taught a lesson by God. This fellow’s name was Jonah. But before we get to it, here’s a little background on Jonah. Jonah was a prophet of God. He was told by God to go to a town called Nineveh. He was supposed to warn the people there to turn from their wickedness or face the wrath of God. Nineveh was a place of violence and bloodshed. The people there worshipped false gods. They did immoral sexual acts. They burned and sacrificed babies to idols. And although God is forgiving and longsuffering, there came a time when he said enough is enough. Jonah 1:1-2, “Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.”

(Side note: What are some other times that we read about in the Bible where God eventually destroyed the people because of their wickedness? Thee people of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their wickedness and disobedience. The people of Noah’s time felt God’s wrath and displeasure. And how many people would agree that the world that we live in has become as bad, if not worse, than those places? So if there were ever a time that you should be obedient and heed God’s commands, now is the time. You don’t want to be like the people of Noah’s time who missed the boat.)

But, anyway, back to Jonah. Let’s read how Jonah responded to God’s directions for him to go and warn the people of Nineveh. Jonah 1:3, “But Jonah arose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.”

* Jonah disliked the Ninevites and did not want them to hear God’s message. Jonah wanted them to perish. So instead of warning them, he went to a town called Joppa. There he got on a ship going to Tarshish. He was trying to go as far in the opposite direction as possible. How many of you have been told by God to do something (or to stop doing certain things), and instead of obeying God’s command, you rebelled and did just the opposite. You maybe did your own thing, made up a new game plan for yourself like Jonah. But can you run away from God? Can you hide from God’s presence?

Let’s see how God dealt with Jonah’s disobedience when Jonah was trying to run far away from God on that ship. Jonah 1:4-5, “But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto to his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay and was fast asleep. (Elaborate).

Jonah 1:6-8, “So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O, sleeper? Arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. Then they said unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? And whence comest thou? What is thy country? And of what people art thou?

* Isn’t it interesting that whether you are disobeying God or whether you are surrounding yourself with others who are disobeying God, that sin has repercussions that will effect everyone that it touches! A disobedient child will bring hell and heartache to the entire household. A man or woman who is having an adulterous affair will possibly break up a family unit, destroy trust, and possibly bring home a disease. Innocent bystanders are harmed every day because of the disobedience of some man or woman. Jonah’s disobedience was jeopardizing the life of everyone in the ship. Let’s see what Jonah told his crewmates.

Jonah 1:9-12, “And he said unto them, I am a Hebrew; and I fear The Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? For the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: For I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.”

* At least Jonah was honest. He owned up to what he had done, and he advised the rest of the crew to save themselves by getting rid of him. Can you imagine how much calmer your life would be if only you stopped associating with certain sinful people? But like the men in the boat with Jonah, instead we think we can keep those sinful people around us and just try harder to change the situation.

Jonah 1:13-16, “Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought and was tempestuous against them. Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said, We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.”

* Sometimes it is not until we see someone else brought low by the Lord that we realize God’s power. These heathen men went from worshipping false gods to fearing the one and only true God. While disobedient Jonah was still learning a lesson, his crewmates were making vows to the Lord and offering sacrifices. Let’s see what happened to Jonah next.

Jonah 1:17, “Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”

* Because Jonah chose to be disobedient to the Lord, all kind of trouble came his way. And, again, not only his way, but also he brought trouble to all the people around him. But ultimately Jonah could not hide from God. God came and taught Jonah a lesson. God stopped Jonah dead in his tracks and did what He had to do to get Jonah’s attention.

But you should realize that God didn’t send the whale to punish Jonah. God sent the whale to save Jonah from the sea and to give him time to think about what he was supposed to do. What will God have to do in your life to get you to stop running from Him? Will He have to knock you off of your feet before you will start obeying His instructions to you? Will he have to send you to prison to save you from the destruction you have fallen into?

Well, as Jonah was inside the whale, we can see from Jonah’s prayer to God that Jonah finally came to his senses. Jonah 2:1-10, “Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly, and said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever; yet hast thou brought up my life from my corruption, O Lord my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord. And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.”

* Jonah was in the whale for three days, and then God had the whale spit Jonah out. Then once again God told Jonah to warn the Ninevites. God will do whatever he has to do to get our attention, even put us in the belly of a whale to make us stop running and start listening. Maybe right now God wants to get your attention. You’re not in a whale, but God is somehow still saying, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Are you going to learn the lesson right away, or will it take a whole lot of chastising? Have you made a vow to God that needs to be paid?

So why does God sometimes punish us? Does God do it because he is a big bully? No, he chastens us because he loves us. Hebrews 12:5b-6,11 reads, “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

Thank God that He loves you enough to give you a second or third chance and does what it takes to teach you a lesson. That is what any good parent should do. And if you are a child of God, you will appreciate what your Heavenly Father is doing in your life, even if it feels painful for a time.

As for Jonah, he finally obeyed God and went and warned the Ninevites, and they repented and turned from their wicked sinful ways.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF OBEDIENCE : LESSON 2

Have you ever had instructions to follow? Maybe they were instructions on a bottle of medicine, or instructions that your doctor gave you to help you recover, or maybe instructions for some do-it-yourself project that you were working on. Whatever the instructions, if you are like most people, you probably only “kind of” followed the instructions. You used the instructions as a starting point and then just figured out your own way of doing things. Well, there are times where if you don’t follow the instructions 100%, it can mean you will have a high price to pay later. As a matter of fact, if you don’t follow, for example, your doctor’s instructions, it may even mean the difference between life and death.

Did you know that being obedient to God’s directions and instructions will also mean the difference between life and death? We all have something inside of us that is worse than cancer, is worse than AIDS, is worse than a brain tumor or anything else that we need a doctor’s care for. I’m talking about sin. And we need to be “healed” from our sinful condition. Whether or not you decide to obey God will mean the difference between being “born again” and having eternal life in heaven, or dying once here on earth and then suffering and dying eternally in hell. We might be able to get away with not being obedient to some instructions, but you will miss out on more than you know if you do not obey what God’s Word tells you about living and salvation.

But oftentimes instead of being smart and going to the one who can heal us, God, and listening to His instructions and obeying them, we will hide from God, run from God, or even try to tell God (by our actions) what we think is best for us. And why do we do it? Because we don’t want to have to change our routine or the way we are living. We want to be in control. We think we have all the time in the world. But the simple truth is if you are stubborn and choose to do things your way over God’s way, you are going to end up wasting a lot of valuable time, you will end up doing things that you will later regret, and you will possibly miss out on God’s gift of salvation. You will miss out on a better life that you could have had if only you had been obedient to God.

Let’s read a Bible account of a man who had trouble being obedient, and let’s see how he almost missed out on something God had in store for him. All of us can learn about the importance of obedience from what the Bible has to say about this fellow. This man’s name was Naaman. We are going to be in 2 Kings 5:1. “Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honorable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valor, but he was a leper.”

* This man Naaman was a lot of things. He was a commander of the army, an honorable man, and he was a man who the Lord was leading to victory. Naaman had a lot going for himself. But Naaman was also a leper. Naaman’s skin was covered with an awful disease called leprosy. This disease could eventually spread all over your body. A leper would have these stinky open sores that later could become dark and hard, or they could have lesions with thick skin like an elephant. If you had leprosy, you might even be considered unclean and have to be segregated from the rest of the population. And if you came to town, you would have to yell “unclean, unclean” so that people would stay away from you.

Now, you might be wondering what this has to do with you. Well, the leprosy that Naaman was covered with is similar to the sin that you and I are covered with. And our sin can and will separate us from God just like Naaman’s disease would eventually separate him from the rest of the people in town. And no matter how great you are right now or how much you think you have going for you — respect, wealth, admiration, youth — none of those things will cleanse you from your sin just like none of those things could spare Naaman from his leprosy.

Now, back to the story. 2 Kings 5:2-4, “And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! For he would recover him of his leprosy. And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.”

* So here we have this young girl who works in Naaman’s house. She spreads the word about this man of God named Elisha who, through God, could cure the disease that Naaman has. She knew of the solution to Naaman’s problem, and hoped that Naaman would go and be healed. Needless to say, I’m sure Naaman got excited when he heard this promising news. He wanted to meet this man of God that could make him well, and he immediately set off to go find Elisha. And like Naaman, many of us at some point heard of Jesus and how He could save us from the weight of our sins, and we wanted to personally get to know Jesus. (Side note: Can you remember who first shared the good news of Christ to you? And have you done like this young lady in the Bible and told others about the One who could save, namely Jesus Christ?)

Well, now we are going to come to the part in the Bible where there were some instructions for Naaman to follow. Let’s see if Naaman is obedient.

Skip down to 2 Kings 5:9-10. “So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.”

* All Naaman had to do to be cured of his leprosy was to wash himself in the Jordan river seven times. That sounds easy enough; right? And, similarly, God has given us a simple way to be saved of our sin. Does anyone know how the Bible says we can be saved? The Bible says that if we confess our sins and turn from our sins (repent) and sincerely ask Christ into our heart as our Lord and Savior, that we will be forgiven, cleansed of our sins, and covered with Christ’s righteousness (1 John 1:9; Matthew 3:2; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Romans 10: 9-10; Proverbs 28:13; Acts 3:19). But for some reason, we make God’s instructions to us into something complicated. We want to add to the salvation found in Christ, ignore it altogether, or make up our own version of it. Some people even maybe get mad because they feel that God wants them to do something that is different than what they had in mind.

Well, let’s see how after Naaman heard the simple instructions, he tried to tell God what to do. 2 Kings 5:11-12, “But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.”

* Did you catch that? First Naaman was mad that Elisha didn’t speak to him in person, but instead sent word through a messenger. Then Naaman became indignant because Elisha’s instructions were for him to go to the little Jordan river. Naaman wanted Elisha to perform some big ritual and wave his hand and call upon the name of the Lord. Naaman wanted some drama, and all God called for was simple obedience. Naaman even complained about the choice of the river. He felt that there were bigger, better rivers that he should wash in. He might have even thought, “Look at these sores. That’s not going to do it.” Naaman was going to miss out on being healed by God because he couldn’t follow God’s simple instructions and because he wanted to tell God what to do. So Naaman left, still covered with leprosy, wasting time.

* How many of you have read about how Jesus died for your sins? You’ve heard that you can ask Him to save you from hell, but you have never asked Him into your heart because you were expecting some kind of big ritual? For example, many people would rather try to “earn” their salvation by doing “good deeds” or chanting some meaningless prayers over and over instead of trusting and believing that Jesus paid the price on a cross at Calvary. Don’t miss out on what God is offering you just because you don’t quite understand or can’t comprehend His grace. Don’t try to tell God how you should be saved. You don’t need any special rituals. You don’t need a bunch of sacraments. You don’t need to stand in front of convenience stores passing out literature. You don’t need some high-ranking official from some ornate church to breathe on you. You need to be obedient to God’s Word, turn from your sins, and accept Christ’s gift of dying on the cross for you. Even being baptized is not what saves you. Baptism is an outward showing of the change that God has done for you inside. You need to repent and stop doing things your way and do what God tells you. And if you are sincere, that change that starts in your heart will begin to impact your whole life.

And if you are one of those people who comprehends what the Bible says about salvation and you hear God’s instructions but say to yourself, “I’m not ready to give my heart to Christ yet,” you are also just like Naaman in that you are just wasting precious time. You are covered in sin, and time is just running out. Whether you are 18 or 80, you don’t know if you will make it to next year. Stop putting it off. You don’t want to die in your sinful condition. Stop wasting time and start following God’s instructions today! No matter how much sin you have already piled on, Christ’s blood can make you pure, but only if you are obedient to God’s instructions.

Anyway, let’s see what happened to Naaman next. Remember, he left mad and still covered with leprosy because he would not be obedient and do what God’s prophet told him. Fortunately for him, he had some friends nearby to talk some sense to him. 2 Kings 5:13, “And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee to do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?”

* These men showed Naaman the foolishness of his actions. They made him see that it should be no harder to do something simple that God commands than it would be to do some great feat. And the same is true for us. God does not tell us to give $10,000 to the church to be saved. God does not tell us to say 1 million Hail Mary’s. God does not tell us to walk on fire. For many people, if God did give them an “assignment” to gain salvation, they would feel more comfortable doing that than just obeying God’s words and putting their trust in Jesus Christ. But God does not want our sacrifice. He wants our obedience! And we could not earn our salvation no matter how hard we tried on our own, anyway.

Well, let’s see how Naaman finally got it right. 2 Kings 5:14, “Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”

* Did you read that? Once Naaman finally did what God told him to do, he was made clean, brand new! And the same is true for us when we stop running and rebelling and start obeying. We are then “born again.” The Bible says that if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17). In the verse above, we read that Naaman’s flesh became as that of a little child. And the Bible tells us in Matthew 18:3 that for us to be saved, we, too, have to come to Christ as little children. How are little children? They are obedient, trustworthy.

Let’s see what Naaman did after he was healed. 2 Kings 5:15, “And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.”

* Naaman finally followed God’s instructions and was cleansed of his leprosy. And when he obeyed what God told him to do, then he saw the power of God working a miracle in his life. And Naaman was now a different man, a man who wanted to now give back a blessing.

The same thing can happen to you. If you stop thinking you have things all figured out and instead start being obedient and listening to God, then God can make you into a brand-new person, a better person than you ever thought you could be. And you too will begin to say, “Lord, what can I do for you?”

* And as you walk with God, you will begin to see that it is not hard to be obedient. You start to realize that what God has in store for you is better than what you had planned for yourself. Yes, there will be some changes in your life, but they aren’t hard to make. Do you think that when Naaman got out of that water he put those same old dirty clothes on? Of course not. I bet he gladly got rid of those leprous clothes. And I’m sure that once Naaman was cured of leprosy that he stayed as far away from lepers as he could. And I bet Naaman probably went home and burned some of the old stuff that he used to use — things that were tainted with his old disease. And we have to do the same. If you have been born again, get rid of those people, objects, and habits that are from your old sin-covered life. When you unload the baggage from your sinful past, you truly will stop struggling with being an obedient child of God.

And, again, to those who believe that they’ve gone too far to be saved and changed by God, remember, God specializes in making whole again those who are covered in sin. When no one else would touch the lepers, Jesus did. In Luke 5:12-13, it reads, “And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy; who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him.”

Jesus wants to touch you, too. Won’t you ask him to cleanse you of your sin?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF OBEDIENCE : LESSON 1

This month we are talking about obeying God. And for this lesson, we are going to go back to the beginning. We are going to take a look at Adam and Eve and discuss their disobedience, because things haven’t really changed all that much from their time to our time. We are still making some of the same mistakes that our great grandparents did.

But before we go there, I wanted to ask you guys a question: did you know that there is a war going on and that you are right in the middle of it? As a matter of fact, you are the main target. There are unseen forces trying to destroy you. And you are either making it easy and aiding in your destruction, or you are fighting against these forces by being obedient and shielding yourself with the power of God.

Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Obedience isn’t just about following God’s commands because it’s a nice thing to do. It is about getting directions from your Captain so that you can overcome the powers that you are wrestling against, Satan’s attacks.

And Satan has been using the same technique on generation after generation. So we are going to go back to Genesis to see him in action.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

But first let’s take a look at God’s instructions to Adam. Genesis 2:15, “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

Adam and Eve had it made in the shade. God had provided for them everything they needed. But there was one thing that God wanted them to have nothing to do with, because if they partook of this one thing, it would bring death. All they had to do was be obedient and everything would have been fine.

God has also provided much to us. We have liberty and freedom and opportunities to experience many wonderful things. Psalm 84:11 tells us, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” But similar to Adam and Eve, there are certain things that God warns us to stay away from. In the Bible we find our instructions from God, those things that He wants us to have no part of.

Now back to Adam. When God warned Adam of the forbidden tree, Eve hadn’t even been created yet. Let’s read about when Eve comes into the picture. Genesis 2:21-25, “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof. And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a Woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

Adam and Eve are in the garden. God has given them much to enjoy. They don’t have a care in the world. And they had nothing to be ashamed of. Where there is obedience to God, there is no shame.

But now the warfare is about to begin. Let’s see how our enemy operates. Genesis 3:1-3, “Now the serpent was more subtile (sly) than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”

Now, what was Eve’s first mistake? She’s spending time with the enemy debating and focusing on something that is strictly forbidden. Satan’s first tactic is to try to get you to start thinking about those things that are forbidden. And a lot of times we make the same mistake that Eve made and instead of getting as far away as we can away from that snake, we stand there listening to what he has to say.

How many of you have been inviting into your life those forces that are at war for your soul? What kind of programs do you watch on TV? What kind of music do you listen to? What kind of movies do you watch? What kind of magazines do you read? What kind of people do you spend time with? Are these people and things honoring God, or are they trying to get you to eat, touch, taste, and experience things that God has forbidden? Maybe you think, “Well, I’ll just hear what he or she has to say,” or “I’ll just take a peek.” But let’s see what happens when you stand there too long gazing at a serpent. Genesis 3:4-5, “And the serpent said unto the woman, ‘Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

God warned Adam that if he touched this forbidden thing, it would bring death. Here Satan lies and tells Eve just the opposite. Satan says not only will she not die, but that she will gain knowledge and be like a god.

Satan and the dark powers of this world, which are at war with us, always lie. They will do whatever it takes to get you to fall. What are some of the world’s lies? “Alcohol makes you have more fun. You become more social.” “Smoking cigarettes makes you look cool.” “Everybody is having sex with everybody. It’s no big deal.” “Abortion is no big deal. It’s not a baby. It’s just some tissue.” “You don’t have to get married. A marriage certificate is just a piece of paper.” And the longer we listen, we begin to believe the lies. Let’s see what Eve did next:

Genesis 3:6-8, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he ate. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” (Although people like to blame Adam’s downfall on Eve, if you refer to 1 Timothy 2:13-14, you will see that Adam sinned with his eyes wide open.)

Adam and Eve had a choice, and they chose to be disobedient. And did you see what happened? Satan partially told the truth. Adam and Eve did become wiser. But he didn’t tell them about the price they would pay for this newfound wisdom. Now all of a sudden, with no one else around them, they were ashamed. They covered their bodies. And next, as we will read, they hid from the Lord.

How many of us have been disobedient to God’s commands because we wanted to gain knowledge, we wanted to experience certain things, and now we are ashamed at the things we have done and we wish we could forget the acts we have committed? Maybe you were disobedient regarding keeping your body a holy temple, and now you have knowledge of what it feels like to be drunk or stoned. Or maybe you were disobedient regarding waiting until you are married to engage in sex, and now you have knowledge of what it feels like to have had sex with people who were not your spouse. Or maybe you did something dishonest like lying or stealing, and now you have knowledge of what it is like to lose your freedom or the trust of your parents. All knowledge is not good knowledge. And the shame, regret, and consequences that come from certain acts can far outweigh the temporary thrill of being disobedient.

Let’s look at how Adam and Eve reacted when God wanted to spend time with them. Genesis 3:8-10, “and they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And then the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid because, I was naked; and I hid myself.”

At one point Adam and Eve enjoyed being in God’s presence. Now because of their disobedience, they are ashamed to face God. I bet Satan was laughing his head off when he saw how he had tricked Adam and Eve into doing something that made them hide themselves from God.

How many of you have hid from God because you knew you did those things that were displeasing to Him? Have you ever been too ashamed to face God? You felt that you could not pray or go to church or read your Bible because of your sin. You thought to yourself, “I’m a hypocrite. I’m not worthy.” Well, that is what disobedience does. It puts a wall between you and God.

But God will forgive you if you come to Him with a sincere heart. God asked Adam, “Where art thou?” It is not that God did not know exactly where Adam and Eve were. But God wants us to seek His face and come to Him and confess our sins. Have you ever known that someone betrayed you and you would have forgiven him or her if only they admitted what they did? Maybe right now God is asking, “Where are you?”

Now, let’s see how Adam and Eve tried to blame others for their disobedience instead of admitting what they had done and asking God for forgiveness. Genesis 3:11-13, “And he (God) said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this thou hast done? And the woman said, the serpent beguiled (deceived) me, and I did eat.”

These two tried to blame everybody: the serpent, each other, maybe even God. But we need to take responsibility for our own actions. It is true that Satan tempts us, but we ultimately have the choice to either follow Satan or follow God. We always are either serving God or serving our own fleshly desires.

And know that where there is disobedience, there is a price that ultimately must be paid. The Bible tells us “Be sure your sin will find you out.” And even when you confess your sins to God, there will still be casualties. Although you may not physically die and you are forgiven, a price is still paid in one way or another. Let’s see the price that Adam and Eve had to pay.

Genesis 3:22-24, “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man: and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”

Adam and Eve were kicked out of the beautiful garden that God had created. And now they would have to labor and work hard and eventually die. Sin entered the world, and things have never been the same since. Adam and Eve experienced great loss because of their disobedience.

We, too, lose something precious every time we are disobedient. We may not immediately die, but we still lose. We lose the ability to enjoy things in the way that God created us to enjoy them. We can lose our freedom. We lose our dignity. We lose our health. We lose the trust of others. We can lose our family. The list goes on and on.

So the question now is since you know that you are at war, are you going to stay armed for battle by being obedient to God’s word, or are you going to continue to let the enemy defeat you and steal those things that God has in store for your life?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 29, 2011 in Uncategorized