1 Tim 4:14-15
Neglect Not the Gift That Is Within You
Strong’s definition of this word “gift” has these words in it “Miraculous faculty. - - free gift.” It is a special endowment given to individuals by the hand of God. It is not that it cannot be improved upon, but it is that it is there and you at first did not cultivate it, it was just a part of you. A doctor wanted to be a doctor; it was his desire from his childhood possibly. Yet he went to school to cultivate that God given desire. A person has a gift to carve a piece of wood into some shape pleasant to look on, but he can go to school to cultivate that gift. A singer can take voice lessons, a preacher can study, etc etc
How are you gifted?
-To work with kids
-To play an instrument
- To work with Youth
- To teach a Sunday School class
We could make an endless list of gifts and abilities. To identify the gift that is in you is not up to me necessarily, it is up to you. My job at this juncture is to warn you to not neglect it.
A. SADTO SAY BUT FROM TIME TO TIME GIFTS GET LAID ASIDE.
1. Someone may have had some snide remark to make about your gift and it caused you to lay it down.
2. Your gift may not have been appreciated like you felt it should be appreciated.
3. There may have been too many requirements put on you to exercise the gift.
4. Competition from others with similar gifts routed you out.
5. God is trying to stir something up in you this morning that says, go for it again!
B. THE BODY OF CHRIST SUFFERS WHEN YOUR GIFT IS NOT IN OPERATION AMONG US.
C. YOU SUFFER WHEN THE GIFT IS NOT IN OPERATION.
1. God will never let a man be a loser by serving Him.
2. As water evaporates into the atmosphere and collects in clouds and returns as rain on the earth so the use of your gift will produce a return for you from the Father.
3. But what good can one person do?
a. By one He brought forth His chosen people from Egypt's
b. By one (and that a youth) Goliath was slain while the whole army of Israel trembled before him
c. By one the assembled Israelites were convinced that "The Lord He is God," and the prophets of Baal were slain
d. By one sermon, and that a simple one, three thousand hearts were opened.
e. And on we could go with stories of what one man operating in the gift that God has given him has done, why not you?
D. BY NEGLECT GIFTS SEEM TO DECAY AND DIE, BUT BY EXERCISE THE ARE DEVELOPED.
1. Do what ever you have to do to develop your gift where God wants it to be used. You might say, “well, I can go down the road here and use my gift, they do not require so much from me there.” But where does God want that gift used and why has he place you where He has placed you? Could it be because you will be better developed there.
E. V.15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
(I am sorry that all of this appears in one paragraph, it is not intended to be so but I can't get this software to seperate it into paragraphs for some reason.)
The Power of Personal Witnessing
Mark 5:1-20, Mark 7:31-37
Never underestimate the power of God to move on what He has personally done for you. It maybe that he has saved you, healed you, provide for you financially. It may be that he delivered you from demon possession and dealing drugs to minors, abusing your wife or your children or from being a slave to your passions. No matter how small or how big you feel what He has done for you is do not hesitate to share it, it can have wide ranging effects.
In Mark 5:1-20 we have one of the most wonderful stories of the entire New Testament. A poor man in the country of the Gaderenes, in Decapolis (Decapolis literally means “10 cities” and was a district containing ten cities with a large Greek population which formed a loose league for trade and mutual defense.) was grievously bound by demon forces to the extent that he was totally isolated in the tombs. These evil forces so tormented this man that he could not be bound even with chains. These forces living in this man enabled him to break chains and shackles with no problem whatsoever. He could not be tamed by any means. Night and day he was in the mountains and tombs screaming and doing himself harm.
When he came in contact with Jesus, for a few minutes he gained control over these evil forces and cried out to Jesus for deliverance. A careful study of this passage will show you that Jesus made the trip across the sea of Galilee that night, after a long day of teaching and healing, for the sole purpose of delivering this man. As soon as he delivered the man he got back in the boat and went back to a spot very near where he had departed the night before for the trip to deliver this poor demon possessed man. The man’s cry had reached the ear of Jesus completely on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. When men cry out Jesus hears!!
Deliverance did come at the command of Jesus, V.8 “Come out of the man unclean spirit!” The Spirits entered a herd of swine and drove them down a steep place and into the sea where they drowned. If these demon forces did that to the swine that quickly, can you imagine what had been going on inside this poor man for all this time? In only seconds 2000 swine were destroyed by this force, yet this man had lived with it for no telling how long. It must have been horrible on him.
One might think that everyone would be thrilled about this wonderful deliverance (well one can understand that the owner of the swine might not be all that excited but everyone else should have been thrilled at his deliverance). Yet, the reaction was not positive at all V.17 “Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region” Jesus’ act of deliverance only brought him rejection from the populace.
But there was one man who did not reject him for sure, the man out of whom the demons had fled. V.18 “. . .he who had been demon-possessed begged him that he might be with him.” If Jesus was going he wanted to go with him. But Jesus said V.19 “. . .Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”
Sometimes it would be easier to go than to stay. I hope you follow what I mean by that statement. Sometimes it would be easier to go out into the highway and hedges and tell what happened to you than to stay at home, in your neighborhood, you town or community and tell what has happened. This man, though delivered, was still in a hostile atmosphere. People were very upset about what had happened here, so to leave would have been the easiest thing for him to have done. Jesus made a difficult assignment, stay home and witness to family and friends.
Apparently this man did exactly that. Now, some would say, “well sure look what God did for him, he had a fabulous story to tell.” But remember, what God has done for you took just as much of his attention, power and love as what he did for this man. You may not have had such a dynamic deliverance, or again you may very well have had such a manifestation, but God has done something for you and you must share what has happened to you. And too, the passing of time does not reduce the power of what he had done in your life. Just because it happened 20 years ago does not change the fact that He did it. It’s still just as powerful as a 20 minute old testimony. Go tell it on the mountain!
The point of all this is to bring you to the affect of this one man’s testimony in Decapolis. Now, turn your attention now to Mark 7:31-37. According to the Harmony of the Gospel chart in the back of my Bible the events of Mark 5:1-20 occurred in 29 A.D. Yet two chapters later in Mark 7:31-37 it indicates that something in the area of 1 year had elapsed because Mark 7 is listed as having happened in 29 A.D. So, some time had elapsed between the two events.
In Mark 7:31 Jesus is back in the region of Decapolis, the same region he had been run out of in Mark 5:17. There people brought to him a man who had an impediment in his speech was deaf. Apparently the man had not been deaf all his life but perhaps had become deaf as a result of an accident of disease at some point in his life after he had learned to speak. Now, being deaf, his speech is suffering deterioration. His friends brought him to Jesus to be healed. Now, how do you suppose they knew that Jesus could heal him? How did they know? Someone had to have told them that Jesus was able. Who do you suppose that someone was? Could it have been the man from chapter five? Could it have been that he did such a job of witnessing that all in the region of Decapolis knew the healing, delivering, power of Jesus? The only means they had at that time to spread this good news was word of mouth and no doubt word was spreading near and far about the miracles of Jesus, but since it is in the same region I have no doubt that this man had spread the word to all near and far of what Jesus had done. Now it results in this afflicted man being brought to Jesus and being healed.
Notice now the tremendous change of attitude. In Mark 5:17 they are saying “depart from the region.” In Mark 7:37, about a year later, they are saying “. . .He has done all things well.” How many things? “All things”, apparently they had even changed their mind about what he had done in Mark 5.
The power of the witness of one person is powerful. And it might be pointed out too that this man was not even endued with the power of the Holy Ghost from within. The Holy Spirit’s power for witnessing had not been poured out at this point. How much more then should Spirit filled believers for whom the Lord has done so much, empowered with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you shall be witnesses to Me. . .”) be out telling what great things the Lord has done for them. When you do people’s attitudes will change around you. It may take a year, two years or even more, but when Jesus work is pointed out the power of the Holy Spirit will draw all men to him.
Mark 5:19 “Go . . .to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you. . .”
Some times a particular fact becomes more real to our hearts than other real facts and in the last little while the fact of God’s overwhelming ability to supply our needs has been burning on my heart. And I just wanted to share my “heartburn” with a few of you.
A couple of Wednesday nights ago my friend Pastor Henry Bateman ask me to fill in for him on Wednesday night at Happy Valley A/G. So, I began to meditate on what I should share with those good folks that Wednesday night. My attention was drawn to a sermon “One Way or The Other The Lord Will Provide.” In the sermon I talk about the fact that once you position yourself to be provided for, by prayer, tithing, dedication etc, the Lord will then certainly provide.
I read a book recently entitled “ 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity” a 21st Century Look At Church History From A Pentecostal./Charismatic Perspective” by Eddie L. Hyatt. In this book there’s a story that has had me shouting happy ever since I read it. The story is recorded on page 80 of the book and reads as follows. “Johannes Brenz, another of Lutheran reformer, was warned by an “inner voice” of the approach of the Spanish army at Stuttgart. The inner voice instructed him to go to the upper city, find an open door, enter it and hide under the roof. He obeyed, found the door, and hid as the voice had instructed. His hiding place was visited by a hen which daily laid two eggs for him until the danger was past.” Now, that is impressive!!
Then this week my dear missionary friend C.L. Haston emailed me the following story. He has just returned to his field in Palau, way, way down in the south Pacific from a ministry trip to a tiny island of Nauru an island nation in the Micronesian South Pacific. Nauru is the world's smallest island nation just 8.1 square miles. He wrote me the following paragraph about his trip there. “Well, we had an outstanding trip to Nauru. I did not realize it was so small. You could drive around the whole island in about 30 minutes. The population of the whole nation is about 8,000. At one time, they were one of the richest little nations in the world. They had a mineral called phosphate there that was almost pure. Over the years they mined all of it and now they are left with nothing. It looks like a ghetto and it is a total mess. Sad to say, it takes that to bring revival many times. The people began to really cry out to God---they had no money--nothing. They were running out of food. As they prayed, every morning at daylight fish would mysteriously come up on the shore….huge tuna and all kinds of good eating fish. That was the only time you could gather them. After several weeks without any other provision, Australia gave every person $50 a week. When they got the first $50--the fish never returned. God heard their cry. This is very strong proof that the Lord is our provider and not this 'ole world.”
I suggest you file these two stories away somewhere for future reference, because if you are like me sometimes you just need a little boost when things look a little bleak. Remember He is Jehovah-Jireh – God our Provider!
(I am truly sorry for the sloppy appears of these articles. I space them properly and try to make them look right but when I post them for some reason or the other the site posts them totally differently then I format them, but, I cannot seem to correct it, so please forgive the sloppy appears of it. The meat is the point anyway.)
The Praying Church
Oh, no, not another article on prayer!
Yes, another article on prayer. I've preached this sermon a couple of times lately and I feel it should be drawn to the attention of serious Christian people. Please give it your consideration.
Acts 1:24 “And they prayed, . . .”
Acts 2:42 “And they continued steadfastly in. . . prayers.. . .”
Acts 3:1 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, . . . “
Acts 4:24 “So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord. . . .”
4:31 “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken. . .”
Acts 6:4 “but we will give ourselves continually to prayer . . .”
Acts 6:6 “whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.”
Acts 8:15 “prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:”
Acts 8: 24 “Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me,. . . “
Acts 9:11 “. . .behold, he prayeth, . . .”
Acts 9:40 “But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; . . .”
Acts 10:2 “A devout man,. . . prayed to God alway.”
Acts 10:4 Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
Acts 10:9 ”. . .Peter went up upon the housetop to pray. . . :”
Acts 11:5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, . . .”
Acts 10:30 “. . .I prayed in my house,. . .”
Acts 12:5 “Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. “
Acts 13:3 “And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”
Acts 14:23 “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting,
they commended them to the Lord, . . ..”
Acts 16:16 “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer,…”
Acts 16:25 “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.”
Acts 20:36 “And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.”
Acts 21:5 “. . .and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.”
Acts 22:17 “. . .even while I prayed in the temple,. . .”
Acts 28:8 “. . .Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.”
Without a doubt one of the marks of the Church in the Book of Acts was it’s prayer life.
Some form of the word “pray” (pray, prayer, prayed, prayers, prayest, prayeth, praying) is used 545 times in the Bible and 34 times in the book of Acts.
From Gen 4:26 to the prayers in the book of The Revelation, prayer is a part of the book of God.
A. Luke 11:1 “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” They never ask Him to teach them to preach, nor to teach, nor did they ask Him to teach them how to draw a crowd. They ask Him to teach them to pray.
1. From the last words of the verse we learn that John also taught his disciples to pray.
B. The place of worship, which we call The Church, should be known of as a place of prayer, Matt 21:13 “. . .It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
1. I’m afraid we have made it lots of things besides a house of prayer.
- Karate Studio
- Fund Raising Center
- Work Out Room
- A Platform for the display of our talents
- A cafeteria, a place known far more for our dinners than for our prayer power.
-A place of extreme social functions, parties, showers and bazaars
C. Matt. 6:5-7 “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” Notice . . .He did not say “if you pray” He said “When you pray.” This wording indicates that prayer is an expected part of the Christian faith.
1. Not praying only in desperation, though that is all right too, but having a prayer life.
D. Learn some wonderful benefits from prayer by the following verses.
Mt 7:7 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you”
Mt 26:41 “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Lu 18:1 “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;”
Lu 21:36 “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man”
John 16:24 “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full”
Acts 4:31 “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken. . .” The place was not shaken by programs, personalities, music nor even by preaching but by “praying.”
Php 4:6 “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
Jas 5:13 “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray.” (Afflicted in Strong’s Concordance is defined as “to undergo hardship:--be afflicted, endure afflictions (hardness), suffer trouble”
E. Prayer in the Pentecostal Church takes on a component not found, nor endorsed, by other denominations, yet from our perspective a Biblically sound practice, praying in tongues.
1 Cor 14:2 “For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.”
1 Cor 14:14 “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. (15) What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.”
Rom. 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Isa 28: 11 “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. 12 To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.”
Jude 20 “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,”
F. May the call to prayer issued by the Pastor no longer be an exercise in futility, but may it be a call to arms for the Pentecostal believer.
For Whom Is Jesus Coming?
1 Thess. 4:13-18
Paul, the Apostle, in this letter to the disciples at Thessalonica outlines an event that we have heard a good deal about, the rapture of the church. While the word “rapture” is not used in the Bible it’s doctrine is taught in several passages. The one before us is perhaps the most familiar.
1 Th 4:16 “For the Lord himself
shall descend from heaven
with a shout,
with the voice of the archangel,
and with the trump of God:
and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
1 Th 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds,
to meet the Lord in the air:
and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Those in the rapture of the church will be “The Church.” But who is The Church?
There’s a church below the ground, "the dead in Christ" and a church above the ground, "we which are alive and remain", as is evident from the text verses.
However, I wonder if the church beneath the ground and the church above the ground, could be identified as the same organism if compared side by side.
I think that it would be hard to argue that the Church has become pretty worldly in this hour and the world has become pretty churchy at the same time.
It just seems to me that if the Lord’s trumpet lifts this homosexual ordaining, pleasure loving, lukewarm, itchy eared, liberal, willfully Sunday morning only crowd off the ground along with those who have been beneath the sod from the days of the Book of Acts, to the martyrs, the conservative living, Bible believing, holy living crowd He may very well have to apologize to the early believers because he required some much from them and so little from us.
A Particular church that I know of no longer has a Sunday night service. But on a Sunday night some months ago the Pastor took his Board on a retreat to a Sunday professional football game. From the information I have they had their own skybox with entertainment. Not able to have Sunday night service but well able to attend a professional football game in a skybox with entertainment.
I was told by a friend a few months ago who's son is a Youth Pastor in a large church in a distant state, that they have a reserved section for smoking during the service.
I have heard that Bro Trask, the former General Superintendent of the Assemnblies of God in teh United States has said in a book, “The Choice,” when ask why Christianity in America seems to be the failing religion (All other forms of religion are on the rise and even Christianity is on the rise around the world but in America it seems to be on the decline.) replied, “The American public looks at what represents the church in this hour and can see nothing that makes them believe that Christianity is worth dedicating their lives too.”
I as a preacher of the gospel certainly must not require “more” of anyone than the Word of God requires. However, neither should any man think that he can slip under the wire of God’s judgment having done “less” than the Word requires.
Who will point out the measure God requires if the preacher doesn’t? Who will draw our attention the righteous standards of a loving just God if His messengers prophecy smooth things and tell us only what we want to hear? Some have traded truth for attendance figures, budget accomplishments and social status. However, what shall we say when we stand before the judgment seat of Christ? Or even more drastic yet, what if I have to try to explain when I stand at the Great White Throne judgment.
Mat 16:15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
Mat 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Mat 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
If Jesus should come back today for “The Church” will it have been built or will it have declined? I suppose it depends on how you look at it. It is certainly stronger in numbers, i.e. it is larger now than when He left it. According the web site “www.adherents.com” there are some 2.1 billion Christians on the planet. So beyond a shadow of a doubt the Church has grown in numbers. (However a person can go stand in the garage and call himself a car but in reality he is not a car just because he says he is.)
What about the quality? Has that been built upon? I doubt it. Church has become a lot less than what it is advertised as in the New Testament. Some might say that is by the design of God. Surely those who want us to believe that healing the sick, casting out devils and people being filled with the Holy Spirit are all things of the past, must feel that all that, by the design of God, was a part of what the church did in the beginning but is no longer a part of It’s mission today. However, if that is true it seems to me that the church has not improved to serve sighing, dying, crying humanity but it has slipped away from those noble missions of the past.
If there ever was a day when The Church needs the power of God to heal it is today!
If there ever was a day when demons needed to be cast out it is today!
If there ever was a day when The Church needed to be filled with Holy Ghost power it is the day in which we live.
Perhaps my perspective is all off but it appears to me if The Church is doing less, except for increasing in numbers who profess to be Christians (and by the way in that number of 2.1 billion who call themselves Christians are Jehovah Witnessess, Monophysite, Latter-Day Saints and many other off the wall belief systems that could not possibly meet the Bible standard for being a part of the true Christian faith, so not even the statistics really reflect what is truly happening.) than the early Church was doing it has not in fact built but declined. And according to the report of the web site Christianity is now on the decline world wide.
So, is it possible that there is a Church inside what is called The Church, that will be ready to rise to meet the Lord in the air when the trumpet sounds? I believe there is. I believe there is in every church body a group of dedicated, consecrated believers that can stand with the redeemed of long ago and lift their hands and voices together and sing, “Victory in Jesus, my savior for ever. . .”
I think you can see this truth in the letters to the seven churches of Asia minor in Revelation 2 and 3. The Lord Jesus sent messages to them all and at the end of each letter he made a promise to the overcomers in that church, see Rev. 2:7, 17, 26, 3:5, 12, 21. Revelation 3:21 indicates that even in the lukewarm compromising church of Laodicea there were those who would overcome that horrible condition that stimulates even God’s (who loves everyone) gag reflex.
However, when John looked into the city he saw and heard what he numbered as ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands, Rev. 5:11. This vast number was made up of three groups angels, the living creatures and the elders. I’ve been taught, and believe, that the elders are the redeemed saints of all ages, so that vast number is added too by The Church that is below the ground, 1 Thess 4:16 “the dead in Christ” and The Church that is above the ground 1 Thess 4:17 ”we which are alive and remain”
What did that Church that was from the beginning (the Book of Acts Church) that is now below the ground, which we know was a Church the bore Christ stamp of approval with signs, wonders, divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost, Heb. 2:4, actually look like?
Acts 2 is an accurate reflection of that church that bore the witness of the Holy Spirit’s approval.
What hinders us from striving to imitate those early approved of disciples?
The dead in Christ will get the go ahead before we that are alive and remain and when we join together at ground level I cannot believe that Jesus will spend the first minutes of our reunion apologizing to The Church that has been below the ground for the condition of The Church above the ground. If I do not miss my guess The Church above the ground will not be made up of the 2.1 billion professing Christians, but will be those who have contended for the faith once delivered to the saints, Jude 1:3.
John 3:7 “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”
Eph 5:18 "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;"
A GRIEVED HOLY SPIRIT
In a number of different palces the Holy Spirit is referred to by personal pronouns, John 16:13 being one of them, there Jesus said "When "he" the spirit of truth is come. . ." Now perhaps Jesus didn't know what he was talking about but He referred to the Spirit of Truth (which is the Holy Spirit) as a "he".
Rom 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit “itself “ maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” This verse from the KJV has added to this misrepresentation of the Holy Spirit as an "it". He is not and “it” He is a “He” and should have been translated “Himself” and not “itself”. Almost all other translations translate it “Himself".
If He is a personality could He be offended? Read the following verses, Eph 4:29-32 “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”
Now listen to Hosea 5:15 “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: . . .” Now consider the cost of a grieved Holy Spirit, He can, and does I believe, "return" to His palce because of our offenses. Now just briefly consider the cost of a grieved Holy Spirit withdrawing Himself.
1. Since He brings conviction (John 16:8) our loved ones will go without conviction. Our own personal lives will run out of control because there is no convicting power of the Spirit to draw us to holy living.
2. Since He is the teacher of the Chruch (John 16:13) we will not be taught properly. And not being taught properly some folks can come up with some weird ideas.
3. Our pray life will go lacking (Rom 8:26) for the Spirit Himself helps us there.
4. There will be no gifts nor fruit of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:8-10, Gal. 5:22-23).
I could go on and on here with what we will be lacking because of a grieved Holy Spirit that has withdrawn Himself "until" Hosea 5:15 "until they acknowledge the offense and seek my face."
Could this, the offense of the Holy Spirit, and our lack of acknowledging it, explain our powerless lives, church services etc?? I'm just asking, I'm not accusing, just asking. . . .consider it but don't get mad at me. As an old time evangelist Bro. J.C. Nichols used to say, "I didn't write, I just preach it."
See you next time!!
First Love Left
The book of Revelation is a most intriguing book. It is a very much studied book.
Listen to the promise of Rev. 1:3 “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: . . .”
Then read Rev 22:18-19 “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
Everyone should agree that this book is extremely important to the plan of God.
Rev 1:19 “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;” Gives the outline of the book in short form:
-The things that you have seen, Rev. 1:1-20.
-The things which are , Rev. 2:1 – 3:22.
-The things which will take place after this, Rev. 4:1 – 22:21.
It is my observation that most people read and study the The Revelation in conjunction with end time events, and that certainly is no doubt a noble endeavor. It is very interesting to try to figure out the end time scenario, the mark of the beast, the timing of the rapture, who the antichrist might be etc. I also enjoy those studies and engage in them from time to time. However, it has occurred to me that Rev. 4:1 – Rev. 22:21 is set. It is going to happen! If we figure out to the very minute (which we will not do, but if we did) when the rapture is going to take place, what will it accomplish? I mean it will not be verified until it happens and there have been so many people predict the date that no one much pays attention to the date setters anymore, even if they are right.
Then too, if we figure out who the antichrist is going to be, how is that going to benefit us? While it is very interesting try to watch these things unfold it is not going to affect our eternal destiny if we figure it out before hand.
On the other hand the second division of the outline brings to our attention conditions that could very well alter our eternal destiny and we pass over them very quickly or assign them to a by gone day and feel they have no effect on us today. It is my opinion that we should pay just as much attention, if not more attention, to the first two chapters of the book as to the later part. Oh, you will not sell as many CDs and it will not be as spectacular, nor will it be the subject at the coffee shop the next morning but a better understanding of the conditions of these churches will help us take a corrective look at our own lives and could very well mean heaven or hell for us.
The letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor, Rev. 2:1 – 3:22 address issues in the church from three different perspectives.
1. A local application to the churches in John's day. The letters portray actual conditions in seven local churches in Asia Minor, the western coast of modern Turkey. This is clear from the messages themselves, as well as from Rev. 1:4,11,20
2. A prophetic application to the churches throughout this dispensation to the rapture, revealing spiritual conditions in local churches and in individuals in churches.
3. An individual application, so that the individual in any church in any generation may be warned and profit by the failures of the seven churches Rev. 1:3; 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21.
With these things in mind let us gaze at the text and the church at Ephesus for a few minutes.
Ephesus was the capital of Ionia, a celebrated city of Asia Minor. It was chiefly celebrated for the worship of and temple of Diana, which last was, accounted one of the seven wonders of the world. Paul first visited Ephesus about A. D. 54, Acts 18:19,21.
This first brief visit was followed by a longer one towards the close of the same year, and continuing through the two following years, Acts 19:10; 20:31.
The church thus early established, enjoyed the laborers of Aquila and Priscilla, of Tychicus and Timothy.
It was favored with one of the best of Paul's epistles; its elders held an interview with him at Miletus, before he saw Rome, and he is supposed to have visited them after his first imprisonment.
Here the apostle John is said to have spent the latter part of his life, and written his gospel and epistles; and having penned Christ's message to them in the isle of Patmos, to have returned and died among them.
So, it is a highly favored city, Luke 12:48 “. . .unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: . . .”
The letter is addressed to 2:1 “To the angel of the church of Ephesus. . . “ All who have studied the book agree that this designation is a reference to “the Pastor.” The Greek word is “aggelos” (to bring tidings); a messenger. . .by implication a pastor:--angel, messenger. Ultimately the Pastor is on the line. Conditions exist in some churches in spite of the Pastor, while other conditions exist because of the Pastor. Apparently the one who holds the seven stars (again a reference to Pastors, Rev. 1:16, 1:20, Pastors are represented by stars and designated as “angels” or messengers in these seven letters) saw some responsibility laying with these Pastors or at the very least issued the message to be delivered to the people to and through the Pastor.
Notice the commendation of the Lord to this body of believers. . .
I know your
1. Works (what you have done)
2. Your labor (what you are doing)
3. Your patience (long waiting, endurance, stedfastness) V.3 “. . .you have persevered an have patience”
4. That you cannot bear those who are evil, V.6 ‘you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans. . .” (Nicolaitans were a heretic. They are thought to have been a sect of Gnostics who practiced and taught impure and immoral doctrines, such as the community of wives, that committing adultery and fornication was not sinful, and that eating meats offered to idols was lawful.) Ephesus was a “holiness church.”
5. You have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars.
6. You have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.”
If we stopped there, or if He has stopped there, everything would be great, but it did not stop there. The bomb fell . . .
V.4 “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” If you will notice the word “somewhat” is in italics. That means the translators added this word to aid the flow of the sentence. In the original it was not there. The NKJV and many others have it this way, “. . .I have this against you,” A specific article “this” “you have left your first love.” To add the word “somewhat” seems to weaken the assertion, or at least it does to me.
The Revised Standard Version has it “you have abandoned the love you had at first.”
Weymouth’s Translation says “you no longer love Me as you did at first.”
The Bible In Basic English says “you are turned away from your first love.”
The mechanics were working, everything was going smooth, church was functioning in the community, standards were held high, expectations were high for church members. The problem is the love is gone!
Remember the church is his Bride, not his maidservant. There is to be more here than just motion out of a sense of obligation.
There should be some intimacy between the church people and the Lord of the church.
Perhaps there is help here to understand it this way. The scriptures say that Adam knew Eve, his wife and she conceived, Gen. 4:1, Cain knew his wife and she conceived, Gen 4:17, Adam knew his wife again and she bare a son, Gen 4:25. In Matt 1:25 we are told that Joseph knew not Mary until Jesus was born. Now, all of us know what these verses are talking about. With that thought in mind listen to Matt. 7:22-23 “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.” There simply was never any intimacy there.
To the church at Ephesus He is not saying there was never any love there, in fact He is saying just the opposite, there was once love there but now it has all become mechanical.
The truth is, the fights that break out in churches are usually about the mechanics, not the intimacy.
Will simple mechanical love make for a warm marriage? It might get by, but it can be far better if there is more intimacy and less mechanics.
The point here that makes their action even more dreadful is the fact that it was not that the people of Ephesus has “never known Him,” they had known Him, intimately apparently but now they had “left” that point of intimacy with Him. That seems to be even worse to me. To never have know His love and favor you may walk away, but to have known it and then walk away is very hurtful.
His admonition. . .V.4 “Remember. . .” Some people do not want to take time to remember because the memories will serve as an indictment against them.
Secondly V.4 “repent” – The Greek word means “to think differently.”
Thirdly V.4 “do” – Fall back in love with Him again. It can be done, V.7! Those who overcome this lovelessness will be given the opportunity “to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.”
To eat of the tree of life according to Gen 3:22 will permit you to live forever. Where will you be living forever? According to V.7 “in the Paradise of God.” Not in a troubled world but the overcomer will live forever in the Paradise of God!!
Listen to this judgement if Ephesus fails to “remember, repent and do” – V.5 ”. . .or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from it’s place-. . .”
I see two things working here. . .
1. The lampstand is the Menorah, the candle stick, or the light in the Holy place, Ex. 25:31-40. It is a symbol of the Word of God (Ps 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”). So His prediction is if you do not repent your darkness will grow greater and greater. Without the light of God’s word great will be the darkness of those who love not the Lord. They will begin to call evil, good and good, evil.
2. I see their final extinction announced. Apparently they did not heed the warning. Though it remained in existence six hundred more years (even six hundred years in light of God’s eternity is “quickly”) it’s candlestick is indeed removed out of its place. The site of that great and opulent city is desolate. Its harbor has become a marsh causing pestilence and infection; the lovely and fertile level ground now languishes under Turkish misrule; and the heights upon its border bear only shapeless ruins.
If you have specialized in the mechanics of Christianity and have failed to love the Christ of Christianity these three words of admonition are clearly for you.