I am blessed to be a contributing author for calvarychapel.com
Here is a recent article I wrote for them.
I am blessed to be a contributing author for calvarychapel.com
Here is a recent article I wrote for them.
Nehemiah 4:14 “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses”.
God is sovereign, but man is responsible. As far as I know, no one ever accidentally ends up in heaven. There is a fight that must be fought. There was a fight that was fought to make it possible.
The people of Jerusalem had grown accustomed to the walls being torn down and lying in rubble. Decades had passed, and they had done nothing to remedy the situation. They lived in distress and reproach, but that was the new normal for them. Shame, embarrassment, stress and danger was what they settled for. They were a disheartened people.
God gave Nehemiah a burden for the people, and for the glory of the City where God dwelt. He labored in prayer, and then he labored with his hands. He inspired the people to live the way that God wanted for them. He moved them to change. They had a newfound “mind to work”.
The enemies of God and His people were quick to attack verbally, with threats and mocking. Nehemiah countered with prayer and exhortation to the people. He told them to fight and build. They wore swords as they worked. They were inspired to do something that they had neglected for decades. They were discovering who they were in God.
Dear Christian: Is there anybody you are willing to fight for? Will you fight for them in prayer and fasting? Will you deny yourself pleasure and entertainment and even rest in order to bring the truth, hope, and love of God to them? Will you visit them, wait for them, pay for them, drive them, help them, listen to them, serve them, again and again?
Will you fight for children that are going in the wrong direction? Will you fight for your marriage, and for your spouse Will you fight for your neighbors, your community, your city, your extended family?
Will you fight for people with addictions? Will you fight for those who are self destructive? Will you spend and be spent for others? (2 Corinthians 12:15)
Does the sphere of your existence start and stop at your front door, or do you have eyes and a heart beyond your own personal world? Do you simultaneously enjoy the blessings of life, but always carry a holy burden for people, or do you avoid any “heaviness” of life, and leave people to fight for themselves?
If you know Jesus today, there was probably someone that fought for you, prayed for you when you didn’t care, thought of you when you were confused and lost, and yearned for you when you were selfish and lived only for yourself. Someone prayed you into God’s kingdom, longed for you, spoke to you, waited for you. Someone gave of themselves so that you would have ears to hear the invitation of Jesus.
Dear Christian: Be a Nehemiah. Fight for the souls and well being of others, and then inspire others to fight as well.
Why is it that you think we are here?
(Editor’s note) I receive questions at the end of each Sunday morning message. On Sunday, January 23, I taught out of 1 John 5, and the following verse was taught. A question came, and asked how 1 John 5:18 compares to Job 1 and 2. Here is my effort to reconcile what seems to be a conflict within the Scriptures.
1 John 5:18 We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.
Job 2:4-7 So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” 6 And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life.” 7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.
1 John 5:18 tells us that Satan (the wicked one) does not touch the child of God, yet Job 2 tells us that Satan struck Job with boils all over his body.
These verses seem to contradict one another. How are we to reconcile these verses?
In 1 John 5:18, the word “touch” is defined as follows:
(Note- in different Bibles, two different Greek words are used. These definitions are from Strong’s Concordance)
KJV, NKJV-G680, haptomai
1) to fasten one’s self to, adhere to, cling to
a) to touch
b) of carnal intercourse with a women or cohabitation
c) of levitical practice of having no fellowship with heathen practices. Things not to be touched appear to be both women and certain kinds of food, so celibacy and abstinence of certain kinds of food and drink are recommended.
d) to touch, assail anyone
NLT, NASB, RSV, ASV- G681, hapt
1) to fasten to, adhere to
a) to fasten fire to a thing, kindle, set of fire
In English, the word “touch” can include a superficial touch, an accidental touch, etc., but the two Greek words used here are much stronger. These two Greek words speak of fastening to something or someone, adhering, clinging, of becoming one with (carnal intercourse), or to fasten oneself to another to kindle a fire.
Pastor David Guzik (Calvary Chapel, Santa Barbara) says of 1 John 5:18…
“The only other place in his writings where John uses this particular verb for touch is in John 20:17, where He literally tells Mary to stop clinging to Me. Because we are born of Him, Satan cannot attach himself to us, or cling to us, in the sense he can in the life of someone who is not born of Him”.
Satan was able to strike Job with boils, but only after asking permission from God. Satan never had unrestricted access to Job, nor could he permanently attach himself to Job in any way, in a day to day kind of experience.
Satan has restricted access to the Christian. He has much more access, if not free access, to the non Christian.
John goes on to tell us in the next verse:
1 John 5:19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.
The word sway means “influence”. The whole world lies under the influence of the wicked one, and yet the Christian has the advantage of having God’s Spirit and God’s word. The Christian has absolute truth available to him, and can know it via God’s Holy Spirit.
Therefore, in this passage, the main meaning is that Satan cannot “attach himself” to the Christian, does not have unrestricted access, and that the Christian isn’t under the sway of the wicked one with no alternative, but can and does know the truth of God, and does not need to be a victim of Satan in any way.
It is true that Satan attacks Christians through lies, deceit, temptation, etc., but he cannot not posses a Christian, or attach himself to a Christian in any way.
Every Christian must come to a conclusion about what their life will focus on, about what their “battles” will be, about what message they will declare, and about how their voice will be heard.
There is no shortage of causes and fights that Christians are pursuing in these days in which we live. I respect and agree with many of the causes being suggested, but I am not inclined to join particular fights in the ways that some might hope.
I am very mindful that I must be careful to not judge the motivations and passion of others regarding their causes. For those passions and actions, they shall answer to Jesus, and not to me.
I am bothered by many events I see on the political stages of the world. In fact, I am increasingly disillusioned with the promises of the politicians, regardless of what side of the aisle they sit on. I have no hope in man. None. As the writer to the Hebrews wrote about the ancients…
Hebrews 11:14-16 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
Some might call me an escapist, and they would be right. But please see me as a functioning escapist. I’ll live here functionally until the day I leave.
Lloyd Jones, in his book called “Spiritual Depression”, encourages his readers to “talk to yourself, and don’t let yourself talk to you”. What he means is that we need to purposely take control of our thoughts, and not just be moved by our emotions. This is advice given to the Christian who has the Holy Spirit, The Helper.
Emotions convince you that should eat 4 double cheeseburgers and three chocolate shakes.
Taking control of that thought reminds you that that will make you sick, and that one of each is better.
Emotions convince you that you have failed so often that life will never be satisfying for you.
Taking control of that thought reminds you that Jesus came that you might have life, and that more abundantly.
Emotions convince you that God has cast you aside.
Taking control of that thought reminds you that Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”.
The Psalmist Asaph did this very thing in Psalm 77…
7 Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favorable no more? (oh yeah, of course not.)
8 Has His mercy ceased forever?
Has His promise failed forevermore? (no, he has not ended His mercy to me, and He will keep His promises)
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah (I will stop and choose to remember the truth of God’s mercy)
10 And I said, “This is my anguish; (Yes, I am experiencing anguish, but…)
But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.” (I will choose to think on the goodness of God)
11 I will remember the works of the LORD;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. (I will choose to remember His faithfulness to me)
12 I will also meditate on all Your work, (I will think and think again about all that you have done)
And talk of Your deeds. (regardless of how I “feel”, I will speak of Your good deeds)
13 Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary;
Who is so great a God as our God?
14 You are the God who does wonders;
You have declared Your strength among the peoples. (I will choose to remember Your wonders and declarations)
15 You have with Your arm redeemed Your people,
The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah (Selah…I will stop myself from being driven by emotion…I will remember You, oh God)
The following is an excerpt from a sermon given by Pastor Ray Stedman, Penninsula Bible Church, December 12, 1965. Ray is now with Jesus. The entire sermon can be read here.
But the helmet (of salvation) is designed for the head, for the intelligence, the mind. If we follow through consistently in our application of these pieces, we will discover that this is something Christ is doing in us, and through us, in the world. This helmet can keep our thinking straight and preserve us from mental confusion and darkness. Stop a minute here. I would like to ask you this: As you look at the world in which we are living, is there anything more desperately needed than this? Is there anything which could possibly be more relevant to the situation in which we find ourselves than this factor which will keep us thinking straight? Was there ever a time when men were more frankly bewildered than they are in our day, or when statesmen were more openly confused and honestly admitting it? The intelligentsia confess being utterly baffled in dealing with the problems with which human society is confronted.
Narrow the gap between what you know to do and what you actually do.
When people disobey God, there is applause in Hell.
The soldiers in Iraq wear between 40-60 lbs. of body armor in 120+ degree heart. It is difficult, and uncomfortable, but it is a matter of life and death. They learn to carry the load, to drink extra water, and to not neglect that which protects them and saves the lives of their comrades.
Many Christians are unwilling to “put on the full armor of God”, because it interrupts their lifestyle. It means reducing time at the gym, cutting back on playing video games, skipping some shopping, or skipping a movie. (None of which are wrong)
They then wonder why they become spiritual casualties in this cosmic war. They wonder why their friends become wounded and incapacitated. They wonder why marriages break up, kids rebel, hearts are broken, and churches split. They blame the culture, the Devil, the pastor. They blame God.
And yet, many times, they themselves are unwilling to recognize the battle and make the needed spiritual changes.
The US soldier in Iraq grows accustomed to the extra effort needed for safety and victory. They change their lifestyle, and then it becomes natural to them to live by making the extra effort.
May we who follow Christ understand that we are in a War. May we purposely and with great intention, do what God tells us to do. May we become accustomed to a more purposeful lifestyle than what we have. May we actually do the things we say we believe are important. May we be blessed as we see God’s mighty hand changing people’s lives for good. May we experience the fact that it is well worth our effort to increasingly live the Christian life.
To quote Warren Wiersbe- The Christian life is not a playground, it is a battleground”.
“Put on the full armor of God”.
Mark 1:9-13 It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 12Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. 13And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.
John the Baptist had given Jesus much praise as he sought to have people prepare their hearts for Jesus’ arrival.
The Gospel writer Mark records John’s words.
Mark 1:7, 8 And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. 8I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
God the Father also gave Jesus much praise when He announced that He was well pleased with His Son.
When Jesus had been announced by John, and approved of by the Father, we read that the Holy Spirit drove Him into the desert to be tempted by Satan, to exist among the wild creatures, and to be ministered to by angels.
The phrase is strong. It means to cast out, to send out, to expel, to banish.
First of all, let me apologize for writing an article on an intense topic (sexual addiction), and then not visiting my own blog much to follow the conversation. In fact, I have yet to thoroughly read all the comments from the previous thread. Sorry about that. I intend to read them. As of this writing, I still don’t have internet at our new house. That should change in the next few days. Oh, the pain of it all. 😉
I want to share a few more thoughts regarding sexual sin amongst Christians.
One of the comments I hear from men who are habitually looking at pornography is that “I can’t help it”, or, I am out of control”. Some would call that “addiction”. That was thoroughly discussed in the comments section in my previous article. However we want to label such habitual behavior is secondary to how we view the actual behavior.
Since tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and the early church gathered together on the first day of the week, that being Sunday, I now consider that Easter Week has come to an end.
A new week begins tomorrow, and the resurrection of Jesus certainly speaks of the newness of life.
This has been quite a week for me. I have learned a lot, and I have experienced a lot. I think I have grown spiritually.
For a few weeks prior to this week, God had burdened my heart about the Lost and the Prodigals. When I say “burdened”, I do mean it that way. I have had a heavy heart for those who live without Jesus, and who may die without Jesus.
I also had a heavy heart for those who have known the way of truth, but who have walked away, or who have seemed to walk away. I do believe that Christians can be backslidden. I believe that because of Biblical reasons, and because of personal experience.
My heart ached this week for those two groups of people. I actually felt it in my body. I can only imagine how our Lord feels over those folks for whom He died, knowing that they presently refuse His grace. My sorrow pales compared to His.
I was moved to pray, and to ask our church to pray, and to ask those of you who visit this site to pray. I was stirred to remember that there is a spiritual battle for the souls of men and women.
God reminded me of this verse:
Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
We hear less and less preaching about Hell these days. Jesus said that people should fear Hell, and fear the God who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.
So much of Christian preaching and teaching seems to avoid talking of sin and Hell. We need to be moved by the reality that people are on their way to Hell. Jesus loved the world, and came to die for our sins, to save us from Hell, and grant to us access to Himself and Heaven. We need to be people of prayer.
Satan hates humanity. He hates God, and he hates Christians. I am sure that Satan especially hates this week, and particularly Easter Sunday.
Our church gathered Monday-Wednesday to pray, and we prayed for a lot of people. I had had a sense that the week would include a lot of spiritual warfare, but it went way beyond what I ever imagined it would be. I don’t want to share in detail the battle of this last week, but between Satan, my emotions, my physical struggles, and more, this was a week of battling. I am sure some of it was the weakness of my constitution (as Spurgeon would say it). I am sure that some of it originated in Hell. I regret that some of my co-laborers had to suffer with my suffering. Such is Body life. They are great people.
I came to the conclusion that if you are going to seriously pray for the souls of men and women, it is going to cost you. If you are going to ache over what Jesus aches over, it will cost you. It was a costly week for me, but God is faithful, and the worst part of the battle seems to have passed.
I look forward to a tremendous time with our church tomorrow. Jesus is risen from the dead. He heard our prayers this week. He is risen indeed. I am confident that our prayers have made a difference, and that we will hear praise reports of some people’s lives being deeply touched by God.
Praying is like farming. The work is done in faith, and in hope, and the harvest so often comes at a much later date. But it is always worth the effort.
This week we travel to Vizcaino, South Baja, Mexico. We will be there for a week, reaching out to the local community, and spending time with Pastor Tacho & Lourdes & their kids, and the local Calvary Chapel there.
We will also take one day to see the gray whales calving in the bay at Guerrero Negro. Over 2,000 gray whales travel from Alaska to Guerrero Negro each spring. It is a great experience to see them up so close. We go out into the bay in 25′ wooden boats, and then they turn the motor off, and we drift with whales all around us. Sometimes they come right up to the boat. Wow!
We will spend some of the time doing construction on the missions base we are building. Our church owns 3 1/2 acres, and we are building a missions base for American groups to use for missions trips.
The base will also serve as a church, and a place for medical outreach, and even possibly as school. We have a lot of work to do, but the Lord is providing the finances and the workers, so we carry on.
If any of you or your churches ever want to join us, contact me. You can read about the work in Vizcaino at this link:
The Bible says that Jesus, though He was rich, became poor for our sakes, that we, through His poverty, might become rich. Jesus laid so much aside, so that you and I could be forgiven, and be able to know God, and be with Him forever.
If you have never asked Him to forgive you, do it now. Surrender your life to Jesus, and be born again. God’s Spirit will come into your heart, and you be will become a child of God.
Blessings all, and thanks to those of you who prayed. If you have any praise reports that come back as a result of prayer efforts, please share them with us, that we might be encouraged, and that God may be glorified.
This week I’ll check the blog as time permits. You all behave and love each other. 😉